Note: Mobile formatting took out the italics for some of this, so I fixed it and should clarify a couple of spots that should have looked like internal dialogue.
/ / /
Dean found himself rolled into a ball on a floor. His throat was dry, nearly closed shut. He tried to move, but the fog in his head kept him from making any motion. Where am I?
“It worked! It’s so old, I wasn’t sure it would work, but it did!”
“Ow!” Dean said. Or at least he tried to say it, but all that came out was a short grunt as he twitched from the pain of the voice shouting near him. How drunk did I get last night? I don’t even remember drinking...where am I, anyway?
The breaking and uneven voice of a teen boy started yammering again, making his head hurt even worse. Would he please just shut up before I make him?
"Oh, he's moving. Quickly, get something for him to drink."
A different male voice, this one with a high nasal sound to it, asked, "Get what?"
Teen Boy answered, sounding flustered. "I don't know, water, ale, something! Ah, forget it, I'll go." Dean felt the pound of the running steps in his head as much as he heard them when Teen Boy left.
Another young voice, pleasant and feminine this time. "Such odd clothing. His jacket looks like leaves, and what is that on his head!"
"It's a ball cap," Dean muttered, his eyes clenched shut while trying to roll over upright.
"Eek!" she squeaked, jumping back as he managed to sit up. The move seemed to drain him, as he slumped back against the wall behind him while wincing at her high pitched squeal.
The other male voice, Nasal Guy, spoke up. "He can barely move. How is he supposed to help us?"
Dean finally opened his eyes, momentarily happy that the room was dimly lit, until a brunette woman stooped close in front of him and made his eyes strain from trying to focus on her. He thought she might be pretty but couldn't tell in the light. The lack of focus didn’t help, either, so he closed his eyes in an effort to push back the ache that had begun near the base of his skull.
"I don't know, Derel. He's just been summoned and is already moving. I'd say there's more to him than you seem to think."
It sounded like Nasal Guy, or Derel, according to Maybe Pretty, pulled her upright and away from him. "And I say anyone who is to be summoned in a time of great need should be ready to act immediately, Diana."
Dean worked his tongue to build up a little saliva and forced it down his parched throat. He whispered, "Hey," as he moved a hand in a small beckoning motion. Derel gave a startled jerk at the sound before looking to where he was sitting. He repeated the motion, whispering “‘mere”, drawing Derel in closer to him. Dean cracked his eyes open to slits, gauged the distance between them, and flashed his hand out to grab Derel by the...what the hell, was he wearing a robe? Letting that drop from his mind for the time being, he pulled Derel in close to meet his gaze, ignoring the nasally whine he was making.
“Derel, right?” he asked in a hoarse whisper. Derel nodded, shaking in his grip. “Ok, Derel. You’re going to shut...the fuck...up. Got it?” The young man shook more but nodded again. “Good,” Dean said before letting him go with a little shove.
Derel sprawled back onto the floor and scrambled back away from him. Dean turned his attention to Diana, who had stepped back and to the side during the exchange. He felt more drained than he wanted to admit, so he chose to go for dramatic pause. Just as he thought he was going to have to strain out more speech, Teen Boy came back with a mug in his hands.
“Len, thank the Ancients you’re back! Look, he’s already moving and he shoved Derel across the room! I know he’ll be able to help us,” Diana exclaimed.
“He did not!” Derel crawled. “I fell as I tried to get away...I mean, as I tried to help him.”
Teen Boy, who Dean guessed had to be Len, looked at Derel, then back to Dean, before shaking his head. “Will you try to harm me if I give you a drink?” he asked.
Dean tried to clear his throat but gave up. “Give me a drink and I’ll kiss you.”
Len actually blushed and glanced toward Diana. “There’s no need for that. I only want to help you.” He passed the mug to Dean, who put the mug to his lips and paused as the cool liquid touched them. After a couple of slow, small sips to wet his throat, he took a deep breath and drained the mug in one long pull.
He squeezed his eyes tight, trying to work up some moisture behind them to get rid of the gritty feeling on his eyeballs. Once he opened them fully, he noticed the three young people around him, each of them seeming to be shaken. Derel, who actually was wearing a robe like that kid from the wizard movies, looked to be thin and had a pinched look to add to his bucked teeth. Dean saw that Diana was wearing a gown and actually was pretty, though he wasn’t sure she knew it yet. Len, wearing what Dean could only describe as Robin Hood clothes, had that appearance all teen boys did once they hit their growth spurts, all gangly limbs and awkwardness.
His frequent looks toward Diana told Dean everything he wanted to know about them and he made the decision that humor was the best approach before focusing his attention on Len. “Thanks. Offer still stands.”
Len grew even redder. Guess he’s never kissed anyone then, not even that girl. Shame, her looks back say she’s waiting for him to do it. Maybe they’ll even figure it out at some point.
Dean felt his limbs grow more responsive, so he reached out a hand to Len. “Never mind, but thanks for the drink. Mind giving me a hand up?”
Len and Diana both nodded, each grasping a hand and pulling as he stood up. “Thanks. Name’s Dean. Now, where the hell am I?”
Len swung his arms out wide. “Welcome to Belenga. We’ve summoned you to aid us in a task.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“Indeed, I’m telling the truth. We have great need and you were summoned here by a device that our ancestors made” -Dean watched Len pull out an odd looking, something, from his pocket- “at the beginning of the time of peace. Will you aid us?”
Dean looked over the group. They looked worried but expectant, as though he could solve their problem. Hell, maybe he could. “I can try. What’s the job and what’s the pay?”
Len looked surprised. "You would require payment?"
"Hell, yes. It's not like I volunteered to be here."
Len sighed and pulled a purple bag from his tunic to shake it, creating a metallic noise. “This is the pay. As for the job…” he turned away and waved for Dean to follow him. The other two trailed behind him, and all Len led them down a flight of stairs. Then another. Once they approached the third set of stairs, Dean stopped. “Hey, how far down do we have to go?”
“These are the last stairs,” Diana assured him.
“As long as you say so.”
When they started walking again, Dean took a moment to stealthily smooth his hands along his pants. Relief filled him when he felt the knife in his front pocket. Always best to have a weapon and not need it...though saying boo might make these kids pass out
. The lump in his rear pocket told him his wallet was still there, too. Not that anything in it is likely to be useful right now, he thought and chuckled.
He patted the upper pockets of his field jacket, which he remembered emptying that morning, then slid his hands into the larger bottom pockets. The shape in his right pocket made him physically relax. He pulled it out, pressed in a pair of buttons, and slid his hands apart. The metal click made Len turn around and look at him. “What?”
Still clearly nervous, Len nonetheless faced him. “What was that noise?”
Dean gave him a hmph
. “It’s my Gerber, see?” and held it out for him to examine.
“They’re just tongs.”
“What? No, they’re not. Look, do tongs do this?” Dean pressed the buttons back in and slid the jaws in and out of the handles.
Derel stared at the tool. “Amazing.”
“I know, and that’s just one of the things it can do,” Dean replied, placing the tool into his pocket and moving to follow Len down the final flight of stairs.
Derel fell into step behind them, matching his stride to Dean’s. As they reached the bottom stair, he eased closer to Dean and slipped his hand into the pocket with the tool. At that point, a searing pain flared through his hand. He screeched and tried to pull away, but the pain in one finger forced him to move his hand back to where it had been.
"You're an idiot. You know that, right?" Dean asked Derel without turning around. Derel felt his injured finger and hand being pulled out of and away from the pocket. The young man looked down to see what was biting his finger. To his shock, it was the small pair of tongs that belonged to Dean. Unfortunately for him, Dean was holding them and stopped to look back over his shoulder at the gaunt lad. "Be glad that wasn’t my knife or you'd be short a finger. Try to pick my pocket again and see what happens. Got me?"
Derel nodded agreement, not wanting to anger the man any further.
"Good," and the pain increased briefly once the pressure clamped onto his finger let go. He directed his next comment toward Len. “How much further? I want to get home, if that’s even possible.”
“It is, I’m sure,” Len said, though his tone sounded more hopeful than confident to Dean. “Our goal is in this room.”
They entered a dusty room filled with empty shelves and a few books on tables, along with a box on a pedestal. Len walked over to the box. “Here it is.”
“It’s a box.” Dean leaned in and took a moment to examine it. “With a keyhole.” He stood up to face Len. “Where’s the key?”
“We do not know,” Diana admitted.
“What’s in the box, then?”
“We also don’t know that,” Derel answered.
“Then what the hell DO you know? Because I know I was dragged here against my will and I know I’m getting angry,” Dean seethed. Then he decided to throw in something extra, knowing they would have no idea where it came from. “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry
Oh, he would have given a pretty penny to have a camera to capture their faces at that moment. They looked terrified, which was the least they deserved, and he decided to have some more fun with it. He snatched up the box and dropped it onto the ground.
"Be careful with it!" Len cried out.
Dean stomped on the box with his work boots instead, only to have it skitter out from under his foot. He picked it back up and looked it over. "Huh, no marks. Tougher than it looks. Guess it's time for something different."
He pulled his pocket knife out and flicked it open with a single finger, the blade locking in place with a click. The trio watched while he tried to use the blade to pry up the lid to the box. While it was narrow enough to fit in the gap, the tip wouldn’t give him any grip to force it open, and the sharpened edge wasn’t firm enough to let him leverage it open. After realizing that the blade's tip was too large to fit into what appeared to be the box’s keyhole, he closed it, put it back into his front pocket, and reached into his jacket pocket.
Dean flicked his wrist, making Derel flinch at the sharp snikt
sound. Len watched him open the small set of tongs he had used earlier, only to see him use his fingertips and thumbs to pull even smaller tools out from within the tongs’ handles. While he watched as Dean worked through each tool, he noted that the tools were actually attached inside the tongs’ handles. The summoned one was apparently in search of a particular tool that would allow him to open the box. After a couple of moments, Dean slipped a thin tool into the small opening and twisted. It gave a small click
, and a gap appeared in the box’s seal.
“Is there nothing your tool can’t do?” Len asked as he stared on in amazement.
“Well, I’m still here, so there’s that,” Dean answered in a flat tone. "Let's see what's in here that's so important that you pulled me to...wherever the hell I am."
"I've told you, this is Belenga and you were summoned by the device our ancestors created," Len said.
"Yeah, I don't really care. Let's see what's in here...the fuck?" He glared at them. "Are you kidding me?!?" he yelled.
Diana began speaking. "Sir, please, don't be so angry."
Len stepped in front of her, holding out the clinking bag to Dean, the odd device still in his other hand. "We honestly didn't know what was in it. Please, take your payment and go."
Dean snatched the bag and shoved it into his pocket. "Go where
? You idiots dragged me here...to open a fucking box of what looks like weed
Len stammered, "We had need…"
Dean finished his shout. "Where am I supposed to go?!"
Derel had a terrified look on his pale face. He yelled, "Home!" and lurched for Len's device.
Dean wouldn't have guessed he was that quick, but the movement startled Len, who yelled, "NO!"
Derel pressed his thumbs down into the top of it, yelling, "Bakhomus!", and Dean's world went dark.
/ / /
He heard a familar voice from what sounded like a distance. "Dean? Are you okay?" A hand gripped his shoulder and gave him a gentle shake. He slowly opened his eyes and found himself on the ground, looking at a brown boot. Shifting his gaze upward, Dean saw the hand belonged to Walt.
"Ah, shit. What happened to you? I thought you were taking a leak and coming back, but it’s been over an hour."
"I"m not sure," Dean answered, shifting to a sitting position before Walt helped him stand. "Weird damned dream, then you woke me up."
"Well, you had me worried. I was about to call the cops," Walt said.
"Sorry, don't know what happened," Dean replied, shrugging his shoulders. He froze, noticing a weight in his left pocket that wasn't there before.
"What's this?" He cautiously slid his hand into the pocket, searching until he felt soft fabric. With a look at Walt, he pulled out a purple bag. Slipping his fingers into the small opening, he spread it and looked inside to see what appeared to be several yellow metal coins.
"Oh, man. That shit was real?" / / /
I hope everyone enjoyed this one shot, the idea came up in a channel discussion and wouldn't leave me alone. Now that it's out of the way, the next chapter about Karen, Harvey, and the Bel Air
should be ready within a day.
Comments, feedback, and questions are welcome, plus you can check out a few exclusive posts over on coldfireknight
and join my little discord
for early peeks at Storyverse stuff, like the updated model of the Bel Air
or first view of a Reaper heavy fighter.