Font size: - +
MOMENT 20: TOO HOT
We sped towards the barrier, pulling the lever back as hard as possible. All three of us knew we wouldn't be stopping in time.
"Brace for impact!" I cried.
We ducked and covered our heads. Jeremy's scream overpowered that of my own or Fox-Face's. The wooden barrier exploded, but the mine cart didn't stop. We continued speeding down the tunnel, no longer on tracks to guide us.
I dared to peek over the top of the cart, and my jaw dropped. Just ahead, I spotted a large body of water--the underground river.
"We've gotta abandon ship!" I shouted.
"You want to jump from a mine cart going eighty miles per hour!" Fox-Face said.
Jeremy continued his high-pitched screech.
I joined in the screeching as we hit a bump, cleared a dock and landed in the river with a great splash. We skipped all the way across and came within several feet of the opposite shore. For a fleeting moment, facing the thought of the Hammomancer didn't seem too bad. My thought got torn away as the current of the river grabbed our floating mine cart. At first, we went backward but then slammed into a rock, which spun us to face a wider river with stalactites.
Soon, we steadied out, despite floating down the dark water river.
"Are we going to live?" Jeremy asked.
I wiped water from my face. "Maybe?"
"Until we get to those hot Amazonians at least," Fox-Face said. "For now, I think we're safe."
Jeremy said, "But we don't know where we're going."
"You know, he has a valid point," Fox-Face said. "There are only walls on both sides of the river."
"We look for the next shore exit and take it," I said.
She leaned over and looked into the water. "Without paddles, I find that'll be rather difficult."
I, too, leaned over the side and looked at the murky water. Only our hanging lantern provided any illumination. At least see my reflection.
Jeremy crossed his arms and shook his head. "Yeah, I'm not wolf-paddling across this river."
"Wasn't expecting you would," I murmured.
For awhile, we floated in silence. I kept my eyes peeled on both sides of the river, but more time passed, and no other paths became visible.
"Just how far out of the way is this going to take us?" Fox-Face readjusted herself to sit cross-legged.
"I have no idea." I shrugged.
"Guys, the current's picking up!" Jeremy said. "This could be bad."
I feared what that meant. "Don't say it!"
"A waterfall could be coming up! We have to try to get to shore."
Fox-Face threw her hands up. "There is no shore, dufus!"
I crawled to the front of the cart and looked ahead. The lantern light didn't extend far, but I could now hear the roar of rushing water.
"It could be rapids?" I hoped aloud.
The current picked up tremendous speed, and within seconds we were careening down the river, the mine cart rocking front to back. Out of nowhere, a rock appeared in front of us. We slammed into it and nearly flipped. It turned us facing away from the current.
"I don't want to be backward!" Jeremy screamed. "I want to see what's coming!"
"Then turn aro—!" Fox-Face's words cut off as we slammed into another rock and dipped forward allowing a splash of icy water to get inside, soaking our legs.
"Oh, wonderful!" Jeremy whined. "Now we're wet!"
We struck yet another huge rock, and the lantern shattered, leaving us in the dark.
"Great!" Jeremy screamed. "Now we can't see!"
"Stop stating the obvious!" Fox-Face shouted, and I heard a thump, followed by his whine of pain.
I sucked in my breath, waiting for the next slam, or a possible drop over a waterfall. We dipped down as the rapids took over, spinning us around, back and forth, and slamming us into more rocks. We cried out upon every instance of contact.
Another huge slam spun is in a full circle. I held my breath, waiting for another rock, and although the water remained choppy, no such obstacle came.
Flames burst to life on the left-hand side of the river. Two appeared but were hard to make out from a distance, but that would change soon, as they stood on a shore not far ahead.
Something whizzed through the air just ahead of us.
"Grab hold!" They shouted.