Introduction

This blog is about the ongoing adventures of Frank Clay, the Quantum Unstable Man, and his team. This is the next draft of the story that was told a daily basis at https://twitter.com/QuantumUnstable then collected weekly at http://thequantumlyunstableman.tumblr.com/. Any questions or comments are appreciated.

Check out the Character List for Book One
Start from the Beginning
Check out the Character List for Book Two
Or jump to the beginning of Book Two.
Or if you’re caught up, see the Complete Character List that is (more or less) kept up to date.

Falling Toward the Light

I could see Crag lying, crumpled at the bottom of the pit. No matter how much I called to him he wouldn’t answer. He didn’t even look up at me. He wasn’t moving at all. Not even a twitch.

Unfortunately, the tendrils were moving and, worse, they were moving right toward him. “Crag!” I yelled again and again. “Wake up! Crag! Get up! It’s coming for you! Get up! Get up!”

Finally, Crag’s head began to rise. I felt a wave of relief. He wasn’t dead. But I had to remind myself he was from out of trouble. The tendrils were nearly upon. He wouldn’t have time to get away. Even if he was magically all right and he was able to bounce to his feet, it was unlikely he’d be able to move quickly enough to escape the tendrils. They were going to get him and his fall would have been for nothing. I had to do something and I had to do it now.

But what could I do? I had to think. I had to figure out something. I had nothing in my hands and I couldn’t get to my pockets. I couldn’t squirm my way out and there was no help coming. I was really out of options. There really wasn’t much I could do, except…well, there was one thing. I didn’t know if it would work and it didn’t seem like the smartest idea I’d ever had. But what other option did I have?

I bent down and bit into the tendril holding me. As my teeth sunk into the flesh, a green goo began to seep out. It tasted antiseptic. The tendril reeled spastically, loosening its grip on me. Suddenly, I was falling. Great idea, Frank.

As I fell I could see that the bright red light was right below me. It was practically all I could see. What was it, I wondered, I worried. I could tell most of the tendrils, if not all of them, had originated from down there. Was the light coming from this creature? Was what it really was some kind of glowing monster? Or maybe it was a rip in space/time? Another portal? Sure I’d never encountered a portal that glowed so brightly, but that didn’t mean that none existed.

Since there were so many tendrils beneath me, I tried to grab a hold of one of the them to stop my fall, but instead I ended up bouncing off of them. I ricocheted from one tendril to the next, falling further and further into the bright red light. I could barely see where i was going. I tried to keep my eyes closed it was so bright, but with every bump my eyelids bounced open and my sight was filled with bright red light.

As I plummeted ever closer to the bottom and the ominous light, I feared what awaited me. What horror was at the bottom of this pit? I theorized a portal in space/time, but a giant gaping mouth seemed to be the much more obvious conclusion. Either way, I feared that this could be the end. The fall alone should have been enough to kill me, but when I hit, it wasn’t hard sudden stop that awaited me or even a mouth full of sharp pointed teeth. Instead, it was a soft landing, like falling onto a large mattress.

A slimy, writhing mattress.

This must not have been the true bottom I decided, but merely where the tendrils had squeezed out of the ground. So maybe I wasn’t going to die falling or get chomped to death, but I was far from safe. There were still all the tendrils, not to mention the looming issue of the ominous red light.

I looked over toward it, squinting my eyes, partially blocking the light with my hand. But even with obscuring my view as much as I was, I thought I saw something, something in the center of all that light.

It was warm down here, but dry. The humidity of the higher level must have been evaporated away by all the heat. I began to worry if I could stand such an extreme temperature. The heat seemed to be emanating from the source of the light, but I moved forward anyway, crawling on my hands and knees over the slimy writhing tendrils. It got difficult to keep moving forward, the hear and the light had become so strong, but I forced myself to press on. I had to find out what that thing in the middle causing all this light was. I had to find out what it was and had to turn it off, whatever it was.

It was bright and it was hot and it was starting to hurt, but I was close enough now that I could start to be able to make out what the light source was. I saw a figure, a person. I thought it did. I thought it was a person. It looked sort of like a person. If it was that meant that someone else was trapped by this monster. Or were they the monster? Were they responsible for all of this? I didn’t know, I couldn’t, but I knew, whatever they were, I had to rescue them.

Or stop them. One or the other. Or maybe both. I had no choice. I had to put an end to this!

to be continued…

All Wrapped Up with Nowhere to Go

I followed the tunnel at the bottom of the cave, moving slowly as I covered my eyes from the light streaming in from ahead, careful not to trip over anything. I ran my hand along the wall to better follow the path. It was warm and I could definitely feel some kind of vibration coming through it. Then to my great surprise, the wall moved. It almost…shivered. The light suddenly got dimmer, almost as if something were now…blocking…the…tunnel.

Oh no!

I froze as large tendrils came slithering out the tunnel toward me. As they came nearer, I swung around and ran awayy as fast I could. But it turned out, I was too slow. The tendrils had already caught me, snaking around me, tangling me, binding me. I tried to fight it, tried to slip free. I tried to climb out, to punch my way out, to push my way out, but it was no use. I couldn’t escape their grip.

Bound tight, the tendrils pulled me back down the tunnel. The tendrils carried me quickly deeper toward the reddish light. The tunnel came to an end at a massive cave. It had to be at least a quarter of the width of the entire island, if not more, and it went down…

Beneath me was the red glow. It was so bright it took me a couple minutes for my eyes to adjust, all while the tendrils brought me further into the room. Even as my eyes were getting used to the bright light, I could see there were other thick tendrils moving about in the massive cave. Slowly, I began to be able to see that the closest one to me was holding onto something. Holding onto…someone! It was Domoban! I could tell those piercings from anywhere! He, too had had been caught in the grip of the tendrils.

But where was Crag? I turned my head so I could see the other tendrils undulating in the air. Some of them were just writhing unencumbered, but some of them weren’t. Some of them were holding people. My eyes were adjusted enough that I could see it was the other trolls! They were all here! There was Crag and Toleuk! And there was the Sheriff! It was all of them! But we were all ensnared by these tendrils and it seemed no one could get out. Some of us were down lower than others. I had to imagine that that was not a good, that the closer they got to the bottom of the pit the worse things were for them. At the bottom of the pit was the source of the bright red light and I couldn’t imagine it would go for anyone.

“Sheriff!” I yelled at the top of lungs so I could be heard over the vast distance. I could hear my voice echo back. “Do you know where we are? What has us? What’s going on?”

The Sheriff’s head moved slowly toward me, but he said nothing.

“They’re out of it!” Crag yelled to me. “None of them will say…anything. And I’m feeling a bit…a bit drained as well.”

“It’s the tendrils,” I told him, though he must’ve realized that himself. “They must be draining our energy, feeding off of us! We have to get free of them!”

“Yeah? But how?”

That was an excellent question, I thought. Struggling against the tendrils had given me no results. Not to mention that the Trolls were much stronger than I was, if any of us were going to muscle our way out it wasn’t going to be me. “Do you have any weapons?” I asked him.

“On me?”

“Of course on you.”

“No.“

“Nothing you can use to free yourself?”

Crag took a second to look. “No,” he said.

I had no weapons on me either. Things have been too chaotic lately to gear up. But maybe I still had something that could be used. Maybe in a shoe or in a pocket, if only I could get to them. Not that I had anything in there that I thought could be much help, nothing sharp. No knives, no blades, not even a pin. I almost laughed at the thought of stabbing these thick tendrils with a tiny pin. But of course a pin, I conceded, might actually be something I could get to as it most likely wouldn’t be trapped in one of my pockets, but instead it would probably be attached to my shirt…just like…“Your badge!” I yelled.

“Huh?”

“Your badge! You can use it to get yourself free!”

“How’m I gonna do that?”

“By stabbing it with it!”

Crag looked at his badge and grasped it as if it were precious, then, looking around at our predicament, he must have realized we had no other choice. Crag pulled the metal badge off of his shirt and stabbed down hard with it into the flesh of the tendril. It responded immediately. The thing began to shake violently. Crag tried to hold on, but he couldn’t fight it as it threw him across the cavern.

“Crag!” I yelled, my voice echoing across the chasm. I heard the thud of him slamming into the far wall and watched as he slid down. “Crag!” I called as loudly as I could. “Crag! Can you hear me? Are you all right? Crag!”

But there was no answer. He wasn’t moving.

to be continued…

Down into the Island

I laid there catching my breath. What could I do? I had to go after them. I really had no choice. Crag and Domoban were in danger and I had to save them. Without them, I had no way off the island. Which meant, I had no way to get back to my home dimension. I had no way to find the rest of my friends.

But that wasn’t all. Aside from my selfish needs, they were also living, breathing people. They might be trolls, but that didn’t make them any less of a person. I couldn’t just let them be captured. Who knew what was going to happen to them down there. Whatever it was, it couldn’t be good. I had to save them. I had to.

I finally reached the spot where they had disappeared. There was a crack in the ground, but somehow the hole was resealing itself. How could rock do that? I didn’t know. I got down on the ground and quickly slid inside, carefully lowered myself down into the hole. But as I lowered myself down, I couldn’t find a place to put my feet. There were no footholds, no ledges, no nothing! I thought I was going to fall and fall far. I started to pull myself up, but I was still tired from all the running and swimming. Trying to keep up with the larger trolls had worn me out. I didn’t think I was going to have the energy to pull myself back up. But I kept trying and just when it looked like I just might have been able to get myself up, my hands slipped and I was falling.

Fortunately, I didn’t fall far. I fell hard, but not far. I had hit a rock ledge and the impact knocked for a loop. I laid there to catch my breath. As I sat up, I took in my new surroundings. I had fallen down into a hole, but it wasn’t what I had been expecting. There were rock outcroppings, but the walls seemed to be made of something else. They were smooth and warm to the touch. The hole above me had sealed itself, but the place wasn’t dark. There was a light and it was coming up from below me.

I rolled over, so I could look down. I could see various outcroppings below me. There was a dim reddish glow to everything. I could see that the glow got brighter further down, but I couldn’t see where the light was coming from. There was only one way to find out.

I got to my feet and backed myself up against the wall, feeling its warmth against my back. I swear I felt some kind of pulse go through it. But that was a worry for another time. I took three quick steps forwards and leapt across the chasm, reaching for the ledge across the way. I slammed hard into the ledge knocking the wind out of me. I immediately began to slide off. Fear of falling overcome my inability to breath and I immediately began to search for something to grab a hold of as my body continued to slip downwards off the ledge. I desperately tried to slow my downward progression by holding onto the cliff, pressing my nails into the rock, but it was no use. I was going to fall.

I continued to slide back off of the cliff. Desperately, I scrambled to find something to hold onto. But just when it seemed that all was lost, I found a bump in the ledge. I held to it as tightly as I could and stopped my slide, but I was now trapped, barely hanging onto a ledge who knew how far up with barely the strength to hang on for more than a few minutes. I glanced around and saw there was a ledge below me, a little off to the side. I began to rock back and forth side to side. When I got a little momentum going, I let go and fell down onto the other ledge, rolling as I landed. Unfortunately, I almost rolled too far and nearly went right off the ledge. I just managed to save myself at the last second.

I took a deep breath as I lay there, thinking about my latest near death experience which had been preceded very closely by at least two others. This life was getting a bit too dangerous, I thought, and then instantly burst out laughing. When hasn’t it been dangerous? Not for many, many years.

I sat up, crawled over to the ledge, and looked down. There was still way too far to go. It was slow going. I didn’t want to kill myself. But I eventually made my way to the bottom of the hole. At the bottom, the cave was lit up brightly. Light streamed in from a tunnel off to the side. It was the only path. Obviously, I had to go down it. If I was going to find the others, if I was going to save them that was the only way to go.

to be continued…

Frank and the B-Team

I definitely was feeling like I got stuck with the B team. Our team dynamic wasn’t exactly filling me with much confidence as we started walking down the beach. I glanced back at the retreating sheriff and his two deputies and I wished I could’ve gone with them. Instead I was stuck with Domoban Rosef the well-pierced cobbler and Crag, the deputy he couldn’t get along with. This was going to go well.

Surprisingly we weren’t immediately attacked by any crazed beasts or giant monsters. There weren’t any traps around to harm us. Domoban and Crag even got along. If ‘got along’ could mean ‘stayed quiet and didn’t interact with each other’.

Even more shocking, it seemed as if we had managed to reach the other side of the island without incident, not one thing tried to kill us. We didn’t find Gnomenasher either, so it wasn’t all good news. Plus, the others hadn’t arrived. “Maybe we’re not there yet,” Domoban said.

“It is hard to be sure,” Crag agreed. “It’s not as if there’s any real way to tell besides eyeballing it. Just to be sure, we should keep going.”

So we kept going, but no matter how far we went there was still no sign of them. “We must’ve crossed halfway by now,” I said.

“We might not have,” Crag said.

“Maybe the sheriff found Gnomenasher and decided to circle back?” Domoban suggested.

“Without sending someone to tell us?” I asked. “I doubt it.”

“Yeah,” Crag agreed. “The Sheriff wouldn’t do that.”

“Maybe they got held up?” I offered hearing the worry in Crag’s voice.

“Held up by what?” Domoban asked.

“I’m just saying, I’m sure they’re fine. That we shouldn’t worry.”

“Who’s worrying?” He replied making it very clear that the answer to that question was him.

“I am,” Crag said, starting to walk quickly down the beach. “We should keep going. They might need us.”

“Need us? Need us to what?”

“Save them! What else do you think? They could be in trouble and they might need us to save them!”

Domoban looked around as if he might find someone besides just the three of us. “Us? Save them? How would we manage to do that?”

“We’re trolls, Domoban. We do what we have to when we have to save the people we care about. That’s what we do.”

“Yeah, but we’re just us. They had the Sheriff. We have a little wee man. I don’t know what could’ve stopped the Sheriff that we could beat.”

“What happened to the Domoban that rushed foolhardily into the forest trying to save all the rest of us?”

“But those were just little things.”

“You didn’t know that when you ran in.”

“I guess,” Domoban admitted. “But you guys were in trouble, I heard you screaming.”

“And they could be in trouble now. It’s time to go rushing in foolhardily and save them, Domoban. Do you think you can do that?”

The cobbler nodded. “Yeah. I think I can.”

“Then let’s go do it!”

Crag and Domoban began to ran down the shoreline and I did my best to keep up. It was not easy. Not only did they have much longer strides than I did, but their feet also kicked up a lot of sand. I had to cover my face as I ran. When the sand eventually stopped hitting my face, I opened my eyes expecting to see I had caught up to them or that they had stopped. Instead, it turned out I had fallen way behind. I tried to run faster so I could catch up, but that was pointless. They were just too fast for me.

“Hey!” I yelled. “Wait for me!”

After a few minutes of yelling, they finally heard me and came to stop. “What are you doing back there?” Crag yelled back. “Hurry up! We need to get going. If the Sheriff is in danger, we can’t waste time with you screwing around.”

“Screwing around?” I huffed. “You’re twice my…”

But that was as far as I got because that was when I noticed something coming up behind them. “Twice our what?” Crag asked.

“Look out! Behind you!” I yelled, but I was too late. Tendrils reached out to them, wrapping around them. Crag and Domoban screamed as they were pulled backwards.

I tried to run faster to save them, but I was already at a sprint and quickly nearing exhaustion. The trolls fought against the tendrils as best they could, but they couldn’t stop from being pulled down backwards toward a large gaping hole. They tried to grab a hold of something, but all they came away with was sand. I dove to reach them, but I was too late. All I managed to catch was a face full of sand. They were gone, pulled down into the pit.

I couldn’t save them. I was too slow.

to be continued…

Inside the Jungle on the Island in the Middle of the Ocean

The Sheriff turned to the well-pierced man. “Domoban, stay with Gnomenasher.”

“With your gerbil? Out here!? You mean I came here for nothing?”

The Sheriff didn’t let the other troll’s outrage rattle him. “I need someone to watch that gerbil. It’s the only way we’re getting back home.”

“Fine,” Domoban pouted. “But if I hear any screaming, I’m coming in to rescue you.”

The Sheriff chuckled. “Deal.”

“All right,” I said, impatiently. “Let’s go find my friends.”

“You heard him,” the Sheriff said. “Let’s go!” and into the forest we went.

As we walked, I paid especially close attention to the trees, keeping my eyes open for any possible suspicious movement or behavior. After the last forest I was in turned out to be a monster in hiding, I wasn’t going to chance it. No more forest-monsters for me thanks.

“So,” Toleuk said after we had been walking for a while. “How are we planning on finding these people?”

“I don’t know,” I told her honestly.

That was not she wanted to hear. “You don’t know? You don’t have any ideas?”

“I figured we’d just look around until something found us.”

“Found us?”

“I don’t tend to need to go out looking for trouble. Trouble usually just finds me.”

And as if on cue, that was when trouble found us.

Without warning, little creatures fell down from the canopy, dropping on us and immediately began to attack us, bite us, scratch us, grabbing and pulling. They were only the size of squirrels and looked even smaller on the massive bulk of the trolls, but they were everywhere! There were at least a half a dozen on me, maybe two dozen on the sheriff, and there was nothing we could do to shake them off.

I grabbed one on my shoulder and pulled him off, throwing him out into the forest and before he was out of my hand another had jumped down to replace him. “We need to do something!” I yelled.

“Any ideas?” the sheriff asked, trying to squish the creatures inside his massive hands

“I’d hoped you had some.”

I tried to bat them off. Toleuk dropped to the ground and began rolling around. Two deputies tried to pick the creatures off of each other. But nothing any of us did seemed to have any lasting effect. Suddenly, we heard a loud yell and we all turned to see a massive form coming racing toward us. It was Domoban, charging at us like a wild rhinoceros. “I’ll save you!” he roared, barreling into us.

The little squirrel creatures were fast enough to get out of the way. Unfortunately, I was not. Domoban came plowing into me, knocking me hard into a tree. He then tripped over Toleuk and went flying into the other two deputies.

The Sheriff went stomping over to his fallen form. “What the hell are you doing here?” “

I came to rescue you,” he said from the ground.

“Rescue us? I told you to stay with Gnomenasher!”

“But,” Domoban said, sitting up, “I heard screams.“

The Sheriff sighed. “Let’s go back and make sure Gnomenasher is still there.”

“Go back!?” one of the deputies repeated, aghast. “But we just got out here!”

“And if something happens to Gnomenasher, we’ll be stuck out here. Forever.”

And so we retreated back the way we came. It was disheartening how quickly we reached the end of the forest. How short we had traveled before getting assaulted became very clear. But even worse than that, when we reached the beach, it was empty. No one was there. We looked left and right, up and down the beach. And found nothing.

“Oh, no,” the sheriff said.

“Where is he?” Toleuk asked.

Domoban rushed to the edge of the island and looked down to the sea. He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “Gnomenasher!

“I hope he didn’t go down there,” I said.

“Me neither,” the Sheriff agreed. “Eitherwise, we might never be able to find him again. And if we can’t find him, we’ll be stuck here with no way to get home.”

“And it’ll be all your fault, Domoban,” one of the deputies said, harshly.

“Don’t do that, Crag,” the Sheriff said. “How many times have I warned you not to be mean to the people we’re supposed to be protecting?”

“I’m sorry, Sheriff,” Crag replied. “I didn’t mean it.”

“For that, I’m putting you and Domoban on a team. The two of you and Frank will head down that way. The rest will come with me down the other way. We’ll meet on the other side of the island.”

“What?” Domoban exclaimed. “You’re going to put me with just one deputy and a little human? I’m just a cobbler!”

“You’re a troll, Domoban. So act like it,” the Sheriff retorted harshly. “You’ll be fine. Now, hurry. Gnomenasher could be in danger.” The Sheriff led his team down the beach, leaving us behind.

“Don’t worry,” I told Domoban. “We’ll be all right. I’m sure there’s nothing here we can’t handle.”

“Really?” Crag asked. “We just got attacked by little squirrels and they almost had us beat.”

I glared up at him. “We’ll be fine.”

Crag looked away chastised. With nothing left to say, I began walking down the beach and the trolls followed after me.

to be continued…

The Mysterious Floating Island

“We have to run!” one of the deputies exclaimed in a panic, as we stared at the large green object heading directly toward us. “Swim. Whatever. We have to go now before it gets us!”

“No,” the Sheriff told him in as calming a tone as he could manage while treading water in the middle of an ocean. “If it’s going to attack us, it’s going to attack us. We can’t out-swim whatever that is. There’s nowhere to swim to. Eventually, we’ll get tired and then it’ll be able to pick us off one by one. If we’re going to have to fight it, then we’re going to need to make our stand now, as one.”

“But we can’t stand,” Toleuk said. “We’re stuck in the ocean and the ground is far beneath us.”

The Sheriff gave her a side eye that would have been far more effective if we weren’t all being splashed by giant waves.

All attention turned to the strange green object. It continued to get closer and closer and as it did, it also continued to get bigger and bigger. Escaping this behemoth seemed more and more impossible. It wasn’t as if it were a single rowboat that we could have just spread out and stayed away from. It was a leviathan that could swallow us whole. It was like being chased by a whale or a city or a…a…island? “Is it me,” I began, “or does that look like a…”

“A floating island?” the Sheriff finished for me. “Yeah. It kind of does. It kind of really does.”

The green, we could see now, was a forest. There were trees with big green leaves. And in front of the forest was a beach, a long, sandy, dry beach. And before the beach was a small outcropping of rocks that looked like they would hurt quite a bit if they hit us, but they also looked like maybe, just maybe they could be climbed.

“Everyone just wait a second,” the Sheriff said and he began to swim toward the island. We watched with trepidation as he got closer and closer to the island. I think we were all waiting for something bad to happen, like natives coming out to attack him or maybe the island growing a mouth and eating him whole.

But neither of those happened. He reached the island safely and began to climb up the rocks. He quickly made his way to the top. When he reached the beach, he sat down and waved toward us. “Come on,” he beckoned. We needed no more encouragement. None of us could wait to get out of this water.

We all immediately began to swim as fast as we could toward the floating island, but the trolls were all bigger and stronger than me, their strokes were much longer. I had no chance at keeping pace with them, but worse than that, as I fell behind, I quickly got caught up in their wake. I was thrown violently back and forth. I could barely stay afloat against their wake. I almost drowned again as the swam past me.

Eventually, they got far enough ahead of me that I was able to regain control. And, as I started to swim again, I could see that the fastest of them had already begun to start climbing onto the floating island. They climbed up it with ease, just a few handholds and they were onto the island.

I finally reached the island as the last troll was climbing up. I looked up at the wall of rocks before me. From down here, it looked a lot higher than it had when I had started swimming. Those giant trolls had made the thing look like it was nothing. But I was much smaller than they were and I realized I was much more tired. After getting caught in their wake, I was gassed out. Not to mention, I had been out here longer than any of them. I could feel that I was low on energy and that my arms were already fatigued, but I started climbing anyway. What other choice did I have? Drowning? So I put one hand on top of the other and began to pull myself up as best I could. But I was tired and my feet couldn’t find any purchase, not with the waves crashing down on me. I didn’t think I was going to make it.

And then I saw a massive hand appear in my line of sight. I looked up at Toleuk leaning down above me. “Come on, little guy. Let me help.”

I reached out for her hand and her giant hand enveloped mine. It looked like a small child taking the hand of their parent. With relative ease, she pulled me up onto the land. When she put me down, I fell down right to my knees. I was so tired and so grateful. I kissed the ground. Then I looked up at here, with sand sticking to my face, and told her with great sincerity, “Thank you.”

She blushed. “Just part of the job.”

But before I could really catch my breath, one of the deputies asked, “Where are we?” I looked past the trolls and beyond the beach where we all sat. There was a dense jungle beyond it.

“I don’t know,” the Sheriff told his deputy, then turned to me. “Frank?”

I was a bit surprised that he had looked to me for answers. He was the one with the big hat and fancy badge, though he had lost the hat. It was presumably somewhere in the water right now. As I caught my breath, I looked at him, then the jungle, and then glanced back at the ocean. I then slowly rose to me feet and faced him again. “I guess we only really have one choice. We go into the jungle.”

“The jungle,” the Sheriff said with a sigh. “Trolls aren’t really made for jungle.”

I couldn’t help but laugh at that. “You made any better for the ocean?”

The Sheriff snorted. “Jungle it is.”

to be continued…

Water, Water Everywhere

I went through the psychedelic pipe and out the other end landing with a big splash. Before I knew it I was deep underwater and sinking ever deeper. And worse, on impact I had accidentally swallowed a big mouthful of water. My lungs were filled with water. My body instinctively tried to regurgitate it back up but there was no air to replace it. All there was were gallons and gallons of water everywhere I looked.

My lungs were instantly burning. I needed air and I needed it quick, otherwise I’d pass out and drown. But to make matters even worse, I found I was having serious trouble figuring out which way was up and the panic that was seeping in wasn’t helping any. There was darkness all around me, but in front of me, I began to realize, was a lighter darkness. As soon as I realized that I began to swim for it, hoping with all everything I had that it wasn’t undersea lava flow that had fooled my eyes. But I really had no time to think about it. I just swam.

Just as I thought I was about to pass out, I burst through the surface of the water. I opened my mouth to breath and water came pouring out. I began coughing violently, vomiting all the water I had swallowed, as waves continued to crash over me. I struggled to stay afloat and not swallow anymore water. I knew I needed to find out where I was, but I needed to catch my breath first. Unfortunately, it didn’t look like I was going to have the chance. The waves were going to take me under before I had chance to recover.

There was water everywhere I looked, splashing over me, pulling at me, trying to take me back under, but then…there! I saw something! Something green! I think…the water splashed over…it was gone…where was…there! There it was! A tree? An island? A giant sea monster? It didn’t matter. I had to swim for it!

But before I could more than a few strokes out something large fell from the sky! I tried to get out of its way, but I couldn’t move fast enough away. The currents were to strong. It was coming down too fast! It splashed down nearly on top of me and took me under! It pulled me down under the waves with it, turning me all around, end over end. I was disoriented at first but at least this time I remembered to take a breath first.

I held my breath and immediately started looking for the surface. As soon as I found it, I began swimming straight up. I burst out of the water and took a deep breath just in time to see another object come hurtling out of the sky. As it splashed down, I went down again with it. I recovered as quickly as I could and immediately started swimming toward the surface, but as I got close I felt something large grab my leg. It wrapped around my ankle and began pulling me back down. I would’ve screamed if I hadn’t been underwater.

Whatever had me, pulled me down toward it. I fought as best I could, stomping at it with the heel of my foot, but it grabbed my other foot and held firm so I couldn’t shake it off. It was too strong. It pulled me down toward it until I was staring it dead in the eye. The eyes were angry and large. The face they were attached to were horryfing and ghoulish. The creature was truly monstrous. But, surprisingly, it wasn’t totally unfamiliar. Perhaps it was a slow realization on my part, but it eventually dawned on me that I knew who this was.

It was the Sherrif! What was he doing h…? I looked up in time to see another object splash into the water. And like that two and two made four. It was the trolls, coming in after me, dropping from the portal down into the water, just as I had done before them. They were coming in a little quicker than I would’ve liked, but they were coming in.

I signaled the Sheriff to return to the surface. He nodded and we both began to swim up, taking big gulps of air as we broke the surface. Just in time for another troll to come falling from out of the sky. The water had pushed us a bit off so at least they weren’t falling directly on us anymore.

“What’s going on?” the sheriff gasped. “Where are we?”

“I don’t know,” I replied trying to keep water out of my mouth. “I think I saw something over that…” I looked around. It was pretty hard to tell which way I had seen anything. “Somewhere.”

“Something somewhere,” the sheriff repeated, as he treaded water. “That’s not particularly helpful.”

I would’ve shrugged if I could have. “Sorry, that’s the best…”

I was then interrupted by Toleuk emerging from beneath the waves with a gigantic gasp. “Sheriff!”

He reached out and grabbed ahold of her. “I’m right here, deputy.”

“Oh, thank Giolsnda! I thought I’d lost you! Where are we, sir?”

“We’re still working on that, deputy. But first we’ve got to get…heads up!” he yelled as another troll came splashing down.

“How many more of you are coming through?” I yelled, tired of having giant bodies fall down on me.

“That should be it,” the Sheriff said, though I doubted he had been able to keep an accurate count. “But now we’ve got to go collect them all before any of those idiots drown.”

It was fortunately not hard to round them up. There were seven of us in all. Me, the Sheriff, three deputies, and Rosef the heavily pierced. Unfortunately from there, we didn’t have many choices. “Go back to the portal?” Toleuk suggested.

“No. One of my friends was sent here. That’s why there’s a portal. We have to find them. That’s why we’re here.”

“Then what are we supposed to do?”

“What about that?” Rosef asked. We all turned to see something green heading our way.

to be continued