“The darkness… the madness… madness.”
Aria studied the nearly naked man sprawled out on the lounger as he muttered endlessly in a thick English accent. He clutched the blanket to his chest as the Professor moved a stethoscope over the man’s chest.
“His eyes look like they’re going to bulge right out of their sockets,” Cinders announced as she settled down at the bar clutching a wine bottle.
“They do don’t they,” Angela said.
“What’s wrong with him?” Aria asked as the Professor pulled the stethoscope from his ears and sighed.
“Well, nothing from what I can see. Whatever is wrong with this chap is mental.”
“Clearly,” Cinders said.
“Has he said anything else?” Adam asked, contemplating the situation as if watching the machinations of a well oiled contraption run.
“Nothing,” Ange said. “He only talks about the darkness… and the madness…”
“And the darkness,” Cindy said.
“Right, that too,” Angela muttered not missing a beat.
“Hey,” a loud crunch came from the door, as Jay bit into an apple. “How’s garlic man doing?”
“Could you lot be any more insensitive!?” Aria howled as she jumped up from her spot at the counter. In silence, Jay bit another chunk out of the apple. “This poor man is clearly upset. Something has seriously messed him up—”
“You can say fuck, Aria,” Jay clarified for Aria.
“No!” Aria shouted. “I won’t! I refuse to believe this situation warrants a fuck! There are no vampires! There are no zombies—”
“No!” Aria shrieked. “No weeches! No vampires! No aliens and certainly no zombies!”
“Caius,” Mad Matt suddenly whispered, drawing everyone’s attention back to the lounger. “Caiu—”
In one swoop, Matt threw back the blanket and leapt to his feet. “Thou shalt not bring me back from the flames you heathens! Devils! Not back from the darkness!”
Matt jumped from the lounger and, before Cindy could throw back the rest of her wine, Matt was off running up the stairs to the main deck, three steps at a time, his garlic butter soaked butt flap leaving behind a trail of stench.
“Liberty!” Matt screamed.
“Get him!” Chess shouted, withdrawing her cutlass and leading the series of whoops as Cindy, Angela, Stanushka, and Chess bolted up the stairs after him.
Up the stairs, Matt led the menagerie that ran smack into his bare back at the top of the stairs.
“You,” he growled, pointing a long finger at the figure standing on the deck of the Slush Brain.
“Begone!” Matt shouted, but already Angela had withdrawn her sword. Cindy, her daggers, and Stanushka had brought her rocket-launcher-styled contraption to her face and taken aim.
“Well aren’t you a sorry lot towing around that garbage now,” came the lax drawl from the shadows. With ease, Caius’ little sister, stepped from the gunwale to the deck. “You’d think we’re at war or something.”
“We are at war sucker,” Stanushka said.
“Right,” Kylie said. “With the war and the weeches and the blood…”
“What do you want, sucker?” Angela growled.
“Relax. I’m not here to help. I’m here to annoy Caius,” Kylie said. “And the easiest way to get under my brother’s skin is to help you.”
Everyone tightened their hold on their weapons.
“Caius will be coming for him,” Kylie said nodding at Mad Matt still standing, terror stricken at Kylie. “If I were you, I’d get rid of him, lock him up, or run. Personally, I’d drown him, but that’s me.”
Angela looked the pasty male up then down. Garlic butter was dripping into his unlaced ragged boots.
“Yeah, I know,” Kylie said. “He doesn’t look like much. But I assure you… he wasn’t always like that.” With a quaint skip in her step, Kylie was back on the gunwale. “I’d say you have an hour,” Kylie warned. “Big brother doesn’t like waiting.”
With her next step, Kylie was gone leaving behind only the lap of the water against the ship’s strakes.
* * *
“We can’t just sit here!” Stanushka shrieked below deck.
“We can take him,” Cinders said.
“What if she’s lying?”
“Of course she’s lying!” Jay chimed in. “No woman who looks like that is an honest woman.”
“You would know,” Angela said.
The soft sanity from Mad Matt was enough to shake the group into silence. Since Kylie’s arrival, Matt hadn’t moved or spoken until now. Hunched in the corner, he peered up from his hand poised at his mouth as if he had taken in and understood every word exchanged.
“And you know this?” Chess asked gently.
Matt ignored her question.
“He won’t stop here. He’ll destroy your ship… he’ll kill all of you, rip you apart until the blood pours from your hearts… and then he’ll eat it… he’ll eat it… I know,” Matt whispered. “I’ve seen him do it… to my sister… my mother… my wife…”
“Matt,” Angela said, keeping her voice low.
Matt pushed the wet from his eye.
“Kylie said you know something.”
“Don’t ask me that, love,” he said. “Nothing ’bout that… I’m the only one who knows… and if anyone else knows… he’ll come for you too.”
“Matt,” Stanushka said. “This information… what you know… will it help?”
“Don’t ask, love,” Matt said. “I can’t stay here.”
As if resolved, Matt pushed himself to his feet and at once, grabbed a tool bag he spotted in a nearby corner. Randomly he began walking through the room, tossing everything in sight into the bag.
“Uh… Excuse me?” Adam sputtered.
—a half-eaten sandwich—
“Scuse you,” Stani said.
“Hey now,” Cindy growled.
—a pile of wood shavings from where Angela had been whittling.
“Alright,” Matt declared as if ready to undertake a great journey. He threw the last of the wood shavings into the bag and zipped it up with vigor. “I’ll be off then. Cheerio.”
“Now wait just a moment!” Angela shouted as Matt took up Angela’s collector’s edition Doctor Who scarf which he suddenly attempted to dress himself with.
An explosion on deck sent the Slush Brain into a fit of rocking, forcing everyone to grab hold of the tables, railings, and walls to stay upright.
“He’s here,” Matt said and, with tool bag in hand, fled up the stairs, the ten foot scarf of Doctor Who trailing behind him.
Last edited and updated 15 August 2016
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