Does he reach his hand in the water?

The water pulled at him, urged him to enter.  Nudge stood there at the water's edge, remaining stone-like as he stared into the rhythmic pulsations which emanated from somewhere deep within the water itself.  Some phosphorous rock at the bottom of this underground pond, perhaps?  Acting as a natural flashlight inside this tight little passageway?

No.  This light was bright enough to cast shadows.  It illuminated on its own.  It wasn't phosphor.

Nudge shook his head and scowled in thought.  Must be some kind of chemical reaction at the basin.

Reaction to what?  Nudge took a step closer and peered into the stillness of the liquid.  The analytical part of his brain began asking questions too fast for him to cognize and assimilate them all, the excitement of a possible new discovery overwhelmed him to the point of allowing his imagination and sense of wonder to overtake protocol.  He took another step closer.

He was sweating.  He ran his hand along his unshaven face, up to his hairline at his temple, and realized his hair was wet, too.  His breathing was ragged and shallow; again he wondered about the quality of the air inside these tunnels.  Was he inhaling some potentially noxious fumes?

For the first time his Voice of Self Preservation rather forcefully extolled the virtues of getting the hell out of there.

Nudge knelt down on the slippery surface of the subterranean floor and leaned over the edge.  The light intensified ever-so-slightly, then softened.  It was of a bluish hue, and the shadows danced along the craggy wall behind Nudge's back with each undulation.  Somewhere in the back of his head Nudge thought,

As if it's breathing.

 

The End

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