Barry Northern has organized a YA sci-fi adventure serial. Just like the old books we grew up with, the story stops periodically, and the reader is asked to make a choice. In this game, each choice carries on at a new blog (and hence a new author!) Barry's part of the story leaves you with two choices, taking you to Erin Cole and Jodi MacArthur. They in turn branch out again with new choices. John Wiswell and Laurita Miller carry on from Erin's branch, and this story is choice #1 from Laurita's branch. If you would like to take part, go back to the beginning and read along until you find a dead link. Ask the blog owner, or contact Barry directly.
Michael walked slowly backward away from the banks, making sure Sarah was with him. The tentacle eased back just below the surface. A moment later, the spongy green mass started to pulsate.
When he judged they were beyond the notice of the bizarre water-appendage, Michael said “Close, huh?”
Sarah nodded, “Yeah. And what was it doing, you think?”
Michael shrugged, “Drinking maybe?”
They walked in silence for a few minutes. Sarah started chuckling to herself. Michael turned, “What?”
She just shook her head, “Nothing.”
Michael stopped walking, “Come on. What is it?”
Sarah had a smile on her face that bordered on sheepish, “I hate pickles.”
There was a long pause, and Michael just stared. Sarah started to laugh. She had a giggly, pretty laugh and soon Michael joined in. For a long stretch they could do nothing else.
There were still tears in Michael’s eyes when movement up ahead caught his attention. “Shh. Sarah – look!”
It was a little kid, a boy of about six or seven, dressed in a red t-shirt and overalls. He was walking across the grass about thirty yards away, drinking what looked to be a juice box, and heading for the river. Sarah’s eyes went wide.
“That thing is still in there!”
Michael didn’t reply; he was already tearing up the grass toward the kid, the bottoms of his shoes flashing white in the high grass. As he approached, he cried out, “Kid! Hey kid! Get away from there!”
The tyke turned to see the big teenager charging toward him and screamed. At once, his denim clad body exploded into a mass of tentacles. There was a flash of painful, disjointed thoughts and Michael shouted with the sudden pain of it. Sarah caught up and the Mini Mendigan stood its ground for a three count, wrinkly green face contorted, before giving up and running off in the opposite direction. They watched it streak over the horizon – right toward the Old Mill.
“No way,” Sarah breathed.
“I know,” said Michael, “They took the kids too; the monsters.” Something in the grass caught his eye and he bent to pick it up, “Hey, look at this.”
The “juice box” looked like a small clear plastic ball, but the fluid that sloshed within …
“It’s the same as the stuff in the river,” said Sarah.
Michael sniffed it, “Weird, it smells … salty.” He looked at Sarah, “Let's get to the Mill. There’s definitely something going on there.”
A little while later, they arrived. The rickety building stood where it always had, at the bend of the river, but now it was flooded with a sickly yellow light. There was no sign of Mendigans anywhere. Michael crouched low and approached the window. He eased up over the sill and took a look. He let out a low whistle and motioned for Sarah to join him there.
He whispered, “Don’t scream. They’ll hear.”
Inside the Mill, a throbbing yellow mass filled the entire room. It was the source of the light, waxing and waning as the humongous cauliflower-thing pulsed. At the river end of the building, a giant stalk extended along the floor and into the water around the old wooden wheel. From its “front” there were countless smaller tentacles feeding out the door. Mendigans were walking here and there, prodding the shape, giving commands in their strange, wet language.
“Of course!” said Michael. “They need the salt water to survive. Ever see a pickle left out too long? It dries right up to nothing!”
Sarah got it immediately, “So those little tentacles are feeding …”
“… the silos”, they finished together.
“We’ve got to stop it,” said Michael, “If we can just get rid of that one big tentacle …”
“No way!” Sarah nearly shouted, “This is way too big for us, we’ve got to find some help! We can still reach Middleton if we run!”
#1 Try to stop the menace themselves? (open)
#2 Run for help? (open)