The Cave Times: Gravity, Shadows Spark Lively Debate


NEANDERVILLE – A meeting of the Assembly ended in frustration today when Dwellers were unable to answer even the most fundamental questions about two newly named phenomena of the physical world.

Gravity and shadows, the Tribe agree, will continue to defy real explanation until physics is invented, which no one sees happening until Newton’s time at the earliest.

“Who is Newton, anyway?” was just one of the many unanswered questions at the meeting, called when Tribe Mystic Bob reported that when he fell down, his shadow followed him, as it does everywhere, at least when he has a shadow.

Cave Times

Strange Lurker

“And why is that?” Bob said. “Some days, a shadow; others, like when it’s cloudy, not. Shadows at night by the fire, but step outside, nothing. Unless there is a full moon. Or a half moon. Shadows seem to disappear somewhere between a half and a 15/32nd.”

Bob evidently spends too much time moon-gazing, one wag observed.

As for gravity, Bob theorized that it was both a friend and an enemy of the Tribe. “Kind of like prey,” he said. “That whole eat-or-be-eaten thing.”

Tribe Guru Astrid wholeheartedly agreed.

“Gravity is good for keeping stones in order on the cave floor: I place them, they stay,” she said. “Not so good for trying to knock a meal-size bird from the sky. No matter how hard you throw, the stone reaches a certain point, then falls back to earth.”

“With its shadow following it,” said Bob.

“Or not, as the case may be,” said Tribe Jester Griff.

“And then the bird laughs mockingly,” said Astrid. “I hate it when that happens.”

“From all this,” said Assembly president Vlad, “I conclude that space exploration is a physical impossibility.”

Unless, he added, some way can be found to control gravity.

“An on/off switch would be useful,” he said. “So would a meter, by which you could control the speed of descent.”

Such devices, Vlad said, could have prevented the recent tragic accident that killed a Dweller when a giant boulder rolled down the mountain, crushing him to an unrecognizable pulp as he stepped into the morning sun.

“Followed by his shadow,” Bob said.

“Which is another creepy thing,” Astrid said. “They follow you everywhere.”

“Or depending on the angle, sometimes you follow them.”

“Not to mention they are constantly changing size.”

“Very weird. What is the purpose, anyway?”

“They are great for puppets,” said a six-year-old Dweller. “Which, until we get video games, will have to do.”

Discussion of another seemingly inexplicable phenomenon, itching, third item on the Assembly agenda, was postponed to a later date as the day — and the shadows — grew long.

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