I had written the following in September, after picking up Flying Frog’s Fortune and Glory: The Cliffhanger Game. I’m a big fan of Flying Frog’s stuff, and when they made a pulp adventure game (a la Indiana Jones) of course I was going to get it. At this point I hadn’t yet played the game, but I was in the mood to write some game-based fiction. This is an Intro and Chapter One, which amounts to a single danger on a specific adventure. I sort of ‘stacked’ the dangers so that it would have a cinematic flow to it. I never did continue with the story, but it’s possible that I just might at some point. More likely I’ll stop this one and start another, making it MUCH shorter, as this one took quite a while to write, and I only got a quarter of the way through 🙂
Wow…I totally could have spent those hours painting minis…
* * * * *
There was a knock at the door. A normal knock, by all accounts.
But the fact that someone was knocking on the door at all was not normal. Not at all. Not when the door belonged to a seemingly vacant, run-down house, on a secluded hill in the outskirts of Rio. One had to wonder why there was someone knocking on it, in the first place.
Which is exactly what Alexander Cartwright was wondering. As he slowly, quietly stood up from the table he was writing at, careful not to let the floorboards creak, he reached into the bag slung across the back of his chair and pulled out a revolver. Just in case, he thought. Body tense, he tiptoed across the room to the window and peeked through a gap in the curtains, not knowing who to expect on the delapidated porch. Just as he started to make out the figure standing there he heard,
“Yo, Alex! Y’all home!?”
With a sigh and a roll of his eyes, Cartwright relaxed and opened the door. “Sam? What are you doing here? How did you find me?”
“Heh heh,” the thickset man said with an accent as he let himself into the house, “I have my ways, essay.” Looking around the room he said, “Nice digs. I guess being a writer is paying off, eh? Heh heh.”
“Right,” replied Cartwright, closing the door. “Okay, so why is it that you are here?”
“Ah,” said Sam, spinning to face Cartwright and producing a slip of paper from a pocket inside his vest. “A letter came to the shop a few days ago, addressed to you. I think you’ll want to read it, senor.”
Ignoring the fact that Sam had opened and read a letter addressed to someone else, Cartwright unfolded the paper and began to read. His eyes widened and he exclaimed, “Aha! I knew it! It is real! It does exist!” He walked ot a small bookcase, excitedly.
“Well,” said Sam, “at least whoever wrote this letter wants you to think it is. Who knows? Might be a trap. Again. Are you going to go look for it?”
Cartwright, flipping through an old book he had taken off the shelf, looked up at Sam. “Of course I am! I have known for years that it existed and now I can find it and prove the fact. And apparently someone else wants me to find it too. They’re going to completely fund my expedition.”
“Our expedition, right esse?”
“I thought you did not believe it existed. Do you really want to come?”
“Of course! It’s been too long since our last adventure!”
“Well, then, old friend, you better get a good sleep tonight. Tomorrow morning we leave for Persia,” Cartwright said, holding up the book to a page with a sketch of a tattered helmet with a large jewel centred on the forehead, “and the Helmet of the Cursed Eye!”
The letter from the mysterious backers had detailed where Alexander Cartwright would find all the necessary provisions for the expedition. The next morning Cartwright did indeed find everything he needed, including a small cargo plane fully fueled and ready to take him and Sam to the Middle East.
The flight was nearly a week long, requiring multiple stops for refueling. But finally the small plane was on its last leg, and Cartwright and Sam could see their destination in the viewport: Jabal al-Ain, The Mountain of the Eye.
“Ooh, man, looks cosy. Question…where do we land?”
“I was thinking the same thing, Sam,” replied Cartwright, looking around the base of the mountain. “I’m sure there’s enough flat ground somewhere to land.”
“Heh heh, I hope this landing is better than your last one, Alex. Remember that? It took three days to get those vines and leaves out of the engine!”
“Yeah, well,” said Cartwright, a look of mock confusion on his face. “Who would have thought landing a biplane in the Congo Jungle could be so…messy?”
“Heh heh, true. Hey Alex, another question, “began Sam, “who do you think that is?” He looked quizzically past Cartwright, out the window.
Cartwright looked, too, and didn’t like what he saw: another plane heading on what looked like an intercept course. What he liked less was the fact that the other plane also sported a pair of machine guns in front of the single pilot’s seat.
“Oh boy. This is not good,” said Cartwright.
“Maybe he’s alright, Alex. You know, some tourist or something enjoying this lovely Persian desert?”
“This far from any major city, in a plane with guns, heading right for us? Why do I doubt he is ‘alright’?”
As if to confirm Cartwright’s doubt the pilot reached up and cocked both machine gun barrels.
“Oh boy,” said Cartwright again. “This is not good.”
Moments later the rat-tat-tat of the machine guns sounded, as slivers of light streaked towards the cargo plane.
“Aaaagh!” the two screamed in unison as Cartwright plunged the plane into a dive, trying to avoid the bullets.
The attacking plane followed, continuing to fling its deadly barrage at the two adventurers. Cartwright levelled-off and steered the plane left and right, but the less-than-nimble cargo plane could only maneuver so much. Loud pops and zings told them that they were getting hit. Repeatedly. Sam looked towards the back of the plane and watched as more and more holes opened up in the plane’s ceiling…and floor.
“I should have stayed in Rio! I should have stayed in Rio!” exclaimed Sam.
“I agree!” yelled Cartwright, as he continued to try and flee from the attacking plane. “Who is this guy, anyway!?”
With each maneuver, the cargo plane was getting closer to the rocks and sand of the desert.
“It’s okay!” shouted Cartwright above the growing howl of the wind through the bullet holes. “We’re almost at the mountain! If we land close enough I’m sure we can run into a cave there!”
Suddenly, the incoming hail of bullets swiftly moved forward in the plane, cutting right in between the two adventurers and slicing through the front panel and into the engine up front. With wide eyes Cartwright and Sam looked at the holed, smoking console, at each other, and then back at the console.
“Landing ain’t necessary anymore, is it Alex?” gulped Sam.
“No, Sam,” muttered Cartwright. “We’re going down.”
Within moments the engine began to sputter and vent thick, black smoke which quickly filled the cabin. The plane started to lose what little altitude it had left. Cartwright played with the steering wheel, but nothing happened. The plane continued on a straight path…directly towards Jabal al-Ain.
Cartwright unbuckled his safety harness and started gathering essential supplies from the back. “We’re going to have to bail out!” he shouted. “But we’ll have to time it right!”
Sam looked nervously out the window at the rapidly nearing mountain, and less-rapidly nearing desert sands. “Aren’t we still a little too high to jump?”
Cartwright stuck his head into the smokey cabin and peered out the window. “It’s either break a leg jumping, or break a lot more crashing. Your choice.”
With another glance at the mountain, and again at the desert, Sam sighed. “Leg it is, Alex!”
The two were ready in seconds, standing by the closed door, looking out the window and waiting for the right moment to jump. The engine was now belching flames as well as the smoke, like a great big meteor hurtling above the sand.
“On three, okay Sam?…Three!”
Without warning Cartwright threw open the door and jumped out, followed closely by Sam. The drop was only a couple of metres, but with their momentum they hit the ground hard and began rolling and somersaulting, kicking up sand as they went.
Their tumbles had not yet ceased when a large explosion rocked the air as the plane hit the mountain. Flames billowed in a fireball, flinging bits of debris all around.
When Cartwright finally came to a stop face down, mere metres from the base of the mountain, he paused for a second in the heat of the explosion, before lifting his head and looking around.
“Sam?” he called out. “You make it?”
With a groan Sam replied, “Yes Alex. And guess what?”
“I didn’t even break a leg!” said Sam, with breathless relief.
Cartwright noticed the plane that had attacked them was already off in the distance, heading back from whence it came.
Did the pilot know the two were still alive? Either way, he was leaving them behind, roughed up but alive, at the base of the mountain.
“Let’s rest before we continue, shall we?” suggested Cartwright, before heaving a sigh and dropping his head.