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.
Scrumtumbler pressed the throttle forward and locked the treads into position. The rest of the crew swung back and forth in their Farris-wheel style seats that always kept their feet pointed down regardless of the drilling machine’s orientation.
Celeste pressed her face to the porthole and watched as the line of dirt rose up to block out the sun. “We’re going to die!” she moaned. “I’m not even supposed to be here!”
“Take it easy, doll-face, I’ll take care of this,” said Jack Steele, the crew’s wilderness guide. He was a tall man, his body lean and iron-hard, and somehow his gritted teeth made the cleft in his chin even deeper. He wore khaki from head to foot, adorned only with a leather belt and a shoulder harness for his Colt automatic.
Jack unbuckled his seat’s chest strap and leapt down into the piloting compartment next to Scrumtumbler. “Turn this thing around, Doc,” he demanded. “I got a bone to pick with your engineer back there.”
“It doesn’t turn,” Scrumtumbler said, indicating a spiraling, sinking motion with his index finger. “The best it can do is angle a little as it goes.”
“Then put it into reverse,” Limefellow called from his seat above.
Scrumtumbler scooted his goggles up onto his forehead and looked up into the passenger area. “It doesn’t have a reverse. The hole fills in behind us as we go, and, in case you hadn’t noticed, the drill is only on the front end.”
“Design flaw,” Limefellow announced contentedly as he made a mark in his notebook.
Maia Parker, the crew’s translator, cleared her throat and adjusted a lapis lazuli choker that she wore around her neck. Like Jack, she wore a khaki safari suit, but her dark hair, dark eyes, and high cheekbones spoke of a Native American ancestry. “I don’t see the problem,” she said. “This just means we’re a couple of hours ahead of schedule. I was getting bored waiting around up there, anyway.”
“You broads just stay out of this,” Jack said.
“Don’t call me a broad,” she said silkily, her fingers drumming on the pistol holster at her side.
“We’re all going to die, aren’t we?” Celeste said with quiet resignation.
Scrumtumbler snorted. “There’s no danger here. The only way we could die would be if we steer into a magma flow and boil to death. Or if we surface in a lake and drown. Or if we lose power and become trapped inside the bedrock.”
“Trapped?” Celeste shuddered. “You mean we could end up starving to death inside this bucket of bolts?”
“Nonsense!” Scrumtumbler waved dismissively. “We’d suffocate long before we ran out of food.”
“May I ask,” Limefellow interrupted. “Why on Earth did you enlist a wilderness guide and a translator to explore a cave?”
“I had my reasons,” Scrumtumbler muttered, rubbing the back of his head and further mussing his unruly white hair. “I have a theory…a hunch.”
“…bases his theories on hunches…” Limefellow said to himself as he added another note to his book. Then he leaned forward in his seat and spoke to Maia, who sat below him. “Incidentally, my dear, I am a professor of linguistics, which means we will no longer be needing your translation services”
“As long as I get paid,” Maia said with a roll of her eyes.
“Everyone, everyone!” Jack’s voice boomed through the cabin. “Maybe we’re lacking a few members of the crew and maybe we have a few guests we didn’t expect, but we’re all going to make it back safely. I personally guarantee it.”
There was a moment of contemplative silence.
“Yep,” Celeste finally said. “We’re going to die.”
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