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
Making Frenemies II