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2. Cave

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The door shut behind him, and Davy now saw that he was in a cave. Davy didn’t spend any time thinking about how he could be in a cave; he had spent enough time wondering how a door could appear in front of him out of nowhere, that trying to rationalize this any further just felt redundant.

The cave was fairly narrow and looked almost like a hallway. Davy considered walking on ahead, but realized that he knew nothing about what he would find. There could easily be some animal that would not hesitate to eviscerate him. On the other hand, someone clearly went out of their way to specifically get Davy in this cave, and unless this person was extremely evil or extremely bored, there would be no reason they would just let him die. Besides, Davy had finally committed himself to getting in this cave, and didn’t want to have to re-shift his focus again. So Davy started walking.

Eventually, Davy reached a corner. By this point he had managed to work up some enthusiasm for his cave adventure, that he made the turn without an additional prolonged thought process as to whether this was a good idea. So naturally, we walked right into a monster. Davy didn’t have time to react; one second he was walking, the next second, his entire front side was met with a mass of fur and skin, and now Davy was on the ground looking upwards at this giant, monstrous shape.

Davy was feeling kind of stupid. He thought this might happen when he first entered the cave, but he pushed the thought aside and started walking. He knew he could run into something deadly in here, and he knew it would be a good idea to go back or at least do something to prepare for this possibility, but honestly, he just didn’t want to. So now there was something in front of him that would probably kill him. He couldn’t see it very well. It stood on two legs. It was covered in fur. It had claws. It also probably had sharp teeth, because why not? Davy could also tell that the monster was looking at him, but before Davy or the monster could act, the cave was suddenly engulfed in a bright light, which forced Davy to cover his eyes with his arm.

Davy opened his eyes, and the monster was gone. The light had substantially subsided, but had now covered the cave in a soft glow. The monster was gone, but further down the cave, Davy could see another humanoid figure. Davy got back to his feet and walked closer.

The figure was wearing an ornate dress. Someone more knowledgeable about fashion could describe in more detail, but to Davy, he could tell it was pink and had frilly stuff on it. This figure was also wearing a large brimmed hat with more frilly stuff, and she was holding a white parasol in her right hand. The end of the parasol was glowing; it was the source of the light. Davy figured that this was the person who created that door but didn’t know how to approach this elegant woman. This was partially because she was a possum.

She stood up straight like a person. She was the same size as a person. And she wore clothes like a person. But as Davy got close, he saw that her face was a possum face. She had a possum tail, and she was surrounded by a horrible stench like a possum. For reasons Davy did not like to talk about, Davy knew what a possum looked like, and this was a possum.

The possum spoke. “My name is Lady Gut Possum, and I am here to help you.” This immediately validated Davy, and reinforced his confidence in being able to identify possums, a skill that would never come in handy again.

Davy finally realized he should say something back. “So, um, what am I doing here?”

The possum didn’t seem to hear him speak. Instead she said, “You should come with me.” She immediately turned around and began walking deeper into the cave.

Davy figured he should follow. He had met two creatures in this cave, and Lady Gut Possum was the only one who had not tried to kill him yet. Also, this was starting to get really weird, and Davy was getting more interested in seeing where this was all going. The possum lady was walking quickly, so Davy had to maintain a brisk pace in order to keep up. He tried to make conversation with the possum.

“So is the ‘Possum’ in your name spelled with the letter O in front of it? Sometimes it’s spelled that way.”

“Yes, my name is spelled with an O in front of Possum. O-P-O-S-S-U-M,” replied Lady Gut Possum.

Davy was feeling pretty good about getting a reply from Lady Gut Possum. This was before a giant insect fell on top of him. It was heavy enough to knock him off his feet again, but light enough that Davy was able to push it off and stand up again. There were maybe three bugs that had fallen from above. They looked like cockroaches, only they were about three feet long. They looked at Davy and Lady Gut Possum. Davy looked back at them. They looked disgusting.

Lady Gut Possum turned to Davy. “Are you skilled in combat arts?” she asked.

Without having to think twice, Davy confidently answered, “Nope.”

“Wait here,” ordered Lady Gut Possum. She raised her parasol and ran towards the cockroaches.

Watching from the sidelines, Davy would have liked to think that she would unleash some elegant flurry of martial arts madness. What he got was a stationary woman beating a bunch of bugs with a stick. Davy was starting to feel like he may have overestimated how dangerous these insects were. After all, these are giant bugs. Don’t they have pincers or something that could bite you? Maybe they have claw-type things at the ends of their legs; those could be dangerous. But these cockroaches just seemed to scuttle around the floor mindlessly, until they could no longer endure the beating from the possum lady, and they all just rolled over and died.

Lady Gut Possum returned to Davy. “I’m so sorry. Those vermin are just so vile,” she said as she also began gnawing at some matted fur on her arm. Davy thought it was best to give her a second to finish. “We should keep moving,” she finally said.

The two continued to walk in silence. Davy thought about trying to bring back the conversation, but he figured it would be better to focus on not throwing up instead. Lady Gut Possum reeked when he first met her, but it seemed like the smell was getting worse. Finally, Davy looked ahead and saw a light in the distance. When they reached the light, Davy found himself in what he presumed to be the Gut Possum’s lair. It was still a cave, but there was a bed, a table, a couch, and so on. It looked ragged, but also like Lady Gut Possum tried her best to make it look fancy, similar to how a 19th Century English aristocrat may decorate their manor home, if the aristocrat could only find furniture from under a bridge while high on methamphetamine and while also suffering from a crippling case of leprosy.

Davy felt like he should have noticed the boy sooner. He was sitting on the Gut Possum’s couch, staring straight ahead at the cave wall in front of him. He had a serenely joyful look on his face, not the kind of look you would expect to see in the home of a possum lady. He looked fairly young, maybe about twelve-ish. The boy turned towards Davy and smiled.

Davy felt pressured to say something to the boy. “Hi. How are you?”

The boy didn’t answer. He just stuck his hands in the air like a goofy shrug and turned back towards the wall. Davy found there was something enviable about this kid. Being content to stare at a cave wall indefinitely seemed like a peaceful existence, except for the fact that you would be alone in a cave with a possum lady staring at a wall all day. Actually, the more Davy thought about it, seeing this kid in an enviable light made no sense. Davy was confusing himself, so he turned back to Lady Gut Possum.

“So, what am I doing here? Can you tell me now?”

The possum lady finally looked like she was ready to talk. “Yes, I brought you here to inform you of your destiny,” she replied.

“My destiny?” Davy did not like the sound of that. There were only two kinds of people who would bring up someone’s destiny in conversation. The first kind was the elderly mentor figure who plans to teach you how to save the world but then meets his or her demise before the training is complete, leaving you to discover the ultimate lesson on your own, usually during a climactic moment. The other kind was salespeople. Davy didn’t think Lady Guy Possum looked that old, so he began to mentally formulate excuses about why he couldn’t afford to buy anything at the moment.

Lady Gut Possum did not notice any of Davy’s reservations. “Yes, your world is embarking on a new and dark age from forces of evil beyond your comprehension, and only you have the power to prevent this,” she solemnly stated, but not solemnly enough to keep her from also hacking up a hairball afterwards.

“I’m supposed to save the world?” Davy was not ready to latch onto this. For one, the notion of a dark age was awfully vague; what kind of bad things were supposed to be happening, and why? Who were these forces of evil? Could they not generate a more discernible threat than ‘a new and dark age?’

The gut possum replied. “No, you will not be the one to save your world.” She pointed at the boy on the couch. “The Endocrine will save the world.”

“Endocrine?” Davy responded. “You mean like the endocrine system? The parts of the body that do, um, gland stuff?”

“No,” said Lady Gut Possum. “I mean the other kind of Endocrine.”

The boy raised his hands in the air. He gleefully shouted, “I’m an Endocrine!”

Lady Gut Possum walked over to the boy and dispassionately tousled his hair the way someone may pet a dog they clearly don’t like, but they feel they might look like a jerk if they don’t.

“Yes, you are the Endocrine. And you will save the world from an eternal age of darkness,” the possum stated.

Davy was now even more confused. “So what I am doing here then?”

The Gut Possum looked back to Davy. “You are the Steward of the Endocrine. He cannot fulfill his destiny until you fulfill yours.” The possum walked to the table and lifted up a scroll. As she looked it over, she said, “The prophecy states that the Endocrine cannot unlock his power until his steward locates and acquires all seven ancient Artifacts of Rebisome.” Lady Gut Possum turned the scroll to Davy. There was writing in a language that Davy did not understand. There was also a sizable stain of what looked like possum vomit. Davy decided he should take a shower as soon as he got out of this cave.

“So there’s a prophecy that says I need find this stuff so that this guy can save the world,” Davy said, pointing at the Endocrine.

“Yes,” the possum replied. “You must prepare for the Endocrine’s destiny. He is the most important person in this world.”

“So, that makes me the second most important person in the world,” Davy responded.

The possum nodded. “That is correct.”

Davy thought about it for a second. “I’m okay with this,” he concluded. Hearing a possum woman call him the second most important person in the world was the kind of self-confidence boost that Davy really needed. Davy also decided that the fact that this was the boost he needed was something he shouldn’t think too much about.

“So, um, what do I do now?” Davy asked.

Lady Gut Possum gestured back towards the cave darkness from where they came. “You must go back to your world. The first signs of darkness will become apparent soon; as will the location of the first artifact.”

“How will I know what the artifact looks like?” asked Davy.

“You will know.”

Davy nodded. He was just about ready to leave. He didn’t want to deal with that cave again. He had never experienced possum hospitality before, but he had decided it probably wasn’t for him. He was also getting the impression that the possum lady was not planning to come with him back to the door. He also didn’t exactly know how to wrap up this current conversation either.

“Okay,” he said. “Um, bye.” He walked pass the Endocrine. “Uh, see you later,” he tried to utter politely.

“Bye Davy!” the kid shouted, waving his arms.

Lady Gut Possum also shouted to Davy. “You will not be alone in your quest. There will be three companions. Find them. The first will be waiting for you upon your return.”

The last Davy heard of the cave dwelling was the Endocrine shouting he was hungry, followed by what sounded like the noise of exorbitant possum regurgitation. Davy contently decided not to piece those sounds together and briskly walked back through the cave.

He never considered himself to be important before. He still wasn’t convinced that he actually was important. Just because he met a six-foot talking aristocratic possum in a cave, it didn’t mean he should believe everything the possum said. At the same time, the possibility that he could be important excited him. He hadn’t felt excited about anything in a long time, so the fact that he was excited got him even more exited. He was so excited, that he didn’t even notice that furry monster from before was silently following close behind him the entire walk back to the door.


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