7. Watery Doom
It almost cost him a limb, but Scaldo used the time he took fraying logs to plan. The thoughts took a while in coming, starting as a black buzz, slowly focusing to colors, and the colors becoming splendid fruit pies, and finally, the pies becoming words. I will trick him into revealing something!
He looked at the Dwarf, who stood boot-high in water knifing fish (quite a collection already reeked on shore). Scaldo continued to rub the axe blade on the wood and said, "Well."
"Well, I hope we don't need to go in a hurry."
"Nowhere. Anywhere. Somewhere. No time. Any time at all."
"And no one should care. Especially not people with knives."
The Dwarf stomped from the water with a stack of fish and in a few seconds had a smokeless fire crackling. The aroma of roasting fish assaulted Scaldo's reasoning powers and that was the end of that.
Scaldo labored over the logs till only starlight lit his work space. Beside a growing pile of fish bones, the Dwarf sat with his back to the spherical hobbit, blocking the small fire. Scaldo looked over hopefully and conspicuously, and at last, the Dwarf tossed him something. Scaldo held wide his arms and jaw. A rope smacked his forehead.
After several unsuccessful attempts at gnawing the thick fibers, it dawned on him that the raft needed rope to hold it together, so he tied together his hard-earned sticks and stepped back with a feeling not unlike satisfaction after a full breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, muffins, butter, honey, blue berries, and tea. But not quite. This, he told himself, is a raft.
"Blood, it's awful." The Dwarf booted past him and shoved him a burnt fish that looked like it was having a bad day before it was pierced and roasted.
"Mmmmrrrghrum," said Scaldo.
The Dwarf pulled the jumbled mess of logs to the river, treading on the fire along the way. And into the doomable wetness the Dwarf and raft went.
"What are yeh waitin' for, Flubb? I ain't goin' to sit 'ere watchin' yeh breathe."
Scaldo laughed; it was so ridiculous.
"We're not actually going on the raft. In the river! He-he! And at night too. Hoo-hoo!"
The shadow under the Dwarf's hood seemed to darken. Crickets decided to use the awkward moment to start their chorus: "Reek, reek, reeeeek." To Scaldo, however, it sounded like: "Doom, die, deeead."
Then he went onto the raft, and they both died.
Not really; that is what seemed to happen later on in Scaldo's memory.
Scaldo did go down to the river and he had three rational reasons. Where the Dwarf was there was also food, dying of too much water was better than dying of no food, and finally that curious side of his brain that had risen recently from dormancy wanted to know more of the Dwarf's purposes.
A great problem had to be overcome, however. The water was too low in most parts to carry the raft far. Rocks caked with dried mud jutted from everywhere in the blueness of night. So they made the following arrangement: the Dwarf sat on the raft and Scaldo pushed, and he was never further than up to his third chin in water. The night was not too cold, but since Scaldo was plenty insulated chillness scarcely mattered. All in all, the going was peaceful.
Next came the bad part. The bank squeezed narrower and rose higher, and the water fell deeper. Scaldo felt a push against his bulk, his right flapping one way and his left the other. His legs gained a reckless momentum.
A roar built up, of the greatest hunger rumble ever heard, and Scaldo realized it was him the river wanted to eat.
"Sweet muffins!" he gobbled. He looked ahead and saw the water had sharpened like jagged teeth. In five seconds he managed to pull half his stomach onto the logs.
"Gerroff!" said the Dwarf. The raft dipped and Scaldo did not care. The water moved very fast now. Yet Scaldo had set his mind; he slunk up, and with a jolt, rolled onto the raft.
Instantly, the raft sunk.
They entered the rapids at the same moment. White foam frothed everywhere like fresh summer cream, though nevertheless, in the angry water it looked unappealing even to Scaldo. The starving water tossed and tumbled his circular being much like a ball. He saw his life of meals flash before his eyes. Scaldo soon was dizzy and his nose and eyes throbbed with water. He did not know up from down, and though his bloated insulation bounced him easily from rock to rock, it rather bruised.
Suddenly a large, ill-intentional rock jumped into Scaldo's view. They met head to head, and as the trite phrase goes, it went black and he remembered no more.
This is a work of fan fiction, written because the author has an abiding love for the works of J R R Tolkien. The characters, settings, places, and languages used in this work are the property of the Tolkien Estate, Tolkien Enterprises, and possibly New Line Cinema, except for certain original characters who belong to the author of the said work. The author will not receive any money or other remuneration for presenting the work on this archive site. The work is the intellectual property of the author, is available solely for the enjoyment of Henneth Annûn Story Archive readers, and may not be copied or redistributed by any means without the explicit written consent of the author.