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The Lost Temple Of Cahl: Chapter Three
Richard Martin was awake but far too afraid to open his eyes. He could still scarcely believe that he had just been sucked into a mirror. Around him he could hear a cacophony of strange noises, weird bird calls that sounded totally alien to him. He knew that he was lying face down on a relatively soft surface, but again his brain struggled to comprehend what had just transpired. Nearby he could hear the sound of running water which likely betrayed the presence of a river. A quick peek out of his left eye indicated that somehow he had been transported to some sort of jungle. He suddenly had a realisation why the ground beneath him was soft, it was damp and upon further reflection it seemed to move.
Richard’s brain finally seemed to click into gear, both eyes shot open and he clambered up as fast as he could, brushing himself down as he did. As well as rotting leaf matter, a few creepy crawlies had found their way onto his body, some of them considerably bigger than what he was used to. This is just a dream, he thought reassuringly. It’s all just a dream, I’m asleep in the Professor’s chair and I’ll wake up any minute. But a deeper part of Richard’s mind told him that he was most certainly wide awake. Instinctively he moved in the direction of the water source, wiping his brow as he did. It was a jungle alright, complete with the intense humidity that soon turned Richard into something resembling a drowned rat.
Sure enough, the water source, namely a stream appeared through a grove of trees. Richard wasn’t particularly thirsty but he still felt compelled to take a drink, more for psychological purposes than anything else. The water was clean and tasted rather fresh, which he appreciated greatly. Something in his mind clicked again, as he heard a human voice off in the distance, his burrow furrowed as he struggled to make out what it was saying. Moving closer, he inclined his head towards the noise, straining his ear as much as he could. Finally after a deep breath to calm his rapidly beating heart, he made out a word.
“Richard!” His mind suddenly raced frantically. My god, the Professor’s here, he must have followed me somehow. Richard, with all the urgency he could muster moved towards the Professor, whose calls were becoming increasingly frantic.
“Professor!” he replied. “Over here my boy,” the relief in his voice was evident. Richard turned left, stumbled through a thicket and found the Professor facing the wrong way, ready to call his name again.
“Behind you,” quipped Richard with a chuckle. “Oh thank god! What on earth’s happened to us?” Richard had now regained his calm and allowed himself a quick assessment of his surroundings.
“Well, it appears that we fell through a mirror and have ended up in a jungle,” he analysed as calmly as possible. “But how is that…” Richard interrupted the Professor’s question mid flow by shaking his head and looking around again. Both men agreed that there didn’t seem to be any obvious way of getting back, so the need to agree on an immediate course of action was paramount.
“Maybe if we head for higher ground, we can get a sense of where we are,” offered Richard speculatively. The Professor wasn’t in the mood to mull it over and agreed without saying a word.
“Oh by the way, I found these, might prove useful for cutting through the foliage,” The Professor handed Richard his pair of shears and asked him what had happened to his.
“I have no idea,” conceded Richard regrettably. The jungle sloped gently upwards off to the east and so the two men proceeded in that direction. The younger of the two led the way hacking and cutting at vegetation as they went. The Professor began to grunt as his creaky ageing legs struggled to guide him up the hill. Periodically, Richard would cast a glance back just to check if he was alright. The Professor however, sensed that Richard was impatient to push on.
“Don’t worry about me dear boy. You just go on. I’ll catch up,” he said reassuringly. Amazed, Richard swivelled and looked at the struggling older man with pity.
“I’m not leaving you behind. We have no idea what sort of place this is. So we must stick together!” The Professor grunted an agreement and continued to amble carefully up the hill.
After several hundred yards of tough going, both men heard the sound of running water, presumably the same one I drank from earlier, thought Richard privately. The Professor’s eyes lit up at the sound, and all of a sudden he managed to harness a little bit of inner strength, gaining a little of sprightliness, which surprised the on looking Richard.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were putting on a performance back there,” referring to the Professor’s constant grunting. “Ah, I wish it was my lad. Seems as though I’ve had a timely adrenalin boost,”
“Indeed it is, let’s hope it lasts until we get to the top of this,” he remarked trying to peer through the foliage, as he slashed wildly with the shears. After hacking through a particularly tough vine, he beheld the very stream that he’d earlier drunk from. This time it was the Professor who threw himself forward and took a long, cool drink. Richard also took the opportunity to drink and suggested that they take a rest.
“I don’t know if I can go much further my boy. My poor old legs seem just about ready to drop off,”
“I know what you mean, this jungle is endless, it’s just trees, vines and more trees and vines,” he tossed the shears to one side in annoyance and took another sip of water. The Professor lay flat on his back panting heavily. Neither man had to say anything, they were totally worn out; it seemed sensible to rest for a brief moment, despite the fact that this was for all intents and purposes an alien world.
Richard sat up and observed the way stream meandered gently up the hill; he contemplated the soothing sound of water flowing gently past him. He gazed upwards and saw nothing but vegetation, a tangled mass of green that seemed to act like a barrier for anything foolish enough to try and negotiate it. An idea formed his head, furrowing his brow and sucking his lip in concentration, he thought about the possibility of traversing the hill through the stream itself. Sure, we’ll get wet, but at least it will provide relief for his aching arms. He gazed into the murky water and wandered about its depth.
“Can’t be that deep!” he thought aloud. “What, you say something Richard?” asked the Professor who looked as though he had just been disturbed from a long slumber. Sitting up, he gazed over at Richard who was staring intently at the stream and dipping a hand in, presumably to measure the depth. The Professor grasped Richard’s spawning idea with a deal of scepticism.
“Are you suggesting we wade up a hill through a stream flowing downhill?” The Professor’s face seemed to distort with concern, for his own safety more than anything.
“Well, we either continue to fight a losing battle against the foliage, or we can take a short cut,” The Professor wasn’t exactly enthralled by the idea of sticking his bare feet into a fast flowing stream, but neither did he like the idea of clambering any further up the hill. He gave Richard a reassuring smile, before proceeding to remove his shoes and socks.
The stream felt cold at first, but it didn’t take too long for both men to acclimatise to the sensation of water flowing round their ankles. Richard thought he could detect fish swimming around his toes, but fought against the urge to examine his feet. Looking back, he noticed the Professor grimacing slightly, so assumed that he was fighting the same urge.
“I hope they’re fish swimming around our toes,” he said with a look of concern etched across his normally calm face. Richard risked a look down, and glimpsed what looked like tiny eels.
“They look like little eels to me,” he observed. The Professor bent down for a closer look and made a joke about hoping they weren’t electric. Richard chuckled gently, before continuing the trek.
© 2013 James Kenny