It was our most ambitious expedition to date, and we had succeeded against overwhelming odds in achieving our goal, this small band of intrepid adventurers and I.
We were at the centre of the very Earth itself.
"I must say chaps," Beanflicker announced. "It isn't quite as hot as I expected."
"What do you mean old chap?" Forktruck asked.
"I was always led to believe that the Earth's core was molten," Beanflicker said. "But it isn't. It's just a big cave really. With stalactites and stalagmites and...things..."
"I can see that," said our expedition surgeon, Mister Fractureclinic. "All a bit of an anticlimax really. Not what I expected at all."
"But this is the speliologist's Mount Everest!" I protested.
"Not much of a view though is it?" Forktruck remarked.
This was true. The centre of the earth wasn't really up to much. All a tad disappointing really.
"The floodlights are a nice touch though," Slopp, the cook opined. "I wonder who put them there?"
"Dunno," Forktruck said. "But whoever it was is an idiot. I mean, fancy dragging all those lights and all that wire down here. Must have been a madman."
So we sat for a while, as Slopp rustled up some corned beef hash washed down with home-made elderberry wine. We sat, and looked about us, and pondered. Then we pondered some more for good measure. The centre of the Earth! How wondrous!
"So..." Beanflicker said after a meaningless pause. "Now what?"
"We go back I suppose," Slopp said, matter of factly.
"Go back!" I raved. "Go back! Are you mad, man?"
I was unaware of it at the time, but I was suffering from compression sickness, and thus not quite thinking straight.
Mister Fractureclinic then forcibly restrained me and injected me with morphine to sooth my fevered brain. I am unclear as to precisely what subsequently transpired, but whilst in my morphine induced fugue, or so it was related to me afterwards, Slopp went a smidgen overboard with the elderberry wine and was only subdued when Forktruck punched him with great ferocity several times about the head.
I have no recollection of walking, but that is precisely what I must have done - unless I had been carried by one of my colleagues - for when I regained my faculties we had camped for the night in the Vegas Grotto, a three hour march across unforgiving terrain from the centre of the earth. My colleagues, save for Beanflicker, were all snoring soundly.
Beanflicker himself was industriously feeding a row of working slot machines with coins of the realm. How the slot machines came to be installed so close to the centre of the Earth was never really explained, but that is what led us to name the chamber the Vegas Grotto.
I was exhausted, and my poor throat was as dry as an Arab's sandal. I tried to wake Slopp in order that he might prepare hot beverages, but he was having none of it, and slept on steadfastly.
Overcome by fatigue, I myself lapsed into a deep sleep.
And dreamt of home.