Steampunk Family

Ambush

June 18, 2010
This entry is part of a series, Voyage to Antafrica»

The river did not quicken to throw them over a cliff. The cave broadened and the river slowed. The twins plied their oars for speed. Gerhardt, carving a name for their vessel into its hull, looked down and realized he had spelled “Mycelium” wrong.

“Hey,” he said, “there’s light.”

Ahead across the broad, flat water was a slit of blinding light, so welcome that the children stared into it until they had to close their eyes against it, and then saw the bright red impression of it against their closed eyelids.

They cheered and rowed toward it.

The cave mouth was low and they all had to lie down in the mushroom cap to pass through. With the yeti lying in there as well there was not enough room, so Claire and Adolphus jumped into the cold water and clung to the back of the boat, kicking to propel them back into the light.

Muddy River by Stan ShebsTheir mushroom boat passed under the cave mouth with mere inches to spare. Vines hung over the cave mouth, trailing in the water. As they passed underneath the vines fell into the boat and over the children. The vines felt warm on their skin after the chill of the cave. They seemed to be everywhere at once, and Bettina pulled an exploring tendril out of her nose with an angry shout.

Then they were through, blinking in the light. And what light it was! Bright, painfully bright after so long under ground. Adolphus blinked up at the sky, trying to find the sun to get his bearings. He could not find it. The sky glowed evenly with violet light. He squeezed his eyes shut, counted to five, and looked again. Tall trees overhung the river with deep green branches, and above them the sky swirled a milky purple.

“I say,” he said, “look at the sky!”

“Ew!” Claire exclaimed at the same instant. “Something’s got my leg!”

She kicked, trying to swim away. She took one hand off the mushroom boat and ducked under water, feeling for whatever had caught her up. In a burst of bubbles, she disappeared.

Adolphus dove after her. She hadn’t gone far down and he managed to pull her to the surface. They clung to the edge of the boat to catch their breath.

“You two had better get in here,” Gerhardt said. He reached for his sister’s hands but found himself flying. The mushroom boat flipped into the air, scattering the children into the water. The yeti tipped out and sank, tiny bubbles the only trace of his massive presence.

Gerhardt saw Adolphus and Claire sailing to the opposite bank in a wave of spray. He flailed about searching for Bettina and the twins, but then it had him. It grabbed his ankle and yanked him to the nearest bank. It was thin and whip-like and had both his legs. It was fast. As he slammed into the tangle of vines at the river’s edge he saw Bettina already held fast there, wrapped in vines and pulled inexorably into the mud. Her legs were already buried.

.

.

This story began with On Grandmothers. The previous episode is Mushroom Trip and the next is The Variegated Strangler.

Photo credit Stan Shebs.

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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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