When I opened my eyes there was darkness, thick, black, silent darkness. A putrid scent of body odor and blood engrossed my nostrils as I gasped for air. It was consciously hard to breathe, wherever I was at that moment. The last thing I remembered, I was exploring a cave I had found while rock climbing that beautiful summer afternoon. After I heard an ear-piercing crash, my memory was no use. Everything went black, and my state of mind with it. The times I tried to recount any more details of what happened next, I was only frustrated with no success and a nauseating headache.
Everything was just black, utterly and hopelessly black. The darkness a thick curtain in front of me, it seemed as though my fingers could move it out of the way and let the light in. Then the thought occurred to me, have I died? Did I have some kind of accident in that cave and that was it? The icy fingers of fear and worry suddenly gripped me. Who will take care of my wife and children? Will they ever know what happened to me? Is anyone going to look for me? The questions didn’t stop coming. All I knew at that moment was that wherever I was, I could not move. Every time I tried to shift my body an overwhelming pain rushed to my legs and ankles. As I tried to feel my surroundings, cold, hard surfaces came in contact with me everywhere I frantically felt. It soon became clear I was pinned under a massive stone and trapped in the cave somewhere. Panic set in my bones as my situation became real. I knew there was nothing I could do for myself; I was trapped, helpless. At that point I tried to sleep it off and hoped that I would not wake up and this nightmare would be over.
Surprisingly I did fall asleep, and when I woke up, there were no bright lights and shiny people, just more of the same endless black. And the more I rubbed my eyes hoping for a different scene, that abyss continued to swallow me in its darkness. My stomach began to growl, my mouth became noticeably dry, and I wondered how much time had passed since that afternoon I ventured into the cave. Food had been the last thing on my mind, but since I had settled in to my hopeless surroundings a little more, I was able to recognize my hunger and thirst. Water was just about the only thing on my mind at that time, and I wondered why I had not felt much pain in my obviously injured legs. Endorphins were the conclusion I easily settled with. Once again, my mind wandered on the unanswered questions of my situation and I fell back asleep in my dark little nest of rocks.
The next thing I remember, I woke up to a loud crack, crumble, and crash. My arm was in excruciating pain as another rock had fallen on it, pinning my body even tighter to the wall of that bleak cave. It seemed as though my entire body was throbbing under that one rock through my arm; the pain was unbearable. I must have passed out from the pain, because I woke up for a third time to a more subtle slow throb in my arm and a headache that seemed to just squeeze the life out of me. My hunger and thirst started to be more uncomfortable and at that point, any pain I had previously felt in my legs was an old and seemingly unimportant worry compared to my overall situation. Just as I started to give up hope, I heard what sounded like a yell in the distance. My explanation was delirium until I heard it again and again, louder and louder. As the voices grew nearer, I could clearly hear what they were saying. Someone was calling my name. Derrick, Derrick! Are you there? Can you hear me? Derrick?? My heart leapt with joy and my stomach knotted in excitement at the thought of rescue. With all of the energy I had left, I called out for help, in some attempt to be heard. But the more I yelled, the further away the voices got. Gasping for air and straining to yell, my throat grew sore and it became increasingly difficult to breathe in that tight pocket of air. Eventually the voices died away and I ceased my calls for help. There was no hope for me.
Now, I sit on the same rock against the same wall in the same cave I stumbled upon that beautiful summer afternoon. I no longer feel my legs or arm, and my head spins whenever I try to turn it. Delirium has set it; the rocks echo the voices of my imaginary rescuers as time passes by, but then again time is irrelevant at this point. I do not know how long I have been here, and I do not know how much longer I have left. I am recording everything I remember on the video camera I brought with me hiking that day, and hope one day someone will find this and let my family know what has become of me. Though this is not how I wish to go, I will settle for my fate. I’m Derrick Leeland, and as the battery flashes red on my camera, I will conclude with my remaining memories of the day I set out for this cave, the cave that will be my resting place. The beautiful sun shone across a cloudless sky, glittered on a crystal clear pond, and glistened on the fresh dew that dripped from the grass under my feet. Harmonious melody could be heard from the birds as a light breeze engulfed my nostrils. I took a deep breath of the fresh, crisp air and set out on that summer afternoon, embarking on the journey that would end my life.