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??

A Toothpick? Guitar Pick??

“Hand me that pick, please…” So polite, Mark.  and assuming.  Giving the foreshadowing of his free climb escapade at the beginning of this sequence, he will no doubt doff  his shirt and get busy… Since being taken over by James Allen, Mark has become a bit cheesecake- or beefsteak, or what ever you’d like to call a 32 year old man with a BMI in the mid twenties…  sort of the Channing Tatum of the Comic Strip set…

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And as Carina continues to show her “best sides” Gabe realizes he’d better hit the salad bar from now on, that is if he wants to compete for best body image in the desert…

Finally, an Answer!

As Carina continues to slink and slither in the most alluring of fashions, and Gabe slides around on his but, it is revealed that the cave is aglow in bioluminescence…  but in caves?  Sure!  Why not??  Now that we have that sorted, we can stop wondering (or at least I can) what the deal is with the total lack of darkness…

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So while it looks as though Mark has hit his head and Carina is auditioning for a spread in Maxim, we are once again left to wonder… where is all this going?  Is Jose satisfied that he has neutralized the threat to his new, lucrative livelihood?  Will Mark and Company continue to go deeper and deeper into the cave without any idea whether they are helping their cause?  Will Mark pull out still more cave-trivia that might give them all some hope?  Will Gabe add any value at all since he is the one that has been the “Ol’ Cave Crawler” for years??

She crawls…

…she slinks, she slithers on her belly like a snake… is it me, or is the fact that they are trapped in a cave with no apparent way out making Carina look a bit more comely?  With the unexplained (so far, at least) natural “light” bathing them as they move forward/ backward toward heaven knows where…

Glad you had the presence of mind, Gabe, to grab an equipment bag…  so why don’t you break it out and see what we have to work with here?

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Meanwhile Mark can’t help laying down a mental tidbit… a survival tip for those on the brink of starvation, which by the look of Gabe’s midsection, could be weeks away…  that Cave Crickets are a source of protein…  and yes they are also known as “Land Shrimp” “Sprickets,” and “Criders.”  Whatever you call them, I’d have to be Hugh Glass hungry before partaking of that feast…

 

That’s right- walk toward the light…

Little do they realize, but they are all actually dead and embarking on their next great journey…

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The other end?   Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Trail??  Is there always another end?  Or could you all be heading deeper and deeper into the earth’s crust… with little to guide you but your wits??  Well, keep following the light… funny how there has been -0-, zip, nada, nil, zilch in the way of bat activity…