Martin Hooijmans | Lars de Ruyter
“Guess that’s the end of our road!” Ashley called, tapping on one of the bigger rocks. Matt was a little distance away, examining the part where the old railroad had been permanently cut off. It was a shame, really. They had discovered the railway behind some bushes on their hiking trail and had decided to follow it. Two hours in, it had led them past breathtaking ocean views, creepy tunnels and a few minutes before a treacherous bridge that Matt didn’t really want to cross again.
“Looks like it!” he shouted back, grabbing his compact camera so that he could document the final piece of their adventure. Ashley picked up on the gesture, spreading her arms wide. An even wider grin showed on her face, making Matt laugh while he flashed right in it. His grin turned to utter surprise, however, when he examined the result of his work.
Ashley noticed, dashing over to have a look herself. Her digital image was exactly where it was supposed to be. The rocks behind her weren’t, though. They were gone, replaced by a lovely restaurant built into a cave, filled to the brim with people in Colonial clothing and waiters dancing around the tables. They were dining, laughing, flirting, completely unaware of the boulders that blocked their exit. “That is so weird,” Matt muttered to himself. Ashley only nodded in agreement, then took the camera and made another picture. The same crowd of people was in it, but they looked different. One lady had a distressed look on her face, and pointed to a spot somewhere in the middle of the cave. The people around it looked surprised, some astonished, one man already leaning towards something on the ground. “Make another one,” Matt urged, his jaw dropping when he saw the result. The people had stood up, creating a space for the man lying unconscious on the floor. He was unlike the others, dressed in modern day clothing, out of place, too out of place. The lady who had pointed before now looked directly in the lens, gesturing for Matt and Ashley to come, urgency radiating from her being.
The two backpackers looked at each other, completely unsure of what to do. The situation was too weird to comprehend. A moment passed, then Matt leaped for the barricade and began to climb, closely followed by Ashley. It took minutes, difficult, tiring minutes, but then both of them tumbled over the other side, rolling into the cave. Getting up, it turned out to be deserted, the wooden boardwalk showing the decay of several years. The cave itself had collapsed in various places, one very recently, it seemed. Matt took the camera from Ashley, making a picture of the spot. The lady was there again, smiling slightly, checking the unconscious man’s pulse. “We have to dig him out!” Matt shouted, and the two began to remove the rocks.
It was hard, tiring work, exhausting them to the point of complete fatigue, but in the end the man finally appeared, still unconscious but faintly breathing. Alive. Exposed to the light and the fresh air, he regained some consciousness. “How did you find me?” he softly asked.
Matt and Ashley exchanged and awkward look, the camera disappearing into their backpack. Saying that somehow there had been a rift in time, only picked up by the lens wouldn’t do them much good. So Ashley said the only thing that came to mind.
“Let’s just say you’re a lucky man.”