“I need to get back to where I was. I don’t know what happened, but whatever it is, my father will figure it out. When he does, I need to be in the same place where I started.”
What feels like only moments ago, I was in my father’s laboratory. I had been on a class trip to the natural history museum where my father worked and where my mother had an exclusive exhibit from one of her archeological digs in Hungary. I had slipped away from the group to hang out in my father’s lab when something extraordinary happened.
My father had been working on a physics experiment regarding wormholes. Somehow, while poking around his equipment, I had triggered the device he had built. Bright light surrounded me, and I felt as if I were being turned inside out. A moment later, I had found myself in a hole in the ground, staring up at the scruffy face of a caveman.
He dragged me out of the hole and across a field. Now, I’m standing at the entrance to what is clearly a cave nestled in a rock wall just a few feet above a valley floor with what is clearly a caveman in front of me.
The tall, rough, and brutish young man tilts his head and narrows his eyes. He stares at my mouth and makes a move to grab my arm again. I pull back, and he straightens up to tower over me.
Even with the beard, I can tell he’s not much older than I, but he’s built like Thor from all those Avenger movies. His wild, long hair and beard would be frightening enough on their own, but combined with the dirt all over him and the long streak of what is clearly blood across his chest, he is positively terrifying.
“I can’t stay here!” I yell at him. “I need to get back home!”
Home. Where is home? To know that, I would have to know where I am now, and I don’t have the faintest clue. My stomach churns.
“I realize you don’t understand me,” I say, trying to be ever so slightly calm despite the pressure in my chest, “but I don’t belong here. I’m not supposed to be here, and I need to get where my dad can find me.”
With a grunt, the huge, feral-haired guy pushes my back against the rock wall and presses his grungy body to mine. He places his hand over my mouth, gripping my jaw at the same time. Apparently, he didn’t appreciate being bitten a few minutes ago.
I can smell the earth and sweat on his nearly naked body as he holds himself alongside me. I’m fairly certain what I feel against the thigh of my jeans is his dick, but I’m not about to look down to find out for sure. I can’t speak or scream. I can’t even move with his body crushing me against the rock at my back. I swallow hard and look over his shoulder, trying to stop my mind from conjuring up the most horrible possibilities.
He grips my face tighter and moves to look me in the eyes. I stare through him, trying not to let the tears pour from my eyes and down my face.
Abruptly, he releases me and steps back, giving me a slight push toward the dark opening of a cave. Without another option, I step through the narrow opening and glance behind me. He has to turn sideways to fit through, but he’s right there with me as I make my way through the passage and into a dimly lit cave.
It takes my eyes a few moments to adjust, but when I can see enough to look around the small space, I see a fire and a pile of furs but little else. I glance over at the bearded man to find him watching me closely with apprehension in his eyes.
With a nearly inaudible grunt, he suddenly moves toward the fire and crouches to grab at something. I watch as he pulls the carcass of some animal off a spit and tears off pieces to shove in his mouth.
Has he forgotten I’m here?
I take a tentative step toward the opening of the cave, and he suddenly jumps up with a large piece of meat in his fingers. He approaches, and I back away. His wild expression as he holds the dangling hunk of flesh out to me makes my stomach drop. With a scream, I rush for the small opening, my only means of escape.
I don’t get far.
“Let me go!” I scream as he grabs me by the waist and hauls be back into the cave and close to the fire. For a moment, I think he’s going to throw me into the flames, and I scream again.
“Leave me alone!” I shout. “Please, please, just leave me alone!”
He holds me so tightly, I can hardly move. I struggle as much as I can, feeling my arms and legs burn as I kick and hit, but he barely even notices my efforts. With ease, he holds me against him as he sits near the fire and holds me in his lap. I twist and turn, but I can’t get away.
He’s not hurting me.
Telling myself this over and over again does little to relieve the terror inside of me. I push against his chest again but to no avail. I’m exhausted—body and mind. I can no longer hold back, and I surrender to my sobs as I go limp in his arms.
As I sob into his shoulder, the caveman gently strokes my hair.
“Please,” I say through wails, “please just let me go!”
He grunts and holds me to his chest. I try to resist, but I’m simply too tired. My muscles don’t want to obey my commands, and all I can do it sit there in his lap and cry as he runs his hands over my hair. He begins to rock me as if I were a child in distress.
After a while, he reaches over to the fire and yanks a piece of meat off the bone. He holds it up to me, and all I can do is turn away to cry again. I don’t want anything from this man. I want to be left alone. I need to get back to where I was before—in the hole—so my father can locate me.
How long will it be before he realizes I’m gone? How will he even know where to look?
I go over the events at the museum in my head yet again. One moment, I had been at the museum in my father’s lab, trying to find some solace from the crowds. I had tripped over the table leg and thought I had dislodged a wire from the back of Dad’s invention. Wanting to make sure I didn’t break anything, I had shoved the loose wire back into place. The next moment, I was somewhere very different. I was trapped at the bottom of a hole in the ground, staring up into the blue sky and the green eyes of the caveman.
How will my father know any of this? I was on a class field trip, and he wasn’t expecting my visit. It might be hours and hours before anyone realizes I’m gone.
I scream again, and the caveman grips me tighter. I find one last bit of strength to fight him, but he is simply too strong. I have no idea what he plans to do with me, but all the thoughts in my head are of the most horrific kind.
My continued futile efforts exhaust me even more, and I give up. I don’t know what else to do and can only sit there with tears running down my face.
Abruptly, the caveman shifts me in his lap and gets up to tend to the fire, leaving me sitting there on a rough grass mat. I glance briefly at the doorway, but I no longer see daylight coming from the other side. Thoughts of escaping into the night briefly fill my head, but the more rational part of me knows that shelter is the first necessity in a survival situation, and so I stay. I pull my knees up to my chest and sit there, unable to move.
The man turns back, eyes me for a moment, and then bends down. He peers at my legs for a minute before reaching out and running his fingers over my jeans. I tense, trying to figure out just what he’s doing as he touches his loincloth with his other hand.
He pauses and looks at me with his intense, green eyes. Slowly, he reaches out and strokes my hair once more. I cringe and shudder as tears fall from my eyes yet again.
I watch as he pulls his hand back, rises up on the balls of his feet, and then reaches out for me again. He slides his arms underneath my back and legs and then stands with me cradled against him. He walks to the back of the cave and lays me down in a pile of furs.
It’s much darker here, away from the fire. I can only see the caveman’s outline as he kneels in front of me, looking down as I try to look around him. I want to keep my eyes on the fire—on something I can still see—as opposed to sitting here, blind in the back of a cave.
His hand and arm are just shadows as he reaches for his waist and pulls off the only strip of clothing he’s wearing, and all my fears return.
“No, no, no!” He grabs me, crawls over me, and holds me down on the fur-lined bed. I struggle, scream, and punch his naked body, terrified of what he could do to me here, alone, in the back of the cave in God knows where—God knows when.
I scream again, kick and punch, but he just holds me down. When I exhaust myself, I can only cry and wait for him to do whatever it is he’s going to do to me. I close my eyes and wait for what I assume is the inevitable.
But nothing happens.
I feel his hand on my face, wiping tears from my cheeks. When I open my eyes, I can see such a look of genuine sorrow and pain in his eyes that I don’t know what to think of him at all.
“What do you want from me?” I whisper, but I get no response. He just stares at my mouth, brow furrowed, looking confused.
I stay as still as I can as he runs his hand over my hair, leans in and sniffs at my neck, and then lies beside me with his arms around my waist, holding me close to his bare chest. He lifts his head for a moment, looking first at the fire and then at the entrance to the cave. He lets out a satisfied huff from his nose and then settles back down.
He bumps his nose to my forehead and looks at me with soft eyes glowing brightly in the firelight. He looks…worried.
“You don’t want to hurt me, do you?” I say softly. “Why did you drag me back here? Are you going to let me leave in the morning?”
Clearly, he doesn’t understand English, and I give up trying to speak to him. If he were going to hurt me, he has had plenty of opportunity. I obviously am no match for him physically, and if he were going to do all the horrible things my head told me he might, he would have already.
Eventually, my exhaustion gets the better of me, and I try to ignore the nakedness of the man beside me as I close my eyes. I sleep restlessly, waking a few times. Each time, the caveman is there, looking down at me with concern in his eyes and silently stroking my hair. I find it strangely calming as I drift back to sleep.
The next morning, it’s clear that the caveman doesn’t want me to go anywhere. Now that my head is slightly clearer, I’m not sure where I would try to go. It’s not like I can live in a hole and wait for my father to figure out where I am. He may never figure it out.
The terror I felt when he first dragged me back here is gone. Nothing Ehd has done has caused me to believe he will harm me. If fact, he seems determined to take care of me.
It’s also clear that this caveman doesn’t use any kind of verbal speech. After a lot of patience, we get as far as names though he can’t say mine properly. Even after shortening Elizabeth to the hated “Beth” nickname, he couldn’t get it right and can only refer to me as Beh.
He’s very proud of his own name—Ehd. He smiles and practically shakes with excitement when he tells it to me. I’m paying close attention to his movements and expressions to try to understand him, but I know that no matter how long I’m stuck here, this isn’t going to be easy.