A heap of wet Fall flora decomposing within a narrow rock fissure made for a slippery yet cushioned slide down the eroded limestone shaft and into the dark rabbit hole of echoes below. A handful of the rotten vegetation remained stuck to the ass area of my pants, soaking my jeans in just the right area so as it appeared I had pissed myself from fear. My pants even smelt like urine but I swear it was the sour ammonia-like smell emanating from the rotting leaves as I scraped the last of them off from my denim cladded bum, but it would exist to be the butt of a joke I couldn't convince my friends otherwise. The sound of water-droplets slapping against the hard rock surface reverberated through the darkness, filling the seemingly endless black space with a spooky tune. As I flicked my flashlight on, the bright LED beam illuminated a dense fog which floated effortlessly about the moist air, adding to the mysterious aura of the chilly underworld. The air inside was thick and cool and with each breath in it felt as if the saturated oxygen was condensing upon the back of my throat, causing me to cough continuously as if I had suddenly developed some pesky mid-winter cold.
The sound of my coughing seemed to echo infinitely within the void, leading me to believe we had slid into something quite extensive. The light emanating from my flashlight combined with both of my friend's lights was able to provide us with a clearer sense of sight. Within the distance the sweeping beams from our flashlights illuminated massive limestone pillars supporting the weight of the world above us. Ahead, a selection of narrow tunnels carved into the Earth's interior lead in numerous, unknown directions. With so many choices to behold, I felt like I was the main character within a choose-your-own-adventure book. With the expanse of tunnel choices all leading to unknown endings we selected a random portal and proceeded, one foot in front of the other into the unknown. As we ventured deeper, the occasional crunch of glass could be heard from under our boots as we walked over barren soil scattered with trash and small bottling jars from an unknown industry long collapsed. As our eyes fully adjusted to the balance between darkness and artificial light within the rock tunnel, so did the mysterious world surrounding us become more familiar.
Pushing deeper into the dark, I noticed the sound of the water-droplets raining down from above changed in tone. The slapping sound became more of a dripping noise, as if the droplets were coming into contact with a puddle. Stopping, we all focused our flashlights ahead, only to quickly realize that we were standing at the edge of a massive underground lake, which stretched ahead for hundreds of feet before disappearing too into the darkness abound. I was in awe at the enormity and swathe of the placid water, disturbed only by the occasional water droplet squirming through the Earth's crusty surface and cracks within the bedrock above before free falling directly into the underground lake existing before my very eyes. As I turned my head to gaze upward goosebumps shot up and down my neck and arms. I was eye-to-eye staring at the sight of a giant water serpent clinging to the smooth rock ceiling above, its scales earthen and brown in color as if to camouflage in with the darkness of the limestone mine.
I shined my LED beam down its elongated body, examining from a distance its riveted, sheet-metal like vertebrae which extended for what seemed like hundreds of feet across the ceiling from which it clung. The light seemed to startle and awaken the slumbering serpent causing the rare reptile to slither and meander erratically before eventually diving down beneath the depths of the tranquil lake. The previously still water now radiated with circular ripples growing larger as they expanded out from center of the lake, forming a small yet noticeable wake which splashed against the rock walls of the mine forcing a ghostly echo to fill the otherwise barren void. This single photograph of the serpent was all I managed to snap before the beast disappeared for good beneath the underground lagoon.