Thursday, February 04, 2016

Flash Fiction #184 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 19: Going Down

This was not the time to panic.
I told myself that as I watched the gigantic creature covered in moss, leaves, twigs and roots pulled himself up out of the hole.  He'd left it once already to attack the wyverns, but I'd been so worried about (1) him falling on us  and (2) the wyverns attacking and killing us  that I had not looked at the hole.
I inched forward but kept well back from the opening.  It was big.  Bog Bob had slipped out and sat behind the hole, Looking like a giant benevolent gnome.  He grinned brightly. 
"Go on in.  Room for everyone!"
"Where does it take us?" I asked, stepping closer, but not actually going in yet.
"Down quite a ways and then across the bridge to the caves.  The caverns are miles long," Bog Bob said, peering down into the darkness.  "You'll want to go straight through to the other side of the forest.  That's about twenty miles, I'd say.  You want to be careful, though.  There's dangerous stuff down there."
"Of course there is," Edmond muttered.
"What is on the other side of the forest?" Lord Snow asked.  He sniffed at the opening.  I could tell it was dank and dark but Snow and Edmond should be able to tell if there were other things down there.  So far their tails only twitched a little, left and right, left and right - pretty much in sync.  They didn't seem to have found anything more unacceptable than usual.
"It used to be a wide, grassy land," Bog Bob said with a slight frown.  He gave a shrug and dirt fell around us.  "I haven't been there in years and years, but things don't change often.  I'm afraid I just got too big to go through, you see."
He patted himself on the stomach.  I refrained from askign what he ate.
"Maggie? Lady?  Beth?" I said looking around. The three were grouped together a few feet behind me.  This was not a decision I was going to make on my own.  "Do we go?"
Maggie looked back at the people who were waiting, and then beyond them towards the sky where things were moving.  "Yes, I'd say we go," she decided.  The other two gave quick nods.
The creatures in the sky looked like they must be more wyverns.  A lot of wyverns.
"Edmond?  Lord Snow?" I asked, but I was already taking a step closer to look in.
"We go," Lord Snow said.  "We go quickly.  Shall we scout, Edmond?"
"Yes," the smaller cat agreed.  "You should come with us, Mark.  You must help find the way that is best for the others to follow."
I thought he might be trying to get me out of the path of danger and I frowned.
"Go!" Maggie all but shouted.  "Find the way down there for us!"
I suspected her of doing the same, but it did make some sense.  I could have sent Maggie, but she had spent more time with some of the others and they'd listen to her. 
"Let's go."
I made my way to the edge of the hole.  A curving path lead downward, spiraling along the outer edge.  It was line with stone and I wondered who had used it in the past.  The scent of fresh ir and green grass gave way quickly to damp earth and while that was not a bad smell, it did reinforce the feeling that we were leaving the world behind.
"Rabbit hole," Edmond mumbled.  "I don't think this is better than the mouse hole we were in before."
"Better than facing those wyverns," Lord Snow said.  "I would like to say I trust Bog Bob, but . . . Overly friendly creatures make me nervous."
I nodded agreement and looked upward.  Bog Bob looked down at us with a bright smile.
"What do you think he eats?" I said softly.
"Wyverns, I hope," Edmond replied.
The others were starting down the trail as well.  Bog Bob had stopped watching us and I had the feeling he was keeping his eyes on the Wyverns.  I ought to be trusting him, I thought.  There was no reason to mistrust everyone we met.
Was there?
"We better move more quickly," Edmond said.  "We have a lot of people following behind us and if Bog Bob decides he wants to get back in his hole, I want to be out of the way."
"Good point.  I think something is glowing down there.  At least we might be able to see."
I didn't really want to rush down the curving path, but I didn't want to leave the others out in the open.  I didn't want to run into the unknown, either.
Still, I felt an odd bit of exhilaration as I picked up some speed and ran with the two cats.  Down and around, and around -- the path proved wide enough for the three of us to move together. The walls were rough and I could see ahead, though I still couldn't see the bottom of this pit.  Just down and down and down.
The trail ended before the pit into the ground did, though I thought I could see solid ground below.  Was that huge a huge table and bed?  This was likely Bog Bob's home.  Our circular trail ended here, but  a wide bridge of woven tree branches and roots that stretched across the now wider opening and disappeared into a misty distance.
"I am starting to think you're far too exciting to travel with, Mark," Edmond decided.  He put one paw on the bridge and then pulled it back again and looked up.  "Meow."
The cat looked startled.  "Meow.  Meow, meow, meoooow!"
Lord Snow took several quick steps backwards.  So did I.
And something chuckled.
To Be Continued. . . .

970 Words

Friday, January 29, 2016

Flash Fiction #183 --Escaping Somewhere Else, Part 18: Bog Bob

The ground rippled  around us and I went to my knees.  Lord Snow growled and dropped to the ground, his ears back, his eyes staring ahead as the pupil expanded.  I inched away from him.
The ground still moved.  I wanted to think it was something simple, like an earthquake.  Or maybe a bog.  Yeah.  This was a bog and all we had to do was back away so we didn't sink in.  The others were retreating fast.  Lord Snow and I needed to do the same.
Except a bog wouldn't move upward in a mound until two huge eyes stared out from the grass and flowered covered head.
The the mouth appeared, yards across, surprisingly white teeth
It smiled.  "Hi there!  Wow!  I haven't had visitors in a long time!"
I glanced at Lord snow.  He had frozen in position, a growl coming out like a surprised cough .
"A -- hello?" I offered.  I was used to things attacking me.  This creature -- or at least the head of this creature -- hadn't yet.
"Hello!  He blinked and the smile wavered slightly.  The head tilted, a few rocks tumbling down and flowers bending to the side.  "You aren't from around here."
"No, I'm not," I agreed. I tried to wave Lord Snow to back up, but he ignored me.  The others didn't scream as loudly now.  "I came through by accident.  We're trying to reach the gate out of here."
"Yeah.  Not the most pleasant place, is it?" he said with a dramatic sigh.  "I went and had a look a few years ago, not long after the disaster.  It was bad enough before that with all those buildings and not a bit of grass or trees.  But . . . But it was worse afterwards.  Even if it all crumbles down and becomes ground again, it will still be worse.  Nothing can change the evil that happened."
"I'm Mark," I said.  He was friendly.  He hadn't tried to kill us yet.  He might have answers.  "And you are?"
"Bog," he said.  "Well, that's what people mostly yell as they flee.  Sometimes they yell 'not a bog!' but I just stick with bog."
"How about if I call you Bob instead," I offered.
"Bog Bob!  I like it!"  The creature laughed with delight and the ground trembled.  Then the creature gave a sigh again.  "I suppose you want me to let you through to the woods."
"We had hoped to get that way to find the magic door," I said.  "We need --"
People screamed.  I spun in time to see five wyverns sweeping down on the people behind.  They were trying to reach cover while Maggie, Lady and people with bows and spears fought them back.  I started to run; I could protect them, right?  They were in danger and --
And they didn't need me.
Bob Bog leapt out of the ground and flew across the sky, his huge body turning the world to shadow around us.  I had a heart-stopping moment when I was sure hew as going to belly flop and crush us all.
Instead, he swatted wyverns out of the air, sending them crashing to the ground or splattering against the side of the hill.  Then he flipped around and dove back into the ground.  A bit of shifting, a few rumbles and his head popped back up again.
"Thanks Bog Bob," I offered.  I brushed a little dirt out of my hair where it had fallen.
Lord Snow simply laid down with his head on his paws.  He looked rather unsettled.
"Nasty things, those Wyverns," Bob Bob said with a snarl of dislike.  "Pets of those up in the sky, and they're not much better even if they do look human enough.  They should know by now not to let the nasty things near me."
"You saved the others.  We are grateful," he said.  "We need to head back and go the other way --"
"No," Edmond said, coming at a trot.  "We can't go that way.  There's a troll village around the hill and worse beyond.  I take it we're not going this way?" He looked at the huge head with a shake of his head.  Lord Snow still looked stunned.
"Bog Bob is the guardian to keep us out," I began.
"Oh no, that's not it at all," Bog Bob answered with a shake of his head.  The ground trembled again and little stone fell all around them.  "I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.  I'm not here to keep you from going in: I'm here to keep the others from escaping out of the forest."
I looked at the trees in the distance.  Maybe not far enough away, in fact.  Did I see something odd moving at the edge of the light? 
"What is in there?" I asked.
"Deathstalkers," he replied.  "They were created when the magic went loose, but I've got them trapped."
"We will not be going in there," Edmond said.  He even backed up a few steps.
"Very smart cat, " Bog Bob replied with a slight nod to Edmond.  I had the feeling Edmond didn't much like having his attention either.
"So there is no way through the forest," I said.
"You might survive if you're willing to sacrifice half your people to the deathstalkers," Bog Bob suggested.
"No.  That is not an option."
"Good," Bog Bob said.  He tilted his head slightly to the side and watched him as though waiting for something more to be said.
  "If we can't go around one side or the other -- then how can we get past here?"
"Finally!  Someone smart enough to ask the right question!"  Bog Bob shouted. The world trembled and I feared he was going to jump up and down and kill us all.  "The rest took off running before I could even tell them about the Deathstalkers.  You can't fly so there's only one other way.  You go under."
He began to climb out of his hole.

To Be Continued. . . .

1000 Words