"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
"Jesus!" Russ cried out after he slammed his forehead into an unseen protuberance in their passage along a new stretch of tunnel that Rwolf had discovered. "Rowlf!"
Rowlf looked back, his head ducked considerably, because of his extreme height. "Rowlf."
"Not what I mean." Russ gasped in pain, rubbing at the blood he felt oozing from his bruised and cut scalp. "My head...this!" He motioned with a bang onto his head.
Rowlf copied him, hitting himself in the forehead, and then grinning like an idiot child, if you can call the grimace of demon like face grin. "Dwis!"
"I give up!" Russ cursed, and then pushed past Rowlf, using his hand to trace the overhead rocks as he moved forward.
Everett patted Rowlf on his forehead in a friendly manner. "He's got a bugger up his butt. Ignore him."
"Wuss fwunny!" He made a disgustingly gross imitation of a bark of laughter, which caused both Russ and Everett to clench their ears tightly against it.
Rowlf shut up.
Russ let go, relieved it had stopped. He felt his forehead again. "We don't find some water soon; I'll be drinking my own blood."
"Dwisgwusting!" Rowlf snorted.
"You tell him, Rowlf." Everett laughed.
Russ looked back and gave them both a look of utter disgust, then turned back to the way he had been facing. "I think the glitter moss gets thicker ahead."
"Why would you think that?"" Everett demands, squeezing to Russ's side to look. "Oh."
Ahead of them a sprinkling of light that shimmered at a low in intensity was spread and then got brighter as the passage lengthened further down the line.
"Water." Russ said, smacking his dry lips.
"Wasser." Rowlf said, rubbing the top of his head.
Russ and Everett gave him annoyed looks. "We don't drink water through our head, Rowlf." Russ scalded their companion.
"Rowlf dwoes." He barked, about to laugh, then catching himself on their glares.
They fumbled the rest of the way, managing only a few more scrapes and bumps in pools of shadow until they reached the thicker clumps of glitter moss. This was a new breed from what Russs could discern. He felt it with a hand and the moss brightened. He took his hand off and it dimmed.
"On and off." Everett noted.
Then they both gave each other a knowing look.
"Light!" Russ grinned.
"Finally." Everett grinned back.
Rowlf rubbed his forehead, scratching it with his sharp clawed fingers, making a horribly grating sound that caused both Russ and Everett to squeal in discomfort. Rowlf froze.
Russ and Everett sighed with relief.
Rowlf scratched again.
Rowlf gave them one of his fiendish grins again. "Wah, wah."
"I'll wah wah you, you big armored insect." Everett threatened.
Rowlf started to laugh, but Russ got to him first and clamped a hand over his mouth."Really?"
Rowlf shook his head. Russ let go.
"I think we can make a simple flashlight out of this stuff." Russ suggested.
"Gotcha." Everett replied, figuring out the same thing.
They spent the better part of an hour, scrounging through the few things they carried in their pockets and slings, and then made a very crude flashlight for themselves and Rowlf. Rowlf immediately started playing his like a small child playing with a sparkler, swinging it round and round, making huge circles of motion blur light, which caused his eyes to blaze with awe. So he kept on doing it, making sounds that both Russ and Everett found charming and soothing.
A very simple sound. He purred.
"Just a stupid overgrown kitty." Russ commented.
"With armor like a tank." Everett reminded him.
"There's that." Russ agreed.
They watched Rowlf play with his light for several hours, then their fatigue took over and their eyes slammed shut. Rowlf, however, was not sleepy. He slept rarely and even then only for a few minutes at a time. He never seemed to grow tired. Just like a little kid, mused Russ, experiencing a brief pang of loneliness and regret, before he was slung off into the nethermost regions of sleep.
When he woke up, Rowlf was seated in that strange stance he usually assumed, where his knees popped up above his head and his arms slung out front like a ramp to his chin. He held a large stone, about a hundred pounds worth judging from its size, which was hollow. Inside the hollow was...
"Wahwah." Rowlf agreed, nodding at it.
Everett woke up. "I didn't do it, Sheila, she did."
Russ glanced at his waking friend. "Who's Sheila and what did you do to her?"
Everett gave Russ a blank look, and then discovered the water, which was a mere few inches from his prone position. Russ never got his answer. Everett thrust his face in the large bowl of water and drank so loudly that the passageway echoed his slurps. Finished, he rolled out of the way and Russs did the same.
Both satiated, they looked to Rowlf, who stood up with the bowl and proceeded to pour it down the top of his head.
"I'll be damned!" Russ said. "He does drink through that thick skull of his."
Rowlf understood enough to bark with laughter, spitting out water as he did into their faces.
"Disgusting!" Russ cursed.
"Wet and disgusting." Everett agreed, moping at the dripping water all over his face.
Rowlf set down the stone bowl, and then squatted again between the two men. "Nwow?"
"Now we find food." Russ said, gathering his things and standing, stretching as he did.
Everett sighed, and then forced himself up as well. His stomach made a sound like a laundry machine for a moment. Everyone looked at him.
"Mwonster?" Rowlf asked, plainly surprised at the sound, as he always was.
"Not this time, Rowlf, nor the last, nor the next time." Everett scalded him. "You have the memory of a rock."
Rowlf grinned that horrible grimace. "Twanks."
"You're welcome." Said Everett, smiling in spite of himself.
They plodded along the stretch of tunnel, which began to broaden and then they found themselves looking at a junction of four different tunnels.
But not just that.
Russ dropped to a knee with an exclamation of excitement. Everett joined him. "What is it?" Then he saw what Russ was looking it. A candy wrapper. Hershey's.
They jumped up and began screaming like school kids, thumping each other on the back, harder and harder, laughing so hard their lungs and stomachs threatened to burst, while Rowlf stood back, watching them, thinking they were dying or worse.
Finally, their fit of excitement subsided, and hard reality set in. "Could have been months ago." Russ noted.
Everett's happy face vanished into a scowl. "Damn you for being the practical one."
"Someone's gotta rub our faces in it."
Everett kicked the wrapper aside. Russ watched the paper flutter in the air and then land several feet away. Like two small children they both cried out and dove for the paper. Russ got to it first, and then ripped it in half, giving the other part to Everett. They both started to lick the wrapper, and then froze, as they realized what they were doing.
"We're idiots!" Russ said. "It's just paper."
"Yeah. Paper." Everett echoed.
Rwolf cleared his throat.
They both gave him a guilty look and without thinking twice about it, ripped their portions in half and gave it to Rowlf, who promptly shoved it into his mouth. He let out a huge sound of disgust, and then spit it out like a rocket.
Russ ducked as the paper shot at him splatting into the wall, where it was covered with a greenish kind of ichor. Rwolf's spit was green.
"That was a waste." Everett looked at the lost paper sadly.
"Sad. Sad. Sad." Russ agreed, then he greedily began licking at his portion of the wrapper as his friend did the other.
Finally, they ate the paper, swallowed it, and then rubbed their stomachs.
Rowlf gave them a look of alarm, which resembled a bear about to attack. "Youse kwazy!"
"Yeah." Everett agreed. "Dead crazy, for sure."
"Absolutely nuts." Russ nodded.
Then both men began scrambling on the floor, looking for more discards. They found a butt of a cigarette, then a spent bullet shell, then another and another. It led into the third tunnel.
They got to their feet and turned to face Rowlf, who gave them another look. Question?
"Something attacked them."
"Rowlf wheat swoon!" He said, rubbing his stomach area.
Both Russ and Everett made faces, and then trudged into the new tunnel. Whatever happened, one thing was constant, Rowlf never ceased to amaze them.