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February 17, 2012

Four Dudes Go to Hell (4)


(Be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 first.)

Hunt 4: Raw Deal

“I gotta hand it to Bigfoot,” Dante said with a laugh --
               
“It’s Sasquatch,” Luke corrected.
               
“I gotta hand it to Bigfoot -- he may not have much in the way of a fashion sense, riches, or taste in women, but damned if the guy doesn’t know a thing or two about interior decorating.”
               
“But this place looks like a dirt clod,” said Wade.
               
“Oh, right.  I forgot I had an idiot in the audience.”
               
Wade had a point; the crags’ interior could use a bit of sprucing up.  Nothing but brown, scaly walls no matter where he looked -- and below his feet, he felt not the comfy squish of a shag carpet, but a crunching mix of dirt and gravel.  To the Sasquatch’s credit, though, there was plenty of room for the four of them to move around in.  They’d made it through the front door into a spacious foyer, and following that they traveled down a gentle slope.  Several slopes, in fact.
               
It almost feels like we’re walking down flights of stairs, Luke thought.  He turned his gaze upward; sure enough, the front door had practically vanished thanks to the group travelling downward.  I know the Sasquatch is something special, but --
               
“Guys?” RJ called out, sweeping his flashlight about.  “The exit…where exactly did it go?”
“It’s above us, isn’t it?” Luke answered -- though now that he mentioned it, he DID have a bit of trouble spotting the doorway.  It probably would have helped if Luke could shake the feeling of moving deeper and deeper underground, led astray by what felt like a spiral staircase and the siren song of the Sasquatch.  Of course, that only raised further questions.  Namely --
               
“Why does it feel like we’re travelling deeper into the earth?” RJ asked, with his trembling started anew.  “And this pathway of sorts, and the area around it -- don’t you think there’s something off about its shape?”
               
“It kind of looks and feels like we’re inside an ice cream cone,” said Dante, nodding sagely as if his little observation solved all their problems.  “This place is hollow, but we’re pretty much walking around the walls’ edges.”  He pointed to the center of the structure.  “And look -- the center’s getting narrower the further down we go.”
               
“So if we get to the bottom, what happens then?” Wade asked.  “Is the Sasquatch gonna be waiting for us?”
               
RJ quivered, his frenzy rising thanks to Wade’s innocent question.  “W-we should focus on survival first and foremost,” he reminded the group.  “And you know what we need in order to make that happen?  An exit.  Which brings me back to my earlier, incredibly valid point as to where it went.”
               
Luke pulled a flashlight out of his sack and started sweeping it around the higher points of the walls.  Nothing but solid, layered rock; bit by bit he could feel the same tension RJ did creep inside him, from his chilling toes all the way up his neck.  “We need to stay calm,” he said, though his pitched-up voice said otherwise.  “I have a plan, if you guys are up for it.”
               
“What, you want our permission before you try to save our lives?” Dante asked snidely.
               
Luke ignored him.  “How about this: let’s split into two groups.  RJ and I can head back up and see if the exit’s still there -- like maybe some police officer just blocked it off with something.  While we check it out, Dante and Wade can stay here -- close enough to keep an eye out for the Sasquatch, but far enough to run if things get nasty.”  He stared momentarily at the latter two; he knew Dante could punch his way out of any fight, and only Wade had a chance of rivaling the Sasquatch in raw power.  They could hold the line if needed.
               
But Dante just laughed sharply, and waved a hand through the air.  “What, having second thoughts, o fearless leader?”  He crammed his hands in his pockets and leaned toward Luke.  “This was your idea, and now you want to bail?  Not likely.”
               
“I just want to make sure everyone can get out safely.  That’s all.”  Of course, Luke had had second, third, and sixty-eighth thoughts since that morning alone, but he figured he should keep that to himself.
               
“Typical.”  Dante moved to the head of the group, hands still tucked into his pockets, and his motions accented by a cocky swagger.  “Here’s my plan: the four of us go down there and rush Bigfoot --”
               
“Sasqua-”
               
“We rush Bigfoot down.  He may be tough, but there’s no way he’ll be able to take down all four of us while we’re on the move.  RJ, you can be the decoy.”
               
“What?  Why me?!”
               
“Would you rather fight the big guy?  ‘Cause I’m willing to let you; that’d be worth a laugh or two.”
               
RJ bit his lip.  “F-fine.  I’ll be the decoy.”
               
“Good.  Now, I’m the fastest between the three of us, and I can dodge anything that big ape can throw at me; with me and RJ throwing him off his game, Luke and Wade can pummel him with their gear.  That should lay him up, nice and easy -- just enough to knock him out cold.  Then we drag him up to the exit, and have him bust us out of here with his ape-strength.”
               
“Sounds like a good plan to me,” said Wade with a grin.  “I like the part where I get to pummel the Sasquatch.  Can we do that now?”
               
“See?  Wade’s on board.”
               
Wade pumped his arms up and down.  “I got all this bloodlust I need to burn off -- just point me in the right direction, and I’ll start smashin’ away!”
               
“See?  Wade’s…” Dante started to back away.  “Got…uh, got some issues there.”
               
“Bloodlust!” Wade chanted.  “The best kind of lust!”
               
Luke shot a quick glance at RJ, who -- naturally -- shook his head in disapproval.  But what could he do?  They’d pretty much made an informal vote; even though it went two to two, Dante’s ego and voice gave him just the extra half-person he needed to win most arguments.  And typically, Luke wasn’t in much of a mood to get in a dispute with someone who once threatened to punch out each member of the debate team. 
               
“This is why we need another member in our group,” RJ muttered, shaking his head.
               
“No sense in worrying about that now,” said Luke.  “Dante has a point.  We came here for the Sasquatch, and we’re going to get a Sasquatch.  We’ll worry about the rest as it comes.”
               
“Fine, fine.  I’m just glad I laid out a suit for my grandpa to bury me in beforehand.”  In spite of his complaints, RJ walked a few paces behind Dante, but kept himself sandwiched between the Red Beast and Wade.  Luke wasn’t far behind; he slid his baseball bat out of his pouch and held it in his right hand, with his left still gripping his sweeping flashlight.
               
“So when are we supposed to see this Sasquatch guy?” Wade asked, his knuckles starting to whiten as he gripped his shovel.  “We’re pretty much near the bottom already.  What gives?  Is he here or not?”  He poked his head toward the ground floor.  “Or maybe he’s busy taking a Sasquatch shower?”
               
“Why on earth would he…?” RJ started.
               
But of course, Wade already had an answer.  “Dude’s gotta get dirty digging his own house and all that.  Plus this place is underground, right?  You don’t think he’s got anything against pipes, do ya?”
               
RJ covered his mouth, pondering Wade’s (ridiculous, but par for the course) line of reasoning.  “True enough.  When those crags first appeared a few months ago, Two Sparrows had plenty of issues with plumbing.  But then, suddenly, they cleared up.”
               
“Plumbers work fast when they need to -- or if the price is right,” Dante offered.
               
“No, that’s not it.”  RJ’s brow started to furrow, and his fingers dug into the sides of his face.  “The plumbing, the phone lines, the foundation, the cables -- everything that you’d expect to be underground was no doubt ruined thanks to the crags popping up.  But before any crews could work to fix it, the problems cleared up practically overnight.  Untouched by any worker.  Undone without any noticeable change in the area -- sans the crags, of course.”
               
“Well if the Sasquatch broke all that stuff, maybe he fixed it,” said Wade.  He glanced at Luke, eyebrows raised.  “Maybe it’s like Luke says -- you shouldn’t underestimate a Sasquatch.”  Luke nodded in agreement, his eyes brightening at the prospect of the man-ape’s potential brilliance.
               
“And where would he get the material for that?”
               
“He made it out of rocks, obviously.  Jeez, RJ.  I thought you were supposed to be the smart one.”  RJ let loose a scornful groan, while Wade just started guffawing away.
               
Dante cast an eye over his shoulder.  “So bottom line is that you don’t think our hairy host is responsible for all this.  I can buy that.  I don’t care what the internet says, Luke; you gotta admit, it seems a little far-fetched to think that a big ape can do a little landscaping above AND below ground.”  He rotated his neck.  “But then again, what do I know?  I’m in a cave looking for Bigfoot.”
               
Luke didn’t bother correcting him this time -- besides, he and RJ had a good point.  Sure, Luke had his doubts the moment he walked through the doorway, but things just kept looking worse and worse for their Sasquatch search.  And that could only sour their luck down the line.
               
“So if the Sasquatch isn’t the one who made this place…who did?” Wade thought aloud.
               
RJ moaned softly.  Dante just kept rotating his neck, deciding not to speak for once.  Luke pressed his lips together; as much as he wanted to reassure his friends, he doubted he could have said anything to help at this point.
               
“Maybe it was aliens?” Wade asked, breaking the silence.  “They do weird shit all the time, I bet.  Or maybe the Sasquatch is an alien, and he really is some kind of genius.”
               
Dante shook his head.  “No sense in trying to guess any longer, guys.”  He pointed ahead -- the ground floor now sat level with their feet.  “You want answers?  If we’re gonna find ‘em, they’ll be right here.”
               
Not that Luke and the others needed a reminder.  The key to this little mystery was right in front of them.  But unfortunately, it wasn’t a Sasquatch.  It wasn’t even Bigfoot.

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