There could be a bug. An ugly, creepy critter.
She could get bitten by a vampire.
A monster could lunge out at her and maul her.
Jazmine’s mind wandered frantically this way and that, exploring all the endless possibilities.
She was scared, that much was obvious.
“Calm down, Jaz. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” said Merle, her fearless and intrepid boyfriend and guide.
“Easy for you to say, you’ve been in how many caves?”
“Don’t you trust me then?”
“It’s not a matter of trust, it’s a matter of –AAH”
Jazmine jumped with fright, hitting her head on the ceiling of the cave. Merle laughed, his sentiment resounding off the walls.
“That’s my favorite part about caves; the ECHO!”
“Shh! Stop that, Merle!”
Jazmine gripped the back of her boyfriend’s shirt.
Merle laughed again. “You really need to ease up.”
They continued their spelunking journey in silence, well, if you consider Jazmine’s terrified thoughts escaping her brain and pounding off the walls as silence.
Was that a spider?
Where did that gust of wind come from? Was it the breath of a creepy cave bear?
What if the bats are just waiting for us around that corner?
“Merle, let’s go back. I can’t handle this.”
“Oh come on, don’t be a wuss. Why don’t you talk or sing or something to get your mind off it?”
“And practically beg all the monsters to come attack me? No thank you!”
“I find it funny that you’re not claustrophobic or scared of the dark, you’re scared of the bugs.”
“Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and found a cockroach crawling around on your hand?”
Merle laughed again as Jazmine shuddered at the memory. If only she had known that it was a toy roach.
They squeezed through a tight tunnel which opened up into a massive cavern.
“Wow, this is cool!”
“See? Caves are cool!”
“I feel safer in a bigger space I guess,” said Jazmine, releasing her grip on Merle’s shirt and timidly exploring around the cave.
“Hey look at this map engraved on the wall,” Jazmine said from across the chamber. Merle walked over to check it out.
“Hm. That looks like this cave system,” he pointed to a segment of the map, “that’s where we just were, and this is the cavern where we are now. It looks like it goes a ways farther and leads out the other side.”
“Hey look, there’s a poem here also.”
She began reading slowly, squinting to make out the crudely carved words in the rock:
Where bones are buried,
And something else too.
Ignorance is bliss!
What will you do?
“What does that mean?” Jazmine wondered aloud.
“And there’s an arrow pointing to this spot on the map,” said Merle, furling his brow.
“Dude. It’s a treasure map!”
Merle’s eyes brightened and he looked at his girlfriend and they shared a hearty laugh.
“There’s no way this is a treasure map, right?”
“Let’s go check it out anyway!” Merle never was able to quench his curiosity. “Modern day Indiana Jones!”
They were off, hunting treasure a hundred feet beneath the earth’s surface. When they reached the portion of the cave where the arrow had pointed on the map, they began exploring, looking for some ancient chest. Merle was giddy with excitement, Jazmine was meh at best.
“C’mon, why aren’t you getting into this?”
“Merle… we’re following a crude cave map in a creepy dungeon where bugs and bats and monsters live to try to find some golden crown worn by the king of Atlantis!”
“Hey, nice imagination!”
Merle was about to give up searching for the hidden treasure when something shiny reflected his headlamp. With a shout, he rushed over to it.
“Just a rock,” Jazmine said unenthusiastically, “let’s get out of here, I’m hungry.”
“Look Jaz, this spot in the ground is soft, like dirt or something. I bet the treasure is here, help me dig!”
Merle rummaged through his small backpack and grabbed the chisel and hammer that he always kept in case he found some rare gem. Chiseling away at the soft ground, he uncovered the earth. A mere foot below, his chisel struck something hard. Merle’s heart skipped a beat.
“Jaz,” he said, eyes wide as the sky.
He frantically dug and dug until the object was uncovered. It was a small wooden box.
Merle held the box up into the light of his lamp, and he looked ecstatically with his girlfriend.
“The map was real!” he said much too loudly.
“What– is this for real?”
Jazmine took the box from Merle and peered at it. Merle grabbed his water bottle and poured a little water over it, cleaning off the dirt.
“Open it?” Jazmine suggested.
“Yeah,” Merle’s voice cracked.
Slowly, with breath suppressed, Jazmine lifted the tab that held the lid of the box shut.
What’s inside? Is it gold? Some rare artifact?
What if nothing’s inside?
What if it’s a joke?
What if there’s a spider!
“A watch!” Merle’s echoes lingered in the cave.
They examined the watch in the light. It was made of brass, a large face with hands that had stopped working ages ago. It had a rusty chain extending from it.
“Just a watch,” Jazmine sounded disappointed.
“Well, who knows? Maybe this was Captain Blackbeard’s old pocket watch or something.” Merle’s sense of humor was relentless; what a guy. “Well this was a rush. Let’s take it with us and we’ll see how much it’s worth when we get home. Maybe we’ll be rich!”
Little did the two spelunking love bugs know that this was only the beginning of a lifetime of treasure-hunting adventures.