Rollin’ On A River III
“Alright, let’s get the show on the bloody road,” Erin says. She seems worn out from all the excitement, and you can’t say you blame her.
“Hold on a moment,” you say. Your mind is racing as you come to a decision on what you feel could work the best. “Instead of you limping down the whole way, why don’t we try to make things easier?” You gesture to the river. “I was thinking… what if you ride the river while you keep a hold of us?”
Erin squints. “What?”
“You know, like,” you try to think of a better way to explain, “you can float in the river so you don’t have to keep limping or putting pressure on your legs, and you just have one of our hands or something to keep you afloat so you don’t go rushing off without us. That way, we cut down the time it takes to get ahead.”
You look at Maggie with some hope that she’ll understand your meaning.
Maggie appears to, actually. “Huh. That’s… not a bad idea, actually.” She strokes her damp chin and looks to Erin. “Makes more sense than you taking those piddly steps. Plus, means you won’t have any accidental falls or slips, ‘cause let’s be real, that’s a good possibility, and if it DID happen, you’d just end up screwing your leg over even more than it already is.”
Erin makes a face, but doesn’t respond at first. She mulls over the idea you’ve proposed, and it’s clear from her expression that she’s reluctant to consider it.
However, she doesn’t turn it down straight away, and instead, she appears like she’s considering it. She furrows her brow after a minute of pondering, at which point she looks from you to Maggie.
“I’m not saying ‘no’ to the idea,” Erin says, “but I’m not entirely sure how you’d be holding my hand or whatnot if I’m halfway in the river, mate. What do you expect me to do, grab onto your tail?”
You glance over your shoulder at your kangaroo tail and wonder how uncomfortable it would be to have her gripping it the entire time… only to realize, due to the look Erin gives you, that you’d be unable to hop at all if she held your tail.
“Oh,” you say. “Good point.”
“You can hold onto me,” Maggie says plainly. She shrugs. “Unlike you two arsetwits, I can walk normally instead of having to hop around everywhere.” She smirks at Erin. “Can you handle swallowing your pride and having to rely on ME for help for a while longer, Miss Erin?”
Erin rolls her eyes. “Any excuse to get handsy with me still, huh, Maggie?”
This has Maggie’s smirk gone in a flash, and the dingo woman sputters. “I… what? No! That’s not the fucking reason at all, you twat, don’t even--”
“You said yourself you came down here because you were following us,” Erin says, her lips curling into a snide grin. “Think I missed that, eh? Please. I heard it clear as day, and don’t try to bullshit me into claiming it was a slip of the tongue.” She shakes her head. “You haven’t changed at all, Maggie. You act all cocksure until you say the wrong thing, and then it’s back to floundering about.”
Maggie stares at her and grits her teeth in annoyance, but doesn’t respond.
You blink a few times. ‘Okay, I’m beginning to think things between these two goes a bit deeper than just normal friendship…’
It clicks in your head, in fact, that this is exactly what’s going on, you just didn’t notice it before because you assumed the bad blood between them was purely platonic. Seeing now that it’s much more complex than that, you feel yourself smirking just a tad from the amusement of finding this information out.
“Wipe that smirk off your face,” Maggie mutters. She shoots you a glare, then turns that glare onto Erin. “Look, just get in the damn water before I chuck you in there and let you doggy paddle your fat arse through the river.”
Erin scoffs, then looks to you. “Do you think you could be our lookout, mate? Hop ahead a bit to keep an eye on things since I’ve gotta rely on Stinky the Wondermutt here for help?” She pokes her thumb at Maggie, whose reaction is befuddlement at the out of nowhere nickname. “If you don’t mind, I mean.”
You snicker. “Sure, Erin. I don’t mind.”
“Thank you,” Erin says.
From there, she starts to limp back into the river. Maggie, for her part, snaps out of her befuddled daze and moves to stand beside Erin. You watch Maggie help Erin in, taking her by the arm and half-lifting Erin into the river. Erin winces, but, doesn’t say a word the whole time. It takes a moment, yet eventually, she is submerged in the river, still clutching onto Maggie, only now, she’s gripping Maggie’s tail instead.
“There,” Maggie says. “Just don’t yank my tail, and you won’t accidentally throw me off balance.”
“I’m not stupid,” Erin says. She shakes briefly. “Holy shite, the water is cold.”
“You’ve got fur on your body, you daft twit,” Maggie says. “Suck it up!”
Erin huffs, but nods to you rather than respond.
You chuckle to yourself at the turn of events, yet you don’t hopping ahead.
And so, from there, you hop forward at a casual pace, enough to clear a noticeable distance between yourself and the two women - when you do, you stop and turn to glance around to check the area. You don’t see anything out of the ordinary, nor hear anything, either. After that instance of checking, you peer over your shoulder to see Maggie slowly walking along, Erin still holding onto her tail as she floats down the river.
Whether it’s Maggie’s strength alone or the fact the river isn’t as strong as you were thinking the whole time, Erin moves at a relatively calm pace - but it’s definitely brisker than if she’d been limping on food the whole time.
‘Guess that works out just fine,’ you think.
You begin to hop again, and this becomes the repeated action for around five minutes. Hop forward about a yard, maybe two, stop to listen and look. Then, when nothing pops out to you, peer back and wait for the women to clear some of the distance you’ve left between yourselves. Rinse and repeat about five times total, a slow, yet still decent, process.
By the time you finally reach the point where you’re nearing the area you came from to get to this big cavern, you pick up the hopping pace just enough to make sure there are no threats around, nor any sort of trouble to worry about.
When you reach the spot where the cavern starts to head back up the path that leads to the top of the cave - the obvious goal for all three of you - you again go through the motions of looking around for any sign of danger or trouble…
Except this time, you spot trouble. The path you used to get here is blocked!
“Oh no,” you say.
Somehow, the upper cave wall collapsed, and now, a bunch of big stones is now completely in front of the pathway. You gawk at the sight, because now you need to figure out a new course of action - you either need to work to move those rocks and hope there’s a way to climb over them, or, you need to find another way out entirely and hope there’s some other way to get out.
Either way, your shoulders sag, and you start to think of what to do next.
Things have gone right back to being complicated.
Rollin’ On A River III
‘Dammit,’ you think.
You speedily hop a little closer to the path, and you can tell that the pathway is most definitely not going to be easy to salvage. Too many large rocks are not sticking up and all over the dang place, which means it would take a whole lot of legwork and muscle to move them around. Even with Maggie clearly being strong physically, you doubt she could manage all this by her lonesome.
‘Plus, she could hurt herself,’ you add internally. ‘Or it could trigger another cave in, and then we’d be even worse off… but then again, it might not, for that matter.’ Your stomach knots, and you hop back to the river to wait for the two women to reach you. ‘Shoot. We need more options to get out of here…’
You grumble to yourself and wait for the women to meet up with you.
It takes a bit given how far they are, but, they gradually clear the distance and make their way to where you’re standing. Maggie seems to pick up right away that you’re not happy, yet she waits until she and Erin are closer to speak.
“What’s wrong?” Maggie asks.
You point toward the path. “There’s a cave in. The path I took to get into this cavern is blocked out by rocks.”
“Ah, piss,” Maggie mutters.
“You’re shitting me!” Erin remarks.
“I wish I was,” you reply, but you shake your head. “We’ve got to figure out what to do next, since we either work our asses off to move those rocks and hope it doesn’t collapse on us any further, or…”
“Or we figure out a different way to get out,” Maggie finishes.
She grunts and helps Erin out of the water by ducking down and lifting Erin flat out. She sets Erin down, gently, against a nearby rock wall, and Erin leans against it while Maggie promptly brushes past you to go and inspect the damage done somehow. You didn’t even HEAR the cave in occur, but, you suppose with all the noise from the river and the distance, that makes sense.
“I can’t bloody believe this nonsense,” Erin says. She shakes her head. “All because I went and fell like a brainless twat…”
You sigh. “It’s not on you, Erin.”
She scowls, but doesn’t say anything more.
Maggie comes back and looks peeved to be sure. “Well, this stinks.” She grits her teeth and scowls. “I could probably power through the rocks, but I think I’d end up wearing myself out. Strong as I am, this costume only grants a certain degree of power.” She balls her hands into fists. “Either way, I dunno if I’d trust it not to collapse further or some shite given how luck has been thus far.”
“Then we’re screwed,” Erin says. “We’ve got NO way to get out of this damn cave if we can’t follow that path, and I sure as shit am NOT gonna go back up that bloody waterfall.”
“Well, we can’t just sit and do nothing,” you say. “There’s gotta be another way to get out of the cave. I don’t know what it is, but, I’m sure that…”
You trail off when you think of something. Your eyes flick about to the river, and you follow it as it flows downwards in the distance into a gradual decline.
You hop over toward the edge of the cavern and glance downwards, mostly to see how bad the river looks. From where you stand, the decline appears relatively steady, and although it vanishes into the abyss of the chasm beneath you, you imagine the water has to lead somewhere, right?
‘If the river didn’t lead anywhere, then, this cave wouldn’t exist,’ you think. Your lips purse, and you start to mull this over. ‘It would’ve flooded if there was no end to the river. I know being logical in this weird world isn’t the easiest to do, but, that seems like the most reasonable explanation since there’s no flooding.’
That’s how it feels to you, at least, and you hope that makes sense.
You turn and hop back to the two women.
“Do you think the river goes anywhere outside?” you ask.
Erin shrugs. “Hell if I know. I’ve been in the cave a few times, like I said, but I never ventured this deep in until today. I imagine so? Why?”
“Well, realistically,” you reply, “if it didn’t lead anywhere, it would probably cause a flood, right? I doubt the river would keep endlessly flowing into the cave without it rising up to the point where there wouldn’t BE a path for us.”
“Probably ends up going outside the cave, yeah,” Maggie replies. Then, however, her eyes widen, and she stares at you suddenly. “Hold on… are you about to suggest what I THINK you’re about to suggest? That we all ride the river and see where the hell it takes us?”
You glance toward the river, then back to the two of them.
“To be honest?” you reply. “Yes.”
Written by Hollowpages on 09 November 2020
Rollin’ On A River IV