Julian wearily opened his eyes, stinging with salt, shutting them sharply again as the sun bore into them overhead. He rolled over in the sand and horked up a hunk of seaweed really attractively and gasped, “...Albert? ALBERT!?!” Shouting, he frantically searched around blinded by the sun and sand.
“Will you stop screaming I’m literally 5 inches away from you,” his partner bolted upright.
“We’ve landed on some island, are you ok?”
“Yeah I’m fine whatever,” he brushed some grit away,” I’m sorry this has been such a lousy vacation. What between being haunted, the ship sinking, being stranded here to die, and Jimmy Buffett never showing up.”
“It’s okay, I still had fun. Do you know who else made it?”
He shook his head, “I literally just woke up why are you asking me questions.”
They wandered up the shoreline a while, Albert glancing at Julian getting increasingly frustrated with his iphone. “Put that thing away, there’s no service here, we’re too remote. -No I said put your phone away.”
“-Hey you guys!”
Their heads jerked around at the audible mirage, one of the old fucks from the ship ran, well jogged, towards them waving them down. “Oh hi…….. Craig???” Albert wrinkled his brow trying to force a memory.
“You know what, I’ll take it,” Greg shrugged, “Are you alone? There’s a whole bunch of guys not far from here, I was just getting in some beachcombing.”
“Oh thank god I’m starving,” Julian pushed forward.
“-Yeah I got some sand dollars, a conch,” he looked up at him from his finds, “...Seaweed? I didn’t exactly come across any bags of cheetos in the sand, sorry.”
“Yeah you better be,” he grumbled, and trudged along the shoreline.
Todd took his glasses off and squinted down the beach, “Oh, you’re the guy. Two guys, you are two men coming closer. Annnnnnd now you’re a blob okay,” he put his glasses back on, “Oh, wait no thought you were somebody else, bye haters.”
Many had evidently fallen asleep in their boats, strewn across the sand, disoriented, irritable, hungry, sober. There was some wreckage that had washed up with them but beyond that, there was no trace of civilization visible- dense underbrush lined the dunes giving way to a spindly scrub forest, bird calls ringing through the salty air. The endless expanse of ocean behind them. It was peaceful… Fuck.
“Alright, since the Captain’s dead, I hearby nominate myself leader and King of the Island which I shall name after myself,” Daryl announced shirtlessly upon an outcrop of coral.
“Actually,” Trevor corrected, “There’s a very specific pecking order- Trevor is the first mate so that would go to him but as he’s incapacitated Alan is the senior most officer which puts him temporarily in charge. And after him it would be Tony, then Jon, then Jon then me then so on. ...Plus aren’t you responsible for destroying The Asshole?”
“... It was a number of factors.”
“Trevor’s still unconscious, Alan, what’s the plan?”
“Oh. Me? Jeez, I don’t know… I think we should have a funeral… It’s important to help all of us move on…”
There was some mumbling amongst them, but ultimately decided it was for the best. “Rick,” Trevor addressed the former cook, “You played a dirty priest once. How about you do the honors?”
“Ladies… Gentlemen… Todd,” Rick began presiding over this congregation holding a coconut effigy with a smiley on it to embody the deceased, “We are gathered here in remembrance of those we lost in the sinking of The HMS The Lawyer & The Asshole- Officer Steve Howe, John Wetton, Mr. Eddie Jobson, Chief Bill Bruford, Water Becker who was eaten alive, our Captain Christopher Squire, and some randos.”
Everyone’s faces were solemn and grey in the tropical sun, “-But all in all pretty much every named character survived so I’d say we came out on top!”
No one seemed to share Rick’s optimism.
“I can’t believe he’s dead,” Trevor mumbled. Pat patted him on the shoulder in consolation. “Pat should have died instead.”
“I know it is easy to wallow in sadness like a bunch of sorry ass bitches but this should be a time for celebration of their lives, as they would have wanted. So does anybody got a drink?”
“No, we barely escaped with our lives!”
“Okaaaaaay, how about food, can’t have a party without snacks.”
“No?” John answered in confused disgust, “We have nothing left, you saw the giant squid right?”
“What I saw was a feisty piece of undercooked calamari nobody took advantage of. Seriously, nothing at all? I’m a growing boy, Ricky needs his munchies!”
“We should split up and search the island for food,” Trevor stood up, taking coconut Chris like a talking stick, “Gather coconuts, we need potable water most importantly.”
“Coconut water?” Kenny wrinkled his nose, “That’s real bougie.”
“Oh and would you like to die of thirst? You can survive without food for weeks but without water you’ll last a few days at most.”
“Ha if you’re trying to threaten me it’s not working,” Kenny scoffed, “In case you haven’t noticed, there’s water everywhere dumbass!” To prove his point, he ran into the surf scooping up the salt water and just fuckin’ chugging it.
Everyone just watched as he hollered face red and retching in anguish. This went on for several minutes.
“Wow. What a dumbass.”
Albert and Julian were paired with four of the other stranded passengers who they’d briefly met before as Greg and Greg’s boyfriend Roger lifted a log searching for cheetos… Still no luck…
“I can’t believe they killed off John and Steve. Way to bury your gays honestly.” Albert complained.
“/Everyone/ in this story is gay,” Todd interjected, “It’s a self indulgent fanfiction. We’re not even real people, we’re just characters based off some people’s public personas at /most/ and I’m just lucky I even remotely resemble that person- instead of an archetype or plot device tacked onto an individual. Or worse- a vehicle for a bad joke.”
“Jeez Todd, have a little respect for the dead.”
“Hey look over there! Fruit!” Kasim exclaimed as he began eating berries indiscriminately. Berries were an expensive delicacy he knew from his years of experience in the wilderness of Staten Island, scavenging its super markets, living off the land.
“Well?” Roger and Todd watched, “Feeling poisoned yet?”
“Uhh, maybe a little gassy but I think that was all that crab I had last night.”
“Oh man you really went to town on that crab.”
“Free all you can eat crab, I would’ve been a total idiot not to.” Kasim shrugged blase.
“Whoa careful you leave some berries for the-” Greg counted on his fingers, “2 dozen ish of us adult men… Yeah I think we’re gonna have to continue searching for food.”
They walked around the periphery of the forest for about another hour, trying to gauge how large this island exactly was, and if there was any chance anyone else was living here. And had a phone. Or Twitter.
“So how long do you’ll think it’ll be before our first human sacrifice?”
“Come on! You were thinking it! Who wasn’t thinking it?!”
“I wasn’t thinking it,” Julian raised his juice stained hand. “Are these berries vegan?”
Todd had been a boy scout, but now he was like a million years old so those kind of plants probably all died out since then. None of them were really any good at identifying plants by trade. Kasim kept swatting Todd’s hand every time they spotted some mushrooms though. “Digest, die, get high,” he argued, “2 out of 3 ain’t bad.”
“No!” snapped Kasim with the certainty of someone whose career largely relied on one person.
“We can’t just wait for the perfect vegan gluten free paleo shit, we can’t come back empty handed.” Todd crossed his arms adamant. Although he’d been the one to pull them away from those tasty lookin’ sea turtle eggs whining about conservation or whatever.
Greg hunkered down on a rock taking a breather. “Maybe we should start heading back, we don’t know how much further we’d have to go before we loop back around.”
“Pff, wouldn’t an island of considerable acreage be inhabited though or at least privately owned, it can’t possibly be that large.” Roger protested as he continued around the bend.
Rising out of the dunes like the sole rotted molar in its sandy gums, a dilapidated hotel stood, sun bleached and wind beaten. Burnt out neon read above the deck- ‘Welcome to LOVE BEACH’. Todd reached down and let a handful of sand fall from his fingers ominously, “Something terrible happened here…”
“Whoa, spooky,” mouthed Julian. Albert slapped him on the back, “Last one inside’s gay!” and bolted for it. “We’re all gay! Don’t do this to me!!!”
As Albert charged up the stairs, a plank gave way, his foot shattering through with a sickening crunch. “SHIT!”
“Oh my god are you alright?!” Julian came after him, helping his partner back up.
He drew a sharp breath, “I don’t think it’s broken but it’s gotta be sprained or something.”
“We should go back,” Roger stated getting a look at him.
“No, we already came all this way,” Albert protested, rising to his feet gingerly, “I’m not gonna look a gift haunted house in the haunted mouth, let’s go.” Julian looped his arm over his shoulder to help support him. Out of the haunted frying pan and into the haunted fire he supposed.
Todd, being the biggest and least likely to believe in ghosts, went first, Kasim ever eager, following close behind, Roger and Greg trailing, and them in the rear- which of course, was prime ghost attack real estate. “This place is a real shit hole,” Kasim ran a finger along a counter, scooping up a mound of dust and flicking it away, “Do you think anyone’s actually still living here? You think they’d clean up every once in a while.”
“Hmm, probably not,” Roger squinted at the faded tiki decor, “I didn’t see any other signs of development here- if someone was they probably left or were rescued- which reminds me, what did the others say they were doing back at ‘camp’?”
“Building a giant ‘HELP’ out of branches and stuff,” Greg replied.
“Oh real original. Like someone would want to rescue a bunch of unimaginative losers. We’ll probably die here.”
“I wish you’d stop saying that,” Julian whined, “Wait, did you see that?” He stopped abruptly.
Pointing down, there was a set of footprints criss-crossing the dusty floor.
“Those are ours, come on.”
“No, they came from over there! Someone else is here,” Julian protested.
“They could be old,” Greg went over to inspect them.
“He’s got a point though I think we should follow them, see where they go,” Todd suggested before noticing Julian’s apprehension and sighing, “Ghosts don’t make footprints, they’re a man’s… or a woman with a large shoe size… Unlike ghosts though they can harm you.”
“Oh thanks thanks a lot.”
The further they proceeded, the more it reminded them if The Addams Family went into hoteliering and had nothing to go on but a number of especially tacky style guides from the 1950s. Someone had really played up the cheesy name of the place, a few rooms had those honeymoon suite beds and former jacuzzis that overflowed with mold. Oh, and mirrored ceilings, for like, perverts. Todd trodded across the faded shag carpeting and eyed up the mini fridge, producing a dusty but overwise untouched bottle of champagne and uncorked it.
“That’ll be $60,” Kasim quoted to which Todd paused to shoot him a look then downed it. “Charge it to the room.”
“We should stay here,” Julian bounced on one of the beds, “Instead of some crummy lean-tos on a freezing cold beach.”
“No,” Greg sighed, “They wanted to be seen, plus we still don’t know for sure if this place is truly empty.”
“Of course it’s empty,” Roger retorted continuing down the hallway , “Why would anyone waste their time cooped up in a musty hotel when they could sleep under the tropical sky, or not exist-”
“I exist!” a voice called.
“What is existence anyways,” the unmistakable croon of Michael McDonald spoke, “What if we’re all just a hologram, or a dream had by some guy somewhere.”
“Do you have time to listen to mein Computerwelt theory?” another sharply accented voice added. “So anyways all of zis is just a simulation-”
“Well Occam’s Razor would state-”
Roger poked his head around the corner to find Kenny, Michael McDonald, the German couple, and Donald Fagen, who wasn’t having any of this conversation that had undoubtedly gone on like this for hours. “Wait- Tell me more about this computer world…”
“-Since you went the other way, I guess we found the other side of the island. Any luck finding food and water?” Donald caught the other group up to speed. Sending two groups had been a rare stroke of intelligent foresight from the remaining crew, or maybe they were just trying to get rid of them so they’d die and have less mouths to feed.
“We found Ralf is bad at catching crabs if they don’t live in your pubes.”
“The monster tried to touch me with its evil pointy hands.”
“...Anyways. I think we’ll have better luck scavenging this place for food,” Donald eyed Todd’s [BRAND OF CHAMPAGNE] “Give me that.”
“Alcohol only dehydrates you more-” Kasim started.
“It’s mostly grapes. Grapes are. Healthy?”
“Maybe we can become moisture farmers and lick the condensation from the pipes-”
“Kenny you lost your idea privileges.”
“A guy drinks seawater ONCE and suddenly everyone thinks you’re crazy.”
“-We should look for a vending machine on the map,” Florian quietly quipped, dusting sand from a worn card.
“A treasure map!?” Albert ogled.
“Nein… just… a regular map of a regular hotel.”
“Let me see that, hey! The kitchen, we should check there next. If we can find anything here worth taking, it’s gonna be here.” Roger tapped the paper and they journeyed deeper into the heart of the building.
After knocking a vending machine over onto its face when it ate Florian’s last dollar, they managed upon the wide double doors of the kitchen, and with a deep breath, pushed in.
“Alan, we need more sticks, this says HELL.”
“Alan, I have a sunburn, my pasty English skin can’t take much more.”
“Alan Alan, I have sand in my shoes… :^(“
Alan paced frantically around the beach covering his ears with his hands. “Hey Alan-”
“WHAT!? What is it now!?” He whipped around clenching his fists frightening Trevor who took a few steps back.
“I was just going to ask if you’re doing alright, you seem a little stressed and I thought it’s probably because you’re dehydrated. Coconut?”
Alan stared for a long second but held out a hand and accepted the green fruit, grimacing at the taste. “Sorry it’s not very ripe.” “It’s okay, I’ve had worse. Thanks anyways, I’ve got a hell of a headache… sigh I don’t think I’m really cut out for leadership- has Trevor come around yet?”
Trevor shook his head, “Slackass.”
“Let him rest, it’s hard being in charge… I don’t know how Chris ever did it.”
“I don’t know if Chris ever did it.”
Alan hurriedly covered Coconut Chris’s ears, then noticing the chopped open fruit beside him, placed a hand over its eyes. “You’re setting a bad example for our son.”
It had been a long day for Daryl as newly crowned king of Daryl’s Island (he’d considered New HallandOates but the other man had been oddly evasive today and such displays of generosity were unlikely to be appreciated). Similarly, he’d so far failed to command any respect from his subjects either, who all seemed to blame him for the ‘deeply unfortunate and totally coincidental events which occured’. You couldn’t be a king with no subjects, at that point you were just a guy with a dumb hat.
Logicially, the first step to take would be declaring war on the current supposed leaders of his land: Alan, who had the most authority but didn’t really want the job and was enough of a pushover he could probably just take it from if it weren’t for his crewmates backing up any legitimacy, the other, was Jon, who had for some reason, formed a cult around himself. Whether he realized he was doing this was unsure, but a number of people who rejected the formal rule of the ship officers instinctively looked to him for guidance after rumors of his strange powers and vague mysticism that could pass for religion if you and your friends were bored enough. Without anyone on his side however, Daryl, to make any move, would have to infiltrate one of the other parties, and overtake them from within, Jon was an easy target, and with his abilities, a potential replacement for John. He’d even overlook that issue of the missing h.
“And we take a deep breath, and think of all the good things and thoughts you know how to think. Feel all your earthly troubles fade from yer mind.”
Daryl stepped gingerly into the circle of people sitting in the dunes, all joined in some bizarre ritual or another. A few were struggling to get into the meditation, fidgeting too much from those earthly troubles like hunger and thirst that this was supposed to cure them from. “-Do you mind if I join you?” Daryl spoke up, Jon opening his eyes at him.
“Oh. Of course sure. We were just ridding ourselves of material concern. You see, this experience is actually a blessing to help remove us from the problems of the world so we can free our souls from want like the Buddha says.”
“That must be hard,” he crossed his legs trying to get comfortable and scooting a little closer to him. “Teacher, I’m so used to wanting, how do you do something like that? Such power intrigues me-”
“-Can you shut the fuck up, SOME of us are trying to reach nirvana over here,” one of the Doobies snapped, lotus posing very stiffly.
Daryl held his tongue and inhaled, turning his attention back to Jon who softly spoke in that warbly little voice of his, “You need to understand, true power comes from within. Love, hope, magic- let yourself be free.”
This wasn’t exactly the advice he was looking for, and the ache in his throat gave him little patience for whatever technique was going on here. As he closed his eyes again to meditate about maybe dying here and how nice that would be since after that last show his life was obviously already over, there was a shriek and a muted thump nearby. Skunk scrambled up shouting, “Seriously!?”
“I will fix you,” Jon approached not saying ‘are you okay’ or ‘hello, how are you doing’. John coughed, righting himself in the sand, “Leave me alone. ‘m fine, I just slipped.”
“HEY CATCH!” Geoff yelled from up in the palm before tossing down a coconut and hitting Oates square on the head, knocking him out. Daryl stifled a laugh but felt a little bad (a very small bad). “What are you doing?”
“Gathering coconuts,” Geoff stated the obvious as Jon the younger checked over John in a panic.
“But why. Seems like you’re just creating more trouble than it’s worth, it looks like your ‘crew’ are just pushing you around for the hell of it.”
“There’s, uh, water inside of them. Annnd we need water.”
“Didn’t they send out two groups to get water, this obsession with water, seems a little suspicious huh?” Daryl sowed his seed of doubt.
Geoff knitted his brows, scratching his head, “Well I heard you like need water to live and stuff so I thought that was pretty important.”
“If you free yourself from want,” Jon started on his spiel, “You will be provided with everything you need!”
“Yeah but like, we need water-”
“But do you need it or do you just want it?”
Geoff was getting visibly frustrated, looking around for someone else to back him up. “Well- what are you doing? At least we’re trying to do something instead of just- shitting around or whatever and waiting for it to come to us. If this is supposed to get me to join your cult it’s not working!”
As Jon frowned, there was a crack of lightning across the blue sky, and talk about scattered showers, out of nowhere, drops of rain began to spatter the beach. Daryl held out a hand, feeling it hit his palm, Geoff in a similar state of shock, and Jon too, more than surprised, beginning to truly believe his powers. Unfortunately, before they were able to really take advantage of this small miracle or wild coincidence, the clouds parted again, leaving them in the same situation as which they started. “...” “...Sure. Cult. It’s basically a band. Why the hell not!?”
The kitchen in contrast with the rest of the hotel they’d seen so far, was shockingly clean. It had recently been used, as evidenced by the distinct lack of roaches and the lavish buffet of dishes still warm on the table. Sure, this seemed highly suspect, but when they’d already started salivating there was no questioning this opulent gift and they tore in. Albert laughed and dug both hands into dishes, shoveling a sampling of souffles into his mouth. Ralf nibbled here and there as Florian and Todd helped themselves to an expensive selection of wines. Greg and Roger worked their way through the pasties, taking a bite of each and putting them back while grabbing another. Kenny was nearly sobbing as he choked down a comically large turkey leg mumbling, “Tish ish the best taking mirage I’ve hav in years!” “Oh my god I thought I was going to starve to death!” It had been literally less than a day.
Despite his stomach audibly growling, Donald held himself back at first, eying this feast warily before eventually allowing himself a conservative taste while overfilling his pockets with anything he could get his hands on. “Lighten up a little! Enjoy yourself!” Todd slapped his friend on the back, encouraging him to dig in, “Here,” he offered an adorable tiny taco, “In case you’re worried about spoiling your diet.”
He brushed his hand away turning it down, “I’m fine it’s just- aren’t any of you worried about this. Doesn’t it seem just a LITTLE bit suspect?”
Kasim stared blankly mouth to the brim with crab (he hadn’t learned a damn thing) and the others gaped likewise. Fagen glanced around, “Food doesn’t just show up out of nowhere, if this isn’t some kind of trap this has got to be someone else’s stuff- think about it!”
Scowling, Julian swallowed. “Great, now you made me lose my appetite. Supposing there is people, if they didn’t want us to have it, why wasn’t there anyone in the kitchen huh? I rest my case.”
Albert addressed him under his breath, “Uh- the ghosts?”
Julian paled and moved a hand to his stomach, feeling a little green. Todd gestured back with his mini taco, standing his ground as some of its contents fell to the tiles, “Well I don’t care if it is a trap or not, we were sent to find food, we found it. We should be focusing on preparing this to bring back to everyone else and if there’s a trap, we’ll find a way out of it. Now eat your goddamn horse divorce Don.”
Todd had a point, at the consensus, everyone now focused on finding a way to transport this bounty, hardly caring where this gift had come from, the rest of the party wouldn’t. Their luck ran out when trying to find some inexplicable but convenient tupperware, but for now wrapping them up in bindles would suffice, and granted them some additional pleasure in some folksy LARPing. Now to just find a train to hop, and a circus to run away to. I mean, like a real one, in some peoples’ advanced years their imagination muscles had atrophied severely in addition to their greater desert island hiking group and bindle carrying complex. One could dream, it cost zero dollars and zero cents to do so, but reality, as it seemed, was never a free lunch.
When they exited again, it was a very different hallway; dust still buried the floor, but the walls were lined with scaffolding, the furniture shrouded in white tarps like dead ghosts- this part of the hotel was under some major renovation. The sharp smell of paint pervaded the air, and distant copyrighted music crackled over the PA. They were not alone, not any more.
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Glancing around at each other, they proceeded further down the hallway, drawn to whatever or whoever they might find at the end of it.
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night.
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself
'This could be heaven or this could be Hell'
There was a different entrance, or exit, than the one they’d entered through- furnished and clean in a way that belied the building’s age. With no electricity, it was still dim but they could make out some features in the faint light filtering through the curtains, figures loomed at the door, waiting. Julian held Albert tighter, braving himself to approach.
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say
“Welcome to the Hotel welcome to the hotel,” the concierge addressed them.
“Such a lovely place,” his compatriot gestured to their renovations.
“Such a lovely face,” a third caressed Ralf’s Germanic square of a visage.
He recoiled grabbing Florian’s hand hissing, “Ich denke, wir sollten gehen.”
“-Plenty of room at the hotel,” their bellhop interjected.
“Any time of year.” “-Any time of year.”
“You can find it here.” he smiled not exactly reassuringly.
Kasim backpedaled a little, sizing up the situation, “We… don’t need a room, we’re just- stopping by-”
“Actually we were just leaving. Sorry to bother you- we thought this place was abandoned-” Todd cut him off, not wanting them to think they were friendly or interested or easily swayed, you could see the hunger in their eyes, it wasn’t natural.
“Leaving?” There was a flash in one of their eyes as he stiffened his expression solemnly hearing this. “Oh you won’t be leaving any time soon.”
“You have partaken of food within our realm,” a fourth person stepped from the corridor behind them, closing them in followed by a fifth.
“You can check out any time you like,” the concierge spoke once more rising from his desk, the shadows in the room growing longer by the second. Donald steeled himself, knowing what was to come.
And all spoke in unison as the doors slammed shut, “-BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE.”
“Oh fuck oh fuck oh shit…”
The Eagles descended upon them like a flock of hungry vultures, tearing into them with a ferocity mirroring the feast they had laid as a trap. Kenny tried to swat them away ineffectively, shrieking as one snatched him up and began to drag him back into the hotel behind Michael McDonald whose dash for the door had been slowed by his desperate attempt to save the food first. “RUN FOR IT! DON’T LET THEM CATCH YOU!” Donald hollered to the others and he broke away, chasing after the members who were quickly replaced by two more of their number.
“I never expected it to end this way,” Kenny sobbed as he struggled uselessly against his restraints.
“I did,” Michael McDonald replied soberly. “Dying as I lived, being cannibalized by The Eagles.”
“You know,” he blinked back tears, “I’m really sorry about the things I said at the wedding, I felt so insecure and those words came from a dark place.”
“No… you had every right to say them,” Michael McDonald sighed watching Timothy Drury and Scott Crago sharpening knives. “I shouldn’t have gone to Jimmy without consulting you first, we had a special moment between us and I ruined it out of greed and ego.”
“You sure did. Now we’re gonna die like Walter Becker.”
“No you’re not-”
Kenny sniffed looking around, “Who said that? Was it my common sense? I haven’t heard from you in years, I thought I had lost you forever.”
“No, it’s Walter, but if it makes you feel better yes.” the voice resigned.
Kenny stared wide eyed at his fellow prisoner and mouthed, “I think the ghost of Walter Becker is trying to communicate with me.”
“Actually it’s just me Walter Becker, living human hello.”
“-Walter, why do bad things happen to good people?” Michael McDonald asked Kenny’s conscious.
“I can’t answer that.”
Donald Fagen held his breath as he snuck into the banquet hall, there wasn’t a lot of places to hide but for the moment, the Eagles’ touring support had their backs turned to him. He had to move quick. From his position behind one of the tables, he peeked his head around, surveying the scene- lighting on a set of knives laying out on the tablecloth, just sharpened. Like he’d seen in a movie once, he rolled across the carpet until he was underneath the buffet then gingerly lifted the cloth to peer out once again. He could see a pair of feet move closer and quickly dropped it hearing the shifting of metal above his head. As the lighting subtly changed, and the shadow left, he very carefully reached up and around till his fingers closed around a cool handle and drew it to his hammering chest. Licking his lips, Donald practiced a few quick jabs and nodded before taking his shot.
Frey stepping through the entryway followed by Henley and the others carrying the rest of their subdued party didn’t inspire any hope in singer Michael McDonald’s heart. “I’m so glad you could join us today, it’s not often we get visitors, especially ones so easily… welcomed. When we finish reviving the Hotel however and turn this island investment into a hit vacation spot for rich white people with dogs that have instagrams we shouldn’t have to worry about that ever again.”
“Did we eat people? Did you feed us people? Have I eaten people!??” Albert panicked.
“You should wish to be so lucky, however I will permit you to witness your friends’ final moments as they are.”
Henley motioned for them to take their steely knives and finally shut Kenny up for good but as the men surrounded him, a cut formed across their necks instead and both men collapsed to the floor. “What-” he gasped and suddenly his restraints broke the sharp edge just touching his skin.
Posed opposite each other in a lunge, Donald Fagen and Walter Becker brandished their blades, the crowd in speechless shock. Everyone was shocked, but none more so than Fagen himself, “Y-you’re alive?” “You’re ALIVE!?” Henley roared.
“Yeah,” Becker smirked, glasses shining white shonen style as the reflection danced across his knife, “But you won’t be for much longer.” And in a flurry of strikes, Steely Dan drove the Eagles to extinction in a death of one thousand cuts.
“I have the power of god and anime on my side!” the last member standing choked, clutching his side as he prepared to activate a deadly final attack.
“That may be,” Fagen began and Becker finished, “But I don’t need to have seen Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure to know how this is going to end-”
“Note: go fuck yourselves- signed, Steely Dan Gang.”
Twin blades extended out the man’s backside with an execution unparalleled to any other work in or outside the studio. So the rumors were true, Steely Dan had reunited for one final farewell, it just hadn’t been theirs after all. “It’s finally over,” Fagen observed giving the body a kick.
“We don’t know that for sure,” Becker wiped the blood across his tongue, “You just can’t kill the beast.”
His partner looked up at him wordlessly searching his eyes for some sense of relief, “I can’t believe you’re alive- how did you do it?”
“When the audience mobbed the stage, I managed to escape by hiding underneath,” he cued a cinematic flashback, “I survived by drinking the champagne that was stashed under there, there must’ve been like 20 bottles!”
“That was supposed to be for the entire cruise on the last night! You drank ALL of it!?”
“Hey I was under there for like a day and a half, I could’ve starved to death.”
“Are you drunk?” Don narrowed his eyes.
“I’ve had nothing to eat for a days but champagne of course I’m drunk. By the way do you have my glasses, I can’t see a goddamn thing. Your friends are lucky I didn’t stab them, all you white men look the same.” The others blanched slightly at what was otherwise, a touching reunion.
“Let’s blow this popsicle stand,” he swaggered and fell down the stairs into the sand, “Or I could stay right here either works.”
Jon stared wistfully into the sunset, not yet willing to lose this staring contest. “It’s getting late,” Alan commented sheepishly. “Shhh.”
“-Neither search parties have come back with food or water yet…”
Rick cleared his throat from nearby, “Maybe we should have looked for some ourselves instead of spending all this time deciding on which font to make our HELP in.”
“I told you, if we had used Comic Sans for it, they wouldn’t have taken us seriously and no-one would have come to rescue us!” Trevor protested
“Times New Roman though- really? I mean, this isn’t middle school language arts, it’s a bit tired.” Rick crossed his arms unimpressed.
Alan drew a breath, trying to remain professional. “I think we should look for them, I mean, what if something happened?”
“What- if they got rescued without us?” Tony entertained the thought to the group.
Alan cut them off again, holding out his hands. “I don’t want everyone to get lost, we’ll send... 2 people, it can’t be that big of an island, we’ll find them eventually. Whether they’ll still be alive, well, that I don’t know.”
“God you’re so morbid.”
“-I’ll do it,” Jon stood up.
“Wait no! You’re too valuable!” his flock argued rushing to him, “We can’t lose you too!”
“If anyone can do it I can!”
There was some murmuring and Daryl took this opportunity to make his move. “I too am heroic and important.”
“Well… Get some cheetos while you’re out.”
It was good to get away from the goat rodeo that had become of the stragglers, Daryl swore he hadn’t been on a tour this bad since the 90s. Mercifully, they’d get away from this horrible place sooner or later, he wasn’t terribly concerned as to how or if they found these people after all. The misfortunate was that this probably would have been a lovely little vacation if not for everything and everyone else. As they traversed the island, he made his subtle attempts at proselytizing Jon, had to strike while the iron was hot; if Big Squid Guy let it get out that Hall & Oates had broken up again it was unlikely any other extradimensional superbeings would take him on as an apprentice being just another washed up singer from the 70s.
It was hard to decide whether he’d pursue his plan to get Jon to replace John in his eternal psychic blood pact, or to take out his only competition here while they were alone. A meaningful intimate relationship with another person was only temporary, but dying was forever. Still, he couldn’t act just yet- if he could find a way to use the man’s power for himself, he wouldn’t have to use his own against him. Probing into his mind didn’t get him very far, mostly nonsense about rivers or oceans or something, if he was blocking him out, maybe he already knew. No, he had to be careful, and very patient. Maybe even use techniques of ‘friendship’ and ‘persuasive essay writing’, this was going to be harder than he initially thought.
Coming upon Love Beach its timbers shuddering in the ocean breeze, they cautiously stepped through following the footsteps. Up ahead, Daryl glimpsed a number of figures strewn across the floor, the floor soaked with a pool of fresh blood. “They’ve been through here.” He stated and quickly turned Jon around before he could get a look. “Let’s ask those people sleeping over there-” “Actually let’s not.”
While it had been pretty warm here during the day, the tropical sun beating down on their heads, the heat dropped fast when it set during their stay at the shambolic remains of what had been Love Beach and what would never be the Hotel California. To make things worse, a storm seemed to be rolling in, the isolated showers they had early were being succeeded by something much more powerful and much less isolated. “We just take a shortcut and go through the jungle,” Walter, who he and his knife everyone decided best to agree with, declared. And while that might’ve been a good idea at the time, the dense undergrowth and growing darkness reduced their progress to a crawl.
“We should just retrace our steps and go back into the hotel, at least we had a roof over our heads,” Roger griped, shoving a frond out of his face, “I can’t see five feet in front of me, admit it we’re lost.”
A booming crack of lighting briefly illuminated the woods, faces pale white and eyes wide for a second before plunging back into darkness. Then came the shiver of a heavy downpour of rain crossing the island towards them, and then was something no one had expected. An eerie cry echoed from far away, then another, and another, much closer, and several pairs of glowing eyes. Damn, those pesky Caribbean wolves.
Donald and Walter readied themselves to fight off the impending attack but this time is was Todd who threw himself in harm’s way. “If you’re going to hurt them you’ll have to go through me, they’re probably like an endangered species or something!” As he moved closer, holding out a hand he addressed them. “See, they’re more afraid of us then we are of th-” And Todd was mauled.
“Oh my god-” Todd’s boyfriends leapt after him, stopping him from trying to pet any more strange dogs. A sharp whistle pierced the snarling and growling and the animals froze before running towards the noise. The four looked at each other and back to the trees, another figure the wolves ran to, sitting and panting. “Who the hell-”
The person motioned to follow them and given their options, they followed. In the strange shelter, it was a tight fit getting a dozen grown ass adult men and a number of wolves inside, but proved more spacious than initially expected. Some sparse decoration covered the walls, a combination of plant matter and flotsam, evidence that this person had been here some time. They gestured to sit down and after shaking off some of the rain, removed their hood revealing a somewhat avuncular, kindly face. “Does anyone want any tea? It’s mostly sticks and leaves in water but, ah you’ll get used to it.”
“Steve Hackett? What are you doing here?” Julian squinted.
“Why I’m stranded on a desert island of course, have you come to rescue me? I thought those blokes who showed up a few weeks ago were going to but they wouldn’t let pets into their hotel,” he exhaled, “So I’ve gone back to this.” He sipped his tea pensively.
“Yeah about them…” Donald drawled, “Are you alone here, I mean, how did you get here anyways?”
“Alone until you came along I suppose, there had been a few of us at first but ever since Morris Pert went native I haven’t seen him or anyone else. I probably would have died from loneliness if not for my friends; they taught me the ways of the wild, how to hunt, to relish the taste of a fresh kill. I’m sorry, you must be hungry, can I offer you anything?”
“Uhh, no thanks, we just ate,” they looked skeptically at the wolves nuzzling their packages.
“Well it still stands if you change your mind,” Steve shrugged and continued his story.
“It was many years ago, on my first “Cruise to the Edge”, I was a young naive child of 63 but then a freak storm struck! I think they’re called hurricanes, really rare in the Gulf of Mexico, and our ship capsized! And was attacked by a kraken! The crew had plenty of kraken fighting gear on board to take care of it, but wasn’t prepared for how long Alan Holdsworth’s guitar solo would go on for and none of the passengers would budge until they’d gotten the whole thing on their phones! I was the only one who managed to escape, apart from everyone else, who wasn’t eaten by the kraken, which was everyone, except for the other members of Genesis who were secretly there planning a surprise reunion- they all perished so here I am confined to this island, never for Genesis to ever play together again.”
“I’m pretty sure all the members of Genesis are still alive.”
“Yeah I think I saw Phil Collins in an advertisement the other day trying to sell me sea monster insurance with a catchy jingle.”
“Did it work?”
Julian glanced furtively over his shoulder,“....Yeah….”
“That’s pretty wild actually,” Albert cocked his head listening, “Something similar happened to us. We were on Jimmy Buffet’s Revenge of the Return to the Escape from Margaritaville Booze Cruise when we were shot by torpedos and attacked by a kraken.”
“-Tee em.” Kenny interjected.
Steve scratched his head, that was a strange coincidence. That or sea monster attacks were really as common as the commercials suggested, he’d always imagined they’d just been some kind of insurance scheme like funeral or kaiju insurance, of course, until it happened to him. It’s always that way, people thinking ‘it could never happen to me’ and then you’re regretting not calling that toll free number on the screen. Surely the cruise companies couldn’t be planning these attacks themselves to commit insurance fraud? “So they all survived and didn’t try to rescue me?”
“Even Tony. I don’t know them personally, maybe!”
He hung his head taking in this information, “Great.” It was fantastic news knowing that his friends were still alive and gave him renewed hope in reuniting, but the potential reality that they didn’t care that he was made him wonder whether he should give up on trying to leave the island after all. Another peal of thunder shook the walls of his home making the wolves whimper and everyone draw closer concerned for the building’s soundness. “You should rest, no point in trying to wait the storm out with your eyes open.” Steve leaned over to his small flickering fire and scattered a palmful of dirt across to put it out. As everyone shifted about in the cramped darkness trying to get comfortable without stepping on any tails one made strange bedfellows in no man’s land.
The next morning Ralf awoke early and deeply sweaty to the sound of barking. Evidently Steve had heard it too because he was nowhere to be seen in the mass of tangled bodies crusted with mud and sand. He shook Florian awake before slipping out to investigate what was going on, “
Aufwachen. Flori. Wir müssen hier raus.”
“Ich hatte einen schrecklichen Traum, ich war auf einer Insel gefangen,” he yawned stretching, “Oh…”
“What are you going on about get this animal away from me!” Daryl shouted kicking at the wolf tearing at his pant leg.
“If you’re with the men from the hotel I’ve had enough of you gentrifying my island, you need to take your business somewhere else!”
“Excuse- Excuse me, your island? Since when is this island!?” he swung at another wolf ineffectually.
“I was here first,” he proclaimed.
“-Well I was here second. You can’t just watch while these monsters tear me apart! Jon, JON!”
The smaller man caught up tumbling into the clearing surprised. “I’m coming I’m coming- oh, hello. Hello doggies.”
“Jon?” Steve perked up with familiarity, “Are you with this guy?”
“I am Daryl HALL, best selling singer-songwriter, HONESTLY?”
He ignored him and moved over to Jon excitedly. “I heard about how your boat got attacked by sea monsters from your crewmates- come, come here.” He bounded back towards the bungalow where everyone was starting to rise, the air already hot and misty with transpiration. Daryl collapsed in the dirt as the wolves quickly lost interest, chasing after their master. With some difficulty he righted himself and trudged behind them.
“Ah, we’ve been looking for you,” Jon tiptoed in between the bodies, “Did you find any cheetos?”
Albert sat up groggily and rubbed his eyes, “No? -Though we did find-” he looked around for their bindles. They’d all been torn into and eaten for the most part while they’d slept. “Actually nevermind. No. We’re on a desert island there’s no cheetos.”
“Not with that kind of attitude.”
Steve and Daryl caught up, by now everyone up and more than a little disappointed at the lack of breakfast. Only Jon seemed especially chipper, happy to have found his friends like he said he would. Now to just get back to camp empty handed and injured. “You should come back with us Steve, I’m sure everybody would be glad to see you especially the congregation.”
“Congregation- what?” Michael McDonald knitted his wiry brows.
“Mhm, I’m a spiritual leader,” Jon professed. “I feed the hungry, heal the sick, perform miracles. The usual.”
Some of them snorted in disbelief but a few were curious as to what exactly this meant. “You’re the medical officer on the ship right? I sprained my ankle yesterday,” Albert spoke up, “Can you do something about it?”
Everyone held their breath as Jon prepared to demonstrate his abilities, Daryl watching and waiting confidently. Leaning down and kissing his foot Jon then smacked his leg and stood back up. “You’re cured.”
“Huh, just like that?” Albert got to his feet and tested his leg shifting his full weight onto it, then fell to the floor with a shout. “JESUS FUCKING- shit! I think that broke it? Oh my god is it broken?”
The crowd turned their eyes towards Jon who simply stared at him on the ground. “Hm, well it worked last time. Let me try it again.”
As he repeated himself, Daryl’s smug grin faded, the possibility his new route to unlocking his omnipotential was actually just full of shit dawned upon him and rather than embarrass himself he slowly slunk away while Jon made things worse. Julian exhaled sharply, pushing his hands through his hair as he paced around. “Let’s just, let’s get back to the beach and get Jon to try and bandage him up- the OTHER Jon.” Jon frowned and put his hand down. “...I wanna go home…”
“I’m sorry for bringing us on this trip in the first place,” Albert winced, trying to balance himself on his one good leg.
“-No no! It’s not your fault,” Julian held him, “Although it’d be pretty fucked up if it were. Here- put your arm around me, we can walk back together. Got me?” He took his hand searching his eyes and Albert nodded. “Good. We’ll go as slow as you need to, I’d never leave without you.”
“Heh, where would you go?”
In the blurred space between sleep and consciousness, Trevor wasn’t entirely sure what of his senses suggested was real save for the dull stabbing pain in his side. That was real. The warmth of the sun on his skin, the shifting ground beneath him, a crisp breeze, the smell of salt- all of this familiar, his vision, a wide blue expanse that extended into a cerulean horizon. Waves crashed upon the sand, the foam rushing towards him then pulling back out of reach. “-Oh, you’re awake. Careful!” Jon the younger moved to his side assisting him and handed him some pills which he gratefully accepted though struggled to get down, his throat dry and rough.
“...The boat sunk,” He summarized to put it succinctly.
“Yeah that I gathered,” Trevor rasped, “How- actually no I don’t want to know. How long have I been out, my throat feels like the Sahara.”
“Two days?” he shrugged and passed him one of the remaining coconuts the crew had picked.
“This tastes terrible.”
“I could hit you with it and knock you back out. It rained last night though so if you want to lick some leaves help yourself.”
“We should gather food still,” Trevor stood up shakily surveying the scene, a few of the remaining crew already up and checking on their SOS, replacing rocks that turned out to be crabs overnight.
“We sent out two search parties yesterday, but neither have come back yet. Trust me we’re trying. My infirmary is already at its limit with coconut related injuries, if you feel good enough to give up your bed you should.”
“Okay. Where’s Chris, I need to see what orders are from him,” Trevor stated, Jon’s face darkening. “What’s wrong?”
“I’m sorry Trevor, I know how close you were to him- Chris drowned when the ship went down. Steve, Bill, not everyone made it.” As was evidenced by the fact there were only about a dozen people on the beach and not several hundred, but they didn’t really hang out so-
“I-” Trevor was paralyzed by thoughts racing through his head, it was as if someone hit him with a torpedo, dizzied by the impact of those words.
“You’re in charge now, though I guess it’s hard to be a captain without a ship.”
“Alan, wake up.” Trevor stood over his mate, casting a long shadow over him, coconut alarm clock poised in his hand. “I need you to help build me a net.”
“Hmmn? I’m awake don’t- oh, Trevor! You’re alright.”
“Well not quite considering I just had my spleen removed, am going through withdrawal, haven’t eaten in days, am stranded on an island, no longer have a job, and my friends have died- but, given things, can’t complain. ...Do you know how to make a net?”
“It’s truly times like these I wish I’d done something with my life other than drumming in a prog rock band.”
“Oh man, big mood.”
Between the six or so crew who hadn’t be absorbed into the disciples of Jon or perished at sea, someone who could tie knots managed to construct a rough netting from the fronds and vines procured from the edge of the forest. One would think a group of sailors would know a thing or two about knots, but cruise ships seemed to have a curious lack of sails and such. Usually when one of their cords got tangled, they’d just end up throwing it out rather than try and figure out its secrets, knots 2 yes 0. To craft something remotely usable was a true feat of engineering and teamwork, now as to whether any fish would be dumb enough to get caught in it, and whether any of them knew how to make a fire was another question altogether; fire’s were even less commonly needed upon cruise vessels.
Casting it into the surf, now it was only time to wait for that pull to bring it back in. Fresh meat, any vegetarians here could go fuck themselves- go suck seaweed. Squinting into the water it looked mostly like seaweed. Tony got very excited for some reason as they mentioned this. Approaching the others stranded on the beach, Trevor waved over Pat and Geoff to held tend the net but neither of them seemed very focused on whatever they were doing. In fact they seemed to be lost in some sort of trance, or trying very hard to. “What are you doing? There’s work to be done.” He stood at their feet, Geoff squirming and forcing his eyes tighter.
“Jon said to focus on freeing ourselves from earthly desires, can you leave, you’re making this harder than it has to be.”
“Excuse me? Where is Jon I need to talk to him.”
“Ummm,” they fretted, not entirely sure themselves as Trevor grew impatient.
Miraculously, this question was eventually answered, a bedraggled group of people stiffly making their way out of the thick copse of tangled vegetation. “Hello!” Jon waved amicably towards Trevor, who as they grew closer, didn’t seem quite as enthusiastic to see him. Steve was there too, so that was good.
“We came back with- well, hm no we didn’t. ...Do you have anything to eat?” Michael McDonald twisted his hands.
“If you want to eat you have to work for it,” Trevor stated plainly, “Go check the net and see if there’s anything in it yet. If you can cook it, you can eat it.”
A number of them groaned at this news, not wanting to have to try harder than they had to for something that should have been provided for them. “I don’t want to make anyone feel this situation is unfair, but somebody has to put their foot down at some point if we want to get anything done. Rick? See if you can start a fire while these boys bring in our catch. Alan… Take a break, you’ve done enough already. Get Tony to sort things out with Jon’s… friends or whatever… Chop chop!” He clapped his hands, moving swiftly in his first day as captain without a ship. Speaking from his heart rather than his employment history, his ship had been Squabin, but, well you know how things went. It’s always you and me and the giant sea monster between us. He wished he could have had one last chance to tell Chris how he felt but, part of him knew he knew and he could rest a little easier living with that promise.
There was a shout behind him from where a number of the beach party were struggling with the net, the roughly woven fibers snapping apart under the weight of its bounty. Calling the jungle crew to aide, together they managed to haul some enormous mass of seaweed and marine life into the sand, the net completely ripping apart with that one final tug onto ‘mostly’ dry land. “Wow.” “Oh yes let’s eat-” “-You’re welcome.” A number of heads turned towards Jon after his declaration. “For what? You didn’t do anything?”
“It’s a miracle!” he piped. At this, the mass began to move, everyone jumping back afraid to find out what it was they had really caught. “Oh… yeah you’re right I had nothing to do with that.”
“Not again!” Trevor cried out grabbing a piece of driftwood to defend himself, “I don’t need another sea monster in my life! I’ve lost enough friends already!” And bravely, or very stupidly, he charged at it beating it back into the water.
“OW! WHAT THE HELL!?” The monster yelled. “I think I liked it better at the bottom of the sea…”
Trevor panted wildly, his wet hair plastered across his forehead. “GO AWAY!” He swung at it again. “HAVEN’T YOU DONE ENOUGH HARM ALREADY!? ARGH.” Chucking the piece at the creature, it bounced off its hide and splashed into the waves ineffectually. God he wished Chris were still here; he was barely into his new position of leadership and already it felt like everything was falling apart. What was he doing even, he couldn’t fight a sea monster, not like this.
“Stop hitting me already!” It stumbled back towards him, “ Jesus. Rude. Some people I swear. ”
Trevor, exhausted and out of ideas sunk to his knees as it lumbered towards him. Inhaling sharply, he prepared himself for the worst, better to sacrifice himself than let his crew fall prey to another monster. However, nothing seemed to happen. He opened an eye and a clump of seaweed splatted against his leg, then another as the creature pulled tangles of it away from its terrible form, gradually diminishing, separating, until it turned to be two, incredibly haggard looking humans. He blinked slowly trying to understand just exactly what he was seeing and lifted a hand to touch them to make sure it wasn’t a mirage. Then balled it into a fist, rising up, and clocked Chris right in the face.
“I THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!”
“Me too what the hell, this is how you greet me after I nearly died? I should’ve stayed dead,” Chris rubbed his jaw irritably. On a nearby outcrop, he spotted their little coconut effigy and stared uneasily a few seconds before quickly looking away ‘Who is that?’ Trevor ignored this, too overwhelmed with everything already going on to try and make a good impression, adrenaline was still coursing through him and he had half a mind to pick the stick back up and swat him again for scaring him like this. Maybe it was asking too much to check and see if they could troll the deeps for their other lost friends, it was unlikely anyone who had been in the belly of the ship when it went down would have made it out dead or alive. Again, they were lucky themselves to have escaped with their lives, but Eddie was also there too, so, not a total loss.
“Another miracle thanks to the living messiah of the Island of Life!” Jon lifted his hands cheering. Trevor pinched the bridge of his nose and approached Chris again, voice slightly strained. “Chris. What did you tell him, why did you do that.”
Chris shrugged. “I thought it would be for him for a while.”
They shook their heads and dispersed leaving them in the tide together smelling like fish and poor decisions. “Hm. Hey Jon buddy, I think you should call it quits on the cult thing, that’s peer pressure, gang violence. Yeah, that’s not cool.”
“Oh…” Jon frowned, thinking things over. “Hi- Hello um, can I get everyone’s attention?” His followers attentively turned towards him, waiting on bated breath. Jon looked around and scratched his head, “Ummmmmmm. I think, I don’t want to be your leader any more. I think I’m gonna quit. Yeah.” He looked at Chris and dug in his pocket for his ID badge and handed it over, “I’m going to quit my job Christopher and pursue my lifelong dream of not being having responsibilities.”
“Wait you’re quitting? I just meant to knock off the whole weird religious leader bit cos it was pissing people off.” Chris seemed confused as to where this relationship was heading, it had been a wild few minutes.
“Mmmmmmmyeah,” he chirped kicking the sand, “I really only did it for the free marijuanas.”
“Ain’t that just the way. So what are you gonna do now?”
“Probably another solo album, I think I’ve got a lot of good material as soon as I can get into the studio.”
“Yeah, I should probably return to my day job too… Dude… Jimmy Buffett’s gonna be so mad when he finds out we sunk his boat.”
“That sounds like a problem for someone other than Juan Yderniño and Christo Galan,” Jon smirked shrewdly holding up a finger. Chris slowly beamed and laughed in agreement, ready to run away to a circus in Mexico where responsibility couldn’t find them and reform the legendary tax shelter known as Sí.
After the reunion, everyone discussed plans of what to do next over a meal of seaweed and mostly seaweed. Building a seaworthy vessel big enough for everyone was out of the question and while the small island was big enough to support Steve and his fur babies for some time, it was currently far beyond its carrying capacity. “You know what, those guys in the hotel ruins, they probably had some way to get here, we need to go back and search for their ship!”
“But then how will they get home?” Jon furrowed his brows as he chewed his weed.
“Uhhhh, I don’t think that’s gonna be a problem-” “They decided to stay. It’s their forever home. They’re happier here.”
“Oh. Well. Okay.”
Daryl sat through this whole exchange in silence, patience growing thin as his options were whittled away. There was still a fresh blood offering sitting in there cooling, if he could claim it as his own and summon a willing ear, he wouldn’t need to worry about petty issues like food and boats. He could still do it, and he didn’t need John or Jon or anyone. So while the crowd deliberated, he made his way back towards the hollowed halls of Love Beach one last time.
Footsteps echoed through the empty building as Daryl drew closer to the former ballroom battleground. Crouching, he began to draw his pentagram in the thickened sticky blood when he heard someone speak. ‘Daryl, we talked about this already…’ No one there, he continued.
‘Daryl. Stop it. I know you can hear me, you are not doing this again,’ John’s voice echoed inside his skull. Daryl now gritted his teeth as he completed the circle. ‘You abandoned me, if I have to do this on my own, I will, but I have to do it.’
“No you don’t…”
John stepped behind Daryl and placed a hand on his shoulder, “You don’t want to spend an eternity alone, admit we’ve lived a full life already, whatever it is you’re seeking- I know regardless it’ll feel empty in comparison. You don’t want to condemn yourself to that, come with me, make the most of what we have left.”
Daryl looked at him eyes wide, frozen between rage and shock. John merely let him sit in silence and closed his arms around him. Sometimes you had to take that leap of faith for those things you kept faith in.
Together in this circle, they shared a quiet moment before breaking away, eyes still locked in one anothers, hand in hand, heart in heart. “Let’s get off this damn island.”
A strange rumbling thundered overhead and the beach was cast into shadow as an enormous object inched across the sun. Wondering what new threat this might be, they braced themselves, the wind whipping around them as it drew ever nearer. It seemed as if everything was trying to kill them, that they were supposed to perish in a shipwreck and they would never get off this album if the universe had anything to say about it.
The ship’s gangplank lowered and in a cloud of vapor, one of the alien beings made first contact. “Oh Steve, there you are. Would you and your friends like to come aboard my fantastic airship?” Peter Gabriel spoke.
“... .... ...Can- Can my dogs come?”