I'll come up with something in a minute.

There is actually only one salt lamp that I moved around.

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March 3, 2015 Posted by | Photo, Photography, Poetry | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Eighteen

 

Epilogue

 

November 3rd, 2002

3:21 p.m.

 

            The room was so dark that very little detail could be made out, beyond the cones of hard light. They stood in a circle, like a council of war. They wore robes of purple material with red trimmings. The hoods of each robe were drawn up, concealing every aspect of the wearer. They had to meet in this way, to maintain the secrecy under which they had operated so long.

 

            “Is he the one?” One of them asked.

 

            “He defeated Loki.” Another, a large one in a felt robe, said. “And he came back from the dead.”

 

            “That was part of it.” A thin small figure in a silk robe said. “So far all signs point to him being the knight.”

           

            “So he may very well be it?” The figure who seemed to be the leader said.

 

            “I think so.”

 

            “He’s been in hiding so long though.” Another said. “The knight is supposed to be in constant vigilance.”

 

            “He was given a terrible blow.” The leader said. “He may very well remain hidden until we draw him out.”

 

            “But the prophecy.” The arguer said.

 

            “Prophets don’t know everything.” The Leader said, “We will watch and if he is the one, we will draw him out. It will take months perhaps to decide.”

 

            “If he is the one, are we ready?”

 

            “We are.” The leader said. “I’ve prepared for everything.”

 

 

 

Final note:

 

            So we see that perhaps The Weirdo died and returned from the Grave, although all official documents and biographies claim he lapsed into a coma, which he rose from. There has been some conjecture as to where Loki and Virgil actually came from as well, since some reports have said they were implanted in women’s wombs and some say they were grown in vats. It must be said that as far as official records go, it is very hard to find confirmation or even denial of the claims in this book. We can only hope that further tomes will shed light onto the tale.

 

 

© 2013 Autumn Knight Productions

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

A Force of Nature

 

At Home

 

            The Grandfather looked at the poor sick boy and asked if he needed anything besides the orange juice. The boy said he didn’t, he wanted to know what came next. This story had been so long, and he wanted to know how it ended now that he was so near the end. Grandpa had held the moment out too. Giving him all that talk about alternate realities and hanging forever on the possibility that this was the reality where The Weirdo got his head cut off.

           

            There were tissues near the bedside, and the boy’s cough drops were in good supply. The grandfather looked at the closed door, knowing no one was going to interrupt. He looked at the book with trepidation, his eyes moving across the page and then up at the child’s open and wondering face.

 

            It didn’t look good, when we last left our hero the katana was one and ¼ inch from his neck, moving faster than the speed of sound. The Weirdo, and we must be realistic here, was already dead. There wasn’t much that could be done at this point to save him. Now that’s a sad idea, but it’s a fact that people like The Weirdo don’t get to live to the ending. Those who live by the sword and all that.

 

            “So what happened?” The boy asked.

           

            “You sure you’re feeling well enough for this?” The old man asked, looking a little disturbed as he looked at the book. “I mean things don’t always turn out the way you expect them to. Sometimes, even the hero dies.”

           

            “I gotta know.” The boy said. “Even if he dies, I’ve gotta know.”

 

            “But if he dies here, that’s it. If he’s killed here, you know that the world is over.”

 

            “If we don’t go on, I’ll never know. I’ve gotta know.”

 

            “Okay.” The old man said putting his glasses back on.  “Let’s see where were we? Ah yes.”

 

 

            The blade whistled through the air, ready to take the head form The Weirdo and…

 

            “Are you sure you’re feeling alright?”

 

            “Will you tell me?” The boy screamed. “What the blistering fuck happens next?

 

            The blade whistled through the air, ready to take the head form The Weirdo and…

 

 

           

 

 

            Continue reading

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Sixteen

Halloween Night

 

The Palace

 

            Her name was Zhaznal, and she was the goddess of uncertainty. Not much is really known about her, at least from a mythological standpoint. There are, as far as we can discern, no legends or fables or indeed any myths of her at all. She does not seem to have any worshipers besides a few new age physicists who claim that she really runs everything in the universe. This is not quite true, she observes the universe, and by observing certain parts of universe she affects them. She cannot truly control the outcome but it’s a pretty safe bet that she would be the one to sit next to at a roulette wheel. Always bet on what she put her chips on if you get my meaning. The palace she lives in is a huge empty place, which appears to be strewn with spider webs.

 

            These webs are not actually the silk of spiders but instead are the physical interpretation of waveforms of possibility. The goddess and her assistants shift the outcome of events and thus create one reality or another, by collapsing the waveforms of possibility and causing events to come to fruition. By watching the strands very carefully, one can usually tell which strand is going to finally be left and thus which event is going to take place, those strands are usually thicker and more substantial. Still Zhaznal has the ability and the right to affect the final outcome, by deliberately choosing one strand or another when the final event comes close.

 

             It is said that if a single person could more easily perceive multiple dimensions and could see all the alternate realities they would more fully understand that Zhaznal and her assistants don’t actually eliminate strands, but rather they sort each possibility into a reality of its own. They shape every reality by putting each individual waveform of probability into a set of strands that make up each reality. Those realities are then said to be woven together into strings, which confound physicists and then make a rope, in which the mulitverse is contained as a whole and complete thing.

 

            There are billions or possibly trillions of tiny spider-like creatures helping Zhaznal in her task of plucking (or possibly selecting and moving) each stand. There are then large angelic like figures who help her in selecting the daily decisions while leaving the larger choices to her.

 

            At this moment, most of them were intently watching seventeen strands, which were hanging in two massive clumps together over a small chasm. One clump of webbing was the past and the other was the future. Strands stretched out from each of the strands and formed pools and rivers, which branched out into other things. The fate of the universe though, seemed to be based on these seventeen strands before them. One spider watched as The Weirdo and his double Loki walked towards the warehouse. If one of them walked away he would break one strand, if they didn’t, he’d break another. If they both walked away it would be a third.

 

            People think that the tiniest difference in the way they might have acted could change the universe. Such changes are rarely as large as anyone thinks, a real decision would have to be made because what with Fate, Luck, all the assorted gods, and Zhaznal watching, things generally turn out like they were supposed to. Every once in a while though, the outcome is not what people think it’s supposed to be. Sometimes they turn out one way because people have bribed Fate, Luck, many assorted gods and Zhaznal to do things one way. Sometimes they turn out another way because other Gods, and creatures who we haven’t even seen yet get wise to the bribery. There are times though that things turn out the way they do because revenge can be a larger motivating factor than duty.

 

 

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October 26, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Fifteen

A Last Attempt at Ragnarok

 

 

June 1st, 1711

9:04 a.m.

 

            The Weirdo was leaning against the wall, his jerkin buttoned to his throat as the Captain’s was. The two of them watched as one person then another walked past the guards at the door. The king was having yet another one of his delightful, parties which were just a way for him to demean and degrade everyone around him. The Weirdo didn’t particularly like this young man, but he had been assigned to learn everything he could from the captain of his royal guards, and thus here he was.

 

            He looked at the other Musketeers and wondered how many of them held the same grudge against the king. Was it just the love of the captain that kept them here? The Captain had been a Musketeer during the bad days, when the Cardinal had started the war with England. The Weirdo looked at the Captain and glanced at a priest who walked in and nodded to the Captain who nodded back.

 

            “Is that?” The Weirdo asked, stopping himself before he finished.

 

            “He is.” The Captain said.

 

            The Weirdo looked back at the black robed priest as he walked across the floor. He was taller than The Weirdo had thought he would be. He wondered for a moment what Miss Parker would say if she could see him. Her first thing might be that they were about a hundred and fifty years before her birth, but after that there would be amazement. She would be shocked to find a man she thought to know only the obscenities of the French language speaking it well enough to have become the trusted Lieutenant of the Captain of the Royal Guards in only two years.

 

            “I had better go check the west posts.” He said straightening up from the stone pillar. “He’ll want to go out into the garden soon, best to make sure everyone is in place.”

 

            “Very well.” The Captain said. “I’ll meet you by the great fountain.”

 

 

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October 23, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

The First Battle of Central Park

 

October 31st, 2002

12:04 a.m.

New York

 

            Kestrel sat alone in the ballroom, looking out the windows. There were such large windows and they gave such a beautiful view of the night sky. The dark and heavy clouds covered the night sky, but they were beautiful clouds. The wind had begun to pick up and the leaves were sailing by. They tumbled along, like the little happy things they had once been. Now they were dead of course, which was a bit of a sobering thought. Those had once been attached to a living tree, in order to help make food. When the season got too cold, and the leaves were too expensive in terms of water and warmth, they had to go. The tree could only survive by getting rid of the leaves. That which had formally been so vital to its life could cause its demise, so the leaves had to go.

 

            She wondered for a moment if that’s what they all were. Were they just leaves, drying up on the stem of the world? She was alone and trying to figure out where the hell she was going to go next. The problem was she felt like she might be drying up, like those leaves. She had felt it for so long and wondered if it was time for her to be blown off the life tree and become mulch for next year’s plants?

 

            She thought, if only there was some sort of sign that everything would be all right.

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October 17, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

Returning the long way

 

Date – Unspecified.

Time – Unspecified.

 

            He had a name, but he couldn’t remember what it was, not that it bothered him that much. He was walking along a road, which as far as he knew he had always walked. He couldn’t remember ever not being on this road, or not walking across this blighted landscape. It wasn’t much of a place to walk really, not much of a place but he couldn’t remember anyplace else. The land was rocky, there was no particular source of light, the sky was a dull and nearly solid gray. There were patches of fog, patches where the rocks were slightly higher, but the land was lost. It was as if someone had simply known that ground and sky were necessary, but hadn’t had enough enthusiasm to make anything else.

           

            He somehow knew that he hadn’t been walking this road the whole of his existence, knew that he was going somewhere, but he couldn’t remember anything else. He couldn’t remember anything but this road, which was his existence at this moment. Oh, there was also the song, but there had always been the song. The song would always be with him, even if he couldn’t remember all the words, the tune would be in his heart.

 

            “Monkey, monkey, eating cheese. I’m dancing with a walrus, if you please. The monkey likes to sing and play. It’s a monkey, monkey, monkey day.”

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September 24, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

A Bad Night

 

October 28th, 2002

2:25 a.m.

 

            Tommy was thinking, or at least trying to think. He was sitting at a table, a bowl of soup growing cold before him, just thinking. Sheila and Judy were in bed, as far as he knew anyways. He had been in bed but had been unable to sleep. He had gotten up and walked downstairs and made himself a bowl of soup. He hadn’t actually been hungry but he needed something to do. The bowl was growing cold in front of him; the crackers soaking up most the free liquid and turning it into a kind of porridge.

 

            He was thinking about people, about the kind of people one meets in this job. About the sort of people that would frequent that child brothel they had shot up a year and a half ago. Those people were the old types, the dinosaurs. They weren’t in it so much for sex; they wanted to have control. He imagined them sitting around broken down gentlemen’s clubs, smoking cigars, drinking brandy and thinking about how great they were. They would celebrate how great it was to be rich and white in a world where so many weren’t.

 

            They were dinosaurs from a bygone era. They would like to thrash people in the street for not acting the way they thought people should act. They felt that the class structure had collapsed and that the common man had gotten too uppity. That sort still wanted to make all the business deals in smoke filled backrooms.

 

            Those types were dying out because they hadn’t keyed into the fact that worldviews were spreading out. There are no smoke filled rooms on the Internet. The world had changed and they refused to. Yet, there were still young idiots, trying to clamber into those smoke filled rooms. Those were the ones you had to watch out for. Not the ones who refused to change but the ones who wanted to go back. They were the dangerous ones, because they didn’t have a clear idea of how the world worked. Just an idea of where they weren’t allowed.

 

            A man can be clear about this; there is injustice in the world. There is pain and misery. A normal mind can deal with this and can sort of ignore it most the time. People can say to themselves that bad things are going to happen and that’s the way it is. This is actually meant as a sort of self-regulating device. It’s used so that the average person can get to sleep at night. It’s only when one decided not to accept that good people are going to have bad things done to them that they have trouble. A disordered mind will attempt to make things right. A truly disordered mind will strive to fix things. When you combine that with the power that was enveloped in The Weirdo, you had a truly dangerous combination. You ended up with someone who not only wanted to box the gods around the ear hole for fucking it up, but also had the power to do it.

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August 30, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

Kestrel’s Tale

 

 

October 26th, 2002

10:15 p.m.

           

            The mansion had several libraries, small dark rooms with dark wood paneling and huge over stuffed chairs. These were close and vaguely claustrophobic rooms, comfortable as a rabbit’s hole in winter. One could easily take a blanket from the chests which sat in each one of them, curl up in a huge chair and spend the rest of one’s life reading. They were small rooms, designed for the reading of small books for comfort.

 

            The main library was huge, spanning more than three floors she supposed. Its walls were covered with books; many that had been read many times. The floor had three half-circle rings of bookshelves, filled with books of every description. It had a long shelf which served as the second floor and the shelves on the second floor went up high enough for a person to need a ladder since the second floor was also a third floor. It was much like the walkways along the side of the ballroom. The library, in fact, had a long tube like hall, which linked it to the ballroom. The library was the twin of the ballroom, save that the library was filled with books while the ballroom was a large space for dancing.

 

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August 7, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment

Twins in Death: Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

An Explanation and Another Twin

 

 

April 2nd, 1997

2:01 a.m.

 

            Getting in hadn’t been a problem. It was getting through the glass that was going to be the problem. There were security cameras, but they couldn’t see her, not now. She was still in her bird form, which was just too small to take a hammer. She looked at the place where a bench sat. Her wings fluttered and she landed on the bench, her body growing suddenly. She stood up, naked in the dark museum. She looked at the bench and lifted it up. It came down on the glass of the case, breaking it. She aimed the bench and threw it with all her strength. The bench smacked the camera knocking the lens off before it could be aimed at her.

 

            She reached into the case and took up the ruby and emerald necklace, and shifted again. The problem with being a sparrow hawk is that being very small it can’t lift a lot. She could just manage the necklace as she began to fly up towards the broken window. The cacophony of sound didn’t bother her too much and she didn’t need a very big window. The good thing about being the size of a robin is that a large opening isn’t necessary for escape. The ease of escape more than made up for the lightness of her load.

 

            Her wings fluttered through the dark night as she wondered what she would do with the amount of money she would gain from this few moment’s work.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

5:45 p.m.

 

            Kestrel woke up slowly, and noted that she had slept better in her life. She had curled up on the side of the road when she couldn’t walk any more. She had shrunk down to the little bird and slept in a tree. The problem with sleeping in the tree was that she was terrified a hawk or owl would come upon her little sleeping form and gobble her up. Being the smallest falcon also made you a decent sized snack for larger falcons. It had meant that most of the time she spent trying to sleep was actually spent with one eye open and looking for danger.

 

            She felt a little better having slept though, her eyes noted the location of the red gold rays of sunlight as she shifted and began to cover her nakedness. She looked at the watch as she slipped it on her wrist to get the correct time. It was getting dark rather than growing light. She should have guessed that as she had slept for a while. She hadn’t known how long she had been asleep though, but that was all right. She drew the wallet from her pocket and wondered if she had enough money to get a burger at a roadside stand.

 

            She looked out at the woods on her left, knowing there was another set on the right. There were a few birds looking at her before flying with their compatriots to the southeast. She noted that it was the gathering time as a large number of birds began to fly towards the group that had just moved off, another small group followed it. There were about five groups, of no more than ten, following each other in succession. They fluttered overhead and she couldn’t help but watch them with a hungry wish to go and get one. She had just gotten back into her clothes though, and eating bird guts wasn’t a good enough reason to change back into a bird

 

            She pulled the wallet out and looked at the contents. There was enough to get a few hamburgers and a side order of fries. She looked up at the red and gold sky, a few stars beginning to wink on. A few clouds slipping slowly across the sky, slowly like, like, well like clouds really. She wasn’t much on poetry or simile. It just wasn’t in her somehow. She sighed, looking around the grass and dirt of the make shift road.

 

            She had to take a momentary stock of her situation, the soft grass, slightly muddy road, the trees of the forest, the man in the trench coat, the clouds, the stars, and the red strips of light. She had to stop for a second and think about the list again. The man in the gray clothes was the bit that didn’t normally fit. Not that anything fit with her usual lifestyle, but the man in the coat was unusual to say the least.

 

            “Hi.” He said, and she noticed how he wasn’t exactly gray.

 

            The Gray man looked as though there had once been color to his eyes and his clothing, but the color had been slapped out them. She remembered hearing about a man’s hair turning white, all in one night from a fright. He had a head of black hair and after one night his hair had all turned white. This man reminded her of that sort of thing. He looked like something had completely scared the color out of him.

 

            “Hello.” She wondered what had happened to do that to him.

 

            “You’ve got to go to sleep for a little while.” He said.

 

            “I’ve been asleep.” She said.

 

            “Yes but The Weirdo is going to come to get you and I don’t want you tearing his face off when he gets here.”

 

            “Oh?”

 

            “Yes, so you’ve got to go see the old man.”

 

            “The old man?” She asked.

 

            “Yes.” The Gray man said. “I can’t think of any other way to explain it so I think only he can.”

 

            “And what if I don’t want to go see the old man?”

 

            “Oh sorry.” He said walking towards her. “There isn’t much choice I’m afraid.” His hand reached up slowly, but too fast for her to react, and covered her eyes.

 

            There was a moment of unreality, when she felt like she was floating on a cushion of air or perhaps just a really great mattress. Her body told her that there was nothing under or around her but her feet said they were on solid ground. She wanted to scream, but by the time she got air into her lungs, it was over…

 

            The world came back and things were different, for one thing she was alone. She looked around her, the car was gone, the clearing was gone, the road was gone. In its place was a barely made path covered with moss like a carpet. There was nothing but thick forest on three sides, which left the path. The forest didn’t look forbidding or unwelcoming. It was a very nice, well-lit forest in fact, but the path seemed easier. She wondered for a moment how she’d managed to get on this dead end path then, but only for a moment. After all, if you stood around asking silly questions like that you would have to ask a lot of other silly questions that probably didn’t have good answers just now.

 

            The feeling of unreality had oddly passed, even though she was now standing on a path that would have given any player of text adventures the jollies. It was moss covered, soft and warm on her bare feet. She looked at her toes and thought that she could have sworn she was wearing shoes earlier. Keep on the path just for now, or you could be eaten by a Grue she told herself. She walked down the green inviting path of moss, the greenery tickling her oddly unshod feet. She saw what she was coming toward in less than five minutes of walking.

 

            The walking kept up in halted steps, walking ten or twelve steps and stopping again. She would look around to survey her surroundings and then start walking west again. She kept thinking every time she started that she was just hitting the W button and then looking around at the next place she stopped. If she was lucky she would find a lantern soon, or maybe a little old man. After a moment she did indeed see what she had been brought to see.

 

            It was a forest garden she was walking toward, with badly made rows of bushes and flowers. As if the person doing the planting had a vague idea of where things should go but didn’t bother much with the placement. The bushes caught her attention immediately, as they had strawberries and raspberries on the same branch. She reached out and took one of the enormous strawberries.

 

            The strawberry was about the size of a kiwi fruit and should have been flavorless. Anyone who actually knows about fruits and vegetables will tell you this. Small fruits and vegetables actually have more flavor than the large ones. Big strawberries have almost no taste while small ones have a wealth of flavor. She bit the berry anyway, expecting the refreshing and empty flavor. It exploded in her mouth, it was tart and sweet all at once, almost over flavored. It was as if the fruit had peaked to perfect ripeness simply for her visit. She looked around at the other fruit trees in the garden. Everything looked at the edge of over ripeness.

 

            This was all wrong though, she knew the seasons, had known them since she was a child. Something you learn in an agrarian society is the seasons of fruits. Many of these things didn’t share the same season yet they all tasted perfectly ripe. They didn’t share the same season, but then they didn’t usually share the same bush either, so perhaps she shouldn’t worry about it.

 

            The path was overgrown, there was a small dirt strip leading into a short stonewall. It came to her waist and a squirrel looked up at her. The squirrel gnawed at a nut and watched as another squirrel ran up. The first squirrel handed the nut over and the second squirrel looked at the nut and seemed to kiss the first squirrel on the cheek before running off with the nut. Kestrel looked at the house, which was kept in the stonewall. It was like a miniature castle. A short wall with a one-room keep. Both house and wall used the same sort of stones.

 

            The builder had used both peat and mud for mortar. As a result, grass and vines had grown in the side of the wall, which should have been weakening it, but made it look stronger somehow. The light wood door was covered with arms of ivy. The roof was thatched and had many bird’s nests in it. A pair of squirrels sat on the roof. One squirrel leaned back and seemed to laugh at something another squirrel had said.

 

            All in all, it looked like something that Jim Henson’s troupe would have made to house some sort of ancient wizard or storyteller. It would have been the sort of place where a retired wizard would have lived in the aforementioned text adventure, a retired wizard who, incidentally, would invite any traveler into the house. Not only would there be an invitation inside, but also there would be tea and some useful object that he was thinking of throwing out anyway. It would have been a great time for a traveling adventurer to pass by and need something. As she looked around though, all the adventurers seemed to have been eaten by Grues, or grees, she was never sure of the plural of Grue. She thought after all the years of Zork she would have seen it at least once.

 

            The worn door opened and a gray haired man walked out of it and smelled the air. He was wearing a long gray robe and in his hand he carried a small burlap bag. He opened the bag and reached into it producing a hand full of looked like millet seed.  He looked at the roof where a small cadre of birds sat and discussed the importance of wind speed in an apparently godless and random universe. He tossed the seed into the air and most of it landed about the birds’ heads. They chirped at him with the sort of happy cheer that one might give the waitress who has given you an extra cup of coffee. He then looked at the semi rows of vegetation and tossed the rest of the seed into the garden.

 

            She wondered why he was throwing seed into his own garden. She looked at him as he turned the bag over into the long green grass. He looked at the squirrel as it sat at the edge of his wall, where a small opening allowed for a short wood door to be affixed to the wall. It looked nice to have some sort of gate on a wall. The squirrel sat at the edge and looked at him as he produced a peanut out of thin air.

 

            Kestrel thought he must have palmed it, but why palm a peanut for no audience or at least no audience but a squirrel? He extended the hand with the peanut and the squirrel took it. The first squirrel ran up as the second squirrel broke the shell open. From what she knew of squirrels, a fight was coming, but the second squirrel simply offered half the nut to the first squirrel. They both took a piece in their mouths and ran into the long grass.

 

            “What in hell?” She asked.

 

            “Welcome to my retirement.” He said.

 

            His face was wrinkled, a few scars had been added to it, but it was his face, the man who had stopped the red man. He smiled at her as he pulled a raspberry off the bush and popped it into his mouth. The Weirdo wiped a bit of juice from his lip.

 

            “You.” She said suddenly. Her jaw dropped and she gaped at him.

 

            “If you don’t close your mouth,” He said, “Flies will buzz in and land on your tongue.”

 

            “You’re, so…” She hesitated, sailing though the shock, “Old.”

 

            “Yes. Thank you for noticing. Been gaining a little weight have you?” He said picking some seed from the bag and tossing it at the roof. “I am far older than you know.”

 

            “But, I…”

 

            “So, what did he send you for?” He asked.

 

            “Don’t you know?” she asked.

 

            “Well,” He said, “It was a long time ago. I… I don’t remember everything. My mind’s funny like that, I can’t remember why I sent for someone to get you just now. I am a very old man, after all.”

 

            “Do you know me?”

 

            “Yes, I do.” This elder man said. “I know quite a bit about you.”

 

            “Where are we?”

 

            “Very to the point.” He said. “This is Retirement.”

 

            “What does that mean?”

 

            “You’ll find out.” he put his hand to his head and rubbed his brow. It was as if he was trying to remember something, which was just at the edge of thought. “Right now, you think you’re just called Kestrel, but your birth name was Heather McLeary.”

 

            “How did you know? I mean when did you?” She was beginning to feel as though she wasn’t making any sense.

 

            “When I told myself,” he answered with a smile. “How else would I know that if I hadn’t told me?”

 

            “You’re not making much sense.”

 

            “No, I guess I’m not. It doesn’t matter how I found out. All that matters is that you believe in this place and that it’s a retreat.”

 

            “I thought you didn’t remember very well.” She said. “Who are you?”

 

            “I am myself.” The old man answered. “I am me, further on down the road than you are. I am what will be, while I am still what was. It’s all to do with time travel and quantum thingies. I understood it once but I’m afraid that I don’t really get it anymore, something about observing the observed.”

 

            “What?” She asked.

 

            “Quantum Mechanics.” He said popping another raspberry into his mouth. “If something is observed, it affects both the observer and the observed, and the thing that is observed may not exists if no one is there to observe it. If no one hears it, not only does the tree not make a sound, but it doesn’t even fall. Basically it means that if no one’s watching, I can get away with lots of shit.”

 

            She shook her head. 

 

            “What are you…?” She said trying to sort out why he was telling her this.

 

            “Such as I can tell you all about Loki.” He pulled out a leather bound book from apparently thin air and began to read from it. He squinted and then snatched a pair of glasses from the air, which was apparently rather thick with objects. He looked at the book and then up at her.

 

            “Why would I be interested in him?”

 

            “He tried to kill you several times. You and The Weirdo both.”

 

            “Yeah.” She said nodding.

 

            “And forewarned is forearmed.”

 

            “If you say so.”

 

            “Rarely.”

 

            “What?”

 

            “I rarely say such things.”

 

            “What things?”

 

            “Forewarned is forearmed.” He said. “I rarely say things like that.”

 

            “Oh.” She said and he ran his finger along the book, glancing up at her once as he did so.

 

            “Ah yes, here we are. See a group made Loki and let him loose, for reasons of their own. He got away from his keepers or something and went on a bit of a rampage, and he’s still on one. See they cloned The Weirdo but also turned up his aggressive behavior and strength.”

 

            “They can’t do that.”  She said in disbelief. “They can’t even clone a sheep or a cat properly.”

 

            “You’d think that now of course.” The Old man said pulling a ripe peach off a tree, which sat between a fir tree and a palm tree. “You must understand something.”

 

            “Yes?”

 

            “There’s a lot of gaps in the story I’m telling you, mostly because I’m trying not to affect the observed too much. If I affect you too much I’ll let the whole general thing slip and then we’ll all be in trouble. These little quantum bastards do get in the way sometimes and it’s hard to keep the bastards from seeping over.”

 

            “Okay.”  She said, slowly, and carefully. “If you don’t mind my asking, when was it exactly that you went completely insane?”

 

            “June second, twenty thirty-six. About four thirty in the afternoon.”

 

            She did a quick mental tally and came up with an interesting answer for that.

 

            “But isn’t that thirty three years from now?”

 

            “Nope. Twenty five years ago.” He said, “Time’s not what you think it is. You’ve got to remember that while you are here it isn’t the same date as it is when you’re at home. You’ve traveled through time, and that helps it loose its meaning. In the end, time might as well be a freeway outside Columbus, Ohio.”

 

            “Oh?” She asked, finding nothing else cogent to say.

 

            He took a bite from the peach and walking down the path, Kestrel noted that he didn’t wear any shoes and that his toenails looked like they had never been stubbed or cut. They simply looked like they retained their well-kept length out of laziness. He chewed the peach gently brushing the juice away with the back of his hand, trying to keep his face clean. Suddenly he slammed the book shut, putting it back from where ever it came from in the first place.

 

            “You don’t understand.” He said.

 

            “Oh I think I do.” She muttered under her breath.

 

            “No you don’t.” The Old man instated. “The Weirdo has some important work to do, and you’ve got to be involved and I can’t have you trying to kill him when you’re meant to be helping him. I mean you’ve got to help him see. To that end I have brought you here to the end of my life, my retirement. You are incredibly far flung into the future, I brought you here to explain things.”

 

            “And who are you then?”

 

            The old man touched the low wall with his fingertips, looking down at them, examining the rough wall as if it had the answer scrawled on it. There was no such answer scrawled though, unless it was in a writing so subtle she couldn’t even tell it was one. He then looked up at her, his face looking disconcerted. He looked as though he was pained to be going over something he should have left far back in the past. This was all supposed to be over, he shouldn’t have to walk that ground again.

 

            “Just one of the people who helped put this all together.” He said. “One of the soldiers who fought hard and now has full understanding. I’ve been working with some of the others to try and tap things a little into place, but without revealing who we are. I’ve been helping for a while, just I tend to advise from here now. I brought you here to explain about Loki though.”

 

            “So tell me about Loki.” She said folding her arm and leaning against the wall.

 

            The Old man looked as if he might start crying for a moment. Not the weeping of someone who didn’t care anymore, rather a noble single tear. He didn’t cry though, his face just grew graver looking. He took in a deep breath and again she got the sense that he was carrying the  weight of the world and the idea that this cup should have passed him by.

 

            “There was a brilliant scientist who created a pair of Weirdoes, if you will. He could only make the two of them though because there wasn’t enough material for more. See cloning isn’t like they make it in the sci-fi novels, at least not where you are. It’s more like using a genetic photocopier. I don’t mean one of those digital copiers either. I mean one of those old dinosaurs from the seventies, the black and white, where the white looks as dark as the black. It’s messy work. Also, you can’t make many copies of a copy of a copy. The gene degradation gets too bad and you get a pile of goo. I didn’t tell you that for your sake, it’ll become a plot element later, I’m sure.”

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “Just ask your next question.”

 

            “What’s that got to do with this Loki being so bad?”  She asked.

 

            “I believe it was you who said that The Weirdo has a tendency to be like the little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.” He said. “Or you will say. Perhaps I just caused it, quantums and all that. I told you they were tricky little sub-atomic bastards. Quarks and quantums and qwertys, don’t trust any sub-atomic particle that starts with a Q young lady, that’s my advice. Anyway, one of the clones he gave the tendencies to be good, so he was very, very good. The other he gave the bad tendencies, so he was horrid. He named them Virgil and Loki. Now this is as far as Loki knows, you understand. I’m telling you what Loki thinks is the truth. It’s not the truth, but it’ll do for now.

 

            “So this doctor, well, he never actually touched them; they lived in a synthesized amniotic fluid, and were fed brain wave transmissions. He fed Loki memories of a dysfunctional family, a lot of pain, a mother who beat him, a father who molested him, and a sister who was equally abusive. Testing the threshold, you might say, seeing how far it would be until he cracked. While Virgil had been fed the images that poets dream about- flowers and rainbows and sunsets. He had been taught about Jesus and God and all that good, wholesome family shit.”

 

            “Making extremes of them.”

 

            “Well, yes.”  He said nodding with approval.  “Anyway, Loki got out. The doctors were playing when he should have been watching. For some reason or another, Loki got out and ran away. So the good doctor sent Virgil out to hunt down his evil brother. Virgil and Loki have both been given a series of sort of post-hypnotic suggestions. This is the truth, not what Loki thinks by the way, important to get that out. Virgil knows how to kill and has The Weirdo’s violent tendencies or at least the edges of them. If pushed he’ll explode. Which is where the real trouble starts. Virgil doesn’t actually know what Loki looks like or how he should be dressed.

 

            “You see there were good copies of The Weirdo, only stronger, faster, more brain capacity, things like that. They were made to have just that much of an advantage over the original. They either fixed bugs, or ruined facets and took away those perfect imperfections. If you favor my idea that nature shouldn’t be fucked with, then you would agree that they are pale imitations.”  He looked up at the sky and then down at the animals that ran about.  His brow creased and he hummed. “I think maybe it’s all just a bad novel sometimes, written by a waffle obsessed lunatic.”

 

            The old man sat at a stone bench, which looked as if it had simply grown out of the earth. The stone wall seemed to be the same way, so did the house, and the old man for that matter. A black and beige cat came prancing along the wall to the old man. The elder twisted his fingers, which seemed to make a sardine appear from his hand.  Not that there is such a fish, sardine is just a group name for small fish.

 

            “Hello, Bagheera.”  He said rolling the ‘R’ only slightly.

 

            “You have a lot of pets.”  She said noting the cat.

 

            “I haven’t a single pet.”  He said scratching behind the cat’s ears. “A pet is there because you want it there, a friend is there because they want to be there.”

 

            “Very poetic.”  She said.

 

            “I understand, believe me.”  He said.

 

            “What are you hiding?”  She asked him.

 

            “Here, I hide nothing. There is nothing to be hidden in this place.”  He stood and walked down the path some more. “When I was younger, I hid a lot. I hid things from my best friends. I hid all the pain and sorrow. I even hid joy when there was call for it. Now I let it all hang out, just let things be as they will be. Well except those damn little quantums, those you’ve got to keep in check.”

 

            “What the hell are you talking about?”

 

            “There is much to be learned little Kestrel.”  He said cutting her off. “But you shan’t learn it tonight. I’d best send you back, wouldn’t want the connection to get too weak. Could you remember something for me though?”

 

            “I guess I can try.”

 

            “There were two ravens up in a tree. And they were as black as they could be.”

 

            “Is that is?”

 

            “That’s it.”

 

            “Why do you want me to remember that?”

 

            “You’ll know why when the time comes.”

 

            “So remember two lines from the English version of Twa Corbies?”

 

            “Yes.”

 

            “You’re still not making any sense.”

 

            “Blame the quantums.”

 

            “Aren’t you using that word wrong?” She asked, trying to remember what she had read in that book by the guy in the motorized wheelchair.

 

            “Probably.” He said.

 

            “Quanta, they’re light packets.” She said.

 

            “Maybe.” He conceded. “Quarks are particles and quantums are particles and qwerties are particles.”

 

            “No, you’re defiantly using the wrong word, or using it wrong.”

 

            “We’re done having our discussion now.” He said and his eyes twinkled.

 

            The twinkling effect grew around more than just his eyes and after a moment the entire world seemed to be twinkling. Then someone was rattling a string filled with little jingle bells that made their rattling sound as everything began to fade away. She couldn’t help but think the sound was to make an auditory version of the twinkling she was seeing. She was also sure that it was being made artificially by someone who thought there should be a sound there. It was an unnecessary thing, this sound, and it was being made on purpose. She couldn’t help but feel that this was not the way a universe should be run.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

8:21 p.m.

 

            When she came to she could still see a flickering. It wasn’t the kind of flicker a person saw when another person was vanishing before them and it was the sort of flicker you got from a fire. She could see the light flickering through the car window and for a moment wondered if the car was on fire. It took her a long time of staring before she realized that the car wasn’t in fact on fire, the fire was on the other side of the vehicle. As she began to look around though, she remembered that the car was gone. The El Camino had quit on her some time ago, and this wasn’t an El Camino either.

 

            This car looked like the sort of car a cartoonist might make of a car from the thirties. It looked strangely stylized to her, and then it didn’t. As she stood the car seemed to grow more and more mundane. It was just a piece of machinery, built by men in a plant somewhere. She looked over the car and then down at it again and it seemed to have changed again. I looked like some sort of relaxed predator that was watching her under sleepy lids. She knew the vehicle hadn’t changed at all, just her perception of it, which shifted like a snake under the sand.

 

            She blinked and shook her head and there was just a car again. She couldn’t help but feel though that she might wish to give the car a wide birth. She moved slowly around it and found that a fallen tree she had seen earlier was gone. It had fallen off to the side of the path, but she had seen it. Apparently someone else had seen it and decided it was fuel for a fire.

 

            There was nothing remaining of the tree, but a single log, which a man was sitting on. He had set the log onto the ground so that he might sit on it like a single legged stool, which she couldn’t help but think wasn’t as comfortable as it could be. He didn’t seem to mind, or even move. It wasn’t the gray man she had seen before; this was someone else. She thought she knew who it was too.

 

            She had seen his picture on TV enough times, and he had been fighting with the man in red. Her knee twitched a little at the sight of him in fact. They had both looked the same to her, and she had felt afraid of them both. It wasn’t a vague fear either- someone with that face had done something to her once. He wore a coat of gray fabric, but a different shade and a different fabric. He had draped his coat over the back of the stump so that he wasn’t sitting on it. His coat was the near canvas looking material of trench coats the world over, while the other man’s had bee a coat of gray silk.

 

            His head turned as she approached, though she would swear that she hadn’t made any noise. He must have simply known she was approaching. She saw the dark eyes, and saw the spark of annoyance in them. Not anger or resentment, just annoyance. He hadn’t liked being dragged out here, and then to find her asleep against a tree had probably made it worse. She wondered why he didn’t move her, or just throw her over one shoulder and go regardless of any danger or confusion.

 

            “You’re up then.” He said.

 

            “Yes.” She said approaching the fire.

 

            It was a blazing fire, the heat radiating outwards from it a good ten feet away. She moved close and held her hands out to the flames. She hadn’t noticed before, but she felt that she must be half frozen. The contrast of the heat had made her notice how cold she had been. This late in October it got cold at night, it wasn’t all that warm in the day for that matter.

 

            “Where were you headed?” He asked.

 

            “I’m going to Maine.” She said.

 

            “Not now.” He said his voice crackling with restrained annoyance.

 

            “No?”

 

            “If you’re going to a cabin in southern Maine, you’re out of luck. They found and raided the cabin already.” He looked at her as she began to crouch down near the fire. “I’ve got a blanket in the car.”

 

            “I’m okay.” She said.

 

            “They were a bit surprised by the safe.” He said. “No one was hurt but they were surprised. Your papers were destroyed and a clip of ammunition went off.”

 

            Kestrel had learned how to keep a safe-drop years ago, but hadn’t had the guts to fully do it. The right way so she had been told, was to set up hand grenades in the safe so that if someone just opened the door, it would burst. She hadn’t had the guts to put up explosives, so she had used flash grenades. She had figured, rightly it appeared, that the magnesium flash would set the papers on fire and truly burn the sight.

 

            “No one was hurt though?” She asked.

 

            “No.” He said. “Just surprised as hell.”

 

            “Okay.” She said.

 

            “We should probably get going.” He said.

 

            “Where to?” She asked, looking up at her.

 

            “Back to the city.” He said standing and brushing the seat of his pants off. “I’ll take you to my house for the moment. We can figure out what to do with you after that.”

 

            “Do you mean turn me in?” She asked.

 

            “No.” He said shaking his head. “I came out here to get you, a long way, and I was asked not to disturb you, so I didn’t. I didn’t go through all that just to turn you into the police.”

 

            “Why did you come get me then?” She asked.

 

            “Because you’re supposed to be a part of it.”

 

            “Does it have to do with that red bastard who tired to kill me?”

 

            “Loki.” He said. “The man who attacked you last night and who killed your family is called Loki.”

 

            “Okay, does it involve killing Loki?” She asked watching him closely.

 

            “I don’t know.” He said, his eyes turning towards her.

 

            She could see the fire reflected in the dark orbs. It almost seemed as if there was a fire in each of those two dark spots. He looked tired, worn out in fact, like he had something he was supposed to do and wanted to get it over with. There wasn’t just that, but weariness as well.

 

            “So there is something that I’ve got to be part of but you don’t know what it is?” She asked. “And it might or might not involve killing that son of a bitch?”

 

            “That’s right.” He said. “There is some big thing I’m supposed to do, but no one will tell me what it is. I don’t know what it is, and it looks like I’m not meant to know.”

 

            “And I’m part of it?” she asked, unable to keep incredulity out of her voice.

 

            “That’s what they tell me.”

 

            “Who?” she asked as a log collapsed and a shower of sparks danced into the fire.

 

            He didn’t say anything, and she thought maybe he didn’t hear her over the snap and cracks of the fire. She was about to repeat it when he began to speak again. He started slowly by taking in a deep breath and closing his eyes as if steeling himself. It was an amazingly short comment to make though, for all that effort.

 

            “There is some small group, trying to do something, and I’ve got to do something for them. You’re apparently supposed to be part of it, so until you’ve done it I guess I’ve got to keep you safe.”

 

            “You sure this isn’t about me insulting you the other day?”

 

            “If I had known then, I’d have never let you get away like I did.”

 

            “You let me get away?” She asked. “You got too distracted to stop me.”

 

            “I could have put a bullet through your side or broken your leg. If I wanted to keep you from running I could have stopped you.” He said turning away from her to watch something that had made some kind of noise.

 

            She couldn’t tell if he was kidding or not, he had an odd look on his face and it could go either way. A statement like that wasn’t to be taken lightly though, because if nothing else it meant he had at least considered it, if only for a second. Someone who thought like that you have to be careful about.

 

            She had seen a movie once, half awake late at night in an apartment she had held in Zurich. It had been playing on the television, which she had turned on to have a bit of sound before she went to sleep. The movie had involved a knight playing chess with the grim reaper, and she hadn’t remembered much from it. The movie itself had been a very odd thing, but she remembered the two of the playing chess. She couldn’t even remember the name of the movie, but it stuck with her. She wondered if he was the knight or the reaper. Could she get away by trying to tempt him with a game of chess?

 

            “The Seventh Seal.” He said suddenly aloud.

 

            “Pardon?”

 

            “The movie is called The Seventh Seal.” He said sounding slightly annoyed. “It’s probably the most widely recognized of Bergman’s films.”

 

            “Oh.” She wondered for a moment if she’d said all of that out loud, she was sure she hadn’t.

 

            “I don’t play much chess.” He said turning back to her. “We should go.”

 

            “Okay.” She said getting a glance at the car he’d come in.

 

            She got a better look at the car now that there was the fire light on it, which made the surface of the vehicle look like liquid. It was a midnight blue sedan, the like of which she had never seen. He didn’t seem to be in a mood for talking any more, so she just slid into the front seat of the car as he started the motor. There was almost no sound as the car started, and she wondered if it might be electric or something. She looked at him, as the gentle light from the instrument panel glowed on his face. He didn’t seem inclined to talk, so she let it go.

 

            The drive was quiet, with the exception of the soft music he played so quietly it was almost inaudible.  She couldn’t quite place the band, but it was a soft music being played so low it was just on the edge of hearing. It sounded like a pair of guitar players doing a sort of mix between Spanish music and jazz. It was a pleasant sound, and kept turned down so low that it was just on the edge of hearing. She felt a little dreamy still and sat low in the seat.

 

            She didn’t really pay much attention as they drove, noticing that the streets seemed to be a lot easier for him to navigate that they were when she’d had to drive in the city. They went to a more upscale part of the island system known as New York City. She thought again that the car was ghostly quiet, it didn’t sound like it was even running, but they were moving.

 

            She had a wild moment where she thought that it might actually be dead or something like that. That this might be Charon, driving across the Stix motorway. He didn’t look like her impression of the ferryman though. After all he wasn’t even a ferryman. This was a car, and he was a driver. She thought that she’d be able to spot a carrier of the dead though, whatever vehicle he used. Besides, she hadn’t given him a coin from under her tongue, and there was no one left to bury her. You had to have been given proper burial rights and someone had to put a coin under your tongue. If you didn’t have these things, you were forced to wander. She hadn’t had an obol, so she couldn’t have paid him, so he wasn’t Charon.

 

            She must be alive then, how nice.

 

            Or, said a paranoid part of her brain, he’s just not Charon. There are lots of carriers for the dead.

 

            They drove across what she thought must have been the fiftieth bridge in just a few hours, but this one felt different. She sat up and saw that it was a fairly long bridge and it was extremely narrow. It was only four lanes wide, two for each direction, and it stretched to a small island. As they landed from the bridge to the island, she saw the house. It rose from the landscape as they approached. It was a huge place making other houses look small and insignificant. Even in the darkening sky she could see this fact clearly. In fact, she had noticed that all the other houses had slunk away from the house, which had an almost imposing look to it.

 

            She was a little surprised to find a great black fence surrounding the grounds as they drove next to it. They seemed to stretch along for a great length, hardly curling inward at all. A brick wall, about three foot high, stood just before the ten-foot high fence, hiding part of it away from view. There were trees and green bushes to obscure the black metal a bit, but it still showed. After all, it was a ten-foot high fence of black bars, it’s a bit high to conceal from sight. It did seem a bit traditional to her though, a turn of the century addition to a house.

 

            The huge black gate hung open, which seemed to be incongruous to the high fence. A huge gate should be closed and guards should be posted. The house looked old as they approached, so the fence might be old as well. It probably was, she thought, it was the sort of thing guilty millionaires of the early 1900’s would make. She wondered if it was just that he had no need of physical gates, that if he didn’t want someone in, the fence was the least of there problems.

 

            They stopped the car in on a curving driveway that was more like a road or parking lot than driveway. It was long and made of long compacted gravel, which somehow was smoother than the roads they had been driving on. It probably wouldn’t be great for little kids who had roller skates, but it was nice for a car to slowly drift across.

 

            She looked at the house and noted the high climbing roses and ivy, which had attached itself to the brickwork of the house. There was something odd about the house. It didn’t seem to be welcoming so much as expecting. It gave her the impression that it hadn’t so much been built, as uncovered. It was as if when people came to this island, they simply found this house. She remembered a book she had read years ago, about a hotel. The house somehow gave her the impression she thought the hotel had. Like it had always been here, and was waiting for you.

 

            It looked old, ancient as the hills, and made of the same stuff as the hills. It almost looked like it had been grown from the ground, rather than set in it. There was something, old, unused and disheveled feeling about it.  She couldn’t explain it, but it felt like something that wasn’t part of this mortal earth.

 

            The Weirdo opened the door and she found that the disheveled appearance from outside was a great facade. The inside of the house was a marvel of dark blue cobalt and brown hardwood. There were rooms which were fashioned after French mansions and palaces, and some which were English and there were even rooms which just seemed to be there.  She ran up the stairs and then back down them, again.

 

            “I take it you’ve never been in something like this before.”  He said to her wide-eyed expression.

 

            “It’s beautiful.”  She said.  “Nothing overdone, nothing gaudy, everything’s perfect.”

 

            “I know,” He said tossing his keys on an antique end table.  “I live here.”

 

            “What does that mean?”  She asked

 

            “I am often amazed at the fact that human beings feel the necessity to tell me things that I already know.  Such as, my home is very nice.  One would think I know this.”

 

            “Well I…I need a bath,” she decided, feeling suddenly shabby against the splendor of the beautiful house.

 

            “Okay.” He said turning. “Follow me.”

 

            They walked through the house to a room with a single oak door.  He turned the brass handle and pushed the door open. The room seemed to open around and envelop Kestrel. She entered a huge white and pearl colored room with an enormous bath set into the floor. She turned to the door but it was closed and The Weirdo was gone. She walked to the bath.  It was about four feet deep and seven feet from end to end.  The bath was built in a giant octagon with steps leading into it and a seat built into the sides.  She looked down near the steps and saw a small panel set into the floor, next to the rim of the tub.  The sealed control panel was waterproof and divided into sections.  She examined it for a moment and then pressed a button marked “Mouth.”

 

            A brass dragon’s head at each end of the pool suddenly began to breathe hot water.  There was a small rocker switch for temperature, which indicated a hundred and twelve point four degrees; the F next to the temperature made her assume it must be the Fahrenheit reading. Without another hesitation, she peeled her clothing off and slid into the rapidly filling hot water.  She leaned back and closed her eyes, letting the bath fill to her neck.  At that point the twin dragons suddenly stopped the flow of water and their mouths snapped closed.  Kestrel looked at the control panel and noted that a small light had brightened beneath the word full. She noticed a pair of small tubes beneath each brass piece which she thought must have some sort of water sensor to tell the heads when the tub was full to prevent it overflowing. A keypad built into the control panel controlled the settings for the television and stereo system. She looked at a small numbered readout, which had the water temperature and had a thermostat under it.

 

            “Well,” she commented aloud, “he’s gone and thought of everything, hasn’t he?”

 

 

 

November 5th, 1864

2:31 p.m.

 

            “You know what I think?” The Weirdo asked as looked at the two railroad tracks.

 

            “No idea captain.” The sergeant said.

 

            “I think it would please Uncle Billy to no end if we yanked up these rails and gave them a good heating, maybe twist them out of shape.”

 

            “I reckon he might at that.” The Sergeant said. “Shall I order the men?”

 

            “Yeah, get the fires started.”

 

            “Yes sir.”

 

            They worked for about three hours, waiting for the rest of the column to catch up to them. By that time they had ripped up six rails and had turned them into six wide arches, like parenthesis. When the General came, his face looked confused until he saw the last bar being twisted into shape.

 

            “What do you think Cump?” The Weirdo asked as he took the reigns of the general’s horse, patting its nose gently.

 

“Magnificent.” The general said.

 

Even on horseback the general wore shoes, not the military boots. The Weirdo also wore shoes, finding them more comfortable. The two of them understood each other to an extent, as much as one genius can understand another. The sergeant, still a little nervous decided to call out to the two of them.

           

            “Does Uncle Billy like it?” The sergeant asked.

 

            The general smiled, pretending he didn’t hear the nickname his soldiers had given him. The Weirdo didn’t really want to pretend though. He wanted to needle the slow poke. Make him pay for taking so long.

 

            “Does Uncle Billy like it?” The Weirdo asked up to him.

 

            “How long did this take?”

 

            “A few hours.” The Weirdo said. “We’d decided to wait for you to catch up, and we thought, what would be a fun way to spend the time?”

 

            “Wonderful.” The General said.

 

            “It was the sergeant’s idea.” The Weirdo said. “I’d put him up to sergeant major if I was you. He could use the promotion.”

 

            “Sure.” Cump said. “Let’s do that.”

 

 

October 26th, 2002

9:22 p.m.

 

            Outside the bathroom, The Weirdo walked through the hallways of his home and stripped his coat off and tossed it over the back of a chair as he walked down the hall. He entered his personal study and turned the computer on, waiting for the small light at the bottom of the monitor to stop blinking and show him the screen. There had been a time, he could remember clearly, when you had to wait for the screen to slowly fade up from blackness. Now there was a small light that blinked a few times and the screen just blinked into life. He looked at the screen and then leaned back and looked at the large globe in the corner of the office. He had bought it at the estate sale of an eccentric gentleman, on who rarely left his own office. The Weirdo rarely entered this office, which made it a nice contrast for the globe and red leather chair at least.

 

            “Hello, Baggy.” He said rolling the cat ever so slightly I his arms.

 

            The cat walked about on his lap for a moment pushing down what felt like fifty pounds per square inch on each of his paws. He began to knead at The Weirdo’s thigh and then walked around in a circle before beginning to knead the flesh again. The cat looked up at him and then walked around in the circle again.

 

            “Will you get comfy and lie down already?” He asked the cat who meowed at him and finally bedded down in his lap.

 

            The Weirdo scratched at the cat’s head for a while then leaned his own head back against the chair and closed his eyes. There was a moment when everything seems to be quiet and simple. In that moment, if you can hold it, you can actually relax. The Weirdo had a knack for finding and holding the moment, it wasn’t always a good thing, but it helped him relax this time. They hit that moment, both creatures purring in their sleep in a matter of minutes.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

9:32 p.m.

 

            The man in the light beige coat sat alone on the park bench, which as good a place to bring him into this tale as any other. He had been in the city for about three days but hadn’t seen much, though it was like nothing he’d seen before. This world looked like the color had been washed out. His eyes had only ever seen the computer screens that were strapped over them in the VR goggles. He’d never really had solid food. He had never felt real wind over his face; he had always had the electrical impulses feed into his brain. The neural connections were kept up through a series of impulses sent through the nerve fibers, but they were just signals. There were machines that massaged his gums and jaw to simulate him having to eat so that his teeth wouldn’t rip out of his gums the first time he bit into solid food, but it wasn’t eating. His muscles had been stimulated and set into false motion to build muscles so he wouldn’t collapse with his first steps, but he’d never really walked.

 

            The real world was a lot grayer, colder, and smelled worse than the computer world did. His world was a techni-colored paradise, a world filled with warmth, color, rich constant sound, and vibrant feeling. His world was always pleasant, and even when there was conflict or strife, he knew he’d achieve. He’d always been floating in that fluid, and nothing here was like the fluid. This world was not his world. Or was it? It was almost void of color and there were no assurances.

 

            Something inside his brain said, and not for the first time, that there had been no fluid. There had been no VR goggles and there had been no tube. He had been born and raised like any other lad. He had received drugs to help enhance the memories they were implanting in his head, that’s all it was.

 

            However, there was something undeniably real about the place. There were shades in this world of muted color that he’d never dreamed existed, and sounds that could never be reproduced in the chamber. He felt reality with every step, the solid feeling of the ground complete and undeniable. The simple fact that he didn’t somehow feel like he was floating all the time was amazing to him.

 

            This place was real.

 

            The gun he’d gotten off the young drug distributor was digging into his ribs. He recognized the weapon as a nineteen ninety-one Glock nine millimeter, he had learned about all the weapons he might need to use before he left. They had taught him everything he would need to know. He had a feeling that he had arrived after his brother had. He had a distinct feeling that his brother had been here a while. He watched a streak of red fly across the sky and pulled his small teddy bear from his coat. There was no streak actually, but he had seen it all the same. There had really been a quick moving speck of red flying across the sky at great speed. He saw bits of red everywhere, and wondered if his brother might not change to hide from him. What if he took up a new color?

 

            “That might have been him, Marty.” The man said running his fingers through his blonde hair, then he began to talk to himself. “I’ll have to do something about him.”

 

            “Awe, look at dis boys.” A member of the Funkiness Five said walking up from behind. “Lil’ man needs a fucking teddy bear.”

 

He snatched Marty from the man’s hands, causing a trigger to fall in his mind. Marty was a sacred object, and only the man could hold him. Marty’s importance was a hypnotic suggestion of course, but that didn’t diminish it. Even if he had known about the small tracking device sunk deep in Marty’s cotton stuffing, it wouldn’t have mattered. Marty was the single most important thing to him, and it should not be molested by these people.

 

            “Now you give him back.” The man said standing.

 

            He was shorter than all the men around him were, but he was built in ways they could only dream. He had muscle under those slouched shoulders and power in what looked like weak knees. There was also something in his eyes, but they couldn’t see it. You would have to have been much smarter than these fellows were to see death in a man’s eyes.

 

            “Right, man.” One of the four said, drawing out a pistol. “Soon as you give us all your money.”

 

            “You shouldn’t do that.” He said.

 

            He was trying to repress the anger which was swelling inside of him. He wanted his bear back and he wanted it now and he wanted these men to leave him alone. He didn’t have time for the deep breathing exercise that he had to learn to keep his temper down, but he was holding back well. All he wanted was his bear back.

 

            “Hey, fuck you, man!” another one said grabbing his coat and tearing it. “Give us your fucking money.”

 

            “Please just give me my bear back.” The man said. “I don’t want to hurt you, just give me Marty.”

 

            His heart rate was increasing and he could feel the bits of anger swarming up. He knew that there were certain things down at the base of his genetic structure that he couldn’t repress forever. Somewhere, deep down, violence was welling up. It was going to happen, it was all going to explode.

 

            “Fuck you.” A fist hit him, and a small spurt of blood danced from his lip. 

 

            He closed his blue eyes and tried not to get angry, tried so hard. Marty was his bear. There was reasons why they acted like this, bad parenting or no parenting. His alone to hold. Sometimes it was social, sometimes genetic, extra chromosomes and the like. No one else can hold Marty. Yes, there were a lot of reasons, but he didn’t really care. All he wanted was his fucking bear back. He so loved his bear and he wanted it back, and those damn bastards wouldn’t give it too him! He begged God for forgiveness.

 

            He was going to get his bear back.

 

            His left hand grabbed quickly under the bad man’s jaw, taking hold of a pair of tendons and the Adam’s apple. He cut all three off causing incredible pain and then squeezing suddenly to crush the trachea. It sounded not unlike someone crushing a plastic cup under a pillow.

 

            He reached out and grabbed the head of the one that had told him to give them his money. Pushing it forward as his fingers rushed forward, he forced the man’s eyes back into his brain, causing death instantly. It had happened in only a few seconds, but it had happened. There had been no time to react; they had just died. Of course he had been made to move faster than any other human being on the earth, even his brother.

 

            The man who had his bear was holding it out, screaming for mercy. The man snatched Marty from the other man’s unresisting hands and kicked him hard. He sent him into the ground and with a sharp kick snapped his spine and pelvic bone. The last member stood terrified, he dropped his gun and pulled out a wad of money. He was holding it out as if he could some how buy this man off.

 

            “Here man, you can take it, take my watch too, man.”

 

            “Why, thank you.” He said taking the money and looking at the watch. “I have a watch, though. You can see my Mickey Mouse timepiece. You may go now.”

 

            “Okay man.” The young man walked away slowly, and then turned and began to run.

 

            “That was very nice of him, Marty.” He said to the teddy bear. “Very nice indeed.”

 

            He noticed that one of the brutes had hurt Marty, and his blood froze. There were two tears where stitching had given way, fluff was coming from the seams. He pulled out the Glock and gave the running man two rounds in the back, knocking the man down. He looked at the one who was groaning on the ground.

 

            “You hurt Marty.” He said placing the barrel against the man’s forehead.

 

            “Fuck.” The man said in weak response. “Fucking hurts.”

 

            He had the presence of mind to remember that if he shot the man this close there would be a considerable blow back of blood. He had no desire to get whatever passed for this person’s brains on his coat. He stood up, taking a few steps back while the man moaned. He fired a round through the punk’s forehead, causing the concrete path behind him to snap in half as the bullet drove itself into the ground. Then the rage passed, and he was his amiable self again.

 

            “We shall certainly have to get you fixed, Marty.” He said sliding the gun away.

 

            He began prodding, trying to push the stuffing back in. It was clear that this was a job for a professional though, and he thought maybe he should just push Marty back into his coat until that time. He wondered where a person found a professional who could repair this kind of damage. He looked up at the city skyline and thought that probably, in a city this size, it wouldn’t be hard.

 

 

October 26th, 2002

10:02 p.m.

 

            Wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe, Kestrel stepped timidly out of the bathroom and wandered down the hall. This house was so large that she couldn’t remember where anything was. She had been looking for the front door where she had left her bag with all her clothes. The problem was she actually turned the wrong way and began to move deeper into the house. She wandered down the halls, which she noted were wide enough to install a bowling alley in.

 

            Max was standing in the billiards room with Tommy, who was beating him by four balls. He was biting his lip a lot because while he wasn’t bad at the game, Tommy had apparently been born with a cue stick in his hand. As Max ran the chalk over the cue, he looked out the open door and watched the short blonde walking through the house. He noticed with some delight how her semi wet hair flipped around as her head turned.

 

            “Hi there.” Max said, looking out the door.

 

            Startled, Kestrel jumped and incredibly, found herself blushing. She clutched the robe to her neck, even though it had been tightly closed there already. It was a reaction, mostly from knowing that all that stood between her naked body and the outside world was this robe. She looked at the two men and felt like shrinking into nothing as she did.

 

            “I didn’t know there was anyone else here,” she said, embarrassed to be discovered wandering through someone else’s house wearing nothing but a borrowed bathrobe. “Have you seen The Weirdo?  I thought he might be able to lend me something clean to wear. I can’t seem to find the front door where we left my bag.”

 

            “Do you know where he is?” Max said, turning towards Tommy.

 

            “No idea.” Tommy said. “I do know where the front door is, however.”

 

            “I’ll show her.” Max said putting the stick on the table.

 

            “Thanks,” she murmured her face still pink.

 

            “Okay.” Tommy said as the woman followed Max down the hall.

 

            He took the cue stick from the table and put it back on the rack. He then lowered his own stick, looked at the table for a moment, and looked at the balls for a long moment. He looked from one ball to another and finally let his arm snap forward. The stick struck the white ball, which began to smack the other balls into each other. When it all done, only the white cue, the six and the eight ball where left.

 

            “House guest?” Jack said walking in from the other adjoining room, he pulled a stick off the rack and moved towards the table.

 

            “Someone The Weirdo picked up.” Tommy said. “Max has gotten eyes for her already.”

 

            “She is female.” Jack said hitting the white cue towards the six ball.

 

            Tommy looked at the door as if they were still there, and could still be seen. He looked at Jack and shook his head from side to side.

 

            “Too smart for him.” Tommy said grabbing the six ball and sending it across the table.

 

            “Probably.” Jack said picking the cue ball up and tossing it between his hands.

 

            Tommy took the cue ball from Jack and set it down in its place.

 

            “Where is the man, anyway?” Tommy asked aiming at the cue ball.

 

            “No idea.” Jack said. “Might be sacked out somewhere, he’s been having little naps in chairs lately.”

 

            “Which one though?” Tommy asked. “We have a fair number of chairs that would be good for sleeping.”

 

            “If you’re that interested, go looking.” Jack answered.

 

            Tommy sent the stick forward again and the six ball and eight ball went rolling, the six landed in a pocket, then the eight and then the cue. He was really quite glad that Max wasn’t here to see this as he’d have been desperately embarrassed to learn that Tommy had been going easy on him.

 

            “That’s alright, he’ll find us.”

 

 

October 26th, 2002

10:10 p.m.

 

            The bag had been easy to find once they’d found the front door and they had gone to one of the guest rooms. Max had often thought he should count the number of rooms in the house, but always gave up after five. He didn’t really care about the rooms anyway. He did find it interesting that there always seemed to be another guest room available, no matter how many rooms they filled.

 

            Kestrel came from the bathroom, now dressed and tossed the bag onto the bed for the moment. Max watched her looking through the bag and made a note to see if she was armed. He thought she was, but felt it might be important to get some kind of confirmation about it. She knew how to use a gun, he could tell that somehow, but he didn’t know if she had one right now.

 

            “How did you get to be mixed up in all this?” Max asked her. “Having to come here and all that?”

 

            Kestrel shrugged, she had chosen a pair of jeans and a blue t-shirt the logo for the Windhurst Company on it. She seemed to be much more comfortable now, and he thought he realized why. She was a few years older than him, maybe five, which meant she should have gotten more or less over the body image problem. This should prove what Max knew about women at that time. It was just strange to him for a woman as old as she was to be so shy about her body.

 

            “I barely know myself,” she answered, running her fingers through her hair. “I am a burglar by trade. I have stolen mainly jewels from all over the world, and rarely have I been caught, even on camera. I was caught a little while ago and had to leave Europe, so I came home. When I did I found the police more or less had been waiting for me. I got away, met The Weirdo, and went home to get a few things. Then that thing, Loki they said he’s called, tried to kill me. I get away, and I ran out of gas, and then.”

 

            She stopped and looked around for a moment trying to figure out how to put what had happened next. Why had she explained everything to him like that? She never explained things to anyone, explaining always caused more trouble than not explaining. She had told him this much though, so she might as well finish. How would she explain so this young man might understand? She decided to skip over that and lead right to the end of it.

 

            “Then The Weirdo came and told me that I was supposed to go with him.”

 

            “Oh.” Max said, trying to mull it over in his head. “Okay then.”

 

            “He said this Loki person might be part of the reason he was supposed to save me. He didn’t actually give me any details, I’m not sure he knows them.”

 

            “You’re being very open about all this.” Max said.

 

            “You get caught, you can either lie completely or tell the truth. Lying only works if the person who can confirm or deny your story is somehow unavailable. You’re going to go talk this over with The Weirdo. Best if I just tell you everything I know.”

 

            “Is it?”

 

            “Yes.” She said. “Contrary to what some believe I have been caught before. A few diamonds I was able to talk my way out of.”

 

            “Is it true you’re one of Loki’s victims?”

 

            “I have no idea.” She said, marveling at how much she was telling him. “I can’t actually remember anything from before I was twenty or so. Him trying to kill me last night could be the first time I’ve ever seen him. I’ll find out if I am though, and then I’ll kill him.”

 

            “If he did it you’ll kill him?”

 

            “No.” She said. “I saw a raw personified evil, I’ll kill him.”

 

            “Even if he didn’t hurt you?”

 

            “He’s hurt people, he needs to be put down.” Her eyes raised up to his. “I don’t think he’s innocent of any crime attributed to him.”

 

            He looked into the cold golden eyes and found himself wanting to shrink. He didn’t because he was such a tough guy; but he wanted to which says a lot. He found himself nodding though, in order to agree to anything, if only those golden eyes would look elsewhere. She wasn’t a very big person, but there was a lot of rage locked away in that little frame.

 

 

October 27th, 2002

10:12 p.m.

 

            Mrs. Pendleton walked into one of the studies and found The Weirdo sitting in the chair, and it was clear to her that he was asleep. She watched him sleeping for a long time before moving into the room. She debated whether or not to disturb him, thinking about whether or not he could get back to sleep if she woke him. She worried about him, not that she’d ever let him know it.

 

            It would take a long time and a lot of technical terms to define their relationship. It has been suggested that while The Weirdo was traveling through time and space they met when she was a young woman. The further suggestions have been that they had some sort of relationship, either an affair or a friendship. There was something between them, that much was obvious. If there was nothing else, he respected her. She wasn’t a housekeeper so much as she was a mother figure.

 

            This wasn’t a house filled with amazing men to her, it was the lost boys camp. She thought that if Peter Pan had grown up and then had something terribly tragic happen to him, he would be The Weirdo. The Weirdo had been as happy and joyous as a child, until that day in March. He had not so much grown up, she reflected, as the child had died. There had always been a childishly happy Weirdo, and an incredibly intense grown up. The two forces worked together and seemed to balance each other out fairly well.  With Shannon falling onto the floor, the child had simply left, and there was only the intense adult left.

 

            He was having a dream, about a pair of pistols. Old colt peacemakers, sitting in the holsters on the gun belt where their previous owner had left them. They had been hung up, not forever, just for the night. The owner of the guns had been killed, and there was no one to claim them. The silver pistols had been allowed to tarnish quite badly and they looked nearly black in the light his dream was allowing. Someone would have to claim the guns, with their pearl or ivory handles. Some one would have to strap those guns on, and do what was right. They were guns that spoke of duty that wanted to be used for what was right.

 

            She walked up to him took his left fingers in her hand and began to shake them. His eyes opened barely to look at her, his mind flashing into activity with a speed she thought she’s never had. He might as well have never been asleep.

 

            “Up, mister Veirdo, sir.” She said shaking his fingers. “Come on, I’ve gots to clean the room now.”

 

            “I thought you were from Manchester.” The Weirdo said opening his eyes.

 

            “Well, yes sir,” She said to him. “But no one ever wakes up to a polite English voice.”

 

            “Why did you wake me up?” He asked the old woman.

 

            “Your lady friend is looking for you.”

 

            “She’s not my girlfriend.” The Weirdo said rubbing his eyes. “I’m just taking care of her for a few days.”

 

            “Well Maximilian has found her and I believe has installed her in the south wing. The green room if I remember.”

 

            “I see, giving her the tour of the house, as well?”

 

            “Most likely.” She said.

 

            “Are you sure you didn’t wake me up just to irritate me?” The Weirdo asked.

 

            “Now if I did that I’d be fired.” She said quiet innocently, throwing on something almost East End to her accent.  “I could loose me position, sir. Then I’d have to be out on the streets. And I’m not as pretty as I once was, sir. Couldn’t make no living as a street walker, if you catch me meaning, sir?”

 

            “Go polish the silver or something.” He said walking out of the room, and that made him think of the guns again.

 

            He felt tired as he walked into the hall, his heart thumping heavily in his chest. There was a determination in him though, he knew why he was tired and he thought that probably he should do something about it. They had thrown that woman into his lap, and told him to do something about it. Now he had slept but a few moments, and the dream about the guns had made him think.

 

            He’d had three tussles with Loki so far, and he wasn’t too keen on the thoughts of a fourth. The fight in Rockefeller had been a defeat for him, the houseboat had been more or less a draw and the battle of their two minds had been a victory for him. He was keen to keep this building victory record up, and he thought he knew how. They would have to form a cohesive formula, but he thought they could do it.

 

            He walked through the hallway and tapped on the door of another dark colored door, which swung gently on its hinges. Tommy sat up in the chair he was sitting in and walked to the door. He held a small copy of a Victorian book of morals in one hand, a glass of ginger ale in the other. Tommy always liked reading comedy while drinking ginger ale

 

            “Yeah?” Tommy said.

 

            “I think we should have a meeting. In the main library.”

 

            “Okay.” He said. “I’ll get Mrs. Pendleton and Jack.”

 

            Tommy slipped a bookmark in and closed the book, suddenly excited. If he wanted a meeting, then they were going to do something. Tommy knew well enough not to attempt to try and get The Weirdo to do the job. He had to wait. Once The Weirdo was ready to work though, the world could end before he’d quit. He got Jack and Mrs. Pendleton and they walked down to the great library.

 

            “Maximilian.” The Weirdo said walking into the room that Max and Kestrel were standing in.

 

            “Yes sir.” Max said quickly in an almost mocking tone.

 

            “Library. We’ve gotta do some more war room junk, by the small yet perky breasts of Athena.”

 

            “Right. See ya later,” he said waving.

 

            “What’s going on?” Kestrel asked.

 

            “War room.” The Weirdo said. “We cut up work, decide how we’re going to fight.”

 

            “Can I come?” She asked.

 

            “I don’t care.” He said. “It probably won’t matter much if you do.”

 

            He didn’t mean to be so gruff, he’d wanted to be nice, but he didn’t have time for that now. He didn’t really have that much time for anything, within twenty hours he would be dead and the fate of the city would be in the grip of a lunatic.

 

            He didn’t know that he was thus doomed, but the future was as set down before him as if it were printed in a book, a book that was being read by a person who would never ruin the surprise of what happened after he died by looking ahead to the ninth or tenth chapter to see what happened after he’d died. Collapsing waveforms of probability had predicted the outcome of the near future and until new wave forms opened and expanded, the future was set down.

 

            He looked at his wrist, where there was no watch, and wondered what time it was. He thought he should also get Judy and Sheila and began to look for them. It would be important for everyone to be a part of this particular meeting. He thought that they might be asleep though, and he thought that if they were he should wake them. After all, if he couldn’t sleep why should anyone else? He felt so tired, and yet he could feel his blood pumping through his ears from the excitement. He figured he would let the children sleep but if anyone else was sleeping they should be woken up for this meeting. It was going to be important, this meeting, and everyone should be there.

 

 

© 2012 Autumn Knight Productions

 

July 30, 2013 Posted by | Fiction | , | Leave a comment