The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Part 6
by Shane Migliavacca
The Crimson Scorpion Strikes! Chapter 6 Island of The Scorpion
A small group gathered at the bank of the West River. Drawn from their homes by the gunfire and crash. The gathered crowd watched the inky black surface. They talked in excited gasps of what could have happened and the chances of any survivors. A few thought they’d seen him riding on the side of the car. The Crimson Scorpion! Some turned noticing the flames licking the night sky a few blocks away. Casting an orange hue on the night. Police and firetrucks hollowed through the streets not too far from them. A loud murmur spread through the crowd. Their attention turned from the river.
“Could it come this way?” A stern woman gasped. Pulling her bathrobe tight.
“Think it’s related?” A short, balding man asked. Glancing back at the river before turning back to the fire.
A few brave souls left, wanting to get a better look at the fire. Unnoticed by the onlookers, a black wig and large hat floated to the surface. Unnoticed by all but one. A figure that had slipped silently among them. Lurking in the background, hugging the shadows. As they watched the fire, the shadow ventured to the river’s edge. They had no time to lose. Diving in, the slight figure submerged in the dark waters. Pushing themself downward. Towards a shape drifting down into the river’s depths. Pulled down by the water’s cold death grip. Harder and harder they swam, till at last they could make out the shape’s features. A young woman with short blonde hair, a red domino mask covering half of her face. The face of Kitty Allenby. Friend and faithful companion Misa Yoshino wrapped her arms around the woman’s form. Pulling her upwards.
The gin was making Kitty Allenby very dizzy. She leaned on the junk boat’s railing. The sounds of revelry at her back. She watched as the water lap at the junk’s side. Someone had put the time and effort decorate the ship as if it was Christmas or New Year’s. Kitty’s gin and grief clouded mind was fairly sure it was neither. She was also certain she had no idea who any of these people were. There was drink, noise and nobody knew who she was. At this point in life this was the best she could hope for.
Kitty took a sip of gin from the glass in her hand. England and Paris were a blur. She’d visited both a few weeks ago or was it months? It didn’t matter. She grown tired of them rather quick and now here she was…On a junk just outside of Hong Kong somewhere. At a party she didn’t even remember getting invited to or by whom.
A cold wind blew across the water. Chilling Kitty to the bone. Dressed only in a tight white dress and heels. Was this dress even hers?
She felt the weight of the gold locket pendant around her neck. This was most assuredly not hers. The pendant had been her sisters. Her now dead sister, Carol. The thought, the idea was still too new, too terrible to think about. Kitty had forgotten about the photo, till finding the pendant among her sister’s stuff. They’d taken that photo together the year the city hosted the World’s Fair.
She’d thought Carol had given up on her. They’d drifted apart. Carol tried on quite a few occasions to get Kitty to sign up for collage. To stop going to the clubs every night. After awhile Kitty did her best to avoid her sister. Tired of her endless criticizing.
Kitty looked down into the water below. “Damn you.”
Why did she get to be so good? Kitty still could see that disappointed look on Carol’s face. She’d inherited the look from their father.
Taking the pendant off. Kitty leaned over the railing. Holding it over the side. She should just throw it in the water. Be done with it. What good did all the memories do? Her sister was gone. Kitty doubted she’d ever return home.
As she let the pendant slip from her grasp, a pang of horrible doubt gripped her. Fumbling to catch the falling adornment, She lost her balance. Catching the gold chain in her fingers as she tumbled over the side of the junk. Hitting the cold waters hard. Kitty must have blacked out momentarily, because when the lapping water on her face woke her again, the junk was further from her then when she’d fallen. Shivering, in nothing but the slinky white dress, Kitty called out. No one heard her or appeared to even realize she’d even fallen overboard. Her mind cleared of the gin by the cold and fear, her thoughts raced. She could try swimming after the junk. Calling for help. Maybe someone would hear her as she got closer. Or she could try to reach shore. There had to be something nearby. They hadn’t gone that far out. Her eyes darted over the horizon.
There! A faint light in the distance. A lighthouse or perhaps a campfire on a nearby beach. Taking one last look at the receding junk. Kitty swam towards the light in the distance. Was drawn to it. Pushing herself harder then she knew was possible. Back there on the junk she’d all but given up. But now her will to survive fueled her. In her hand, she clasped the pendant tightly. Feeling the metal poke into the palm of her hand.
She’d been a fool. Trying to throw it away.
Feeling her limbs weaken, her breath grow shorter Kitty faltered. The cold embrace of the water coupled with her fatigue was overwhelming. If she could just sleep. Just for a little while…
Kitty tasted something gritty on her teeth and lips. Warm water tickled her bare feet. She’d lost her heels somewhere in the water. She felt wet sand on her hands. Opening her eyes, Kitty blinked rapidly till her eyes focused. She was lying on her stomach on a beach. The hot sun baring down on her. A beach!
Panicked she turned over. Her eyes scanning the horizon. The junk was nowhere to be seen. In fact there was no ships whatsoever. Water as far as the eye could see. She hadn’t paid attention to how far they’d gone out last night on the junk.
Had she swam here? Or washed up on shore after passing out in the water?
Standing Kitty wiped wet sand from her dress. Looking around she saw the beach lead to a jungle. Where was she? It had to be an island somewhere outside of Hong Kong’s waters. She resisted the urge to call out. If there was anybody here, they might not like the company. A small dread clawed at her stomach. There was the possibly she was the only one here.
She walked forward. Stopping at an outcropping of rocks near the edge of the jungle. Something dark moved on the rocks. A large bug with pincers and a tail with a nasty looking stinger at it’s end. Kitty weighed her options. She could try smashing it. Or go around. She decided to go around it. Kitty was the intruder here. The thought occurred to her, she may have to kill and eat that thing at some point. Depending on how long she was stranded here. Wherever that was.
A bit further down the beach she found the remains of a campfire. This was what she’s seen last night! Strangely there were no footprints of any kind in the sand other then her’s. Someone must have set the fire. Kitty felt a shiver run down her spine.
Before she could consider the absurd notion of a hunted island a gleam of sunlight caught her eye. Hanging from a dead branch was her sister’s gold pendant. In her panic and confusion she’d forgotten it. There very thing that had gotten her here in the first place. Kitty snatched it up. Draping it once more around her neck.
There was someone here. And they were playing a game with her.
Kitty climbed a bank of rocks and grass towards the jungle. If there was another person here, she felt they’d be in there. Waiting.
Trudging through the jungle growth, the litter strewn on it’s floor: rocks, dead branches and prickly plant leaves all cut her bare feet to ribbons. By the time Kitty found a clearing she was limping badly. A trail of blood behind her.
The cave sat there at the base of a rocky hill as if it was the center of the universe. This had to be what she was looking for. Anybody living on this island, if that’s what it was, they would seek shelter here.
Maybe it was somebody shipwrecked here. Or pirates. Kitty saw the figure there, standing at the mouth of the cave. Moments ago there had been nobody there.
“Hello?” She asked tentatively.
In a flash the figure was gone. Kitty felt a sudden rush of air behind her. Before she could turn there the tip of a wood staff was held to her throat.
“Who?” A raggedy, ancient voice asked.
“What?” A started Kitty replied. “Me?”
“Who?” The voice asked again frustrated. The tip of staff pressed firmer on her neck.
She felt the pressure on her neck lighten by a little.
Kitty thought a few seconds. How what? Then the answer came like a bolt from the blue.
“I was on a boat.” Her face reddened. “I fell off. Saw your campfire. Swam here.”
Again the single question perplexed her for a couple minutes. Kitty could feel her unseen “host” growing impatient with her. Till finally she guessed.
“I almost lost my necklace. It was my sister’s.” She slowly held it up.
The stranger let her go. Kitty turned slowly around to see a short, wiry Asian man standing there. His long unkempt gray hair pulled back. A frayed hooded cape hung from his shoulders. Underneath her wore a plain brown shirt and pants. Both as worn as his cape.
“Hump!” The old man grumbled. He tapped his staff on the ground. “It would appear fate has brought you here to me. Like it or not.”
“How did you move like that?” She asked. A bit awed by the old man. “So fast?”
He looked down at Kitty’s bloody feet.
“Come. I’ll tend to your wounds.”
They walked towards the cave. Kitty leaning on the old man for support.
“Was that you? On the beach…The fire?” She asked. Grimacing in pain with every step of the way.
“It was. I like to sit in contemplation under the stars.”
“Did you pull me from the water?”
The old man chuckled. “No. You were there on the beach. Asleep. I looked at your necklace. To see.”
“To see what?” Kitty asked nervously.
“What sort of person you are.”
The simple joy of sitting down on bedding inside the cave was overwhelming. Kitty’s body sighed with relief. The old man cleaned her wounded feet as he brewed some stew and rice over a fire.
Food! She hadn’t realized how hungry she was until she smelled the welcoming aroma of the stew. Kitty took the bowl from him. Digging into the stew with ravenous delight. It was a mix of meat and vegetables. There must be a good supply of food here!
Kitty bit into something hard. Spitting it into her open palm, Kitty was no longer hungry. It was a small crab-like pincer. Like that bug on the beach.
“W-What’s in the stew?” She asked. Holding down the contents of her stomach.
“Scorpion. What else would be in Scorpion stew?” The old man laughed.
back to Thriller