Spelunkers by Cora BuhlertDuring a holiday in Belgium, college students Evan and Matt decide to explore an uncharted cave in the Ardennes. Also along for the ride is Evan’s sister Kate, who has been tasked with looking out for her brother since early childhood.

Deep inside the cave, Kate, Evan and Matt stumble upon a portal to another world. But does this portal represent the greatest adventure of their lives or a terrible danger…?

This is a science fiction short story of 3800 words or approximately 15 print pages.


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More information:

  • Spelunkers is a science fiction short story of 3800 words or approx. 15 print pages. This story is a digital premiere and has never been published previously.
  • This story was written as part of the 2019 July short story challenge. The idea was to write a short story per day in July 2019.
  • Spelunkers is one of several July short story challenge stories that were inspired by a piece of art, namely this one by Nele Diel.
  • The setting is based on a real place, namely the caves of Han-sur-Lesse in the province Namur in Southern Belgium close to the French border. During the last ice age, the river Lesse burrowed its way through a mountain in the Ardennes, leaving behind an extensive network of caves. Nowadays, the caves are one of Belgium’s most popular tourist attractions. I visited them as a teenager and when I wrote Spelunkers and needed a cave, Han-sur-Lesse was the first that came to mind. And since the caves of Han-sur-Lesse are very extensive, they might easily hide a few surprises such as an interdimensional portal.
  • Once I had decided on a cave, the setting also influenced the rest of the story. And so the beer that Evan, Kate and Matt are drinking on the patio of their hotel is implied to be Rochefort 10, brewed at the Trappist abbey in the town of Rochefort near Han-sur-Lesse. Rochefort has a cave of its own as well. I first tasted Rochefort 10 on the patio of a hotel in the Ardennes. It’s delicious, but strong.
  • The “village of books” where Kate would rather browse the shop than trudge through a cave is another real place in Southern Belgium. It’s called Redu and is one of the oldest book towns in Europe, operating since 1984. Redu has more than twenty bookshops and only about four hundred inhabitants. Alas, the vast majority of the books sold there are in French, so most of what I bought there were comics.
  • The booksellers of Redu were always happy to get their hands on classic German literature, so I sold off much of my high school reading there and promptly invested the money into comics.
  • The cover is stock art by Zishan Liu.
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