Hayden leaned back in his leather seat on the private jet and let his muscles relax, letting his mind remain in action. “Hot, dark and foreboding. That and constant screaming combined with lost soul’s voices calling out.” Hayden chuffed as he crossed his arms over his chest in defiance. “Sure sounds like Hell to me.”
Carlos continued to read his book, casually ignoring them, amused at their debate from his rendition of events. He drank from a cool juice glass in his armrest.
Danica held her hands up in exasperation. “Carlos said whispers, not voices, Doctor Lattimer.”
Hayden grinned and he sat forward. “Ever notice when you agree with me, I’m Hayden. But when you don’t, I’m Doctor Lattimer.”
“I figured Doctor Idiot would be rude.” Danica retorted.
Carlos had to muffle his laugh into his the crux of his arm at that.
Danica turned in her seat and stared at Hayden. “I highly doubt the almighty God when he was making Heaven and Earth chose to make Hell a single subterranean island miles beneath the jungles of South America.”
Hayden signaled to the personal stewardess to get him a beer. “I guess I studied a different bible than you did. Mine must have been the abridged version, the one that didn’t include the maps.”
Danica let out a breath and counted to five. Ten would be needed if he kept this up. “Hell is supposed to the vast expanse filled with evil souls having passed on for millennia. This island according to Carlos, and on the chamber wall I might add, only describes a place as about a mile and half wide and likely as deep. If God was to banish his fallen angels somewhere and populate the place with demons, I’m sure he had found a better spot.”
Carlos chuckled as he listened. Two intellectuals fighting like children, but with the combined knowledge between them of Einstein. He was sure they liked one another.
Hayden curtailed that argument. “But what if it was simply one demon. Legion for instance. He would fit the bill of Carlos’ description.”
“Seriously?” Danica argued, her two palms squeezing the armrests, trying to envision how her life’s recent choices had led to this moment. “You want to insinuate its Legion?”
Legion was a group of evil spirits referred to in the Bible having originally possessed a man from Gadarenes. The demons begged to be spared from being sent back to Hell. Jesus cast the demons out of the man, granting their request and allowed them to dwell in a herd of pigs. The pigs later drowned themselves in the Sea of Galilee.
“Since we don’t know what it is, we can’t rule it out.” Hayden disputed. “I’m not saying it is Legion, I’m simply saying, it could be anything.”
Carlos lifted his head and nodded to Danica. “I would have to agree with Doctor Lattimer on that point. Without knowing what we’re up against, with the exception to the Thorne’s, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility.”
Danica turned to Carlos. “Don’t help him.”
Carlos smiled and raised his hands in surrender. He returned to his reading.
Hayden pushed left on his armrest, pivoting his entire seat around on the spinning axis of his chair to face Carlos behind him. As he looked around at the single cabin cruiser jet, Hayden counted sixteen seats, all executive, two tables, both capable of seating eight, a plasma television inset into the wall and ten windows of a larger than average size on each side.
In the back, behind a swinging wooden half door stood a pretty red-headed stewardess wearing a crisp brown uniform matching the colour scheme of the aircraft. She was adorned with small tanned freckles and a pert nose under a gentle smile which seemed to warm the cabin. She had a bounce to her step that made you want to get up and dance with her.
“So…” Hayden queried. “You just happened to have a private jet lying around?”
Carlos lifted his head from his book again. “You would be surprised at the price of gold nowadays. That and do you how much compound interest your bank account can accrue over a hundred and fifty years?”
Danica grinned. She asked the stewardess for a soda water. She turned to Carlos. “Back in London, you said you’ve been aging since the fifties. At what rate?” Asking as a scientist.
Carlos gave her a perplexed look. “To be honest, I can’t really gauge it. For a while, it seemed to be at a standstill at the turn of the century.” He looked to Hayden. “The first one.”
Hayden bowed his head in amusement at that.
Carlos continued. “But definitely more so in the past decade. I was holding my thirtyish appearance until the end of the forties and then it seemed to increase. Not by a lot, but I would say I currently age one year in appearance for every seven.”
“Like a dog?” Hayden threw in, instantly regretting the analogy.
“It’s only in how I personally perceive it.” Carlos did not notice Hayden’s remark. “And like I mentioned, my rapid healing is much slower. But in the scheme of things, it’s still very fast.”
Danica found herself genuinely intrigued. “It makes the unique connection between aging and healing, as though the very act of aging is in fact a form of injury. And with the island healing wounds miraculously, it implies by its retarding aging, it is in fact preventing the harmful effects of growing old. Thus our old age is a result of our inability to heal.”
“You’re far smarter than I, Doctor Swift.” Carlos smiled at her. “As all I presumed it meant was more birthday presents.”
Hayden raised his beer to that.
Danica had been watching Carlos a lot since they left London, impressed with his resolve and healing of course, but noticing some odd quirks as well. “You don’t sleep much do you?”
Carlos peered in her direction, impressed she had noticed that.
Danica remained locked on Carlos. “Since we left, I and Hayden slept a good hour or two in power naps, yet you’ve remained awake the entire time.”
Carlos took a slow drink of his juice. “Besides helping me to catch up on my reading, whatever happened on the island, has infused me with energy which sometimes, prevents sleep from taking hold. I do sleep, I assure you, but less often than I used to.”
Danica could not imagine such a monumental change in a human’s physiology to induce all these changes, yet here Carlos was, proving nothing was impossible.
Hayden turned to Danica, changing the subject. “And how did you get us back into South America by the way? I figured we were still banned after not reporting the chamber, followed by its destruction.”
Danica paused and replied. “When I called the office this morning, it seems Maximus and Maxima were not entirely honest with us.”
“No shit.” Hayden retorted.
Carlos raised his left eyebrow. “You’re right my dear. He does use a lot of colourful expletives.”
Hayden tilted his head. “Et Tu Brutus?”
Danica continued. “It seems Mr. Darby had not been flown down to South America to secure our permits. In fact, when I spoke to him, he had been unaware of the chamber entirely. He was indeed asked by Maximus to fly to South America, but he was told it was to handle all the paperwork to secure and privatize our camp area for a ten mile radius. As far as the South American government is concerned, the chamber never existed.”
Carlos looked up. “As I said, some things were never meant to be found.”
“Wonder what they had planned to do to keep us from telling?” Hayden stated quietly.
No one spoke, suspecting the dark prospects of the Thorne’s original plan.
After a long moment, Hayden tried to lighten the mood. “Regardless of Daddy Warbucks here.” Hayden gestured to Carlos. “What are we going to do for equipment?”
“I already called my Dad.” Danica replied with conviction, as though this was the ultimate answer and the only one needed. “He said when we land we’ll have everything we need for cave exploration, supplies and camping gear. Including an all-terrain vehicle to take as far as possible before going the rest of the way on foot. It is being same-day couriered from Vancouver to the airport where Carlos said we’re landing.”
“And your Dad paid for all this?” Hayden asked incredulously.
Danica smiled. “I told you he writes novels right? He said if he can spend a thousand dollars on a comic book, he can pay for his daughter to go hunting ancient monsters on lost islands.”
“And he believes you?” Hayden asked innocently.
“Without question.” Danica replied shocked at the accusation anyone would conceivably lie to their parents. “This is why he warned us to be careful.” She turned to him. “And for you to stop trying to get me into the sack.”
Hayden looked chastened. “You told him that?” He was suddenly embarrassed.
“I tell my parents everything.” Danica nodded with self-satisfaction. After letting Hayden stew in it for a minute, she added. “Plus he wired an additional fifty thousand USD in case we need to… shall I say… smooth the trail.”
Knowing sometimes what you could not accomplish with paperwork, you could with bribes.
“I should have asked for more for my consulting fee?” Hayden offered under his breath, referring to Maximum Pharmaceuticals.
“What would that have mattered? Whatever you asked for, they were still planning to stiff you?” She grinned. “You should have asked for half a million.”
“Yeah. Like they would have paid me that?” Hayden mocked.
Danica remained silent.
“What did dear old dad think about your employers doing all this stuff?” Hayden asked.
“He wasn’t impressed. But then again, he told me to quit a long time ago.” Danica replied. “I told him once I beat them to their prize, I’ll be giving it to the world.” She shook her shoulders. “Plus he said when he writes his next book, he’ll make them the villains.”
Hayden smirked. “Yeah right. Like people are going believe a couple of bad guys named Maximus and Maxima. A bit crazy to me.”
Carlos turned to stare out the window as they closed in on their destination.
Only a few more hours and they would be back in South America.
And from there, several days of driving and a good two days trekking into the barely explored depths of the Amazon jungle.
Thinking back to over a hundred and fifty years ago, Carlos’ blood still ran cold, not knowing what he was returning to, but fearing it with every fibre of his being.
‘There is nothing to fear, but fear itself.’ Carlos thought.
Then added. ‘Oh yeah, and the island.’