Disclaimer 1: These are my friend's characters not mine.

Disclaimer 2: I'm not making any money from it. It's just for fun.

Disclaimer 3: What isn't borrowed is all made up. None of this is real or most likely at all realistic. Please don't trust any of the information in here. Most likely you know more about whatever I'm writing about than I do.

Disclaimer 4: Attitudes, views and opinions expressed by the characters or in the story are not necessarily those of the author. Even when writing Science Fiction or Fantasy I do not tend to attempt to create perfect/better worlds in which everybody gets a happy end ... or whatever is best for them. Please accept that some characters will have a bad ending or be unhappy.

Disclaimer 5: I intend no insult to anyone. If I offend anyone I'm very sorry. Please understand that it was an accident as I tend to be very clumsy in these things.

Disclaimer 6: If my characters' conversations seem odd or they appear to be talking past each other the latter might occasionally be intentional, but most likely it is an accident and I'm not aware that they are. It's just my bad communication skills.


“We are going exploring!” the little Sphinx announced proudly to her playmates one evening when all the adult monsters were safely out of earshot.

“Oh, but we already know every tunnel and niche in the caves,” Lion replied. “It’s all boring. Rock and moss and more rock.”

“That,” Sphinx continued just as enthusiastically as before. “Is why we’re going to explore outside.”

“But outside’s dangerous!” Piglet squealed. “And we’re not allowed to go there. There are humans and, and cities … and heroes. They’ll kill us and Mum’s going to catch us and we’ll be in so much trouble.”

“What are you, a monster or a mouse?” Sphinx said with her best disparaging sneer. She thought she was a lot better at sneering than her two playmates. Having a human face had its advantages even though it was also a bit embarrassing for a monster.

“It must be interesting outside,” Lion, always more enterprising than Piglet, said. “I heard there’s lots of things there that we’ve never seen. Like trees and the sky and oceans.”

“And heroes,” Piglet insisted.

“There aren’t all that many heroes,” Sphinx promised. “Echidna says they’re very rare and outside’s really big. I bet there aren’t any heroes waiting right in front of the cave. We won’t go anywhere near the humans. We can just explore the forest.” She thought she’d head somebody mention that there was a forest right outside the cave.

“Alright, but I won’t go any further than just outside the cave and if anything moves, we run straight back home,” Piglet finally relented. “And we’ve got to make sure nobody sees us.”

That didn’t prove to be a problem. The adults were arguing about whose turn it was to go hunting today and among all the shrieking and snarling and vicious slashing at each other nobody thought of the children at all.

They kept to the side of the cave, ducking into the shadows, Sphinx and Lion padding along on soft lion paws and Piglet setting his hooves down as slowly and carefully as possible.

There it was ahead of them, a soft shimmer of light through a wide gap in the rock, the mouth of the cave. Right there was their big adventure. Their first ever hunt and triumphant return with prey to feed their family, their first battle with a hero. Oh how amazed everybody would be when they won in a glorious fight …

Excitedly Sphinx stepped forward alongside the others and before them, oh, before them was infinity. The outside was bigger than anything Sphinx had ever imagined. It was only a little bit lighter than the inside of the cave when there was no fire lit, smelled fresh and exciting and was filled with huge dark shapes.

What was most amazing about the outside, though, was that everything seemed to be moving. The huge shapes were bending and waving as the air moved in strong sudden bounds and strange lines seemed to be fluttering down from above.

There was so much to look at, that for a moment Sphinx completely forgot to walk and it was actually Piglet that was first to set foot into the amazing new world. His clumsy hooves slipped away on the unfamiliar ground and he fell, but instead of screaming with fear and scrambling back he squealed in delight and started rolling around on the ground.

“Oh, this feels nice!” he exclaimed. “The ground’s all soft and it sticks so nicely to the skin. Come on, you’ve got to try this!”

Had she just been outdone by Piglet of all monsters in a feat of daring? That couldn’t be tolerated. Sphinx leaped forward into the outside.

There was a sudden moment of very bright light as she was in midair and with it came a noise as if the roof of the cave were falling in. She couldn’t see, couldn’t hear. The only sense left to her at that moment was touch and what it told her was almost too horrible to be real. The ground was indeed soft, but it was also cold and it sucked in her paws and surrounded them in a strange unpleasant sensation that soaked through her fur and all the way down to her skin.

And it wasn’t just her paws. The air, too was full of that cold creeping thing coming at her from above and gripping her from the side with it’s sudden movements, clinging, creeping everywhere.

The blindness and deafness lasted only a moment, but being able to see and hear didn’t improve the horrible feeling. It was more than Sphinx could stand. Screaming with terror she raced back into the cave, but still the clinging, creeping, cold thing clung to her and she pelted down the tunnel towards the safety of her nest and the protection of the adults unseeing, uncaring how much attention she drew.

She only came to a stop when she collided headfirst with Echidna.

“Sphinx!” the mother of all monsters exclaimed. “How in the world did you get all wet?”

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