The Thorny Devil: The Adventures of Griffin & Karen Exp 3

The Thorny Devil: The Adventures of Griffin & Karen Exp 3


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In their [last story](/the-adventures-of-griffin-and-karen-tony-donskoy-part-2-exp-2/ "Tony Donskoy Part 2"), Griffin and Karen narrowly escaped the private island of their billionaire benefactor, Jim Hung-lo, after he initiated the Yocowime protocol which set the island to self-destruct and launch a final attack on his cousin. Now outside the cone of destruction, the couple stood heavy-hearted in an embrace looking back at their mistakes burn.

Their story continues here…


Well, another bang-up job by Griffin and Karen. Their experiment went from zero to explosion in record time. If the authorities found out, they’d be locked up faster than you can say “orange jumpsuit.” But lady luck obviously has a greater plan for these two, because as fate would have it, the problem blew up itself.

Griffin and Karen stood on the back of the boat, watching as Jim Hung-lo’s private island was engulfed in massive explosions. The force of the blast rocked the boat, sending waves crashing against the hull.

Karen wrapped her arms around Griffin’s waist, tears streaming down her face. “I can’t believe this happened, Griffin. All those people…Tony… The entire island, gone in an instant.”

Griffin turned to her, his expression resolute. “We’ll find a way to make it back home, Karen. We’ll pick up the pieces and start over.”

Karen shook her head, her voice barely above a whisper. “But how? Our lives were in shambles and Hung-lo was our way out. This was how we were going to put the pieces back together.”

Griffin squeezed her hand, his eyes scanning the horizon. “We’ll figure it out, Karen. We always do.”

Karen sniffled, wiping away her tears. “But this is different, Griffin. Look at all of this. If we could have only found the serum sooner, we could have prevented all of it. And gotten out lives back.”

Griffin leaned in, his voice low and urgent. “We have to focus on what we can control. We’re alive, and we have each other. That’s all that matters right now.”

Karen nodded, taking a deep breath. “You’re right, Griffin. We have to keep moving forward.”

As the boat continued on its journey, Griffin and Karen huddled together, their minds racing with questions and uncertainties. But through it all, they held onto each other, their love and determination the only constant in a world that seemed to be falling apart.

The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin & Karen - Stranded at sea on a boat

The sea was rough, and the winds were fierce, and they had no idea where they were headed, but they knew they had to keep going. They were survivors, after all. And whatever lay ahead, they were ready to face it together.

Universe: “Challenge accepted!”

[Engine sputters and boat slows]

Griffin: “Oh, for fucks sake. not now” Griffin mutters to himself in a lethargic tone.

Karen: “What… whats happening?” Karen says in a drowsy voice, shaken awake by the boat’s rapid deceleration.

Karen and Griffin were now floating aimlessly in the middle of the ocean, their boat’s engine had given out with no land in sight. Karen was cursing the universe for all its misfortunes, convinced that it was out to get them. “Of course, this is happening to us. First, our experiment turns hairless and goes boom, and now we’re stranded in the middle of nowhere. The universe is conspiring against us,” Karen lamented.

Griffin, on the other hand, was taking it all in stride. “Cheer up, Karen. At least we’re not being chased by a giant hairless tiger anymore,” he joked, trying to lighten the mood.

Karen rolled her eyes. “Yeah, that’s real funny, Griffin. We could be stuck here for hours or days, with no food or water. We could die out here!”

Griffin looked around and saw some birds flying overhead. “Hey, Karen, look at the bright side. We’re not the only ones out here. We’ve got some feathered friends keeping us company. Maybe one will let us eat them” he said with a smirk.

Karen glared at him. “This is no time for jokes, Griffin.”

“It is always the time for jokes. They’re just sometimes not appropriate” said Griffin, still trying to wipe the impish smile from his face.

“Don’t worry, babe. We’ll be fine,” Griffin said, trying to reassure her. “I’ve seen enough episodes of ‘Survivor’ to know what to do.”

Karen looked at him skeptically. “I’m sure that will be very helpful when we’re dying of thirst.”

Just when they thought all was lost, a group of local fishermen spotted them and came to their rescue. Karen and Griffin were elated to be saved, but Karen couldn’t help but wonder what else could go wrong.

“Well, that was fun,” Karen said sarcastically as they stepped onto the fisherman’s boat. “What’s next? Shark attack?”

Griffin laughed. “Oh come on, Karen. You know what they say: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Karen raised an eyebrow. “And what are we going to make with a bunch of fishermen and no lemons?”

Griffin shrugged. “I don’t know, stew maybe. Look, at least we’re not stranded anymore. We’ll figure out our next move when we get to land.”

A New Friend

Griffin and Karen breathed a sigh of relief as they set foot on dry land, thanking the fishermen in their broken language. “Man, that was intense,” Griffin said, his voice trembling a bit.

Karen nodded in agreement. “I can’t believe we made it out of there alive. I swore the universe had us cornered. It really has it out for us, doesn’t it?”

Griffin chuckled. “Nah, it’s just fate’s way of keeping things interesting for us.”

As they walked through the dock, trying to find their bearings, a man with a deep Aussie accent called out to them. “Hey there, you lot look like you’re lost. Need some help?”

Griffin and Karen turned to face the man, relieved to see a friendly face. “Yeah, we’re kind of lost,” Griffin admitted. “We were just rescued by some local fishermen, but we don’t know where we are or how to get back home.”

The man introduced himself as Bruce and offered to take them out on his boat for a tour of the area. “My mates and I were just about to head back to Sydney, but we’ve got some time to kill. Come on board, I’ll show you around.”

Griffin and Karen couldn’t believe their luck. It seemed like fate had finally decided to cut them a break. They eagerly followed Bruce onto his boat, excited to see where their adventure would take them next.

“So where are we anyways Bruce?” Griffin said curiously to his new friend.

“Aye mate, you’re in Guadalcanal, a historical World War 2 site. Bloody beautiful place, aye. You’re a bit far from home, ain’t ya? Bruce replied with a thick Aussie accent, grinning at Griffin.

The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Guadalcanal Solomon Islands

“Yes, you could say that” Griffin replied, checking out the large knife he now noticed hanging from the Aussies hip.

Bruce sat back down in the captain’s chair and started the engine. “Alright, we’ll go out for a quick tour of the island once my two friends get back with the drinks,” he said, looking back at Griffin and Karen.

Griffin cleared his throat. “Actually, Bruce, we were hoping you could take us back to Sydney with you,” he said.

Bruce raised an eyebrow. “Sydney? What brings ya here, mate?” he asked.

Karen elbowed Griffin in the ribs. “Oh, we’re just scientists,” Griffin said quickly. “We came to consult on some research for a friend. It didn’t turn out as expected, so we decided to leave.”

Bruce looked at them skeptically. “Is that so?” he said, his accent thickening.

Griffin felt his face turning red. “Yes, that’s it,” he said, hoping he sounded convincing.

Bruce shrugged. “Well, I’m not one to pry,” he said. “As long as you’re not drug smugglers or anything like that, I’m happy to have you onboard.”

Griffin and Karen were relieved that Bruce didn’t ask too many questions about their past. They nodded in agreement to Bruce’s invitation to join them for a quick spin around Guadalcanal. While Bruce gave Griffin and Karen a quick history lesson, Bruce’s mate returned with some beers and snacks, and the group settled in for a relaxing afternoon on the water.

Griffin and Karen were amazed at the beauty of the island and the surrounding waters. They chatted with Bruce and his mate, learning about their deep-sea fishing adventures and the unique marine life in the area.

Karen was lost in thought as the boys chatted about whatever the hell they were chatting about, the sound of the waves lulling her into a trance-like state. Suddenly, a memory surfaced in her mind like it finally connected all the dots, and shouted “bingo!”

“Griffin,” she said, turning to him with a determined look in her eyes and began whispering to him. “I just remembered something. When I was studying abroad in Australia, I learned about a rare plant that grows in the Daintree Rainforest. It’s said to have mystical healing properties, and the locals call it the ‘Aurorafolia dracaena‘.”

Griffin raised an eyebrow. “Interesting. What does it look like?” he asked.

Karen closed her eyes, picturing the plant in her mind. “Based on the stories, It’s a tall tree with broad leaves and bright green flowers that turn florescent purple when hit by the sunset. The leaves are said to have a powerful healing effect, and the flowers can be used to make a tea that cures all manner of illnesses.”

Griffin nodded, intrigued. “Hmm… Is it real, do you think we could find it?” he asked.

Karen shrugged. “It’s a long shot, but it’s worth a try. The Daintree Rainforest is massive, but if we can get some help to locate the tree, maybe its healing properties are what we need to complete our formula. It could be our way of making up for all the mistakes we’ve made.”

Griffin smiled at her, his eyes shining with pride along with something else Karen recognized. “You know, Karen. You sound sexy when you start talking about scientific breakthroughs”

“Stop looking at me like that, we have company.” Karen said smiling back at him, feeling a renewed sense of purpose. They may have made mistakes in the past, but they were determined to make up for them in spite of the uncertainty. And if they could find the Aurorafolia dracaena, it could make all the difference to their research and rebuilding their lives.

Lucky Guide

Griffin and Karen exchanged nervous glances as they approached Bruce, who was now steering the boat towards the mainland. “Hey Bruce,” Griffin said tentatively, “we were wondering if you knew your way around the Daintree Rainforest.”

Bruce raised an eyebrow. “Aye mate, I do. But why on earth would you want to go there? That’s a dangerous place, full of all sorts of critters and snakes.”

Karen spoke up, her voice determined. “We have a research project we’re working on, and we need to find a rare plant that grows in the forest called Aurorafolia dracaena. It’s our only hope at making things right again.”

Bruce looked at them questioningly. “And what kind of research project would that be, mate?” he asked, his accent thickening.

Griffin hesitated for a moment, then decided to take a chance. “We’re trying to find a cure for a disease that’s been ravaging our hometown. It’s a long shot, but we think this plant could hold the key.”

Bruce nodded, his expression serious. “I see. Well, I’m not one to shy away from a challenge. I can take you there, but I won’t lie to you. It won’t be easy. The forest is dangerous, and you’ll need a guide who knows the area well. Lucky for you, no one knows that rainforest better than I do”

Griffin and Karen breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Bruce. We do feel extremely lucky and grateful we met you, especially under the circumstances.”

Bruce smiled wryly. “Don’t thank me yet, mate. You don’t know what you’re getting yourselves into. But if you’re willing to take the risk, then I’m willing to help you. I was getting bored anyway.”

The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Tour Guide

Griffin and Karen exchanged a determined look, ready for whatever lay ahead. They were willing to do whatever it took to find the Aurorafolia dracaena. And with Bruce’s help, they were one step closer to achieving their goal.

As the boat rocked back and forth in the choppy waters, Griffin, Karen, Bruce, and his mate set out their plans for the expedition.

“Alright, mates,” Bruce said, his Aussie accent thick as he pulled out a map. “I just got off the radio and according to my sources, the Aurorafolia dracaena grows in the heart of the Australian outback, near the Devil’s Throat.”

“The Devil’s Throat?!” Karen exclaimed, her eyes wide. “That sounds ominous.”

Bruce nodded. “Aye, it’s not for the faint-hearted. But with a bit of luck, we’ll be able to find the plant and make it back in one piece.”

Griffin looked skeptical. “What kind of obstacles are we talking about here? We’re not exactly seasoned adventurers.”

Bruce grinned. “That’s why you’ve got me, mate. And my mates here,” he said, gesturing to the two burly men who were on the boat with them.

Enter The Jungle

Griffin, Karen, Bruce, and his two mates finally reached mainland Australia, grateful to be on solid ground once again. As they stepped off the boat, Bruce turned to Griffin and Karen with a serious expression on his face.

“Alright, mates. We’ve got a long journey ahead of us. We’ll need to stock up on supplies and gear before we head out into the outback. We’ll also need to find a guide who can take us through Devil’s Throat safely.”

Karen’s eyes widened. “Do you know anyone who can help us?” she asked.

Bruce nodded. “Aye, I know just the man. His name is Jack, and he’s the best guide in the outback. He’s a bit of a wild card, but he knows the land like the back of his hand.”

Griffin looked skeptical. “How are we going to find him?” he asked.

Bruce grinned. “Don’t worry, mate. I’ve got it covered. We’ll head to the nearest town and ask around. We should find Jack in one of the bars there. Simple as that.”

Griffin nodded, feeling a sense of excitement and nervousness building in his chest. They were getting closer to finding the Aurorafolia dracaena, but the journey ahead was going to be tough.

- The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Soulcraze Short Stories - Daintree Rainforest

As they made their way to the nearest town, Bruce and his mates regaled Griffin and Karen with stories of their past adventures in the outback. They talked about the time they faced off against a pack of dingoes, the time they stumbled upon a hidden oasis, and the time they narrowly escaped a raging bushfire.

Griffin and Karen listened intently, feeling a sense of awe and admiration for their new friends. Their adventures sounded like scenes from an Indiana Jones Movie.

As they reached the town, Bruce led them to a small pub where he knew Jack liked to hang out. As they walked in, Griffin and Karen were surprised to see a grizzled old man sitting at the bar, nursing a beer.

“Jack!” Bruce called out, his voice booming over the chatter of the pub. “We need your help, mate.”

Jack turned to face them, his eyes scanning their group. “What kind of help?” he asked, his voice gruff and eyes barely opened.

“We need someone who knows the outback like the back of their hand,” Bruce explained. “We’re looking for a rare plant, and we need someone who can take us there safely.”

Jack took a swig of his beer, considering their request. “What’s in it for me?” he asked.

Griffin stepped forward, determined to convince him. “We’re willing to pay you, of course. But more than that, we’re looking for someone who can help us make a difference. This plant could hold the key to curing countless diseases. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to find it.”

Jack looked at Griffin for a long moment, then nodded. “Alright, I’ll do it. But the money will do, i’m not a humanitarian. However, you’ll have to follow my lead, and you’ll have to trust me implicitly. The outback is no place for amateurs.”

As they left the pub and made their way to Jack’s truck, Griffin and Karen couldn’t help but feel a sense of excitement building in their chests. They were embarking on a dangerous journey, but it was sure to be an adventure.

As the group trudged through the thick Australian bush, they couldn’t help but feel excited about the adventure ahead. The prospect of finding the Aurorafolia dracaena, a rare plant with mythical healing powers, was too good to pass up.

Bruce led the way, his bushwhacking skills honed from years of exploring the wilderness, with Jack following close behind him directing everyone like the conductor of an orchestra. He seemed to know every tree, every shrub, and every rock, leading the bunch confidently through the rough terrain.

Karen, on the other hand, was more interested in the strange fruits that hung from the trees. “Hey, Bruce, what’s this fruit called?” she asked, pointing to a bright purple fruit that dangled from a nearby branch.

Bruce glanced over his shoulder and frowned. “Oh, that’s the hallucinogenic fruit of the Dreamtime tree,” he said. “You don’t want to eat that.”

But Karen was already reaching for the fruit, her eyes bright with curiosity. “I’ll just have a little taste,” she said, plucking the fruit from the branch.

Griffin rolled his eyes. “Karen, you know what happened the last time you ate something you shouldn’t have,” he reminded her.

Karen shrugged. “I’ll be fine,” she said, taking a second bite of the fruit.

“Very well, this should be interesting.” Responded Griffin in a tone of anticipated amusement.

At first, nothing seemed to happen. But as they continued on their journey, Griffin and Bruce noticed Karen’s behavior starting to change. She began to giggle uncontrollably, pointing at imaginary creatures in the bushes and singing to the trees.

“Uh, Karen? You okay there?” Griffin asked, eyeing her warily.

Karen grinned at him. “I feel great! Everything is so…vivid,” she said, her eyes shining.

Bruce shook his head. “We can’t afford any distractions, Karen. We need to focus on finding the plant and leaving the Forest sooner than later.”

“I’m very focused, so much so that i’m sure that we should make a left at that red elephant ahead.” Karen said with bold confidence.

“What red elephant?…” Bruce asked in confusion.

[Griffin lowers his head into his hand in slight amusement.]

Griffin: “Karen, you’re starting to see things that aren’t there. Maybe you should take a break from the fruit.”

Karen: “But Griffin, the trees are dancing! Can’t you see them?”

Griffin: “No, Karen, I can’t. But do let us know if any of those trees start twerking. I have a few singles to get rid of.

Karen: “Ha! You wish you could see the world like I do, Griffin. It’s a beautiful place.”

Griffin: “I know, Karen, but I prefer to see it without the help of hallucinogens.”

Karen: “You’re just jealous because you can’t keep up with my wild side.”

Griffin: “No, Karen, I’m just worried you’re going to start talking to the snakes next.”

Karen: “Oh, come on, Griffin. The snakes are just misunderstood. They have feelings too, you know.”

Griffin: “I’m sure they do. But I’d rather not get to know them on a personal level.”

Karen: “Suit yourself. I’ll just be over here making friends with the jungle creatures.”

Griffin: “Just don’t forget who’s going to be carrying you back when you can’t walk anymore.”

The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Australian Jungle Cave

The Thorny Devil

Griffin, Karen, Bruce, and his two mates, along with Jack, the expert guide, made their way deep into the Daintree Rainforest. They had been on this adventure now for weeks but were finally getting closer to the site of the rare plant they sought.

Their journey was treacherous, with thick foliage, steep hills, and dangerous animals. But they had made their way through it all and approached their goal.

A mere few feet away, the group closed in on what looked to be a massive opening in the side of the mountain, covered by a canopy of vines that hid it from view. “Alright, people. Based on our map, this is the location of the rare plant that we have been searching for” said Jack with a sense of confidence in his voice.

Griffin and Karen’s hearts raced with anticipation as they pushed aside vines and other large plants leading up to the entrance of the cave, anxious to get their hands on the plant.

As they got closer, they could smell the thick air coming from the cave tinted with a musty scent of decay. With slash after slash from their machetes, the scientists cleared a pathway advancing side by side with Bruce followed by his men. As they got closer, their eyes began to adjust to the dim lighting of the cave and they could make out damp walls that dripped with moisture, and there was something else in the dark…

“Is it just me or is there something inside that cave?” Griffin said with cautious curiosity, the hairs on the back of his head standing at attention as if his spidey sense was triggered.”

“You’re just being paranoid, Griffin. The shadows can play tricks sometimes.” Said Karen trying to reassure Griffin as they got even closer to the opening.

“Everyone stop!” said Jack in a Stern Whisper. “No one move”

“Oh my god, its the devil! He found us” said Karen in shock under her breath.

- The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Giant Lizard

Inside the cave were a set of large eyes that were now opened and staring out at them. Slowly, from the dark emerged a giant lizard making a low growl, its scales glinting in the dim light.

“Holy fuck, this can’t be happening again.” Griffin murmured.

It looked like a Moloch horridus, though this one was much larger than the normal size for this small specie, and a lot further east than it should be. This thorny devil appeared to be at least 30 feet long, had large menacing spikes, with a pronounced look of anger and aggression.

It seemed to be guarding the entrance to where the plant was located.

The group froze in fear. They had never seen anything like this before. They knew that they couldn’t outrun the creature or fight it off. They were stuck, with the sun quickly setting, and the plant they had searched for so long within their reach.

Griffin and Karen’s hearts were pounding in their chests. The Thorny Devil seemed to be sizing them up, its eyes locked on their trembling bodies.

“What do we do?” Karen whispered, her voice shaking. “There are two of them”

Griffin took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. “We have to stay calm and quiet. Maybe it won’t attack us if we don’t provoke it.”

“What about the other one?” Karen said with heavy concern in her voice.

“Maybe you should take my hand, Karen. That fruit still hasn’t worn off” Griffin said taking Karen’s Hand.

Suddenly, the thorny devil let out a monstrous squeal, lunging toward the group as if warning them to stay back.

Griffin and Karen’s hearts raced as they stared at the oversized reptile before them. Bruce and his mates had their weapons drawn, but they knew deep down that their weapons were no match for a creature of this size.

“Everyone stay calm,” Jack shouted, trying to keep the group focused. “We need to find a way past this creature and get to the tree.”

“But how? They’re blocking the entrance!” Karen cried out.

Griffin quickly scanned the area, trying to come up with a plan. “Bruce, is there any way you can distract it with a trap or something?”

Bruce nodded, “I have a smoke bomb that we could use to try and distract it. But we need to move fast before the sun goes down.”

Griffin turned to Jack, “Can you help us figure out a way to get past it while it’s distracted?”

Jack nodded, “Follow me.”

The group quickly followed Jack, keeping their eyes on the creature as they moved. Bruce pulled out his smoke bomb and prepared to throw it as they got closer.

“NOW!” Bruce shouted, throwing the smoke bomb toward the creature.

The creature was momentarily distracted, and the group took their chance to run towards and into the entrance. They could hear the creature’s angry snarls behind them as they rushed toward the opening in the back of the cave where the tree was

“Almost there! Keep going!” Griffin yelled, urging everyone forward.

They finally made it to the tree, but the smoke from the bomb was beginning to clear and the horned creature was starting to reorient itself towards the cave and to its sole task of ending the existence of its intruders.

They got to the tree in the nick of time as the last bit of light from the sunset made its way into the inner cave oasis, hitting the rare plant which now had bright purple flowers showing all over its outer bark.

Wasting no time, Griffin and Karen picked a few samples of the glowing flower and shoved it into their nap sacks, with Jack looking out at the entrance urging them to hurry.

Another Tight Spot

As they made their way back to the main entrance of the cave, the group could hear the thorny devil heading back to cave, its angry snarls getting closer and closer. Bruce and his mates, who were now hiding at the side of the cave under a thick web of vines quickly, began to search for a distraction to give Griffin, Karen, and Jack enough time to make it out of the cave safely.

Suddenly, one of Bruce’s mates spotted a large boulder at the edge of the cave entrance. “Hey, Bruce, what if we push that boulder down the hill? It could create a diversion for the lizard and give them enough time to get out.”

Bruce nodded, “Good idea. Let’s give it a try.”

The group carefully made their way from beneath the canopy and up the side of the cave, behind the large boulder. With a concerted push by the three men, the boulder dislodged and started rolling down the hill, causing a loud rumbling noise and kicking up a cloud of dust. The thorny devil immediately turned its attention towards the boulder, lunging towards it with its massive jaws.

Griffin, Karen, and Jack took this opportunity to make their escape, running as fast as they could toward the exit. However, as they ran from the exit, and the other three men ran down the hill to rejoin them, the devil quickly turned around from the fallen boulder to see the group escaping.

They all ran as fast as they could, their hearts pounding with fear. Bruce’s mates were struggling to keep up, and one of them fell behind. With lightning-like reflexes, the lizard snapped towards the group quickly closing ground and clamping its massive jaws down on the hand of man who lagged a step behind the group. The arm easily came off into the Thorny Devil’s mouth like it was biting into an eclair.

Hearing the anguished scream at their heels, the group quickly turned to see the man on the ground squirming in pain and the lizard chopping down the severed limb.

“Come on, we have to go back and get him!” Karen cried out, turning back towards the creature.

“Karen, it’s too dangerous!” Griffin shouted, trying to stop her.

But Karen was determined. “We can’t leave him behind, Griffin! We have to do something!”

The group watched as Karen ran back towards the creature, throwing rocks and shouting to get its attention. Bruce quickly pulled out more smoke bombs, lighting them and throwing them towards the lizard, with his remaining mate and Jack joining him, firing their weapons in an attempt to distract it.

Finally, the creature turned its attention away from Bruce’s mate, giving Karen enough time to drag him under the thick canopy, disappearing out of sight from the monster.

As they lay cowering under the canopy, Griffin’s hand creating a scream-tight seal over the mouth of the injured man, they could hear the thorny devil pacing outside, its claws clicking against the rocky ground. They knew they had to come up with a plan before the creature decided to come back and finish them off.

Jack quickly pulled out a map, studying it intently. “I think we can use the terrain to our advantage,” he said, pointing to a nearby cliff. “I’ll double around and lead him to the cliff away from you guys, and you hurry up and get this man help. I’ll meet you all at the next town.”

Griffin nodded, his eyes scanning the area for any signs of movement. “Ok, but you better be careful. We’ll see you back in town.”

- The Thorny Devil The Adventures of Griffin and Karen - Jack and the Thorny Devil

Taking Bruce’s remaining sac of smoke bombs, Jack darted out the back of the canopy, shouting at the giant reptile, quickly getting its attention.

[Jack whistles at the Thorny Devil]

“Over here you ugly mug! Come and play with uncle Jack.” Jack says with a daredevil grin across his face while pulling the pins of two smoke bombs.

Throwing the smoke bombs to give himself over, Jack made his way up the side of the cliff, which had a deep ravine over to the side of it, the beast searching through the smoke trying to find its prey.

Jack, who is quickly making his way up the side of the cliff, is finally spotted by the scoping giant lizard. Letting out a blaring hiss, the Thorny Devil made its way over to the cliff to claim its meal.

As the distance between them and the Thorny Devil grew, Karen quickly pushed Griffin to the side and started attending to the man. Blood flowed freely from the part of his arm that remained, quickly saturating the shirt she wrapped around it earlier, he was barely conscious. She began using her limited medical experience to try and stop the bleeding, bandaging the man’s hand as best she could to buy him more time.

“Stay with us, mate,” Bruce said, his voice thick with concern. “We’ll get you out of here and get you some help.”

“We have to get him help. I did the best I could, but he won’t survive for long like this.” Karen said to Bruce with a tone of concerned urgency in her voice.

“Aye, the truck is less than a click away, and the closest town two clicks from there.”

“Hold on mate, I won’t let you die!”

As they ran back to the truck, Karen did her best to keep the man alive, applying pressure to the wound and trying to keep him conscious.

[Group at Truck getting man into truck. The sound of rock falling and a monstrous squeal in the distance]

“That must be Jack. That thing probably got him.” Bruce said with sadness in his voice.

“Are you okay?” Griffin asked Karen, his voice filled with concern.

Karen nodded, tears streaming down her face. “I’m okay. I just can’t stand the thought of us having two more deaths on our hands just because of our research.”

“There was no way to predict this, Karen. That lizard looked unnatural. How could we have known it would be there?!” Griffin said in a comforting tone, his arms wrapped around Karen.

“I guess you’re right. But we have to make sure he makes it, Griffin!”

“We will, Karen”

There’s something more to this plant

As they drove away from the area, Karen kept looking back for a glance of cliff, hoping to catch a glimpse of Jack. But all she could see was the thick smoke and a flock of giant black birds circling.

They reached the town and rushed the injured man to the medical center, where he was taken into emergency surgery. The group waited anxiously in the waiting room, praying that he would pull through.

Just as they were about to give up hope, Jack burst into the room, covered in dirt and bruises but alive. They all breathed a sigh of relief as Jack approached them.

“I thought the Thorny Devil got you,” Karen said, embracing Jack tightly.

“Aye. It tried, but I was too quick for it,” Jack replied with a grin. “I lured it up the side of the cliff, but the rocks couldn’t support its weight and gave way. It fell to its death.”

The group cheered at the news, grateful that Jack had made it out alive.

“But there’s something else,” Jack said, his expression turning serious. “I found something up there. Something very strange.”

“What is it?” Bruce asked, leaning forward in his seat.

“I can’t say for sure yet, but I think there was some kind of ritual there recently. There was blood and dead animals all over the top of that cliff”

The group looked at each other in bewilderment, their curiosity piqued.

Karen couldn’t shake the image of the giant black birds circling above the smoke. It was as if they were waiting for something, watching the group as they drove away.

As they settled into the lodge that night, Karen couldn’t help but feel uneasy. Jack’s discovery had sparked something inside her, a burning desire to find out what was really going on and what else there was to this mysterious plant…

Their story continues…

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