Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 10 - "Reflection"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

deserted estate

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2009-11-05 - Updated: 2009-11-05 - 1466 words - Complete

The Reflection approached a dock reaching off the beach on the nearest side of the island. There were three other vessels docked there: a small, single-engine model, hardly capable of leaving the island by itself; a long, black boat that looked sleek, fast, and longer-ranged; the last was a ninety- or hundred-foot cruiser that took up most its side of the dock, the only one that even had a mast. There was still extra space on the other side, so they docked there.

Across the short expanse of beach was the entrance to an enormous estate that looked as if it took up a great deal of the island. Off to the right was a gate leading back into a jungle garden on one side of the island. Before them, the estate itself consisted of a massive, multiplex building that worked its way, level by level, up the mountain that formed the heart of the island. There were a good many windows, and only parts of each level were stacked on each other, making the whole thing look like a gigantic architectural “stairway” winding its way up the mountain to the very top.

Where a colossal, tilted wire-frame globe hung above everything. From afar, Shades borrowed Abu-Sharrah’s telescope, making out latitudinal and longitudinal lines, as well as one straight line through its polar axis. The tip of which was an arrowpoint that nearly gleamed in the midday sun.

Shades helped moor the ship, and Justin double-checked to make sure it was secure. Then they waited. When, after about ten minutes, they received no greeting, nor any kind of response, they decided to come knock.

“Keep your weapons handy, but don’t draw them,” Shades advised. It wasn’t a friendly gesture, he knew, but surely anyone living in these waters must understand the need for self-defense.

Justin understood. And was glad Shades didn’t insist on going in unarmed, as he half feared he would insist on doing.

Max wasn’t sure about the whole thing, so he looked to Abu-Sharrah, who appeared to neither approve nor disapprove. Merely observing.

Having decided to take the initiative, they stepped out onto the dock and headed for the beach, searching for any signs of habitation. As Shades crossed the dock on his way to dry land, he felt a vague, inexplicable sense of foreboding as he passed each vessel, almost as if each one were whispering some dark secret in his ear… He shook that thought off, telling himself that it was all this talk about psychic powers, combined with so much discussion and experience with real haunted places, mixed with the deserted feel of this area. That, and nothing more.

Then there was solid, sandy ground underfoot.

“For Sale. Dominion Realty…” Shades read from the sign posted in the sand next to the dock. “At least that explains why nobody’s home.” He whistled as he looked at the estate, adding, “I wonder how much they want for this place.”

“More than we’ve got,” Justin told him bluntly.

“Lighten up,” Max suggested, wondering if his friend was always this disrespectful of other people’s ideas, or if he just hadn’t noticed it until now. “It’s just a thought.”

“Let’s see… It says here they’ll take one million credits… or best offer,” Shades told them as he read still further, trailing off at this price. Unless one of these “credits” is worth a lot more than a dollar… “It almost sounds as if they’re trying to get rid of the place.”

“What could possibly be wrong with it?” Justin demanded, wondering why this Shades always thought about such strange things. This place looked at least as expensive as the estates of any of the Triangle State’s élite. “Ya know, we could probably find some pretty cool stuff here.”

“Wouldn’t that be stealing?” Shades intoned.

“Only if ya get caught,” Justin shot back.

“At least we’re being honest with ourselves…” Shades muttered, and Justin suspected he was rolling his eyes behind those opaque lenses.

“Come on,” said Max, “if there’s no one here, why not have a look around?” He turned to Shades, who was still examining the sign, asking, “Don’t you want to as well, Shades?”



“Of course,” Shades admitted. Like everything else he had seen since he took his first step into the Unknown, this place called out to him. Empty places always did, and in spite of his initial foreboding, this one fascinated him. “But I’d just like the tour. No five-finger discount for me.”

“You can do what you want,” Justin commented.

“I think I’m just going to go for a walk,” Max told them as he started across the beach. As different as Justin and Shades were, different as day and night in some ways, he hoped they would become friends. Though it seemed that Justin was dead-set on leaving at the first opportunity. He had an odd feeling about those two, and he wondered if it was anything like Shades’ hunches; the only way to know for sure was to let the two of them get to know each other while the three of them were still together. “Why don’t you guys take a look around inside?”

“Okay,” Shades and Justin said simultaneously, for different reasons, then turned and blinked at each other for a moment.

“Come on, Bandit. Wanna have a look around?” When the big cat failed to appear, he looked back. After being cooped up on that small ship for three days, he was sure his feline friend should be itching to go, but instead he stood quietly at the edge of the dock, refusing to step an inch farther. Max had only seen him do this once before, right before his run-in with the devilfish, and he wondered if it was something on the island Bandit didn’t like the smell of. “Bandit?”

“Someting is not quite right…” Abu-Sharrah mumbled.

“Just leave him,” Justin said as he turned to go.

“Are you sure dis is wise?” Abu-Sharrah asked. “Someting is not right here.”

“Who cares if it’s wise?” Justin demanded. As far as he was concerned, the old man was jumping to conclusions before they even knew what was here. He doubted anyone would notice a few missing items in a place this size. “The place looks pretty empty to me. Are you coming or not?”

“If you don’t want to come,” Max suggested, fearing that if Justin and Shades were crammed back on that ship again, they would just drive each other farther apart, and concluding that as long as Bandit stayed behind, he wouldn’t have to deal with whatever it was he didn’t like, “then why don’t you and Bandit watch the ship?”

Shades nodded, deciding that was a good plan. Someone waiting back at the ship would mean a quick getaway in case Justin did something stupid. I really won’t want to get caught here… But even so, he wondered, Why do I get the feeling no one’s going to come by here anytime soon?

Abu-Sharrah appeared to agree, as well. There was something amiss here, and he could not put his finger on it. At least from here he could back the others up.

As Max entered the garden, he strode past clumps of tall weeds near the entrance. He looked down at his feet, marveling at the stones that formed the path through the garden. Fitted together so perfectly that there was no need for cement or mortar.

The stone walkway quickly gave way to a dirt path leading deeper under the thick canopy of trees, the way becoming dimmer more quickly than he expected. His vision adjusted readily enough to the mild gloom, and he found the foliage to be denser here than in most parts of Paradise. The garden looked as if it was once well-kept, but had reverted to its natural state with long neglect. Many exotic sounds floated his way from the deeper woods.

Max hoped he wasn’t making some kind of mistake letting his friends wander off like that, but he was sure it would be worth the risk if the two of them would just talk to each other, find some kind of common ground. Though he quickly found it harder and harder to regard it as a risk, as the jungle beyond appeared quite benign. So far, he could see no sign of anything Bandit need be afraid of, but he figured he would be okay as long as he followed the first rule of wilderness survival and remained aware of this surroundings.

“What could be so bad about this place?”
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