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Kim levels her gaze at you, and the strain of climbing with her broken wrist has clearly worn out her patience. “You heard a click?”
“And this concerns you?”
“So your theory is that in this structure, which has been buried in the soil of Antarctica for potentially centuries, someone threw down a rock with a cryptic message so as to lure us to make a difficult climb and then stand on a haphazardly tilted surface just to blow us up with a landmine which has, to all appearances, also remained untouched for centuries in the Antarctic cold?” She takes a long breath. “Because, with minimal effort, I can think of multiple alternative sources of a clicking sound which do not involve bringing high explosives into the mix.”
“I’m just being cautious.”
“Continue to be this cautious, and I will kill you long before a landmine will.” She shoves you with her good hand, forcing you to shift off of whatever you have just stepped on.
You both hear the clicking sound this time.
There is no explosion, of course, but you briefly see Kim’s eyes widen and her hands move to defensively cover her head. There is no time for you to comment on her hypocrisy, however. You very quickly have a larger concern on your hands.
“So, evidently that was the light switch.”
Kim grunts, not wanting to comment. You imagine she’s not entirely certain which one of you is to blame for your current predicament. The blackness is sudden, total, and if While you could try to step on the switch once again, you decide you’ll have a better chance at finding it if you kneel and sweep the area with your hands.
Promptly you crack heads with Kim who apparently had the same plan. The stars swimming in front of your eyes are the only things you can see.
“Before either of us says anything,” you say in hushed tones to avoid more head pain, “we should remember we are both tired, cold, and recently had a pretty bad fall.”
“Also, we kind of hate each other right now.”
“Agreed,” Kim repeats, but there’s a little smile behind her voice.
“Let me try to find the switch.” You shift your weight back to where you’d meant to search previously. Rock. Rock. Rock. CLICK.
You’ve pressed the switch again, but nothing happens.
“Why is nothing happening?” asks Kim.
For a moment, you say nothing. The cold air seems somehow even more bitterly chilling in the dark. You inhale to speak and you swear your saliva is freezing. “One thought is that this is like one of those lamps where you have to click over a few times before the light comes on.”
“So why aren’t you clicking it again?” You don’t need to see to know that Kim is forcing the words out through gritted teeth.
“Because there is also the option that whatever energy has been running for potentially billions of years in this place may turn off quickly, but will need a few moments to warm up. If I keep clicking, waiting for something to happen, I might lose track of whether I am turning it on or off.”
Kim’s voice goes up an octave as she replies. “Then what precisely do you propose we do?”
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 February 9th 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 10th. 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 February 23rd. The new chapter will be up by March 2nd.