The older man was an almost mythical figure with all of his claims of bringing things back from the dead and the past. He had a gentle face with kind eyes and beard and hair white like a gentle snowfall in the hilltop of his forehead. He had retreated, the stories said, to an isolated island deep in the tropics. To some this reeked of some sort of twisted cliché of drunk aging writers going to die, of painters boating away from somewhere in Europe to paint local women and sleep in the sun between tropical showers in stinky shorts.
He had a compound. He had lots of food. He wanted people to come from the mainland. The call came in a series of at first cryptic then telemarketing cheesy emails. He made claims like a snake oil salesman selling hair tonics and magic pills. He used a lot of buzzwords. He challenged two scientists to come. They did. One brought his kids. The single scientist arrived in all black with shirt open revealing the hairless chest of a shaved rodent. He was arrogance in glasses and hair gel. The other scientist was apple pie sliced bread 50’s father archetype in a hat and knew this. His son was a precocious boy with a bowl cut. His daughter was a bit shy and wary of it all.
The compound was said to have magic, to have defeated time and death. The lush greenery was at once tropical and an almost physical portent of some sort of complexity to come. The jeeps were oddly decorated like it was a Disney theme park of death and ressurection meets Fantasy Island. The single scientist in his sweaty black shirt half expected roller coasters. The dad scientist suddenly had craving for cotton candy and waiting in long lines and had no idea why. The thoughts passed like errant ghosts, like fast low clouds in a tropical afternoon sky.
The cult leaderish older man had two assistants. One seemed to always have a cigarette hanging almost glued on his lower lip. His glasses never fogged in the humidity, almost the only miracle so far in the compound. He was a ball of nervous energy in a buttoned up shirt. The other was a rotund sweaty man who looked a lot like a character on an 80’s sitcom. He was one of those people who radiated disconnect and something haunting them like ghost to graveyard.
The tour of the compound the next day was of walls and towers and electric gates and heat. The sun was beating down on the absurd jeeps as they rode for miles across a redundant landscape of trees and overgrowth. Black shirt scientist found it all darkly amusing. Dad scientist enjoyed the break from work and the chance to see his female friend scientist who was smiles and big hair. She was to some his girlfriend but in the compound she was more his friend there also by odd email invitation. Dark shirt scientist was a chaos theory expert, something that soon would surely limit his job options but it sounded amazing in the time and matched his hair somehow.
Loud noises. Rumbling. Shaking.
Something was happening in the compound.
Rattling. Loud noises. Lizards ran fast to the south in the open field as the family relaxed in a tree. Something large was coming. Something was heading their way. Something seemed to sneeze in the daughter’s face. A tall ghost? She wanted to go home. Dad smiled like he did when he did not know what to say. This was often.
The rotund man was siphoning money from the compound. He knew there was something to sell about it all. Snake oil after all. No honor among thieves etc.. He headed out in a great rain and crashed his jeep. He fell down a hill. He already had contacted people off the island. It all soon would unravel with or without him.
He was death now here.
Scream. Panic. Something was attacking the compound.
The hanging cigarette man showed no emotion (or gravity with that tiny forest fire on his lip..). He knew something was deeply wrong. The old man assured all was well as any cult leader would…as the captain of a doomed ship would say as he saw his oversight was the iceberg.
The scientists and kids left. There was something here, sure..but it was not right. Maybe the sneeze was the dead back to life. Maybe the birds flew from the past brought back from some sort of dulled edge 20th century alchemy but it was like the chaos theory books littering the far off office desk of black shirt scientist guy…..irregular patterns….errant data..something within the quiet face of mathematics, science and a seed broken open at high temperature. The island would shrink away in the distance. Tbe old man was either a charlatan or what the snake oil salesmen of yore only daydreamed of…..the hand on the rod of nature bending it with his will.
The money making scheme was rotten inside . The rotund man tried to bleed this directly and in his greed and haste crashed. The old man had ghosts to haunt him now..of conscience be it from the dead or just the dishonesty of a corporation made on the shaky architecture of over-promising future and past.
He was the ghost again..all alone surrounded by the absurd garish jeeps and electric fence.