The Adventure

When Kevin, Gary, Will, Saskia and Christel set off on a caving expedition, little do they know what adventures and misadventures will befall them...

Based on the computer game "Adventure" by Bill Crowther, Don Woods and Mike Arnoutov.

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1. Chapter One

The battered VW minibus spewed blue exhaust as it chugged slowly along the gravel road through the forest and drew to a halt outside a small building with a stream flowing out of it. Kevin, the driver of the minibus, turned round to face his passengers.

“OK guys, we’re here,” he called out.

“Thank goodness for that,” breathed Christel. “Eight hours in this rust bucket’s more than flesh and bone can stand.”

 Kevin opened the doors and helped his companions – Christel, Saskia, Gary and Will - out of the vehicle.

 “Let’s get the trailer unloaded and the tents up,” he chivvied when they’d all disembarked.

“That might be difficult,” called back Gary from the rear of the bus. “The trailer’s missing!”

 “What?” asked Kevin, rushing round to look, followed by the others.

 Gary kicked the rear sill. “Looks like the bolt holes for the towing bracket rusted right through,” he observed.

Kevin glared at Christel. “You were sat in the back, Christel. Did you not look out of the window and notice it was missing?”

 “Don’t go blaming me,” Christel snarled back. “If you’d kept this old rust bucket in better condition….”

“Guys, this isn’t helping anyone,” Will put in. “Whoever’s fault it was, the trailer’s gone. For all we know it could be three hundred miles away. We’ve lost all our camping and caving gear. The question is, what do we do now?”

“Let’s just turn round and go back,” suggested Christel. “I never wanted to come on this stupid caving trip anyway.”

Kevin glanced at the sky. The sun was low to the horizon and the first stars were starting to appear. “It’s too late to drive back now,” he said. “There are some blankets in the bus. I suggest we spend the night in the building and make a decision in the morning.”

“You’ve been pretty quiet up to now, Saskia,” Will put in. “What do you think?”

“Might as well give it a try,” Saskia shrugged, without commitment. They approached the building and tried the door, which opened with a creak. The building was almost empty, apart from a brass lamp, a plastic bottle, a bunch of keys and some food.

“It’s a bit damp,” complained Christel.

“Buildings with streams flowing out of them often are,” Saskia replied sarcastically.

“It’s here or the bus,” said Gary. “And quite frankly I’ve been cooped up in that bus for long enough today.”

They ate what they wanted of the food, then spread their blankets out on the driest parts of the floor and went to sleep.

“So what do we do now?” asked Kevin, the next morning.

“Let’s go home,” said Christel. “I don’t want to spend another night on this hard floor.”

“I hate to say it, but I’m with Christel,” Will agreed. “It’s a shame given the distance we’ve travelled but we can’t go caving without the equipment we need.”

“I’m not going back without seeing the caves,” Gary answered. “I don’t want to have done a sixteen hour round trip for nothing. We’ve got a lamp, some food and a bottle we can fill with water. I say we give it a try.”

“What about you, Saskia?” Kevin asked. Saskia brushed her mane of off-blonde hair away from her grey eyes. “Whatever you guys think best,” she said, noncommittally.

“Back home it is then,” said Kevin. “I guess if we find the trailer in the first few miles we can always go back to Plan A.”

Packing the remainder of the food to eat on the way and filling the bottle of water for the journey, they climbed back into the minibus. Kevin turned the key in the ignition. The engine made strange sounds and died. He tried again three more times with the same result.

“I told you this heap of junk’s only fit for a scrapheap,” Christel commented. Kevin jumped down from the bus and opened the rear engine cover. After examining the engine for a few moments, he returned to the cabin. “I can’t see anything obviously wrong,” he explained, taking his phone out of his pocket. “I’ll see if I can call a mechanic.” He stared at his phone. “Can anyone get a signal?” he asked. The others checked their phones. None of them had a signal.

“The trees must be blocking the signal,” Saskia said.

“There’s nothing for it. I’m going to have to walk back to the main road and see if I can get help,” Kevin stated. “I guess I’ll be a while.”

He climbed back down from the bus and trudged back along the road.

“In that case,” Gary said, when Kevin had disappeared from sight. “I’m going to see if I can find the caves.”

“Don’t be daft,” Will answered. “You can’t go caving on your own. Anything could happen.”

“You guys can come with me if you want to,” Gary replied. “But either way, I’m going.”

“OK, I’ll come,” said Saskia. “I can see you doing something stupid if you go on your own.”

“It’s better to have three,” said Will. “That way if one person gets injured, one can stay with them while the other goes for help. Guess I’d better come as well.”

“What about you, Chris?” asked Saskia. “Will you be OK staying here or do you want to join us?” “Might as well come then,” Christel shrugged resignedly. “At least I won’t have to sit around in this pile of scrap.” Will left a note on the dashboard in case Kevin returned then retrieved the lamp and the keys from the building.

“What did you get the keys for?” Saskia asked.

Will shrugged. “Dunno really. But I get the feeling someone left those keys in there for us so there must be a use for them.”

“Which way are these stinking caves, anyway?” Christel asked.

“I don’t know,” Will replied. “But we’re in limestone country and streams in limestone country often drop into the ground through sink holes. If we follow the stream we should be able to find the way in.”

 

Kevin climbed the forest road as it swept uphill. Although he was above the trees now, still there was no signal on his phone. Away in the distance to the west, he spotted a tall, white tower. If it was inhabited, there might be a landline, he reasoned and set off in that direction.

 

The stream flowed southwards down a deep ravine. The four would-be-cavers splashed along it. “These are my best trainers!” Christel moaned as the water soaked her feet.

“Go and sit back in the van, then!” Will retorted. Despite her constant complaining, there was a stubborn side to Christel which took orders from nobody, so she continued down the stream. Presently they came to a slit in the rock into which the stream disappeared. “We can’t fit through a two inch slit!” Christel commented sarcastically. “Oh dear, what a shame…”

Will glared sternly at her.

“I can see a grating a little to the south of here,” said Saskia. “Maybe that’s the entrance to the cave.” They walked across to it. It was padlocked, but the second key in the bunch opened it. Will and Gary dropped down, then reached up and helped Christel and Saskia through the opening. A low cobbled crawl led westwards and they followed it on their hands and knees. Will's hand brushed against something, and he turned the lamp on to see a small wicker bird cage. Continuing westwards they came to a debris room filled with stuff washed in from the surface. The cobbled passage became plugged with mud and debris here, but an awkward canyon led upward and west. A three-foot long black rod with a rusty star on one end leaned up against a wall.

“What’s that?” Christel asked.

“No idea,” said Will. “But something gives me a feeling it may come in useful. Better pick it up.” Saskia noticed a note pinned to the wall.

“Magic word XYZZY,” she read aloud, and disappeared in a puff of smoke.

 

Kevin followed a footpath through the forest until he came to a set of wrought iron gates leading to the tower. He tried the gates but they were locked. Maybe if he followed the wall round there might be another way in, he thought, following the wall of the compound in a clockwise direction. Presently the undergrowth became too thick for him to follow the wall any further and he found himself in a dense, dark forest. The more he tried to find his way out, the more lost he became. He became aware of a gurgling sound and footsteps behind him. Kevin didn’t know what was making the noise but knowing it didn’t sound friendly, he started to run as quickly as the undergrowth would allow him, until he tripped over a pile of brambles and landed flat in a nettle patch.

The grue was hungry. It had been a long time since any adventurers had come to that part of the forest. Shrieking with delight it pounced on top of Kevin and started its meal.

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