Buber’s Basque Story: Part 18

Staring out of the mouth of the cave, Kepa watched the rain come down. “I think it is starting to pass,” he said. 

Maite came up to stand beside him. Water dropped from the leaves of every tree, splashing in a multitude of puddles on the ground. “We might be able to leave soon,” she said, “though it is going to be messy.”

“Look!” said Kepa suddenly, pointing down the path. “Someone’s coming!”

Maite could see a shadowy figure many meters down the path slowly making its way up toward where they waited in the cave.

Buber’s Basque Story is a weekly serial. While it is a work of fiction, it has elements from both my own experiences and stories I’ve heard from various people. The characters, while in some cases inspired by real people, aren’t directly modeled on anyone in particular. I expect there will be inconsistencies and factual errors. I don’t know where it is going, and I’ll probably forget where it’s been. Why am I doing this? To give me an excuse and a deadline for some creative writing and because I thought people might enjoy it. Gozatu!

“We should call out to him, let him know there is shelter up here,” she said. 

She was about to call out when something clamped her mouth shut. Startled, her eyes nearly popping out of their sockets, she reached up to rip off whatever had covered her mouth. She mumbled, trying to scream through the gag while she clawed at it. Kepa, hearing Maite’s sounds of struggle, turned to her, and his eyes also widened. A strange glowing strip was covering Maite’s mouth. He reached up to help her, about to yell out for help, when a similar gag covered his mouth. 

“Back here!” they heard a voice say from the back of the cave. “Get over here quick!”

Maite and Kepa looked toward the back and saw something move in the shadows. As panic began to rise in their chests, they both looked out of the cave and then each other. In a silent nod, they both bolted towards the mouth of the cave.

“Madarikatu!” yelled the voice. “Stop! I won’t hurt you.” There was a sudden flash of light at the mouth of the cave and Maite and Kepa were frozen in their steps, their feet rooted to the ground. They looked at one another in terror before turning their gaze toward the back of the cave. They watched as a figure emerged from the shadows, waving its hands in the air in a complex pattern. The gags disappeared from their mouths as the figure entered the light.

“Ainhoa?” gasped Maite. “What the hell?”

“Bai ta ez. Yes and no. I’ll explain later, but first, you need to get away from the entrance, before he sees you.”

Maite looked at Kepa in confusion. “The man coming up the path?”

“Yes!” exclaimed Ainhoa in clear frustration. “Get back here now!”

Reluctantly, Maite and Kepa, their feet freed from whatever trap had held them, slowly made their way toward the back of the cave. Kepa, still rattled from whatever it was Ainhoa had done to them, looked at her warily. “What did you do to us?”

“I will explain everything in a moment, but right now, we need to be quiet. Isilik!”

The three of them huddled in the shadows in the back of the cave, Kepa and Maite’s arms wrapped around one another while Ainhoa crouched in front of them, facing the entrance to the cave. Her stance reminded Maite of a cat ready to pounce on its prey. Maite could sense her tensing as the shadowy figure of the man appeared at the mouth of the cave.

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