This is not good. Not good at all. Vert!
Getting stuck on top of a giant, slippery mushroom was not something they had covered in basic survival training. In fact, if any of his commanding officers saw him now they'd probably laugh at his foolish mistake.
But there was no way I could have stopped it from happening! I wonder how many cadets end up like this?
It was a question he wasn't really sure he wanted an answer to. He'd seen the ferocity of Gittern's storms. He'd seen how many mushrooms had populated the planet before compared to after. He didn't stand much of a chance and unlike the mushrooms he didn't just grow back.
He had to figure a way out of this. He did not want his parents to suffer the humiliation of receiving a transmission saying he died during basic training due to getting stuck on top of a three-story piece of fungus.
This wasn't going to be easy. Despite the rapid growth rate he could see happening all over the surface of the planet, no other shorter mushrooms had sprouted nearby. So jumping down was out of the question. The dome of the mushroom he was perched on was far too slicked to safely hang on to the edge to see if there were any grips on the underneath side.
Reuben had managed to hang on to his survival pack but unfortunately it contained no cord or climbing gear. Which mean he was going to have to improvise.
The only tools he had where his pistol and knife. Not much but better than nothing. Setting his pistol to the lowest energy setting, he aimed carefully at a portion of the dome a little bit away from where he was sitting. There was a sizzle followed by an unpleasant smell. Reuben inspected his work and saw that there was a hole large enough to stick his fist in... or be used as a foothold.
He briefly considered blasting a hole straight through the dome to the stalk. But he nixed the idea based on the size of the mushroom and how little damage the low power setting had caused. To cut through the dome would take almost the entire charge of his pistol's power cell.
Aiming again he fired a few more blasts, enough for him climb down the side of the dome and dangle off the edge. The decent was still dangerous, the inside contents of the mushroom were squishy and unstable. More than once he almost slipped right out.
Gripping the edge of the dome as firmly as he could, Reuben took three bracing breaths and then took the plunge. Panic tore through him as he realized that the piece he held on to was not strong enough to support his full hanging weight and the main stalk was too far away for him to reach.
His left hand completely slipped off the dome and he could feel his right wouldn't be far behind. Realizing that he had to act now or never, he reached across his belt and grabbed his knife. Swinging his body once... twice... he heaved himself toward the stalk with as much force as he could muster just before the piece of mushroom he held onto broke off.
For one heart stopping moment he was suspended in air.
He slammed into the stalk hard enough to knock the wind out of him while jamming his knife into it with all of his strength.
The knife sliced through the mushroom's outer membrane easily. Too easily. At first Reuben thought it might not be enough to slow his decent. After plummeting several yards down he finally came to rest. He was still dangling nearly twenty feet off the ground however.
With a grunt of effort he reached for his pistol with his right hand and blasted a few uneven holes for his feet. Using his knife as a sort of climbing pick to steady himself and his pistol to make footholes in the smooth surface, Reuben was managing to climb down... very slowly.
He only had about ten feet left when a familiar roar tore through the sky. He knew that sound. Another storm was about to start. He had minutes, maybe less.
There's not enough time.