Wednesday, June 4, 2008

014: Lost in the Woods

Wait for Edolie: 4 votes
Don't wait for Edolie: 0 votes
Charleston could not, in good conscience, abandon Edolie to her fate. She had many redeeming qualities, after all, and Charleston was sure that, together, they could wrap up this frog thing quite quickly. He sat down on a fallen tree and waited for Edolie.

Fifteen minutes later, he was still waiting for Edolie. He hopped off the fallen tree, grimaced as he landed hard on his bionic leg, and then stumbled back through the woods. He decided to retrace his steps, and eventually found himself right back by the fallen tree.

He pulled out his tape recorder, "More nonsense: after leaving Edolie DePrit by a pond, I decided to go back for her. Despite going straight back the way I came, I ended up back by the fallen tree. Something fishy is going on here."

Charleston knew what to do in this situation: he pulled a spool of string out of his pocket, tied one end to a branch, and began walking, making sure the string remained straight. He wound up back by the fallen tree, with the string still perfectly straight. He sat on the fallen tree again and sighed deeply. He hated unstable terrain.

While he debated about what to do, Edolie came into the clearing, following the string.

"Charleston! Why did you run off and leave me?" she said.

Charleston shrugged, "I thought you might want to change out of your wetsuit."

"It is not a wet-suit. It is an action-suit."

Charleston nodded. Many of the newer agents were opting to wear action-suits, all purpose suits which gave them maximum mobility while showing off their physiques. Charleston was unsure why they needed to wear them while selling insurance, but appreciated their use in a case like this. Besides, thought Charleston, Edolie filled her suit out nicely.

"Why is there a string?" she said.

"I was checking for unstable terrain. Unfortunately, I found out that it was."

Edolie sat next to him, "What do we do?"

Charleston tried to remain professional, and reminded himself of his vampire-possessed girlfriend. "Well, in some cases, there's naturally unstable terrain. You just go in the loop a few times or check for it, and it stabilizes for a bit. Then there's unnaturally unstable terrain, which is terrible since you can't figure out which way is which. Something is probably causing it."

"Oh," said Edolie, looking sadly at the ground.

Charleston felt his heart break a little at the thought of her sadness, tried hard to remember himself and ignore her, and he cursed and blessed whoever assigned Edolie to him. Then he heard a plop, coming from the same direction it had before. Both he and Edolie turned towards the sound.

"I think whatever is making that plop is making the terrain unstable," said Charleston, "I think it's trying to draw people towards it."

Edolie hopped off the tree, and asked, "What if it's a trap?"

She held out her hand to help Charleston down. He gladly took it. "I've a brand new cane and a young woman in an action suit. I'd say we'd be giving it a pretty good fight." Edolie smiled, and Charleston forgot why they were there for a moment. He recovered himself, and added, "I don't know how far away the plopper is going to be. We might have to go through the unstable terrain a bit, and if we do, well, there are some things that live in unstable terrain. Things which are pretty terrible, Edolie."

"I laugh at terror!" said Edolie, "Ha ha ha!"

"You can't be flippant about this," said Charleston, "This is serious business. You mustn’t interact with any living creature except me until we get to a bit where the terrain has settled down."

"I will hold your hand, then, so that we do not get separated. Good idea, yes?" She grabbed Charleston's hand.

"Yes," said Charleston weakly, "Very good idea."

"How will we know when the terrain is stable?"

"We'll know if we come to a large body of water. Water is naturally unstable, so it's unaffected by unstable terrain. This doesn’t mean some of the unstable creatures don’t live in it, though."

Edolie nodded.

Charleston stared at her for a moment, and then at the spool of string. He untied it from the branch and gave it a good yank, bringing it towards him. He took a length of string and wrapped it around his and Edolie's joined hands. Then he tied one end to a branch again, and the pair set out. Shortly after, they encountered a fork in the path. The woods had become quite dense, but there were three large hollow logs. They were dark inside, but looked large enough to walk through.

"Which way?" asked Edolie.

"I don't hear any music," said Charleston, "Sometimes you can hear music coming from a certain tunnel. It's sort of creepy, but quite helpful. So I guess we leave it up to chance and go left, right, or straight."

Edolie nodded, and Charleston hoped that they would choose the correct direction. He would hate to die in these woods.

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