They made their way down the steep slope. She; behind him with her hand firmly gripping his sholder. He; concentrating on each next step. Small, jagged stones were being dislodged from the slope as they proceeded.
At the bottom, near the waters edge, they stopped, and searched for firm footing. He looked at the other side of the smooth surfaced water, nearly one hundred feet away. He spotted the marker stone, a three foot diameter boulder, with one dark, smooth side. It was lying half in, half out of the water, just off shore.
"This is it." he told her, and began taking off his shirt. She looked around, puzzled. "Are you sure?" she asked. He was taking off his pants now, but stopped and pointed to the boulder. "See that big rock?" he asked. He watched her eyes fix upon it, and then said, "It's directly above the cave."
She examined the waters surface, taking in the entire scene. The lake was quiet. Its dark surface reflected the forest all around it, and the overcast sky above. There were a few birds visible in the trees across the way, and she could make out a cat sized creature watching them from the underbrush. There was nothing to indicate that her life would change under the surface of this small, quiet lake, in the middle of nowhere.
Kanton was beginning to wade into the water. His shirt, pants, and walking stick were lying on the ground at Mickeys feet. She began to remove her clothes, feeling almost as though she were stripping. Kanton, treading water about ten feet out, was watching her. She removed her t-shirt and shorts, and went swiftly into the water. The bottom went out from under her, and she had to spit out a little water.
Kanton began swimming towards the other side, and Mickey followed. She could feel her long black hair dragging behind her, as she attempted to catch up. As quickly as she could swim, Kanton matched her speed, in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt at keeping her behind.
Once they reached the other side, he stood up in waist deep water. Mickey squatted to keep the water up to her sholders. "This is it. You ready?" Kanton asked. He looked at her, they made eye contact, and she nodded. He went over to her, and took her hand. They looked at each other, and began breathing rhythmically. They took a final, deep breath, and in tandem, they dove.
Mickey tried to see, but could only just barely make out Kantons form in dark shadow. The edge of the underwater cliff raced by as he dragged her down into this inconspicuous lake. It was as dark as dark could be, and she could not tell which way was up. She wished for a flashlight. It seemed like her lungs were going to burst. She couldn't hold her breath any longer. She thought she would surely drown.
Suddenly they were out, but in complete darkness. The air was damp and stale. "Kanton!" she yelled. The sound echoed loudly, giving the impression of a large chamber. "Quiet, I'm here." came a hushed voice. There was a splashing as Kanton swam away from her. "This way." he prompted.
She swam in the direction he seemed to be going. A floor came up under her. She crawled out of the water and layed on her back. After a few seconds the area lit up. Kanton held a flickering spot of fire between his finger tips. He touched it to a short candle, and the light brightened.
She could see they were in a cave. Like only a couple of others she had been in before, it was very large, with a ceiling at least fourty feet over their heads.
Kanton screwed the candle into the muddy surface on which they sat, then lit another from its flame. He handed the second candle to Mickey, and lit a third. He had taken the candles from a watertight waist pouch. She watched as he did this, noticing his lean muscles, operating with smooth precision, in the dim light. She caught herself, and re-established her embarassment.
Kanton stood, and looked around. Mickey remained huddled on the ground. "Oh come on, Mickey...", there was a touch of disdain in his voice. "We came to explore, so lets do it." With that, he strutted off in the direction away from the water hole. He was going to leave her there, as far as she could tell, so with a heavy sigh, she swallowed her pride and stood up. He was already about twenty feet away, and all she could see was him and the ground. She followed, taking short, well placed steps on the slippery floor. God help her if she should fall. If Kanton laughed at her here, like this, she would just die.
They moved forward, slowly, uphill. The slick, ooze covered floor was getting steeper and steeper. The stalagtites and stalagmites grew denser and denser, until they were forced to squeeze between some to continue. After about thirty-five yards, they reached the area where the floor and ceiling met.
Kanton headed left along the wall, and Mickey followed. She could see the dim glow of the candle below them, next to the edge of the water hole. Its flickering reflected off of the surface of the water, creating an eerie scene.
Kanton stopped. Mickey ran into him, he stopped so abruply. He was looking down into a hole about four feet across. At the bottom, about a foot and a half deep, were a couple of long bones, some stones that were obviously worked on by hand, and a row of teeth. The teeth may have once been a necklace, Mickey thought, and the stones appeared to be tools or weapons. The bones however, were not so simple.
She leaned over to get a better look. Kanton got down on his hands and knees, and reached down to pick up a bone. "No!" Mickey shouted. The amplification of the echo startled them both. She looked at him appologetically, and said, "You can't. They need to be left alone until we can get back in here and catalogue everything."
"I told you Mickey." Kanton whispered. She looked at him. He was smiling up at her with that ridiculous grin of his. She didn't know whether to smile back, or to smack him.
They looked back down into the hole. She was beginning to wonder what creature the bones could possibly be from. They appeared as human shin bones in shape, yet were far to large. They were at least half again as large as Homo-sapiens. She began to realize that she had never seen anything quite like them before.
Kanton stood, and walked further ahead, as she pondered the discovery. He stopped about six feet further on, peering down into another hole.
"Hey Mickey, here's another one." he said without turning in her direction. She quickly, carefully made her way over to stand beside him. She couldn't believe her eyes. In a simular hole, there lay several bones, all human like in appearance. Shins, thighs, ribs, even two skulls, one almost complete, yet they were all fifty percent too large for Homo-anything. Surely there must be a rational explanation, she thought. The only difference between these bones and human bones was the size, and they were all the same relative size. Therefore it was no accident of nature. This is important, she thought, real important. "Let's go." she said, and headed towards the dim candle below them.
"Wait a minute." Kanton said in disbelief, "What's your hurry?" She stopped, turned, and looked at Kanton in the flickering, dim light. She saw his breathing was a bit heavy, and she noticed sweat beading up, and rolling down his smooth chest. "There's something real odd about this." she said calmly. "We need to do this right." She took a deep breath, and continued "We need to get Professor Monteca out here."
Kanton stared at her, his breathing slowed. "These bones...." he began, and looked down into the hole. "These bones are...." he searched for an appropriate word, "strange....aren't they?" It seemed to Mickey that he needed confirmation, just as she did. He was waiting for an answer. She knew he thought highly of her mental competence, but she felt as though this was outside her expertise.
"Yes, Kanton, they're like nothing i've ever seen before." He stared into the hole. Seconds passed as minutes. The cavern was still. Their candles steadied, as their breathing slowed. It was more quiet than she could bare. Then he was moving towards her. She turned and followed as he passed her, and they headed back for the candle near the water.
As they carefully decended, she thought of the scene she had locked away forever in her memory. The skulls; how could they be so huge? All of those bones were too big. She put the thought away for later. She began to think about what this might mean to her career. Professor Monteca would surely have her head up the team that would be here in the next twelve hours. She knew this was going to change everything. She began to feel elated.
She surpressed a giggle at herself. They had left their candles on the shore next to the other, and were beginning to submerge. The floor went out from under them, and they began to load up on oxygen. Kanton took Mickeys hand, and smiled. With one final big breath, they dove. Almost instantly, they were out of the cave and heading for daylight. It seemed much easyer to return, so much quicker. She thought she would be able to hold her breath much longer.
When they finally reached her truck, it was beginning to get dark. As they headed out of the forest, neither of them spoke. Once they reached the highway, Mickey turned on the radio, but didn't hear it the whole way into town.