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5 April, 2008
Jeremiah dumped a bag of cement into the mixer. Dust outlined his muscles and grayed his curly hair. He shook his bare torso and leaned into the cool ocean breeze. He wanted to grab his surfboard and jump into the clear blue water of the Pacific.
"I hate crap sticking to my skin."
"Quit complaining. You know the deal -- play statue for a day and get a month-long vacation in paradise," Isaiah said, rotating the mixer.
"Paradise? Something about sleeping next to Kilauea spoils paradise. It rumbled all last night." Jeremiah turned around. Paul, their host stood behind him.
"Pele walks among us. I hope you gave thanks when she passed, young man," Paul said.
"The stewardess said that Pele the fire goddess lives in the volcano and gets hungry for pork roast. She said a man driving home from a pig roast one night, felt the presence of a woman in his car. He almost wrecked the car but nothing was there. But when he got home, the leftover pork roast was missing." Jeremiah giggled. "I'd give you even money that he made up the story about the missing meat so his wife wouldn't know he porked his mistress. But Pele knew ... , she smelled tuna on the man's pork sausage," Jeremiah giggled.
"Aw come on Jeremiah, grow up. The man is paying us for being beach bums. This is so much better than rainy, old Seattle. Nothing comes for nothing." Isaiah scowled. He added water to the mixer.
"I'll give Pele her due any day. I didn't think I'd have to mix the cement."
"Jerk, neither the volcano nor Pele bothers me. Second-degree sunburn and dehydration do." Isaiah ran a hand through his buzz cut. Dirt and sunblock crusted his scorched red body. Paul stood in contrast to the two boys -- dark skinned, hairy-chested, mostly Hawaiian, part-Spaniard.
"You'll tan. Just apply sunblock and that green aloe stuff and you're guaranteed against raisination," Paul answered. He poured a bag of fibrous material into the mixer.
"Um, what's that stuff?" Isaiah asked.
"Um, Tyvek fibers. Um, like re-bar Bro. Keep the cement from breaking when you breathe. It let's the cement flex up to three-thirty-seconds of an inch movement before cracking."
"Um good, I didn't want to come alive in the middle of the night. Might scare your guests."
"Um isn't a word, yanno. So living statues don't go with roasted pig?" Jeremiah said. He stacked the empty bags in the truck.
"Been there, done that. Last fall, we rigged the lava tubes with red flares and the statues walked. Half the guests walked out. The other half nearly threw me in the volcano. Worst beach party I ever threw." Paul checked the consistency of the mix. "This sun is hot. The cement's will dry out fast and hold you still. You guys can handle it."
Isaiah rubbed the sweat from his head and shoulders. He rotated the blender and locked it in place. Jeremiah pulled a tray holding their plinth beneath the spout. The boys stepped onto the concrete bases that served as plinths. Jeremiah tightened the metal straps over his feet. The straps insured that they wouldn't fall over if anyone bumped them. Paul went over to his truck and assembled a sprayer. When he turned back to face the two, he laughed out loud.
"The original Hawaiians didn't wear basketball shorts," Paul pulled a knife from his trunks and handed it to Jeremiah. A few slices and the boys stood naked.
"Plump your muscles up a bit while I spray you with easy-release."
"I don't want no sunburnt willy." Isaiah rubbed his hand over his bare body.
"You best be careful, redheads like you were considered children of Pele by my ancestors. My grandfather told me that the first redhead to the Islands was treated as a king for a year and at the end of the year, he loved the islands so much that he married Pele. Grandpa said the redhead came to believe that he was under Pele's protection. To prove it, he walked into the caldera and became a creature of lava. At night he throws her jewels to the stars." Paul winked at Isaiah.
"He probably sailed away on the next boat. Either that or the natives threw him into the lava and created the story to cover the dirty deed. I'd rather sacrifice my pork chops than walk on lava," Jeremiah teased and glanced up at the volcano. Isaiah shrugged his shoulders. Paul laughed and pointed at Isaiah.
"And blondes like you were worshipped as children of the sun."
"I'll bet your Grandma told you of a man who walked on the sun, huh?" Isaiah jibed back.
"Speaking of hot, how we going to stay warm tonight?" Jeremiah asked.
"I'll slide you next to the imu. That will keep you warm. Now close your mouths and eyes while I spray you." Paul pumped up the sprayer and covered the boy bodies from head to foot with bonding agent. Jeremiah and Isaiah sputtered as they spread the liquid and then the cement over each other's bodies. The cement stuck to their bodies like thin modeling clay. They smoothed the coating to the contours of their bodies leaving only their faces exposed. Paul troweled cement on the inside of the masks and handed them to the boys.
"They're stylized Hawaiian faces. Shove the mask straight up onto your face so the cement clears your nose and mouth. There's a tube to drink and holes for breathing." The boys obeyed. With the masks on, Jeremiah and Isaiah looked as if the gods decreed two stone boys should populate Hawaii. Paul posed the two boys, sculpted their new, stony, rough textured physiques into muscles and proportioned their features. The cement made the boyish statues stockier, more muscular. By the time he finished, the cement held Isaiah and Jeremiah ridged.
"I'm going to put the top surface onto the cement." Paul darkened the grayish cement with a stain and flecked their exteriors with ground quartz and amethyst. To complete the statues, he placed round hematite stones for their eyes. When he leaned up to their stone faces, he only heard the soft breath sounds of the boys encased in cement.
"Don't be surprised when the caterers set up the imu. I'll see you at the dinner party," Paul said. He turned and walked to the truck, laughing to himself. Stupid boys, who would give two runaway delinquents a vacation in Hawaii? Once I clean up their personal stuff, no one will ever know they were here. He left.
In less than an hour, only a jackhammer could release the two. The tropical sun would roast their bodies inside the statues. If they sold for as much money as he hoped, he intended to make a monthly trip to the mainland for other fit, young men.
The heat of the noonday sun catalyzed the hardening process, fusing silicone and carbon, extracting water. Their sweat released more chemicals from the cement. The chemicals leached through their skin, stiffening their muscles, calcifying their organs and changing their internal organs into stony concretions and mineral deposits.
Paul returned to the beach with two muscleheads from Oahu, bodybuilders called Ivan and Thor. Ivan grew up on Kilauea, the great grandson of a Hawaiian mother and a Russian whaler. Thor grew up in a Las Vegas whorehouse, son of an unknown mating and abandoned at birth. They were reliable enough to act as his onsite factotums, his men Friday. In reality, they were glorified bouncers to keep crashers from spoiling the party.
"I need a favor, Ivan. I sent those two out on Charlie's Sport Fishing Charter. Charlie and his crew got a shipment of Maui Wowie and wanted some entertainment for a long weekend. They're indisposed, if you know what I mean. To be frank, I couldn't wait to get rid of them. They had the intellectual depth of jellyfish and they were just as poisonous to polite conversation." He laughed and continued. "I need you to slide the statue to the imu pit." Paul pointed to the statues sitting a couple hundred feet away. Ivan shrugged.
"Why do you want to move this near the imu? Why don't we move it onto the vent behind us rather than all the way over there? That will keep the drunks from falling into the volcano and make the caterer happy."
"I never thought about it that way. You think so?" Paul asked.
"I know so. These are dedicated to Pele, aren't they? On the vent makes sense."
"Don't sacrifice the ribs, that's the best part. Sacrifice the feet and the tail," Thor said.
Paul ignored Thor and stood there stroking his chin. "I don't know."
"I don't think you have a choice. These are good-looking Hawaiian boys,. Done us all proud. They'll make those silly Europeans think twice about running around nekkid. Pele will be pleased. You'll be famous." Ivan always knew what to say to get on the good side of anyone. "Ar least those boys made good models. You should do more statues like this. Maybe something mythological."
"Yeah, Ivan has this fantasy of being one of those mythological satyrs. He dreams about the big dick and the furry legs," Thor giggled.
"Little boy Thor better shut up. Go check on the guest rooms. Make sure they got those tiny little bottles of shampoo and fresh linens." Ivan gave Thor the eye. Thor flipped Ivan the bird and left.
"Weren't you a little harsh, Dude?"
"All muscle and no brain make Thor useless. He's only here as eye-candy." Ivan lifted one of the concrete statues and carried it to the vent. He felt the vibration of a heartbeat and heard shallow breathing from each statue as it up from the sandy beach and into Paul's man-made grotto.
"I know rich guys back on the mainland who would pay a half million for a life-sized satyr statue. I would make it well worth your while to spend a few hours modeling that statue. Easy money," Paul said as Ivan leveled the first statue. Ivan flexed his muscles and nodded his acceptance of the offer.
"I like those big curly horns like on Rocky Mountain rams." He moved the second statue.
"I'll make the offer and ask for 10% deposit. If I get it, I'll fly you to the mainland and make the cast of your body in my Hollywood studio. It takes a few days to do it right. If you want, you can stay around and see your face on your fantasy and get paid for it." Paul said.
"Sounds like a deal to me. Why don't we do it here?"
"If you don't want a free vacation, I'll get someone else." Paul waved his hands, pretending to push Ivan words away. He walked towards the main house.
"I'll finish up here," Ivan said. Once Paul was inside the house, he said the prayers and offered the statues as sacrifice to Pele.
The caterers arrived and prepared the poi, roasted the pig, set out the mango and pineapple, poached the shrimp and lobster. They used the old ceremonies celebrating Pele. After, the party ate like this roast pig was the last roast pig in the world. They toasted the statues and broke the wine bottles at their base. One of the fire dancers lit the fumes coming from the vent. Blue flames roared ten feet into the air thrilling the crowd. After that, the blue flame returned every ten minutes for nearly an hour, natural fireworks to thrill the guests and anoint her gifts. Ivan watched in wonder. The childhood tales come to life -- the flames from Pele blessing the offering, caressing her gifts.
Late in the night, in the wee hours, in the hours when normal people might say dawn was approaching, the partiers fell slept. Thor took a woman down the beach for those matters that concern a man and woman. Ivan sat under a palm tree, guarding the party while they slept, Kilauea rumbled as she always does. But this night, Pele visited the earth to claim what belonged to her by the ancient rules of human sacrifice.
The morning sun cast shadows across the volcanic rock as the sky turned from black to blue. Thor slept down on the beach, a female guest wrapped in his arms. Ivan sat on one side of the lanai, still awake and observant -- guardian and witness to the revels. Witness to the opening of the vent. The night before, the vent was a stone plate with a small hole. This morning it was a round pit with stone steps going down into a lava tube. The statues stood against in the shadows against the black walls. Paul walked up behind him, half awake and still drunk.
"The statues. They've been stolen."
"Not stolen, transformed by the goddess, look."
The statues moved, two young Hawaiians stepped from the shadows to reveal their rough stone bodies and piercing black eyes. Their eyes dark like fiery diamonds, their bodies craggy and rough like basalt, the grey stone turned black by Pele herself. Paul's eyes saw but his mind refused to comprehend.
"This," he clutched his chest. "This is impossible."
"Is it? Last night, I blessed your sacrifice. We prayed to Pele. She touched their souls and kissed them with blue fire. And while we slept, she rose from the depths in fiery red robes and claimed those boys as her sons. She made them immortal."
"No! They're just cement. They're not alive." Paul turned to run but Ivan blocked his way. The statue that once was Jeremiah laid its cold hands on Paul, grabbing his arm, silencing his mouth. The other statue, wrapped it's arms around Paul torso, lifted him, held him tight. The stone lips moved.
"Father, join us." Their voices deep like the rumble of lava beneath the ground. Together, the statues carried him down to the floor of the lava tube.
"Help me," Paul stretched a hand out to Ivan.
"Who am I to interfere in family business?" Ivan asked. Paul struggled but the stone boys held him silent. The earth rumbled and red cracks opened exposing the lava beneath. They sank slowly into the world of Pele Goddess of Fire, deep in the heart of Kilauea. Ivan shuddered at the thought of lava consuming his body. He marveled at what the two boys must have felt as Pele transformed their cement-encased bodies to stone. He envied Isaiah and Jeremiah's longevity. They would still be alive in the molten core of the Earth when the sun went nova and consumed all life.
But that wouldn't happen today. Today, Ivan had guests to take worry about: wake them, feed them and guide them safely home. He thanked the goddess for his good fortune.
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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