"Help me... I'm going to fade away," called a voice, unfamiliar to his ears. A child, no less. She couldn't have been older than he was.
"Fade away? ... who is this? Where are you? I'll help you if I can," he shouted back, standing up in the cave and wandering in the darkness towards the sound.
"You won't find me," she replied, her voice shaking and threatening to release sobs, "I'm disappearing. I'll be gone by the time you get to me." Her voice was getting quieter and quieter as he went on to her.
"Not if I can stop it. I'll save you, I promise. Don't be afraid, I'll get to you," he said in a comforting tone. His hands trembled as he scraped the desolate walls of the cave, so cold and empty. For the first time he understood solitude, and now that a voice was near he would do what he could to try and end those feelings.
On and on he climbed, scraping the moist air of the cave with his hoarse voice. Things like 'Where are you' and 'I'll help you' were hanging in the air, but they were just missions left unfulfilled.. He couldn't see the sun in that dark place, so it was just his judgement on how much time he spent searching. He searched for an unknown amount of time, though he thought it must have been a day or two. The light he was trying to find did not come.
To her, it was weeks. She sat at the entrance, warmed by the light, but hollow inside. He hadn't come for her, so what was the point? She called again and again, but her voice kept failing, becoming quieter and quieter, until she could no longer hear her own thoughts. The silent drops of the cave that filled her ears and shielded her eyes were even louder than her voice.
"Please, one last call. I must find your or I'll die," he said. He figured if he put his own well-being on the line, she would give him a more precise location.
"Why should I? You won't find me. I said I was disappearing before, but now that I see you struggle, I think you're the one who's going to fade into oblivion," she teased.
"Please. I need to get back to my mother, she's ill."
"Really?" she thought for a moment. "That's a good idea! Yeah, do that for me, why don't you."
He stopped in his search for her light and was overcome with a confused expression. "Do what for you? Get back to my mother? That's what I'm trying to do!"
"No no no! I want you to tell me your tale of woe, your special secrets. Only people who are variables can come here, and to think you got lost! Well I'll tell you the secrets of this place and my own if you show me yours," she said, turning over in her warmth.
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