Down the hillside into the still-cold morning shadows, Michael was on his knees peering into a small hole in the ground. Melissa joined Lisa, who stood nearby watching.
Michael’s body sprang forward and disappeared almost silently down into the little hole. The girls heard a thump and looked at each other longways. Melissa grinned but Lisa’s brow was knit, her face distracted.
“Plenty of room for the three of us.” Michael’s voice echoed from a deeper, wider hole in the hard stone- a blown-out, man-made cave with an opening just large enough to squeeze through.
Lisa went next, her hips wriggling a little before sliding out of sight. The air was becoming insufferably hot and moist, the temporary shelter of the hill stripped away. The bald, hot earth had no trees to shield it and the sun had dragged its way high enough to glare down on them. Melissa looked back up at the top of the hill, which rippled with heat and almost seemed to be on fire. Then she too knelt and dove headfirst into the narrow slit in the earth. Cold stone and darkness squeezed her ribs and hips as she reached out blindly and found Michael’s hands. He pulled her through the crevice and set her easily on her feet. She looked around, her eyes adjusting to the small glow emitted by Michael’s solar-powered headlamp. It was fading, quickly slurping up the last drops of the immense sunlight that had peeked over the edge of the earth and recharged it at the top of the hill.
There was enough room in the cave for the three of them to stand, plus a little extra. The walls were rutted where the dynamite had blown the hole into being, and a little above Melissa’s head, stones were stacked and held together with cement to form the tight opening. A little gray light filtered in at the mouth of the little cave, and Melissa could reach up and hook her fingers on the bottom ledge of the hole if she tried. Michael and Lisa were almost head height to the opening, and could easily pull themselves out. Michael stood up straight to peer out at the sky, which was quickly catching fire, and his head nearly brushed the roof of the hole. He bent down and picked up a stone at his feet, which slid perfectly into place with an echoing thud and plunged the cave into darkness.