Man Down Option A: Build a Shelter

Welcome back! The first part of the adventure, you crashed a plane into the jungle and decided to build a shelter for the night.

Let’s see what happens.

Man Down Option A: Build a Shelter

With your inexperience making a fire, you don’t want to chance being caught in the dark without something to protect you. You start searching the immediate area for a good spot to get off the ground.

Not far from the wreck you find two large trees that might work. They have parallel branches bigger than your legs that, if you can find a few small logs to lay across them, will work as supports for a platform.

Your knife’s not big enough to chop down a tree so you start looking for already downed trees. The thick foliage snags on everything you find and you use up the remaining daylight hauling four logs over to the trees, hacking at vines along the way.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

Photo courtesy of Arthur Rousseau with Hope for Haiti.

As if you’re not already winded, you find getting the logs up over the shoulder height branches an even more difficult task but finally, heaving air into your lungs, you have the logs lined up side by side. You lash them to the support trees using vines and then climb your way onto the small platform to see if it’s steady. It’s barely wide enough for your shoulders but it works.

Not thirty seconds after laying on the your back, the wind kicks up and starts to chill the sweat you built up while making the platform. This galvanizes you to keep moving before the gray of dusk totally disappears.

Now your knife comes in very handy. You chop as many branches off the trees near your platform as time allows. Then, exhausted, you create a tiny ‘cave’ by lashing them to a branch slightly higher than your platform to create an A-frame. It’s not great but, considering it’s completely black out, it’ll have to do.

You settle into your tiny shelter with a sigh and drink from your water bottle. The liquid hits your empty stomach, which reminds you dinner passed while you were working. Maybe it’s a good thing you didn’t notice until now. Your stomach rumbles, so you drink a little more and roll over to sleep.

***

The wind howling through the makeshift roof wakes you. Darkness obscures everything, even the branches only a few inches above you. A flash of light highlights the branches and then it all goes black again.

Moments later thunder rumbles like you’re inside a drum. You peek out just as another flash highlights the night. The string of light jumps across the sky like it’s chasing something. And then the rain comes.

You withdraw into your shelter and curl up tight. The rain’s relentless. It seeps through the shelter and denies you sleep for the rest of the night.

***

Morning drives the storm away. Stiff and cold, you crawl into a small patch of sun that sneaks through the trees. After maybe thirty minutes of warming and drying, you decide you’ve got to move, to do something. First step’s to thatch your shelter better to keep out wind and rain but then…

Do you…

Aa. attempt a fire?

Or

Ab. Look for food?

Blessings,

Jennifer

(Please post a comment with your vote. Voting will end on Monday at 8pm Pacific Time and then, Tuesday morning, we’ll see what happens next in the adventure!)

Man Down

So I had an adventure ready to post today and when I reviewed it last night, I detested what I’d written. That doesn’t happen very often. ‘Not satisfied’ happens all the time but detestation…well, I couldn’t present that to the world.

Which left me floundering for a new adventure. My husband and I have been watching a survival show lately and it just rolled from there. I’ve no idea where this is going since I didn’t plan it out like I have with all the others. We’ll see where this takes us, I guess.

Thanks for joining the adventure. Let’s have some fun=)

Man Down

All you remember comes back in snatches of images and feelings. The dials of the plane spinning and your stomach feeling like an elevator dropped from cut cables. Freefall without a parachute. Your stomach trying to climb out your throat.

You never should have taken the plane without your instructor but he didn’t show and you drove two hours for the lesson. After five lessons, you figured you could handle an hour flying by yourself but something went horribly wrong.

The plane lies in pieces strewn throughout the trees in a mile stretch behind you. The pack you brought is now lost along with it. Looking around, you’ve no idea how you survived the crash, much less survived it with only a few minor scratches.

But now you’re in the middle of the jungle with only the clothes on your back, the large knife your instructor always strapped to the back of the pilot seat and your metal water bottle that you found tossed with the wreckage.

Trees obscure your view of the sky but from where you stand, the light’s fading fast. Birds chirp incessantly although you can’t see any of them. As night falls, though, those sounds will change to tell of darker things, you’re sure of it.

Water roars somewhere to your right but you’ve no gauge on where. You might have enough time to construct a small shelter, something that’ll get you off the ground and help keep you away from all the crawlies but it’s no guarantee against larger predators.

Or you can try to build a fire but you’ve never attempted making one without a lighter, so you might not succeed, especially before nightfall.

Do you…

A.Build a Structure?

Or

B. Attempt Fire?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Attention of a Gold Fish

I admit, my allotted month for finishing Dryad passed a while ago. But, after 40k+ words, I now have a finished rough draft and you better believe I’m doing the happy dance! It’s not pretty (the draft or the dance) but one’s done and the other’s happening. Don’t mind me while I frolic around my humble abode.

Ahem, anyway. My hat’s off to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo. Writing that much in such a short time is a sure challenge. You learn some things about yourself with such a challenge. Here’s a few things I learned.

1. I’ve the attention span of a gold fish- Doesn’t matter how motivated I start out, if the coffee beeps, I’m up to get a cup. Then it goes from there like the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” book.

2. Speaking of Coffee… The consumption of more than two cups in a morning makes my hands shake. When writing, this equals an odd form of torture.

3. While we’re on torture, without fail, the writing starts flowing two minutes before my husband arrives home. That’s my ‘End of Work Day.’ It’s like my muse likes to see how much I can fit into 120 seconds. It’s never enough to finish the scene. So then I’m talking to myself for the entire evening to finish the scene in my head.

4. I might be crazy ’cause my characters talk to me. It’s okay, though, my husband expects this.

Overall, it’s a good thing I write at home. Nobody sees me wandering the house with coffee in hand and talking to thin air.

Next week the adventure returns but, in the meantime, what’ve you learned about yourself when you push to write more than usual?

Blessings,

Jennifer

Reeling In A Goal

I’m not a fisherman but I’ve been reading the Brotherband Chronicles by John Flanagan, so I couldn’t help myself with the title=)

Anyway, speaking of goals…

I’ve wanted to finish writing my next book for awhile. As with most goals without deadlines, it’s been more of a dream than a goal. It’s got that stupid “someday” fixed to it.

My frustration spilled over until my husband noticed. Perhaps it was the full pot of coffee and the shaking hands or maybe it was the obsessive cleaning that clued him in. I don’t know. Whatever it was, he sat me down and we set a goal with a date: End of October. I’m about 50K words into Dryad (that’s the working title) and the end of October should be doable.

Now for the second part of my frustration. I am finding my leaky sieve of a brain struggles to hold all the details from a novel length story while I’m working on other writing. So until the end of October, I’m taking a short break from writing adventures. However, I love the blogging sphere and don’t want to lose touch with everyone so my other goal is to put on a imaginary blogging backpack (it’s green and purple just in case you were wondering) and head out to find more awesomeness in the blogging world.

I’ll be sure to share the treasures I find. Watch out blogosphere, here I come=)

Blessings,

Jennifer

Toad Attack Part Two

Welcome back for the end of Toad Attack! If you missed the first part, you can either read it by clicking under recent posts to the left or just know that the toads are attacking the fairies in hopes of capturing ten of them for Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven.

Now on to the story!

Toad Attack Part Two

Leaf barriers, hastily woven together, surrounded the fairy trees. The bees brought their honey and were fast making bombs to slow the toad attack down.

“It won’t be enough,” Elder Leah worried.

Moira caught the elder’s hands to keep her from wringing them together.

“Why not?’

“The toads can move with honey all over them. We get hit once and we’re done. Even a shield gets weighed down after a single hit.” The elder did a double take at their hands. Using honey, Moira had helped the floating bees stick themselves to the back of her hands to keep them safe while the fairy dust wore off. “Why?” Elder Leah asked.

“Dust,” Moira shrugged. “Wait, dust.”

“What about it? The toads are too big to float.”

“But the boysenberry bombs aren’t.”

The toads pulled the bombs on carts behind them. They’d positioned the carts ten paces from the trees and were constructing catapults to launch the boysenberry globs. It was the only thing giving the fairies time.

The elder shook her head. “We can’t get to them. Flying over the toads would only make us better targets.”

Moira slumped. Twenty-three fairies would never overwhelm the toads.

“What about below ground?”

They both stared at the bee attached to Moira’s hand. “Below ground?”

“It’s not a great friendship, but we honey bees get along okay with yellow jackets and they build their nests below ground, particularly around you fairies because your dust makes great packing for their nests. There’s a nest in the field there.”

The elder shook her head again and Moira’s stomach clenched in disappointment. She was sure the elder’s reasons were good.

“We can’t fit in a yellow jacket’s nest. We’re too big.”

The bee buzzed a negative. “You’re too big. She’s not.”

“I’m not?” Moira said.

“I can’t ask one fairy to take that big of a risk.” The elder countered.

Moira’s stomach clenched harder. “I can do this,” she said. Why did the elder doubt her?

“I can’t ask you…”

“You didn’t. I volunteer.” Moira backed away before Elder Leah could respond. She didn’t want to hear reasons why she wasn’t capable. “Where’s this nest?”

The bee pointed and Moira slipped between the leaf shields. The spot the bee indicated was a small, slanted hole in the ground.

“I’ll fit?”

“It’ll be tight,” the bee released himself from the honey holding him in place and disappeared into the hole.

Moira chuckled. “It’s good to be small, it’s good to be small.”

Head first she crawled into the ground. With her body blocking the light, her surroundings turned pitch black but her ears picked

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

up on the whisper of words between her bee friend and someone else. As she continued forward, those words became clear.

“You want what?”

“Ju-just a quick passing through,” the bee stammered. “Just to where the toads stopped the cart.”

“That’s through the nest. Why should we trust you?”

“We’ve helped you in the past,” Moira spoke up. The ground pressed on all sides and her breath came in short gasps. She wasn’t sure how long she could stand this. “And the squirrel adds you to his sandwiches too.”

The last part she added as an afterthought but she knew it was true. Any bug with wings went into Squirrel Van Hoven’s sandwich but especially yellow bugs. She wasn’t sure why.

“This is an attack from Van Hoven?”

Moira nodded, hoping the yellow jacket could see her and she didn’t have to speak.

“That’s all we need to know,” the yellow jacket’s voice lowered to that angry buzz they always got right before they attacked.

Moira stiffened and jerked within the hole’s confines when the yellow jacket touched her outstretched hand but he didn’t sting her.

“Follow me,” he said.

Without light, Moira could only tell they entered the center of the nest by the change in texture around her. It went from hard packed dirt to something softer, like paper.

“Move carefully.”

She tried but the space was so small she could barely pull herself forward.

“This isn’t working,” the yellow jacket stopped in front of her. “Don’t move a muscle.”

Moira stilled. Movement was all around her and she didn’t want to anger the yellow jackets. A sting to a fairy was poison enough to kill. Stings from dozens of yellow jackets—Moira held in a shudder. Perhaps Elder Leah had a good reason to warn her away from this.

“Hold very still,” the yellow jacket said again. Something touched her arms, her legs, her torso and her wings. Then she was moving forward, being passed from one yellow jacket to the next through the center of their nest.

Moira closed her eyes and held her breath.

“Cool,” the honeybee whispered from somewhere ahead.

“Now you can move on your own. Just follow this tunnel till you reach the surface.”

“Thank you,” Moira whispered. She received dozens of buzzes in return.

Moving forward, she found the tunnel tighter than the other side. It felt like she couldn’t draw breath but there was sunlight up ahead. She was so close.

“Pull on my arm,” she told the honeybee.

His small legs grasped her hand and he pulled. She barely moved.

“Again.”

He heaved backwards and she slid closer to the light. A third pull brought her hand within touching distance of the opening. Threading her fingers into the grass above, Moira hauled herself free.

A deep breath filler her with relief.

The yellow jackets had steered her right. The hole brought her up underneath one of the carts.

“I can’t get to all the carts,” she realized.

“Don’t have to,” the bee whispered back. “Just float these ones and my cousin’ll take care of the rest.”

Moira was about to ask him what he meant when a brown toad turned their way. His catapult looked finished.

Scrambling from beneath the cart, Moira spread her wings and flew in circles over the boysenberry bombs. She’d never tried to produce the dust before but simply flapping her wings seemed to work.

The toad laughed deep in his throat. “They’re too big for you to carry,” he said as he approached the cart.

Moira kept moving but there wasn’t enough dust yet to float the bombs.

“Distract him,” she begged the bee. If the toad caught her, she’d never succeed.

The bee zipped away to fly in the toad’s face. He flew by once, twice, and then the toad swatted him from the air.

“No!” Moira resisted the urge to race to his aid. The boysenberry bombs were starting to lift. Rushing around them two more times, they floated into the air.

But the toad was close. He reached for a floating blob of jam just as a yellow blur zipped forward and shoved it into his face. It exploded all over the toad’s eyes and mouth.

“Ha!” the yellow jacket taunted. “Try to catch me now!” and he zipped away back into his hole.

The other bombs were well above Moira’s head by now. Several honeybees lumbered toward them, much slower than the yellow jacket but undaunted as they surrounded the floating bombs and directed them in the air. Hovering the bombs over the remaining carts, the bees shoved them downward to explode, sticking the cart and the bombs together.

Moira couldn’t help a laugh before she turned to find her friend who’d been swatted into the grass.

She found him a moment later, dazed and humming about the ‘Toad Attack” as he buzzed one wing and not the other.

“Is it broken?” She rushed to help him.

“Nope,” he buzzed, “just ruffled from being hit.” Closer inspection reassured her but she still stuck him to her hand again to take him to the healer. The bee didn’t seem right in the head.

“You did it,” the bee pointed around in a dizzy fashion.

Moira nodded. Without the bombs, the toads were leaving. They couldn’t break through the leaf shields or bring the fairies to the ground where they could be captured.

“Hero of the fairies!” the bee sang at the top of his lungs.

Moira chuckled. It was a good thing the bee had a small voice or his words would have been heard by the Elder Leah who was winging toward them. Even still, the words boosted her like dust and the wind. It felt good to accomplish something.

The End

Blessings and have a wonderful weekend,

Jennifer

Toad Attack

I’ve received a request from a lovely young lady for a story about fairies. What a great idea! And I thought to make the story more whimsical, or maybe just goofy, than usual. Which brought to mind a snippet of a story a fiend helped me start years ago that I never finished.

So this story is dedicated to two wonderful ladies.

Jael – for such a great story idea! May your own writing and reading always be an adventure.

and

Marjorie – who gave me the image of Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven. Your imagination is delightful.

Now on to the story!

Toad Attack

Moira raced with the shadow of a bird. The red-feathered hawk flew above her, high in the sky with its wings stretched to catch the current of the wind. Flapping her wings as hard as she could, she tried to keep her own shadow inline with the bird’s as it flew across the ground, the trees, the brush.

The larger shadow paced ahead and was gone with a single flap of the hawk’s wings. Moira settled on a juniper bush and slumped. She’d never be fast enough. Her shoulders ached by what most fairies could do without exerting themselves. She’d been born too small to be of much use.

Miniature Moira. It was the term the others teased her with when she couldn’t keep up.

The wind played through the bush, swaying it beneath her feet. Maybe a moment with the wind would cheer her. Rising into the air, Moira hovered in the leaves of an aspen tree, enjoying the play of the wind across her wings and the smell of new leaves in the air. If she moved her wings just enough to flutter with the leaves, she could hold the position for hours. Too bad she couldn’t maintain speed that way.

A squirrel scampered into the field in front of her.

Moira sucked in a breath to call a greeting but then the air whooshed from her without sound. The squirrel clutched a small paper sack in one paw. He boasted two crooked front teeth and two hairs sticking straight up from the top of his reddish head.

When he pulled out the sandwich, Moira’s doubt disappeared. Squirrel Ivan Van Hoven, sworn enemy of anything with wings. He hated fairies for their ability to make non-winged creatures fly since he found it the cruelest choice of nature to make a flying squirrel—without wings.

Beside him on the log settled a toad the size of a rabbit.

“They’ll never see you coming.” The words sprayed from the squirrel’s mouth along with globs of boysenberry jam from his sandwich. He was obviously picking up on a conversation Moira had missed.

She shuddered, then stilled, as the squirrel looked her way.

“How many do you need?” the toad eyed the sandwich for the yellow bees stuffed between the slices of bread.

Moira held in another shudder. Boysenberries and bees on wheat. It was Squirrel Van Hoven’s trademark.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

“Ten or so,” he answered while catching a bee that escaped his bite and stuffing it back in between the bread.

Squirrel Van Hoven had launched an attack against the fairies six months before. He’d allied with mosquitoes then but had been thwarted by netting the fairies made from moss.

The toad was new. She’d never heard of the squirrel working with toads but that wasn’t important, their plan was.

“You’re sure?” the toad croaked.

“Positive. Ten fairies for their wings. You produce that and you can have my stash of bees.” He held out the sandwich as proof.

Ten fairies. It was the perfect number. Mixed with a few other choice ingredients, the wings would make Squirrel Van Hoven float…indefinitely.

The toad’s tongue flicked across his narrow lips and he rumbled a croak deep in his throat.

“Done,” he said. With one bound he was back in the trees and gone from sight.

Squirrel Van Hoven bit into his sandwich and chewed slowly. He caught a blob of jam escaping from the back of the bread. Instead of licking his paw clean, he spit on it, and then he pulled back and pitched the jam at Moira.

The sticky mess splattered the leaves and her wings and weighed her to the ground.

“Spying?” Squirrel Van Hoven chuckled. “Fairies make poor spies. You glitter your dust with every flap of your wings.” His crooked toothed grin was smeared with jam. “Good luck warning your friends. That jam won’t come off for days.” Cackling and dripping jam, he scampered from the clearing.

Moira pulled a wing around to inspect the damage. Her fingers stuck to the gossamer.

“Ich!” She tried to pull free but whatever Squirrel Van Hoven used in his jam glued her fingers to her wings. “No, no, no…” she muttered. She had to warn the fairies of the toad’s attack but without her wings she’d never make it home in time. She’d barely make it in time even if she left right away.

“Spit on it.”

“What?” Moira didn’t see anyone near her.

“Spit on it.”

Her eyes swung to the ground. In a glob of jam dropped from the squirrel’s sandwich was a bee.

“How do you think he eats the stuff without gluing himself to everything?” the bee asked.

“His spit?” Moira recoiled.

“Any spit will work.” The bee worked on his own body, spitting and working it into the jam stuck to his wings. Clearly it was working.

“Yuk,” Moira spit on her fingers. With a bit of work, her hands came clean but the damage to her wings was extensive.

“This’ll take forever,” she moaned, holding one wing carefully by the top edge.

The bee, done with himself, buzzed over.

“It is bad,” he buzzed. “I’ll find help.”

“No! Wait!” But the bee was gone. “Warn the fairies.” She said to the thin air. Her own problem was small compared to the squirrel’s plan.

Moira went back to cleaning her wings, spitting on her palms and working globs of jam out of the gossamer.

Mr. Squirrel Van Hoven certainly knew what he was about. By hitting her wings, he’d not only grounded her but stopped her ability to produce fairy dust.

Without the dust, she couldn’t float home either.

A particularly large spot of jam stuck a section of wing to the top of her shoulder.

Moira had almost worked it free when a hum reached her ears. It grew in volume until it droned, vibrating the air around her. The sky filled with yellow bodies and the bee from earlier landed in front of her.

“Brought a friend or two and half my cousins,” he said, gesturing at bees landing all around him.

“Go warn the fairies!” Moira shooed them away.

“Other half of the cousins have that covered,” the bee waved at the sky where a mass of others still flew.

“Oh,” she felt a tug and turned to find several bees spitting on her wings.

“You’re spitting on me!”

“You’ll smell sweet,” several buzzed back.

Moira couldn’t think of a response. Their legs as they worked felt like the tingles she got when she put her feet to sleep, except there was no pain, just tingle.

“There you go.”

The bees held out her wings and dust glittered in a cloud around them.

Several of them caught by it started to float without moving their wings.

“Oops,” Moira caught them before they floated away.

“The toads are coming!” The cry was faint, shouted by a tiny bee high in the air, but it caught everyone’s attention. “They’ve got boysenberry bombs!”

To Be Finished on Thursday

Blessings,

Jennifer

The Game 2

Time for another chance to explore an adventure for a second time! The last time this adventure was run, you found a rather unfortunate end. If you’d like to read the first run in it’s entirety, click here. Now, let’s hope for something more healthy this time!

Read on and, at the end, leave a comment for how you’d like the story to continue=)

The Game

On a whim, you stopped for the night at a random Bed and Breakfast off Highway 50 that you’d never noticed before. You’ve work on Monday but it’s only Saturday and a few days away sound like heaven.

You asked if there was a quiet place you could sit for a while and the owner of the Bed and Breakfast, Ms. Williams, directed you to the attic. You anticipated her to send you to the porch table out back or perhaps the trail that leads from the back of the B&B into the mountains.

“Up the stairs, dear,” she said, “just open the door at the end of the hall and make yourself comfortable. Anything in there’s fair game too, if you want it. It’s where I keep things left behind.”

A stab of disappointment hits you at her words. The attic? Really? But she’s a nice old lady and you don’t want to insult her, so you climb the stairs as they creak beneath your weight and give her a smile as you go.

The door to the attic’s an old relic. Painted a dull red with a crystal handle like you might find in your grandmother’s house.

You find it unlocked and slip inside to find an old style attic, peeked ceiling, wooden floorboards, rounded window and all. There’s a chair by the window and, since you asked for a quiet place to sit, you walk over and sit in the wooden thing.

Quiet’s right. You can just hear the steps of Ms. Williams downstairs as she cleans up from breakfast but after a short while even

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

that fades and the silence surrounds you along with the dry, dusty smell of attics the world over. You watch the aspen leaves fluttering in the breeze beyond the window until your eyes droop from the warmth of the dry room.

Maybe you snore, maybe not, but something wakes you with a start. You’re eyes blur and then come to focus on an ant sitting on your knee. Its shape is fuzzy from the dusky gray now showing through the window. It’s the only light in the attic.

“Oh dear, I’ve been had.” The ant takes flight and disappears into the lid of an old trunk tucked under the eve of the attic.

You shake your head. It spoke. It’s an insect…but it spoke.

Curiosity gets the better of you. Ducking to avoid the sloped ceiling, you pull the trunk from its spot so it sits in front of the chair and then you flip the lid open as you sit back down.

A cane with a dragon’s head stares back at you. Beneath it is a long brown jacket and a folded letter but no ant. Extracting the letter from under the cane, you find it crinkles at your touch and is browned around the folds. Ms. Williams said to make yourself welcome, so you flip the letter open.

Wear the coat and use the crutch and see the world through a different clutch. 

Odd. Not the best rhyme you’ve ever seen. There are two pages to the letter, so you flip to the next page. It’s a map with an ant at one corner and an elephant at the other. Because it’s kind of fun, you pull the cane and coat out and hold them over your arm as you close the trunk and slide it back under the eves.

Then you head for the door because the light from the window is gone and you’re surrounded by darkness.

You open the door and almost stumble into a jungle. A blast of heat hits your face along with a wave of bugs. Yuck. You slam the door shut and try again. You open to sprawling grass land. What the? 

“I suggest the grass land,” says a voice.

In the light from the open door, you see the ant sitting on your arm along with the cane and coat.

“Why? why can’t I just go down stairs again?”

“You opened the letter,” the ant shrugs. “Now you’ve got to play the game. Kind of. If you win, you find treasure, if you loose, you either die or get sent back to your boring life.”

“What happened to you?”

“I was made as part of the adventure. No win/loose for me. Just be. I suggest you put on the coat before you step through.”

The ant flies into the air as you swing the coat onto your shoulders. It fits. Perfectly.

“So what’ll it be, jungle or grassland?” asks the ant as you fit the cane to your hand.

“What’s it matter?”

“Grassland you can travel faster but it’s easier to miss details. Jungle’s slower but you have a better chance to pick up on key points of  the map.”

You open your mouth to ask more but the ant interrupts. “That’s all you get. I can’t say more.”

You scowl at him.

So do you choose…

A. Jungle?

or

B. Grassland?

The Game Option A: Jungle

Looking at the map, the idea of picking up details easier appeals to you. There are a lot of little notations. You swing the door closed and then open again.

The ant groans as you step through into the heat of the jungle.

“So what am I looking for?” you ask.

“The treasure, of course,” the ant says.

You look at him and start. You’re looking eye to eye with him. Holding your hands up, you find you have too many of them and, bending to look at yourself, you’re looking at a hard black shell of a body. Strangely enough, you’re still wearing the brown jacket and in your lower left hand, you clutch the head of the dragon cane.

“I’m an ant!?”

“At least you have wings,” the ant points with a smile like maybe this’ll keep you from attacking him.

Twisting to see, sure enough, you have wings. Transparant, wispy things that might carry you.

“Great,” you grumble. “Some game.”

“It’ll be fun, trust me,” the ant grins but it looks more like he’s trying to convince than like he believes it himself.

You turn away and open the map again. The ant in the corner is highlighted and a trail stands out that you didn’t see before.

“Guess I’m supposed to head that way.” Testing your wings, you lift into the air and wobble in place for a moment.

“Yay!” Cries the ant. “They work.”

Oh joy. Your wings working surprises him. But they are working and, giving them a moment to adjust, they feel strong as you listen to the soft hum they create.

Flying through the trees, it doesn’t take long to see the first marker on the map. It’s a crumbling structure of stone like an old temple. The map depicts a jar in one of the temple walls, so you guess you’re supposed to find this jar before moving on. Winging closer, you come up short with a whiplash snap.

Struggling, you only manage to stick yourself more to what you now realize is a gigantic web. A spider with a bulbous red body and long, sharply jointed legs shakes the web as she steps on.

“Weave the web and wait the day,

for something’s sure to catch the lay…”

The spider sings as she meanders closer. Her many legs click in a dance of joy at her fresh meal.

“Weave the web and shake it dry,

let it sit for eyes will lie…”

You look around as best you can but even your head’s stuck to the sticky fibers. Then you see the flutter of transparent wings as the ant settles down on a leaf nearby.

His eyes shift from the spider back to you. Sure she doesn’t see him, he holds out a stick and acts like he’s using it to walk.

The cane.

You tilt your head as far toward your lower left hand as possible and the ant jumps up and down in excitement that you picked up on his charades. He holds out the stick and starts poking the handle of his makeshift cane.

You frown, not entirely sure what he’s getting at, but feel around the head of the cane until you feel the eyes of the dragon give under your probing fingers. Pressing harder, there’s a slicing sound like cutting a vegetable.

“Weave the we-ssss…”

She hisses and her many eyes narrow to slits. You can’t see the cane but it must have done something. You shift your hand as hard as you can and the web sags. She stalks toward you, her round body low to the web and her lips pulling back to reveal more saliva than you care to consider. You cut faster until suddenly you’re falling and fighting to get your wings out to break your fall.

A leaf breaks it instead just before you hit the ground.

“Gahh,” you groan as you roll onto your back.

There, above you, the spider’s lowering herself. She’s coming fast and the look on her face is vengeful. Above her, still on his leaf, sits the ant. He’s gesturing for you to get up and run.

Do you…

Aa. Run?

or

Ab. Fight?

The Game Option Ab: Fight

Having an ugly red spider behind you could be really bad. If you leave her behind, she could always show up later to ruin your day.

Struggling to your feet, you check the cane to find it has a blade sticking out the side like a sword. At least the game didn’t dump you in the jungle without something to defend yourself with.

The spider sets down and rears up on her legs. Trails of saliva string from her lips but whether they’re from hunger or anger, you can’t say.

Swinging the cane, it chops off her front right leg. She tilts with a cry but instead of going down or retreating, she shoots a glob of web. You spin to the side but the sticky glob catches your wing, weighing it down. It slows your reaction as she makes a grab at your legs.

The cane flies from your hands and you fall. As you struggle to move, she smacks her lips in anticipation and goes to bite you. You’re weaponless and your limbs are held by the spider, but as her teeth draw closer, you wriggle your wing free and slap her in the face with it, sticky web and all.

She rears back, fighting her own glob of web. You scramble for the cane and feel it’s reassuring dragon head in your hand. Just as the spider frees her face from the web, you swing, catching her body. She flies through the air to land on her back. Then her legs curl in and she doesn’t move.

“Wow,” says the ant, still in a tree above your head. “I’ve never seen someone do that before.”

“Let’s get out of here,” you say.

You and the ant fly into the ruins and you show him the map. It shows a wall of Dancing Ladies in which a bottle is apparently hidden. As you wing through the ruins, you’re careful not to fly into another web, which is a good thing because there are webs everywhere.

As the day slowly fades, you pause in front of a wall. You’ve passed it before but as the light shifts lower to the horizon, the pock marks and crumbling lines shift with purpose. Flying up and down as you watch, the lines on the wall move like a cartoon drawing through a notebook. Ladies dancing.

“Found it,” you call to the ant.

Photo courtesy of Sebring's Snapshots.

Photo courtesy of Sebring’s Snapshots.

He’s beside you in no time. “The wall’s covered in webs.”

Pressing the dragon’s eyes on the cane, the sword blade juts out of the side and you clear the wall until you find a small shelf. Tucked on the shelf is a bottle no bigger than your ant leg.

The ant reaches for it but you snatch it out before him. You tuck it into the pocket of your brown coat, eyeing the ant’s look of frustration as you do. What’s the bottle to him?

Checking the map, the next destination looks to be in the same ruins. Instead of the bottle though, you’re now looking for a ring which appears to be hidden at the base of a statue of a child with wings.

The ant tries to look over your shoulder but you fold the map before he gets a good look.

“Why do you want the bottle?” you ask him.

He stutters out a reply about not wanting the bottle but you eye him in disbelief and he deflates. “I’m like you,” he finally says, “I can’t leave without the items on the map and no one’s ever offered to exchange places with me.”

“Why haven’t you just run the game yourself? You had the map in the trunk.”

“I can’t. It only works for the most recent person. If I walked through the door, I’d have nothing to go off of.”

“What happens to the person who stays behind?” you ask.

He shrugs, “they run the game with the next person. I think.”

So do you…

Ab1. Offer to change places?

or

Ab2. Suggest you both try to get out?

The Game 2 Option Ab2: Together

The Game Option Ab2: Suggest There’s a Way for Both to Get OutThe ant looks completely dejected. His shoulders slump and his front legs hang beside his wings. Although it’d be nice to simply leave, your conscience would plague you knowing you left him behind.

“Maybe there’s a way for us both to get out,” you say.

“What?” his head comes up so fast you wonder if ants can get whip lash.

“Have you ever tried to leave the game with someone,” you say.

“No, no one’s even suggested such a thing. It could work!” he jumps up and down, fluttering his wings until you pull him back to the ground by his feet.

“Let’s find the ring.”

“Right, right.”

You tell him about the statue of the child with wings and then you fly over the ruins searching. There are a lot of pedestals where statues used to sit but it’s not until you reach the very center of the ruins that you find the child with wings.

Landing by the statue, the ant lands next to you like you’re tethered together. He’s not getting more than an ant leg away from you. Perhaps he’s scared you’re trying to trick him.

“How long have you been in game?” you ask.

“Can’t really tell,” he replies. “Five people have gone through before you. The first few I tried to tell but they hid the map from me and ran away so I stopped telling people they could get stuck here.”

“I can see why.” You walk around the statue as you talk, checking each pock mark in the base for the ring. You’ve circled it twice when a glint of silver catches your eye.

“There,” you pull the ring out and hold it up.

The ant looks at you, fear in his eyes.

“What do we have to do?” You ask.

“They put the ring on and drink from the bottle and poof, they disappear.”

“The ring’s big enough for us both to wear,” you comment, sliding the ring over one of your legs. He slides his right leg in next to yours and you stand shoulder to shoulder as you pull the bottle from your pocket. The ring’s big enough it could fit over your head, so there’s room to spare for both your legs.

Unstoppering the bottle, you drink half and hand him the rest.

“Here goes nothing,” he says and downs it.

He lights up around the edges with a yellow glow. Looking at yourself, you’re glowing too.

In wonder, you look at your legs and your torso, which are changing from ant shape back to human. The glow fades and you look around to see you’re back in the attic with a small man wearing glasses standing shoulder to shoulder with you.

“It worked!” He shouts and jumps up and down just like he did in ant form.

“We’re back,” you agree, stretching your arms and legs as you get used to your human form again.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you.” He jumps up and down and then hugs you. “I’m hungry, lets go find some human food!” And he races out of the room.

You follow more slowly and end up eating dinner with him and Ms. Williams before heading to bed half believing the whole thing was a dream.

You made it out though and you’re happy with that. The game purported to have treasure at the end and, someday, maybe you’ll go back in to try and find it. But for now, it’s good just to be human.

The End

No treasure but you end the game human and you helped the other ant out too! Not bad for an adventure=)

Thanks for joining in and I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Blessings,

Jennifer