Monday, September 21, 2015

Underground Accommodations

What archaic people laid these tracks? It is a mystery to all.
Now I'm in a bit of a bind. The good news is that my mining on the second island (I really should name these, now that there's more than one) has not only been fruitful in production, but has led to other, mysterious caverns as well! Some of these are merely large cavities in which a bat has become trapped, but in one case I uncovered an underground pool. With some cunning pick-work, I styled it into a handsome little sauna, I think.

I have also disclosed an alarming and wholly unexpected discovery: that of a network of railways and trestles. All this, a few dozen meters below the surface of the second island, one of only two in my worldly awareness. I can scare believe it, but the fact of train tracks, coal cars, wooden load-bearing struts throughout a seemingly endless labyrinth of gangways is incontrovertible. It would be easier to stand in a field of marigolds at high noon, attempting to dissuade your company of the fact of the great spread of grass, the bright, beaming flowers or the sun that beats upon your heads. And yet I struggle to reconcile with this, for it means that there are—were—other people here. How long ago, I cannot say: they have abandoned their devices and their mining is incomplete, leaving me to exhume as much iron ore, lapis lazuli, gold and diamonds as my frame may bear.

The bad news is that I have become expertly lost.

For hours I have staggered under the weight of my finds, desperately retracing my steps, which are now of course occluded not only by my own soles but the shambling gaits of all the unnamed creeping horrors and A.C.M.s which detect me, any skeleton that cares to take pot-shots at me from all new alcoves and vantage positions. I have developed what I call the "left-hand crawl," by which you place your left palm upon the maze wall and perambulate the entirety of the grounds, ensuring you cannot loop back or retrace your path until you make a complete circle.

There are, however, some maze stunts that do manage to fall back on themselves, plus the concept of a maze-within-a-maze, not to mention this technique does not factor the third dimension: I've hewn numerous staircases both ascending and descending, and without the sky or sea against which to check my progress, entirely within caves as I am, I have no idea where I am. Now I have to study the ceiling—as well as keeping my eyes open to the front and sides while listening intently behind me—just in case I may spot a hole from which I fell or a staircase I dropped out of.

The author has hastily constructed some cobblestone walls,
and iron is smelting in the furnace.
I'm pleasantly surprised that the air in here is not stale but fresh enough to inspire. My food, however, is another issue: I've used up my roast mutton chops and am down to several baked potatoes. My garden was doing splendidly before I left, and had I but anticipated becoming disoriented in this subterranean dimension, I could have packed enough food for weeks. As it is, I pace myself by waiting until the very real pangs of hunger set in before I shove another roast tuber down my maw.

But I do have a plan. All is not yet lost. A wise man once spake: "If you're lost in the woods, fuck it. Build a house."
  1. I can tear down and reappropriate any of the mining trestles and make another workbench.
  2. Cobblestone is plenty, and a reasonable furnace comprises this.
  3. I can make a trunk or two in which to store my gains.
  4. At least a few A.C.M.s have dropped carrots upon their execution: I can make a hoe, clear space for a dirt patch, craft a pail, irrigate the patch and illuminate the grounds to grow carrots. If another A.C.M. drops a potato or I chance upon wild underground weeds, all the better.
While this isn't a perfect solution (to wit, restoring me to my surface dwelling and the open seas), it will keep me alive. The unnamed creeping horrors do not produce any viable flesh; the A.C.M.s do drop a fetid, maggoty meat I am not yet desperate enough to consume; the skeletons, of course, are all bone. How they amble about is as much a mystery as how I can slay one with two arrows. I should think the bolts would zip right through, unimpeded...

I didn't bring enough food, but I did bring my all-important journal. More later, O my reader, if there is a "later" for me.

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