"Ooof! Sorry Larissa."
"No problem, Tom."
It's been 23 surface days since we were taken in by the Gee-org. One of their scout packs responded to the signal from my Membranophone, and surprisingly quickly too. They regularly patrol the upper reaches of the Earth's crust, but that's a lot of territory, when you consider the entire planet. Either they just happened to be nearby, or they'd already been tracking us. Or maybe just because they can move so incredibly quickly. They skitter like skinks through the caverns and tunnels, and to see a group of them moving in a pack can be quite disconcerting.
"Doh! Excuse me, Tom."
"Not at all, Larissa."
They've put @Tom Karst
and I in a kind of pill-shaped palanquin and are hauling us deeper down into the earth. They say we'll travel faster this way, rather than with Tom and I on foot. But it's a bumpy ride.
"Ooops! My bad!"
"Not your fault! These safety straps are worthless."
We've often wondered, back at our Liminal Spelunking HQ in Geodia, if the Gee-org had some technological system for transportation beneath the surface of the earth. Like carts in a mine, or boats to ride the underground rivers. But we've never found evidence of any such---WOAH!!!!
By my watch I can tell it’s Friday the 13th on the surface. But underground there’s no sun or moon to keep track of days and nights, which is why we use the Gee-org calendar when we’re down here. In which case it’s 1/5th Jeerimpf, Tk-Tka Josen 9, 7646728.7.
and I went over the falls together, and I was able to drag his blubbering mass out of the churning pool. He’s busy pulling his act together now. We’ve got no equipment or supplies, so it would seem that attempting to scale the massive crystal cliff back up to the rafts is our only option. Incredibly dangerous without the proper gear.
The Gee-org calendar wasn’t our invention. We got it from the Gee-orgs — the generally secretive and inscrutable humanoid reptilian race that inhabits the Hollow Earth. We’ve made contact a few times over the years, and they’ve been instrumental in a number of our previous adventures. Like The City of the Singing Spires, Shadow Hole, and Remy’s Repto-humanoid Rebellion.
That’s how we learned about their calendar, which measures the passage of time through perturbations in subtle energies.
It’s also when they gave me the Membranophone, which is small enough to keep around my neck. More of a souvenir, I've always figured. But they said that if I play it in a time of need, they can find me.
ba boom ba boom ba boom
"Falls ahead!" I yelled back to @Tom Karst
in the second raft. I doubt he could hear me over the pounding roar of the tunnel, but he got the idea.
I also knew Tom was likely close to losing his shit, because he hates the water. He's nearly as built as @Seketus Reed
, but thrashes and sinks when he goes under. I notice he's wearing double life jackets over his huge chest.
I look for something to lasso us to before we tumble over the falls. The tunnel is lit with the same crystals we've been seeing the whole way down -- great patches and veins running through the walls, slowly fluttering through blues and greens and hints of pink. There's a big protrusion of them poking up near the edge of this underground river. Like an electric glass cactus.
I nab it on my first throw. I tie the taut-line off on the cleat on the raft and it holds us tight. Nabi tosses another line to Tom.
"Let's take a look," says Tom. I can tell he's happy to get out of the raft, even if it's just to climb on a crumbly limestone ledge.
The roar of the falls grows louder and louder, bouncing off these crystal walls in a firehose of whitenoise and thunder. It seems to have a steady rhythm.
BA BOOM BA BOOM BA BOOM
Like a heartbeat? Or is that my own heartbeat.
The crystals are pulsing in rhythm with the beat.
BA BOOM BA BOOM BA BOOM
I turn to look at Tom. The crystals feel like they've begun to strobe, freeze framing images of Tom as he stumbles towards me, turns towards the wall, and falls backwards, splashing into the river.
Shit. Left all the rope on the raft. That was dumb.
I dive in after him.