Finish the story-the Travelers

I have been tagged by Lisa to finish the story. I like these challenges, they’re fun. In my case it is getting me out of a slump. I had a killer eye infection for the last week and my headache was so intense that blogging was not possible. So, thanks Lisa for getting me moving again. Please check out her blog as well as all of the other fine bloggers who collaborated on this project.

Rules

1. Copy the story as you receive it.

2. Add to the story in some fashion.

3. Tag another person to contribute to or finish the story.

4. Please use FTS as a tag so I can find it or link back to part 1.

5. Have Fun!

The Travelers – Teresa’s Introduction

Alexander and Alistair waited in line to check on their flight. It didn’t matter how long the line was, or how tired they were of waiting in it, they were happy to be getting away for a week. Life had not been difficult, but it was still nice to finally get away–alone.

Alexander couldn’t wait to show Alistair around Pompeii and Alistair couldn’t wait to show Alexander around his old home. They enjoyed people watching in the airport and passed time telling stories of the old days.

Finally, it was their turn to check in. Alexander sat his luggage in the bin and watched as a scrawny kid retrieved it and threw it on a conveyor belt. He cringed and crossed his fingers that his cologne didn’t break.

It wasn’t until they were standing by the large window at their gate watching their luggage be thrown around like last week’s trash that they noticed it. Something was not right.

“Hey, Alistair,” Alexander said, pointing out to the luggage cart. “Do you see that?”

Alistair followed Alexander’s finger and squinted. “Yeah. What is that?”

“I can’t be sure, but it looks like …

Part two – Paula of Light Motifs II

The luggage on one of the other carts was all black with a lightning bolt logo. And sure enough, a black stretch limo with the same logo pulled up directly to the plane and out tumbled the crazy rockers the Zappers and their entourage.

“Oh no,” Alistair moaned. “Those lunatics will be on our flight!”

Alexander sighed. “Horrible. They always get up to some ridiculous shenanigans, but surely they’ll behave themselves in the air?”

“It’s too late to change our tickets?”

“Well, yes. Our luggage is being flung into the bowels of this tin can as we speak.”

The men stared glumly out the window, their previous good mood soured. When they were called to board, they stood in line without speaking, having mutually decided to stoically bear the flight and have fun after landing, when the nutty rockers had gone.

Women chatted behind them in line. “Oh my God! Did you hear that the Zappers are on our flight? I’m totally gonna sneak into first class to see them!”

“I have such a crush on Nikki Zapper! I bet he does something wild and we have to make an emergency landing!”

Alistair and Alexander looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

But all went smoothly during takeoff, and then as one of the flight attendants was giving the safety presentation, a blond man dressed in black leather popped out of the first class section, grabbed her, and kissed her.

Part Three Li at Tao-Talk

Several people in coach lifted up their cell phones to record Nikki as he laid one on Myra, the flight attendant, ooh-ing and aah-ing as they did. Myra was torn, as she was supposed to rebuff any advances by the passengers, no matter how famous; but on the other hand, she had been a global fan of Nikki and the Zappers for years, using her bene of free flights to see them dozens of times. She even had a likeness of Nikki tattooed in her cleavage. Throwing caution to the wind, she kissed Nikki back and soon they, locked in an embrace, were stumbling towards the bathroom – where they would be the newest members of the Mile High Club.

As they often synched with each other over the years, Alistair and Alexander looked at each other and rolled their eyes.

“Well, I never!” huffed Alistair.

“Indeed!,” puffed Alexander.

“Let the shenanigans begin. Where are those sleepers you packed? Time to take a snooze until the show is over,” said Alistair.

Alexander reached for his carry-on, which was stuffed under his seat, and retrieved enough for both of them. They asked another attendant for a handful of the little booze bottles to wash them down with. Soon they were fast asleep, snoring to beat kingdom come.

Neither one knew how long they had slept, but both were awakened by the throbbing bassline of the latest Nikki and the Zappers tune, “Don’t Harsh My Buzz.” They were shocked to see….

Part Four Teleporting Weena;

…that the lights in the plane’s cabin had been turned off. Being that it was night time, they couldn’t see a thing in the dark. The bass guitar was still pounding out the beat so loud it shook their insides.

Suddenly an explosion of neon-like lights began flickering all around the plane’s interior, as the Zappers launched into their current number one song.  Passengers were crowding into the narrow aisle, and even just standing at their seats, dancing and singing along to the music.

The captain came on the loudspeakers: “Welcome to the party of the year…we present the Zappers for your inflight entertainment. Free drinks for everyone!

A big cheer rocked this unusual concert venue.

“Can you believe this?” Alistair asked as he busted a move right there in his seat.

Alexander looked at Alistair. They were grinning from ear to ear but didn’t roll their eyes at this exciting turn of events.

Cocktails and cups of beer were passed around, as the party continued through the night, 32,000 feet above the ground, but a sudden lurch of the plane made everyone gasp. The plane yawed to the left, then to the right. People screamed and tumbled into each other.

This is your captain…please everyone…sit down and fasten your seat belts…

***

Part Five – Sadje of Keep it Alive

……..we have a pick of air turbulence. It took repeated announcements from the caption to quieten down the passengers who were still hyped up from all the drinking and dancing. Eventually, everyone was seated, the belts fastened and a hush descended on the plane. Suddenly there was a jerk as the plane lost a lot of height very quickly. It was an air pocket that caused the loss in the plane altitude. There were quite a few screams and shrieks from many people.

The pilot came on air again.

I am sorry ladies and gentlemen we are in the middle of a storm right now. Please keep the seat belts on. I am afraid that we have lost power in one of our engines. I am trying to make an emergency landing………..

His announcement was cut abruptly and….

Part Six – Kristian’s Addition

…the oxygen masks dropped from their concealed compartments above the passengers.

Alistair and Alexander helped each other putting them on and then they squeezed hands.

The atmosphere had gone from one of enjoyment to panic. A few people had begun to get hysterical. Myra the Stewardess was trying to comfort one particularly distressed woman who couldn’t stop crying.

Then there was a loud bang and a hiss as the cabin filled with smoke. Alistair could just see Alexanders face through the haze. His eyes were scrunched tightly together and his grip on his hand was threatening to cut the blood supply from his fingers, but they were together and that was some comfort.

It was the impact of the plane hitting the water that sent luggage pouring out of overhead compartments and a few chairs broke loose, tumbling bodies around like they were dummies.

Myra lay at an impossible angle. Her legs bent backwards and her head twisted.

A figure lay face down in a black leather jacket and the strings of a broken guitar wrapped around his neck.

After the terrific noise of the impact, everything seemed deathly quiet. Alexander’s eyes opened, tears streaming down his face but he fixed Alistair with a desperate blue stare.

They had survived the crash but so many hadn’t.

A panicked voice suddenly came from over the tannoy system.

“This is the Navigator speaking. If there are any other survivors, please come to the front of the plane and make yourselves known.”

Together Alistair and Alexander got up from their chair and slowly made their way down the plane.

They were surprised to see…..

Part 7 – A Guy Called Bloke

cockpit-683529_960_720

………. that the cockpit was empty!

The navigator stood there, in a right mess, another steward was desperately trying to stem the blood flow from his left arm, well what was left of his left arm anyway! They could see by looking into the cockpit was not a good move – the Captain and the Co-pilot were missing. The navigator was mumbling about the fact that the two pilots had suddenly just disappeared into thin air and then all hell broke loose! That the aircraft lurched and then plummetted to the earth.

Alastair and Alex looked at each other in complete disbelief and utter astonishment. Behind them the screams of agony and anguish were filling the small space of the aisle .. and yet when they looked behind them, something was amiss, not quite right, it took them a few moments to comprehend that the loss was actually people. Before the crash, all the seats had been filled with passengers and yet now, if you included the dead, the dying, the subdued expressions of those in shock and the few others still, looking bewildered at them, they came to realise that, a good 50% of their part of the cabin was emptier than it had been?

“Well where, did they go?” Alex said to himself almost as much to the others?

“Which is what l have been trying to say!” mumbled the Navigator, “poof gone! Where who knows, Frank and Thomas were laughing and joking one minute and then l was disentangling myself from metal! Which is why my arm is not right. We didn’t hit the sea, we are not sinking which is good news. From what l could gather as l looked out of the windows as we were skewing across the surface, if anything we were skimming across a swamp!”

“Right!” Al said, “I think we should start to disembark, does this plane have one of those things that are like a Bouncy castle slide?”

“Yes of course.” Answered the Navigator, and with a small cursory move to the steward, he motioned towards the door. The steward after a bit of rough manoeuvring, managed to cast the door open and then aside and for the first time the four of them looked out into the world before them.

An overgrown jungled swampland greeted them, very mangrove looking Alex thought and said as much “Charming, just what we need a bloody jungle!”

“Right, well you must have a passenger list. I suggest we get everyone off the plane as best as we can, there must be other stewards throughout the aircraft? There must be first aid and medical equipment. We need to check the state of the craft itself to see if we are in any immediate danger of blowing up, and then , well then we will have to figure out where the bloody hell we are and what we do?” Alastair said officially.

Alex looked at his friend in confusion, “How do you know all of this?”

“Well l was huge fan of the disaster movies from the 70’s, l am just repeating what they said and it’s common sense surely?”

“Right, well l am very impressed Al, must be said”

“Thanks Alex, however now is not the time for praise, now is the time for action.”

At that moment in time, as the four looked out into the darkness of the surroundings they were now in, they heard something very heavy crashing through the undergrowth! If that wasn’t disturbing enough, the screech was!

“Oh my lord, what the hell is that?” The Navigator moaned.

Before any of them could answer, the undergrowth parted and crashing out towards them was ……..

And here’s my contribution:

an enormous metal beast; it had wheels at the rear but at the front were giant clawed arms which served to change the direction of the machine but also to clear the dense forestation. It halted before the terrified survivors, the massive throbbing engines creating an illusion of life; a black heart of block and pistons beating. In their bewildered state the passengers didn’t see an internal hatch opening, they saw a giant gaping maw that they were certain was going to swallow them whole.

The screaming began and quickly turned to mass hysteria as people fought each other in an effort to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the machine that had so terrified them. Alistair and Alex clung to each other; they too were afraid but their desire not to be separated in this awful moment overrode their natural flight response. Their breath came in short, sharp gasps and Alex could feel Alistair’s knees start to give way.

“Alistair!” he hissed “Come on, you can’t collapse on me now”

Alistair shook his head and tried to lock his knees, he couldn’t let Alex down, but he could still feel the violent trembling that coursed through his body; he clung tighter still and hid his face in Alex’s jacket. Alex’s eyes, meanwhile, were fixed on the hatch in the machine, it was now fully open and someone, or something, was emerging from it. The hairs on the back of his neck rose up and he was aware of being exposed; a quick glance around him confirmed that all the other passengers had fled into the forest. He and Alistair would, it seemed, face this thing alone.

“What do you want?” Even to his own ears, his voice was unsteady.  At the sound of his voice, Alistair turned his face away from Alex’s shoulder and looked at the emerging figure. He fought to maintain control of his bowels as it climbed down from the machine and slowly walked towards them; the last thing he heard before his terror overwhelmed him was the voice of the creature saying……………………………………

my contribution.

“Identify, immediately!” a voice boomed.

A blinding spotlight was suddenly trained on them. Unable to see and afraid to move, Alex and Alistair stood frozen, as if chained to the damp forest floor. The two men exchanged furtive glances and Alex nodded slightly to Alistair that he would answer. He put on a brave face, took a deep breath and said, “I am Alex. And this…”he motioned to his right, “is Alistair.”

“I am not interested in what you are called!” The voice was louder. Closer. “I am asking you what is your species!”

“What?” Alistair stammered. “What the hell is this?”

“Shut up, Alistair,”Alex said. “Let me answer.”

“We are…”, he paused as if he was unsure of his answer, “Human beings”.

Suddenly, the blinding light vanished. They struggled to focus as their eyes began to recover.

The figure was standing before them, a mere 5 feet away. The approach seemed implausible because they had heard no footsteps or any sounds that would betray movement of such a large body. It towered over them at a height of at least 8 feet. Glowing, reptilian eyes pierced the darkness, revealing a enormous, bulbous head perched upon a thin but sturdy frame, supported by strong haunches not unlike a T-Rex. Short but strong arms extended towards them as if to strike anytime. It appeared to be hovering an inch above the damp, mossy floor of the forest.

The two men were paralyzed with fear.

“Human beings”, the figure replied, the voice calm, even, but not at all reassuring to the terrified men. “What makes you think you are welcome here?”

Alex and Alistair turned to stare at each other, certain that their answer had better be a good one. Alex again took the reins.
“We didn’t have a choice. We landed here by accident.”

“Yes. We see that example of primitive technology lying in ruins.”

“Primitive technology?” Alistair blurted out. “That’s a state of the art airplane.”

Alex gave him a shot to the ribs as a reprimand and gave him a look that clearly said shut up.

“Human, to you it may be, as you say ‘state of the art’, but it is most primitive in comparison to our advanced technology.”

Alex, garnering courage asked, “You say ‘ours’. Who, if I may ask are you?”

“We are the rightful owners of this planet. We have been away.”

“How long ?”, asked Alex

“That is not important. What is important is why we are here. We are at the beginning of a rejuvenation process, one that wouldn’t be necessary without you ‘humans’. This was once a fertile, bright planet. Then, you ‘humans’ destroyed it. Over population, pollutants and the weapons used to fight useless wars, all because you can’t get along, have nearly destroyed it.”

The figure moved closer, the glow of its eyes intensified.

“You can’t be trusted to be on this land. It is the last refuge from your infestation.”

The two men backed away a few steps, cowering from the intimidating figure.

“Again”, Alex stammered, “It’s not like we had a choice. We crashed here by accident!”

Alistair, feeling brave, chimed in. “If you tell us where we are, we can try to use the radio on the plane. You know, to call for help. We’ll be out of here and you won’t see us again.”

The figure silently advanced towards them and stopped mere inches from the men, towering over them and said in a flat, mocking tone.

“It’s not a matter of where you are human, it is a matter of when you are…”

I pass the baton to my buddy Steve. The last time I did, he did not disappoint. Have at it, bud.

The endless darkness

I have been challenged by the very talented Haunted Wordsmith to again take part in the Tell the Story Challenge. It’s quite simple, I was given an image and tasked with telling a story. I initially was going to decline but the picture was so challenging I forced myself to rise to the challenge. Before you read, check out the Wordsmith’s blog. You won’t be disappointed.

The Captain stood at the bow and stared at the gray horizon. In all directions, as far his eyes could strain it was storm clouds and turbulent seas. He steadied himself against the battering waves, the salt spray burned his tired eyes.

Captain Hillenbrand was alone on the deck. His weary crew was bedded down for the night. What was left of his crew, that is. Rocked by a mysterious disease, his men were dropping fast and those that remained were cowering in their quarters for fear of contracting it. It’s better, he thought, that they not see the worried, furrowed brow that had replaced his legendary, confident stare. They need to see a leader, not just another scared and vulnerable man.

A practical man, raised at sea by a legendary seaman of Her Majesties Royal Navy, he led with a superb blend of instinct and reliance upon the proven tools of the sailor. He always knew what to do.

Until now.

He was surrounded by the unknown. A week before, all of the ship’s navigational tools inexplicably stopped working. The dial of the compass spun like a child’s toy. The barometer failed to budge in any way. He strained for an explanation, but there wasn’t one. Stranger than the failure of the instruments was the lack of daylight. It had been dark for 7 days.

It had all occurred at the same time. Right after…he tried to chase it out of his mind. The recollection surged through him and he resigned himself to allow for the possibility that his deeds had finally come to haunt him. Right after they came upon the stranded ship flying the African flag, drifting helplessly.

The Exodus was a merchant vessel. Captain Nathan Hillenbrand had lost his commission after his father had retired in disgrace. The Royal Navy felt that the name Hillenbrand would carry a negative connotation and politely and expediently forced him out of the Navy. Unable to find other work, Nathan Hillenbrand had been forced to Captain the Exodus. It was fairly easy work, being free of the regimen of military service he was able to lead his crew as he saw fit. The challenge,of course, was that his crew was also not under the regimen of military service and he was tasked with leading a crew of characters, some unsavory, and that was a daily challenge.

The Exodus, weighed down with a cargo of dry goods was headed towards the Philippines on a routine trade mission. Six days into their journey they found that their food and water supply was contaminated. Rats had not been detected during loading and had sufficiently bitten into and defecated onto enough of their food supply to render it inedible. Rum was the only consumable product on the ship. Captain Hillenbrand had done his best to maintain order, he assured his crew that with smooth seas they would make their destination before starvation set in.

It was soon after that they encountered the stranded ship. Floating, it’s main mast broken, likely due to a storm, the craft was truly helpless. As the Exodus came into sight, the weary sailors waved frantically to them to assist. Captain Hillenbrand ordered a team to drop a rowboat and board the ship. He gave them specific instructions to assess how many were aboard. If it was a manageable amount, they were to signal him to send more boats to rescue them. It was also instructed of them to “appropriate” some supplies to get them through their current situation.

The crew boarded the ship and signaled, by way of hand signals that there were 35 men aboard. Too many to allow on the already overloaded Exodus. He signaled across the waves to them by drawing his hand under his throat and simulated slicing his own throat. This was the universal signal to abort.

What happened next would haunt the most hardened of sailors and men.

The crew leader, either misinterpreting, or more sinister, perverted the signal and began to attack the crew of the stricken craft. The others followed. The Captain stood helplessly as the men hacked the crew to death. Horrified, he watched the brutal display unfold before him. Blood mixed with the salt spray, bodies fell to the deck, those who were lucky lived long enough to bleat like sheep to the slaughter.

The screams, my god the screams.

When the crew completed their unsanctioned massacre, they grabbed a meager supply of food and loaded the dingy and paddled back to the Exodus. Hillenbrand, dazed and outraged, met the returning men with a team of sailors armed with bayonets. Unable to find any other suitable option, he had them
summarily executed, their treasonous corpses tossed overboard.

After, he ordered his remaining crew to make do with the tragically obtained supplies and went to his cabin.

It wasn’t long after that it became dark. The sea kicked up. The clouds rolled in. The Exodus began its now endless spell of being tossed around by the angry waves. Then the instruments stopped working. The next morning, when he surveyed what should have been a horizon with at least a glimpse of sun…he saw nothing but darkness. It wasn’t just strange, it was foreboding.

More sinister than the darkness was the floating specter that appeared before him. Dancing on the waves, not possibly human and of this world, the skeletal face stared at him, through him and into his very soul. It haunted him. He ordered his crew to change direction at full sail. Still, there was the specter dancing in the waves, taunting him. In another change of direction, he saw it again. No matter what he tried, there it was.

Any experienced sailor will tell you, the sea is a mysterious mistress and can play games with the weary mind. Hillenbrand was beyond weary, but he knew what he saw before him. All of his rational instincts raging through him, he knew that he was dealing with something beyond the realm of the rational. It was Karma, it was payback for what he had allowed on his watch. It was his reckoning. It was the call of retribution. It was Death.

Clearly, there was no escaping it.

He heard a commotion below deck. He need not look, another, or a few more men had died. The remaining men were scared. They wanted answers. He had none, a mutiny was certainly imminent. They would come for him. If it came to that, he would let them. The next man who assumed the helm would not escape the same fate. They would all die in darkness.

As he stared into the endless, bland night he heard the screams of the helpless, slaughtered victims. The ones who had died under his watch. They danced around in his head, demanded to be heard. He couldn’t fight it, the cacophony overpowered him.

He raised his pistol to his temple, took a deep breath and one last look at his own personal hell and pulled the trigger.

As his body slumped to the deck of the cursed ship, he faintly heard the sinister, menacing laugh of the specter in the crashing waves before him.

Just Jot it January day #29–Dirty

The prompt word, “dirty,” for today’s post is brought to you by Jim! Thanks, Jim! To find his “dirty” post, click here. And say hi while you’re there!

There is so much talk about “Toxic Masculinity” these days. Guys my age struggle with this. I was raised with the words “be a man”, coming from my father, society, and my own recollections.

“Being a man” wasn’t a difficult concept to live by. Boys don’t cry was a common mantra. I was encouraged to be strong, to open and hold doors for a woman, to always pick up the check, to not drive off until my date was safely inside. Of course, I was also encouraged to be a lothario.

I witnessed my male counterparts as they cat-called, crotch grabbed, whistled and otherwise made fools out of themselves in front of women. I always knew the line and when it was crossed. I was (and still am) flirty, but not dirty, and I am respectful of women.

In turn, I also have expectations of women to be strong and able to handle themselves. When a man crosses the bridge from flirtatious to inappropriate I expect, and have seen it on many occasions, a woman to put a man in his place. I love those women. There is never an excuse for a man to offer unwanted advances or lay a hand upon a woman.

See, I know that a woman can open her own door. I know that she has her own coat and umbrella on a cold or rainy day. I may not need to follow her home to make sure she is safe. But I still do these things, because that’s how I was raised.

It’s not toxic. It’s part of being a man.

Just Jot it January day # 27–Cathartic

Your prompt for JusJoJan 2019, January 27th is brought to you by Enthralling Journey! Click here to find her last post and say hi while you’re there! Enthralling Journey’s word for our prompt today is “cathartic.” Use it anywhere in your post or make it the theme of your post. Have fun!

Time spent having an amazing conversation with good people is one of the great, free experiences in life.

We spend an awful lot of time talking and an unfortunate amount of time waiting our turn to speak again. This occurs at the expense of actually listening to the other person. When you speak, you regurgitate that which you already know. When you listen, you learn something you didn’t. When you have an amazing conversation everyone leaves different than when they went in. Sometimes we learn something about ourselves.

It’s downright cathartic.

Just Jot it January #25–Balance

Your prompt for JusJoJan 2019, January 25th is brought to you by JP! Click here to find her last post (honestly, I’m assuming JP’s a her–sorry, JP, if I’m wrong) and say hi while you’re there! JP’s word for our prompt today is “balance.” Use it anywhere in your post or make it the theme of your post. Have fun!

For years I spent every minute of my life worrying.
I worried about money.
I worried about my health.
I worried about being a good parent.
I worried about the consequences of failure.

The last 2 years have taken so much from me that I have learned a whole new way of life. Life was once analogous to walking a tight rope. One slip and I would lose everything. A fall would be into a pit of alligators and razor blades.

Now, looking from the base of the canyon up, I have such an appreciation for the joys of life that don’t revolve around money and success, that a fall from the tightrope may be a fall into a pit of rubber balls and puppies.

Walking that tightrope, I wouldn’t be so worried should I lose my balance.

#Just Jot it January # 22 Curiosity

Your prompt for JusJoJan 2019, January 22nd is brought to you by Pamela! Click here to find her last post and say hi while you’re there! Pamela’s word for our prompt today is “curiosity.” Use it anywhere in your post or make it the theme of your post. Have fun!

To all of those who took risks that led us to a greater understanding of our world, I applaud you. For if you hadn’t had the courage to convert your curiosity into action we would dwell in the uneventful, safe realm of the known, and not charging headlong into the unknown.

Just Jot it January # 21 Echo

“Echo” is the prompt word for today, brought to us by Lady Lee. Thanks, Lady Lee! Click here to find her JusJoJan post for today. And say hi while you’re there!

A message from Dr. King

I had a dream
with the world I shared it
that we’d embrace diversity
not run scared of it
please explain it to me
I have nothing but time
how ending the lives of each other
honors the memory of mine
I fought without fists
without anger or spite
I called for equality and love
not to spill into the streets and fight
I reached out in peace
extended my hand
hoping to set an example
that would echo throughout the land
yet still we fight
we hate and we label
to see beyond the color of skin
we seem hopelessly unable
I left this earth many years ago
but I still watch from above
as my dream remains just that
in the absence of brotherly love
we must come together as one
recognize hatred as cowardice
that labeling a man by his skin
is a terrible injustice
it’s never too late
to right this wrong
when we walk and live hand in hand
that will be my victory song