Thursday, October 1, 2009

Snippets I - Pearson Was A Fool

Snippets are small pieces I am considering expanding into larger works.

Where to begin?  Pearson was a fool; brash, arrogant and filled with the unyielding conviction of his own mortality.  That we followed him, that we ourselves were filled with the same, well...we should have seen the hypocrisy sooner.  The fact remains - Pearson was a fool and too few of us survived that discovery...

Beyond the white-stone wonders of the capitol the loyal state of Virginia stretches to the west and the south.  The touch of man fades as a late summer sun dwindling slowly through the evening without care or worry.  Suddenly discovering the lateness of the hour, it hastens through its final arc and beyond to plunge all in ever deepening dark.  Buildings fade from monumental to stately and from stately to service, service to functional, then homes, then farms, until even the farms are swallowed by the forest.  The forests of Virginia are alive.  They breathe and swell with the wind and water poured over them by low clouds tripped on fog and pierced by ancient mountains toppled low.

It is into this rolling verdant maelstrom of nature that I find myself, riding out the last moments of wind and rain as the steam engine relentlessly pulls its train of rusting cars into station.  With a slow grating screech and a final light lurch, the cars settle into hissing stillness.  The locks are thrown.  In minutes my companion and I find ourselves on the platform - the only passengers to step off.  The brakeman are already making to continue their westward voyage.  The station is so small that I doubt it would have seen a stop was it not our specific destination.

We are not alone on the tracks, but the group waiting has made no move toward the slumbering metal beast.  There is a tense moment.  I am mentally combing through my possessions.  Is the pistol in the coat I am wearing or is that reassuring weight some other similarly bulky trinket?  The group moves toward us.

"Smith?  Is one of you Smith?" one of them calls.  There is a small click from the man at my right.  The whereabouts of his pistol, at least, is not a subject of debate.

"And if I am?" my companion calls back.  It is an interesting tactic as, truth be told, I am Smith.  His name, through some curious twist of fate and dark humor, is Merlin.  And Merlin is an extraordinarily dangerous man.

There are three of them, all long coats and hats pulled low.  We are, both groups that is, cagey to a fault.  Ours is not a mild profession of simple service for meager fare.

"That will do," Merlin instructs the three.  Something in his voice signals to them that the business end of something is likely pointed in their direction.

"We...we are not your enemies, Smith."  The man in the lead whispers something else caught only by his companions.  "I...we...are taking our hands out of our pockets.  Empty save for the paper in my left, a timepiece, and slowly on all counts."

And they do - in an eerie unison, not in to any form of submission or admission of fear, merely cautious as one would show a great cat caged at meat time.

"My name is Heinrich.  I was instructed to meet a misters Smith and Merlin out from the capitol on a matter of urgency."  Heinrich hesitates and then continues, "and some delicacy which is at risk the longer these introductions take.  By your watch what is the hour?"

For the first time I speak up.  "By my watch I make it twelve minutes before the hour of ten.  And by yours?"

The man turns to me after clicking closed a small pocket clock.  "Nearly a full eighteen before the bells."

I think for a moment, juggling codes and numbers in my head.  "Then we shall have but the bells to decide who is right."  I reply.  All parties relax.  "I am Smith.  This is Merlin.  Perhaps we should adjourn to somewhere more discreet?"

"Indeed." says Heinrich. "We have a car waiting.  Right this way."

1 comment:

  1. Ok. As mentioned in the wrap comments following Snippets IX, the following is the original "prologue" to The Fools. The piece above is a bit less melodramatic (but only a bit). What do you want from me? Maintaining tone is difficult.

    We were fools, a brotherhood of idiots, a coven of simpletons in our arrogance, our self-centered belief that we knew the way forward. Sometimes the lost are best left unfound and some doors are best left closed. There is an evil loose in the world where once it was trapped. It was our misplaced zeal that gave the darkness purchase once again. We thought the world would be a better place, a brighter place, without it. But we were wrong. The lanced boil of that terrible thing has spilled forth and the world is darker for it. And we, the fools, will pay dearly for our folly.


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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.