52. Son of the Phantom, Part VIII   4 comments

Meanwhile in Space…

Episode 52: Son of the Phantom, Part VIII: Stepping Stone

Sundance quickly looked behind him to see if there was any way he could jump back into the tunnel. He could do that, but he would have to jump further onto the next available stone; he might not clear it. He quickly gauged how far the next stone was. It looked like it was five feet away. He wasn’t 100% sure he could do it, but he didn’t have much time to debate it. The stone he was standing on was sinking fast. He could feel the heat of the lava seeping into his boots.

Sundance wasn’t a praying man, but just this once he prayed to whatever higher powers that be that might be watching over him. He took a deep, hot breath and leaped across the gap. He wanted to close his eyes, but he needed to keep his eyes on the target. While he was in the air, he felt the immense heat rise up to meet him. He wondered if he would float away with the amount of hot air being generated.

His feet safely touched ground on the large stone. Sundance quickly regained his balance and immediately started looking for the next available stone. He spotted one six feet diagonally to his right. It took him further away from the other tunnel than he liked, but he didn’t have much of a choice. He made the leap just as the stone he was standing on sunk into the lava.

Sundance landed safely on the third stone. It immediately started to sink. He was growing tired of this. He would have given anything in the universe to be done with it. His life being on the brink of extinction every few seconds was tough on the heart and mind. Instead of continuing to harp on the idea, he pushed forward. He saw another stone to his right that would take him further away from the tunnel entrance. He wondered if Laertes had planned it this way.

Sundance saw that there weren’t any stones to his left that he could feasibly get to without falling into the lava. He rolled his eyes and growled as he made the leap from his stone to the one further away. This brought him close to the rocky wall on the other side of the chasm. He looked at it and knew instantly what he would have to do next if he wanted to stay alive.

He flexed his fingers and hoped that they were up to the challenge that laid before them. He jumped from the sinking stone and clung to the wall. He looked behind him and watched the stone sink into the lava. For a moment, he wondered just how the stones remained intact despite being in a river of lava, but then he silently cursed the Massi People and their stupid traps.

Sundance could feel his fingers slipping from the jagged, rocky wall. There weren’t a lot of places to grip. The holds were shallow; it would be difficult to get a good handful of rock. He cursed some more as he strengthened his hold on the wall.

He looked to his left and saw the tunnel entrance. It looked to be about three yards away. This was not going to be fun. He searched for a great spot to set his left foot. When he found it, he shifted his body weight over to make the slide over. His fingers were working hard to keep him grounded to the face of the wall. He could feel the muscles in his arm straining. When he was all situated, he did it all over again. He kept his eyes on the entrance. He scouted out footholds and hand grips carefully. A foothold crumbled beneath his right foot and threatened to send him into the lava below. He quickly found another foothold that was sturdier.

Sundance continued in this fashion for the entire nine feet. The lava seemed to reach up for him, offering to catch him if he fell. He was only too happy to disappoint. He jumped from the wall into the tunnel entrance. He was never happier to have solid ground beneath his feet. He flexed his toes inside his boot to truly appreciate the moment.

He stared down the end of the tunnel and couldn’t see anything. He pulled out his flashlight and shined it down towards the end. He saw that it curved to the right at the end. He hoped that Timmy was at the other end of that curve.

After all of the effort it took him to leap from one stone to another and then go rock climbing, he barely had the energy to run down the tunnel. He pathetically shuffled along with all of his might.

He reached the curve. As he placed his back to the left wall, he whipped out his laser pistol and aimed it towards the dark turn. With his flashlight and laser pistol out in front, he cautiously took the turn and prepared for anything. He shined the light all over the tunnel, making sure that there weren’t any more nasty surprises. There weren’t any visible traps, but the best ones never were.

“Captain?” Timmy’s voice was barely audible, a child’s whisper.

The sound of his voice was the energy boost Sundance needed. He straightened his posture and proceeded down the tunnel with the ease of a new recruit. “Timmy?”


Sundance checked his laser pistol and debated whether it really needed to be set to ‘KILL’. He knew this was indeed a trap, just not engineered by the Massi People. He knew that it wasn’t really Timmy talking. Laertes was playing games with his mind. Sundance knew that he expected him to coming running head first at the sound of Timmy’s voice, but he knew better. Not this time.

He looked at his pistol again. Was he really willing to kill Timmy just to get at Laertes? Would Timmy rather be dead than to be controlled by the Phantom Commander? He wasn’t sure if he was ready for life without Timmy. Against his better judgment, he set his pistol to ‘STUN’. He took a deep breath and headed down the tunnel.

It finally opened up to a large sized cavern. It was bathed in green and purple light with no indication where the source was. There were boulders strewn about the area. In the center of the cave was a stone pedestal that was about five feet tall. Above it floated a clear vial with an even clearer liquid inside. The Vial of Eternal Life.

Sundance was surprised to see it still floating there. Laertes hadn’t drunken it yet.

“Well, there’s just no stopping the intrepid Captain Sundance Starmont.” Timmy stepped out of the shadows just behind the pedestal. There was a wicked smile on his face, darkening it. “I thought you would have melted out there, skin dripping off your body. I suppose we all can’t get what we want.”

“Laertes,” Sundance said, putting his flashlight away. “You need to let go of Timmy. Stop what you’re doing now!” He aimed his laser pistol at Timmy. “He didn’t do anything wrong. He has nothing to do with this.”

“HE HAS EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THIS!” The Phantom Commander shouted. “I’ve been watching you, Sunny. I’ve been watching you ever since the accident. How quickly you dismissed me. You replaced me with this… You didn’t even try to find me!”

“Find you?” Sundance’s voice cracked as he tried to keep the emotion from coming through. “Larry, I watched you atomize before my very eyes! I thought you were dead. There was NOTHING to find! I mourned you for a year! Isn’t that enough?”

“NO!” Timmy’s eyes glared at him with every ounce of hatred the Commander could muster. “But I can forgive you. When I drink this, I will be bonded with your precious Timmy forever. Then we can pick up where we left off!”

“Leave Timmy,” Sundance commanded. The Commander challenged with a grin.

Sundance looked up at the vial and wondered why Laertes hadn’t drank from it yet. Was it a trick? The sick bastard was probably waiting for him just to see the look on his face. He didn’t know, but he wasn’t going to let him drink it now. He aimed his pistol at it. “I hope you weren’t thirsty.”

“I wouldn’t do that if you.” The Commander tore Timmy’s shirt off to reveal that his torso was completely covered in green and black bruises. Smoke was sneaking out of the centers of the bruises, sizzling hot. “This body is dying. If I leave Timmy, then he’ll die. The only thing that can save him is the Vial. So, what will it be, Sunny?”


Posted September 12, 2011 by Xanto P. Jones in Flash Fiction

4 responses to “52. Son of the Phantom, Part VIII

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  1. I’m reminded of Batman grieving over the death of the second Robin Jason Todd here. Our engagement with characters is so much more immediate (as in this episode) because not only does the external conflict spur the story along but Sundance’s internal conflict bring a touch of gravitas into the mix.

  2. Oh no, What will Sundance do? He has to save Timmy, but how? bites nails and waits for next episode…^__^

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