Inside the Volcano
The mouth of the volcano was one mile wide. We tied a rope around each other and began to climb down. Hans went first. The inside of the volcano looked like the inside of an ice-cream cone. Its opening became smaller as we went down because of the rocks left there after explosions.
The bottom of the volcano was 2,000 feet down. When we got there, I looked up and saw the opening at the top. It was a perfect circle of clear blue sky.
There were three holes in the floor of the volcano. Each of them was about a hundred feet wide. The explosion of rocks and hot lava once came through these holes and then out through the top. Now, they looked like dark caves. I looked at the holes and then turned to my uncle.
«Which one do we take?»
«I don’t know. Arne Saknussemm said the sun touches one of them at the end of June. Today is June 25th. It is too late to see the sun today. We must wait until tomorrow.»
«What if it’s cloudy tomorrow?»
«Then, we will wait again. But we only have five more days. In July, the sun is too low. It cannot reach the bottom of the volcano.»
«Then, we can go home?»
«Axel, don’t say such things! Tomorrow will be sunny, and we are going to the centre of the earth.»
The next day it was cloudy. The professor could not believe it.
«Four days. We only have four days. Please, please, sun, come out, come out!»
The professor looked up at the sky with his arms open. The only thing he wanted now was to see the sun shine. I thought of Grauben and the danger waiting for my uncle and myself inside those holes. I hoped for rain.
Hans built a small house from the large rocks he found on the floor of the volcano. He never said much, but he always thought of something useful to do. I checked the rock of the volcano walls to see how old they were. Drops of water from the ice and the snow outside ran down the wall, and the sound they made inside was like music. Suddenly, the professor called out my name.
«Axel! Axel, come here.» I ran to him curious to see what was there.
«What is it?»
«Look at this!»
There were two words on the wall of the volcano in the old Icelandic language.
«What does it say?»
«Arne Saknussemm. He was here. We’re in the right place.»
The next day, the sun came out, and at 1:13 in the afternoon, it touched the hole in the centre of the floor.
«That’s it. That’s the hole to the centre of the earth. Let’s go.»
Hans brought our bags, but there was one problem. We could not carry all of them and climb down the hole at the same time.
«What must we do now?» The professor took off his glasses and cleaned them while he tried to think of a solution.
«Well, we’ll throw everything we don’t need down the hole and we’ll find it when we get to the bottom.»
Hans threw the bags down the hole in front of us. We listened, but we never heard them hit the bottom.