You know I’m teasing you with the title, bestest Twin-o-mine, right? I apologize in advance for any what-the-hecks that have wiggled their way into the story, but let us simply state that strong pain medications added to pills with a strong sedative affect make for an (I hope) interestingly “woogie” writer. Okies…so. Most of you know this, but for those of you left behind, I’ve been playing in someone elses playground for a while, writing one chapter of a story, doing whatever I want with the story and plot, and handing it on to the next player…lucky them. >.<
At this time we are considerably up-and-down with the whole thing. Up, when it comes to words…approx. 700-1000 word chapters, 53 of them, equals quite a lot of words. Down, when it comes to writers. Of the original fantastically wonderful writers, only the originator, TRG (aka Boss, aka The Reclining Gentleman) is left. Joanne Best and I were relatively late-comers to the dark corners of the playground, but it’s been a lot of fun. (Can’t speak for Joanne (loveya, twin!) but I think she’s had fun too.) We miss all the original architects, who I am far too lazy to list (and afraid that in my woogie tangent I’ll miss one, and then I’ll cry) so I’ll just have to send you over to the Homepage of this weirdness called the Fiction Relay (cause we can’t title it till we see how it comes out, sillies!) to see for yourselves. (I recommend it…and then check out their pages, cause you won’t be dissappointed…their greatness is sorely missed) That all taken care of, let the curtains part (can’t tell that I’ve been reading Tommy and Tuppence novels, can’ya?) and gaze upon the glory of this, our Chapter 53! (for reals, this time)
Unfortunately for Jose/Elijah, no matter how careful the ninja, gravel under sneakers makes a distinctive sound…so Blue and Spence were ready almost as quickly as he reached them; which was good, as so was Raj. With a whining snarl that echoed through the lonely dark, he abandoned the mystery of the box and jumped at the approaching form, snapping and pawing to get loose when Melissa grabbed him around the neck and held him tightly. Blue and Spencer wrestled Elijah to the ground and kept him there. By this time even the slower members of the team had become aware of the scene, and turned with various statements of dismay or anger in their voices.
Meagan, still acting as the clear center of the group, carefully closed Ephraims hand around the little (glowing, humming, throbbing) box, and winked to him, before turning to the trouble. “Hello, Elijah…or do you prefer Jose, now? I know -I- do…after all the trouble you caused us, and all the trouble you bring with you, why should we welcome you now? Why shouldn’t we just let Raj go, let him tear you to shreds, as he so obviously wants to?” She gestured, toward the snarling, snapping full-grown coyote…with his sons eyes.
“Raj? No…no! You’re just trying to trick me…just like these two, with the smell of the mountain! And you, changing places with her!” He gestured with his chin toward Melissa. “I’m on to you! I saw, in the mountain! I saw Her give THE CUP to you! She promised! She promised to pass it to US, not to you…” His voice trailed off as his head fell back, and his eyes closed. With a grin for Blue, Spencer lowered him, unconscious, to the gravel.
*Nice one, babe! Vulcan Neck Pinch for the win!* *Don’t call it that! You know I hate that…* *Yup* *Smug bastard…* *Yup*
With a quick glare at Spence, Blue sat back on her heels, looking up at the adults. “Sorry, Mom. He was talking too much…not getting us anywhere.” Her glance included the whole group, even Raj, who had calmed down as Melissa squatted beside him, still holding him. “I love you, but right now you’re…you -all- are…thinking like civilians. Like you still have all the time in the world for earth-shattering revelations, and clever power plays. You don’t. What you do have is a war to fight. A war that Sanderson…or whoever he is…has been fighting and training and planning for…for a very long time. And that’s where we need to meet him. A war on the level of Mountains, and Gods, and Spirits…we can’t win. But a war with people (alright, and coyotes) we can find a way to handle.”
She stopped, with a quick smile up at Spence as he moved to stand behind her, hand on her shoulder. “She’s right. Before you all panic and start spouting about Gods and Mountains and Epic Quests, think about this. Sanderson has been training an army. Thousands of young men and women, chosen for their strength and intelligence, and manipulated into almost fanatical loyalty…and that’s not even counting the outsiders, the witches, to maintain the Coyote forms…why? If he’s such an all-powerful Spirit, God, whatever…what use can he have for an army? Why spend all that time and effort, if he could just magic-it-up, as Blue would say?”
At first, watching Blue and Spencer shift from “grumpy-chick and her boyfriend” mode, into “calm and in charge soldier” mode, what Meagan mostly felt was sorrow. Sorrow for her little girl, who she had left so long ago. Sorrow for the boy, grown up so fast, and so lost. Sorrow for -all- the children lost to soldiers, and now thrown into a fight with elements they could -not- defeat. But as she listened, sorrow changed to anger. Anger born of fear, of anxiety and overwhelming concern for her loved ones. Anger shared, she realized, as she glanced around the members of -her- army. Her soldiers. “Yes, Sammy and Spencer are correct…in essence. The presence of the army, of the footsoldiers and commanders, however magical, cannot be ignored. However, neither should we turn and ignore…well…that!” All eyes turned toward Ephraim, as she gestured, and she heard a collective gasp.
Ephraim heard, but felt nothing but confused. Glancing down at the hand that held the glowing box, he blinked. In his hand, floating above the box, was a tiny golden…or was it bronze?…cup, or goblet. Or maybe cauldron…or box? The object shifted restlessly on the top of his closed fist, the image or whatever it was moving to stay on top and rightside up at all times.
He slowly opened his fingers, palm up, and the image stayed, pulsing above the now quiescent box, rainbow shards splitting the night. His voice was soft and almost reverent as he spoke… “What…is that?”
An answer to which will hopefully be upcoming, as the now much the worse for wear baton is passed to the Boss of FR, TRG himself! (At least I hope he’s himself..sometimes he’s not, and then sometimes he’s someone else entirely, and it all ends up in a dreadful tangle once the two of him get home. So here’s hoping!)
Your Woogieness, signing off…
And here it is again, the wonderful web of words, woven by writers who…nah, never mind. ;p It’s Fiction Relay time! Time once again for me to take up the spindle and weave us a tale, hopefully one that will inspire more and more to come! In case you haven’t read the previous weavings (all 46 of them, wow!) then you should follow this link to find links to all…or this one, to read the summary so far. I’m betting that you’ll like it, that you’ll have a good time, and hopefully come back for more!
They had taken 5 steps into the room, long enough for Ephraims pronouncement…when suddenly they found themselves in the hall again. An eerie green glow, the exact strength of Jose’s fizzled out light stick, barely illuminated the room. Any attempt to enter the room resulted in the same response, and finally they stopped trying, “milling around in the hallway like a pack of puppies” was the image that came to Jose.
Jose could feel his “part” in the legends approaching, and clutched his medicine pouch even tighter. Thanks to the stories he’d fed on all his life, and his simple knowledge as a mechanic, he knew that things were about to get -very- bad.
“Just give me a second here, guys…I wanna try something.”
As Jose moved further into the room, Sam could “feel” the resistance, almost a heat, that surrounded him. He pushed on, muttering something under his breath, something less like speech, more like…a chant? Whatever it was, it was working, as Jose -slowly- pushed his way into the room. Sams hand reached for Meaghans, for comfort…and then, because he could, here…he put the arm around her slim shoulders and pulled her to him.
Smiling in the dark, Meaghan curled against Sam, feeling the comfort of his large frame, and smelling/feeling that special scent that always meant “Sam”. “Missed you…love you…” Her murmured words were meant to comfort, but also to distract. His thought were too much on the room, on Ephraims “sight”, and honestly…it got in her way.
As she tucked Sam…and love…and Sammy…and love…away again in one tiny corner of her mind, the power surged forward again, as if she’d released some holding tank, and now it was free. She’d begun feeling it a while back, but kept quiet as it slowly worked its way into her brain. After all, that was what it wanted…and she wanted to give it what it wanted.
Ephraim shuddered, as Jose pushed his way into the room. Jose’s muttered words might as well have been english, for he understood every one. Watching Jose move into the room, he listened, closely, to the chant.
“Anansi! Come, bringer-of-tales, speaker to gods, come! I bring a story, untold! I, your birthed child, come bearing gifts! Gifts that will let you put down he who walks not in beauty, he who claims what is not his, or ever will be! I do not beg, but ask, as is my right as your birthed child…come, Anansi, come!
And with the last word, something seemed to flare around Jose…Ephraim saw, and Sam Saw, and Meaghan…or the power within…saw, and screamed! Screamed not in fear, but in challenge, her form seeming to swell for that moment, going from woman…to Woman…then back to Meaghan. The scream startled them enough to almost forget the form of the great huge Spider that had encircled Jose…and whose brightly glowing web he stood within…inside the room.
“It’s safe now…you can come in. The Widow holds us in her arms.” As they began to file cautiously inside, Sam still holding the now stiff with anger Meaghan in his arm, they could feel the web stretch, then part to let them in. As Meaghan approached, Jose bowed deeply to her, head to the floor at her feet. “Mother-of-us-all, be welcome here, here in Your space, here in Your body, and forgive us our small intrusion? We enter only to remove that One who wishes to control even You, in his impudence…”
Meaghan could feel the power within…relax, and seem to…forgive. She shrugged one shoulder, and chuckled. When the Voice came from her throat, they all started, except Jose, still on the floor. It seemed to fill the room…no, it was the room…no, it was the Mountain, speaking to them.
“Come, Anansi, come, little spider…you are not welcome here, but as you enter on a mission I greatly wish culminated…”
Suddenly, the Voice broke off, as she turned toward the front of the cave. “They come! The witches come! In their hundreds they come! My Children will stop them, for a while…but you must hurry, little spider. Whatever your plan is, whatever Trickery you have planned…you must hurry!”
Blue stared into the things eyes for a moment, too shocked to think…then her new-found power seemed to take over, for just a moment…and she ported, finding herself next to her beloved Bike, staring at the four Walls who stared into the distance, their eyes glowing the exact same red as the Not-Spence.
As she backed slowly toward the bike, one groping hand touched its saddle…and she gasped, as instead of the normal worn leather, its color matching her turquoise riding leathers…she held, instead, a huge lump of turquoise stone, its presence feeling comforting in her hand. A feeling, a prescence, came over her…so strong and somehow…familiar, that her normal cynicism was over-ridden, and she relaxed into it.
“My Daughter…you must come home. The witches come, in their hundreds, and you must Fight. Your Brother will come soon…he was delayed upon his way…but he will come, and in that moment, you will join together in Beauty, and defeat the witches. So it is said, so it is done.”
Blue “felt” her power come over her, her aspect pour through her veins, the turquoise chill within her. Inside, somewhere, a tiny Blue curled up within a turquoise room, a smile on her face as she waited for her Brother, her Love, her other half, to join her.
Well, there it is for now…now it’s up to Dawn, writer of Mouse-tails and Fiction Relays of the finest kind…let’s see what we get!
Okies, here we go again…it’s Fiction Relay time once more! If it seems as if it’s coming to me more often (is anyone complaining?) you’re right, but hopefully only temporarily. We’ve had a few sad departures, due to increased pressure from that horrible beast known as “Real Life”…and a few are just taking a quick break, but will be back with us shortly. But never fear, we are keeping the torch passing, keeping the light in the window, and all that sort of thing…so with no further babble, here is part (I think) 42!
Trotting after the three strange ones through the halls of the Club, Jose kept his fingers curled protectively around the tiny leather pouch in his jacket pocket. Feeling the butter-softness of the ancient medicine bag against his rough palm seemed to keep him grounded, keep him walking in beauty amongst the witches.
He knew it was necessary, for him to be here…had known it ever since the touch of the woman’s quick fingers on his wallet had burned through to his skin, cold as the breath of the Mountain itself. He had known that it was time, finally, and he had known pride that his generation would fulfill the promise…but it had taken all his strength not to turn and run, to leave this place and hightail it home, back among the People.
Until yesterday he had believed the stories, of course. As you believed all the stories. Of course they were true. Why would they not be? But true now…in this world…to suddenly be told that you are a messenger, and that your time is -now-…he took a deep breath, fingers once more caressing the tiny bag as they hurried out into the deepening dusk.
Alone again, the man known as Sanderson hopped back up into his favorite position, cross-legged on the marble-slab conference table, looking out into the coming night. As always, when unobserved, he faced the Mountain.
Beneath the layers, shorn of (most) pretence, he was much closer to the young man of Ephraims vision…the craggy cheekbones and deep-set eyes of ice-water blue under that waterfall of white hair gave him a startling resemblance to the Mountain that he tried to keep hidden.
Of course, he liked to believe that the Mountain had come to resemble him in some ways, as well. In order to keep him out, it had needed to let a bit of him in. To become more…flexible, less rigid. And in doing so, although it had taken him an eternity to prepare, to sacrifice…it had become its own undoing.
And now the tools were at hand. And now the first sally had been sent. And soon it would be seen if the arrows he had labored so long to create would make their mark…or break against its stony hide.
Melissa dreamed. And Raj was ready. He had been mustering his “strength” for this little exercise for a while now, and he was finally ready. Carefully, warily, he widened his area of focus, pushing his awareness out into the room around him a bit at a time, until finally “he” stood away from his motionless body. Gritting his teeth, he pushed through the disgusting layer of sweaty-grimy-dirty-slime that was the psychic residue of thousands of weary travelers over the years, and made his way gingerly across the space that separated him from his sleeping target.
Halfway there, he received a rather nasty shock that set him back a bit…the coyote “statue” suddenly turned its glowing eyes in his direction, pinning him in place in a most literal fashion as he felt it heedlessly rummage through “him”. Whatever it was looking for, he must have passed, however, because the eyes dimmed again and the tension was released.
The incident shook him, but nothing would stay Raj from his goal, at this point. He’d been waiting far too long to let some little…totem, guardian, low rank ancestral spirit, whatever…get in his way. Ignoring the sound of quiet snickering, he pushed on until “he” stood staring down at Melissa’s sleeping form.
For a moment he simply stood, telling himself that it was necessary to gather energy before the final push…but knowing that he wanted to savor the moment, his final triumph against the murderous bitch who had tried to stop him. Staring down at her, he reached out an ephemeral “hand”, and traced the lines of her face…from this side, it was easy to see what the waking world could not. To see behind the semi-permanent illusion she wore, to the biggest secret she held.
Although their faces weren’t -exactly- identical…Meagan’s chin had a bit more point, while Melissa’s cheekbones were a touch stronger, for instance…the resemblance was crystal clear, and the relationship undeniable, to those who could see. How had it felt, he wondered, to give that up? To know that your closest relation…the closest relationship it was possible to have…wouldn’t recognize you? Wouldn’t even remember you? Was it worth it, in the end? Was the extra power worth the loss? Was that why she had never changed her name, trying to hold on to even that weak link to her twin? He shrugged, impatiently. Whatever. Time to play.
With a sound half laugh, half snarl, he moved to kneel over her on the bed, phantom hands on either side of her face. At the contact, she moaned, thrashing a bit on the bed, but didn’t wake. Gathering himself…literally…Raj brought his face down until his ephemeral lips touched hers. Her thrashing worsened, but her head was held still…and Raj grinned against her mouth, swallowing her increasingly desperate moans like fine wine. “Time to wake up, little one…wake up, and kiss me goodbye!”
An impatient snarl fell from his lips as her eyelids flickered, but didn’t open. Attempting to strengthen his hold on her, drag her up from her nightmares by brute force if necessary, he was distracted for just long enough. “Bitch! Wake your ass up, little whore! Wake uhhh…”
Gasping desperately for air, Melissa sat straight up in the nasty hotel bed, the remains of the dream still echoing in her mind. Shuddering, she curled into a ball on the cheap sheets, tears pouring down her cheeks, unheeded. Raj had been her first and greatest love…and her worst enemy, so far…but even he hadn’t deserved the fate served to him in her nightmare. The sound of his screams as the pack of wild…dogs? wolves? somethings had torn him apart would likely echo in her mind forever.
After a quick glance to make sure that the not-quite-a-corpse still sat in the lounge chair next to the bed, that its position of slumped, sheet-covered gloom hadn’t shifted…that it wasn’t, in point of fact, torn and shredded, bloody scraps all over the room…she curled into herself, all dignity gone, all restraint lost, and sobbed herself into an uneasy sleep once more.
And on the dresser, the eyes of the statue flickered. The shadows played around its muzzle, giving the impression, almost, of movement…if one were fanciful, one could even imagine it…laughed.
Whoops. Missed an important part of the game…passing the stick. Here y’go, Dawn!
(Once again I get to play in the awesome writers playground that is the shared story, “Suzi’s Saga” or “A symphony in Blue”. ;p Hopefully you’ve read some of the other chapters, but if not and you want to catch up, follow this link to find links to the other 37 chapters, and even the names of the perpetrators of this deed. Here’s to my fellow FR’ers…hope you like it!)
With a squeal born of pure rage and hysteria, Melissa stared wide-eyed at the apparition, the sudden appearance of the hated one temporarily destroying her fragile hold on sanity. Fingers like claws, she grabbed for Blue, trying to grab her collar, eyes still locked on Suzi’s. As Suzi’s mocking grin grew wider, Melissa’s fingers groped impotently, and she turned her head…and saw an empty seat.
“Wha…what??” She scrambled across to the door, tried the latch, and shook her head again, confused. “It’s still…still locked? But…” With a snarl, she turned on Suzi, eyes glowing as she gathered her power to her…only to find the window closed as well. Scrabbling at the latch, desperate for some explanation, some…sense, she heard the sound of car horns fade in, outside, and the rush of traffic.
The window slid open, and the voice of the driver drifted back, sounding bored and impatient. “You ok, lady? Need some help getting out? We’re here…” Baffled, she looked to the car windows, and saw the street in front of her hotel, as noisy and real as if it’d never gone away. “I…”
~Come on, Mel…pull yourself together, girl. Something freaky is happening…what’s new about that? But above all we can’t let anyone know we’re upset…or inconvenienced…in any way. Just breathe…~
With a deep breath and a brush at her ruffled hair, she spoke, pitching her voice low to sound in control. “No, this’ll be fine…thank you for making such good time. How much do I owe you?” The man shrugged. “Well, with the extra stop to pick up your friend, I guess…$40?” Bemused, she pulled the money out of her bag and paid, stepping carefully and slowly out onto the well lit pavement of the hotel entrance.
As she turned to go, the man called out. “Hey! Don’t forget your “luggage”!” and she heard the trunk latch click. Moving slowly still, she moved to the open trunk, and blinked at the blanked-wrapped bundle inside. For some reason she felt as if she should recognize it…didn’t it belong to her? But the memory fell from her confused mind like water, evaporating as it went.
Blinking again, she motioned to a bellman, and asked for help carrying the bundle to her room. Following the cart, locked in her own head, she made her way to the room. Placing the bundle on the floor at the foot of the bed, she slumped down beside it, one hand resting on it…and fell asleep.
As Blue opened her eyes, the familiar walls of Spence’s room at the compound fading into view, she burst into delighted laughter, picturing the look on Melissa’s face. “Oh, lord. I wish I was there to see it. Wonder how soon it faded? Hope she made it “home”…we still need her. Need all of them, unfortunately. For now. Until mom and I are together again…”
She sobered for a moment, turning the image she’d plucked from Melissa’s mind over and over in her mind.
~Hmm…I do kinda look like her. Good. More her than him, thank god. That’ll help her recognize me, I hope…if she can’t just feel me, like I feel her.~
Still a bit dizzy from the effects of the unexpected alcohol, and the brand new feeling of “Jumping”, she sat down on Spence’s bed, briefly considering how nice a quick nap would feel. Sighing, she shook her head, and stood. “Time to go get my baby back…and show that guy what happens when he drugs the wrong person.” Grinning happily, she strode out of the room, her steps confident and sure.
In the Clubs private dining room, its panoramic glass windows looking out over the beautiful view, dominated by the sacred mountain that loomed in the distance, three pairs of eyes stared at the man calling himself Sanderson. Jose, a confused look on his face, looked at them. “You did not know this? You did not know that this…this witch, this destroyer-of-beauty, was their leader? And yet you came seeking him…” His eyes thoughtful, he settled back in his chair, watching them all now, warily.
“Sanderson” laughed, the hearty laugh of a strong man, and nodded his head to one of the brick walls. “Bring me Spencer…I need to have a word with him, and I want these folks to hear.” With a nod, the man left. He moved surprisingly lightly and silently, although he had to turn sideways to fit through the door.
“So…” “Sanderson” turned back to face the others, winking at Ephraim as he did. “You must be “Ephraim”. The Seer. It is a pleasure to meet you again. I am pleased to see that you have learned discipline and discretion as you matured.”
Chuckling at Ephraims baffled expression, he turned to Sam. “And you would be “Sam”…the See-er.” He laughed at his own joke, even though the rest just looked puzzled. “Be careful how deeply you See…some things do not -wish- to be seen, and have the power to make you regret crossing them. On the other hand, you are the father of my favorite pupil, so I can forgive you much.”
“And last, but most important…my little Suzi. I’m glad you managed to find us again, despite your sisters efforts to the contrary. She never quite trusted me for some reason..”
Startled, Suzi opened her mouth…but shut it again as the brick wall returned, ushering in a young man of about 18. As he approached the table, she gasped, fingers tightening on the table, and glanced at Sam to see if he felt it as well. Finding him looking down the table at her, she mouthed “He feels like Sammy!” and watched him nod, once, before turning to watch as “Sanderson” began to speak.
The young man stood impassively in front of the big man, almost seeming to stand at attention, military style. “You asked to see me, sir?”
When “Sanderson” spoke, they all stifled a gasp…his voice had completely changed! This voice was that of a much younger man, although still older by far than the young man…a peevish and fretful voice, used to being in control but holding on to that control with both grasping hands.
Stealthily and warily, Ephraim risked a peek at him, controlling his reaction at what he saw. A man sat in the chair, balding and middle-aged, in an approximation of a military uniform. From the markings and the younger mans attitude, Ephraim deduced that he was of a high “rank” in whatever organization he belonged to.
“Yes, soldier, I “asked to see you”. I shouldn’t have had to! What were you thinking?” The young man, presumably “Spencer”, stared resolutely at a point just over “Sandersons” shoulder as he spoke, his voice crisp. “Sir…I was tending to an asset, sir. Per your previous instructions, sir.”
Ephraim watched as the shadow-man pinched the bridge of his nose, obviously a habitual gesture, and shook his head. “Spencer…son…she’s dangerous, you know that. I don’t want you risking yourself in case…no, -when-…she goes rogue.”
The young man seemed to pull himself even straighter. “Sir…understood, sir. With all due respect, I believe I can handle her, sir. She listens to me. And, sir…grandfather believes I can handle her. That is enough for me. Sir.”
The man bristled, fists clenched in his lap under the table. “Your grandfather is no longer in charge of this organization, soldier. He is unwell, and has turned all policy making and organizational matters over to me. And I -order- you to stand down re Private Blue. Just this once…do as I say?”
Startled, Meagan clapped her hands over her mouth, senses reaching out almost automatically to “read” the boy who stood before her. Recoiling as she felt the strength of his connection to…Blue…to Sammy…she glared at him behind her hands. Sammy is 14, for gods sake!
With a crisp salute, the boy half-turned to the door. “Sir, yes sir! Understood sir!” He turned and headed out the door, still speaking, but softly now, his voice fading as he stalked down the hall. “…comprehende…gotcha…dohn…comprendre…”
Shaking his head, “Sanderson” settled back, looking back to Meagan. (Ephraim watched the shadow-man fade, and the coyote-man come to the fore once again) “I apologize for that. The boy has his own brand of courage, true…but much like your Sammy, not an ounce of discipline.”
Meagan frowned at him. “I don’t understand…how can he be your son? I mean…I know you’re not…well, not human?”
He chuckled. “Ahh, but he is -not- my son. He is “Sandersons” son. And Sanderson is -my- son…at least as far as the Club is concerned. You understand that I am handing you some of the deepest secrets of the Club? And I know you’re all smart enough to wonder…what does he want, in exchange for these secrets? Well, I will tell you…”
(*giggles* On to you, Dawn! Have fun! *hugs*)
This is part 35 of the Fiction Relay serial story, following the adventures and misadventures of Suzi and those she impacts. To read the rest of the story, or just see a summary so far, go here. To see who is crazy enough to play this game, and see how you might join the insanity, go here.
One quick look back…and then to the road once more. Somewhere behind her, red and blue lights painted their rude graffiti onto the red rock walls of the canyon, but all she saw was a pair of haunting (and a bit haunted) blue eyes. Eyes that could tease and taunt, freeze and burn…eyes that had seared themselves into her almost as long as she could remember.
Since she “joined” the Club, at 8 yrs. old, there had been Spencer. Ten yrs. old, the directors son, and a boy…all things calculated to be sure that their paths never met, at pain of mortal embarrassment and peer humiliation. But like her, Spence had never been a rule follower. Unlike her, however, he didn’t necessarily -break- rules…he just made new ones, that only applied as he saw fit.
For instance, the rule was that Blue (or Sammy, at the time) belonged to him. Her cadet training, her fire-arms qualification, and eventually the discovery and training of her many talents (all that she admitted to, anyway) were all under close supervision and scrutiny, watched over by those eyes. And after-hours, as well. It was Spence who taught her how to drive, practicing with her side-by-side on the back lot from age 12 until she left on the search for her mother. It was Spence who teased her hidden talents from her, one by one, pulling them out and helping her practice those, as well. By that time, he was 16 to her 14, and discretion became the rule.
Especially once the friendship began to deepen. Especially once the Mentor/Student dynamic began to slip, in new and exciting ways. Discretion. Discretion among her peers, discretion among her trainers/teachers…and most of all, discretion among the higher-ups. The new rule was that Blue was Spence’s reluctant assistant, working hard to stretch her “leash” by volunteering for outside missions, and solo missions, almost exclusively. The truth…known solely to the two of them…was that their “connection” had strengthened, over the years. Whatever the…thing…they had between them, it was now so strong that it didn’t matter how far away she was from him, if he chose he could see through her eyes, feel with her hands…or her heart.
The fact that he knew how afraid she was of being “taken over”, of losing control, and chose to respect that, chose to give -her- the power of choice, of reaching out to him or not…for that, if for nothing else, she felt for him. This most recent meeting? It needed pondering. It needed thought, to reach past the emotion, past the pleasure/pain, past the mysterious words…thought that could best be done off the road, and perhaps over a drink.
Besides, the urgency of the chase had begun to calm a bit, the closer she got to “home”…to the Club. It was fairly obvious, now, where her mother would end up…which gave her a chance for a short break. Some breathing room, a chance to sort through this new thing. Spotting a familiar symbol on the next exit sign, she grinned, and slowed to make the turn.
The man known as Sanderson moved to sit at the long table, his stride strong and confident, and his smile quick and sure. As he approached, Sam tried to get a better look at him…for one moment, he thought he might have caught a glimpse…then in the next, he knew better. In that moment, with a sly wink, the “man” let himself be seen. The aura lifted, and Sam shuddered, almost falling to his knees from the force of the personality that stood in front of him. A child staring bare-eyed into the eclipse, he knew his mistake, knew his limits, and quickly slammed his eyes (both sets) closed. Cautiously opening his eyes as the confident steps moved away, toward Meagan and her new friend, Jose, he breathed in, seeing only the man once more, aura and all. A quick mischievous grin flashed where only he could see let him know that his relief had not gone unnoticed…and a quick glance to his friends showed that they were unaware of his distress, or of any pause in “Sanderson”‘s advance. Resolving to tighten his supervision, Sam mentally shook himself, and settled into guard mode.
Ephraims law-trained skills of observation coupled with the habits of a lifetime spent hiding the effects of his “talents” from others were all that kept the shock from his face as the creature calling itself “Sanderson” passed between Sam and the table. The visions were one thing. He’d had them all his life, and by now they were almost familiar. Annoying, sometimes painful, and escalating, recently, for some reason…but known. When he’d been in the orphanage, and realized that the pills were supposed to change him, give him what it gave the others…it had been a huge relief to just pretend that it had worked, that the visions were just starting, and oh-my-gosh what’s all this then?
But this…he took another long look as “Sanderson” moved to sit at the table. On the surface, he saw what everyone saw…an old man, still strong and confident, in charge, with a mysterious aura that seemed to cause different reactions in each of them. But underneath…literally… well, start with the face. The long grey-furred muzzle, shading into grizzled tan as it neared the mischievous grey-blue eyes, then back to grey to the tips of the tall pointed ears that stuck up through “Sandersons” mane of white hair like reeds from a pond. Add a long furry tail, shaded similarly, and what Ephraim could only term a “cowboy outfit”…faded blue workshirt, worn jeans, dusty and very well lived-in boots…and a gun in a holster that seemed almost to shimmer, as if it fit in both worlds. He mentally shook his head, but the view didn’t change…and the look on the humanoid coyotes face as it glanced at him…and winked…he took a deep breath, and tried to look alert as he and Sam were motioned to take a seat at the table as well.
The naughty little donkey that symbolized “Bad Ass Coffee” almost seemed to grin as Blue pulled into the lot, parking next to a long line of other bikes of all sizes and shapes. Sniffing appreciatively at the smell of good coffee, frying bread, and locally brewed…well, brew…she pushed her way through the doors. Not what the average person would picture as the typical biker bar, Bad Ass nonetheless endeared itself to the locals, wherever the franchise went. As far as she was concerned, the coffee and food were enough, but the safety and protection she felt in the company of other bikers was a pretty hefty chunk of frosting on that cake.
She grabbed a table, literally, scooping up one of the tiny two person tables and carrying it to a chosen spot, with a view out the window at the road, and her bike. Swinging a chair around to sit backward on it, arms leaning on the chair back, she grinned up at the waiter as he approached. “Hey! I didn’t know the coffee came with eye candy…” He winked at her, flipping his hair over his shoulder so that she could see the rainbow stud in his ear. “Look all you want…looking doesn’t hurt. So what can I get for you today?”
She grinned, and opened her mouth to speak…but all that came out was a whistling scream, as something hit her hard enough to knock the wind out of her lungs. Desperately trying to draw in a breath, eyes blurring, she looked to the waiter…and stumbled to her feet, kicking the chair in front of her, as he scrambled toward her. His face was set in a terrifying snarl, showcasing almost all of his sharp pointed fangs, and his eyes were pools of flame. Wheezing, she kept stumbling backward, kicking chairs and pulling tables over to slow him down. Snarling and snapping he climbed the obstacles, clearing the distance between them almost obscenely quickly. As her back hit the wall, he howled, triumphantly, and charged her, fangs and claws at the ready…but the moment they touched her skin, she blinked…and slumped, closing her mouth, finding herself still on her original seat, and the waiter and half the bar staring wide-eyed at her.
“Umm…are you ok, Miss? Is there anything I can do? Get you?” She just shook her head, mutely, a shiver starting in the small of her back. “I…I’m fine…just a…a thing. S-sorry..” The shiver grew into a full-body shudder, and her hands clenched on the back of the seat, white-knuckled. “Sorry, I…I have to…” Her teeth chattered with the force of the chills that shook her, and her head spun dizzily as she tried to stand.
The waiter moved to steady her, frowning as she jerked back from him, eyes wide with panic… “Hey, now…maybe you better sit back down, ok? Get you some water?” She shook her head, frantically, and took a step back from him…and crumpled to the floor of the bar, unconscious.
This is part 27 of the Fiction Relay serial story, following the adventures and misadventures of Suzi and those she impacts. To read the rest of the story, or just see a summary so far, go here. To see who is crazy enough to play this game, and see how you might join the insanity, go here.
Ok…keep in mind that I’m writing this late, and a bit…distracted, so be patient with it. There’s a -teeny- bit of backtracking, but not that much, promise. ;p
Melissa is strangely subdued as Sam and Ephraim wrestle her into Ephraims cuffs and drag her back up the hill to the lab to put her in one of the cells for safekeeping. Keeping herself contained, whats left of her sanity curled around the secret held deep inside…the treasure she stole from the bitch’s daughter. In her mind, deep inside, the voice whispers old commands, old orders, and she takes dark joy in squashing them, silencing the whispers with a slash of thought, a whip of power. Now she is the one in charge…the one with the power of life and death. Now they will all see. They’ll find out who the important one is. The one who should have been. As she hears the footsteps fade into the distance, crossing from the stone floor of the cavern to the soft earth outside, the impulse breaks free, and she begins to laugh…a mad, manic laugh, on the close side of hysteria, that rings in the stone-walled cell like a bell.
Ephraim shivers as they leave the lab, a flash of vision crossing his mind. Again, the triumphant gaze of a dead man leers at him before morphing into the figure of a desperately weeping Melissa…curled at the feet of a humongous statue of Suzi/Meghan. Shaking it off, he continues toward the house with Sam.
Meanwhile, miles down the road, Suzi…no, Meghan…leans her forehead against the cool glass of the rigs backseat window. The driver, having noticed the dark circles under her eyes and the slumped posture of exhaustion, suggested that she take a nap in the back, on the small bed/seating area. So far, however, sleep has eluded her…so she stares out the window into the distance, although the scenery does not impact her view. Her mind is full of memories…thoughts of her little girl…her little Samantha…Sammy. It’s been years since she thought of her, since the memory wipe she’d performed on herself to protect the child. Now she stares out the window, into the deepening dusk of the mountain road, and sees instead a pair of brilliant blue eyes in a pixie-like face…blond curls she inherited from her father, and tiny size from her mother. She wonders what happened, how she is doing…what she looks like…and whether she could ever forgive her for abandoning her, so long ago.
Further down the same road, a slim figure hunches over her motorcycle, to cut wind resistance, all senses alert for a taste of her mother. For that elusive feeling that is Meghan…the arrogance of the truly powerful, accompanied by sheer competence and grace. But as at the lab, she gets no trace. Only a fleeting glimpse, a whiff, of the mask willingly put on, the face she lives behind…Suzi. All sweetness and light, confused innocence…Blue shakes her head in disgust. Once she finds her, once they are together again, she will make sure that the Suzi personality is shattered, stripped away, leaving only Meghan…only the one person more powerful than herself. Once she rejoins her mother, and they are able to work together…she shakes her head. What can’t they do? Certainly not bow down to the Club any longer. Maybe they’ll just take it over…or destroy it entirely. And Ephraim…and Sam, her father? Well, they’d be useful, in a weak sort of way. Their powers are nothing, compared to Meghan at full capacity. Let alone Blue and Meghan working together…these thoughts comfort her, and accompany her down the winding road, as she moves unknowingly farther and farther away from from her goal.
Back in the lab, Melissa sits on the floor of the cell, making herself as comfortable as possible on the cold stone. What she is about to do will require her full concentration for success, so clearing away all distracting bodily messages is essential. Prepared, finally, she bows her head, reaching deep deep inside, reaching for the flickering spark that is her newly borrowed treasure. Carefully, she pictures herself holding the tiny spark, and mentally “blowing” on it until it blooms into full strength, a white-hot fireball in her mental “hands”. Gritting her teeth against the pain of the fire, feeling her mind scorched and battered by the strength of the power…but her desperate concentration holds, and she is able to shape the fire into what she needs. The tiny white phoenix sits in her “hands”, sparks flying off it in all directions, egg shell bits made of pure white stone all around. Grinning, she leans down and whispers to it, giving it concise directions…and as it glows a bit brighter, a bit hotter, burning sparks flying and alighting on her skin…it lifts off and flies away, through the door and down the hall, searching. Riding with it, mentally, Melissa directs the creature until it reaches its destination…the recently deceased body of Raj.
Melissa laughs in triumph…a strange sound that seems to come from two throats at once. Giving the little phoenix a mental push, she watches as it sinks into the dead mans chest…and gloats as it begins to rise and fall, despite the bubbling of the blood at his slit throat. After an endless period of waiting, she laughs again, a much more normal sound, as his eyes open, a look of confusion in them. Tugging an invisible cord, she watches as the corpse stands, and makes its slow shuffling way toward her cell.
And with that, it’s on to Dawn! Have fun! *insert evil laugh #34, the “Evil Dictator”*
I’m going cynically insane,
the more I try to use my brain,
the more I see the lies and pain,
my mind runs’round like a wagon train!
Cognitive diffidence, I really don’t care,
if my mind is here or there,
or hiding from the truths dark glare,
in a special sort of anywhere.
Lazy fair, the rides are free,
as long as you don’t mind the fee,
most will pay it happily,
to buy their couch and their t.v.
Free dumb, as the people glare,
at all the folks who take the dare,
to learn to live, and to take care,
not live in castles in the air.
Ann, our key, I turn the lock,
and stop the ever ticking clock,
that pushes businessman and jock,
and dare the laws of man to mock!
This one is dedicated to TRG, who has done more for my writing bug than I have, simply by being, as his name suggests, a helpful, amusing, appreciative and above all supporting…gentleman. ;p Thanks, Boss!
Meanwhile, down on the winding road that leads to the cabin, a slim figure zips quietly on a sleek, dark motorcycle that seems to purr, rather than roar. Suddenly the rider begins to veer, dangerously, and quickly pulls to the side of the road. Thumbing a toggle switch in the helmet, she speaks urgently into the mouthpiece. “Get me Sanderson…one of Them is gone.”
Suzi’s relief was quickly squashed by the look in Melissa’s eyes, as she repeated herself in an almost bemused tone. “He always liked you best…” Still holding on to the sharp, shiny object with which she’d killed Raj, she stared at Suzi. Suzi was now shuddering in terror, still bound to the table, helpless, as she knew she couldn’t ‘port out of ties.
Moving closer, Melissa put one shaking hand onto Raj’s still cooling flank…and with a quick movement, shoved the lifeless body onto the floor on the far side of the table.
Hearing the soft wet thud sent Suzi over the edge, down and down until only Meagan was left. Her eyes blurred until she could barely see Melissa’s mad face above her… and her eyes…they weren’t really glowing, were they? Her body convulsed, the rope bonds tearing at her fragile skin, while the cooling blood that covered her added to the cold that seemed to be deep inside.
In a low, frighteningly cheerful voice, Melissa said “Now look what you made me do…” The bright shiny edge of the knife glinted even through the blur in Meagan’s eyes…and as it came slashing down, she shrieked in terror…and ported.
The only thought in her head was “somewhere safe…somewhere safe…someone…”
Out on the trail, moving as quickly as possible in the dark, Sam followed Ephraim toward the cave. All his attention on finding Suzi, hoping that she was safe, he almost fell as he ran straight into Ephraim, standing stock still in front of him. “What’s going on?” he whispered, but all he got in reply was Ephraim’s hand flashing up in the symbol for “Wait!”
Ephraim had been moving as quickly as possible ahead of Sam, when a stronger than usual strike of pain heralded a vision coming on. Images flashed through his mind…a pair of somehow familiar mad eyes, a gush of blood, Raj’s face staring into his, a look of triumph on it. Just as he was able to see the path again, and about to rush to the cave, he heard (and –heard–) a terrified shriek and stumbled, almost dropping the blood covered, naked form of Suzi who suddenly appeared in his arms.
She looked up at him through her blood matted hair, and immediately scrambled up him, climbing him like a child would until her arms locked around him and her face was buried in the crook of his neck. She moaned under her breath, clinging and fighting as he tried desperately to untangle her, to find out how badly she was hurt.
Sam leaned in, once, trying to help, but at his touch she shrieked in terror once more, fighting even harder to cling to Ephraim. Using all the discipline at his control, he stepped back, hands clenching into fists at his sides. Watching Ephraim fight to control the hysterical Meagan, nails grinding into his palm, he was startled to hear himself speak…quietly at first, then once he realized what he was saying, louder, so that Ephraim could hear. “It’s not hers…the blood, it’s not hers!”
Ephraim turned his head toward Sam, hearing the urgency in his voice if not the actual content. “What?”
Sam raised his voice, almost shouting. “She’s not hurt! Some rope burn, and whatever…happened to her…but no actual wounds!” At Ephraim’s skeptical glance, Sam moved his gaze to Meagan and began to list her wounds in an almost clinical tone of voice.
“…right wrist, severe rope burn, possible muscle damage. I can See it, Ephraim! I can See her…just like the boxes!”
Ephraim frowned, but allowed the still struggling Meagan to wrap herself around him again, trying his best to use his jacket to cover her. He accepted the coat Sam handed him with a nod of thanks, wrapping the shivering girl in it. “We still have to get her to the cabin, at least.”
Sam nodded. “You take her. I’ll just make things worse, and besides, I need to check out the cave.”
Ephraim frowned, staring down at the blood covered girl. “You know that who…or what…ever did all this bleeding…it’s more than possible they didn’t survive.”
Sam nodded, grimly. “I know…but we need to make sure…”
Meanwhile, down the road, the dark rider paced, restlessly. Frustrated, she muttered to herself. “…damn Sanderson. If the Big Man was still in full control…”
She cut off at a muffled squawk from the comm. Her voice became rigidly controlled, every word precise and knife-like.
“Blue here. Yes, sir. No, sir, not as far as I know, sir. No, I am not currently at the scene. I know…” Rolling her eyes, but keeping her voice level, she continued. “Sir. The Club sent me here due to my particular abilities, and I must respectfully request that you allow me to use them…”
Another slightly louder squeal from the comm unit caused another eye roll, and a head shake. “No, sir. It was one of the big ones, but I cannot determine which side without actual visual confirmation. No, sir, it was definitely not Her. I would know.”
Her voice finally showed a hint of aggravation and one hand came up to rub the back of her neck, under the helmet. “Sir! I refer you to my previous statement vis a vis my being chosen for this mission above any others, and again respectfully request that you do your job, and allow me to do mine!”
Stifling the outraged squawking with a flip of the toggle, she shrugged out of the helmet, tossing it onto the grass near the bike, and ran her fingers through the spiky dark blue hair that gave her her nickname. Pacing again, a cheetah on a leash, her eyes tossed a frustrated glance up the road, toward the cabin.
She muttered under her breath, a whining mockery of the voice from the comm. “How do you know? How can you tell?”
She huffed, exasperatedly, moving to lean on the bike, one booted foot kicking at the grass, petulantly. “Can’t tell him the burst of power almost knocked me off the bike. Can’t tell him how I know it’s not Her. Can’t let him find out …she’s my mom.”
Under Neath: A Kava continuation (rather long, so be warned. man this story is addictive. thanks again, trg!)
I woke up to a flash of red and the faintest whiff of that…literally, apparently…intoxicating scent. The red proved to be a little red hairbow in the gloss-black hair of what looked to be a child of 6 or 7. Her skin was dark, like a wet cardboard box, and her eyes were tilted just the tiniest bit and colored a gray so dark it might as well be black, if not for the tiny motes of gold that seemed to float there.
She was dressed all in grey except for the bow, with a soft tunic-like top over what looked like pajama pants. She was standing next to me, or rather next to the table I found myself strapped to, rocking back and forth on her heels and humming softly. Not considering her a threat, I looked away from her at the room around me…or at least that’s what I -tried- to do. As soon as I started to turn my eyes away, the humming got slightly louder, and I found myself staring into her eyes again.
Those eyes…the near-black iris surrounding the hypnotic ebony of the pupil seemed to fill the room, or at least my vision. The gold motes became tiny, perfectly formed koi, swimming happily in the black, black sea of those eyes. It became suddenly extremely important to me that I catch every detail of those beautiful fish, that I bring my focus deeper, and deeper…a harsh cough broke whatever was happening, and I was…released, as the girl turned to glare at the noisemaker.
I found myself panting, out of breath, with the slight headache of oxygen deprivation…and very confused. Lacking anything else to do, I also turned to look at the woman in the doorway. And the doorway. And every other detail of the room that I could take in, in that sweep. I locked it all away for later, aware that I had narrowly survived something dangerous, and needed to pay attention.
When the little one saw just who had coughed, her glare turned into a grimace, then a pout, as her head dropped so that she looked up through a waterfall of black. The woman in the doorway, leaning on the door frame as if too weak to stand, was the owner of the gorgeous ankles and lipstick red stilts I’d seen back at the bar.
All things considered, the rest of her fulfilled the promise made by her legs…all things being that she looked completely exhausted and the black circles under her eyes weren’t carry-on bags but full suitcases. She coughed again, and shook her head at the little one. Her voice was that of one accustomed to command, but tired and roughened by whatever was wrong with her.
She looked at the little one and let loose with a flow of sound, almost like water or birdsong or both or all, all combined into a beautiful whole that I wished I could record and keep, just to hear again and again…I shook my head again, and the sound was back to what it had started as, the work-roughened voice of command. Whatever she’d said to the little one had her wringing her little hands in distress, and whispering through her hair in that same trickle-whisper-purr, but it didn’t affect me the way it had from Her.
Finally, with a jerk of the head from the Woman in red, the little one scuttled from the room, her sparkling red hair bow falling from her hair to the floor by the Womans feet. With a tired sigh, she bent to pick it up, long beautiful fingers fidgeting with it as she slowly walked across the room toward me. A smile quirked the corners of her lips for a moment, until another cough racked her body, and she crumpled into a chair that I hadn’t noticed sitting there, like a string-cut puppet. After a series of coughs, she slowly straightened, fingers clenched so tightly around the little bow that her knuckles were white…which was some trick, considering her skin was somewhere between new-snow and ice—blue already.
Once she sat up, platinum-white hair falling off her shoulders like water over crystal boulders, she closed her quartz blue eyes for a moment, and then opened them and her fingers, tucking the little bow away in a pocket of the red power suit she wore.
Being ever considerate, I decided to speak first, to save her voice…or something like that, anyway. “Hi! Nice to finally meet you…how much did you say your name was?” Alright, so I’m a smart-ass, no surprise there. Again that tiny smile, the barest quirk of those beautiful lips.
“As it is “nice” to meet you, as well, Mr. Blake. Although one -could- wish for more congenial surroundings, I’m afraid you’ll have to make do, for now. Perhaps later, when you understand a bit more…we can be a bit more…accommodating.”
Buddys indrawn breath whistled in my ears, as the three of us bellied up side by side to look over the edge of the roof. Grinning, Buddy rolled over to look back to Prof, who simply raised a brow. Buddy laughed, his voice a hoarse whisper. “I can’t believe it! It’s really here…I thought you were shitting me.” Prof snorted. “I -do- occasionally know whereof I speak. Not, I’ll be the first to mention, often, but…”
I listened to them banter behind me, but couldn’t tear my eyes from the beautiful sight that lay in the courtyard below…long and sleek, with the angles and curves of some ’60’s idea of a spaceship, the extravagant sports car looked designed for stranger worlds than these. Her amber-red tail lights were slanted, like flirting eyes, and I knew there was nothing more beautiful in the world…I -would- drive that car. At least, I’d drive it when we delivered it…had a well-heeled enthusiast already lined up, waiting.
Gravel bit into my arms as I carefully backed away from the edge, toward my two temporary partners. Once I was sure it was safe, I sat up, shrugging one shoulder. “Uh-huh. It’s a real nice car. You sure we can get it out of there?” Buddy blinked, shaking his head disbelievingly. “You are one cold fish…”nice car”…” He snorted, still shaking his head.
Prof just nodded. “Got the owner-mans’ schedule by heart…he’s a man of routine, hasn’t moved from his safe little path in the three months I’ve been watching him. And this weekend he’ll be safely off to Bermuda with the missus…”
I nodded, turning to Buddy. “And you’re sure you can get the equipment? Tent and all?” He shrugged. “Sure…my cousins rig’s been sittin’ idle for a month now, he ain’t gonna notice if I borrow it a little. How we gonna get’em to believe the note’s from him, anyway?”
I looked to Prof. This part was his baby. He grinned, holding up a folder full of paper. “Owner-mans own stationery, already signed…he makes up a handful of these before he leaves, in case “anything happens”…isn’t that clever of him?” He chuckled, as Buddys grin got even wider. “Nice…”
I nodded, thinking to myself that the better part of this occupation wouldn’t be possible if the world were to get a sudden shot of smarts. “Ok, then. 7 sharp, outside the warehouse, tomorrow. See you both there.” They nodded, then turned back to their bragging conversation before I’d even made my way down from the roof. Once again I reflected how glad I was I’d never bothered with steady partners…enough time with idiots like these, and anyone’d lose a permanent point of intelligence.
Driving my little Accord home, like any law abiding citizen, I stopped for gas and ran her through the car wash…using the slow passage through the dark, wet, soapy tunnel to relax, like always. The soap froth made pictures on the windshield, formed and faded and formed again, and I zoned out to the sound of Tom Petty on the radio, till we emerged into the bright dark of a Seattle night.
Stopping only to grab a fat steak for the grill, I drove home at a “safe” pace, no more visibly conscious of the police presence on the highways than anyone. Steak, salad, and two carefully tended beers later, my head hit the pillow and the world went away.
If I dreamed that night, it was no more than a news report…”This was Your day, and You were There!” I hadn’t had what I would call a “real” dream since I was a kid. Of course, there was a -lot- that I hadn’t done since I was a kid. And a lot I had.
Bonnie Tyler was belting out “I Need A Hero” when the radio cut on that evening. I grinned to myself, swinging my legs over the side of the bed. Heroism was a self-correcting problem, as far as I was concerned. Grabbing the clean t-shirt and jeans off the ladderback chair by the window, I headed for the shower as the announcer began the rush-hour newsbreak.
A twenty minute walk later, I slipped behind the bar, giving a nod to the harried ‘tender already on shift. May rolled her eyes out of sight of the crowd, and I tossed her a sympathetic grin and slipped back into the familiar routine. My hands poured, opened, built and filled, working almost independently of my mind, till the Friday happy-hour crowd finally thinned, and I could afford to slump back and shake my head at Mays’ offer of a break. “You go ahead. I’m wired, tonight.” She just shrugged, and slipped out the pass-through with a grateful sigh.
I occupied myself wiping down the bar, stacking glasses, all the little crap that needed done before closing. The Queens Head was a nice enough place for the neighborhood, and the fact that it was in walking distance of home made it ideal for me as a base of operations. I checked my watch, glanced at the door, and rolled my eyes. Of course they were late. Probably stopped to take candy from some kid and got arrested. I was really going to have to look harder for good help, next time. And where was May? She should’ve been back in to take over for me…what…20 minutes ago now?
Signaling one of the servers to grab the bar for a minute, I headed toward the break room/storage area…and to the door into the not-quite-an-alley behind the bar. May always went out there to smoke, even though it was allowed inside. Said it didn’t feel right. But I didn’t smell cloves, and the door was open a bit. “May?” I moved cautiously toward the door, predator senses on alert. “May? Y’done yet? C’mon, honey, I want a break -sometime- tonight…” When I reached the door I threw it open, quickly jumping to one side…but nothing happened. More than nothing. It was dead quiet out there. No traffic sounds, no sirens, no usual music-played-too-loudly-through-bad-speakers from the local raver/skater punks…nothing. No. Not quite nothing…
A chill fog drifted silently through the door, sliding across the cement floor to pool around my feet. I caught a whiff of something…like perfume, but thicker. I shook my head. What the -hades- was going on here? I…I was looking for…someone. Someone who…who smelled like…cloves? No…like perfume. Like…this… I shook my head, harder, a low growl starting in the bottom of my throat. No…not right. Not at work…not here. I swallowed the growl, or tried to, but it came out more like a whine, as my knees buckled…and my head hit the floor. As my eyes closed, the last sight I saw was a gorgeous pair of ankles in mile-high red stilts. What? I’m a guy!
I sit up on the hill and watch until the fireworks fade, one hand idly twirling my ID badge on its distinctive red-white-and-blue lanyard.
Once the last sparkles have fallen into the lake, and the fire crews nearly have the blaze under control, I pull my worn and tattered little black book out of my pack. I remove the knotted rubber bands that hold the cover shut against the straining within, and carefully open it to one particular page.
With a grin, I take the worn stub of pencil from behind my ear, and make a checkmark next to “Fireworks Technician”. One more off the list. Then, carefully placing my ID badge (sans lanyard) between the pages, I reclose the little book and replace it in my pack, which I then throw over my shoulder.
Leaving the lanyard behind, tied in a pretty bow around the box of sprinklers I’d used to set the blaze, I turn my nose toward the moon, and set off in Her direction once again. Wonder what’s next…