Fantasy Science Fiction posted May 18, 2017 Chapters:  ...22 23 -24- 25... 


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Ayala faces fears as she and the others travel in the mines.

A chapter in the book Humanity Project

The Bowels of the Earth

by davisr (Rhonda)




Background
Archie and the others follow Sani through the tunnels beneath the San Juan Mountains in search of Mine City.
Summary of last chapter:

Archie, Ayala, Koko and Sani enter the rocky steppes of the San Juan Mountains. Ayala professes her fear of being in tight spaces, and is afraid to go into the mines. Meanwhile, Sani teaches the overconfident Archie a lesson on fear by making him watch out for bears. Now, the time has come for the group to go underground.


Chapter 24: The Bowels of the Earth.


Ayala looked at the entombing walls of the mines through the filtered light of her flickering torch. She felt the pressure of tons of stone above and about her. She had been glad to reach the end of their journey across the plains. It was a harsh and hurried march. Her feet were bruised and chafed, her stomach aching for good food, and her tawny skin burned and cracked. But now, she felt buried alive.

Her breathing grew shallow and rapid, and her skin crawled with a thousand imagined insects. She was just about to cry out when she felt a hand on her elbow.

"Deep breaths, Ayala," Archie said. "Sani said we won't have to travel far before we rest."

"I can't rest in here, Archie. I can hardly breathe."

"Don't look around any more than necessary. Try to focus on Koko. Let one foot fall and the other replace it. Watch for your sister's feet, and listen for mine."

"Thank you, I'll try," Ayala said, "but please don't let me go."

Archie took her by the hand and they walked side-by-side behind the leaders. A few times, when he felt her trembling, he put a protective arm around her shoulder. She would nod at him, then move on.

As they journeyed on into the heart of the mountain, Archie took time to look around. Just as Sani had told them when they first entered the mines, his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the torches, much more so than they had in the darkness of the wastelands they had passed through earlier. By this pale light, the secrets of the mines burst forth like flowers in the desert after a rain.

The damp walls were brilliantly decorated with multicolored flakes of minerals. They glowed and sparkled like messengers of light seeking to warm a realm of darkness.

Archie was also impressed by random areas that occasionally opened up on either side of the rocky trail. They looked like small cabinets or caves and Archie stopped, when he could, to gaze inside in wonder.

Within many were glistening stalactites dripping orbs of colorful water, others, barely visible to the human eye, looked like chiseled scenes from another world. Archie thought, for just a fraction of a second, that Sani was right; that there was some magic deep within the inner network of the rocky world they had entered.

Koko joined Archie from time to time to look in upon the small rocky indentions. Occasionally she would reach a hand up to touch a sparkling stone, or caress a golden orb. Her heart seemed as touched as Archie's by the sights. She needed this, Archie decided, and was glad Sani was traveling slowly enough to allow her to look. Ayala wasn't as fascinated, however, and didn't join her companions in their explorations. It was taking everything she had to keep her composure.

Archie was surprised to find that the walls of the tunnel were damp, so much so that they often leaked water onto the floors, resulting in a small stream that flowed forward on their right side. Archie wasn't sure where the water was heading, but he figured it escaped towards some distant body of water. The gentle sound of the babbling brook added to the wonder of the crystalline world they found themselves enveloped in.

Had their situation not been so dire, Archie might have enjoyed his journey inside the mountains more. He had often wondered what it looked like deep beneath the earth's surface, and found himself impressed by what he saw. Someday, he thought, he would return here with a camera and spend days recording the wonders -- someday, when the wrongs of the experiment had been righted.

In the midst of a particularly deep musing, Archie turned and looked at Ayala. He was saddened to see that she still appeared frightened and oppressed, the proverbial weight of the mountains pressing upon her young shoulders. He wondered how much longer she could hold together. A strong girl on the ground's surface, beneath it, she was a frightened kitten. He offered an encouraging smile.

The group stopped just as Ayala felt she could endure no more.

"You doing okay, Ayala?" Sani asked. He walked over and handed her a piece of dried meat.

"Not really," Ayala replied. She sat beside her sister on a boulder and handed her dried meat to Koko. She didn't feel like eating. "I still feel like this place is going to fall in on me."

"I understand your concern," Sani said, "but take the word of this old miner, Child, you are completely safe in here. We are surrounded by solid granite. These aren't coal mines, you know."

"What's the difference?" Ayala asked. Her arms wrapped around her body protectively.

"Granite is hard rock." Sani placed a fatherly hand on her arm. "It doesn't break apart when you drill into it. Coal comes from soft rock, like limestone, which tends to cave in when stressed. The worse problem you'll have is getting lost, and so long as you follow me, you'll be just fine. Besides, the Tommyknockers are about, and they'll watch out for anything that might harm us."

"Sani," Archie said. "We've followed you through the desert, barren grasslands, mountain steppes, and even through an ungodly hidden tunnel in the side of the mountain. Now, we're miles underground in a world none of us, besides you, have ever experienced. We need more than fairy tales."

"Fairies are useless creatures who dance around in the moonlight and catch butterflies. Tommyknockers are hardworking..."

"Sani!"

"Okay, fine," Sani said. He leaned against a wall, chewing on a piece of dried meat. "I'll admit Tommyknockers may be a myth, but many miners believe in them. Look on the side wall there, what do you see?"

"Looks like a vein of rock," Archie observed. His brow was knit up with concentration. "It's lighter in color than the surrounding rock."

"Yes, that's what we call cave coral. Sometimes it indicates the presence of more precious stone, like gold, but in this case, it shows us a direction to travel. See, it's shaped like an arrow."

"It does, sort of look like one," Ayala agreed, turning her head to the side and squinting her eyes. "Who made those?"

"I guess it was just by chance it was formed, but when making our maps, we miners use such landmarks to our advantage. The Old Ones believe they are formed by Tommyknockers to guide us."

"And young ones like you?" Koko asked. She flashed a wink at her sister.

"Oh, we like to believe in anything, but I guess they aren't who I was talking about when I said we'd have help. There are others who live in the shadows and who'll help you in need. I assure you, they are quite real."

"Who are they?" Ayala asked.

"Others of your kind," Sani said. "Ones that could never blend into society because of their animalistic characteristics. They don't even fit into Mine City. They've formed their own counter culture in the inner tunnels of the mines."

"What are they like?" Archie asked. He had sat on the floor in front of the girls and nibbled on a piece of the stored meat.

"They're good people, who are aware of our quest. They'll show up when you need them. But more on them later. Let's rest for a bit. The next leg of our journey will take us to the brink of Mine City."

"I'm not sure I can sleep in here," Ayala said. "Whether my eyes are opened or closed, I can still feel the rock around me."

"Then lean against me," Archie said. He pulled her close to him.

"Mind if I squeeze in, too?" Koko asked. "I'm not claustrophobic, but I can use the comfort."

Sani sighed as he watched his three charges beneath veiled eyes. The girls fell asleep after a few tired moments, in spite of any fears. While starting out resting against Archie, they now lay cuddled in each other's embrace.

He looked at tall, strong Archie, his head leaning against the wall, his eyes wide open.

Sani closed his own eyes for a few moments, then opened them. His mind was resolute. He motioned for Archie to step away from the women and follow him.

"What is it, Old One?" Archie whispered. He didn't want to wake the women.

"We need to talk."

"About what?"

"Oh, a little about Mine City, and a whole lot about leadership."

"Couldn't this wait until the girls wake up?"

"No, Son, this is between the two of us."
















Recognized


Special thanks for the work, "See the sea" by GaliaG

A note on the purpose of the animal DNA discovery. This book is intended to be Science Fiction and Fantasy, but it has an underlying theme. There have been groups of people throughout time that have been treated as less than human, even experimented on in some cases.

It's also to bring up any discrimination against other groups of people. It happened in the past, and is still happening today. The poor, ethnic groups, sexual orientation, mental illness, people from other countries, etc. There are a lot of different types of experimentation where we try to "cure" what we don't understand. It is my intention to use a science fictional environment to teach cultural tolerance, while telling a yarn. Thank you to those of you who look beyond the story.

Summary of the book so far:

Archie Franklin is a United States Senator from the State of Texas. He's also the President's son.
He was traveling the west, scoping out New Mexico for a committee he was on, when a deer ran in front of his Ferrari and caused him to crash.

He was rescued from the desert by a group from a cult-like village called Hokee. In this town, the people are part of an experiment to improve the human condition by taking orphans and raising them isolated from many of the modern conveniences that make mankind weak.

The children, as young as 5, are placed in houses named after animals, but otherwise taught animals are dangerous and unclean. Each "house" has a particular job in the community based on the attributes of the representative animal.

The leader, Leander, chooses what children are brought to the village. He doesn't want anyone to know about the compound so they can maintain isolation. Archie is now a prisoner, but has befriended a young lady, Koko, whose husband has come up missing, and is assumed imprisoned in a penal mining colony.

Working against odds, the two hope to escape and protect Koko's unborn child. Having babies at stage one of the experiment is forbidden by the scientists in charge. Teens are sterilized at puberty to avoid pregnancies, but occasionally one will be conceived. Standard operating procedure is to perform an abortion, but Koko is willing to fight against all she's grown up to believe to give her child a chance at life.

Now, Archie, Koko and Sani have escaped the complex after the old miner, Sani, set off an explosive distraction. On the way through a fence, they ran into Ayala, Koko's "sister" who tried to stop them. In order to ensure her silence, they tied her up and took her with them.

After traveling all night, they stopped at dawn to dig a shelter under the sand. Covering themselves with a blanket they wove from plants, they are resting from enemies and the heat of the day.

Archie and Koko begin to read a book Archie rescued from Hokee before they left. It is the story of the experiment called The Humanity Project.

In the book, they find Ayala and the others in Hokee, are a part of a project where animal and human DNA were mixed together to produce a new, stronger, species.

In order to keep the people of Hokee secluded, they have made them feel they were unwanted orphans, and to fear animals and the desert. They were kept in check by the ruling Hawk clad, and the fierce Cougar clan.

They continue to journey to Mine City in the San Juan mountains. They overcome many challenges along the way.

These are the 12 houses of Hokee:

Hawk: Where Leander Jr. lives. They are the strict rulers of the compound, answerable only to Leander Sr..

Cougar: The strong arms of the Hawks. They dish out whatever punishment is required, even to sending miscreants to another settlement they have up North in the mines.

Coyote: The one Archie and Ayala are in: Job: Teachers and professors. Allowed more knowledge of the "outside world".

Ant: Considered unclean, these people tend meat and fur animals outside the village

Tarantula: Architects, and menders

Donkey: Transportation and communication

Wasp: Prepare and serve food

Deer: Sports and entertainment

Hare: Make and distribute clothing

Rat: Childcare

Snake: healthcare

Buzzards: Clean up crew, maintain sewer and custodial chores


General Summary of the Book:

Young Texas Senator, Archie Franklin, finds himself marooned in the desert with a group of people who are more than they appear to be on the surface.

Hokee: Name of the village Archie is held in. It means, "The abandoned."

Characters:

Archimedes (Archie) Franklin: High energy, main protagonist, who is, also, a Senator from Texas, and son of the President of the United States, Andrew Franklin.

Ayala: Female head of household in the house Archie finds himself imprisoned.

Andrew (Andy) Franklin: President of the United States, and father of Archie.

Koko: Ayala's best friend in Coyote House, close as sisters, born on the same day.

Todd: Koko's husband

Sani: Old man. Used to be a miner up north. Another trapped refugee from the desert. An ally in the quest to escape.

Leander: Head scientist in charge of the structure of Hokee. His son, Leander, is in charge of daily operations.

Junior: Leander's son, who lives in the Hawk house. He's personally a coward, but rules Hokee with an iron fist.

Others to be listed as they appear in the book.
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Artwork by GaliaG at FanArtReview.com

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© Copyright 2017. davisr (Rhonda) All rights reserved.
davisr (Rhonda) has granted FanStory.com, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.