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Dungeon 2 - Philip Jose Farmer

Dungeon 2 - Philip Jose Farmer

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Published by: Don Okello Anabouani on Jul 16, 2011
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"So I see," said Clive. "And unless I miss my guess, it had to do with Sidi Bombay."

Horace smiled ruefully. "Ah, there's no keeping anything from you, sah."

Chve considered pointing out that there was a great deal that Horace had managed to
keep from him in the past, but decided to let the point slide. Instead he took a seat
underneath another of the nut trees and said, "Is it worth a chat, Horace, or would you
rather keep it to yourself?"

Smythe spread his hands. "Not much to say that you don't know, sah. I'm sure Shriek
was right when she persuaded me to leave those blue tunnels. But I can't help feeling
wrong about it anyway. And of course the mystery of it all is eating away at me, too. I
want to know what those tunnels are. They're not the kind of thing you'd expect to
Find under that sort of castle. So who made them? And why? And what do they have
to do with Sidi Bombay?"

Clive shook his head. "I don't know, Sergeant. But it's not for lack of thought, because
I've been asking myself the same questions since we found our way out of that maze. I
don't know how it is possible to survive what happened to Sidi over the chasm of
Q'oorna. But as you assure me that he is alive, I believe it. And I believe something
else, too." He paused, and poured the nuts he haa gathered from one hand into the
other. "As vast and strange as the Dungeon is, there seems to be some thread tying our
group together. Not only tying us together, but pulling us on." He shook his head. "I
know that sounds awfully mystical. But you've known me long enough to know that I
don't have much truck with that sort of thing. I don't think we're in the realm of the
gods here, Horace. But there is something strange at work in the Dungeon, some
power, possibly some great mind, possibly a group of men, or things that pass for
men; in any event something far more powerful than anything we have ever known. I
don't pretend to begin to understand what it's all about. But as sure as I am sitting
here, I believe there is some rational explanation for it all."

72

PHILIP JOSE FARMER'S: THE DUNGEON

He leaned back against the tree and looked off into the distance for a while before
continuing. "I can't help also believing that this power has some sort of plan for us.
I'm not talking about fate, or kismet, or any of that nonsense. For all I know, whoever
is behind all this is simply playing with us, the same way that we would play witn an
infant. The point is, I believe that if Sidi is alive we're going to find him sooner or
later; perhaps even before we find Neville. Because for whatever reason, Sidi Bombay
is bound to us, and we to him. I believe that whoever, or whatever, brought us here
wants us together. I do fear that once we find your old friend we may have to turn
ourselves inside out to rescue him. But find him we will."

He stood up and brushed off the leather trousers he had been given by N'wrbb Crrd'f
before he had earned that man's hatred. "And one more thing, Sergeant Smythe. When
we started all this, I was only looking for my brother. But it's moved far beyond that
now. I'm tired of being pushed and pulled every which way without any thought of
what I want. I don't know why I was brought here, and I don't know who's behind it,
but by God I am going to find out or die in the process."

The expression on Horace's face had altered completely. The corners of his mouth
were compressed as if he were trying to keep from breaking into a grin. His eyes were
fairly twinkling. "Major Folliot, I've been waiting ten years to hear you talk like that. I
told you before, a soldier knows when an officer has what it takes. But sometimes you
can't figure out what it's going to take to get it out of him. I feel like—well, sah, I
don't know what I feel like, except a fair genius for seeing what you had inside you
when you kept it so well hidden from even yourself. I tell you, I hope we make it back
home, if for no other reason than so I can collect my five pounds from that fool
McGinty."

Clive raised an eyebrow and Horace actually looked as if he were going to blush.
"Private bet, sah," he said. "I'd rather not discuss it, other than to let you know I was
on your side."

THE DARK ABYSS

73

\

Cfive didn't know whether to laugh or be insulted. Finally he clapped Horace on the
shoulder and said, "I hope you get to collect that five pounds, Sergeant Smythe. For
both our sakes."

But even as he said it, he recalled the questions Annie had asked him the night before,
and wondered what it would mean for his young descendant if he did indeed find his
way out of the Dungeon.

It was beginning to grow dark as Clive and Horace made their way back to where the
others were waiting. Shriek was sitting at the edge of the circle, sucking the blood out
of the decapitated body of one of the small, rabbitlike creatures she and Chang Guafe
had been capturing throughout the day. Is all well, 0 Folliot? she telepathed when she
saw him. As well as can be expected, replied Clive. And things here?

Shriek's reply carried overtones of amusement. The cyborg has spent most of the day
with his circuits off. The unspoken tension between the two younger women has been
increasing; I think 'Nrrc'kth was less than amused to find User Annie sleeping by your
side this morning. Tomds and Gram have had a discussion of religion that ended with
her threatening to drive the cross she was making through his heart. Finnbogg has
been melancholy; like you, he seems to find inaction very difficult. As for myself, I
have missed your company, but have managed to fill the time by filling my belly. I
would have preferred to be done before you arrived, as I realize you find my eating
habits as shocking as my sexual traits. But one does what one can.

Clive, who had indeed been revolted at the sight of the spider woman clutching the
still-kicking body of the lepine creature, tried to wave away his reaction, but
immediately realized it was pointless. Shriek automatically knew when he was faking.
Is there any privacy on your world? he asked rather plaintively.

Not really.

It must make things difficult.

She sent him the mental equivalent of a shrug. We're simply far more honest with
each other. The thought of living your way fills me with overwhelming loneliness.
Everyone so far apart, so ignorant of everyone else.

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