A story that grew out of a game of Fiasco; terror, volcanoes, and researchers. Oh my!
|Fiasco - The Ice - Scene 1
She had not been offered the assignment; to say it was offered would imply the option of refusal. He had told Irena where she was going and who with; now here she was. Sharing the world’s smallest two-bunk cabin with one Ms. Arnieux. They’d never met, but Irena had heard stories; not all of them reassuring.
She just wanted everything to go smoothly for once. Paraguay had been rough enough for several lifetimes, but how did you discuss that with a fellow agent? Hey Shanna, I’ve heard so much about you, I’m sure it’ll be a pleasure working working together. Oh and hey, could we try and keep the murder and general chaos to a minimum this go-around? Probably not.
Fingers of sea foam slap roughly at the hull, every so often the spray reaches high enough to fleck the cabin’s dingy porthole. Irena thanked God, one of them anyhow, for meclizine pills. She had never done well on boats at the best of times and this could hardly be counted as the best of times. The old, rusted behemoth managed to plough through the towering waves only by dint of its size. The seas would be “a little rough”, they’d told her at the dock; it must have been a good laugh. Irena took one look down the hall as the bulkheads rocked and decided that she could hold it. Climbing up to her bunk she could hear shouting from up on deck.
She couldn’t tell how much time was passing, the shouts continued, but became just another component of the nautical background noise. The ship lurched up and down in the waves; ad nauseam, if not for her chemical assistance. Dull midday light filtered in; unasked, it lent more detail to the ceiling above her bunk than she would have liked. It was slow going, but she felt herself drifting off to sleep or or at least a passable impersonation. It is at this exact moment, in every country, on every planet, on every plane of existence, that the question “Are you asleep?” is proffered. The response that often comes to mind is not something one repeats in polite company; what is said aloud however, is a bit more measured … usually.
“Well, I am now.” As responses go, this is considered a classic. If she hadn’t been quite so irritated, Irena would have been unnerved by the complete lack of sound Shanna had made entering the room, crossing the intervening space and climbing the ladder. As she pushed herself up on to an elbow, she came nose to nose with a face very unlike her own. Light and freckled, where she was dark and even; round and cheerful, where her face was long and … dignified was how she would have put it. Someone else had called it “resting bitchface” once, but only once. Their eyes met briefly, before the pitching of the ship nearly knocked Shanna off the ladder. She wanted to be irritated, but Shanna was oddly personable for a purported killer.
“Gyah! So much for smooth sailing. Are we sure the assholes know how to drive this thing?” The lilt in her voice was faint, but with the help of her fair skin, freckled or not, placed her from somewhere on the Iberian peninsula.
“Better than I do, at any rate.”
“You know we could always-”
“Hey! You know we can’t. Way too much exposure..”
“I know, I know. It was just wishful thinking. Bunk down and get some sleep I guess.”
Shanna swung out of view and soon she heard the low beat of those noxious green headphones drowning out the waves. This was just lovely, now Irena was wide awake and the need to find the “head” was getting dire.
Fiasco - The Ice - Scene 2------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A pink sweater. Not THAT kind of pink, a very sensible pink, The whole garment screamed “sensible.” Well not screamed perhaps, but definitely intoned it with some conviction. It told the rest of the world that the bearer of this piece of clothing was someone who could be trusted with your dry cleaning and who thought of “fuss” as a four-letter word. Alternatively, it said that the bearer had a very dull, but well-meaning relative and that it was wash day.
However, at this moment, it looked much less sensible balled up and flying through the air. It was accompanied soon after by a pair of thick grey socks and several pairs of thermals. They landed in a growing pile of clothes of the sort one wears when they are less concerned with adhering to their fashion sensibilities, and more concerned with retaining the use of their extremities.
“For fuck’s sake! They said we were going to the Antarctic; silly me packing sweaters and long johns.” Irena fanned herself with one hand and hurled another traitorous item of clothing over her shoulder.
“I dunno, they said "weird volcano island”, I figured the weather’d be a bit wonky.“ Shanna hung back in the corner, trying to stay out of Irena’s line of fire, while simultaneously avoiding the midday sun, focused through the port hole like a malicious child’s magnifying glass.
"I don’t suppose you’d be willing to share?”
“Sure, but do you plan on shrinking 12 centimeters first?”
Irena wanted to be angry, but even she had to admit, the idea of the two of them sharing any article of clothing was pretty laugh-worthy. “Point taken, unless you’ve got anything in your little bag of tricks?” Her eyebrow raised conspiratorially.
“Plenty, but nothing you’d want to play with.” Shanna’s smile hadn’t moved, but it no longer reached as far as her eyes.
“Hopefully the research station has someone I can beg clothes off of. Speaking of; do we even know what Altschön is doing down there? What are we looking for?”
“Hey, what the hell!?” Shanna rasped with a barely contained fury. She poked a head out into the corridor, eyes darting from doorway to doorway. Apparently satisfied, she withdraws, narrowing her eyes at Irena. “Would you like a megaphone to help spread the word?”
“Shit! Sorry. Forgot this wasn’t a company boat.” She cocked her head, listening for any movement or increased activity.
It’s alright.“ She shoots the doorway another quick glance. "As usual, Mr K. wasn’t real forthcoming, but it has half of Nyartech nervous as hell. At least the half that has nerves.”
Irena turned around sat down heavily on the edge of the trunk, “Well so much for things going smoothly.”
“Right?” Shanna managed to roll not only her eyes, but her eyebrows as well. “Did you get a chance to look at the personnel files?”
“Uh uh, I’ve been looking at the GPS data and topographical maps. It’s along a major ley line, if you extrapolate, but the location doesn’t se-”
The rest of her words were lost as a baritone wail from the stern of the ship filled their ears to capacity. Rude though it was, it had nothing on its captain. Baritone, to match the horn, his accent sounded as if it had taken a drunken tour of the British Isles to most people. To the learned ear it was just a Capetown accent, still drunk though. Even though the speakers provided adequate amplification, the speaker still felt the need to roar.
“Thirty minutes to Eldghos! Ye’ll be off my ship in an hour or we’ll throw yer off!” Ragged breathing was audible in the pauses as he gathered air for the next bellow.
“What a charmer, eh?” Shanna shakes her head and pulls a neat back tote from under the bunk.
“Seriously, that’s all you’ve got? … Hell, packing it is. What were you saying about personnel?”
“Eh, nothing important” As much as Irena didn’t need to be blind-sided, Shanna didn’t think their asshole of a captain was making idle threats.
Fiasco - The Ice - Scene 3 - Unfinished
- A darkened room, the shifting of sheets as one form becomes two.