The Cave - part 2
This is the second part of the story. You can find the first part here.
The day must have been the worst that season. The heat was plummeting and whichever direction you see, there was nothing but hot-ruthless sand. Perhaps this was the reason why a pigeon, a hen would be so lucky to have found a small oasis in the middle of a desert. It lay motionless in the shade of a date tree on the cool wet sand. It was unconscious but breathing. Occasionally, the wind would send some sprinkles of water from the pond on its face, but it was to take hours before the bird could wake up.
On a different part of the desert, a spider was not so lucky. It sat motionless beneath a layer of sand hidden, hearing thuds from a stick being banged around it hastily. When it saw that this style of defence would soon be rendered futile, it sprang out of the sand and started hissing at the boy who was now wielding the stick in a threatening pose.
|Taken from Google.|
The spider tried to scare him off by going into an attacking posture, moving back and forth. But the boy was not in a mood to let go of him and was hell bent on making a kill. But when the boy lifted the stick next to hit and before he could do that, the spider darted through the gap between boy's legs and bit the goat standing behind him. The goat squeaked and ran at the bite, the boy became mad after watching this and started hammering the sand fiercely. His third blow landed on the spider. Boy, content with the result ran after the goat.
The wood had landed hard on spider's hind portion and damaged two of its legs. The pain was immediate, enough to overpower its senses and made it panic stricken. It vehemently dragged itself to the first rock in sight and hid behind it. It lost conciousness pretty quickly.
The hen moved sometime in the afternoon and after just lying there for another half an hour, started snaking towards water. It slid half its body in the pond and drank and drank until it couldn't any more. It then washed and lay soaked for some more time after which it moved slowly towards the trees where some dates lay dropped. It started nibbling into their tender, sticky flesh and slowly ate all of them. After finishing its meal, the hen rested by a tree to let the food work in its body.
Time flew very fast that day, before the spider could wake up, the sun had already drowned. The cool wind shook the spider even inside the crack it hid in and woke it up with a start. Its eyes immediately started searching for danger intensely. The danger was long gone, but it took a long time for the spider to relax. Its hind legs were now dead and it had to drag them for the rest of its journey.
The hill was still a bit far and if the spider would have been unhurt, it would have made it there in under 3 hours. But now the night was going to be long and the journey, demanding. Without wasting any more time, the spider started dragging towards its destination, making a zigzag line behind it.
After an hour or so, when the food and water had given it much energy, the hen stood up, ate some more dates from the tree, drank stomach full of water and took off. The journey for it wouldn't be as difficult now and it only have to reach the cave in time. The small cave housed in the hill 5 miles east of the famous city.
The sky was starless and occasionally, a stray cloud would come in the moon's way and make the night darker. The spider had never been in such a difficult situation, it kept dragging in hope to reach its destination on time. Its lower abdomen had turned numb by the dragging, which worried it even more, but that was to be dealt with later. Now, the one thing it desperately needed was time to slow down.
The hen reached the hill just after sunset. It had flown the last few hours with great tenacity and looked haggard now. There was no on else on the hill at the moment, but soon enough there would be men here. It hence, started preparing for what was to come and began picking small sticks and placing them with some sand near the mouth of the cave where it was to lay eggs later on.
One thing, perhaps the most crucial and which it deliberately kept out of its mind all along was its pregnancy. Maybe for the fear that caring for it may slow or even stop it on its journey, the hen just pretended not to feel anything on the inside from the start. But the hen was already feeling a tinge of movement in its womb now.
The spider was not a very smart one per se, nor very strong by its appearance but it had the unique capability of spinning a web twice as fast as any other spider could. It arrived a couple of hours before dawn, its condition worsened by all the dragging. For some reason, it too knew where that particular cave was and climbed there. A pigeon was perched at the high rock above the cave, looking at it.
The spider looked back in its eyes and they stared at each other for a long time as if they were communicating in silence, knowing why they were here and what they need to do. The silence was only interrupted by some movement a few feet away on the ground. The spider went inside a crack by the cave and started working up on its numb abdomen to make it functional.
Two men were coming in a hurried manner towards the hill. They looked as if they were trying to escape from someone. They were tired and possibly injured as was evident by their low groans. When they tried to climb, one of them staggered and almost fell, to which the second man who was slightly better built said,
"Please, let me carry you there, the cave is just a few feet above and we should get in there quickly."
The man first hesitated then accepted his partner's offer as he was unable to climb on his own. The other man then lifted him in his arms and climbed the rest of the way to the cave. Once there, he sat him down, went in to check and clear out the cave, then came out and helped him enter first. The mouth of the cave was only large enough to squeeze one person through at a time so they went in one after other.
Within minutes of their going in and settling down, the spider came out of its crack, having done something about his abdomen and without a delay, started making a web on the cave's mouth, fast. At first, it looked like a simple mesh of strings but then it started making intricate, complex loops in it and was so quick that the fact that its two legs were dead was just unbelievable.
The time for hen had come too, it flew down to the pad of tatters and stick it made by the cave and sat on it. It laid two eggs there and then sat above them giving them its warm embrace. The web was almost complete now and just as the spider was finishing, they heard several horses galloping towards the hill. The spider came off after completing the web, looked at the hen for a moment and then went back to the crack.
|Taken from Google.|
Horses stopped by the foot of the hill and men started shouting orders, getting down from their horses.
"You, climb up from there, look what you can find up there", said a man as the other one started climbing to the cave. It was only then that the hen stood up leaving the newly laid eggs in cold, flapped its wings hard, sending dust over the web and eggs and flew back to the top of cave, hiding this time.
The thug came up, saw the dark cave's entrance and called down, "Hey, there's a cave here, come up". No sound came out of the cave. The first man who ordered the thug to climb and who looked like the head of group climbed up, saw the cave mouth and smacked the first man's head,
"Do you have any brains in there, you stupid skunk. Can't you see that web and..and those freaking eggs in front of the hole. They just came here a few minutes ago, how can anybody pass through a web like that? Maybe you should try. Can you??"
The thug remained silent.
"Get down before I kill you".
They both climbed down and searched the hill with the rest of men for a few more minutes before mounting their horses and moving in another direction. The hen flew back to its eggs and embraced them again. The spider stayed in the crack watching.
The danger had been averted, but the two injured men would be spending this day inside the cave, to avoid getting caught.
The hen looked at the spider in the crack. Both of them, even after going through so much difficulties were happy now. They have done what they were chosen for, to save the lives of the two men inside.
P.S: This story was inspired by a famous Islamic religious myth.