I awoke in the morning with a slight headache, and after a quick check to see if I was still only part octopus, deciding that my condition had not worsened overnight, I quickly got changed into fresh clothes, stuffed an extra pair of socks into my shoes so my tentacle wouldn’t fall out, and put them on before I crawled out of the shelter. It was cold but warming up, and over breakfast we decided what we were going to do today.
One muesli bar thing and a lengthy discussion later, we decided that we were going to explore the forests. The menacing storm clouds still hung on the horizon, and we didn’t want to still be on the beach if a big storm hit.
* * *
We were walking along, chopping repeatedly at the tough vines covering our path. I limped along, my leg beginning to feel better, I could even walk on it some more. It was strange really; it was hardening, and turning almost scaly (?). My own body was starting to freak me out! The hair on my arms had grown a lot thicker as, well, and felt rough to the touch. I forgot all about it when Grayson, who was in the lead, exclaimed at the vines in front of him.
The vines had suddenly turned green, and were living now. We kept chopping, and we hit dead vines again. We had a small group discussion, and we quickly decided to follow the green vines, as they were a lot easier to chop through, and would require only Grayson to chop, rather than Grayson, Sam, and Josiah.
We were going for some time before I realised I could faintly make out the shapes of trees above the vines. I pointed it out to Leon, but he seemed not to care. Not at all disheartened, I started looking at the vines themselves instead. When Grayson chopped at them, they pulled back slightly from the cold touch of steel, and contented themselves by squirting us with the white gunk coming out of their severed limbs. To make faster progress, Josiah and Sam stood next to Grayson, and started chopping as well. With three of the five of us chopping, we made greater progress, and soon we were speeding along, and I was struggling to keep up. I looked behind us, and for some reason, the track seemed narrower than it was before. I jogged to catch up with the group, and re-took my place next to Leon.
Now we were chopping in-between trees, and we had to step over and around large, brown, fibrous husks. Suddenly, a short scream echoed as Grayson was plucked from the ground by a thick vine that lashed down and grabbed him by the waist. Sam started to scream “Look out”, but another thick vine, this one with a gash in it, grabbed him and pulled high into the air.
I saw the next one creeping towards Josiah, and I quickly used the new-found strength in my arm to latch on. I lost my grip, but amazingly my suckered arm kept me attached. Leon was still on the ground, in shock, when I realised that the vines had not gone for me or him, because we had not been chopping.
We reached the top of the tree faster than I would have thought possible, and were pulled towards the trunk of the tree. As Josiah got squeezed until he was unconscious, I tried to get a handhold or leverage point on the tree, to stop us being pulled any further up or away. When reached out to grab on, I found the trunk to be spongy, and soft, and what was even weirder, there was a small hole about where Josiah was. I quickly worked out that that was where the vine was coming from, and that Josiah was about to be sucked in to the tree!
...Everything had gone black. It had been a minute or two since being sucked into the tree and my mind starting to feel fuzz...
* * *
I awoke to Leon slapping my face and pushing my chest repeatedly. He was opening his mouth for the kiss of life when I opened my eyes and said “Ew, Leon, I don’t want to kiss you”.
“I don’t want to kiss you either,” he replied defensively, “but I was trying to wake you up. You weren’t breathing!”
“What happened?”, I asked.
“You guys got sucked into the tree by those vine things, and then I realised that these husk things were actually big lumps of manure from the trees, and they were gonna eat you, and then I chopped at the tree base, and you guys came falling down out of the tree and landed on these big piles of manure, and you weren’t breathing, and you were covered in goopy stuff, like tree spit or something.”, He said overwhelmingly quickly.
I looked down, and sure enough, I was sitting on top of a crushed husk, and as I went to get up, I could hear the bones of the digested animal inside crack, and the smell of decomposed bodies and manure floated up to me.
“Oh, that is foul”, I screeched.
I jumped up and looked around. Josiah, Grayson, and Sam were sitting dazed around on other husks, and I felt relieved to know that we were all still alive. We were in some sort of clearing, and there were husks of all sizes around. There were big husks, taller than me, all the way down to little husks, as big as the palm of my hand.
I decided to see what sort of animal I had landed on, so I sorted through the crushed pile, until I found a three-fingered, one-thumbed hand. It was about 20 cm long, and was attached to an arm bone. I decided to play a trick on Grayson, so I quickly broke the arm off, and ran to hide behind him. I reached up from behind the husk, and placed the hand on Grayson’s shoulder. He screamed and leapt up.
“That’s not funny, you know, Andrew”, he said.
I could just make out what he was saying through my fits and bouts of laughter. When I understood what he had said, I cracked up even harder.
When I had regained control over myself, I said “I found this in the husk that I landed on, why don’t we see what else we can find”. The whole group heard me say that, and so we all started looking through different husks. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I had unconsciously put the arm in my bag.
We had been looking for ages, and were just about to give up, when Leon yelled “Hey look guys, I found a silver thingy. It has a symbol on it, some sort of eye”.
Grayson took a quick look at it, and then said conclusively “It’s the Eye of Horus”.
“What’s that mean?” Sam asked.
“The Eye is a symbol of protection and royal power from deities, in this case from Horus” he replied knowledgably.
“Whatever it is, it looks pretty cool, and there are some more symbols on it further down, but we’ll have to translate them later” I said. “Right now, I want to get the heck out of here, before those vines close up again”.
We all agreed with that, and after short moment to prepare ourselves, we started at a galloping pace. The vines had already grown back a little, but since they were cut three abreast, it was easy for us to run single file.
I was behind a little bit, with my leg still being a little hard to use, but it was even more solid now, and I could walk on it well, even run. We made good time, reaching the dead vines in about half an hour. We were all exhausted by then, so we stopped running, and walked the long tunnel instead...
* * *
We arrived back at the beach about lunchtime. We were all starved from our near-death experience and our run back from it. I decided it was cause for celebration, so I cracked open my lunchbox packed on the first day, threw away my rotten sandwich, and shared out my packet of chips.
I borrowed the silver thing from Leon and took a closer look. It was flat on the bottom but rounded on top, and from above looked like a long ellipse, with pointed ends, almost like a futuristic TV remote. It had the Eye of Horus symbol on it, and just below that was a strange hand symbol, like the skeleton of the hand we had found earlier.
After that and a muesli bar, we made plans for what we were going to do next.
The whole group decided that we should go up the mountain, and so we had a brief rest and set off towards the mountain.
* * *
It was easier going uphill, without so much bush and scrub in the way. We could even walk five abreast. After about five minutes we met a stream, and it was so hot that I suggested we take our shoes off and walk in it. The water felt good on my tentacle, and after walking for a few minutes I was contented hobbling along, watching the reflections on the water’s surface.
A rainbow reflected off the water, and floated downstream.
Wait a second, rainbows don’t float...
“Get out of the water quickly!” I screamed as loudly as possible. “WE HAVE TO GET OUT NOW”.
I quickly explained to the group how I had seen those rainbows before, in the water that turned me into an octopus thing.
So we continued by foot, and were walking next to the stream when, about two-thirds of the way up the mountain, we met some tributaries forking off the sides, but we kept walking straight. The stream grew narrower, and we continued walking by it as it dwindled and dwindled until we were walking with one foot on either side of it, until it vanished. We looked for it for a bit, but were unsuccessful, so we returned to the last place we saw it, and after some close looking we found that it had curved under a bush to the left, and was headed in a different direction.
We peeked round to investigate where it had gone, and were confronted with a rocky lump, with a cave about 2 feet high, and 2 wide.
We were a rather democratic group, so after another discussion, Grayson, Leon and I crawled into the cave, and left Josiah and Sam outside to set up camp for the night, as it was approaching late afternoon, and they were more fatigued than the rest of us.
We were crawling along in the dark, with me bringing up the rear as I tried to find my torch, when we heard a strange leathery flapping noise. It was a rhythmic sound going “Fwump, fwump, fwump” repeatedly. It almost sounded like the wings of a flying creature...
Sam cried out as it hit him first. It was a small black shape in the darkness that came from nowhere and latched on to his neck.
I fumbled for my torch with increasing worry.
The same happened to Grayson and I felt him fall in front of me.
I could hear another coming round for me when I finally found my torch and gave the ugly little thing a blast of the light. Its dislike of the brightness was obvious and instant. It wheeled around and quickly flapped away. I shone the powerful beam on the other two, and they flew away also.
They resembled bats, though slightly larger, and with long tails that hung behind them. Their skin was like scaly leather, and looked rough to the touch. We decided that we hadn’t come this far to be disappointed, so we kept crawling, but this time I was in the lead, holding my light for the others to see with.
The passage grew wider, and we could stand upright in it now, it was growing big. We were walking next to each other now, and the ground suddenly dropped away. Using mine and Grayson’s torches (which he found with my assistance), we could see that the small chamber below was mostly filled with a pool of some black oily substance, swirling around playfully in the beams of our torches. On the other side of the open space, we could see a cave sitting upon a ledge above the water level carved into the rock, and in it was five alienistic chests, with digital displays on them, and keypads to open then.
I couldn’t wait to see what was in them so I jumped off the high-up bit where we were and landed in the thick black stuff. I went under, and couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think.
I felt Grayson and Leon splash down beside me as I struggled for air. I was sluggish and my arms felt unresponsive as they tried to thrash.
Suddenly, a slimy tentacle rubbed against me. EELS, my brain cried out. I was fighting an uphill battle to escape, and I was just about to open my mouth, when my hand hit the surface and the cold air gave me another wind. I just managed to get my head above the surface as I began to open my mouth.
I wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t got my head above water in time, but only for a moment, because Leon and Grayson popped up beside me, and together we struggled our way towards the cave on the other side.
The swim was mercifully short, although it contained too many eels for me to enjoy it the slightest bit. We reached the ledge not a moment too soon, the eels were driving me mad and I fought the urge to scream as one found a gap in my shirt and weaselled (or eeled) its way inside.
As soon as we were standing I reached inside my filthy black clothes and pulled out the eel. It wriggled through my fingers and I dropped it on my shoe. It was only then that I looked down and realised that I was covered from head to toe in that dark, slimy gloop.
I looked over at Grayson and Leon, and they looked like emos where they had cleared the gloop off their faces, but still had black hair, clothes, and dark smudges round their eyes.
I forgot about all that when I turned around and remembered about the chests!
We went up to the chests and there was a strange keypad with different symbols on it, and as I pushed the fifth one along, one with a strange symbol on it, it whirred and the display flashed. It seemed to be flicking through different numbers, and when I stopped pushing it stopped on a random number. I pushed it again, and it stopped on a different number. After a few more pushes to make sure it was completely random (and for my own enjoyment of the flashing lights), we probed around the rest of the cave.
There were only the five awesome chests, and an obscured marking carved into the cave wall. We could make out the first five letters.
It said “F” “I” “B” “O” “N” then the writing was obscured, and then we think the last letter was and “I”. I had always loved solving puzzles like this and so it only took me and Grayson (sorry Leon) a few seconds to work it out.
We both chanted “FIBONACCI” in unison as we figured it out.
I pulled out the piece of paper and pencil that was in my Swiss Army knife packet and with a little help, we figured out the Fibonacci sequence to 5 places.
”1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, 4181, 6765, 10946” I yelled.
The chests had three places featured on the display, and as we counted up the three digit numbers in the Fibonacci sequence, and lo and behold, there were five. I called first dibs on the first chest, and when I opened it was full of jewels and precious metals.
There was diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, topaz, lapis lazuli, opals, and amethysts. There was gold, silver, platinum, and many more metals that I didn’t know the name of.
I quickly closed the chest and savoured the image of it in my mind. As soon as he had recovered from the shock of all jewels and stuff, Leon said he was going to open the next chest.
It contained an amulet. It was shaped like the eye shape on the remote thing.
“The Eye of Horus!” Grayson exclaimed. “Awesome! Like I said earlier, this is a symbol of protection”.
It Grayson’s turn to open the next chest, so he entered the next code, and when he opened it he was disappointed to find a small skull, looking like the Aztec symbol for death, Miquiztli. He decided to give it to Sam.
It was my turn to open the second-to-last chest. I opened his chest, and found a rack of nine test tubes. There were two rows, with one larger on at the end.
The tubes were corked, and each one was a different colour from the last.
There was red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, clear, white, and black.
We put them back gently and then it was Leon’s turn to open the last chest.
He raced over to me, grabbed my pad with the numbers, and ran over to the last chest. He got the number, typed it in, and the chest made a whoosh as it relinquished its treasures. His face fell as he opened his chest and he couldn’t see anything. But then, Grayson pointed out something down in the corner of his chest. Three somethings, actually. They were small silver bracelets, like watches, with lots of strange symbols and buttons on them. He put one on, and randomly picked a button to push. Something happened, and the air around him fizzled and popped. There was a sudden flash, and when I could see again I couldn’t see Leon. In his place was a silver shining, roughly man-shaped creature, like the Silver Surfer from the Fantastic Four movie. We were gaping at it for what seemed like an eternity, taking in its shining curves, its polished, featureless face, its chrome chest, when it spoke.
“Would you guys quit staring at me like that?”
“Leon?” I said
“Yeah, what?” he said, before he looked down and saw himself. He jumped with shock and hit the roof of the cave. He was like some sort of superhuman.
I asked hesitantly, “Can I borrow one?”.
He threw me one with superhuman strength, and it almost knocked me off my feet. I almost dropped it, but caught it at the last moment. It seemed to grow as I put it on over my wrist, and then it shrunk until it fitted comfortably over my wrist. I pushed the same button Leon had pushed, and my world went black, then it was back and I looked down. I new what was coming, but I still jumped and dropped my torch, which broke, when I saw my flawlessly smooth body. The silver had even gone over my tentacle, and I hit myself to find out what it sounded like. I stumbled slightly under the impact of the super-strong blow, but I didn’t feel a thing. It made a dull, full sounding sound, like hitting a, well, a silver surfer thing.
I saw Leon throw the remaining one to Grayson, and as he changed, he also dropped his torch, and strangely I could still see.
“Awesome, we can see in the dark” I yelled. The cave shook in response.
I gave Leon a little playful shove. He went sprawling, but recovered and gave me a harder shove back.
It was harder than I had anticipated, and I went flying into the wall. It shook, but seemed to be fairly solid.
Suddenly, a rock fell loose from the cave roof up above.
We grabbed the chests with the stuff in it (We had fitted it all into two chests) and fled. With their newfound powers Leon and Grayson tried to jump for the entrance tunnel, but missed and ended hanging off the ledge. I was a bit more hesitant, and I thought about what I was going to do before I went for it. I willed myself to jump further than the others, but I had never been very sporting at stuff like that, so I closed my eyes and willed myself to go up to the edge as I bent my legs to jump. I heard Grayson, or maybe it was Leon, gasp. I poked my eyes open a crack, and almost fell.
I was floating through the air above the oily substance.
I was scared so much, that I closed my eyes again and willed myself up to the ledge.
I opened my eyes again when I felt the ground beneath my feet. I fell to my knees and was seriously considering kissing the ground when Grayson and Leon pulled themselves up beside me. We just sat in silence for a moment before Leon started gushing questions about my short flight.
“How do you do that?”
“What did it feel like?”
“Did you push a button to do that?”
“Can you teach me to do that?”
“Enough,” I told him. “I just thought about getting to the ledge really, really hard”.
We crawled as fast as we could to the entrance of the cave, and blinked in the dying sunlight. Well, we blinked as much as a silver surfer thing can blink.
* * *
It was much later, and we were about to retire to our tents (which had been kindly set up by Josiah and Sam in our absence), when we saw a silver pyramid rise and fly into the air from about 200 metres inland.
We told Josiah where we were going (Sam was going toilet in the bushes), and flew off, all three of us.
We arrived at the shining pyramid in record time, flying at a speed of at least 100 kilometres an hour, and as soon as we arrived we started searching.
It was massive, but completely flawless and smooth.
We grouped on the far side, to decide what to do next, when Grayson reached out and touched it.
He vanished. We panicked. We touched it.
NOTHING BUT BLACK.