The sign reads
"Welcome all new travellers.
To continue you must go through a series of doors.
After going through you will pick a costume. You will then become a half- human and half that creature.
After a week(100 mins a hour,20 hrs a day,10 days a week) has passed you may morph and get another costume. To start of with you will only be able to become 40% human to 60% human.
If you put on a costume you will then become that creature, be teleported to it's home town and have to wait a week before being able to morph.
After 50 costumes you may change into one of your other costumes and become 30% to 70% human. When changing costumes you must wait at least an hour before you can change costumes again.
100 different species/gender costumes allows you to gender-morph and become 20% to 80% human
200 different species costumes allows you to combine costumes and become 10% to 90% human
400 different species costumes allows you to return to your world with no more morphing
And 800 different species costumes makes a polymorph and allows you to morph outside of this world.
Also if you have a costume like a centaur then the human part will always be human and is counted towards the human percentage.
Any gender/species transformation magic of yours can only change your gender(if you have at least 100 costumes) and the animal part to a different animal.
When you change into a different costume (that you already have) you may teleport to that species home town but you will have the week penalty where you have no costume changes.
If you die while wearing a costume you will be reborn at the local inn (or appropriate location ). If you have more then 100 costumes you will lose the costume you had when you died and go to an appropriate place for your next costume.
If you fail to make it out in 100 years(100 weeks in a year) one of your possible forms will be chosen and you will be permanently stuck in that form(apart from magic) until you die. Also there will be no possibility of going back to your world.
Also, one final note: should you take a female form and become pregnant, you won't be able to change your gender until the child is born, though the other aspects of your form may change (the child will change to match.) That is all, and good luck!
You realise that you have to do what the sign said to do and go through the doors and grab a costume.
Alternatively you could use the key system to determine the room
Illustrated by catprog
Written by Catprog on 11 February 2004
You go through the door.
All of a sudden it slams shut and with no handle on this side it appears that you are stuck.
There are two more doors however and both of them have a sign on them saying
Costume room for
So which door do you want
Illustrated by catprog
Written by Catprog on 26 February 2004
You go through the door.
All of a sudden it slams shut and with no handle on this side it appears that you are stuck.<P/>There are five costumes in this room, all of them female, all of them are normal land creatures.
- Snake <li><span class="female">Wolf</span></li>
Written by Catprog on 26 February 2004
You notice a furry pouch and stick it to your body.
Suddenly the fur expands and quickly covers your body replacing your clothes.
You look down remembering this was the female room and thus down there has changed.
You feel your new tail stretch out as your legs reshape into the powerful legs of your new form.
You feel your ears go pointed.
You feel a change up in the chest area as it grows to a decent size.
You feel your inside turn to liquid and reshape and you are done.
Illustrated by dragon-storm
Written by catprog on 18 December 2007
When the transformation is complete, you blink a few times before another door manifests in front of you. You try to walk toward it, but, you find that being in the body of a kangaroo makes walking feel almost awkward, not to mention the shape of your legs and new body make it a little difficult to attempt - you remind yourself that kangaroos don’t ‘walk,’ they hop.
‘Right,’ you think to yourself. ‘I don’t have full human legs anymore, which means…’
You look down and give a sigh, knowing that you’re pretty much going to have to start moving by jumping around instead of walking or running. So, you try to hop.
Your first attempt at a hop is humorous to envision watching, mainly because it feels so strange to you to move via bouncing. In fact, you move so strangely, you almost trip over yourself and end up bonking into the door. You teeter back, mildly dazed, but, you manage to shrug this off. You sigh, knowing you’ll need to adjust to this quickly to avoid making a fool of yourself.
‘And of course it had to be a female kangaroo form,’ you muse. You’re not super bothered by it, but, at the same time, the pouch isn’t exactly something you’re used to having attached to your midsection. ‘Couldn’t be a male one. Or, heck, couldn’t be something that walks around normally. Nope. Kangaroo.’
You shake this off and grab the door knob, then turn it.
To your astonishment, the door opens up to a vast land that is lush and fertile, and not at all like where you just came from. You force yourself to hop out of it and find this hop is a bit smoother than the previous - and after a few more hops, you feel like you’re getting the hang of moving that way.
Then, you stop.
First, you turn back to find that the door has shut, and, it fades into the background completely, leaving you in this new wild area to yourself.
Then, however, you look around, and you take in the sights more clearly.
You’ve ended up in a teeming forest environment, filled with towering trees stretching on and up toward the sky, and smooth, flat grassland with several hills at either side of you. In the distance, you can see mountains looming, while you turn to look back over your shoulder to find that there is a lakebed not far behind where you stand. The air is warm, with a faint breeze, and the sky above is clear, allowing the sun to beam down freely.
‘Is this… Australia?’ you wonder.
You’ve never been to Australia before, so you can’t say for certain.
The sign mentioned taking you to the respective creature’s habitat, and since it’s not like kangaroos are naturally found in the United States or somewhere common like that, it makes the most sense that you’ve ended up in Australia.
But for now, you shrug this off, and you decide you want to explore the area you’ve wound up in to see what may be around, and if there are any others like you in similar costumes - you’ve got a lot of time to kill in this body-changing costume, after all, and there’s no sense in spending that time staring off into space.
‘Besides,’ you think. ‘I still need food, water… gotta figure out where all that is so I don’t end up dying and getting stuck in some random costume.’
You begin to bounce forward, moving at a slow pace as you adjust to the motions proper; it’s still strange to you, the sensation of moving with both legs in unison by hopping, and it feels like the tail you’ve sprouted is acting like a sort of… guide, almost, to keep your body balanced. But you do feel more and more comfortable with it as every second goes by, and every bounce is performed.
‘Kangaroos do have superhuman legs, after all,’ you muse to yourself.
While you hop about, you end up going deeper into the forest. The trees are thick and large and numerous, but they offer a great deal of shade to you, as you stop feeling the sun’s frequent heat baring down on your body once you’ve gotten further into the thicket.
‘The air feels almost cooler here, too,’ you muse. You can feel it brush against your fur and the parts of you that don’t have fur. It feels quite nice, and is soothing to you. It carries with it the smells of the trees and grass.
‘Interesting…’ You breathe in deep, soaking in the atmosphere and the scents. Your nose seems to be a bit stronger than it was when you were a human, since you feel you can pick up some rather faint scents like the woodsy aroma wafting in the breeze. ‘This whole place is like something out of a fantasy book.’
You mostly spend this time moving slow and glancing about, checking the area for any other signs of life. You don’t know if this is actually the real Australia, or, if you’ve wound up in some weird dimension or whatever. You do concede that you wouldn’t be surprised since, well, you’re in a female kangaroo’s body right now, with a pouch and a tail and all that. Who knows what could be going on.
In terms of actual wildlife? You hear… something. You think.
You halt your bouncing and perk your ears up. Your ears are bigger and considerably stronger than they were before, of this you are certain, so you pick up a better concentration of sounds as you turn your head to and fro.
You can hear some birds chirping in the distance, although you can’t pinpoint exactly where they may be - and among those birds is the laughing sound you know to be a kookaburra; its humorous cackling is definitely the loudest sound among anything else you hear, and it echoes from the far distance.
As you stand there, soaking in this atmosphere, you also get the distinct sensation you’re being watched by something. You don’t know what, but, you feel the fur on your neck and arms start to stand upright - whether that’s the kangaroo aspect or your human self bleeding through, you’re not sure, but you don’t really care enough to ponder on that long. You feel uneasy, for sure.
‘What kinds of animals would be the predators to kangaroos?’ you wonder, trying to wrack your brain for the fuzzy memory of what you knew regarding Australian wildlife. ‘I know when they’re babies they’d be vulnerable, but, as adults… hmm. I know humans would be, but, that’s kind of a given, so…’
You can’t recall, even now as you try to think it over.
A rustling noise further to your right snags your attention. You turn to stare in that direction, but, you can’t see anything through the sea of trees. But you know you didn’t mishear, and, as you stare there, feeling tension spread through your body, you get the dreading sense you should leave the forest.
‘Shoot,’ you think. ‘Great. Now what?’
You freeze up and try to figure out what to do. You aren’t sure if you want to test it or not - for all you know, the rustling could be some small woodland creature just trekking about for food, but it could also be something bigger or potentially more dangerous. And you are no condition to take any chances; especially since you know nothing else about this environment.
‘Do I stay and see?’ you think. ‘Or do I turn and go back into the open area?’
The rustling occurs again. You need to choose, and quick.
Written by Hollowpages on 13 August 2020
You decide that maybe backtracking a little would be the wisest, at least until you can figure out what could be rustling about in the forest. Besides, you remind yourself you’re not some professional fighter or survivalist for that matter - you need time to figure things out before you can even begin to do anything crazy. And this? This is definitely way too crazy for you to handle.
‘Gonna nope out of this one, for now,’ you think.
You turn your body and start to hop backwards, when the rustling gets louder, and in a flash, something leaps out from the bushes where the noises were coming from, landing right in front of you somehow. You freak out and leap away in a rather mighty bound that takes you by surprise - and in the midst of this surprise, your back smacks into a nearby tree.
Your heart races, but, you blink when you see what’s now standing before you.
It’s another kangaroo! Only this kangaroo’s body is… not the same as a normal kangaroo (and you would know, given your partially-human form). In fact, you find yourself gawking when you realize it’s a male kangaroo, yet the facial features are not at all masculine - they’re distinctly feminine instead.
“G’day. And sorry about the fright. Overshot my jump.”
You blink a few more times. The kangaroo has spoken, and, not only is it perfectly pronounced English with an accent, the voice is also decidedly that of a woman, if a little deeper-sounding. You stare at this kangaroo, trying to make heads or tails of what on earth is going on in front of you.
The male-bodied kangaroo shakes its head. “You’re not hearing things, mate.” The smile they have is human, very much human. “And you’re not seeing things, either. I’m not an illusion. I’m in the same boat as you, just on the flipside of things for the costume I ended up with is all.”
You slowly come to the realization, and, your brain starts to catch up with you.
“Well, go on then,” the woman - you think? - says. “You can still speak, I’d gamble, right?” They look at you. “Sorry again about the scare, though.”
You suck in a quiet breath, clear your throat, and, do so. “Uh.”
There’s a beat of silence. You feel a flush from your cheeks as the kangaroo woman eyes you with a broad grin - amusement is obvious on their face.
“Go on, try again,” they say. “You can talk the same as you could before, just gonna sound a bit different is all.”
“Y-yes,” you say, at last. Your voice comes out fine, and you sound much like you did before all this - the only difference is that your voice is a little lighter in pitch, and slightly softer than it used to be. Probably because you ended up choosing a female bodied costume. “…this is… this is something else.”
“Aye, definitely is,” the other kangaroo says, nodding, then they snicker as they appraise. “Ha. So you’re a yank, I take it, eh? Sound like one from the voice, which ain’t a huge deal. Somehow, I’m not surprised.” They snicker. “Thanks for not trying ‘sound’ like a typical Aussie - bloody bogan tourists can’t help themselves, and it’s a right mess whenever they try to be one of us.”
You shrug. “Hadn’t… erm. Hadn’t really crossed my mind to try.”
Your voice is strange to hear, you feel. You are definitely going to need to get used to that shift, at least until you get a new costume.
“Eh, no worries,” they say. “Born in Queensland myself, but spent a good ten years over in the States.” They pause at this and hop over toward you - they are noticeably bigger and bulkier than you, that’s for certain. “Name’s Erin. Yes, I’m a woman, I just got a new knob attachment for the foreseeable future.”
You give her your name, and she nods at this, still grinning.
“Take it you just came outta that room, huh?” Erin asks. “Chose yourself a door, then another door, bam, you get to stick on a costume and here you are?”
“Yes,” you say.
You’re a little relieved to know you’re not the only person around in that situation. This Erin person definitely has a knowing expression on her face, and there’s a hint of familiarity in her dark eyes.
“It’s a lot to deal with at once,” you admit, and you glance down at your furry form. “Especially when, you know, you end up in the… erm… the body of the opposite gender.”
“Yeah, been down this road a few times,” Erin says, and her tone is one of calmness and understanding. “You get used to it. Being able to change up the costume after a while can be a bloody pain, but, it depends on the kinda person you are and what form you’ve been given.”
You can’t help eyeing her. “You don’t mind having a male kangaroo body?”
She snorts out a laugh. “Oh, mate, I’ve been in a male body a lot thanks to these costumes. It’s strange, sure, but,” she shrugs, “ain’t so bad after awhile.”
Silence falls for a moment, and you aren’t sure what to do next - you didn’t expect any of this to happen when you went through that first door, so you are admittedly at a bit of a loss, being stuck in this costume for a long stretch of time. You are at least somewhat thankful to be in the presence of Erin, though.
Before you can speak, you stop when you hear something further off - a howl, a very high-pitched and eerie howl, that echoes from afar and seems to seep through your ears and into your very bones.
You gawk at the sound. “Is that… a wolf?”
“Dingo,” Erin says. She’s looking the same direction as the howl.
Your eyes widen. ‘Dingo! That’s what it was…’
You recall that dingoes are one of the more prominent predatory animals in Australia that you can actually think of right now. And no sooner do you recall this do you realize that a dingo might be one of the few creatures that could prove to be a threat to a kangaroo. They’ve got sharp teeth and can travel in packs…
You? You’re in the body of a lone kangaroo. Not good odds.
You look at Erin. She seems alert and there’s an air of earnest tension forming around her, though she doesn’t seem nearly as worried as you are.
“Do… do we need to be worried about that?” you ask. You feel like it could be one, but, maybe there’s more for all you know. It’s hard to tell exactly.
“Definitely not something we should ignore, mate,” Erin says. She nods her head to the side. “Let’s get outta this spot and move. You can ask your questions and learn from me when we’re safe, ‘cause the last thing your arse needs is some silly bugger dingo wanting to make a meal outta you.”
She starts to hop away, back the direction she came from, and now you find yourself wondering whether or not you want to follow her. You could follow her, sure, but, do you want to trust some stranger? Or do you want to go your own way instead? Your mind races, and you try to ponder your next move carefully.
Written by Hollowpages on 15 August 2020
You end up swallowing your reservations and choose to follow this Erin person. She’s the only one you’ve met so far, and since she claims she has experience, you hope to learn a bit more from her about all this insanity. Plus, you’d rather be safe than sorry trying to be on your own right now. There’s also that.
The two of you bound your way through the trees, deeper and deeper into the forest. You wonder where it is she’s going, but, you get your answer when the ground begins to move upwards into a grassy hill that carries up and then on.
‘Does Australia have hills like this?’ you wonder. You honestly don’t know, but, you’re not in a place to dwell on this for very long. It probably does, you think.
Said hill then morphs into a raised portion of land, and you follow Erin up this, hopping at the same brisk pace she’s moving at. You find, after a few minutes of this, that you are more elevated now, on a large hill where the trees have continued to sprout and tower over the land. You see Erin is leading you deeper in, toward a lake area with a cave right above it.
She stops near the lake, and eyes you as you stop next to her.
“This little place is somewhere I come to when I need to hide out,” Erin says, nodding to the lake. “Get yourself a drink, mate. Water’s clean and cool.”
You blink a few times. Then, you lower your head down and use your furry hands to cup some of the water. It feels cool to the touch, and you bring it up to your mouth to sip it. It feels lovely running down your throat; and it tastes fresh and clear, just like Erin says. You drink a few times to ease yourself.
“Thank you,” you say to her.
Erin nods and grins. “Anytime, anytime.”
The howl ripples through the air, but it’s further away from you now, and lower. You can’t see where it may be coming from, however, due to the elevated land area you find yourself at now. Plus, the trees block most of your line of sight.
“Bloody shitheads,” Erin mutters. “You can never tell with those howls if it’s an actual dingo or someone like us, wearing a dingo costume.”
You pause at this. “Would someone like us… be a threat?”
She scratches her chin with one hand, thinking. “Honestly, it’s always the toss of a coin when it comes to that sorta rubbish. You might think ‘ah, well, no way is this bloke gonna try and off me’ and then suddenly he’s chasing your arse around with the goal of killing you for shits and giggles.” She shrugs. “Depends on the person, I’d wager. Some are real bloody arseholes about it.”
You stare at her, a little perplexed. The idea just doesn’t compute with you.
“You read the sign, right?” Erin asks.
You nod. “Yeah. I read…”
It dawns on you after a heartbeat. You recall the wording of the sign, and how it talked about ‘if you die.’ Then it clicks for real that in this context, death…
“Are you telling me we’re… we’re basically immortal?” you ask.
She laughs at this for a moment. “Ah… mate, no. We ain’t immortal.” She’s smiling wide. “I mean, I’d love if that were the case. It’s more…” She pauses and seems to mull over the words she wants to use. “It’s more like we’re in a video game, yeah? If you die, you respawn at an old checkpoint. Only thing is, you lose all the progress and all the shit you had on hand at the time. You gotta start over from scratch in a random body, if that makes sense?”
You nod. The sign got that across, but hearing it now helps you understand.
“Does that mean you…?” you trail off.
She snorts. “Aye, I’ve been whacked a couple times. Not proud of it, but, sometimes fate stinks something ripe, lemme tell you.” She smiles at you with a teasing look. “Fortunately, you learn a few things when you ‘lose’ at this game. Makes surviving easier so you can avoid dying like a fuckwit.”
You nod silently and muse over this.
You don’t really want to ‘die’ in any sense of the word, even if you end up back at the start again. The thought doesn’t sound pleasant whatsoever, so, you decide you want to be smart and as careful as you can be during this time.
“So what exactly is there to do?” you ask Erin. “Besides hop around, I mean.”
Erin chuckles. “You do what the creature does, honestly, there’s no other method to the madness. You live in the great outback in this case. Look for food and water, explore, basically, you survive and learn on the go. It’s the wilderness, mate. You basically got yourself into a long-standing camping trip, just with the added benefit of being stuck in a half-human body.”
You cock your head to the side. “Does being half-human do more for us?”
“Oho, mate, you bet your sweet arse it does,” Erin replies. “You’ve got the added strength of a human, plus the thinking prowess.” She taps the side of her head as she eyes you. “You can think better. You can reason and logic. Plus, you’ve got twice the physical abilities as a normal roo does.”
“Huh,” is all you say, and you look at your hands again.
You don’t FEEL any stronger than normal, but, you suppose you haven’t really had the time to explore any of that. You shelve this consideration for later on.
“Question becomes, what do you wanna do with yourself now, eh?” Erin asks.
You ponder this. “I don’t know. Honestly, I was in the midst of starting to explore when I ran into you, and then we fled from a dingo…”
Erin nods. “Well, there’s plenty of ground we can cover. We got that cave there,” she gestures to the cave, “we can chill here for a while, we can go back down to see if the dingo’s gone, or, we can go explore around the area.”
These options aren’t necessarily bad options to consider, it isn’t that - what has you frowning is that, well, it seems like there are a lot of things without real end goals in sight. You don’t know if there’s a reason to go into a cave, or, if there’s a necessity to go roaming about beyond probably looking for food later.
‘Great, I forgot what kangaroos eat, too, now that I think about it,’ you muse.
“Or you can tell me to bugger off and do your own thing, that’s fine,” Erin replies, and she’s smirking as she says this. “Wouldn’t bother me if you did - I can be a right bitch when it boils down to it, and I don’t wanna drag down your enjoyment of this whole debacle. Choice comes down to you, mate, ‘cause I’m cool with whatever. Not gonna be sweating anything anytime soon.”
She leaves it at that, and now you get to decide what you want to do.
‘I have options,’ you think. ‘And yet, it feels like I don’t have options… hmm.’
You aren’t sure, but, you start to consider your next step. Do you stay with her? Do you go off on your own? And if you do either, then, what will you do next?
Written by Hollowpages on 17 August 2020
You can’t help but be a little curious as you think about all this; you recall how your introduction to this woman was her bounding out from the bushes and landing in front of you. You’re pretty sure a kangaroo can’t naturally jump that high and that fast, so, you decide to stay here for now and…
“How did you jump that high up back down there?” you ask.
“Oh, that?” Erin says. She snorts. “That’s easy to do. No normal roo can do it, either, if you’re wondering - pretty sure it’s a benefit to being half-human.”
You furrow your furry brow. “Then I can do the same?”
“Probably,” Erin replies. She gives you a glance over and smirks. “You’ve got yourself a sheila’s body, but, I doubt that would affect your jumping strength. You wanna try it for yourself, do you?” She rubs her hands together and motions to the flat area around you. “How you do it is simple - you concentrate your strength into your legs, yeah? And when you jump, you have to treat it like you’re jumping as a human the same instant you do the motion.”
You blink a few times. “That’s it?”
She makes it sound like it’s simple to do despite the fact you’re not a normal human anymore, but, you do remind yourself she has experience, or so she’s said she has. Still, you admit you want to try it out for yourself - after all, being able to leap that high could prove useful to you for survival reasons, right?
You turn your body and hop a few times to be clearer from her and the lake.
‘Jump like I’m still a human, she says,’ you think. Along with focusing your strength into your legs.
You suppose what that means is you put your power entirely into your feet, and when you think of jumping as a human, you remember how you did that - you crouch down a bit and breathe in slow. As you breathe out, you spring your body up and leap, the energy expelling from your bigger feet while you do so.
You end up jumping quite high into the air! So high that you freak out a bit from the sheer surprise, and you abruptly crash down onto the grass in a heap.
Erin chortles from where she’s standing. “Not quite like that, but good effort!”
You grumble and pick yourself up by pushing against the ground, which proves to help you right yourself quicker. You feel a little tingling from the impact, but, it’s far from being all that painful.
“Try doing it while you’re moving,” Erin says. “And don’t think so hard! Just do!”
You nod as you absorb this. ‘Okay, okay.’
You hop back a few spots from where you were before, then turn around and start to prepare for another attempt. This time, you start to hop, and as you do, you bring your feet down and put all the weight of your body into your feet; and when you move forward, you spring up and expel that energy again.
Your legs push against the ground, and your body sails up into the air, a good few feet higher than any kangaroo could naturally hope to jump, so high you feel lighter than the air itself as your stomach jumps up with you.
When you come down, you remain calm, and your feet absorb the impact and all your weight. They sting, but, it’s a brief sensation of discomfort.
You stop, and your arms flail. But you feel good inside because you did it!
‘Whoa,’ you think. You nearly fall again, yet your tail helps keep you balanced.
You glance back at Erin, who is bounding toward you, except she leaps into the air in a single, fluid motion, jumping even higher than you did. You swear she’s floating through the air as she gracefully lands on the ground beside you.
And when she lands, her tail drops down to the same level as her feet. She does a smaller little hop seconds after the landing, too, before she is still.
“Your tail is almost like a third leg,” Erin remarks. “Treat it like that, and you can learn to use it to help not only keep your balance, but also to jump higher and land much smoother.” She winks. “Keep that in mind, yeah?”
“Thanks,” you say.
She nods. “No sweat. Took me a while to get the hang of it myself.”
“Maybe if I practice it enough I’ll get adjusted to it,” you say. You can feel the energy swirling in you, and with it, you feel excited. “I never dreamt I’d be able to jump that high before. It’s like… not quite flying, but…”
“Gliding through the air, I’d say,” Erin remarks. She smiles again. “When you learn to master the motions and the landing, and you do it from start to finish… bloody hell, it’s fantastic, mate. It’s like gliding through the air in these great, big bounds. Just remember that your stamina ain’t infinite, and if you land wrong, you can still hurt yourself. Definitely gotta be careful with it.”
You nod in understanding. “What else can we do? That you know of, I mean.”
She taps her chin, providing a humorous image given her form. “I’ve been in this body for a bit longer than you, I’d gather. I would say we can climb faster, because our upper body is notably stronger than a common roo’s. Thing is, our primary strength comes from our legs, and not our arms.”
You wriggle your furry toes around in the grass. “Makes sense, I guess.”
“Yeah, roos in media always have superhuman kicks,” Erin remarks with a snicker. “And it’s for good reason. Think more along those lines, and you have a broad grasp of what we can be capable of. Just don’t try kicking any boulders, or you might hurt yourself.” She winks. “We’re not superhuman, remember.”
“Well, I guess, then, maybe I should…”
Before you can finish, that howl rips through the air again, only it’s much, much louder, and much, MUCH closer than it was. You and Erin turn to the direction you both came from, toward the start of the hill, and you realize…
“It’s followed us,” you say. Because of course the dingo decided to follow them.
“Aw, piss,” Erin mutters.
“What do we do?” you ask.
She looks around and points. “We can go to the cave and hide out, wait and see what this dingo is and what it wants, or we can flee the other way. What do you wanna do? And be quick!”
Your mind races.
Written by Hollowpages on 19 August 2020
You don’t know why you’re the one that has to decide this, but, you don’t know how fast this thing is or if you can outrun it proper. But you do NOT feel like sitting around and seeing if it’s a friendly dingo or a wild, savage animal that wants to try some kangaroo-slash-human meat.
“I guess the cave, then,” you say.
“Good choice,” Erin says. “C’mon, then.”
She starts jumping toward it and you follow suit. You hear the howl again, but, you try to ignore the sense of impending dread filling your stomach as the two of you leap up to the path that takes you into the cave’s maw. It’s way too dark for you to see how deep it goes, but, right now, you don’t care.
Seconds after you enter the cave, you find the air itself has chilled a lot - you can feel it is colder inside, and the air seems a little thicker, too.
You try not to let it bother you as you follow Erin deeper in, unsure of whether or not this will prove to be a good idea, or a horrible one. Her hopping slows, and so you slow as well. You end up moving at a slower, steadier pace.
The ground is soft beneath your furry, large feet, yet coarse to the touch. It’s not painful to feel, but, this, combined with the rocks jutting out at random points, and the myriad of pebbles and little dips you spot, means you need to be much more careful going forward. You don’t need to get impaled, or run into some thick rocky wall, or trip, or get your feet stuck… none of that.
“Eesh,” Erin says, quieter now, but audible enough for you. “I forgot how dark this bloody cave can be when the sun ain’t hitting it just right.” She grunts. “Piss. At least it ain’t so dark that we can’t see anything in front of us, but, watch your step all the same, yeah?”
“I assume you’ve been in here before?” you ask.
“Aye, a handful of times,” Erin replies.
“And… where does it lead?” you ask. “How big is it it, anyways?”
“No bloody clue,” Erin admits.
You stop then, and you look around. The cave is dimly lit enough that your eyes have adjusted to it, somewhat, but, you don’t exactly feel comfortable going into a big, dark, unknown cave when you don’t know where it goes.
“You don’t know?” you ask Erin, confused.
Erin pauses to look at you. Dark as it is, you can see her features enough to register the sheepish expression she’s giving you.
“To be honest, I… erm.” There’s a beat of silence as Erin groans. “I’ve only explored to a certain degree, okay? I always try to go deeper and deeper in each time, but I end up getting a bit freaked out, so, I’ve never really gotten to the end of it, if there even is one.”
You blink a few times. “Oh.”
“What?” Erin crosses her arms, and the image is admittedly humorous given the fact she’s in the form of a tall, bulky male kangaroo. “YOU try delving into a large, creepy, stinky cave on your own. Ain’t exactly something you can be prepared for in this state,” she gestures to herself and you, “and for all we know, the cave could be a dead-end. Or, it can have some big-arse hole in it that we fall to our deaths in. I haven’t been in the mind to test that out fully.”
You concede to this point with a nod. “Fair enough.”
“Look, we can take our time, for now,” Erin says. “And I know a good amount of this cave, so I can say without a shred of doubt that there’s gonna be a fork in the road coming up.” She points forward. “We can figure out how to proceed when we get there. Cave’s definitely going to mess with the dingo, either way.”
“Are you sure about that?” you ask. You don’t really know her, but, more than that, you don’t know if this is actually going to be beneficial. For all you know, your idea will get one or both of you caught by the dingo, especially if it turns out there’s a dead end just waiting for you to run into it.
She smirks. “Definitely. Take a whiff. Tell me what you smell.”
You frown at this, unsure of what that has to do with anything, but, you take her advice and do so - you breathe in deep, and you smell… you don’t know exactly, but your nose scrunches up as several less than pleasant odors hit your nose at once. The air is stale and musty, for sure, and you can smell the obvious odor of dankness, which all seem to meld together at once.
You make a noise of disgust.
“Stinks, don’t it?” Erin asks. “The cave reeks something fierce, but that’s a good thing. Means the dingo, whether or not it’s like us or a normal one, will have a harder time tracking us via smell. Deeper in we go, the better our chance is of losing the bugger. Now, let’s get moving, yeah? Hop to it, mate.”
You stare at her curiously. “Did… did you really…?”
She gives a grumble. “Yes, I did, I realized right when I said it.”
You smile at this, but, only briefly. Then it’s back to following Erin into the cave.
After a few minutes of slower, more cautious bouncing into the darkness of the cave, you come to another stop, only this time, it’s because you have found the ‘fork’ that Erin was referring to. Before you, the cave splits into three different paths, one that goes straight, one that goes left, and one that goes to the right.
“Which we do we go now?” you ask. You look from one to the other to the other. “These all look like they go different directions. How does that help us?”
“That’s the thing,” Erin replies. “I dunno which is the ‘best’ to go. But, it doesn’t really matter at this point, I’d say.” She nods to the splitting paths. “I’ve gone down all three at one point in time or another. All were safe for as far as I went into ‘em, so, that’s on our side. Thing is, we should be quick about picking where to go.” She eyes you thoughtfully. “What do you think?”
You furrow your brow and look from one path to the next. Three different choices, but you have no clue which is the right one to go down - you can’t tell where any of them lead, save for maybe the central path that goes straight.
Yet even that one is so dark, you don’t see what’s ahead. You only have Erin’s reassurance to work off of, and that’s it. So what way do you want to go?
Written by Hollowpages on 21 August 2020
You shake your head, trying to decide. It’s not easy when you have three choices instead of two - that’s not even a fifty fifty split by then. But, you suck this down, and you end up choosing: center path for the time being.
“I guess center, then,” you say.
She nods. “Right. Okay, good. Then you go down the center path and see where it’ll take you. Me, I think we should split up to give the dingo two separate targets to chase rather than us both going down the same path together.”
You pause to stare at her. “Wait, wait, what? Split up?” You don’t like the sound of that one little bit. “Isn’t splitting up always a terrible idea in these kinds of situations?”
She sighs. “Normally, I wouldn’t suggest it, but, think. There’s one dingo, yeah? So one of them and two of us means if we go separate ways, then we can confuse it. Worst case scenario, it’ll chase one of us down, but you look like you’re plenty smart enough to handle it. Just be cautious and don’t do anything too stupid, yeah?”
You continue staring. ‘This feels like something stupid…’
“I’ll go the left path,” Erin says. “We’ll meet up again. If you really want, we can take about five minutes to trek in further, then wait to see what happens.”
She turns and starts to hop down the path before you can finish. You watch her go, and you can’t help but let out a huff of annoyance at this - perhaps doing this was a bad idea, and so was putting trust in someone you literally just met…
‘Damn it, you gotta be kidding me,’ you think.
You can hear something far back from you, though, and it sounds like movement. Heavy movement. You grimace and then start to bound down the central path, and you hope that doing this will work to your advantage.
You find that the small tunnel you’ve entered seems to teeter back and forth, winding to the right, then the left, then the right again, for no apparent rhyme or reason. But still you push on, keeping your pace brisk, yet still paying attention to everything ahead of you and around you. The path starts to shrink, however, as the seconds go by. You find yourself getting squished in to the point where mobility is almost impossible for you given the fact you move by jumping.
‘Figures,’ you think.
But still you squeeze on through, until after a good minute or two of this, the path opens up a bit more. You keep going, and then, at last, it opens up to a much larger ‘room’ for the cave. Here, you halt your jumping, and you glance around to take in the vicinity for anywhere you can safely hide and wait.
You spot a few nooks in the walls of the cave, and a small ledge to boot.
‘Bingo,’ you think.
You hop up to the ledge, which has nothing to its back beside the cave wall. From here, you turn and face the direction you come from, and now, you wait in silence. You wait to see if the dingo chasing you and Erin is coming after you, and if so, if it’s a person in a costume, or an actual wild dingo.
For a moment, you hear nothing.
Your heart is racing, of course, so you hear that thudding away in your chest, but you keep your eyes and ears peeled for the dingo - you don’t know exactly what to expect either way. If it’s a wild dingo, then you suppose you can use your human ‘ingenuity’ against it somehow. But if it’s a person in a costume? You’re less certain.
‘I mean, would a person want to, I dunno, kill me?’ you think. ‘I don’t know a normal person would, unless…’
You recall what Erin said earlier, but you don’t know if you fully believe what she’s said. She’s given you no reason to doubt her, mind, yet the fact she wanted to split up at a time like this really doesn’t settle well with you. Maybe she’s right to do it, maybe not; you don’t have to like the idea either way.
‘Maybe this is a game to them,’ you consider. ‘Damn. I don’t know. There’s so much being thrust at me, and I’ve only just started getting used to being in a female kangaroo body. Never mind having to run for my life and hide!’
Still, you remain in place, and you listen.
You hear something eventually, and it sounds like movement. Loud movement, too, until it stops. You try your best to listen as close as you can, and you swear you hear what sounds like sniffing, perhaps. There’s sniffing, followed by some sort of grunt - it sounds like a grunt of annoyance, but you can’t be certain. Then, the movement seems to… go the other way?
‘Did it get stuck in that area I was having a hard time with?’ you wonder.
That makes the most logical sense, especially when the sound of something moving grows quieter and quieter until you can’t hear it at all.
You feel your throat go dry.
‘Maybe it did,’ you think.
You leap down from where you were resting and very, very slowly, you trek toward the entrance to the cavern you’re in. You stand not quite near it and you put your ear closer, listening in. Either the dingo did start to come down this way and decided to go after Erin, or, something else was following you.
Nothing. No sound. Not the wind, not feet pads on the ground, not rocks.
It’s a little unnerving to hear nothing down the way you came, but, you consider the possibilities - either the dingo decided to go after Erin, or, it decided to go the other path, or it left. Or, hell, for all you know, the dingo could decide to try coming down the central path after you a second time. You don’t know, yet you do know that you don’t like being split up like this, not in this scenario.
‘Great,’ you think. ‘Well. Now what? I don’t think I want to stay here for too long, because something else could be lurking about. But, then…’
You consider that you could go back the same way and hope for the best. Or, you could stay here and wait a while longer, just to be safe. One way or another, you know you won’t be able to remain in this dark cave forever.
You close your eyes and suck in a deep breath. ‘Decisions…’
Written by Hollowpages on 23 August 2020
You end up choosing to leave the cavern, because you don’t like the anxiety of not knowing what the hell to do with yourself - and while you may be annoyed that Erin opted to split up, you can’t shake the idea that sticking together is the wisest choice to do, especially when you still know so very little. You’ve had barely any experience in this madness, whereas she has said otherwise.
‘Please don’t run right into the jaws of death,’ you think.
You start to hop down the path you came from, and you end up in the same spot you had trouble moving through because the walls were smaller, and again, you have to work to move given how tightly compacted it is.
Yet you halt midway through this and look down - there are tracks there. Tracks that are shaped like a wild dog’s, or in this case, a dingo. So then the dingo HAD come after you, probably first, yet it ended up stopping and then turning around. You can tell from the tracks it did this. But what you can’t tell is if the tracks you’re staring at are bigger than normal dingo footprints or not.
They’re big, for sure, but you hesitate to think them too large.
‘Forget it for now,’ you think. ‘Focus.’
You push this aside and start moving again, trying to be quick and quiet and cautious all at once - quite the jumble of different things. It takes a few minutes again to push through the compacted portion of the path, then, it starts to open up more and more until, eventually, you reach the portion of the cave where you started from, where it split into three different tunnels to pick from.
Here is where you stop, because here is where you now have to figure out your next course of action.
You can see the footprints and claw marks on the ground that show the dingo went after you. And now, as you glance at the other two tunnels, you spot the same marks that lead down the path Erin took. You start to think that the dingo has decided to go after her next.
‘I wonder how far she got,’ you think. You prick your ears to the side and listen.
You don’t hear anything out of the ordinary down that path, although it does veer to the side, so you consider you’d probably have to go down it a bit to hear anything, anyways. With a heavy inward sigh, you hop down it a few times so that you’re angled more toward the direction it goes - the tunnel seems to be a straight shot once it’s gone to the one side, at the least.
Now, you listen again.
And you can indeed hear something further in, the padding of feet on the ground. It’s faint, and growing distant with every passing second, but it’s all you need to hear to know the dingo has decided to go after Erin. If anything, that means it’ll be preoccupied, yet you don’t want to abandon her to it if it’s something that wants to kill or hurt her. Stranger or not, you aren’t the sort to just turn the other way, not in this sort of situation.
You sigh internally and started to trail after the dingo, and in doing so, trail after Erin since she went down this path first. You keep your pace moving slow and cautious again, mindful of whatever is around or in front of you, since you don’t know what else could be lying ahead, or where Erin’s gone off to.
‘I hope this isn’t a stupid idea,’ you think as you bound onward, although you know it probably is. ‘Erin… so help me, please let this work out for the both of us. I don’t feel like falling down a massive hole or getting eaten by some dingo, real or hybrid.’
But on you go regardless.
Written by Hollowpages on 25 August 2020
The path Erin chose is a winding one, but, it doesn’t seem to be quite as narrow to travel through, you notice - and you’re relieved at this, for sure. But your heart is racing in your chest, pounding feverishly due to the fact you have no clue what the hell you’re going to run into when you get further into the cave.
‘This is stupid,’ you think to yourself. ‘This is stupid, this is so, so stupid…’
But you don’t stop. You keep hopping through the darkness, and as you trek further in, you hear noises - the noises of padded feet and sniffing and possibly growling. These grow louder and louder with every passing second, and you brace yourself for the trouble you expect you’ll be meeting pretty quickly.
Soon, you finally come upon a large opening into the cave, and you see them at long last: the dingo you’ve been hearing and fleeing from. At a distance, they appear hunched over, bathed in shadow with only their outline being visible to your eyes. But you can hear them sniffing about and grumbling something low, only to watch them stop and shoot their attention to you.
You realize now, rather quickly in fact, that the dingo is not a normal animal, but rather, someone like you and Erin - a human who put on a costume that has transformed them into a dingo-human hybrid. Said hybrid stands upright on its hind legs and stalks toward you slowly, with glowing yellow eyes.
Its physique is more feminine given the curves its hips possess, and the faint outline of what appear to be breasts, although fur covers them. And as it nears you, you see the details of their facial features more clearly - their features are also feminine, which to you means a woman found a female costume.
“So you’re the one that was hopping around in there,” the dingo says, and though her accent is noticeably Australian, it’s a much softer, fainter accent. What sets her voice apart is how low and raspy it sounds, painting her tone with a menacing air. “I smelled you in there, but that tight squeeze was far too much of a nuisance for me to get in any further.”
She stops in front of you and you can tell she’s not one to trifle with; her build is lean, yet she has wiry muscle, and with those gleaming canine eyes and the sharp teeth (as in, every tooth is pointed in a fang), you are already second-guessing your decision to come down this path the way you did.
“You were lucky before,” she continues. “But coming down this way was right stupid of you. Why would you come TO the jaws of death when you knew I was there? Not the smartest choice to be making there, mate. You should’ve kept quiet and hidden, not come toward me like a moth to the proverbial flames.”
‘Too late now, though,’ you think, and you sigh internally at the fact she’s not wrong. But oh well. “Why are you chasing after us?”
The dingo woman cocks her head to the side without answering at first. She seems like she’s studying you, and you wince at the feral look in her eyes. You recall what Erin told you, and recall the rules about how if someone dies in a costume, they get sent back to the start and have to pick a new one again.
‘Please don’t let that be the case,’ you think.
“You must be new, mate,” she replies, cocking an eyebrow at you. “This is the law of the land in this crazy world. ‘Course, it’s all a matter of luck what choices you get when you go through those doors, but, that’s a given.” She pauses. “You look confused. What, you stupid or something?”
“No,” you reply. “I just don’t see why you’d feel the need to act like an animal and come chasing after someone. What’s the point?”
She shakes her head. “I chose a dingo costume, you daft poofter. That means I’m a predator, and if I wanna survive, I have to eat. And in case your shit brain didn’t put two and two together, wild dingoes eat ‘roos like you and that bitch friend of yours.”
“So…?” you say. “I don’t get what that has to do with you chasing us.”
“Do you not realize what you’re wearing?” she asks, gesturing to you. “And do you not realize what I’M wearing? See how that works? I’m on the top of the food chain in this situation, and you’re ON the food chain for me? Yeah?”
You blink a few times. So she’s intending to eat or kill you, it seems. That’s enough to strike a nervous ripple through your whole body, and you feel your legs quiver slightly. You can’t move, though, whether because you’re paralyzed in fear or because you’re just stuck in not knowing what to do now.
She smirks and turns to look over her shoulder, then bellows out. “Oi, Erin! You chose a right dumbarse to travel with! Don’t think I won’t come after you next, you simpering twat, but first I’m dealing with your mate!”
‘She knows Erin?’ you think.
But that isn’t exactly important, because she did just say out loud that she was going to eat you. And that… well, that isn’t going to happen, not if you have anything to say about it.
She turns back to you and bares her row of sharp, sharp teeth, and you try to figure out what you can do - you’re not exactly a fighter by any means, least of all someone that’s ever fought with a human hybrid in a superhuman costume. Yet as your brain sprints into fight or flight mode, you realize something: Erin said that you’ve been granted the abilities of the costume, and when you think about all you know regarding kangaroos and what they’re most known for…
“Now then, snack,” the dingo woman says as she takes a step toward you. “Why don’t you make this more fun for me and squirm a little, eh? Or are you so dense and clueless that you aren’t even willing to do that much for me?”
"Shut up!” you snap.
She recoils slightly, taken aback by the fact you just shouted at a dingo, or maybe because she didn’t expect you to raise your voice at her. You don’t know the reason, nor do you really care, because as your mind is spinning, you have two different choices you could do in order to handle this problem.
You can try to fight, and you aren’t really trained for that kind of thing, or, you can try to talk her down, either in some hope that Erin might show up to help you or to try and reason with this woman by appealing to some shred of her humanity. You’re not sure either would really work, but, you don’t have the time to mull over these decisions for very long - so which do you choose?
Written by Hollowpage on 06 September 2020
“What are you shouting at me for?” the dingo woman asks after a pause. She growls. “You mental? I’m the predator here, you witless fool, and you’re the one that needs to play the role of the prey. Get that through your tiny skull.”
You mull over the choices for a moment, but, you end up deciding to take a third route ultimately… by combining the two options into a single one!
She comes toward you again, and you react swiftly by doing what you’ve seen kangaroos do in videos - and what feels like it’s the most natural reaction for you: you stand at your full height, using your tail for added balance, and you thrust your legs out full stop. Your large feet smash into the dingo, knocking her backwards with enough force that she topples onto the ground.
It’s a strange sensation, and an even stranger even to witness.
You’re shocked at the fact you just double kicked someone in the gut like that, but you’re even more shocked at how far she zoomed backwards from the impact. You’ve never done anything like that before, so witnessing it is definitely a new one for you - but it’s also admittedly satisfying to watch her fly back and then crumple onto the ground. She looks utterly dumbstruck by the fact you just kicked her like that, too, and like she’s kind of in pain.
‘Whoa,’ is all you think, and you stand there for a moment, watching her.
“…ow,” she mutters, as she lies there, clutching her chest.
You feel a bit of pride at how you just kicked a dingo - basically a predator that wanted to literally EAT you - like that, but you let that pride slide away after a pause because you don’t want this to turn into some messy affair.
“Look, I don’t want any trouble,” you say. “I don’t want to have to worry for my life, and I don’t want to fight you, so why don’t you stop acting crazy and we start over?”
It takes about a minute or two for her to clamber up to her feet. She’s gritting her teeth, and after a long pause, she eyes you with a fixed scowl. She looks upset by this turn of events, and you wonder what she’ll do now.
“You… got some nerve,” she mutters. “You think cuz you kicked me once that I’m gonna turn tail and scamper off? What the hell are you smoking?” She growls at you and starts to stagger toward you, her fingertips turning into full claws. “Stop breaking the rules, you asshat. You’re not supposed to fight back, this whole thing is a damned game, and if you think I’m gonna let you--”
You interrupt her by doing the same thing again, standing up and balancing on your tail as you lash your feet out and again kick her square in the gut. The force knocks her for a loop all over again, and she once more topples onto the cave floor in a heap. You kind of feel bad for her, but, you don’t let that show, since you’re also not in the mood for any more shenanigans right now.
She grumbles and sputters after this second double kick. It’s almost comical watching this once-terrifying dingo woman feebly pick herself off the ground.
‘I feel like I’ve gotten zapped into Looney Tunes,’ you muse. Only instead of Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner, it’s you the Kangaroo and a Dingo.
It takes a bit longer this time for the dingo to get up, but, when she does, she hovers there, rubbing her midsection after being gut kicked like that. She seems to be much more leery of you, and, as you watch her face you, her expression is one of stunned silence. It also appears that she’s now being much more careful with her words, and she isn’t coming at you a third time.
Yet, that is. You aren’t about to lower your guard yet, oh no.
“Alright…” She grits her teeth again and groans. “You’re not playing the same thing I am, I guess.”
“I’m not playing anything,” you say, and you shrug. “You’re the one talking about eating people here. In case you forgot, I’m not an actual kangaroo, and, uh, you’re not an actual dingo. So… I dunno what you’re expecting will happen.”
She huffs. “Look, it’s nothing personal. I’m just doing what a dingo does--”
“But you’re not a dingo,” you say again.
“Oh for the love of…” She glowers at you. “I’m AWARE of that fact, you bastard. What my POINT is that this whole insane world,” she sweeps an arm around to emphasize this statement, “isn’t the real world. We’re not ourselves here, so why the bloody hell would I be acting and thinking rationally? Where’s the fun in that when I’m a damned wild animal? There isn’t any. You’re the one trying to be all moral and shite, and it’s pissing me the hell off. So stop it.”
“Nah,” you reply. “Don’t want to.”
She scowls. “Listen, you stupid--”
You mimic the same action for a third time in the end, and you end up knocking her for a loop with yet another double kick. She topples down again, and this time, she crumples with a higher pitched whining noise. This, you HOPE, is enough to get this to stop, and while you remain on guard, you watch her expression shift to one of sheer defeat as she struggles to stand.
“Okay…” she mutters. She tries to pick her body up, but flops down on the ground again, whimpering. “Damn, that hurts… ow.”
You watch on, and after a long pause, you can feel in your chest that she isn’t going for a fourth attempt anytime soon, if at all. She remains downed and looks up at you weakly, still gritting her teeth, but her expression is one of frustration and confusion, and humiliation now, instead of smugness or anger.
“You win,” she says. She tries again to get up, but falters and collapses. “Dammit. I can’t even get up, this HURTS. You nailed me good.” She grumbles and lies there. “Piss off, would you? I’m done. No more chasing you or Erin, no more playing predator. I promise I’m finished, cuz I frankly don’t feel like getting my arse handed to me on a platter anymore. Thrice is enough, thanks.”
You feel a swell of relief at hearing this, but, you don’t speak, nor move just yet.
You instead begin to ponder what you could do next - you feel like you have a few possible options, and you’re not entirely sure what the best one would be.
You could move on and look for Erin, naturally. With the dingo incapacitated, it leaves you time to search for her without having to worry about the dingo trying to hurt or eat you. Or, you could perhaps finish her off to be DOUBLY sure - but that doesn’t feel like it’s the right choice, so you discard it. Instead, your second option is… you could try to help her up and check on her.
It might be dense, but, you feel a little bad, and you don’t want to be heartless. You like to be the bigger person when you’re able to, and now is the perfect chance for it.
‘Hmm… but is it worth it for her?’ you wonder.
What do you do next?
Written by Hollowpage on 08 September 2020
You sigh grudgingly after mulling over what to do next with the dingo woman - as reluctant as you are to offer her any sort of sympathy when she made it clear she wanted to eat you, you aren’t the sort to be petty or spiteful, even when you’ve ended up in some bizarre realm where that means nothing.
You hop over to the downed dingo woman and she looks up at you, scowling.
“What the bloody hell do you want?” she demands.
She’s wincing, though, and you can tell that getting double-kicked in the gut three times in a row has taken its toll on her. At the very least, you hope it means she’ll think twice about doing anything unnecessary or cruel…
You awkwardly extend your hand down. “Want some help?”
She blinks, and stares at you rather blankly.
You don’t move. You stay in place, hand extended down, and you wait.
“What?” she asks after a long pause.
“Look, I don’t want to be mean or anything like that,” you say. You shrug after this and again extend your hand down. “I don’t know you. Never met you before in my life, but, I see no reason to just abandon you. If you’re willing to let bygones be bygones, then, I’m happy to offer a hand for you to get up.”
More blank staring.
She seems perplexed and completely at a loss to have you, a person in a kangaroo body that is prey to someone like her, offering her help like this. You don’t know how your expression appears but you hope that she’ll perhaps see you’re being genuine. Or, not, as it turns out. She seems to think you’re trying to trick her, and thus, she refuses your hand and swats it away.
“Piss off, you ass,” she says. “I don’t want your stinking help. Let alone do I trust that you won’t kick my skull in the instant I accept it. Get lost!”
She tries to sound threatening. Tries. If anything, the fact she’s in clear pain only makes her threat attempt sound weaker than she intends, and she notices this rather immediately after the words leave her lips. She growls and gnashes her teeth together - you kind of want to laugh, but, you hold it in for now.
“I said get lost,” she mutters crossly.
Written by Hollowpage on 11 September 2020
You sigh, but, you don’t move. You wait there and watch as this proud dingo woman tries again to pick herself up, and she manages to get onto one knee. And then she promptly drops again, groaning from the pain she’s in.
You silently offer your hand down to her for a third time.
She glares at your hand, then at you. “Why are you being nice to me? Did you not get it through your tiny mind that I was planning to kill you?” She pauses and narrows her eyes. “And what’s to say I won’t try the moment I can stand?”
“Because you’d have to be a real moron to try it again,” you say simply, and you shrug while keeping your hand offered to her. “Can we please cut past this and not be enemies? This whole world is insane, and I’d kind of prefer we just have fun rather than worry about wanting to kill one another, or eat one another, or whatever.”
She stares at you for a long pause again, and you can see the gears in her head are busy spinning. You have no clue what’s running through her mind, but while she’s busy pondering, you briefly wonder where Erin is.
But you shelf this for the immediate moment and you wait.
Finally, after another pause, the dingo woman groans and, very slowly, takes your hand. She seems incredibly hesitant at first - which is weird to you since she’s the predator in this scenario, but you’re not going to push it - until she finally takes hold of your hand. You wait for a few seconds, to see if she intends to try anything. She doesn’t, so, you help her stand by hopping back a bit and using your tail for some additional support.
It’s not graceful at all, but, you are able to help pull the grumbling dingo woman to her feet. She snaps her hand back when she’s upright and staggers there, one hand on her stomach while she’s hunched over, breathing heavily.
You stay put, and watch.
You don’t trust this dingo woman, naturally. Not yet, not when she could prove to be a jerkass by trying to tear your head off or sink her teeth into your throat.
“Better?” you ask.
She mutters under her breath, but says nothing aloud at first. She remains hunched over, rubbing her wounded stomach for a few minutes, before she lets out a heavy sigh and straightens her posture. Her expression appears more neutral now, even though she eyes you. Still, you don’t get a sense she’s an immediate threat, and when she relaxes her posture, you calm a little.
“You’re weird,” she remarks. Her tone isn’t mocking or condescending, but rather, matter of fact as she looks at you. She still seems taken aback by your willingness to help her up after all that. “Damn weird for sure to be helping me.”
You say nothing. You admit you probably didn’t need to help her, but, you also don’t mind that you did. You feel better inside with knowing you chose to.
She cracks her neck side to side, then looks at you with a wry smile. “You know, for someone who’s only just now gotten into this, you kick fucking HARD. Not sure if it’s the roo in you or if you’ve got strong legs, but,” she pauses to shake her head, “much as it kills me to swallow my pride like this, I gotta tip my invisible hat to you for the effort.”
“Oh, well, thanks, I guess,” you say. ‘Not a normal compliment, but this isn’t exactly a normal situation, so, beggars can’t be choosers.’
She chuckles. “Even funnier since you’ve gotten into a female roo’s body.” Her eyes flick up and down your form, amusement obvious in her eyes. “How’s that working out for you, by the way? Guessing you don’t wanna get preggers.”
“Fine enough for now,” you reply, and you opt to… ignore that topic of conversation for something more pleasant. “Do you have a name?”
“Of course I’ve got a damn name,” she says, rolling her eyes. Then, she scowls at you for a short moment. “Gah, fine. It’s Maggie.”
You nod and give your name in return.
“Yeah, yeah, pleasantries and all that shite,” Maggie says. She’s clearly sour about the whole ordeal, but you get the sense from her body language and her expression that she’s decided not to try and devour you. “Well, you helped me, and that’s fine and dandy, so go on.” She waves you off. “Go fuck off toward wherever the hell you were planning on going. I assume after your gal pal?”
“And what about you?” you ask. “What do you plan to do with yourself?”
She shrugs, but doesn’t answer. You figure she’s not really the type to go telling someone she doesn’t know, let alone someone that kicked her rear a few times. Wounded pride and all that is still pretty evident.
You ponder what to do next. Obviously, going down the path Erin went to find where she’s gone is an idea, although you don’t owe allegiance to her, seeing as how you only just met. But, you don’t want to abandon her, either. However, you find yourself wondering how this Maggie woman knows Erin, and, you wonder about whether or not she’d like to ‘join’ you as it were.
You begin to think: do you want to move on and find Erin on your own? Do you want to stay and learn a bit more from this Maggie woman? Do you want to see if she’d like to tag along with you? You’ve got some options, suffice to say.
Written by Hollowpage on 12 September 2020
“Do you and Erin know one another?” you ask after considering your options and picking. “The way you were shouting down that path made it seem like it.”
Maggie snorts. “Oi, rack off. None of your bloody business if I do or not.”
“Oh, come on,” you say. “I did just help you up.”
She snorts again. “So? Helping me up was a stupid move on YOUR part, and I don’t see how that relates to whether or not I should bother telling you shite about myself.” She growls. “Don’t get cocky at me because you kicked me a few times, you bogan. I don’t owe you shit, remember that.”
You roll your eyes. You’ve dealt with this type of person before in your life, and you aren’t above arguing, although you don’t feel like it. You simply stand and wait for her to glare at you, and as the seconds slide by, her glare weakens, and you can tell she’s reluctantly weighing her own options on how to respond.
“Piss,” she mutters. “Fine.”
You smile a little. Maybe a tad smug, but, not too much.
“Aye, I know Erin,” Maggie says. “Clearly.”
You nod. “Guessing you two are friends? Or were?”
She makes a face of disgust. “Fuck no, we’re not mates in the least bit.” A pause, and, after her features smooth, she sighs. “Well. Not anymore, that is.”
Your smile drops. You wait, patient, to hear what she has to say.
Maggie grumbles under her breath. “Look, before we got into this… this…” She sweeps her arm around. “Whatever the hell you wanna call this bizarro world we’re in, we grew up next door to one another, her and I. Used to be thick as thieves, at least until high school started.” She folds her arms. “I ain’t babbling on about it, but we drifted thanks to a whole lotta reasons.”
“High school drama stuff?” you offer. You know that one well.
“Among other things,” Maggie admits. “We stopped hanging out, got into some nasty fights, and by senior year, we didn’t speak to one another. Then uni came along, and we tried to sort through it, yadda yadda.” She grunts. “Well, couple years of half-mending shite and all that, and then last year…”
She pauses and looks down at the ground.
There’s a lot of weight that seems to be hovering about Maggie - you’re no social expert, nor can you read minds, but you get the sense that a lot happened between the pair to sour what was once a friendship. You’ve seen that sort of thing during your life, experienced it a few times, too.
It’s an inevitable part of life, unfortunately. But you don’t want to press her, nor start shoving your random thoughts down her throat - you know better.
“She discovered this place first,” Maggie says after the silence. “Dunno how she came across it, she never told me. But she started randomly vanishing for days on end, only to turn up at uni. She seemed different. Wiser, more confident, more… experienced. Like she’d found something that made her life more interesting, and in return, it was helping her grow as a person.”
Maggie’s teeth gnash together. “She didn’t tell me. Didn’t tell anyone. She made vague excuses and weird reasons that only piqued my curiosity. I’d thought being friends and all that jazz, she’d fess up eventually, but no. She kept it to herself, and got pissy with me when I confronted her over it.”
Maggie shakes her head. There’s hurt and pain in her eyes.
“Look, long story short,” Maggie says, growling again, “I found this place by mistake one day, and after going through the doors and getting on a costume, I ended up here. And lo and behold, I ran into her during my first day…”
She trails off and goes quiet.
You can kind of hazard a guess as to what happened - the expression she gains and the way her posture shifts spells out that their run-in probably didn’t end on a positive note. You do wonder, though, what animal the women had become during that time. You doubt Erin has always been a kangaroo, or that Maggie here has always been a dingo. But, you don’t push any further.
“So yeah,” Maggie says. “This place has definitely created a nice little rivalry between the two of us. And no, don’t go expecting things will fix themselves, because that ain’t happening anytime soon, mate.”
You nod with understanding. “Thanks for telling me a bit.”
So now here you are, having met and talked down the dingo woman that was chasing after you. It’s clear that there’s some bad blood between her and Erin, at least from Maggie’s side. You know that, should you extend an offer for her to maybe be friends with you, things will NOT be easy should you run into Erin again. You don’t know HOW bad things will be, however, there’s that to consider.
‘I don’t feel like getting sucked into drama,’ you think. ‘And I know I’m not a counselor or the world’s best mediator. But, maybe it’ll do some good?’
You aren’t sure.
Maggie grunts loudly. “Alright, I told you my shite. You satisfied?”
You think a moment. “How long have you been coming to this place? Actually, wait.” Something she said sticks out at you. “You mean you can leave and come back? That you’re not trapped in this world forever?”
Maggie shakes her head. “Of course you can leave, dumbass. You have to stay the full time required for the costume you pick, but after that’s expired, you can find a way out.” She glances around, thinking for a moment. “Seems like it’s all internal stuff. Like, you can basically will a door to show up somewhere, and you’ll just ‘know’ it’s there, waiting for you. You go out, take the costume off, and then you can leave. It’s weird, mate. Like it reads your mind.”
“Huh,” you say. “That’s… good to know, honestly.”
You hadn’t been certain beforehand when you read the rules, so, it does create some interest since you can come back…
“Yeah, whatever,” Maggie says. She grunts and waves her hand at you. “Now would you let me leave? I don’t feel like standing around in this dark, stinky cave for the rest of my day. I’d rather go enjoy being a dingo and hunt. I’m hungry.” She pats her stomach. “And no, I ain’t interesting in eating you. Kangaroo is off the bloody menu for the rest of my life as far as I’m concerned.”
You look from her to the path that Erin went, and again, you start to ponder. Part of you is fine with going your separate ways, but, you admit that you want to see if she’d be open to tagging along anyways. It’s not a major decision by any stretch of the imagination, yet even so, what’s the harm in asking?
“I’m leaving either way,” Maggie mutters. “Enjoy your time as a kangaroo, or whatever. Doubt we’ll run into one another again, so, what’s it matter, right?”
She starts to head past you, and you frown.
“Wait a moment,” you say.
She stops mid-step and slowly turns to stare at you over her shoulder. “What?”
Now you have to decide: do you ask if she wants to join you? Or do you wish her well and let her leave on her own, and then go from there by yourself?
Written by Hollowpage on 13 September 2020
“What do you want?” Maggie demands as she eyes you, waiting for you to answer so she can leave already.
You hesitate for a few seconds longer to decide. “Well,” you say, “do you have any other friends here? Any, um, other dingoes…?” You blink and recall the proper word. “A pack, I guess? Do dingoes travel in packs? I don’t know.”
She snorts. “Nah, mate, I’m on my own. Work better solo than with anyone else, usually. Besides, I haven’t seen anyone in a dingo costume ‘round these parts. I’ve been a dingo for a good few days by this point, so I’d know by smelling them if there was someone else like me.” She frowns. “What business of it is yours anyways? What’s it matter if I’m solo or in a pack?”
“I wanted to ask if you were open to traveling with me,” you reply.
She stares at you with wide eyes, and she slowly turns to face you fully. She blinks, and you can practically hear the gears in her head spinning while they try to effectively absorb what it is you just said to her.
“You’re joking, right?” Maggie asks. “Are you for real right now?”
You shake your head. “I’m being real, yeah. No joke.”
“You must be joking,” Maggie says. She scowls. “I just got done trying to KILL your sorry ass so I could eat you, and you’re asking me to, what, be your mate? Even after I just spelled out how your current gal pal and I aren’t exactly on the best of terms?”
You shrug. “Not everyone ever will get along with one another. I’ve known that for ages now. Besides, what’s the harm in it? And it’s not like you’ve got anything better to do with your time by your lonesome, is it?”
She gawks at you, stunned.
It’s admittedly a little comical to see someone that, not long ago, appeared like a legitimately threatening predator, only to now be gawking and staring like a cartoon character instead. She grits her teeth after soaking in your remark and seems to be unsure about it; she doesn’t abruptly deny you, nor does she agree.
“I don’t get you,” Maggie says. “Like, I sincerely don’t understand. You must be mental. Are you mental, or are you just stupid?”
“I don’t think of myself as either of those,” you say, rolling your eyes. “I’m just asking if you want to hang out, basically. You don’t have to say yes or no, it’s up to you in the end. But I’m serious about the offer. What happened is water under the bridge, at least as far as I’m concerned. So what do you say?”
Maggie continues to gawk as if you’re suddenly speaking to her in another language, and you have to kind of resist the urge to smile at her expression.
She blinks and then huffs. “Why would you want to be friendly toward me? What do you gain out of it?”
“Why not?” you reply, shrugging again. “And I’m not looking to GAIN anything out of it? I’m just asking, since, well, again, why not? What else are you going to do with yourself? You said you don’t have any fellow dingoes, so…”
She grunts. She looks around, thinking still, and you see no need to push her into choosing or rush her. You wait and simply glance back down the path that Erin probably went, and you wonder where she is, or how deep into this cave that path goes. Then you wonder… can she hear all this? Is she close or is she too far to know what’s being said? You have no clue on that end.
“Maybe,” Maggie says eventually. Her shoulders sag. “I can’t believe a damn kangaroo is asking me this sorta question. World’s gone tits up at this rate.”
“I’m still a human under this,” you reply. “Or. Um.” You glance down at your furry hands. “Beneath this? Whatever you want to call it, either way.”
“And say I do agree to this,” Maggie remarks, frowning. “What exactly do you think’ll happen with me and Erin? It ain’t gonna be a warm reunion, I can promise you that much. Best rethink this idea of yours unless you want to see how bad the blood between us really is.”
“You’re both adults,” you say, choosing your words carefully. “I’m sure you can work through it, or, I don’t know, pretend not to notice one another. But wouldn’t it beat wandering around this place all by yourself?”
She straightens her posture, and eyes you. Her eyes are full of intensity, and she stares you down while she’s busy trying to think about all this.
“I’ll…” She hesitates a moment, then lets out a quiet breath. “Whatever, I’ll think about it. Not guaranteeing anything to you, get that through your skull. Go and find your mate, and maybe, MAYBE, I’ll accept.” She emphasizes this with a growl. “But I can’t think with the stink of this place, and I’m not about to jump through hurdles to see my former friend, that much is for damn sure. I’m heading out to get some actual fresh air, and maybe something in my belly.”
“Alright,” you say. That’s the best answer you’re getting, you can tell. “Fine by me.”
“You’re bloody mental,” she mutters.
With that, she strides off and leaves.
You are now on your own again, sans the fear of being devoured by a hungry dingo. You watch after the direction of Maggie - watching her vanish into the depths, the sound of her footsteps echoing for a moment until they’re gone.
Now, it’s almost purely silent. Almost because you can hear the faint echo of water droplets somewhere in the cave, along with noises that seem to come from deeper in - you wonder if the cave has anyone living in it, real person or actual creature, but, you shrug this off and decide not to worry about it.
Your main concern is finding Erin, you think. She’s gone missing, and you have no clue where she is, or what else lies in wait within the cave for you.
‘Well,’ you think. ‘At least I talked down the hangry dingo. That counts for something, I guess.’
You nod to yourself and then proceed to start moving toward the path that Erin went. Much like before, the path is winding, although it’s at least spacious enough for a humanoid kangaroo to hop around without closing in too badly.
After a few minutes of this, the path opens up into another ‘room’ of the cave, but, there’s still a path for you. Oh is there ever a path. You come to a stop and gawk when you see that a good chunk of the cave is stretching onward into the depths… oh, and, you no longer have a lot of movement space. Instead, there is now a gigantic chasm that dips down into a black abyss, with no bottom in sight.
There are a few small ‘paths’ that you think you can hop down if you do so slowly, and these paths seem to dip down at a safe, less steep angle to wherever the bottom of the abyss is. But…
You halt your thoughts when you hear something - it’s faint, but it sounds like a voice calling out.
‘Erin,’ you think.
But what do you do? Do you keep following the path you’re on? Or chance going down and hope you don’t slip and fall to your demise?
Written by Hollowpage on 14 September 2020
You bounce nervously in place while you muse over this. You’re a kangaroo, which means you’re not exactly equipped to be spelunking into some unknown depth of a cave you’ve never been in prior to this day. Even worse, you feel that you could trip, or scrape something, or worse if you decide to go down there.
Then again, you also don’t know if continuing down the path will be of any use to you, and if the voice is indeed Erin, and not you hearing things, she might be hurt, or stuck, or in some dangerous position.
You have little beyond these two choices, so, you end up going with the smarter one. You start to hop down the same path you were already taking and hope that it’ll lead you toward where Erin is, wherever the hell that may be.
‘I mean, she doesn’t seem like the type to go down a rocky, slippery path,’ you think as you go down the tunnel the straight pathway leads you into, a tunnel that curves and seems to start going downwards. ‘I would imagine someone with experience would be smart about where they go, not reckless… right?’
You remind yourself you don’t exactly know Erin personally. You did just meet her not long ago, brief as that meeting was, so for all you’re aware, she could be the reckless or careless sort. You guess you’ll discover that soon enough.
You hop at a steady pace down the tunnel, and you indeed notice the tunnel is gradually dipping down slow enough where you feel as though it is leading you toward your goal. You hear, once more, the sound of a distant voice, but it’s too faint and echoey for you to understand what’s being said. It could be Erin. It could be your imagination. It could be someone or something else.
‘Why did we go into this cave,’ you think, honestly a little more than done with being in here. You never liked caves in the first place, and this one is clearly not at all out of the real world if it’s like this. ‘I don’t think Australia has caves this insane.’
Hop, hop, hop, deeper down and deeper into the tunnel you go.
The tunnel doesn’t wind as much as it did previously, although it does have a few faint turns here and there. Fortunately, it never closes in or around you, and thus, you’re able to move comfortably despite the fact your heart is ramming against your chest walls. You aren’t thrilled about this, and if this doesn’t get you killed, you might have to give this woman a chewing out for all this madness.
After around five minutes of following the tunnel, it opens up again, and you hop out to inspect your surroundings. You find that, though it’s difficult to tell at first, you are now much lower than where you started - and above you, to the right and up a ways, you can see the outline of the ledge where you came from.
You take note of this and see the rather slippery-looking ‘paths’ you could’ve taken, yet those run past where you are now, and still you can’t see any sort of bottom to where they lead. Yet you hear… something. Not a voice this time, no, but actual sound that is faint and echoing from somewhere deeper into the cave.
Your ears perk, and you listen, trying to make heads or tails of the noise.
‘Is that… water?’ you think.
You aren’t entirely sure, but, you THINK it could be the sound of running water - perhaps a river or some other body of water located somewhere in the cave. It’s not loud enough for you to be certain, but you sincerely don’t think anything else could be making a similar noise to it. It has to be a river or something.
‘Okay, that’s great,’ you think. ‘There’s running water somewhere in this cave. But how does that help me find Erin? Why the heck would she go down this path, this deep into a cave, anyways? I mean, surely she wouldn’t have come this far in to escape one dingo, right…?’
You again remind yourself logic isn’t exactly useful in this whole ordeal.
You sigh and shove this away, and, you continue moving, trekking across the path and deeper into the darkness - the path you took continues to spiral downwards, and as you follow it, you become increasingly aware that there are no longer walls that separate you from the depths surrounding you.
In other words, you realize that you are a hop, skip, and a jump away from accidentally falling to your possible demise - you can’t see into the darkness, so, you have no clue even now how far down the chasm is. You just know it’s on your right and your left, and you try your best not to look down.
‘Just keep hopping,’ you think. Silly movie quote, yes, but, it’s something.
The path keeps dipping down more and more as the seconds slog by, until it comes to another tunnel, which thankfully has walls to it. You enter it and hop further and further in, and as you do, the sound of what you assumed to be running water grows louder. It takes a few minutes of this for the sound to grow loud enough to where, yes, you can confirm it’s water, which you’re glad for.
‘How on earth does this go down so deep?’ you wonder, though.
You doubt you’ll get an answer to that, but, you push along regardless.
And then, after about fifteen minutes of trekking into this cave, you come to yet another opening from the tunnel, a massive open area that from a rough glance appears to be the size of two or three football stadiums shoved together. And here you find the water you expected you’d find, a river that is rushing on before you - it goes to the right, disappearing into the darkness of the cave.
From the left is where the river seems to be coming. A cursory glance tells you that there’s a good bit of room for you to navigate about the open area safely.
‘Plenty of flat ground for me,’ you note, and you hop forward and glance around further, hoping to see some sign of Erin. ‘But I don’t see Erin. Don’t hear her, either. The river’s a little too loud. Weird. Was it her I was hearing those two times? Or was I hearing something else entirely?’
It doesn’t make sense. You’re not a genius, but you don’t NOT think over these kinds of things, either, so this whole situation has you flustered and confused. If anything, the lack of any sign of Erin leaves you feeling puzzled and concerned since there’s obviously something going on, and you don’t know - or like - not knowing what that something may be.
‘No sense getting upset, though,’ you tell yourself.
You suck in a few breaths to calm your nerves, and then you move toward the direction of the river. After passing under a rocky ledge, you halt and see that you have more options on where you can go from here.
First, you can keep following the river and see where it leads you. Second, you spot a ledge that you can hop up to if you do as you did outside when Erin was showing you how to jump - you don’t know where the ledge leads, but you can tell from below that it goes somewhere. Or third, you see to your other side that there’s another tunnel, one that disappears into some blackness.
Three options for three different routes you can take. At this rate, you have a one in three shot at picking the right one, so now what do you do?
Written by Hollowpage on 15 September 2020
You take a breath and reflect on what you can do, weighing down each option in your head. None of them stand out over the other given the fact you’re unsure of where you are or where to go - all you know is that your main goal right now is finding Erin, the person who did help you out, even if you know little about her as a person beyond what Maggie’s told you.
You know she could be hurt. She could be lost. She could be totally fine. But, you don’t know WHICH of those she is, and you want to see this through.
‘Fine,’ you think, and you have made your decision.
You decide for the time being that you’re going to follow the river and see where it leads, to get a better understanding of how large this cave interior is. It might give you a lead on where Erin is, too, or at least it might help you figure out what that weird voice-like noise was, and where that was coming from.
You follow the river by hopping along next to it, keeping your eyes peeled for anything of importance or of interest while you do. The area is large enough where you feel like you could easily see Erin, or any other person or creature since it’s surprisingly well-lit for being a dark, dingy cave.
‘This river looks pretty intense,’ you think, sparing a few glances at it.
It’s not running at a speed where you think you’d be in utter danger if you somehow got swept up into it, that much you can tell from a few glimpses. But, that aside, you also can tell the river is strong enough that it wouldn’t be easy to swim out of. Swimming in it would be hard, and you don’t know if there are jagged rocks waiting at any given point, nor how deep the river is.
‘Best not to test my luck with that,’ you muse. ‘I don’t know if kangaroos can swim well in running water like that. I mean, I guess they could do fine if it wasn’t rushing super fast, but, could I manage it?’
You don’t want to find out.
For a while, hopping toward the direction the river is coming from doesn’t give you any clues or any ideas as to where your missing kangaroo companion is.
Beyond the ledge and the tunnel you decided not to take, you don’t see any other pathways to check, and for a time, it’s just you hopping forward, with an open cave room and the river. But, you gradually see in the distance that there is some sort of larger ‘maw’ in the cave wall that the river is coming from, and as you near it - you don’t speed up, either, oh no, you stay at the same even pace of movement the entire time for your own safety - you soon see that that river is coming from a waterfall.
Within the ‘maw,’ the opening of the cave wall is another room in the cave, and a few feet into this is a massive ledge that the river is spewing down from into a waterfall. You get as far into it as you can until you come to a halt, and you take a moment to see that… you don’t know if you can get UP there, however.
‘Oh no,’ you think. You furrow your furry brow and grumble. ‘You mean I came all this way and there’s no method for me to get up? Did I seriously just waste my time going down this path for nothing? No, no, come on. That can’t be it.’
You refuse to accept defeat like this, not when you’ve gone through all this.
‘What was it she said to me about jumping?’ you think.
You recall her advice, and, since you have little other choice right now - besides going back, and you don’t feel like doing that right now - you decide to give it a shot. You turn and hop back a few feet, then spin back so you’re facing the direction of the waterfall. Despite the fact there’s enough room for you to leap upward toward the top of the waterfall, you remind yourself it might be steep, or maybe it’ll have no room for you to stand on, and so on.
You sigh. ‘Doesn’t matter. I’ve got to try.’
And so you brace yourself internally, take in a few slow breaths that you exhale as slowly, and then you shoot forward, jumping quick and bringing your legs down more and more with each leap, until you get to the spot where you know you have to jump if you want to make it high enough.
You bring your weight down to the fullest and bend your knees, pulling all your strength into your legs and lower back, and with one, massive burst of energy, you leap upwards, jumping as high as you can as strong as you can.
Your jump height proves to be impressively high - you rocket upward, high enough and swift enough that you leap almost to the full height and above of the waterfall. Almost. Unfortunately, while you manage to leap extremely high up with your jump, you end up not quite reaching the top of the waterfall, in that, your upper chest collides with the rock surface the waterfall is cascading down from and your hands end up grabbing onto a portion of the upper ground.
You grunt as the wind escapes your lips, and though the collision wasn’t TOO bad, you have to work to keep your hands where they are. And then they start to slip - you don’t have a great enough grip to pull yourself upright with upper body strength alone, and you start to panic.
‘Shit, shit, shit,’ you think.
You end up pressing your large feet onto the side of the rocky surface and you press in as hard as you can do use it as a footing. It takes a moment, by which point your hands have slid almost off the top entirely, but, thankfully, you’re able to pin yourself in place just barely.
‘Okay, bad idea, bad idea!’ you think. Your mind is racing.
Your heart is pounding like crazy. You feel warm, definitely warm enough that you’d probably be sweating a little if you weren’t covered in fur, but you exhale a sharp breath and use your legs to push yourself up. The shove gives you an extended boost in height, and you start to clamor forward with your bare hands.
It’s then you notice that - or rather, remember that - you’re a kangaroo. That means you have claws.
You suddenly think about this fact and wonder how you can tap into this since you weren’t even aware you would have claws. Somehow, it’s like flipping a switch, and you feel your fingertips extend just enough into points. Claws.
‘Oh hell yes,’ you think.
You promptly use your claws to pierce through the softer part of the ground, and with your hands now pressing into the ground for a better anchoring, you use your upper body and lower body in tandem to climb up and over the ledge. You roll onto your side and let yourself flop there, your chest heaving.
You take a moment to collect yourself, and then, you start sit upright. Your vision adjusts to the dimmer lack of light where you are, and you turn toward the direction you’d been going - it’s a darker path, yet it looks much like the one you’d been following the whole time. Except, however, you spot something in the distance - something that looks like an odd shape, though it’s dark and hard to see.
Then, you hear a noise coming from the same direction - a loud, almost groaning noise that echoes down to where you are. It sounds like a person.
You stand up and start to hop onward, following the same path until you get to the opening where you saw the weird shape - and there, when you reach it, you finally see Erin. She’s on a ledge a few feet ahead and above you, lying down. She seems awake, but, she’s not doing much beyond lying there.
You feel relief at finding her. Yet alongside the relief, you also glance around and start to think of how to proceed. Now you need to decide what to do - call out to her? Jump to her? Or find a way around to where she’s at?
Written by Hollowpage on 16 September 2020
“Erin!” you say.
She stirs and turns so she’s looking toward you. She seems genuinely startled to see you there, although she recovers from that quick enough.
“Bloody hell,” Erin says. “Am I ever glad to see you, mate.”
You can tell that getting up to her isn’t going to be too big of an issue, since she’s not as high up as you just got done jumping to climb over the waterfall. However, you then look down, and realize the problem with that idea: there’s a chasm between the two of you that you didn’t even notice until now.
The chasm seems to dip down into blackness, another abyss, and you peer at the river you saw to find it’s coming at you from the left, leading up and up and up more into the innards of the cave. You don’t know how far up it goes, but you decide not to dwell on that for the time being. You turn back to Erin.
“How the hell did you get over there?” you ask. In fact, you frown and realize the other problem. “How did you even GET down here in the first place?!”
Erin smiles sheepishly at you. “Well, erm, funny story, that…”
You stare at her blankly.
She sighs. “Look, I’d love for you to chew my arse out, but I’m in a bit of a nasty predicament right now. I took a bad fall and twisted my right ankle. Hurts like a damn bitch, lemme tell you, mate, and I don’t think I can put much weight on it right now. Otherwise, I’d be moving and not chilling up here on this ledge.”
“And… how did you get on the ledge?” you ask.
“I was running from the bloody dingo, as you were,” Erin says, and she sits up very slowly, grimacing as she does. She doesn’t move her legs. “I ended up at that spot you saw above, yeah? The one where it had a weird dip that went down?”
You blink a few times. “Tell me you didn’t try to go down that…”
“Oh, hell no,” Erin says. She scoffs. “I ain’t the smartest sheila around, that’s for bloody sure, but I ain’t a fuckwit, either.” She shakes her head. “I took the path that winded down, at least until I got out, and then… well.” Her features fall, as do her shoulders. “I guess I got cocky. Thought since I was lower that I could see how deep it went, since, y’know, I figured I’d just find a way out of the cave until things were safe. Well. Turns out, I misjudged my jump.”
She grumbled. “Took a right tumble down the incline, fell through the hole, and ended up wedged in this really cramped space. Managed to get out, without any injury, but then I slipped on a wet rock and tumbled AGAIN. Smacked my poor ankle on my way crashing down the little path there,” she points to her right, “and came to a halt here. Been here ever since, resting.”
You blink again, and you can imagine yourself meeting with that same fate had you been careless in your choices. Fortunately, you weren’t, but now…
“Okay, well, how am I supposed to get to you?” you ask, gesturing from yourself to Erin. “You’re a little too far and there’s a chasm I don’t want to test right between us, which I’m sure you can see…”
She chuckles. “Aye, and I’d rather you not die saving my sorry ass, thanks.”
You look to your right. There’s no ledges, no trails, nothing but cave wall.
Meaning, you either chance a leap across the chasm to get to Erin, or, you go to the left and follow the river. Then again, you consider that maybe there’s something below… you lean forward a tad and look down, and though it’s primarily a massive chasm with nothing beyond blackness, you DO see something to your left, up a ways: a ledge jutting out that you think you could land on, and then use to climb up.
‘Oof,’ you think. ‘Do I really want to try climbing, though…? Not… not really.’
“Look, honestly, I should be fine in a few hours,” Erin says. She shakes her head. “I don’t know HOW you managed to come…” Then she pauses, and her eyes go wide. “Wait a damn minute. How the hell did you escape the dingo? I knew that bugger was right on my tail, so how did you even avoid them?”
“Oh, um, I didn’t,” you say.
“I ran into her when I was on my way to try and find you,” you admit, and you rub the back of your furry neck. “Turns out it’s a person like us, and, well, she did try to eat me. A few times.” You shrug. “I don’t want to make myself out to be some kind of badass, because I know I’m not. I just used these big feet of ours to kick her a few times until she stopped trying to eat me.”
“Holy shit,” Erin says. She’s astonished. “And then… then what? Did you…?”
“I talked with her,” you say. You mull over how much you want to reveal, then decide there’s no point in hiding anything. “Turns out she’s an old friend of yours. Someone named Maggie?”
Erin’s eyes go even wider. “Maggie…?”
Erin seems taken aback and there’s a look of pain that flashes across her face. She mutters something under her breath you don’t catch and runs a hand through the mix of fur and hair on the top of her head.
“I convinced her I didn’t want to be enemies with her,” you say. “She ended up going off on her own, but, I did offer for her to tag along with us when I found you. She wasn’t sure about it, so, here I am now. Definitely…” You swallow the lump in your throat. “Definitely not my idea of a fun adventure, getting lost in a dark, deep cave. Glad I managed to find you, at least.”
“I just… can’t believe it,” Erin says. She lets out a quiet breath. “I can’t believe Maggie was the one chasing us, let alone that you talked to her and all that shite. I mean, piss, I’d be GLAD to see her at this rate given my ankle.”
She goes silent for a moment, then looks back at you.
“I dunno what she told you,” Erin says. “But that’s not important right now. I don’t want you getting yourself hurt or worse for my sake, mate. Just turn and go back the way you came from, okay? I’ll find a way outta here when my ankle has finished not being sprained. Frankly, it’s the least I deserve for being a dinkum dumbass.”
“I kind of… can’t go back that way,” you say. “If I did, I’d probably hurt myself.”
She stares at you, clearly wondering what that means.
“I’ll find a way to get over to you so I can help,” you say. “There’s a ledge down there that I can maybe get to if I time my jumps right. Might be able to land on it and then climb up to get to where you are.” You glance left. “Or I can follow the river and see where it leads. I’m sure it’ll open up at some point if there’s a path that goes to your ledge.”
“Don’t jump,” Erin says. “And don’t try anything stupid, please.”
You nod, and start to think. Stupid or not, one may be fast enough to getting to her - it just falls down to how much you’re willing to risk. You ponder your choices… where will you go next to get to where Erin is?
Written by Hollowpage on 17 September 2020
You end up deciding, after some mental weighing of your options, that the best course of action would be being smart and not jumping across the gap to try and climb up to where Erin is. So, you opt for following the river instead.
“I’m gonna follow the river and see where it leads,” you say, gesturing to your left. “Will you be okay over there while I figure out how to get there?”
Erin says. “I told you not to worry about me, mate.”
“I know, I know, but I don’t mind,” you say.
She sighs. “Alright, fine. Just be careful and don’t do anything dumb like me, and I’ll be happy. But yeah, I’ll wait here. Ledge is stable enough that it won’t collapse on me or anything, so, that’s definitely a good note.”
With that, you nod and start to hop down the path, following the river more.
The path the river is coming from slowly arcs up, so you end up hopping up a relatively slight incline that goes higher with each passing moment - nothing too extraordinary or troublesome, fortunately, but it seems to keep going on for a good while. You follow without stopping, though, and you wonder how this will pan out if you can find a way to get over to Erin.
You’ve never sprained your leg or ankle before, never broken anything severe, either, but you knew someone that ended up in a similar predicament. You know you’ll have to help support her to walk back, but, the one downside that comes to mind is: you have no clue how exactly you’ll GET back to the top of the cave where you both came from.
There isn’t exactly a way for you to get down the waterfall without climbing, and when you have Erin in tow, with a hurt ankle, that doesn’t leave you many options in that regard, either.
‘Guess we’ll figure it out when we get there,’ you think. You have no choice.
You push on, and up, and after a few minutes of going up the steady incline, the path comes to another opening, wherein the river winds to the left more. Fortunately, you see that there is now a place where you can veer back to the direction Erin is located: across from you is a small gap, yet across said gap is another area of the cave that seems to be heading up more. You swear you can actually see some vague hint of where you came from way back when.
‘Huh,’ you think. ‘So this is where the abyss leads to? But I doubt we can climb back up, and I doubt we can exactly hop up it, either.’
You shake his off and focus on what’s directly in front of you - the gap that leads to a jutting out portion of the cave wall that goes to where Erin is.
You suck in a few slow breaths, then let them out, as you begin to brace yourself. Even if the gap isn’t super large, it’s still a nerve wracking experience, and you need a moment to build up your courage. And from there, you start to move. You pick up speed and strength once more while you hop toward the edge of where you can jump from, and with one great leap, you jump with your pent up might and fly through the air.
Your jump is a strong one, and you end up overshooting it, but, you don’t crash into the wall. Fortunately, you land just inches from smacking into it, enough that your hands shoot out and take a slight bit of impact in exchange for making sure you don’t crash.
You wince from the impact on your palms and shake them off, letting the stinging pain subside. When it does, you resume your interest on getting to where Erin is located, and thus, you begin to move once more, hopping down this path.
The ledge you find yourself on is the opposite of the path you followed the river, in that it slowly goes downward rather than upward - which makes sense since, you know, logic and all that.
It takes a few minutes for you to hop down the smaller path, but, when you do, you spot Erin still where you’d left her, chilling on the ground. She sees you and waves you over, and you make it to her rather shortly after, at which point you stop and eye her. Her ankle does look swollen and bruised, for sure.
“How did you get over here exactly?” Erin asks.
“Oh, well.” You fumble for a moment. “I kept going down the single path instead of trying to go down that dip like you mentioned. It led me deeper and deeper into the cave until I found the river,” you point across to the running water, “so I followed that and discovered it turned into a waterfall right over there. Unfortunately, there, um, wasn’t a way for me to get over the waterfall easily, so I sort of…”
“You jumped it, didn’t you?” Erin asks.
You nod, a little sheepish, but it’s the truth.
Erin snickers. “Bloody hell, you’re a gutsy one. How did you even make it over in one swoop?”
“I didn’t,” you admit. “I almost fell right back down, but discovered we have claws at the best possible opportunity. I used those and my legs to clamor onto the ledge so I didn’t have to worry about falling and breaking something.”
“Uh, yeah, you’re damn lucky,” Erin says. She shakes her head. “Had you fallen and knocked yourself out, or worse, then, shite, I dunno if I’d have ever figured out what happened to you. Guess it’s piss in the wind for the time being.”
You offer your hand to her. She accepts it, and you help her up slowly, though she winces and grunts due to her obvious leg injury. It takes a few minutes for her to pick herself upright, but when she does, she puts her weight onto her good foot and lets the other one dangle slightly over the ground. You help hold her up with your shoulder and both hands, just to be safe.
“Cripes, this stinks,” Erin says, and she looks exasperated. “I hate getting into nasty scenarios where I’m forced to rely on someone besides myself.”
You furrow your brow. “Well…”
Erin pauses. “Shite, sorry. Don’t mean it like that. No offense to you, mate. I really appreciate you coming to my rescue a lot, so thank you, truly. I just prefer to do things my own way is all.” She grunts, then nods along. “Alright, well, guess it’s time for us to figure out what to do next.”
“Yeah,” you say. “That’s, uh, something I considered. Not sure what way we can go since there’s following the river again,” you nod to the side toward the ledge you were at not long ago, “or we can follow the river further in and hope for a miracle. Or, I guess, we can try to climb up the steeper portion you fell down, but I’m not entirely sure that would work out well.”
“We might be able to make it work,” Erin offers. “Look, I’ve got a bum leg for the moment, sure, but I’m not helpless.” She smirks. “Either of the three options is fine by me, mate. You let me know which you think would be best.”
“Are you sure?” you ask.
“Positive,” Erin replies. “What do you want to do?”
You frown and start to consider - what path do you try to take now?
Written by Hollowpage on 18 September 2020
You mull over your choices for a short pause, and then decide what to do.
“I don’t think we should chance the waterfall with your leg,” you say. “And frankly, I don’t think I’d be lucky if I tried testing the waterfall a second time. I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up falling and breaking something worse.”
“Right, right, fair,” Erin says.
“And that incline you fell down? I don’t think kangaroos are built to hop up steep slopes like that, let alone steep slopes made of rocks.” You grimace. “Ten to one, we’ll slip and tumble down, or I dunno, the rocks would give way and we’d get swallowed up by some kind of rockslide. So unless you’re really aiming to be insane, I think our best bet is to follow the river.”
Erin laughs. “You got a good head on your shoulders, mate. Better than my own, at least with this whole mess. I’m down for trying it, either way.”
You nod, and, then comes the first hurdle: getting back up to where you were.
“Um, so,” you say, looking up the ledge, then back to Erin. “Can kangaroos, you know, walk… normally?”
“If we really try, aye, we can,” Erin says. She smiles at you. “And so you know, I don’t think shouldering my weight’s gonna make a difference. All I ask is you stay ahead of me and keep an eye out for any trouble, right? I’ll limp behind you until we get to the top, and we’ll figure things out from there.”
“Are you sure?” you ask.
She nods. “I’m a stubborn sheila, mate. Gonna have to accept I won’t take help unless I absolutely need it. Again, I appreciate it, but I can do it on my own.”
You don’t exactly like the idea, of course, but you don’t want to argue over the point with Erin. So you do as she suggests: you take the lead and start to trek back up the way you just came, but you hop incredibly slowly, enough that you don’t get too far ahead of her. You pause to peer over your shoulder and see, yes, Erin is walking like a normal human. Or, limping like a normal human.
Part of her doing this looks rather comical given the way kangaroos tend to move, seeing some tall, bulky kangaroo limping along on one big foot while the other is barely moving or touching the ground. But her grunting and wincing are audible enough that it saps away the sense of humor, at least for you.
‘Stubborn people are something else,’ you think, shaking your head.
“Aw, piss off, don’t give me that head shake,” Erin mutters.
What follows is the slowest ascent you think you’ve ever taken part in, in any stretch of the phrase. You move a tiny bit at a time up via an equally tiny hop, pause to let Erin take a few limping half-steps, and then hop a bit again. Rinse and repeat, and repeat, and repeat, and time slogs on by.
But you remain silent and don’t complain about it, and simply keep an eye on Erin as the two of you make your way upward. It’s a steady, snail-paced process for sure, yet it works, despite the obvious discomfort Erin is in limping up the way she is.
“You sure you don’t want a hand?” you ask.
“Positive,” Erin says through her teeth. “Besides,” she grunts, “you’re a female roo, mate. I’m a male. I’m heavier and bulkier than you, so it wouldn’t be easy for you to help push me along. Sorry,” she grunts again and gasps, “ah, fuck this isn’t pleasant.”
You sigh but don’t belabor the point.
She isn’t the worst offender of being the most hardheaded person you’ve ever met before, but, she’s definitely up there, you feel. Still, you respect her tenacity, even if you have to resist the urge to ignore her protests and just help her anyways. You know better and keep soldiering on, the same way she does.
Time passes in a crawl until you manage to get to the top portion where you spot the gap between where you both are and where you need to be to get to the river. Now your mind races and you begin to wonder how the hell you’ll get Erin across when her leg is injured. You ponder this by glancing around, only to halt when you turn back toward Erin to see her trudging along after you.
She’s a few feet below you, doing her best at moving without hurting herself further. You wait for her, and let her make her way up the path. She’s breathing heavily and looking pretty in pain, yet you stay silent out of respect, and watch.
“Holy shite,” she mutters.
It takes another minute for her to get to the spot where she can finally step over onto flat ground, and when she does, she nearly collapses. You reach out your hands to help steady her, and she nods to you in thanks for that.
“Mind if I sit for a moment?” Erin asks.
“Not at all,” you say.
She limps over and flops down on the chunk of rock that points up to the even steeper incline, and she lets out a loud, exasperated breath. You can’t help but chuckle while she collects herself, and now that she’s here with you, you take a moment to again scan the surrounding area for any sort of method to help you both get across safely.
“Oh, you have gotta be pissing on my tits,” Erin says after a short silence.
You blink several times at such a humorous and random phrase, then turn to see her eyeing not you but past you at the gap, a look of frustration now adorning her face.
“You jumped that, I take it?” Erin asks.
“Yeah,” you say. “Overshot the jump, but, still made it safely. Nowhere near as taxing as trying to jump and then speed climb up the waterfall ledge.”
“Right, that’s dandy and all,” Erin says. “But how the fuck are we both gonna get across the gap? I can’t jump, ‘cause if I try, I’m probably gonna hurt myself even worse. Or miss and fall to my death.” She shrugs. “Might honestly have to wait for my ankle to recover to make this work, mate. I’m not seeing an out here.”
“No, no, give me a moment,” you say.
You scan the area again, and after a bit of uncertainty, you notice that you do, in fact, have a few options. Two different things present themselves to you, and you swear you’ve been thrown into a video game - now you need to figure out which of those two ideas will work the best in helping Erin across.
“I’ve got two ideas,” you say.
Erin eyes you. “I’m listening…?”
You point to the left. “You see that flat bit of rock sticking up from the mound over there? I think if I time a kick right, I might be able to kick it off…” You look up, then double check from a distance. “If I can angle the kick, that flat rock should land RIGHT over the gap for you to get across.”
“Or,” you say, and you point to the right, “see that? I’m ninety percent sure that’s a boulder right there, just chilling on a ledge with enough space I think I can actually kick it down and roll it over to fill the gap.” You nod as you say this. “Either one should be big enough to fill up the hole for you.”
Erin continues to stare. “Um. You do realize this is real life, right? And not a video game where that kinda shit would work?”
You stare back at her. “We are talking to one another while wearing kangaroo costumes stuck to our bodies. Yours is male. Mine is female.”
She blinks, then nods. “Fair enough.”
You smile, then look from one option to the next. Which will you pick?
Written by Hollowpage on 19 September 2020
Time ticks by, and you feel yourself growing warm from sweat, probably due to the nerves bubbling in the pit of your pouch-covered stomach. You need to choose what to do, you know this, but you struggle to decide for a good moment until, with a quiet sigh, you make your choice.
You don’t want to keep hopping back and forth to moisten the ground to move the giant slab when there’s a real possibility that whatever is making noise might be some sort of wild animal, or, someone else that could potentially try to harm you. Last thing you want is to be too busy or exhausted from all the frequent motion to defend yourself or get away.
‘I got lucky handling the dingo,’ you muse. A few kicks that you’d never done before proved to be successful in preventing you from becoming food, but, you know full well it was more good fortune than any actual skill on your part.
You glance back toward Erin for a moment. She’s still where you left her, gingerly keeping her wounded leg up, as she stares at you, concerned.
“What are you planning?” she asks.
“I think I’m going to investigate,” you respond.
She frowns. “Are you mad? Mate, we’ve got no fucking clue what else could be lurking in this stinking cave. I get that you wanna be cautious, sure, but just get your sorry arse over here and we wait it out, okay?”
You glanced back toward the direction you hear the noise. It’s still there, still faint, but it’s not going away, you can tell. While you don’t blame Erin for wanting to be careful (and you know it’s definitely a sensible choice), there is a tiny glimmer that maybe what’s making the noise isn’t any trouble at all.
“I want to be sure, just in case,” you say. You gesture to your ‘project.’ “This isn’t exactly getting us anywhere, either, and if I keep at it, then there’s a good chance I’ll wear myself down. And if whatever that noise is happens to be something big or hungry or dangerous for us…”
You trail off and look at Erin, knowing it gets your point across.
She deflates slightly, clearly annoyed by the fact that, while your idea may not be the smartest one around, there is some sense to it. She grumbles some choice words under her breath and shakes her head. It’s clear she isn’t happy, but, she isn’t putting up a vocal fight about you wanting to investigate.
“Just don’t do anything TOO stupid,” Erin remarks dryly. She scowls. “Only one that needs to do stupid shit today is me, and I’ve filled that quota, mate.”
You smile a bit, nod, then turn back toward the noise.
You suck in a deep breath. “If I don’t come back, then…”
“Then I’ll catch you on the flipside,” Erin replies.
Simple as that.
You started to hop toward the path that leads down to where the river you followed turns into a waterfall. You move at as slow a pace as a humanoid kangaroo can move, mostly because you don’t want to overshoot your stamina; on the off chance the source of the noise is a predator, hopping up at a diagonal angle to get away isn’t going to be simple, so, the more energy you’ve got conserved, the better.
Or at least, that’s the logic you’ve got bubbling about in your head. Today has been a rush of excitement and craziness molded into a ball of fantastical happenings you never in your wildest dreams expected you’d be living. But here you are, and you recognize logic may not be the most helpful thing.
‘God, I can’t imagine telling anyone about this,’ you think as you trek downwards. ‘Who the hell would believe me? No one. People would think I was busy doing hardcore drugs or that I had one heck of a fever dream.’
The noise you hear grows louder as you get lower and lower, toward the turn where the river becomes a waterfall. And as you approach, you become aware that it is definitely movement, like feet or claws trudging heavily on the stone, although because of the echoing quality of the noise, you don’t know exactly how accurate your mental image is.
‘Please don’t let it be anything big and hungry,’ you think.
When at last you make it to the bend where the river curves, you halt and listen. You hear the noise over the rushing sound of the waterfall - it sounds like it’s coming from the chamber itself, and you can make out what sounds like grunting, possibly, along with it.
‘It sounds like…’ You pause and do your best to listen.
It’s difficult to tell, exactly, but it sounds like someone is trying to climb something and having a heck of a time doing it. If it was someone plodding around heavily, then you doubt that would be worthy of all the noise.
Since you don’t have much else in terms of choices, after you let your heartbeat calm itself, you carefully inch toward the edge of the waterfall.
Your hopping isn’t very audible thanks to the water rushing beside you, but, at the same time, you’ve only met a kangaroo person and a dingo person in this crazy wilderness - you have no clue what else you could run into, whatever kinds of costumes there were for folks that have ended up in that room that you did. You aren’t going to rush into this, not when your life is on the line.
When you reach the edge of the waterfall, you peer out into the cavern.
Nothing about the cavern has changed from when you were last there. No new surprises that you can spot, which is definitely a good thing in your book. But then, after a moment of scanning the cavern, you spot the source of the movement and all the noise you’ve been hearing up until this point.
Your eyes widen in surprise. It’s Maggie.
She’s about a few yards away from the waterfall, far enough that she probably can’t see you - especially since she isn’t looking your way, either. She seems to be rummaging about the cavern, moving on all fours and sniffing, while making plenty of noise with how heavy her footsteps are.
For a moment, you are admittedly amused; you, in a kangaroo body with big feet that hops around to move, made barely any sound beyond the impact of your feet hitting the ground each time you hopped. Yet this woman, transformed into a buff dingo that, while muscular, is still fairly wiry in build, is plodding around like an elephant and making just as much noise.
‘What the heck is she doing?’ you wonder. You can’t tell due to the angle you’re at, but you can tell she’s in the midst of SOMETHING.
At least now you know who the noise is coming from - although you aren’t entirely sure it’s a good thing she’s the source. You consider that maybe she’s changed her mind about hunting you and Erin down, and that maybe she’s still hungry, so, she could be searching for either of you.
‘If she is, then, she isn’t doing a great job at it…’ you muse.
Still. There’s a reason she’s down here, and, you hesitate to assume the reason is a good one. While she could help you out (assuming she’d be open to the idea, given the past she and Erin have), you aren’t sure you want to put trust in someone that DID try to honestly end your life not long ago.
‘Do I go down and ask her?’ you wonder. ‘Or do I leave her be?’
You glance back toward the path, then down, knowing it’ll involve having to scale the stupid waterfall again. Your lips purse - which do you do now?
Written by Hollowpage on 21 September 2020
You ponder your choice for a long few breaths, since you aren’t in a rush exactly to somehow drop back down to the ground to see Maggie. She may well be on the search for you or Erin for food, or for her own amusement, and the last thing you want is to make the mistake of thinking she’s going to be open to helping you out.
Still, after a moment of thinking it over, you decide to give her the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
You seemed to part on relatively decent terms (decent being the operative word, you know, but beggars can’t be choosers in this case), and perhaps she’s down here for a different reason. Maybe you can help her in exchange for her helping you rescue Erin? It’s certainly worth a shot, you figure.
‘Please don’t let this be my downfall…’ you think, groaning to yourself.
You turn your gaze down to the cascading waterfall. Now comes the fun part, figuring out how to get down… and then having to get back up again.
You wrack your brain for how to get down without hurting yourself; you’re not about to jump, and, you don’t trust trying to ride the waterfall, either, since the waters might just swallow you whole, and then what would you do? You decide after a bit of musing that maybe sliding down the surface might work out…
‘I mean, it might not,’ you muse. ‘But with these claws… maybe…’
You extend your claws out as much as they’ll go, suck in a slow and steady breath, and, then you carefully sit down on the ground, right at the ledge. Once you’re down, you turn your body and begin to lower yourself over the ledge, as slowly and cautiously as you can manage. The surface of the stone is a little slippery thanks to the waterfall, but nothing too difficult to keep a grip on.
Of course, when you begin to angle yourself down enough, gravity takes over, and you start to feel yourself sliding down. You let yourself go lower, then try to climb downwards with your claws as the only things keeping you from falling.
It isn’t an easy process, not at all.
It takes a good moment for you to awkwardly trek down, and you end up slipping midway through - fortunately, your claws are able to remain dug into the rocky surface just enough that they keep you from hurtling down too fast.
You swallow the lump in your throat as you shimmy down to the ground level, and by then, your grip is too weak; you fortunately manage to catch yourself, your big feet hitting the ground fairly hard, but, because of their size, they absorb the impact without too much trouble. Your feet vibrate from the stinging pain this gives you. You wince, and lean your back against the damp rock.
You take a moment to let your feet stop throbbing from the impact.
‘Oof, that smarts,’ you think, grumbling inwardly.
Still, whether it’s the costume or the natural kangaroo feet, the throbbing doesn’t last for super long. When it wears off, you push yourself off the stone and started to hop toward Maggie, who is still further away, doing whatever the heck she’s doing.
She notices you fairly quickly by this point, though.
Whether it’s your scent or the noise you’re making, she pauses and whips her head around as you approach. You slow your approach, halting a few feet from the dingo woman. Maggie seems surprised to see you, but, not for long.
“Well, ain’t this a fun reunion,” she mutters. “The hell are you still doing here?”
“I was about to ask you the same question,” you reply with a shrug.
She frowns, but, gives a sigh. “Well, after I found myself some sustenance,” she pats her belly with one hand to emphasize this point, and you try not to think about WHAT she ate, “I got bored. So bored that I decided I’d, I dunno, venture back into this stinky cave to see if there was anything of interest.”
You blink. “Anything of… interest?”
There’s a beat of silence.
Maggie scowls. “Look, I’ve heard that there’s ‘goodies’ spread about these weird rooms we get thrown into. Dunno what it means exactly, ‘cause I’ve only heard it mentioned from a few folks I’ve run into during my past visits here, but, they made it sound like there was some kind of, I guess, treasure about.”
You blink again, confused. “Treasure? Wait, wait, hold on.” You hold your hands up. “I thought the door we go through when we get the costume on is, like, the actual place. Like, this is genuinely somewhere in Australia.”
Maggie’s scowl turns into more of a general frown. “I… don’t know.”
“Is… is it not?”
She gives an earnest shrug. “To be completely honest, roo, I’ve got no fucking clue if this is actually Australia or some weird Narnia-esque alternate universe. I ain’t the kinda gal that wastes time thinking about that sorta shite, either. Tried to a lot of times already, and it always ends up hurting my damn head.”
She rubs the back of her neck.
“From what I understand, and don’t quote me on it, right,” she gives you a pointed look, “is that this isn’t actually Australia, but, some sort of dimension or such. It’s big as balls, filled with the typical flora and fauna you’d be seeing if you lived in or near the Outback, but, a lot of this shite is fabricated.”
Maggie sweeps a hand around. “You think there’s an actual cave like this, with all these random bends and turns? Fuck me, if there is, I’ve sure as hell never heard of one. It’s like a video game or something, and we’re all the players, scattered about to do as we please. Except we’re actually IN the video game.”
“Like a simulation?” you ask.
This is making YOUR head hurt, too, to think about. It’s so much to take in, and you realize the more you try to rely on logic, the harder it becomes to understand. There doesn’t seem to be any full fleshed out logic for you to work with. It’s too surreal, too bizarre, and yet, it’s real. Real world, real sensations, real everything, from what you’ve seen and experienced already.
You decide not to dwell on it, for your own sanity’s sake. “Well, whatever the case is…”
“What do you want?” Maggie asks. She gives a knowing, if slightly disgruntled, look. “I don’t get why you’re still here. Figured you and Erin would’ve hopped your arses outta this nasty hole ages ago.”
“Well, about that…”
Maggie’s expression shifts. Her frown returns.
“What’s happened?” she asks, as if she knows something is wrong.
You explain what happened, quickly, and rundown how you trekked lower and lower to this point, before finding Erin over the waterfall. You then explain that she’s hurt, and, you’re trying to get a slab across to help her get over it so the two of you can leave together, rather than just leaving her there to heal.
Maggie, by the time you finish, looks irritated. “That daft, stupid bimbo…”
She grits her teeth and growls.
“I suppose you want me to help you, eh?” Maggie asks. “That’s why you came over here, to come beg me for assistance? Even though I made it clear that I was planning on eating your dumb ass before?”
You shrug. “Yeah, basically.”
She stares at you with a relatively blank expression. You don’t know if she’ll agree or not, but, you think if you ask her in full that perhaps she’ll be open to it? Or you can offer to help her first, and then see if she’d be willing in exchange for giving her your help. Erin should be okay for a brief bit of time, you imagine, depending on if Maggie even desires your help. Or, you can even just decide against it and go back without asking her… You’ve got a few options to pick from, regardless.
Written by Hollowpage on 23 September 2020
You mull over your words for a moment, if only to decide what to ask, and how to best ask it, before you look at Maggie. She seems annoyed and upset at the same time, although her expression is a bit hard to read - she might be upset at you, but, you wonder if maybe she’s worried about her former friend.
‘Old friendships die hard sometimes,’ you think. You know from experience.
But, you push that aside, as you’ve decided.
“I don’t know anything about any hidden treasures or whatever,” you say, and that much is true, “but, I’ll help you look for them if you want a hand. But, yeah, you’re not wrong. I could use help getting this giant slab over to the gap, because I frankly don’t think I’ve got the strength to do it alone.”
Maggie folds her arms. She doesn’t speak at first.
“Would you be willing to help us?” you ask. “In exchange, I’ll help you?”
Maggie grumbles. Despite the fact she seems like she wants to decline your offer, after a moment of relative silence, her shoulders deflate. She lets out a breath and groans.
“Dammit,” she mutters. “Look. Fine.” She shakes her head. “Can’t believe this. Actually, no, I CAN believe it, given all the shite I’ve been through in this world.” She clicks her teeth. “I don’t expect you to help me in return, kangaroo, but, while I may hate admitting it, I don’t want to just abandon that daft tool to her misfortune. Where is she again? Over the waterfall?”
“Yes,” you say.
You turn and start to hop back toward it, and Maggie follows. When you get to the spot where the waterfall is billowing down, you turn back and motion.
“I, uh, had a hard time scaling this sucker, but, I managed to,” you admit. You give a shrug. “We’d have to climb it and then go up a bit. There’s a path that direction, and once you get to the top of it, that’s where Erin is.”
Maggie takes one long look at the waterfall, then back at you. She gives you the most bemused stare you think you’ve ever seen.
“Are you bloody insane?” Maggie asks.
“Do you actually expect me to jump over this sucker?” She scowls again and points to your feet. “I don’t have superhuman leg powers like you clearly do, in case you’ve forgotten the fact dingoes ain’t built for that kinda shite.”
You nod along to this, since you were aware. “I mean, yeah, that’s true.” You glance from Maggie to the waterfall, then back to her and frown. “But I don’t know how else we’d get over the waterfall. The only other path I know of that could take us to Erin is if we backtrack and basically wrap around. Even then, I don’t know how to do that safely, so…”
“So we need to figure out a plan, then,” Maggie replies.
She naturally seems irked by all this, but it isn’t your fault there’s not some easier method of getting up the waterfall. You suppose you could try to jump up again and find… something for her to climb onto or drop down for her to carry?
‘Too bad there’s no spare rope lying about,’ you muse.
For a moment, the two of you stand there in silence, looking and thinking. You’re trying your best to use your kangaroo brain to think of something that’ll get you both up to the top of the waterfall, but anything you DO think of seems either highly unlikely (you consider having Maggie get into your pouch, yet there’s no way she would fit in it given her size), or, it would probably just end up failing miserably (you also consider having Maggie climb onto your shoulders and then jumping, but you admit you don’t know how much she weighs, nor if the extra weight would allow you to jump super high again).
“I’m at a loss,” you admit. You need cheat codes or a guidebook on how to handle all this craziness, but there’s obviously none to be found.
“Well, piss,” Maggie says, and she shakes her head at the waterfall.
She grunts and turns back to you, only now, she has an odd look on her face - it’s the sort of look like she’s discovered an idea that she isn’t entirely sure of.
“What is it?” you ask.
“Might not work, but, there IS one option,” Maggie replies.
“Okay, and that is…?”
You beckon her to continue, since you aren’t exactly a mind reader.
She cracks her knuckles. Instead of answering, she turns and walks up to the rocky wall beside the waterfall, where she stops. At first, you stare in befuddlement, since you don’t know what she’s planning on doing. She suddenly takes a half step back with her left leg, assuming a sort of… combat stance?
‘What in the world?’ you think. ‘Is she going to punch it?’
You get your answer when she brings her left arm back, hand balled into tight fist, and, lo and behold, that is exactly what she does - she lets out a guttural bellow and then thrusts her fist forward and punches the stone… and the impact is so great, a large crater suddenly bursts forth from where she struck.
You gawk at the sight.
Maggie retracts her arm and wriggles her hand around a few times. But there is now a deep hole in the wall left over from where she punched. She turns back to you, smirking.
“Think you can use that as footing, roo?” she asks.
You stare at the crater as your mind races - this woman has, apparently, got superhuman strength going for her thanks to the dingo costume. She may lack leg strength, but, arm strength is obviously a separate subject entirely.
You shake your head in astonishment. “Holy hell.”
“I forgot I had arm strength to work with,” Maggie admits, confirming what you were thinking. She shrugs. “Guess I can use that to help us scale this stinking waterfall, if you want. Or I can give you a good toss up, and you can help me climb my ass up there. Or, I dunno, we can carry a rock to use.”
She gestures behind you, and you glimpse a large, loose-looking stone. It looks fairly big, but, also fairly sturdy - if Maggie has the strength to move it, then, you feel you could both climb onto it and cut the distance between yourselves and the waterfall ledge considerably.
Seeing that she’s capable of punching a hole through solid rock gives you a rush of adrenaline - you imagine it’ll be much easier to move the slab to the gap where Erin is. But, you put that thought on hold, and instead, you settle on deciding what to do next.
“Whatcha wanna do, roo?” Maggie asks. “These muscles of mine haven’t been put to good use for a while now, so I’m itching to make up for lost time. You’re the brainy one here, though. Tell me what you’d prefer we try. I’m game for anything.”
Your mind races. What now?
Written by Hollowpage on 25 September 2020
You muse over the newfound knowledge that Maggie has upper body strength at her disposal, and, you weigh the options presented. While they all seem to have their own merits, you figure that it might be wisest to go with one that seems the least… troublesome for the both of you.
“Maybe we should go with just climbing up,” you offer. “I don’t know how strong you are, but, I imagine it’ll be less strain on your body than hoisting a big rock up and bringing it over here, don’t you think?”
She snorts. “Probably.”
“And I guess the same can be said for, well, you throwing me up there,” you add.
Maggie makes a face. “I could probably lift you and chuck you without much trouble, you know. Not that I’m dying to have your stinky feet in my face while I do.” She smirks for a moment, then, snorts again. “Eh, whatever. Let me punch some holes into this stupid rock and then we can get up the damn thing.”
“Does it hurt?” you ask.
She pauses. “Eh? Oh, nah. Stings for a moment, but then it feels fine.” She clenches and unclenches her hand a few times. “Honestly, before all this insanity ever started, I took Martial Arts for a few years. Got into plenty of scraps when I was a kid, too, so I’m kind of used to punching shite.”
She then resumes her previous stance. You watch on as she does the same thing, lashing her fist out and slamming it into the rocky surface a few inches above the first hole. The same sized crater is the end result, and Maggie, after reeling her arm back to wave her hand a few times, looks quite pleased.
“Gimme a few, I’ll make this work,” Maggie says.
You aren’t going to argue or disagree, so, you stand back and let her do her thing.
Maggie proceeds to gradually climb and punch holes into the rock wall, each time with the same level of immense strength. Every strike leaves behind an impressive crater more than big enough for her - and by extension, your own - feet to slide into, and she started to hoist herself up as she keeps at it.
‘Jeez,’ you think. You’re a little in awe at the sight.
Seeing someone repeatedly punch their way up a waterfall is by far the strangest, and yet, also the coolest, method you’ve ever witnessed a person scale something this big. Maggie doesn’t bat an eye or seem to break a sweat from any of this, because as the minutes tick by, she gradually gets all the way up to the top of the ledge. At that point, she hoists herself up, and then she sits there.
She rubs the knuckles of her left hand and beams down at you. “Holy shit, that was FUN. Goddamn, I haven’t had this much fun in fucking years!”
You shake your head in astonishment, then glimpse over her handiwork. She’s managed to pummel a good chunk of the rocky wall, leaving behind twelve or so different fist-sized craters.
“Nicely done,” you say.
You hop over to the wall and test it out by sticking one foot into the lowest hole. Your foot doesn’t go in all the way despite your initial thought, but, you can stick it into the crater enough to give you a minor footing. Thus, you start to use the fist craters to climb instead of trying to jump the waterfall like before.
A kangaroo climbing up a vertical surface isn’t the easiest thing, but, you manage it - the only downside is that some of the holes are a little smaller, namely on your right hand side. You have to work at it when you notice this.
“Oh, sorry,” Maggie remarks. “My right hand is weaker, so, you know.”
You say nothing and climb, until you get to the top. Maggie startles you by reaching out a hand to help pull you up fully, but, you are grateful for the assistance.
You dust yourself off and nod to her. “Thanks.”
“No sweat,” Maggie says. She’s grinning proudly. “Man, I can’t believe my stupid arse forgot I could do that.” She pauses for a moment to eye you quizzically, then shrugs. “Anyways. Where the hell is that dumb twat?”
“This way,” you reply.
And so you lead Maggie back up the same path as before, trailing up the steepening incline alongside the river. Maggie simply walks behind you normally instead of hopping, but you both get to the top all the same.
Once you do, you hop back to where you last were, and Erin is still there. She’s resting, and by the looks of it, trying to rub her injured ankle. Trying being the operative word; you watch her wince from the pain after a few seconds of gingerly rubbing it, so she ends up stopping her attempt.
“Well ain’t you a sight for sore eyes?” Maggie says loudly. She struts past you and stops near the edge, crossing her arms. “How the hell did you get yourself injured at a time like this, Erin? You were never this reckless before, although I guess you’ve always been kind of a dumbass.”
Erin snaps to attention the instant Maggie speaks. She looks stunned to see Maggie. Her shock lasts for a long moment, until she shakes it off, and instead, she fixes a glare at Maggie.
“Who the fuck do you think you are, talking that trash to me, woman?” Erin asks. She looks angrier than you’ve seen her before. “Don’t act all high and mighty with me, Maggie. You’re the last person that should be strutting about like they’re the queen of the bloody universe, that’s for damn sure!”
Maggie snorts. “Oh, sure, sure, I’m the one acting all queenly and shite. Says the twat who took a little tumble and now, boo hoo, she can’t walk right. Or hop right in your case, since you ‘roos can’t fricking walk.” She waves her hand at Erin. “Honestly, seeing you over there, I’m thinking maybe I’ll just leave you to hang the way YOU did to me in the past. How’s that sound, Erin?”
“I sure as shite didn’t ask for your help,” Erin says. “Piss off, would you? I’d rather wait for my ankle to heal than have to rely on you for anything!”
You watch this little spat in silence. You are… torn.
On the one hand, the two are acting rather petty for grown women - which is made all the more hilarious to your eyes given their appearances. It almost makes you crack a smile, because you’ve seen these sorts of arguments before, and it never fails to entertain you, especially when they’re this colorful.
On the other hand, you admit, you can tell there’s still some bad blood between them. There’s an air of disdain and bitterness among both women’s tone of voice, and, you can tell that getting them to resolve their differences isn’t going to be easy, if it’s even possible at all.
‘Not that I’m the one to do that,’ you muse. ‘I’m no mediator…’
Nor do you really like to get embroiled in drama when it doesn’t involve you. Heck, even when it does. But now isn’t the time for this, nor is it the time to go about letting these two growl and snarl at one another.
“Maggie, will you help me?” you ask. “You said you would.”
Maggie grunts and turns back to you. “You said something about a slab?”
You gesture to the large flat rock you were gradually pushing over to the gap.
Maggie walks up to it and stares at it. Her expression is unreadable, although she puts her hands on her hips as the seconds pass. She seems… amused.
Maggie’s eyes flick to you. “You mean you were literally hopping back and forth with water in your pouch… and you dumped it on the this big rock and the ground… just so you can shove it over to that gap easily?”
“More or less,” you admit.
She starts to laugh. “Ho-lee shit, that is fucking hilarious!”
You don’t respond, and let her have her laugh. You know it isn’t the brightest idea to ever exist, but right now, you’re more focused on getting it to where Erin is so you can get OUT of this damned cave. You turn your attention from Maggie to the gap, then back to her, since you know you figure it’s time to decide how to proceed… with or without her help, for that matter.
Written by Hollowpage on 27 September 2020
You watch Maggie - who is still looking thoroughly amused at what you’ve told her, thus, she’s in the midst of trying to quell her laughter - for a long pause, mulling over the next decision to make in all this. That, and, you’re waiting for her to finish her snickering. That takes about two minutes or so.
When she finally relaxes, you decide to speak.
“That was the only thing I could think of doing,” you say. “There wasn’t really anything else for me to use, besides maybe if I’d tried to push that over the gap directly, but, I ran the risk of it just falling through.” You give her a pointed look. “So you can laugh all you want, that’s fine. Just save it for later if you’re actually planning to help us out.”
Maggie sobers up and looks at you, mirth still in her eyes. “Hey, don’t get all pissy about it. I just think it’s a hilarious ‘plan’ of action. I’m just imagining this exasperated kangaroo hopping back and forth to dump water onto a giant, friggin stone slab like it’s going out of style.”
You roll your eyes. “Yeah, yeah. Look, are you going to help?”
She snorts. “Said I wouldn’t, didn’t I?”
“Thank you,” you say.
She waves a hand off. “Whatever.”
“I can go back to what I was doing with the water,” you remark, and you look toward the river. “It’s got plenty of water at its disposal, so, I doubt that would be a huge problem, it’ll just be time consuming since--”
Maggie doesn’t wait for you to finish before she squats down and pushes her hands underneath the giant stone slab. You halt your sentence and gawk as she lets out a low grunt, and, within moments, she is lifting the damn stone slab up. And not lifting it like it was the heaviest thing on the planet, either! She hoists it up and, although clearly struggling, is able to turn her body around toward the gap with it in her arms.
“Holy shit,” Erin says from where she’s perched.
Maggie plods over to the gap with big, heavy steps, grunting and groaning the whole time. Yet she doesn’t drop the slab, nor does she seem to be hurting too much - she carries it across the rest of the distance you would’ve needed ages to get across, and, she comes to a stop in front of the big gap.
With a heavy huff of air escaping her lungs, Maggie drops the giant slab down, perfectly angled the way you knew it needed to go. It lands with a loud, echoing clatter that fills the whole cavern, yet it stays firmly in place.
Maggie grunts and stands upright slowly. She cracks her back, then cracks her neck and her arms. She lets out a few slow breaths and then gestures to it.
“There,” Maggie says. “Your stupid slab is where it needs to be.”
You just keep gawking.
When you snap out of it, you trek over to where she is. She looks haggard, but besides that, she seems fine. Not in any pain, not overly exhausted. She grunts again when you make eye contact, and then she goes to walk it off.
You shake this off. Then, you stop to test the giant slab with one foot. A little pressure does nothing. You move to stand on it fully and hop a few brisk times, to make sure it’ll hold. The slab doesn’t budge at all. It’s unmoving as it teeters over the giant chasm.
You suck in a quiet breath. ‘I can’t believe she did that so easily… jeez.’
With that done, you hop across the stone slab, across to where Erin is. She is still staring in genuine astonishment with her mouth hanging open. It takes until you stop in front of her for her mouth to shut, and she even has to rub her eyes a few times.
“That…” Erin says. “That’s not something you see every day.”
You look over to where Maggie is hovering, then back to Erin, and nod. “I mean, you don’t usually see people wearing animal costumes that turns them into a hybrid of that animal, too, do you?”
Erin chuckles. “Fair enough, mate. Fair enough.”
“Do you want help getting across?” you ask.
“Nah, but thanks,” Erin says. “Go on. I’ll hobble after you like before.”
You shake your head at her stubbornness, but you aren’t really in the mood to argue - you really just want to get this over with so you can all be free from the cave.
You hop back across the slab at the same speed, then stop near where Maggie currently is. She turns her attention toward Erin, and you both watch Erin pick herself up from where she’s resting. Like before, Erin begins to slowly hobble forward, wincing and grimacing the entire time. It’s clear her ankle is going to need more time to heal, but, she’s too stubborn to accept any help.
She staggers across the flat stone - and you watch with baited breath, more so out of nerves than anything - until she makes it over fully. You let out the breath you’d been holding, and Erin limps over to where you’re standing.
She winces, but, smiles at the same time. “See? I made it.”
“You’re something else,” you say.
“Yeah, a raging moron,” Maggie says dryly.
Erin’s eyes flick to her. “Piss off back to the bush, you twat.”
“Nah, I’d rather watch your feeble arse limp for a while longer,” Maggie replies. She smirks. “How do you plan to get back to the top of the cave, Erin? Can’t exactly limp down a waterfall, now can ya? Maybe you’ll have to, gasp, ask for help to do it?”
Erin grumbles, but doesn’t respond.
You, however, realize that… Maggie has a point. Now that you’ve gotten Erin across, the next hurdle is indeed how to get back to the top of the cave - unfortunately, you have no idea.
“She has a point,” you say. “We, uh, kind of need to figure a way down, and, I’m not entirely sure how to do that when you can’t move all that well.”
“I’m sure I can wait it out for a bit,” Erin says. “Once my ankle heals, then--”
“Oh, will you shut the fuck up?” Maggie says. “God, you’re so STUPID.” She growls at Erin. “There’s no ‘waiting’ around, you dipshit. Your ankle might take a goddamn week to mend proper, and by then, you’ll starve to death. Stop being a moron, and have the decency to swallow your pride, woman.”
Erin huffs. “It’s not a question of pride, you asshat. But we ain’t exactly got many options to get outta here otherwise, now do we?”
The two of them continue to bicker and glare at one another, while you tune them out. You turn your attention back to the river, and your mind begins to race. While the two women make their displeasure with one another known, you hop over to where the river is coming from, then follow it back down with your eyes. An idea is forming in your head… a few of them, in fact.
You feel they could do one of two things. They could follow the river to see where it may lead them, or, maybe, just maybe, they could figure out a way to ride the river down the waterfall. Or, conversely, with Maggie’s obvious strength, she could possibly even carry Erin down… if they agreed to it.
It wouldn’t be easy, true. Yet it might work to their advantage…
Written by Hollowpage on 30 September 2020
You mull over this for a moment, thinking about which of the two options would work the best. One is obviously more risky than the other, yet, at the same time, there is a workaround to ensure there’s more leeway… in that you feel one of you could remain out of the water and meet them down the waterfall, just in case the rushing waters proved to be too strong. But then, you also feel that Maggie carrying Erin could also work out safely, and with less danger.
You nod to yourself. ‘I’ll see what they think and go from there.’
You hop back to the two bickering still, and, when you do, they actually pause.
“What was that all about?” Erin asks.
“I’ve got an idea,” you say.
Maggie folds her arms. “If it has anything to do with carrying water in your belly pouch, ‘roo, I doubt it’ll end up helping out very much.”
“Shut up, Maggie,” Erin says. “They were trying, at least!”
“Oh, I know,” Maggie says. “But I’m the one who used muscle to get that stinking rock over so you could limp across it. In fact, I haven’t even gotten a ‘thank you’ for nearly throwing my back out to save your sorry arse.”
Erin stares at her for a moment. Her eyes meet yours, then return to Maggie. Despite the obvious annoyance written all over Erin’s face, her features soften, and she nods in agreement.
“Thank you, Maggie,” Erin says. Her voice is gentler, sincere. “I really do appreciate the help. While our friend here,” she gestures to you, “was doing their best, you came through in a pinch.” Erin then looks at you. “And thank you for trying, and for sticking around despite things. You could’ve scampered off and I frankly wouldn’t have blamed you for it. I appreciate it all the same.”
You smile and nod to her.
Maggie grunts. “…so what’s this idea of yours?”
So you tell them.
“First off, no way in hell am I being carried,” Erin says. “And second of all, are you bloody mental? How the fuck are we gonna go down the river without crashing? Ten to one, I’d just end up aggravating this damn ankle problem.”
You shrug. “I don’t think waiting around for your ankle to mend is going to help anything, Erin. We could also try to see where the river leads, though.”
Erin’s shoulders sag. “Gonna be honest with you, I… don’t think I can keep limping about on some long trek to find a way to get back up, mate. My ankle’s killing me as it is, and I’m afraid if I keep trying to push my body, well, it ain’t gonna keep at it for too long.”
“Then stop being stubborn, and let’s work together,” you say pointedly. “I’m sure we can make something work out if we stop bickering and actually put our heads together.”
“Maggie, what do you think?” you ask.
She’s been oddly silent since you told them the ideas you feel they have. She seems to be thinking, and, at first she doesn’t answer you. Then, after a moment of silence, Maggie closes her eyes, lets out a quiet breath, and reopens her eyes.
“Alright, here’s what I think,” Maggie says. She points at you. “Your ideas are bloody wank, mate, but you’re at least using your noggin, so I can appreciate that.” She points at Erin. “You, bitchface, are being a bitchface, and you need to knock it the hell off, or I’ll drag your sorry ass if I have to. Don’t give me any guff, just shut your trap and let someone HELP you for a change.”
Erin scowls at this, but, she holds her tongue for a change.
“So you think riding the river is a good idea?” you ask. “Or do you think--”
“I think both ideas together is our best bet,” Maggie says.
You’re surprised. “Both?”
“Aye.” She nods to Erin. “I’ll carry Miss Pissy here, but I’ll do it IN the river. My strength is enough that I can probably keep a better control over how fast we move, and I’ll be honest… I tested the river already. Was one of the first things I did when I followed you two halfwits down here. Current isn’t that bad.” She smirks. “I can keep myself afloat and steer where I move, so, we’re fine.”
You stare at her for a moment. ‘So she followed us, huh? What happened to the treasure?’ But you don’t ask this, at least not right now. “Okay, that’s fine and all, but, we still need to worry about the waterfall part. The drop isn’t the worst thing ever, sure, yet I don’t know if--”
“Water’s deep enough that it’ll be an impact,” Maggie says. “I can handle it, though. Trust me, mate. Got the stones and the endurance for a tiny drop. Besides, I’ve gone off diving boards higher than that stupid waterfall. Ask her.”
She points to Erin.
“I mean, true, but…” Erin trails off. She seems hesitant, yet it doesn’t seem to be for her own sake - you can tell from the look of worry in her eyes. “Maggie, you could get hurt if we land wrong. Me, I’ll be fine, but you--”
“Oi, shut up,” Maggie says. She glares at Erin. “Don’t be giving me that garbage, Erin. Stop being a damn yobbo, and let me do what we all know is best in this case.” She eyes you. “All I ask, mate, is that you wait down there for us, ‘cause that way, on the off chance something happens…”
“I can help you,” you finish.
She grunts and nods. “Exactly.”
You mull this over. Your mind races, and you flick your attention between the two women and the river. You imagine the drop from the waterfall might be scary, and, you hope that this isn’t a stupid suggestion - if it is, you’ll blame yourself, because you’re the one who thought it up in the first place.
“Alright,” you say. You know you can’t prolong it forever, otherwise you might get second thoughts. “If you’re sure about this, then…”
“I’m sure,” Maggie says.
Erin, however, doesn’t seem so sure. “I… I don’t know, this sounds way too risky.”
“No risk, no reward,” Maggie says simply. She seems dead set on this.
“And you call ME the stubborn one, you arrogant twat,” Erin mutters.
“Please be careful,” you say. “I’ll go and make my way down to the waterfall so I can be there to help.”
You look at them for a moment, then, when no one says anything more, you start to hop back down the path toward the waterfall, hopefully for the last time. You don’t know if this idea will work out, but you don’t feel like there are any other options.
When you reach the waterfall, you start to climb down the makeshift ‘path’ that Maggie punched for you. You still feel in awe at how much strength she possesses, and seeing her act so certain… well, when you combine the two details together, it fills you with some confidence. Not enough to prevent you from worrying, but, enough to make you feel hopeful.
When you reach the ground, you hop away from the immediate area, exit the little maw that leads to the waterfall, and then you stop. You stop and wait, and listen, too. Now is the waiting game, where you can do nothing else but hope.
Written by Hollowpage on 02 October 2020
You stand there near the river for a long few moments of relative silence, beyond the sound of your heart beating and the river itself, of course. You admit, you don’t know what to expect when they come falling down from the waterfall - your mind is ablaze with different questions, most of which are centered on whether or not this was REALLY a good idea to suggest.
‘I mean, I’ve never fallen down rapids before,’ you muse. You rub the back of your neck with one hand. ‘I’ve seen it in movies, but, this isn’t a movie.’
You inspect the river itself, and you don’t SEE any jagged rocks, nor do you get the sense that it’s super shallow. You even go so far as to crouch down and stick your hands into the river, to feel the coolness of the water, but also to see if you can reach the bottom of the river from where you’re crouched.
You can’t. Your hands extend as far as your kangaroo body will allow them to, and you don’t touch the ground, not even at the tips of your claws.
‘Well, that’s good, I think,’ you muse, and you stand back up, wriggling your hands about to get the moisture off them. ‘That means they’ll sink into it before they reemerge, right? So then they don’t hit any hard surfaces… I think.’
This tells you that the river isn’t shallow, and, it gives you some hope that should the pair come crashing down from the waterfall that they’ll not get too injured from the impact. Of course, you still consider the whole ‘Erin has a bum ankle’ part, and, you admit you fear she might land wrong, which worries you.
You swallow the lump that forms in your throat and try to settle your nerves.
‘I hope this works out without a hitch,’ you think, sighing.
Thinking too much isn’t going to help, not right now. You have to just accept the fact this is the path chosen by you and Maggie, if not Erin, although you imagine she’s going to go through with it either way. You simply let these thoughts wash over you - pun not intended - and remain alert, listening for any sign that the two are on their way down the river…
Eventually, although it seems to take a while, you hear noise coming from toward the waterfall - from above it, in fact. Despite the distance you are standing at, you can hear the obvious sound of voices, and you consider inching closer to the maw of the cave where the waterfall is resting, if only because they may end up needing your help the instant they land.
‘Worth a shot,’ you think.
You hop a few times toward the waterfall as the sounds of voices grows louder. It’s Maggie and Erin, of course, and it sounds like they’re bickering about something.
“Oh my shit, we’re gonna FALL, Maggie!” Erin snaps. “This is insane! Get us out of the river before we reach it!”
“Would you relax?!” Maggie snaps back. “Christ, just stop squirming like a goddamn sissy! Hold on tight and trust that I won’t let you hurt yourself!”
“It’s not ME I’m worried about, it’s--”
You stop a few feet away in time to see the two women right at the waterfall, and before Erin can finish her sentence, she lets out a scream. The two plummet from the top of the waterfall and splash into the river below, kicking up water all over the place. You’re too far to get hit by it, but, you watch with alertness to make sure they’re okay when they pop up.
The two seem unharmed, although they’re drenched and clearly reeling from the sensation of falling. Erin looks freaked out in particular, but Maggie seems more calm. They start to float down the river at a relatively brisk speed, but you intercept them - you stick your hand out and Maggie grabs onto it.
“See?” Maggie says to Erin. “We survived. How’s the ankle?”
Erin lets out a shaky breath. “Fine…”
You can tell from the look of their bodies that Maggie was basically holding Erin in her lap the entire time - it creates a rather entertaining image to witness, either way, especially since it brings to mind the picture of a kangaroo sitting on a dingo’s lap. You shake off the humor and offer your other hand out to Erin, and, very slowly, you help Erin stand and crawl out from the river.
She grunts and half-falls down onto her side, yet she keeps her wounded ankle up, preventing any unfortunate falls on it. She groans aloud, though.
“Fuck, that hurts,” she mutters.
Maggie helps herself out and stands, shaking the water off. She seems decent despite taking the brunt of the impact from the fall - drenched, yes, yet she’s standing and moving without any pain you can tell. She goes to sit down on the ground next to Erin. You watch, mostly checking the two women to be certain there isn’t any lasting damage you can’t see from a rough glance.
“Everyone alright?” you ask.
“Dazed, yes, but alive,” Maggie says.
She pauses to check herself over to be certain. She’s alert and awake, moving fine, however, and after a minute or so of inspecting herself, she shrugs.
“Yeah, nothing feels broken,” Maggie says. “Might be sore in a bit, but, the impact wasn’t too bad. I’ve definitely landed rougher on water before.”
You both turn to Erin. Erin has shifted her position to be on her back, keeping her injured leg hovering up in the air. She gives a rather drained thumbs up, but otherwise, offers nothing else. You feel relief at seeing this, since it means your random idea wasn’t the cause of any severe injuries.
“Well, that’s good, I guess,” you remark. You look from the pair toward the direction you and Maggie came from prior. “I guess now all that means is going up the way we came, and then getting out of the cave.” You wave a hand. “And voila. We’re home free, so to speak.”
Maggie snorts. “So you say, mate. But who knows what else could end up happening in this shithole of a cave. Let’s not count our chickens until they’ve hatched, yeah?”
You shrug, but concede the point.
The three of you wait for a few minutes for Erin and Maggie to recover from the burst of adrenaline thanks to falling down a waterfall. All things considered, it didn’t seem as horrid as you’d feared, which you’re thrilled by. At least now, you have a relatively simple path to follow to trek back the way you came.
When the two seem to have rested enough, Maggie gets up, and you both help Erin back to her feet. Erin, of course, still seems a bit reluctant about accepting the help - but she thanks you both when she’s upright, still putting her weight entirely on her left leg while the right dangles a little over the ground.
“Frankly, I’ll just be glad to get the hell outta this stinking cave,” Erin mutters.
“You and me both,” Maggie says.
You nod in agreement, only to start thinking. With Erin limping, your movement speed won’t be all that great - and since there’s no telling what other dangers this cave may hold, you begin to consider maybe helping her out some way could speed the process up. That, and, it would be good to help alleviate the strain on her legs. But what could you do?
You begin to muse this over, and, you consider there’s the obvious method of you and Maggie both helping her walk by carrying her weight together.
Or, you think that using the river could also work, since there’s a good ten or so minutes between where you are now and where you need to be. The river would cut down time for Erin and for all three of you as a whole, and it would make it easier for her since she wouldn’t need to limp.
You ponder your options…
Written by Hollowpages on 06 November 2020
“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
Suffice to say, your suggestion has both women staring at you with similar expressions - somewhere between incredulous and questioning whether you’ve lost your mind. You merely shrug at their stares, since it isn’t like you have a whole lot of other choices to work off of right now.
“Look, we can either try that, or magically figure something else out,” you remark. You sweep your arm toward the river. “I know it isn’t the smartest, or the safest route to go with. But this whole place isn’t really… I mean, it’s ‘real,’ but it isn’t the REAL world kind of real. For all we know, it might be what we need to get out of here.”
There’s a long beat of silence.
The two women are both thinking this over, and you just wait for them to come to terms with your suggestion - if one of them comes up with something better, then you’re all ears. Otherwise, you don’t feel like waiting around to starve to death, because that frankly doesn’t sound like a very pleasant way to go.
“Bugger,” Erin says. “I can’t believe that’s the best choice we have.” She grunts and shakes her head, then turns to Maggie. “You’ve got those extra dingo muscles, can’t you just, I dunno, power through all the rubble?”
Maggie scowls. “The fuck do I look like to you, a bloody machine?”
“Well, no, but…” Erin trails off, somewhat sheepish under Maggie’s stare.
Maggie rolls her eyes. “Woman, if I had the power, I would gladly break through all that shit, and you know it. But in case you forgot, there’s still limits to these weird costumes and the powers they give us.” She gestures to one of her arms and flexes. “Dingos ain’t superhuman. Maybe if I were wearing a bear costume, or, I dunno, an elephant costume or whatever, then I could maybe see myself ripping through that rock. I ain’t, though.”
“Alright, alright,” Erin says. She turns to regard you. “I dunno, mate. I’m not sold on trusting that this river leads somewhere safe, if it even leads anywhere at all. Last thing I want is to get stuck in some stinking dead end where I drown.”
You shrug. “I don’t know what else to do, unless you feel like scouring this cave for some other option.”
Erin’s lips purse. She says nothing.
Another moment of silence passes over the three of you. You aren’t entirely sold on your own idea, but you don’t see any immediate options as you glance around. The cave doesn’t seem to have much else in terms of obvious paths to use to get out of there. For all you know, the river is literally the only option that exists.
‘It’s a risk,’ you think. ‘But it’s a risk I’m willing to take unless some other option decides to pop out at us.’
“Dammit,” Maggie says. She growls. “Bugger it all. Fine. I’ll take the damn river. I hate being trapped in this stinkin’ cave, and I honestly don’t feel like wasting my time searching for any other way of getting out.” She turns to Erin. “And if we drown, whatever. We’ll just come right back and have to pick a new costume. Sucks, but it’s the rules of this… whatever you wanna call it.”
Erin does not appear thrilled by the prospect. However, after another moment - during which you and Maggie exchange looks, then eye her, waiting - she groans and nods with obvious reluctance.
“How do you think we should proceed?” you ask.
“You’re the one that came up with the idea,” Erin says dryly. “Why don’t you tell us?”
You shrug once more. “Um. I mean. It’s a river, and there isn’t exactly a boat for us to ride safely in, so…”
“No, not a boat,” Maggie says. “But. Oi, Erin. I’m gonna help you out of the river, so hold still.”
Maggie ducks down and helps scoop Erin into her arms - she hoists Erin out of the river and gently sets her down, while Erin remains as still as she can. The two lock eyes for a short moment through this, but neither says anything. Once Maggie has helped Erin onto the ground, she the then starts to walk around, leaving you and Erin there. You watch Maggie for a few seconds - she appears like she’s on a mission now - before turning back to Erin.
“You okay?” you ask, gesturing to Erin’s bum leg.
“As okay as I can be,” Erin mutters. She winces. “Bloody ankle still hurts like hell. Doubt it’s gonna heal anytime soon so long as we’re in here.”
There’s a beat. She sighs.
“Gotta admit, having me float in the river while holding Maggie was a good idea.” She glances at you. “Saved me from having to limp my sorry arse down there. My pride isn’t thrilled by it all, but at this rate, I guess I’m more willing to suck it up.”
You chuckle. “That’s good. I just hope we can take the river and that, you know, it’ll lead us somewhere safe instead of making all this worse. At this rate, I don’t care, though. I hate being trapped like this.”
“I hear you, mate,” Erin says.
“Alright, you two,” Maggie says.
You both turn to see what Maggie is up to - she’s found and is now carrying a massive flat slab of stone, not unlike the one you used to help Erin cross the gorge from before. Except this one is thicker and larger overall, looking almost like a stone kayak in a way.
Maggie stalks toward you and sets the giant slab down onto the ground, then grunts from the exertion. You would’ve offered to help, yet you don’t know that your arms would’ve been able to offer a whole lot.
“Here,” she says, gesturing breathlessly to the big hunk of rock. “This is big enough that it’ll fit in the river and still float. If we can use this… maybe we can ride it down the river. Big enough for all three of us. Just gonna be a bit on the cramped side.”
“…seriously?” Erin asks.
Maggie snorts. “You gonna pull a kayak outta your nonexistent pouch, Erin?”
Erin says nothing to this.
You glimpse over this big slab of rock - it’s definitely not perfect, but, it’s feasible, you feel. Or something close to being feasible when you consider the situation the three of you are stuck in. The way you see it, you can definitely try to ‘ride’ the slab down the river, provided it’ll fit. And float. And support your weight.
‘Is the current strong enough?’ you wonder. Your eyes flick toward the flowing river. ‘This might just sink if we plop it in there. Or it’ll sink the instant all three of us clamor on…’
“Well, what do you say?” Maggie asks, her gaze flicking from you to Erin. “Are we gonna give this a shot, or do you want to literally float IN the river? There’s no telling what’s waiting for us down there, but if you wanna risk it, then…”
You frown and try to think. What do you want to do?
Written by Hollowpages on 15 November 2020
Rollin’ On A River V
The way you see it, you don’t know whether or not this big hunk of stone will work properly. While it DOES appear to be the right size and shape to hold all three of you on it (and fit in the river), what stops you is whether or not the rock will sink, or, if it’ll stay afloat.
But then, you don’t have any other choices you see, so it’s either that, or you all ‘swim’ through the currents and hope for the best. With Erin’s ankle injury.
“Dang it,” you mutter. “I guess we ought to just… try and see if it’ll work.”
Erin grunts, but nods in agreement with this.
Maggie cracks her neck, then cracks her knuckles. When she finishes, she kneels down and picks up the massive stone hunk, then carries it over toward the river. To your surprise, she doesn’t automatically let it plop into the current - no, she instead steps INTO the river and then lets it plop down, while still holding onto it.
You watch in mild astonishment as the massive stone slab doesn’t sink to the bottom - the size of the rock is just enough that it looks like it can’t sink.
‘I guess it’s a good thing the river isn’t super deep,’ you think.
“There,” Maggie says. “This sucker isn’t quite at the bottom of the riverbed, but it feels like it’ll float okay. ‘Course, we need to see if it’ll hold all three of us.” She glances at you. “C’mon, Joey. Get your floppy ass onto it first.”
You blink and stare at her for a few seconds. “My name isn’t…”
“It’s the term for a baby ‘roo, you doofus,” Maggie says with a snort.
“Maggie, be nice, for fuck’s sake,” Erin mutters.
You shake this off and hop toward the river, then slowly - and very awkwardly given your physique - climb onto the stone slab while Maggie continues to hold it. It’s big enough that you don’t have too much trouble, although once you’re on it, you can tell getting OFF the rock isn’t going to be a smooth process.
The rock briefly sinks under your weight, yet it resets itself seconds later. It doesn’t feel like it’s about to sink - but there are still two other people (animal people?) that need to get onto it, too, and since they are both bigger and obviously weigh a bit more then you do…
“Alright, Erin,” Maggie says. “Hate to say it, but you gotta limp your big butt onto it next. I’m holding this sucker to make sure it doesn’t start to shoot down the current without me on it.”
“First of all, my butt isn’t BIG,” Erin says, with an air of mild, if perhaps overly comical, annoyance. “And second… I’m just gonna throw it out there that, whatever happens… no offense, but this plan stinks.”
You give her a look, a little smile tugging at the corners of your mouth. “I don’t see you thinking up anything better, Erin.”
“Oh, I know,” Erin says. She smirks, a look of playfulness and sarcasm somehow mixed together on her face. “I blame myself, too, for not being able to think of anything better. And for twisting my bloody ankle like a dumbass.”
“Quit bitching and get on, Gimpy,” Maggie says dryly.
Erin grumbles, but halts her obvious disdain for the plan for the time being. You watch her gradually limp toward the rock, and, since you can’t exactly help her (the position you are in doesn’t allow for much in the way of comfortably standing, unfortunately), you mostly keep an eye on how she moves.
She manages to, like you, awkwardly clamor onto the large flat rock, although she grunts from the pain as she does. Still, you offer one arm to her, and she uses your arm to help fix her position - until at last, she has gotten behind you on the slab.
“Damn, I will be so much happier when my ankle is healed,” Erin mutters.
The additional weight does cause the rock to sink in more, but, once again, it rights itself after a short moment. You are surprised that you’re able to stay afloat - you don’t know if it’s the rock itself that’s somehow doing this, or if it’s because of the strength of the river, or what.
“Well, guess I need to get on,” Maggie says.
“Do you think we’ll move when you’re on?” you ask.
Maggie snorts. “What, you calling me fat or something?”
You blink. “Um. No, I didn’t--”
“I’m fucking with you,” Maggie says with a snicker. “Seriously, chill. I get it. I don’t know, but I get the sense we’ll move just fine. Fact is, the more weight that’s gone on this, the harder it’s been to keep it held in place.”
With no fanfare whatsoever, you felt - and heard - Maggie hoist herself onto the back portion of the slab. No sooner does she begin to do this does the rock start to drift forward, as if the current of the river is somehow pulling all your weight. It isn’t a sudden motion, but it definitely starts to pick up speed when you feel the whole thing drop down into the water briefly to show that Maggie has gotten on.
“We’re moving, at least,” you say.
“Oh joy,” Erin mumbles.
“Hold onto your tits,” Maggie says.
Seconds after she’s said this, the speed at which you’re all moving begins to pick up. The river starts to pull you faster and faster, and after a good moment, you find yourself literally moving down the river, right toward the point where the river dips down - which is also where the current speed picks up.
You grip the sides of the rock to the best of your ability with your legs and your arms. You hope that you don’t go flying off the instant it starts to dip down.
“You two okay back there?” you ask.
You peer over your shoulder.
Maggie has one arm around Erin, and is holding Erin in place, while also gripping the sides of the rock with her legs and other arm. Erin, as she can’t use her right leg, is awkwardly putting her weight onto that side. Neither seems able to respond, and you turn back to the sight of the dip inching closer and closer.
You swallow the lump that forms in your throat. ‘Here’s to nothing…’
And then, again without much fanfare, the dip is reached. You teeter downwards, and then you’re off - the rock slab with all three of you on it starts to drift briskly down the flowing river, and you feel your stomach jumping up to your throat as you hasten down the sloping waters.
“Shiiiit!” Erin screams out.
Whether it’s magic or fate, or some unseen force helping you, the rock slab remains upright and doesn’t sink, but it also doesn’t move very slow.
All three of you are whisked down the water path, which twists and turns every few seconds. You focus mostly on keeping a solid grip on the thing since slippery rock means harder to hold onto - and you really don’t want to get knocked off when there’s nowhere for you to go but DOWN.
Your stomach. Your heart. Your head. Your everything, in fact, are all bouncing around inside of you as the river takes you all for a literal ride.
‘I’m starting to regret this idea!’ you think.
You can’t think straight, let alone do much else besides grip the rock slab and hope for safety.
Seconds stretch out, you wind left and right, and you arc around a portion of the cave as you go deeper and deeper down, until, after what feels like a century, the winding and snaking portion of the rushing current seems to calm - you end up slowing down a little bit as the river has sunken deeper into the cave, and soon, the path settles enough that you can see ahead of you.
“Thank God I didn’t eat before this,” Erin mutters.
Maggie groans. “Don’t mention food, would you? Cripes…”
“We’re not at the end yet,” you say.
It’s then you notice in the distance where the river leads: in fact, you see that, coming up, the river splits into not one, not two, but three separate paths that each seem to go their own direction. You swallow the lump that forms in your throat.
‘Great,’ you think. “Um. Ladies? We’ve got a problem?”
“What is it NOW?” Maggie asks.
“There’s a fork in the river,” you reply. “Three of them.”
“Ah, piss,” Maggie mutters.
Both of them shift to look in front of you, and they see it, too. And it’s coming up fast - which means you’re going to need to decide which way you want to go: left, right, or keep going straight forward?
Written by Hollowpages on 20 November 2020
Rollin’ On A River VI