Drift’s Odyssey: Chapter 3
Rain woke to the sound of Drift’s stomach growling. It was loud enough to make the water in her bowl ripple. The night had seemed to pass slowly, and the uneasy sleep left all three companions on edge.
Based on the size of the waves Drift stomach growl is making in my fishbowl I would say our first priority is food, Rain said. Let’s get some of the food we took off that eraser cat in our stomachs and get moving. The hunter’s forest is a lot more dangerous than the desert we just passed through, and they’ll know we are coming from a mile away if knucklehead keeps this up.
There wasn’t a lot of the food in the eraser cat’s pack, but it was enough for breakfast. They ate quickly and quietly, not saying much. Rain was occupied by her thoughts, her mind focused on the task in front of them. Drift was too busy stuffing food in his mouth to breath let alone talk. He shoveled whatever he could grab in his mouth by the pawful. If he had tried to talk, he probably would have choked bringing a premature end to their journey.
Bowser who had been quiet all morning saw his opportunity in the silence and began to speak. It’s lucky for me I am a ghost and don’t really sleep anymore because with Drift’s snoring was loud enough to wake a hibernating bear. I am guessing everything in a 5-mile radius heard it last night and based on the fact that we are still alive they must have thought it was something much bigger and scarier making the sound. But that doesn’t matter much now, we’ve got a big task ahead of us and there is something I must tell you, he continued. I’ve been here before, to the hunter’s forest and failed. I barely made it past the tree line before being swarmed by spiders the size of poodles. I ran out and never looked back, I thought I could make it, I was wrong. Every tree in this wood has eyes and eight legs, we are going to have to come up with a good plan to get us to the sword stone. The only good news is that I have a map and a very good idea of where it’s hidden.
I don’t love the way you’re setting this up, Rain responded. It sounds like a bad news sandwich. You know bad news, good news, bad news. You can’t sandwich the good news between the bad news and expect to make the bad news sounds better.
A bad new sandwich never tastes good, I don’t care how good the news in the middle is.
You always were the smartest fish in the pond, said Bowser. He took a long breath and a momentary pause as he thought about how to deliver the last bit of bad news. The silence was broken by the sound of Drift’s jowls slapping around as he continued to gobble down pawfuls of food. Bowser rolled his eyes, it’s going to be like this the entire time isn’t it? He mumbled under his breath.
I heard that, Drift mumbled back through a mouth full of food.
The relic is probably in the Hunter’s fortress. There I said it, Bowser said quickly as though pulling a band aid from the skin to make it hurtless.
You’re kidding right? Rain asked.
No not really. As far as I can tell the sword stone is inside a statue in the forest temple at the center of the woods. The temple however is basically the hunter’s backyard, he built his fortress just outside of it so he could watch the entire forest. If the spiders and spirits don’t get us or give away our location, he’ll have no problem seeing us coming from his fortress.
Blurting it out quickly seemed to work for Bowser because neither Drift or Rain seemed all that concerned.
I thought you two would be more worked up about this Bowser said.
Yea, no, not really. I’ve seen a lot of movies and played a lot of video games; this is pretty much par for the course. These relics are all going to be hidden or protected and we’re going to have to almost die every time. Drift said.
Well yes, most of them are guarded or hidden near or in a fort, temple, castle or cave of some sort. Bowser responded, slightly flabbergasted at Drift’s nonchalant attitude. How many times do I have to tell you though, this isn’t a video game or a book or a movie, this is all really happeni…
Feels a lot like a video game, Drift interrupted, somehow still eating.
Bowser groaned loudly. Well then it should be pretty easy for us then since you seem to know everything about video games, sci-fi movies and superhero comics. I mean that is if you could stop stuffing your face long enough help us make a plan.
Fine, Drift said with a gulp swallowing the last paw full of food. Here’s how I see it, we have a couple of options, we distract the spiders with bait, and we try to sneak past the Hunter’s spirits and steal the relic; OR we deliberately get caught by the spiders, and have them to take us to their King…
Why do you assume there’s a King, they could have a Queen? Rain interjected.
Ok fine but let’s not get caught up in the details here, it doesn’t have to be a King, it could be a Queen or democratically elected President, but their ruler or leader. I just figured if I said we ask the spiders to “take us to your leader” you two would be jumping down my throat before I got the words out. It just sounds like a bad sci-fi movie…”take me to your leader…we come in peace.” Drift made a funny voice as if he was from another planet.
You don’t have to pretend Drift, the way you think you really are from another planet, Rain added.
Yeah yeah, my point is the guy my enemy doesn’t like is my friend or something like that, right? If the spiders don’t like the Hunter or are just afraid of him, we can make a deal with them for safe passage to the fortress and we will get rid of the Hunter. Worst case they work for/with the Hunter and they web us up and take us to him. Then we just activate the shield stone and magic our way out of there.
I don’t think anything you said is a good idea, said Rain. First of all, they are spiders, why do you assume they can talk or understand us. Second of all what if they just web us up and suck our insides out with their fangs leaving nothing but an empty skin bag behind?
Well I am dog; Bower is a ghost and you’re a fish and we talk, why wouldn’t the spiders talk? Second of all…SHIELD STONE, if we are going to get eaten, we just shield stone it up and magic our way out of there. I am pretty sure that’s a universal get out of jail free card for us. Drift responded confidently.
Well yes but…Bowser started to talk before being quickly cut off by Drift. But what, you said when we used the shield stone we would be invincible. How can you add a but to invincible?
But, Bowser started back up unphased, there is probably a limit to the amount times we can use the shield stone. Relics like the shield stone wear out when they are used and sooner or later they just break and stop working.
Ok well, it’s a back-up plan and I don’t hear either of you offering any better ideas. Drift retorted.
The three companions sat in the quiet for a moment, listening to the wind in the trees. The wind and the silence were both broken by a loud burp and a soft excuse me from Drift.
Come on! Bowser yelled as he popped out of Drift’s body, can’t you at least try to be quiet!?
Wait, what? Drift responded with a confused look on his face.
Ugggghhh, Bowser groaned. If I was a spider I would have heard that burp a mile away and have been over here webbing you up and sinking my fangs in for dinner…wait that’s it! What if we were a spider?
He’s lost it, the burp was the final straw, we’re all dead, Rain said with defeat in her voice.
No, no really. With a bunch of sticks some dead leaves and some magic we could disguise ourselves as a spider and then just walk into the woods and to the fortress unnoticed, Bowser said excitedly.
That idea is worse than the gas masters over here, Rain replied.
No, it’s not, with our magic we should be able to make a pretty good costume and if we move fast enough no one will notice we are not the real thing. Honestly it’s the best idea we’ve got.
We could always just ask walk up to the edge of the forest, yell in and get a spiders attention and ask him to help us get to the Hunter’s fortress, said Drift. How are you so sure they want to eat us?
Ok disguise it is, said Rain.
You two have no faith in me, Drift said as he signed.
Drift decided it was better to give in and follow Bowser and Rain’s suggestion than to fight the two of them any longer. There was no food left any way and if they didn’t do something soon who knows how long it would be before they ate again.
Bowser, controlling Drift’s body, and Rain, flying outside of her fish bowl, set to work gathering dry grasses, leaves and long skinny sticks. The pair laid the materials out on the ground just outside of the doghouse. Grass and leaves piled in the center and shaped like the body of a spider, sticks stretching out like 8 thin legs. It sort of resembled a spider, like a bad Halloween decoration, or a kindergartners’ art project.
Bowser popped out of Drift’s body a hung in the air floating next to him. It’s not great Bowser said retrospectively, but it should do.
It looks like someone did a bad job raking the leaves. There is no way this is going to fool anyone, Drift said very unimpressed.
Well, we still have to add some magic and you. Now lay down in the middle with your arms and legs stretched out on top of some of the sticks. Rain and I will work together to transform you into a spider. Bowser directed as he zipped back into Drifts’ body and Rain jumped back into her fishbowl.
Transform-us, spider-us…Bowser and Rain started to chant but were quick interrupted by Drift.
Wait, wait, the magic spell to turn us into a spider is transform us, spider us? I thought there would be some fun magical words you got to use to make this stuff happen.
Not really, Bowser said. The language of magic is pretty simple, the hard part is what’s going on in your head. You have to be really focused on the end result and you have to be calling on the power of the magic at the same time. If you can do those two things, the words almost don’t matter. Most people’s attention spans and ability to focus has been so ruined by smart phones, social media and reality TV that they can’t maintain a train of thought for more than 10 seconds. Bowser waited for some smart reply from Drift, but Drift just laid there staring up at the clouds. I thought for sure you’d have a wise crack answer to that.
What? Were you still talking? Drift asked? Doesn’t that cloud look like a chili dog and that one looks like a ham and the one over there looks like mashed potatoes…
Rain just shook her head; can we get on with this?
Transform-us, spider-us, transform-us…Bowser and Rain continued their chant. A wind picked up and started to swirl around Drift as he lay on the group. It picked him up in the air twirling the grass, leaves and sticks around him. In a moment everything sucked inward fused together around Drift. He dropped back to the ground on all fours. His body was covered in what looked like the brown hair on the outside of a coconut. He had eight legs but only controlled 4 of them, the other 4 just followed along.
I was right, Drift said, this is just a lame Halloween costume. This will never work.
Quiet knuckehead, it’s time to get moving and try to move like a spider, I am getting a little tired of the complaining, Bowser said unamused.
What does that even mean? Drift thought to himself as he made his way to the edge of the forest. Drift moved quickly, almost running on all fours as they made their way through the low brush and small trees at the edge of the forest. The brush quickly started to clear and the trees got wider and taller, their canopy blocking out all the light from above. With no sunlight breaking through to the forest floor the air was cold and damp. The ground forest floor was clear except for a thick mat of dead leaves that slipped and slid above the wet dirt below. The group moved kept pushing forward Bowser giving Drift guidance from within as to keep their voices silent. They were making good time and the lack of spiders or ghosts was giving them a false sense of security. Every now and then Drift would glance up to the treetops, looking for movement but the only thing moving were the branches bending against the breeze above. On occasion a broken spider web would dangle between the tree trunks above them. They looked abandoned and Drift started to think the spiders may have left all together. Little did he know that they were being watch from the moment his first paw touched the forest floor. The spiders moved above them just behind their prey. They were leading them right into a trap, the further Drift, Bowser and Rain made it into the forest the further into the trap they fell.
Drift was starting to get tired; he had been running for almost a half hour by now and his mind started to wander. Every so often he would lose focus completely and start daydreaming about all you can eat buffets. Bowser would quickly call him back to the mission and remind him he may never eat again if he didn’t stay focused. Only few more minutes passed before Drift slipped back into a daydream. This time however it wasn’t Bowser who called him back to reality. It was the chill of ice-cold water, water from a small creek Drift hadn’t even noticed. He ran right into it, oblivious, and a chill shot up from his paw and down his spine. He took a few steps back and looked around.
You gotta be more careful knucklehead Bowser barked from within. Next time it could be a cliff and we would be able to just step back to safety.
Bowser’s reprimanding was cut short by the sound of a thwap and woosh from over Drift’s left shoulder. Before they could realize what was happening, they we completely wrapped up in web with only Drift’s head left uncovered. They fell face first down into the cold wet mud at on the bank of the creek.
From behind them they could hear a deep grumbling voice. I cannot believe you thought we would fall for that terrible disguise. Is that really what you think we look like? It’s insulting. The wasn’t loud but it made the hair on Drift’s back tingle and his skin crawl. Drift could hardly manage to turn his head to the side and look back at his captors. His fear and the webs had a strong hold on him and it took every ounce of courage he had. Above him stood a huge spider, far bigger than any poodle he had ever met. It was jet black with short hairs protruding from its long thick legs. The hair on its body was smooth and shiny and laid perfectly flat along the spider’s abdomen. A group of large glistening eyes sat above a mouth crowned with two giant wet fangs.
I told you this wouldn’t work, I told you the spiders could talk and I told you we should just try to talk to them. Now I am cold, wet and muddy and I am about to have my insides sucked out, Drift howled historically.
Who are you talking to? The spider said with great confusion. How many dogs do you have in there?
Well, just one other dog and a fish.
Is that even possible, a fish really? And where’s the other dog? Are you like two puppy dogs in an adult dog suit? Like two kids trying to sneak into an R-rated movie. The spider continued still confused by the whole thing. Drift realizing, he could delay getting his insides sucked out, if he kept the spider talking and thought it was best to add to the spider’s confusion rather than relive it.
I mean one is dead and the other is in a fishbowl he responded.
The spider shook his head dumbfounded. There’s a dog in a fishbowl? Is it the dead one? And where’s the fish?
The dead dog is not in a fishbowl, he’s in here. The fish is in a fanny pack.
What is going on? The spider mumbled as he took a step back and assumed a much less threatening position. There’s a dead dog and a live one, you’re the live one right? in a spider costume? And a fish in a fanny pack with an empty fishbowl…the spider’ voice trailed off as he tried to make sense of it. If I let you out of the web do you promise not to run?
I can’t believe that worked, you’re a genius knucklehead, Bowser whispered to Drift from within.
Why are you whispering, he can’t hear you, Drift said out loud, hoping to add to the confusion.
Are you talking to me? The spider’s head was spinning. I am not whispering, I thought I spoke pretty clear; I just want to see what is going on and I don’t want to chase you and kill you if I let you out.
No, I was talking to the dead dog. Drift saw his opening; the confusion had taken the spider off his guard and off the attack. I won’t run, I am too hungry to run anymore. I told the other two that we should just try to talk to you spiders, but they were too scared, Drift said. If you cut us free, I will tell you everything, no tricks, I promise.
This is just too weird to pass up, I’ve got to see how you fit two dogs and a fish in a cheap Halloween costume, if nothing it will be a good story to tell my friends.
Drift was terrified as the giant spider leaned in and sliced a long thin slice down the length of the webbing with one of his powerful legs. It was terrifying and amazing at the same time.
Drift could barely breath in the web let alone break free, but the spider’s leg cut through with zero effort.
Alright you two why don’t you come out and show…Drift trailed off. I am sorry Spider person; I don’t know your name? My name is Drift.
My name is Glen, no one ever asks my name they are always too scared and screamy to ask.
Nice to meet you Glen, if my companions would come out now we could get to the rest of the introductions…Drift paused waiting for Bowser and Rain to come out.
A little help with the fanny pack knucklehead, my bowl is upside down from all the running and I can’t seem to flip it over, Rain’s voice rang loud and clear from the fanny pack.
Fanny pack, Glen snickered.
Drift opened the fanny pack and pulled Rain’s fishbowl out. In the same instant Bowser revealed himself sliding quickly out of Drift and hovering close to his friends. This is my friend Rain, she is a magical rainbow fish and next to me is Bowser, he’s a dead wizard dog.
A magic fish and a ghost wizard dog, somehow that was even stranger than I expected, Glen said with slight amusement in his voice. At least one of you has a bit of courage and some common decency.
Bowser and Rain looked at each other in shock. Somehow Drift had brought them from almost certain death to causal conversation in a moment’s notice.
My mom always told me to treat other’s the way you would like to be treated Drift said and he extended a paw to shake Glen’s hand. We are on a dangerous quest to save the world from an evil mad scientist from another dimension and his army of eraser cats.
I didn’t think it could get weirder; how did it just get weirder? Glen mumbled.
Look, I am not magical, I am not much of an adventurer, heck I am not even that smart, but I am telling you the truth. If I tried to make up a story it wouldn’t even come close to the reality I’ve been living for the last few days.
Bowser showed up in my bedroom a few days ago and dragged me into this, I didn’t believe it at first either but everything he has told me so far has come true. We are here to find a magical relic called the sword stone, we believe it’s in or around the Hunter’s fortress. Can you help us?
The Hunter’s fortress huh, Glen said contemplating Drift’s words. Well no but maybe. We spiders have made a deal with the Hunter. No one is allowed in or out of the forest, this is his land. In exchange for us keeping watch over it he doesn’t hunt our kind and he let’s have free run of the woods. If we don’t kill you there is no telling what he can do.
I am waiting for the but, if there is a maybe then there has to be a but in here somewhere, Drift said hopefully.
Buuut, Glen dragged the word out for dramatic effect. If I capture you and bring you to him maybe he will hear you out before he kills you and mounts you head on a wall and turns your friend into one of those singing fish wall plaques.
Well that sounds better than dying right now, always die later, that’s what I always say.
When have you ever said that knucklehead? Rain yelled. I don’t want to be a singing fish plaque.
Better than an empty fish skin bag, Drift replied quickly. Web us up, let’s go meet the Hunter.
Ok, back in the fanny pack fish, ghost dog you should pop back into your buddy, if you try to run I’ll kill them both right here and now. With that Glen turned around and shot a stream of web from his spinneret around Drift wrapping him up from his head to his waist, only leaving a small hole near his snout so he could breath,
Wait you’re going to make me walk? Can you at least web me all the way up and carry us there. Do you have any idea how exhausted I am right now? Drift complained.
There is no way I am carrying you all the way to the fortress and there is no way I am going to let you see where we are going, you’re on a short leash, so walk or die.
Fine, I’ll walk but I am not gonna like it. Any chance you have any food hidden around here somewhere? I would hate to die on an empty stomach.
The only food around here is you, Glen said with a smile that revealed his two long glistening fags.