Friday, January 30, 2009

The Friday Challenge

For the Friday Challenge:

Cote sat in the passenger seat, ahead of his pilot brother Cliff. He strained his eyes through his oil covered goggles, coughing at the acrid taste of smoke and oil.

The engine coughed its last, and there was only the roar of the wind. Then there was a small explosion, and flames streamed back over the engine cowling, threatening to roast him alive.

He turned around, screaming, "Watch out Cliff, you are going to hit the barn!"

Cliff's seat was empty.

"Oh shit" muttered Cote.

Beth Key glared at Doctor Darkness. "I could never be happy with the likes of you!"

"Why not?" he smiled. "I'm just as handsome as Cliff, and almost as wealthy."

"You are an evil pig!" she cried, as she looked back to the barn.

Cote lept from the plane, and pulled his ripcord. Nothing happened. He clawed at his oily goggles, but he couldn't see anything.

He fought the urge to scream. "I'll die with dignity" he thought to himself.
He finally got his goggles off just as he glanced off the top of a large haystack. The hay scratched his face as he flew over a fence and landed in a large pile of manure.

"Oh shit" he moaned as the acrid taste of smoke and oil was replaced with something far worse.


Cliff's parachute had opened 25 feet about the ground, and the rigging caught in a tree. His forward momentum slowed as the 'chute tore and the branches broke. The 'chute tore free and he landed on his feet at a jog. "Just like I practiced" He thought to himself. As he ran, he looked down at the the wet stain that began at his crotch and spread down each pant leg. "

"I can't let anybody see that", he said to himself. He came to a barbed wire fence, leaping over it easily. He ran along the edge of a farm pond, stopping long enough to wet himself down to hide the fact that he had wet his pants. He looked at column of smoke rising a short distance away and shivered, and then turned and slowly walked away.

Cote sat next to the water trough. He had a horrible headache. He was sure he had broken a couple of ribs in the fall. He was wracked with pain as he vomited one last time.

"I'll kill Cliff for sure this time" he swore, wiping his mouth.

"I need to find Beth" he thought. He didn't know what the dim witted dame saw in his brother, but he couldn't leave her with someone like Doctor Darkness.


Cliff had heard the sound of Doctor Darkness's planes in the distance. He decided it was time to get out of the open. He spotted treetops over a small rise in the ground. "I better get under the trees." he thought, turning towards them. He froze as he topped the rise. Between him and the trees was a road. Between him and the road was a fence. Between him and the fence was a herd of cattle. One by one, they picked up their heads to stare at him.


"He's dead you know." Said Doctor Darkness.

Beth just looked blankly at him.

He smiled slightly, when he noticed there were no tears on her cheeks. Then he turned to watch his minions as they piloted their airplanes above.

"You will see things my way" he said.

The sound of the planes returning interrupted Cote's thoughts. He peered around the haystack and watched the formation approaching. As he watched two objects fell from the lead aircraft's wings. The objects whistled slightly as they flew over his head towards the wreckage of the plane and the burning barn.

He was knocked off his feet as twin explosions rocked the ground. Debris and large pieces of lumber rained down on him. A large burning board landed on his back. He jumped up and dove back into the water trough.

Cliff had stood nervously for a few seconds, looking at the cattle ahead, hearing the planes getting louder behind. He decided he'd go around. He relaxed a little when the cattle resumed feeding as he skirted the herd.

And then, he heard the explosions.


Beth Key looked at clouds of smoke as the planes wheeled away.

"I guess you're right", she said. "He was a fool anyway."

Doctor Darkness grinned. "I knew you never really cared for him."

"How did you know?" she asked.

"I am an evil genius." he said simply.

"There would be many benefits to being with me. You will be able to scoop all the crime stories for your newspaper. I can make you the editor before long. I am going places, and I can take you with me" he declared.

Beth looking into his eyes. "I love a powerful man, Doctor....."

"Call me Bruce," said Doctor Darkness.


Cote got out of the water trough, and promptly stepped on a board. He howled as a protruding nail penetrated deeply into his foot. Grimacing, he pulled himself free and limped away from the barn. He saw a farmhouse a ways off. A black car was parked in the farmyard, a man and a woman were getting in.

"If I can make it to the end of the driveway I can cut them off!" Cote thought as he quickened his stumbling pace, slipping into a corn field.

"Lets find a restaurant" said Beth, "I am famished."

"Of course, we can't be seen together," Doctor Darkness said. "We will go to my lair."

"I am a virtuous woman!" she said, "surely you cannot be so forward!"

There was a short silence, and then they both laughed.

Suddenly, Bruce slammed on the brakes, and the car skidded to a halt. In the road ahead, a man had stepped out from behind a tractor. At least she thought it was a man. He stood there in tattered, filthy clothes, watery blood dripping from him. It was Cote, she realized.

"Doctor Darkness, I cannot let you take her" Cote called.

"His name is Bruce." Beth Key said. "and I want to go with him."

Cote blinked in disbelief.

Doctor Darkness got out of the car, holding a pistol that he had produced from somewhere. Seeming to think better of it, he put the pistol away and retrieved a tire iron.

"You might not want to watch this." He said to Beth. He pointed to to a tire swing, hanging from a rope in a nearby tree. "I am going to hang Cote Hangar once and for all!"

He stepped forward, brandishing the tire iron.

Beth Key lay down across the front seat, not wanting to watch the coming violence.

Cliff saw the cattle start when the explosions rocked the barn. He ran, hearing the thunder of hooves. Soon though, he noticed the sound was getting fainter. He slowed, looking back. The cattle were running the other way. He stopped to catch his breath. He couldn't believe his luck.

Cote readied himself. He knew that in his condition he wouldn't be able to put up much of a fight.

"Oh shit" he thought to himself as Doctor Darkness slowly closed the distance.

Over the sound of the retreating cattle, Cliff heard another sound. The aeroplanes! Horrified, he watched as the cattle turned, running from the low flying craft. Now they were coming towards him!

He ran, screaming, towards the fence.

"I've waited years for this." Doctor Darkness said.

Cote merely waited.

But then the ground began to shake again, slowly increasing in volume.

They turned towards the sound. Something was coming from the other side of the corn field.

And there was another sound, a piercing shriek, barely heard over the approaching thunder.

Cliff dove over the fence, scrambling into a corn field. As he plowed through the stalks, heard the cattle crashing through the fence behind him. He stumbled as he exited the corn field and ran smack into a tractor, his head head hitting the steel frame. He crumpled in a heap underneath it.

Cote and Dr. Darkness didn't have time to be surprised by Cliff's entrance as the cattle erupted out of the corn. Cote tried to dive behind the car, but Dr. Darkness hit him in the knee with the tire iron. Cote lay next to the front tire as the cattle roared past. Only four or five trampled on his exposed legs.

Cliff awoke with a start. The cows were gone. He got to his feet. Barely discernible with all the dust covering him, there was a man lying in the road. He was obviously dead. Beth was sitting in the car. She was looking at the dead man with an unhappy expression, and then she saw him.

"Cliff!" she cried "I knew you'd save me."

"Of course." he said getting into the drivers seat. "Why would you think differently?"

They didn't hear the moan as he started the car.

There was a lurch as the car ran over something. Cliff piloted the car around the body in the road.
Some say that a villain was defeated by a hero that day, but one man knew better. Two months later, the Denver Sentinel reported that Cliff Hanger and Beth Key were murdered. One villain was destroyed, but one much more diabolical was created. It is unknown how many women bled to death in back alleys because of the twisted Cote Hanger. This story should serve as a warning: Those who take credit are not always the hero. Perhaps there is a little bit of Doctor Darkness in us all.

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