SECRETS IN THE FAIRY CHIMNEYS
PROLOGUE (July 10)
A Cave in Nevshehir, Turkey
“I’m afraid, Ahmet. I don’t want to go any further.” The girl stamped her foot, the sound echoing through the stillness of the cave.
“Oh, you little silly wussycat! I told you, it is like the story of Hansom and Greta. I left a trail of bread crumbs for us to follow out of this cave.”
“That’s Hansel and Gretel, you great fool,” his sister shot back, momentarily distracted from her panic. Looking up at her brother, and noticing the shadow of a mustache under his nose, she thought, Can I really trust this twelve year old brother to save us?
Her eyes took in the expanse of the chamber they were in, water dripping from some place their flashlights could not illuminate. The stone was irregular and gray. The light beam revealed only a small swath, leaving the rest of the cave in menacing shadows and deep black voids, leading away into a terrifying unknown. Yelda’s voice hitched as she tugged on Ahmet’s sleeve. “Let’s get out of here,” she implored once more.
Changing his tone to a more cajoling one, Ahmet reasoned, “Please, just a few more feet, Yelda. I’m running out of bread crumbs.”
“What!” she said through quivering lips, her voice a shrill peep. “You said this would be an adventure. You didn’t say anything about death traps.” She pulled more insistently at his arm.
Undeterred, Ahmet surged on. “Just over there. See, at the end of this cave.” He grabbed her hand and Yelda followed, sniveling, her body tense with apprehension.
Ahmet stumbled over a lip in the floor, pitching forward and dragging his sister with him. He did not let go of her hand in case she would give into her fear and bolt for the entrance to the cave.
“What if your breadcrumbs don’t help us?” Yelda said, the quiver in her voice giving way to fear.
Carefully picking their way, the two fell against a boulder which shielded a rocky ledge that fell off into an abyss which they could not see. Ahmet clutched his flashlight like a lifesaver while he tested for footholds, making his way around the boulder. As he did so, the boulder, which teetered precariously on the ledge, began to slide away from them. Before they could comprehend what that meant, the thin ledge they were standing on cracked and Yelda and Ahmet began to slide downward along with the boulder and the broken ledge.
The sound was deafening in the cave. The fall could have only taken a few seconds, but the sudden stop at the bottom raised a cloud of choking dust leaving the explorers in a daze.
Yelda was too stunned to cry. Ahmet never let go of either his twin sister or the flashlight.
“Stand up, Yelda!” demanded her brother, as he did so himself. “Can you walk? I seem to be okay.”
“Ahmet, if we ever get out of here,” hissed Yelda through gritted teeth, “I will kill you. Why, I say, why do I ever listen to you?’
“This is no time for us to argue. We are in big trouble. We must find our way out of here.”
“Even so smart, you are,” Yelda sneered. “In all of Turkey, there is not a more stupid boy!”
“Stop that! This is no time for your sarcastic poking at me, sister.” Ahmet sounded far more confident than he felt. “We need to think like the amateur archeologists we are.”
“Hah! You said it! Amateur! Yelda was choking back a sob.
“Get up,” Ahmet demanded. Their terrible situation was taking a firm hold on his gut, and he had to muster all his machismo to push down his own panic. They had fallen through the floor of an unexplored cave and no one back at the camp knew where they were.
Yelda got up feeling the seat of her pants. “I am either bleeding, or there is water here,” she said. “Did you lose the flashlight?”
“No,” he replied, realizing how tightly he was gripping it. “And it is still working.”
He played the beam around their new cave. They could see they were standing in a high-ceilinged cavern with a large puddle or small pond in front of them. There was no telling how deep the water might be.