Check it out in the Hellbounds.
Scott's lookin' for submissions. For inquiries and such contact him at: scottEA@Gmail.com
Check it out in the Hellbounds.
Scott's lookin' for submissions. For inquiries and such contact him at: scottEA@Gmail.com
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.
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
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?"
"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
You get to read Island Macabre: The Hard Way to Hell before it hits the ShadowDaily.com with an added feature--an appendix.
As always, have fun or be dead.
Island Macabre (Episode 2: The Hard Way to Hell)
A Philip Davetas Ride
Orion's Bitch soars over the foamy peak of a wave dragging a spray of sea and counter-measure flares. Shanghai Mars' jet-skiing pirates follow. The landing craft splashes down catching a downslide of the same wave.
In the landing craft's pilot house, Orion furls the wheel trying to avoid a renegade wave.
Teach panics, "You want us to fight them off?"
"Unless you have some really kick-ass maritime piloting skills that could be useful right about now."
"I'm afraid not."
"Well, I'm afraid so."
Rooke swings open the cabinet finding a WW II-era Browning Automatic Rifle and an M-1 Garand. "Did these rifles come with the boat?"
"Hey, don't knock 'em, honeycomb. Those things'll do the job nice and good. It still blows out the same kind of brains." Orion spouts over his shoulder. "Just don't open fire on the cargo hold walls or you'll be playing tag with your own bullet. Just fire in the air or the water. The reflex will send those fuckmeats leapin' for cover."
Teach and Rooke stand with the two rifles in hand still looking a little lost. Orion double-takes, "Those pirates ain't gonna shoot themselves! Scoot, scoot, scoot!"
A jet ski zooms past the pilot house and splashes down into the cargo bay.
Rooke and Teach duck behind an armored turret as the landing craft surfs down the wave. The pirate's jet ski stops at the mid point of the cargo bay. All the water has collected at the ramp. Teach cradles his rifle while seeing Orion making a finger gun. The pirate dismounts his jet ski while whipping out his Heckler 9MM.
"Are you going to shoot?" Rooke screams.
Teach answers, "You first!" He looks at a cargo strap whipping around the armor turret. "Oh. I think you should wear this to secure—"
Rooke steps up from behind the turret and blindly fires her BAR into the water. A hefty gust of water erupts from the sea pushing her out of the turret. Teach looks around while shaking the water out of his face. He searches for Rooke as a streak of lightning reveals she's not around.
The wave pushes Rooke onto the tarp of the Deuce and then onto the floor of the cargo bay knocking the rifle from her grip. She staggers for the rifle as the pirate takes aim.
The landing craft hits the bottom of the wave forcing more water in the cargo hold and throwing the pirate towards the ramp. Two more jet skis arch into the landing craft.
Orion slams the throttle making the landing craft glide up another wave. Shanghai Mars' voice squawks over the radio, "Hell ain't hot enough for ye, matey!"
Orion snatches the radio, "Well, I saw the ugly face of god."
"What the sonofabitch say?"
"Told me to come back a little later after I've raised enough Hell." Shanghai Mars chuckles just as Orion's about to hang up the radio when it occurs to him, "Did the Dragon Lady tell you about the tats?"
"She be the scuttlebutt pipeline."
"Her mouth is about as fast as her ink."
A lightning bolt snaps at one of the Big Red Cock's propeller engines. The engine starts to flame. "Hold that thought, ye. I be havin' engine troubles."
A jet ski crashes through the side of the pilot house window forcing Orion to dive out of the way. The pirate unsheathes a machete announcing, "Oy!"
"You didn't miss the class on random shark attacks did ya?" Orion whips out a road flare from his cargo pocket. He rips off the cap as the magnesium ignites to a hot, bright red.
Rooke is about to tackle her weapon when water washes over it. She sees a shark swimming towards her. The water rises above her knees with the tilting of the landing craft. Rooke leaps out of the way leaving her BAR. The Land Rover smashes up against the Deuce. She makes a run for the Rover as the shark fin comes up quickly behind her. Suddenly, bullets snap behind her chasing off the shark and giving her time to take cover in the Rover.
Teach fires one shot after another as the shark swims towards the on-coming jet skiing pirates. Machine-gun bullets pelt around his armored turret as he takes cover. He clicks the cargo strap to the side of his belt loop.
Back in the pilot house the pirate swings the machete at Orion, but Orion catches his wrist and shoves the blazing flare into the pirate's mouth and confiscates his machete. "You have a purdy mouth, boy." The landing craft suddenly crunches against a hard wave splashing over the ramp sending both Orion and the pirate crashing through the pilot house window into the cargo bay.
Orion struggles to his feet realizing the water is now waste-deep all around. He catches a glimpse of a shark tail flopping a few feet away in red water. He watches the jaws of the shark munching on the pirate with the flaming mouth. The flare projects the pirate's silhouette just as he slides down into the belly.
"Bon a' petite," Orion says and quickly kisses his fingers like a chef.
He sees Rooke beating against the windshield of the Rover as it rolls back towards the ramp. Two pirates break for her while one makes for Orion. Orion fights his way to a flipped over jet ski. He hops on, starting it up and heads straight for the on-coming pirate. Orion points the machete at the pirate like he's about to joust. Orion shouts, "Tallyho!" The pirate grins while pulling out a Micro UZI. The two pass each other as Orion lunges the machete deep into the pirate's jet ski, breaking the fuel line. Gas-o-line sprays out of a hose, but the pirate doesn't notice. He makes a u-turn and comes back at Orion who's already heading for Rooke and the Rover.
One pirate is on the hood with an ax and the other busting the glass in the back. Orion makes way—full steam ahead. He approaches leaping off the jet ski tackling the pirate on the hood. The Rover rolls back toward the front of the landing craft while Orion and the ax pirate wrestle on the hood.
The water sloshes through the Rover. Rooke forces the ignition out of its socket just as the pirate makes his way through the bed.
Teach watches the action helplessly from his turret. He sees the UZI pirate bee-lining for the Rover while the shark continues to gnaw on the mouth-flare pirate as the flare brushes against a trail of gas-o-line. A flame follows the UZI pirate's jet ski trail setting him ablaze. The pirate shrieks like a girl and flails his arms while depressing the trigger on the UZI.
Rooke brushes the two ignition wires together as the Rover starts, but UZI fire rips through the windshield forcing her to take cover. Orion and the ax pirate trade blows oblivious to the UZI chatter.
The UZI pirate's jet ski explodes making the gunfire cease.
Still taking cover, Rooke presses the accelerator with her hand making the Rover move. The pirate yanks Rooke back by the hair exposing her throat while he unsheathes his SEAL pup knife. But a bullet zips into his forehead. He stares dead in amazement for a second while his forehead streams blood across the dashboard.
Orion manages to score a lucky punch across the ax pirate's face. A ribbon of gunfire bubbles across the pirate's chest. Orion and Rooke exchange a quick smile, "Alright, Teach!" But then Orion takes a hit in the shoulder as the windshield shatters.
Teach watches the UZI gunfire ricocheting all over the cargo bay like deadly, little pin balls. "Blimey." He's makes a run for the pilot house, but the cargo strap yanks him back down just as a set of UZI fire snaps in his path. "My lucky strap."
Rooke pulls Orion into the Rover as the bullets snap all around. "Take cover in the bed!" Orion shouts. Orion and Rooke dive into the back of the vehicle while bullets continue to pelt against everything. Orion rolls Rooke to her back to try and protect her, but a gallon of water washes over her face. He takes another bullet to the ass. He lets out a growl. "I got bit in the ass!"
As the ricocheting stops, Teach sprints to the pilot house to regain control of the wheel, but notices another engine on the Big Red Cock blows out. The plane begins to lose altitude and lowers into the cargo hold. Just as Teach steps behind the wheel, he watches a huge wave coming right at them giving them nowhere to turn. He just stands there staring into the mouth of oblivion. "Dear me."
A gentle splash of water brushes against Teach's face. He wakes up to a beam of sunlight cascading across his face. He shoots up looking around realizing he's on the floor of the pilot house.
Rooke wakes up noticing Orion is spooning her with his hand tightly cupping her breast. She tries to break free without waking him, but he's got a tight grip on her. Then a pirate with a bullet hole through his forehead floats by startling her.
Orion groggily wakes up slightly grinning. "Man, oh, man did I have this wicked dream last night."
Rooke holds her shirt closed with her fist making up for a couple lost buttons. "That wasn't a dream. We were attacked by pirates."
"No, honeycomb." Orion grins. "The dream I had about you and me. I had no idea you could do such things." She punches him in the bad shoulder making him wince. I gotta remember that."
She just sighs and steps on to the hood of the Rover. It's a bright, quiet and sunny day on the sea. She looks around the cargo hold that's still got a good couple of feet of red water. She hears Teach's voice shouting, "Rooke, you're okay!"
"Yeah." She says exhaustedly. "You?"
"I'm just fine." He points toward the front of the landing craft. "Look!"
Rooke shields the sun from her eyes while standing on her tip-toes to look over the landing ramp. She sees the island in the distance. She takes a deep and staggered breath while smiling. "Captain Orion, we're here."
Orion makes his way on to the hood while holding his shoulder. "I guess that's the bad news." He notices a black stream of smoke coming from somewhere deep in the island. "Any landing you can die from will be just fine with me, Shanghai Mars."
"Bad news? That's great news!"
"Out here, honeycomb, there's only bad news and worse news." Orion looks up at Teach. "How are ya, professor?"
"Peachy, captain. You?"
Orion notices Rooke looking at his morning wood. He winks, "You wanna hear the bad news or the worse news first?" Rooke feigns a smile.
Orion's Bitch casually cruises through the lagoon of Island Macabre. Leaning over the front of the landing ramp, Rooke is captivated by the 360-degree postcard perfect tropical paradise. She snaps a shot on her digital camera.
Orion and Teach stare out the busted out windows of the pilot house.
"I'm curious, captain. If you don't believe in ghosts why did we have to get tattoos?" Teach asks.
"I don't believe in ghosts. I'm just a little superstitious. Superstition goes a long way when sailing these here seas."
"Do you know what the glyph means?"
"It means sacrifice."
"At the turn of the Twentieth Century the modern Japanese government abolished feudalism affecting the samurai social status and power. The government tried and failed to integrate many of the samurai into the modern world. The Japanese government foresaw a war coming. The government sent as many of the best of the samurai clans to this island to save local peasants from a force of evil. But there were no local peasants. The ships turned around and left them to die."
"That's fucked up, professor. What happened to the other samurai guys? The ones in
"They rebelled in what was called the Kagoshima Revolt. The old and new worlds clashed. The modern world won." Teach points to Orion's tattoo. "They were willing to throw down arms and their petty disagreements to save someone. That is the symbol of sacrifice. That is what protects you from the Bushido Breath."
"Cute little bedtime story, professor."
"I'm rather fond of it myself."
Orion, Teach and Rooke watch the ramp on Orion's Bitch lower as the water swills out with a couple of half-eaten pirates and two bloated sharks and five jet skis. Orion picks up the BAR and a 9MM Heckler. Orion says, "Bonus gun."
"At least," Teach says while holding his nose, "we can consume the sharks for sustenance."
"Well," Orion sneers, "I'll let you cut 'em open and you can watch a couple of partially digested human beings spill out of their stomachs."
Rooke asks, "Who were those guys?"
"Shanghai Mars and his sky pirates." Orion answers. "My take is that they know why you're here and they wanna piece of it. Actually, they'll take all of it."
Orion starts up the landing craft as the fuel needle trembles near empty. "Shit." Orion snaps off the motor and makes his way down to the cargo hold where both Rooke and Teach study the map. "Okay, I was wrong. There's bad news, worse news and shit news."
"What's the sh—news?" Teach asks nervously.
"We don't have enough fuel to make it back to civilization."
Rooke asks, "Can you siphon the gas from the jet skis and the truck?"
"Different fuel types and not enough. And the Deuce is waterlogged."
"What's the worse news?" Teach asks.
"We're gonna have to trek into the island to get some."
"That's great news!" Teach says happily. "An island like this is burgeoning with natural methane gas. I must say that's brilliant, captain."
"This boat runs on diesel, professor." Teach's grin droops. "But I know where we can get some."
"What's the bad news?" Rooke asks.
"Shanghai Mars' plane crashed down somewhere in the middle of the island."
"Will we be bartering for his fuel?" Teach asks.
"No, he doesn't barter if there's nothin' in it for him."
Teach stares at him inquisitively, "We're going to pilfer from Shanghai Mars?"
"If we can find that there treasure before him, we might be able to trade him for some fuel."
Rooke winces, "But he'll kill us."
"Yeah," Orion rubs his chin. "I'm workin' on that part."
Orion snaps the ignition wires on the Rover starting up the motor. "Alright, Temba! They don't make 'em like that anymore do they!" Orion grins at Rooke. "Where'd you learn how to hotwire a rig, honeycomb?"
Rooke turns to Teach smiling in the backseat, Teach says, "Surely, you've heard of the Internet, captain."
"Inter-whatever." Orion picks up a cassette tape and slaps it in the cassette player as an old Rancid song comes on. "You guys like music?" Orion puts the Rover in motion heading for a valley of kunai grass. "Whatever you do, guys, don't stick your hands out of the Rover while driving through
The Rover makes its way through the kunai valley leaving a beaten trail. Rancid's punk-ska music drones throughout the dead island as they drive into the night.
It's a full moon of lunatic-beckoning proportions. The Rover is parked at the mouth of a ravine full of 13-foot or greater rock columns that fade into a heavy fog bank. Orion empties a fuel canister into the Rover while Rooke and Teach study the map on Rooke's laptop.
Something in the brush gets Orion's attention. He takes a big whiff.
Rooke rearranges the jigsaw map around on her laptop. "See," Rooke starts, "if I put this piece here, it forms this valley."
"How can you be sure that it's this valley and not another on the other side of the island?"
"We can ask the captain."
Orion steps back into the Rover. "Maybe you shouldn't ask the captain because he wasn't on a sight-seeing tour and his memory is a little fuzzy. But if you ask real nice, he might take you through Ghost Ravine."
Rooke asks, "Ghost ravine?"
"That's what I call this place."
He turns to both of them, "Okay, I want you two to keep your eyes and ears open. We watch our backs more so than ever around here. I think I caught a whiff of Old Spice and Kwell shampoo. That's Shanghai Mars' brand."
"Kwell?" Teach asks. "Isn't that scabies medication?"
The Rover slowly cruises through the ravine that's thick with fog. Rooke has her video camera rolling and gets nothing but fog.
Teach hovers over her shoulder, "Are you capturing anything?"
Rooke answers, "Not a thing." She looks at Orion who's concentrating hard on the road he can't see. "Why do you call this place Ghost Ravine?"
"Last time I was through this place I was on foot. It was creepy because you could hear muffled screams and whispers. The echo bounces all over the ravine walls so much that you can't tell where it's coming from."
Suddenly, a frog plummets on the hood of the Rover. It squirms to its feet then lunges off into the fog. Teach is spooked and whips his head around. Rooke takes a huge gulp. Orion tries to comfort them, "The storm does that sometimes. Don't touch 'em unless you think it'll listen to your problems." Orion's eyes dart from side to side.
"Problems?" Rooke asks.
"Yeah, when you say, 'Ouch, I think I'm dying.'"
They hear a hissing sound.
Teach, "Was that a radio squelch?
Orion gulps, "Yeah. Uh… radio squelch. Probably just Shanghai Mars and his fellas. Just wantin' us to know they're okay and not to worry."
Teach relaxes, but Rooke sees Orion shaking his head. They hear two more frogs beating on the roof.
"Fuck it." Orion shifts the Rover into reverse, "I'm not killin' us all for a couple of frogs." But he sees tens of motorcycle headlights coming up from behind. He can hear a group of Shanghai Mars' pirates singing Friggin' in the Riggin'.
Teach taps his toes while humming.
Rooke peeks out with her camera. She points it straight up to a faint clearing in the fog. She can see some of the moon shining through.
Teach starts singing the song as the pirates approach, but he's singing Good Ship Venus, "The captain's wife was
"Glad you like it, professor. Maybe you can join their chantey chorus."
Rooke sees the silhouette of a long, giant tube worm breaking out of one of the rock columns as it hisses and spits out frogs… "Shit."
Teach continues to sing, "Her plaintive squeals announced that eels / Had found her sexual quarter."
And she sees another tube worm break through, "Shit!"
"The ship's dog's name was Rover / We turned that poor thing over…"
And another, "Oh, shit!"
To be continued…
© 2007, Philip Davetas