They walked into the mouth, following the tunnel that shrunk in height two feet. It wound
right, then left, then straightening a short distance. The afternoon light that they had left
behind at the first bend was replaced by a soft glow from the large cavern in front of them.
The air in the cavern was warm, with the smallest touch of humidity. The roof stretched
upwards twenty-odd feet into the air, and the sides stretched in a rounded rectangle that
covered an area larger than any house Mara had ever been in. Thin veins of crystal and
small flakes of what looked like mica embedded in the walls reflected the electric-blue
glow of some very large bioluminescent mushrooms tucked into different nooks and
crannies. The whole room was lit in this soft, ethereal glow, and the smooth floor was
clearly lit up. There were entrances to other rooms visible in the far back and back right of
Mara looked up and down, slowly turning in place trying to see everything in the cavern.
A smile crept unbidden to her lips, as she twirled, looking around with the joy of a young
child at the wonders she was seeing. Joshua smiled too, infected by her happy mood. He
was glad to see her start to truly relax and enjoy herself in her new world. Mara stopped
twirling and looked over her shoulder at Joshua, her smile fading into the corners of her
mouth, which twitched with suppressed, happy, awe. She spoke, her voice slightly lowered
in volume, but echoing clearly in the room.
"This is incredible Joshua. I've never seen anything on Earth that's like this place - nothing
at all! The blue is so beautiful, and those mushrooms almost reach my knees - and the
ceiling is so high. This is the largest room I've ever been in... Are you sure this cave is
"Only mushrooms call this cave home, and now you will. Is it to your liking?"
"Well, it seems warm and dry enough. Safe from wet weather anyway. When winter comes,
will it freeze?"
"The temperature in here remains constant, as warm as you feel it right now. You can't eat
the mushrooms, but they are a good source of light for you."
"Yes, but, I think I would miss the sunlight hitting my face after a while. It'd be pretty hard
to tell time in here. If only there was a window or three."
"I think the two of us might be able to make one for you, but it's a lot of hard work I warn
"What isn't nowadays?"
"If you like this cave enough to agree to stay, then there are a few other things we need to
get done before we can even think about carving out windows. Teaching you what you can
eat, for instance."
"Alright, alright, I get it. I'll stay here - but I'm not against moving if this place turns out to
be a lousy abode. Talking about food makes me hungry, so why don't we hunt down a meal