Love and adventure underground
Anadi lived in a time when the people lived underground in caverns. It had been many years since the people had been outside of the caverns; not since cataclysmic events drove the people into the caverns; events retold by the people to keep the memory alive. But Anadi was born inside the caverns, and when she reached adulthood, there was talk among her peers that the old stories were not really true. Many spoke of trying to find a way out of the caverns and seeing if this other world really existed. This talk excited Anadi. Many, though, also considered talk of an outside world as foolish. The people had a wonderful and safe world all to themselves. Large strides were made in unifying the people and creating a social fabric that allowed for true peace. Why would anyone want to go to that other place?
But it is the other world that Anadi fantasized about. According to the older folks, the other world contained something known as a sky. Anadi tried to imagine what that was like, but she had no reference for it in her life. Still, she had a feeling for it: perhaps a memory from a past-life there. In her mind, Anadi created a paradise with a sky and clouds and birds and trees and hills and animals and lots of light and color. Surely, this outside world must coincide with her dreams.
One day, Anadi received a message from her friend Rientne to meet him in the grand chamber. Rientne was the leader of a group of young men who were determined to find a way into the other world. Rientne was also her lover. He had promised to take her with him to the other world.
Anadi arrived at the grand chamber to find it deserted. The grand chamber was the largest room of the cavern system and it is where the people held meetings. It was also the brightest of all the rooms, for there were two large ponds filled with light-producing algae. There were stone benches arranged in a semi-circle, enough to hold all 180 of the people. There was also a stage behind which was a huge stone wall where the people recorded their lives in paint. The two ponds were on either side of the stage, so the stage and the wall were fully illuminated. Being alone, Anadi could hear only her own breathing and the distant trickle of water. She stood down in front of the stage and stared up at the giant wall. Amongst all the images painted on the wall, she found the symbols that depicted her birth. Then she found the symbols that depicted the birth of Rientne.
Soon, she heard the faint sound of approaching footsteps. A surge of excitement coursed through her body. Before long, she saw Rientne emerge at the top of the benches and walk down the steps toward her.
When he reached her, they embraced for a long time. Finally, Rientne whispered in Anadi’s ear, “Let’s go over to the water where we won’t be heard.”
They ended their embrace and walked slowly hand-in-hand down a walkway that led out of the great chamber. They followed the walkway into a smaller chamber where water was trickling down through the rocks into a dark pond. This is where the people got their drinking water and the water they used in the algae ponds. It was a dark room for there was only one small bowl of algae water lighting the room.
As they stopped walking Rientne turned to face Anadi, “I have wonderful news. You know how all the elders claim that if we were to come into contact with the light from the other world we would go blind?”
“Well, it’s not true!”
A few days before Rientne and his friends had discovered a fissure that they followed upwards until they came to a place where a small shaft of other world light occasionally came piercing in.
“Anadi, Ongin has been up there three days in a row to see the light and he has not gone blind. He says that after a while his eyes seem to adjust to the light somewhat. It is still very, very bright. As I speak, Ongin is up there letting his eyes adjust and then he is going to see if he can make it up to where the light is coming from. I just know this will be how we can get into that other world. My darling, we may be in the other world in just a few days!”
With this, they embraced tightly.
Anadi was beside herself with excitement. She ended the embrace, “When can I go to the place where the light is coming in? I should start adjusting my eyes right away. Have you seen the light?”
“You’ve seen it, Rientne?”
He nodded affirmatively, his smile getting bigger.
“Oh my! And you can still see?!”
“Yes, I can. I haven’t looked directly at it yet, but I saw it reflected on the rock and I saw how it filled the whole fissure with light. It is such a different light! I can’t wait for you to experience it.”
“Oh, I can’t wait either! When can I go?”
“I think tomorrow. I want to wait and hear Ongin’s report. We must be careful. We can’t be caught before we can get out.”
“But I just want to go!”
“I know, my love. Me, too. But you know what? We may never see our people again so we had better enjoy our last days with them — all while not alerting their suspicions.”
“Yes, I know, but that is hard. I hate looking at people knowing that I may never see them again. I was staring at the wall earlier trying to memorize it in my mind.”
Once again, they fell into each others’ arms. They could feel each others’ hearts pounding with excitement and anticipation. The thought of leaving the only world they had ever known and entering an unknown world was the very pinnacle of excitement. What more profound thing could they do? Anadi and Rientne melted in each others’ arms, fused by the searing hot electricity of their excitement.