A/N: After a long hiatus due to illness, I’m back with the next chapter of Endless Summer! In this one, Jasmine and her friends find themselves stuck underground. Can they find a way back to the Celestial or will they be forever buried underground?
In the abandoned emergency shelter, a massive, fanged beast stalked toward me, growling! On a danger scale of 1-10, I would totally give this a 19! My friends agreed as they backed away in terror with me! Jake was even saying “Niiice kitty…” in the hopes of calming that thing down! Aleister was freaking out, claiming that this couldn’t be happening because it makes no logical sense! I’d say it makes about as much sense as everything else that happened on this island so far! Diego asked Aleister if he wanted to tell IT that! The monster just kept growling at us as the timid little fox we found climbed up my back, shivering in fear! Then it focused on me, its eyes alight, almost as if it remembered me! Quinn was freaking out big time as it bared its teeth and loomed closer to me and her! I immediately stepped in front of Quinn, telling her to get behind me, just as it slashed with its claws, gashing my side! It roared again as I yelped out in pain! Quinn called out for me! I staggered back into Quinn’s arms and told her that I was okay and it wasn’t deep. The beast circled around, toying with me. Lila told us that this thing was blocking the exit and we had to get around it. Jake remarked that there was no luck with that, because there was no way we were getting past that thing! Diego told us that there was another door over there and gestured toward a massive blast door on the far side of the shelter, leading to a dimly lit hallway. Aleister suggested that we make a run for it while we can, seal ourselves inside. Jake asked Aleister if he really thought that we could outrun that thing! Aleister shot back by pointing out that he really thinks we don’t have a choice! While the boys were fighting, the beast was growling! It drew ever closer, five hundred pounds of pure muscle! I backed up slowly and bumped into a wall, nearly knocking over a fire extinguisher. It’s official, I’m cornered! Quinn said that it was now or never. So I went for the fire extinguisher and sprayed it at the beast. The freezing cold gas blasted it in the face, blinding it. The beast yelled out in pain as I shouted at everyone to go, now! I sprinted towards the blast doors and everyone followed. The fox leapt from my shoulder and scampered ahead. Jake smiled and said that it was quick thinking. Behind me, the beast frantically pawed at its face, shaking its head to recover. Finally, it managed to clear its vision and glared across the chamber at me.
I told everyone to hurry, because we were almost there! I darted into the hallway beyond the blast doors and started to shut them. Then I told Lila to come on. She raced toward me as the beast gave chase. Then she slipped through just before I sealed the doors. The beast slammed into the thick steel, to no effect, and cried out in pain. Lila tried to catch her breath and then thanked me. She said that, if I hadn’t blinded it, that thing would’ve gotten her. Jake agreed saying that it was a way not to get them all shish-kebab’d on those teeth. Jake reached to hug me, but hesitated. Instead, he ruffled my hair awkwardly and said, “good goin’.” Something I thanked him for. I winced, suddenly remembering my wound now that the adrenaline’s faded. It was my turn to try to catch my breath. I slid down the wall and sat down. The little fox nudged at me. Quinn said that I was hurt and tore off a piece of her shirt, using it to bandage me. Then she thanked me for protecting her back there. I told her that of course I would. At least I wanted to, but she silenced me by taking my hand. Then she looked into my eyes. Quinn begged me not to risk myself for her again, insisting that she’s not worth it! How could she say that?! How could she even think that?! Before I could ask, Diego asked if someone could tell him what the h*ll that thing was. Aleister scoffed, claiming that it was obvious. He told us that the thing was a smiling whatever.
Jake was just as confused as I was because he asked a what in the who now. Aleister gave a frustrated sigh and said that it was a saber-toothed tiger. I asked Aleister why he couldn’t have just said that in the first place, to which he claimed that he did. I rolled my eyes. Aleister isn’t Draco Malfoy, he’s Sheldon Cooper. Jake remarked that it was totally obvious and that he must’ve forgotten his spear and loincloth in his cave because, apparently, it’s 10,000 BC! Quinn pointed out that Sabertooth’s have been extinct forever and asked if that one was cloned. Diego asked if this vacation just got turned into Jurassic Park. Aleister insisted that it didn’t because Rourke International is in dozens of different industries, but cloning is not one of them. Then he told us that sabertooths would make this Pleistocene Park, not Jurassic. Aleister sarcastically congratulated us, saying that we’re only 140 million years off. Sorry, Sheldon, we can’t all be extinct animal experts like you. Jake demanded to know who cares. As much as I hate to admit it, I kind of agree with Aleister. I told Jake that, despite Aleister behaving like a pretentious a**hole, he does have a point. It does matter what we’re up against because, if we don’t take this seriously and think this through, we’re dinner. Aliester agreed with me, ignoring my pretentious a**hole comment, saying that the facts could make the difference between… Jake interrupted Aleister, claiming that he saw its teeth and that’s all the facts he needs. Then said that the good news is that he should have enough fuel to make it back to the mainland. Aleister wanted to know what Jake was talking about. I asked Jake if he was leaving the island. Jake said that I can come with him or stick around and wait for rescue.
He claimed that he didn’t care and he wasn’t waiting around to become that tiger’s dinner or the fox’s! The fox only looked at Jake confused. Jake told the fox that he can’t play cute with him because God only knows what the fox is and frankly he doesn’t intend to be here when we find out. Lila insisted that Jake not verreact and that we’ll be perfectly safe as soon as we get back to The Celestial. Just like how Grant, Sadler and the kids were safe in the museum when the dinosaurs got out and went on a rampage. Then she asked us if we wanted to miss out on our entire vacation. Diego admitted that he didn’t. Lila insisted that everything would be back to normal as soon as… Jake interrupted Lila asking if she meant as soon as everyone magically reappears, as soon as her staff can round up the PREHISTORIC PREDATORS chasing after the guests. Jake told Lila (calling her dimples) that he doesn’t know what kind of circus she’s running here, but it ain’t safe. Aleister asked Jake if flying with him is, since he nearly crashed in that weird storm on the way in, and what if that happens again? Jake insisted that he’d take his chances. I asked Jake about his money, pointing out that he hasn’t been paid. Jake said that he’s spent enough time gambling that he knows when it’s time to cut and run. I told Jake that I guess he’s right, we’ve gotta get back home. I even admitted that this place is crazy and, right now, the only crazy things I want to see are on TV or my phone, with working wi-fi so I can start posting these drafts. Lila again insisted that everything will be fine once we get back to the Celestial. Jake pointed out that at least I have my head screwed on straight and asked about the rest of us. Diego admitted that he wanted to have life’s big adventure, but maybe the truth is that he’s not cut out for one. Quinn said that she had a vision of how this week would go, and this wasn’t it. Aleister reluctantly agreed, saying that we may depart. Lila told us that she couldn’t because she has a responsibility to her superiors. Jake asked who Lila had a responsibility to, Everett freakin’ Rourke. I pointed out that Rourke isn’t here and he’s not the one sticking his neck out as his paradise falls apart, it’s her and it isn’t her job anymore.
Lila shifted uncomfortably and then met my eyes, only responding with okay. Jake said that the plan was to get out of here, grab the others from the resort and head back to the airstrip. I told Jake that we better hope that there’s another exit because that sabertooth isn’t giving up. As I pointed this out, the sabertooth was growling at us. Up ahead, the hallway ended in an intersection of corridors. Diego said that there’s gotta be an exit somewhere and this place couldn’t be that big… right? Together, we headed down the hall, the little fox scampering along beside me. Jake asked if that thing was going to just follow us around now. Quinn teased that she thinks the fox likes me. The fox made a little noise that I think is his version of a yes. We came to the end of the hall. Long identical corridors split off to the left and right, ending in their own intersections. Diego asked which way to go. I was as lost as Diego, so I took a guess and said right. The group followed me until the next intersection. Again, halls split off left and right. I said that this time we should try the left. We wandered on, the halls ending in just more halls. Diego claimed that he thinks this place is just trolling us now. Quinn pointed out that these underground corridors might run across the entire island, so who knows where we’ll come out. I passed by a small carving on the wall and ran my fingers through the grooves. I said that the carving looked like it was supposed to be some sort of lizard, or chameleon. Lila asked if she could see, pointing out that it could be a bored employee scratching in the… She got interrupted as she leaned against the wall beside me. The wall shuddered, startling Lila. Diego told us to check it out, that section of wall got pushed in a little bit. Aleister pointed out that it was the outline of a door and said that there could be a passage through there. Jake pushed on the hidden door and, as hard as he tried to push it, the thing wouldn’t budge. He said that it was no use and suggested we find another way to open it. I said that there was a wheel valve here on this pipe and suggested that it might open the door, but it’s chained tight.
Jake pointed out that the chain looks sturdy and said that he’s still got that fire extinguisher, suggesting that it might help. He handed me the extinguisher and I sprayed the chain with a jet of gas from the extinguisher. Diego asked what I was doing. Aleister told him that I was showing a bit of initiative, explaining that CO2 fire extinguishers release gas at drastic sub-zero temperatures. I said that, if the chain gets brittle enough… Then I smashed the extinguisher tank down on the chain. The chain shattered and freed the valve! Aleister claimed that he was impressed and had the nerve to say that he expected me to be more dimwitted! I hesitantly thanked him for the compliment. Truth is, I saw this on a TV show once and that’s where I got the idea. I spun the wheel valve and heard gears moving deep within the wall. The hidden door slid aside, revealing a hidden room!
Jake was in shock, saying “What the…” as we saw a small secret office packed with monitors and files! Lila pointed out that the computer might have a way out for us! I said that we have to log in and it needs a password that looks like it’s just six letters. Diego told me that there’s a sticky note here with some writing, “Ram Scorpion Bull Lion.” He asked what that was supposed to mean. Quinn suggested that it was a password hint. I repeated the words on the sticky note and asked what all of these have in common. I found one connection between the four and typed in Zodiac. The computer chimed as it accepted the password. Diego said that was nice, they’re all zodiac signs. Quinn said Aries, Scorpio, Taurus and Leo and then said that she didn’t realize I was so clever.
I told Quinn that she ain’t seen nothing yet. The screen flickered on, showing security camera footage of a large room. Diego asked if that looked familiar to anyone else and it did! The security camera was in the hotel reception room!
I pointed out that it’s the Celestial’s lobby and you can even see Raj in the massage chair! Lila guessed that it was so they can monitor if it’s safe to return to the resort. Jake scoffed, asking if that’s why they have cameras in half the suites. On the array of monitors, I saw hidden-camera feeds from dozens of empty hotel rooms. Diego said that he gets that some people like being watched, but this was just creepy. Jake claimed that, as creepy as this is, it’s also good. He pointed out that there’s a microphone here on the desk, which probably means we can call over to the resort somehow. Quinn finished for Jake, saying that we can tell them to meet us at the airstrip. Jake told me to see if I can figure a way to reach them while the rest of them look around for a map outta here. I nodded and slipped on headphones, beginning to type on the computer. Various camera feeds from the resort flipped past until I recognized Sean on-screen. A figure walked up and draped their arms around his neck. Sean said that they couldn’t. The figure turned out to be Michelle who asked, “Says who?” Sean asked Michelle what this was about, saying that she wanted to talk and told her to talk. I couldn’t help but wonder what was happening in there. Then I glanced at another monitor and spotted Zahra rummaging through the restaurant! Zahra said that, at last, she was getting some d*mn peace and quiet away from us d*****-wagons. Her words, not mine. Anyway, on another screen, I noticed Craig heading straight for the restaurant, whistling loudly. Guess she’s not getting that peace and quiet she wanted. Craig started to sing to himself “Gonna get some bread. Gonna put it on my head.” Yeah, Zahra is definitely not going to like it when Craig shows up. That’s when I noticed another screen, seeing Estela march briskly down a hall. She looked back over her shoulder, as if to make sure no one’s watching. Estela has a lot of secrets, so I couldn’t help but wonder what she was up to now. So, I decided to watch all three monitors, starting with Sean and Michelle. Don’t judge me! Wait a minute, there’s no one seeing this now so I won’t be judged until I leave the island and can finally post this. Then again, I might have to do some editing for this part.
Anyway, I turned back to the monitor showing Sean’s bedroom. Michelle draped herself against his chest and gazed out the window at the gentle ocean. She asked Sean if this view was just unbelievably romantic. All right, I’ll have to agree with her there. Sean reminded Michelle that he thought she just wanted to talk. Michelle asked him who said they had to talk with their clothes on. If this gets X-rated, I am so turning away. I may be a snoop but I draw the line at peeping tom. Anyway, Michelle pressed Sean down onto the bed, straddling him. Sean looked uneasy about this but Michelle told him to just think about how different this vacation could be. She said that, instead of this weird fight, they could be the way things were a month ago. Michelle suggested that Sean could even propose to her here. Then said that she just wanted to know why Sean… Sean interrupted Michelle saying that it’s because she cheated on him.
Okay, what?! Michelle’s eyes went wide as Sean lifted her up off of him and stood back up. Michelle was caught off guard, demanding to know who said that and insisting that she didn’t. Sean cut Michelle off, saying that he knows all about it because her sorority sisters told him every detail! Michelle again insisted that it’s not what happened! Sean scoffed wanting to know if Michelle was seriously saying that it wasn’t true, asking if she was really going to deny it to his face. Sean pointed out that those girls were Michelle’s best friends and asked if she was really going to tell him that they were lying about her. Michelle fell silent. Even on the grainy screen, I could see her eyes begin to water. Honestly, it kind of made me feel bad for her. Well, I would if she hadn’t cheated on Sean and lied about it. Sean said that it was what he thought. Michelle insisted that this wasn’t even what this was about. Then she accused Sean of looking for an excuse to dump her, waiting for an easy way out! The nerve of that b****! She cheats on Sean and then turns it around on him? Sean froze, saying that he… Though what he was going to say I never found out. Michelle accused Sean of wanting to be with me rather than her! Sean insisted that this wasn’t what this was about. Yeah, it’s about the cheating thing. Really, Michelle, take a hint! Instead she just threw Sean’s words back at his face, asking if that was what he was going to go with, denying this to her face! This time, it was Sean who said nothing. Michelle only responded by saying that’s what she thought. With that, Michelle stormed past Sean and out the door. I couldn’t believe this! Michelle actually cheated on Sean and she’s demanding he feel sorry for her? Poor Sean.
After that soap opera drama, I decided to see what Zahra was doing. On-screen, Zahra wandered through the restaurant’s back kitchen, noshing on what looked to be a gigantic pastry. Zahra asked what that was as she stopped by a strange tower shrouded in cloth. She pulled down the cloth to reveal a towering, elegant tiramisu cake, at least seven feet tall! Zahra looked at the tiramisu in appreciation, giving an exaggerated . She flung the pastry away and stared at the cake for a moment… then kicked out one of the table’s legs! The cake toppled over and crashed on the floor in a huge splat! God, I’d hate to be the one to have to clean that up. Zahra just snort-laughed, saying that it was awesome and tiramisu s**ks. All right, I’ve gotta go with Zahra on that one. I’m much more of a cheesecake girl. Then Zahra turned her attention to an industrial freezer, and her eyes lit up as she claimed that she hit the jackpot. She opened it up and pulled out a five-gallon tub of ice cream. Then she pried off the lid and began to eat it straight off the scoop. Yeah, I am so not touching that ice cream. Zahra claimed that it was really good and then she paused. Over the camera feed, I could hear Craig’s whistling grow louder. Zahra said that he’s gotta be kidding her. Yep, called it. Zahra’s totally p***ed. Then Craig came into view. He stopped on seeing Zahra with the ice cream. They sized each other up. Craig, being the captain obvious he is, said that he guessed she found the ice cream stash too. Zahra only said that she guessed she did. They stared each other down. Zahra took a melodramatic lick of the ice cream. Craig insisted that he found it first. Zahra told Craig that she knows his brain might be stuck in fifth grade, but was he seriously trying to pull “Finders Keepers” on her? Honestly, I don’t know why either of them want the ice cream now that they know someone else is eating out of it. Craig insisted that he was just askin’ for a little mutual respect, feel him? He claimed that it was honor among thieves. Zahra gave Craig the finger and told him to honor this. Craig pointed that he doesn’t like her and she doesn’t like him, which Zahra interrupted by saying that she didn’t know he was capable of such subtle understatement. Craig finished by suggesting that they just stay out of each other’s way and asking if they had a deal. Zahra only gave a fine and Craig harshly repeated that. They tried to go around each other, but they both moved in the same direction. Dear God, please don’t let this turn into that Dr. Zuess story I can’t remember the name of. Zahra told Craig to go left. Craig asked if she meant his left or her left. Zahra remarked that he wouldn’t know the difference. She finally squeezed past him with the ice cream tub. Just before she was about to walk out, she stopped. Zahra told Craig that if he tells a soul about freshman year, she’ll hack his phone and send his family those photos he saved there, the ones with the whipped cream and nothing else!
Thanks, Zahra, really wanted that mental image in my head. Craig insisted that Zahra can’t do that. Zahra just smiled knowingly and left while Craig muttered to himself that she can’t do that but I could tell he had doubts. Seriously, freshman year? Sounds like those two definitely have some history.
Finally, I went to see what Estela was up to. My eyes moved back to the feed of Estela marching down the hall. She picked up the pace, accelerating into a jog as she reached the ballroom! What was she doing there? I watched the grainy screen closely as Estela searched the ballroom top-to-bottom. I could barely hear her voice muttering but I caught her saying, “Come on, where is it?” What IT is I have no idea. She stood up and paused, her eyes coming to rest on something. Estela walked up to a large painting mounted on the wall. Wait, don’t tell me, this is a classic hide the safe behind the painting twist. On my fuzzy screen, the painting looked like a sailboat beneath a night sky. She flipped out a pocket knife and slashed the painting, tearing it away. Then she reached behind it only saying, “There.” Yep, totally called it. Estela took something from behind the painting and pocketed it, just as Grace called for her in the hallway! She asked Estela if she was in the ballroom. On another screen, I saw Grace approaching that very room! Estela said nothing, but she looked worried. She slipped behind one of the large doors, hiding just as Grace entered the ballroom. Grace told Estela that she was going to make some food but was shocked when she didn’t see her. Grace insisted that she could’ve sworn that she saw Estela come this way. Grace shrugged and headed back. Estela waited a moment, frozen on screen as a blur of pixels, until deciding that the coast was clear. She stole down the hallway and vanished out of the camera’s sight. Estela knew something was behind that painting, but how? And what was it?
After that detour, I resumed searching the computer for a way to reach my classmates back at the resort until I found the microphone! I called out to my friends that I found it! Then I activated the microphone and unplugged the headphones so the others could hear. Lila asked if we could talk to them and told me to try it. On screen, I saw Raj snoozing in one of the lobby massage chairs. I tried to say hi but the microphone garbled my voice, making me sound like a ghost. Raj snapped awake and fell out of his massage chair, which was still vibrating. He was freaking out, saying that he didn’t want this trip again. Just then, Zahra and Craig returned from the restaurant and saw Raj. They both busted out laughing. Craig asked if that was me on the speakers, claiming that was hilarious. Zahra laughed so hard, she stopped to wipe a tear of joy from her eye. She said that she loved humor at the expense of others. Raj asked if that was really me on the speakers and said that was pretty good. I didn’t have the heart to tell them it was an accident. Then I quickly explained to them what happened at the emergency shelter. Zahra asked if this was another prank, because this one was a little less funny. Jake insisted that it’s all true and that we’re heading straight for the airstrip. Craig demanded to know if that meant we were leaving and insisted that this was our vacation and we just got here! I told Craig that I needed him to trust me and asked him to get the others and meet us at the airstrip. Craig asked why he should trust me, since he doesn’t know me and I don’t know him. Then asked me why I was trying to ruin everything! Craig lumbered off angrily, vanishing from view. Raj insisted not to worry and that he’ll talk to him, saying that they’ll all be here soon. Jake told Raj to keep an eye out and said that the sabertooth is somewhere out there. Then he said that we’d meet him at the plane as soon as we find a way out of here. Diego said that about that. Aleister finished by saying that they’ve found absolutely nothing so far, and it will take HOURS to examine the rest of the files. I said that, at this point, I don’t think we could even find our way back to where we came in, but insisted that there has to be something. Quinn told me to look then pointed to the fox. The little blue fox hopped up, leaping from the desk to the top of my head and up onto a high shelf with a happy look on his face. Jake asked what the hell the fox was doing. Lila suggested that there might be food up there. The fox grabbed the edge of a large binder with his teeth and pulled. It toppled out, hitting the floor with a splat and falling open revealing a schematic of tunnels! Quinn squealed that the cute little thing found it and how it was our way out!
Then she pointed out that we’re here, and there’s an exit right along this path! Jake asked if it meant the furball understands English. He dropped to a knee in front of the fox then told him that all of that stuff Jake said before, he didn’t mean any of it. The fox just happily closed its eyes and made a sound.
Following the schematic, I led the group through a right, a left, and a left, to another set of blast doors. Quinn said that we found the exit and said we should get these open. Jake and I dragged the heavy doors open while he said, “Sweet freedom, here we come.” Diego managed to get our attention, pointed out what was on the other side of the doors. We peered around the massive blast doors and stared into total darkness. A darkness so deep and empty, it felt like I was standing at the edge of the universe. Aleister pointed out that this was absolutely absurd. Then the walls echoed Aleister’s absurd. I pointed out the echo and guessed that this might be some kind of cave. Quinn told Jake to use his flashlight. He reached for his belt and cursed, saying that he lost it. Jake guessed that it must’ve fallen off when we ran from the tiger. Then he said that we’ve gotta push forward anyway. Diego told us that it’s gonna be a hard pass for him, because we have no idea what could be lurking in there, or if there’s even really a way out. Then Diego said that his abuelita had an old saying, “Where there be sabertooth tigers, there be brain-eating spiders.”
Jake pointed out that we didn’t have a choice since we sent out the others to the airstrip and, if we’re not there to meet them, they’re sitting ducks. Then Jake said that we had to push forward. He stepped further into the darkness, but I hesitated. Jake told us to link up and grab each other’s hands so we don’t lose each other in the dark. I told Jake that I didn’t know about this. Jake asked if I trusted him. Then he reached out his hand. I bit my lip and said that I did a little. Jake said that it was good enough. I took Jake’s hands, feeling my heart doing a flip, and stepped forward into the dark. Since it’s too dark for me to even see my own phone, this is where I’ll have to leave off. Until next time readers I only imagine in my head.
A/N: Good news: they found their way out of the underground labyrinth. Bad news: it’s pitch black and they have no flashlight. Can our heroes conquer the darkness and make their way back to civilization? More importantly, did my pitch sound 1960s announcement lame? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Also feel free to request your own recap in the comments or send it to my email.