This is a continuation to Lori Carlson's Zanzibar, published on her blog 'Promptly Written' on 30 April.
Lori and I are developing this story as a round-robin, and this episode will also be published on Lori's blog.
Click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, part 10, part 11, part 12, part 13, part 14
Shortly afterwards, Jacob joined them, carrying a box of pigments and a set of a dozen or so paintbrushes of various sizes. The smallest was almost as fine at its tip as the narrowest needles Mustang had seen his mother using, when knitting for the baby. The largest brush was as thick as the baby’s wrist.
“You will need to mix the pigments with oil,” Jacob said to Mustang.
“What sort of oil?” Mustang asked.
“It doesn’t matter, although the paler the oil, the truer the colour.”
“Can I use vegetable cooking oil? That’s pretty pale, and I know where there is some.”
“Why not try it and see how it looks?”
“Okay,” Mustang said, “what can I paint it on?”
“That’s entirely up to you,” Jacob replied, backing away from the group, “I’ve done all I can; it’s in your court now.”
Javelin, who by this time and in the absence of Hemi, had taken on the mantle of leader, looked pensive. “Do you know about painting with oils, Mustang?” he asked.
“You’re kidding, aren’t you?” he replied, “I only do cartoons and sketches. I’ve only ever used pencils and crayons.”
“I saw you using chalk on the footpath, mate,” Cobra interjected, “damned good drawing, too.”
“Yeah, but that’s not oil paint, is it?” Mustang objected. “Oil painting is for proper artists, and that’s not me.”
“Okay, guys,” Javelin said, “I don’t see what choice we have. You’re the only one knows how to even draw properly, Mustang. Any idea what you want to do it on? Wood? Stone? Slate? What?”
“I don’t know. I’ve never used oil before, but if you tell me I’ve got to do it, then I’ll do it.”
“I can’t tell you to, mate; you know the rules here as well as I do. All I can say is that there’s nobody else can do it.” Javelin looked around the group. “Unless any of you wants to have a go.” Rambler, Cobra and Cougar looked down to the ground. Three heads slowly shook from side to side.
“Okay, I’ll do it,” Mustang said, “Let’s get some stone, some slate and some wood, and see which it takes on best. Not big, just a small piece of each.”
“I’ll get a nice, flat stone,” Cougar said.
“I saw some slate yesterday,” Cobra added, “I’ll see what I can find.”
Rambler looked up and said, “I’ll get wood.”
At this point, it’s important to remember that our heroes are all teenaged boys, with all that entails. Knowing that, you won’t be surprised to learn that Rambler’s comment was met with what can only be referred to as juvenile titters. Rambler blushed, making the rest chuckle even more. Eventually, Cougar, Cobra and Rambler went off in search of their respective materials, leaving Javelin and Mustang in the clearing.
“Are you sure you’re happy about this, mate?” Javelin asked, “You know you don’t have to do it, if you don’t want to. Nobody can force you.”
“Yeah, but… first Hemi, now Comet. Who’ll be next? If there’s any way we can get word to them, we have to take it. What I don’t know is whether the message will get through.”
“What? You mean whether they’ll see it?”
“No. Whether they’ll get it.”
“If you can do the design, Mustang, it’ll be clear to them that we’re all in it together, and that we all want to go home; back to our parents.”
“Will it be?” Mustang asked. “It took me a while to get it. I mean, it’s not obvious, is it?”
“When you do it, we’ll put our names on the back, and add the Motorheads’ secret motto. They’ll understand that.”
Cobra ran into the clearing carrying a slate that looked as though it once formed a part of someone’s roof, and handed it to Mustang, saying: “There you go, mate. Was I first?”
“Yes, you were first,” Javelin said, “but only just. Here comes Rambler.”
Rambler came in, carrying what looked like a piece of driftwood. He handed it to Mustang, who had a quizzical expression on his face. “I know,” Rambler said, “how do we get driftwood? We’re nowhere near the sea, as far as I can see.”
While the four were busily applying their combined intellect to the conundrum that had presented itself, Cougar rushed in, breathlessly, carrying a large stone. “Hold up, guys,” he said, “what do you make of this?” He stretched down and placed in front of them a stone on which had been painted, in oils, a man on horseback, throwing a spear at a big cat that’s attacking a snake, while a man with a backpack walking toward a distant house with a domed roof looks up at a shooting star that’s fading away.
“Turn it over,” Mustang said. Javelin leaned forward and turned the stone over.
Five boys gasped.
On the back of the stone were five names: Javelin, Rambler, Cobra, Cougar and Mustang. Below the names was the Motorheads’ secret motto.