Endless Summer Book 1 Act 1 Chapter 5: It’s What You’re Meant for (Choices)

A/N: That’s right, I’m back with the next chapter of Endless Summer! In this chapter, our heroes are trying to find a way out of the dark underground. Yet the only way out is through an underwater tunnel. Not only that, but Quinn gets captured! Can Jasmine save Quinn and get her friends out of that underground labyrinth nightmare?

I found myself lost in the pitch-black cave beyond the island’s emergency shelter. Darkness smothered me. As Jake led our group hand-in-hand through the blackness, I tried to calm myself focusing on the touch of the fingers laced with mine. Jake’s, rough and strong. Quinn’s, soft and small. Jake asked me if I was still with them. I told him that I’m fine and that he didn’t have to worry about me because I can handle it. Jake smiled and asked me who said he was worried. Diego admitted that he’s the one who’s worried. According to him, this is the part of the movie where the audience yells, “What are you doing? Turn back! How are you guys so stupid?”

They don’t yell that if the stupid decision is the only option.

I pointed out that, in those movies, there are usually smarter and safer ways to get out. Jake told Diego to relax and keep moving forward because the schematic said that this is the only way out. I looked back over my shoulder, past where Quinn and the rest of my group followed me, linked hand-in-hand but all I saw was more darkness. The light from the halls of the emergency shelter was long gone as I ventured deeper into the cave. Jake instructed us to just hold onto each other’s hands. That he thinks we’re about to… What he thought we were about to do I never found out because he ran into something and gave a loud yelp. Aleister demanded to know what happened and asked if the pilot was dead. Jake made it clear that he’s not dead, that the stupid little fox thing ran over his foot and it just spooked him a little. I had to fight back a giggle at that. Then he said that he’s going to preemptively tell us all to shut up. I could hear the sound of tiny paws on dirt as the fox scampered ahead, making it’s own happy sound. Lila asked where he was going. Diego remarked that the fox was leaving us to die and that he can’t say he blames him. I told them to wait and listen like I was Navi from Ocarina of Time. You know, the annoying fairy who gave Link instructions whether he wanted them or not? The fox kept making happy sounds, like he did when he found the schematics. I said that I think the fox wants us to follow him, suggesting that he can see in the dark. Tracking the fox’s call, Jake led the line around a tight corner towards an alcove glowing with a strange greenish-blue light. Diego asked if he was seeing things, or was there something glowing in front of us. Quinn said that it looks like some sort of crystal or gemstone and pointed out that it’s mounted in the wall of the cave somehow. Aleister said that it’s certainly not natural because it’s smoothly polished. Lila asked why the fox led us here in the first place, to use this as a light source. Then she admitted that she wasn’t sure the crystal was bright enough for that. I told Lila that it’s better than nothing and we needed to see if we could get it out of the wall. I pulled out the crystal orb, and it popped out of the socket into my hands!

Check out the handprint! Does it belong to an alien or an extinct creature?

I asked everyone if they were seeing this and pointed out that it’s got a pair of handprints engraved on it! Lila said that she doesn’t know about me, but her hands don’t exactly look like THAT. Jake insisted that it had to be for a reason and told me to put my hands in the markings. Diego said that he wasn’t sure about this and claimed that he’d seen Indiana Jones. Diego then told us that, if I touch that thing and a boulder comes rolling through here, he’s out. I pointed out that I can’t anyway, because both the handprints are for right hands, so it has to be for two people.

Me explaining why I can’t use this thing alone.

Quinn suggested that two of us should try it and see what it does. Diego asked if someone was getting Freaky Fridayed and begged us to tell him that someone’s getting Freaky Fridayed. I chose to touch the crystal with Jake. After all, what have we got to lose? I told Jake to put his hand on the other side. Jake complied and, the instant his fingers touched the orb, we were both blinded by a sudden light! Jake cried out while I said that I can’t see a thing. I shielded my face and slowly my eyes adjusted, causing me to give a huh of surprise.

The cavern was now lit with candles and torches along the walls! There was even a mine cart track running the course of the tunnel! I pointed out that touching the orb must’ve turned on these lights somehow! When I didn’t get a response, I tried to call out to them again. Me and Jake looked around. Everyone else was gone! We were alone. I called out for Quinn and Diego and asked Jake where they all went. Jake said that he’d be d**ed if he knows and suggested that the lights startled them and maybe they ran up ahead. Jake marched forward. He told me to come on now and said that, with these torches lit, we can find out way outta here! I hurried after Jake, carrying the glowing crystal with me. Passing by a rickety mine cart, Jake peered in. Then he called out to me, telling me to take a look at what’s inside. I asked if that was, and Jake confirmed, that it was gold! He said that’s what the cave was, a literal gold mine! Then he claimed that this island gets weirder by the minute.

Gotta go with Jake on this one. I mean, what are the odds that an old-fashioned gold mine could be found here?

Jake asked me how much I think I could fit into my pockets. I asked Jake if he was seriously suggesting that we steal gold from a random mine cart. Jake asked me if I was seriously suggesting that we SHOULDN’T? I decided to just take a little, remembering what happened on Gilligan’s Island when everyone EXCEPT Gilligan took more than they could carry, and reached out to take a single gold nugget, tucking it into my pocket. I told Jake that I would take one, but only because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Don’t judge me!

Jake said that that was his princess. I admitted that this feels pretty sketchy and asked where everyone was. I even pointed out that this mine doesn’t look abandoned. Jake admitted that he had no idea but, whatever’s going on, it might not be on the up-and-up. I asked Jake what he meant. Jake pointed out that this equipment is ancient and definitely not stuff you’d find at a Rourke international site. Jake told me that, when he was in the military, he served near a lot of mining operations, including a couple of Rourke’s. He said that he saw massive machines that dwarf skyscrapers, the kind that rob the earth blind and leave it barren. All I said was that I never took him for an environmentalist. Jake admitted that he’s not, but he thinks that we reap what we sow. I asked Jake if it means he believes in karma. Jake said that it doesn’t matter what he believes but, in his life, karma’s made it pretty d*mn clear that IT believes in HIM. Jake insisted that we keep going. I told Jake that I’ve got an idea and asked him why we should walk when we can ride? I jerked my head at a nearby empty mining cart and grinned at Jake. He asked me if I was serious. Then he laughed and climbed in with me. Jake reached over the rim and disengaged the brakes saying “Here we go!” The cart creaked as it began to roll down the slope, its rusty wheels picking up speed. The flames of the candles and the torches blurred as we speed by! Jake admitted that it wasn’t a bad way to travel! I told Jake that he might want to take that back! The cart barreled toward a wooden barricade! Jake ordered me to get down and covered me as the cart shattered the barricade and grinded to a stop! Jake and I tumbled onto each other in the cart, and I’m just barely able to hold on to the crystal orb! I asked Jake if he was okay as I looked down to see Jake’s head in my lap. He looked up, slightly blushing, his hair tousled. Never thought I’d find Jake lost for words. However, that didn’t last long as he insisted that it wasn’t on purpose. I just told Jake that I could get used to the view. Jake laughed, saying that I should be so lucky. He pushed himself off me, then helped me out of the cart. Jake said that he should’ve figured that’s how it would go as it always does with him.

Don’t know how he meant it, but I’ll put a good spin on it.

I asked Jake if he meant that a ride with him is rough, wild, and fun as hell. Jake remarked that I had no idea. I looked around and paused. Down one pathway, a pale, white light illuminated a wall of the tunnel. I asked Top Gun if he saw that, around the bend and said that it looks like… Jake interrupted me by saying daylight and that it had to be our way out! He grabbed my hand and pulled me along, jogging around the bend and running straight into a blackened human skull that grinned at me from atop a pike planted in the dirt! Needless to say I screamed. Startled, I drop the crystal and instantly I was plunged back into darkness! Jake wanted to know what the h*ll just happened! I told Jake that I dropped the crystal and now I can’t find it! Jake said that he can’t find the skull either and asked what kind of mining operation they were running here! That’s when we heard a voice call out for us! Several pairs of footsteps ran up behind us. Diego said that there we were and asked where we went. Jake asked Diego what he was talking about and asked where he went. Then Jake explained that we just followed the torches down the path. Aleister wanted to know what we were talking about and asked about what torches. I told everyone that I don’t know what happened just now but what matters is that we found a way out. I said that we saw daylight and said it was this way.

Sometimes, you need to focus on the bigger picture.

Our group linked hands again and followed me down the path I held in my memory. I insisted that it was right here. Quinn said that she didn’t see anything. Diego remarked that he knows it’s been a little while since he’s been outside, but he remembers “day” being a little… brighter. Lila told us that she’s feeling her way along the wall, and it seems like this part of the tunnel collapsed. Jake asked how and insisted that we just saw daylight coming from over there! Quinn suggested that we keep looking and said that we had to be close. We linked hands again, venturing further into the darkness. Soon, I heard splashing underfoot. I asked if we were standing in water. Jake said that the cave was flooded and this was a dead end. I pointed out that it was impossible, because this was right where we saw the daylight! Quinn suggested that maybe it wasn’t a dead end and asked if we saw something. Lila pointed out that it looked like daylight coming up through the water! I suggested that it’s an underwater tunnel to outside and that we could swim through. Aleister scoffed, asking if I was seriously suggesting that we swim. He insisted that we leave him here and to let his family know he hated them. Jake told Sheldon (actually he called Aleister Malfoy, but Aleister still reminds me more of Sheldon) to come here and that he’ll drag him out himself. I heard splashing as Jake dove under, pulling Aleister with him. I was about to follow when I felt something floating in the water bump against me! I picked it up asking what it was and said that I found something floating here. Diego pointed out that I can’t tell what it is in the dark and suggested that whatever it was might be important.

Diego talking about the item I found in the dark.

He said that, if I wanted to find out, I needed to make sure I hold on to it as I swim through. Diego dived beneath the surface, swimming toward the light. I took a deep breath and followed him. The refracting sunlight gave vague shape to the underwater cavern. I swam forward, holding on to the strange item I found. An item I held onto as I pressed forward. Ahead of me, Diego’s form took shape out of the darkness. Thankfully, I kept holding onto the object tight. Just before I ran out of air, I cleared the underwater tunnel and kicked my way to the surface. Yay, I did it! I still have the item!

Anyway, I found myself in the mouth of an ocean cave. I swam back towards the beach, where the others were drying off. On the beach, Jake shook the water out of his hair. Watching him, the little blue fox shook out his fur. Jake remarked that the fox was a copycat, or copyfox, whatever. I couldn’t help but giggle. Diego asked me what I found. When I saw what it was I was holding onto, I couldn’t believe it! A gas mask, I was holding onto a gas mask!

Of all the things to cling onto.

I even told Diego that it looked like some sort of gas mask. Diego said that it was old too, looking like it’s from around the First World War. Okay, that gas mask just got a lot more interested. Lila asked what something like that would be doing in that cavern and how long had it been there. Don’t know but, my guess, since World War I. Anyway, I counted off the group to check if everyone was here and then my blood went cold. I asked everyone where Quinn was! Lila asked if Quinn came up and insisted that she was right behind her! Eyes wide, we scanned the placid surface of the water, hoping to spot any sign of Quinn. I panicked when I didn’t even see her! Diego said that if Quinn got trapped or lost down there, someone needs to go get her, now! That someone was me and I immediately volunteered. I sprinted back into the ocean, the waves crashing against my legs. Lila told me to hurry and, believe me, that’s exactly what I intend to do! I dived under, plunging beneath the surface, and opened my eyes against the stinging salt of the seawater. All I heard was the swirling currents in my ears and my thundering heart in my chest. I couldn’t help but worry about Quinn, wondering where she was. I swam deeper still. My breath began to burn in my lungs. I fought the instinct to swim up for air. Then, I saw her!

Quinn, for the love of God, please be okay!

A still form framed against the sunlight piercing the water. I could see that Quinn was gasping for air and I couldn’t help but worry! I clawed my way through the water toward her and pulled her slack body into my arms. Her eyes meet mine, and I almost saw a smile brighten her face as she faded from consciousness. Her eyes fluttered closed and bubbles escaped her lips. No, it couldn’t end like this! I kicked, pulling her up but she didn’t go anywhere! I didn’t know what was going on until I saw it. Long vines of a dark green seaweed coiled around Quinn’s ankles, snaring her. I reached down to slip them off but, at my touch, they coiled even more tightly on reflex! Seriously, what the f*?! The vines began to retract, pulling Quinn farther down! I had to get those vines off of her, so I swam down as quickly as I could to the ocean bed. Feeling around in the dark until a sharp rock cut my hand! A trickle of blood seeped out, staining the water. I yelped from pain in my head but, gritting my teeth, I picked up the rock by the dull side and swam back to Quinn. With it, I sawed through the vines, cutting one easily! Only one more to go! As I sawed into the next vine, I felt a sudden darkness pass over me. Squinting against the water, I saw a massive, shapeless shadow eclipsing the sunlight. I gasped, wondering what that was supposed to be. The blood from the small cut in my hands drifted in the water, and my mind raced to memories from school of sharks smelling blood from a mile away! Needless to say, I had to get out of there, fast! I slashed through the last vine, freeing Quinn! She slumped into my arms. The vines thrashed wildly, and I heard a distant noise somewhere in the water, almost like a scream. I kicked hard, holding Quinn tight to my chest and propelled myself up. I broke through the surface, a wave instantly battering me as I gasped for air. Aleister called out that we were over here! Quinn’s head rested on my shoulder, her long hair matted against me. Her eyes were still closed. I paddled my way back to the beach with one arm. The others rushed into the tide to help. Diego told me that Quinn’s not breathing! I laid her down on the dry sand. Quinn was limp and still. Jake said that I had to give her C.P.R! Then he told me to remember that the steps are compressions, airway, and breathing. I said that I’ve got it. I positioned myself at Quinn’s side. Then I laced one hand around the other and pushed down on Quinn’s chest in a quick rhythm counting to thirty. Next, I tilted back Quinn’s head gently, letting her mouth open. Jake told me that was it. I quickly listened for breathing and watched her chest. After that, I pinched Quinn’s nose closed and pressed my mouth to hers, breathing air into her. Aleister said that it’s not working and I was failing at… What I was failing at I never found out because Jake told Aleister to shut the h**l up. I took another deep breath and put my lips against Quinn’s once more, breathing air into her. Suddenly, she started to cough! I pulled back as Quinn choked up water, her eyes flying open! Diego smiled and called out Quinn’s name. Lila said, “Oh thank god!” Quinn blinked and her eyes focused on me, still leaning over her. Quinn said my name and reached up and grazed my cheek with one hand. She told me that I saved her, again. I said to Quinn that I know she told me not to risk myself for her, that she’s not worth it, but she is to me. She held onto my gaze for a long moment and then thanked me. Diego asked Quinn what happened down there. Quinn said that she felt something take her. I explained that it was those vines, like kelp or seaweed, but stronger. I said that they were wrapped around Quinn’s ankles. Lila asked if Quinn got stuck. I insisted that it wasn’t exactly like that, then explained that they grabbed her and pulled her down, like they had a mind of their own. I helped Quinn shakily get to her feet. I told Quinn that maybe she should rest. Quinn insisted that she’s okay and said that we have to keep going if we want to get off this island. She reminded me that the others are meeting us at the airstrip and asked if I remembered.

Even after a near death experience, Quinn still thinks of others first.

Quinn said that we can’t leave them waiting around there, not with that sabertooth on the loose. Quinn marched forward across the sand, to the edge of the rainforest. She told us to come on and that the airstrip should be that way.

I led my group through the jungle, making my way toward the airstrip. Jake told us to keep it down, that the sabertooth could be anywhere. We pushed through a dense mess of foliage when I saw the ferns stir. A pair of eyes suddenly appeared in front of me! Needless to say, I ended up screaming. I heard another scream right by me that sounded like Michelle’s! The rest of our classmates from the resort appeared behind Michelle, startled by my screaming! Grace smiled, happily proclaiming that it was just us. Craig said that we were a couple of wimps, screaming about nothing. Estela asked if we were trying to attract every predator in the rainforest and, I have to admit, I felt a little embarrassed. Michelle admitted that this was embarrassing but at least we both jumped. I admitted that I seriously almost punched her. Michelle said that she’s grateful that I ALMOST did. Zahra pointed out that the airstrip’s just up ahead and asked what we were all waiting for, to become cat food? Reunited, our group continued along the trail. I found myself walking beside Estela. I said that it was good that we’re all here because I was beginning to worry we wouldn’t be able to convince everyone to leave the island… Estela interrupted me, insisting that she was not leaving. That caught me off guard and I asked her why. She said that she had unfinished business. I told Estela that, whatever she’s doing here, I want to help. Estela looked at me, sizing me up, as if trying to pinpoint how I’m deceiving her. She said that I meant that, didn’t I? I insisted that of course I did. Estela claimed that I was stupid and to trust her, I don’t want to get myself involved because, once I’m in, there’s no way out.

Involved in what?

Wow, way to show gratitude. Then she told me that, for my own sake, go back to my nice college bubble, live my dreams, and be happy because it’s what I’m meant for! I made it clear that I think I’LL decide what I’m meant for! Estela said that if only that were true. Then she told me to keep my voice down and reminded me that there’s still a sabertooth after us, asking if I remember. I told Estela that she doesn’t seem surprised at all about that. Estela said that nothing surprises her anymore. I asked Estela if I surprised her. Estela rolled her eyes, but couldn’t suppress a smile. Jake held aside a large fern so our group could pass through onto the airstrip.

He said that it looked like we made it safe and sound, now let’s get the… Before he could finish he gave an oh no. At the far side of the airstrip, noxious black smoke billowed out of the windows of the shuttered hangar! Jake screamed for his plane as I told him that we had to put the fire out! My group sprinted the length of the airstrip, reading the closed hangar doors. Already, I could feel the heat emanating from within. Jake told Sean to help him get these doors open! Sean and Jake tugged at the colossal doors. Everyone else joined in, and slowly the doors parted. A wall of acrid smoke the color of death plumed from the open doors, rising into the sky like a storm cloud! Sean was gasping for air! Coughing myself, I waved the smoke away from my face and squinted through to see the plane that was supposed to get us off this island. I told Jake that his plane was… He finished for me, saying that it was gone. Jake’s plane sat where he’d left it, engulfed in flame. The raging fire consumed it, through and through. Zahra remarked that there goes our ride. Through the oppressive smoke, I saw a round piece of gleaming metal on the floor just inside the hangar. I asked my group if they saw that and asked what it was! Sean told me to be careful because I won’t be able to breathe in there. I insisted that I can reach it! So I ventured into the smoke. Shielding my eyes against the thick smoke, I fought my way forward and picked up the small metal disk. Instantly, I knew what I was looking at. Just then, the world around me glowed a little brighter. As if in slow-motion, I turned to see a trail of flame racing toward the plane as the gasoline line caught fire. Estela called out for me. Then she dived for me, tackling me out of the way, just as the plane exploded! The flame reached the plane’s gas tank. It detonated in a hail of steel. I gave a loud “whoa!” Raj screamed “Holy mother of…” Everyone was blown back onto the dirt! Estela shielded me with her body until it was over. When it passed, she tilted my head up, and her eyes meet mine. Estela asked me if I was okay. I told Estela that she could’ve gotten herself killed and asked why she saved me! Estela admitted that she honestly didn’t know. Jake looked wistfully at the smoldering plane. He gave a long whistle of resignation, but I could see the heartbreak in his eyes. Jake asked how this could have happened, saying that he didn’t understand. I told Jake that I did find this and showed him the small metal device I picked up in the hangar. Jake asked if that was the padlock to the hangar doors.

And, believe it or not, it was fully intact.

I said that it was and reminded him that he locked up the hangar before he left and this padlock in unbroken. I pointed out the obvious, that someone unlocked the hangar. Jake asked who, since there’s no one on this d**n island except… US. Everyone in my group eyed each other, suddenly suspicious and uneasy. Michelle insisted that we not look at her, because she didn’t do anything and insisted that it was Aleister because he looks creepy! Grace got mad and insisted that Michelle back off, claiming that Aleister didn’t do this! Sean told us that we are NOT doing this just now and we can handle this back at the resort! Sean said that all that matters now is that everyone is in one piece. Diego pointed out that it might not be for long. I asked Diego what he meant as I followed his gaze across the airstrip to the edge of the jungle. The ferns part and a powerful, lithe creature of muscle and sinew slinked out, its fangs glistened in the sun! That’s right, the sabertooth tiger was back! Craig remarked that we have got to be kidding him! The sabertooth prowled closer, cornering us against the blazing furnace of the hangar. Quinn and I shared a look, and we both knew this time there was no escape. The sabertooth coiled to strike when something small and blue darted out in front of it! You guessed it, that was the fox and he was looking p**ed!

Believe it or not, this little guy packs a punch.

Jake told the little guy to run and that this is a bit of a mismatch! But the fox didn’t stand down yapping at the tiger. The sabertooth drew itself to full height, dwarfing the fox, even seeming to laugh at its tiny opposition. It swung back a paw to slash at the fox when the fox took a deep breath and blew! Snow crystals materialized and flitted through the air at the tiger, instantly freezing its paw in the ice! Oh my god, that little thing actually has ice powers! Grace asked if we just saw that! Jake only slowly said, “No… way…” The sabertooth yelped in surprise. It leapt back, but another breath from the fox froze its back foot to the ground! The tiger panicked and thrashed, breaking free from the ice and galloping off into the rainforest! The little fox turned to our group, clearly pleased with itself. Beside me, Michelle fainted barely caught by Raj. Everyone looked around dumbstruck, from the charred broken plane, to the ice-breathing fox, to the fleeing saber-toothed tiger. I asked what everyone was thinking, where on EARTH are we?

All I know is that it ain’t Kansas.

A/N: And where exactly are they? Are they on a magical island cut off from the real world? Is it an island bought by the rich for illegal scientific research? Is this all just a dream and Jasmine is safely back in her bed? I’m going to let you know right now that the answer to the last question is no. Anyway, let me know what you think and feel free to request your own recap in the comments or send it to my email.



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