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