The 66-Word Story Challenge
This challenge was originally posted to The Lost World BBS on 9 August 2005, and reposted due to SPR troubles on 13 September 2005. These stories were posted there through 21 November 2005.
Now the whys and wherefores:
The following stories fulfilled all the challenge requirements. If you don't see one you think should be here, there are two possible reasons. Either it didn't fulfill all the requirements above, or I simply missed transferring it from the board. Apologies if that's the case.
These are essentially unbeta'd. I ran the spelling and grammar checkers. I ran the word count option. Any other beta-like corrections were just me being anal.
The authors are, in alphabetical order:
"GANG WAY!" Challenger yells as he appears, running for the tree-house railing with a beaker that is hissing ominously.
Suddenly Challenger trips, the beaker flies through the air The occupants at the breakfast table are suddenly embroiled in a desperate free-for-all to catch it!
But crashes to the ground with a deafening BOOM and a cloud of smoke.
A voice exclaims
"Any more bright ideas?"
"Oh Dear " Challenger breathed as he and Marguerite looked around the nest they had just fallen into.
"Yeah I think that's the understatement of the century!" Marguerite quipped.
Three T-rex eggs lay in the middle of the nest, which included a not so old piece of Raptor.
"Icky" Marguerite commented.
Then a deafening roar sounded. They scrambled for the nest edge.
"Mommy or Daddy?" she asked.
The usual morning sounds of the plateau brought a sleepy Finn to full wakefulness. She stretched and flopped back into bed. Listening to Marguerite loudly rampaging around the kitchen. Grinning broadly into her pillow, Finn wondered how long it would take her to figure out where she stashed it. She'd never try and get her into a dress again!!!
"Okay Finn WHERE IS IT!?!?!?"
"Oh Ned "
Veronica sighed. She never had known how much she'd miss him, till he was gone. Though, she reflected, that was untrue, she had been lying to herself for so long. She loved him, it was that simple. In the Hollow Earth, his sudden question had startled and frightened her, and she had edged away from the question
Oh, when would he return to her?
Marguerite sighed to herself as she rummaged around in her drawers. I have 6 slacks, 5 blouses, various assortments of undergarments, but no more Silk underclothes!!! Damn Challenger and his electric fence! She raged.
This plateau always seems to find a way to take even the smallest comforts away from me, she thought
Would Veronica ever let her borrow that lovely black silk robe?
Three for Malone
Thought the handsome young man to himself as he reached the top of the hill. Shading his eye's as he looking into the distance. He smiled as he fancied that he could even see the top of the Treehouse from here. He ran a hand through his shaggy mop of light brown curls, as he wondered
Would Marguerite cut his hair for him again?
He told himself as he flopped down on the bank to wash his face in the stream. I am almost home, he thought gleefully. Just a few more miles!
Though, he thought as he looked at his reflection, he didn't look a lot like how he'd left! He smiled thoughtfully. His face and chest were darkened to a golden tan.
Would they recognize him?
He mused, how his journey had changed him. His muscles were larger, more developed. "I wager I could give Roxton a run for his money!" He said laughingly. His shirts, well, lets just say Marguerite would be grouching for weeks.
He had found peace in his mind too The journey had changed him in many ways.
I wonder if Veronica will notice these changes?
"Interesting results," Challenger mused as he surveyed the results of his latest experiment. "Very promising!" He said with a smile. His musings were suddenly shattered as a burst of slightly off-key song sounded through the tree-house, followed by the sound of running water. Challenger smiled, then winced suddenly as the song became louder. and thought:
I wonder if I could invent something to block my ears?
covering the Voodoo Queen's camp like a shroud, soon after the explorers left. Triumphant in their victory over evil.
The moans of the zombie's last breaths echoed in the darkness of the camp, for they could not survive long after their creator had perished.
Suddenly, the echo of a different voice resounded through the misty jungle
Would the dreaded Queen of darkness return again?
"Coming, Jessie "
Challenger murmured, and he turned over in his sleep. She was there beside him, smiling. He told her about the plateau, how he and the others were alive and well the discoveries, the scientific gains the mystery and his undying love for her
Suddenly, in London, Jessie Challenger awoke. "What a powerful dream," she thought so real real enough to believe
Would George come home to her?
Veronica sighed as she slipped into the water for a swim. She had convinced Finn to stay at the tree-house; she needed time to herself. It had been 6 months since Malone had left, on his journey of self-discovery.
During her time on the balloon she had made some important decisions. Only to find him gone when she returned
Why! When she had finally decided?
"It figures "
She thought to herself, the time I am ready to admit my feelings for him, he leaves!
She shook her head at her weak excuse. He had loved her all along, and had shown it. She had rejected him, time after time because of her own pride, and uncertainty She sighed heavily as she shook water from her eyes
Will he forgive my mistakes?
She thought as she swam to the waterfall to wash her hair I'll just have to hope that he hasn't moved on. She bit her lip as her heart gave an anxious pang of misery at the thought of Malone with another woman. "I know he still loves me!" She said fiercely! Then turned to the bank and wondered
Now Where did I leave my clothes?
(Webmaster's note: There are two missing stories here. Neither met the 66-word requirement.)
"What the!!!" exclaimed the stunning figure of Death, as snow began to fall heavily in her precious domain.
She watched as her once eternal fires were extinguished, and her hour-glass, crack, and the sand spill onto the snow.
Suddenly she threw back her head and gave a throaty bark of laugher, "I suppose it's time for Hell to Freeze over!"
Did she really regret her ending?
Echoed from the Valley of the shadows, where his brothers awaited him, bayed him to join them. He turned his wolfish head from the valley that called to him . He knew he didn't belong there
A sudden voice echoed in the Jungle, he knew that voice! He smelled her scent. Then another, the one who would harm her
Could he reach her in time?
Marguerite murmured as she snuggled closer into the dark haired Lord as they trudged back to the Treehouse. Challenger was a little ways ahead, tramping along, still grumbling about always having to destroy things.
Roxton looked down at the top of her curly haired head with a smile, and wondered,
"If wonder if she'd mind the added warmth of an arm around her waist?"
A fleeting glimpse of his dear companions before he had fallen off the edge. Their faces frozen in horror, shock and disbelief He would miss them.
As he fell, he found he didn't fear his end, Anna would be there, and he could tell her how he loved her.
He smiled "I am finally coming home." ..But he wondered:
"Would his friends ever get home?"
Those were what the Explorers missed the most about home, after their families. Roxton missed riding his horses through the fields and forests at his estate. Marguerite missed shopping at Lauries and bubble baths. Malone missed watching baseball at Stanley Park. Challenger, his laboratory at home.
They wondered, though as they thought about what they did have
Did the little things matter so much?
Marguerite exclaimed as she inspected her wound, dropping the offending sewing needle.
Droplets of blood welled out from the shallow cut, forming a dome of ruby red around the puncture.
She grimaced as she looked upon the shirt she was fixing. Figures, she thought, the shirt that is causing me grief would be Roxton's!
Was there ever a moment when he wasn't with her?
Finn yelled as she made a dive for the glossy black beetle, that was about to make a bid for freedom.
She grabbed the net, as Arthur the beetle launched himself into the air. Seconds later she netted him in mid-flight She sighed in relief, and deposited the disgruntled bug in his cage, and thought
Challenger didn't need to know about this, did he?
Said a voice to the darkness of the pre-dawn. The promise of the sun already warming the chill of the night.
Malone quietly padded to the kitchen, filling up his already bulging pack with fruits. He paused at the table, and placed a sheet of paper covered in his smooth flowing script, upon it.
He went down the elevator thinking
"What adventures lay ahead?"
"Anything changed?" Malone asked, his hand holding Veronica's.
"There is Finn, our houseguest from the future," Challenger said.
"What!?!" Malone exclaimed.
"Finn!" Marguerite called.
"What's up?" Finn called.
"Malone is back!" Veronica answered joyfully.
Finn appeared and stopped dead, staring. Malone stared back with the weirdest expression. The Explorers looked from one to the other, taking in their similar appearance thinking
"Nah. Couldn't be . could it?"
Another disturbance? Oseena opened her eyes. The sound of a fight from the graveyard ended her peaceful meditation. Had the triceratops killer returned to the sacred place? Could he have survived his punishment? Her magical abilities brought her to the graveyard in the blink of an eye. She realized that it was indeed him, fighting with himself, against himself. Would she witness the end of him?
His Lordship. So he was back, doing what he did best - irritate and bore. She tossed away the sample she had studied under the magnifying glass. This needed her full and undivided attention. The man was on to her. She always felt his eyes following her, assessing her, trying to figure out her intentions. When would he accept that he was no match for her?
The light! The young raptor screeched in fear and frustration. He had seen volcanoes erupt, felt the earth tremble, had even braved the odd shifting plane of reality, but this was different. Coldness turned the plateau into a hostile environment. He shivered. His hunting buddy had dropped dead already. The raptor heard voices. Humans. Tasty meat. Was there still enough time left for a last meal?
She'd already searched his room.
Roxton toyed with the paper scrap. The kitchen; she seldom went there. But she'd used the flour container. A smile tugged his lips as he reread the scribblings.
Summerlee's plant encyclopedia. No, she'd used that.
The headdress. No, used that.
Again he hid it in his shirt pocket. She favored the title would she say yes to the man?
Of the journals he'd filled, this was her favorite page. She'd reread it every night since he'd left.
"Stumbled into Veronica last night on the balcony. She wore not but a linen sheet though it covered more than usual, she was more beautiful, her blue eyes so deep a man could loose himself forever."
Each word caused her heart to ache: what of Gladys?
He left Veronica grieving alone at the grave, keeping watch from the arch's other side.
Something caught his eye. Unfolding his handkerchief, Roxton laid in its center the first found piece. They were small and many, but he collected one after another until nothing else glistened in the sun.
If Marguerite could put all the pieces together again, would she leave him this time?
"Good heavens!" Challenger leapt back from the smoking remains of his experiment.
Marguerite rushed into the lab, waving a hand to clear the smoke. "What was that?"
"A minor miscalculation. That's all." He coughed.
She surveyed the broken table, shattered beakers, and new hole in the wall. "I'd hate to see something major."
"Hm, yes," Challenger grunted, annoyed. "Will you please pass me that fire extinguisher?"
"Thieving bitch!" It had taken only a moment to find the right words to describe their current 'guest'.
Several small, valuable items were missing from Marguerite's dresser, and she knew exactly who'd taken them. She left her room and met Veronica in the hall. The blonde's furious expression spoke volumes.
Together they stormed the living room, demanding, "Where is that voodoo slut?!"
(Webmaster's note: This one wasn't originally posted on the board. You can probably guess why.)
Veronica unsuccessfully stifled a laugh. "I'm sorry."
Ned shrugged. "Marguerite has it worse. Some of them like to pretend they're her."
"Yeah. They make her a domestic goddess or helpless victim or pregnant or all three."
Veronica's eyes widened in disbelief. "She'd kill them! Where did you learn this?"
"Fanfic on the internet. Who knew what amazing technology they'd have in the spirit world?"
About now! Finn lifted her left hand. George came in, kissed it, walked back out and up to the lab.
Finn and Veronica grinned across the card table. Marguerite said abruptly to Veronica, "Ned brought you flowers this morning. Why can't John be thoughtful?"
"Oh," said Veronica. "John left this for you." She passed Marguerite her holster.
Seeing the carefully resewn welt, Marguerite glowed. "So, Roxton?"
Challenger woke, feeling her shoulders shake, the sobs soft, but real.
"Darling, what's wrong? Can I help?"
She shook her head, but turned toward him and held him tightly. His hands smoothed her hair, caressed her back gently.
"I dreamed that I was back in my century, alone, worrying about my next meal, mourning my friends. Being here with you is Paradise. Kiss me?"
She stared back at the man she loved as he told, no bragged of her exploits as Parsifal. The pride shone in his eyes as he looked at her. He was her protector, even then. It only made her love him more. Somewhere in the back of her mind, came the thought, that this wasn't the first time. Could he really be her destiny?
So close. Roxton realized how close they all came to death today. Malone was still missing, but the others were safe. He looked over where Marguerite sat, trying to comfort Veronica.
Roxton shivered, thinking how close he came to losing Marguerite He never wanted to come that close again. There was no denying it now. He loved her, but what would she say if she knew?
"Do what?" Marguerite asked Challenger incredulously.
"Please Marguerite," Challenger begged. "It's been so long."
"I can't believe you're asking me to do this," Marguerite said. "
"Please," Challenger pleaded again.
"OH alright," Marguerite said. "But if Roxton finds out I'll say you forced me."
Marguerite took Challenger's hands in hers and began to chant.
"Oh great spirits from beyond. Will you please come to us tonight?"
"You're cheery." Veronica knelt beside Marguerite.
"It's a lovely sunrise."
"That's not what you told Roxton when he decided it was our turn to find bait for their little fishing expedition."
"That was before I knew how enjoyable digging up worms could be." She flipped another wriggling, muddy specimen into the brown leather hat she'd been using as their receptacle.
"Could this day get any better?"
'Red Knight?' Marguerite looks surprised.
'From Parsifal's story. Before becoming your contact agent, I was pointed out your persecutor. My mission: find and eliminate Parsifal.' Roxton sounds dismayed. Sudden smile: 'But I've failed.'
'I'm glad that for once in your life you've failed, John.' She kissed him lightly and turned to leave. 'Because you know that Parsifal's story tells he kills the Red Knight, don't you?'
Marguerite was surprised at how gracefully he danced after his little ruse. As they swayed slowly, Marguerite gazed into Roxton's eyes and couldn't believe at how far they had both come over the past few years. She silently wished she could spend the rest of her life with this wonderful man. Would he feel the same about her if he ever learned the truth?
While making some unnecessary examinations of "fascinating foliage" perilously close to a cliff's edge, Challenger chose the worst time to sneeze. No matter how many times he swirled and flapped his arms like a boy with a dream to fly, he ultimately lost the battle against gravity and fell over the edge. Can any of the king's men put humpty Challenger back together again?
Marguerite scowled. "I'm not one of your specimens, George. Put that notebook and pencil away!"
"No, no – not one of my specimens but far more fascinating. I must take just a few notes ," muttered the scientist, scribbling frantically in his little book. "Your behavior intrigues me "
"Make sure I get 25% of the profits when you publish. A fair price for all that intrigue?"
"Awe inspiring!" Summerlee breathed as he gazed at the panorama before them.
"Indeed," his red-haired colleague agreed enthusiastically. "We may very well prove or disprove dozens of theories that men have debated for ages! Oh, the discoveries ahead! The scientific wonders that await us! History will hale us as heroes, old boy, mark my words!"
The other man suddenly shivered. "Possibly. But can we all survive?"
The exclamation of repugnance startled the brunette, making her jump. Already upset about her ruined culinary attempt, she scolded crossly, "Roxton, you clod! I almost dropped the meat!"
Scornfully scanning the charred raptor ribs, he retorted, "Couldn't have made them any worse."
Eyes glittering angrily, Marguerite marched away from the kitchen.
He stared around with a grimace. "Who's going to clean up this mess?"
"Going up?" Ned waited to start the elevator as he spied Veronica emerging from the shed with an armful of firewood.
But she shook her head. "No, Challenger needs more wood for some smelting, which I won't let him do in the tree house. See you later, Malone."
He sighed as he watched her walk away; another lost opportunity. When would they be alone together again?
"That's right, Challenger. Marguerite picked poison ivy," Roxton said self righteously.
"That must have been most unpleasant," Challenger commented sympathetically.
"It certainly was," Roxton remarked feelingly.
"Whatever did you do about it?"
"We used mud to relieve it."
"One thing that puzzles me." Challenger's brow puckered. "If Marguerite picked the poison ivy and you knew she had it, however did you get the rash?"
Veronica whirled around to stare at the young reporter who had just uttered those words.
He sat staring at the spot where he just dropped the fishing line with its worm-adorned hook. It seemed he might be trying to order the fish to surrender.
"Maybe they don't like being ordered about." Veronica suggested.
Malone looked at the water saying softly. "Care for a nibble?"
Malone arranged the tiles on the board as he spelled out Marguerite's suggestion.
"That's a word?" Finn didn't believe it.
"The longest word in the dictionary."
"Not really, Marguerite." Challenger looked up from his selection of letters. "The longest word is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis." At their inquiring looks, he elucidated, "A miner's lung disease."
Wide-eyed, Finn questioned, "Have any of you guys EVER lost at Scrabble?"
The red haired scientist looked mulish.
"What do you expect me to cook for dinner?"
Challenger crossed his arms and refused to move, blocking his colleague's way.
"They'll be other ornithosuchi." Summerlee comforted.
Sneaking up from behind, Malone snatched the carcass, tossing it to the waiting Summerlee.
With a groan, Challenger watched the ornithosuchus being put over the campfire. "What if it's now extinct?"
"When hell freezes over, Roxton!" Marguerite mocked him.
The hunter tipped his head to whisper in her ear. To his surprised she actually blushed.
She sashayed away, the hunter watching her. She threw a come-hither look over her shoulder. With a wicked smile he followed.
In a desolate place, the beautiful figure of Death contemplated the snowball. "How the devil did this get here?"
Marguerite fixed the rampaging T-rex with a steely gaze. "It's only 7AM and I've had it up to here with you, damn beasts!" She advanced on the five-ton monster.
The t-rex, transfixed by the fire in her eyes, cocked its head, whimpered and backed up away from the explorers' camp.
Roxton, in his most conciliatory tone, offered, "Would you like your coffee now, Marguerite?"
Damn him! The words echoed amidst feelings of panic and anger. A small part of Marguerite’s brain understood that Veronica was not at fault, but the rest was angry enough to ignore that fact. All she could see was the look of fierce joy as Veronica’s knife had slid into Roxton’s belly. Would the two scientists and the shaman be able to save John Roxton’s life?
Challenger's eyebrows rose in amazement. Young Malone knew of the physicist's electromagnetic field theory. Not such a bad education after all.
The scientist cranked the homemade generator to release the spirits sapping the life from Marguerite and himself.
He might have all eternity to ponder the question.
If electromagnetism and gravity were the fundamental forces of creation, which was good and which was evil?
"Roxton's married ?"
"To you ?"
"You're kidding, right?"
Marguerite assessed the woman who bore a striking resemblance to herself. A flush of anger crept up her neck to suffuse her face. She looked past the actress to the director beyond. In the deeper shadows stood the screenwriters, squirming in anxiety.
"Thanks a lot!" she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"So, how many husbands do I have?"
'Danu's Song' from The Visitor
Yellow eyes searched the shadows for prey. The wolf loped across the barrens far swifter now than when he was human. The need was strong; he must feed tonight. Blind hunger vied with heartache. His first love, grown even more beautiful over time, no longer his.
Suddenly he caught her scent, so close. Forlorn hope flared.
Might she forever roam the mists with him?
'Ned's Toast' from The Visitor
The reporter reborn as predatory beast eyed the dark-haired woman, alive to her essence in a way never-before imagined. But savage attack became a tumbling fall to the earth below.
A scent drifted on the jungle breeze. His desire turned to another woman, her hold on his heart flaming into need. Enticed he stared intently into the darkness then trotted away.
Where was she?
I can't. Not his death on my hands. The pistol shook in her outstretched hand.
"Pull the trigger."
He's dead already. It's self-preservation. Their eyes locked in shared misery.
He's forgiven me for what I'm about to do. Is there no other way?
A noise! Malone! A challenge?
The question remains in his mind and hers. Would she have pulled the trigger?
Three for Summerlee
Cattleya percivaliana The 'Christmas orchid'. Common enough, thought the bespectacled professor, puffing on his pipe. But never before had one of such an intense blue shade been catalogued.
Christmas, he thought with a sudden sadness. The first away from his grandchildren. His generous heart was filled with compassion for his adoptive family here. But he wondered with a pang, would he ever see his grandchildren again?
Cattleya percivaliana. Memories. Sitting in the botanical gardens he admired the brilliant blue orchid. His heart yearned for family and his friends on the plateau. He could see so clearly, lives unreeling before him like a moving picture. His grandson a young gentleman now. Marguerite, how wonderful to see her blossom in that wild paradise. They needed him now. How could he reach out to them?
Cattleya percivaliana. Amazing! Marguerite was Parsifal. All connected, all with a purpose. The end was close now. The unnatural shimmering, the maelstrom of lightning. Suddenly he could see it all, the purpose. His destiny. Dropping the orchid he stepped out of the garden in that magical place called Avalon. He had seen the beginning, the scattering of those he loved. Dear lord, how would it end?
Lofty plateau. Soaring mountains. Verdant jungle. Mysterious caverns. Lost civilizations. The nexus of energies from space and the inner powers of the earth. It was the place where science and magic crossed each others boundaries. A riot of coincidence or the source of everything? Was this wild paradise the crucible of souls? Again the ancient battle would be fought here. This time, which force would triumph?
She had thought to steal a little happiness in this place, the quest for her identity abandoned long ago. Faint hope.
She had lied and lied and lied. To deceive the others and to protect them. Now her friends were endangered because of her, their trust shattered. Once more alone as she had always been. Bitter, remorseful, she muttered "Isn't it always my fault?"
Two for Halloween
Like a black widow spider ensnaring them all in its invisible web. Why were they drawn to this place which might be where life began or the end of everything? Was it cosmic destiny or the heedless chaos of chance? Challenger had always denied the possibility of magic, Marguerite, the likelihood of coincidence. Was this a trap or a glimmering hope beyond that fate?
Toying with her prey, the sleek feline loosened her grip, allowing the mouse to hope for escape. Purring in anticipation, she sauntered away to work her claws through the thick rug. Gaining courage the mouse scurried away. The cat pounced, pinning the squeaking rodent with one paw. She eyed him with a glittering green gaze. How long would Ned survive being Marguerite's verbal chew-toy?
Three small vignettes for Remembrance Day
November 11, 1918
The last day of the war to end all wars. The world changed forever.
Lord John Roxton sat alone at his London club, his reputation in tatters like his life. He drained his brandy in one bitter fiery gulp.
Marguerite Krux cradled a whiskey at an impromptu party at the Goring. With the enemies she had made, her war would never end. What now?
George Challenger sat on a wooden stool in the Admiralty lab. Finally over, he mused. So many lives lost now and in the future, all because his iridium had been stolen.
Arthur Summerlee stood at the door bidding farewell to departing members of his committee. How many deserving projects and good men had suffered because of the Summerlee Commission? Could they all begin again?
Ned Malone felt restless now the war was over. He had reported on the sweep of events, the battles, the intrigue. Sometimes though, he woke from frightful dreams of men dying and blood on his hands.
Veronica Leighton awoke suddenly that night. She had welcomed strangers to her home but all had vanished in a flash of light. An omen or just a dream?
"Smashing entrance," Challenger toasted the two men. Being plant food what not on the scientist's list of 'things to do' that day. These young orphans, seized by fear of the deadly gas, were now free to make a new world for themselves. He could not help pondering if they could survive. Before, they were protected. How would they keep the world from crashing in on them?
Malone finished painting the colorful sign and leaned back. Veronica admired his work.
"Assai's cousins will love this Ned. It's very sweet, you giving the children a treat for their birthday party."
"The least I could do for your best friend."
Veronica kissed him on the cheek for his efforts.
Malone's heart skipped a beat thinking, "Protector or not, maybe today I'm the hero?"
The speaker box crackled with static then cleared as he lightly thumped it. He couldn't miss one syllable of this conversation. The woman's face was kept a mystery to him; yet her voice resonated beyond the glass to his senses. He had no doubt she felt him watching her. The interrogation lasted only a few moments then she was gone. Would they perhaps meet again?
"Morning Sunshine," was the first thing the sleepy heiress heard as she emerged from her room. She glared in the general direction of the familiar voice. Marguerite had barely slept the night before; another of her many nightmares kept her awake. She made her way to the kitchen craving a nice cup of her favorite morning beverage. Realizing there wasn't any, she moaned, "Where's the coffee?!"
"That cave "
Her mind flashed back to a dismal day of an even more dismal year. However, the cave had changed all that. She remembered the cold cave wall on her naked back, his large hands on her lithe body. A few moments of pure carnal passion between them that had been building for years, that was inevitable.
A voice beckoned, "Mommy, what did you say?"
Finn whipped around and looked at Challenger? "What's the matter Big Guy?"
"I think we need to make you a robe. Walking around the treehouse half dressed is not acceptable behavior for a young lady."
"Well, I'm from 100 years in the future, right? Maybe we don't behave like young ladies should. After all, my world's different."
"But that's not the point, is it?"
"He's mine!" the Voodoo Queen yelled as she tackled Marguerite.
"I don't think so, you witch!"
Roxton smiled at the scene in front of him. He had never thought he'd see Marguerite fighting another woman for him. Of course, there were times when she had saved his hide and then rubbed it in his face.
"Could it be that she is really in love with me?"
It wrapped around his ankle like a boa constrictor, and pulled him up. Feeling his insides flip, Ned struggled to get free, but that only resulted in his ankle being squeezed tighter by the vine. He yelled to his companions, his future family, for help when a beautiful blonde goddess appeared out of nowhere, cutting him down. He fell.
"Who is my beautiful savior?"
A female voice cried out.
Roxton and Malone immediately stopped their work. Malone was the first to run in the direction of the voice. Roxton quickly followed him, not wanting Malone to save the damsel in distress. The trail led to the river, where a young woman was standing on the riverbank.
She asked, "Would you gentlemen like to help me do my washing?"
Roxton shook his head. He'd guessed Marguerite wouldn't like it, but judging from the fury in her eyes, he'd underestimated the strength of her opposition. "There's no need for both of us to go," he tried to reason.
"Oh, yes, I'll just stay here and wait for the next attack," Marguerite snarled in return. "What do you think it will be, dinosaurs or cannibals?"
Marguerite turned to stare at Veronica in frank astonishment. The dumbfounded look on the heiress's face was too much for the jungle-raised blonde. She started to giggle uncontrollably.
Slowly the surprise on Marguerite's face melted into a wicked grin. "Well, well," she murmured, listening to the still-carefree distant splashing. Roxton and Malone obviously hadn't yet discovered the theft. "Want some help hiding those clothes?"