Issue #28: The Beach Episode

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series The Descendants Vol 3: A Bright, Bright Summer

Part 3

This time it was real. Or at least Warrick really and truly hoped so. He didn’t recall nodding off but he probably wouldn’t remember if he did. It certainly felt real; none of those nagging thoughts were popping up like last time and Tink was remaining firmly flesh and blood.

Speaking of which, he found himself thinking as he pulled into an empty space overlooking the boardwalk and the beach beyond, he didn’t think he’d ever be so thankful to see a woman not in a bikini. Tink wore a red, sleeveless halter that looked more at home in a gym than a beach, and while she did have on a bikini bottom, it was mostly concealed by a gauzy, black wrap around that was arranged to expose one thigh. Part of him mourned the lack of the black bikini (literally) of his dreams, but the vast majority of his mind thought she was still beautiful, no matter what she wasn’t not wearing. A tiny minority quibbled over the double negative and completely missed the point.

“So, Dawson Bay,” Tink was looking excitedly out over the water. “It’s beautiful; so different than going to one of the lakes.” Her look became puzzled as she continued surveying the area. “But why aren’t there more people here? Granted, I’ve never been, but aren’t beaches in the summer usually a lot more crowded?”

“That’s the beauty of this place;” Warrick explained, picking up the brochure he’d downloaded from the bay’s website. Immediately, the ‘active ink’ technology imbedded therein came to life, displaying a fuzzy doppelganger to the view they were getting at the moment, along with the legend: ‘Dawson Bay: Come Start a Tradition’. “Its only been around for two years. No one’s heard about it.”

The bay was the former site of a naval yard and testing ground, long since removed to an artificial island several miles off the coast, or so said the pamphlet. Warrick let Tink take the high tech advertisement and thumb through using the navigation along the bottom.

“So what do we do first?” Warrick asked as they got out of the car. Tink was still reviewing the bay’s many supposed attractions as she slung her bag over one shoulder.

“I don’t know. A lot of this stuff costs and you’re still saving for your car…” The redhead said, still engrossed in what she was seeing.

“This is like our last big date before your classes eat you.” Warrick shrugged, “I’m willing to put up some cash for that.”

“But I’m not willing to let you.” she smiled back.

Warrick playfully raised an eyebrow. “And what if I want to do something that costs? Are you going to stop me then?”

Tink hid the brochure behind her back as proof against him peeking despite the fact that he’d certainly already been through it front to back. “Okay, what do you want to do?”

“You pick.” Warrick said in his best sly voice.

“That’s not going to work, bucko.” Tink laughed, “No tricking me into making you waste your car money.”

Warrick stuck his tongue out at her. “Fine. Paragliding.”

Tink gave him a disbelieving look. “Seriously? I wouldn’t have taken you as a guy that likes heights.”

“Like ‘em? I love ‘em.” Warrick recalled many happy days reaching the very tops of both New York and Mayfield. “It’s a New York thing, you can’t live around all those skyscrapers and skywalks without loving it. You’d go nuts.”

“I can’t say I’m really on board with trusting a boat to let us fly, but what the hell; let’s do it. And in the meantime…” She reached into her bag and produced what looked like an antique cellular phone; an eight by four inch brick, with its circuitry in the outside.

“What’s that?” He’d learned never to assume anything when it came to the things Tink cobbled together in her basement. His metal sense picked up several highly magnetic materials in addition to the circuitry, which made him all the more curious.

“A metal detector—my own special design of course.” Tink grinned. “After all, this place used to be a naval base, right?” Warrick snorted in spite of himself. A packrat was a packrat, no matter where you took her. Tink seemed to read his mind, “I promise I’ll only take an hour, tops. I swear.”

“It’s no problem with me.” Warrick shrugged. We’ve got hours of fun in the sun. And the moon. Your dad did say we only had to be back by one after all.”

Tink’s eyes flicked up at the sun, which wouldn’t be at its apogee for a while yet. “Right… the sun…” Her hand darted into her bag. “First thing’s first then; this Irish lass doesn’t want to burn up into haggis.”

A chill ran up Warrick’s spine and came face to face with a twinge of teenage excitement. It didn’t even know what hit it. A lifetime of movies and TV had trained him well and he knew exactly what was coming next. The question was how to approach it. She would, of course ask him to rub some on her back and he had to be careful not to make too big a deal of it. Still, it was kind of an intimate moment and…

Tink uncapped the lotion bottle, reached back—and spritzed a fine mist of sunblock on her own back, before going on to do the same to the rest of her exposed skin. If one could listen very closely, they could probably have heard the tragic derailing of Warrick’s train of thought.

Oblivious to Warrick’s inner turmoil, Tink offered the bottle to him. “Want some? This stuff is way easier to put on than the other.”

“Y-yeah, thanks.” Warrick said, accepting the container. The label read ‘SpraeBlock – No Hassle Sun Screen’. He wondered what TV shows the people at SpraeBlock had been watching while he was applying the thin spray to himself. The bottle disappeared back into Tink’s bag and she led the way down the incline to the boardwalk.

“So we know what each of us wants to do,” Tink turned to face him at the bottom of the ramp, fingers interlaced behind her head, “And plenty of time to do it! What do you want to do first?”

***

A sound roused Ian from a deep, comfortable sleep. Even before he opened his eyes, he could tell that he wasn’t in his room, as he could feel the sun on his face. His room at Freeland House was arranged in such a way that the sun never reached that far.

Opening his eyes, the view of a fancy looking chandelier told him that this was indeed not his beautiful house. But upon turning his head to the side, he did see his beautiful girlfriend. She was sitting at a table, hunched over her computer. The sound of her typing had been the noise that awakened him.

Now he remembered; they had gone out to dinner the night before and on a lark, he’d suggested they get a jump on their private weekend. Surprisingly, Alexis had agreed. Ian smiled to himself, praising his persuasiveness. It had been a good night.

Alexis wasn’t so engrossed in whatever she was doing to miss him staring at her. “Good morning, handsome.”

“It’s really still morning? We were up pretty late last night.” Ian grinned sleepily.

“It’s before noon at least; half gone eleven.” Alexis laughed musically. The vacation was doing the trick already, he saw. Of course, there was the matter of what she was doing on the computer…

“There’s an eleven in the morning now?” He joked, swinging his legs out of bed.

“Also a ten.” Alexis replied.

“You’ve been up since then?”

“I didn’t want to wake you.”

“So what’re you working on?” Ian asked, rubbing sleep from his eyes.

Alexis glanced nervously at the computer. “Yeah, well…”

“Alexis…” Ian chided, getting up with all the grace of a newborn colt. “You promised both me and Laurel you wouldn’t do any work this weekend.” He put his arms around her from behind and planted a light kiss on her cheek. “Come on, you know Laurel will be able to sort all of this out; she’s never promised something she can’t deliver. Meanwhile, you and I have waves and sand calling our names.”

Saving her work, Alexis reluctantly closed the computer and took Ian’s arms in her own. “When did you get so persuasive?”

“I’ve always been persuasive.” Ian joked, “You’re usually just hard headed.”

“I just can’t stop thinking about everything. Do you think the kids will be okay?”

With a sigh, Ian disengaged from their embrace. “Positive.” He said sullenly. “Warrick’s on his big date with Tina, Melissa is doing some film festival thing with that chunky boy she’s been hanging out with, and Jun and Cyn are doing the beach thing with the usual suspects. Any danger they’ll get into this weekend will be teenaged danger, not superhero danger.”

Alexis grabbed his arm and draped it over her shoulder. “You’re probably right. I just don’t like us all being so separated like this.”

Ian snorted and hugged her. “Honey, all things considered, it’s probably a very good thing that they’re apart right now. Trust me.”

She craned her neck to smile at him upside down. “I trust you. And I promise to lighten up, okay?”

“Okay.” Ian planted an inverted kiss on her forehead. “So, how do we start the day? I’m thinking drop a little money at the casino, then some sun and surf? I saw a board rental place when we were driving in last night.”

That made Alexis scoff. “Like you’re going to surf. Remember senior trip in Miami?”

“Things are different now.” Ian sniffed, “For example, I know how to swim. And I don’t have to impress you anymore. At least I hope not.”

“You were doing that to impress me?” Alexis gave him a disbelieving look. “You almost got yourself killed!”

“But I did get mouth to mouth from a hot lifeguard.”

Alexis cracked a grin and playfully swatted him in the arm. “She used a resuscitation machine.”

“The kiss of life is the kiss of life.”

***

“Cool, a penny arcade with vintage 2050’s games.” Tink’s eyes flitted from machine to machine as she and Warrick stepped out of the sun and into the retro gaming den’s gaudy sea of flashing lights.

“I don’t get why they still call them ‘penny arcades’ when they cost two bucks even back then.” Warrick mused, eyeing an original Alien Puncher Virtual cabinet in the corner. “Holy crap, Alien Puncher!”

Alien Puncher?” Tink found herself suddenly being dragged toward it.

“It’s the great granddaddy of free motion capture games.” Warrick said, entranced. “Before that, you had to buy and wear a fully capture suit to play one of these things. But not Alien Puncher.”

“I don’t see the big deal.” Tink frowned, “There’s more involved MC games at the Dungeon and… well it looks kind of cheesy.”

Warrick produced a fist full of tokens from his pockets. “I played it once at a con in Jersey; it’s the most fun thing you can ever play. It’s like Deathgate and Overpowered III had a baby and that baby was born playing electric guitar and wearing a Viking helmet.”

“I’m going to give it a try…” Tink said slowly, “but you are the guy that spent fifty dollars playing a ballroom dancing machine.”

“Hey, that was just for the dance!” Warrick protested. “I mean to learn to dance!”

“Still, fifty bucks.” Tink teased.

Warrick stepped up onto the scanner platform. “Seriously, my explaining it doesn’t do it justice. Just check it out.” He put a few tokens into the slot and it suddenly hummed to life.

The air around them wavered as the extremely primitive holography powered up, producing a star field and a gigantic flying saucer which they seemed to be panning toward.

“In twenty-seventy, aliens came.” An all too serious voice declared as the two teens passed by the saucer to find Earth beyond it, surrounded by saucers.

“Kind of dated.” Tink snarked.

“They were the Brutonians: an ancient race of warriors who scour the Universe for the best fighters. Their declaration was simple: Only the strong will be allowed to live. And the strongest should rule. Earth’s scientists realized that there was one hope: defeat the Brutonian leaders in hand to hand combat, rule the Brutonians and declare Earth free. You –“The voice cut oddly for a single word, “TWO—have been chosen. Go forth, confront the aliens and punch them!”

“That was so chees— whoa!” Tink threw herself down as a big, blue fist came at her from the right.

“Combat one!” The announcer’s voice said, “Fight!”

“I think the recording is out of synch.” Warrick offered, dodging another blow from the digital Brutonian and offering Tink a hand up.

She looked past him with a death glare aimed at the holographic monster. “You bastard.” She snarled, lashing out with a kick to the thing’s knee. A split second later, the Brutonian recoiled as if struck and hobbled backward.

“Uh… yeah!” Warrick said, rounding on the thing. “You bastard!” He delivered an uppercut that dazed the thing and looked over into Tink’s smiling face. They nodded to one another and delivered their next blows simultaneously to the alien’s chest, sending it reeling. When it reached the edge of the hologram, it gave a delayed scream before dissolving into nothingness.

“Combat one! Clear!” the announcer said after several seconds of silence. “Loading combat two. Please wait.”

“Okay, I’ll admit that was pretty cool.” Tink said.

“That was just level one.” Warrick grinned, putting up his dukes for the next assault.

“I still don’t get why they call ‘em penny arcades. Who uses pennies?”

Warrick froze in place. He knew that voice, but there was no way he could be here. No one knew where he and Tink were going; he’d made sure of that and for some reason, Cyn had made doubly sure…

“Aren’t we supposed to be looking for sunscreen?” Another very familiar voice asked.

“Warrick,” Tink said, oblivious to what was going on outside the game, “I think it’s about to start.”

“Hey, is that a—no way, is that you, Kaine?”

Crap.

Warrick wasn’t surprised at all that the moment was punctuated by a big, blue fist streaking toward his face.

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Landon Porter is the author of The Descendants and Rune Breaker. Follow him on Twitter @ParadoxOmni or sign up for his newsletter.

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