Sunday, April 27, 2008

004: Stamp... stamp... stamp...

Call in a specialist: 2 votes
Sneak into the lab: 7 votes
Make amends: 6 votes
Follow the path into the woods: 0 votes
Follow the stream: 0 votes

Charleston's thirst for knowledge was great. Specifically, the knowledge of what lay within the lab. The two most prudent paths for him would be to apologize to Professor Koleyna, or wait for her to leave the lab and sneak into it. He thought about both scenarios for a bit. Truth be told, Charleston was only a man of words as long as it related to insurance. He also had a way with women, a way which usually left him injured in some way. The only woman he had ever dated was bitten by a vampire and was currently a member of the vampire's cult, and it was pretty much Charleston's fault this happened. Therefore, the course of action was clear: he would wait until Koleyna left the lab, and sneak in. All he had to do was wait...

An hour later, he was still waiting when Land Captain returned with Charleston's new boots. Charleston was sure Land Captain's arrival had made Koleyna stay inside the lab, just to be spiteful. Grumbling, Charleston put on his new boots while Land Captain rambled on about how he had thwarted an alien abduction attempt on the way there. Then, an idea struck him. It was a terrible idea, but it just might work.

"Well, I guess the frog is not going to show up today!" shouted Charleston, towards the lab, "I might as well leave, gee golly gee whiz!"

Land Captain was befuddled, "Are you all right, Mister Charge?"

"Just play along!" whispered Charleston, who then raised his voice, "Yep, just a false alarm I guess!"

Land Captain touched the brim of his hat, and then got into the car. Charleston got into the back, vainly trying to see if Koleyna was watching. He could not see, and soon they were off. A minute or so later, Charleston had Land Captain stop the car.

"I'll call you when I'm done here, Land Captain," said Charleston.

"What are you going to do," asked Land Captain.

"Make my way back to the lab through the woods. I figure that if Koleyna doesn't see me, then she'll be willing to leave the lab for a bit."

"You're a clever one."

"Not really. It's one of the oldest tricks there is," said Charleston, getting out of the car. He watched Land Captain drive off, and then began walking down the road, his long coat flapping in the wind. He held onto his hat - something resembling a fedora, but not quite a fedora - and looked up at the sky. It was turning gray. Charleston groaned, and trekked on. Then, he realized something: Land Captain's car could go fast. Quite fast, and in quite a short time. Therefore, he had no idea how far away he was from the lab.

Then the rain came. The drops came down like tiny little daggers, stabbing at Charleston's face and wetting down his hair. Drops dripped down his back. He put up his color and scrunched his shoulders in an attempt to stave off the wetness. He buttoned up his coat so that the things he put in its inner pockets wouldn't get wet, and he stamped down the now muddy road. By now, it was more swamp than road. As he stamped, he thought he heard something else stamping. He stopped, and listened:

Stamp... stamp... stamp... stamp...

It was coming up the road, whatever it was. Panic and curiosity rose up within Charleston, and he knew he had few options...

The stamping was too close. He had to make a choice now, and he had no time to think. He dashed off the road, hid behind a tree, took out his tape recorder, and waited.

Stamp... stamp... stamp...

Charleston watched as a giant non-anthropomorphic frog hopped down the road towards his hiding place. He clicked on his tape recorder, and began whispering.

"I have visual confirmation of the rumored giant frog. It is non-anthropomorphic, about as big as a Buick, I think, and it appears to be relatively healthy..."

Stamp... stamp... stamp...

"Each hop takes it, oh, maybe ten yards? It doesn't appear to be trying, though. I'm guessing it could take a much larger jump if it actually tried. I wonder if I could ride it..."

Stamp... stamp... stamp.

"The giant frog has stopped right in front of me. It's not looking at my hiding place, it's just sort of... sitting there. Like it can sense me or something? Do frogs have some sort of... froggy-sense? Could be worth looking into."

There was a flash of lightning and the roar of thunder. The frog let out a monstrous croak, quickly turned around, and let loose with a mighty jump. Charleston ran out from behind the tree.

"I can still see it, and I'd say it jumped around seventy yards, give or take. Ah, wait, I know..." said Charleston, pulling a gadget out of his pocket, "I'll use the digital tape measure."

He wedged a small spike into the back-most part of the frog's footprints, and then stopped. The frog was still sitting there. Charleston shrugged, and then ran towards it. When he got closer, he shouted gibberish at it, and the frog jumped again. Charleston knelt down where the frog had sat.

"The giant frog was scared of me. Curious, but I guess that means it's not a natural giant. Perhaps some sort of mutation. Or maybe it's just a coward. In any case..." Charleston held the digital tape measure at the back-most part of the newly vacated frog prints. It read 74.6 yards. "The frog jumped about seventy-five yards."

There was another flash of lightning, roll of thunder, and monstrous croak. Charleston clicked on his tape recorder as the croak echoed through the woods and said, "That was the frog." He put away the digital tape measure and tape recorder, and then began trekking after the frog. If he was lucky, he might be able to catch it. If not, then at least he was keeping busy.

Half an hour later, Charleston saw the lab in the distance. At this point, he could not do much sneaking since he was sopping wet, but he intended to try to sneak into the lab regardless. He walked into the woods, sighed as his feet sank a little into the mud, and made his way towards the lab. As he walked, the mud sucked at his boots. When he was close to the lab, he stopped and realized that there was no way he could figure out if Koleyna had left or not, since the lab had no windows. He did hear the distinctive noise of rain bouncing off a tarp, and this did little for his mood. He had intended to sneak into the lab through the hole in the roof, and the tarp would make things very difficult. Coupled with the rain, the task would be nearly impossible without any sort of gear. Charleston pulled out his tape recorder, said, "Note to self: always bring climbing equipment" and put the recorder back into his pocket.

After pondering what to do, Charleston picked up a rock and hurled it at the door. He did this with several rocks, and eventually Professor Koleyna opened the door. Charleston tossed more rocks away from the lab, and Koleyna closed the door. Charleston sighed deeply, but then Koleyna opened the door again and left the lab. She looked around, then placed her palms against each other and closed her eyes. A flash of light erupted from the ground, and she was gone. Charleston dashed for the door, and once he was safely inside he took out his tape recorder and said, "Fish doctor is not what she seems." Then he walked over to the table with the notebook on it, and was rather shocked to see that the notebook was no longer there.

"How dare she take measures against my snooping!" said Charleston to a curious carp.

This gave Charleston some pause. If she had taken preventative measures against his snooping, why was the door unlocked? No doubt she would have done that first, if she wanted her activities to remain a secret. Only then did he realize that he could no longer hear the rain on the tarp, and that the part of the lab that was under the hole in the roof was becoming drenched. This was troublesome, and Charleston turned towards the door only to see the notebook taped to it. He quickly pulled it off the door, and flipped back a few pages.

Charleston read the page several times, finally exclaiming, "A freaking tree put a hole in the roof? Seriously? A tree? I went through all that trouble just to find out the hole in the roof was an act of nature?"

He flipped forward through the notebook, and read the last page:

"Dear Mister Charge,

You should really have known better. No means no, especially when it comes to insurance. Your curiosity is an attractive trait, but as they say, curiosity killed the cat. Here are some other tidbits to satisfy your curiosity: I have dabbled in mad science. My efforts have produced a fish combining the ability to survive outside of water of a mudskipper, the mouths of a piranha, the ferocity of a barracuda, the mobility of a flying fish, and the ability to cling of a clingfish. They also have heightened intelligence and a sort of hive-mind. I hope you have fun with them.

Sincerely yours,
Professor Liana Koleyna."

In the darkness in the corner of the lab, Charleston finally noticed the light glinting off hundreds of shiny teeth. This was going to be painful, and he had few options. He could probably take out a few fish, but there were several dozen of them and only one of him. He could also run from the lab, but that would only be a temporary measure with the hole in the roof. The final thing he could do was call for assistance. At least, the final thing he was willing to do. What was worse is that he had only moments to think of a solution...


Everett Volk said...

Was it intentional that Charleston recorded 75 feet when his digital measure read 74.6 yards?

Mike P said...

No. Thank you for pointing it out. It's fixed now.