The walls surrounding John were as smooth as any mirror, like a finely polished marble. How many eons of tides had slowly, imperceptibly, eroded these natural structures to such a marvelous luster? The air was cool and pleasant down there, and he paused a moment for a few deep inhalations before continuing. His body ached from the strenuous journey atop a fast moving dolphin, yet his mind was acutely focused on the unquestionable signs of life which currently surrounded him. He briefly inspected the boat which, although odd in nature, looked as sturdy as any he'd ever seen. He called to the empty chamber, "Hello?"
But his only answer was his echo, sharp and clear as it bounced of the polished walls.
He turned his head toward the stairs. They ascended at a slight clockwise twist, and were steep enough to obscure any vision of what might lay beyond. Shadows and sunlight danced on the stairs from above, like a multitude of fingers beckoning him forward, hypnotizing and rhythmic. John looked around once again for the current resident of the cave but decided he was alone, so he approached the staircase with a combination of haste and care; it did him little good if he were to slip halfway up the stairs, only to bash open his head and die before he was able to discover any answers to this conundrum in the middle of the ocean. The steps were in fact slippery but he steadied himself against one side of the walls as he made his way to the top.
There was no doorway, nor even an opening per se. The ceiling just gave way to sky and the staircase opened up to a bowl-shaped hole cut into the side of the mountain, like a crater, John supposed. It was evident this bowl-shaped structure was used as someone's living quarters.
John looked entirely around, feeling the strong sea breeze tug at his hair as he did so. There were tree stumps cut into effective chairs, a large piece of driftwood which had been assembled into a rudimentary table, and a length of twine that spanned the thirty feet between two tropical trees, with rags and clothing draped over it to catch the breeze. To his left, several palm tree fronds had been laced together to make a satisfactory make-shift shade.
John looked around and scowled.
Someone had been here recently.
But who? John neither saw nor heard a soul.
Suddenly, his sharp eyes stumbled over a small footlocker buried beneath a mass of beach detritus: palm fronds and beach grass and seaweed. He approached the footlocker and knelt before it. It seemed relatively unsecured, but as he reached for it visions of booby traps filled his mind with trepidation and his bloodstream with adrenaline. He remained on one knee for a few moments as his mind wondered what to do. One the one hand, he didn't relish the thought of dying from a poison-tipped needle. On the other, greed was a powerful motivator, and his curiosity convinced him it was worth dying just to see what was inside the box.
With one shaky hand, he reached for the handle.