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The Mystery of John Brown’s Cave, Harpers Ferry West Virginia: A True Story

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Part VI

When I began the climb, without the torch, I had no negative thoughts. Truth is that I was fueled with adolescent adrenalin. Looking back on this adventure, I now know that I might have fallen, but there was no way I had any doubts that I would ultimately make the climb. Hell, at 15 years old, we all have a certain amount of adrenalin—making us do whatever we do. At that age, we all think that we are “bulletproof” until we discover that we’re not.

Every year, in the fall, when I started back to public school, I felt as if I had learned a great deal by the experiences that I had over summer vacation. I knew I had matured by putting myself at risk, in a way that other juveniles probably wouldn’t. Knowing that if taking the risk did not kill me, surviving made me stronger and wiser.

As I climbed farther up the shear wall, I began to feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck. There seemed to be an unseen presence lifting me up, guiding me towards the dim light. Tom’s light from below got smaller and smaller. I knew that I had my lighter. That would have to be my main source of light, when I reached the round room at the top. Although I didn’t think about it at the time, I am amazed that I was able to climb up, with little or no light. The shoes on my feet were “Chuck Taylors”. Because I was now in the dark, I relied on my other senses. I could feel the wall against my shoes.

I didn’t slip. Not once.

When I reached the small domed room, my eyes had adjusted to the dark. Not that I am nocturnal or anything like that. There was definitely a source of light in the room. I felt a slight ledge at the opening to the room, pulled myself through, and rested.

“Tom, I’m in!” I leaned over the ledge and called back to my friend.

After resting, I reached into my pocket for the Zippo Lighter, spun the wheel and it lighted up. As I held the lighter over my head, I could make out the rough dimensions of the room. It was about 30 feet in diameter. The domed ceiling was at about 8 feet high. I noticed that again, an unseen presence was guiding me toward what appeared to be a pile of rubble toward the back of the room. Gingerly, I walked over to the pile of rubble and distinctly saw that the pile was positioned underneath a small shaft of light. As I walked around the rough-hewn pile, I could see that the boulders were arranged into the shape of a chair. For the first time, I realized that I could close my lighter. I looked up to the source of light. The light came into the room from a small, cylindrical shaft, about 3 inches in diameter and approximately 30 feet in height, going up through the roof of the domed room to the outside world.

I could see daylight. It was a robin’s egg colored blue sky.

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