Watch the Hand, Carina…

With her left hand suggestively on Mark’s right shoulder, and his left had still holding “the pick,” they are left with another quandary…  forge ahead into the darkness (let’s hope that Ol’ Gabe was able to squirrel the equipment bag, complete with the flashlight, along with his fat arse, through the last crevice …) and “see” what the future might hold. Or perhaps stop moving long enough to consider other options- like going back to the entrance to start digging your way out… Mr. Coyote is long gone and has left you all for dead anyway…

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But no doubt there is a bit of Natural little known fact, Cave Whimsy, if you will, that will be produced by either Mark or Carina that will save them all… Heaven knows it won’t be Gabe (offering up his so-far typical “What do we do now!?”) or involve bats, white-nosed or otherwise, given that we haven’t seen a single one since entering the cave system…

Cave of Wonders…

Before we get to what Carina has “found,”  check the comment from greendoglichen – I added it to yesterday’s post

A huge cavern, you say?  Like the one in Disney’s Aladdin?  The Cave of Wonders?? So it opens up into a huge cavern… not sure that helps, sweetheart, what you are seeking has more to do with not being complete surrounded by earth- we need a little sky in the mix.

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Yeah, so, c’mon, Gabe, skinny yourself down and get over here…  the loverly Carina has found something… a large opening with still more natural light!  Bathing her in such a way as to reveal her hardbody sixpack!  Do you think she uses 7 minute abs?  And remember- it’s 7 minute abs… not 6

Of course it is…

… a way out.  Never mess with the Trail…  Never doubt the Trail.  The Trail knows all and sees all and will lead you on the, um… Trail.

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What is it, Carina?!? Is it a Pretty Pink Pony pooping rainbow glitter?  Is it your long lost father who left you when you were but a child, memories of him faint as the dog-eared, black-and-white photo of him and you, hugging his leg and him, with that far-away, thousand mile stare that suggested he’d rather be anywhere but there??  It’s really good that you take care of your brow-line, even though you have committed your life to the study of cave ecosystems, because one never knows when that close-up will be taken- when your face will fill the frame and we can see every last pore and detail.  Well done, Carina, well done.

from greendoglichen:

I know what it is!! Carina sees shadows on the wall and immediately relates it to Greek philosopher Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a theory concerning human perception. Plato claimed that knowledge gained through the senses is no more than opinion and that, in order to have real knowledge, we must gain it through philosophical reasoning. Carina has been enlightened by the truth! Mark Trail, behold the man!

Thanks, Greendog, clearly I am appealing to an educated lot not afraid to think critically and expose themselves to knowledge… I certainly learned something!!

Mark’s the Magic Man!

Take my hand and I will make you 100 lbs lighter, just like that!  Have you seen my line of juicers??  Best on the market- a snap to clean up and recommended by 2 out of 3 doctors surveyed… never mind that the one ‘Doc’ that declined is my Father-in-law…

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So as Gabe goes into full blown panic over being caught in an underground trap, (hey- I can relate…) Mark is doing his best to make sure he doesn’t completely lose it…  But seriously, you are talking about physical reality, not a matter of will.  Gabe’s too big to fit through these crevices and Heaven knows where they even lead!!  To smaller and smaller crevices!!

Meanwhile here’s a lovely story about a young medical student who dies after getting stuck in an “18-inch-wide by 10-inch-high crevice” replete with a warning sign that reads “Do not squeeze into anything that you might not be able to squeeze out of.”  Never mind that cavers are crazy… apparently they aren’t grammarians either…

But Gabe is right…

…he’s not going to make it… sort of like when Winnie the Pooh went visiting at Rabbit’s “Howse,” ate all the Honey and then got stuck in the “door” on the way out… and Pooh had to go on a fast in order to lose enough weight so that Christopher Robin and all the others could pull him out… during which time Rabbit, always the practical one, used Pooh’s legs as a “towel horse…*” If ever there was a cautionary tale warning against gluttony and lack of self control, this is it…

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 So, meanwhile Mark is trying to keep everyone’s spirits up, encouraging the impossible, not willing to admit that he is leading them further and further away from the only way out… the way they came in…  and I seem to recall that someone offered up that  idea at the beginning of their dilemma…  But Mark had other ideas

 * “We’ll read to you,” said Rabbit cheerfully. “And I hope it won’t snow,” he added. “And I say, old fellow, you’re taking up a good deal of room in my house–do you mind if I use your back legs as a towel-horse?  Because, I mean, there they are–doing nothing–and it would be very convenient just to hang the towels on them.”

And most expendable…

…no offense… and it’s a synch that Gabe gets left behind… as the passage narrows

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So as Carina’s nose is reduced to two dots on her now lizard-like face, (shape-shifting to adapt?) she’s having trouble deflating her bosom or backside, which could become a real liability in such cramped quarters… As she “takes the lead” and forges ahead into the uncharted cave system, what are the chances that it will actually lead to an exit?  Slim and none, I’d say…  This discussion of Caving suggests that the best way out is the way in…  and it’s still beyond me why anyone would voluntarily do this as an avocation …  I mean, please… look at this dude-

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I will voluntarily go where others will not… because??

Gabe? Gabe who??

As Mark and Carina leave Gabe in the dust, with his equipment bag containing the flashlight, they continue to be surrounded by luminescence, or perhaps it’s the glow of their burgeoning relationship, and hence have no need for stinkin’ flashlights

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Who are you kidding, Mark??  I guess you must think that everyone gets shot at everywhere they go… you are on a bit of a roll, here, sir…  the most recent one being the little trip you took to Florida coast where you ran into Dr. Evil’s cousin, bent on world domination…  And Mark, thanks for letting us and Carina know that you are only teasing- I would suspect that it’s difficult for her (as well as your audience) to know when you are applying literary devices…  like euphemism, irony and sarcasm…

So as the “passage tightens,” and we are trying to not take that to mean more that it should, we are left to wonder, again, where is this all going?  What will they find?  This is the Cave of the Dead, after all…

Yes… You are an Eeenteresting, Man…

…Mr. Trail.  Right about now I am giving Carina a nice, sultry Russian Accent, like in a Bond film of yor…  Check out a great list Russian Characters here… I don’t remember Kseniya Onatopp (#6,) but that’s a great name!  

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Faith, you say, Trail?  Who is Faith?  You have someone we don’t know about?  You already have a Cherry on the top, and now you admit to having Faith on the side??  Hmmm…  Or more like it the faith that comes from the knowledge that world revolves around you and only you…

Poor Gabe… he stands off camera, heaving and wheezing and watching his female assistant, the object of his own inappropriate fantasies, and his would-be, one-time friend engage in verbal foreplay…  better hit the StairMaster, buddy, or you’ll spend your life curled up with your thoughts…

I guess danger brings out the ???

…I don’t know what? in Carina… She has been utterly transformed- from science nerd/lackey to Cave-Vixen…  Watch out Mark, you know you aren’t very good at non-verbals- you know, reading people??  You are sort of a literal chap, and as Carina tilts her head to the side and compliments you on your, um, skills, she’s circling you like a predator sizing prey… and baiting you, in the last panel, to know whether you are a vain and insecure sort, needing to rise and take the bait!  …even after Mark exhibits his typical modesty (“I do a bit of…”)   But this remains the greatest plot twist so far- not getting shot at and blown up, but watching Carina go from “handsome” to “hot…”  But then I’m a guy, and I’m probably in the Target Market to which James Allen is looking to appeal.

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Anyway… so yes, after a bit of gratuitous mountain climbing within a cave system, and for that matter how much of anything in this strip isn’t gratuitous, we are continuing to wonder where this is all going.  It all started with the desire to create a public service information piece on White Nose Syndrome in bats, and so far we haven’t seen a single damn one of them…  so what’s up with that?…

The top of what?

Well, at least it gives them the hope that they are closer to the surface of the earth’s crust…  Me, I’d be freaking right about now.  I am just looking at this… remember heights?, enclosed spaces?  Some adventurer I’d make…

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Sorely disappointed that Mark didn’t leave his shirt behind, or at least take it off and tie it around his waste…  you’d think he’d use any excuse for that…  but oh well, probably didn’t want to make Gabe feel self-conscious…  especially as he brings up rear.

Funny how every now and then, like in the third panel, it just doesn’t look like Mark.  We are familiar with his son Rusty, the Shape-shifter, but not Mark… right??