Fiction and Poetry 3am Magazine Contact Links Submission Guidelines




Alexander Munkachy

T he tour guide was carrying this fake torch. It was a flashlight in the shape of a torch, or so I understand. Anyhow, he dropped it in the canyon when we were crossing over it, and now we‚re lost. Everyone is shouting or arguing or crying.

As for me? Well, I’m blind, so it doesn’t really matter to me that I can’t see. But everyone else is terrified because we‚re standing over a six-mile chasm. That’s how deep the thing is. They call it the bottomless pit, or something to that effect.

I’m not completely blind, but I am legally blind. I’m not allowed to drive a car, except in North Dakota. That’s where I want to live when I get older.

But right now I’m trapped in the Carlsbad Caverns with a bunch of idiots. I’m freezing my ass off, even though I’m wearing a heavy coat.

It’s cold in here.

“Where are we? Do you know where we are?” one lady says.

“Attention, please!”says the tour guide. “Please calm down. Please!”

“Does anyone have a pocket light?”he adds. No response.

My best friend in the world, Casey, is holding my hand. I can tell that she’s scared, because her hand is cold and clammy. Usually it’s warm and soft. I whisper in her ear that everything is going to be all right. She says that she hopes so. I ask the tour guide if he has a radio or a cell phone or something. Of course, he doesn’t have anything. Apparently, cell phones won’t work in the caverns because we‚re too deep under the earth. Too much interference, he says.

The crowd is divided over which way they should go. One half of the crowd wants to keep going, because they say that we’re more than halfway done with the tour. The other half says that we should turn around and retrace our steps because we‚re more familiar with the way that we already came. The tour guide is trying to get everyone’s attention, but they ignore the little runt. I can tell by his voice that he’s no more than nineteen years old.

Casey and I decide to go with the group that says that we should turn back the way we came. We feel our way along the metal rails until we get to the end of the bridge. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief when we reach solid ground.

“Now, eh! Let’s see! Did we come in from the north or from the east?”

It sounds like a retired old man.

“Harry, it was the north. Wasn’t it the north?”

I guess that’s his wife.

“No, it was the east! I remember making a right turn right before we came to this bridge,” says another younger voice.

“No, it was the north. Remember the butterfly formation? That was a left turn! And then we kept going straight,” says another.

Casey whispers in my ear, to ask me what I think. I really don’t know what particular direction we came in, and I tell her that but I do have a feeling that we need to take a right. So we leave the quarreling crowd behind and turn right. I feel the walls as we make our way. I recognize the shapes and crevices. I tell Casey that we’re going to be okay.

This is kind of dangerous, but I figure that we’re better off alone than with those people.

We pass the butterfly formation, the stalactites and stalagmites, and the empty soda can that someone had left behind. It isn’t long before Casey tells me that she can see light ahead. We hurry on, and make our way to the exit. It takes us a while (and a couple wrong turns) but we get there all the same. We step out of the cave and into the light!

Casey asks me: what should we do now? But we both know what we have to do.

We go to the tourist center and tell them about what happened. They call in a search team. We’re going back into the cave (with many large, powerful flashlights this time) to save the lost spelunkers.

Casey and I lead the team around the cave. We take them to the place where the tour guide dropped his fake torch. The rescuers curse and make jokes.

“That a tour guide. How old is he? Nineteen?”

“Yeah. He’s the son of the guy who runs the show around here, I guess.”

We hear a shrill scream followed by a series of shouts. Two of the rescuers rush off.

“Stay here!” they say.

But Casey and I follow them anyway. I can’t see what’s going on; all I can hear is grunting and screaming.

Apparently, two of the tourists are fighting in the dark. They’re wrestling on the floor of the cave. Two other women, I guess they’re the wives of the two tourists, are huddled together in the corner of the clearing. One of the men is sitting on top of the other one. The man on top has his hands around the other man’s throat!

The rescue team shines their beam of light into his face. Casey says that the man’s expression changed instantly from a wild, ferocious snarl into an affable smile.

Slowly, he releases his grip. He acts like he was just fixing the other man’s collar.

“Sam and I were, ah, just having a bit of a disagreement,”he says.

Casey comments on his hair. Says it looks like a wild patch of crab grass.

The man’s glasses are cocked to one side of his face; they’re bent. His nose is bent. Blood is smeared over his Hawaiian shirt. Who knows what had happened? Who knows what would have happened if we hadn’t arrived in the nick of time?

“Come on, you two!” says one of the rescuers.

I ask Casey if those were the same tourists that we left behind. She nods her head yes.

One by one, we find the rest of the lost tourists. We find one person sitting on the ground, screaming. Here is another. I can hear him crying.

He’s telling us about a woman he passed on the way. We’re off to find her.

We find her. She’s hugging a stalagmite. She’s calling out for her daddy.

We find a large group of tourists sitting together on the ground. They’re huddled together, telling jokes and stories. They‚re very happy to see us.

And the tour guide - where is he? We have to search for another hour to find him. He was wandering aimlessly around in the dark. He says he is glad that he finally found us. He was starting to get worried about us, he says. Casey said that he looked pale and scared.

So that’s everyone. The rescuers lead us out of the caverns and into the daylight.

None of them know about Casey and I, and how we found our way out of the cave by ourselves. They don’t know that we were the ones who alerted the rescue crew.

They don’t even stop thank the rescue crew! But Casey and I see no reason to remind them or to tell them about us. We decide to remain anonymous.

Casey asks if I’m hungry. I am. So is she. She tells me that she feels like a fasting saint.

Casey always cracks me up. We order two giant subs at the snack bar and eat until our stomachs feel like they are going to explode.

It’s been a long, long day.


Alexander Munkachy is a 20 year old published writer and full time college student. He is a staff writer for a New York based startup e-zine called Ideology Press. Currently, Munkachy is challenging himself to write 100 short stories in 100 days. He posts his daily stories on his website. Munkachy uses what little spare time he has left to create original psychedellic music-sounds, which can be found here.

home | buzzwords
fiction and poetry | literature | arts | politica | music | nonfiction
| offers | contact | guidelines | advertise | webmasters
Copyright © 2005, 3 AM Magazine. All Rights Reserved.