Sandy glanced up at the giant ribbed glowing tower that was suddenly looming over them, striped in yellow and orange and lime and bending to show a hollow top filled with crystalline spikes. "AUGH! SANDWORM!" She grabbed Mel's hand and leapt, dragging the bigger girl and her burden fifty feet up the hill to land on their faces as the giant worm splashed into the ground where they had been standing and burrowed in as easily as swimming.
They scrambled up the hill together and half-jumped, half-slid down the far slope, just in time for the worm's truck-sized maw to burst out above them instead of on them, and they were at the bottom by the time it could curl around and try again. If it had been more of the same soft sugar, they would have been worm chow, but it was crusted hard like rock candy and they could jump with all their ridiculous strength.
One soaring bound after another, until Sandy felt like she was pulling her own muscles out, but when she tried to look behind she almost lost her grip on the blanket-wrapped stack of wood, and that was their only way out of this nightmare so she just kept going until Mel landed right in front of her and she crashed into her, sending them both sliding across the rough crystals. She shoved herself up in a panic, but Mel's arms wrapped around her. "Sandy! Sandy, it's okay! We lost it!"
Sandy's legs gave out and she collapsed, gasping for breath, into Mel's arms. "Oh, god, I thought we were dead." She hugged her friend tight, nestling into her heaving chest and not even thinking until minutes later what the softness under her cheek was. Her heart was still pounding and her skin still burning from the run, but she gave a little squeak and tried to stop nuzzling Mel's boobs.
Mel sat up, pushing Sandy off, and crossed her arms over her chest, looking away in embarrassment. "Sorry! I know my being half-naked bothers you — it bothers me! — but..." She tilted her chin towards the remains of her tank top, currently being used to tie pieces of bed into a bundle. "Just one of the many things we need to find if we can't get out of here right away." She pushed herself to her feet and looked around, business-like. "I think we're in a dry lakebed. I wonder if we can tell which way is downstream? That's got to be better than just going toward the lower end of the mountains."
Sandy was still blushing too much to look at Mel, so she looked around too. "Hey, is that an island over there? Ex-island, you know what I mean!"
Mel peered into the haze. "I think so. Good eyes!"
Sandy tried to not blush more, but it didn't work. Mel set off ahead of her, which spared her the sight of bouncing boobs, but after all the running and falling, those thin capri pants were plastered to her skin with sweat and what looked like cake frosting. Sandy sighed.
From closer, the hill wouldn't have been much of an island, barely more than a sandbar, but it trailed off on one end in a way that looked like it could have been downstream. "I wonder if there's anything on top," Mel said, and Sandy immediately sprang into the air.
Scattered atop the white sugar-crust were yellow arcs: chunks of spine and disconnected ribs. "Bones!" She jumped again as soon as she came down, landing on the edge of the island right at the top of her arc. She was getting pretty good at leaping! She nudged one yellow rib with her toe, and it clattered against the next one with the same sound as the skeleton in the biology classroom. "Real bones, I think, not sugar."
Mel jumped up next to her and looked around interestedly. "I think you're right! They're all the same size. Some kind of snake monster?" She pushed two ribs into place near a section of backbone and looked at the circle they made. "Giant snake monster! This thing could have swallowed a horse."
"A sandworm? A baby one, I guess, the one that chased us could have swallowed an elephant."
Mel blinked at her. "Gummi worms don't have bones."
It was too much. Sandy's legs went soft and she sat down suddenly, raising a puff of white powder, and put her face in her hands.
Mel bent over her, keeping one arm across her chest but reaching out with the other. "Sandy? Are you okay?"
Sandy looked up at her, feeling her eyes overflow with tears. "Walking beds! Gummi sandworms! Superstrength! A desert made out of sugar! Giant snake monsters! What kind of dream is this?"
Mel sat down next to her and put an arm around her, pulling her against her soft side. "I don't think it's a dream. It's too consistent. Writing doesn't change, muscles get sore, we have to balance this stuff we're carrying... I think it's an alternate dimension, like the Dreamlands from Lovecraft, but weird."
"Lovecraft? The tentacle hentai guy?"
Mel laughed out loud. "He was actually a huge prude! Except for being a huge racist too, I don't think he really fit in the 1920s. But his Dreamlands was a regular fantasy place, with wizards and swords and riding zebras and stuff. And lots of cats."
"I'd rather have cats than sandworms. I'd rather have Glinda!" She sniffled. "So are we really here, or just in our minds? If this is the Dreamlands."
"Um." Mel thought about that for a minute, but didn't let go of her. "I think most of the dreamers just psychically projected, or something, but maybe some of the good ones could travel physically? But I don't remember them doing magic or having walking beds or anything. I read those stories a long time ago."
"It's okay. We don't even know if this is the same thing. But I'm never trying anything from my stupid great-grandmother's book again!"
Mel looked away. "I wouldn't have encouraged you if I thought it would work!" She sighed. "Well, no use crying over spilled... Dr Pepper. Unless we can think of a way out of here, we need to find water. And some food that isn't sugar, but that can wait."
Sandy looked down at her slender pink arm next to Mel's thicker, darker one. "And a tub of aloe."
"Ugh, yah. At least it's not as hot as Death Valley or anything." Mel sighed again, but let go and heaved up to her feet. She offered Sandy a hand up with the arm not covering her own boobs. "I hope downstream means downhill means water."
The sun had only moved a little in the direction that must be west when Sandy finally saw, from the top of a leap, a line marking the horizon on the left. "Is that the other side?!" She jumped as high as she could, which didn't help much, but that was definitely a bank. "Mel, it's getting narrower! We must be going the right way!"
Soon they could see both banks without having to jump, so Mel suggested travelling in the shade along the south side of the old river. That was a lot cooler, but the ground was worse as they came out of the crusty dry lake. There were heaps of boulders, rounded-off angular lumps of translucent white rock candy, but those were easy to jump over; it was the soft "sand" of the riverbed that made Sandy's ankles hurt. The banks grew as they slogged along, until they towered over the girls and shaded most of the canyon even this early in the afternoon. The air was still too hot, but they had to wonder how cold a desert made out of sugar would get at night.
Then they rounded a corner where the canyon turned more southward, and saw something wonderful glowing above them.
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