The Writers Voice
The World's Favourite Literary Website



Pepper Herman

Chapter Ten

Saturday, December 28th.  A Flashback

            The cool breeze cut through the humidity, causing the palm trees to sway, their branches undulating in silhouette against the darkened sky.

King Frederick airport was practically deserted as Octavius Gumbs approached a storage hangar near the runway.  The night before Rob’s arrival, he had persuaded his friend Desmond, an airport employee, to let him store the pods there in exchange for a crisp one hundred dollar bill and no questions asked. He glanced at his watch -- 9:15 pm island time.  He rapped three times on the door, waited, then rapped two more.  Hearing the pre-arranged signal, Desmond emerged from inside the hangar and the two silently began to haul the pods onto a dolly and out to the army helicopter, where, together, they mounted them onto the landing gear, affixing them with the stretcher.

Satisfied that all was in order, Octavius thanked Desmond with their special handshake, and headed for the airport bar to wait for Rob’s plane to land.

The small island plane touched down at approximately 10:05  pm.  No wonder night flights were discouraged.  These puddle-jumpers had to learn to land on a dime.  Emerging from the aircraft were the pilot and it’s lone passenger, Rob.  After  clearing  customs, he found Octavius waiting for him and the two went into the makeshift bar attached to the small shack-like customs structure  to have a final drink and a last goodbye.

            “Might as well get good and bombed, buddy,” Rob said.  “I mean, long as I’m going out, I might as well make it a good one.  Wouldn’t you say?” 

            Nodding, Octavius replied, “Not a bad way, mon, but I gotta tell you this is not a good day for me.”  His face had a stricken expression. 

            Suddenly, a woman appeared before them and approached Rob.

            “Are you Randall Cassidy?” she asked him.

            “What’s this all about?” Rob asked, with a certain uneasiness.

            “There is a message from Ed and Molly.”  She began to read from a slip of paper.  “They want you know they don’t have cancer and that ... “

            Rob grabbed the paper from her and began to read it.  His face took on a look of disbelief and he glanced at Octavius.

            “What is it?” Octavius asked.

            “Thank you, miss, I appreciate you finding me more than you’ll ever know.”

            “No problem, Mr. Cassidy.  Your friend sounded urgent.,” she said, and walked away.

            “They want me to abort the mission.   They discovered they don’t have cancer.”  His gut felt like he’d just been punched silly.  “What the fuck does this mean, Scrounger?  Does it mean if they don’t have it,  I don’t have it?”   

            “Shit, mon, what now?”

            Rising abruptly, he replied, “Right now I’ve got to get to a phone.”  Heading for the St. Sebastian airways counter he muttered, “no cancer?  What in the hell...”


            Fifteen minutes later,  Rob hopped onto a barstool and peered into the Scrounger’s eyes.

            “Man, I don’t have cancer!” he beamed.  “It’s all coming together like some kind of crazy puzzle.  Those doctors lied to us for their own power reasons, can you  fucking believe it?”

            “You jiving me, mon?”

            “No way, man.  I just spoke with Ed.  He wants me to scrub the mission.  I called Cate and told her everything -- about the Doomsday Club, about the mission -- everything.”  He looked down at his hands. “Shit, I’ve been such a lying bastard to her.  I kept apologizing  but she kept crying and telling me she loved me .. Jesus ....” his voice broke.

            “She one great lady.  She know you.”

            Rob swallowed, too emotional to speak.

            “Now what, Rob?  I mean what do I do about the pods?”

            Rob stared into space, his mind whirling.  What a way to bring him back to cold sober, he thought.  Suddenly, turning to Octavius with a shrewd expression, he said, “We’re doing it.”

            “You are loco, mon!” Octavius gaped at him.

            “No Scrounger, for once my mind’s as clear as that  Caribbean sea out there,” he said, gesturing with his thumb.  “I’m gonna do it man.  I’m just not gonna go down with it, that’s all!”

            “Now how you think you can pull that off?”

            “I don’t think.  I know!  And you’re gonna help me do it.”

            “Me? How can I do that?” the Scrounger asked with a quizzical look.

            “Simple.  All you have to do is get there before me and signal me with a light from the boat.  I’ll jump free of the copter right before the crash, and you’ll pick me up in the water.” 

With a grin from ear to ear, the Scrounger blurted, “Shit!  Now that’s cool, mon.  That’s real cool.”

            Allowing Octavius a head start, Rob walked out onto the airstrip and located the helicopter. Observing the two pods of napalm mounted on the landing gear, he climbed aboard the aircraft.  The flight plan Octavius left for him indicated that Little Turtle Cay was less than ten minutes away.   He made a quick check to be sure that everything was in order. 

            Positioning the power quadrant for start, the rotors began to spin smoothly.  The aircraft resembled a spaceship  as it lifted off into the darkened void toward its destination.

            The magnitude of what was about to happen began to sink in.  This was really it!  Stage zero.  He was finally about to blow up the army’s germ warfare facility.  No more nightmares, no more waking up drenched in sweat.  He visualized Cate and felt thankful for her support and understanding with his army obsession through the years.  She put up with a lot but handled it with compassion.  Overwhelmed by the emotion of the moment, he swallowed back tears.  He thought about his phone conversation with Ed.  What a shock.  He and Moll must have gone nuts trying to find him. 

Three-quarters of the way to the shore, he spotted it.  He became alive with anticipation as he neared the target.  Looking down, he saw the bright light which danced on the waves and illuminated the darkened water below.  As planned, Octavius was signaling Rob from his Boston Whaler which was hugging the shoreline.

            Rob tried to ignore the pounding in his chest and concentrate instead on the work at hand.  Preparing to jump, he set a Cruise Nav descent into the computer of the auto pilot system, determining the rate of decline the aircraft needed to crash into the building.  Timing was everything.  Using caution, he stepped to the edge of the helicopter, calculating his movements with precision, and, jumping clean, 

splashed down into the ocean.  As he surfaced, he watched as the chopper made its way closer and closer to the warehouse.  Octavius was next to him, pulling him into the boat.  “C’mon mon, no time to waste.”

            They watched with awe as the aircraft met the top of the building.  The explosion not only lit the sky with a brilliant orange inferno, it was seen and heard for miles in neighboring islands as well.  The building, the palm trees, in fact all matter of vegetation in the immediate area, was reduced to ashes in nothing flat.  For days after, smoke vapors would be undulating from the earth, eventually weakening and disappearing into oblivion.

            They felt the pulse of the explosion out in the ocean.  It was like watching fireworks on the fourth of July.  Hardly able to contain himself, Octavius shouted, “Holy Christ, mon, that’s the biggest fucking barbecue I’ve ever seen!”


Sunday, December 29th.  The Grenadines

            By the time the Boston Whaler had docked at a remote hideaway in the Grenadines, it was 5 am of the next day.  They decided that the best thing to do would be to lie low till a week after New Year’s.  Octavius’ friend Claudius, owner of Richard’s Inn,  set them up with some makeshift accommodations in the inn’s computer room and supplied them with dry clothes.   Both Octavius and Rob gratefully sipped margaritas at the bar and reflected on the events of the last twenty-four hours.

            It was there that Rob slipped his friend the good news about the new “Cat” that awaited him in San Sebastian, compliments of Rob.  Whether it was the margaritas, the army thing, the brand new boat, or a little bit of everything, they were on a high. Life was good.  Octavius was a real sailor now and Rob was free.

Chapter 11


Critique this work

Click on the book to leave a comment about this work

All Authors (hi-speed)    All Authors (dialup)    Children    Columnists    Contact    Drama    Fiction    Grammar    Guest Book    Home    Humour    Links    Narratives    Novels    Poems    Published Authors    Reviews    September 11    Short Stories    Teen Writings    Submission Guidelines

Be sure to have a look at our Discussion Forum today to see what's
happening on The World's Favourite Literary Website.