18 May 2005
Good morning all,
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine in Hawaii and I were trading emails
about another, ongoing story I've been working on, "Two Lives - Two
Loves". During the course of the emails, I, half jesting - half
serious, offered to write her a bedtime story...sort of as a segue into
getting my head back into writing the story and breaking up the
writer's block and depression. She accepted my offer and I wrote
her the story. This is that story, except modified to a gay
"The Cavern" is a short story in three parts. It is set in the
future during wartime. I'll give you, the reader, the same
warning that I gave her. Some, well, most of the background
against which the story is set flowed onto the keyboard a little too
easily....Those of you who've read or been reading "Two Lives" or
"Light from Darkness" will have some idea of what I'm referring to.
When that happens, I tend to pay attention to it. You can
divine your own meanings from that.
Anyway, I hope you like this new offering. I welcome any
helpful comments, so please feel free to write if you feel so inclined.
Thank you for your attention,
This story is a work of fiction. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental. This
story also deals with love and consensual sexual activities between men. If you are not of legal age, reside in an
area where viewing such material is illegal, or are offended by such
not read further and leave this site now.
The author retains all rights to this story. Reproductions
or links to other sites are
not allowed without the permission of the author.
Short Story by Michael Garrison
The morning sun was an hour or so away. The
night air coming through the window felt
good against his body as Greg Kashihara stared at his monitor, perusing
emails, going through his morning wake-up ritual.
He sipped at what passed for coffee these days and clicked
through his bookmarks to find his favorite news sites.
He hated going there lately, none of the news
was good on any front, but he had to know what was going on, he had to
abreast of current events so that he could give his clients reasonable
“Reasonable, hmmmph, that’s a laugh,” he muttered to
himself. “The whole planet’s
gone insane,” he thought,
reading as the Honolulu Star-Bulletin came up.
Greg liked checking out his local news first before
switching to the financial websites, but the web was ponderously slow
morning. Since the war had escalated,
the government and the Internet companies could not add bandwidth fast
and limited private usage. He got a
break because of his job but he still got up early, hoping the web
faster. It didn’t.
The markets had closed heavily down on Friday afternoon on
the bittersweet news of the Taiwan
excursion. Greg almost had to force
to read how the military had stemmed the invasion.
Further advances were turned back but it cost
them dearly, particularly the Navy, which lost two supercarriers to
weapon that survivors claimed traveled like a bullet underwater.
The news cycle was now twenty-four hours old and he still
couldn’t find any solid reference as to why the Chinese had
stopped. There was only a small mention of
meeting that the Vice-President had had with the Chinese Ambassador. All hostilities had ceased within two hours
of that meeting. Anyone who knew what
was said at that meeting wasn’t talking.
He sighed as he clicked over to the Wall Street Journal
site, going to get more coffee while it loaded.
Greg feared what was going to happen this weekend.
He’d seen it too many times before, but
usually over smaller issues. The markets
would stew about it all weekend, trying to divine and second-guess what
happen next. Everybody feared what had
been hinted at by the media and public servants for months and that a
conscription would be reinstituted after decades of non-use, and he
shaking his head as he shook a bit of cinnamon in his coffee to help
up, and to cut the bitterness.
He didn’t see any way they could avoid it, and CHINY, the
hastily formed Chicago-New York
exchange, would not react
well. The markets were treacherous
enough these days, but a draft would shake it like a dog’s bone. Scores of thousands of troops needed to
scores of thousands more needed to bolster flagging commitments
particularly in the Gulf Sector, as they called it now.
The country had over-extended itself but the
government refused to admit it, afraid to speak openly about that third
military politics. They had leaked it
through very low level staffers to the printed media, giving out
little here, a little there, as if, over time, it would cushion the
impact. That aside, Greg knew, and
feared, what would happen. Who did they
really think they were kidding?
He couldn’t stand to read any more and closed his
browser. He took another sip of coffee,
trembling so from the thought of things to come that he needed both
Greg looked out at the Eastern sky, showing the first
strands of red against dark clouds filling the horizon.
There was a storm coming and he wanted to get
in some diving before the weather ruined his last remaining pleasure in
life. Being underwater always made him
feel good, it allowed him to forget about everything in the outside
would turn his black hair prematurely gray if he couldn’t relieve
somehow. Diving was his relief valve and
he wanted to visit his favorite, secret place and spend time with his
for awhile and think about nothing.
Everything was ready; Greg had double-checked.
He’d double bagged his fruit and his journal in ziplocked pouches
so they wouldn’t get wet and his small, yellow-cased camera had a
fresh roll of
film, in case he saw some coral formation he liked.
His tank and gear rested securely in the
trunk of his car as he crawled towards the marina where his small
docked. He fumed at the new,
artificially low, speed limits. The
limits on every road in the islands had been dropped by ten miles per
except for those already at twenty-five, to help conserve gasoline. Sometimes he felt like he was backing up from
moving so slowly. The fifteen minute
trip to the marina now felt like it took an hour but he finally made it
transferred all of his gear to his boat.
Greg motored around to the harbor master’s pier to top off his
tank. Always wanting to do his part to
help conserve resources, he had traded in the two big Evinrude outboard
for a single smaller one. He didn’t
it nearly as much, it took longer to get to his favorite cove now, but
easier on gas and his wallet.
He chatted with Mr. Yamana, the harbor master’s assistant,
about nothing in particular as he pumped out five gallons for him, all
allowed for sport boating, for now. It
wasn’t much, but it would get his where he needed to go. He liked Yamana. He
was a nice older man who had retired and
worked here just to keep busy. He always
took an interest in people and never failed to give Greg a polite
tongue-lashing about always diving alone.
He smiled and patted his shoulder, as was their routine, and
He cleared the point on the marina and turned south.
The sun was peaking out above the horizon
now, partially hidden by the gray storm clouds, as he opened the engine
halfway. Greg wanted to get to his cove
as fast as he could but full throttle burned too much fuel too fast. Patience was not his strong suit but he had
to live with an assortment of new facts of life.
After not quite thirty minutes, he spied the familiar break
in the rocks where the land met the water and he cut his power to glide
between the two outcroppings that rose almost thirty feet above his
head. He loved this little cove. It reminded him of a small Japanese fountain
mother had when he was a little boy with patches of emerald greenery
from wherever it could take hold.
The rocks gave it protection from the ocean waves; it was
always quiet. It wasn’t large enough
really attract a following among divers but it had one feature that
couple of people knew about.
A little over a year ago, his friend Eric had shown him a
narrow, submerged tunnel on the far side of the cove.
He had no eye for distance but it felt to him
like it went on for a hundred yards, more or less.
However long it really was, it always felt
like it took him halfway to the mainland.
It had taken Eric a couple of weeks to talk him into going
tunnel. He was claustrophobic and the
tunnel could get tight in places but Greg was glad he finally gave in
followed him all the way through into a small, tall cavern with an
the top that allowed daylight to find its way in. It
felt beautiful and serene to him.
He guessed it was partially formed by volcanic
activity. Greg was no geologist but he
recognized the black and red lava rock that formed one whole side of
cavern. There was a wide ledge on one
side where one could sit or stretch out and watch the world go by
hole above, or listen to the meditative sound of droplets hitting the
of the water. Eric smiled broadly when
he saw his reaction to it for the first time.
He knew he’d fall in love with it and he did.
On first sight.
Greg couldn’t understand how anyone had found this
place. He explained that a friend of his
had shown him and now he was showing Greg, like a family jewel that was
from one generation to the next. To his
knowledge, no one else knew about it except for his friend who had
Navy after the nearly disastrous suicide bombing of the Chicago Stock
Now, Greg was alone with their cavern. Eric
had sensed what was coming in the wind
and decided to choose his path before it chose him, enlisting in the
instead of being made into a foot soldier.
He emailed him from training now and then, letting him know that
everything was fine but that the food was lousy, et cetera, et cetera
he missed diving. He didn’t mention
he’d found a new boyfriend but he didn’t ask in case his
emails were monitored.
Greg sighed with satisfaction. He killed
his engine and dropped anchor,
looking around what he now thought of as his cove.
Here he could find peace and quiet, nothing
could bother him.
A glint of sunlight caught his eye as he stripped off his
clothes and quickly pulled on his diveskin.
He loved the feel of the sheer fabric against his body and it
enough warmth and protection for tropical waters. He
always thought his dive gear was
cumbersome, though, and somewhat overpowering on his small frame. There was nothing he could do about it, so he
just lived with it. With his dive bag
clipped to his waist, Greg rolled forward into the dark blue water and
listened, smiling at the sound of his own bubbles rushing from his
As much as he loved the cove and the cavern, he hated
traversing that tunnel between them. It
was like a black hole that light never penetrated, and it was tight. No matter how many times he’d picked his
through it, Greg always had to fight back a knot in his stomach that
dissipated when he got through to the other side. He
tolerated it, though; the solitude was
worth that much to him.
He’d put a fresh battery in his light last week.
It wasn’t penetrating very far, though, maybe
a couple of feet in front of him, and he had almost no warning of the
sediment that seemed to rush up, quickly enshrouding him.
In an instant, his visibility was gone, his light was
useless. Greg could only see inches now
into the brown blur that undulated in front of his face mask and he
knot in his stomach twist his insides as if turned by a clenched fist. He felt his heart pounding faster, almost
leaping into his throat and cutting off his air. He
was completely disoriented and felt the
familiar panic of claustrophobia welling up, chilling him to the bone. He wanted to get out, now.
His panic approached hysteria and he tried to turn around to
go back, but felt himself pushing against the side walls, making his
difficult. He was unsure now which way
was back or which was forward. Greg
cried out in his regulator, almost dropping it from his mouth. He struggled to turn around, to go anywhere
and then felt something brush and then bump into him.
Greg thought it was a fish at first, one that felt bigger
than he wanted to deal with in these tight quarters.
His ears picked up the sound of metal hitting
rock, it was the hollow sound of something hitting an air tank and he
was another diver. His fear did not
subside. He was still stuck and he still
He caught a glimpse of movement and turned his head, seeing
a facemask flash inches from his own for a second, lighted by another
flashlight from below his range of vision.
It disappeared and he felt hands pulling at him, trying to right
Greg was completely blocking the tunnel. If
this other diver was going to get out, he
was going to have to get him out of the way first.
He felt hands grip his arms. It had
to be a man, judging from its
strength. He pulled at him several times
but he wasn’t budging. He tried
own body in his direction, his neck and back screamed at him in pain
wedged into a ball, but felt himself give only fractions of inches. His assistance wasn’t working and he
was going to drown. Wedged in this
tunnel, he knew he was taking another diver with him; there would be no
climbing out of the cavern for the guy and no one would hear him
help if he couldn’t get past.
Greg felt the diver let him go. He could
almost feel the tension in the water
and then he stopped. Nothing happened
for more anxious seconds than he wanted to count. It
was as if the other diver had disappeared
or, himself, drowned after running out of air.
He couldn’t see him or hear his breathing, but then he
felt his hand
again, his palm running over his body.
Were he not stuck, Greg would have punched him for trying to get
thrill at his expense but then realized he was not groping him. He was looking for something.
Then it hit him.
How could he be so stupid?
Their hands met at the buckle of his weight belt and flipped it
open. He heard his weights hit the muddy
bottom of the tunnel and he searched for the snap for his air tank but
rescuer found if first. Greg felt the
tank being pulled free of his body. He could move again and followed
regulator hose as it pulled him along. He
stretched his arms forward, feeling around for anything that might tell
to get out and found a muscular arm and a firm, waiting hand that
tightly. It pulled him along and he
heard his tank scrape along the side walls as he took it, his only air,
Greg realized now that he had only been less than ten feet
or so from the end of the tunnel. He
could hear the change in sounds around him as it widened and opened
water filling the base of the cavern. He
looked around and saw the blurred light coming through the oculus in
the top and
kicked his legs hard for it, dropping his regulator and leaving his
The cool air inside the cavern felt good on his face and Greg
gasped as he broke the surface, taking in a large gulp of air, of
being trapped. His claustrophobia had
taken its toll and he was a trembling mass.
His legs felt like jelly, but he kicked his fins as hard as he
get to the rock ledge. He thought his
foot hit something when he kicked off and heard a muffled grunt but he
attention. He was scared out of his mind
and wanted to be out of the water.
Greg pulled himself up onto the ledge and lay back on the
smooth rock. His chest heaved as if he
was just finishing a marathon, and he closed his eyes to rest.
“Thank you, thank you, thank y…,” he chanted to
Gradually, his mind cleared.
Greg felt his pulse speed up and turned his head back to the
water. He realized the other diver
“Oh, God; Oh, God,” he thought. “No,
no, no….This is not happening to me!”
He remembered his foot hitting something as he raced for the
ledge. Visions flashed through his mind
of knocking the other diver cold, of finding him lying on the bottom. Despite his own fatigue, Greg jumped to his
feet, held his face mask back in place and dove back into the dark
His dive was cut short.
He hit what felt like a brick wall and heard an agonized
grunt. He turned and got closer and saw
the other diver doubled up in pain where his shoulder had caught him in
stomach. Greg silently muttered a
thousand apologies and shoved the diver’s regulator back in his
mouth. Threading his arm through his, he
to the surface. His head almost bumped his
own air tank and he realized he’d gone to retrieve it, floating
it up along
with his dive bag.
He felt like a complete fool.
“I am SO sorry!” he began as they broke the
each word as he patted the other diver’s shoulder.
“I didn’t mean…I was just….” Greg couldn’t find the words, he was
frustrated and afraid. Wanting very much
to help make things right, he lightly touched the rising knot he saw on
side of the young man’s head.
“AAHH!” he cried out, quickly knocking Greg’s hand
he’d accidentally kicked him. “CHRIST, mister!” the
man said, spitting out his
regulator. “You tryin’ to kill
us both?!” He yelled, pushing him
“I’m sorry,” he whispered again, not knowing what
Greg tried to put his arms under his shoulder and help him
to the ledge but the diver was having none of it. He
watched as the man took off his gear, pushed
it up onto the ledge and then pulled himself out and sat, catching his
from having the wind knocked out of him.
He pulled off his face mask, tossing it aside and Greg finally
first good look at his rescuer.
He was long and lean with a boyishly handsome face capped by
short blond hair, mussed and matted to his head. He
couldn’t take his eyes off of the ice blue
eyes that both twinkled and glared at him at the same time.
“You coming up or are you just gonna sit there treading
water?” he finally asked, his tone softer.
“I promise I won’t bite,” he said, extending
Greg retrieved his tank and bag and pushed it up for him to
grab. He tossed his mask and fins up on
the rock and started to pull himself out of the water, feeling the
hands under his shoulder, helping him.
“I am SO sorry,” Greg repeated as he shook the
from his hands and arms. “I
“You don’t have to keep apologizing, sir,” he said,
spitting the words out before calming himself.
“I know you didn’t mean it. Hell,
if I was wedged in like that, I’d probably freak, too.”
Greg cut him a slight scowl.
How old do you think I am?” he asked,
studying his new object of interest.
The young man sighed, not really interested in this line of
conversation. “Hey, I was just being
polite, okay” he fenced. “I
“I’m probably not much older than you,” Greg said. “What’re you, like twenty-six? Seven?”
“Four,” he corrected, “You?” he asked, a smile
beginning to crack through his guarded veneer.
Greg couldn’t restrain a slight smile at the corner of his
mouth. “Yeah, something like
“Yeah, okay,” he smiled back, knowing enough not to press
certain issues like age and weight. He
didn’t see such problems in either category, though, as he
studied him, trying
not to be obvious, glancing quickly away when he thought he’d
Handsome and maybe a little bashful. Greg
was becoming taken with this young man
despite the rough start.
“I’m Greg Kashihara,” he said, extending his hand.
“Bryan Gobell,” he said, taking his hand in return. “Nice to meet you…sir,” he
winked, pushing a
newly found button.
The name sounded familiar for some reason.
“Wait a minute,” he said, his eyes widening.
“You’re not Eric Nisi’s friend are you?”
“Yeah, I know Eric,” he said, puzzled.
“You know him, too?”
“He’s the one who showed me this cave,” Greg said,
“Well, fuck me!
OOOOh!” Bryan said, slapping a hand to his
mouth. “Sorry; pardon my
whispered. He raised an eyebrow at him
and laughing. “I’m the one who
Eric this place! You’ve gotta be the
he wrote me about while I was in training!”
“You’re the guy who’s in the
said proudly, “I’m a SEAL, now. I
to come back here when I’m on leave.
Helps clear out the cobwebs, you know?
I wasn’t expecting company, though.”
“Neither was I,” Greg said, also trying not to be obvious
about studying the contours of Bryan’s
black diveskin. “I do want to thank
again for pulling me out of there,” Greg said, changing the
subject, brushing Bryan’s
knee as he leaned
back on one arm,. “That cloud just
up out of nowhere. If you
“Yeah, well, I’m afraid that’s my doing,” Bryan said,
nodding. “I should’ve just
pulled myself through
instead of using my fins so much; the silt’ll take hours to
resettle. I was just on my way out when I
run into you. My
bad…sorry….Ooh,” he said, putting a hand
to his side where his shoulder had hit him.
“Here,” he said, “Let me.”
Greg slid around behind him and started a slow massage of
his tight neck and shoulders.
“Hey, look, uh,” Bryan
stammered, jerking away slightly before finally settling back. “That’s not where it hurts,”
“Is that a complaint I hear?” Greg asked.
“NO, not at all; it’s just……oooo… oh,
a little lower,” Bryan
around to point to a spot with his thumb.
“Oh, God; now that’s what I’m talkin’
about,” he sighed.
To Be Continued