RR#2.2 – Fire Down Below

played by Andrea Speed

Played by A.B. Gayle


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Flynn Archer and Ray Bullivant

March 16th, Mystery Island

Ray sprinted back up the stairs. Fuck! The damn door wouldn’t budge. He knew he shouldn’t have followed the idiot inside. When they got out, Gideon would slow roast him over a spit and make sure there was plenty of basting first. That’s assuming they could get out. From what he could feel, there was a lock on this side. The twin to the one Flynn had opened. No convenient key or illuminated “press here” type of sign, either. A little light on the situation would help. “Hey, can you bring me my cell?”

“News flash, dude – you just knocked me down the stairs. I think it’s probably in a million different pieces on the floor.”

Ray groaned and head-butted the door a few times. “ You’re not into smokin’ coffin fags, by any chance, are you?”

Flynn glared up at the slightly darker shadow of King Kong. “What the fuck are you doin’ askin’ me if I’m a necrophile now? You take too many hits to the head?”

Ray trudged back down the stairs as the American didn’t seem too interested in trying to help. “Cancer sticks? Matches? Cigarette lighter? Any of those ring a bell?”

“Now you’re just being a dickhead.” Flynn searched his pockets, and while he wasn’t a smoker anymore, he was pretty sure he had a lighter. Mainly, because he was entertaining ideas of a little arson. But King Kong didn’t need to know that. He found it and had to flick the lever twice before he got an anemic flame that barely lit up anything. It was like a teaspoon of moonlight in an ocean of night. “Where the fuck are we?”

“No, we’re not. According to Gideon, the Fukawi are a central African tribe. I’m British, and you’re a Yank.”

It took a while for the big side of beef to come down the stairs, and Flynn knew glaring at him was pointless, but when had that ever stopped him before? He was the king of the useless gesture. “What are you playing at?”

“Playing at? What’s got your knickers in a twist, Sunshine? You’re the one who insisted on breaking in here. I just wanted to get my phone back.” Ray felt around on the floor, but after finding five separate pieces, he gave up. If it had been a machine gun he would have the bloody thing together in a jiffy, but in the dark, it was almost impossible to work out why the stupid gadget didn’t fit back together again. The damn thing was definitely cactus..

“Yes, and you conveniently fell down the stairs, and got us both trapped in here. Funny how that works.”

“It was just your ass, mate, couldn’t resist it.” Ray pulled off his T-shirt.

“Hey – what the fuck are you stripping for? Does getting trapped make you horny or something?”

“Yeah, shame it’s so dark; your tongue would be hanging out if you could see my pecs.” Ray pulled his trusty hold-out knife from the sheath strapped to his ankle. The weapon had saved his bacon on more than one occasion. “Turn off the lighter, will ya. We need as much fuel as we can get.” Working by feel alone, Ray started cutting his shirt into long strips. “You know it’s funny. They give you all this training back in Dorset, on how to make your own torch; I’ve always wanted to see if it works.” He pulled out his Firesteel and waved it in Flynn’s general direction. “We can use the fuel from your lighter to make sure the material burns. That’s assuming you don’t burn it all up first.” Of course the silly git wouldn’t do anything as sensible as obeying a simple request, would he?

“Uh, dude, who said you were in charge? And when did you become Bear Grylls or some shit?” Flynn walked away from King Kong and started feeling his way around, as the lighter wasn’t great illumination. He walked until he just about hit a wall.

“Bear Grylls? That arsehole couldn’t find his way out of swamp without his camera crew and rescue team helping him.” Ray laid two of the strips down and started hacking at the material to create a third. Each cut nearly made him cry. Of course, today of all days, he’d donned his favorite T-shirt with the dagger-head dragon on it.

“Exactly,” Flynn said, wondering if King Kong would get the implication. Maybe not. But what was he after? First following him, now trapping him in this … whatever. What was he playing at? Did he expect him to buy this innocent act? “And why are you ripping up your phallic Ed Hardy shirt? You’re gonna make the douchebags cry.”

“What’s wrong with the shirt? At least it’s not red like yours. You should never wear that colour you know. Haven’t you ever noticed that in movies, it’s always the guy in red who dies?”

“Wow, clumsy pass much, Kong?” Flynn nearly stubbed his toe on something. What was this? It almost looked like a counter top of some sort, flush with the wall. “And don’t you dare insult my Burn Shit Down t-shirt! It’s about all I have left of my old life.” Well, there was also Aiden, but even he wasn’t here now.

Ray could just about make out the words on the other guy’s shirt now his eyes were growing accustomed to the gloom. The logo said: Fuck politics, I just want to burn shit down. He snorted to himself. He hadn’t paid much attention above ground, more intent on making sure the guy didn’t kill himself. “Hey, maybe we should have used your shirt, instead.”

“It says burn shit, not burn shirt. And why the fuck are you doing that anyways? You’re acting like a crazy person.”

“Nah, I’m not. Acting, that is. At least, that’s what Gideon says when anyone makes that kind of remark. He always stands up for me.” Another long strip joined its brethren on the pile. Ray started cutting the next one. “It’s dark down here. Right? We need light. Me cut up shirt. Make torch. Pour on lighter fluid. Light it with my Firesteel and Bob’s your uncle.” At least, that’s what the instructor said, though Ray’s uncle’s name was Fred.

“Is this in case we get attacked by zombies or rogue Frankensteins, you’ll be good to go?”

Ray ignored the annoying little git. “All I need now is a long piece of wood for the handle.” Usually, they suggested to break off a branch or something, unfortunately he hadn’t thought to bring one with him. Just as well. If he had, he would probably have bashed Flynn over the head with it by now. “Noticed any Quidditch sticks lying around? Brooms?”

“Have you checked up your ass, Harry Potter?”  Flynn groped around blindly, mostly ignoring Crazy Ray. But where did this thing in the wall go?

Ray twisted around to replace his knife and caught sight of a dark shape on the floor, only a few feet behind him. “Hang on. Look what I found.”  Some straight lengths of timber were piled in a heap. “Magic.” The wood appeared to be pretty old, easily snapping into a useable length when he stepped on it. Ray started winding the strips around the top as tightly as he could, sticking his tongue out of his mouth as he worked. He really should get out of that habit, but it helped him concentrate. “It’ll be good for vampires, too.”

“I thought that was garlic. Got some of that in your fanny pack too, MacGyver?”

“No, but I can use my shoelace to form a cross out of the remaining wood if you like.” There that did it. Ray tucked the ends of the strips in as tightly as he could and gave the torch an experimental shake to make sure the bloody thing didn’t unravel on him. “Can I have your cigarette lighter now?”

“Sure.” It wasn’t doing him much good anyways. As he flung it at Ray, he added, “If your hair catches on fire, I’ll stamp it out.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time someone applied their boot to my head,” Ray muttered to himself as he worked the top off Flynn’s lighter, and carefully poured the fuel on the wadded up material. A quick flick of the Firesteel and the surrounding blackness suddenly lit up as the torch caught alight. “Wow, it actually works.”

Flynn felt something beneath his hand. A button? He thought so, and to confirm it, he pressed it. There was a slight hum, and lights flickered on over their heads.

Blinking at the sudden illumination, Flynn looked at Ray and his little torch. He did a Frankenstein grunt, and said, “Fire bad!”

“Fuck.” Ray’s gaze switched from the blazing remains of his best T-shirt to the lights overhead. “Fire definitely bad. Oh, well, maybe we might meet some Ringwraiths.”

“You tell me, Hobbit. That’s more your piece of Middle Earth than mine.” Flynn finally got a look at the counter top. It was actually some kind of control panel, although most of the dials were broken, glass cracked, and buried in cobwebs and dust.

Ray headed off in the opposite direction, holding his torch aloft. He didn’t need its light any longer, but it was the principle of the thing. He always felt more secure with some sort of weapon in his hand. “It was Aragorn. Not the hobbits.” As far as he was concerned, the best part of the film was the bit where the Ranger jumped in to save them, brandishing the flaming branch to disperse the evil dead. And, speaking of Lord of the Rings, given the amount of webs he’d spotted near where Flynn was standing, there could even be a giant spider here.

“More like Arrogant, I think,” Flynn looked around what seemed to be some kind of cavern transformed into … what exactly? Some weird ass lab? “What the fuck is this?”

“I don’t know, you tell me.” Ray scratched his chest. At least he was still wearing his trusty Chesty Bond singlet that his aunty sent out from Australia. He’d die if anything happened to that. This place gave him the creeps. It wasn’t as if they were trapped below ground in a coffin or anything. The room or cave or whatever it was, must be at least thirty foot square.

“You’d think there’d be a button labelled “door” or something,” Flynn muttered, randomly pressing a few buttons. Some of them clearly didn’t work. None of them appeared marked in any way he could discern.

Ray retraced his steps and scanned the panel. “Careful, with your luck, one of those could set off anything. I’m going to get some back-up. You never know what could be down here. Remember those guys who opened the tombs in the pyramids? They all came down with some mysterious illness. Maybe this place is cursed.”

“Oh, is that what the torch is for? You’re afraid of mummies? Don’t worry, they’re even slower than zombies. And they look kinda flammable. I bet they smell like old beef jerky and sweat socks.”

“Yeah, if there are any mummies around, I suppose I could always unwrap them and use the bandages to make another torch.” Ray sighed. If there had been a mummy here, he needn’t have destroyed his favourite shirt. “Anyway, at least there’s enough wood.” He kicked the broken pieces of timber around. “At some stage, these must have formed a railing at the edge of the steps.” Now he could see better, their original purpose looked a lot more obvious. Ray climbed back up toward the door. He really needed to get Gideon and Rag down here. They were the brains of the outfit. He just supplied the brawn. “Hey, wunderkid, can you get your arse up here, and put your tool to a good purpose for a change?”

“Again with the come ons. Jesus, Kong, it ain’t happening. Get over yourself.”

“I need you to open the door. Jeez, mate, what did you think I meant?”

It was a long climb, and once he reached the top he was tired. Goddamn, maybe falling back down was just the thing. Flynn crouched down and examined the lock. A bit different from outside, wasn’t it? He wasn’t sure how until he inserted a pick and felt something that shouldn’t have been there. “Fuck me. Dude, this lock is broken.”

“Huh,” Ray leaned over, to get a better look at what Flynn  was doing. “Are you sure?”

“Hey, Mongo, if you set my head on fire, I’m fucking suing you for everything you got.” Flynn shoved away Ray’s arm holding the stupid burning shirt. You could almost smell all those frat boys crying at the loss of an Ed Hardy. “And, yeah, I’m fucking sure. Locks are my thing, if you haven’t noticed.”

“Okay, okay. I was just trying to help.” Ray set off back down the stairs. “I think I saw an opening in the back wall. Maybe there’s another way out.”

“Well, we don’t seem to have a lot of options this way, unless you can shove your bulk through a metal door.” Solid core too. Flynn really did wonder if this was a blast door. It didn’t really make sense, as an explosion of any size would probably send the roof crashing down, but maybe the door was made to keep something in. Oh, he so didn’t want to think about what that could be right now. “Wait at the bottom, Kong. If I fall, I want something pillowy to land on.”

Ray pounded his chest like a gorilla. “Nothing pillowy about these pecs, mate. I do push ups every day.” He waited at the bottom of the steps, anyway, just in case the guy did trip or something. With the railing gone, they did look a bit steep.

Flynn followed Ray as he headed for whatever he thought he saw. Flynn was hoping for a fire door with a big neon “Exit” sign over it, but no such luck. There were some benches in the middle of the room. glittering with a rime of broken glass, and one wall seemed to have some sort of tank leaning hapharzadly against it. The sides of the glass were all a putrid shade of green. The only good thing he could say was that it was too shallow to house any decent sized mega-gators or sharktopuses. For a moment there, he’d wondered if they’d stumbled into some sort of underground aquarium. The water in the tank had long since evaporated, leaving what looked like scummy rock covered by shells of some sort. But if they were shells they looked they’d been taking steroids. The fucking things were at least two inches high.”Did Rapid Toke used to have a water park or something? Have we found the lost aquarium of Rapper’s Token?”

“Or maybe it’s Barbossa’s bath? If it is, he needs a good dose of shock treatment.” There could be some stuff back in the swimming pool shed. “Nah. Nothing interesting here.” Ray poked at what looked like a pile of garbage up one end of the twenty foot long tank. A few of the shells moved slightly as his finger depressed the surface. “Yikes, I thought this was all rock. There’s something under here.”

“If it’s a face hugger, you’re on your own.”

“Face hugger?”

“You know, Alien? Oh, god, don’t tell me you don’t know what Alien is.”

“Sure I do, but I was too busy checking out Ripley’s tits to worry about any creepy crawly. Speaking of which, this thing really stinks. Did you notice that?” Ray gave the pile of rubbish another prod.

“C’mon face hugger,” Flynn urged, looking closer at the pile. Hey, was that a stick? “Dude, is that – oh, christ, it’s an arm.”

Ray put the burning torch closer. “Nah, couldn’t be an arm, it’s all black and… Hang on, I’m just going to get something.” One of the remaining pieces of wood on the ground was only a couple of feet long. That would do. “Here, use this.”

“Fuck you, I’m not touching that! I’ve already done my share of severed limb finding.”

Ray poked the end of his torch into the gap between the tank and the wall. Using the piece of railing, he carefully levered up the section of… something… that stuck out from the solid mass lying on the bottom of the tank. “I don’t think there’s anything severed about this, it seems pretty firmly attached to the rest of the body.”

Flynn made a noise of disgust. “Is it bad karma? Why do I keep stumbling across dead bodies?”

“Well, strictly speaking, you didn’t stumble across it, it’s in a tank. Do you think he went to sleep in the bath and drowned?”

“When have you ever seen a glass bathtub? This is a tank for piranha or something.” Flynn frowned at what he just said. “There aren’t any piranha around here, are there?”

“No, they’re only found in Africa. Gideon told me that when we were on this hush hush mission in Colombia, and had to wade through all these rivers, looking for hostages. Anyway, if there were any piranha in here, he’d just be a skeleton, wouldn’t he? But this guy seems to have all of his flesh intact… or most of it anyway.”  Ray prodded a piece that fell off with one of the shells attached. “Weird barnacles.”

“That’s not a barnacle. I don’t know what it is, though. Some kinda sea creature.” Flynn shook his head, and said, “This reek is gonna make me barf. Where is this way out you supposedly saw?”

“Over there.” Ray retrieved the torch and headed across to the dark shadow in the middle of the far wall. “We better not touch anything until the experts arrive. Don’t want to ruin the evidence. Pity we haven’t got a piece of chalk or some tape to say, Keep Away.”

“Yeah, ‘cause this place is such a hotbed of activity,” Flynn said, rolling his eyes. ”Lead on, McGruff.” And it fit Ray perfectly, because if anyone was a crime dog, it was him. Whatever that meant. Wow, where was his head lately? Flynn was pretty sure he couldn’t be senile yet, but he just kept getting the weirdest feeling he was losing his mind.

Well, what better place to do it in than a place where no one could hear you scream?

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RR#2.1 – King Kong vs The Smart Ass

played by Andrea Speed

played by A.B.Gayle

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.”

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RR#38: Building Bridges

Gideon Sterling, Miles Sutherland and Lucas

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Evening February 12th Rapatoka Island

Gideon yawned, stretched, ran a hand through his hair and scratched his scalp. God, what a bugger’s muddle of a day, he thought, glancing at the clock to see it was knocking on for 20:30, and he still hadn’t finished the reports. After his coffee in the afternoon with Lyle, they had parted on amicable terms, although Gideon was far from relaxed around that man these days. Lyle had a subtle sexuality that enticed, and Gideon had to admit a burning curiosity to experience that for himself. He really didn’t care about the man’s transgendered state. Gideon took folks as he found them, always providing they did the same with him and had no designs on putting a ring on his finger. If they were offering then Gideon didn’t mind taking, as long as what was on offer was acceptable to both sides—no strings, no ties, no permanency.

He got to his feet and stretched again, wondering about finding something to eat. He didn’t fancy anything the restaurant might offer. He eyed the bottom drawer of his desk. Maybe the solution in there was a better alternative? He really needed to get Miles and Gil back to Mystery. He needed their expertise, their no-nonsense pragmatism, and Miles needed to take some responsibility for that damn dog of his. It was his decision to bring the mutt, the little bugger should be under his supervision instead of getting under Aggie’s feet. Continue reading

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RR#37: Duty First

Gideon Sterling, Lyle Tate (and a few others who get in Gideon’s way…)

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 Mystery Island, 12th February

“Good morning, Mr Sterling.” As always Sandra Pierce never failed to address him with slight emphasis on the mister, as if to remind him he held no military rank here on Mystery. He forced a smile and offered her a seat.

“Ms Pierce. Always a pleasure. How are you this morning?”

“As you ask, I have to say I’m disappointed that things are not moving faster. The ship is delayed and the builders seem to be on a go-slow….” He tuned her out as she sat there listing her grievances. He might challenge her one day to find something she actually liked, if only to prove she wasn’t the cold-hearted insensitive ice-queen he thought she was. Then again, he’d better not hold his breath. In his opinion Narnia had gotten the better deal. Continue reading

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RR#36: Sex on the Beach

Miles Sutherland, Carter (Gil) Gillespie

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5th February, Rapatoka Island

Miles raised his eyebrows at Gil’s request. “Okay.” He shrugged and ambled back along the path to the small building that served as the island’s “hospital” and retrieved Gil’s bag as quietly as he could. It was heavier than he expected and banged against his shins as he jogged back down to the beach. “Is this what you want?”

“Careful…” Gil took it from him and placed it on the table, loosening the buckles and rummaging inside. “I have something for you. Maybe now is the time you need them…” He brought out the small bundles one at a time. He had managed to re-wrap them more carefully in bubble wrap and paper while they were on the plane. Continue reading

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RR #35: Stripping Bare

Miles Sutherland, Carter (Gil) Gillespie

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5th February, Rapatoka Island

But unless we start somewhere, we can kiss any future we have together goodbye right now….

Gil’s challenge rattled around in Miles brain. No, he wasn’t ready to kiss any future with the young man goodbye, not by a long shot. Gil wanted an explanation for his actions, his desertion, but where should he start? Usually his treasured memories, stored as vivid pictures and sounds, were too painful to put into words, but tonight Miles found his sentences formed easily, almost as if those experiences belonged to another person. Perhaps the cool onshore breeze and the gentle lapping of the wind-driven waves helped soothe his soul, or maybe it was just the calm presence of Gil, sitting beside him on the table overlooking the lagoon.

Taking a deep breath, he told Gil everything. It all spilled out, about how he met Darren at an island just like this when they were teenagers, how even though they lived in different countries, they virtually grew up together, meeting annually during shared family vacations, and corresponding via letters and then later emails, sharing every thought, every dream. Continue reading

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RR #34: On the Mend

Miles Sutherland, Carter (Gil) Gillespie

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5th February, Rapatoka Island

Miles stared at Gil’s sleeping form in the hospital bed. A lone beam of moonlight shone in through the open window, caressing his face, allowing Miles to see him clearly. Neither of them had haircuts since leaving Haven Falls, and Gil’s was now much longer than it had been. A lock of hair had fallen over his eyes. Miles’ fingers itched to smooth it away, but he knew that if he did, he wouldn’t be able to stop there, he’d want to touch Gil all over. Make love to him again, but this time, slower and more carefully. I should leave him to sleep, Miles thought, go to bed myself. At last everyone else had, and the hospital for once was quiet. No Caroline issuing instructions, no Lucas chattering ten to the dozen. Continue reading

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RR #33: Second Chances

Carter (Gil) Gillespie, Miles Sutherland _________________________________________________

29th Jan, Rapatoka Island

When Gil woke again the room was in darkness, a single storm lantern throwing a pool of light onto the side table next to the bed that Miles had claimed. A lump in the bed next door was all he could make out of Caroline. She was asleep, motionless. The others–Gideon and Ragnar–had gone, presumably back to Mystery. They had headed off as soon as the storm had petered out and their colleague had come over in the inflatable. Gil had drifted fitfully in and out of sleep all day.  Darkness had fallen again and with it’s arrival the rain had begun again, lighter than before but still annoying. It drummed on the roof to keep him awake. Continue reading

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RR #32: Waking Up is Hard to Do

Gideon Sterling, Ragnar Bjornson, Miles Sutherland and Carter ‘Gil’ Gillespie

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Late night/early morning,  27/28th Jan, Rapatoka

“What’s your prognosis, Doc? Are you going to survive?” Gideon’s quiet enquiry broke into the silence that had fallen as they finished clearing up.

Miles straightened and rubbed the back of his neck.

“You look wiped out.”

Miles flinched as a warm heavy hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed gently. “I’ll live,” His voice was a harsh rasp. He needed a drink. “Been there, done that, as they say.” He sighed, unwanted memories dredging up again. He shoved them ruthlessly away before they could drown him. He still had work to do. Abruptly, reaction set in and he started to shake. Gideon had an arm around him before his legs gave out, and he was guided to a bed. Continue reading

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RR#31: Bugging Out

Lyle Ashley Tate, Harry Garvey, Amanda ‘Mindy’ Masterson

and introducing Agnetha Jackson-Grey

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Early afternoon, 27th January, Mystery Island

Harry stood back and surveyed the room appreciatively. Everything was in place, to his and Lyle’s satisfaction. Now all they needed to do was finish positioning all the cameras and the network was done until they received the final consignment. The only worrying thing was identifying what was blocking their comms signals. If they could find that, then they were home and dry.

“Just wish I knew what it was,” he had said to Lyle when the man had come back from seeing his injured friend off. Lyle had looked subdued and Harry tried to take his mind off it by turning the discussion onto the cause of the signal damper.

“Well I suppose it could be someone intercepting the signal, or it could be more localised interference. Not really my forte.”

“If we don’t find it, it’s going to play havoc with our signals. We should maybe look at getting more equipment in to dampen the effect…?” Harry was failing in his aim to divert Lyle’s thoughts; the man was too preoccupied. “I’m sure he’ll be okay, you know. If they’ve found the doctor…” Continue reading

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