Deep beneath a land that no-one dares to cross, in a country few have heard of, on a continent many have never seen, is a series of caves no human has ever committed to a map.
They run for many miles below a barren stretch of desert.
This hollow maze twists and turns and doubles-back so many times that it would be near impossible to find your way to the centre. But if you took your time, packed enough supplies, and employed your memory, you might stumble into the colossal cavern which lies in the very heart of these catacombs.
It’s reasonable to expect that it would be pitch black inside, with so many miles of stone above you. And it would have been, if not for the rift that formed in the rocky crust above; the only relic of an ancient earthquake that occurred in this prehistoric land.
Golden sunlight spills through the narrow opening. The light bounces off the quartz which coats the walls and the crystalline structures that hang from the ceiling, filling the cavern with a soft glow.
While the desert above swelters in the heat, leaving the sand too parched for anything to grow, the cavern is overflowing with life. Everywhere you look there are lush green plants. From every crack in the stone walls springs a spray of tangled vines with brilliant flowers bursting from their stems.
Vibrant colours splash across the different species of trees and shrubs as their buds come into bloom under a ghostly sun. Crimson roses climb across the walls. Jasmine trees bloom from the alcoves. Daffodils, gerberas, lilies and sunflowers sprout between oaks and willows that tower high into the air. A fresh breeze creeps in from the caves. It stirs every leaf and each blade of grass into a song as sweet as the honey fragrance that swirls through the air.
Through the middle of the cavern runs a clear stream which trickles merrily on its way from one cave opening to another. Exotic birds sing from the branches that overhang it, while luminescent fish dart from one side of the bank to the other, their graceful fins rippling in the current.
It is never dark in the cavern.
Even when the sun has set on the world above.
At night, moonlight flows through the rift in pale waves of light. And when there’s no moon, the ceiling is dotted with millions of glow worms that twinkle in the dark like all the stars in the Milky Way.
And in this hidden paradise, a man and a woman look up at their artificial sky and wonder how it all came to be.