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Getting into the writing scene here on the NG. Feel free to comment on any of my stories, past or present, as I am always appreciative of feedback.
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Level 14 Blank Slate
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"HONEYMOON" RD2 "
It was a cool, breezy, April night. The wind whistled through palm trees surrounding a small coastal island estate off the shores of California, where the sounds of a party could be heard from the silken sands of the beach. Salty waves beat against the cliff sides to a rhythm all its own, attempting to scale the rock as it had done for centuries. The sky was clear save for the full moon that gave its milky light to the partygoers down below. Blasting music and laughter lifted into the night air, with the clink of glasses to guests of honor. Through the crowd and up onto a small stage lit by outdoor lights stands a single man, slightly less capable of speech than he would normally be so, ready to speak.
"Thanks, my great...many friends. I am pleashed to have you all...here. On this most shelebrated of nights, to be here, with me...and...that lady I married", he said with a smirk on his face as the crowd laughed. He stood a full five foot ten on a thin frame; or rather he would have if he were not stumbling about the stage in undead like motion. His grin revealed a pleasant smile beneath blue eyes on his slightly tanned face with a crop of short, black hair upon his scalp. He continued to thank his many friends for their endless support.
"You guys have always washed out for me, and I wanted to say...how mush I appreci...am happy...ah hell...", he stated as his legs gave out from under him, "bombs away!" With a thud and some gasps from the crowd he slammed to the stage floor.
Laughter drifted upon the salty air as a beautiful red-haired woman approached the stage. Her eyes were a striking emerald green, set in a perfectly curved face, with a small curved nose and full lips that were now drawing up to a smirk of their own. As she made her way on to the stage, some of the guests cheered and she let loose a full blown smile upon the crowd, to which the cheers grew louder. She placed one delicate, thin hand upon her face in embarrassment, white dress flowing down and around her.
She made a show of shrugging to the crowd and picked up the downed mike, "Well, he did say in sickness and in health. I suppose a wife must do what a wife must" sang her smooth voice over the crowd. Still smiling, she bent over and brought up her husband with his arm over her shoulder. Two more men came up onto the stage and helped her drag him off. A band resumed playing, and the party was in full swing again. An hour or so passed as the newlywed wife thanked guests as they approached her and her now aroused husband.
"Ugh...Amber..." the man grunted in the woman's general direction. "How long have I been down?"
"Long enough, Corwin" Amber replied, smiling.
The man returned her smile in full force, and for a moment the intensity increased between them and they drew close to one another, the party fading to the background around them. They embraced and as they did so, their lips met, sharing in a kiss that was delicate yet full of passion. When they drew apart, they did so with reluctance.
"Care for a dance?" she whispered in Corwin's ear.
"Of course, my lovely lady" he returned in whisper.
Together they stood and made their way to the center of the dance floor. They glided and drifted back and forth, sharing in laughter and the odd misstep or two. As the night grew late, guests began to say their goodbyes, leaving their wishes with the happy newlyweds. They continued to dance together, gazing into each other's eyes as the night grew quieter and soon all but a few guests remained. There was one in particular, however, that the couple had not noticed before. He rose from his corner of the garden surrounding the dance floor and approached from a patch of darkness. As he approached, it seemed as though the moon dimmed and the stars stole back their light. Corwin felt somewhat a chill run down his spine as the man's footsteps echoed on the dance floor. Slowly, Corwin and Amber ceased dancing and gazed up from their intimacy to meet eyes with this dark stranger.
His clothes, while pressed and presentable, seemed older, a more archaic tux than is typically expected at affairs such as their wedding reception. The jacket smelled of cigar smoke, deep and musky, and his skin was almost as black as midnight. He wore a top hat, which they both found very unusual but said nothing as he closed the distance between himself and the couple. He was a tall, thin man, taller than either of them. When he finally reached them after what seemed an eternity, his eyes met theirs from under the brim of his hat, dark coals gazing at them from a white bed of pearl. His high cheekbones pulled back his grin to reveal a set of slightly yellowed teeth and a slight wisp of cigar smoke, as though fire resided in his belly.
"Good evening, lovely people" he said in a deep baritone, "It was such an honor to be here and see such a fine young couple", his eyes darted back and forth between the two, "make the commitment of a lifetime. Such a rare thing to find these days, such a beautiful jewel to behold, this thing born from", he sneered slightly, "love." The couple both felt as though his voice reverberated through their bodies, rattling their ribcages. They felt this man deserved some amount of respect and so Corwin, feeling braver of the two, spoke, "Thank you sir...and you are..?"
The man drew himself upright and let out laughter that seemed to vibrate the estate, "Of course! Please forgive my manners, how rude of me. It has been some time since I have traveled abroad. I am fairly well known in my own...country, so I am not accustomed to introducing myself. My name is Anansi Rabi. And I come bearing a special offer for just the two of you. You see, I am a diplomat of sorts from a small island country and we are seeking to spread the word that tourism has come to our little speck of the world. It is far to the southwest of this very coast, but by plane you could reach it in a matter of hours. I had taken the liberty during this party to ask around about what your honeymoon plans were to be...and discovered..." he looked back and forth between them once again, an eyebrow raised, "that you have none?"
What the dark man said was true, they didn't have the money for a real honeymoon after the expensive wedding and reception, but they had planned a trip into the mountains, just to get away from everything and everyone. "We did have some plans to get away for a while, and I can see where you are going with this," Corwin said, "but we really don't have any money to do any sort of tourist site. We just wanted some place private."
The man frowned, "I am sorry if I implied you had to pay anything at all, for that was not my intention. I am offering this trip to you," his grin returned, "free of charge! You simply have to go to the airport tomorrow with these two tickets at the gate."
Anansi's grin returned and he focused his gaze on Amber, "And you may stay for as long as you like. Here..." he presented the tickets, "...these will allow you to board our private plane. It leaves tomorrow at 10 am. I hope you decide to join us on our island, I believe you will find the experience...revealing."
He took a step back after Corwin and Amber had accepted their tickets. He bowed his head slightly then faced them again, "Good evening Mr. and Mrs. Bishop. If you get there and have any questions..." his hand flashed from his jacket pocket and he thrust something forward, towards Corwin's stomach. Corwin nearly reflexively struck the man until he saw it was a small black card with gold text. "...here is my card" Anansi said with a smile.
Corwin took the card and stared off after the man as he walked away. Corwin realized just then he had a nervous pit in his stomach. When Anansi had thrust forward his card, it felt as though a cloaked dagger had pierced him and left that cold sick feeling in him. Corwin shook it off. Amber looked at him concerned. "Are you ok love? You look sick. All those rum and cokes..." she said as her smile returned. He grinned as well. Anansi's steps had faded and they were alone again.
Perhaps he was just being judgmental. He certainly wasn't in a position to be disagreeable about a free trip, and it is the very least his bride deserved. The man had certainly gone out of his way to offer the trip; the least they could do was consider it.
It did not take Amber much convincing. The moment she got wind that Corwin was at least semi-seriously considering it, she began to overflow with encouragement. Corwin was happy that she was happy, and that's all that mattered to him; it was all the convincing he needed.
They arrived an hour before the plane was to depart, and made their way to gate 13 of the small island airport. There were no others at the gate save for the young woman behind the counter. After getting their tickets arranged and checked, she informed them the plane was actually on the runway and taxiing into position. After a few moments, they boarded and departed the small island estate. The journey took about 5 hours in the Cessna aircraft and they were both still fairly tired. Listening to the sound of the propeller engine, they eventually drifted off to sleep together.
With a jolt and a thud they were awake. It was very dark outside as rain hit the windshield of the plane. The pilot was swearing and noticed they had awakened. "Hold on to something, we are hitting some serious turbulence! This could get nasty!" and he faced forward again as lighting struck in the distance. As the plane rumbled and shuttered, they could see a large dark mass below them. They only had moments to speculate because soon after the shuttering grew worse and the moaning of twisted metal howled like a banshee.
Amidst the screaming wind and falling rain they plummeted to the violent grip of the sea. The last thing anyone saw was dark waters before a shattering windshield, the taste of salt and blood in their mouths as a black, cold abyss swallowed them whole.
Slowly Corwin tried to regain consciousness, as his eyes opened to find the world askew, with the horizon going vertical into the misty distance. He slowly sucked air back into his lungs and coughed as sea water left his body onto the sandy shore as he lay upon his side. He sat upright and restored his horizon to its proper position. He surveyed the beach around him to find nothing near him except the unnatural mist.
"AMBER!" He cried out and instantly regretted it as his sides screamed in protest. Aside from a general soreness, he felt as though he could walk steadily, if slowly. He began to stumble down the beach. Oddly, as he did so, the mist seemed to form in front of him as he approached. Then he heard a soft sound, a voice, coming from the mist.
"Cory, Im hurt. Help me Cory. I need you. Save me Cory. SAVE ME!"
Then silence. Not even the waves lapping at the shore seemed to make noise. Corwin began to sweat, despite his shivering from the cold damp clothing. His breathing slowed as he just took in what he had heard. Cory, she had called him. Only Amber really called him that, in their most private moments. He had to save her. What if she was hurt? There was no one else here. He had to find her.
He ventured toward the jungle and found an entrance into the dense foliage. He saw plenty of branches strewn about the island floor. After a few moments he gathered a considerable number of branches and broke them into a foot in length each. Then he ripped off pieces of his shirt and tied them each to one of the branches, and slowly progressed into the jungle, dropping a branch every so often, about two feet apart. His shirt had been a bright red; it was easy to see on the green floor.
As he made his way into the jungle, he yelped as he felt sudden pain on his arms, causing him to drop his bundle of sticks. Looking down he saw several thin cuts on his forearm. Ruby drops formed and fell in a steady rhythm to the jungle floor. Damn, he thought, these branches and leaves are sharp. As he picked up his bundle, he noticed a small web glistening in the sunlight, his small red drop of blood forming at its center, near the base of the tree. Vines like veins wrapped down around the ancient trunk and into the ground. Did his eyes trick him or was his brain addled? Did the vines just pulse? He heard a strange sound and glanced back down at the web. It was clean of any red coloring. Shuttering and shaking his head, he continued onward, into the mist, leaving a small trail in his wake.
Amber slowly opened her eyes to see the beach before her, with rubble strewn all about. She couldn't remember. How did she get here? Where is here? And where was Cory? She sat up as best she could and felt pain ring through her body. Despite her own reservations about the prospect, she decided to stand up. She found it easier than she expected and afterward looked to the wreckage. There was a body not five feet from her...
"Oh God, Cory..."
She walked over to the body and realized with some relief that it was the pilot, his arm detached at the left elbow, and his body was bloated from the sea. Poor man, she thought, he died while we lived. Strange, how fate works in the favor of some and not others.
She heard a noise in the direction of the jungle, and suddenly realized she was truly alone, that Cory was not on the beach, and she was surrounded by fog. She felt vulnerable. Quickly back stepping, she reached below and felt something solid, with some weight to it. Metallic. It was about 5 feet in length, a snapped portion of the plane's supporting truss from under the wing. And it had a lethal end. She held it as one would a spear and with new found courage, pressed on into the jungle.
She wasn't two steps in when she noticed a twig upon the ground with something tied to it. Upon further examination she realized it had a piece of Corwin's shirt tied around it. After a few more feet, she found another. Encouraged, she pressed on into the foliage, ignoring the scrapes and cuts the plants delivered to her. After about fifteen minutes, she was completely surrounded by fog and jungle, only the branches guiding her towards her husband. One after another, they directed her through the silence of the mist. Then she came to what looked to be the last branch, because there were no others after it. Frustrated, she knelt down near the branch, perspiration dripping from her brow. Then she gasped with a quick intake of breath.
Her muscles tightened and she was standing again. Her eyes were fixed on the ground, not on the branch, but on the glistening drops of blood next to it. Slowly, she crept through the jungle following this ominous trail, and as she did so, the drops turned into small pools of blood, reflecting back her own crimson visage. She couldn't breathe anymore and each step was leaden with fear. But she continued onward, seeing the gore was now not only on the ground but the branches and leaves of the surrounding jungle. She wanted to scream but she couldn't. Her knuckles were white as she griped the spear as though it anchored her to this world.
Then finally her gaze lifted as the mist seemed to draw away from the place directly in front of her. She stopped. The soil before her was black, almost volcanic, if she was to be any kind of judge. The blood trail went into this cave mouth that now stood eight feet in height before her. It seemed to slowly decline into the island itself. Trees grew at the top of the cave mouth and the vines seemed to go into the cave from all directions. It was an eerie sight. Every fiber of her being told her the place was not natural. If she had to use a single word to describe it, evil would be the only proper word. Tight jawed until now, she relaxed her mouth to call out to the cave, "Corey? Are you in there?"
No Response. She approached the entrance and the air seemed to be going into the cave rather than out of it, like the intake of breath to the great maw before her. Darkness obstructed her way. She backed out slowly and went back to the branches and gathered a few. She tore some of her own shirtsleeve off and wrapped it to make it a bundle of twigs. If only she had a light. As she searched around for something to start a spark, she froze as her eyes fixed on a small object. It was still smoldering, as though it had been recently discarded. She began to quake, but remained upright. A cigar. She approached it slowly and used its embers to get a small fire going on her makeshift torch. Then she turned back to the cave, and, setting her will for whatever was within, entered.
As the light at her back dimmed and she was enveloped by the darkness, she realized she could only see a few feet in front of her, and since she was following the blood trail, she had to keep it closer to the ground. Spear still in hand, she progressed through the cave, her steps echoing ahead of her. She came out of the narrow cave passage into what she felt was a large cavern, since her light could no longer reach the walls. And just ahead of her torchlight, she could make out a figure. Wearing a top hat. Despite the darkness, she could see the white pearl of the stranger's eyes and his dark pupils. And somehow, his grinning, yellow teeth.
Frozen she stood there for a few moments, trying to get her eyes to confirm or deny what she was seeing. Her fear began welling up in her as the lifeless eyes continued to hold her gaze. She tightened her grip on the spear and held it up as she spoke
"Who are you? What do you want?"
The grinning stranger spoke, "You know who I am. We have already met."
"What are we doing here? Why are you here?" she stammered.
"I am here because you are here and it needed me to bring you here. Without me it could not have met you. And without it, I could not be. And without me, my children would starve. We would have no home without it."
At this, Amber heard a skittering on the floor. The figure remained motionless. The sound grew louder and she held out her torch just a little further and her jaw dropped at the sight, a soundless scream escaping her mouth. The floor around her moved with a slow determination, moving her from the entrance and deeper into the cavern. Hundreds of tiny sets of eyes gazed up at her, an army of black and waxy spiders pushing her ever backward, slowly drawing nearer. She felt the floor grow sticky as she retreated, and almost stumbled to the ground. Spear in one hand and torch in the other, she began to sob, echoing into the cave.
"Where is he!? Where is Cory? What have you done with him you bastard!?"
The spiders ceased their advance and held off about five feet from her in all directions she could see. Her back finally met the wall but the resistance was not solid. It was soft, giving, and slightly warm. Wet and sticky. Fleshy.
She slowly turned, her lower lip trembling, eyes blurred with tears, she met the gaze of her husband, his eyes fluttering as blood poured from several wounds on his body at the arms, legs and center of his torso. He was spread eagle against the cavern wall, and she forgot for a moment there was an army of Anansi's children behind her. Her heart sank at seeing his ravaged body. And to her horror, she realized he was still barely alive. His chest heaved up and down in a slow pattern.
Anger rose in her chest against the desperation, and as she turned back around to face the terror from the darkness, she dropped her torch down in front of her. Grimacing she held her spear tip out.
"If you want him to feast on, you will have to come through me first!" She yelled into the darkness. Laughter echoed the cavern and bled off into silence, as all the spiders continued to stare, venom dripping from their mandibles like the saliva of a hungry beast.
"My dear Amber, do you not realize? We are, my children and I, but servants to IT. And it has already tasted his flesh. You are for us. For my children and I. And make no mistake. We will.."
Anansi stepped forward into the light, his grin broader than humanly possible; his eyes alight with the flame from the torch, casting a shadow over his ghastly face. He leaned over his thin frame picked up the torch.
At this Amber braced herself and backed away. But rather than advance on her he held the torch high above his head. For a moment Amber just gazed back, confused by his action. Slowly Anansi gazed upward. Amber followed his gaze up and felt her heart drop to the cavern floor, an atom bomb to her sanity. The light from the torch grazed over the hundred corpses on the ceiling, entangled in the roots of the trees. The corpses had roots twining in and out of the dried husks that were once human, jaws set in silent screams, limbs torn apart. Their skin was black and she could see hundreds of silky webs flowing in and out of the human carcasses and tree roots.
"You are not the first. Nor will you be the last."
Amber shuttered and came back to the moment. She fixed her spear in his direction.
"If anyone dies today, you will certainly be one of them." She said quietly but firmly.
Anansi quickly rushed up to her arms out stretched and roaring at her. Amber screamed as the spear entered his chest, making the sound of crushed fruit as it pierced his stomach. Anansi slumped over towards her and gasped. His gasping slowly faded up into laughter as he threw his whole upper body backwards, howling at the dark. The spiders remained unmoving.
As he sat himself upright, his face only a few feet from hers, he spoke in a hushed tone
"I have not been alive for decades, foolish girl. It will have you and I will have what is left when it has been nourished. Now join your husband, in a lover's embrace!"
He quickly thrust her back against her husband's body with his hand as the spiders finally advanced, crawling up Anansi's body and enveloping him as they crawled over Amber, tiny legs tickling her skin, waxy bodies brushing up against her body everywhere. She felt something sticky begin to cover her arms and legs. A few moments and the webbing had soon immobilized her, even before the biting began. She lost all sensation.
"Consider the poison my gift to you. You won't feel a thing."
Before she could ponder what he meant, she felt something wriggling into her arms, legs and the center of her back. From her husband. She slowly turned her head and through the spiders she could see the tips of roots coming out of her skin, blood trying to escape but being absorbed by the gluttonous branches. Anansi laughed into the growing dark as the light from the torch went out beneath the echo of Amber's tormented screams.
The waves continued to wash up onto the shore, dragging pieces of debris away and into the eternal abyss. A black top hat drifted out from the shore and into the choppier waters of the coming storm. Soon it could not be seen at all, disappearing behind the waves.
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Total Medals Earned: 855 (From 159 different games.)