Tornado Trailer Park
Roy and Clem each grabbed one of Roderick’s arms and pulled him up out of the hole. Setting the old man down, the human and the robot both collapsed onto the ground and sighed. The fresh air felt good, but Clem wished that he was looking up into a clear blue sky instead of the perpetually spinning tornado wall that imprisoned them all.
He could still hear the roar of water from below and the ground shook. They wouldn’t be able to stand still for too long. But the sound, that almost deafening roar, sounded a bit different than it did down in the darkness of the mines.
“Um...Clem?, he heard Roy say. Clem squeezed his eyes shut and tried to block him out. Just five more minutes of rest and he would be ready to move again. His head was killing him. “Clem?”
“Shut up,” Clem sounded whiny even to himself. “I just got my ass handed to me by an undead gorilla, just let me lay down a second.”
“Clement,” Roderick snapped. “You may want to see this.”
“Get up, fat ass.”
Clem’s eyes shot open. “Kara?”
Clem sat up and looked at the small chimpanzee standing in front of her. She had lost weight and looked filthy, but otherwise she looked just as perpetually pissed off as usual. Clem was ecstatic. The roaring had gotten louder when he sat up though and he couldn’t hear what she said next. Shrugging, she just pointed behind him.
Clem twisted around and looked behind him.
The mine, which had once been level with the surface, had sunk a hundred feet into the ground. Everything shook as the churning water that was rising up from below collapsed the tunnels and churned the earth below into a muddy stew. But standing in that great depression, waving and chanting his name over and over again, were hundreds of the slaves that managed to escape.
Clem stood on shaking legs and the noise, the roar of the crowd, grew louder.
“What the hell is this?” he asked, looking at his companions.
“Ask him,” Kara said, pointing to where Lonnie stood peeking around a rock.
He walked up to Clem sheepishly.
“Hey, boss,” he said. “Looks like you got out. It’s great to see you.”
“What’s going on, Lonnie?”
“Well, you told me to go get Kara and save everyone, right?”
“Well, I just told a few of the other slaves what you said about leaving no one behind and that you were going to fight Bargeth and save everyone.”
“Yeah,” Clem said slowly and gesturing to the crowd. “But what’s all this?”
“The story kind of....spread. And now, since you’re here and Bargeth isn’t, they may be under the impression that you might of possibly....defeated him in one-on-one combat.”
Clem slapped his palm to his forehead, which caused him to stagger as pain lanced through his skull. He wondered for a moment if he might have gotten a concussion. The crowd had quieted down, as if awaiting a speech or a proclamation. They looked at Clem expectantly.
“That’s nuts,” he hissed at Lonnie. “And I didn’t beat Bargeth, he wailed the piss...”
“Maybe we shouldn’t go into that,” Roderick stepped up to Clem and whispered in his ear. “We need to organize these people and get them out of this pit. They need a leader.”
“That’s not going to be hard. We just need some planks, and there are ladders lying all over the place.”
“But who’s going to get them past them?” Roy asked, pointing up at the edge of the pit.
Clem looked up. A line of golden-armored gorillas had formed along the southern edge of the depression. Each of them was brandishing a glimmering hand weapon and chanting.
Along the northwestern edge an army of humans had gathered. They were also armed to the teeth and had even brought a goddamn tank.
“Or the Snake People.”
Hundreds of Snake People writhed and hissed along the eastern bank, each of them holding some kind of weapon as well.
“I’d forgotten about the Snake People,” Clem said mildly, as the world around him began to darken and he felt himself slip off into darkness.
END BOOK I