Look out! cried Derek. You're heading towards the abyss! John didn't even flinch as the vehicle carrying Derek, Nigel, Katie and himself went over the edge and plummeted into the unknown. There was nothing in front of them but a black emptiness. Impossible to tell how fast or how far they went, Derek and Katie huddled together in the back. John and Nigel pressed on with a strange calmness across their face as if they already knew what was going to happen.
Katie, a beautiful twenty-nine year old biologist, sat in her red and black overall with an expression on her face that made her look thirty years older. She was petrified and found little comfort in Derek sitting next to her. Derek was far too busy panicking! As their vehicle went over Derek was convinced he had seen death standing on the ledge laughing at them. The time spent below and the depth they were at was beginning to take its toil on this normally calm scholar. Derek would normally spend a Thursday at the local drama- society’s poetry evenings at The Five n Dime around the corner from where he rented a loft-space. Although a keen writer himself, he had never been able to summon the strength to read something of his own. He had always considered the risk to great.
Considering where he was at the moment, he realised what danger really was.
Nigel was no stranger to danger. In fact "No Stranger to Danger" had become his motto after having looked death in the eye on several occasions. Nigel was an adventurer and had traveled the world in search of hot-spots and natural disasters for over twenty-five years. Nearing the big five-o, he had been near killed so many times he had stopped counting. Scars and metal operated into his body bore witness to his dramatic life.
Two years ago, Nigel had been holding a lecture on life forms living at extreme conditions - a topic Nigel was particularly fond of - when John had approached him for the first time. John was somewhat of an adventurer himself, but at only half Nigel’s age he had not yet been out on a real-life expedition and his adventures had mostly been rummaging through books and antiques. He had traveled a great deal and spoken to a great many people, but unlike Nigel, he led a safe life.
John and Nigel had spoken for hours that day. Despite their backgrounds they discovered that they had a great many things in common.
At first, the experienced Nigel was apprehensive about the young man, but when John produced drawings he had discovered of creatures unlike anything Nigel had ever seen, his professional curiosity got the best of him.
John had on that first meeting described to Nigel how he had come across these drawings and from whom he had gotten the information. From that day on, John and Nigel had been working together to gather more information about the creatures from the drawings. After almost two years of work, John and Nigel found themselves convinced that the drawings were based on actual observations and decided to launch an expedition.
John was calmly at the controls of the vehicle pushing buttons and pulling levers. Derek was not impressed. After nearly ten minutes plummeting into the emptiness, Nigel had still not said a word or even looked up from the book in his lap. He seemed to be as much at ease with the situation as he was engulfed in the text. Not even Derek’s whimpering had caused his gaze to move from the book, but when Katie screamed as a flickering light appeared in front of them, Nigel lay the book down and said casually: Good. We're here.
To be continued
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For those of you who did not already know, The Madness has left everything and everyone behind and moved to Shanghai. That's in the People's Rebublic of China!
As a part of his degree, Mr. Madsen vil spend one year in this most vast of cities. No return is planned untill June 2008!
The month of august will mostly be spent learning the Chinese language. Although, a month sounds a bit generous. Should be getting the hang of it in a few days I reckon. The remaining 10 months is set aside for some hardcore studying. The rumor is that lectures are held from 8 a.m. till 4p.m. every day! Busy, sure, but I have always time to read those wonderful emails from other parts of the world... Xiexie!