I kept rowing, as fast as I dared. We were moving, but not fast enough. The giant cabbage monster kept moving toward us, slowly getting closer. There was nothing I could do! It was going to catch up to us! There wasn’t much I could do and the Sharkwoman was still unconscious. My paddle was all but dissolved. I threw what remained of it at the monster. It didn’t even flinch as the root bounced off its head. I went in search of more roots, better ones, stronger ones. I threw the lesser ones at the approaching monster, but it kept coming closer.
Then it was up at the shore and the island wobbled as the monster climbed up. The island tipped because the creature was so large. I slid toward its mouth. I tried to grab for something to stop me, but all there was to grab were the broken roots. So, I held onto one and went leaping at the monster. I stabbed it in the eye and it began to shake violently. I was tossed back onto the island, but the island was shaking beneath me.
The monster retreated back into the acid and when it emerged the root was gone, eaten away. Now, the monster was angry! Now, it was looking for revenge! I didn’t wait for it to attack. With roots in hand, I struck first! Thrusting, stabbing, thwacking, it barely seemed to have an effect. The monster bared its teeth and came after me, rocking the island, knocking me off balance. I also had to watch out for the acid dripping off its body.
I couldn’t retreat. There was nowhere to go. The Sharkwoman was counting on me! She had saved me so many times. It was my turn to save her.
The monster opened it’s mouth wide and I stabbed it with a root up into it’s palate. It screamed horribly and I backed away. Done screaming, out if breath, it closed it’s mouth. I could see the creature’s eyes go large with surprise. It opened its mouth to scream.
When it opened its mouth, I could see the root had been lodged up higher in it’s skull. The monster began to thrash about wildly. The island began to shake about. The Sharkwoman was rolling around. I grabbed her to keep her from rolling into the acid or being splashed. I sat huddled against her, away from the monster, away from the acid, until the creature stopped thrashing about. It lay completely still. Was it dead? I wondered.
I slowly got up with a large root in my hand and cautiously walked toward it. Careful step by careful step, I slowly got closer, expecting that monster to jump at me at any second. I reached out with my root and poked it, then poked it again. It didn’t move. Maybe it really was dead.
I looked at the island. It had shrunk to half the size it had been. I was beginning to doubt it’d last the whole way to shore. But what choice did I have? We were on a lake of acid, there was nowhere else to go. It’s not like I had options. The island was dissolving. The roots were dissolving. Everything was dissolving!
…Except the monster. The monster wasn’t dissolving…
I stepped toward the monster and nudged it with a root, then when it didn’t move I whacked it. I poked it in it’s mouth. I poked it in the eye. It wasn’t moving. It really was dead. That meant we really could ride it to shore.
Tearing off a few strips from my dress, leaving me more or less just in my underwear, I tied some of the roots together and threw it over the monster like a saddle. With quite a bit of effort, I hefted the Sharkwoman up onto the saddle. The island was shrinking fast, she wouldn’t have fit much longer. I tied the last few remaining roots together to create a paddle and then carefully climbed up on the monster and began rowing to shore.
The last few dozen yards to the shore we made without a paddle. Fortunately, we had enough momentum to get us the rest of the way. Almost too much momentum, since when we hit the shore we were almost knocked off the monster. I was able to stabilize myself quickly enough. It was harder to keep the Sharkwoman from sliding off and even harder to lift her up and get her to shore. I may have had to toss her there. She groaned when she hit the ground, but she didn’t wake up so I figured everything was ok.
Or at least as ok as they could be. She still had some horrible looking cuts, she still hadn’t woken up, and we were still trapped inside the Wall of No Return. Tug was nowhere to be found and he probably had no idea where we were and neither did I. The only choice I had was to keep going forward.
I pulled the saddle off the monster and put the Sharkwoman on it, hoping that it would make it easier to transport her. Unfortunately, the acid had weakened it to the point where I only managed a few steps before the saddle broke into tiny pieces. It looked like I had no choice. I was going to have to carry her.
I tried to pick her up, but I couldn’t get far. My muscles were hurting from rowing, from running, from fighting. I was so tired. I decided to take a seat and try to take a breath. That’s when I realized how hungry I was, how thirsty. I didn’t know if I’d have the strength to go on. And that was when I heard the sound of something coming near.
to be continued…