Brenda had returned from China a few days before she came to visit me in Maine. She had toured the Chinese county side and Tibet during a month-long vacation. I picked her up at Bangor International Airport. She had a million stories to tell. The situation in Tibet was sad to hear about. The Tibetans' traditional shops and livelihood were being replaced by more upscale businesses, built with imported labor, and backed by mainland Chinese money. The plight of the Dalai Lama is not easily understood. Brenda also talked about the wonderful tours she went on, and how different the Chinese people are from Westerners.
She suggested that we visit her friends Suzie and Ryan, at his family's estate in a secluded cove on the coast of Maine. Brenda had spoken to Suzie before she went to China, and they had left the door open for a visit if there was time. Suzie and Brenda both had attended the Rudolph Steiner Institute held at Thomas College in Waterville for three consecutive summers and were now close friends. They both where certified Waldorf Teachers. There was a lot of catching up for them to do, and this would be a perfect opportunity for that.
Rudolph Steiner was the thread that connected us all. My having implemented organic practices on my farm led to studying the Bio-Dynamic theory of agriculture, and eventually Rudolph Steiner's metaphysical and occult science. While attending the Institute, Brenda had inquired about visiting an organic farm in the area that practiced Bio-Dynamic agriculture. She came for a visit to my farm. As a gift for giving her a tour, she left me a copy of Rudolph's work: Ancient Myths: Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution. We started a correspondence after this and were friends ever since.
Ryan had been a Waldorf Education instructor at the Institute, and that is where he and Suzie first met and subsequently married. Suzie told Brenda some of Ryan's history. His mother's family had settled in coastal Maine in the late 1700s. As early settlers his forbears had selected a spectacular homestead site overlooking the bay on a southern exposure. From the home-place there were vistas of the mountains on the other side of the cove. The trip from my Bio-Dynamic farm in Cambridge, to his place in Sullivan, was just over eighty miles. Suzie suggested that we meet at the L.L. Bean outlet store in Ellsworth, as the estate was difficult to find, if you did not know the way. She said that we probably couldn't find Ryan's place even using Mapquest or a GPS device. The place would not show up. The entrance to the estate was private and concealed.
We arrived in Ellsworth earlier than expected and went downtown to grab something to eat at one of the upscale restaurants. I had an expensive organic vegetable wrap with a ranch dressing and Brenda had a salad with imported pine nuts and oil and balsamic vinegar. Musicians played on the eatery's lawn. The music apparently was used to lighten tourists' hearts and spirits, and to encourage them to come in, and open their pocketbooks wide. The day was magnificent, already in the eighties, with a light breeze coming off the bay.
We strolled into a few of the shops to kill time after eating. There were racks of clothes along the roadside in front of the Grasshopper Shop. Brenda started picking through them, and ended up purchasing an expensive black silk blouse embroidered with a red dragon. She told me about the significance of the dragon for the Chinese. She said dragons represented supreme spiritual power and were their ancestors.
“In Yin and Yang, Yang is the male and the dragon. The dragon represents our hidden self, the supernatural they said, and the Chinese consider dragons their ancestors.”
“You mean they think they're descended from the dragon and not monkeys?”
“Something like that. I've even read somewhere that the Babylonian and Mayan people worshiped crocodiles, and that is where the dragon symbol originated – from our reptilian forbearers.”
“That is totally weird.”
“What was really weird was the cruise I took along the Wuyang River. There's an ancient temple complex we passed called the Black Dragon Subterranean. I won't even try to say it in Chinese. The tour guide explained that the name did not translate well. He said the real secret is below the buildings, in prehistoric tunnels going deep into the Zhonghe Mountain and there are many caves. The tour guide also told us a story about the ancient Chinese taking offerings to their “dragon gods” that lived in these underground caves. The tunnel openings were hidden in temple chambers and went to the caves below. Not everyone returned, he said.”
“I've never heard anything like that before,” my thought was of a Japanese movie, The Kimono Dragon Defeats King Kong movie. We walked through the downtown area enjoying each others company.
A mind-altering event waited for us. Our adventure was to begun. We meet Ryan and Suzie at L.L. Bean. They were waiting. We did the introductions and then followed Suzie's Subaru to Ryan's family homestead on the bay. The estate was off the main road and the house was secluded.
Unless you knew what tree to turn in at, it would have been next to impossible to find the drive. It was little more than an unmarked sandy woods' road off the main drag cut in at an angle. As we pulled off the asphalt and onto this nearly invisible road, I noted the grandiose trees in the forest. There were huge pines, oaks and ash that were free of limbs to as high as thirty feet above the ground. They were evenly spaced and far apart. Any woodcutter would salivate at the sight of these veneer-quality logs of great girth that could be cut out of the fine trees. The forest was a random mix of soft and hardwoods.
This was some place! After driving through the wooded property for over a quarter of a mile, we spotted a flock of wild turkeys feeding on the windfall apples from the tree in back of the house as we came onto it. They scattered as we pulled in. We parked on the lawn beside the house under some towering oaks. Informal perennial gardens surrounded this antique cape which still had a traditional Maine cedar-shingled roof. There was a giant ship's anchor in the front yard. The house was authentic Yankee architecture, and was meticulously maintained. We were shown to our individual suites of rooms for an overnight stay in antique splendor.
The house and converted barn contained three suites with kitchenettes and separate bathrooms. The house had been redesigned for modern use with antique lumber and hardware. Much of the house was original from turn-of-the century 1800s. Ryan took us for a quick tour. In the main house on the first floor were a big kitchen, dining room and parlor with wood-paneled walls.
“The pumpkin pine on the walls is original, and the front door and sidelights are too,” Ryan said. The individual panes of glass had bubbles and had waves in them. “My mother is really particular that everything looks authentic, and yet she wanted modern features. See this built-in cabinet?”
He opened the doors of it to reveal a telephone, television, computer and wireless infrared computer keyboard that used the flat-screen television as a monitor. Next he pointed out some items decorating the room.
“Many of these nautical antiques are from my great grandfather about eight generations removed. He was captain of a British ship. There was talk about him being involved in the occult.”
“What do you mean the occult?” I asked.
“I don't know. There were some things that my family has never explained to me. He traveled a lot in Asia, and the Caribbean, and may have got mixed up with 'The Brotherhood.' That is all they would say.”
Ryan certainly had an interesting family. Suzie said she wanted to take us for a drive along the coast. The afternoon was spent sightseeing and viewing local artisans' shops along the coastline. Suzie parked so we could walk through a retail area facing the coast, to pickup some of the atmosphere. We settled down on some benches in front of The Olde General Store that served gourmet coffees and confections. Brenda was glad to have a mocha latte. Although it was good, she said it was not as good as Starbucks. We sipped our drinks and discussed what to do next. We would walk. It really did not matter where. Any road led to beautiful vistas of seashore views.
We stopped at a local artisan's glassmaker's shop. The proprietor talked about glass-making and about his particular style. I asked why antique glass flowed, as Ryan's place, and mine too had this glass. I explained to him what I had been told, that over the years, glass flows downward by gravity. That is why one can see waves in antique windowpanes, and the bottoms of the panes are thicker than the tops for the same reason. He said that that was an old wife's tale. He had some science to back up his explanation. Suzie ended up purchasing an incredibly beautiful hand-blown cobalt blue bowl.
We walked back to the car. Suzie drove along the coastal of Frenchman Bay. For supper she took us to a place that Ryan had suggested on Egypt Bay that is in Hancock. The kitchen was a cement bunker full of steaming kettles. There was no inside dining. It was takeout. The place is famous for boiled lobster, pulled pork sandwiches, and homemade lemonade. Picnic tables lined the yard overlooking the bay. Pink and white beach roses covered the hillside. The area was a small peninsula jutting out into the ocean beside a river inlet.
We took our time eating. We did not want to be early for the contra dance that was being held at the Rocky Shores Grange Hall. After eating, acting like a boy, Ryan walked down to the shoreline to skip rocks on the water. We talked and dusk came along. It was time to go to the dance. During the drive to the grange, Suzie told us about the house that they had just purchased. It was not far from Chicago and within driving distance to the Ethereal Waldorf School where she taught.
When we arrived to the dance it was already in full swing. It was great fun joining in. There was an interesting mix of people. Everyone danced and smiled. We stayed until the last song: Goodnight Irene, Goodnight Irene, I'll see you in my dreams…. It was a good that Suzie was driving as I would have never found Ryan's road again. As soon as we drove into it a group of deer spooked and took off into the forest. When we arrived at the door to the house went in, and all said goodnight, and went to bed. It had been a long day and the dance had done us in.
I fell asleep right immediately, but kept coming to the surface of consciousness throughout the night with strange dreams and by an imagined infuriating sound. It was a humming noise, or the dream of one, and it bothered me. It was not a loud; it was hardly discernable. It was as if the buzzing noise originated inside my head. It was low, a sub-audible sound, more like a vibration. A dream followed each trip to the surface of sleep. First, I was on a mountaintop that had a panoramic view. I could see the ocean to the south. Then, all of a sudden I was swallowed into a rock crevice and inside the earth, sinking deeply into its mossy womb. That dream ended abruptly.
Later another dream occurred about fishing with my dad. I caught a dogfish. As the fish was pulled out of the ocean and into the boat, all of its fins shot out into the air. Each fin had a sharp spine at the end. Dad stepped on the fish now on the bottom of the boat so he could pull the barbed lure out of its mouth without getting stung. Dogfish can be dangerous. Getting stung by one of the barbs at the end of the fins, assured infection. People have lost limbs through blood poisoning after being stung by dogfish. He stepped on the fish so hard that the darn thing croaked. Its eye popped out of its head and a greenish bloody mess streamed out of its mouth and anus. I nearly woke up after that dream.
The last one was of a cavernous room deep in the earth that smelled of sulfur. While looking around the shiny rock-lined walls and limestone deposits on the floor and walls of this room, I felt as if the cave was someone's home. There was a sinister image of a Komodo dragon suffused as an overlay of the dream. It was only an image coming into my mind within the dream, and was not really in front of me. I got gooseflesh all over from this dream. All the hairs on my arms, my back and neck were standing up even while asleep. I wanted to run, but did not know where to go. Everywhere I turned there was no escape from this vision within the dream of an ethereal and frightening dragon.
I finally woke just before dawn. A mouse scratching inside the wall had bothered me. There was a funny feeling on my skin. It was all gooseflesh still. I had plenty of blankets on, and the night had not been cold. I jumped out of bed and pulled on my clothes. Everyone else would sleep for a few more hours. I got my digital camera out when I saw the mist over the pasture through the picture window. These conditions might provide the right ingredients to get some excellent shots of the bay.
I crept through the rooms and into the hallway leading to the back door. As I opened the door I glimpsed a view of the misty bay, with the sun sparkling on the slit of the horizon beyond. There were two cleared swatches through the forest that must have been bush-hogged yearly to keep them open and free of trees and wild shrubbery. The one right in front of the house was covered in low-bush blueberries. There were fantastic views through both of these swaths of land to the swampy cove's shoreline. The tide was out, and salt-marsh flats extended for miles. My desire was to run out onto the flats and look for sea creatures, like a young boy might. That was unrealistic, and unsafe. The flats are dangerous. There can be soft areas that would suck a person up to their waist into the ground, or even deeper, if anyone were foolish enough to go out on the flats.
I did feel like a kid on an adventure exploring new territory, and seeing primeval nature. Ryan said the estate covered a few hundred shorefront acres. The original land grant was of more than one thousand acres he said, but had been split up over the years. Still, there were no other dwellings to be seen from anywhere on the property, except at the shore. The village across the cove could barely be made out. This view from the back door was my first photograph of the bay. The horizon sparkled.
Once I started walking through the blueberry pasture in front of the house, I realized that my pants were going to get soaked as I brushed through the dew-covered plants. Large oak, ash and gigantic white pines were interspersed in the wooded area on either side of this opening as at the entrance to the property. There was an abundance of sweet fern growing over the open land along with the blueberry bushes.
There had been an article in my farm magazine a few months back that mentioned sweet fern (Myrica gale). It is known to be an accumulator and indicator species. Farmyard animals that feed on certain plants, and sweet fern was one, could develop toxicity. Cows, pigs and horses have died from eating certain kinds of accumulator plants.
Sweet fern was mentioned in the article because it accumulates selenium and may indicate the presence of radioactive uranium in the area where it grows. Intuitive prospectors can tell if certain minerals are in the ground by the plants. That was something to ask Ryan about; if there were any minerals on the land. Seedling poplars and small willow whips interspersed the pasture too. At the bottom of the hill near the shore I followed a path to the other clearing that I had seen from the bedroom.
The entire forest on Ryan's family's property contained choice trees. I walked up the incline toward the house in this clearing. There was a lot of sweet fern there. The view of the cove and bay was even better from this location. I walked into the forest on the northeast side of the house. There was a buzzing sound! Then I remembered the dream about being on top of a mountain and seeing the ocean. The hair stood back up on my neck and arms gooseflesh appeared.
There were Indian pipes peeking up out of the oak-leaf litter on the forest floor. The white, parasitic, chlorophyll-free Indian pipes' roots connect underground to feed off other plants. Indian pipes are rare. I got ready to take a picture and looked around for the best place to stand. I spotted what I thought at that time was the source of the buzzing. There was a giant wasp nest in a birch tree a short distance away. After taking a few pictures of the Indian pipes, I went toward the nest to get a picture of it. That was when I spotted a pile of granite boulders behind where I had been standing. Although the rocks were moss covered, the sharp angles of them made me suspicious that these were not naturally occurring.
My flesh still had that tingly feeling. I walked to the pile of stones. They appeared too have slid down the hillside into a pile. Some of the slabs had typical chisel and wedge markings where the stone had been cut. I realized this must have been an old granite quarry. Big pine trees grew between the piles of stones and the moss covering them would have taken decades to grow into such a thick mass. The slide of stone came from a crest of the hill from what I could see. I was wearing dress shoes and took a chance of slipping going up the hillside by walking on top of the large slabs of granite.
As I came to the top of this hill, I saw a pile of granite at least a hundred feet wide and in a tangle going down the hillside. There were dead trees lying every which way over the rocks and baby fir trees that appeared to grow right out of the stone. Then I saw an opening into the ground, like a fissure cutting into the hillside. The acoustics were weird sounding at the top of the hill, and alongside this opening into the ground. The wasps' nest was a long way off but there was still a low buzz in the air.
The granite was fine-textured and of a light gray color, with flecks of mica or quartz in the profile. This quarry must have been abandoned for a century, judging by the way the trees were growing from inside the fissure that zagged into the hillside. Looking down at the slide of unevenly shaped slabs of granite on the hill, I thought the pile of may have been cast-offs that had been thrown over the top of the quarry opening. Today these pieces would not be pushed aside if the quarry were in operation. This was attractive granite that would be useful for monuments and as stone landscape features and for fancy polished kitchen countertops.
No one had been in this area for years. The granite was quarried in a way so that I could step from one stone face to another going down into the quarry opening. The granite formed giant's steps going into the ground. I had to stoop under dead branches and push aside young firs to move down from one stone to the next. At this moment, last night's dream of being swallowed into a rock crevice recurred to me. This was a spooky feeling to see myself here now and having been here in a dream.
It was dangerous to go down into the earth alone and without a flashlight or rope. With the overhead canopy of trees and the denseness of the forest growth, it was difficult to see into this granite fissure. This whole experience was making me feel light-headed. It just did not seem safe to be going down into the opening alone.
This adventure would have to wait. I climbed back out, and started down the granite hillside being careful not to slide on the luxurious moss. At the bottom of the hill I found the path that led past the wasps' nest and back toward the house. In a few minutes I was at the antique cape. The gardens surrounding this place were picturesque. There were a lot of old fashioned flowers. Some of the perennials had been growing in the same area for so long, that they had taken over large sections of the yard. Yellow daylily formed a colony thirty feet long and five feet wide in front of the house. There were columbine, and honeysuckle vines climbing on the barn, and irises and tansy. I took a photograph of a bumblebee on a pink rose that had a drop of dew on one of its leaves.
I could not keep my mind off the quarry. My flesh still tingled a little from the earlier excitement. After hearing and then spotting the wasps nest, I realized a hum had followed me since last night. Then finding the hole in the ground added to my feeling of being spooked. It was going to be one of those kinds of days – a gooseflesh day.
It would still be a while before the rest of the crew got out of bed; they were from the city. I hoped that they would want to explore the quarry with me – I wanted to see what below. After taking a few more photographs of the flowers, I went back inside and quietly back into my suite. My pants were completely saturated. I pulled a change of clothes out of my knapsack and went to the bathroom to take a long hot shower.
After drying off and dressing, I thought of coffee. There were a few things needed if I was going to explore the quarry. I fished out my flashlight and a cigarette lighter from the knapsack. The aroma of coffee got me moving toward the kitchen. As I walked in I saw Suzie peeling potatoes, and Ryan asked if I wanted coffee when he spotted me. After taking my first sip, I mentioned the quarry asking Ryan about it.
“Ryan, what's the story about the quarry that's located a distance behind the house?”
He seemed to pause for a moment and then said, “All I know is that a grandfather some generations back opened the quarry in 1839, and only worked it for a few years. The granite for the basement under this place and the other pieces you see around the yard used for steps, and the garden borders came from this land.”
Ryan explained that they were never allowed to go near the quarry as kids, and he never did he said.
“Well, would it be OK to explore the area and cave?”
“I guess it will be all right. It makes me a little nervous. We only came here in the summer for a few weeks. My grandmamma said the quarry is cursed.”
Brenda entered the kitchen and caught up on the story about the quarry. She wanted to go along, and Ryan said he would too, but with trepidation. Suzie was finishing slicing the potatoes for home fries.
“What about you, Suzie?” I asked.
“Listen, I've got some schoolwork to get finished over the summer and haven't even started it. Also, with your family coming on Friday, Ryan, I'm just going to stay behind. You guys won't mind, will you?”
We said that that would be fine. Also, it would be wise to have someone stay behind in case we fell into the center of the earth and found Santa's elves, or the Hollow Earth half-breeds held us captive. Everyone laughed and we talked about the coming adventure. Ryan had little to say about the quarry, except that there was a story about someone dying in there because of the family curse. He did not know what exactly happened or what the cruse was, but remembered his grandmamma saying that no one was to ever go near the quarry. She did not want to lose any more family members because of the quarry she said. Ryan had a flashlight and went to fetch it. We talked about bringing rope along, but decided that if it got too deep or dangerous, we would just go back up and leave the quarry alone. Besides, Brenda and I had to be back at the farm in Cambridge by evening. We could spend a few hours exploring the area and that was all the time we had. The three of us changed into hiking boots and then went along. Ryan led the way following the path toward the wasps nest. I let them know about the wasps.
“Oh, Ryan, I forgot to tell you about the wasps' nest I found in a tree up ahead.”
“What kind of wasps are they?”
“I believe it's a nest of paper wasps.”
As we got closer to the hive, I pointed it out to Ryan and Brenda. There was some excitement about the wasps. Brenda talked about the time when she was six and stepped on a yellow-jackets' nest. Fortunately she did not die from all the stings she got, or go into shock. The hum was increasing again. I asked Ryan and Brenda if they could hear it. They didn't know what I was talking about at first. It was a low-pitched hum. Ryan showed us a path that went up and around the rock slide. We climbed up this woods path toward the top of the granite hill.
“My brother Thomas and I used this path once in a while. It comes out at Dugan's Flats about a half mile away. We never went into the quarry area. We wouldn't dare, especially after what happened to him. One time he started walking over to the quarry when we where going to Dugan's to fish. He wanted to explore the quarry on the sly. Just about five feet from the path he tripped and broke his ankle and fishing rod too. There was hell to pay. That ruined our vacation that summer.”
At the top of the hill we took a left into the cushiony moss-covered woods and toward the outcropping of rocks. If you did not get right up to the opening of the fissure, you would never know it was there. We held back for a moment. Then Ryan said,
“You know there could be wild animals down there.”
“What kind of animals?” Brenda asked.
“Well, wildcats or coyotes, I suppose.”
“Hey, you guys, I don't want to walk into a den of vipers.”
“Don't worry about it, Brenda,” I said. “Besides, there are no poisonous snakes in Maine.”
“Well, what about these wildcats. What kind are we talking about?”
After a few more steps we came to the opening in the earth going down into the fissure. Ryan answered Brenda.
“Bobcats or lynx might have dens in the rocks.” He said that there have been no credible cougar sightings in Maine. “Still, every so often there's a report that someone claims to have spotted a mountain lion. Besides Brenda, any wild animal can smell us a mile away, and we are always chatting. They don't want to meet up with us anymore than we want to meet up with them.”
It was not easy starting to climb down into the rocky opening. The small firs and broken branches had to be pushed aside or held for the next person coming up from behind so they did not get slapped in the face by them. After stepping down a few rocks, there was that dead tree snag that we had to either climb over or under. We decided it would be easier to go under it. The tree in our way hung out over the fissure. Ryan went first, with Brenda next and me in the rear. It was getting darker as we moved downward. Ryan turned on his flashlight to see what was below. We had gone about fifty feet. When Ryan flashed his light down into the fissure to our left, all we could see were the sheer granite walls on either side, with a few rock shelves hanging out. The fissure also got wider below. It was getting damper as we descended. Droplets of water beaded up on the rocks. The moss and ferns were becoming scarce. We had moved along a few more feet when all of a sudden Ryan stopped.
“Hey look. There is an opening. It looks big enough to climb through.”
He flashed his light into the entrance. The opening was only big enough for one person to look through at a time. Ryan explained what he saw.
“Wow! It's like a cave. I mean it is one.”
We took turns looking and could not believe what we saw. The cave was at least thirty feet wide. The opening that was at ground level on this side was nearly four feet above the cave floor on the other. In a moment without hesitation or discussion, Ryan climbed into the cave feet first. There were places for him to step on the other side as he went through the opening. He seemed to know the way. As his arms became outstretched, his feet were on the cave's floor. It was easy going. Brenda went next and followed his lead. I went through the hole after her hesitatingly.
The walls of the cave were dripping with moisture and limestone deposits formed down from the ceiling and rising up from the floor. The center of the room was amazingly flat. On the far side of the cave there was a thick limestone pillar going from floor to the ceiling. On the floor in front of this limestone column was an artifact of some kind. We all saw it at once and walked over to see what it was. Ryan immediately picked it up. Then I could hear the humming noise even louder. Brenda was the one that said:
“What is that noise?”
“That's what I've been talking about all along,” I said. “It is the same noise I heard down on the path, but it's a lot louder now.”
Ryan went into a trance-like state. His speech became even and flat. He sounded listless as he said:
“This is a rune stone. Look at the characters chiseled in the rock's smooth surface. My family said we may be related to Norsemen and the Vikings. Some people believe that Markland is somewhere along the coast of Maine.”
His voice was certainly strange. There were three rows of marks carved into the rock with approximately twenty characters on each line. As Ryan and I studied the marking on the rock Brenda looked around the limestone pillar.
“Look over here guys, there's another opening.”
We went around to the other side of the limestone pillar to discover an opening in the wall behind. I pointed my flashlight through it and saw that this opening led to a shaft that went down farther than the light could reach. This tunnel was inclined at about a forty-degree angle. The sides and ceiling of the tunnel were nearly perfectly formed. The ceiling was ten feet high from the ground all the way along as far as I could see. The floor was once again smooth as the cave floor was. It was like the tunnel was cut into the stone. We were getting in deep. Ryan put the rune stone down on the floor to the right of the opening. He became rigid and went right through the entrance. We did not have a chance to talk to him about what we were going to do next. I looked at Brenda and said:
“Are we going in or what?”
Brenda thought that we probably should not go on any farther, it was a bad idea, but she was really curious about what laid ahead. I was curious too, but worried. Besides, Ryan was already on the move. We had to hurry to catch up with him, which helped us decide. We did not want to get separated from him. So we both went down the trail. There was no climbing necessary to go through this opening in the wall. We started the descent down the shaft following Ryan. The hum was getting louder, or deeper. Ryan was not acting right. His gait was mechanical. He no longer talked or looked behind at us, and moved along like a man on a mission. After about five minutes of walking in silence, Ryan pointed his flashlight to the right where there was yet another opening. It appeared that he had known it was there all along from the way he acted. He did not even look into the opening, but turned right, and went through it. The air instantly became electric; the vibrations were deeper still. Brenda grabbed me by the arm with both hands and said:
“Listen, I don't know what's going on here. Why did Ryan leave us like that again? I'm not sure if we should follow him this time.”
“I don't know what to do either, Brenda. Do you hear that?”
The pitch had dropped and had become melodic.
“You mean the hum? Sure. I've heard this noise for a while now.”
“We should take a look inside and see where Ryan is.”
I pointed the flashlight into the opening and it immediately went dead. We both froze in the utter blackness. We had both seen a surreal image of a crystal cave with a reptilian god standing in the center of it just before the light went out. The stench of sulfur was suffocating. The thing sort of looked like a dogfish with legs and arms, and it stood upright. The image was similar to a Dragon Lizard with its neck-webbing flared out. We did not move. Brenda yelped once. We held onto each other for dear life. Where was Ryan?
Warmth emitted from the crystal cave as the sulfuric odor engulfed us. We heard the strangest sounds. It was a deep melodious chant in an unknown language. It was not spoken words. The noise was more of a vibration rather than an audible sound. I remembered the lighter in my pocket.
“I've got a lighter in my pocket.”
Brenda let go of my arm so I could fish it out. When I flicked on the flame, all we saw through the cave opening were a set of vertically slit yellow-colored eyes. It had to be Ryan; but how? The flame blew out immediately like the flashlight had. We were in darkness once again. I could not get the lighter to flick on again. Ryan emerged from the cave with his flashlight a few moments later and appeared to be back to normal. He said:
“Now I know why my family stays out of here, and away from the quarry. It feels like I've been down here before. Like déjà vu.”
His voice quivered and he was limp.
“What happened in there, Ryan?” Brenda demanded an answer.
“What do you mean?” he said.
“Ryan, we both saw what happened to you in there.”
“Oh, about that small lizard that came out?”
"What are you talking about?”
This was going nowhere. Ryan pretended that nothing had happened, or he did not remember. He seemed to be covering the whole thing up, as if it never happened. Then he said:
“We better get back. Suzie is expecting us for lunch.”
When we passed the rune-stone on the floor coming into the first cave, Brenda said:
“Ryan, don't you want to take this back to the house and show it to Suzie?”
“Listen, I don't want to talk about this place at all. This quarry is just a bunch of half-chipped granite with little value. And, big deal, you saw a lizard!”
“But Ryan, what happened in there? Something happened, we both saw it. You have to give Brenda and me some kind of explanation.”
“I don't know what you're talking about.”
We had to let it go. This was an impossible and insane situation. What happened down there in the subterranean world beneath Ryan's family property? There of course are rumors about shape-shifting reptilians living amongst us. There was the rune stone. Then there was the glimpse of Ryan seemingly having shape-shifted into a reptilian. We did not exactly see him change. There was no reasonable explanation for what we saw. Is Ryan really a shape-shifting reptilian? We would just have to sort these things out later, and not freak out. Brenda and I whispered an agreement to keep quiet until we could get away and figure out what was the best thing to do.
Ryan knew the quickest way of getting back out of the fissure and down the hill. There was a lot about Ryan that we did not know anything about. We walked along silently and emerged from the ground. Ryan led us to the path down the hill, past the wasps' nest and to the house without another word. Suzie had a simple lunch of chopped ham sandwiches, chips and pickles waiting for us. She wanted to know what had happened.
“What did you guys find?”
Ryan answered for us.
“We saw some kind of lizard. That's about all. It was a nice walk, but there's not much more to report. It's dangerous around that quarry. Now I know why we were told to stay away from it. It's slippery and someone could break their neck.”
Suzie was satisfied with Ryan's story about nothing happening and expressed no curiosity about the quarry. Brenda and I decided to leave this place right away after lunch. We ate quickly. We grabbed our stuff, said goodbye, and were out the door. There were no hugs or handshakes for Ryan. Brenda told Suzie that if she needed anything at all, to give her a call. As we walked to the car through the yard, Brenda said:
“Do you suppose Suzie is in danger?”
“It is wrong not to warn her, but what can we say, that her fiancé is a blood-sucking reptile? I mean really, Brenda, what can we do about any of this?”
“I see what you mean.”
We got into the car and drove out the long drive to the main road. The traffic going away from the coast was light this early Sunday afternoon. We stopped on our way through Bangor for coffee, and to calm down and sort things out. Brenda promised to call Suzie later and see how things went after we left. No one would believe us if we told them what happened and what we saw. We could not go to the police with a story about a shape-shifting reptilian. All that would get us was a mental health evaluation at an emergency room. We drank our coffee and left the subject like that. It was silently agreed then that we would never discuss this again.