Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Vessel of Ropav

Today's muse: This is an excerpt from a short story I started writing. I admit that I am now a little hung up on continuing...I'm not very good at writing sci-fi or fantasy. So the piece is shelved. For now.

* * *

The Vessel of Ropav

“Do you have it?”

“Yes,” he replied, for what seemed like the hundredth time that morning. 

The two men—one young, one old—marched in step with the other commuters, blended in with their dark suits and even darker overcoats.  They walked onto the train platform, scanned the crowd that formed along the thick yellow line that ran parallel with the track.  The old man smiled when he thought how ridiculous it seemed to have nothing but a swish of bright paint act as a barrier; as though there was an unseen force field preventing commuters from pressing too close to the tracks. 

Or jumping. 

It would have made his task more difficult, he acknowledged.  Difficult, but not impossible. 

He gestured at the younger one to take the agreed-upon place near the yellow line and walked over to the public pay phone.  He could hear the distant chime of the train bell and willed his arthritic knees to move faster.  He lifted the receiver and punched in the three numbers.

“911. What is your emergency?”  Odd, he thought, that the voice should sound so cheerful.  Perhaps she knew. 

As the train approached, the tracks sang as though they heralded a new day. 

“The Vessel has been filled.”

“I’m sorry, sir, could you repeat that?”

“The Vessel has been filled.”

He dropped the receiver and it swung like a pendulum from the metal coil.

“Sir? Sir? Hello?!”

There was no time to waste now.  He pressed his way through the crowd, ignoring the obscenities shouted by angry business people.  Breathless, his ancient knees aching, he reached his young friend.

Here, the edge of the concrete platform gave way to gravel and sporadic patches of grass.  The train would enter the station at top speed, making this location ideal.  And, of course, the telephone.  It was petty, he knew, but he wanted the higher powers to know they were bested. 

The old man had no doubt the message would be conveyed. 

He stood next to the younger one, made no eye contact.  It would be dangerous for anyone to associate them. 

“You know what to do, yes?”  He spoke so only the younger would hear.  It wasn’t a question, really, it was confirmation.  Confirmation for an old man who knew there was only one chance to change the world.  That such a sacrifice could be made only once. 

The young man gave an imperceptible nod as he moved his hand across his loose overcoat—over the small lump at his chest—and brushed away a non-existent speck of dirt.  The old man closed his eyes and murmured a chant.

“Blessed be, my son.”  And the old man stepped off the platform into the rushing path of the 06:07 morning train as horrified rush-hour commuters looked on.

As the 911 dispatch received dozens of calls from eye witnesses to what was later ruled a suicide, one other phone call was made.

“My lord, the Vessel of Ropav is now filled.”

There was a pause before a deep voice replied.

“Prepare for battle.” 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tales of Woe

Today's muse: Three Word Wednesday

Today's words: banter, duty, element

Based on a true story. The names and locations have been changed to protect the innocent guilty.

* * *

Tales of Woe

“Oh my god, Elan! What happened?”

Elan Fischer shrugs, mumbles an incoherent response into his glass of beer. He had expected this response, he just didn’t want to talk about it. As his friends arrive for the annual summer barbeque, the greeting from each is the same—or some variation of it.

He manages to put off John and Trevor when they ask him what happened. He even avoids Rick’s queries when he corners him by the fire pit. He finally relents when Sandra and Emily tag-team him. He always did have a weakness for women.

“Alright.” Elan throws up his hands in defeat. “I’ll tell you what happened.”

To give himself time to gather his thoughts, Elan walks over to the cooler and pulls out a beer, takes his time drying it off. When he pops off the top, he turns and faces the group, flicks his heavy braid of hair over his shoulder.

At six-two and a very fit two hundred and eighty pounds, Elan is intimidating. A result of his mother’s Cree blood and father’s Irish heritage, he has smooth Mocha skin and blue-black hair that falls in waves past his shoulders. He has the seductive, wild look of an era long past.

Women want him. Men fear him.

Elan leans back against the picnic table, his beer in one hand. “I was at Charlie’s last night.”

There are smug nods at this disclosure. It is no secret that Elan likes a drink. Before the inevitable banter can start, he gestures with his bottle. “It wasn’t like that. I met my brother for a drink. Then we decided to stay for a bite. You know Charlie’s has the best wings in town.”

There is a low hum of agreement.

“So Delsin and I are eating wings and drinking beer. We’re minding our own business. Shut up, we were,” he says at the snorts he gets from that. “Do you want to hear what happened or not?”

Sandra and Emily hiss at the others. “We want to hear what happened,” says Sandra. She slaps at John when he sniggers.

Elan takes a pull from his beer and waits. When the group is quiet, he continues.

“So, like I said, we’re minding our own business, when Del points out the girl sitting alone two tables away from us. She’s sipping her drink and she looks like she’s crying.” Elan hitches up his worn jeans. “I figure it’s my duty to go comfort her.” He ignores the laughter from the guys, the snorts from the girls. “But before I can get up, this guy comes out of the bathroom and sits down at her table. She clearly doesn’t want him there but he’s not leaving. She gets up to leave and the guy grabs her arm.”

At this point, the girls gasp. John, Rick and Trevor are silent.

“I can’t just let that go,” says Elan, “so I walk over and say to the guy ‘hey buddy, the lady doesn’t want you to stay.’ He says ‘Oh yeah?’ and stands up.” Elan steps away from the table and pulls himself to his full height. “The fucker’s bigger than me, if you can believe it.”

“No!” Emily clamps her hand over her mouth.

Elan nods, a grim look on his face. “I turn to the girl and tell her to leave while I talk to her boyfriend. Then he sucker-punched me.” Elan points at his left eye that has swelled and discoloured to an angry puce.

He shrugs. “I took him down after that.” He leans back against the table as though he’d just recounted an uneventful drive to work and not a bar brawl.

Everyone talks at once; the guys congratulate him and the girls are instantly up from their lawn chairs. Sandra runs her cool fingers beneath his eye and croons. “Poor baby. Why don’t you have a seat and we’ll take care of preparing the food. Do you want another beer?”

Elan flicks his sad eyes over to her. “Sure.”

Emily gives him a quick kiss on the lips and walks away with Sandra, their heads together, no doubt dissecting the events from last night.

When the girls are inside and out of ear shot, Trevor looks over at Elan.

“That was a good story, El.”

“Had the girls sitting on the edge of their seats,” John agrees. “But there are several elements in your little fairy tale that just don’t add up.”

Elan says nothing.

Rick taps his bottle against Elan’s. “What really happened.”

Elan grins, glances at the patio doors. “Don’t tell the girls.” The men rumble their consent. Of course not. What kind of friends would we be? We have your back, bro.

“I did go out for drinks with Del last night. But I’d had a few, so I took a cab home. Of course, I had the munchies when I got back and I was rummaging through the cupboards looking for something good—I was thinking cashews—and I lost my balance and caught the corner of the cupboard door.” Elan winces as he rubs his swollen eye.

To their credit, his friends remain stone-faced.

Trevor lifts his bottle in salutation. “The damsel in distress story is much better.”

“Definitely,” John agrees. He glances over at the house. “It might even get you laid.”

“You think?”

Rick shrugs. “Can’t hurt.”