The River of Crawling Death (Episode II)

Copyright Will Hulsey, 1958

This is the second episode of The River of Crawling Death. Click this line if you haven’t read Episode I!


“Why am I here? On business, I’m afraid – as usual. The University museum is looking for antiquities, and your President is eager to meet with me. I’m particularly intrigued by artefacts from the pre-European period, although I may be interested in sampling some more recent aspects of your culture as well…so perhaps I may be able to mix business with pleasure after all.”


She smiled, almost against her will – I had the nerve to smile underneath that toppling barrage of pomposity, to show her just how much I believed in my own importance.


Not a jot.


“I can’t wait to get to my hotel room actually, to settle down with a stiff gin and tonic and see out the afternoon. As soon as you’ve finished your work here, of course. I’m spent.”


Slowly she rifled through the new clothes the University had insisted I bring, to impress El Presidente and his cohorts. If the relics he had enticed the University with had indeed fallen into his possession I would need to look my best. Certainly there were rumours swirling about the campus that there were other museums circling, like sharks in the water. My tact and diplomacy leave a little to be desired. Turning up the collars of every suit jacket, far too hot to be wearing in the tropics, but in the latest style, she checked through pockets and linings.


“What is this?” she asked, pulling out a collection of brass pipes and a small brazier. “And these, Doctor?”


She didn’t leave me time to reply, lifting out more of my devices onto the benchtop. “You do realise that steam-powered contraptions won’t work in the jungle, don’t you? It’s far too damp for the coal to catch alight.”



“Now just you wait a moment!” I almost shouted at her. She had found my sketchbook and was studying the pages – too bright for her own good, I thought, as she began to trace the delicate filigreed designs. She was about to reach my more personal drawings. Studies of the human form, and rather good, I thought, but too intimate to show to a stranger – my self-portraits in particular – even though I sought to make more of our acquaintance.


The breeze picked up outside, howling as it cut its way through the haze, carrying with it the shrieks and howls of the labyrinthine jungle looming just beyond the cracked and overgrown colonial-era fencing. 

Copyright Sarah Ann Hall

Unsettling, unnerving.



There was a cough from behind my shoulder, and a look of terror shuddered across her features, replaced almost instantly by an artificial smile.


A member of the Security Forces, then, come to escort me safely to my hotel.



For this post I used three of this week’s BeKindRewrite prompts (SpentNew Clothes and Cutting Through the Haze.) I also used some Trifecta words (toppleunderneath and nerve) as well as the Friday Fictioneers photo prompt – although this story counts for neither because it’s far too long. Also, I think I’ll be updating these stories twice a week, so 3 days of voting!



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14 thoughts on “The River of Crawling Death (Episode II)

  1. Draug419 says:

    Boy she just dove right into his stuff! xD I like her curiosity.

  2. Indiana Jones, I presume. I enjoyed that, Chris, although I hope you can dodge Rochelle who’s headed your way with a wet noodle to give you what-for for you blatant cheating and highway robbery. 🙂


  3. stankmeaner says:

    This line is one of the best turns of phrases that I’ve read in a while: underneath that toppling barrage of pomposity. Just absolutely love that. Style wise, your writing is top notch in this installment. Storyline wise, I’m already sucked in and want to know more about everything that’s going on, so really well done piece 🙂

  4. Great continuation from the previous piece. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

    Thanks for linking up!

  5. […] on what happens next in my choose-the-protag's #adventure #story The River of Crawling Death!… […]

  6. […] 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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