Chapter Three: Secrets Laid Wide Open
Written by: Danceinsilence
It had only been two weeks since they landed. Two weeks of constant awareness. At least they were all safe within the confines of Star Ride.
Several times, hordes of zombies would pound repeatedly on the capsule’s door, either with their fists or with heavy metal objects, but it got them nowhere.
When they went outside in a group of three or more (never just one), at least they had their fire lasers to protect themselves but even that was soon to be put to an end. They were running out of fuel and when they tried getting fuel they would often have to run back to Star Ride as the deathly dead-walkers would begin to descend on them.
Clint and the others knew, without the fire lasers, they were no match when it came down to it. The odds were too great. Seven against hundreds and what felt like thousands would be impossible to win. The idea now was survival. Survival; the best way they could.
When all seven left the ISS, they took with them a radio transponder, electronic records of what had transpired, including those logs of the men and women who died as well as assorted video compiled by nearly thirty cameras stationed on the ISS.
These were things Clint knew he had to go through but at the same time he kept putting it off only because he couldn’t bear to read about the deaths of his wife and sons. Starvation. That had to be a hell of a way to die where your insides start feeding off yourself.
Clint set up a schedule from dawn to dark where someone would be on the radio to raise someone up. Anyone that wasn’t a zombie. Anyone still alive.
He made certain that there were ample batteries for the walkie-talkies, so when outside they could maintain constant touch with each other if split into groups of three and four.
It was his turn on the radio and as he continually sent out may-day signals, he started watching the tapes. Most of which showed the ISS crew doing their jobs. It also showed his wife, Carla with a small girl by her side who looked remarkably like Carla. Could it be? He had a daughter? A daughter that also died on the ISS. Neither Darryl nor Elana ever mentioned a young child on board. Why is that? When they returned to Star Ride it would be one of the first things he questioned them on. And why would Carla or for that matter, Mission Control allow such a thing? Had things been that bad then?
Clint felt a few tears trickle down his face, not just for Carla but also for the daughter he would never come to know. Did Darryl or Elana know her name? He needed to know her name.
Again he tried transmitting.
“This is Captain Clint Raymond from the United States, transmitting from the Houston’s Mission Control area. We have returned from a mission from outer space. Is there anyone out there? Do you read me? Is there anyone out there?”
Like all the other times, nothing but static could be heard. Giving it a break after several unsuccessful attempts, he started browning the video reels again. After eleven go-throughs, the twelfth one caused him to sit back, pause and then scream in a fit of rage. He saw both Carla and his daughter murdered and it all was on film.
He could make out Dale’s brother Mark, the other man he didn’t know, but neither of them were responsible. But the video reel showed a partial segment of two people running the opposite way of where Carla died. Two people that was on the ISS murdered his wife and daughter.
Thinking back on conversations with both Darryl and Elana, thinking on it now, some of the things they told him and his crew were starting to not add up. The more he thought, the more his anger was welling inside him. He would have answers before the day was over, although he already suspected what the answers were.
What is that saying? When it rains it pours? There was no rain but the shit did hit the fan.
Clint called us altogether for a meeting shortly after we came back with more food supplies, mostly canned goods and bottled water, and coffee. I can’t think straight without coffee.
Truth be told, after Clint showed us the video reel, I felt more like downing a fifth of vodka. It was a cruel thing to see. And Dale had tears in his eyes when he saw his brother.
After we all watched, Clint started questioning Darryl and Elana on the supposed deaths they said everyone succumbed too. Clint wanted to know what had happened to the bodies of Carla and the young girl. He wanted to know where the other bodies went.
It was all coming to a head and the look in Clint’s eyes told us everything. He didn’t buy into their story of malnutrition, and frankly neither did anyone else. Hell, Brad and Jules and myself had to restrain Dale. He was all set to lay into Darryl. Maybe we should have let him.
It was Elana who told what really happened.
“Darryl had this plan and at first I was against it. But the more he said our chances of survival out there would be greater if we eliminated everyone when each person was alone. As to the weapon, it was small but deadly. It was a Swiss mini-gun, about the size of a fob. It fires tiny 2.34mm shells at 270mph bullets powerful enough to kill at close range but the beauty of it, it makes no real sound.
“At first I was against the idea but then I started thinking of how much longer we would be up there—trapped, without a way home. Suddenly, the idea of survival at all costs built inside me. But I tell you now, it was Darryl who killed them all. I only got each person away from those on board. Isolated, they were easy targets.
“As for the bodies, they were jettisoned off the ISS and are probably still drifting in space.”
The way she explained everything was so matter-of-fact without an ounce of sadness in her voice. I wanted to strangle the bitch myself.
Clint did something I never saw him do before and that was knock out three of Darryl’s teeth and kicked him in the head. No one bothered to stop him but when he had his senses back intact, what he did say made us all stand up and take notice.
“I’m not a judge, but today I am your jury. There are no prisons left more than likely to send you to, but I can send you off Star Ride for good. As of right now, you are to leave here and never come back. Neither you nor Elana are welcomed here.” Turning to Elana he said more than asked, “What was the little girl’s name.”
It was 2016 hours when we were finished, and at 2019 hours, both Darryl and Elana disembarked off Star Ride and all of their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Personally, I hope the zombies get sick eating their bodies. This is Margo Jessup. Signing off.
Las Víboras Part 6
He watched as she struggled to reply, as her eyelids shut and she could not fight the sleep and the power of the drug capturing her body.
He pulled his face away and stood. He walked over to the desk and sat down, dipping his pen into the ink and finishing the last part of the letter.
Lady Edelia Evinson, daughter of His Most Gracious Lord Evinson, has been captured and will remain in my power until certain conditions are fulfilled.
King Yulio will recall his forces protecting the gold mine on the border of his land and Lord Evinson’s. Lord and Majesty will then combine their wealth and present it to the entrance of the mine. My messenger will collect the sum and Lady Edelia will be released.
Her Majesty will enter the mine with the prize, sans soldiers. She will be protected by my men, until Lady Edelia is released unto her Majesty.
My conditions will be met, or Her Ladyship will suffer at the hands of dark forces greater than the entire kingdom’s greatest men.
He blinked, looked over at the young woman’s sleeping frame. The potion he had forced into her will ensure of her inactivity for the following twelve hours. Following that, he would have to think of other methods to contain her.
She would be capable of taking out his entire force; he was certain of that. He smirked ever so slightly and returned to his letter.
Five thousand pieces in gold, three hundred crates in rubies, and twenty in diamonds will release Her Ladyship and protect Her Majesty.
If the sum is not presented for Her Ladyship’s release, Your Highness…Your daughters, in their separate kingdoms, will be unfortunate enough to suffer severe and possibly lethal accidents.
He signed it with a flourish, in contrast to the rest of the strong lettering. He placed the letter to the side, allowing the ink to dry.
Hernando entered the count’s cave chamber and stood silent. For the moment he was allowed, he watched his friend. The count finished his letter and rose from his chair, immediately turning to his best man.
“Think what you will of me, Hernando, but I see a brilliant future. You are blinded by your sense of goodness.” Fidel crossed the room and took hold of Hernando’s shoulders.
“I fear for your end, Fidel. Those who play with darkness will be swallowed by it.”
“You fear for evil to prevail, my friend; your fear blinds you.” He sighed and released Hernando. “If you wish to be released, give the order and I will obey you.”
Hernando shook his head sadly.
“We have walked the journey too long, Fidel. Infants to children to boys to young men to what we have become. Your soul will be consumed, I see the end of this all, yet I will walk until we both fall.”
Fidel smiled, dipped his head.
“You deserve the life you seek. At the end of this all, you will have it.” He turned and folded his hands behind his back. He stared at the sleeping frame of Edelia. “We all have our predestined journeys and adventures. I believe they are chosen for us, before birth. We must travel the path carved out for us.”
“You believe a prophesy of a beggar woman, who could have been more? A witch, an evil teller of one’s fortune, or the face of evil herself?”
“I believe that woman spoke truth. ‘You, Count Fidel, will restore this kingdom and the power of Víboras.’” He quoted. “It has been spoken; so it will be.”
“Do you consider this mission worth the sacrifice of an innocent maiden? A lady, she could have been your bride, do you consider this worth her end?”
He nodded slowly.
“The consequences of a sacrifice, have you considered that?” Hernando joined his friend, but looked into Fidel’s face, instead of at the lady. “She will haunt you, my friend. I see it in her face, her disposition, her spirit. She will haunt you for the impertinence and lack of character you exhibited regarding her person and life.”
“She may haunt me. Her presence I will survive.” He turned from her and headed for the large space of the cave’s system. His friend waited for a moment, pity etched into the lines on his face.
He followed, found the count standing underneath the chandelier. He had already extinguished the torches and was busy exterminating the light of the chandelier.
“You have feelings for her,” Hernando proclaimed. He kept five paces behind the count. “You willingly accept the hold she will forevermore have on you.”
He extinguished the last of the candles and they stood in the darkness. Fidel’s voice was cold and eerie when he replied.
“A sacrifice, Hernando, requires of one to give what he loves.”
Hernando retreated to the mouth of the door. Out of both left and right hallways appeared ghostly presences of pale green. They twitched and floated in the air.
They met in the center of the room and flew to the chandelier, lighting the candles with their light. Green flickered and cast shadows. The presences vanished as they lit the chandelier.
Hernando turned and walked towards his friend’s chamber. He despised his friend’s alliance. He would not advocate anybody, least of all himself, to witness a meeting between the Víboras and his friend.
The count stood strong and unwavering in the room. He could clearly hear the slithering of the snakes and their hissing. They entered from the left and right entrances, slithering to the middle of the floor, gathering in front of him.
They twisted into each other, rising higher and higher into a human shape.
They formed the hem of a dress, the skirt, the middle, the bodice. They rose and formed the sleeves, sleeves that reached to the elbows, from where they fell and became loose to allow the lower part of the arm to the wrist to feel free.
Two black hands appeared from these sleeves. Her neck appeared, then her head. They slithered around her and formed her head. Her eyes were black, lifeless.
Then her complexion changed.
She walks down the street
Confidence, head high
Firmly on her own feet
Strong enough to fly
He cracks a joke
Smiles and winks
He's already broke
Dead as a sphinx
They meet, greet
Souls find peace
Until the disease
Her eyes vacant
Her head low
Death sentence blatant
The end slow
He loses his smile
He grows weak
The future bleak
They wail, they fail
Souls know no peace
After the disease
She walks the street
Head hung low
Love was fleet
Death the foe
He lies below stone
Never to kiss her again
He left her alone
With the demons of her brain
No strong arms to hold me
Where I sit in my corner
A little too little love
Bestowed on the one needing more
Lonesome and alone
This is how I belong
Craving more hugs and love
Aching to share and show
Tired of celebrating on my own
Reaching milestones in mystery
I cheer for my quiet self
Not how I should be
I write and write
Staving off insanity
Not understanding what I need
Nor where I need to be
All these never-ending voices
Exactly how it’s always been
My own hero, my own villain
Praise myself, break myself down
Believe in the self, doubting self
I’m holding up myself by myself
Clinging to a crutch and hope
Passing the cracked walls of my heart
It is my fault, has to be
It’s only me that lives for me
How I made it to be
Treading my own path
The traveler going insane
Tamping his heartache
Laughing when the pain hides
Sometimes doing better than fine
Until everything crashes and I find
Just been walking on a thin line
Keeping my balance
Until I tipped over
Inexperienced as the newborn baby
An old soul saying last goodbyes
The jubilant sapling has died
Crumbling black branches abide
As dark and black as my nightmares
As dead, impossible as my dreams
Living on music and words
Pulling through on sugar and imagination
Sometimes climbing out of the hole
Let everybody know I’m still half-whole
The cycle repeats itself, proclaiming
The only consistent thing about me
I wish you well, and you, and you
Tomorrow, we can laugh again
Today I sit and drink in darkness
Ridding myself of all the blackness
Tomorrow, the sun will shine and I will smile
Tonight…I fight the demons of my soul
Lonesome and alone
Las Víboras Part 5
She awoke from her sleep with a fierce headache. She couldn’t understand why it was so dark in her chambers and why she felt as if she had been run over by a wagon. Her body ached from toe to crown. Her eyelids felt heavy and her fingers numb. It felt as if her entire body had been sleeping and wasn’t ready to wake up yet, too tired to wake up.
She tried to sit up in her bed, but fell over the edge and hit the rocky floor. The stone was cold underneath her hands; she could even feel the stony touch and the coldness through her dress.
The world was swimming in front of her eyes, not that she could see much of it. She couldn’t see the walls of the room she was in, but when she lifted her head she saw the swimming outline of a door.
She suddenly remembered about a man with raven locks, blue eyes, and a taunting smile. She remembered that he had called himself Count Fidel Guillermo Hasta del Fizanto. It was the blue of his eyes that forced her to believe him.
During all those times spent together, the fake count had fooled with her. Or perhaps he was just a lying count. It was uncertain whether he had just been telling some lies, or whether he really was a count. At this moment, though, it didn’t matter.
All that mattered was finding Giuliana and a way out of wherever they were.
She rose to her feet, but the world turned and her ears dived underwater. She fell to the ground again, and stood on hands and knees, waiting for the swimming sensation to leave.
As soon as it subsided, she started crawling towards the door. She felt that the floor was definitely stone, possibly the floor of a cave.
The entrance of the cave room she was in had been dug out ruggedly, and fitted with wooden doorposts.
Outside of the cave room, she looked up and saw she was in a hallway. To her left, it was darkness. To her right, a light flickered over the end of the hallway, where the tunnel opened into a large room.
She crawled in this direction, slowly and painstakingly making her way past three entrances on her right and one on her left.
The light grew stronger and the floor less rugged. The hallway opened up into a large underground space. Here, there were three torches besides every exit out of the room. They counted twenty-four torches, and the effect was magnificent. In the middle of the room, there hung some kind of rough chandelier from the vaulted ceiling, and hundreds of candles burned in this.
The entire room was well-lit. She could see three exits, one at each wall, and wondered what lay beyond them.
“A lady on hands and knees,” he mocked from behind her. She swung around, too quickly, and fell backwards, her head spinning furiously once more.
She felt strong hands pick her up and felt the sensation of being moved. The count, fake or true, carried her to the exit across from them. This room had one exit out of it. It was also well-lit, and though her head was swimming, she could see a bed and chests by its foot and next to it, acting as a table.
There was a desk in the one corner, and bookshelves mounted on the wall over it. An exit was to the right side. The left lower corner, closest to them, had an armchair and smaller table. The right lower corner had the door and nothing else in it.
She saw all this, for he stood still in his sanctuary, giving her the moment to introspect.
“I apologize for the lack of style in my choice of décor, Milady. This is an underground cave system, after all. Finery should be left for castles.”
She didn’t look at him, but watched warily as he carried her towards the bed. He thumped her unceremoniously and turned away, walking out of the cave room. He returned but a moment later with a silver goblet.
The liquid reminded her of wine, but the smell was repulsive. She turned her head away from it, pulling up her nose.
“Milady, you will obey me or suffer the consequences.” He grabbed her chin and forced the liquid to her lips. Though she fought and struggled, his force and fight was stronger. The liquid sloshed at her lips, entered the cracks, slipped into her mouth and down her throat.
She felt the foul-smelling liquid dripping off her chin and onto her already-filthy dress.
He was merciless, though, and soon more of the liquid was landing on her tongue than her dress. Every last drop was forced into her, and then he let go of her. She had been fighting his hold and her head whipped back, lightly hitting the rock wall.
His smile was mysterious and mocking in the light of wall-mounted torches. He stepped away and towards the desk, where he placed the goblet and then seated himself.
The swimming sensation departed from her brain, even though her body felt exhausted and ready to sleep once more.
“Who are you really?” She muttered, willing her numb lips to life.
“I am really Count Fidel Guillermo Hasta del Fizanto.” He glanced over at her and back at the letter he was composing.
“What do you want with me?” Her head started swimming and dots splattered in her vision. “Why did you kidnap me?” Her tongue was getting heavy and she fell onto the bed.
The count stood from his chair and walked over to the bed. Without any effort, he picked her up and placed her back more comfortably. He then crossed over to the foot of the bed and pulled a light blanket from the chest. He covered Edelia and then sat down, rubbing his finger down the side of her face.
“You are Lady Edelia, a favourite of Queen Charlisia, and noticed by King Yulio. I am a man with great dreams for the day of tomorrow. It is time to end what exists, Milady. It is time to create the future. Your father is a generous man…He will not allow any scoundrel to walk away with his daughter.”
He cupped her cheek and leaned in closer.
“My dearest Lady, I require the perfect sacrifice. Who else but the daughter of Lord Evinson, the lord of property encompassing the magnitude of the King and Queen’s lands combined? Who else but the King’s favoured Lord to threaten?”
“Fear not, Milady…” He chuckled, pressing his nose against hers. “It will be painless.”
Time has passed us by,
I sit wrapped in my old cardigan,
And try to forget your goodbye
Does it ever cross your mind
That none of this was my fault?
Our love you did rescind
Living my semi-charmed life
Really, I wanna get better
But I'm captured in the strife
Only one thing I need now
Somebody to love, anybody true
Tell me to move past this, tell me how
Honey, a little less conversation
Listen to your heart, dear
Let's only take time for probation
I want to love you, anybody
Love for a thousand years and more
Walk into the future with somebody
I am sorry; forgive me
You will be found by the right one
Not me; we weren't meant to be
Blame it on me, I'll take the fall
Remember I, Christina
I love you, despite it all
Las Víboras Part 4
He looked at his companion and away.
“Don’t stare at me in such a manner, Hernando. I did what I thought necessary.”
“Knocking a noblewoman clear of her consciousness? Of course, my friend, that was completely of need.”
The two men locked their gazes and stared, before breaking into smiles.
“You do not fear what could happen to you, do you, Fidel? The Fizanto family is a myth, and once they discover the ruse…the lies you have been feeding them for years…And once Lady Edelia’s father discovers that you had knocked his daughter senseless…”
“I saved her life. I eased my own.”
Hernando shook his head and turned away. He left the dark room to enter into the accompanying one. The young woman looked up furiously. Her hair was askew and her face dirty. A bruise had formed on her left cheek; he had been a bit rough with the maid, but she fought like a tiger.
Giuliana glared at him. They had tied her to a large wooden post holding up the roof. The only light in the room fell from the hole in the roof. A dilapidated building had its advantages and disadvantages. Natural lighting and shadows. An excellent hiding place, and yet one of the first places they would be sure to search.
He hoped that his friend knew what he was doing. This was going to be a fierce war, and he didn’t like the alliances his friend had made.
Edelia’s ears sung and her eyes blurred, yet she forced herself up and found herself lying on leather hides of questionable cleanliness. Four large wooden posts held up the roof, and her maid was tied to the one.
“Giuliana?” The world started swimming when she stood up.
“My lady, are you well?”
She fell to her knees, clinging onto her head between her hands.
“Milady, the intention was for you to stay where we had placed you so comfortably.” The tone was mocking and slightly familiar.
She looked up and didn’t recognize the man, but recognized the eyes. It was the blue of her previously intended groom’s. This man was a stranger to her, with his raven locks, his taunting smile, and the way his eyes flashed with malice.
“I am delighted to see you awake, Milady. It leads me to believe that we can press on in our journey.”
“Who are you?” She murmured. She bit her lip, fighting the swimming, turning feeling of her mind and stared at the man.
“Pardon my manners, Milady. I am the Count Fidel Guillermo Hasta del Fizanto.” His lips curved more sardonically. “The true count, not the fake, foppish fool one.”
He grabbed her wrists and pulled her up. The sudden motion de-stabilized her and her knees buckled under her. He grabbed her body and picked her up in a swooping motion.
“Put me down, scoundrel.” Her voice shook and her body felt extremely weak, yet she tried to fight the rascal that thought it seemly to pick up.
“I reserve the right to disobey your every order, Milady.” He smirked. “I choose to ignore your every order from the present into the future. You are in my power, Edelia, not the other way around.”
Another man suddenly appeared beside them. She looked past the man to see her maid slumped to the ground, her eyes closed, her features asleep. The man that had joined them seemed uncertain, yet he forced her mouth open and dropped a few drops of a sticky liquid down her throat.
Her vocal chords failed and her head started swimming more and more. She felt nauseous and sea-sick, yet her captor didn’t seem to care or consider it. He marched on, his big strides leading them out of the room and building.
She wondered what they had done to her mind. What would they do to her? Where were they going, and why? What was going on in the kingdom?
Before she could continue her questioning thought process, her eyes closed and she fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
The sun had set and darkness had crept over the country by the time Hernando and Count Fidel reached the forest.
Dark cat-like figures watched them from the large tree branches. They noticed both men and their packages.
The cats followed in the branches, walking as the men rode on. The white mare snickered in protest, but the ink-black stallion walked proudly, nobly, as if he owned the whole of the forest and the creatures within it.
Snakes hissed and slithered from the trees and down the vines. Their hiss multiplied in sound, and Hernando closed his eyes, trusting his mare to follow her companion through the forest to their destination.
He felt the vines brushing past his face and heard a malicious hiss from a serpent on the line. He shuddered and clasped the young woman tightly. She moaned softly; he held his breath.
The evil critters and creatures around them weren’t disturbed or alarmed. Bats continued flitting past their heads, the snakes continued hissing and slithering, and he could see the eyes of the cats as they moved in pace with them.
Finally, they reached the large tree and Fidel dismounted, confidently holding onto the noblewoman in his arms. Hernando had a less gentle and smooth manner of getting from his horse onto the ground, but he didn’t drop the girl, at least.
They stepped towards the tree’s trunk. Fidel paused five paces from the trunk and whistled lowly. It was an eerie sound, sending shivers down Hernando’s spine, as it always did.
The earth fell away in front of them and the large gaping hole greeted them, even darker than the forest around them.
In unison, the cats released a haunting roar that echoed through the treetops and throughout the forest.
Fidel stepped into the dark hole and fell. Hernando followed.
The earth closed, and then the cats roared again, the snakes hissing and the bats screeching along.
Innocent deer, critters, and birds kept silent, huddling in their hiding places at the sound of impending war. A hundred years of peace was deemed long enough.
Life is difficult...Put on some music, sing along, and eat ice cream. It gets better.
Hello. I am GLD, who has an interest in humour, wit, sarcasm, science fiction, fantasy, and just about everything that is interesting enough to read, sing along to, ponder about, or laugh about.
Now, I got the minimum of 15 words, so there you go.
(I really only entered because you said that anybody who sees this challenge has to enter it, and I have yet to learn how to unsee things. Maybe one day.)
Used to Believe
It was long ago
Feels like yesterday
It all fell apart
At the end of May
I wish I knew then
That life would turn
So dark and searing
Here I sit and burn
I used to believe
In miracles and more
In people and faith
Now I just shut the door
There's too much pain
Too much hurt and lying
I don't want to feel
Don't want to be crying
This is where faith brought me
Where goodwill and laughter
Decided I should be
A crumbling, breaking daughter
This is me; broken and cleft open
Sliced from skin to bone
Relieved of my throne
My crown, my pride, my life
My laughter, my smiles, my heart
They all died and were taken from me
Driven away in a strong, enclosed cart
I used to believe...
No use anymore