Swimming Underwater in the Maze

“Utcoozhoo,” I said, “does the revelation have something to do with Zusoiti?”

“Yes, I think she’s tapping into the grzepepa looking for information.”

Naztko asked, “Can she learn to control the pfayohoqwaahujpi?”

“That’s,” said Utcoozhoo, “what worries me. She is trying …”

Naztko said, “You’re right — we had better call a meeting. We’d better go now.”

Utcoozhoo said to me, “Doug, listen carefully. Do you know hexadecimal to binary conversion?”

“Um, well, yes.”

“Then what would nine be?”

“You mean, 1001?”

“Yes, and two?”

“That would be 0010.”

“OK. Now I want you to change each ‘one’ to an R, and each zero to an L. So now say, nine is R, L, L, R.”

“Nine is R, L, L, R. ”

“Now say two is L, L, R, L.”

“Two is L, L, R, L. But what is this for?”

“R means take a right turn in the tunnel. L means turn left. These are the directions you will need to leave through the tunnel maze. Naztko and I have to go to the Forbidden Zone and you have to go back to the Nipeiskwari by yourself. You’re going to have to hold your breath and swim out. If you get lost in the tunnel, you won’t have enough breath to get back home.”

“Uh, oh, um, what is that again?”

“Nine: go right, left, left, right. Two: go left, left, right, left. Just remember 92. OK?”

“Uh, well, I … ”

“We have no more time. Take care.”

“Bye Doug,” said Naztko over his shoulder as Utcoozhoo and he broke into a run across the meadow, past the willow, and over the hill. Even Naztko with his frailties was able to put on a burst of speed, and they both vanished.

I walked slowly to the ledge thinking 92, 92. Well, at least, this would be the beginning of my journey instead of the end as it was when I came here and was out of breath in an unknown place. This time I would be desperate for breath at the end of my journey in a familiar place — I think I’d rather die at home than here in a tunnel like I had thought I might when I came here. OK, I had to focus on 92.

I dove into the water, thinking, OK, nine is: right, left, left, right. When I touched bottom from the force of my dive, I could feel a tremor. I swam forward towards the intersection as the shaking increased. Rocks started falling from the ceiling and I wondered if I should go back.

A bright gnolum lit the first intersection and I could easily see the right and left branches ahead. OK, first is right.

Before I could reach the right tunnel, I heard a rumble. An avalanche of rock and crushed gnolums filled the right tunnel, totally blocking it.


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