Al jogged the last few feet out of the passage, surprised at how light Tango was. He could hear a loud noise like rushing water.
“Wow!” Tango said.
There was a whole lot of rushing water in the next room—a huge waterfall cascading down from high above their heads into a wide, dark hole in the middle of the cave floor. It was very beautiful, but the huge chasm made Al nervous.
“I’m getting wet!” Tango laughed.
Spray from the waterfall was hitting Al, too. He backed up, returning to the passage, and carefully set Tango down. He was getting an idea. As he studied the waterfall, Tango collected a bunch of pebbles from the ground and threw them at the water.
“That water’s probably coming from outside the cave. I think we should try to climb up and find its source,” Al said
“Okay,” Tango said.
Tango ran ahead, and Al quickly followed. Rocks were piled on both sides of the chasm, going up alongside the wall, higher than Al could see, and Tango immediately started climbing them. Al watched him for a second, amazed at how he ascended with ease, as if he were just going up a flight of stairs. “Come on,” Tango called to him.
Al started up and was immediately surprised at how easy the climb was. He wasn’t moving as fast as Tango, but he was progressing a lot faster than he’d expected.
Al soon lost sight of Tango. “Don’t go too far ahead,” Al called. He didn’t want him up there alone and defenseless.
Tango didn’t answer, and Al tried to hurry. The rocks at his current level were closer to the waterfall and were slick from the spray. One of his hands slipped off the rock, and he slid down several feet. His knee banged into something sharp and the sudden pain kept him frozen for a moment. As he squatted there, rubbing his knee, he thought he heard a sound below him. The waterfall was so loud that he figured he had to be imagining it, but then his throat went dry and his whole body started trembling.
“It’s coming!” he shouted up at Tango as he renewed his climb with a fresh burst of energy.
Pain jabbed his knee every time he moved it, but he kept hauling himself upward. He could feel the thing getting closer as his legs were becoming stiffer and harder to move, and his throat ached for moisture.
Something touched his foot, and he knew it would be simple for it to give a little tug and send him plummeting down. Instead, something else grabbed his hand and hauled him up with such force that he slid almost a foot on his stomach after it released him.
He sat up slowly and looked at Tango, who was beaming. “Did you save me?” Al asked. “How did you—”
“That was fun,” Tango said.
“You’re bigger than you used to be,” Al said.
The boy who’d been sobbing in a cave corner had been barely a toddler, but now Tango looked like he was nearly a teenager. He was still wearing a bright red t-shirt and red shorts, and his voice still sounded the same, though now it seemed to fit him better.