Tuesday, September 25, 2007

ISLAND MACABRE: Episode 4 - "The Amscray Train Out of Deadsville"

Before returning to Jetwash (aka Mr. Melee), my epic space opera conserning a disbanded group of misfit fighter pilots, I'm posting another Island Macabre story that Scott's been pressuring me to finish. As it stands there are only three more episodes left. Or at least that's what I've outlined. It's possible if I figure out the structure that I could morph this into a screenplay, but that's later down the line.

Yes, this episode was once titled Wake Up Undead. It was a reference that only people who listened to Megadeth would get from their tune, Wake Up Dead. But I changed it to make it more accessible... and yet it still happens to be vague. Avast, here be The Amscray Train Out of Deadsville.

ISLAND MACABRE: Episode 4 - "The Amscray Train Out of Deadsville"

Orion takes a fire extinguisher and smashes open a cold drink vending machine.

"Honeycomb, start takin' some of the professor's booty out to Temba." Rooke runs past Teach who hands her a bag of first aid equipment. "Professor, snatch up some foodstuffs."

Teach sprints over to the snack machines where two bodies are slumped over a table. He goes to a corpse and lifts his wallet and feeds the machine. He's proud of his ingenuity, but the machine rejects his bill.

Rooke tosses the phone book, map and bag of first aid gear in the Rover. Her laptop is secured in a shoulder bag wrapped around her. She hears a symphony of nocturnal chaos and mayhem conducted by Shanghai Mars and his pirates. Motorcycles zip around the streets, but none of them are close enough to worry about. Her eyes scan the streets while backing into the hospital.

"Professor!" Orion sees Teach trying to flatten out a bill. "What in Valhalla are you doin'?"

"It won't take my bill."

Orion picks up a chair and smashes in the candy bar vending machine glass.

"Say," Teach starts, "I'm quite craving one of these Rubens."

"Those sandwiches have been in there for a year or longer, Professor. You sure you really want some of that?"

"It's just that the sugar sticks to my teeth."

Rooke walks in as Orion hands her a bag of cold drinks. "Shanghai Mars and his guys are running around out there."

Orion nods, "I say we cut our losses and take the first Amscray Train outta Deadsville." Orion and Rooke are about to leave, but Teach hesitates. Orion double-takes, "That means we're gettin' the fuck outta here, Professor."

"Oh. Quite right. You have a delicious way of expressing yourself, Captain."

Orion and Teach are the first out the door and stuffing bags into the Rover. Teach packs down a bag when Orion notices something out of the corner of his eye. Orion slowly pulls himself out of the Rover seeing Rooke with a blade to her throat. She gulps as the golden-tooth grin of Shanghai Mars creeps up from behind her shoulder.

"All fuckers hoay!" Shanghai Mars shouts.

The pirates' motorcycle headlights beam on pointing right at the Rover. Teach and Orion are blinded by tens of lights.

"Well I be cornfucked." Shanghai Mars starts, "If ain't it be the gratin' Orion Shamblerock." Shanghai Mars throws Rooke aside towards one of his men. "Nice little dungbie on this here fine wench." Shanghai Mars walks up to Orion.

"Didn't think you and your scurvy boys made it past the pin worms," Orion says.

"I must say," Shanghai Mars says with a bit of a swagger, "that was quite silly little thing." He presses his grimy nose against Orion's. "Don't suppose you be scavengin' for the old shogun's treasure."

"How do you fit into all this?" Orion asks. "Following me way out here is pretty huge. Probably one of the stupidest moves you coulda made. You might as well waited till I got back to the Dum Dum Club and jacked me there. Saved yourself a lot of trouble."

"Me ancestry be goin' back a bit. That treasure be hornswaggled from me great, great, great, great grandfolk by the shogun and his samurai scum. Now that he be dead, we be gettin' dibs on the claim, aye."

"Are you sure the old folks didn't drop the booty when they saw those pin worms coming outta the canyon and ran back to the ship?"

"I ain't got a single speck of yella in me line!"

"If the jaundice fits." Orion thinks about it. "Wait. Do you even know what the treasure is? There's no treasure. We're on an archeological dig of scientific proportions."

Shanghai Mars presses the barrel of a Desert Eagle under Orion's chin and gravels softly, "Where be the map?"

Orion raises his hands holding the map between two fingers. "Take it easy with that pig iron."

Shanghai Mars snatches the map looking at Orion cock-eyed. "Avast, ye fucker. If this be a sham, the wench's breakfast be spillin' on the ground. And ye be sportin' the one-second lobotomy."

"You don't need the woman, Shanghai Mars."

"The wench ain't me type." Shanghai Mars lets out a piercing whistle. Rooke is shoved into the light. "They be an ass-pain to lug around."

Shanghai Mars backs behind the ring of motorcycles chuckling.

Orion feigns a grin and throws his thumb up.

From beyond the lights Shanghai Mars yells, "Drop 'em!" The pirates' weapons begin to lock and load when one of the pirates shrieks in terror. All lights turn to Orion's big, black symbiote shoving its fingers into the top of the pirates' mouth and snapping the head right off.

Orion, Teach and Rooke sprint back into the hospital. Orion snatches the map from a distracted Shanghai Mars.

Shanghai Mars and his pirates blast away at the creature. It roars taking a couple hits.

Teach and Rooke round one of the corners when Orion lurches and drops to the floor. He slides leaving a bloody streak. They stop to check him. He's got a couple of bullet holes in his body. Teach puts pressure on his chest wound. "He's been shot… again."

"They were shooting at the symbiote." Rooke says. "They psychically and physically reciprocate each other's wounds."

The creature hops on to the overhang of the Emergency Room and disappears on to the roof.

Shanghai Mars and his pirates look around and see that the juggernaut is gone. Shanghai Mars finally realizes that he's missing the map. "Orion!" He turns to two pirates. One on a Ninja and another on a Ducati. "Ninja, Ducati, after yay map-jackers!"

Rooke and Teach help the hobbling Orion along the hallway. Teach stops at a hospital directory placard. He presses his blood-soaked finger against the "You are Here" arrow and runs it along the corridor to a second floor exit. "The closest exit is on the second floor in the parking garage."

Two pirates' motorcycles zoom and screech around a corner presumably following Orion's blood trail. They all stagger toward stairwell door and head up.

The hospital PA system suddenly clicks on. "Well I'll be fucked sideways!" Shanghai Mars says over the intercom. "Whatever the Hell that be."

As Teach, Orion and Rooke bust through to the second floor, the motorcycles zoom by on the first floor.

On the first floor the two pirates screech to a halt.

Shanghai Mars flips around the security booth monitors watching Orion and company make their way down the hall. He holds the intercom to his mouth, "That thing be about as black as the night itself. Ye scallywags best be not makin' for the roof. That where it be now."

Ninja stops at the blood-streaked directory noticing their destination smeared in moist blood. He also sees that the blood speckles on the floor lead to the stairwell corridor.

Ninja rumbles up the stairs busting through the second floor door. The pirate sees the blood trail, pops a wheelie and zooms after them.

Shanghai Mars fumbles around the CD collection. "Here be somethin' for ye dyin' pleasure. Die to the gleeful melody of new J-pop sensation of…" He squints and then sounds it out. "Nam…mie… A…mur… o." He slaps it into the CD changer as the upbeat pop music of Namie Amuro's Body Feels Exit.

The juggernaut creature stands on the roof of the hospital reaching for the moon. As its body begins to repair itself the pirates' bullets begin to squeeze out of his body as it roars. One bullet falls out while another in its chest struggles.

Orion thrashes forcing him to his knees yelping in pain. His teeth grind. "Go on without me! I'm just slowin' ya down!"

"We are not leaving you here, Captain." Teach says with all the British chivalry he can muster.

"If I'm gonna die like a bitch in his knees then let it be so others could live." Orion grabs his chest spitting up blood and looks up at the fluorescent lights, "Come and get me, Odin. Come get me, you little girl!"

Teach grabs his mouth to cover up a staggered gasp, but his eyes water. He gulps and gets himself together and balls up his bony fists, "We shall not leave such valor unaided!"

Ninja screeches around the corner with his machine-gun drawn.

Orion whips out his Swiss Army knife, unfolding a 2-inch blade and turns to Ninja. Orion's eyes are crazy wild with his teeth gnashed due to him using whatever strength he's got left to protect Rooke and Teach. His tiny Swiss Army knife shimmers in the light. "Come get your dinner, missy! Come and get your shanks!"

Ninja grins. The motorcycle speeds toward Orion.

The juggernaut growls in pain as the bullet shoots from his body while a ribbon of blood spurts from Orion's chest splashing into Ninja's eyes. The pirate loses control of the bike and crashes. Ninja slides head-first to Orion's feet.

Orion falls to his knees exhausted. He pats his bullet wounds. He's a bit surprised the pain is gone.

From behind Rooke sees Orion slump forward. Her eyes well up. Thinking this is the last of the great Orion Shamblerock. She sniffles as he turns to Rooke and Teach, "I feel better."

Rooke's jaw drops and Orion catches it. "Were those tears for me, Honeycomb?"

"They were for you when I thought you were dead."

Orion wobbles to his feet saying, "Those tears deserve a kiss." Rooke walks away. "Hey, Honeycomb, there ain't nothin' sweeter than tears and whiskey."

Shanghai Mars storms out of the security booth and into the waiting room. His pirates lounge around watching a blue screen on the TV. He takes a deep breath looking for someone to yell at, but they're all beat the fuck up. He finds one of his men's head knocked back against a chair with mouth agape. He walks over snatching up an M-60 and blasts away at the TV. A line of bullets chatter into the wall just inches from their heads. Hot shells skip and somersault over their faces and one falls into the mouth of the snoring pirate. Many duck for cover while some others are just overwhelmed by sleep deprivation.

"Avast, ye fuckmeats!" Shanghai Mars screams over the gunfire. "They be headin' for the parking garage! Go fetch me map!" About half his pirates get up and trot down to the parking garage. Shanghai Mars grabs another belt of ammo and follows them.

Orion, Rooke and Teach walk around the parking garage.

"I say, Captain," Teach starts. "That is a remarkable recovery."

"Well, I'm still a little shook up. Gets me thinkin' what would happen if that beast was decapitated. I wonder what things I'll have to say when my head's bouncing around like a soccer ball."

Rooke studies the map rubbing and phone book map. "On the other side of this structure there should be a construction site. That's where the proposed parking structure addition is supposed to be."

Orion and company arrive at the construction site. Where the hospital parking garage ends is where the construction site begins. Just like the rest of the city so far, corpses lie about. A cluster of Devil's Winds swirl around a tractor with a digging bucket buried deep into the side of a hill. Looking into just the opening of the tunnel the first of the samurai catacombs is revealed.

Rooke smiles, "This is where the Breath of the Bushido escaped." She turns to Teach. "Ancient bacteria. Prehistoric virus. My ass. This is a paranormal activity at its finest." Rooke takes out her camera about to take pictures, but her batteries are dead.

Teach holds in a grin, "I suppose the Breath of the Bushido is a bit shy of having its picture taken."

"I came all the way out here to document this shit and I've spent my batteries!"

"Take it easy, Honeycomb." Orion tosses her a dead man's Walkman. "See if those work."

Orion takes a couple steps into the tunnel shining a right-angle flashlight into the catacombs. "Uh, these fellas ain't gonna wake up are they, Honeycomb?"

Her answer, "I hope not."

Orion grimaces and nods. "Honest answer."

Teach studies the uniforms of the ancient samurai warriors buried into the walls. "Remarkable."

Orion takes a couple more steps into the catacombs, "Now, Professor, you say there was an epidemic that killed off this city. Why ain't we dead?"

"It's quite possible that if bacteria or a virus escaped it was killed off. Or it mutated with the environment. It's difficult to explain. This island requires much more research."

Rooke's camera is working again. She tapes Orion and Teach talking. She says, "For whatever your science brain can't explain, Teach, supernatural is just as easy to accept as your unanswered explanations."

Teach turns to her, "Touché." As he looks in her direction Shanghai Mars and his pirates make their way out of the parking garage. "Shanghai Mars." He grabs Rooke's hand and leads her deeper into the catacombs. "Let us flee." He pushes Orion into the tunnel.

"Hold on, Professor," Orion says. "Do you know what's what down there?"

Orion hears Shanghai Mars screaming, "Ollie Ollie Oxenfreak! I be comin' to get ye!"

Orion begrudgingly shuffles into the moist and rancid tunnel.

Shanghai Mars sticks his face into the black of the tunnel. He pulls out a Zippo and flips it on and suddenly being startled by the skull of the samurai warrior. He can hear Orion and company stumbling down into the catacombs. "Here it be. Avast!" Shanghai Mars marches in and disappears into the black.

A couple of his pirates follow, but the rest hesitate. And right behind them the big, black, symbiotic juggernaut drops behind them from the hospital roof top. The remaining pirates spin around.

Terrified shrieks echo throughout the catacombs.

Blood splatters on the face of the samurai corpse.


The juggernaut trudges into the catacombs. It splashes in the blood of the pirates.

The blood speckled across the samurai corpse's face seeps into the skull. Its jaw twitches. The samurai's fingers grip the handle of its samurai sword.

To be continued…

You'll find the likes of Scott and other talented writers at Shadow Daily.com.

Appendix (in No Particaular or Organized Order)

Namie Amuro - At one time she was the queen of a J-pop kingdom, but later Britney Spears'd out of the title by another queen of J-pop, Ayumi Hamasaki.

Body Feels Exit - her first solo single after her departure from Super Monkeys.

Right Angle Military Flashlights - The standard military-issue flashlights. Or at least that's what the Army wants you to think. You have to buy these on your own and they take it outta your pay. You don't need these, but they're actually cool to have when you're fumbling around in the dark in the middle of a mine field... or a cow shit field. They're more compact these days, but these are the kinds that Orion would be lugging around on his belt or cargo pocket.

Samurai - Warriors that pre-date Industrial Japan that were killed off by modernization. There's a great write-up on
Wikipedia (Samurai).

Ducati -
I know as much about motorcycles as I do about J-pop music, which is damn-near nothing. I do know a friend of mine who owns a couple of Duactis and says they're the best in the world. My pocket-editor told me that I needed to name my faceless pirates no matter how little they're seen (eg. Eyepatch, Goldtooth, Asshole, etc.). So I named them after the motorcycles they ride.

Kawasaki Ninja ZX-7 -
I know as much about the Kawaksaki Ninja ZX-7 as I know about Ducatis and J-pop. I thought it would be cool to have a pirate named Ninja. That is all.

Desert Eagle - This is the fully loaded version of the Desert Eagle made famous in such films as The Last Action Hero and The Matrix. If you need all the accouterments on a pistol like this, then you're a pretty fucked up shot. But it looks good on film though.

M-60 - This belt-feed machine-gun was made famous my Mr. John Rambo in the Rambo movies. I've actually used this weapon a couple of times and it's not pleasant nor is it easily controlled as say the M-16 A2. It's erratic and hard to control even when it's on the bipod. If you can do as demonstrated in the video below, then you're pretty much the man.

Tractor with Digging Bucket - I know about as much about tractors as I do about J-pop, Ducatis and Ninja bikes, but this is what I had in mind when I wrote his story.

Evil Vending Machines - In Island Macabre Orion and friends smash in the vending machines for sustenance. If they weren't being hunted down by bad-ass pirates I'm sure they'd find a way to pay for everything. But since this town is dead, they don't have to worry about upsetting the delicate nature of commerce. So, this is an excerpt from Totse.com.


Alright, I'm sick of reading all this crap on how to try and rip off vending machines when none of it works. Clay? Salt water? Gimme a fucking break. Keep reading to hear how to get into vending machines from someone who has worked with them for the last ten years, and still does.

Some warnings.

1- With electronics being so cheap these days, most people videotape their vending locations. Scope out the place first, look for cameras. At any rate, it's not good to look like you when you go raid the machines.

2- Almost all vending machines now have alarms and tilt switches installed on them. Candy machines have shock sensors on the front glass. All machines have plumb bobs on them. If at all possible, unplug the machine first to avoid tripping the anti-vandalism measures.

3- There was another warning I had all thought up, but now I can't remember it. I'll think of it later.

Okay, standard vending machines include soda machines, candy machines, cigarette machines and other upright product dispensing devices. I'll write a separate file for video games, bill changers and payphones later.

There are basically only two ways to get into vending machines without a key. Through the lock, or directly.


You can always try and pick the lock, using the standard method. The only problem with that is that there are usually at least eight settings, so you have to pick it three or four times to get the cylinder to travel enough to open the lock. That can be entirely too time consuming and generally not worth it. So, here are some better methods for opening a lock without picking it. It can be very easy to get into tubular locks or very hard, depending on how cheap the lock is.

Gematic-type: cheap as hell locks. Their main weakness is that the cam (small piece of metal on the back of the lock designed to hold the cylinder in place) is held on by a single, small, weak-threaded screw. Most of the time the cam is also only an aluminum alloy. To defeat this type of lock, you can use a tubular key. File it down so that only the pin that sticks up from the cylinder is left and when inserted into a lock it rotates freely, but you can't pull it out. Attach a chain to the key, then wrap the chain around a bar of some sort. Yank hard. Voila! Cam either comes completely off or is bent to hell, open sesame.

Ace-type: somewhat more expensive, better secure. The cam is held on by a nut over a larger bolt-type end. This makes it mainly pull-proof. However, the lock is only coated in carbon steel. Beneath that millimeter thin layer of hard metal there is only a nickel alloy. Insert a small drill bit into the cross section where the key slot meets the circular opening and go at it. After you get past the hard metal, the rest will give like soft cheese. Keep drilling until either the cylinder falls out, or you drill right through the lock and through the bolt in the end of the lock. It only takes me about five minutes to do this with a hammer drill.

American-type: you can tell these locks from the others by the fact that the face is completely flush. Instead of a tubular cylinder, these locks rely on a set of pins on the key, mounted at irregular depths. The face is drill-proof. These things are the Fort Knox of locks, if you see one you're pretty much fucked trying to open it without a key. So, on to the next method!


Let's not kid ourselves here. We're not trying to get into these things for the aesthetic value of the job. We want the stuff inside. C'mon, you want to try to dump salt water into these things, thinking it will completely ruin the machine and only work part of the time? I'm guessing we're not all that concerned with the well-being of the machine in question. Face it, this is a grab-and-go job. So fuck the lock, let's just get in.

Almost every single vending machine has the T-bar locking system. This means there's a steel bar traveling the length of the machine, securing the door at the top, bottom and side directly next to the lock, opposite the hinge.

This is a pretty good system. It doesn't work against someone determined to get in. Why? Because the point where the locking bar intersects with the machine's walls may be steel, but it's only about a quarter inch thick.

Bring a prybar and a hammer. Unplug the machine. Climb on top of it. Track where the locking bar intersects with the roof by going in a line straight up from the lock. Insert the prybar (you might have to hammer it down in) about an inch to the side of that position, toward the hinge. Pry the sucker open. Once you've got the top open, you can see where the locking bar goes into the side, pry that open too. From there you can yank the door open and grab anything you want.

A successful break-in to a vending machine should take less than three minutes. Doing it this way also doesn't damage the machine enough to make it unusable. In fact, it takes less than five minutes of welding to fix, thus the vending company loses very little... some product and a couple hundred dollars is chump change compared to the $7000 it costs for the machine. If you don't trash the machine, there's less of a chance the company will follow up on busting you for breaking into it.

Friday, August 31, 2007


So, a friend in Los Angeles, Scott Amundson, asks me to write up a serial for his blog, ShadowDaily.com , my contribuation is a 7-part serial called Island Macabre as you'll read here (Episode 1: Orion's Belt, Episode 2: The Hard Way to Hell, Episode 3: The Rise of the Lunatic's Moon). It's basically a treasure hunt story with pirates, undead samurai warriors, ninja demons and lots of that there carnage. This was originally a script idea I was working on several years back, but couldn't figure out how to make it into something mainstream that could be produced for a modest budget. So, now it exists as this on-line serial.

Check it out in the Hellbounds.

Scott's lookin' for submissions. For inquiries and such contact him at: scottEA@Gmail.com

Sunday, August 26, 2007

ISLAND MACABRE: Episode 3 - "Rise of the Lunatic’s Moon"

Before I send this off to Scott, I'm posting it here. It'll gimme time to ruminate over missed typoes and structural whathaveyous while I finish the logos and banner headers for ShadowDaily.com. Yup, Scott roped me into doing the banners. However, I have no say in the "brought-to-you by Shadow Daily" additions. However, by fave banner isn't the one I did for Island Macabre, but for a serial called Strong Coffee, but they have yet to post it. Also been listening to Geinoh Yamashirogumi's score from Akira for Episodes 3 and 4. If you haven't seen the anime or heard the score, I think it's about time you did.

Also, ShadowDaily.com's seems to be growing. I know, because I have to do another logo every other day it seems. So, if you'd like to submit stuff, you can email Scott directly, scottEA@Gmail.com.

Anyway, as always, have fun or die.

Island Macabre (Episode 3: Rise of the Lunatic's Moon)

A Philip Davetas Ride

Orion yanks Rooke back into the Rover by the front of her pants just as a curtain of poisonous frogs splatter over the vehicle. Teach jumps. Orion crunches the accelerator forcing the Rover through the fog. The frogs hop through the broken windshield and into the Rover.

"Get 'em out!" Orion shouts. "Don't let 'em touch your skin!" Orion cracks the wheel to the side making the Rover screech a 180-degree turn staring right at the on-coming headlights of Shanghai Mars and his pirates. He shifts the Rover in reverse. The Rover speeds backwards making the frogs smack up against the rear window.

"There's gloves in the glove box. Get these frogs outta here!" Orion orders, but a couple of frogs hop into the backseat forcing Teach against the window.

Rooke tosses Teach a glove. Orion looks out the back window while trying to stabilize the wheel. Teach struggles with the glove seeing the pirates' headlights breaking away erratically. He catches one of the headlights rise straight up into the air and then disappears. "Dear me."

Rooke tosses a frog or two out the window. The Rover scrapes against the ravine wall. Teach follows a frog croak in the dark of the Rover floor. He picks it up and tosses it out the front. Something gets his attention from outside. "Did anyone see that?"

Rooke answers while picking up a frog, "It was nothing!"

"I thought I saw something fly by the window."

"Just a trick of the Lunatic's Moon, Professor," Orion answers, but clearly looks panicked.

"I could have sworn I just saw something slither past us," Teach insists.

"Professor, if you don't get these frogs outta here you're gonna find out what's in the mist!"

Rooke tosses out another frog seeing the gaping mouth of a tube worm slap shut—swallowing the frog. Teach stares with bugged out eyes, "Polychaete." Transfixed with a frog croaking in his glove, "Giant polychaetes."

Rooke throws out a couple more frogs, "They're attracted to the croaking! Toss 'em out!" The mouth of a tube smashes against the driver side of the Rover pushing it against the ravine wall. Orion hits the brakes as the worm's mouth squeaks off the window. He shifts back into drive making another u-turn and flooring it past the body of the worm. The worm slithers back around spitting frogs at the back of the Rover.

Teach smacks his hand against the window making a couple frogs drop off, "Shoo!" But they're still there. Not far behind, through the red brake lights and fog a worm opens its mouth. Next to it another one swoops in spitting frogs.

Rooke sees a frog croaking on Orion's leg. She gulps. "Don't move, captain." But right then, Orion hits the brakes to fishtail the vehicle around a base of a rock column making the frog hop onto his crotch. She reaches for it, but it hops away, making her accidentally grab onto his groin.

He hits the accelerator, "Whoa, Tempa!" The two worms smash against the back, forcing the Rover to roll onto its side. The Rover slides across the ground a few yards. Everyone's smashed up against the ceiling. "Everyone grab a weapon! Scoot, scoot, scoot!"

Everyone peels out through the windshield. Rooke grabs the BAR. Teach gets the micro-UZI and Heckler in a dorkified version of a double-fisted John Woo archetype. Orion snatches the Garand. "Okay," Orion begins. "We shoot for keeps. No warning shots."

A war-cry approaches from the distance. "Hark," Teach whispers. And then it smashes against the Rover erupting into an explosion. Everyone keeps close to the Rover. "What was that?" Teach asks.

Orion grabs the fire extinguisher from inside the vehicle. "Wait here."

They say in unison, "Yes, captain."

Orion rounds the front of the Rover spraying down the flames noticing a scorched pirate and the blackened skeleton of a motorcycle. Then he hears Shanghai Mars' pirates zooming all over the ravine firing their weapons. Off to the side he hears a motorcycle cruise by with a shrieking pirate, but as the bike passes he hears the pirate screaming on the way up. He sees a clearing in the fog as the moon outlines the giant worm slurping down the pirate. Then he hears his muffled screams fly past him toward the rock columns. Orion backs toward Teach and Rooke slowly. The tube worm hovers close to Orion. He waves his hand in front of the worm, but it can't see him.

Orion kneels in front of Teach and Rooke. He whispers in both their ears. "They can't see us. Don't make any noise." Teach's eyes are ping-pong balls as the body of a tube hovers past them. Then Shanghai Mars' pirates roar by on their motorcycles. One of them crashes a few yards away and then makes a run for the Rover with machine-guns ablaze—blasting away at the worms. Orion shakes his head, while Rooke and Teach wave him away. A huge worm snatches up the pirate.

Orion takes a breath. He notices the worms are leaving them alone in their silence and going after the pirates, but then there's a croaking close by. They all exchange confused glances. They take quick looks, but can't find the frog. Orion looks up seeing two worms coming towards them. Rooke shrugs in confusion then turns to Teach who's pointing at her. Orion sees the frog hidden in her hair. Orion grabs it and furls it out to toward a passing motorcycle, diverting the two worms.

Orion's hand twitches. He falls to his knees grabbing his wrist. Teach and Rooke exchange concerned glances. Teach takes a knee and examines Orion's hand. Orion whispers through his gnashed teeth, "We gotta turn Temba over and get outta here."

They all push the Rover back on to its wheels and file back in. Teach steps into the driver's seat. Rooke slips into the back. Orion clutches his wrist. The Rover takes off into the fog.

The frog Orion threw away hops into a rocky crevice escaping a worm's gaping mouth. The frog twitches, then flips onto its back, turning dark. The frog's limbs begin turning into black fingers. Then eventually a hand. It continues to twitch and pulsate as it grows larger.

Teach's eyes shift from side to side not knowing what's ahead, when suddenly the vehicle slips off a cliff. Rooke braces herself, "Teach!"

"You drove us off a cliff, Professor!"

They seem like they're falling forever, but it's only mere seconds.

Teach leans back in the seat when the Rover crashes into some shrubbery and then onto the ground. He double-takes everything. Woodlands all around.

Rooke throws her head back defeated, "Please tell me we didn't land on the back of a giant scorpion."

After seeing they're all okay Teach says over his shoulder, "There are no such things as giant scorpions, Rooke." He puts the Rover in motion and they drive through the woodlands.

"And what was that giant tube worm all about?" She spits back.

"Giant polychaete is theoretically possible judging by this environment."

Teach and Rooke get into an existential spat about giant killer creatures. Orion sneers and rips open the First Aid kit sloshing alcohol over his hand. The sting burns through his skin, but anything's better then listening to them argue about giant killer something-or-others. He turns the knob on the scanner to pick up some radio chatter. He hears something, "Hey, Bickersons! Knock off the Philosophisification."

Orion leans closer to the radio hearing some overlapping panicked voices over the Ghost Ravine fiasco. He turns a couple more knobs catching a conversation between two people. A phrase is made clear, "I'm gonna bring 'em all down. From Shanghai Mars all the way to Captain Orion." Orion flips the knob off.

"Looks like Shanghai Mars' got a G-man in his midst," Orion says while clenching his fist.

"What would a government official be doing working for pirates?" Teach asks.

"Probably to put a stop to all this shit that's goin' on out here in the Rotten Sea." Orion takes a breath, "I'm the best smuggler in these here waters. I'm sure the United States government ain't too happy about me utilizin' decommissioned military vessels to make a livin'. And I can bet you those G-men ain't too happy about Shanghai Mars almost gettin' 'em eaten by giant killer worms."

The Rover leaks fluid as Teach cruises through what looks like woodlands.

"We need to find water to irrigate his wound." Teach says.

Rooke looks at her rubbing seeing a body of water. "The map shows a river up ahead." Rooke says.

Teach hits the brakes. "Blimey." Teach and Rooke stare in shock.

"We better get to washing this out quick, Professor. The Lunatic's moon is workin' it's mojo. I'm startin' to hallucinate."

They all look out seeing hundreds of modern cars parked along a modern man-made bridge erected over a river. None of the cars are moving.

"You didn't see this before, captain?" Rooke asks.

"Last time I was here was eight years ago, Honeycomb. This's new."


The Rover cruises along the bridge swerving around cars with corpses of drivers and passengers. Rooke shoots footage. She says, "It's like they just up and died in their cars."

Teach notices, "The license plates are only a year old."

"The Bushido's Breath has taken them all." Rooke says.

"But how could they build this city?" Teach asks.

"Unless somehow, someone unearthed the samurai temple." Rooke says. "The curse unleashed the shogun's wrath."

"There's always an alternative to mythology." Teach says. "Maybe it unleashed a dormant bacteria. Or an epidemic of poisonous frogs dropped in the water."

"Whatever the case," Rooke says, "why would someone populate this island?"

While Rooke and Teach ruminate, Orion points a shaky finger at a sign, "Hey, look. Hospital next right."

Teach snaps out of it, "Of course, captain!" The Rover rolls towards the end of the bridge. It's a city all right. Dead. A perfectly functioning medium-sized city. Just lifeless. The only thing working is the local traffic lights which Teach clearly ignores. Corpses are collapsed right on the street in mid-stride.

Rooke notices, "They just died. They didn't see a threat coming. It's like they just… stopped."

Teach pulls the Rover into the Emergency Room.

Rooke and Teach help Orion inside.

They trudge down the hallway stepping over doctor and nurse carcasses. "This place is foul!" Rooke says while trying to stuff her nose into her shoulder. "What do you need, Teach?"

"Poison control."

"Here." Teach kicks in a door, rolls off a corpse and helps Orion on to a gurney. Orion starts to writhe just as his veins begin to blacken. Orion shoots his hand up to the ceiling reaching for the fluttering fluorescent light. "He's having a botulistic seizure."

Somewhere in Ghost Ravine a black arm reaches for the full moon just like Orion. The frog has mutated into an 8-foot black juggernaut. He sports the same sacrifice tattoo as Orion. The same shoulder and ass wounds.

A giant tube worm lunges for the juggernaut, but it catches the worm by its mouth ripping a piece of its flesh off. A tentacle unravels from the worm's mouth wrapping around the juggernaut's forearm.

Back in the poison control room, Teach watches Orion's arm contract and start to bleed as bits of his flesh start to tear off.

The juggernaut wraps the worm's tentacle around its own mouth binding it shut. The juggernaut yanks on the worm as his rock column collapses to the ground. He drags the worm close to the cliff side and furls it off the edge. The long 30-foot worm falls, snapping its tentacle. The juggernaut unravels the tentacle from his bloody forearm and drops it over the cliff. His face resembles some parts of Orion, but more monstrous.

Orion stops writhing on the gurney seeing blood pooling around his arm. Teach and Rooke just stare in loss. Rooke shrugs. Teach shakes his head. Orion grabs his arm, but he seems okay. Just exhausted.

Teach puts the finishing touches on Orion's bandages. "All I can figure, captain, is that the poison in the frog has a delayed constrictive reaction."

"Naw, Professor," Orion starts, "this was something squeezing and ripping my skin off. It was like an Indian rug burn… only my flesh was twisting off."

"I wonder," Rooke begins, "if you've developed a psychic-symbiotic link to the frog." Teach shakes his head. "It's not unfamiliar in ghost lore."

"What're you sayin', Honeycomb? I'm being haunted by the ghost of a frog?"

"What I'm suggesting is that whatever it feels you feel."

"So, if that little bugger gets slurped up by one of those giant worms, I'm gonna suddenly be boiling in stomach juices?"

"I don't know how that works exactly. It's all theory. There's never been a proven case. Some say if the symbiotes confront each other the psychic bond is broken. But if something else kills the other they'll both die."

"Is there a book in this kind of stuff? How do you know all this, Honeycomb?"

"Actually, there have been books, but they've all been banned and chalked up as mythology." She looks to Teach.

"With all due respect to the scientific community, Rooke—"

"How do you two know each other anyway?" Orion asks.

Teach clears his throat, but Rooke answers first, "I own a rare book shop that specializes on subjects of the occult.

"Which is true." Teach interrupts.

"Which could be true," Rooke steps back in, "anyway, we get into this little spat about this island and the paranormal energy encompassing this part of the world and we went our separate ways."

Teach shrugs. "Low and behold."

"Well, let's be sure and go back and stomp on a frog, Honeycomb."

Rooks remembers, "I thought you didn't believe in ghosts, captain."

"When giant worms try to swallow me whole and I drive into city of dead people, my superstition jumps the meter. Some really spooky shit is goin' on here and I don't wanna be around when those dead people suddenly get a hankerin' for my brains."

"My best in trying to find that frog." Teach says. "The poison doesn't seem to be bothering you now. I don't think it's a lasting effect."

Orion sees some of the bleeding coming through the bandages. "What if it isn't?"

"How's this? Can you walk?" Teach asks.

Orion attempts to ease down from the gurney as his ass wound acts up. Teach holds up a pair of tongs. "While we're here, let's take out the bullets shall we?"

Orion's teeth grind, "Right as rain." As he hobbles to his feet the bullet from his ass meat falls out. Teach tilts his head in curiosity. "I'm shittin' bullets, Professor."

Rooke sits in the waiting room next to a corpse studying a map in the local phone book and compares it to her rubbing. Orion arrives with two Japanese-labeled Cokes.

"Okay," Orion starts, "I've got Diet, I think, and Classic."

Rooke looks up smiling. "Classic, please."

Orion tosses it to her, but the can slips between her hands bouncing off her forehead. "Oh, my fault, Honeycomb. That's one hundred percent my fault." Rooke holds her head inhaling through her grit teeth. Orion sits next to her, brushing the hair out of her face and brings the Diet Coke to her forehead to sooth the pain. "After all we been through in the past twenty-four hours. Damn it."

"It's fine, captain."

"Know what?" Orion's expression droops to a somber mood. "Just call me Orion. I'm not so sure I should even be called a captain."

"You must be joking. If it wasn't for you we wouldn't be alive. We'd be lost at sea. We're the ones that dragged you out here."

Orion thinks about it, "You're right. It is your fault." Her face drops, but he nudges her making her smile. "Naw. I knew what I was gettin' into. It always seemed unfair that I'm dubbed this sole survivor of Island Macabre." He notices her set-up. "What's this?"

Rooke looks back at the phone book. "This little city seems to be in constant construction. I've been comparing it to this rubbing and the temple seems to be here." She points to clearing in the phone book map. "I picked up this newspaper which was dated back a year and in the Local section it talks about this groundbreaking in that area."

"That's where that breath stuff is coming from?"

Rooke says with a jolly grin, "Exactly."

Teach enters the waiting room. "I think I've figured out your frog problem, captain."

"Hit me, Professor."

"From the frog samples I've pulled from the Land Rover and your blood, it seems to have extraordinary regenerative and mutation properties."

"You sayin' I'm gonna be a frogman, Professor?"

"Not at all. I think the more dominant elements have already altered the weaker." Orion just stares at him confused and a little spooked. "You're fine, captain. It's the frog."

Orion scowls, "What about the frog?"

"It's the frog that mutated."

Rooke is concerned, "Mutated into what?"

A faint haze of the Lunatic's moon burns through some fog as Orion's symbiotic juggernaut makes its way to the dead city.

To be continued…

© 2007, Philip Davetas


Golden Poison Dart Frog

This is the Golden Poison Dart Frog. Not typically found in the region that's portayed in Island Macabre, but then there really is no Island Macabre is there? Anyway, these frogs will pretty much fuck you up by simply touching their skin or touching something they've walked over.


As featured in the serial, the various species of polychaete or the 30-foot poisonous frog-spitting tube worms are also living outside their environment. Normally found in the deep sea feeding on plankton, here they live in 13-foot rock columns feeding off of pirates and other lost pedestrians making their way through Ghost Ravine.


In Episode 3, these Cokes are described as simply "Japanse-labled". The idea was to make it quick and easy to understand while also subtley reminding the reader that they're somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
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