They were now far beneath Trilobite Park — Valerie, Thag and Bladison. Sure enough, as Thag had said, they were in a little empty space within the earth, through which a stream of water ran at about chest height. Other than this, the room contained nothing but an electric kettle and an inflatable chair, long since deflated.
“That’s messed up,” Valerie said, pointing at the water. “I mean, I know I’m talking to a caveman and a gibbering buffoon in a cavern underneath a theme park overrun by long-extinct invertebrates… but this is messed up.”
“This isn’t an appropriate time to talk about the matter,” Blandison said. The others ignored him.
“Yes, it is a little uncanny,” Thag said. “From what I gather, this is connected to the reasoning behind putting the Park here. This part of South Hertling is a weak spot in time, space… what have you. This is just one of the weird things to happen around here.”
“So they say,” Valerie said. “Don’t read the local paper very often.”
“But it consists about fifty percent of ads for your real estate agency.”
The three of them stood there for a while, staring at the water. After a few minutes, Blandison stood in front of it, giving a thumb’s up and obviously hoping to be photographed. Thag and Valerie sighed and turned around.
“I’ve been trying to put things together,” Thag said, rubbing his heavy brow with hairy knuckles. “I’m beginning to think that this entire thing – this whole crisis – was orchestrated by Captain Pete’s backers.”
Valerie nodded. “Not Captain Pete himself?”
“You haven’t met the Captain, have you?” Thag said. “It’s astonishing that he’s managed to come up with a single plan and seen it through. A plan with a secret, second plan behind it… no no no.”
“But why?” Valerie said. “What could be the reason? Who stands to gain by having a bunch of people terrorised by old-timey underwater cockroaches?”
They turned around, expecting to see the arch-villain standing there, gloating. Instead, it was just Blandison, waving and smirking.
“So what do we do now?” Thag sighed.
“We could just stay here out of danger until the crisis has passed,” Blandison said, thoughtfully. “But it’s a little dingy. There’s no pool, and nowhere to get a mai tai, you know?”
“Wait, is this the water that’s feeding the Park?” Valerie said.
“I don’t know…” Thag said. “Maybe. Maybe you’re right, and this water was chosen because of some strange property that stabilises the trilobites in the timestream.”
“Sure, why not?” Valerie said.
“How do you feel about the idea?” Thag said. “No, really. Remember when you had a bad feeling about the Park and it turned out to be 100% mother-flippin’ justified?”
“Are you saying she’s a witch?” Blansion said.
“He’s saying I’m psychic, dumbass,” Valerie said.
“So if we drown her –”
“Close your eyes,” Thag said. “Or turn off your phone light, much of a muchness. Okay. Now: I’m going to try to divert the water. How does that make you feel?”
Valerie screamed. With surprising strength, she began pummelling Thag mercilessly in the face. Thag, taken by surprise, fell to the floor. His huge head hit something hard, and stars flashed before his eyes. Before consciousness left him, he pointed a finger at Blandison – but the words “If you have to punch someone, punch him!” stubbornly failed to escape his mouth.
Valerie screamed. With surprising strength, she began pummeling Thag mercilessly in the face. Thag, taken by surprise, fell to the floor. His huge head hit something hard, and stars flashed before his eyes. Before consciousness left him, he pointed a finger at Blandison – but the words “If you have to punch someone, punch him!” stubbornly failed to escape his mouth.