This is the first episode of a Hollow Earth Expedition serial. New episodes of this story will be added every Tuesday and Friday (and maybe more often if the mood takes me).
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“Oh, fiddlesticks,” Celeste said as she inspected a crack that crept across the long red fingernail of her left pinkie. This was just one more thing to add to her list of nearly unendurable hardships: the desert winds were drying out her skin, the morning sun was making her blond hair hang limp, and sand kept slipping into her red pumps to line the spaces between her toes. The scrublands of Nevada were simply murder on a girl’s good looks.
If only she hadn’t needed to share a ride with Reggie, then she wouldn’t have needed to show up so early and wait around while he set up his cameras. His Model T, however, had been her only means of getting to the launch site, and Reggie had been very persuasive about going. It’ll be easy money, he had said. Great exposure, he had said. Reggie said a lot of things, but Celeste was beginning to doubt that any of it was worth her while. Today, her entire job would consist of looking pretty while handing a champagne bottle to some crazy-haired twit in a white lab coat so that he could ceremonially bash it on the side of his big whosey-whatsit drilling machine while the press snapped photos—assuming, that is, that any paper in the country took this event seriously enough to send reporters. This gig didn’t exactly seem like the triumphant culmination of her acting career.
Celeste scooped up her handbag and looked around for a shady spot. The inside of the Model T was hot enough to boil coffee, the nearby airplane hangar was locked, and the little wooden outhouse was occupied. That left the Drilling Machine, which looked like a gargantuan, double-length tin can with a pointy nose aimed down at the dirt. The professor and his crew were puttering around inside it, securing cargo and testing the engines, but the machine remained propped upright in its launch struts and casting a long, cool shadow out behind it.
Stepping around behind the drilling machine, Celeste clipped the ragged edge of her nail and then peeked into her compact mirror to discover that her cheeks were already displaying the pinkness of sunburn. This, she decided, was the final sign that it was time to return home. Not home to Hollywood, but all the way back to Oklahoma. It was 1936, five years after she had come out west in search of fame and fortune, and she wasn’t any further along now than when she had started. Only now she was sunburned, too.
Her thoughts of heading home were interrupted by a metallic clanking on the strut next to her ear. Thinking she might pass the time by striking up a little conversation with whoever was working there, she turned the corner to find a man in a charcoal gray suit strapping something into place on the steel girder that secured the hull of the drilling machine.
“What’s your story, Morning Glory?” she asked.
The man turned slowly, a scowl on his face. As he moved, he revealed what he had been working on: a bundle of bright red sticks of dynamite.
Hollow Earth Expedition was created by Jeff Combos and is property of Exile Game Studio. For more Hollow Earth Expedition action, check out ExileGames.com