The Unknown Voice
What can’t talk but will reply when spoken to?
Wispa often found themself at the edge of a deep cavern, peering into its depths in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the child who lived inside.
Tonight, just like the night before, and the night before that, Wispa discreetly tiptoed away from their village center, into the surrounding forests. They had to be extra careful not to alert the jackals that prowled the treeline on short leashes, nor the lookout— tonight it was Bel, who often filled his mind and stomach with drink to keep himself warm for the long night ahead.
It wasn’t long before the village was far behind Wispa, and their only light was the moon. They had made the trek to the cavern a total of twenty seven times before, so the path, visible only to them, had become strikingly clear: A gap in the underbrush, child sized, with a smooth stepping stone every so often. Wispa could almost see the path like they could the glow of the night sky.
Tonight, they made it to the cavern rather quickly, just in time for the moon to be at its highest and brightest. Wispa rushed to the lip of the pit.
The hole in the ground was huge, and gaping. A rocky outcropping jutted from the earth around it, casting its depths into pure shadow. Wispa had hoped the moonlight tonight would be enough to catch a glimpse of the interior of the cavern— to see what was inside. But just as it had always been, nothing more could be seen inside but inky blackness.
“I know you’re there. I hear you speaking sometimes.” Wispa told the pit. It replied.
“… I hear you speaking sometimes.” There was the child’s voice. Just as it always did, it repeated Wispa’s words right back to them.
“Why won’t you come out?”
“Don’t you want to be friends?”
“Exactly.” Wispa hoped they were getting through to the child in the pit. They reminded Wispa of themself after all. “You don’t talk much, do you?”
“Don’t talk much. Do you?”
“You know I do.” This was going pretty much the same as it always did. Wispa would say a few words, the child in the cavern would respond. But Wispa did much of the driving of the conversation. “I wish I could see you.”
Wispa’s attempts to make a friend remained unsuccessful. They waited a while longer at their place by the mouth of the pit. They hoped that in a moment of quiet the other child would reveal itself. They silenced themself and watched until the moon was no longer overhead. Clouds threatened its pale light, and Wispa knew it was time to return home.They left the way they came, slowly picking out their trail back to the village.