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Kim is frozen, not with cold, but with indecision. Her eyes dart all around, vainly trying to detect the source of the sound.
You reach down, and grab a hunk of rock. Handing it to Kim, you make your intentions clear. “Start banging on the wall with this. Shout, make noise, that sort of thing. We have no idea where we are, but it sounds like there’s somebody nearby who does.”
“Okay, but …” She glances meaningfully around the room. “…whoever’s making that noise isn’t part of our team. What if they don’t want us to be here?”
“Our team isn’t equipped to cut through the hatch up there, and from all appearances, the hatch remained closed for a few centuries before that at least. We have no idea what made it open, so we can’t rely on them getting it to do it again. We’ve got no food, no water, and no heat source. We need help if we’re going to be down here for any length of time.”
“We might not have much of a ‘length of time’ if we aren’t welcome here.”
“True, but that’s a maybe. We definitely won’t do well on our own here, so I think our best bet is to rely on the kindness of strangers.”
So saying, you lift up one of the little picks you would normally use to chip away at the soil. You start banging it against the wall. Three short raps, three long, three short again, and then repeat. “Hello!”
The knocking in the familiar Shave and a Haircut pattern ceases in immediate response to your calls. Kim takes this as a positive sign and begins to do likewise, banging away for all she can and shouting with gusto.
Every minute or so, you stop briefly, listening for some sign you’ve been heard. You’re fairly certain there’s some noise from your team up above. They might be tapping something in Morse code. Too bad the only letters you know are S and O.
Other than that, however, nothing further comes to your ears. After fifteen minutes, you take a break as your voice is already raw from the cold and the shouting. You and Kim continue to take turns banging away at the wall, but to no avail.
After a half hour, you give up, at least for now. There hasn’t been a single sound indicating someone is heading your way, and the tapping you heard before has been gone since the start of this excercise.
“Well that’s a bit depressing.” Kim grunts as she lowers herself to a seated position. “If that had worked, we’d have gotten somewhere. As it is, I feel like we just wasted a half-hour, and I’m not sure we had that time to waste.”
“You’re probably right there.”
“Any other ideas?” She looks tired. Pain is exhausting, and with her wrist as damaged as it is, she’s got to be on her last legs. Still, a nap in these conditions is hardly ideal.
“I’m going to dig that tarp out and see how much of it we have. If we can construct a makeshift tent, it will hold in some of our body heat. Maybe there’s something here we can use to keep us off the ground so the earth doesn’t suck all the heat off us.”
She nods, already moving. “I can help, probably. One hand is better for digging than none.”
There is a small stone tied up in a piece of wire. It wasn’t there a moment ago, and it clearly just hit the wall nearby. If you had to guess, you’d say it was thrown from around the corner where the passageway (or is it just a high ceiling) goes almost straight up from your current position.
“Who threw that? Hello, can you hear me?!” Kim’s voice has gone an octave up, equal parts fear and desperation. While Kim continues to shout, you go to the stone. Sketched on either side of it (probably with a softer stone) are crude drawings.
After Kim has shouted herself nearly hoarse (and shared any number of colorful phrases indicating what she thinks of the stone throwers who won’t show themselves) you approach her with the stone.
“If you had to guess …”
Kim glares at you. “I don’t want to guess. I want the jerk who’s obviously within earshot of us to just come out and give us a hand.”
“They don’t appear willing to do that.” You extend the stone to her again.
“Fine.” After a moment, she responds. “Well, this one is obviously fire. I mean, if it’s not, then I have no idea what it could be. On the other side . . . I don’t know. A bald guy with no face and no arms? But the legs are really short, and he’s pigeon-toed.” She turns it around in her hands. “Ok, when I look at it this way, I’m thinking shovel.”
“I came to the same conclusions. There is a picture of fire and a picture of a shovel.”
“Great. We agree. Why did someone send us a picture of fire and a picture of a shovel, and what the heck are we supposed to do about it?”
With Choose Your Own Geekery, you don’t just get to make a choice, you get to offer a choice for others. You have from now until December 8th to make a suggestion for what our intrepid Paleontologist should be doing. I’ll be filling the TBDs in with an actual suggestion on the 12th. You can make your suggestions here or on our Facebook Page.
You may vote now, or wait until all options are in. Please do not vote for TBD, but wait until they are filled in. All votes must be in by December 22nd.
The new chapter will be up by December 30th.