“Now don't let them come back down!” Stardust shouted at Tony Hayward. “I'll be right back!” He stressed those last two words with an accusatory finger jabbed in Tony's direction at each word. Then he leaped again off of the side of the pad, this time lower into the oil rig.
For the short time he was gone, the more sober party-goers debated what to do. Tony Hayward was thinking that to himself, but was not about to admit to anyone that he was not in control of the situation. He was considering whether he could convince everyone this was just a show put on for the party when he heard Stardust shout something from below.
“Incoming!” Stardust shouted and, in the next moment, something big and metallic came sailing over the edge of the pad and landed up there. It looked like part of a crane at first, but its shape was more humanoid than that. After a longer look, it looked more like a robot from out of some science fiction movie. It was missing its head, an arm, and a leg, but if it could stand it would have been eight feet tall.
“Recognize your toy, Tony?” Stardust asked as he clambered over the side of the pad. He was still dressed in the nice clothes of the caterers – white dress shirt, clip-on bow tie, and black slacks – but the robot had been dirty and oily and Stardust's clothes were now in the same condition. “It's one of those robots you keep hearing about on the news. The BP robots that are repairing the oil leak. Only nobody knows that they're this big or that they're programmed to attack anyone else who gets too close to the oil leak. Of course, I know about it because I took a swim down there myself to see if I could help. Protecting your interests, even if it slows down ending the crisis? This thing tried to kill me before I put it out of commission. Would it have attacked a U.S. submarine if it had got too close, I wonder?”
“I don't know what you're talking about,” Tony said, “but you're not welcome here. You're trespassing on private property!”
“Yeah, and I had to do it before too,” Stardust said. “I spent a whole day up here on the rig recovering from that fight. I dredged some other things out of the water when I was here. Why don't you take a look on the stairs and see for yourself?” He asked it loudly so that it was clearly intended for all the guests and not just to Tony Hayward.
Several people followed Tony to the stairs and they were equally repulsed by what they saw. “Bloody 'ell!” Tony hollered in surprise. The staircase was littered with dead sea turtles, pelicans, big fish of several species, and even a dolphin – all of them filthy with oil. There were dozens and dozens of corpses blocking anyone's way down from the pad via the stairs.
“Like your handiwork, Tony?” Stardust asked. “I noticed your underwater cams trained on the leak didn't show the real harm it was causing and I heard how BP workers are keeping the media away from dead animals on the beaches. So I figured I'd gather more evidence here.”
“There’s another way down!” Tony Hayward shouted at the others. “I can’t believe I almost forgot. There should be a trap door – over there!”
Everyone scrambled over to the corner of the helicopter pad where Tony had pointed and, sure enough, there was a trap door there. The hinges looked rusty, but the strongest man amongst the partygoers bent down, took hold of the handle, and tugged. He pulled on it again and again, but the door would not budge. Others insisted on trying it, but the result was the same each time.
“Nice job keeping the equipment here in working order, Tony!” someone said, dripping with angry sarcasm.
“Just shut up, okay?” Tony asked him, but the request had the opposite effect and the man lunged at Tony with his hands balled in fists instead. It took two other people to separate them.
“Did you cut corners on everything here?” demanded one of the very people who had just spared him from a pummeling.
Tony looked around from angry face to angry face. He was angry too, but he was not willing to let them see him loose his cool. “Look, let’s go back to the stairs. We don’t need to move everything out of our way, just enough to get down.”
The carcasses were so thick on the stairs that Tony and the other, braver guests had to wade down into them. A man lifted a dead pelican, but was overcome by the smell and dropped it again. The dead dolphin was the biggest problem, as there was no room at all to move around it. Tony Hayward and another man tried rolling it over the railing, but the other man slipped on some oily fish and would have gone over the railing himself if Tony had not grabbed him in time.
“Hurry, try again!” someone said impatiently from the top of the stairs.
“Ugh, it’s so awful! How can anyone do this?” Tony Hayward vented.
Iron Man by Bob Layton
13 hours ago