(…) He grins, his face caked in mud, and yanks harder on the root. A large clump of earth breaks away and tumbles to his feet. It is followed in quick succession by several other clumps leaving a gaping hole in the tunnel roof through which I can see only darkness. Using the fallen earth as a stepping stone, Mart clambers up and peers out.
When he says nothing, I scramble up next to him, my arm slung around his waist for support. His body gives off such welcome warmth in the biting night air, I huddle close. I peer out through a forest of blades of grass that grows around the gash in the earth, and as my eyes adjust to the pale light of the moon, I see a tangled mass of leaves and branches writhing in the wind. Here and there, shifting patches of colour catch the moonlight like willowy dancers weaving their way across a darkened stage.
The sight is extraordinary, but the surrounding soundscape enthralls me more. Against a backdrop of groans of age-old branches struggling against the wind and the accompanying complaint of leaves, the shrieks of nightbirds, the high-pitched cries of bats and the throaty calls of animals on the prowl set the scene for a nighttime drama that is both enticing and menacing. Nearby, a creature moves unseen through the grass, only the rustle giving away its presence.
A sharp hiss to my right has my head swivelling in that direction. I freeze at the sight that awaits me: only a foot from my nose, a cobra surges up out of the grass, its hood spread wide in defiance, its tiny eyes bulging, its tongue flicking in and out. (…)