Friday, June 3, 2016

Some Beach, Some Where, Part Two


Brian, dressed in his slacks and black long-sleeved shirt, stood in the parlor of their hotel, waiting for his wife to make her way downstairs so that they could take the carriage to the Lord's home.

It was surreal, staring at a horse-drawn carriage made of ebony wood and polished mahogany, a complex seal imprinted over the doors and drapes within hiding the interior from the rest of the world. The driver, a man in his late forties, wore similar garb as the woman that had delivered the letter had been wearing.

Tatty trousers with an equally shabby shirt, the only thing on the man that wasn't marred or dirty were his boots and gloves. Made from fine leather, he held the reigns to the two horses while resting in the bollock seat, staring ahead vacantly. Numerous visitors walked around the carriage, staring at it in wonder. A few took pictures of it.

Brian just felt... unsettled by all of this. The location was away from the resort, in the forested region of the island, where mountains rose from the deep water to the sky, forming a crescent rim on the island, the resort occupying the western half of the island, where the hotel sat amidst a small town of locals, all of whom seemed to love greeting the guests and went out of their way to be helpful.

"I'm ready!" Linda announced, walking down the stairs in her emerald sundress, a black shawl over her shoulders and elbows. Her hair was done up in a bun, with a pair of chopsticks holding it all together.

Brian smiled and pulled his wife into a kiss. Before he could deepen it, she pushed at his chest gently. "Later... right now we have a party to attend."

Brian growled before sneaking a pinch to Linda's rear, causing her to yelp in surprise. They began chatting about the various things they wanted to know of the island's strange owner and walked over to the carriage. The man descended from the bollock seat, stepping forward to hold out a hand. The long sleeves of his torn shirt, Brian noted, revealed the gloves went up his forearms a good ways.

"Yes?" Brian asked, looking at the man with a wince. He smelled of the ocean, though not in a positive way. Reeking of day old fish and old stink bait, the driver's glassy eyes revealed nothing. Linda made a noise and, after pulling the folded letter from her clutch purse, handed it to the driver.

Not bothering to even read it, the driver stepped aside and opened the cabin of the carriage, revealing a single lantern set into the door, a lit candle shedding the thinnest bit of light imaginable. The man helped both of them up into the cabin, his gloves somehow clammy to the touch, before closing the door with a forceful slam.

"God, what's his problem..." Brian said, taking a seat next to Linda, who was sitting still. Brian looked at her, narrowing his eyes at her features. "What is it?"

"She's just realized you're not alone," a gruff voice growled from the other side of the cabin, causing Brian to jump.

"Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" Brian said, squinting his eyes to search for the speaker in the shadows.

Emerging like a phantom from the great beyond, a scarred face leaned out. The candlelight cast deep ridges over the man's numerous scars, the most prominent being a missing chunk of his nose, and a gaping hole where his right cheek once was, revealing his pale green teeth and blackened gums. An eye patch covered his right eye, a jagged scar sliding from his thinning hairline down over his eye, skipping over the missing patch of cheek and ending on his chin. His beard, wiry looking hair that was more silver than white, was combed and gleamed in the light.

"So," the man rasped,his cracked lips pulling into a feral grin. "You must be some of the new meat that Crow's invited to this little shindig. Never met an actual Oriental before, and here I have a beauty of one for my viewing pleasure."

Linda shivered and scooted closer to Brian, who leaned a bit forward. "My name is Brian Chen, what's your name friend?"

The man's eye left Linda's legs and swiveled up to stare at Brian. After a few seconds, he spoke. "Creed, Alabaster Creed. I own a few small mines deep in the forest, supplying the island with coal and my pockets with cash. Crow holds these parties every once in a while to remind us all that we owe him for our livelihood."

"He rents the land to you then?" Linda asked, squeaking when the blue eye rolled over to her. A smile tugged at Alabaster's lips.

"No," he whispered. "I own my mines after years of serving Crow in my own capacity. But without him, I wouldn't be able to get so much as a puff of dust from my mines."

"I don't understand," Brian said.

"Who said you're supposed to?" Alabaster chuckled before leaning back into the shadows, the carriage finally beginning to roll just as the pitter-patter of rain echoed from the roof of the carriage. In his raspy voice, Alabaster croaked. "Storm's coming. Do you think we're ready?"

Brian didn't know what to say, choosing to wrap an arm around Linda's bare shoulders, both of them staring into the darkness, straining their ears to hear anything, any noise to signify Alabaster was even there.

All they heard was a light wheeze every few moments, along with the rainfall above. They sat in silence, listening to the rythmic wheezing and the rain as they slowly made their way to dinner with the Lord of the island.

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