Which Web Did He Go?
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“Oh, man…” he moaned groggily, “… my head aches something fierce.”

He wanted to reach up and rub the tender spot on the side of his head but he wasn’t able to move his arms. He faded momentarily out of consciousness then jerked back to reality.

His vision was blurred but it didn’t matter as only a small amount of light was visible around the periphery of his vision. He was artificially blinded by something covering his face, but it was not immediately clear what it was. He could breathe just fine but the confinement was claustrophobia-inducing.

“What hit me?” he asked aloud, having no idea who – or what – might be around. He tried unsuccessfully to recall any memory of the moments and events that led up to his current predicament. He had no clue of where he was or how he had gotten there, and to make matters worse, he couldn't even see to evaluate his situation.

He felt nauseous and off kilter, and even though he was blinded his senses were signaling to his brain that he was tilted nearly upside down. He could feel the blood flushing his cheeks and the pressure in his brow. Finally the creeping realization of where he was dawned on him as he felt the sticky fibers against his hands.

Despite the pain he struggled to raise his head and eventually was able to break free from the webbing’s adhesion enough to freely turn his head. He shook his head violently from side to side until at last the dented iron helmet that was knocked askew and covering his face, dislodged and clanged noisily to the cavern floor some 15 feet below.

Suddenly he could see again, but it took a moment for his vision to clear and the room to stop spinning and swimming around him like the warped view in a Fun House mirror. His worst fear was confirmed as he discovered that he was indeed suspended securely in what could only be classified as a giant complex of spider webs.

He was surrounded by the mummified bodies of other, not-so-lucky stiffs who had already been dinner for some hungry arachnids. He knew he had to act fast, or he too would suffer the same terrible fate. He craned his neck to each side surveying the varying features of the cavern below, above and on each side as far as he could see.

To one side a steady stream of molten lava flowed from a crack in the stone wall, into a natural basin forming a boiling and bubble lake of lava, while on the other side, in contrast, was fresh clear water gushing down the wall from an unseen underground river, flowing down a roughly three foot wide channel gouged in the rock by years of erosion. There were shafts of rocks on the cavern floor, resembling spikes or razor sharp fangs, but thankfully none were directly under him, instead under him the area was littered with gravel.

His mind raced like the water down the cavern walls as he weighed his options, considered possible strategies for escape, mentally tossed his odds of survival around like dice at the craps table, and searched his memory for any clues to how he came to be here. Slowly he formulated a possible plan of escape. It was risky to be sure, and it hinged on several iffy things going right, and it was literally a one-shot deal. If his plan failed it would literally seal his doom, but he was in desperate straits already, and there was no more time to waste.

He carefully twisted and turned his body, shifting his weigh from side to side, rolling himself around in the sticky webbing, slowly working into a more upright position, as well as forming a protective cocoon of webbing to insulate his body from what was to come. He took care to keep his hands free at the wrist and his feet free at the ankles so he had at least some limited movement.

As he pulled more and more of the webbing to wrap around him, as if thread spun around a bobbin, the filaments of the entire web structure pulled taunt adding stress to all the anchor points keeping the whole mess from falling. He kept tugging on strands of webbing closest to the side near the lava to add additional pressure to those. Finally several strands broke free from the cavern wall, the free ends fluttering downward into the lava.

Flames immediately leapt to life consuming the thin strands of webbing, burning quickly up to the main body of webbing, increasing in intensity as it spread. He hoped the webbing would hold long enough for the fire to reach him before plunging the now fiery mass to the cavern floor below. He would have to act with lightning speed if he were to survive the blaze unscathed.

The webbing began to sag under the weight as more and more of the support strands were burned away. He fell slightly several times as anchor points detached from the wall in the heat. A small line of flames raced down a strand leading directly to him, setting the cocoon he had made aflame. He shifted his weight as heavily as he could to the side where the water flowed along the rocks. The webbing gave way on the weakest side where the fire had decimated it, swinging him arching downward rapidly, the fire eating away at the web cocoon flared up brightly as he the air rush by.

He hit the ground with speed, falling on the loose gravel, which absorbed some of the impact, but even with the web cocoon around him, most of which had burned away, it was not enough to prevent the landing from being quite painful, knocking the wind out of him. The force of the fall and the angle at which he hit the ground, as planned, sent him rolling across the rocky floor right into the cold water. The fire promptly went out sparing him burns, but now he was lying face down in the water still stuck in the last vestiges of the gluey web cocoon.

He had no air in his lungs due to the hard impact with the floor but he held his breath anyway. His side ached, his lungs were empty, his heart raced, his thoughts a jumble, his vision obscured by the rushing water, his muscled ached and his strength was nearly gone.

“You can do this!” he screamed to himself in this mind. He flexed his arms, legs and torso all at once, gritting his teeth against the sharp pains. The fire-thinned webbing tore apart freeing his hands enough that he was able to push himself over so that his face was out of the water. He hungrily gasped in the air as he lay panting in the frigid water. He watched the ashes and embers flutter down from above, like so many snowflakes, as the last of the spider web was consumed by the fire.

Deep breath… pain… deep breath… pain… it continued for several minutes until he had recovered enough strength to lift himself from the water and slowly rose to his feet. He snatched up an old splintered stick lodged in the rocks by the water, and leaned against it like a crutch. He hobbled his way toward the only exit he could see, grabbing a barely lit torch strewn on the floor along the way. Not looking back he headed toward the sliver of sunlight shimmering in the distance…
Nice escape!

One nit to pick:

"His mind raced like the V12 engine of a Ferrari" - This line broke immersion for me, since I was picturing a fantasy setting.
(03-25-2014, 04:12 PM)slaad11 Wrote: Nice escape!

One nit to pick:

"His mind raced like the V12 engine of a Ferrari" - This line broke immersion for me, since I was picturing a fantasy setting.

Yes, I thought of that when I pasted the story in. It doesn't make sense given it was from Minecraft either. Point taken.

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