I voice a high-pitched scream as I run through a centuries-old corridor. One hand is on my treasure map, the other is clamping my fedora firmly onto my head so it doesn’t fly off. I hit a tripwire and barely manage to avoid a spring-loaded spear. The wind of its passage tickles my neck. I instinctively hunch a little lower, simultaneously emitting a shrill, man-bitch pig-squeal.
For several hundred yards, I’ve been running away from a two-ton boulder that’s been skating along the moulding that lines the corridors. Now, as it fills my ears with earth-shaking thunder, I see a U-shaped depression directly to my front. I make a snap judgment: maybe—just MAYBE—I can lay in the depression and the boulder will pass directly over my prone body.
So I hit the deck and press my face against the floor, squinching my eyes tightly shut. The boulder pushes down on my ankles, forcing my feet to turn all the way out. It travels up my legs, squeezes my butt, then steals my breath as it rolls across my upper back. I see a sharp burst of red as it bears down on my temple, then I hear it rumble on past.
Whew! I stagger to my feet and grab my brown fedora off the ground. Two smacks to dust it off, a kiss on the brim to thank it for good luck, then I cinch it down onto my head.
I continue treading deeper into King Ramakhanesis’s grave. A dozen yards in, my foot plunges through a camouflaged blanket that’s cleverly disguised as a piece of flooring, and—
—hurtle downward. Luckily, I manage to land on my feet and absorb the force of the landing by crumpling onto my side. The wind rushes from my lungs: “HHHFFF!!”
“Mmmmrrrgh…” After a few seconds, I regain my wind. I click on my mag-light, holding it up in an icepick grip, and scan the ground by my feet. It’s covered with the skulls of long-dead treasure hunters. I sweep the flashlight around, and—
—look directly into Taylor Swift’s glowering mug.
“Turn that off!” she hisses, slapping my face with a set of perfectly manicured fingers.
“Ow!” I raise a hand to my cheek and click off my light.
“What the HELL are you doing here, Kent Wayne?” I can’t see her face, but I can hear the anger in her voice.
“What are YOU doing here?” I shoot back.
An exasperated sigh. “I got tired of singing about celebrity dick; I decided to go treasure-hunting, and now I’m stuck in this goddamn death trap. For the last several hours, I’ve fought off snakes, mummies, and zombies. It took me a bit, but I eventually figured it out: every time you shine a light in here, it triggers a hidden peril.”
“So what’s next?” I try to keep my voice from shaking. “Did I trigger another one?”
“We’ll have to wait and see,” she says grimly. “If nothing comes after us in the next few—”
A soothing voice pierces the dark: “Mmm…then you take your scraper, and—yeaaah….there you go. A few shades of blue on top of the gray, and…yeaaaah….would you look at that: a beautiful skyline.”
What the fuck? I KNOW that voice…
Taylor Swift says, “Turn on the light. Right now.”
“But you just said—”
“It’s TOO LATE! TURN IT THE FUCK ON!”
I click it on and hold it up, revealing a giant afro atop a friendly, mustachioed face. It’s Bob Ross.
I look at Taylor. “He isn’t so bad; I’ve always enjoyed watching him work his super-chill magic when after I’ve gotten high and—”
She levels a trembling finger. “Look at his body, Kent! LOOK!”
I turn away from her and see that Bob’s head is mounted atop a giant, gleaming thorax. Eight spiny legs extend out from its sides. As they click toward us, their ends pierce and crumple discarded skulls.
“HAIL SATAN!” he screams. His human face bobs up and down in a quick, insectile rhythm, his tongue lolls hungrily from his mouth as he chitters toward us.
Me and Taylor sprint away from him, but there’s nowhere to go. We turn and face Bob-spider, our hands pressing the wall behind us.
“He was always so nice!” I babble. “How the hell could Bob Ross—”
“NO ONE’S THAT NICE!” she shrieks. “You IDIOT! YOU’VE GOTTEN US BOTH KI—”
No options left. I open my eReader to Echo, activating its reality distortion powers. Magic flash.
Bitefighter—83rd level intellect, 10 lb. Terrier Extraordinaire, and my loyal little buddy—bungees down on a decelerant harness, clad in special-ops doggie gear. His tiny face remains blank and professional. I lock eyes with him, and I see my terrified expression flash off his ultra-cool doggles. At the bottom of his leap—where his bungee cord stretches to its maximum length—he pauses above the skull-riddled floor and throws out both forepaws, snapping rescue belts around me and Taylor’s waist. Preprogrammed micro-explosives trigger across the belts, latching them firmly around our bodies. Bitefighter gives Bob-spider the double middle finger, then pulls a ripcord on his vest and the three of us rush upward, chased by the faint echoes of the monster’s snarls.
Bitefighter tilts his head up as we rocket out of the pit, mustache ruffling from our speedy ascent. When we make it to the top, he disconnects us by yanking down on a quick-release lever. Taylor and I go tumbling across the floor while he triple-flips away and runs deeper into the tomb, ready to do whatever ninja-dogs do.
Me and Taylor barrel-roll violently, then we come to a stop. I’m on top. Taylor’s beneath me.
I throw her a rakish grin. “Wanna make out?”
She slaps me twice across the face, then executes a well-practiced mount reversal, claiming top position.
“KENT WAYNE!” she hollers. “YOU BRUTISH…THICK-SKULLED…FOUL-SMELLING…” she sputters for a second, then her eyes gleam hungrily. “—beautiful idiot of a Man Whore!” She claps my cheeks with both hands, growls, “Come here, you!” and plunges her tongue into my mouth.
Another Man Whore escapade brought to you by Kent Wayne, eighties adventure-movie style! Moo hoo ha ha! 😀
Do you miss those cheesy classics of yore? The ones filled with corny booby traps and an irascible hero who gets kissed by the heroine after she slaps the shit out of him and calls him a moron? Yeah—me too! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle Echo Vol. 1 & 2 Combined Edition here: Combined Edition #kindle #kindleunlimited #sciencefiction #scifi #books #novel #book