Even worse beyond the cave- makes the first half of the ride seem like a dip in a swimming pool - sickening drops and turns - walls studded with jagged stones - water gushes wildly, madly - tossed about as though made of putty - impossible to exert control - no time to pause for breath - lungs bursting - hold my arms tight over my head - tuck my legs up as far as they'll go - conserve oxygen - bash my head on rocks - my back - legs - belly - back - head - shoulders - head...
Lose count of the crashes - can't feel pain any longer - eyes playing tricks on me - looking up, it's as if the rocks are invisible - I believe I can see the sky, the stars, the moon - this is the beginning of the end - senses confused, brain shuts down - out of luck - out of hope - out of life.
I open my mouth to take one long, last drink of water - slam into a wall - air explodes out of me - force of crash pushes me upward - I break through to a small pocket of air between water and roof - lungs draw it in greedily, automatically.
I float here a few seconds, pressed against the wall, gasping in air - current takes me again and drags me under - through a narrow tunnel - incredible speed - like a bullet - tunnel getting narrower - speed increases - my back scrapes along the wall - the rock's smooth, otherwise I'd be cut to shreds - feels like a water slide - almost enjoying this part of the nightmarish ride.
Tunnel evens out - running low on oxygen again - try forcing head up to search for air - can't - don't have the energy to fight.
Water creeps up my nose - I cough - water pours down my throat - I'm losing the battle - roll over, facedown - this is the end - lungs are filling with water - I can't close my mouth - waiting for death - all of a sudden: no water - flying - (flying?) - whistling air surrounds me - looking down at land - stream cutting through it - floating, as though I'm a bird or a bat - closer to stream - closer - are my eyes playing tricks again?
Turn over in middle of flight - look up - sky, real sky, open and bright with stars - beautiful-
I'm out! - I'm really out - I made it! - I can breathe. I'm alive! I'm...
Flight ends - hit water hard - impact shakes my guts to pieces and knocks my brain out of order - blackness again, only this time inside my head.