Somewhere in the Shallow Sea

Danny had only been on the island of Jolo less than an hour and he was already full of dread and despair. His only thoughts were for Blake’s condition. Had a rope been tied around his waist so that he couldn’t stray away, as if he were a farm animal? Danny wiped the sweat dripping on his forehead. Mindanao. The island’s name itself evoked mystery and fear. He wondered how a place featured on travel magazine covers, surrounded by fine sand, picturesque coconut trees and clear waters could also be infested with rebels and outlaws.

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The Improbable Theory of Ana & Zak

“Zak, what was that all about?” my mouth insists on saying.

“Just a guy,” he says, his voice squeaking nervously. “There was some unpleasantness at Con-viction last year.”

“Go on.” I really need my mouth to shut up soon.

Zak rubs the back of his neck. “Well…it was just one of those things, I guess. It was late, I went out to pick up some supplies, and Cyrax and some of his friends…they jumped me.”

We’ve walked in front of an empty table. I grab Duquette by the arm to stop him. “Are you kidding? Why?”

He shrugs, a hurt, embarrassed look on his face. “It’s hard to say with those guys. I was alone, weak. Took all my money, left me out of commission for a few days.”

I’m utterly horrified, both at the senseless attack and Zak’s blase way of talking about it. “Did you call the police? I can’t believe they even let him into this place!”

He won’t look at me. “What could they do? These things happen. At any rate, he’s never let me forget it. Every time I see him, he reminds me.” He hisses through his teeth. “Frack, just like it was yesterday, lying there on the road, too weak to get up, not even a potion of healing on me…”

I’m reaching out to give him a comforting squeeze of the hand when I realize what I’m hearing. “Duquette? When he beat you up…was it in a video game?”

“No, of course not.” He paused. “Dungeons and Dragons.”

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