The River of Crawling Death

Will Hulsey, 1958

The plane shuddered as it hit the runway, bouncing, leaping upward. Trying to get back off the ground. A reminder of that old pilots’ maxim – each landing is just another controlled crash. A heat-mirage danced above the tarmac, obscuring the jungle that pressed tight against the airport, pierced by jagged-toothed mountains – it was seductive, like a broken dreamscape, like the promise of adventure.

Or a warning.

And I’ve never been one to heed a warning.

Stifling heat rushed to meet us as the doors opened into the tropics, stifling heat and the droning buzz of the jungle. The canvas walls of the Immigration and Customs tent bowed and sagged beneath the weight of the sky, as steam poured from the heavy bronze engines, stitching and entwining itself into the blanket of heat already overwhelming.

I scowled. The amatuer beuracracy of the Glorious People’s Republic of Val Verde was skilled in only one thing – corruption. This was going to take some time, I knew, as I mentally compiled an itinerary of those items I’d be happy to part with in order to escape to my hotel.

Then I saw her. Tall, without being lanky, brunette and curvaceous – just how I like my women. I cocked my hat, and put my best half-smile on. I wouldn’t mind the wait with her inspecting my luggage, let her deliberate over each and every contraption – after all, foreign girls make the best lovers. “Are you visiting the Glorious People’s Republic of Val Verde on business or for pleasure, sir?” she asked, in perfect English, the hint of a British boarding school underlining the obvious sarcasm as she mentioned the Communist government’s latest name for the country – it would change again within the year. I was tempted to answer with my usual ultimatum: Perhaps a mixture of both, if you’d be so kind, my dear, but she cut me off, interrupting. “Or are you here to aid with the further destruction of our history and culture, Dr Grady?”

This is the first part of The River of Crawling Death, a serial that I’ve just decided to start (and it’s a choose your own adventure story!) I started writing it for Chuck Wendig’s latest Terrible Minds challenge, which was a genre smasher…I got Men’s Adventure and Steampunk. I also used this week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge word deliberate. Comments and criticism always welcome, and TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR MORE ADVENTURE! 

Part II of The River of Crawling Death

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29 thoughts on “The River of Crawling Death

  1. I love the voice in this piece and I love Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but my daughter just crashed into the garage, so I don’t have time to vote right now.

  2. jannatwrites says:

    Voted 🙂 Cool idea with the reader input on the story.

  3. stankmeaner says:

    I was kind of bummed the A-Z monsters were done, but seriously? Following it up with a Choose Your Own Adventure is a brilliant stroke. I’ll take antiquities and leggy brunettes 😉

  4. EagleAye says:

    This sounds like a great beginning to a much longer story. I felt almost like I was reading a Philip Marlow story. And if that brunette figures into more of the story, count me in for further reads.

    • Thank you! I’ve only read ‘The Big Sleep’ and I hope I can keep up the tension/action in the same way that Raymond Chandler did. I’m looking forward to seeing how the story pans out, and remember Chandler’s Law: “When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.”

  5. I like the way yo don’t quite follow the formula for this genre..

    • I don’t know much about the genre – mostly basing it on a couple of Ian Fleming novels I’ve read as well as The Big Sleep and some Doctor Who novelisations (as well as bringing my own over-descriptive style to it!) Formula, shmormula!

  6. Draug419 says:

    I’m dull, I voted for business xD

    Very James Bond-y. I like it. And I noticed there is not one button on that woman’s conveniently-open blouse lol

  7. I don’t think the lady will be easy to woo. He’d better turn on the charm. This is a great start. I can’t wait to see how the votes go.

    Thanks for linking up!

    • Thanks, Trifectans, I hope you’re playing along too! I just remembered how much I loved choose-your-own-adventure books and I thought, “Hmmmm, maybe that would be fun.” I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes…

  8. Suzanne says:

    Fun piece! I loved choose your own adventure stories when I was a kid! Can’t wait to see where this goes. Oh, and I love that picture. At least both their shirts are torn open. 😉

  9. I went business. Since he’s been bagged, might as well name drop!
    Great start, Chris. I already feel like I’m watching the opening credits on a Bond/Jones movie.
    Does anyone wear buttons in a place like GPR Valverde?

  10. I’m just drooling over the awesomeness of this idea and the execution of it thus far. Awesome points for you!

  11. […] is also the first episode of my new choose-his-#adventure serial – The River of Crawling Death: chriswhitewrites.com/2013/05/15/the… […]

  12. […] The River of Crawling Death by ChrisWhiteWrites ~ @chriswhitewrite ~ Less than 500 words ~ Adventure ~ Serial […]

  13. Shelli says:

    I love the title of the story and am eager to read more. I love the interactivity, very cool idea!

  14. […] men’s adventure serial with a touch of steampunk! Once you stop drooling, head over there to read part one, then read and vote on part two, which includes three of last week’s […]

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