XIX: Doom and Gloom

It took Dave roughly half an hour to reach the center of the cavernous room. He’d walked past more of the same basic architecture that he had seen for the past few hours- decayed, broken tiling, sparsely populated plant-life popping up here and there. The earthy walls were now well out of sight, but he could still smell the dank mustiness and the reek of what he thought was decayed flesh as well. He tried not to think too hard about it.

‘Well, any minute now and I should be coming to the-‘ He halted abruptly. There, in what would be the center of the cavern, was a gigantic hole plunging away into the bowels of the dark earth. Dave whistled before looking around, marveling at the vast expanse of the pit, and wondering how he had not noticed it before. He felt a stirring on his shoulders. The muka baby was starting to wake, or at least shifting in its sleep.

‘No, please don’t choose right now to wake up. With my streak of luck thus far, you’ll have me tripping into this pit in seconds because I’ll be off balance…’ He thought, praying silently that the thing would just snuggle back into its little basket again. He had no such luck.

The little guy poked his head out from under Dave’s arm and peered wild-eyed around, seemingly taking in his surroundings and getting his bearings. Then, without a second thought, he hopped out of the makeshift basket and started pacing away briskly. Dave let out an irritated snort before following after.

“Hey- come back here!” He called out to the little figure ahead. It turned its head and gave him a semi-inquisitive look before continuing on its merry way, as if it had planned on arriving here all along, and knew its way around the place- or at least to an exit. Dave sighed and decided it might just be best to follow the little guy after all, looking back for a second to drink in the vastness of the giant pit once more before turning away for good.

*****

Hours later, or so it seemed- although it had only been about forty-five minutes, the miniature muka finally stopped at a door with a giant skull carved into the dark green-grey stone. It turned around as if seeking approval and when it noted the blank expression on Dave’s face, shrugged before walking towards the door. Seemingly of its own accord, but most likely resulting from some hidden pressure plate or sensory mechanism, the skull-door opened up swiftly for him. The baby turned around once more to glance at Dave before hurriedly moving off into the deepening gloom.

Not knowing how long the door would remain open, Dave hurried forward and turned around to examine the other side of the entry, just as the raised panel slammed down with a resounding boom that seemed to reverberate through the entire cavern. Dave yelled out more in surprise than pain and clutched at his ears, turning to see- to his dismay, that the door had somehow locked and barred itself as well.

‘Well, we won’t be going back that way- that’s for sure…’ He thought, looking around to see just where the little muka baby had scampered off to. The little guy was nowhere to be seen, so Dave stopped a minute, allowing the echoing boom to clear from his head, before listening for the click clattering of tiny claws upon the broken tile floor. Imagine his surprise when he heard- not one small set of claws, but many large ones…coming his way. He turned to see if there was some way to get the doorway to open again as the scampering sounds grew nearer and nearer, but it was firmly shut and in place.

‘After all this time, did the little guy betray me to his own people? Would he know any better anyway? I mean, I can hardly blame him, but its not like I’ve done anything other than scold him occasionally, right?’

Dave’s thoughts raced as he groped his way along the wall, hoping for some sort of exit or other passageway branching off, away from the main pathway to appear. He had no such luck, and instead heard the clattering tick ticks scratching their way nearer yet. Starting to panic, he raced away into the gloom, not really paying attention to his surroundings, just trying to get away from what could easily be a whole force of muka coming after him with the baby in tow.

And that’s when a swiftly turning spiked object came whizzing by his head, and another rotation of the odd pole-trap knocked him in the shoulder and put him flat on his back. He wasn’t really injured so much as winded, but it broke the makeshift basket, which was now painfully digging into his back- having splinted from the force of his landing. The rotating trap hadn’t hit him with its spiky side- which was a miracle if there ever was one, but had instead struck him as he stepped out of the spikes’ arc and into the wooden beam connecting the two sides together. It looked strangely familiar…almost like…

‘The spiked owl traps we put into Atmosphir! Man, I can’t believe I didn’t think to watch out for those here! After all, if they’ve got fireball breathing chicken statues…’

He silently kicked himself, but at the same time counted his blessings for surviving what would have otherwise been a fatal encounter if it hadn’t been for blind and dumb luck. Laying silently on the floor a little longer, he heard the skittering claws come to an abrupt halt on the far side of the rotating trap’s radial arc. He strained to see what creature the sounds belonged to while staying still, hoping that they would think him dead from the blow. His second thought turned out to be true, but he felt disappointment seep through his adrenaline laced thoughts as the creature or creatures turned away, leaving behind only a dark shadow as it/they traipsed off into the gloom.

‘Man, I kind of wish I’d seen whatever that was…instead of it being on the edge of visibility like some scene from a suspense film…’ He thought, slowly beginning to crawl under the spinning arms of the spiked owl trap…and realizing that there were more on ahead as well.

“Looks like I’ll be crawling for awhile yet…” He muttered to himself, steeling himself for a slightly less grueling journey than the short one that testing faith and trying to jump over each trap would be.

“This ought to be fun…”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: