"I'd give anything for an ice cold moscow mule, in a frosty copper mug", he thought as he gulped down the last of the luke warm water from his dusty canteen. The heat was sweltering and the dense canopy of leaves towering above him did not provide much protection. "Two more miles..." he sighed aloud, a promise made from equal parts resignation and exhaustion. He knew that he would have to turn back soon. Though the sun began to sit low in the sky, the heat wouldn't subside, and predators lived for warm nights when the aroma of their prey would escort them directly to their bounty.
Quickening his pace, he carved his way through the lush vegetation. An image of him tiptoeing through his mother's garden flashed in his mind. He quietly laughed to himself, recalling her enraged admonishments about walking on plants as he plowed his way through exotic flora so thick and colorful that it seemed almost otherworldly.
The sound jerked him from his daydream, bringing his senses to high alert. "Branches don't break themselves" he thought. Still as a statue, he waited. Surveying the area near him... watching for any sign of movement. Moments that felt like eons passed. Not quite sure he was alone, he pressed forward. Clearing another patch of brush, his anxious expression turned jubilant. He found it. The cave...
He raced towards the opening, and placed his hands on the rock surrounding it. It was real. He could feel it. Quickly, he snapped pictures of the indentations around the entrance, stopping only to briefly marvel at one crescent shaped symbol, with flecks of crimson pigment that had miraculously survived through the ages. Satisfied with the photos, he set his GPS beacon, and stepped inside.
The air was much cooler. Lighter. Only now did he realize how much the sweltering heat was affecting him. The light from the entrance was fading, and he was grateful for his mag light. The beam swung from side to side, cutting the darkness, revealing a vast ceiling and dusty walls untouched by human hands in ages. Caught in the euphoria of his discovery, he absentmindedly dropped led lights along his path, to help guide his way out, lest he become lost and find himself a relic of the cave.
Again he froze. Quieting his breath, he fought not to make a sound. He'd seen enough horror movies to know that you never call out if you're not alone. His heart began to pound, nerves tingling, his senses screamed that he was not alone. as he slowly swung the light around, examining every corner. For a moment, it occurred to him, that the light could be leading who, or whatever, was following directly to him.
Summoning his courage, he turned off his flashlight.
The sound of faint shuffling... growing louder... closer... He turned back on the light revealing two cold eyes staring into his, gleaming in the darkness. Terrified he whispered his final word, as he understood that the legends were true and that it had found him. He'd found it's home. He knew it exists. And he knew it's name.