In true Kumi fashion, our heroes find themselves proceeding along their adventure on paths that only have this scent that vaguely resembles what we experienced in the game. No, seriously.
“Hey, look! It’s a cave!” Paula pointed up ahead. “There’s some kind of sign… ‘Shortcut to Saturn Valley’.”
The cave looked like any old cave. Damp, dead leaves that had been pulled inside by the wind lined the floor, leaving a gross sensation when it absorbed their feet as they walked through it. The darkness was unnerving, so Ness took out his mini maglite and turned it on.
“Stay together, guys. Let’s hang on to each other.”
The three kids huddled tightly together as they shuffled through the deep, winding paths of the twisting cavern. Water gathered in puddles on the ground and the rocky stone walls around them were wet and covered in sticky mold. When the light of the flashlight shone onto the walls, it looked like spooky monster faces glaring menacingly at them. Once in a while, a droplet of water would fall on them from the ceiling.
“Hey, is it just my imagination, or… do you smell something funky?” Paula plugged her nose. “It’s you, isn’t it?”
“Why are you looking at me?!” Ness cried. “It wasn’t me!”
“No way! It wasn’t me either,” Jeff said. “I don’t conduct myself in such an ungentlemanly way!”
“But that’s definitely a…H-hey, of course it wasn’t me!”
So now we find ourselves in a cave so deep it twists like a honeycomb pattern. Thank goodness we didn’t have to walk through an enemy-ridden trap like that in the game; Dungeon Man Redux was enough. But wait! What’s this doing outside of Threed?!
They had dashed right into a large, empty, circular area. The ground, like a school gym’s floor, had a shiny black tree-shaped object in the center of the room. It reached the very tip of the ceiling, and also spread out across the floor as if it had roots. Its thick bundle of branches were connected to one another with sticky black strings of goop, creating a complex series of webs. The stench, now so thick that they were convinced they could reach out and grab it with their bare hands, seems to have been flowing from that mysterious tree-like object. Tens of thousands of flies were buzzing as they swarmed around the tree, crawled on it, and weaved through its branches, dancing some crazed Fly Dance.
In the game Our Heroes need only beat up the Boogey Tent to receive a jar of Fly Honey. (Editor’s note: through some errant Googling I just realized that out in the world [a] fly honey is something else entirely.) But in the novel they get their hands dirty, figuratively, literally. And Paula isn’t happy about it.
“We should probably grab a sample,” Jeff mumbled.
“You’re gonna touch that?” Paula whimpered, close to tears. “Seriously?”
Jeff hesitated as he watched the flies gather together to form a loud buzzing smoke-like cloud and then periodically break apart. It may have been their imagination, but it almost looked like the clouds formed shapes, like a skull and crossbones, and spelled out words, like “FOOL.”
This is ominous. Go away from this.
“If you really need to—if you’re reeeeeally going to bring some of this back,” Paula begged Jeff, “I need you to put that in a sturdy container, and wrap it with plastic wrap and aluminum foil and everything, over and over and over.”
“But, how are we supposed to get up to it?” Ness asked. “Look at it!”
Amazingly, along the whole circumference of the natural room’s round walls were—uno, dos, tres…even taking out the ones hidden behind the tree out of view, there were five holes!
Translator interlude: Periodically Saori Kumi breaks into English (as well as punctuation marks, hearts, music notes, etc.) in the middle of the novel. Chewy dealt with it here by making her One Two Three—something even the worst English student in Japan could remember—into our Uno Dos Tres, which even the worst Spanish student in America could remember.