"What is that?" Hardison's voice was sharp with panic and it was grating on Eliot's nerves something fierce. Although, to be fair, the object of Hardison's panic wasn't helping Eliot's nerves any, either.
"It's an alligator, Hardison. What's it look like?" Eliot was too busy watching the hissing reptile approach to see the disbelieving look leveled his way.
The panic in the computer specialist's voice hit a pitch Eliot had previously thought only dogs could hear. "Oh hell no. That cannot be an alligator. That's just wrong. Nobody really throws their enemies in a pit of alligators. That only happens in James Bond movies. Do I look like James Bond to you?"
There were bad plans. And then there were BAD PLANS. In the history of plans, this plan had been the worst plan ever. If Eliot made it out of this alive, he was never going to return to Florida again.
"First of all, shut up. Second, that's an alligator. Third, there's only one I see... not a pit of 'em. Fourth? Shut up, Hardison. I'm trying to think." The sudden, unplanned dip in the alligator's swampy habitat had done something unfortunate to the comms. Nate and the others probably knew something was wrong, but there was no way of telling when they'd arrive to help. And Eliot liked his limbs all right where they were.
The thing was between them and their only way out. A tiny island surrounded by water (with no guarantees that it wasn't also full of toothy reptiles), connected to the main land by a small bridge. The large, angry creature was so big, it blocked their way onto the bridge.
"Okay, new plan." Eliot was slowly inching to one side. "I'm gonna grab it and hold it. You cross the bridge. I'll follow."
Hardison's face went blank before he blinked once, incredulous. "Excuse me?"
"What part didn't you get?" The gator was watching Eliot move and that was not helping his cause. Fortunately, Hardison's sudden return to hysterical flailing turned the huge head back in the opposite direction.
"The part where you're going to grab that thing!" He paused in his flailing to back up in a hurry when the gator's head swung his way. "That's the part I didn't get! Can you explain it to me in Earth logic?!"
"What? You never watched Crocodile Hunter?" Eliot was in place and he crouched, ready to spring. "Get ready to run."
"Bad plan. Bad plan. Eliot, this is a bad plan."
Eliot wasn't listening. He waited until the reptile's attention was firmly on Hardison before he jumped. He landed on the hard, scaly back and wrapped his arms quickly around the toothy jaws. All at once, all 600 lbs of animal was thrashing underneath him. "Go. Gogogogo!"
The sound of running feet pounded past him and thudded against the wooden bridge. Eliot couldn't look up. He was busy watching for his moment of opportunity to release the thing and run. Hopefully Hardison was in the clear, because that moment was fast approaching.
The gator wiggled and thrashed, dragging him across the sand. He tried to brace with his legs, but it was just too big. He had an idea, though. When it reached the bridge, he waited until the head was beside the post holding the guardrail. As quickly as he could, he released the thing and rolled off in the direction of the bridge. Alligators were lightning quick with their bites, but when the head tried to snap around to bite Eliot, it slammed into the post. He took those scant seconds to hotfoot it across the bridge.
"You!" Hardison panted and pointed a trembling finger at Eliot. "You have lost your mind. Completely insane."
"Why? Worked didn't it?" Eliot made a show of dusting himself off and not showing just how rattled the whole encounter had made him.
"You could have been eaten." Hardison pronounced each word carefully, as if Eliot wasn't speaking the same language and if he just spoke slowly enough, they'd understand one another.
"That thing?" Eliot checked over his shoulder to see the gator slide itself back into the water and disappear. He shook his head and threw an arm around Hardison's shoulders as they started putting some distance between them and the swamp. "Nah. She's a beauty."