Chester Harper: Cave of Wonders

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Cave of Wonders

Chester Harper

Adam carefully and meticulously exposed the ancient fire pit in the indigenous shelter. Every bone and stone fragment held a previously untold story. The morning sun warmed his bare shoulders and back. The birds sang and all was well in his world. A shrill scream silenced the birds and sent a chill down his spine.

“Columbine, Jack, where are you?”

“Dad, come quick.” Jack sounded excited, not panicked. 

Adam ran into the cave entrance at the rear of the shelter. They had exposed the opening a few days before and had yet to explore into the cave. The rockslide that concealed the entrance appeared to have been there for hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years and they didn’t expect to find anything of historical significance or value in a cave sealed for centuries. He had told the kids to be careful and not to go far into the cave. What trouble had his ten-year-old twins stumbled into now?

The interior of the cave was cool, and Adam wished he had taken the time to put on a shirt. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he called out to his children, “Columbine, Jack, where are you?”

“Over here, Dad.” Columbine aimed her flashlight towards Adam to direct him to where they stood. Adam once again wished he had his son’s ability to see in the dark.

“Can you come get me, son? I can’t see in this cave.”

“I’ll send Columbine with her flashlight. She doesn’t really want to stay here alone, anyway.”

Adam wondered what his children had found that had his usually fearless daughter spooked.

Columbine took her father’s hand and looked up into his eyes. “I’m sorry if I scared you, Daddy. I didn’t mean to scream.”

“It’s ok, sweetie. I’m sure you couldn’t help it.” He put his arm around her shoulders and realized she was cool also. 

They soon got to Jack’s side and Adam looked up at his son, already six feet tall, and was greeted with a toothy grin that would have terrified most people. Adam marvelled, once again, that he was the father of a sasquatch…a recessive male descended from Esau.

“What have you kids found? It must be something else to have caused Columbine to scream.”

Jack stepped aside and Columbine aimed the flashlight beam onto what they had found. “What the hell…?” Adam found himself looking at a skeleton laid out in a typical funerary pose for a leader of an indigenous tribe. The shocking part, however, was that the skeleton was at least eight feet tall. In a niche near the skull was a clay vessel that was definitely not of indigenous American make. Adam carefully picked up the vessel and, other than a broken handle, it appeared to be perfect. He turned it over to look at the bottom and a roll of parchment fell out. The little script he could make out looked like ancient Arabic; definitely out of place in southern Missouri. 

“Who do you think it was, Daddy?” Columbine tugged at Adam’s pant leg to get his attention.

“I have no idea, honey, but I’m going to do my best to find out. Now let’s get out of here, I’m freezing.”

“I’m fine, wimps.” Jack rolled his eyes at his father and sister.

“Shut up, Jack. We don’t have fur coats and Daddy isn’t wearing a shirt.” Columbine smacked her furry twin to add emphasis to her words.

Adam chuckled quietly at the sibling rivalry of the twins as they left the burial site.

Six months later…

“I am here today to present my and my team’s findings regarding the ancient burial recovered in the cave of the indigenous shelter.” Adam looked out at the attentive audience before him. The large room was filled with nearly every member of their community. Women, children, and dominant males in the front with recessive males in the rear, due to their height. Adam continued. “According to the document found in the vessel accompanying the body, this area was first settled by the Osage people from the Ohio River Valley. They were joined by several families from the white settlement wanting a more remote location for their settlement. Of note, the clay of the vessel is not of local or even North American origin. It is found primarily in the Middle East, particularly the area that, to the ancients, was known as Edom.” 

The collective murmur of the crowd allowed Adam to take a break and ready himself for his next statement and the reaction it was sure to cause. When the crowd had settled, Adam resumed. “The people intermarried with the Osage and several of, as they called them, Esau’s sons were born to them. These were male children we now call recessive males.” The room exploded in even louder talking and exclamations of surprise. Adam raised a hand for silence and went on. “One such son became the great leader Screaming Eagle. He lived a long and honorable life and, as a final show of respect, was laid to rest in the cave with the history of his people, written in their native script, as the Osage had no written language, stored in a vessel from the homeland. The cave was to be sealed with boulders to resemble a rockslide, thus preventing tampering with the mighty leader’s body or the history scroll.”

The shocked crowd sat on the edge of their seats to hear Adam’s final remarks. “In conclusion, it would appear that our people have lived here longer than our history indicated. They first settled here in the early 17th century, not the late 18th century, as we had thought. They settled here with the indigenous Osage and assimilated into that tribe. In other words, a group of our forebears intermarried with the indigenous people and this could, and more than likely does, explain the wildman and sasquatch legends of those indigenous groups. Thank You.”

Adam accepted the applause while making eye contact with the leaders of the community. Even though their land was very remote in the middle of a protected national forest, and the rugged terrain discouraged visitors, they could not risk the outside world coming in and making similar discoveries, possibly exposing them to the entire world.


This story takes place after Willow and the story with the photographer. Columbine and Jack are still kids.

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