TO START THE CYCLE :
It’s only a siren’s song baby
Hey there Mr. Cthulhu
Got some toxic truth?
Squid Kings and Greek Fires
THE DORLEY CYCLE
Paulie sat down hard and when I turned to see my damage he was tracing his shaking fingers along his face. In my panic I hadn’t noticed how long it was, but seeing it pierced through his cheek down inside his mouth and out of his chin, a dripping half tip that his finger grazed I understood his shock. His eyes filled with tears and he moaned into the cold glass, his tongue darting to lick away the pooling blood. He wanted to grab at it I saw, pull it out. I picked whatever adrenaline I had and surged into one mighty kick and tumbled Paulie over and left him laying, a close call from falling into the dark waters.
I stood up and limped back, holding what was broken close to my chest.
Eli had just untied the boat. He jumped in and started the engine.
“Jackson, get in.”
There was about a two feet gap between the dock and the boat. I prepared to leap over it.
There was a gunshot. I turned. Paulie, dear ol’ broken Paulie had saved the best for last, aiming my own gun at me. His face was contorted.
“You gotta jump Jackson!”
I jumped and at the same time the gun fired again. The bullet sliced, hot, burning hot. I fell in the boat among red bottles of fuel
I curled into a ball, squeezing my leg, blood seeping between my fingers. I tore at the fabric, clawing my way through the denim. The projectile had struck me in the thigh, living a fresh bleeding wound, but as the blood soaked into the torn piece of cloth, I saw it was nothing more than a deeper scratch.
“Are you okay?”
Eli drove the thing as fast as he could, flying bullets shattering the glass of the cabin.
I managed a positive sort of hum and peeked out from my hiding. Paulie ran along the dock till there was a dock. Then he disappeared out of sight and soon the pier along with the Ferris wheel came into. I heard sirens coming to life in the background.
We had the pier ahead of us and the boat rumbled lowly towards it. The drizzle had turned into a steady rain. A thunder rolled in the distance.
“Okay what now? How do we load this stuff to your car?”
Ahead, the Ferris wheel swam, rotating in a counterclockwise mirage conjured by my pain and exhaustion. Even in the beat down daylight its bright green lights shone emerald. I scanned the pier further on.
“Is there a ladder there?”
“Steer her near it.”
Eli aimed the boat for the narrow gap between the widest pillars, just behind the ladder, and turned off the engine. He walked out of the small cabin holding a lighter in his hand. I took it.
I ran my bloodied fingers along the lids of the bottles, unscrewing one of them, reaching for the second before stopping myself. The boat rocked gently in the quiet dark and I rocked back and forth in my own black pit, setting my feet at the bottom of it. I was lead, I was an anchor, I was the skin that made the hole, I was the sea that filled its belly. Washed, I remembered, cleansed, the gentle flesh though no longer hurting, no longer sensitive. It was, beforehand surreal to think me in the pattern of death, but now as Dorley is at its weakest I have a different taste for surviving. I’ve made my peace with the sea and with the constant growl inside my ears. I’ve been cold, but now I’m warming up.
I gestured Eli to climb up. I suffered a little with my one-handed grip, but once up he grabbed me and pulled me onto the pier.
His voice trailed off and I could see why when I got to my feet. Guy was there, striped and entertainment like, but no smile.
“Hear those sirens Mr. Jackson? I haven’t heard ones like this in twenty years. Sounds like murder to me.”
He pointed at me like trying to imply my murder.
“Hope they find Paulie where I left him.”
A nerve convulsed on his perfect face at my lie. Paulie no doubt was coming here, knowing we would come, like he knew about us going to the docks before. I’d be more than happy to have them both here with me when I light everything.
“You’ll be dead too, Guy. In fact we all will.”
“By what right?”
“By the one that put us four limbed fucks on this earth and not you tentacle sons of bitches.”
“Primitive of you. Imbecilic. Don’t think of this as devolution of your kind and evolution of ours. We are merely trying to coexist, have some solidity. Merge perhaps, no?”
Guy licked his lips with a crippled limb, one I had vague memory of having bitten into.
“Are you so injured and tormented Jackson that you would waste yourself and that poor boy’s life? Can’t you just give up and go home? Make it a nightmare, nothing more than sweat on your brow.”
He smiled at me.
“Look at you, battered and abused. What now, are you going to die? After all you went through? In fact why don’t you let me help you forget everything and put this lunacy behind us. Let Dorley be peaceful again. Let us keep it safe.”
I shook my head violently, looking at my feet, seeing a crack instead, and through it the bright red of the fuel bottles. Why not now?, I thought, why fuckin’ not?
I smiled back at him.
“This is my home. This is me keeping it safe.”
I showed him the lighter.
“There’s a boat full of fuel bellow me. I let this Zippo go we all fly up.”
Eli pushed away from me.
“You promised no one will get hurt Jackson! You promised!”
I took him by surprise giving him one hard shove with my shoulder sending him flying off the pier and down to a big splash.
“Swim fast kid.”
I flicked the lighter and dropped it, watching the dancing flame fall through the gap, licking the fumes first and spark a fiery cloud. Guy was already turning to run. Where to, I don’t know; as the pier shook between our legs, I ran too, but the groundbreaking groan filled the space in an instant, and grew into an eruption of fire from below. A second one boomed somewhere near as the explosion made everything go white.