After the leap is the rough draft of the currently under development MI86 Volume 4, Operation Husky. This episode of MI 86 finds James and Rachael staring into the mouth of Hell as they attempt to enter a cave in Sicily near where Persephone was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld. That is more than enough set up for you.
This story and the preceding episode Operation Desert Oasis are due on Amazon Monday May 30, 2016. That is assuming Collin W. Buechler doesn’t pull a George R.R. Martin and eats a pack of bon bons instead of writing the last part of this episode. We love you George.
James and Rachael had been riding horses for two days solid as they attempted to blend in with the fleeing masses. The citizens of Sicily were making their way to the north as the Allied invasion was met by the combined force of the German and Italian occupation. The soldiers paid the two agents no attention as they slowly migrated away from the fight.
Separating from the refugees the two agents took a separate road that the locals avoided. The path as narrow and slicked with mud from days of ran that had happened the invasion since before it began. There was a constant sound of war just beyond the horizon as explosions echoed toward the center of the island. The path James and Rachael found themselves on was long since abandoned, and had the cafe owner not told them what to look for they oils have missed it outright.
Dense foliage obscured the path forward on several occasions and Left the agents wondering if they had lost the narrow mud path and were following a game trail instead.
“Are you certain Gunny?” Inquired Rachael after several hours of following the dirt trail.
“I am as certain as I can be,” answered the Marin Gunnery Sergeant.
“I just am not certain.”
James pulled a magnetic compass from his pants pocket and checked their bearing. “According to this we are still headed roars the center of the island.”
“He said it was not a very big glen, I would hate to stumble back into the fighting.”
“You and I both Rachael, you and I both,”
The pair of MI86 agents continued their path through the dense forest until the path opened up before them into a clearing that stretched nearly a mile across. Examine the clearing for signs German or Italian troops. The glen was empty with the exception of several dear frolicking.
“I think this is it,” stated James. His voice was calm and confident.
“It does seem to fit the bill doesn’t it.”
Stepping out of the wooded area and into the glen James stopped. The sounds of the war were silenced, the constant sound of fighting had ceased. The Marine stepped backwards into the woods. As he did so the explosions of the carnage just beyond the horizon resumed. He rocked back and forth as Rachael watched him with immense curiosity.
“What is it James?”
“It is very strange, but I am certain we have found hat we were looking for.”
“How can you be certain?”
James stepped back into the woods next to Rachael and smiled, “you hear the sound of the fighting.”
“Of course I do, it’s been the constant drumming of gunfire for two days.”
James pushed his companion forcibly into the glen. “How about now?”
“That is really weird.”
“You want weird, step back next to me,”
Rachael stepped back into the wooded tree line and laughed. James was glad the woman was laughing again. She had been extremely dour since Lance had gotten himself shot, and this as the first sign of the woman he had met in Iceland a lifetime ago. “Come on, let’s find this gateway to Hell we were promised is here.
“I find it hard to believe that such a place would exist in such a peaceful place.”
“You and I both Rachael.”
Deer frolicked. Butterflies fluttered. Even the bunnies hoped as though nothing was going on around them, and for all James could tell they were oblivious to the war. James wondered if the animals even noticed the two agents intruding on the area.
Despite the clear skies, and peaceful quite there was a sense of something quite evil in the glen. In the corner of the glen, where people did not want to look was a darkness that corrupted he place. It was undeniably evil, cloaked in the shadow of despair, dark and foreboding. It was exactly what James and Rachael were looking for.
“That is one dark cave,” stated James Dennesy as he stared into one of the blackest blacks he had seen.
“That it is,” answered Rachael. “I don’t suppose you brought a torch did you?”
“Always prepared Mam,” answered James as he pulled a small flashlight from his front pocket.
“Um, that pocket was too small for that torch.”
James smiled, “Turns out the Sampo does more than just tea and dried beef.”
“How long have you known that?”
Handing the light to Rachael the Marine pulled another from his pocket like a magician pulling a quarter from inside a small child’s ear. “Figured it out about a month ago towards the end of our trip to Egypt.”
“What else does it do?”
“I don’t know, but it refuses to make guns or munitions.”
“I wonder why?”
Rachael shone the light into the cave and found the cavern to be just as ominous lit than it was in utter blackness. James squinted his eyes, but even his enhanced vision could not see much more than ten foot beyond the cave’s entrance.
“You know what?” Inquired James.
“Duck butt?” answered Rachael with a question.
James smiled and politely laughed, “No. We are delaying going in there.”
Rachael looked into the cave, “You are very correct.”
“I wonder what is making us wait?”
“Pretty certain it is common sense, but there may be something thing to convince us to go someplace else.”
James looked at his female companion and tried to will himself to step into the cave. His feet nearly tripped over themselves as both refused to move. Falling to the ground the Marine wished he could blush. “That’s embarrassing.”
Rachael laughed loudly. So loud in fact that the distant deer and benign bunnies both looked away from the grass they were eating and turned their attention to the interlopers. “Yes it was,” Rachael attempted to step into the cave and found herself splayed on the ground next to James.
“You know this is some sort of magic right Gunny?”
“While I do not necessarily agree in the use of that word, I will not deny there is a force working against us.”
Standing up Rachael looked at the green grass of the peaceful glen and then back into the depressing darkness of the cave. “We have to go in don’t we?”
“I am afraid so Rachael,” responded James as he dusted himself off.
Removing a ridiculously large piece of dried beef from his pocket the Marine turned toward the cave. James took Rachael’s hand in his and stepped into the cave.
SCREECH! CH! CH! CH! CH! Whine!
The cave’s ambient noise tore at the two agents’ souls. The cavern had its own unique sounds that neither James nor Rachael had ever experienced. Those sounds are best described as the tortured cries of the universe as though celestial bodies were put through a meat grinder and turned into a fine grit. This was the sound that echoed through the cavern and filled Rachael and James with dread.
“Can we go back to the pleasant deer filled glen?” inquired Rachael. The woman turned her head and looked out the caves entrance at the field filled with a seemingly impossible number of bunnies and deer.
“What we are looking for lies ahead of us Rachael,” answered James.
SCREECH! CH! CH! CH! CH! Whine!
“Yeah,” sighed Rachael; “that’s what I was afraid you would say.”