Flynn Archer and Ray Bullivant
March 16th, Mystery Island – Redemption Reef
This was all so much bullshit.
Flynn wanted to break into Eidolon headquarters and beat up every motherfucker in a suit until they told him what the fuck was really going on here, but they kept him too busy – and too unsettled – to even try. Aiden was possibly safe, and quite probably not, as he’d left with a bunch of other do -gooders to start a school, or some such nonsense, on the ass end of this island-reef hell, where apparently they hadn’t even invented the telegraph yet. Aiden had told him not to worry, but it had been two weeks now, and there hadn’t been so much as a carrier pigeon with a note tied to its leg. Okay, it wouldn’t be a pigeon here. Fruitbat? Why not? A fruitbat with a scroll tied to its leg. He had yet to find one.
Eidolon kept him busy, with their “training”, but he half-assed it enough that they got tired of dealing with him. Flynn was happy this skill hadn’t gotten rusted. You’d think it’d be easy to frustrate people, but when they were a huge corporation that drilled you to be just as Stepford wife cheerful as possible, pissing them all off was a true art. He was proud his sulky teen-hood had trained him to be as big a pain in the butt as possible.
It was a nice day. What a shock! Because every day was hot and sunny, with cloudless blue skies and stunning sunsets. It was pretty at first, then slid over to mundane, and lately, since Aiden had been gone, he just found it supremely irritating. He wished the sky had a face, so he could punch it.
As it was, he was just wandering around what had been the old resort, the tourist trap that existed here before violent weather and an earthquake or two sent all the fat white people running. Not that there was anything to see. The buildings, if intact, were empty shells, housing rodents and various island fauna. All the good stuff had been looted or destroyed ages ago. He thought if Eidolon were really serious about building the island up, they could open the old resort as the Tourist Trap Ghost Town and make some fast cash.
He found a rusted shed near the cracked, cavernous hole he took to be the location of a former swimming pool. Some of the tile was still intact, little flashes of white like bone beneath black soil. That just added a nice creep factor to the whole ghost town thing. Scatter some rubber skulls around, and you’d have a built-in Halloween party spot.
The accompanying chain and padlock were even more rusted than the door, suggesting cheaper materials. If he yanked really hard, he could probably break it, but he was in the mood to test out his skills. He used a couple of small picks and got the rusty padlock open in no time – definitely cheap – and the chain fell apart as he pulled it through the handles.
Inside, he could see why no one had ever bothered to break into the shed. There were skimmers, a net, the strong smell of chlorine, a couple of lawn implements. Nothing valuable, nothing of much use here. Still, he grabbed one of the skimmers and shouted over his shoulder, “Hey, wanna scoop? We could go corral some sheep to ride and have ourselves a joust.” Someone was following him, had been since he left Eidolon’s base, and they were about as quiet as you could be out here. Which meant not at all. Tailing people was for urban centers, not islands with too many damn leaves.
His shadow stepped out from the side of the main building, and almost instantly blocked out the sun. Great, they sent King Kong after him. “They sent you to tail me? What, were they out of tanks?”
“I’m just supposed to make sure you don’t get into any trouble,” the big man replied, lounging against the door jamb.
Flynn smirked. “Really? So where’s the tranquilizer darts and sap full of buckshot?”
The big man looked kinda sheepish. “Huh? Sap full of buckshot? Sorry, you lost me there.”
“A sap. It’s a … thing, and you hit people with it. Ever see any Ray Milland movies?”
“No, but as it so happens my name is Ray, Ray Bullivant.” He offered his hand out to shake.
Flynn looked at the man’s extended paw, and wondered if he’d find it funny if he held out the pool scoop. Maybe not. Still, he made no move to shake his hand. “Not Lenny? Wow. So, how long have you been working for the evil empire? And what did you do to get this shit assignment tailing me?”
Ray put his hand in his pocket and pretended that’s where he meant to put it all along. “Gideon said to watch the punk and make sure he doesn’t kill himself. You’re not meant to be in here.” He knew he was stating the bleeding obvious, but hey, he liked watching to see what the kid would do or say next. It was better than watching Harry fiddle with his radios all day, and there are just so many games of cricket you can have with only five people.
“Oh, why? Are they worried I’m going to start cleaning everyone’s pools without the authority to do so? Well, slap my hand and take away my birthday, ‘cause I feel like skimmin’.” Flynn tossed the scoop back inside the shed and kicked the door shut. They should have named this place Tedium Island.
Ray straightened and stepped back as the young man strolled past him. “What’s with the Lenny jibe? I didn’t get that one.”
Flynn looked back at the guy. He was honestly built like a refrigerator; his shoulders were square and everything. “If I said “Tell me about the rabbits, George”, would that help?
“Nope.” Ray grinned and lounged after him with his hands in his pockets. What was this kid on?!
Flynn shook his head. He was Lenny! Holy shit. He better warn the womenfolk. “It’s a sitcom reference. Laverne and Shirley. But you’re not American, are you? You wouldn’t know.” Flynn headed back into the trees, wondering if pirates ever washed up here and buried treasure in the sand or volcanic soil. It’d be cool to come across a two hundred year old bottle of rum, or a syphilis encrusted skull.
“Nope, I may be a tank, but I’m not a Yank.” Ray chuckled at the look on Flynn’s face at his sick joke. American sitcoms sucked but then so did British soaps. No wonder he never watched them! The silly git wasn’t even looking where he was going. Ray threw himself into the air and landed on top of Flynn, squashing him into the ground. He rolled off and sat there grinning at the look of astonishment on the young man’s face. “Careful.”
Flynn glared at the big ox. “What the fuck, Fridge? You ain’t even my type. What the fuck’s your problem?”
Ray brushed off his hands and scrambled to his feet. He held out a hand to help Flynn up. “There’s a hole there. A big one.” Someone had removed the barrier they’d erected. Who the fuck would have done that?
“A guy once used that line on me at The Cock, and it didn’t work then either.”
Ray backed away. The ground under his feet didn’t feel too secure. He lay down again and edged forward on his stomach. The sides were already crumbling around the edge of the eight foot deep pit.“That’s where we rescued your mate, Gil.”
“Doctor Feelgood? I think he’d object to being called my mate.”
“Not feeling too good yourself, eh, Doc? Lost your other mate?” Ray had been tailing Flynn ever since the teacher left, and if the young man kicked at any more stones, his shoes would get a hole in them.
“Why, you wanna submit a resume? Or, wait, are you writing my biography? ‘Cause, if you are, can you make me the son of a boot black? That’d be awesome.” Flynn looked down at the hole, and that was all it was, just a hole. Leave it to pretty boy Feelgood to somehow get trapped in it. What a pussy.
“I’ll be back.” Ray scrambled up and set off at a run in the other direction, back the way they’d come.
Flynn waved at the Fridge’s incredibly broad back. He must shop at whatever Big and Tall place existed in this hemisphere. “Sayonara. Write if you get work!” Flynn turned and continued walking amongst the trees, avoiding the Pit of Dumb where Feelgood nearly killed himself. He must have had a big dick, because what else could Jude have ever seen in him?
Moments later Ray returned with one of the pool skimmers in his hand. “Why would you want to be the son of a boot black?”
Wow. Flynn was starting to like this guy, because he was like the human equivalent of a ten second delay button. “Sounds cool. Flynn Bootblacker. Besides, no one would believe astronaut.” He noticed Ray was holding one of the scoops. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Going fishing.” Ray got hold of the business end and started poking it at the hole. “Wouldn’t you be Flynn Bootblackson?”
“That would be Bootblackerson, thank you very much. And what are you fishing for, land sharks? You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Flynn hummed the Jaws theme.
“If you stop wandering around like a lost sheep, I can show you. But I can’t be in two places at once.” Ray placed the net end over Flynn’s head. “Nearly as good as a shepherd’s crook,” he said and yanked him back towards the pit.
Flynn grabbed the scoop and pulled it off. “Hey, Lenny, I’m not a fish! Just knock it the fuck off.”
Ray laughed at the look of outrage on the kid’s face. “Oops, sorry Flynn Astronut.” He walked back to the pit they’d come from, dropped to his stomach and wormed his way toward the hole. Once there, lying full length on the ground, he used the scoop to systematically scrape the sides, letting the head drop down to the full depth then angling it slightly before working the handle up through his hands. After each pass, he edged his way sideways so he could check the next area. After repeating the action a few times, sure enough, a soft click sounded, followed by the impact of a short spear embedding itself in the skimmer’s mesh. “Gotcha.” Ray drew up the net and inspected his catch.
Flynn was tempted to kick Lenny in the ass and send him falling down the hole, but he’d probably have to help pull him out afterwards, and he just bet he’d pull a groin muscle. “What is it, Manta Ray?”
“Another of those lethal little buggers that nearly killed your not-my-mate, Gil.” Ray edged away from the hole and sat cross legged, turning the scoop around so he could see it. “The thing is, now we have a problem, because this-here-thingy shouldn’t be there. Someone has reset the trap and removed the barriers we’d erected to keep idiots like you away.”
“Idiot? If that isn’t the Kong calling the gorilla ape, I don’t know what is.” Flynn tried to see what the Fridge was looking at, but it was just a small thing, like a rose thorn, but a bit longer.
“See these barbs?” Ray twisted the net around, so that Flynn could see it better. “They injected a poison of some sort. Gil’s heart stopped beating twice.”
“Talk to Eidolon. I’m sure they’re behind it.”
“Maybe, maybe not. I’ll check with Gideon first. In the meantime, try to keep your big gob shut for once, hey?”
Flynn crossed his arms over his chest. “Look, Fridge, you’re the one’s who been lecturing, not me, so keep your own fucking trap shut.”
“Speaking of traps, you don’t have a pair of gloves on you, do you?”
“Oh yeah, I shoved them up my butt for safe keeping. No, I don’t have gloves on me. Why?”
“I’m not touching that thing without them, and for all I know there could be more down there.” He turned and stared at the dark patch that just looked like part of the shadow of the tree. “As far as we could tell there’s nothing at the bottom anyway, so why rig up something like this?” Ray looked hopefully at the young man who was crouched down beside him. “I don’t suppose you would like to go back and fetch the other scoop for me?”
“Listen to yourself, Lenny. It’s a hole in the ground. Someone’s fucking with you. Probably Eidolon.”
“It still doesn’t explain why someone would booby-trap a hole with nothing in it. Unless they’re trying to catch heffalumps, of course.”
“I believe they only exist on Muppet Island.” Flynn had no idea what he was talking about and he didn’t care. He decided to leave Lenny to his hole scrying – which sounded so much filthier than it actually was – and wandered off into the trees, keeping an eye out for guano and any booby traps. Like there’d be any.
Damn. Where was Flynn off to now? “Do I have to bring bloody kiddy’s reins for you? Stop wandering off by yourself.” Ray carefully placed the pool skimmer against a tree and set off after the young man.
“I’m not one of your rabbits, Lenny. You can’t tell me what I can do,” Flynn shouted back, glancing over his shoulder. He didn’t care if the man was as big as a moose, he wasn’t going to take orders from him. Of course, he picked the wrong time to look back, because his foot caught on something, and he fell gut first onto the trunk of a fallen tree, his breath leaving him in a single grunt.
“Maybe I should grab one of the dog collars and chains. Unless of course Gideon brought his bondage gear with him. You’d look kinda sweet in a collar.” Ray picked up Flynn and threw him over his shoulder, giving his butt a pat at the same time.
Okay, that tore it. He’d indulged Fridge long enough. There wasn’t much you could do from a position like this, except grab the guy in a modified headlock, which he did, and then knee him in the face. They both went falling, but at least Flynn was expecting it. As soon as they hit the ground, he rolled away, and scrambled up onto the fallen tree trunk, which was surprisingly rough beneath his hands. “Jude’s paying you to be an ass to me, right?”
“Nah, I’m nobody’s ass, but you sure are cute when you get mad.” Ray rubbed his jaw and scrambled up into a crouch, warily watching the young man. “Now are you going to behave, or do I have to make you?”
“Oh my god. Are you actually flirting with me? Are you getting off on this, Lenny?” Flynn shook his head in disgust. “No molesto, comprende? I have a boyfriend, and he’s shit-loads more attractive than you.”
“Oh, now I’m mortally offended! Here I was thinking you must like me after calling me all those lovely names. I’m mortified. Mortified.” Ray put the back of his hand against his forehead and gave a loud sob. The young guy hadn’t moved. “Speaking of boyfriends, was yours the pretty boy with the dog? The one I saw climbing all over the carpenter they brought in to build the new school? Maybe he just liked him because he had a big tool….” Ray paused and grinned. “…belt.”
“You motherfucker,” Flynn snapped. Yeah, he was probably just saying that to get a rise out of him, but it worked. He dove off the log, aiming for the big lug’s almost non-existent throat. He felt the log shift beneath his feet, but didn’t think much about it.
“See, I knew you’d fall for me before too long.” The impact of the flying Flynn sent Ray reeling backwards. As he fell, Ray caught the young man in his arms and twisted so he was lying on top. “I may not watch soaps or sitcoms, but I do watch WWE!”
“All fake bullshit,” Flynn replied, driving his knee up into Fridge’s balls, and slamming his head into his face. It was a bad, bad headbutt. Namely because Flynn hit bone, not cartilage, and instantly saw stars. “Goddamn it!”
“Fuck.” Ray threw the smaller man off and curled up into a ball. The world spun and went white. He lay there for a while, fighting the nausea. Eventually he managed to sit up. “Next time, how about asking me politely to let go.”
“Fuck you; you started this,” Flynn replied, rubbing his forehead. Like that would help.
Ray gritted his teeth and swallowed a mouthful of bile back down. “Fine by me, there’s a hole over there.” Without turning, because that would be a bad idea, he pointed to the one he’d found
the barb in. “Feel free to fall down it whenever you like. Just don’t expect me to come rescue you.”
“I would rather stay in the hole,” Flynn said, sitting up. His head continued to throb, but it was his fault. He should have known the Fridge would have a head like granite.
“Yeah, best place for you. I could throw down bananas when you get hungry.”
“Racist,” Flynn said, and climbed unsteadily to his feet. As he was staggering to stay upright, he noticed a weird shadow on the ground. Or, wait – was it a shadow? He edged closer.
“Racist? How do you figure that one? Being cruel to dumb animals, maybe.” The stars finally cleared from Ray’s head long enough for him to notice that Flynn had gone again. Fuck. Why had he volunteered to play nursemaid for the brat? Rag or Clarkey could do it next time. He rolled over onto all fours and sat back on his haunches, steadying himself with his clenched fists so the ground didn’t slam into the back of his head.
“Hey. Mongo, get up. There’s another one of these hole thingies. And I think there’s something down at the bottom of this one.”
Ray took a deep breath. Getting to his feet did not seem a good option at the moment. He crawled over to where the young man was standing. The log he’d been on must have moved during their wrestling bout; instead of solid ground underneath, there was another pit. Ray reached into his pocket and drew out his cell.
“I don’t think 9-1-1 works out here, Lenny.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a smart-ass?” Ray flicked the cell on and pointed it at the hole. The illuminated surface acted like a torch, revealing that there was indeed something at the bottom. Some kind of door.
Flynn climbed down and started inspecting the structure. It was large and rectangular, metal, and he couldn’t see what it was attached to.
“What is it?” Ray tried to peer around Flynn’s figure, but he couldn’t see much, the light in the cell kept cutting off. That’s what you get when you had a 30 second cut off programmed in to conserve the battery.
“I think this is a blast door,” Flynn knocked on the hard surface, listening for sound. There was a dull thunk.
“How the fuck would you know what sort of door it is? You better not touch it, I’ll radio Gideon and see what he wants to do.” Ray pulled out the comms unit that linked him back to Harry and through him to his superior officer.
“Solid metal all the way through? It’d have to be a blast door, or maybe an industrial bomb shelter of some sort. And fuck Gideon.” Flynn eventually found a little hatch that slid aside, revealing a locking mechanism. It was a little rusted, but maybe he could get it open. He pulled his lockpick kit out of his boot, unrolled the fabric, and started going through his picks again, looking for the right sized ones for this job.
“What are you doing? I told you to leave it alone until we can get some back up. Anyway from the looks of things, it’s pretty old.” Ray tapped the radio and held it up to his ear. He should be getting some sort of signal by now. He turned it off and turned it on again to see if that helped. “Damn thing. I must have cracked it somehow when you flipped me over.”
“Yeah, blame me. You’re totally not at fault.” Goddamn, this one was a bitch. It felt like the lock was actively trying to fight him.
“Listen, mate. I told you not to fiddle with that thing. And where the fuck did you get those tools from?” Ray pulled Flynn’s arm to see what he was doing.
Flynn yanked his arm back, still fiddling with the mechanism. “Ebay, idiot.”
Ray grabbed his arm more firmly this time. “I don’t care whether it was Ebay and you had a special delivery via pelican this morning but, for once, do the fuck what you’re told. Wait until I run back to the resort and get a proper light and a couple of the other guys. Who knows who or what is in there? And how do we know the damn thing isn’t booby trapped? Don’t forget the entrance to this opening was hidden, so someone obviously didn’t want us to find it.”
“Yeah, I take orders from you,” Flynn said, chuckling at the thought. What universe was this guy from? It was then that he heard something inside the door, a sort of deep, muffled clunk. “Holy shit. Too late now, Auntie Em.”
Ray made another despairing grab as Flynn pushed on the door. Nothing happened. “See, it’s stuck. The bloody thing looks as old as the hills. It’s probably all rusted up.”
“Give me a hand, Mongo,” Flynn said, standing up and shoving on the door with all his might. It was loose in its track, he felt it give a bit. He reached down and grabbed his lockpicking kit before resuming the push, this time really putting his shoulder into it.
Ray grabbed Flynn and tried to swivel him around before the idiot could do anything really stupid like go into an unknown space with no back up, no fucking clue what was in there and break every rule of survival that he’d ever been taught. Gideon would have his guts for garters. The blackness beyond the opening made it impossible to see anything. He tried to twist Flynn around, using the edge of the door as leverage. As he did, he felt the wall move. Ray staggered back, as what he thought was solid moved along in a track behind him. Fuck. The damn thing was a sliding door. Flynn had activated one side, but his own action actually helped rather than hindered.
“Holy shit, do you smell that?” Flynn asked. “Somebody died in there.”
“Either that or you had something revolting for breakfast.” Ray sniffed warily. There was an unusual smell about the place. Not the newly dead smell, more a musty one with lingering overtones. “Even more reason to wait until I go back and get proper gear” He turned his cell on again, but the small light barely lit up the next few feet. From the way their voices echoed, the room or whatever they were in was a lot larger than that.
“Yeah, sunshine, you go and do that. Me? I’m gonna loot.” Flynn stepped inside the opening, squinting at the darkness. The floor felt like hard packed earth, and it seemed to have a steep gradient. Shit. He was sure he saw something up ahead though, something glass like. Did someone have a meth lab on the island? How Breaking Bad of them. A couple of inches on, though, he found some steps. Cool. No hand rail though. Did they not give a fuck about safety? Damn meth-heads.
“Fuck it, Flynn. Will you stop running off all the time.” Ray stood there for a second, poised in the open doorway. He was up shit creek no matter what he did. If he went back for help and anything happened to Flynn he’d be strung up by Gideon and that bitch, Sandra Pierce. Apparently the little punk was special for some weird reason. Beat him as to why. All he knew was they had to keep tabs on him. Monitor his behavior. At least if he stayed with him he’d have some hope of protecting his butt if the idiot got into trouble.
He took a cautious step away from the entrance. The door didn’t seem to be moving, he should be alright. Another two steps followed. Flynn was a fair way beneath him now.
“Yoink,” Flynn said, reaching up and snatching the cell out of Ray’s hand. “Go on, Lassie, go tell Aunt Rhodie I fell down a well. I’ll just be keeping this, so I can see where the steps end. Oh, and then I have to make a long distance call to Antarctica, to find out which way the water goes down their toilet. You understand.” Flynn quickly headed down the steps, out of Ray’s reach. The man might be big, but he moved like old people fucked: slow and sloppy.
Ray lunged for his cell, but Flynn managed to evade his grasp. He’d kill the little bastard. Smothering an oath, he started jumping down the stairs, two at a time. Damn. They must have been made for midgets; his size fifteens draped over the edges. He slipped off the edge of one and flailed his arms around, trying to regain his balance. Fuck. All he managed was a pretty solid encounter with his target’s back, knocking him over in the process. They fell together. Ray’s head making sharp contact with the edge of a step on at least two occasions. Finally, he landed on something solid, and soft…. ish.
“Fuck, Mongo, what are you made of?” Flynn carped, shoving the lummox off of him. “Damn it, you’re a five hundred pound side of beef in a two hundred pound bag.” Flynn stood up, pretty sure he pulled a muscle. Possibly his entire spine. Ow. Where the hell was the phone? It had been in his hand, but he was sure it had been jarred loose during the fall. He looked up the stairs, shocked by how steep and long they were. A grinding noise started up, like that Chevelle he had before its flywheel died for good. The light shining in the open doorway grew smaller and smaller, and then he saw the door slide shut with a final, ominous clunk. “Oh shit.”