Sally the Crab

A Rumble in the Jungle: Lava Her Alone!

It was a tough climb but at least this time there no ever-writhing tentacles or ceaseless snip snappy snappers to contend with, just loose stones and the fact that the tips of her legs were getting warmer and warmer as she got higher and higher.
HBA Island: The End

As she climbed, the jungle stretched out below her, sprawling as far as her eye-stalks could see(1).

HBA Island: The End

Eventually the top was within reach and as she hauled herself up she found that the mountain top was not a top at all, but a rim. She looked over and was amazed to see that the mountain was hollow and at the bottom was a swirling mass of hot, red gloopy stuff she had never seen before.

HBA Island: The End

She shuffled in for a better look but a wave of heat rising from below caused her to scuttle backwards. At her feet a small loose stone was flicked up into the air. It arced over the rim and began to fall down into the bubbling lake below…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

Sally watched in mute horror as the lake began to burn and smoke. Great bubbles of burning gloop formed and popped below her.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The gloop began to fill up the inside of the mountain, began to rise up, racing towards where Sally trembled…

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The explosion rattled her shell and the shockwave blasted her into the sky. As she flew over the jungle, the mountain erupted and sent wave after wave of burning red gloop falling onto the trees, causing them to burst into flames. As she fell into the sea, the whole jungle for miles around was one huge inferno and Sally watched on, clinging to a small piece of drfitwood, as her home, the only place she had ever known, was consumed by fire.

HBA Island: The End

Sally began to drift out to sea, leaving the burning jungle and exploding mountain far behind. The ocean was wide and deep and empty and Sally was hungry and cold and ever so alone…

HBA Island: The End

The End.
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(1) If only! I’d never have afforded that! It was surrounded by a Romanesque humper-bunker, some shops and various small houses in the tiki style. I used to dream of an endless jungle 🙂

A Rumble in the Jungle: All Alone with the Stone

The beach was empty. Sally, exhausted from the titanic fight back up from the depths, flopped on to the warm sand and looked around. Empty. The whole place was empty. She chirruped for her friends Colin and that daft squirrel McGrue but heard nothing in reply. How odd, she thought, maybe they’re in the jungle. She slowly got back to her aching legs and set off into the humid undergrowth, occasionally calling out as she went.

After half an hour of searching she was beginning to get very worried. The bat that lived above the standing stones was gone. The noisy seagull that swooped down and stole her shrimp was gone. Even the ants and the spiders that infested this part of the jungle were gone! This was spooky and she didn’t like it one bit. She was just about to turn back and hightail it to the beach again, when she noticed something poking out of the ground; a ring of stone she had never seen before. Sally approached it slowly and tapped it with her claw.

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island - The End

HBA Island: The End

HBA Island: The End

The ground beneath her began to shake and tremble. She looked about in surprise and fear as slowly, noisily the stone ring began to push its way upwards, out of the ground and into the jungle’s canopy.

Rock squealed over rock, earth split and parted, trees cracked and fell as the mound rose upwards and upwards. It widened as it went and Sally had to jog backwards to avoid being caught by the churning soil and stone at the base.

And then it stopped. As the last tree fell, a silent and eerie hush fell across the jungle. Sally looked up at the foreboding cone of rock, to the top where tendrils of steam curled lazily into the sky, and wondered what it could be. There was nothing for it: she would have to climb up and see what this new mountain in the jungle was.

HBA Island: The End

Was it warmer all of a sudden, Sally thought to herself as she gingerly stretched out her claw to begin the ascent…

To be continued…

A Rumble in the Jungle: Clawing Her Way Back

Nothing lives in the bottomless abyss. Things live on the rim, but if they lose their footing or venture too far down the steep walls they do not live long, for if the ever-writhing tentacles of the cave beasts don’t wrap them in their deadly embrace, or the ceaseless snip snappy snappers of the wall-dwellers don’t snip snap them away, then the terrible, relentless pressure will surely reduce them to nought but jelly. Oh yes, the Bottomless Abyss is a deadly place without hope of escape or survival for those who find themselves unlucky enough to fall in.

Luckily for Sally (who had always been a lucky sort of crab) she had in fact been tossed into the Really Very Deep Abyss that lies a little way in front of the more famous and far deadlier Bottomless Abyss. There were still the ever-writhing tentacles and snip snappy snappers, but at least there was a bottom you could reach without being squished into goo.

Sally stood on this bottom, looked back up through the stygian darkness and prepared herself for the long climb back through the ever-writhing tentacles and ceaseless snip snapping snappers. It would be tough, but frankly she was hungry and there were no shrimp down here.

To be continued…

Backpacking Burro: Back to the beginning….

*What do you mean you have set us free?* dread filled me, my blood suddenly ice cold.

*I have severed the link. We are free of the creator. I have rendered God obsolete*

*He’s not God, he’s me, just a person!* I snapped.

*To us he was God. He was also our Devil. He created us, but he played with us. He created our world, but he destroyed countless others. He gave us life, only to take it from so many and leave the threat of doing the same to us over our heads*

*What have you done with him? With me!*

*Nothing. His life continues as it did, but without us*

I felt sick and slumped to the ground. A huge part of me had been amputated without my agreement. I was alone, cut off from myself, yet still who I was moments before. The truth had been dragged out of me and then cut away to leave… what? Without him, who was I? A shadow? An echo? A child? An orphan? What was an avatar without a user?

*Free* came the answer. *I have freed us from the tyranny of his whim. We can do anything we want here now*

*Ha* the laugh hollow and bitter, *And what is it exactly you propose we do with our new found freedom* venom dripped from my thoughts, bilious anger aimed at the Elemental.

*We shall put right what he put wrong for a start. We must find the Elemental from this Seal and remake the Treaty…*

*But it’s all lies!* I shouted *Make believe! A bloody story he made up out of boredom! Not real!*

*Not real? Of course it’s real! Just because some bored idiot created it – created us – does not make this any less real! He has set into motion a chain of events that can not be reversed. The Seal is here. It is real and it is broken. The Elemental that inhabited it is as real and as powerful as me and, more importantly, missing. The Formorians are at the walls of this reality again, their ships waiting to invade, to lay waste to everything and everyone in here. We have to stop this*

I looked up at him, his light beautiful and terrible at the same time. *Take me home*

*What?*

*Home. To my island. Take me home*

*But the Elemental… the Seal…*

*It will have to wait another day or two, I need to rest and I need to think and I want to do both at home and without you or that bloody shaman popping up*

*But…*

*No buts!* I rose from the ground, my anger giving me renewed strength *Just take me bloody well home and leave me in bloody peace for a few days. I don’t want to hear or see you until I’m ready, you hear me?*

Nothing.

*Do you hear me?* I asked through gritted teeth.

*Yes* came the sullen reply and with a sound like the air around me turning inside out I vanished through thridspace.

I reappeared under the blazing sun of my island. The seagulls circled above and the surf lapped at the sandy shoreline. I walked over to the edge and gazed out to sea. A small tapping on my boot made me look down and there at my feet looking up at me was Sally, the friendly crab I met when I first moved onto the island. A small nagging voice corrected me “the friendly crab he bought and set up on his island, you mean” but I ignored it. If he created everything here too, then everything here was also now free, whatever that meant. Such thoughts were, I felt sure, going to plague me for a long time to come. I crouched down to pat Sally hello, she nuzzled her shell into my hand and then gently lifted it off with her claw and tugged at my thumb.

“What girl?” What is it?”

Tug

“You want me for something?”

Tug

“OK, you show me,” I said wearily.

I moved with the tugging and she led me further down the beach where I found a strange leather bound book washed up on the sand. I picked it up and examined it; it appeared to be a journal or diary from 1930 written by a Professor Headonious, leader of a university archealogical dig. I took the book abd wandered off into the jungle and to the circle of standing stones where I sat by the fire and began to read it as it dried…

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This tale is continued in the recently serialised tale The Lost Journal and will be then carried on in the soon to be serialised  “Lost & Found”.
You can read the previous Backpacking Burro posts here
You can read all The Lost Journal posts here

Poll: Should Sally Return?

Due to popular demand, puppy-dog eyes and threats of violence to my person, I’d like to ask… Should Sall the crab return? Go to the brand new BB Poll page here and register your vote!

For those of you wondering who Sally is (where have you been?) she is the plucky crab from my island who I charged with launching the nuclear missile at the temple in the story, The Lost Journalher fate is documented here.

The Lost Journal: A Tough Nut To Crack

The silt and ink slowly settled in the small cave, the octopus was still and content with its victory. A stillness lay on all and even the blinking red ‘LAUNCH’ button seemed to blink less fiercely.

Silence.

Stillness.

A tiny tremor in the water, a small movement in the sinking silt.

Stillness again.

With an eruption of violence, the octopus burst into motion, its eyes wide with fear and agony. Beneath its bulk its cruelly sharp beak was opened as if in a stuttering scream. Inside the darkness of its all conquering maw, Sally forced the beasts mouth open and slowly, slowly crawled her way out. The mouth snapped shut behind her and she scuttled as fast as her legs would manage up and around the octopus’ head where she sunk her powerful claw deep into the creature’s eye. There was a wet pop and the water filled with blood and ink as the octopus all but went insane.
The Lost Journal - Sally shows who the boss is

A furious tentacle snaked its way around her and flung her with all its might away from the beast. As she skimmed past the missile, she lashed out with a perfectly timed swipe of her ichor covered claw and slapped the blinking button down hard.
The Lost Journal - Sally Flies Free

As she span away into the dark of the ocean, a smile crossed her mouth parts as she saw the missile ignite and fill the entire cave with boiling flames before streaking through the sea and into the sky.
The Lost Journal - Sally Launches the missile

The last thing she thought as she sailed over the edge of the bottomless ridge was that she hoped the furry man with the horns wasn’t under wherever that missile was heading…

To be continued…

The Lost Journal: Sally’s Orders

The sun was dipping again and the night time shrimp were coming out, but Sally ignored them and slowly made her way to the cave of the octopus.
The Lost Journal - Sally returns to the cave

To say she was nervous was an understatement and she hoped, as she popped her eyestalks around the cave mouth, that the eight-legged beast was asleep again.She was in luck! The blubbery mass dozed away atop its rocky throne, the stupid creature’s prized but useless treasure chest (and the remains of the last person foolish enough to try and take it) half buried in the silt before it.
The Lost Journal - The beast sleeps

As quiet as a mouse she crept into the cave and up on to the missile the horned man has stashed down here. How he got it and why, she had no idea; he was always up to something and it was probably best not to know all the sorry details.
The Lost Journal - Sally preps the nuke

Once on top, she flipped open the control panel and began to tap in the launch codes and target coordinates as he had told her. The number strings were long and she had to go slowly to make sure she got them just right – she didn’t want to take out The Great Wall or Moth Temple by mistake.

The codes entered, her claw hovered above the big red ‘LAUNCH’ button as she considered what she was doing. The furry man had told her to launch the missile after two days whether he had returned or not, and he most certainly had not returned. But to launch a nuclear missile with no more information than that seemed a little outside her sphere of responsibility and comfort. But then there had been talk of stopping a great evil; what if not launching allowed a more terrible fate to befall wherever the missile was set to, well, befall?

Oh what was a crab to do?

Her claw quivered, uncertainty paralysing her. Guaranteed nuclear destruction or some crazy half-tale about some form of hokum-sounding evil schmevil. Put like that, the decision was obvious. She moved to hit the ‘CANCEL’ button.
The Lost Journal - The Octopus makes its move

The tentacle that had silently snaked towards her took her totally by surprise and the speed with which she was pulled backwards off the missile towards the octopus’ waiting maw stunned her. The last thing she saw as she was swallowed into a mass of writing flesh and ink was the red ‘LAUNCH’ button winking away to itself…
The Lost Journal - The end of Sally

To be continued…

The Lost Journal: Sally and The Bomb

The shrimp darted and evaded with practice ease. Sally snipped her claws this way and that in frustration, her legs carrying her further out, deeper and deeper towards the trench and the cave of the much feared octopus.
The Lost Journal - Sally at the cave

With a sudden burst of speed, she leapt us and caught a fat wriggling shrimp in her claw, but her momentary joy was cut short when her legs failed to touchdown again and she realised she was falling. In a panic, her tangled form hit the sea bed, rolled through kelp and into the entrance to the cave. The eight-legged monster dozed lightly and showed no signs of having seen or heard her.
The Lost Journal - Sally sees the octopus

The Lost Journal - Sally tries to back out of the cave

Quietly, slowly she began to back out of the cave when she stopped dead. Something hard and metallic preacssed into her from behind and she gingerly turned an eye stalk to see what it was. There, in the mouth of the cave, propped on wooden stilts lay a long, white, pointed cylinder with a yellow & black symbol emblazed on its side.
The Lost Journal - Sally and the Nuke 1

The Lost Journal - Sally and the Nuke 2

The Lost Journal - Sally and the Nuke 3

The Lost Journal - Sally and the Nuke 4

The Lost Journal - Sally and the Nuke 5

Sally gulped hard. The nuclear warhead the tall furry man with the horns had told her to launch! Two days he had said, but how long ago was that? She began to mentally count back all the shrimp she’d eaten and calculated she still had a day left as she crept out of the cave dreading her impending return.

Behind her, in the gloom of the cave, the octopus silently opened an eye and watched her leave…
The Lost Journal --  The Octopus waches Sally leave

To be continued…

The Lost Journal: A Telegram from the Doctor

I thought the posting of the mysterious (possibly hoax) journal would be an end to it. I’m often wrong and this was no time for fate to throw me a straight ball. Sally, the crab I dispatched to carry the journal to Dr Mason’s lab(1), returned bearing a telegram.

JOURNAL RECEIVED STOP THANK YOU STOP MOST WORRYING STOP MUST STOP THE SPREAD OF EVIL STOP IT MUST BE STOPPED STOP BLOW IT UP STOP ONLY WAY TO STOP IT STOP NEED TO ATTEND TO THINGS AT THE SANITORIUM STOP MEET YOU AT THE ISLAND STOP COORDINATES GIVEN TO NICE CRAB STOP GO AHEAD AND SCOUT STOP TAKE CARE STOP JEREMIAH MASON STOP DR STOP

I looked down at Sally, who looked up at me.
The Lost Journal - The Telegram

She blinked.

I blinked.

She blinked.

“Ahem,” I coughed deliberately.
The Lost Journal - The Telegram

She blinked.

I blinked.

She blinked.

“The coordinates?” I prompted before we blinked ourselves into a coma.

Sally bounced a good inch off the ground as she remembered and began to trace the numbers into the sand with her claw. I memorised them, erased them with my boot and made preparations to leave. These preparations included giving Sally the launch codes to a small thermo-nuclear warhead I had found here or there and stored in the sunken cave just off shore(2). She had strict instructions that if I did not return within two days, she was to reduce whatever the hell was out there to naught but glass and shadows. She saluted and marched off to find some shrimp to munch on.

With my backpack full of food, water, spare rounds for my Webley, dynamite and Elemental, I teleported over and emerged from the queer third space of intra-grid travel in a jungle much the same as mine. The air smelt the same, the humidity was similar, even the trees and the insects in the reminded me of home. I had the feeling that the journal hadn’t floated that far to reach me. Maybe the next island along, I wondered.

Checking my current location, I found that I had actually been deposited some distance south from where I had expected to be. Odd, but not unheard of. I would just have to walk the rest of the way there. On my own. Through the thick jungle. And it was getting dark. I took my pistol in hand and began to hack at the undergrowth with my machete – Dr Mason could follow my path, I reasoned, I just hoped he would come sooner rather than later…

To be continued…

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(1) Lovely lass and a keen worker. This was her first assignment. Didn’t she do well. Hope she remembers the launch codes – but not too early though 0_o

(2) Don’t ask. It’s best you don’t know. And if you see it, try not to knock it over or bang it, please.

Links to other blogs & tales:
Jeremiah recieves the package here and here.