Again, I'm sorry that I'm late, but at least I have it up before Monday. It took me forever to come up with an idea for this one but I do like the one I came up with. I fell short of 1,000 words, my story is only 836, but that's okay, right?
“Hey, old timer, you here?” the laugh echoed off the dripping cave walls, traveling farther and farther back until it reached the elder’s ears.He pressed his wrinkled cheek softly to the rock, squeezing his eyes shut. His feeble hands curled into incomplete fists that looked like dead spiders.“I know you’re here,” the voice was harsh, the trespasser becoming impatient.The old man pulled himself up, the wall his crutch. His feet slid along the floor, smooth from years of his passage. Stone remained ever cold against his palm.“Don’t make me come get you,” the tone spelled out all the hidden meanings clearly. He hadn’t seen the old man yet.“I’m,” the hermit wheezed, stopping to cough, “here.”The man turned and a dopey smile crossed his face, his good mood returned. He bounced on the balls of his feet, “What do you have for me this time?”The cave dweller’s eyes rolled side to side in fear. His meager weight swayed as drops of sweat popped onto his forehead.“Are we playing this game again? I won’t fall for it I tell you. I know you remember,” his voice became deep and gruff once more.The old man nodded slowly, trying to stall his anger. He motioned to the young man and walked back into the cave, forever leaning against the wall.“I knew you hadn’t forgotten me. No one forgets Jeffrey Morris,” the happy babbling pounded into the man’s head, imprinting the words on his brain. “You know, you’ve never taken me back here before. You must have something big in store.”“Yes, yes. Very big,” the hermit muttered under his breath, not used to others hearing him.“What you say?” Jeffrey’s breath seeped down his neck.“Nothing. I said nothing,” he coughed, his throat raspy from lack of use.Jeffrey’s eyes narrowed, his temper flipping like a coin through the air, end over end. He continued to follow the man, silent.The cave became narrower the farther in they went. The pointed stalactites and stalagmites came together like teeth. Jeffrey grew closer to the old man as it entered into his mind that the tunnel was a giant mouth just waiting to devour him, “I want to go back.”His companion shook his grizzled head, “No, no. Can’t go back. Must come with.”“I want to go back,” the command was firm, bordering on threatening.“You not want payment?” the old man acted confused, tilting his head to both sides. “No pretty stone to keep secret?”Jeffrey hesitated then puffed out his chest, “Move on.”A fleeting smile slipped across the old man’s face as he turned and continued to hobble forward, listening to the blundering steps of Jeffrey behind him. Those sounds were soon drowned out by his own breathing as it became louder in his ears, his lungs working extra hard. He leaned heavily against the stone, taking strength from it.Finally, they reached the very back of the cave. There was almost no light, only a few faint rays of sunshine coming from a hole in the roof through which water poured. The gurgling sounds of the miniature waterfall made it almost impossible to talk but Jeffrey managed to shout over it, “Where is my payment? Give it to me!”The man simply pointed, with just enough light for Jeffrey to see that he was indicating the pool beneath the waterfall. Jeffrey didn’t bother to think, he stepped forward greedily, his splashing adding to the water’s never-ending noise.The hermit moved to the side, quicker than earlier. He crouched behind one of the stalagmites, picking up a sharpened rock. He cradled it to his chest, cooing softly to it. His knees straightened and he peered around his shield. Jeffery had kneeled in the water, searching.The jagged edges dug into his hand as he crept toward the larger man’s back. He began to laugh as he brought his arm back, the hysterical sound covered by the cascading water. Just when he swung, Jeffrey turned, his mouth open to yell a question.The point of the weapon sliced straight through his throat, piercing what seemed like hundreds of important veins and arteries, crushing the windpipe, hitting the back of the spine. Blood rained down as Jeffrey tried to scream. All that came out was a hideous red bubble that popped within seconds.The old man calmly pushed Jeffrey’s forehead, making him fall down into the pool, his strength depleted from lack of air and loss of blood. He watched as the light in Jeffrey’s blue eyes flickered and died, like an old lightbulb. The water had turned red but it was slowly washing away as it churned. Jeffrey had nothing more to bleed into it.“Now you’re just another secret, and for you, I have to pay no one,” the words were ragged and spaced out but they brought a smile across his face.Then he turned and trudged back to his resting place, his fingers trailing the wall.