Friday, August 21, 2009

FFF - "Highgate" Chapter 2

Finally. I finally got up the nerve to continue this. I know, I'm one big chicken. I have actually avoided the urge to edit this. I haven't even read it over again since writing it. It probably stinks. :) Anyway, here is Chapter 2. Enjoy. I hope.

Jonathun awoke to a dreadful pounding on his door. A glance at the window told him it was still dark outside.

"Go away," he called. "Come back at a decent hour."

"I was told to fetch you, sir."

"That's nice."

Jonathun rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. The knocking started anew. Jonathun pulled his pillow over his head, but the pounding didn't stop.

"I said go away."

"But, sir, Master Lyden requests your presence."

Master Lyden....

His five day penance. In his anguish over missing the Returning Jonathun had forgotten it completely.

Jonathun rolled out of bed. His pocket watch read 4:45 in the morning. An hour no sane person would choose to be up and about, that was certain. Still, if he was late for penance, he might just find his sentence extended and that would never do.

The knocking started again. "Sir? Sir?"

"All right, already. I'm up. Just give me a moment to throw my pants on."

4:45. Let the torture begin.

Jonathun opened the door to find an elderly man dressed in the servant's livery of the Magisterium, holding a latern. Jonathun had never seen the servant before, but that wasn't a surprise. While Masters Horvinnt and Lyden were often with the cadets, seeing to their instruction, outside of weekly services the cadets were rarely at the Sanctum itself.

"If you would follow me, sir."

The man lead Jonathun out the student barracks. The moon shone brightly into the dark of the early morning, illuminating the empty courtyard in a sharp silvery light. Jonathun tried to blink the sleep out of his eyes. He had taken several steps towards the Sanctum before he realized that his guide was not going that way. Instead, he was making his way to the main building. Jonathun had to run a few steps to catch up to him.

"Where are we going?" he asked.

"To the kitchens."

"Good, I'm starving."

The man grunted, but didn't reply.

It only took a few moments to get to the kitchens. They entered via the back way, past the chicken coops and through the academy's herb gardens. Jonathun had been this way many times in the past. Students were generally asked to stay out of the kitchens, but part of their curriculum included training in all aspects of a seeker's role. That included food preparation in the field. Because of this each cadet had a rotation in the kitchens. It was tedious work. Jonathun could understand the need to know how to cook over a camp fire, but he had a hard time reconciling that skill with daily food preparation for the more than two hundred people that populated the Academy. Master Jermiah, head cook, ran the kitchens like a true military camp. As far as Jonathun was concerned, service in the kitchens was akin to slavery. Give him a forced march any day.

As they entered the kitchens proper, Jonathun was surprised to see only two other people present. Davind leaned against one wall, arms crossed, a scowl on his face. The other person was dressed in the apprentice robes of one of the Magesterium. The figure turned toward him. It was a girl he didn't recognize. She couldn't have been more than - seventeen? That would make her a couple of years older than him. She was almost as tall as Jonathun, but in contrast to his somewhat muscular build she was very slight; her apprentice robes practically enveloped her. Her dark brown hair was drawn back in a ponytail, tight against the back of her head. The effect caused her face to look almost severe. Or was it the fact that she was frowning?

"You're late, cadet."

Her voice was deeper than he expected, coming from someone so thin.

"Yeah, well no one told me what time to be here." It came out sharper than he intended, but the stress of the situation coupled with the early hour left him bereft of patience.

"Breakfast preparation begins at 4:45 sharp. You will be here at the appropriate hour tomorrow or your punishment will be extended."

Jonathun felt his temper flare. "I said I'd be here. Who are you anyway? I thought Master Lyden was in charge of out penance."

The girl's eyes flashed in the lantern light. "My name is Belinda. I am the personal assistant to Master Lyden. He has put me in charge of your penance duties. You would do well not to anger me."

Jonathun bit back an angry reply. If this girl was in charge of his penance he would need to tread carefully. He took a calming breath.

"Sorry. I'm just tired and hungry. As soon as I've eaten I'll be better."
He looked around. "Speaking of, where's the food?"

Belinda looked exasperated. "Are you stupid or just oblivious? With the exception of the four of us and Master Lyden the entire academy is on its way to the Returning. Everyone. That includes Master Jermiah and the kitchen staff. If you want breakfast, you have to make it. The same goes for lunch and dinner, for the next five days."

Jonathun blinked. No kitchen staff? He hadn't thought of that.

"What about after that?"

The words came from Davind. Jonathun had forgotten the other cadet was present.

Belinda glanced at him. "Alamel here will take over kitchen duties after that."

"Wouldn't it be easier if he just did it all?" Davind said. "It's not like this is the kind of work we're any good at. Jonner is likely to burn the bread. It certainly wouldn't be the first time."

"Hey, that wasn't my fault...."

Belinda cut him off. "It doesn't matter whose fault it was. Truth be told, I'd rather neither of you touched anything I have to eat. Unfortunately, that isn't my call. Master Lyden said you're to handle kitchen duty, so you'll handle kitchen duty. Alamel will be here to make sure you don't burn the place down, but that's all he's going to do. He is under strict orders to do none of the actual work himself. When you're done with the cooking, Master Lyden and I will get our breakfast first, and then the two of you will be allowed to eat. When you're done cleaning up in here, we'll talk about your next task. You have two hours - Master Lyden breakfasts at 7:00. If you're late, you get an extra day's cooking duties."

Belinda left without another word.

Alamel stepped forward, a parchment in hand. He smoothed it out on the counter. "Two hours isn't much time, sirs. We had best begin. Cadet Davind, take that basket over there and fetch the eggs from the hen house. Cadet Jonathun, grab that sack of flour so we can start on the bread."

Jonathun's stomach rumbled. Great. Just great.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Spurgeon and the Rookie"

This was in response to a challenge to present a "Great Line" you had written. I took a very different tack on this one. In the story below you will find 25 very famous movie lines. All but three of them are from the Top 100 Movie Lines of All Time List. Great Lines, right? I did change one word for one of the lines to make it fit the location. The rest are word for word copied, AFAIK.

My challenge to YOU is to find the 25 lines and correctly identify the movies they come from. I suppose you could use the Top 100 list if you need help. Any takers?

(And, of course, I'm interested in what you think about the story - though it suffers from forcing 25 movie lines into it.)

Best of Luck!

"Come on, Joe. I'm supposed to be driving."

"You talking to me? 'Cause I never let a rookie drive. Now get in or I'm leaving your #$%@ a$$ behind."

Officer Ryan Segal got reluctantly into the passenger side of the squad car. His partner, Detective Carter, was in court today and he'd been assigned to work with the department's official doubter, Officer Spurgeon. The rest of the guys touted Spurgeon's praises, but as far as Segal was concerned, Spurgeon was nothing more than a big pain in the arse. Segal was contemplating calling Spurgeon on the driving thing when a call came over the radio.

"2319! 2319! Corner of Franklin and Washington."

"What's a..." Segal began, but was cutoff as Spurgeon floored the accelerator. Horns blasted and pedestrians made rude gestures as the squad car roared away from the curb. Segal held on for dear life and tried again.

"What's a 2319?"

"Little girl's cat is stuck in a tree."

"Oh come on. Tell me the truth."

"You can't handle the truth."

"Try me."

Spurgeon swerved the car, barely missing a parked ambulance.

"Jeez, you almost hit that paramedic! I knew I shoulda been driving. I should report you."

Spurgeon glared at him. "Go ahead. Make my day."

Segal reached for the radio. Spurgeon chose that moment to swerve again, turning into a narrow alley with reducing their speed. Trash cans and other less recognizable items were strewn across their path.

"Fasten your seatbelts," Spurgeon said. "It's going to be a bumpy night."

They bounced over several items. Segal banged his head against the top of the car. His face hit the window as they screamed out of the far end of the alley and hung a hard left, clipping a street sweeper in the process.

"I really think you should let me drive," Segal said.

"What we've got here is a failure to communicate, " Spurgeon replied. "Let's try this again. I. Don't. Let. Rookies. Drive."

They rounded another corner, this time narrowly missing a businessman crossing the street. The man's briefcase was torn from his hand, and papers scattered across the windshield before being blown away.

"But you keep hitting things!"

"Well, nobody's perfect."

Spurgeon slammed the brakes as they reached their destination. Segal stumbled out of the car, as much to get away from Spurgeon and his maniacal driving as to answer the call. It took a moment for him to orient himself. By that time, Spurgeon had approached the individual waiting for them at the front of the building.. Segal hurried over as Spurgeon shook the man's hand.

"Who's this, Spurgeon?" the man asked.

"The Rookie. Segal, say 'hello' to my little friend."

The man _was_ short. Segal thought it was rude of Spurgeon to point it out, but The man didn't seem to care.

"Name's Tork," he said. They shook hands.

"What's going on, Tork. Call said you know something."
This guy had his own code number?

"I see dead people," Tork said.

Segal raised an eyebrow. "Dead people? Like ghosts?"

"Naw, nothing like that. I'm psychic. I get impressions – see things before they happen."

Spurgeon rolled his eyes. "Psychic. Right. Way to spread it on thick for the Rookie. Tork's an informant. He's very well connected and his info's usually good."

Tork looked at Segal and winked.

"You made the call, Tork," Spurgeon continued. "What's the scoop."

"At sunset, at the farthest point of Navy Pier, some bad mojo is going down. If you aren't there, people are going to die."

Spurgeon checked his watch. "Sunset's in about fifteen minutes. We better hustle. Thanks. Tork." Spurgeon paused. "If you're wrong, I'll be back."

Ten minutes later they were exiting the car at Navy Pier. Segal was shaking form the wild ride, but Spurgeon wasn't about to wait up. They sprinted to the east end of the pier by the lake. The area was completely deserted.

"I have a bad feeling about this," Segal said. "Where is everybody? I thought he said people were going to die."

"They're here. Somewhere. We just have to find them. Tork said people were going to die if we weren't here. We are. We'll split up. You stay here, I'll check out the Grand Ballroom."

"But what if..." Spurgeon was already heading up the steps to the Ballroom doors.

Segal sighed. Alone again. He pulled his weapon, just in case, and made his way around the south side of the Ballroom toward the Beer Garden. He was rewarded with the sound of voices. He approached the area cautiously.

"Hello gorgeous," a male voice said. "Here's Johnny!"

"You! Why did it have to be you?"

"Look, Baby, it's not gonna hurt. Much. Just stand still right there against the wall."

"Nobody puts Baby in a corner."

There was the sound of a struggle.

"Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!"

Segal peeked around the corner. In the shadows of the Beer Garden he could see two people struggling. The man succeeded in slamming the woman against the wall. He held her there with one arm across her neck while he reached for something in his pocket.

"Carlisle will kill you," Baby said. Her eyes were wide as Johnny pressed something onto her forward."

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

Segal couldn't wait any longer. He stepped out in the open and pointed the gun. "Hey, you! Get your damn hands off her!"

There was a flash of light, so bright Segal had to cover his eyes. When he could see again the man was standing back looking up at the woman who floated in the air. Her arms were outstretched, her head tilted back with light streaming from her mouth and eyes.

"What did you do?" Segal shouted. "Get her down from there."

"I don't think so," Johnny screamed back. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" He turned and pointed something at Segal. Segal reacted instinctively and pulled the trigger.

A shimmering barrier flashed into existence around Johnny. Segal could see where the bullet struck as ripples were flung outward around the semicircular shield. Johnny laughed.

"Prepare to be fried, copper. Take him out, Baby."

The floating figure rotated an extended a hand in his direction.
Flame gathered in the palm then lanced out at him. Segal dodged forward just in time to avoid the blast, but the flames were still close enough to singe his hair.

"Damn," he muttered. "I'll have what she's having."

Segal took refuge behind a trash can and yelled, "Hey! Come on, Baby. Snap out of it!"

"She's mine, copper. With her power at my command nothing can stop me. I'm king of the world!"

Segal fired again at Johnny. The shield was still in place. He barely managed to dodge another fire bolt. This wasn't good. Where was Spurgeon?

As if in response to his thought a gruff voice called out over the mayhem.

"Gentleman, you can't fight in here! This is the BEER room!"

Three things happened at once. The lights coming from Baby vanished, she fell to the ground, and Johnny's shield winked out of existence. Segal fired. Johnny spun around, falling backward.

Segal rushed to the man, wary a gun. Johnny was on his back, blood coming from a shoulder wound. He reached toward an amulet, just inches from his outstretched fingers. "My precious.... " he managed, and then closed his eyes.

Segal checked the man's pulse. It was still strong. He was going to make. Strange there was no gun, though.

"Nice shot, rookie," Spurgeon said as he walked up. "Thought you'd need some back up, but you managed it all on your own."

"Is that a compliment?"

"I give credit where it's due." Spurgeon replied. "Here's looking at you, kid."


It has been a very busy last couple of weeks. I have done very little writing, so very little posting. Hopefully that can change this week. Stay tuned for a new story.