Here we are folks, the final chapter! I’ll do a kind of epilogue piece to go with this chapter, and the novella overall, but for now, the story concludes!
He slowly turned his head to look down at Leddy and Sandy, not out of drama, but because it was the fastest he could move without large chunks of crispy skin falling to the floor. As he looked down on the, his eyes burned brighter than the flames outside.
“Arthur, what the hell happened to you?” asked Derek, picking himself up. Walking over to Arthur, he placed a hand on his arm. “Jeez, you look rough.”
Arthur let out a howling yell, loud enough to wake Fiona up from her deep slumber. Arthur glared at Derek, removed his hand and lowered it back to its original position. Then he noticed the box Derek was holding in the other hand. The lid was slightly open and inside, Derek could see small objects, shimmering quickly. Arthur felt as though they were his little babies, calling to him.
Grabbing the box and opening it, he plunged his hands through the diamonds, a jittering smile spreading across his lips. He didn’t care about the pain he felt as the sharp diamonds came into contact with his damaged skin. His smile, however, quickly faded away.
“Where’s the rest?” he asked, a greasy growl seeping into his voice.
“My boys have got them.” said Derek proudly, “We got at least six bags worth!”
He pointed to the other workers who held up their night’s work in equal pride, but Arthur remained unimpressed.
“Where’s the rest?” he asked again.
Derek looked bemused.
“Arthur, I’ve told you, it’s all here.”
Arthur merely pushed his way to the kitchen, sending the workers falling to the floor again, as did Doris and Sylvester. As he walked, Leddy noticed a slight twitch in his step and the flamed look in his eye turning into a look of uncontrollable rage.
Flinging doors open as he made his way down to the larder, Arthur walked with purpose along the damp and dark corridor that turned a sudden corner and eventually led into the washroom itself. The floor was covered in damp dirt and the walls, or what was left of them, were dripping wet Arthur scanned the walls hastily, almost oblivious to the small lumps of earth that would fall off every few seconds, letting more and more drops of water come snaking in.
He was also oblivious to the sound of footsteps coming down the corridor. Not even bothering to turn as Derek stood in the small doorway, he continued his assessment of the walls.
“Arthur, there’s nothing here! Now c’mon, let’s get back to the mansion.”
“We can’t.” said Arthur, dryly.
“Why not?” asked Derek.
“There is no mansion. There’s no empire, no more beautiful diamonds or sweet cocaine. Nothing, those brats destroyed my empire. But I won’t stop here.” He suddenly began tearing at the walls, huge chunks of earth crashing to the ground, bringing more water into the tiny room. “There’s more diamonds here, I know there are! There must be!”
Derek didn’t even try to stop him. Once he saw the water come pouring in, he made his escape. Arthur continued to pull the walls away, screaming as he did so. At last, the thin structures could take it no longer. As Arthur busily worked his way on one wall, the wall behind him finally caved in.
The river from the outside came pouring into the small washroom, the force sending Arthur sinking into the wall in front of him, which burst as well. At first, Arthur found himself swept along the corridor, but once he reached the sharp corner, he grabbed onto a small wooden beam that kept the upper levels where they were. But as his grip tightened, the beam broke and fell across him, sinking into the wall on the other side and trapping him there. The river, with its chunks of earth swimming along within, consumed Arthur within a second.
Back in the restaurant, as everyone listened intently to the low swishing sound from below, Derek came bursting through the kitchen door, grabbed snatched as many bags and boxes of diamonds as he could and made for the front door.
“Derek, what’s going on?” shouted Doris after him, but she got no reply.
In a flash, Derek was gone, but Sylvester peered into the kitchen as the swishing sounds grew louder and suddenly the larder door burst open, flooding the kitchen.
“Water, water, lots of it!” he cried and pointed feverishly to the coming river.
“Oh lord, c’mon!” Doris took Sylvester by the hand and ran outside, closely followed by the workers. As they ran, Leddy and Sandy tried to get Fiona back on her feet.
“Gary, go after them!” shouted Leddy.
“Don’t let ‘em escape!” called Doris to the workers, and they shut and locked the door as they ran into the night.
“Fiona, let’s go!” said Sandy, slapping her in the face as she moaned slightly.
Leddy bounced over to the kitchen door.
“The water’s filling up the kitchen, it’ll be in here in a minute!” he called.
“We’ll have to push her through the window.” Sandy began picking Fiona up.
“And run into the fire? Even if we turn the other way the river will catch us up!”
“We could go upstairs.” suggested Gary, calmly, seemingly blind to the danger. He walked over to a small door in the corner of the restaurant and opening it, revealed a flight of stairs. “I came across them before you guys came.”
“Well get moving then!” shouted Leddy, rushing back to Sandy and Fiona as the river quickly followed him. “The river’s catching up, c’mon!”
Taking a shoulder each, Leddy and Sandy helped Fiona across the room and up the stairs.
“Shut the door behind you!” Leddy ordered Sandy.
“Hmm, what’s going on?” murmured Fiona, “have we gone swimming or something?”
“We might have to if we don’t hurry!” Leddy quipped.
“Can you make it on your own?” asked Sandy caringly.
“She’ll have to.” answered Leddy, leaving the girls and joining Gary at the front. “Where does this go, Gary?”
“No idea. The state this place is in these stairs could end any second.”
“Oh, great!” rebuked Leddy.
“Why exactly are we running up these stairs?” asked Gary.
Leddy stared incredulously.
“We are running, Gary,” he began, sarcastically, “because I saw a great big hairy ugly sheep-monster, with six legs, four tails, two heads and a bazooka strapped to its belly!”
“It’s three actually, Leddy.”
“Billy’s got three heads. One of them is a kind of back-up head in case one of the other two gets a puncture or something.”
Down below, the river was rapidly filling the restaurant completely, but in the larder corridor, the wooden beam gave way fully, bringing more of the river from above the larder into the corridor. The river smashed through the kitchen door, bringing the wall of alcohol situated either side with it. Tearing through the bar, the added force gave the river a helping hand in escaping through the front door and into the outside, where Derek, having taken the van, was being pursued by Doris and Sylvester in the Rolls Royce.
As both vehicles revved along the empty country road, both drivers failed to notice the fire, almost running alongside them, as it spread its way towards the village.
“Faster, faster!” shouted Doris to Sylvester, slapping him on the back of the head. “We’re getting those diamonds one way or another!”
Inside the back of the van, the workers sat nervously. Noticing the panic-stricken Derek, he seemed to forget he had passengers with him and he simply drove wildly through the countryside, like a deer galloping away from a tiger.
So taken by fear was Derek that he failed to turn a corner in the road and drove straight through a field. Huge, round bales of haylage were littered all across the filed, so much so that Derek drove almost straight into one. He managed to swerve just in time, but his van hit the side of the bale, knocking out the headlights.
Now unable to see a thing, Derek simply drove even wilder and faster, so much so that as he stomped his foot on the accelerator, he felt a sharp crack emanate from beneath his foot. Removing his feet, he found that the van didn’t slow down. Fumbling in the dark with his other foot for the brake, Derek got his foot caught beneath the pedal. Before he could even attempt to remove his foot, the van went headfirst into a huge sheet of metal, sending Derek flying through the window and sprawling across the bonnet.
The Rolls Royce followed swiftly behind, its blinding headlights revealed the van had crashed into a barn. As Sylvester parked next to the van, Doris jumped out and ran to the back of the van, flinging the doors open. The workers lay in disarray, all moaning and groaning. Doris quickly left them and made her way to the front, where Derek laid, blood pouring all over his face and glass everywhere.
Peering in the cab, Doris found what she was looking for.
“Sylvester! Grab these and let’s get going!”
Sylvester did as he was told, whilst Doris chuckled heartily at the fallen Derek.
“So this is what happens when you decide to do a runner eh? Well, this is also the price you pay.”
“I-I just, hate, water.” spluttered Derek.
“Save it for the ambulance,” said Doris, waving a hand in Derek’s face and walking back towards the Rolls Royce, “although it will be interesting to see if you last tha…” but her voice trailed away in horror. The river had reached them. The moon calmly shone down on the water making each wave look like a runaway horse hell-bent on stampeding through anything that got in its way.
“Sylvester, get going!”
“Nearly there.” he answered cheerily.
“No, I mean we’ve got to go now!”
Doris climbed into the Rolls Royce and, starting it up, drove away with the passenger door open. Driving up to Sylvester, he casually turned to get in, but on seeing the river, dropped the bags and boxes he was holding and jumped in, with Doris speeding away. Her small stature was barely able to see above the steering wheel.
“Which way do I go?” she screamed.
“Go forwards!” answered Sylvester.
“I am going bloody forwards!” retorted Doris.
And with the river chasing them, they drove into the night, not knowing where they might arrive, and not knowing they had no diamonds with them, for Sylvester forgot all about them as the arguing carried its course.
While this was all occurring, the four friends were still scurrying up the staircase. It had changed from its initial shape of a few steps leading up and then turning a corner into a spiralling tower. Leddy looked down over the banister, and saw that the river was rising high. He also noticed Sandy, who had fallen to the back of the group, tripping and landing on her elbow, letting out a cry as she rested on the stairs. Leddy charged back down whilst Fiona and Gary looked behind.
“Keep going!” he barked. They did so, and Leddy knelt down to Sandy. “Are you okay?” he asked, his voice changing from that of a harsh, growling officer to a softer, caring nurse.
“Yeah fine, just my elbow,” said Sandy, holding it in her hand as she picked herself up. Looking down, she saw the river ascend with them up the stairs. “Oh God, we’re screwed aren’t we?” she said despairingly.
“No! No of course not,” Leddy held her close as he led the two of them back up the stairs, “just think of when this’ll all be over. We could go get some pie, and wash it down with some lovely ginger beer, the kind you like, not just the rough, sugary stuff I normally get.”
Sandy felt her face brush against Leddy’s as they climbed the stairs. While he talked she looked at him, complete adoration for him coming over her. She knew it would take a miracle to escape the situation they had found themselves in, but with his arms wrapped around her, she felt, somehow, safe, and hopeful, hopeful that this whole mess would soon be over. But really, when you think about it for a second, the mess is all Leddy’s fault in the first place. So it’s rather ironic that she should feel safe with him.
“Do you mind? I’m trying to have a reasonably peaceful moment here!” snapped Sandy.
“Who are you talking to?” asked Leddy.
“No-one.” retorted Sandy, sharply.
“We’ve made it guys!” called Gary from above.
As they ran, the walls had changed considerably from when they first started running. On the ground level, they were quite normal looking, but by the time they reached the top, much of the walls were crumbling away, some sections of wall even lacking in bricks, and only replaced by random wooden structures.
Reaching the top floor, Fiona and Gary stood either side of a short ladder that led through the roof. In a flash, the four of them stood on top of the restaurant, not realizing that years of decay had meant that the original concrete roof had been replaced by a poorly constructed wooden replacement.
On the roof, the four friends looked at each other in stunned silence, almost in shock that they had come all this way and now it seemed there was nothing more they could do.
“So… what now?” asked Fiona, her natural bite coming back into her voice.
“Now I, guess we just wait until the river calms down.” said Leddy, sitting down.
“Calm down? Didn’t you see what it was getting up to down there? It was chasing after us like we were rabbits!”
“Well all the doors and windows must’ve been burst open by now, it’s more likely to be spreading itself out rather than chasing us up here!”
Sandy looked out over the countryside. The pale moon lit up the village below in complete coldness. The flames had reached the first few houses on the outskirts by now, but the belly of the beast was still flaming away within the small valley, nestled deep in the middle of the village, where the mansion once stood.
Sandy drooped slowly to her knees; she spied her own house sleeping in the stillness of the village, some distance away from the flames which had begun to devour the houses. But then she noticed the flames that circled around those houses seemed to fade away gradually, and then she saw more nearby flames did the same. Looking down to the bottom of the restaurant, the pale moonlight showed the river had snaked away in all directions, even towards the village.
“Guys, look!” she pointed to the river as it slowly took control of the fire and eventually putting the flames out. The river then trickled towards the valley and began to pour in, taking the fire for itself. “The village is going to be okay!”
Down below, the river continued to break through every nook and cranny of the restaurant it could find. The roof however, was not the only structure that had been left to fade away with the years. Indeed, the river wouldn’t reach the top of the restaurant where the four friends were, the bottom half of the building was completely flooded. In the end, the weight of the river flowing through the bottom half and the river rummaging all through the underground levels, made the restaurant finally give into Mother Nature.
The ground level slowly sank into the depths of the earth, with the walls on higher levels crumbling even more so. The friends clung to each other and to the floor as they felt the whole building sway from side to side, gradually getting lower and lower. For every second when there was no swinging of building, there was only tension, and light breathing and pounding hearts.
The building moaned as if it were in so much pain. Over the edge, Leddy could see great ripples of waves being set off as the building shook fiercely, as if it was trying to remove the four friends who lay on its top. The more they clung to the woodwork, the more the building seemed to shake and moan, almost as if the tighter they gripped the floor, the more painful it was for the restaurant. Mountainous splashes of water shot through the air as more and more wall fell into the river.
Suddenly, as more and more of the back wall collapsed, the roof gave way one end, almost falling into the river, and nearly sending Gary sliding to a near watery grave. Fiona managed to grab hold of his cold yet sweaty palm just in time. Dragging him back up, Gary’s face had turned from its bemused grin to a shocking realisation.
“F-Fiona,” he stammered, “did that just actually happen?”
“Yeah it did!” she answered, “are you okay?” she drew him closer and put her arm around him, not caring about how strange she may have looked revealing her motherly side.
“So this is all real?” Gary asked incredulously.
“Of course it is!” she said, hugely tempted to smack him on the head, her motherly side disappearing completely.
“I thought we were playing pretend or something!”
Leddy and Sandy stretched out their arms to bring Gary and Fiona up to the top, but when they all joined hands, the building lurched forward before finally toppling into the river, face first. The roof came surging forward as the bricks fell into the water.
Hanging on as best they could, the four friends were left speechless as they followed the restaurant into the river. Leddy and Sandy both shut their eyes and hid in each other’s arms, while Fiona did the same with Gary, who simply watched in awe at what was happening around them all. At first, they felt themselves diving into the water, their heads becoming lost in the watery mess. Then they felt cold air hit them hard again as they bobbed back to the surface.
As they called to each other, asking each other if they were okay, their makeshift raft was swept along the river, the friends barely able to see where they were being taken. Soon, they felt the river becoming calmer, and they let each other go, falling onto their backs and sprawling across the raft.
Sandy picked herself up, still sitting down but propping her back up with her hands. She tried to speak, but began coughing up river water violently. Leddy, alarmed, began patting her on the back, strongly but not fiercely. After a while, the coughing stopped.
“That better?” he asked, worn-out.
“Yeah, thanks.” said Sandy gratefully, but equally worn-out.
Fiona looked at the two friends as they gazed at each other with relief and gladness in their eyes. She turned away, knowing there was still some spark between them. She looked up at some once fire-laden trees, now damp and leafless, but still managing to tower high into the sky, as if they were saying they had managed to survive the whole ordeal.
Fiona thought the same, and she slowly lowered herself back into the lying position. She felt worn-out like the others, but also slightly hung-over from the drinking and feeling a sharp pain on her face, as if someone had smashed something into it. She knew nothing of what had happened in the restaurant after she had passed out.
Closing her eyes, she felt the water coming up through the wood and gently slapping her in the face, as if the river was cooling her down. But before she could drift away, she felt a violent bump and then felt as if the raft was falling. Waking up with s start, the friends felt the river becoming choppy again and even picking up speed.
“Oh my God, look!” Fiona pointed ahead of them, where the valley lay, still blazing away fierce flames, and they were heading straight towards it.
The four friends turned to panic, looking around them to see if they could hold onto anything. The more they surged towards the flames, the less they looked about them, almost accepting the fact that soon, they would fall into their flaming grave, unless they managed to drown first. The raft moved slower and slower, only adding to the tension.
Sandy clung to Leddy, whilst Leddy placed a gentle hand on her head, covering it. He kissed her quietly as he felt her sobbing on his chest. Fiona wrapped her arms around Gary, placing her head on his shoulder, whilst Gary and Leddy looked on, fixated by the flames. The raft dangled over the edge of the hill that surrounded the burning valley, but before the group met their doom, two things happened.
A hideous, scratching sound, like the sound of razor-sharp nails on a blackboard, erupted from beneath the raft. The raft then ceased to move and the friends looked about them, in shock. Fiona plunged her arm into the river, feeling the ice-cold water wrap around her like a needle being driven into her skin, but discovered it barely went above her arm. In the water, she felt huge slabs of rocks and bricks, which also lay directly beneath the raft. Then, a great white light shone down on them from above.
“Oh Lord, please don’t take me away!” cried Gary. He moved to a kneeling position and clasped his hands, raising them towards the sky.
As the four friends looked up, a great whirling sound came from the skies, getting closer and closer. Leddy turned to Sandy, a huge smile spread across his lips.
“So,” he said, adopting a sly, cocky attitude, “shall we see if they’ve any pie on board?”
Leddy and Sandy sat on top of the sloping hill that looked over the village. The once almost invisible valley was now a gaping, burned out black hole, surrounded by newly flourishing woodland. Around the valley, their village lay battered and bruised, but accompanied by several moving machines and vehicles, as well as little figures in bright yellow hats, moving around like brightly coloured ants.
The warm summer sun in the far distance began to hide behind the clouds, turning them a hazy shade of pink that complimented the multitude of colours down below. The surrounding fields shared several colours, ranging from many different shades of green, yellow, and brown. But the village, with it’s alternately charred and washed out buildings, stood out from these colours, almost as if Mother Nature had come down on the work of man deliberately to teach him a lesson.
Between Leddy and Sandy lay a single slice of pie, resting on top of some cardboard packaging with its side torn away. Leddy, still staring at his village, placed his plastic fork into the slice, but felt another plastic fork blocking his way.
Turning to look, both Leddy and Sandy saw that both their forks had entered into the slice. Leddy drew his away immediately.
“You can have it.” he said, with a smile.
Sandy broke the slice in half and, forking once half, raised it towards Leddy’s mouth. He swallowed it gratefully, and she tucked into her half, both of them chuckling slightly as they chewed. Leddy lay back into the grass, stroking the back of Sandy’s hair as he did so. Feeling the soft, thick grass brush against his neck, Leddy noticed that Sandy’s precious golden hair seemed to blend in with the pink clouds that floated above the two of them. Her hair felt lush and silky, each single strand running lazily through his fingers.
Sandy soon joined him, feeling the grass tickle on her arms. She drew forth a deep sigh and rested her head on his warm, soft chest. Both of them closed their eyes and dozed in the summer air, the silence only broken by the far-away buzzing of machinery and the sleepy breathing of both Leddy and Sandy as they drew closer together.
It’s just a shame that most of the village are still cocaine addicts.
Nothing, nothing! You kids just relax in each other’s arms, because for you, all is well.