The Shasta Affair
by John Pirillo
Chapter Twenty Eight
"Still thinking!" Jimbo cried out as he plunged ahead like a tiger after prey, with Samuel and Nanny hot on his heels. The walls kept closing in. They almost reached the end of the opening, when the floor suddenly shifted. They plumetted downwards.
They hit a hard surface and began sliding head over heels, over and over, their screams and cries of surprise and pain mingling as they rolled for what seemed like forever.
Finally, the slope evened out and they piled on top of each other.
"Foot!" Jimbo muttered.
"Ankle." Nanny cried out.
Samuel pried free from them and sat up, his right hand glowing. "We're alive."
Jimbo disentangled himself from Nanny and sat up next. "If you can call it that. I have bruises on every inch of my body and bruises on the bruises."
"Speak for yourself." Nanny groused.
"I am." Jimbo growled back.
"Hey!" Samuel said, looking at them. "We're alive."
"Yeah. I suppose so." Nanny grumbled, then she burst into laughter. "Just look at me, I just had the longest free fall slide in the world and I'm complaining about it. People would pay thousands for a fraction of this."
"Where are we?" Jimbo asked, pressing the more urgent question.
Samuel stood up and dusted himself off. He searched the area for awhile and found his backpack, and slipped it on. He found Jimbo's and tried to lift it, but it was to heavy. Jimbo came over and lifted it as light as a feather. "You really need to exercise more, buddy." Jimbo told Samuel.
"I'll remember that if I don't die down here." Samuel said.
"Funny." Jimbo responded with a snort.
"Hey guys! Husband/wifey...remember?"
They both turned on her with glaring eyes. She held up her hands and laughed again. "Seriously, you guys have some real identity issues."
Samuel shrugged, then pointed his hand towards the opening they had fallen down to. "It looks passable."
"I don't get it, Sam. Why would they try to compress us like a sandwich, then slide us safely to home?"
"Good question. Remind me to answer if when I find out." Samuel answered drily.
Jimbo shook his head, then spotted Nanny's backpack. He shouldered it.
She ran up, then grunted, grabbing at her right ankle. "Damn!"
"I think I sprained it on your jaw."
Jimbo rubbed his jaw. "Ouch! So that was you!"
"Now who's being Mister and Missus Prissy." Samuel teased.
Nanny and Jimbo both shivered at the thought, and turned to look where Samuel was headed. He had gone on, not waiting for them. As they pursued him, they saw that his light was dimming and the corridor of rock was brightening with spots of luminous rock and fern. In a few minutes of walking they found themselves in a wonderland, fantasy of light and color. Spinning rainbows of red, blue green, yellow and orange spun around the petals of flowers unlike any they'd seen before.
Nanny reached out to touch one and it spit at her.
She snatched her hand back. "It's alive."
"Tell us something we don't know." Grumbled Jimbo, rubbing his jaw again. "Are you sure this was an accident?"
"What? My kicking your jaw or the fall?"
Samuel dropped back. "Kids we have bigger problems."
He led them forwards where t he path stopped and dropped for what might be miles below. The strips of luminous rocks and flowering plants trailed downwards, giving it the appearance of a vertical landing strip with running lights.
"It' s beautiful!" Nanny said, her voice filled with the awe of a child.
Jimbo looked at the far end of the corridor, which was a good thirty feet away. "I don't think I can jump that far, Sammie."
"I can." Nanny said.
She looked at Jimbo, who gave her a surprised look. "Yeah. I almost made the Olympics too."
"Is there anything you can't do?" Jimbo asked humrously.
"Yeah. Fall in love with a guy who puts his jaw on my foot."
"Funny, funny, funny." Jimbo said, then laughed. "I think I'm falling in love."
"Don't bother. I'm engaged." Nanny said back, causing Jimbo's smile to vanish.
"Kidding." She said. "Just testing the waters, big guy."
She poked his tummy lightly and grinned. "You're such a softie, you big marshmallow giant."
"She's got you there, Jimbo." Samuel said, loving the lightheartedness of the moment. "But I'm doing the jump."
Nanny went to Samuel and slipped a hand around his waist and leaned into him. "You really think you're up to handling a woman like me?"
As she did, her right hand caught at the nylon rope that was dangling from his backpack.
Samuel felt his heart kick into high gear. "Uh."
Jimbo laughed. "Man, you actually got him tongue-tied. Never seen that happen before."
"Oh, I'm full of all kinds of surprises." She said, then ran back the way they'd come, the rope shooting out of Samuel's backpack.
"Hey!" He cried out.
She laughed, then came running at them as the last piece of the rope caught between Samuel's hands. "Don't let go of it." She warned him and then leapt as high as she could.
"Oh Christ!" Jimbo swore as she arced high into the air, her lithe body as graceful as a gazelle in flight.
Samuel saw Al and M gliding alongside her, blowing at her as she flew upwards, as if trying to give her extra height. Then they fell back and came back to Samuel.
Al looked at Sam. "Grab!" He ordered.
Samuel grabbed hold of the nearest thing. Jimbo. The rope began burning through his hands, causing them to burn like hell, as she plummetted.
Nanny missed the other side and with a high pitched scream fell like a rock.
"Damn!" Jimbo cried out and held on for dear life as her weight started to pull Samuel forward. They dug their heels in and prayed she didn't let loose on her end. They felt the rope jerk suddenly, then stilled.
Samuel ran to the edge and looked down. She was hanging onto something about a hundred yards down. She looked dead, then he heard a light groan. She rolled over, nearly falling off the ledge she lay upon. She waved. "Come on down, it's just what the doctor ordered."
Jimbo sighed with relief. "What a woman."
"I saw her first." Samuel said.
"Technically, I saw her first." Jimbo returned.
Samuel smiled, then wrapped the rope around Jimbo's wrists. "See you in hell!"
With that, he dropped over the edge, using the rope to rappel down, until he reached the ledge beside Nanny. She was still laying there.
"I'm sorry if I don't get up to greet you, but I think I broke something." She said light-heartedly, even as her face showed a lot of pain.
A few minutes later Jimbo came down. He dropped the last few feet, then gave the rope above him a tug and it fell into his arms. He wrapped it up and handed it over to Samuel, who stuck it back into his backpack.
Jimbo stooped down and lifted Nanny into his arms. "Like a lift?"
"Anytime, big guy." She told him, winking at Samuel as he did.
Then they turned to look at what she had seen. It was a very large doorway, carved from marble with intricate spiritual symbols inscribed all over it. The door was made of gold and iron. It was partially open.
Samuel pushed on it. At first it wouldn't budge, then it slowly opened to reveal a staircase, well lit and bright. Lit by a descending series of crystals that glowed a soft blue, casting the stairwell in a kind of stardust glow.
"Well, heaven or hell?" Jimbo asked.
Samuel looked down the stairwell. It seemed to go forever. "I'm not taking any bets one way or the other."
They stepped through the door to begin the descent and the heavy door, which must have weighed easily a ton, slammed shut behind them.
Samuel and the others turned to look back and where the door once stood was an ancient carved stature.
"The symbol of Agharta." Nanny almost whispered.
"Hollow Earth." Samuel stated. "The symbol of the Hollow Earth."