Sirens don’t mix well with fire. It’s a direct contradiction to everything which we are. Water is the center of our world; each resource we use is from the sea. We thrive in everything dark and damp, living in time with the current’s gentle rhythm. Each siren is born in water, put to rest in water, and live near the rocks where land meets wave. The ocean is our identity. Despite this, nothing has ever called me the way fire has.
My mother always called me a little ember. It was a nickname that would have offended a proper siren. It was like saying I was the opposite of everything I was born to be, though I didn’t care. I proudly invested myself in a troubling fascination no matter how dangerous it was. Most sirens are too wise to love a thing so treacherous and the wisest of all was my mother. You’d never meet a siren so wonderful. The ocean was her biggest love and she spent hours under the waterline tending to the fishing nets. She taught me to do the same, but the ocean never called me stronger than flames. I suppose I was never as intelligent as her.
We only had two uses for fire: cooking and warfare. I wasn’t good at cooking, so I became a warrior. It always made my mother nervous. She was sure I would get burned one day but she was never able to stop me. Mother always said I was too wild for my own good but she loved me anyway, fire and all.
I guess the mundane met the noteworthy on a July day of an exact year I can’t remember. I was watching the lights of a human ship drift past the shore through a heavy layer of fog. I doubted the humans could even see the island past the clouds. Either way, law stated that if a ship was close enough to see, it was close enough to bring down. Perhaps we could have made an exception but each one of us was thirsting for blood. We were urged on by the beating of the waves and taunted by the moon winking behind passing clouds. It was a unanimous decision, we couldn't let the ship pass.
Warriors hadn’t seen true combat in hundreds of years. We fought our battles far away and with fire and fuel. We had no weapons of any real use in a war. There were some spears and bows but nothing to take down a ship of any real strength. Instead, we used a system of wit and perhaps genius.
Each warrior was tasked with raising a bird, mostly hawks and seagulls. We trained the birds to drop torches over unsuspecting ships. Sailors were powerless to stop the attack and we rarely lost so much as a single bird.
The quiet line of sirens, glaring at the passing lights, began to howl and dance. I joined in, screaming into the wind and spinning until I was dizzy. It was a miracle I didn’t fall and light up my hair with the torch in my hand. The hawk perched on my arm flapped his wings and cawed. I held up the torch, his signal to start the barrage. The smoke twisted around my face and I breathed in the smell.
I watched my sisters next to me do the same. Each, with faces in twisted smiles, released their birds towards the ship. Flint must have been the first bird to reach it though I had no way of knowing. Each animal disappeared in the fog. They dropped torches and flaming branches on the deck, undoubtedly leaving the crew helpless.
Eventually, the outline of the ship etched in flames radiated past the mist. We all cheered as it sunk beneath the water line. We watched as the light disappeared and howled at the sound of a snapping mast.
This was the stain on an otherwise happy society. We lived in peace among each other but kept our existence a secret at the cost of countless human lives. No man within sight of the island could live; out of fear that they might have seen so much as a palm tree. No chance was too small because we believed the danger was too great. It was a wild, ritualistic practice but once we were sure the ship was gone, complete silence fell over us. Quietly we put out the fires and waited for our birds to return. This was also a part of the ritual. We never talked when we returned home.
It would have been faster to walk the shoreline to the town but we always went down the same path through the forest. The town was only a few minutes away, nestled in a bay not far from where the lookouts spotted most ships. Still, we preferred a more difficult trek through the jungle. I think there was something magical in the darkness the shade provided. The drips of water on leaves was transformative. After every attack we felt wild, charged with adrenaline, and bursting to howl at the moon. We were like unrecognizable monsters craving to dance in the chaos of fire and blood. It wasn’t until we walked back through the woods that we became sirens again. We returned to the calm gentleness of the island and the kindness of a sane world. The birds, knowing better than to make noise, transformed from weapons to companions. Even they seemed more at ease.
On that specific night, the rest of the pod, which is the proper name for a group of sirens, were already asleep. Under other circumstances, they would have cheered when they saw us emerge from the bend in the path. They only saw brave defenders where there were ruthless animals.
I reached my home, a stone structure facing the ocean, and stepped inside. I shut my door and placed Flint on the bed post. I fed him bits of fish and whispered to him for the pleasure of hearing my voice after a walk of hearing nothing. I almost needed confirmation that I still had a voice after feeling so much like an animal.
I don’t know how anyone sleeps after something like that. How do you sleep after shedding any mercy and embodying all that is cruel? I don't know and yet somehow I managed. It was easier to ignore than to face what I knew was a terrible rage inside of me.
In the morning, the night before felt more like a grim dream and I threw it out of my mind with the ease of practice. Flint woke up first, as was routine, and left through the small window near the dining table. I let him fly free throughout the day as long as he came when I called. Somehow he always heard my call and letting him loose had never been a problem.
I remembered that I had to sharpen my spear, a chore I had forgotten for a couple of weeks. The weapon was so dull it was almost useless. No one needed weapons but most warriors had spears or bows; more for show and sport than anything else. Having a working weapon was a source of pride and so I usually kept it in prime condition and practiced with it often. I grabbed the weapon and the rock I used to sharpen it and walked outside. I sat against the front wall of my house and began to work; keeping an eye on the shoreline. I could see most of the sirens walking past the town center. Most were cleaning fish, preparing breakfast, and stretching out on the grass. A few were walking into the water to bring in the fishing nets.
I spotted Poppy, who was a year younger than I. She seemed alarmed at something on the sand further down the shore and out of my range of sight. I wondered if I should go see if something was wrong but decided better of it. Poppy was always rescuing injured animals and ‘sad’ looking plants. Helping her with anything usually led to a charity mission to save a seemingly confused ant.
“Boo!” A little voice squealed and I jumped in mock surprise.
“You scared me, Tiny.” I laughed.
“Whatcha doing?” The little girl sat on the ground next to me.
“Sharpening,” I answered. “What’re you doing?”
“I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll go flower hunting.” She twisted a red curl in her finger as she thought. “Oh! Oh! Oh!”
“What?” I laughed again. No one could make me smile like Nila. She was seven but she looked about four. Because of that, everyone called her Tiny no matter how much she complained.
“I helped to light the cooking fire yesterday! I told my mama I’m going to become a warrior just like you.” She puffed up out her chest.
“Well, you’d be good at it. You could light the torches with that red hair.” I pulled on a corkscrew curl.
“My mama said it would be hard for me to become a warrior because I get into too much trouble.” She sighed.
“I get into trouble all the time.” I retorted but I stopped paying attention. Poppy was walking up the sand with a sea-beaten sailor.
It was the first human I’d ever seen so close. His eyes were a deep blue darting back and forth at the sirens who gawked at him. He was soaking wet and gasping, trying to button his torn shirt with a shaky hand. He was blond with hair cut short and tattoos covering his arms. He was handsome but quite a bit older and taller than I.
“Rescuing bugs again, Poppy?” I teased, grimly.
“Not this time.” She laughed, nervously and whispered something to the man who nodded in return.
“That’s a human!” Tiny cheered and bolted towards Poppy.
“Tiny, get inside.” I grabbed her arm, pulled her back towards my house, and handed her the rock. “And take this.”
“In your house? Why? I wanna see!” She pointed at the man.
“Nila.” I pointed to the door. She knew that when the nickname went away, I was serious. Without further question, she went into the house and closed the door. I could see her peeking out of the window with concern and awe.
I watched Poppy bring the sailor to Mother Laurel, who was the oldest siren and final judge in the pod.
“He's shipwrecked.” Poppy was explaining, mid conversation.
I leaned the spear on my shoulder and walked to the bench where Mother Laurel was sitting. She was resting on her cane deep in thought.
“Yeah, and we were the ones who shipwrecked him.” I dug the edge of the spear in the grass so that it stood on its own.
“The fire…” He murmured but knew better than to say anything else.
“So the watch last night had to put a ship down?” Laurel asked, almost rhetorically.
“Should I leave?” The girl sitting next to Laurel asked.
“Of course not, Willow.” The old woman waved her hand. "You're welcome to join in on the conversation."
“Mother Laurel, we need to get rid of him,” I said.
“Get rid of him?” Poppy questioned.
“As in execution. The law states that no human can know about the island. That’s law!” I argued.
“We don’t have any law that makes murder acceptable.” Poppy retorted.
“Well, that’s what happened to his shipmates.” I countered.
“Okay, okay, you two. Poppy, what do you say we do with this human?”
“Let him stay and bring him into the pod,” Poppy shuffled. She knew it had never done before but also realized it was the only way we could let him live.
“Willow, settle this.” Laurel seemed almost amused. I thought it was strange that she was so calm over such an issue, but she was ancient. If anyone had seen it all, it would be her.
Willow stared at the man. She was Mother Laurel's granddaughter and had the same ancient blue eyes. I might have been more nervous seeing someone so young make a ruling but I knew that Willow was fair.
“I think we should let him stay for now and see how well a human man can live in the pod,” Willow answered. “We can always kill him later but we can’t reverse death if we decide it was a mistake.”
“Wise.” Laurel nodded. “Charlotte, he’ll stay with you and you will assimilate him into the pod.”
“Why?!” I gasped in horror.
“Who else can keep him in line like you?” Willow laughed.
I knew better than to argue with the pod Mother. I had more respect than that. Laurel nodded, a signal that I was free to leave. I grabbed my spear and spun on my heel.
“We’re going, human.” I barked and marched back towards my house.
“I’ll help you show him around.” Poppy offered, skipping after me.
“Great.” I rolled my eyes. “Show the human where everything important is.”
“I’m sorry you have to watch him, Charlie.”
“It’s not that big of a deal. I just think this is a mistake.” I shifted the spear on my shoulder. “We keep humans out for a reason. They’d slaughter us if they could.”
“You talk about them like they’re animals. He has a name and everything.” I had half a mind to laugh at her, but I noticed an absoluteness in her tone which I thought better than to tease.
“Fine. What’s his name?” The human was walking a step behind me, afraid to speak. He knew I was looking for a reason to spear him and he was too sea-beaten to express any of the rage he must have felt. I was the one who sank his ship and killed his friends, maybe even his family.
“Ask him yourself.” Poppy poked me.
“What’s your name?” I growled.
“Captain Michael Harvey.” The man answered. I admired his strength. He didn’t so much as flinch when I barked at him.
“You’re not a captain here,” I smirked. “I made sure of that.”
“Charlie!” Poppy cried and punched my arm.
“I did.” I shrugged. “You want revenge, don’t ya?”
“I don’t know what I want.” He almost whispered. I imagined that the sorrow of his loss was setting in.
We walked back to the house where Tiny was sitting in the doorway.
“Didn’t I tell you to stay in the house?” I scolded.
“I’m in the house!” She scooted back so her head was behind the door frame. “See?”
“You’re trouble.” Poppy laughed. “Worse than Charlie.”
Tiny was chewing on her bottom lip bursting with questions. She was always getting scolded for asking too many needless questions but I knew that being curious was perfectly normal. She didn’t know anything about humans and here was one standing in front of her.
“Go ahead and ask,” I told her.
“Poppy, why did you save a human? Don’t we hate humans? Is he after the cup? Can he breathe underwater? Is that how he survived? Does he hate Charlie? Is he going to kill Charlie? Is Charlie going to kill him? Can I-” She bounced up and down with each question, hardly taking a breath.
“Easy, girl.” The man laughed. “No one can keep up with you.”
“Don’t talk to her.” I snapped. “Tiny, pick one question first.”
“Can he breathe underwater and is that how he survived the ocean?” She paused after each word.
“No, I can’t breathe underwater. Can you?” The man knelt closer to her.
“Get-” I began, about to command him again but Poppy motioned me to stop.
“I can. Every siren can.” Tiny bragged. “We’re better than humans.”
Poppy and I winced in unison. Even I hoped she wouldn’t be too blunt.
“I bet you are. Do you have any other questions, Tiny?” Michael chuckled.
“You aren’t going to steal from the cup, are you?” Tiny murmured. “Or kill us?”
“Of course not.” He smiled and stood up, then asked Poppy and I: “What’s the cup? And, you’re sirens?”
Poppy and I glanced at each other nervously. I had no idea how to prove that we were a mythical race of women with tails, or whatever it was the human story was.
“We’ll explain when we show you around. You’ll have to see it to believe it.” Poppy promised. “Let’s start at the beach.”
Poppy and I talked together as we walked towards the sand. Michael seemed more comfortable but was still on edge. He walked behind us so quietly I almost forgot he was there, which was fine by me. His piercing blue eyes made me uneasy. It was as if he was reading my soul. He knew the horror of what I did better than other sirens, perhaps better than myself. He knew the chaos I caused firsthand. He’d seen the destruction I created in a way I never had.
On the beach, sirens were diving into the water. Others were dragging long cords of seaweed or fishing nets in the sand.
“Watch that woman.” I pointed to Marcella who submerged herself a few feet from the shore. She was the best net maker in the pod and the second oldest. If anything happened to Laurel, Marcella would become the pod mother.
Poppy sat down and buried her bare toes. “This might take a while.”
I did the same and he followed.
“There’s only women here.” He commented.
“Sirens are all female,” I answered and ran my finger over the edge of my spearhead. It still wasn’t sharp enough.
“Not like any females I’ve ever seen.” He snorted and looked us up and down.
I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. Poppy must have wondered the same. She smoothed the edges of her purple skirt and brushed sand off her knees. I could tell she was feeling self-conscious.
“I don’t know what you mean,” I replied.
“Human women don’t show so much skin. If you hadn’t murdered my crew and left me stranded, I’d say I was in pirate heaven.”
Marcella rose out of the water carrying an empty, ripped net.
“That was a long time to be under.” Michael nodded. “No one can hold their breath so long.”
“Our lungs are stronger than humans,” Poppy explained. “So we can breathe air and water.”
“We’re stronger than humans in general,” I added.
“That’s not true.” Poppy nudged me.
“But you don’t have the tails.” Michael pinched my foot.
I pushed him over but couldn’t help laughing. “That’s a legend.”
“Sirens are basically like humans except we can live on the land and sea.” Poppy elaborated.
“And how is it that you speak English?”
“Sirens have always had some sort of relationship to humans. Different pods have different rules on contact. A lot of pods trade with humans and we trade with pods who trade in human goods so it’s not uncommon to see sirens who own mirrors, books, pieces of human clothes, and such. We all learned to read.” I answered.
“And we need human men for…” Poppy giggled.
“Breeding.” I finished before she could say anything more descriptive.
“Adults swim to human ports.” Poppy winked.
“The laws for contact are different for each pod. Ours are pretty strict.” I added. “Most women here haven’t been to a port.”
“That’s why there are so few children.” Michael surmised and we both nodded. “So none of you know your fathers?”
“No,” Poppy answered. “But it doesn’t bother us.”
“Actually, I have this.” I showed him the pendant I wore tucked under my shirt. It was a gold cross with a ruby in the center. “My mother said this was my father’s. She stole it from him, which is, for a siren, a strange thing to do.”
“She was always sentimental.” Poppy reminisced.
“You don’t wonder who he was?” Michael studied the cross.
“All men are the same.” I retorted. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Then your mothers raised you all by themselves?”
“Actually the whole pod sort of raises all of us. We have a stronger sister mentality than most pods.” Poppy a bit of hair into a braid. “The law, even though it’s strict, keeps us close.”
“And keeps us moral.” I sighed. Poppy shuddered knowing what I alluding to. I explained: “There’s been some pods who have been known to eat humans. That’s where you’re legends come from.”
“Some of you actually eat people?” Michael asked, uneasily.
“Not on this island. We don’t get along with pods that do. We really only associate with a few nomadic pods who live in the sea and all of them trade with humans peacefully.”
“Don’t they get cold?” Michael wondered.
“We have a better resistance to lower temperatures.” I said.
“That is bloody amazing!” He shook his head.
“You haven’t even seen the best part yet!” Poppy exclaimed.
“What do you mean?” I stood and brushed away the sand.
“The Grail.” She answered. “It’s the only other interesting thing.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” I was of the opinion everything on the island was naturally more interesting than anything on human land. “Besides, we can’t show him that, it’s sacred. I’ve only been in once!”
“Fine we’ll show him the cave and explain what’s in it, but he deserves to know why we burned his ship.”
“That would be nice.” He retorted.
The cave was a five-minute walk from town through the jungle. It wasn’t a memorable walk but there couldn't be anywhere in the world as unique as the cave. The flat trail immediately met the mouth of a tunnel cut from the side of a sheer cliff. Sirens thousands of years past had carved imposing pillars on either side of the cavern about twenty feet tall. The trail sloped into the dark mouth with no promise of light from further into the tunnel. Poppy was swelling with pride that we had such a grand fixture. She explained the ancient nature of the cave with vigor. I was uneasy that a human was coming even near a place so sacred and powerful.
“It’s big.” He said, though his face was expressionless.
He seemed thoughtful and I wondered what he was thinking. It seemed that something was weighing heavily on his mind since Poppy had mentioned his crew.
“Inside is-” Poppy began.
“So why did you kill my crew?” He interrupted.
“We-” I started.
“Great! Half naked women breathing underwater. A creepy cave with some pillars. You murder passing sailors in cold blood. Why?! All I’ve seen is rocks and fishing nets.” His hands were in fists and he loomed over Poppy who began to shake. “You killed good men, pirates, but still good men. Didn’t even give them a fighting chance ‘cause you wouldn’t have gotten us so easily if it was a fair fight!”
“She didn’t kill anyone.” I stepped in between them and matched his frigid gaze. “I did.”
“Aye, and I kill people too but we usually do it for a reason.” He growled. “You don’t have one, other that you like it.”
“Watch it, human!” I warned, gripping the handle of my spear. “We have a reason and she was going to tell you. Oh, and by the way, it’s a better cause than gold!”
He snarled but seemed less aggressive. “What is it then?”
“It’s what’s inside the cave,” Poppy whispered, almost to tears. “We’re guardians of the Holy Grail. It’s our sacred duty. We have to. It’s sacred.”
Michael didn’t speak. He craned his neck into the cave. “You little girls hide the cup of Jesus?”
“And what’s in the cup. It holds water that promises power but punishes greed.” I explained with impatience. “And we aren’t little.”
“Promises power but punishes greed?” He snapped. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We don’t know. No one has ever drunk from it.” Poppy answered.
“And no one will because your people don’t even know the island exists.” I growled, still making sure I was between him and Poppy.
It took Michael a while to answer but when he did he sighed and said: “I understand the secrecy.”
“You do?” I narrowed my eyes. I could only imagine what he must have gone through and the vengeance he would be planning.
“Yeah, my men knew it was a dangerous job serving on a pirate ship. You did what you felt you had to. I won’t begrudge that. As it is, it must be a broken world that makes a young woman kill. How old are you, anyway?”
“Seventeen,” I muttered. I felt guilt and pity in a way I had never experienced and didn’t know how to handle.
“I’m sixteen,” Poppy added, cheerfully, if not a bit awkwardly, to break the tension.
“You look twelve, Poppy. Now tell me; when handsome pirates don’t wash up on your beach, what do you two usually do?” Michael Harvey winked.
“Swimming, eating, helping with the nets, cooking. Charlie likes to play with fire.” Poppy teased. Knowing what I used fire to do to Michael, I looked away.
“Eating would be nice.” The pirate laughed.
“Charlie will take you. I have to finish weaving a basket I promised Marcella I would finish by now.” Poppy smiled. “I’ll see you around, Michael.”
“Indeed.” He bowed as she spun gracefully and ran down the path.
“Let’s go.” I motioned for him to lead the way back to the town.
Without Poppy, the conversation seemed a difficult feat. I took him back to my house where I had some bananas and bread waiting for breakfast. Though it was closer to lunch by the time we got back.
“It’s kinda bare in here.” He remarked. The shelves were empty except for a few books and an extra blanket.
“I don’t like clutter.” I shrugged. It was all I could say though I wished I could say more. For whatever reason, I felt like I had to prove myself to him. I had to explain why I was a warrior, why my house was empty, why I distrusted him more than anyone else did. But they were things I couldn’t say to myself much less to him and so it was a quiet meal until there was a knock on the door.
“Willow.” I smiled and opened the door wider for her to come in.
“Mind if I grab a banana, I’m starving.”
“Of course.” I smiled and handed her a fruit out of the cupboard.
“I just thought I would visit our newcomer. You know you can always get more food when you need it.” She ogled at the bare shelf.
“She doesn’t like clutter,” Michael answered between bites of bread.
“Charlie hasn’t been too mean to you, has she?” Willow slipped into a dining chair.
“Actually, she has been. However, considering she’s such a tortured soul I have to let it slide.” He smirked at me.
“I am not!” I ripped a bit of bread off his plate.
“I mean, after all, she’s been through who could wonder.” Willow sighed.
I sniffed and paced towards the window. I took a deep breath through sharp pangs of pain.
“Oh my god, she didn’t tell you did she?” Willow gasped, judging my reaction.
“No, what?” Michael asked.
“Humans killed her sister and mother. She’s been an orphan for the last three years.”
“You make it sound like it was murder.” I sighed. “It was an accident.”
“At the time, you didn’t feel that way.” She answered. “You led the warriors yourself after that ship.”
“What happened?” Michael asked.
“One day there was a fishing boat trying to harpoon a whale. It was far enough away from the island that we didn’t think we needed to bring it down. We spared that ship and we didn’t have to and because of it-well... My sister, Clara was twelve at the time and saw the whale in the water. She was trying to save it from the fishermen. Mother chased after her, trying to get her back to the island. The fishermen must not have seen them because when they attacked the whale… They hit my family.” I explained.
“That’s horrific.” Michael murmured.
“It’s why she hates humans,” Willow added.
“Actually, she’s starting to warm up to me.” Michael teased, but his eyes clouded in concern.
“No, I’m not.” I snorted.
“You must be if you haven’t speared him yet.” Willow finished her banana. “Charlie, I’m supposed to watch Tiny after lunch. Can you come with me? She only listens to you.”
“I’m supposed to look after the human. If he doesn’t mind coming along, I’ll help.” I looked at Michael.
“That kid is hilarious. I’m fine with that.” He put his finished plate on the counter.
“Just let me grab my spear. I still have to finish sharpening it.”
We walked into the grass behind Willow’s house. Her mother kept the prettiest garden I had ever seen framed with flower beds. Poppy was sitting on the ground trying to put together a lopsided basket. Tiny was picking at the grass, looking bored. She seemed to light up when I walked towards her.
“Charlie!” She bounced up and tackled me in a hug.
“Wow, Tiny. You’re getting strong.”
“Warrior strong?” She questioned.
“Pirate strong,” Michael answered and sat on the grass next to Poppy.
“Poppy, can you make me flower crowns?” Tiny begged.
“I seriously need to finish this,” Poppy grumbled as she twisted strips of palm fronds.
“Let me see what I can do, kid.” Michael started picking flowers and setting them into rows. In a few minutes, he had made her a flower crown and three bracelets.
I finished working on my spear and watched the clouds with Willow. I noticed a bird circling overhead that I assumed was Flint. I always knew he wasn’t ever too far away.
“Is that your hawk?” Poppy asked.
“I love Flint!” Tiny howled. “Call him over.”
“Okay.” I put two fingers in my mouth and whistled. It took a few times for him to hear but when he did he dove and perched in the grass right in front of my legs.
“So this is one of the devils who shipwrecked me.” Michael stroked Flint’s wing. I winced and started picking at the grass.
“I don’t blame you, love.” He whispered to me.
“Don’t call me that.” I retorted.
“He’s a the prettiest bird ever!” Tiny howled and put a flower in front of his beak. Flint pecked off a petal but otherwise ignored her.
A few sirens passed by and waved.
“Everyone else seems busier than us,” Michael remarked.
“That’s because we’re technically children. We don’t have to work yet,” Willow answered. “But Charlie does more than the rest of us. She’ll be leading the warriors eventually.”
“It’s beautiful here. I-” I loud crash interrupted him.
Tiny covered her ears and whined.
“Cannons.” Michael murmured.
“Humans!” I grabbed my spear and moved towards the sound.
“No, Charlie, remember our duty. If we’re already invaded we need to get to the Grail and prepare to defend it.” Willow grabbed my arm.
“Take Poppy and Tiny and hide them, immediately.” I gave her a quick hug and gave the same to Poppy who was shaking like a leaf.
“Tiny, you need to stay quiet and do what they say. Okay?” I asked.
“O-okay.” She sobbed. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Nila.” I poked her nose and smiled once again to the others. “Michael, you’re coming with me.”
Willow picked up Tiny and they all ran in the other direction. Michael and I raced towards the cave. Behind us, I heard screaming and the loud pops of gunfire. Flint flew in front of me, leading the way and urging me on.
“If you have anything to do with this...” I began to threaten.
“I have no idea who they are but they’re not after me.” Michael Harvey answered in between heavy gasps.
“I know,” I sighed. “I just wanted to be sure.”
We reached the mouth of the cave and Flint plunged into the darkness.
“You know what you’re doing, right?” Michael asked. He must have noticed my uncertainty. “As in, you’ve been down here before and know where we’re going.”
“I’m a bit scared of the dark.” I admitted. “I’ve only gone once or twice with a torch but it lights up eventually.”
“Bloody perfect.” He grunted. “You better get over that fear fast because you’re leading the way.”
I nodded and forced myself to step into the dark.