The Edzee Cave
Caves are usually dark.
But not ours.
Friendly and colorful lights have been reflecting and jumping around the dripstones.
If you looked really closely, you’d see a small creature with wild, shiny hair in the middle of these lights.
This cave has been home to the Edzees, a nation of little creatures with big eyes, even bigger ears, and incredibly flexible bodies!
They’re so flexible that they don’t need legs.
Instead of walking, they hop on their bellies like rubber balls!
Even though they can have as many hands as they want, they usually have them hidden from the cold.
It makes them look a little like hairy pears.
And as if someone poured a different color on each of them.
They have been living in a cave so deep that the rest of the world didn’t know about them.
And they didn’t know about the rest of the world.
But that was soon about to change.
The first peek
“Every time you hear a puffer, you must hide right away!” said Granny, her gray hair flashing. “Hide very far, into some small crack, or he will squash you.”
The room began to fill with murmurs. She turned to the loudest conversation and said, “Ed, don't interrupt and listen! This is important!”
The orange boy with a fiery mane looked so aggrieved that anyone who didn't know him would easily believe he hadn't said a thing. But as soon as Granny turned, his mouth went back to work: “She's just scaring us, Davo, so we don't get lost in the cave.”
“I'm not afraid of any puffer!” said the big red guy, inflating to an even larger size.
Granny sighed. There were about a dozen Edzees around her, and Ed and Davo were not the only ones who wanted to go home.
But among all the chattering, Granny suddenly heard a different sound. A much deeper, rattling sound that shook the whole body. She'd heard it a long time ago, but she remembered it well.
“The puffer!” she exclaimed. “All of you, follow me!”
A moment later a strange light flickered in the tunnel behind them. When it was joined by a growl, even the biggest doubters started jumping as fast as possible.
They all squeezed into a deep crack, turned off all the lights, and held their breath while waiting for the puffer to crawl away.
But he didn't. The growling and squelching of mud kept coming from the same place.
In the end, Ed couldn't stand it and peeked out.
He was there.
Two huge paws scrabbling into the cave and behind them a head with a single shining eye.
Ed didn't find him scary. On the contrary, all that clumsy puffing, squelching, and grunting made him laugh more and more. But before he could get a good look at the puffer, Granny hissed after him, “Ed, hide!” He looked at the funny monster for the last time and slid back to the others.
It took an eternity for the puffer to back down and crawl so far that Granny allowed the Edzees to leave the hideout. As soon as they were out, a flock of lights fluttered in all directions chattering about the shared adventure.
“Go home and tell everyone to avoid this part of the cave,” Granny called after them, but no one was listening anymore.
“Why aren’t you coming, Ed?” Davo called out, realizing that his friend was not going with him.
“Errr… I still have some work to do. Go ahead, I'll be there in a moment,” Ed replied.
Davo looked at Ed mistrustfully, but then his stomach rumbled and his desire for food outweighed his curiosity.
As soon as it was calm around, Ed went to the place where the puffer was floundering.
All the ground was plowed there. Deep furrows stretched down the tunnel as far as Ed could see. His curiosity made him follow in the tracks. He really wanted to know what the rest of the puffer looked like. He must be huge if he couldn't crawl through the tunnel where Ed could stand on Davo's shoulders and still not reach the ceiling.
Just one look and I'll be right back, Ed thought. One more turn, he'll definitely be there.
He didn't even know how, and suddenly he was standing in a huge cave. He had never seen anything like it in his life. He was about to turn, but then he saw a faint light. He ran toward it with new energy.
It was farther than he thought. At the bend, the light intensified and at the next one, it stung Ed's eyes. He was scared that the puffer was looking at him! He jumped into the nearest crack and listened.
Thump, thump, thump, thump.
After a while, he realized that it was just his own heart beating so loud. Otherwise it was silent everywhere, so he decided to peek out carefully.
The light was still there, not moving. Ed walked slowly toward it. The glowing spot continued to grow and grow, Ed's eyes narrowed, but his curiosity did not allow him to stop.
Suddenly he realized he was in it - in the light. And the cave… ended!
Can a cave end?
But how else could Ed call it? The walls ran so far apart that they disappeared completely, some huge brown dripstones with green tips grew from the ground all around, and above them was an endless glowing blue!
There wasn’t a trace of the puffer anywhere, but this was much better! Nobody at home will believe it!
“Where have you been so long, Ed?” Davo scolded, as soon as Ed showed his head in the door. “I thought you forgot about me.”
“You won't believe this, Davo!” Ed bursted, his hair sparkling in all shades of orange.
“Well, spill it then and don't jump around me like crazy!” grunted Davo.
“I've found the end of the cave!” Ed shouted.
“Yeah? And what?” Davo grinned. “There are ends everywhere around here.”
“No, I don't mean a normal end,” Ed said, “I found the opposite end! There is no wall, no ceiling, just an awful lot of light and huge green things!”
Worried, Davo looked at his friend and asked, “Ed, did you hit your head again?”
Ed scowled. “Don't believe it? Then come with me!” He said and jumped out of the door without waiting.
“Wait! Of course I'm going!” Davo shouted after him, catching up with Ed in a few big leaps and immediately asking, “Tell me, what's at the end of the cave? Won't the puffer catch us so far from the village, as Granny says? Isn't it too cold there?”
“Wait, Davo,” Ed stopped him. “Not in front of her!”
Sitting in their way was Ada. Leaning against a dripstone, she read a huge old book and didn't seem to notice them. An ignorant Edzee might think the purple hair falling into her eyes prevents her from seeing anything. But this was Ada! Davo not only fell silent immediately, but also stopped breathing.
They made their way around her pretending there is nothing worth noticing. Just when they started to think they made it, a curious voice said behind them, “Where are you two sneaking off to today?”
“What? Us? We're not sneaking off!” Ed protested. “We're… going for a walk.”
Ada raised her eyes from the book and looked at Davo through a slit in her hair. He was still holding his breath and slowly changing color from red to purple.
“Sure, as always,” Ada smiled. “Should I call Granny straight away, or should I let her catch you on her own?”
“Come on, it was an accident with that stone! And the mushroom wouldn’t have been able to grow there anyway. Let's go, Davo!” Ed jumped away with an insulted face.
Davo couldn't take his eyes off Ada. It wasn't until he was sure she really wasn’t after them that he gasped and said, “That was close!”
A startled spy
Ada kept an eye on Ed and Davo until they disappeared from her sight. Then she stacked away the book and went after them. These two could only be silent when they were plotting something. And according to how long they managed to remain quiet, they must be after something particularly big.
The damp walls reflected their lights, leading Ada to a strangely familiar corridor.
Wait, this is where the puffer got stuck!
Suddenly she didn't want to go after the boys at all. She was already turning around to go and tell Granny, when she realized that this might be her chance to see the puffer with her own eyes! Ada loved old stories, and those with the puffer were among her favorites. She had to see if he was really as ugly as everyone had told her. Full of new determination, she jumped towards adventure.
But with each new hop, she was less and less sure of her decision. She thought several times that she should turn back. But… then she would have to go home all by herself!
She was about to call Ed and Davo when she saw a new hue in the light in front of her. At first, she shook with fear thinking that it may be the puffer, but the boys' enthusiastic chat made her go on. Behind the next stone, a speck of the brightest light she had ever seen sparkled at her. As she squinted at it, the silhouettes of two Edzees appeared, stood for a moment, and disappeared again.
She was so dazzled that she didn't notice the light behind her at all. When she heard a puff, she almost fainted with fear. She turned around and stood stunned.
What could be worse than a puffer crawling its way through the only safe route home?
They crawled one after the other from a small tunnel just before the last turn. Ada's whole world was filled with puffing, squelching, and lots of other loud noises. She didn't ever expect to meet a puffer in a situation like this! But she was lucky they hadn't noticed her yet. The second one was almost out when Ada finally thawed. In a panic, she ran to the only place that offered at least a hint of hope - to the white light into which Ed and Davo had gone.
Suddenly there was so much light that Ada couldn't see the road through her teary eyes. She tripped. But the crash to the ground didn't come. Ada realized she was flying!
Between the columns
“What was that?!” Ed stopped.
“What was what?” said Davo, who concentrated only on catching and tagging his friend among all the new things. “You're it!” he slapped Ed on the back.
“I think I heard someone screaming. Over there,” Ed pointed to the cave.
“Then let's check it out,” Davo suggested.
They were not even halfway there when a monster came out of the cave. It was huge. Red skin shone through the layer of mud and a single eye shone on its head. Both friends jumped behind the nearest rock.
And they peeked out from behind it just as quickly.
With their mouths open, they stared as the puffer stumbled on two huge pillars, waving its arms furiously.
“What do you think, Davo, will he fall?” Ed laughed. Even the light of the puffer’s eye now seemed like a funny spark. Only his hands reminded him that he was really looking at the puffer. He remembered them well from the cave.
“Ed? What's that purple thing over there?” Davo whispered.
Ed stopped examining the puffer and looked where his friend was pointing. The scream flashed through his head again, and it was immediately clear to him that the purple thing had a name.
Fortunately, the puffer was not interested in the motionless pile. He stopped a short distance in front of her and turned back to the cave. Ed and Davo winked at each other and ran to help Ada.
But before they reached her, another puffer emerged from the cave! The boys tripped over each other as they wanted to disappear from its sight as quickly as possible. Instead, they both sprawled on the ground.
It saved them that the second puffer was much smaller. He had to look up to see the bigger one's face. As Ed and Davo noticed the tilted heads, they sprinted to Ada, each grabbing her from one side and jumping with her between the rocks.
She was beaten and had fainted, but she was still breathing. They couldn't do more now. They didn't want to risk Ada waking up with a scream, so they preferred to let her sleep. They didn't even think about raising their heads so close to the two puffers. They just listened quietly, and Davo started turning purple from not breathing.
They didn't dare to peek until the puffers were out of earshot. They then rushed Ada to light, laid her on a flat stone, and placed a few green soft things under her head, which they could not name.
“Ada, wake up!” Ed tried, patting her on the cheek.
So Davo pinched her.
“Aaaaa!” Ada shouted, sitting up. “Where… what… puffers! What? It? What is…?”
It’s good we didn't wake her earlier, Ed thought. Aloud he said, “Calm down, the puffers are gone. Don't worry.”
“You! Why didn't you tell me where you were going?”
“Would you have believed us?” Ed replied with a question.
Ada just lowered her eyes.
“Now you see,” he said.
“I see,” she muttered, looking around. “But what do I see?”
“I call it the end of the cave,” Ed said so proudly that he almost burst.
Ada stared at the new world ahead. “That's not possible!” she muttered to herself. “It must be…” She suddenly shouted, “Do you know what those are called? Those are trees! There is grass under them and the huge blue spot above is called the sky!”
The boys just stared at her in surprise.
“Well, uh, I used to read about it in a book,” she lowered her eyes. “At the time, I thought they were just fairytales.”
Ada stared at the trees for a moment, suddenly she straightened and said, “We have to tell the others!”
What will the other Edzees say? Will they exit the cave or hide even deeper?
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