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So, there is a great beast called the Tayan. It burrows itself into the ground, and eats all creatures unfortunate enough to fall in. The Tayan’s throat has muscles that push food down into its stomach, like a human throat. Larger victims are sent to the main stomach, where they are digested over the course of 36 hours, during which they experience unimaginable agonizing pain.

In the secondary stomach, victims are saved for later consumption. They are injected with a potent neurotoxin, that paralyzes them, and they wait until it’s their turn to get digested. My main character has just fallen into this stomach, but luckily he was wearing clothing that kept him from receiving the neurotoxin.

He needs to escape for my story to continue, but I can’t think of a way how. How could my character possibly escape?

-The Tayan is an Animal, but it can also photosynthesize.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you give some sort of period or setting? What sort of equipment would one carry? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '18 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix: It’s in the 26th century, on an alien planet. He has laser pistol some rope. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Aug 16 '18 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ He's going to need a good (long) knife $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '18 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Guran, that's trope No.2 for this situation, I'm going with trope No.1. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '18 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ This has been flagged for closure as too story-based, and I tend to agree. This is a plot element involving a character of unknown capability, carrying unknown gear, attempting to escape from a creature of the author's design. I'm not sure we can be of any help here. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 16 '18 at 12:38

12 Answers 12

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There's a trope* that covers your situation.

Kill it through its stomach

When swallowed whole by an alien being of some sort, the traditional exit is to cut your way out through the stomach. The end result being that the protagonist both survives the encounter intact (though slimy) and kills said beastie on the way through.

Requirements:

  1. Action hero
  2. Knife (though a comically large gun can also be used)

*Health Warning: TV Tropes

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  • $\begingroup$ It’s stomach is underground. Deep underground. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Aug 16 '18 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertPaul, in that case trope No.2 is make it throw up $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 16 '18 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ Well, once the creature is dead, there is a slight possibility of your character being able to scale the stomach up to the throat, especially if he has a knife. You mentioned the throat being lined up with muscles, so they should provide enough grip for going back up, when the creature isn't actively swallowing (at least, I imagine they would be less difficult to scale than a stomach). $\endgroup$ – Liquid Aug 16 '18 at 9:25
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    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of Drax of the Guardians of the Galaxy :) $\endgroup$ – D3f4u1t Aug 16 '18 at 13:23
  • $\begingroup$ Unless the creature is accustomed to swallowing armed, healthy creatures alive (unlikely, since it has a neurotoxin to paralyze them), its stomach lining is unlikely to be armored. While you won't be able to cut your way out of the body entirely, a ripped-open stomach and chopped-up internal organs is likely to ruin the creature's day, and once it is dead you can climb out at your leisure. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Aug 30 '18 at 11:48
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Do the Obvious Thing

This may sound silly, but: climb out. No, seriously. You mention that it's an alien planet, so the Tayan most certainly did not evolve with humans in mind. It may not have even evolved with anything remotely close to a human around. Since this thing is huge and burrows to ambush, it probably evolved in wide-open spaces (it's hard for huge things to move much in a densely-packed forest!), which means that it didn't evolve systems to handle things with hands.

Sure, maybe that means that other things can climb out, too, but most of those critters are too small for the Tayan to really care about. An appropriately-sized meal with the capability of climbing just isn't something this Tayan has ever had to deal with. It just doesn't have the biology because it hasn't needed it in the past.

Edit: Not to mention, the Tayan likely hasn't had to deal with large prey (or would a human be small prey to it?) that isn't affected by the paralysis.

This isn't to say that the Tayan isn't a threatening and deadly creature. It's just that a human is likely a pretty weird alien to it.

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Smoker's cough

Just for some variety from the typical trope. He can't get out of the secondary stomach (reticulum?) because many victims have tried this in the past, and the Tayan has evolved to prevent it: an extremely muscular, keratin covered sphincter bars the way.

But he uses his trusty combat knife to gradually carve his way in a direction from which he hears rushing air -- perhaps it's a tunnel.

It isn't a tunnel. It's a bronchus. But fortunately, he has one last trick up his sleeve: an emergency smoke flare! Setting off the flare, pretty quickly the Tayan begins to hack and cough like it's, well, dying from emphysema. And our doughty hero gets coughed up in a big ball of sticky Tayan phlegm!

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As told in comments, your setting has already been seen in hundreds of stories (Jonah? StarWars anyone?). Usually the heroe goes out by:

  1. Cutting his way out (see Separatrix answer)
  2. Making the beast puke (see Demigan answer)

For the sake of the originality of your story, I strongly recommend finding another ending to this situation. Any variant of these two scenarios are going to make the reader think "oh no, not again" and feel bored and annoyed.

I suggest one of the following:

  • Your hero dies in there (as a punishment for falling in such a common trap)
  • Your hero is saved by someone outside, after tremendous suffering (as a punishment for falling in such a common trap)
  • Your hero survive in there, eating other captured creatures, for a very long time. He goes through tremendous physical and psychological suffering (as a punishment for...). When the creature dies of oldness, he can finally get out. He then discovers that his girlfriend is now married to his enemy and seek revenge.
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    $\begingroup$ If he's not a Hero he could call for help, luring someone else in, and as they get swallowed and the throat opens up, he could rush out while they get digested spending someone else's life to save his own, its definitely not a hero move but its different, it could even act as the step that sent him down a dark path etc... $\endgroup$ – Blade Wraith Aug 16 '18 at 12:49
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Make it puke.

This creature must have ways to deal with things like rocks or poisonous animals falling in. If it tastes something inedible that could be dangerous for it, it'll likely regurgitate the contents of that particular stomach. Since it already has peristaltic movement of it's throat (pushes things down with muscle movement) it can also reverse it to puke.

Maybe the main character has something corrosive like battery acid, or toxic metals or coolant with him that will get the creature to respond. Perhaps he just has a knife and stabs the creature. There's a shark with a pointed fin for especially this purpose as one of it's enemies eats it whole, then after stabbing it the shark is puked out. This would be a smart idea for the tayan as it would not want to be moving something that can passively rip open parts of it's body through his stomachs.

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I'm adding to Separatrix answer:

Escape to the ground

I'd rather be in a tunnel than inside some giant internal organ digesting me, so a solution could be opening a way through the Tayan tissues to the underground. What happens then?

Cutting through the internal organs to the outer skin should be possible, since most creatures aren't equipped for resisting slashing attacks from the inside. It could be that the Tayan is, given the fact that it swallows a great deal of live prey, but it also has to rely on his toxins. The secondary stomach can be thick and hard, then, but can't be adamant. Other tissues have no excuses for being knife-proof (though cutting and separating large, fat areas of meat, muscle and tendril is certainly a feat). The outer skin is hard, but probably softer from the inside.

I imagine the ground around the Tayan outer skin is not entirely made up of solid rock (the Tayran must have dug through the ground in the first place to get there, so at least a bit of the ground around its body must be made of debris or something).

If it's soft enough for the hero to dig, he can happily start crawling his way back up, gently pushing all the earth inside the already unhappy Tayan (that will probably deal with major infection issues, if it doesn't die for internal damage).

The main challenges of this solution are:

  1. Cutting though several layers of beast tissue, without having a clear direction of where the nearest ground wall will be (as opposed as knowing, innately, where "up" is);
  2. Surviving the walk in the Tayan internal organs, facing a whole deal of fluids, possibility of being drowned in blood (or burned, depending on the Tayan's internal body temperature) or breaking into the main stomach and its acids;
  3. Being able to dig up a great deal to the surface or the nearest cave;
  4. Dealing with a general lack of air;

At least points 2 and 4 are common to the more usual "get thrown up" and "kill the thing from inside" solutions. The main advantages of this idea:

  • not having to exit through the Tayan maw, which can be generally dangerous by the presence of teeth, saliva and whatsoever;
  • travelling at a nicer slope than a mean vertical line along the throat walls. Climbing up always have the possibility of falling back down.

Is this possible? You mention the Tayan being "dug up deep underground". But in any case, the secondary stomach has to be somewhere near the esophagus. Of course, depending on the Tayan, the esophagus could be long kilometers ... but I can argue that my solution isn't inherently worse than the climbing-back-up trope.

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Make it poop.

Most likely the Tayan either poops whenever it leaves a hole, or goes to the surface to poop before returning to its hole. Since the Tayan seems capable of digesting a majority of materials, considering it can eat whatever falls into it, I reason that it must have a strong stomach acid. With a strong acid in its stomach, materials will be broken down into base materials and can be absorbed by a shorter intestine than in humans. If he makes a run for its intestines he can make it through the slow acting but powerful acid, stimulate its intestines, and cause it to evacuate its bowels, him included. It may be a tight fit though, and not a pleasant journey.

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  • $\begingroup$ The Tayan doesn’t poop. It spits out waste through its mouth $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Aug 16 '18 at 9:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Robert Paul So basically have it puke. He can just wait it out until the thing spits its waste. Since he isn't suffocating or paralyzed he can just eat whatever falls in and wait out a puking session. $\endgroup$ – Clay Deitas Aug 16 '18 at 10:22
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I saw in the comments he has a laser gun. Basically, lasers are light beams, light is energy, energy can build up heat.

If you assume that the laser can generate enough energy to boil or just overheat the liquid/secretion in the Tayan's stomach, protection mechanisms might just regurgitate the entirety of the cavity's content.

Optional: By doing so, you completely discharge the laser gun or even destroy its core, preventing the escape of being without any consequence or setbacks.

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The best way in terms of story telling for me would be you cut into the main stomach by accident which floods the secondary stomach. The secondary stomach isn't use to acid as it was made to store and move food so this causes your Tayan to become very upset and then pukes your hero up, who is protected partially from the acid by his clothes in the same way it protected him from the neurotoxin.

This way you get Trope 1, cutting out of the stomach, some drama as acid fills the stomach and your hero is trying to climb up the sides. More drama as the stomach contracts and the acid makes contact with the hero, then he gets Trope 2, puked out and Trope 0, he lives.

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Before I answer your question, a quick bit of instruction

In this comment to your other question you mention that this is a plant. That's critical information. Most if not all of the answers before mine are based on the assumption that we're talking about an animal. Likely because the creature has a throat with muscles, which plants generally don't have. In this question you have comments that describe the adventurer's equipment - but those descriptions never made it into your actual question.

My point is, you appear to be designing this creature as-we-go. That makes answering your questions a bit like hitting a moving target: difficult and unproductive. Worse, you're not updating your questions with the additional and generally critical information. That's not good.

And the reason I included this instruction is because...

Plants don't have throats

Like the Venus Flytrap, they have regions that digest. I can accept that there are two "digestive areas" (OK, call them stomachs), but an actual throat? No. At best what you'd have is a sphincter, an opening that pinches closed after the victim falls in.

But, the stomachs are large enough to comfortably hold an adult human each. Only one human? You don't say, so I'm going to assume just one as with each body you expect the plant must be much larger.

In other words, our intrepid adventurer has very little climbing to do. At worst, the stomach has him on his feet, needing to climb out of a six-foot hole in the ground. At best it has him on his back, needing to climb out of a two-foot hole in the ground.

The problem is that sphincter. One would think that a plant designed to be a torture chamber (per your other question) would be designed to resist simple cutting. And it's a plant, there aren't muscles that will allow it to vomit.

So, first question, what causes the sphincter to close in the first place? The Venus Flytrap uses micro-hairs, at least two of which must be stimulated to trip closure. Humans are a bit large for microhairs, and you certainly don't want to spring the trap too early... Let's assume an area of skin at the bottom that senses pressure. When the victim lands on or stands on the area of skin, the sphincter closes.

So, our hero needs to get his weight off the patch of skin so the plant thinks the digestion process is done. Per your other question, there are tentacles used to inject the neurotoxin.

Answer:

Your hero stands on the bases of the tentacles to get himself off the patch of skin that detects his presence and waits. The plant will eventually react to the belief that the digestion chamber is empty and open the sphincter, after which the hero can climb out easily.

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  • $\begingroup$ It’s not a natural creature, it’s a genetic engineering project. I don’t know if it should be classified as plant or animal. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 1 '18 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Robert, you MUST decide exactly what you have and post that info in your question! We don't know what your creature is and that makes it VERY hard to provide good answers. YOU need to tell us if it is a plant or animal, does it have throat muscles or not? How does it detect the presence of something in its stomachs? I'm on the verge of flagging both questions for deletion. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 1 '18 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ It’s an animal that can photosynthesize. That’s my final, CONCRETE answer. $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 1 '18 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Now go edit your question to include that and the other vital information. $\endgroup$ – JBH Sep 1 '18 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, and I’m sorry by the way, it’s just been difficult fine tuning my creature concept $\endgroup$ – DT Cooper Sep 1 '18 at 17:31
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Become the Tayan.

Logical reason why this creature saves its digested victims consciousness?

While a victim lays paralyzed in the Tayans stomach, the creature slowly leeches away a creatures “neural energy” the energy that contains intelligent creatures memories, thoughts, and personalities. After the leeching is finished, the victim and Tayan become one...

Your victim is not paralyzed, but he is in the stomach where the leeching takes place. His memories, thoughts and personality go into the Tayan. Your hero is not like other captives of the Tayan. He has experience with mental defense... and offense. When the Tayan opens up and psionically reaches for his consciousness, he does not resist - he pushes his way in. His personality uses the opened path and enters the Tayan on its own terms. It takes command.

He is released because the Tayan has become him, and he chooses to release himself.

This is great for a story because later the Tayan qua Hero might be able to participate in other endeavors. Also once he has commandeered the Tayan, your hero's consciousness might have access to the many other consciousnesses trapped therein.

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Use a rope.

Another character throws a rope into the Tayan's mouth. The Tayan swallows one end and it ends up in the stomach. Then your hero can climb up the rope to freedom, forcing or cutting any sphincter or downward facing teeth in the way.

Cutting through the stomach wall will not save you because you will be blocked by a solid wall of soil in every direction. Up is the only feasible way out.

If you want, the character who threw the rope can be a safe distance from the Tayan, or if you want to kill them off, they trip and fall into the stomach just after the hero escapes. This time, they fall into the Tayan's digestive stomach and can't escape in time. (Or they are evil or something and the hero just decides not to help them)

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