Authors: A.B. Gayle,Andrea Speed,Jessie Blackwood,Katisha Moreish,J.J. Levesque
"A guy once used that line on me at The Cock, and it didn't work then either."
Ray backed away. The ground under his feet didn’t feel too secure. He lay down again and edged forward on his stomach. The sides were already crumbling around the edge of the eight foot deep pit.“That’s where we rescued your mate, Gil.”
“Doctor Feelgood? I think he’d object to being called my mate.”
“Not feeling too good yourself, eh, Doc? Lost your other mate?” Ray had been tailing Flynn ever since the teacher left, and if the young man kicked at any more stones, his shoes would get a hole in them.
“Why, you wanna submit a resume? Or, wait, are you writing my biography? ‘Cause, if you are, can you make me the son of a boot black? That’d be awesome.” Flynn looked down at the hole, and that was all it was, just a hole. Leave it to pretty boy Feelgood to somehow get trapped in it. What a pussy.
“I’ll be back.” Ray scrambled up and set off at a run in the other direction, back the way they’d come.
Flynn waved at the Fridge’s incredibly broad back. He must shop at whatever Big and Tall place existed in this hemisphere. “Sayonara. Write if you get work!” Flynn turned and continued walking amongst the trees, avoiding the Pit of Dumb where Feelgood nearly killed himself. He must have had a big dick, because what else could Jude have ever seen in him?
Moments later Ray returned with one of the pool skimmers in his hand. “Why would you want to be the son of a boot black?”
Wow. Flynn was starting to like this guy, because he was like the human equivalent of a ten second delay button. “Sounds cool. Flynn Bootblacker. Besides, no one would believe astronaut.” He noticed Ray was holding one of the scoops. “What the hell are you doing?”
“For what, land sharks? You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” Flynn hummed the Jaws theme.
“If you stop wandering around like a lost sheep, I can show you. But I can’t be in two places at once.” Ray placed the net end over Flynn’s head. “Nearly as good as a shepherd’s crook,” he said and yanked him back towards the pit.
Flynn grabbed the scoop and pulled it off. “Hey, Lenny, I’m not a fish! Just knock it the fuck off.”
Ray laughed at the look of outrage on the kid’s face. “Oops, sorry Flynn Astronut.” He walked back to the pit they’d come from, dropped to his stomach and wormed his way toward the hole. Once there, lying full length on the ground, he used the scoop to systematically scrape the sides, letting the head drop down to the full depth then angling it slightly before working the handle up through his hands. After each pass, he edged his way sideways so he could check the next area. After repeating the action a few times, sure enough, a soft click sounded, followed by the impact of a short spear embedding itself in the skimmer’s mesh. “Gotcha.” Ray drew up the net and inspected his catch.
Flynn was tempted to kick Lenny in the ass and send him falling down the hole, but he’d probably have to help pull him out afterwards, and he just bet he’d pull a groin muscle. “What is it, Manta Ray?”
“Another of those lethal little buggers that nearly killed your not-my-mate, Gil.” Ray edged away from the hole and sat cross legged, turning the scoop around so he could see it. “The thing is, now we have a problem, because this shouldn’t be there. Someone has reset the trap and removed the barriers we’d erected to keep idiots like you away.”
“Idiot? If that isn’t the Kong calling the gorilla ape, I don’t know what is.” Flynn tried to see what the Fridge was looking at, but it was just a small thing, like a rose thorn, but a bit longer.
“See these barbs?” Ray twisted the net around, so that Flynn could see it better. “They injected a poison of some sort. Gil’s heart stopped beating twice.”
“Talk to Eidolon. I’m sure they’re behind it.”
“Maybe, maybe not. I’ll check with Gideon first. In the meantime, try to keep your big gob shut for once, hey?”
Flynn crossed his arms over his chest. “Look, Fridge, you’re the one’s who been lecturing, not me, so keep your own fucking trap shut.”
“Speaking of traps, you don’t have a pair of gloves on you, do you?”
“Oh yeah, I shoved them up my butt for safe keeping. No, I don’t have gloves on me. Why?”
“I’m not touching that thing without them, and for all I know there could be more down there.” He turned and stared at the dark patch that just looked like part of the shadow of the tree. “As far as we could tell there’s nothing at the bottom anyway, so why rig up something like this?” Ray looked hopefully at the young man who was crouched down beside him. “I don’t suppose you would like to go back and fetch the other scoop for me?”
“Listen to yourself, Lenny. It’s a hole in the ground. Someone’s fucking with you. Probably Eidolon.”
“It still doesn’t explain why someone would booby trap a hole with nothing in it. Unless they’re trying to catch heffalumps, of course.”
“I believe they only exist on Muppet Island.” He had no idea what he was talking about and he didn’t care. Flynn decided to leave Lenny to his hole scrying - which sounded so much filthier than it actually was - and wandered off, into the trees, keeping an eye out for guano and any booby traps. Like there’d be any.
Damn. Where was Flynn off to now? “Do I have to bring bloody kiddy’s reins for you? Stop wandering off by yourself.” Ray carefully placed the pool skimmer against a tree and set off after the young man.
“I’m not one of your rabbits, Lenny. You can’t tell me what I can do,” Flynn shouted back, glancing over his shoulder. He didn’t care if the man was as big as a moose, he wasn’t going to take orders from him. Of course, he picked the wrong time to look back, because his foot caught on something, and he fell gut first onto the trunk of a fallen tree, his breath leaving him in a single grunt.
“Pity the dogs are both on Rapatoka; one of their chains might come in handy. Unless of course Gideon brought his bondage gear with him. You’d look kinda sweet in a collar.” Ray picked up Flynn and threw him over his shoulder, giving his butt a pat at the same time.
Okay, that tore it. He’d indulged Fridge long enough. There wasn’t much you could do from a position like this, except grab the guy in a modified headlock, which he did, and then knee him in the face. They both went falling, but at least Flynn was expecting it. As soon as they hit the ground, he rolled away, and scrambled up onto the fallen tree trunk, which was surprisingly rough beneath his hands. “Jude’s paying you to be an ass to me, right?”
“Nah, I’m nobody’s ass, but you sure are cute when you get mad.” Ray rubbed his jaw and scrambled up into a crouch, warily watching the young man. “Now are you going to behave, or do I have to make you?”
“Oh my god. Are you actually flirting with me? Are you getting off on this, Lenny?” Flynn shook his head in disgust. “No molesto, comprende? I have a boyfriend, and he’s shitloads more attractive than you.”
“Oh, now I’m mortally offended! Here I was thinking you must like me after calling me all those lovely names. I’m mortified. Mortified.” Ray put the back of his hand against his forehead and gave a loud sob. The young guy hadn’t moved. “Speaking of boyfriends, was yours the pretty boy with the dog? The one I saw climbing all over the carpenter they brought in to build the new school? Maybe he just liked him because he had a big tool....” Ray paused and grinned. “...belt.”
“You motherfucker,” Flynn snapped. Yeah, he was probably just saying that to get a rise out of him, but it worked. He dove off the log, aiming for the big lug’s almost non-existent throat. He felt the log shift beneath his feet, but didn’t think much about it.
“See, I knew you’d fall for me before too long.” The impact of the flying Flynn sent Ray reeling backwards. As he fell, Ray caught the young man in his arms and twisted so he was lying on top. “I may not watch soaps or sitcoms, but I do watch WWE!”
“All fake bullshit,” Flynn replied, driving his knee up into Fridge’s balls, and slamming his head into his face. It was a bad, bad headbutt. Namely because Flynn hit bone, not cartilage, and instantly saw stars. “Goddamn it!”
“Fuck.” Ray threw the smaller man off and curled up into a ball. The world spun and went white. He lay there for a while, fighting the nausea. Eventually he managed to sit up. “Next time, how about asking me politely to let go.”
“Fuck you; you started this,” Flynn replied, rubbing his forehead. Like that would help.
Ray gritted his teeth and swallowed a mouthful of bile back down. “Fine by me, there’s a hole over there.” Without turning, because that would be a bad idea, he pointed to the one he’d found the barb in. “Feel free to fall down it whenever you like. Just don’t expect me to come rescue you.”
“I would rather stay in the hole,” Flynn said, sitting up. His head continued to throb, but it was his fault. He should have known the Fridge would have a head like granite.
“Yeah, best place for you. I could throw down bananas when you get hungry.”
“Racist,” Flynn said, and climbed unsteadily to his feet. As he was staggering to stay upright, he noticed a weird shadow on the ground. Or, wait - was it a shadow? He edged closer.
“Racist? How do you figure that one? Being cruel to dumb animals, maybe.” The stars finally cleared from Ray’s head long enough for him to notice that Flynn had gone again. Fuck. Why had he volunteered to play nursemaid for the brat? Rag or Clarkey could do it next time. He rolled over onto all fours and sat back on his haunches, fisting the ground to stop it slamming into the back of his head.
“Hey. Mongo, get up. There’s another one of these hole thingies. And I think there’s something down there.”
Ray took a deep breath. Standing did not seem a good option at the moment. He went back onto his knees and crawled over to where the young man was standing. The log he’d been standing on had moved during their wrestling bout, instead of solid ground underneath, there was another pit. He reached into his pocket and drew out his cell.
“I don’t think 9-1-1 works out here, Lenny.”
“Did anyone ever tell you that you’re a smart-ass?” Ray flicked the cell on and pointed it at the hole. The illuminated surface acted like a torch, revealing that there was indeed something at the bottom. Some kind of door.