Ronnie was getting weaker. I knew because his body was sagging and he was getting harder to hold up. My ankle felt like it was on fire and I had no choice but to lower Ronnie to the ground and then sit down myself.
He was moaning constantly now and I knew there was no way he was going to make it. I sat there in the dark with sweat pouring down my face, the full force of the irony of our situation weighing on me. We had wanted to hide and now we were well and truly hidden. Just not the way we’d planned.
I didn’t sense any snakes where we were. That was a small blessing. I could just make out the two passageways leading forward from where we sat and I stared into the gloom trying to remember which way I had come. It was hopeless.
I thought hard about what to do and decided I should try to find the entrance to the cave by myself. It was no good trying to keep Ronnie moving, he would only slow me down. It probably wasn’t good for him anyway. If I could find the way out then double back and get him just maybe I could get him to a doctor in time.
I hauled myself to my feet and limped toward one of the passageways. I chose the left one and made sure I remembered which one it was. I felt my way along the wall and after a long while I came to another choice. This time there were three directions I could go.
My heart sank. This was hopeless. For the life of me I just wanted to lie down and give up right then and there. Where I found the strength to keep going I just don’t know but I chose the middle passage and continued on.
After awhile my ankle got the best of me and I had to sit down and rest. I tried to think how long we’d been in the cave but I was already losing my sense of time. It could have been two hours it could have been six. I fought down the anxiety that threatened to overcome me and struggled back to my feet.
I carried on for what must have been another hundred yards or so but the passageway just went on and on and there was no increase in the light. It was near pitch black and that meant the entrance was long way from where I was. I though about poor Ronnie back there in the dark. There was no way I was going to get him out of this damn cave in time to save him.
I got back to my feet and headed back in the direction I had come. Better to be there with him to the end then to leave him to die alone. That was the brutal truth of the matter. I felt my way along the wall for what seemed an eternity and came back to the place where the passageway diverged in two directions.
Looking behind me I could make out two other entrances on either side. I had chosen the middle. Turning around I peered at the two directions in front of me. I had chose the left one moving forward. That meant I needed go right to get back to Ronnie.
I hesitated for a moment. Was that right? I was confused; there was no doubt about that. Panic began to rise in me and I fought it down. I moved to the right and continued on. It was slow going and I was beginning to despair when I heard a low moan just ahead. I hobbled forward and almost tripped over Ronnie in the dark.
Part 4 Tomorrow