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…

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…