Chapter 51: Another Deal
The inevitable never came. I felt a jerk and the next thing I knew I was standing atop the crater walls, staring down at a screaming Kadmon. His rage rose to new heights at my escape and he seemed to have even lost the capability of human thought. He roared an incoherent challenge and leapt up the side of the crater with murderous intent. After scrabbling at the edge for a few moments, he tumbled backwards and with little room to regain his footing he soon tumbled backwards into the abyss.
I looked around, confusion and gratitude mixed in equal measure within my thoughts. Rick crawled to his feet and shortly after helped Bobbi onto her own. They looked me with confusion. I shrugged and glanced back towards the crater and dared the Abyss to give an answer to why we survived and Kadmon had not. My thoughts were soon disrupted by the sound of laughter. A madman’s giggle echoed across the flat plains and off the stones of the crater.
“Claude.” My voice deadpanned. “You were expecting maybe the Easter Bunny…?” Another peal of laughter erupted from the empty air next to me. “I mean, honestly, none of you even came looking for me after Big Daddy went berserk?”
“I was a little busy…” I glared at him as he slowly materialized next to me. If I had wondered if he were trustworthy before, he had done little since to change my mind.
“Right, right. But all you had to do was ask and I could’ve pulled you out of there lickity split. No danger. Nothing to heal. You would’ve been fine, if only you had thought to ask little old me to help.” He mock-cried, wiping away his crocodile tears.
“Yeah. Right. Guess I didn’t think of it.” I looked down into the crater. The darkness was beginning to climb the walls, disintegrating the stones that lined the crater’s edge. It was continuing to increase speed with no heed to any obstacle. It was an ever increasingly large and perfectly round circle expanding outward from our folly. “Did you know this would happen?”
“Honestly? Only kinda…” I glared at Claude’s bemused grin. “What? I knew something would happen. Just didn’t know it would be this exactly…” He trailed off while scratching at his cheek for a moment before continuing. “Honestly, I just expected that it would suck Kadmon into a mummy and kill him. None of this massive black-hole-o-death…”
I looked around, wondering what, if anything could stop this. I realized that the only person who might have had the slightest clue what was happening… He was gone now, fallen into the very pit we needed explained. I sighed and glanced to Claude. “Is there any way that you can get us back to our truck faster than the hole is growing?”
“Hrm?” He glanced at me blankly, as if he hadn’t really been listening before shrugging. “Probably, yeah. I was able to pull you up here from down there…” He pointed down into the crater. “Don’t see why I couldn’t push you further back the other way…” Then he leaned forward with a dark grin. “But, why would I? It amused me to save you if it took away Kadmon’s revenge. How would sending ya to your truck be at all entertaining?”
I thought quickly, smiling as an idea began to form. “What.. haven’t you ever seen a chase scene in a movie?”
“Duh…” Claude sounded dismissive, but his rising eyebrow revealed his interest.
“It’d be just like that. We get in our truck and run. Only, it won’t be the cops chasing us, but death itself. Total oblivion if we don’t make it.” “Interesting…” He was grinning while stroking his chin.
“See, the real complication here is that we have no idea how far we need to go.” I felt Rick’s hand land on my shoulder, a look of concern and worry on his face as I spoke, glancing between me and the abyss. I placed a reassuring hand upon his and lightly removed it from my person before continuing. “If we run long enough, then we might get away but… We’ll never know if we went far enough… Or if we’ll have enough gas to make it.. If we run out, we’re dead. If we aren’t fast enough, we’re dead. If we make a wrong turn, we’re dead. But we still might survive, if we’re lucky…”
“Hm. Yeah. I can see that…” He snapped his fingers. “Kadmon’s juice gave me the power to go wherever I like. Lots of danger for you and I can watch from wherever I want and no risk for me. I like it!” He grinned and pointed behind me. “Get on in!” I turned and found that in half a second, we had been transported to the truck. Without skipping a beat, I pointed to the back of the truck. “Rick, I want you to be our wingman on this one. We have a bit of gas in those cans. If we need it, it’ll take a steady and strong hand to get the shit in there. Bobbi, you’re driving again. You’ve got a sorta knack for it, and we’ll need every bit you’ve got. I’ll hit the navigator’s seat and try to make sure we keep moving away from the hole and don’t hit too many curves…”
I paused for half a heartbet while I glanced behind me and saw that Claude was gone. Or at least invisible again. I shrugged and looked at my companions. “Let’s move. Only a matter of time before that damned hole catches up and I want as much space between us as possible before it does.”