Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Eyes On The Prize (Part Five)

Previously on E.O.T.P….

Somewhere on the edge of the known world a plane came down in the latter stages of the war. It was carrying Oliver Postgate, a pilot and something else: a secret so deadly that Postgate was willing to sacrifice his life to stop the Nazi’s from getting hold of it.

Sometime in the present day or near future a small expedition sets out to find the mysterious artefact. It’s members include Charles Templar, a former priest with a dark background, Mark Brannigan a young archaeologist and geologist and Claire McKenzie – the woman funding the expedition for reasons that have yet to be revealed.

Hot on their heels is the much better equipped John Fisher and his team of five, as yet, unknown men.

Shortly after arriving at the plane the team’s dogs are killed, leaving them stranded. Then, just as Fisher and his team turn up, things start to turn a little supernatural.

When we last saw them blue lightning was streaking across the sky…it seemed to be coalescing into a new, all too alive, shape…

And now…the penultimate episode…

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There was a sound, breaking across the sky in a wave of torment. It was a sound that no human could have made; pure in its animal rage. It seemed to be born in that second as the blue lightning touched the ground, sending sparks flying across the snow. It was the sound of a child’s soul in torment.

Icy tendrils of fire snaked across the frozen ground towards the group as they ran towards the empty husk of the plane, chasing their footsteps.

Fisher was the first to reach the hatch and already had it half closed before Templar reached the door, jamming his frame into the gap. Fisher turned the butt of the shotgun and slammed it towards Templar’s face, forcing him to retreat slightly. Fisher tried to close the door fully, but now Brannigan and McKenzie were pushing their weight against him as well and he was forced to retreat far enough to let them inside.

Once they were through the gap Fisher wasted no time in shutting out the rest of his men and looking for something to wedge against the door to stop it opening again. McKenzie shot him a look of dark humour, ‘I see you still have your high moral values then?’ she retorted. Fisher said nothing, wedging a bar between the handles as and jumping back as if stung. Blue lightning flashed across the metal and the plane rocked on the ground as if something had put its shoulder down and shoved
‘What about your men?’ Brannigan asked, snapping a torch off the ground and switching its pale light into action, ‘They’ll die out there!’
‘Fuck them’ Fisher responded, not moving his eyes from the door. Finally he looked away, grinning malevolently at McKenzie, ‘Seems you’re stuck with me again Claire’
‘Well at least this time I won’t have to wait for the divorce papers to get rid of you’ she replied, ‘I’ll just have to feed you to that thing’
‘You too were married?’ Brannigan laughed hysterically, ‘I hope to God you never had any kids!’
‘Shut up’ Fisher replied, not moving his gaze from McKenzie. He grinned, ‘We had some good times though, didn’t we?’ he paused; seemed to re-think his statement, ‘No, actually – they were all pretty shit come to think of it’
Templar looked up from the other side of the plane where he had crouched to look for some kind of weapon, ‘Can that thing get in here?’ he asked, glancing at McKenzie. She shrugged, seeming to dismiss Fisher at the same time, ‘Maybe…I don’t know. The hull of the plane should keep it out for the moment, but eventually…’ she shrugged again.
‘What is that thing?’ Brannigan asked
‘You don’t want to know’ McKenzie replied.
Brannigan rose to his feet, hands shaking by his side, ‘Look – I’m sick of all this bullshit – I want answers. What the fuck is going on?’
‘Shut up kid’ Fisher replied quietly, his fingers seeming to caress the shotgun
‘Fuck you!’ Brannigan replied, ‘I have a right to know!’
Fisher raised the gun and pointed it in Brannigan’s direction, ‘I won’t tell you again boy – this is no time to panic, I have a really bad headache growing and the last thing I need is you whinging that everything is unfair’
‘Oh what the hell’ McKenzie replied, sounding bored with the interchange, ‘Might as well tell him – looks like none of us are going to survive to tell anyone about it anyway’

There was a moment of silence, during which Fisher swung the gun back so it was resting on his shoulder. Finally it was Templar that broke the silence. Standing up he pressed his hands into his trouser pockets and pulled out the crucifix, looking at it as if seeing it for the first time. He was silent for a long moment, then he said, ‘It’s the soul of a demon’
‘What?’ Brannigan responded.
‘Sometimes they fall to earth’ Templar shook his head, laughing bitterly, ‘The bible wasn’t so wrong when it spoke about Lucifer falling from heaven – but he wasn’t the first nor the last. Mostly they’re dead before they arrive…sometimes something of them survives’
‘You really do know how to talk bullshit, don’t you?’ Fisher interrupted, ‘Demons my arse’
‘So what did you think we were looking for out here?’ McKenzie retorted, ‘A pair of Jesus’s sandals?’
Fisher shrugged, ‘Not really interested. Just knew that whatever it was you were looking for would be worth a bit of money.’
‘Don’t be stupid’ McKenzie shot back, her voice sneering, ‘That thing can’t be allowed to get back to civilisation…it would infect everything’
‘Infect?’ Brannigan asked, ‘What do you mean infect?’

Templar looked up as the plane shook from another unseen impact and shivered before continuing, ‘Mostly they come down as rock, but sometimes the last vestiges of life remain inside. That must be why Postgate decided to keep it safe from the Nazi’s – he must have guessed there was life inside: seeing as how it looks increasingly as if he was right I’d guess that when he and his crew walked out of the wreckage of this plane they were already dead.’
‘What do you mean?’ Brannigan asked, not sure that he liked the way this story was going.
‘These people are trying to sell you some kind of Zombie flick kid’ Fisher responded, casting an unconvinced nod in McKenzie’s direction, ‘It’s not working Claire. Whatever it is out here must be worth even more than I thought’
‘Believe what you want John’ McKenzie replied quietly, ‘We’re all dead anyway’
‘Can’t we stop this thing?’ Brannigan asked, ‘Can’t we kill it?’
‘It survived for over forty years in the snow and ice’ McKenzie responded, ‘What do you think?’
‘That’s not entirely true’ Templar responded, ‘It’s weaker during the daytime…and there are ways to kill it – but none of them are pleasant’
‘Go on’ Fisher responded, trying to disguise his interest, ‘let’s hear your fairy tales’
‘Well’ Templar continued, ignoring the shot, ‘there are rituals, not dissimilar to exorcism. Plus if you can contain it in a single host then all you need to do is kill the host to kill the demon’
‘The host?’ Brannigan questioned
‘A human being’ McKenzie responded, ‘Charles is saying that the best way to kill this thing is to let it eat one of us for breakfast’
‘Not the best way’ Templar responded, ‘Just the easiest way’

There was a pause. In that moment of silence each person realised that the banging against the hull of the plane had ceased. Somehow the quiet was worse. Templar moved quietly towards the cockpit, risking a glance through the fractured fragments of glass, ‘Nothing here’ he announced.
‘Could it get in through the window?’ Brannigan asked. His question went unanswered. Instead Templar climbed back through to the main section of the plane, forcing closed the cockpit door behind him. The last sliver of light from the stars was cut out completely, leaving them alone with only the pale beam of Brannigan’s torch.
‘So’ Brannigan said eventually, ‘We’re stuck in the middle of a snow storm with a demon outside baying for our blood’
‘Be quiet kid’ Fisher responded, his eyes narrowing despite the dark
Brannigan ignored the order, carrying on, ‘The only way we can get out of this alive is to keep that thing outside until morning or let it eat one of us’
‘I said shut up kid’ Fisher said again, his voice rising slightly. McKenzie shot him a reproachful look, but said nothing.
‘Why?’ Brannigan demanded, rising to his feet, his hands turning into fists, ‘What are you going to do? Kill me?’
‘I said SHUT UP!’ Fisher rose to his feet, bringing the shotgun down and around in a quick arc to point towards the young man. As he moved his arm seemed to twitch, possibly through a muscle spasm, possibly deliberately. There was a roar as the gun went off, sending a shell straight into Brannigan’s chest. The young man looked down in shock, then collapsed dead to the floor leaving a bloody trail of guts on the wall behind. Fisher dropped the weapon as if stung.

Everything seemed to happen at once: Fisher made towards the door, clearly intending to escape. At the same moment McKenzie and Templar both lunged towards him, McKenzie got there first – ramming his off-balance form against the cold metal wall.

There was a triumphant roar from outside and the beast slammed against the frame of the plane. Blue lightning coursed through the material, conducting through the flesh of the two figures as Fisher fell backwards against the door. Still some distance away Templar forced himself to stop, to hold back, watching as first Fisher and then McKenzie fell to the floor, their bodies slumping into unnatural positions.

The sounds from outside stopped as suddenly as they had begun, leaving Templar alone with the sound of his own breath. There was a small explosion as the torch bulb gave way, leaving him alone and in darkness.

No…not quite in darkness; for as he peered through the gloom towards the two dead bodies Templar felt sure he could see a pale blue light arcing around their frames.

That was when Claire McKenzie’s eyes opened one final time, the dark blue light from inside shining out; seeking to devour everything it touched.

To be concluded…

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OK – firstly an apology. I had intended to get this story done and dusted over the Christmas period, but ended up spending very little time online or doing anything creative. I think the break to recharge my batteries was well needed though, as it has given me the chance to put things into order in my head (or as ordered as they get!)

Secondly – I was in two minds as to whether to go for the former-partners line with McKenzie/Fisher as it’s such a cliché, but in the end I just thought “what the hell”

This section of the story was written over three sittings and just about managed to go where I wanted it to – although it did wriggle and squirm a bit along the way.

There’s still a long way to go in the final section where hopefully we will get to find out what has been happening outside the plane…

...finally, and for anyone who was wondering: if you want to imagine the "sound" described at the start of this section then try listening to the unearthly sounds that cats make outside at night...I won't say what it is they do to make that noise, because it's rude!

5 comments:

The Clandestine Samurai said...

Uh-oh.

The imagery we are left with of the monster outside is the demon falling from the sky. But I wasn't sure if I should believe it or not, as Templar is one perspective of many, and is possibly biased by superstitious versions of the beliefs he claim.

Waiting for the next installation.

Michael said...

Great job ending the chapter with a hook for more. I appreciated the recap at the start too.

Lydia said...

I, too, appreciated the recap.

I settled down with tea to read your post early this evening and my husband got home more quickly than usual, interrupting my reading. I clicked off and went on with the evening, but felt grouchy! Couldn't wait to read on.

You are SO creative. I am enthralled with this story. Shocked at the deaths in this one, first the shooting (ick), then the sheer strangeness of the others' demise. I love the way you describe the light in McKenzie's eyes in the final moments. I'll miss her and I really liked her name; it suited her.

The ONLY thing that didn't feel perfect in this was when Brannigan laughed hysterically in finding out about the former marriage.....it seemed the natural reaction to such news except the circumstance they were in might be too tense for laughter. Then again, I realize that many people laugh at exactly such moment (my husband for one - - - and I just now realized why I don't like that part!)

Really looking forward to more.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samurai - i think you've picked up on a descriptive failure there, but i'm glad that the image leaves you guessing...

Michael - thanks. I felt the recap was necessary due to the gap!

Lydia - thanks and i agree. This is my fault i think, because i didn't quite build up Brannigans' break-down and nerves enough previously, so his laugh does seem a little forced. Oh well!

But yes - people do laugh at inappropriate moments all the time :)

The Clandestine Samurai said...

I was trying to say, the origin of the monster in itself as Templar describes, falling as rock with life in it from sky is really the only one we have. Fisher disputes it, but doesn't really provide an adequate explanation himself. As this is Templar saying it, things may appear this way to him because he took his own religious symbolic system and applied to real life. Or he could be the only one that truly sees what's happening.

But now he is face to face with the demon through Claire. So, I don't know. We'll see.