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…

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…