You are not logged in: • Login
#4 Nowhere Land
Yago saw them coming: Jobs, his creepy mutant brother, his monkey-boy pal, Mo'Steel's mother, the lovely and definitely timeworthy Miss Blake, Billy Weird, and, of course, 2Face.
What to do now? That was the question. What to do, and who to do it to.
How to play it? Like he and 2Face were allies? Or should he try to switch back to Wylson? And what about his two toadies, D-Caf and Anamull?
Hard to know how it was all going to play out.
Mostly, Yago realized, he was wet.
"This is so weird," D-Caf said.
"You think?" Yago said with nasty sarcasm.
"The sun is coming up," D-Caf offered helpfully.
"Yes, the sun rises, and with it, hope. Hope for a better world. Hope for peace and love and uncomplicated happiness."
"Really?" D-Caf asked.
Yago glared at him. "Are you the dumbest human being left alive? We're up to our armpits in water. We're lost and probably surrounded by Riders. We have a leader who thinks she's running a business seminar, and our only fighter is an alien baby who likes meat. We have no food, no weapons..."
D-Caf grinned and raised something from below the surface of the water. "I have a weapon. Do you want it?"
Yago stared. A Rider boomerang. It was a cruel-looking thing, toothed blades all along one edge.
"When everything was dissolving and right before we fell, I picked it up," D-Caf explained.
"Give it here," Yago said, but without any great pleasure. He wasn't a weapons person. He had no clue how to throw the thing. In face it seemed likely he'd end up cutting off a few of his own fingers.
On the other hand, it was probably a good thing to ---
A cry of shrill panic.
Yago's head snapped around, looking for the cause. It was Roger Dodger, a kid, going wild, slapping at the water and looking like he wanted to jump out of it.
The kid went still. He said, "I...I felt something."
"You nearly gave me a stroke," Burroway snapped.
"Maybe it wasn't anything," Roger Dodger said doubtfully.
Then Burroway shrieked. "Something bit me! It's in the water, something in the water bit me."
There was a pause, everyone waiting, staring, all conversation done for now. And then it was Shy Hwang yelping and holding up a bloody arm with something still attached, something squirmy and muscular. Panic took hold and everyone was running, Yago included, running through the water, an absurd slo-mo parody of actual running.
At first the herd had no direction, it darted and circled like a flock of startled birds, then headed toward the nearest of the low islands.
Hwang kept shouting, complaining, yelling, though Yago could see that whatever had grabbed his arm had let go now.
"My leg!" someone screamed.
Yago splashed, digging his arms in to propel himself forward, taking giant moon-gravity steps. His leading foot landed on nothing and he plunged face-down into the water. He sank beneath the surface. Claustrophobia shot syringes of adrenalin into his bloodstream and his brain began to slip gears, catching, slipping again.
No air, no air, no air. His eyes were open, blind, nothing but brown silt, swirling mud, choking him.
Then he felt it, the slide of flesh over flesh, the slimy touch of it across his belly. He slashed with the boomerang and came within an inch of gutting himself.
Yago screamed into the water and kicked against nothing.
Something grabbed his arm and pulled. He broke the surface, gasped, and tried to shake loose D-Caf's grip.
"Let go of me, you moron!" he yelled. He lowered his legs and touched ground. The water was up to his chest, no more.
"You were kind of splashing a lot," D-Caf said, giving him a sideways look. He held up the boomerang. "I got this back. You must have dropped it."
"One of those things attacked me," Yago said.
D-Caf held out the boomerang, ready to surrender it again.
"Keep it," Yago said. No way he could act as if the blade meant something. No way he could put himself any more in D-Caf's debt.
Rather than risk hitting another hole, Yago leaned into a swim. He was a strong swimmer, though only on the surface --- not underwater, and he was soon well ahead of D-Caf.
The little twitch had seen him panic. Okay, everyone was panicking, but D-Caf had been calm and he'd see that Yago was not. That was bad. No one could know about the claustrophobia. It was a glaring weakness. Someone would use it. Maybe even D-Caf himself. He was a twitch, but he was also the one who'd shot one of the Mayflower pilots. If you'd do that, you'd lock someone in a box without a second though, lock them in a closet with no light and no handle on the door, bury them alive in a casket and...
"Get a grip, Yago," he told himself. "Get a grip. You're Yago. You're Yago, man."
Yago went through his ego mantra: Yago was the son of the First Son. Son of the fist African-American female president. He held undisputed title to "hottest teen" in America. The World. Everyone loved him, or else feared him. How many letters from how many girls? Hundreds of thousands. Millions. I want a picture, a lock of hair, a worn T-shirt, to see you, kiss you.
He'd been on the cover of just about every magazine.Teen People had named him "Sexiest Teen Alive." The New York Times Magazine had called him "Brat in Chief." When he'd changed his hair to spring green, half the kids in the country had followed suit. When he'd had the cat-DNA eye treatment it had suddenly become one of the most common cosmetic procedures.
He was Yago, after all. Even here, even with no White House, no magazines, no fans, no letters, no... He was still Yago.
The mantra calmed him. The claustrophobia terror had replaced far of whatever was in the water. And now, he could see the others fear more objectively. The herd was in full flight, wallowing heavily toward the island. Jobs and his little gaggle were vectoring in, too, the feaer having proven contagious.
Yago slowed his pace. You didn't want to be the last person out of the water but, he sensed, you also didn't want to be the first person to step on that island.
He bobbed high, looking for Tamara Hoyle. She was moving at a leisurely pace, carrying the baby high up on one shoulder. She wasn't worried about whatever was in the water. And she was in no hurry to reach that island. In fact, she was slowing down.
Yago stopped dead. He tread water till he realized he was now in shallows, less than a waist high.
Yago's instint for survival was ringing a big, loud bell. Tamara knew something. He didn't know how, but she knew something more than the rest of them did. Her and that mutant, eyeless freak of a baby.
He was a hundred feet from the island's edge. The sun was coming up behind it but the mist still seeped through the strange trees and and alternately revealed and concealed.
Wylson and Burroway and Tate reached the island at about the same moment. They climbed, soggily, up onto the shore and immediately came the earsplitting metallic shriek of a Rider.
Two of the alien monsters appeared, stomping on foot through the mist. They stood there, staring balefully down at the humans with their face full of insect eyes.
Wylson raised her hands as if in surrender. "We don't want to fight, we don't want to fight," she practically sobbed.
The humans still in the water froze. Even Tamara was stock-still, waiting, watching. She seemed to feel Yago's eyes on her and turned to glare at him. Suddenly, a sharp pain on the back of his thigh. He flailed, reached around, and touched something slime-coated and powerful.
It had him.