Somewhere between heaven and hell.
I'm bringing in Greek mythology in this chapter, so be prepared for that.
I stole a line from Star Wars: The Clone Wars. It's from an episode from season one, but if you catch it then you get a virtual high five.
And I won't be surprised if you ship Frank and Ray after reading this chapter.
Because I do.
But only a little bit.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my words an ideas. I do not own the song Buddy Holly by Weezer.
. . .
The smell of mud and decay filled the air. The ground was sloshy with water, splashing our shoes and washing the blood off. Very little light filtered through the trees, the forest almost completely dark. Cicadas and crickets chirped in the background. One might describe the scene as calm or peaceful, but that person was obviously ignorant to the towering shadow lurking amongst the foliage.
"What do you think the next task'll be, Frankie?" Ray asked, breaking the silence.
"I'm not sure," I replied, gazing up through the leaves. "The second Plague was the swarm of frogs attacking the Egyptians, but I have no idea how Gerard will portray it."
"Then why don't you just ask me?"
Ray and I both jumped, a girlish scream being let out on my part. We both looked up to see Gerard sitting on a branch above us, swinging his legs back and forth. An innocent smile adorned his lips, his hat absent, allowing his short hair to sway in the breeze.
"What do you want?" Ray sounded irritated.
"Oh, nothing much. However, I wouldn't mind having Frankie." He smirked and winked. "Apart from that, I just thought I'd drop by and supply you with your tools for this task."
"Tools?" Ray and I questioned in unison, looking at each other and raising our eyebrows.
"Yes, tools. Tools meaning objects to aid you in your task, as opposed to tools being as what you two are acting like right now," came a quiet male voice from behind us.
"Now, now, Mikey," Gerard tutted. "Be nice to our guests."
"I'm so very sorry," he rolled his eyes. "I brought what you needed."
We turned to face him, his face devoid of emotion as usual. He was holding an object out toward us. In his pale hands lay a sleek rifle, it's barrel clean and shiny.
My mouth fell open in shock. "What do we need a rifle for?"
Mikey chuckled, a small smile forming. "Oh, you'll see." He shoved the rifle into my hands, disappearing right before our eyes.
"Have fun, boys. Don't shoot anyone, okay?" Gerard smirked and disappeared as well, the leaves blowing around the area he was sitting. His deep voice boomed throughout the forest. "But just remember, I'm always watching."
Ray cleared his throat awkwardly. "So, should we start walking?"
I shrugged and started off in the direction we were headed before, the rifle in my hands jingling as we walked. Nervous sweat was pouring down my face and my hands were shaking.
"You seem a little on edge." Worry laced Ray's voice as he glanced over at me.
"We're in a dark forest, surrounded by god knows what, and something could jump out at us at any moment. So, yes, I'm a little on edge. Why aren't you?" I snapped.
Ray shrugged. "I'm better at hiding it, I guess."
"I'm sorry, Ray," I sighed. "I didn't mean to snap at you. I'm just nervous right now."
Ray smiled. "You wanna sing a song to cut the tension?"
I grinned and nodded like a mad man. I took a dramatic breath and cleared my throat. "What's with these homies dissin' my girl? Why do they gotta front?"
Ray sang along. "What'd we ever do to these guys that made them so violent?"
"Ooh, ooh, and you know I'm yours." I closed my eyes and playfully wrapped my arms around Ray like a couple would do. He hugged back.
"Ooh, ooh, and you know you're mine."
We sang together. "And that's for all time!"
We began to wave our arms and dance like idiots, singing at the top of our lungs. Whatever tension there was before was now gone. "Ooh-wee-ooh, I look just like Buddy Holly. Oh, oh, and you're Mary Tyler Moore. I don't care what they say about us anyway. I don't care about that!"
I laughed and knelt down on one knee, ignoring the mud and leaves, and did my best air guitar. Ray chuckled.
"You're somethin' else, Frank."
Our laughter was cut short by the rustling of leaves. Ray's eyes widened and he looked around him. The branches behind me rustled and I whipped around, only to be met with one of the most disturbing objects-rather, animal- I've ever seen.
It was a frog, about eight feet tall and ten feet wide with three monstrous horns sprouting from it's skull. Its huge, beady black eyes stared at us, its breaths coming short and heavy. It let out a low, grumbling growl and pounced toward me. Ray dove onto me, knocking me out of the beast's path and sending the rifle a good twenty feet away from us.
"WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT THING?!" Ray shrieked.
A chuckle came from behind us. Ray and I both stood, turning and facing the man.
"I see you boys have met Princess," he purred. "I must warn you that she's extremely aggressive towards anyone but myself." He laughed. "She almost ripped Mikey's arm off last week!"
I looked at Ray and he met my glance, the same 'what the fuck' expression in his eyes.
"So, what's the gun for?" I demanded.
"She fears loud noises. But don't cry and say I didn't warn you that if you do kill her," His eyes lost their golden glow and faded into a cold black. He leaned towards me, his icy breath making me shudder. "The consequences will be most severe." And with that said, he vanished.
Ray and I turned back to see the frog getting ready to charge at us again.
"Do we shoot it?" Ray whispered.
"I don't know," I answered. "Something tells me he won't do anything to you if we do kill it, so..." I trailed off. "We'll see how this goes."
The beast kicked up mud, spraying it out around it, and ran towards us, horns pointed at our hearts. We both jumped out of its way again. I looked around for the gun.
I spotted it lying just a few feet away from where I was laying. I reached my hand out to grab it, my fingers just about to brush it, when something grabbed me by the ankle, lifting me into the air. The frog dangled me upside-down in front of its face, breathing on me and sniffing me. It threw me back to the ground, backing up again. I felt a searing pain in my leg and I looked back to see the creature had stuck one of it's giant horns in my leg, ripping through my jeans, skin, and muscle. I groaned, the adrenaline numbing the pain a bit. The beast pulled it's horn out, just about to make the killer blow to my heart, when a bang sounded from behind me. I turned to see Ray standing there, hair stuck to his face with sweat and gun in his hands, the barrel still smoking from the shot.
The monster let out a terrified scream and backed up. Ray shot again, the beast turning and hopping back into the canopy of trees at top speed.
I moaned loudly, grasping my leg and cursing. The blood seeped through my fingers, the skin and muscle torn and shredded. The moan quickly turned into a blood curdling scream as the adrenaline wore off, now completely feeling the agony. My vision blurred with tears and blood began to trickle from my mouth, my throat tearing from the constant screaming.
"Frank! Frankie! You're gonna be alright, don't worry!" Ray's voice.
I heard the ripping of fabric and pressure was applied on my wound, causing me to scream louder and more blood to pour from my mouth.
"Get.....Gerard...," I groaned, grabbing at Ray's sleeve.
I heard Mikey speaking in the background somewhere, but I couldn't be sure. The voices were all becoming one big blur and my vision was slowly fading to black.
. . .
My eyes cracked open, the sunlight making me cringe and close them again. I tried to lift my hand up to shield my eyes, but I couldn't move. I heard rustling near me and quickly closed my eyes.
"I know you're awake, Frank. You're not fooling me."
I opened my eyes again, coming face to face with a pair of golden orbs I'd become accustomed to.
"Gerard," I rasped. "Where am I?" I looked around, my gaze being met with flowers and water, everything shining with a slight blue hue to it. The sun reflected off the glass-like lake and the giant pink and yellow flowers swayed in the breeze. "Am I dead?"
He chuckled. "No, you're not dead." He stood from his kneeling position next to me, grabbing my hand and lifting me up, my ability to move returning. "You were badly injured in the task and you passed out while I was healing your leg." He pointed down at the bandage wrapped tightly around my thigh.
I froze. "D-does that mean I...lost?" I asked, my eyes wide and filling with tears. One tear slowly slipped down my cheek, catching the light and shining. Gerard's eyes turned the most beautiful shade of hazel that I'd ever seen, the green shining through the brown and gold flecks surrounding his pupil. He wrapped his long arms around me, encasing me in a freezing embrace.
"No, no, Frankie. You haven't lost yet. Don't cry, baby. Please, don't cry."
I shivered violently. "Gerard, please let me go. You're freezing," I gasped.
He stepped back, a small smile on his face. "Yeah, that's something you might have to get a little used to. It's the one thing I can't fix." He took my hand in his. "Now, let me get onto what I wanted to show you." He led me through a few trees and into a clearing, the sight absolutely breathtaking.
Hundreds of women were walking about in a grove, talking amongst themselves, working, and dancing. They were all extremely beautiful, their skin flawless and their hair long and flowing. I was speechless.
"What are they?" I asked, awestruck.
Gerard stood next to me, wrapping an arm around my shoulder. "They're nymphs. Beautiful creatures, aren't they?"
I flinched at the word 'creatures.' "Yes." I turned to Gerard. "Why are you showing me this?" I asked, generally confused.
"I just wanted to show you different parts of our little world. I just wanted you to know that we aren't the only people here."
"Where are we, anyway? This whole 'world'- what is it? Are we even on Earth anymore?"
Gerard sighed. "I suppose it is time I give you some answers. No, we're not on Earth anymore."
I felt my stomach drop. "Then where are we?" I whispered.
"Somewhere between heaven and hell. You can call it a different dimension."
I decided to ask the question I wanted to know since I arrived here. "Why me?"
"Pardon?" Gerard furrowed his eyebrows.
"Why did you pick me? Out of the seven billion people on Earth, why did you choose me?"
Gerard's thin lips broke into a huge grin. "That's a story I'll save for another day."
"Nope, I gave you enough answers to chew on for today. Now it's time we head back before they start to miss us."
I turned back to the grove full of nymphs in front of us, one particular one catching my eye. She had long, wavy black hair and pale skin, her lips a bright cherry red. She was clad in a blue silk dress that reached her knees and was barefoot. Her large eyes met mine, her expression sad. I brought my hand up and waved to her, but she turned and darted behind a tree. Sighing, I grabbed Gerard's hand and felt a sharp pain in my skull. The scene around me swirled and the world went black.
. . .
I opened my eyes, quickly shooting up from my position on the ground and gasping for breath. My entire frame was trembling, the flawless face of the nymph still branded into my mind.
Ray was looking at me with wide eyes and Mikey had a knowing smirk on his face. I looked around but didn't see Gerard until I felt someone pick me up and hug me from behind, the familiar icy embrace letting me know exactly who it was.
"Are you ready for your next task?"