It Tastes Like Chicken
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
Dawn came like a brick load of cement. Pitch black. Always pitch black. It took him a few moments to organize his thoughts. As always. Tired. Dead stone tired. Like the rocks that hovered above, below and all sides of him. Dead tired.
"Get a life!"
He groaned, and sat up.
Rowlf growled when he bumped into the very large Insectoids side. Rowlf was a member of an underground species that he had discovered after they became separated from the Hollow Earth Special Forces. He looked creepy as hell, but had the heart of a cute puppy. Just so long as you didn't look into his mouth, everything was fine, but if you did, all bets were off. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.
"Youse ugly twos!" Rowlf growled at him.
"Damnit. Talking in my sleep again."
He felt Everett sit up next to him. "When don't you? Stop talking that is."
"Thanks a lot."
Rowlf stood up next to them and rubbed his hands over the moss on the wall next to them. Agitated, the moss tossed chemicals up and down their furry lengths and began to glow a soft green color.
They had discovered the trick by accident after running out of matches and batteries for their lights. If you rubbed the moss one way, they glowed, came to life. Another way and they shrugged off their pale glow and descended into darkness.
Strange. But what wasn't hundreds of miles below the surface of the earth?
"I heard something." Russ insisted.
"You always hear something."
Rowlf growled. "Heard something."
"You always hear something, you big grasshopper, your hearing is like radar."
"Yeah. You heard me."
Everett stood up and stretched. "Can we see about breakfast. All this growsing is making my stomach growl."
Russ stood up and leaned against the wall, one shoulder against Rowlf, who acted as if he didn't notice, but he did. Rowlf loved his friends. He didn't understand or know why, only that they were stone buddies. Rock. Like the world about him. They didn't change.
"What do you suggest we start with??
"How about lizard eggs and worms?"
"Sounds good to me. So where?"
Something ran fast past them on the cavern floor, then scrambled up a wall and turned to eye them. Its two huge eyes were watery and bright.
"Well..." Everett said in his sharp English accent.
Rowlf finished chipping stone against stone and the dry moss in the shallow bowl of rocks they had mounded sparked to life, casting flickering shadows as flames licked at its mass. Everett stuck the lizard on its stick he had poked from its anus through its mouth over the fire and sat back, hands cupped over his knees.
"Smells like Chicken." Russ quipped.
"Yeah. Butt ugly chicken." Everett snapped back.
"No offense, Rowlf."
Rowlf shut his eyes and in his own way grinned, though neither of them could have recognized it. His race had much more subtle ways of showing amusement, affection, anger and so on. His eyes would twirl slightly when he was amused or happy. Depending on how much would determine whether it was amusement or happiness. Right then at that moment, it was amusement.
"Figure this should last us about ten steps." Russ countered.
"Hey! Ten steps are ten steps further." Everett added.
They both broke into laughter.
Rowlf's eyes snapped open. "Waughter? Why?"
"It's called irony, dear friend. Irony." Russ explained.
"Wike weapuns you worried?"
"Oh yeah, they really worried us." Everett joked.
Rowlf gave him a puzzled look, but Everett couldn't read it. Yet. He was starting to pick up on some of Rowlf's body language. He could tell when he was tired, hungry and curious by the way his antenna would droop or straighten, much like his pal "Jerry," his cockatiel would do with his tuft of feathers.
Russ looked over at Everett. "Still counting?"
They both broke into laughter, causing Rowlf to examine them both again closely.
Russ snorted. "Don't worry, Rowlf, we're not going mad. Crazy, maybe, but not mad."
"Not a helluva lot these days." Everett sighed.
He looked down the long black corridor to their right. "Wonder how far this one goes."
"I'm more interested in when do we find the one that gets us somewhere." Russ shot back.
"Yeah. Real juicy fat chance." Russ agreed.
Both were silent, meditating on thoughts best left unsaid. Both felt a tremendous sense of loss and sadness, but their friendship with each other and Rowlf kept them from sliding into despair, even though at times, it didn't seem far off.
"When we get back home, they'll call us heroes."
Russ snorted derisively. "I'd rather they called us a buffet. I'm starving."
They all then looked at the lizard, which was not quite toasty.
Rowlf's stomachs made grumbling sounds. "Sharving much."
"Rowlf. You eat it." Russ told him, suddenly feeling generous.
Everett looked at him like he'd just snapped, but said nothing.
Rowlf didn't budge. "Youse fwail. Must wheat fust!" He insisted.
Everett snatched the lizard. "Since neither one of you want it."
Before he could take a bite, the lizard was wrenched two other ways by Rowlf and Russ.
They each ate their portion in a delicious silence, savoring the warmth of its crunch skin and meat, as slight as it was.
Russ picked some smaller bones from his teeth and spit them out.
Everett did the same.
But Rowlf just crunched them up and swallowed them, his eyes rolling with pleasure.
"Sometimes I wish I was a dog." Russ admitted.
"Me too." Everett agreed, his eyes watching as Rowlf picked up the bones they had spit out and began crunching them.
Rowlf eyed them happily. "Whaste bwest part!"
Everyone broke into laughter.
Russ caught his aching sides, and then subsided into silence a moment. "Here we are...at the center of it all... and we're wise cracking about some dumbass lizard's bones."
"Yeah. Ain't it great?" Everett cracked in his best Ringo Starr imitation.
They all broke into laughter again.
Then the sound of something monstrous moved in the darkness.
They all jumped to their feet, grabbing their makeshift weapons of bone and stone.
Another day. Another monster.
As the monster rushed down the corridor to eat them, roaring like a monster from hell, they rushed up the corridor to eat it, screaming like a tribe of cannibals about to eat fresh meat. Someone was going to have a great meal this day. Hopefully it would be them!