This post is part of an ongoing story set in the pulp-era world of Hollow Earth Expedition. If you are new to this series, I suggest starting at the beginning of the story.
“Pardon me, gents,” Clem said with his slow Texan drawl. “I reckon it’s time to launch.”
“Now?” Scrumtumbler glanced at his watch. “The press won’t be here for two hours. What’s going on? Why are you pointing your gun at that girl?”
Clem switched his aim to cover the professors. Confused, they looked at each other and then back at Clem. The expedition’s wilderness guide swung one foot out of the hatch, but Clem pressed the gun to the back of Scrumtumbler’s head until the barrel disappeared inside the scientist’s unruly white mop of hair. The wilderness guide, unwilling to risk his employer’s life, reluctantly moved back inside.
“Why are you doing this?” Scrumtumbler asked.
“All you need to know,” Clem said as he prodded his three hostages towards the drilling machine. “Is that I work for an organization that wishes to keep secrets.”
The actress was the first to climb the ladder and enter the drilling machine, followed by Limefellow. When Scrumtumbler passed through, he paused to look back at Clem.
“You won’t get away with this,” Scrumtumbler said defiantly .
“Sorry to disappoint you,” Clem said. “When the press arrives, they won’t find a drilling machine or a professor. They’ll assume this whole operation was nothing but a fraud.”
“They don’t have to assume,” Limefellow’s voice echoed up out of the opening.
“Quiet, you!” Scrumtumbler barked at the professor. Then, to Clem he said, “we don’t have to leave. You can’t make us.”
“There’s a bundle of dynamite strapped to the launch strut,” Clem said. “If you aren’t gone in five minutes, I’ll blow this drilling machine to kingdom-come, and you with it. Bon voyage, gentlemen.”
With that, he slammed the hatch shut and sealed the crew inside the darkened hull.