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Black Hole

Short Story by Les Furnanz  October 1, 2009

Page 9 - Turns

David, Raphael and Michel resumed their explorations, exiting the cavern via the continuing passageway that soon narrowed considerably. The low ceiling caused the cavers to squat or crawl in several spots. When they reached an even lower section they got onto their knees and shined their beams together, trying to determine if they could maneuver through it. Raphael said, "Michel, it's already 11 o'clock. I think it best if you scout ahead here. Don't take any risks at getting lodged too tightly. Return quickly if you can't make it safely. Otherwise flash three times from the furthest point from where you can see our beams. We'll keep them shining forward and flash back three times to confirm we are coming. Stay there until we've reached you. Remember, non-stop flashing is our agreed upon call for help."

No more than a few minutes had passed before Raphael and David saw three flashes and responded. Although the going was tight, they were able to stay on hands and knees until they reached Michel. They were pleased to see that he was in a large chamber, much grander than the first.

"This is what we've been praying to find," stated Michel.

They beamed their headlamps along the walls, methodically traversing its full extent. Deer, bears, mammoths, horses, ibexes, saber-tooth tigers peered off the walls in black, red and ochre curves. One of the many horses was done in the same style as the famous painting from Pech Merle with large black dots. "This may equal Pech Merle," exclaimed David, as Raphael and Michel added their pleased assent.

Most amazing to David was the whitish background that had been painted in many areas to provide emphasis and relief. The chamber was perhaps 40 meters long. "How were the artists able to reach so highly on these walls?" asked David. They shook their heads in wonder. "My favorite is this large black bull running in front of several reddish-colored cows... the leader of the pack."

"Look at these two ibexes, head to head, and a horse running behind them," said Raphael. David nodded and began logging descriptive notes into his journal. They shined their lights in unison at each grouping of figures. Two hunters with spears were included in a scene with several deer.

As David filled the log, Raphael photographed the major scenes in the dim light of their headlamps. By the time they completed a round of the chamber it was almost two o'clock.

"Incredible," said Michel. "Incredible. Tomorrow we've got to get the Pech Merle team in here to confirm this. And there may be more such chambers to be found. Two corridors exit this chamber at the opposite side from where we entered. 

They admitted that it was hard to pull themselves away and start the trip back. The tight corridor would need to be carefully enlarged to enable public access. The return seemed laborious and slow to David, who couldn't wait to shout the good news to the curator, Racine. But there were other chores to be handled first, including enlisting the Cahors police and filing charges against Jules and Arnaud.




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