At the tightest point, Jok had had to take off his backpack and crawl, pushing it in front him like a dung beetle. It could've been worse, he thought. There was light at least. But he was still lost in the cave. He had thought that, once he finally discovered the source of the light, he would be able to escape the stony prison. But when he had finally made it through the wormhole (as he had come to call it) he found himself in a massive open space - an atrium of sorts. And the light, he discovered, issued from what appeared to be a perfectly round hole at least a hundred feet above him.
He took his time in the room. The room itself was oblong - egg shaped to be more precise. The end where he had entered was somewhat wider than the other end. The walls were smooth, rounded. The floor rounded seemlessly up into the walls which rounded seamlessly into the ceiling. The hole in the roof was centered along the long axis of the egg shape but was closer to the larger end. Directly beneath the hole was a pool of water which was also perfectly round. He wondered for a moment if pool had formed from condensation, but he couldn't find any trace of where water might have run down the walls into the small pool. The pool reminded him of pools he had seen in photographs of the ruins of ancient Roman homes. He thought back to high school. His Latin teacher, Mrs. Teague had had a nervous tic in her eye. He could see her plain as day - "Repeat after me *tic tic* - lacuna es parva." "LACUNA ES PARVA." "The pool *tic tic* is small." "THE POOL IS SMALL."
The pool definitely was small. Jok estimated it to be about ten feet across. The liquid in it was opaque - a milky green - so he couldn't deduce anything about the pool's depth. He estimated that, if the floor continued on its course, the center of the pool would be about 3 feet deep. Jok took the tube of his hydration pack into his mouth, clamped his teeth around the bite valve, and took a swig. The water was cool and he was glad he had plenty. He didn't want to have to test the milky green water in the pool to see if it was potable. It looked acidic. Dangerous.
Jok walked around the cavernous room. The entire room seemed to have been hollowed out of the same homogenous stone - a streaked chert-like rock. The floors, walls, ceiling were impossibly smooth. It seemed that perhaps the entire structure had been made by the long-term effect of water, but, for the life of him, Jok couldn't figure out how that might have happened. Jok wandered throughout the room the air of which felt slightly damp. There was nothing there. Nothing. A perfectly round hole in the ceiling, a perfectly round hole in the floor (filled with water) and a perfectly round hole that led back into the wormhole. There were no insects. No plants. Not even so much as a fungus. There were no stalactites, stalagmites, loose stones. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Bupkis. Jok sat there for a moment, he couldn't be sure how long. He couldn't go back. The cave-in prevented that. He couldn't climb the walls of this room. There were no passages branching off the wormhole. This would be a tough problem to solve. He thought back to the day before.
He had been packing through this remote part of the Utah desert many times, but had never stumbled on a place like this. This day, he'd wandered deep into a narrow canyon – one he'd never been in before – followed it for a number of miles, crawled through tight gaps in the rocks, slipped through short tunnels, and, voila, had found himself in what looked like an oasis. No shit. A fucking oasis. Water. freaking palm trees with dates on them. A cormorant standing watch expectantly over the water. Blue skies. White clouds. Oasis. Had a beautiful topless Arabian woman stepped out from behind a date palm, Jok wouldn't have been any more surprised. He had camped there. Pitched his Eureka, made a little fire, eaten his Mary Jane's Backcountry freeze-dried stroganoff and topped the whole thing off with dates. The next morning, he had discovered the wormhole hidden away in a rock outcropping. He had been intrigued by its perfectly smooth, round entrance.
Now he found himself stuck in some great stone egg. Yep, this would be a tough problem to solve. Jok slipped off his pack and removed his boots and socks to let his feet air out while he considered his predicament. He wandered over to the pool. Gingerly, he dipped a big toe in the cool water. It felt good. He waded into it slowly. Jok had just begun to think of how slick the bottom of the pool was when his feet slipped out from under him. He slid quickly toward the center of the pool. As he suspected, the floor of the pool seemed to follow the same curve as the rest of the cavern. That is... until he reached the center. Perhaps 3 feet from the very center of the pool, the bottom suddenly dropped out. Jok found himself sputtering, trying to catch his breath, and treading water in the center of the milky pool. Jok was just beginning to wonder if the pool might offer some means of escape when he what felt like hands grabbed him around the ankles and tugged him downward. Jok's next thought was, yep, the pool definitely offered some means of escape.