“Mr Antfarm, I presume…” came the deep, rich voice from behind. I whirled round to find myself staring into the face of Dr Jeremiah Mason, his impressive moustache sitting proudly atop a wide, wolfish grin. “I’m sorry to have startled you…”
“Startled me!” I hissed, “you damn near stopped my heart creeping up on me like that.”
Again, a mischievous smirk, “Come, let us get away from that thing and discuss our options.”
We trekked back along the path I had cut until, slowly, bit by bit, I felt the terror that had all but engulfed me as I gazed at the Leviathan subside to nothing. “We should camp here tonight,” Jeremiah said, “and discuss how we are to destroy that thing and seal that accursed portal once and for all.”
I unpacked my tent, Mason did likewise and soon we were sat around a flickering fire sipping tea. Mason the elder was a tall well built man whose youthful skin fitted tightly across noble bones. A little too tightly perhaps for he looked more in his early thirties than in his late fifties. His clothes, elegant Edwardian or Victorian in style, surrounded a well built frame and I had no doubt this was a man whom it would be advisable to have on one’s side in a scrap rather than find one’s self opposing. I handed over some of the food I had brought and he ate slowly as I told him more of my part in all this.
“I assumed it was a fake, you know,” I said, “Even when I sent it to your son’s lab I thought he’d return it as a clever hoax. So I was perturbed to say the least when Sally brought your telegram to me.”
“Yes,” he said “I’ve been meaning ask you about that. A crab?”
“Well yes. Your son has his dolls, I have my animals. And Sally is a good worker you know,” I replied. “I just hope she remembers to wait.”
“Wait? Wait for what?”
“To launch the nuke,” I said.
The look of horror on his face chilled me to the bone. “You have an atomic weapon? Aimed at this island? At that temple?”
“Erm,” was I could muster.
“Are you insane?” he shouted “Do you know what that much energy could do to that portal? What you could unleash?”
“I’m going to say ‘no’” I replied, “And I’m guessing you are not thinking ‘total destruction’.”
“Too right I’m not!” he spluttered. “You risk feeding the incursion, allowing it to draw the energy in and widen, maybe even open, the portal fully and then the Devil alone knows what is waiting to come through! You can’t just go throwing atomic weapons around like confetti man!”
“Well technically it’s a hydrogen bomb…” His face was pure thunder and I felt this was no time for pedantry. “Look, it’s ok. She has instructions not to launch for another day and a half. We can have that thing blown up tomorrow and be home long before she thinks to tap in the go codes. In fact, I can teleport over right now and tell her to stand down, if that will make you feel better.”
“I very much doubt you can,” he said quietly.
“Teleport. Have you tried? Or flying?”
I thought about it and realised I hadn’t. I also realised that despite trying, I couldn’t. I was gravity bound and cut off from third-space travel.
“The temple?” I guessed.
“More likely the Leviathan,” Mason corrected. “It has this jungle cut off. Things can get in, but I doubt very much they ever get out.”
It was my turn to look horrified “And you never thought to inform me of that fact before you had me come here?”
“Honestly? No,” he replied with a face tailor-made for poker.
“Well, we still have a day and a half to get back, destroy it and get the hell back to my island before Sally presses the big red button. Hopefully once the Leviathan is done for we’ll be able to teleport away, but if not then I don’t think we are far from my island and I know where I can find a canoe. We should be ok.”
“Hmmm, alright. That will have to do. What did you bring for the job?”
“I think we might need more than that,” Mason said.
“Don’t worry, I have as much as we need in here,” nodding at the small pack.
“In there? How?”
“That’s a long story, but rest assured we have all the explosives we need. As long as you don’t feel that will open the portal, of course.”
“Well there is a small risk, but the power needed to seal the Leviathan back in the earth should be tiny compared to that needed to open the portal.”
“Should be?” I echoed.
“Yes, well it is difficult to be exact with a unique event you know,” Mason replied sniffily.
“And what if you are wrong and the dynamite doesn’t seal it?”
“Well, as you say you can get as much dynamite as we need, I think it will be a case if increasing the dose until the patient is cured, no?”
“And what if that opens the portal instead?”
“In all honesty, if that should happen we will be insane and dead long before we have to worry about it. But I think that is something we should avoid, don’t you?” he smiled his wolfish smile, reached inside his jacket and withdrew two cigars. “Cuban…” he said, holding one out to me.
“Mmm, thank you,” I beamed taking the cigar and sniffing along its length before biting off the end and lighting it in the fire. I looked across at the Doctor “So. Care to tell me just what the hell that thing is out there and why we have to blow seven shades of tar out of it?”
To be continued…