Emerson Lighthouse felt as though he was being eaten alive, a distinct possibility in this infernal kingdom, he thought as he swiped in mild annoyance at some tiny flying creatures hovering near the nape of his neck. Even though the sun was finally beginning to set, the heat of the day still held this tiny, uncharted island in an oppressive grip. As a rule, he found the tropics to be most unpleasant and longed to be back in the more temperate jungle of brick and steel. New Babbage… where it’s either too cold or too smoggy to support all these wretched bugs, he thought. But Emerson needed to focus right now; he had a job to do and there was no sense in whining about the heat without anyone around to appreciate the performance.
Ever so quietly, he crept along the upper lip of the escarpment. Below him slept the cold hearted killer who had hunted him across this island many times over. Maybe there is something to fate after-all, he mused, otherwise how ironic that my nemesis, who has hunted me without mercy now sits unaware of the fact that he is now the prey.
In front of Emerson, almost too well positioned to be believed, was a large round boulder just waiting to be nudged into skull-crushing motion. Yet as he placed his hands on the cold, hard stone a thought flickered through his mind: perhaps I should show a little compassion and take this opportunity to just sneak off quietly. But it was only a fleeting flicker that went dark almost as soon as it sparked. He leaned his shoulder to the boulder and heaved.
Unfortunately the rock was a little heavier than he anticipated and it didn’t so much as budge. Intensifying his efforts, Emerson braced his legs and with a weightlifter’s grunt heaved for all he was worth. It moved… but maybe only an inch…
The next sequence of events all happened a bit too suddenly for Emerson to process… one moment he was straining against the rock, all muscle and concentration… the next moment he was flying backwards through the air. In the dim light of the setting sun he hadn’t noticed the loop of rope that snared his leg. Nor did he noticed the line running behind him to the branches which had been forced down and held in place by a pulley mechanism weighted to the very rock he was attempting to push. From most promising ally to most unredeemable betrayer; he felt like spitting on that wretched stone every time it flew through his field of vision, on the ground, ten 10 feet below.