“Of course you never know where any of this is going. Or even how it started. It's simply a bizarre coincidence. My uncle is working on a project to stop the rain, and make the planet live again. It's also coincidence that I was moving west. To escape the poor air. Somehow, don't ask me about it, because I have no idea. We got called into the centre. That's when everything got mixed up. Really I don't remember the right order of things.”
“Joel, that is really fucked up man,” Grif had no idea what he was going on about, and he wasn't that interested.
Things were essentially like that if you took the time to step back and look. Not like the confused chaos Joel was describing, but the reality that people were selfish and concerned primarily with themselves. Any interest in someone else had some ulterior motive behind it. That, anyway, was how Grif felt.
Jack was different, he was younger and just enjoyed life. Except he had a habit of being irritating and annoying people he didn't know. He had been like that with both of them at first. Just monosyllabic phrases and teenage angst. That had softened now, at least with Joel, and probably with Grif as well.
“So what we gonna do?” Jack directed the question to no one in particular.
“How many times you gonna keep asking that?” Joel sounded annoyed.
“Alright, alright, but...” Jack was getting defensive.
Grif interrupted them. “We can't go back. Kado closed the club.”
“We could just stay here.” Joel really couldn't think of any other course of action. He knew he should remember where his uncle had gone, but he couldn't. Anyway, why follow his uncle? It might not be such a great idea.
“I guess we just hang out here a while,” Grif too had no other ideas.
“You get out of here!” Kado told Mark.
The car was stopped and had gently dropped to the ground. Without the sound of the engine, it was the wind sweeping the rain into the plastic body of the vehicle that filled the void.
“What!” Mark was taken aback.
“Take this it will lead you to the house,” Kado handed him a watch. The round dial glowed. A tiny red V on the face indicated a direction.
“What about Steve?”
“He stays here with me. We'll see all of you at Mount Columbus.”
“I could go with him. He might need me.”
“You're my insurance Stevie,” Kado grinned. “Make sure everybody gets to Mount Columbus.”
“Use the watch. It’s programmed. Now go. I don't have loads of time.”
The door opened and the rain lashed Mark’s face as he stepped out. It was dark and cold. The engine came alive again. He watched as the door closed and it rose, moving off. He continued staring until the red lights were lost in the storm. Looking at the watch, he started walking. He wasn't left with any other choice. By the time he found the house he was soaked through to the skin and shivering with the cold. He hadn't come dressed for a hike in the wilderness.
It was like something from an old film. A darker shadow against a gloomy landscape of bleak nothingness. Climbing the wooden steps, they creaked, complaining at his weight. But he hardly weighed much at all, so this place must be really old. Was anyone inside?
He tried opening the front door, it didn't budge. He shouted, “Hey! Anyone there?”
His voice seemed to be swept away with the rain and wind. The door was metal, solid enough to block out any sound, even without the storm. As he was cursing himself for being in such a stupid situation, the watch beeped. He held it up to his face to see what was happening. The greenish light and the beeping faded and stopped. It looked dead. He lowered his arm and was about to try vainly pushing the door again, when the beeping recommenced. Then he noticed the beep got quicker when he moved his arm left. There was a metallic click. Mark pushed the door. It opened. He stepped inside, closing the door behind him. There was only the faint glow of low lighting. It was difficult to make out any details, but it was obviously the entrance hall. A broad wooden staircase led up to the first floor.
He decided to explore, but he was soaking wet. Inside it was warm, so he stripped off his sweat shirt, kicked off his sneakers and got out of his jeans. Then he decided to go upstairs, it was the logical move to find a bathroom and maybe dry off. The first door off the upstairs hall he opened to reveal nothing but a seemingly empty bedroom. Moving along the hall he came to a second door and opened it. Arms reached out and grabbed him, pulled him inside, and they fell over together with a loud crash.
“Lights!” A voice spoke.
Mark found himself pinned to the floor with someone sitting on top of him holding his arms down.
“Who the fuck are you?” Joel demanded.
Jack was standing next to them trying hard not to laugh.
“Well he certainly ain't X-Corp. He's got no clothes on, just his pants!” It was too funny, Jack burst out laughing.
Joel sat up, releasing his grip on the boy's arms.
“Well? Who are you?”
Mark was so shocked he couldn't get the words out. When finally he tried to speak he jumbled up everything.
“Um... I... ah,” was all he managed.
“Get off him,” Jack said recovering from his bout of laughter. “He's just a kid.”
Joel moved off the boy and stood up looking down at him. Now the danger was passed and his adrenalin levels were returning to normal, he took a proper look at the near naked and wet boy lying on the floor.
Mark half recovered, looked up at the two guys towering over him. “Kado sent me,” he managed to say.
Jack looked at Joel, somewhat surprised, but also sort of relieved. Joel reached down to give the boy his hand. Mark took it, and Joel helped him up.
“Better get you dried off,” he couldn't help smiling.
Mark followed Joel into the bathroom. Jack stood in the doorway looking on as Joel took one of the big bath towels and wrapped it around the boy. Mark was instantly conscious of the hands holding him through the soft towel.
“Get those pants off,” Joel spoke almost next to his ear.
Gingerly Mark removed the last item of clothing as Joel held the towel. Despite everything he couldn't stop it getting hard.
“I'm Mark.” He tried to get his mind off his rapidly growing erection.
If Joel noticed, he didn't say anything, but retreated back to join Jack and allow Mark to get dried off. When he'd finished they walked back to Joel's bedroom.
“It's late.” Joel looked at him. “We can talk in the morning.”
Jack climbed into bed.
“There's only one bed.”
Mark let the towel drop and quickly climbed in after Jack. Joel watched, admiring the slim, smooth body and nice arse. He felt his cock twitch.
“Lights,” he commanded, and suddenly it was dark.
Mark felt Joel climb in beside him. He felt warm and safe and just a bit sexy, sandwiched between these two guys. Because even if the bed was big enough, they made no attempt to move away. Instead he felt their two bodies touching him. But he was tired and quickly fell asleep.
He dreamed one of those amazingly vivid dreams. It was both sexy and strange. In it he was playing with two guys and they were teasing him. Touching him everywhere, but nowhere near his sex. They were all laughing. It was at once new and at the same time it was a replay of before, when he and Steve were with Grif. But this was different. It had the same feel of merging into each other, of not quite knowing what was whose body. The difference was from inside him. A strong sense that things were changing, that something massive was about to happen. It was good though.
The world was changing around them. Swirling symmetrical patterns – beautiful, and an overwhelming feeling of wellbeing. Then he was floating free through the blackness of the universe. Dark, except for the stars, and occasional planet.
Finally he was joined by some others, but he couldn't make out their features or who they were. When he looked, determined to see who was there with him, it was his own reflection that looked back at him. Then two reflections. They joined and parted, merged and turned, floating. He had a wonderful sensation of floating.
Joel was awake first and he took his time getting up. For awhile he just let his hand caress the lithe body and smooth hairless skin of the boy lying in bed next to him. Jack was on the far side, asleep. Mark, the boy he was touching was also still asleep, facing Jack. Mark stirred as Joel's hand glided over his hip and across his buttocks, but he didn't wake. In those few moments Joel reflected on his situation, life was not so bad. He was torn between getting up or simply wriggling in closer to Mark. Jack moved and turned over, Mark woke up with the disturbance, and the moment was gone, lost like a dream upon awakening. Mark sat up and looked at Joel. He smiled, but then was suddenly hit by the knowledge that he was naked. He had slept really well. But now thoughts were flooding his mind. He remembered what Kado had told him, get them to Mount Columbus. The watch, a moment’s panic, then he was reassured, he still had it on his wrist. Joel got up, walked across the bedroom and out the door. Mark watched him, his eyes resting on the strong legs and well shaped rear. He was hard, but he was often like that in the morning. Distracted, he hadn't taken account of Jack, in bed next to him, but Jack had seen him watching Joel.
Mark jumped at the hand that clasped his cock, turning back to look at Jack. “What you doing?” His voice was sort of shrill, it didn't have the deep commanding tone he'd intended.
“Just checking things out,” Jack grinned, and at the same time he moved his hand up along Mark's penis. He squeezed ever so lightly as he gripped him. Mark squirmed around to face Jack. He was helpless, his cock had a mind of it’s own and was responding to being touched.
“We have to go to Mount Columbus,” Mark was telling them.
Joel wasn't paying too much attention, concentrating on eating. Grif looked like he was in deep reflection over his mug of coffee, and Jack was all smiles, just watching him.
“Kado told me to bring you all there,” he wondered if anyone was really listening.
“Fuck Kado,” Joel said. “He's always giving orders, and I don't trust him. Not for one minute.”
“You don't trust anyone,” Grif looked up from his coffee.
“I trusted you, didn't I?”
“Only cos you didn't have another choice. And I'm kinda cute.”
That was true, on both counts. Joel had followed Grif to the club because, like he said, what other choice was there, and yeah, Grif was sexy.
“Kado drugged me and fucked me... remember?” Joel gave Grif an intense stare.
Jack was suddenly interested, he didn't know about all this. Mark gave up, the conversation had escaped his control. He just wanted to get them to Mount Columbus, because that’s where Kado was taking his brother.
“I remember you enjoyed it,” Grif wasn't in the mood to take shit from Joel. Actually, he wasn't in the mood to put up with anyone's stuff. He was the oldest here, and he was in charge.
Mark watched Grif. Saw he looked pretty sure about himself, but anyway decided to speak again. “We have to go to Mount Columbus,” he tried to get the point across.
“Mark,” Grif looked strongly in his direction. “Shut up!”
“Jeez! Got out of bed the wrong side?”
“No Jack, I didn't. But we aren't gonna have a free for all on what we do.”
Grif raised his arm in the air, no one said anything else, but all eyes were on him.
“You see Kado gave me a GPS watch to find you here. I had this weird dream where Henry told me I had to find Mark and Steve, his brother,” Grif added, not sure if they knew about Mark and Steve.
“Kado gave the same watch to Mark. And talking about being drugged, that happened to me too. I mean more than just getting stoned. Just like you Joel. I'm sure Kado gave me something. And... just so you know. I don't trust him either. Not him, not Henry. Fuck, I'm not even sure I trust myself.”
Nobody interrupted him. Mark sat down. Joel stopped eating.
“I don't think there is a choice. You could stay here... forever, if you want. But that is just a bit crazy. Or we can go together to Mount Columbus. Meet up with Kado. Then see what happens.”
“Yeah okay,” Joel replied.
Jack nodded. Mark, well he just felt relieved that they were going there.
After they finished breakfast Joel asked them to go into the living room. He needed to show them something, at least he wanted Grif to see this video.
“So I have to explain some stuff to you,” Joel was pacing around. “My memory blanks started to fill in. Maybe it speeded up when we got here. I don't know. I mean, I don't know if it had anything to do with this house or not. I remembered living here with my mom and little brother Charlie. I remember my uncle, Professor Madison, and Joseph, his assistant.
Anyway I found this video...”
They all watched Joel's uncle explaining things on screen...
We have been forced to close our operation and relocate. Only one person has the coordinates of our new location. This is of course, to protect the discovery. In order to find us you need to find Joel Sands. He will give you our new location, and he alone.
The lights came back on and the screen disappeared back up into the ceiling.
“I am supposed to have the location of where they moved to. But I don't. Or if I do, it's gone from my memory. But I do remember a lot of stuff, more and more. Trouble is the crucial stuff, like where he went, what happened at the centre, that stuff I still don't know.”
“That’s why those agents from X-Corp came looking for you,” Grif said.
“I reckon, but they never saw the vid.”
“And this Weatherman project thing?”
“Don't know anymore than the rest of you.”
Grif thought for a moment. “It doesn't change things. We still need to go and find Kado and Steve. I think Kado must have some answers to some of this stuff .”
“And you Mark?” Jack posed the question.
“Who the fuck are you kiddo?” Jack wanted some answers from the boy.
“Steve and I sort of lived with Kado. For a bit. After we got kicked out by our dad.”
“Yeah. When? What happened?”
Mark sighed, he hated telling his story, plus he hardly knew any of these guys.
“Have you heard of WSO?”
“It's some kind of religious cult, sect thing,” Grif replied.
“You said sect thing, right?” Jack grinned.
“Yes, arsehole... SECT, not SEX.”
“Go on,” Joel encouraged, he was getting interested.
“Well actually,” Mark continued, “it's kinda both, a religious cult and there is sort of sex stuff. But that’s only supposed to happen when you're spoken.”
“Spoken?” Joel hadn't a clue what that meant.
“Uh, kind of like married. Spoken for.”
“What does it stand for?” Joel asked.
“Yeah, what do those initials mean?”
“The True Witnesses of the White Sky and the Fore Bringers of Order.”
“Guess it got abbreviated,” he wasn't sure if he should take this seriously.
But Mark ignored his comment. “We lived apart from life in the cities. On a plot of wasteland with underground housing. Completely self-sufficient. It was a maze of tunnels and caves. So the True Witnesses believe in strictly nothing modern. No tech stuff. No computers. Everything manual. There is a hierarchy and you do what you are told. You show a lot of respect, and...” Mark looked down at the floor. “You get a beating, if you don't do as you are told.”
“Fuck,” Joel said. “You mean they fucking hit you?”
“Joel, can you talk without swearing all the time? Please.” It annoyed Grif. Everyone can occasionally use a swear word, but Joel used them all the time.
“Yeah, sorry,” he nodded towards Grif. “But they fu... freaking hit their kids!”
“That's why we left. Ended up with Kado for a while. Before being in a boarding school type place. Well I mean not just because the sect believed in discipline. But cos our dad threw us out. He kinda told Kado to take us before he killed us.”
“That's heavy man,” Jack looked over at him.
“Why would your dad want to kill you? What happened?” Grif asked him.
“Look,” Mark was staring at the floor again. Moving his leg up and down as if he had some kind of nervous twitch. “I really don't wanna talk about it.”
Joel moved to sit next to the boy, put an arm around him and gave him a hug.
“Okay, well... everybody get your stuff together, we need to get going. Back to the car, and see if we can get it working.” Grif stood up and turned to leave.
“We're going now?” Joel asked.
“Yep, right now.” Grif walked out into the hall.
Nothing had changed. The rain was still pouring down. The sky was still black. It was dark, only the wind had given up. The rain fell straight down and was no longer blowing into them, so they arrived at the car relatively dry. Grif checked the battery reserves and keyed in their destination. It seemed like they had about enough power remaining to make it most of the way.
He knew what was happening, but he had no control. They were floating, naked... floating. No it wasn't a dream. They had arrived at their destination. This was Mount Columbus. Why had he agreed? Joel had no answer for himself. Why were they all in the room together? That thought stuck in his mind, but was overwhelmed by the music. It played over and over as he floated, touching, colliding, drifting apart. Mark and Steve were only distinguishable by a tiny brown birthmark on the top of Steve's leg. Grif and Jack floated past in an embrace. Mark swam towards him, smiling. As his lips parted tiny bubbles escaped with his breath, floating away in all directions. They reflected the light like a rainbow. The Light. It was so bright, it wasn't artificial. Had he ever seen the sun? That thought obsessed him, he didn’t know.
Crashing waves. He could hear the sea. They were on the beach. His mom was standing next to Charlie, who was throwing pebbles into the waves. He was watching. Happy. Then Joel realised the boys had gone. They never came to the beach with him. He drifted up, moving through the air above the sand. The waves rolled relentlessly towards the beach. Charlie was shouting and screaming and jumping about. His body was weightless. He turned over, a sort of summersault, and looked back. Back up and across the dunes to the building. It was a stark concrete block. Looking like a bunker, dull grey. Only the huge dish at the side of the building shone, catching the sun’s rays. No, it was a dream, this was impossible. You couldn’t ever see the sun. It grew dark, as if a cover had enveloped him. He felt his body pulled by some huge magnetic force, down to the earth.
“Are you alright?” Kado was leaning over him, tapping his cheeks.
There were other shadowy figures, but he couldn't focus clearly enough to see who.
“Hey, look at me,” Kado was still tapping his cheeks. He had a torch and was shining the beam in his eyes.
Joel realised he was lying on a table. No, wait a minute, not a table, a trolley. It was coming back. He had said yes. To see if they could delve into his subconscious. Pull out the memory.
“Did it work?” He tried to sit up, but was unable to move.
“Just relax,” Kado told him. He saw Grif was there. Standing behind him.
“It will take awhile to wear off. And yes we got it. They’re in Morro Bay.”
Morro Bay, that sounded right, had to be on the coast somewhere.
“I'll leave Grif with you. Just lie here until it wears off.”
Grif moved to the side of the trolley. “That was weird.”
“Watching you dreaming. It's all recorded. You can replay it if you want.”
“I... I ah, didn't like... You know, do anything...” Joel could remember the feelings. The sounds, the song, but not all the details.
“You mean like when you grabbed young Mark by the hair, pulled him around, and...”
“Fuck off. I can tell you're lying.”
“Ah well you’re back to your old foul mouthed self,” Grif was smiling.
“But I didn't did I? Do anything. You know, embarrassing?”
“No. Just had us all floating around you, naked. I mean it was... interesting. But no. Don't worry. Nothing more embarrassing than being naked. Maybe you always wanted to be a naturist.” Grif chuckled.
“So what now?”
“I think Kado is going to talk to Henry when he gets here.”
“Did you find out what's going on here?”
“No, not really. But I'm working on it.”
“I feel really drained. No energy at all.”
“Yeah well I guess that’s normal. Get some rest. I'll be here, to protect you.”
He saw Grif smiling. He relaxed and must have drifted off. For a moment he was back with the boys, but it wasn't the same as before. It was thoughts, not so real.
“We were talking about it and we all decided you deserved a treat,” Grif was telling him.
Joel listened, wondering just what this treat that he deserved was going to be.
“There's nothing to do until the morning. So, and Mark agreed to this. Actually, I think he was quite keen on the idea.”
“Okay. Enough. Tell me what. Stop being a tease.”
“You've got a nice supper waiting for you next door. And this bedroom is yours and Mark's for tonight,” Grif smiled that beautiful smile of his.
Joel could tell that the guy was pleased with himself about this little arrangement. His thoughts turned to Mark. He got up and walked. On his own. Unaided, if maybe a little wobbly. He made it into the other room. Mark stood up and beckoned Joel to join him at the table. Grif turned away, left them together, closing the door behind him.
Comments always appreciated at William King