The Misplaced Drilling Machine (Hollow Earth Expedition Ssn1 ep.25)

This is an ongoing story about a lost world of hungry dinosaurs, sinister villains, and non-stop action. If you’re new to Hollow Earth Expedition, I suggest starting at the beginning.

 

Professor Scrumtumbler paced through the tall green grass of the veldt where he thought sure his drilling machine had been. It wasn’t there. Then he paced back to where he thought it might have been, but still didn’t find it. Finally he went to the spot where it couldn’t possibly have been, and it wasn’t there either.

He gazed around in all directions and absentmindedly tugged at his unruly white hair. Where could that twelve-ton steel-plated monstrosity have gone?

After escaping the cannibals, Scrumtumbler had given an earnest prayer for the safety of his teammates, who were thoroughly scattered throughout this startlingly dangerous wilderness. Scrumtumbler had never been a religious man, but in times like these he didn’t see how a prayer could hurt. “My colleagues never sought to steal Your secrets or topple Your laws of nature,” he reasoned. “If any of us should be punished, it should be me.”

Now, it seemed, the Almighty had taken his suggestion by plucking the drilling machine up into the sky. There seemed to be no better explanation.

Scrumtumbler paced the area systematically, forming a spiraling search pattern. He found triceratops footprints and even a red sequin from Celeste’s dress, but no sign of the machine. He was just about to give up when he parted the grass to discover a broad hillock of freshly churned earth, where small birds and flying reptiles pecked away in search of grubs and worms.

This was surely the exit point of the drilling machine. To dispel any doubt, two deep tracks with the distinctive herring-bone pattern of the drilling machine’s treads led away a dozen feet through the grass. And then the tracks abruptly stopped with no further sign of the vehicle.

There was something else at the end of the tracks: another large patch of churned dirt, but this one was flat and even, as if someone had dug a swimming pool and then refilled the hole. Scrumtumbler paced it, counting his steps to discover that this patch of recently-dug earth was exactly long enough and wide enough to contain the drilling machine.

So: the machine hadn’t mystically flown up into the sky, it had been swallowed by the earth. Mystery solved… and replaced by the new mystery. How it had gotten buried? Who would have done this, and why? If it had drilled itself in, it would have kicked back far more dirt and left a gigantic mole-hill behind it. This smooth patch of churned earth couldn’t be from the machine, yet it also couldn’t be natural, because sinkholes simply aren’t rectangular. Man-made? Perhaps, yet it would have taken a chain-gang a day to dig a hole big enough to conveniently stash the drilling machine, and Scrumtumbler was sure he hadn’t been gone that long. Furthermore, there were no signs of laborers—no boot-prints, no discarded tools, not even a scrap of paper or an extinguished cigarette.

Scrumtumbler shook his wild-haired head and decided that he must be overlooking something.

He paced around the outside of the dirt patch once more in search of some sign or clue that he had overlooked. He got exactly three steps when a hole opened beneath his feet.

The hole happened to be exactly one Scrumtumbler in diameter, and he dropped through before he could even yelp.

Where he had stood only an instant before, freshly churned earth pushed up from beneath to seal the hole behind him.

 

 

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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

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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