MAD Short Story – part two

MAD+Short+Story+-+part+two

Graham Edmonson

Part one of the short story can be found here

A beam of light penetrated Arthur’s eyes, forcing him to close them again immediately. After a few minutes of blinking, he was able to slowly drag his eyes open. He sat up. His head pounded as if the two sides of his brain were waging a war against each other. He felt the sand creeping through the space between his fingers. He looked around. He was on a beach, with unfamiliar surroundings. About ten feet away lay Mr. Bell, face down in the sand. Arthur scrambled to his feet and over to Mr. Bell. He shook him awake.

“W-h-h-what is this? W-where are we?” He sat up staring into the distance, confused.

“I don’t know, sir. We must be on an island somewhere,” Arthur tried to hide the panic in his voice. 

“D-did the s-sailors throw you off the ship too?” Mr. Bell inquired.

“Yes, they did,” Arthur responded.

Mr. Bell sat up suddenly alert, “Wait, they said something to me about how we had done bad to them, something about us being rich . . .  would they have thrown Sylvester over as well? They must have!” Mr. Bell was suddenly on his feet and rushing towards the waters. 

“Sir, where are you going?” Arthur asked.

“I must find my boy if he was tossed overboard as well. He must be on this beach somewhere.” Mr. Bell was now by the water and Arthur ran close behind. Once they reached the water and saw nothing, Mr. Bell abruptly turned and headed along the beach saying, “must be this way then.”

They ran down the beach and as they passed around the bend the island made, they saw Sylvester sitting in the sand, his countenance dazed and confused as if half asleep. 

“My boy!!!” Mr. Bell exclaimed and rushed towards Syl. 

“Father? What? Arthur?” Sylvester looked even more confused than before.

“They threw you off too, boy. Come here, get up.” Sylvester took his father’s hand and stood up. As he looked around he seemed to be waking from his confused daze. After a few moments and some walking around the beach, Sylvester seemed to have regained his basic capabilities and was recovering from the shock. Arthur looked up and noticed that darkness had begun its descent over the island.

“Should we set up camp on the beach then?” he asked.

“I suppose we must,” Mr. Bell answered him, “you and Sylvester go and get some firewood.”

Arthur and Syl turned and made their way to the inland of the island to which they had paid no attention earlier. There was dense jungle almost immediately after the beach stopped. Syl pulled a knife from his pocket, “I always keep it on my belt, figured it fell out but it didn’t.” Arthur checked his pockets which revealed only a line of string and a pencil. They stepped into the jungle. The trees towered above and made them feel like night had fallen already. The movement was hard and they had to step over rocks or vines constantly to avoid tripping. Once they were about forty feet in, they stopped and began to search for firewood, which was not very hard except that all the wood was wet. Arthur felt something tickling his back. He turned but saw nothing. Suddenly Sylvester looked up, “Do you hear that?”

“No,” Arthur responded, “I don’t hear anything.”

“Exactly.”

They both stood and looked at each other. Only then did Arthur notice how still the forest was. When they both stood still it was eerily silent. It almost felt like they were standing in someone’s collection of glass. This was greatly unsettling to the both of them. Arthur leaned against a tree. He felt a little zap, “Oww.” He leaned back up. “What was that?” he whispered.

“What did you say?” Syl asked.

“Nothing, let’s head back.”

They made their way back to the beach. As they drew near to the edge of the forest Sylvester was going ahead of Arthur. Arthur tripped and dropped his stack of firewood. Syl did not notice and kept moving. 

“Dangit,” Arthur said to himself. He bent down and began to gather up the wood again. He gathered a few pieces then stood still. A daunting feeling crept over him as he stood there alone, still and quiet. It felt like the forest had a heartbeat. The whole island seemed to pulsate as one being. 

By then, darkness had almost completely fallen. He quickly finished gathering his wood and rushed back to the beach. “Must just be that way,” he thought, “everything is creepy and surreal when you are alone,” dismissing it to imagination. He rushed back to the camp.

“What are we going to eat?” Arthur heard Sylvester ask as he approached. 

“I don’t know.” Mr. Bell replied.

“I have some string, we can try fishing I guess.” 

They strung up the wire with a piece of bread Mr. Bell had managed to rescue from his bag which had washed up on shore. Sylvester waded out a distance then cast his line. After a few minutes, Syl returned to camp with a fish of a type Arthur had never seen before. “YES!” they shouted in victory.

“Let’s cut him up to eat,” Syl said, drawing out the knife from his pocket. He struck the knife straight at the fish. The knife bounced off the skin. “What!?” Syl shouted, surprised. He tried again and the same happened. Arthur joined in and together they managed to create a wedge and drive the knife through the scales. Only, they weren’t scales. On the inside of the fish, it did not appear to be a fish at all, its body felt like rubber and throughout the fish was a vast array of wiring. Nothing of the fish was real, the entirety of it was mechanical. “What is this?” Syl asked, removing a small chip from the fish’s head with more than a hint of fear in his voice.

“I don’t know,” Arthur responded. 

“OK,” Syl said, with fear taking control of his voice, “this island is beginning to freak me out. Some weird stuff was happening in the jungle too.”

“You too?” Arthur said. “I thought that was just me.”

“That would explain why this wood does not burn,” Mr. Bell said.

Arthur and Sylvester both turned. Mr. Bell took up a twig from what was going to be the fire. He snapped it in half. Also wires.

“OK guys,” Sylvester said, his voice waving as he trembled, “something is weird about this island.” 

“Well, we can’t do anything else tonight, it is far too dark. Let’s get some sleep. Someone should stay on look out though, I will do so first.” Mr. Bell offered. 

They laid down and hoped for sleep but knew they would get no rest. Eventually, after hours of basking in their silent fear, they began falling asleep. 

Arthur opened his eyes to Mr. Bell shaking him awake with a look of utter and lost panic on his face. “What!” Arthur barely managed to say before Mr. Bell put a hand over his mouth. Mr. Bell quickly looked over his shoulder, then stepped away from Arthur and behind a large rock they had been sleeping near. Arthur approached the rock and Sylvester joined him, crouching, as did Mr. Bell. It was barely daylight. Arthur slowly poked his head out over the edge of the rock. He regretted this immediately. He ducked back down, trembling, and dead silent.

Sylvester peered over the edge of the rock too. “Ahhhh!” he screamed in alarm. Arthur put his hand over Sylvester’s mouth, but not in time. The cry had escaped. Arthur heard a clanking of metal. The creature had heard and was drawing near. What should have been soft footsteps in the sand were accompanied by the cranking and scraping of metal against metal, that painful type of sound that cuts through the ears and into the skull. The footsteps ceased only when they sounded quite close. Close enough to touch.

Suddenly the rock which they had been crouching by rose into the air as if weightless. He heard the rock crash over to his left along with a splitting and shorting of wires. He looked. There it was. That thing in all of its distorted horror. A being made of metal, but not solid metal, just a bunching of wires with some steel. A tattered old cloth hung around its waist, and its height rose above what was natural. It was the sort of being which, when looked at, gave a chill that cut straight through bone. It carried a club covered with solid pieces of metal sticking out. Its body was wide and large and the entirety of the being seemed to contradict the laws of nature. This, though, was not the part that inspired a cutting of the soul. The worst part was the head. Its face was crooked and its geometry was all wrong. Its eyes glowed yellow and disturbingly human. It had teeth made of metal which jutted out in places and directions unintended for teeth to go. Its smile hung crooked. Within was the most terrible thing though. Inside the skull, a human brain could be seen between the places where the metal was absent. It sort of floated, attached only to a few wires. 

“RUN!” they all shouted in unison. In no time at all they were on their feet, running towards the jungle, the only perceivable cover. The being let out an unholy roar and began to chase after them. Despite its large demeanor, it was able to move with surprising speed. Arthur and Syl reached the jungle first with Mr. Bell running a few steps behind. They plunged into the cover of the trees. Everything grew darker immediately. Arthur looked back to see the being’s massive figure outline against the sun just then rising behind them. 

“We are gaining ground, try to hide!” he shouted out. As he said this he turned sharply to the left and ducked behind some vegetation. In a few moments, Syl and Mr. Bell ran over and crouched down to hide as well. They all held their breath as they heard the screeching and metallic footsteps drawing nearer. Arthur peered through a hole in the underbrush and saw the terrible figure, not twenty feet away. As he looked, however, he failed to notice a vine creeping up to his shoulder.

“Ummm, Arthur,” Syl whispered. 

Arthur turned his head to look at the vine. All of a sudden he felt himself being dragged backwards. “Whaaa!” he screamed. He looked forward to see Sylvester and Mr. Bell chasing after him. All of a sudden he jolted to a stop. He looked up. Above him stood a plant, a venus flytrap, of monumental size. It let out a horrifying screech and flashed rows upon rows of horrifying teeth. The thing then lurched down, Arthur barely rolling out of the way in time to keep his head.

“HERE,” Arthur heard a voice say to his left. He looked up to see Sylvester tossing him the knife. It landed next to him and, dodging the plant’s next attack, rolled over and grabbed the knife. Upon the plant’s next lunge he struck out the knife. He made contact with the plant’s head. A blue substance exploded from the wound. This distracted the plant long enough for Arthur to cut away some of the vines and free himself. He sprained further inland, followed by Syl and Mr. Bell. They looked back, and all the commotion they had caused had revealed their location to that metallic monster once more and they now found it on the move, not twenty feet away. They continued their sprint inland.

By this point, they figured that they must be drawing near the middle of the island. Suddenly they emerged from the trees and turned to find themselves faced with a gate. “What is this?” Arthur asked in a panic. Before them stood a massive, Victorian-style mansion. “OPEN IT!” Syl shouted, “That thing could catch up any second.” Arthur shoved the gate open and they ran through. As they sprinted up to the door, they heard another spine freezing roar close behind them. They got up to the door, and fortunately, it was unlocked. They opened it and ran into the house, leaving the door wide open. They stood at the entrance of the house facing a series of open and connected rooms. 

“Here,” Syl said, opening the door to a closet that was immediately to the right as soon as one entered the house. Hearing another roar, they all scrambled into the closet, Mr. Bell closing the closet door once they were all in. Fifteen seconds passed. Metallic footsteps drew closer, so close. They heard a rough grunt just outside, and the door to the house being closed.