this is it!
so far anyway.
Mike parked his ship smoothly, wondering when he was going to get to go home. He picked up his cup of coffee while the three scientists hopped out. He knew there was going to be some fun soon, so he downed the coffee. “Need to stay awake a little longer,” he muttered staring blankly at the clock. Of course it did not show the actual time- just 3-4 meaning three hours and four minutes remaining. As Mike watched, the display clicked to 3-3. He could afford to take a nap, just little one though.
This is great! Absolutely pristine! Said John as he and his cameramen hopped out of the ship onto the sparse rocky ground of 886xd. Bending down, John collected a few pebbles to be sent back to the lab. One of the cameramen looked up at the sky and the swollen red sun worriedly. Don’t worry, John tapped his watch, showing 3-3 three hours and three minutes. Now let’s get moving. We need to be back at the ship as soon as we have what we need. Moving through the dry plants, and off of the windswept plateau, the scientists descended into a strange forest. The ground was orange, obviously a chemical reaction formed deep underground, and the trees were strangely dry. In fact, the air smelled smokey. Lets just get the specimens and get- a strange birdlike call wafted in their direction. –Outta here finished the cameraman. Suddenly, another call sounded, close to their left. John spun around to meet the unseen enemy, but there was none. Leaves crunched as a large animal moved behind them, the footfalls stopped, Bill, the cameraman whispered, is the life here… intelligent?
Mike woke with a start. Sitting up in his chair, He hurriedly check the time. Two hours. Where were those guys? It couldn’t take that long to take a few samples and leave… could it? Sighing, he got up and refilled his coffee at the nearest terminal. He couldn’t fathom why those idiotic scientists hadn’t come before the impending disaster, not the day of! Especially that John, he was no adrenaline junkie… I am thought Mike, but here, I’m the only one. The phone rang. Sleepily, Mike stumbled over and answered. A sharp voiced man answered. Professor John? He inquired. No, It’s Mike… The driver, he answered dryly. Yes, well tell them I want the specimen alive. Before Mike had a chance to answer, the man said, well that’ll be all, and hung up. Mike pondered this strange call as he flung himself down in the chair, utterly exhausted. The scientists were here for rocks… and rocks don’t count as alive did they? Although you never did know these days…
John whirled around, pointing his gun at the large creature in front on him. The fear showed visibly on his face. But it wasn’t a monster; it was a Liptopod, or four Liptopds in all. The quizzical almost humorous looks on their faces gave them an almost lovable look. They were upright, and green, two arms, two fingered amphibious hands, and an opposable thumb, and an absurdly grinning beak. John lowered his gun slightly. One of the Liptopods stepped forward, and cocked his head to the side. The poor things said the cameraman pushing John aside, let’s take them with us can’t we? That’s what we’re here for, idiot, said John. That “driver” has no idea and neither do you. Now get them! All this time the Liptopods had stood there, examining the faces of the three men, and after hearing john’s command, a few things happened all at once. John and one of the cameramen leaped forward, pinning one of the Liptopods, and sending another sprawling. Get the heck over here and help John yelled to the other, dumbfounded cameraman. At that point, the cameraman’s face twisted in rage. Who do you think you are he yelled, punching John in the head, and standing in front of the gasping Liptopod defiantly. Well? He asked wanna do this the easy way? Or the hard way?
Mike needed to leave. There were exactly 4 minutes left. Those idiotic scientists weren’t back yet. He put the ship in gear and tuned up the plasma to a pressure of 33.8 PSI he was just about to take off when one of the scientists appeared on the plateau. He was running. And on his face, a determination that he had never seen before. Behind him appeared four tall green creatures. What the zark? Muttered Mike. Suddenly, he saw John, the head scientist crawl over the edge of the plateau, he was pointing his gun. The rapid fire caught the Liptopods and Tom the cameraman by surprise. Throwing himself onto the ground, tom crawled, ignoring the sharp pain in his right arm. He crawled, pulling the liptopods down with him toward the ship.
Briefly checking his watch, John realized that hehed one minute to get back into that ship. At least he had shot that pesky scientist. John began to run.
Tom reached the ship just as his watch started beeping. A fearful look to the sky proved that the watch had been correct. He pounded ojn the ship door, just as Mike flung it open. You’r dang lucky he said as he pulled Tom and the Liptpods inside. Another volley of gunfire slammed into the ship just as the door closed. Spode, I hate that guy said Mike. Tom was already at the controles. We gotta get outta here he screamed, jolting Mike into motion. Mike grabbed the joystick and they were thrown back in their seats as they shot for the stars. Lookin behind them, Mike saw the brilliant light of the gamma ray burst and 886xd terminated.
So… said Mike, are these things ( he waved in the direction of the Liptopods) um… smart sorts of things? Oh yes, said Tom. Theyre called Liptopods, he said well, said mike… as long as they don’t make a mess, I’m ok with them. Tom sat down hevily. So, said Mike, are these the specimines that that weird guy who called me was referring to? Tom sat up, his eyes wild. No! He said suddenly. Not HIM! That guy want something! Form… he motioned back to where the planet was. Suddenly, he grasped his arm and turned pale. The bullet had gone right through, and he was beginning to feel the effects of blood loss. Mike threw the control to auto-pilot and rushed to open his first aid kit. First he grabbed two biodegradable plugs ad stuffed them into the holes. Then, putting a moist towel on Tom’s head, he bandaged the wound, feeling for broken bones. Mike sighed, realizing there weren’t any. After a few minutes and multiple juice boxes, some of the normal green color came back into Tom’s face.
As the gamma ray burst surged through the solar system, destroying everything in it’s path, it’s two rays of power shot off smaller waves off to the sides. Anything hit by these minor shock waves was pushed out a little farther form the rapidly collapsing star. One of these, found a small metal object in its way. Rushing past, completely unaffected, nobody realized just how much that was going to affect a few lives, very soon.
Mike felt the jolt, and steadied himself on a chair. One of the Liptopods grabbed his other hand for support. It wasn’t a cold clammy grip, It was the warm and loving grip of an intelligent being. But Mike was more concerned about the integrity of the ship. After the wave had passed, he quickly checked the computer screen for any damage. There was some. Tom? He asked. Are you Ok here? Cuz I need to go check on the Main booster tank. Why? asked Tom. It seem to have ruptured in the shock wave that we just experienced. Is that bad? Asked Tom nervously. Not if we attend to it immediately. Mike touched the screen of his digital navigator and the ship changed course slightly. We’ll land here, he said, it’s the nearest planet.
Something was rattling away in the booster tank. Mike immediately noticed that it had been partially crushed by a bit of space debris, and some bits were probably stuck inside. What he didn’t realize was that this debris was carrying Nitros Oxide4, a highly flammable Oxide, and it was beginning to ignite in the tank.
Tom could see the planet out the front window. It was coming into view rapidly, it’s green surface dotted with sizable lakes. It was coming closer, fast. “HEY! We’re gonna hit this planet!” Yelled Tom, quickly scanning the controles. The Liptopods were innocently pressing their faces against the glass, beholding the wonder of another world, as Mike came running in. he pushed Tom aside, and grabbed the main wheel. Pulling it backward, he aimed the ship parallel ti the lanets surface and then aimed it slightly down of a landing. But the planet’s gravity was more than the ship expected. Over shooting the desited destination, Miye yanked as hard as he could, trying to bring the nose up. Something was wrong. The attling in the back of the ship was growing louder. “Get an oxegyn mask! NOW!” he bellowed, grabbing his. We’re jumping out! Quick! Mike leaped out of his seat as the booster tank exploded. The widshield shattered ans he and tom put on their oxygen masks and mike grqppled with the door. It wouldn’t open! He barely registered the reason why, the bullet imopact points had warped the metal, it was impossible to open! Tom wordlessly pointed to another door. At this point, the fire engulfed the other two Booster tanks, sending two more explosions ripping the ship. The ground wasn’t even a mile now. Tom wrenched the door open, pushing the Liptopods out at 10 feet from the gound. Mike tried to scramble toward the door, but the rapidly tilting cabin made it impossible to keep a grip. For the first time in his life, Mike felt the mortal fear of death. The ship crashed an\d skidded on large rocks, causing the floor to be crunched up and heavy macinary to fall form the foor, crushing the ship like a tin can. For mike, everything went black.
The next thing he felt was the pain. Groaning, he tried to sit up. Then with a jolt, he remembered wha had just happened. And more importantly, if your dead… you cant feel pain. He found, sitting up was impossible. The ship had been crushed, and there wis only just enough room to crawl. Rolling painfully onto his stomach, he swisted his head, looking for a way out. The oxgen mask was getting in the way, but he needed it. Checking the gauge, he realized he only had 4 minutes of oxygen left! Suddenly moving more quickly, he found the crushed door. It looked as though the door had blown off completely. There was a thin sheet of metal blocking the way. The desperation set in as the Oxygen regulator began to beet. 2 minutes left. Grabbing hold of the sharp metal, he twisted it outward. The cold metal left deep cuts in Mikes hands, and his blood flowed over the ground. With an effort, he hauled himself out of the ship and landed on brown sun warmed rocks. Knowing that he only had a minute left, he gave up. An expression of sheer rage he threw off his oxygen mask, and sucked in a lungful of alien air, waiting for death. A puzzled look came across his face, as he took another experimental breath. There was no question: Mike could breath. Standing there, for a few minutes, his breathing slowly normalizing, he suddenly realized how utterly awesome this was. He took a stem forward, suddenly experiencing the sharp pain in his leg that the adrenaline had blocked out minutes earlier. The strain of moving was too much for the injured leg. Sitting heavily on a sun-warmed boulder, he gingerly pulled up the cuff of his jeans to see the injury and hopefully repair it. He realized that it was not a cut wound, for witch he was extremely grateful. The bruises, however, were more severe that he could have ever imagined. Closing pressing his eyes shut against the pain, he saw the outlined image of the ship roof crumpling toward his leg. Surprising himself, he realized that what he was feeling was nausea. He had never felt that way responding to an injury before; as he had seen so many at his first job, the Barbadros hospital.
He looked for the first time, away form the wreck, across the grassy fields and toward the forest. There, he was sure, he would find something to help his leg. But can I make it all that way? He asked himself, and the immediate answer was no. not without a crutch. Bu then the realization came, he had one.
The Last Sign
Keeping his one hand on the rock to support his leg, he reached for the nearest bit of scrap metal that had splintered off of the ship’s side. Picking it up, he realized that it was streaked with blood. He glanced at the ship and the side door hanging open, and suddenly realized that he hadn’t been the only one in the ship. Tom! The ship had crashed in a southeast direction by Mike’s calculation, and Tom had jumped forward…so… he looked south. Dreading what he might see. A large fuel capsule had dislodged and now lay 20 feet form him. Blood splattered the front. Leaning heavily on his crutch, Mike advanced, peering around the edge. Suddenly, he saw the foot. Tom’s foot was literally glued to the capsule form the seer force of the impact. Gritting his teeth, he looked around the capsule onto the corpse.
Tom did not fear death. That was the first thing that was easily noticed. His face was if anything, showing determination. One hand had been mutilated beyond recognition. But the other hand, was most definitely telling Mike something. Even in death, Tom had cared about his driver. The other hand was pointing, pointing! South West, into the forest… looking into that determined face, Mike felt a tear slide down his cheek. Come on mike, he told himself this is no time to be sentimental. Let’s get moving. If there was one thing mike knew about this situation, it was that he had asked for it. literally. He could still remember the last camping trip with his dad. He had been eight at the time. He could still remember. After a long but great day they had just sat down at the campfire, and he had said. I wanna have an alien planet all to my self. So I can go camping all day! He remembered these moments with an almost longing. As if he could still be fantasizing. That was very different than actually getting his wish. He could still hear his dad’s words, echoing in his head. Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it all. Those had been his last words. He never woke up that next morning.
Tearing his eyes away from Tom’s corpse, he turned around in a slow circle trying to decide witch way to go. The grassy planes that spread out around the wreck were surrounded by forest, sloping gently out to the valley. Looking south, a large weather-warn rock structure rose out of the forest. It had a gorge down the middle. He wondered vaguely if that would be a better place to head for, but looking more carefully, he realized that his eyes had deceived him. The structure must be over a mile away. Eventually, he decided that Tom’s last sign was probably enough to go by. With a short prayer, he limped off following Tom’s pointing finger to the southwest.
Forest of surprises
Mike had to admit, this planet wasn’t all that bad, as he smelled the flower’s gentile fragrance, and listened to the humming of insects. Shaking his head, he reminded himself that out in the sweet grass, you might feel like nothing can touch you, but in the forest… stuff changes. As he approached, he heard the unmistakable sound of animals. Trying to see into the trees was impossible, so he drew closer, caution at the maximum. The low trumpeting was now intermingled by the sound of large creatures moving through the leaves. He could hear the footfalls. Something big he muttered to himself. and slow, he added, judging by the slowness of the footfalls.
Pushing through the first bushes, he winced at the amount of noise he was creating. Finally pushing through the thick bushes, he fell face first into a small clearing. The noises had stopped. Looking up, eyed watering from the pain in he leg, he looked up into a shockingly orange face. It was… a dinosaur. Or it looked like one. Scrambling backward, the whole creature came into focus. It was large, fat and reptilian. The beast had a beak, and large, vacant looking eyes. The back was lined with bumps, and tapered into a short, sturdy tail, that sported a row of club-like bones. But the most shocking thing about the creature that was now licking Mike’s foot with a large purple tongue was it’s color. It was, orange. Orange! He pulled his foot away from the creature, and stood up rather shakily. The rest of the 18 or so creatures had been watching him, but now turned back to their food.
Food, muttered Mike. He needed that more than ever. After picking up his makeshift crutch, he had limped over to the rest of the creatures, to inspect what they were eating. The creatures were lined up, almost comically, munching away at football sized fruit, and occasionally uttering a low trumpeting noise. He approached cautiously, clapping his hands as to not surprise the creatures. He made his way slowly around the creatures and eyed the fruits cautiously.
Earlier experience told him that eating fruits that you have never seen before was almost always suicide. All the same, he thought, I am really hungry. Looking around, he noticed there were three kinds of fruit. Fist sised ones dasngling near the grouns, purple with orange spots, large football sizrd ones in the bushes, that seemed to pulse and change colors like a kaleidoscope. There were also large red knobby ones hanging form stringy vines everywhere. Hesitating, Mike decided to take the safest approach: eat what the animals were eating. Looking carefully, he noticed a young creature reach towards one of the purple fruits. The mother immediately bent down, and nudged him away form those fruits. Those can’t be good muttered mike. Nobody touched the hanging fruits, so mike had little choice but to try one of the kaleidoscope fruits.
Mike reached out, and grabbed hold of the soft fruit. It came off of the branch without trouble. Mike sat down on the cool ground and stared at the fruit. The colors had stopped swirling, and the fruit began to fade. giving the fruit an experimental squeeze, a golden jiquid oosed out of the fruit’s skin. Mike dipped a finger in the honey like liquid, ans brought it cautiously to his mouth. The honey was like nothing he had ever tasted. Sweet, but not sugary, cool, but not cold. It reminded him of flowers and all the greatest deserts he had ever tasted combined. Grinning like a little kid, he licked the rest of the fruit clean of the honey, letting it dribble down his chin. Now he bit into the fruit, the taste, was even better. The most utterly amazing thing he had ever eaten. Clean of worries, he lay down on the cool dirt and fell asleep.
While he slept he herd moved off, leaving a trail in the woods. More animals scurried around and goggled at this alien intruder. But nothing attacked. Mike had fear on his side. The animals were afraid of him.
Mike awoke as if a veil had been lifted. Suddenly, he could see more clearly. His senses also seemed sharper. The first thing he noticed was the moon; or, assortment of moons. There waer four: one large one that was bluish green, and three small ones, making an arrow in the sky. Sitting up, he decided to look around at his surroundings. He was sitting in a small jungle clearing. The trees, witch he had been too traumatized to notice, were- to say the least- strange. The bark looked rough, but over the rough bit, there was a clear film, making it almost uniform. There were a few types of trees, he noticed. Tall thin ones with a large umbrella of leaves bout 20 feet from the ground, large trees that reminded him of Oaks, and a large assortment of twisty trees that spewed branches in all directions. He noticed, that there were tons of epiphytes. They were all different colors, sizes and textures, mosses hanging from branches, bromeliads in the crooks of trees, ferns clinging to the almost vertical trunks, and small plants growing on either side. The one thing that caught his eye, was a section of the large Oak like trees, on the bottom and a few more going up the trunk, was a section that appeared to have been sawed off. Even more intriguing was the fact that it had a pattern of perfectly round holes. The holes seemed to go on into darkness. Looking for an explanation for these strange holes, mike’s eyes traveled farther up the tree. It was then that his eyes fell on a small creature. It was a small tan lizard, clinging upside down to the tree, and looking at him intently with it’s intense gaze. Mike Grinned. It was only three inches long! His shin was striped with green, and his tail was black. The most interesting thing about this little lizard, was it’s legs. Not anything special about them: just the fact that there were six! Mike decided to call there little guys Blacktips. Now Mike’s gaze traveled down to his own legs. His bruises- he realized- weren’t there any more. He took a double take on that. The leg was completely bruise free. Mike got up, gingerly trying his weight on the leg. It didn’t give. Suddenly realizing that it was probably the saliva from those Dinosaur things that had healed his leg. That, he remarked to the whole jungle, is totally AWESOME! Grinning, he started off toward a neatly packed game trail leading off into the jungle. As soon as he stepped out of the clearing, the whole forest changed. The light became filtered- green and purple from the leaves above, illuminating the bright forest flowers and fruits. The path, which was easy to follow, and obviously very old, lead off in a westward direction. Mike followed this path for over 10 minutes, marveling at the new colorful wonders hidden in the leaves. A few more Blacktips scuttled around the trees and across the path, sometimes mixed with a few differently colored or different sized Gecko-like creatures.
The Creature lifted it’s head away from the kill. There is a new smell in the air. Something that does not signal a reaction in here brain. This smell is new, and alien. She quietly hoots for the rest of the pack. She sniffs the air, taking in the new smell, pinpointing it in her mental map of the jungle. She could still taste the meat. It did not satisfy her. She was hungry.
She leaped over the fallen log and onto the slight rise. She sniffed the air once more. The smell was moving. Her brain quickly processed the location and she sprang off of the rise to waylay this new creature.
She arrived, now alone just around the bend in the trail. And silently, she listened for he prey. They were getting closer. There would be no hope of escape.
The attack came swiftly, she moved out into the open, towering over her four victims. Her beak opened, revealing rows of silvery serrated teeth. She emitted a low hiss as she advanced slowly toward her prey.
But the enemy possessed more than she knew. In fact, they had been in an ambush like this before. They knew that they were being forced into a trap with no escape. Their only chance was to fight back.
She was confused. Why was this prey not afraid? He lifted her long bony hands flaunting her large claws. She hissed once more, yet the enemy remained stationary. Something was wrong. Very wrong.
Mike was in a low swampy area. He had stopped, and was leaning against a tree. He had heard something. Not at all like the silent deer like creatures curled in shiny dark purple balls in he soft leaves. It was a hiss. A cold evil drawn out hiss. Mike strained his ears in the silence. Nothing made a sound. It was s if someone had muted the whole forest. Mike remained very still. The hairs on his neck rose. And for he first time on this strange planet, he was afraid.
Suddenly, there was a screech and a crunch. Something heavy hit the ground on his left. Mike whirled around, but there was nothing. Then, the sound of running feet, another crack, and a hiss, very close by. There was another screech. Mike whirled around again. There were splashes in the shallow water and Mike thought he was something very big running just behind a screen of bushes. He pressed himself against the tree, his muscles tensed to run.
Mike stood frozen, backed against the tree, his heart racing, staring at he spot where hat creature had disappeared. It had to have been at least 11 feet tall! He peered around the tree, cautious not to make any noise. The silence was almost worse than the creature he had just seen. Mike strained his ears for a sounds, a sign of anything. Peering into the trees to his left, Mike miss-stepped, landing in a swampy pool. The loud sloshing of water was like a gunshot in the silence. Mike winced at the sound and pressed himself back against the tree. It had heard. It was coming. Mike could feel it. His heart pounded harder in his chest, but still, there was no movement. No sound. Slowly, he released his grip on the tree, and took one final look around. The coast was clear. It must be he told himself. Mike took a step forward, careful to avoid the water and the whistle sounded.
A loud whistle from right behind him. Mike whirled around. Reaching into his pocket for something – anything. But there was nothing there. Mike’s fingers closed on something – his knife. Clicking it open, he stood facing the unseen enemy. He scanned the tall bushes nearby for any sign of movement, his muscles tensed, his knife ready. Suddenly, there it came again: a lound whistle, and two branches parted, revealing a very familiar face. The tallest of the Liptopods put his finger to his beak, and beckoned to Mike, who put his knife away and ran as silently as possible toward the low hanging branch where the Liptopods were concealed. Once there, he glanced around once more and hoisted himself up. Thanks, he whispered. He wasn’t sure that they understood anything that he had said, but there were more pressing matters. The largest of the Liptopods pointed to the smallest one, who was being cradled by who Mike took to be his mother. His arm was wrapped in leaves, but the red stain was still visible. Suddenly, Mike could piece the whole thing together. Whatever he had seen running through those bushes had attacked the Liptopods! In fact, they had scared it away…but how? While his mind struggled to find an answer to the enormous question, he examined the small one’s arm. It had been slashed open. A long precise cut. Thinking back to his days at the hospital, Mike deduced that whatever this creature possessed was smooth, sharp, and very hard. Claws, he thought, titanium claws…. Mike explored the branch and found quite a wad of soft moss. He shook it free of colorful insects and laid it down as he wiped the wound with a torn strip of his shirt. He then packed the arm with the moss, and ripped a larger piece of his now sweaty shirt, to wrap around. After tying the makeshift cast with one of the many hanging vines, he patted the little one’s shoulder and turned to the intently watching Elder.
“He’ll be ok,” Mike said.
This seemed to satisfy the large one, and he held a short conversation with the rest. Mike waited patiently, at a respectful distance until hey beckoned him to follow them down o the ground. The larger of the Liptopods led the way through the thick jungle and to another game trail, not unlike the one that Mike had been following earlier. They rounded a b end and the leader signaled them to stop. He stepped around a large tree, then reappeared a little later. He uttered something in his own language, and then beckoned for Mike to follow him. The sight that greeted Mike’s eyes was one straight from his worst nightmares. It was an enormous 12 foot tall bluish grey monster. Thank God it was dead. The creature lay sprawled at an odd angle, blood oozing from an enormous bruise on is thin abdomen. It had a seemingly harmless beak, but it was slightly open, revealing rows of teeth. It had two scaly arms with three long bony fingers, ending in long silvery claws. The legs were oddly joined, but have the impression of being extremely powerful. The creature had an enlarged cranium, with a large red and purple crest. Mike stood, awestruck, staring into its four glazed eyes. After a few minutes, the largest of the liptopods stepped forward, joining Mike. He looked into the face of the creature with contempt. He said something that sounded like “Troasaur” and spat. Mike wasn’t sure if it was a name or a curse, but Troasaur it was.
The thirst stabbed at Mike’s insides as he walked, dreamlike through the forest. The sweat fell in torrents from his exposed skin. Finally, one of the litopods stopped, sitting down against a tree, while the others found similar spots. Mike, glad for the break, sat down heavily, pulling out his knife. His jeans were covered in mud, and soaked with sweat, only impairing further progress. Cutting them off at the knee, mike already felt better. These jeans are gonna come in handy, he thought, remembering his boy scout days, he wiped the cut-off ends with a large leaf and stuffed them in one of the pockets of his army jacket. Somehow, his shirt had become even more shredded in the past hour and how hung in tatters over his bare chest. The jacket however, remained wholly intact, except for some dirt and scratches. Mike wondered vaguely how he had become so thirsty in a rainforest, before he fell into a troubled sleep, filled with the face of Tom, and the crash, playing over and over in his head.
“Please, please,” said Mike, “don’t slap me in the face.”
The large liptopod had slapped him hard, drawing him quickly out of his dream. The thirst was stronger now, biting his throat and parching his lips. The liptopod looked excited. He gestured urgently. Mike felt as though he had no choice but to follow. He lifted himself up, suddenly becoming lightheaded and stumbled along behind the liptopod, into the forest. When the lightheadedness cleared, Mike realized there was only one liptopod – the one he was following, and the rest seemed to have disappeared. After a few minutes of traipsing through the jungle, Mike felt the air become more humid, and the forest sounds dulled by the sound of rushing water. The pain of his thirst doubled with he promise of being quenched. The rush and gurgle of flowing water put new energy into Mike’s tired limbs and he doubled his pace. His instincts told him where to go now, leaping over logs and skirting around trees, he made his way to the epicenter of the sound. Suddenly, the sound amplified, but it wasn’t in any direction now. Mike seemed to be on top of it. Kneeling down, he searched the ground for a sign of the flowing water that drummed so loudly in his ears. There was nothing. Nothing at all. Mike began to panic. He wondered whether he was losing his mind. Suddenly, a familiar whistle sounded ahead of him. Mike leapt up and ran toward where he knew the liptopods were waiting for him…..
As Mike tore through the forest, he wondered why he hadn’t seen the water yet. It was undoubtedly louder than before, and then, quie suddenly, he burst through a row of thick red bushes and fell right into it.
Mike sunk slowly into the clear, turquoise water, drinking in his fill, as he drifted toward the bottom. The blook from his many scratches was washed off by a powerful current emanating from the edge of the lake and Mike felt cleaner than he had in weeks. He settled on the bottom, sitting on the soft carpet of grasses, and then slowly kicked to the surface, refreshed and no longer thirsty. His reappearance was greeted with whoops from the liptopods, frolicking in the water, all except, that was, the small one wearing the sling, who looked very disappointed as he tossed pebbles into the water with his good arm. Mike attempted to kick towards him, but was stopped by a powerful current. Intrigued by what force could make water move so fast down below without rippling the surface, Mike dived down, and opened his eyes for a look. The water was being literally shot out of a dark hole in the smooth rocky side of the lake. Mike then realized what he had heard earlier. It was a tunnel, a tunnel filled with water, ad running not far below the surface of the forest floor. Mike kicked upward, grinning, to swim around the water jet and join the young liptopod on the shore.
“Let’s have a look at that arm, little fella,” he said, removing his makeshift cast.
so far anyway.