Einstein had forgotten his name, and Elsa had never bothered to remember it either. So, too, would the rest of the world forget Scrumtumbler if he died in this subterranean pit, consumed by a writhing swarm of blind grubs.
“Science be my light and my flame,” he muttered, thinking that these would be his last words.
But the words sparked something within him. He looked first to the hollowed-out, rubbery husk of the grub he had stomped. Then he looked to flaking iron in the walls of the pit, and finally to the stream of sulfuric acid pouring down from above.
“Eureka!” Scrumtumbler declared.
In the excitement of his epiphany, he shook his stun rifle and something clicked inside it, causing the electric arc to flare brightly against the darkness.
In the brilliance of his invention, Scrumtumbler dashed forward and stomped on several more of the carnivorous grubs. This work was as exhausting as it was filthy, but it was important that he gut a few more before the bulk of them swarmed him. One managed to grasp his calf in its powerful jaws, forcing a shriek out of the scientist, but he knocked it loose from his leg, and then slammed his heel into its back.
By the time he slew eight of the vile crawlers he left panting, exhausted, and covered in sticky gore. Three of them had split down the middle and were thus useless to him, but the bodies of the others held firm. Working quickly, he dragged the carcasses away to the wall of the pit, as far as he could get from the opening eggs. In another few minutes, he calculated, the rest of the eggs would hatch and he would have nowhere to run.
Using the butt of his broken stun rifle, he scraped at the wall of the pit, quickly creating a large pile of iron filings. Another grub found him as he worked, taking him by surprise as it seized the tail of his lab coat. He was able to dispatch it and add it to his collection.
When he looked back he saw an undulating blanket of the disgusting creatures spreading out from the egg sack towards him. He knew he didn’t have much time left.