05-09-2007 04:44 PM
Looking around he realized Siverine was gone. She was toward the river, looking at a large cavern in the rock that the river fed into.
“Siverine.” She turned when he said her name as he approached.
“Did you get enough sleep, Kane?”
“I’m fine, thanks. What are you doing?” He stood next to here and looked at the cavern. “Let me guess, we have to go in there.”
She nodded. “Just before sunset it will be the easiest.”
“What about, you know, the river of angry souls?”
“The river ends here. I guess you didn’t notice yesterday, but from here it flows up the side of the mesa and disperses into the rock. What souls make it up to the top somehow turn into the Whirinet. The rest travel though the ground and corrupt the land further. The tunnel goes under the mesa and comes out near the old camp. You’ll be able to find it easily enough once we’re through.”
“What do you mean ‘you’? That makes it sound like you won’t be going back with us.”
Siverine looked down. “That’s right, I’m not. We—Duke, Lan, and I—are going to stay here.”
“What? Siverine, why would you say such a thing? Come home. You can’t stay here.”
“No, I can’t leave here, Dallas. Think about it. The doctor wanted us to experiment on. He’s stop at nothing to use our bodies in the name of ‘science’. If we went back, it would be the same thing. I might be able to return to society and hide, but the dogs, especially Lan, wouldn’t have the luxury. I’d come home one day and they’d be gone. Then after the experiments, I’d be taken too, whether for my own good or that of society. Although surviving here isn’t much of a life, at least I’m alive. We can keep on surviving here—with the doctor gone, it will be a lot easier. We can’t survive back home.”
“Siverine…” Kane was at a loss. He wanted to argue, but could he really offer her the protection he wanted to? Instead he reached over and took her hand in his. “I wish I could tell you everything will be okay. I wish I could tell you anywhere is safer than here, but I can’t guarantee that and I don’t like to lie.” He’d been ordered to bring everyone home safely and Kane had never not carried out his orders. Siverine’s wish to stay put him in an awkward position.
“At least,” he said, still holding her hand, “come to pick up with us. You should see Dr. Fisher taken from here with your own eyes.” Siverine looked at his skeptically. “I promise, I won’t force you to leave.” He paused and added, “But I would like you to think about coming back with me.”
Siverine looked up at him again and smiled weakly. She squeezed his hand as she said, “I would like to, but I can’t. More than anything, I can’t abandon the dogs. Not after everything they’ve done for me.”
Kane nodded. “I understand.”
Kepper was the last to wake and when he did Jones changed his bandages—well, he swiped one bloodstained rag for a slightly less bloodstained rag. Surprisingly there was little infection, but it still leaked blood when he moved.
“We’ll be able to rest and better care for it back at the camp,” Kane said. “Harrison will be out any day to get us.”
Fisher snorted. “You’re quite gullible if you think anyone is coming back here.”
“Another word doc and you’ll find you have a lot harder time talking with a busted jaw,” Lancaster growled. “Our people don’t turn on each other—I know that’s hard for you to understand.”
“We only have to go through the tunnel and we’re practically there,” Kane told them.
“And what lives in the tunnel?” Emmett asked skeptically.
“Nothing,” Siverine said. “Once in the tunnel it will be an easy, dark trip. We can take it at whatever pace you need and not have to worry about anything.”
“Then what’s the catch?” Lancaster asked. A ghost of a pleased smile crossed Siverine’s lips. They certainly had learned.
“There is only one more hurdle,” she admitted.
“Before that, you have to answer me this—will you die here?”
There was a silence of confusion around the group.
“Not if we can help it,” Jones said.
Siverine shook her head. “No, that’s not enough. Unless you are certain you aren’t going to die then you will die.”
“And here I thought you couldn’t be anymore confusing and cryptic,” Lancaster muttered.
Siverine sighed. “To get into the tunnel you have to cross the upstream of the river. It’s only for a split second, but if your soul isn’t firmly tied to your body then it will be pulled from it. If there’s any thought in your mind that that might be your death, then it will be. Be certain you’re going to live. Be certain you aren’t going to die here or now and you can make it through.” She looked at Emmett. “If you have any thought that you can’t make it—”
“I ain’t dead yet,” he replied. “And I don’t intend to die in this place. My soul is going straight to heaven in about sixty years from the comforts of home.”
Lancaster, Kane and Jones all shared.
“Same here,” Kepper said. “I’ve got a wife and kid back home. If I’m going anywhere, it’s back to see them.”
Siverine nodded. “We cross in two hours. The rest of you better be as certain by then.”
05-16-2007 07:39 PM
“Once we’re in keep your right hand on the wall as best you can. It’s a straight shot through so you can’t really get lost,” Siverine told them.
“Hang on,” Jones said. “Are we going to have to do this blind?”
“There’s no light down there except at the end of the tunnel, so mostly, yes.”
Lancaster pulled his pack off and started to rummage through it as Fisher snorted.
“Very good Siverine,” the doctor said. “Strip the men of one of their most fundamental senses. That will be good for their psyche.”
“Easy on the cynicism, Doc,” Lancaster said. “Because we’re not going blind.”
“You’ve still got a flare?” Kane asked. “I thought we got rid of all the extra stuff.”
“I decided to hold on to mine just in case—they aren’t that heavy after all. Ah, found them. I have one eight hour flare and two—nope, still have the third—glow sticks.” He pulled out three foil wrapped tubes.
“Glow sticks?” Kepper asked as Lancaster tossed one to Kane and one to Jones.
“That’s what my niece always calls them.” He peeled the foil back, crumpled it up and tossed it in the bag, and then bent the tube until it made a cracking noise and shook it up. The stick was soon glowing green. “These babies will last twelve hours before they start to dim.”
“At a crawl it will only take six hours to get through the tunnel,” Siverine said.
“Crawling might not be a bad idea,” Emmett said. Even Siverine had pity for everything poor Emmett had been through.
“We’ll take plenty of breaks.”
“Sounds good. Now point me in the right direction so someone can throw me in—I still see two of everything.”
Jones winced. “I’m sorry man. Seeing one Lancaster is almost more than I can bear.”
Siverine and the dogs went first—naturally. Then Kane and Jones. Lancaster’s job was basically to throw the other three in before jumping himself. While he was careful with Kepper and Emmett, he rather enjoyed grabbing Fisher by the back of the collar and belt and tossing him like a sack of potatoes.
Lancaster was last and being as he hadn’t heard any deathly screams from the others he was actually lax about his turn to jump.
Although it must have only taken a split second, it was a split second that almost split him open. It felt as if his heart was being wrenched one way while his spleen the other. His head felt hot while his skin was cold. Rough, jagged fingernails scratched at the underside of his skin, trying to peel the soul from his flesh. His eyeball and tongue swelled up as his lungs collapsed and stomach dropped.
“I’m not dying!” he yelled; or at least would have had he been able to open his mouth. Then there was a moment of calm and he thought he could glace golden streets with sands before he was through, caught by Kane and Jones, his whole body shaking.
“Easy,” he heard Siverine say. “Just breathe. You’re still alive.”
“Am I?” Lancaster asked as the muscles in his legs started to reform. “I thought—I thought I saw heaven.”
“Very likely. If so then we need to get moving before heaven tries to call you back. From here you can only reach for heaven and trip to end up in hell.”
Siverine and the dogs lead the way again with Kane holding the glow stick for them. Jones helped keep Emmett walking in a straight line while Kepper continued on determined, the sweat beading on his forehead the only indication he was wearing out. Lancaster was on prisoner duty again.
Siverine called a stop for rest and the injured men both fell almost instantly asleep. Surprisingly Siverine and the dogs all curled up together and slept. Lancaster didn’t missed the worried look on Kane’s face as he watched Siverine quickly fall asleep. For some reason Kane was restless and went for a short walk to scout ahead and think. Lancaster knew better than ask his commander the subject—he knew that look.
Lancaster had made himself comfortable. Siverine was right; this leg of the trip was a cake walk.
“Your name is Lancaster, correct?”
He looked over to make he hadn’t imagined Fisher trying to talk to him.
“Isn’t it better if you just keep your trap closed?”
“And your big friend is called Jones.”
Jones heard his name and looked over.
“What?” he asked.
“The Doc’ figured out our names,” Lancaster told him. “Definitely a bright one here.”
“You mock me, but I was able to live and quite comfortably in this wasteland, don’t forget. They didn’t revere me for no reason. I live quite comfortably at my old home too.”
“You lived,” Lancaster corrected him. “You’re future home will have orange jump suits, bars and a room mate named Big Eddie.”
“Perhaps. Tell me, how is it two fine men such as yourself ended up being sent here, to the edge of the world?”
“Hear that, we’re fine men,” Lancaster said. “I thought we were inapt brutes or something like that.”
“It’s our duty. We don’t pick where we go, doc,” Jones bristled.
“Despite what I may have said earlier, you don’t seem to be stupid men by any means,” Fisher pushed on. “At least, you can prove me wrong for ever calling you so in the first place.”
“You want to have a spelling bee?” Lancaster asked. “Spell ‘asinine’.”
“Back home I am not a man without means. I can see you both promoted beyond your wildest dreams and with whatever comforts in life you want.”
“Need I remind you that you’re the prisoner here?” Jones pointed out. “What are you trying to bargain for?”
“Help me and we can all walk away happier men. I’m a respected man with influence and associates of great wealth and power. My word could out weight Siverine’s any time. I’m a doctor after all; she’s just a journalist. All you have to do is swear to my version of a story and she’ll be shut away forever and you will both be happier, more prosperous men.”
“You want us to tell everyone Siverine is the nut and you’re a good guy,” Lancaster said.
“And in exchange you will be rewarded handsomely.”
“What about Sergeant Kane? His word is worth more than ours Doc and he’ll never lie,” Jones said.
“Then he will have to share Siverine’s fate. This land can very quickly twist a person’s mind. Someone who knows how to skew the truth such as a reporter could easily lead another astray—the media does it all the time. He can be a victim or an accomplice.”
Jones and Lancaster looked at each other and then back at Fisher. Lancaster gave him a half before pushing the doctor to the ground with his boot and pinning him there.”
“You know, you had a slim chance with getting us to buy into your plot in the first place. But asking us to turn on our Sergeant for a man who manipulated our friend, injured other friends and tried to kill us? You’re more crazy than I thought.”
“Save your promises and deals,” Jones added. “We know what loyalty is. And justice. We intend to see both.”
**Next week last installment. I'm pretty sure...I think so...we'll see**
05-24-2007 12:34 AM
Harrison looked back at Dr. Haines as she spoke, the wind from the helicopter still ruffling her hair. The choppers they had arrived on hadn’t even been unloaded yet and here she was canceling the mission.
Well, sort of. She had been given full authority to assess the situation and determine if it was an appropriate and worthwhile site for a research facility. If anyone still had misgivings about a rescue mission, no one had said anything about a research outpost. If the research team just happened to run into people needing a ride home, who were they to say no?
Harrison looked back at the choppers. No one else had heard her and were unloading the gear and tools. They might take most of it back. It was fine to unload now since they weren’t sure how long they’d have to wait for Kane and the others.
He lowered his gaze. These choppers had landed all the way—they were touching the ground, he’d made sure of it. Why the others hadn’t no one had known. The pilot had said those had been orders, but never from who.
Kevyn joined Harrison.
“You’re in charge,” he said with a shrug. “We’ll get a camp set up and just wait to see if you change you mind.”
“Fine. I suppose I could work on my tan.” Kevyn looked around and lowered her voice some—mostly because she was closer. “When are the others supposed to meet up with you?”
Harrison shook his head. “I’m not sure. I’m just praying they make it back at all. We can wait—” He stopped when he heard a noise and whipped his head around. The whirl of the helicopter blade slowly died and he thought he heard it again.
“Rick?” He held up a hand for her to be quiet and lifted his shades.
Through the wavery haze of the desert, Harrison saw a small black moving dot and then he noticed an ivory one next to it.
The sound repeated.
“Is that a dog barking?” Kevyn said.
Harrison started to smile. Seven more shapes followed the dogs. Seven out, seven in.
“Don’t unpack your sunscreen babe,” he said. “It looks like we’re going home.”
Fisher was tied up and secured in the back of the helicopter with a marine guarding him, rifle in hand. There was nothing to take home of Kirk but a memory—and Harrison was sure he wasn’t even told half of what had happened and by the looks on everyone’s faces, he didn’t want to know.
The wounded were cleaned up and carefully set in the helicopter to rest. The dogs were given free range of the food—maybe not the wisest idea considering it was a long chopper ride home—and especially the little one attacked it like he hadn’t eaten in a year. Kevyn gave him fond pets and Harrison didn’t have the hart to tell her the dog had been a comatose mummy last he’d seen of it.
“The gear can wait. Why don’t we get the rest of you loaded and get out of here,” Harrison said to which Jones and Lancaster both looked as if he had offered unconditional salvation.
Kane and Siverine, however, didn’t do the same.
“Not everyone’s going back,” Kane said which made the rest freeze in their tracks. “Siverine and the dogs have decided to stay.”
“It’s better this way,” she added, her face set. “We can’t go back to society now. It would only be a matter of time before we were labeled as freaks and if we weren’t locked up, we’d be lab rats.”
Harrison clenched his jaw, but nodded. “The choice is yours. We can leave whatever you want for your use.”
“I’m staying too,” Kane said and Jones dropped his gun.
“Sergeant,” Lancaster started to say.
“No. I came here to bring everyone home. I swore to not leave until the survivors made it back. I’ve never left a mission unfulfilled and I’m not about to start.”
“Kane—” Harrison said.
“Dallas, don’t,” Siverine cut him off. “Pride is terrible reason to stay in this place. Go back to your life and forget about the Bloodlands; you’ll be happier.”
“I don’t think I can do that, Siverine,” Kane replied. “And I’m not staying because of pride. If you are here, then I want to be too.” Either the heat was messing with Harrison’s eyes, or she actually blushed.
“What about me?” Harrison asked. “I said I’d come back to take everyone home. You going to make a liar out of me now? Cuz I ain’t staying here, no offense.”
“You take the rest home and see Fisher pays for his crimes.”
“And what am I supposed to say about you two?”
“Hang on, Rick,” Kevyn stepped in. “I think I know a solution.”
Cloud Nine was one of the nicest luxury hotels in the city. The room was done mostly in white with light gold accents.
Kevyn was sitting on the bed in a white terry cloth bathrobe reading a newspaper, the sheer curtains fluttering in the breeze of the open windows.
Harrison walked into the room wearing only lounging pants. He had a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice in each hand and gave one to Kevyn.
“Thank you. Here; read this one.”
“Let’s see. Page twelve of the Daily. ‘Team returns from wasteland’.” He sat on the bed next to her. “Wow, it seems so insignificant the way they put it.
“‘Damage by the natural elements of the Redlands, the military team sent there two weeks ago all returned home. They returned with survivor of the original team, Dr. Damus Fisher, as prisoner on suspicions of his hand in the deaths of the rest of the team. A small team with military and area experts remained in the Redlands to continue peaceable exploration and study. Assisting them in the last survivor, reporter Siverine Nicholson.’
“I thought Siverine was the area expert,” he said, sitting back against the headboard to sip the juice.
“Actually, I think the dogs are the area experts. It was Siverine’s idea to call them that.”
Harrison looked out the window. “Do you think they’re all okay out there?”
“I do. Oddly enough, I think they’ll be just fine.”
Siverine made a face and muttered some choice words. The antennae wouldn’t line up with the satellite. She reached around the metal bin that was her desk and adjusted it again.
She sat in the shade of a well constructed tent—Dallas would work on the permanent structure once he finished the well. If that ever happened. Lan was helping him, pulling up buckets of dirt and dumping them.
Duke was laying at Siverine’s feet as she started typing again, trying to get the antennae to connect. A large rodent looking creature peeked around the corner. Duke jerked up at its sent and was off, chasing the trespasser out of the camp.
“Got it!” Siverine said as the equipment finally connected. While the computer uploaded some information, she shifted to write more in the notebook she had by the side of the computer.
“Siverine!! I hit water!” Kane exclaimed from the well. “Hurry.”
She was still a moment. Had she heard right? Uncertain, Siverine got up and walked toward the well. Duke came trotting back happily with the rodent—now dead—hanging from his mouth.
Siverine and the dogs looked over the side of the well as water leaked up to Kane’s ankles.
“I told you we’d hit water if we dug deep enough,” he said, sweating and dirty but grinning triumphantly.
Siverine shook her head. Was it really possible?
“I didn’t think the Bloodlands knew this kind of mercy,” she admitted.
Kane smiled at her and shrugged. “Maybe it just forgot. A lot bad people have corrupted—maybe it just needed someone to remind it what mercy was.”
Siverine slowly smiled back at him. “I guess you’re right.”
05-24-2007 12:38 AM
You know when an inexperienced runner starts on a distance run they go sprinting out of the gate and are exhausted by the end? I kinda feel like that. I feel as if I lost some of the momentum just because I couldn't keep the story coming out often and didn't have the time or energy to go into some of the other possible tangents. Still, thanks to everyone who has stuck with it this long to see the end. Hopefully now I can respond to other posts and comment on other's writings--I have read, just not had time to respond. And it doesn't look like my time will be freeing up any time soon.
OK, if you even remember your critiques, let's have them!
05-24-2007 04:01 AM
I guess I'll have to get it all together and give it another read before I can figure it out. I like the story over all, there's some GREAT stuff here, this end just doesn't fit, doesn't feel right.
congrats though, on at least finishing the marathon!!
maybe once you get your wind back, you'll be up for another go-round with this little story??
you still rock, Jayna! WOOT!
06-02-2007 12:09 PM
Perhaps if I'd written it all at once, it might have been easier to get, but the story is supposed to have significants or an underlying point. Among other minor statements, the main one I try to make is about remembering. When we forget who we are and were we came from, we might as well lose all our identity. When we forget God in our lives--like the Bloodlands had--and are corrupted by the lesser thoughts of men, we become distorted and twisted. The Bloodlands had forgotten and thus chaos ensued. It was to the point that it couldn't ever remember that it had forgotten.
Siverine's display of mercy for not letting Fisher die and rising about petty judgements reminded the Bloodlands what mercy and rightousness are. That's what Kane means at the end when he hits water and she can't believe it. The Boodlands are being tuned from its twisted harsh ways because someone has shown it what mercy is. The rain was a "gift" from heaven and something the Bloodlands couldn't stand because it was almost forced and when you push something, a body is more likely to push back. But leading by example and pull a body from depths had a much more profound effect.
I hope that made more sense of my ramblings and I again apologize for the poor quality of the ending works. Just to give you an idea, it's Saturday morning and I have to leave in three minutes to cover a town fair on the edge of the county for most of the day; I've got birthday gifts four three people to get and lists of names to make up. X__X
I think single life has more free time.
06-02-2007 05:18 PM
I'm sure now, reading what your intentions were for the overall story, the subtext and message of the piece, you culd go back and infuse each chapter with more of the required hints, exposition, foreshadowing and follow-thru with regards to those 'telling' aspects of the story.
great potential, as always, even with the 'muddled and hurried' end, just needs a little tweaking to bring out the greatness inherent in the piece.
I'm still your #1 fan (on B&N any way...)