The Mists of World’s End: The Date

It just wasn’t going to work.

Tugging his hair back into a small blue hairtie, Kiyoshi threw his pencil down and growled. He couldn’t focus on his work because he couldn’t stop thinking about Shelly Gwynne, name purposely misspelled because—well, I don’t have a good reason. I just know I misspelled it on purpose. Getting to his feet, he crossed the cabana to the refrigerator and tugged out a cold bottle of water. Cracking it open, he tapped the power button on the speaker plugged into his iPod. Seconds later, he smiled as his favorite song began to play, “Be Still My Beating Heart” by Sting.

As he sang along with the Englishman, he muttered to himself, “A fool indeed, Kiyoshi, if you don’t get this done because of a man who doesn’t exist.”

But he does exist. He does, and I feel it in my bones that when we dive, I will find something that proves it.

A knock came at the door and he glanced over at the clock, cursing under his breath when he saw that it was 5.37. “Shit!”  Grabbing his white sparkle lip gloss, he lifted his eyes to his reflection in the mirror as he quickly applied it before grabbing the bottle of water and pouring some in his hands to rake them through his hair in attempt to give it shape.

Looking down at his clothes, Kiyoshi shrugged. “It’s not like he’s going to decide he wants forever tonight, right?”

Opening the door, he lifted his eyes to the man on the other side, sporting long sun-streaked brown hair and a thin beard. He held out a white daisy. “For you, beautiful.” Kiyoshi noted that his date also wore shorts and a tee-shirt with an open short-sleeved Hawaiian snap button shirt over it. On his feet were flip-flops and over his shoulder was a beach towel.

Taking the flower, Kiyoshi smiled shyly and motioned to his clothes, “I hope that you’re okay with me wearing this.”

The man, whose name for the life of him Kiyoshi couldn’t remember, reached out to tug Kiyoshi against him as he rasped, “I think you’re cute. I want to get to know you. I want to kiss you. I want to hear you laugh. I want to watch you peel your clothes off by the light of the moon—”

Jared. His name was Jared, he remembered suddenly; he’d met him at the new tiki bar close to the site. “Uhm… I think that I should tell you now that I don’t get naked on the first date. Sorry.”

“Oh, come on… you’re a gay man—”

Kiyoshi nodded, extracting himself. “Yeah. I am. And not for all of us is fucking how we say hello.” He handed the flower back to the man. “Think I’ll stay in, order takeout, and work on my book instead, Jared. Good night.”

Shutting the door, he locked it and turned to lean against it as he sighed. “Well… guess there’s a reason I lost track of the time and didn’t dress to impress.” Turning his eyes back to the drawing half-finished on the table, he shook his head. “I am never going to get you out of my head, am I, Shelly?”

Kiyoshi gazed down at the high cheekbones and slender nose, the dark brows and the full lips that had spread into a wide smile, framed by a thin dark beard and moustache, eyes wide and expressive and if he could give them color, they’d be a rich chocolate that had golden flecks that sparkled in the sunlight. “Wish that you were real, and not an invented person with the face of lovely Emrys Marlowe, though…” He looked hard at the drawing, the startling realization coming to him that he’d taken certain liberties with his favorite actor’s visage, that Shelly was Shelly, not Emrys as Shelly.

Sitting down, he got back to work, a smile touching his lips as he tapped the face of his phone to call Krissie. “Hey, can you call and order my usual? I sent Jared packing and I’m staying in with Shelly tonight.”

The Mists of World’s End: I’ll Remember (A Behind the Scenes Look)

Krissie stirred as the small bed moved, and she rubbed her eyes, looking over at the young man she’d grown up with but befriended in college. He laid in the hospital bed, most of the time motionless, machines surrounding him, and sometimes, Krissie could tell he was dreaming because he would twitch. He was dreaming now, Krissie was sure of it, and she thought it must be a good one because Kiyoshi’s lips turned up at the left corner.

“The last time you smiled at me was last September, the twenty-second if I remember correctly, Ki-chan, and if I do remember correctly, it was the slightly larger crooked smile that you’re wearing right this very minute.” She took his hand, stopping at the feel of wetness on his fingers, and something cool and metal.

Blinking a little, Krissie lifted his hand to find it dripping wet, as though he’d just stuck it in water, and on his ring finger sat a shiny silver ring decorated with small swirls reminiscent of Da Vinci stars. She was positive that his hand had been bare (and dry) before she’d fallen asleep.

“What the hell…?” Krissie rasped, pushing her dark hair over her ears as she reached for a towel to dry his hand, but as she touched the band, his hand curled into a tight fist. Lifting her eyes to his face, she arched an eyebrow. “Where did you get this? You won’t let me see it, so tell me, Ki-chan… tell me where you got this!”

Krissie tried to get him to release his fist, but Kiyoshi didn’t budge, and frustrated, she pressed the nurse’s call button to ask if anyone had been seen entering or exiting the room while she’d slept. Security footage showed no-one entering or exiting, and the ring remained a complete mystery, though his dreaming intensified over the next week. Krissie regularly reported news to Jinichi, Kiyoshi’s older brother by three years, and exactly seven days later, a second ring appeared on his hand, this one plain but for three wavy lines that went all the way around the band. Again, his fist curled and he would not loosen it for anything or anyone.

Krissie sighed heavily, leaning her head in her hand as she watched Kiyoshi’s smile widen as he dreamt. “You look so happy, Kiyoshi… and I remember that smile, I remember you so bright and so vivid and so full of life and I have so many questions, but all you do is sleep, lazybones! When are you going to wake up, gorgeous? When are you going to tell me what it is you dream and who you dream of? When are you going to explain these pretty baubles?”

They pushed open the doors to the restaurant and Kiyoshi tugged the tie from his hair, shaking it out. “No joke, I’m supposed to have a conference call with them both tomorrow!”

“You lie! They want to appear in a documentary largely filmed by me? Emrys Marlowe and farking Rumi Salar? Are you for real?” Krissie shook her head, rolling lip gloss over her lips before offering it to Kiyoshi, who applied it thickly on his own lips, answering, “Have I ever lied to you? Why would I start now?”

“Uh… Rumi? Emrys? Those are A-list stars, Ki-chan! And they wanna be in a documentary about pirates!” She widened her eyes. “Not a movie, but a documentary about real pirates who lived and died hundreds of years ago. Usually the C-listers are the ones who make it into the documentaries is all I’m saying. How did you score those two?”

Kiyoshi stopped next to his car, grinning, “Oh, I don’t know… possibly a friend of a brother who knows a guy who dated this girl who lived across the street from the janitor at a vet’s office who takes care of the cat of the girl who works in the soup kitchens that are largely funded by the husband of an actress who is the daughter of a director who works a lot with Johnny Depp, and he liked the idea but said that his looks weren’t right for the role, but that his buddy Rumi had been following my work since the beginning and would love to accompany me to Isla de los Pinas.”

“You did that all in one breath. You amaze me. How the fark did JayJay set that up?” she asked as she leaned against the car, watching him unlock the doors and get into the back.

“I never know with him. My nii-san has a million connections, and I half-expected him to have Emrys Marlowe on speed dial, to be honest.” Kiyoshi dug into shopping bags in the backseat and finally emerged holding up a fluffy pink jacket and a tube of glittery pink lip gloss. “Is this not the coolest thing you’ve ever seen?”

“I dig that you like pink, Ki-chan, but that jacket is super-cute and would look way better on me.” Krissie grinned. “Especially for a pirate fanatic like yourself—”

“Pirates. Flamboyant. ’Nuff said. I would be—” He slipped into the jacket and put his hands on his hips, pulling one leg up to place the flat of his foot on his opposite knee. “—Flamingo the Cruel!”

They laughed hard for some time before he told her, “Seriously, I gotta have something to call my own until we can head back down to the shipwreck and resume cataloguing. I don’t know what the hold up is, but Shelly and Cameron are calling to me and I need to go back. Maybe there’s something there—”

Krissie took a deep breath as she recalled the screeching of tires and then she hit the ground hard, lifting up on her hands to see a cracked windshield and then Kiyoshi thrown to the pavement not ten feet from her as the large green 4×4 truck stopped suddenly, the driver stumbling out to puke before mumbling, “Sssorrry about that. Please—please don’ call the popo’s… my dad’ll kill me an’ take my truck away.”

Krissie brought his hand to her lips, pressing a kiss to his unresponsive fingers. “Because that’s what was important, right? Yeah… that’s it.” Tears that always seemed so close sparkled in her blue eyes as she murmured, “But at least that drunk jerk got what was coming to him. Dammit, Ki-chan… come back to us. Please!”

The Mists of World’s End: The Curse (A Behind the Scenes Look)

“We’ll pay for this, ye understand that, don’t ye?”

Hunter whirled, a sly smile turning up the edges of her lips. “If we can manage to not get caught, we won’t.”

He shook his head, chewing his lower lip. “Ain’t gonna happen, love.” He crossed to her. “This kind of thing… it always gets caught.” His eyes widened as she stepped closer to him, placing her hands on his chest. Cameron’s hands wrapped around her wrists and lifted her clean hands from his vest. “And ye had to go and hearts to it.” His thick dark eyebrows lifted and he dropped her hands as he strode past her, glancing out the window at the inky black night. No moon made it difficult to tell the sea from the sky, and the stars burned like lanterns.

Her blade touched his neck, her hiss coming next to his ear. “I find it a bit ludicrous that Captain Morgan thinks there’s a job wot cannot be done, especially when there’s a diablo wot says it can.”

“Diablo?” Cameron smirked. “So is that what dear Hunter is calling herself now?”

“Don’t change the subject, Cam.” Her voice went flat as her free hand slid over his hip and her middle finger traced the front of his trousers. “I have seen the way you look at me. I know the way you feel about me, and you are right—we are good together.”

“Ye’re engaged to the lad on deck, and he’s waitin’ for ye, Hun—” She whirled him around, slamming his back to the wall. Her mouth covered his in a hard kiss, one that made him think, And were ye a lad, I might be rethinkin’ me noble thoughts!

Breaking the kiss, Hunter murmured, “I want you to listen to me, Cam.” Fishing in her heavy jacket, she withdrew a small roll of leather and held it up. “This was in Shelly’s possession up until two nights ago. This was something he told me a while back that his father had given him. He claims it was a fairy story, but I think differently. It talks about a never-ending treasure.”

“Never-ending?” Cameron opened his eyes wide, snatching the leather from her and opening it to… see an entirely different language, one that reminded him of Welsh from when he was a lad. “And you read this?”

“No,” Hunter chuckled. “I hired someone to translate it. Then I killed him.”

Holding up the leather, he shook his head. “Lass, he lied to you. There be nothing on this page about treasure.”

Her eyes flashed. “What does it say?”

Cameron grinned. “It talks instead about life everlasting… on a remote beach… with only one’s soul to keep them comp’ny.”

She growled. “Well, I guess I don’t be needing company this night, then, do I?” With a huff, Hunter Madison exited the room, cramming the tricorn down on her sun-kissed auburn curls. With barely a moment to lose, Cameron stealthily followed her, and green with envy, watched as she slid a familiar hand over Shelly’s broad shoulders—

—and in the next minute, her free hand drew her knife and buried it in his side, twisting it to worsen the wound, to make him bleed out faster.

Shelly gasped, one hand reaching down to touch the blood staining his vest as he turned, confused, and stumbled. Cameron’s hand covered his mouth as it worked, shocked. Diablo should be yer name, wee cunt!

Hunter crossed her arms over her chest and her expression didn’t change, even when Shelly grabbed for the railing to hold himself up. Cameron’s vision blurred as he watched him, knowing that the man’s lungs likely were filling with blood, that these were his last moments. Anger filled him that this was how Shelly Gwynne would bow out… at the hand of a she-devil. A she-devil who lied to her “fiancé.”

“I’m sorry about this. You must understand that I don’t want this. You can’t come with me now and you cannot tell Cam what I know you long to tell him when we find him.”

When they find me? When was I missing? How does he not know I’m onboard? Cameron set his jaw, racking up the points he’d make as he slowly killed the bitch.

“Ye’d rather me die? Hunter… have ye truly turned pirate?” Shelly’s smooth Welsh voice floated on the salty air. Cameron had always known that accent would be the death of him, that when he found a nice boy to settle down with, a Welshman was what he’d always longed to find. Truly, this is me curse… to have to watch him die. He swallowed hard. There’ll be no saving him from that wound.

Hunter lied again to Shelly, reaching a hand out to him. “I’d rather spare you the pain of living alone than being left again—”

He protested, using the railing to maneuver himself away from her, rather than let her touch him. “I’d rather ye didn’t kill me—”

“Too late, Shelly Gwynne.”

“No!” Cameron shouted as Hunter gave Shelly a hard shove, sending him over the side into the frigid waters below. “No, ye wee cunt! I’ll—”

Hunter whirled, drawing her cutlass. “You’ll what, Cam? I’m in a foul mood and I’ll tell you this, Diablo is looking to be a fitting name—”

“Nah… ye’re na evil enough for Diablo, love.” Cameron’s lip curled. “Ye’re a chaser. Ye’ll never be a rum. Ye’ll always have a bite to ye. I’d call ye Whisky.” Snarling like a mad dog, he stepped closer, slapping her blade with his own. “And ye ken what whisky does to a man, don’t ye?”

“What’s that?” she arched a fine blonde brow.

“It makes him mean!” And he flew at her, teeth bared.

The Mists of World’s End: The Diary of Shelly Gwynne

Day Forty-Two, The Island:

 

I figure that I am in a place that no-one can touch. I have made meself a cottage from the stone that become unearthed when the earth shook. What remained of the tarp after that storm I keep furled above the windows in the case it rains hard like that again, however, since that day, there’s been nary a cloud in the sky.

I also built meself a forge and cut meself a path from the cottage to the forge. I found fresh water and I tapped into it both at the cottage and at the forge, built a water wheel that serves two purposes. One is water for the forge and the other is a place to hang me swords.

Me beauties… nobody will ever see them again, save meself. ’Tis a pity, because they are right beautiful creations, if I do say so meself.

I placed the new blade in the water, the comforting hissssss as it quenches down sending a smile to my lips. My new home is cause for much rumination and I couldn’t stop thinking about it and how it works, who it is what might be taking care of me. Everything changed, just about the time I’d get used to it, it changed ever so slightly. I found something in the forest one day, and the next, its location would be just slightly different.

The well, I thought to myself. The well at the heart of the forest. The well with the Asian characters on it. Stepping out of the forge, I took a deep breath of fresh air as I looked towards the deep roses and golds with which the setting sun had painted the sky. I decided that a bath was in order and I ducked back in to thoroughly check the new blade’s cooling process. Removing it from the water, I wrapped a towel around it to dry it before setting it on my work table. Exiting the forge, I moved quickly to the cottage to grab the soap I’d made from sandalwood and coconut oil before taking the trail down to the stream. I slipped my clothes and stepped into the cool water, ducking under its surface with a smile, and for a long minute, I allowed the water envelope me and soothe me. Planting my feet in the silt-covered bottom, I stood up to begin my bath. As I lathered my skin, I glanced to my left.

I gave a dry laugh as I said aloud, “Well, I see ye’ve moved again.”

Finishing up in a hurry, I stretched out on the bank to dry and took my book, quill and ink out to sketch the well and the symbols, wondering what they meant. I moved my hand over to touch them, jerking back as it brought to mind my first memory of this place.

Coughing and sputtering, I lifted my head as I turned over to see a large funnel made entirely of water, stretching from the water to the heavy clouds, mere feet from me, and I skittered backwards in a hurry, not wanting to get caught up in its wrath. Strangely, I didn’t actually believe my fear, but somehow knew that the funnel guarded me until my eyes opened.

Shaking my head at the illogical statement, I watched as it began to move outwards, towards the horizon, and I would’ve sworn I could see a face in it.

Thinking on it, I looked towards the horizon and watched the last bit of light fade. As I stood and gathered my clothes, book and writing supplies, I wondered just what had stumbled onto me.

The Mists of World’s End: The Diary of Shelly Gwynne

Day Eleven, The Island:

 

I have never been so tired in me whole damn life as I am right now.  Even scribing these words into the book I’ve found in the supplies wot just keep appearing out of the ocean, as if the god of the ocean finds me to be of some great import. I cannot say what it may be, but it feels as though something is coming, some portent, some wyrd I cannot make heads nor tails of… and I feel as though I should be frightened, but strangely, I find meself excited—

A thunderclap jolted me, and I looked out the makeshift tent I’d erected between three tall trees just up the beach, having strung up a net in hammock form between the two biggest. Tucking the book and quill in my vest, I grimaced as I walked over to the palm tree leaves that made an awning of sorts over the opening, watching the lightning striking the ocean not two miles away from the shore. Taking a thick stick and stirring the coals, I added a bit of kindling, ill-prepared for the tremors I felt shuddering beneath my feet. Seconds later, everything shook and I wrapped my arms around the trunk of the palm closest to me, grabbing the rope that held the hammock bed and tugging it loose. I shimmied up the palm until I could grasp the leaves and I tied myself to its top just as enormous waves crashed below me, taking out the makeshift home I’d made and leaving me with nothing once more. I leaned my forehead to the tree, holding on tight as the storm raged, hoping to the gods that I’d survive the night.

I’ve survived worse or ain’t that apparent? I thought I’d drowned—I still ain’t certain I didn’t. I was stabbed by the woman I thought I loved, and the beasts of the deep should have come after me, but I washed up on a foreign shore. Nary a soul in sight, nothin’ but this isle and this shore.

A long blue-white bolt strikes the ground not three feet from me and I can’t help but cry out, hiding my face as I shiver in the rain, the ferocity of the storm now centered on the island as the metallic scent of lightning fills my nose. I prayed then, to God, to Davy Jones, to Poseidon—anything and anyone I could remember that might calm the ocean’s wrath and allow me to live.

Please… I beg ye! I have a purpose… a fate! I can see the threads o’ me tapestry and they don’t end here! Please… calm the wind and rain and let me down from me perch. I’ll fill it. I promise ye!

The Mists of World’s End: The Diary of Shelly Gwynne

Day Three, The Island:

 

I don’t know where this place is that I find meself. I’d wager that it’s no hell place, because I fear that a hell place would be hotter and with much less water and vegetation. I’d also wager it ain’t heaven because I figure heaven would be in possession of more souls’n just this one. It cain’t be purgatory because even pirates don’t truly believe in a middle ground when it comes to the afterlife.

I sighed, pausing in my musings as the tide tickled my toes, squinting my eyes at the light from the rising sun. It’d been two days since I coughed all the water out of my lungs and dragged myself onto dry land. I remembered waiting for Hunter on the deck of the Kingston, and I remembered the sharp pain in my side, reaching down a hand to find blood staining my vest. I remembered turning around to see Hunter standing behind me, her face set.

“I’m sorry about this. You must understand that I don’t want this. You can’t come with me now and you cannot tell Cam what I know you long to tell him when we find him.”

“Ye’d rather me die? Hunter… have ye truly turned pirate?”

“I’d rather spare you the pain of living alone than being left again—”

“I’d rather ye didn’t kill me—”

“Too late, Shelly Gwynne.”

She’d pushed me over the railing and I’d fallen into those frigid waters, certain that the blood from my wound would call all manner of hungry animals, but the cold had sent me to sleeping and I only vaguely remembered slipping beneath the waves.

I furrowed my brow as I saw something riding the tide coming to shore. Getting to my feet, I walked towards the shape, finding it to be the first of what would be many supplies.  Wrapped in nets I would later use to catch fish, I found a bushel of apples, a case of straw packed green bottles containing rum and wine, and as I dragged them in, the next wave that nearly swept over me sent a heavy wooden chest slamming into the sand, creating a deep furrow next to my feet. Seeing the lock on its front, I frowned.

How in hell am I s’posed to get into that? I reckon it needs a key—

Something cold tumbled over my feet in the froth washing over my feet and I looked down to see a two-pronged iron key lying in the sand by my right foot. Picking it up, I lifted my gaze to the sun and squinted again as I thought, What is this place?

Kneeling before the chest, I inserted the key and gave it a twist. The lock opened and I removed it, lifting the heavy lid to find it full of smithy’s tools. A small smile touched my lips when I lifted one and found the initials S. G. burnt into the handle.  I shook my head and took a look around me.

“Well, m’boy… looks like we might be here for a time.”