The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 5 -The Wrong River
Alex climbed the barrier between the sidewalk and the bank. It was slower going for a sober person, but the professor was picking up speed as he stumbled drunkenly ahead.
"Professor, that water's filthy. You should see what's in it under a microscope!"
"You took biology!" the professor shouted from below. "Good for you! Humanities is a dead subject."
Alex lept from the top of the barrier and raced after. The man, though, changed direction, and Alex shot right by, straight toward the river.
He caught himself at the edge, just where the firm grassy ground sloped down into the mud. He teetered a moment and looked into the murky water.
It was smooth and calm on this fine evening, and though the moving water had ripples, the surface reflected bits of Alex back at himself, along with bits of the sky and spidery trees. The ripples blended these pieces together and it seemed like blending two separate pictures. Like seeing multiple scenes at once.
Alex had had this sensation before when looking at the surface of water; blending pictures, blending worlds. It was distracting, disorienting, but beautiful. Even in the murky surface of a muddy river.
Alex shook himself and pulled back. He turned and saw the professor had climbed onto the square cement base of one of the bridge pylons. He stood there, staggering as he lifted his arms, as if to get ready to dive.
"No!" said Alex. "It's too shallow. The rocks!"
The professor staggered back a half step, and that gave Alex time to scramble up. There wasn't a lot of room on the flat bit of cement, and as the professor lurched his way toward the water again, Alex realized there was no place to step back to brace himself to take the weight.
Even though the professor wasn't a large man, he overbalanced them both, and they tumbled in.
But there was no splash.
They went deeper into the water than Alex expected, and the water was colder, and the force of it pushed them faster.
Alex grasped the professor's coat and they both floundered and kicked for a moment before they breached the surface.
Water splashed into his mouth as he gasped for air. It was sweet and clean. Not muddy. Not at all muddy. Alex kicked to keep his head above water and looked for the riverbank. It was farther than expected and he couldn't even see the bridge. None of it looked familiar. Walls of rock and a stretch of gravelly beach that they were passing fast.
The current pulled hard, and churned. They both went under for a moment. Alex realized that they would soon be swept past that shallow gravel beach. There was no other place to land.
He kicked and pulled, and so did the professor and they broke the surface again. There was the thundering, roaring sound in the distance downstream.
"This way," gasped Alex, as the professor paddled beside him. He pulled the older man toward the beach-like area, but the current kept pulling them onward. They were almost past it. They swam and kicked, and Alex suddenly had a feeling of dread.
He thought he recognized that roaring sound.
He paused to give a tremendous kick to raise himself a little higher above the water line, just a few more inches. He only caught a glimpse, but he could see the river vanished just a short ways ahead. Mist rose beyond the spot where it vanished.
"Waterfall!" he cried.
The professor's eyes widened in panic, and he began to flounder as the current took them both.
Stay Tuned for Episode Six: "No, Seriously, NOT the Right River"
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