Steampunk Family

The Cage

December 11, 2009
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

Not much farther along, the tunnel reached the extreme point of its width, and drew narrower again. It continued, however, to lead the travelers down. After another mile or so, they could no longer walk abreast, so Herr vonHedwig took the lead, lantern tucked into his belt.

“It’s a tight squeeze ahead, my dear,” he whispered behind him. “If this is a trap, it’s an excellent one. I think we’d better move by feel and sound, at this point, just in case.

He darkened the lantern, and they crept silently into the darkness. They moved forward guided by feel and sound, but it was the smell that stopped them.  A musky, hairy, animal stench stopped them in their tracks. They stood absolutely still, listening. When quite some time passed without any sound but their own breathing, Herr vonHedwig whispered the question on both their minds.

“What big hairy thing lives here and what does it eat?”

“I don’t think it’s home at the moment,” Madame whispered back. “Let’s chance the light and find out.”

The golden glow revealed a pile of wooden sticks immediately in front of them, and a pile of bloodstained rags. Beyond the refuse, the chamber widened into a twenty by forty foot room. Stalactites menaced them from the ceiling above, but the floor had been cleared of their opposites, and rubble from that demolition was shoved along the sides of the cavity.

A steel cage stood in the center of the space, and a workbench was visible beyond it. Madame hurried to it.

“Look! More Andreaea alpina, and more…6 other mosses. And some lichen. What on earth is he up to?”

“No disrespect for your flora, love, but I am more immediately concerned with the fauna. That pile of sticks by the door used to be a cage. Whatever smashed it might be coming back at any moment.”

“Perhaps it smashed Montesanto as well?”

“Then who brought in the steel replacement cage?”

“Of course,” she said. “So he’s lurking about as well.” She continued examining the workbench, unpacking several sample tins from her pack and filling them.

“The cage is enormous. Why is it so tall? What sort of mammal needs a 8 foot tall cage?”

“I think you’d better ask the children that,” she answered.

“Good lord! A yeti? That’s wonderful!”

“Not if Montesanto has his hands on one.” Madame repacked her rucksack. “I have what I need here. With luck I can analyze these samples and get an idea what he’s up to. If we can get back to the Schmetterling alive, that is.”

Herr vonHedwig consulted his fob watch. “It’s nearly nine – the sun’s setting now. I think we had better bunk in the cave tonight and make for the ship at dawn. Wherever Montesanto and his monster are, they will most likely stay there overnight. Unless yeti are nocturnal.” He considered. “No, the children saw them during the day. We’ll chance it in the cave.”

“Very well, but let’s sleep somewhere less whiffy.”

“I’d like to go back just this side of the volcanic tube. Most defensible position we’ve got.”

“Off we go then. Do you have any more water?”

“I have another bottle, and a thermos of tea,” Herr vonHedwig said. “And, I packed a bottle of champagne, in case of romantic emergency.”

“Lovely! Being trapped overnight in a yeti’s lair certainly qualifies.”


This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is The Cave and the next is Knee of the Yeti.
Entries in this series:
  1. On Grandmothers
  2. With A Bang!
  3. In Search of Ancient Angiosperms
  4. Assault on the Galley
  5. The Sorrows of Chef
  6. Faeries, Helpful Siblings, and other Mythological Creatures
  7. Meanwhile, Back in the Lab
  8. A Day of Discovery
  9. The Children’s Hypothesis
  10. A Research Date
  11. Aboard the Schmetterling
  12. The Cave
  13. The Cage
  14. Knee of the Yeti
  15. Kidnapped!
  16. A Clue
  17. The Yeti and the Comb
  18. Fighting the Count
  19. Fighting the Yeti
  20. Falling
  21. Breadcrumbs
  22. The Search is On
  23. Flight to Saigon
  24. On the Streets of Saigon
  25. The Sad Man
  26. At the Grandiere Club Aeronautique
  27. If you Give a Count a Cookie
  28. Out of Cookies
  29. Stuck!
  30. Airships Float?
  31. Where is Claire?
  32. Drowning
  33. Into the Drink!
  34. Boat!
  35. Mushroom Trip
  36. Ambush
  37. The Variegated Strangler
  38. In a Strange Land
  39. Hand over Hand
  40. The Last of the Gouda
  41. An Unusual Breakfast
  42. Downstream
  43. What's for Dinner?
  44. Axe and Fire
  45. Meanwhile, Back at the Airship
  46. Over the Gobi
  47. Return of the Grandmothers
  48. Warning from Huang
  49. Anxious Hours
  50. Ulrik Prepares
  51. Destruction by Dawn
  52. Finding Philomena
  53. No Luck in Pekin
  54. The Children Rescue...Something
  55. Corndog Liberation
  56. The Fate of Corndogs
  57. Have you Tea?
  58. Antafrican Hosptitality
  59. Onion Porridge
  60. Homesick
  61. On the Hunt
  62. Farm Living
  63. Singing for Supper
  64. You Say Potato...
  65. Curiosity is the Foundation of Discovery
  66. An Awkward Position
  67. Trouble Comes Riding
  68. Capsicum Capture
  69. To the Palace
  70. The Death of the Lincoln
  71. War Wings
  72. A Long Way Down
  73. Enter the Lightning
  74. Before the Queen
  75. You are a Tomato!
  76. A Sunken Ship
  77. Eglantine Aubergine
  78. Children of the Soil
  79. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  80. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  81. At Night in the Nightshade Court
  82. The Price of Popcorn
  83. Ulrik and Chef
  84. Fire!
  85. Claire's Bluff
  86. Tomato Queen and Aubergine
  87. It's Going to Blow!
  88. Rhodri in the Gardens
  89. The Servant's Fountain
  90. History Revealed
  91. Fight at the Fountain
  92. Repercussions
  93. Father Discovers the Yeti
  94. Aboard the Lucy Stone
  95. Summoned
  96. The Queen's Accusation
  97. The Queen's Rage
  98. The Khan
  99. The Last War Wing
  100. Eglantine Departs
  101. Thumping Rhodri
  102. Bad News from the Boys
  103. Where's the Count?
  104. In Search of the Count
  105. Spying on the Queen
  106. Confronting the Count
  107. Orphaned?
  108. Orphaned?
  109. Montesanto's Experiments
  110. Montesanto's Experiments
  111. The Queen's Tantrum
  112. Bettina's Tantrum
  113. The Flaming Queen
  114. Uprising!
  115. Uprising!
  116. Escape
  117. On the Run
  118. The Mysterious Coach
  119. Red Racer!
  120. Revolution Reset
  121. By the Acid Sea
  122. Farewell Antafrica
  123. Home Again!
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