#178 – The Tale of The Cave Dweller

The forest drew me in but it was The Cave Dweller who kept me here.

The few villagers who walked by on their way to trade spices with the foreigners commented on how foolish I was for wanting to build on the rocky ground next to the cave, but I was not building it to impress them, nor was I building it for protection or safety. The Cave Dweller took care of that for me now. He has developed a great deal of respect for me. The type of respect reserved for the determination of your enemy.

The village could no longer cater to my hopes and desires. The narrow-mindedness and simplemindedness of its people repulsing me more each day. On a dreary July day, I blew out the last of the candles lighting my abode, gathered my supplies in my barrow and made my way into the forest. Peace and comfort washed over me like a soft blanket covering a small child. I battled through my exhaustion, travelling for two days up hills and across rivers before discovering the perfect spot to build my new home. The forest opened up to a clearing in front of a cave, and the ground still felt damp from the recent rains. There was more than enough room for me to build my new home here, though that was true of the half dozen places I had stopped at up until today. The difference here was the view of the forest.

Looking out over the edge of the rocky clearing was akin to staring into a world gone topsy-turvy. Here, the clouds floated below the tree-tops as if being pushed down by an enormous layer of invisible glass, the crisp air carrying fewer sounds than it did back in the village. I wiped my brow and set myself to work. This is where I would build and this is where I would live. That was when I heard the Cave Dweller’s terrifying growl for the first time. Just like waking up from a nightmare, I convinced myself that the grumbling was something I didn’t need to concern myself with and set to work, laying out the wood that would form the foundation of my the home I never thought I would own.

I spent the next eighteen days building the house; sawing, lifting, tying, concentrating and humming. Every day I was closer to achieving my dream. The wooden cabin was all I would ever need, and I was filled with pride as I stood back admiring my own masterpiece.

My grin turned serious when I heard the grumbling once again, and I tightened the grip on my staff while staring into the cave. The growl continued longer this time, long enough for me to understand that it was not the wind making that sound. I considered for a moment taking shelter in my home, but that felt far too cowardly. So, instead, I moved to the front of the cabin, pushed my staff into the ground and waited for whatever monster lay in that cave to accept my challenge.

Prompted by my defiance, the noise increased in volume until I had to cover my ears. I squinted my eyes and lower my head. I could see the silhouette of the rocks as they flew past my head, destroying the roof to my house. I remained calm and held my ground. Seeing the enormous, black hand of the creature in the cave grip onto its walls was enough for me to tightly close my eyes. I can tell you that I was filled with fear over the course of the next minute. The Cave Dweller wrapped itself around me, growling as loud as he could. When I thought it was over, I opened my eyes, turned around and started to weep. Pieces of wood and logs I had chopped were strewn across the open forest. The Cave Dweller had destroyed my home, but, he was about to learn that he did not destroy my resolve.

Since then, I have built and re-built the house more times than I care to consider. I have braved wind and rain without shelter or rest, just to show The Cave Dweller, and myself, that hat I am in control. He protects me from death while challenging me to live.

And for that, I​ respect him immensely.

My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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