Sunday February 26th, 2012

The exercise:

Let's see what we can do with: the siege.

It didn't get particularly warm today - barely above zero - and it's going to be a cold night. Thankfully the fireplace is roaring nicely.


Cindy had trouble hanging up the phone, her hand was shaking so badly. It was quiet in the office, a refuge from the storm gathering outside. She was tempted to lock the door, turn off the lights, and hide there until it passed her by.

This option was taken from her when Jeremy appeared in the doorway. Not that she was actually going to do it. Not really.

"What's wrong?" her head cook for the previous ten years asked.

"Sandra just called in sick." Speaking the words aloud seemed to sap her remaining energy and she dropped into her chair as though she'd been shot.

"But Jessica and Erin are out of town and Jasmine quit yesterday," Jeremy said, panic creeping into his voice. "That just leaves -"

"The new girl." Neither of them could remember her name. "She's our only available waitress."

"But the dinner rush is just starting!"

"I know." Cindy covered her eyes with her right hand. "They're going to eat her alive."


Jordan Jack Rockerbie said...

it better warm up a little, i'm back in the Okanagan as of tomorrow morning. not that it's been a tropical paradise here on the Island, though. more on that later... in my exercise!


I thought I had escaped it.

The plane had taken me over the mountains and the Salish Sea, away from the temperamental valley to my temperate island home. I basked in the sun and my joy, though the feeling was fleeting.

Today I awoke to a siege.

The weather gods threw all they had at me, showering my home with snow and hail and wind. I quivered in the corner as the cedar shakes shook above me.

I now know better than to flee the will of the gods, and will return to the valley tomorrow, defeated.

Greg said...

@Jackerbie: A tale of hubris? Very direct and to the point, but I find myself wishing that you'd made it just a little bit longer :) Oh, and good luck with the weather in Okanagan!

@Marc: The temperatures are all up around double digits over this side of the pond: very unFebruary-like weather! Still, it cuts the heating bill :)
I can't decide which way to read the last line of your story, given that the title is 'the siege.' I think I feel sorry for your waitress whether she's the main course or not!

The siege
Siege Perilous,
Is waiting for a honest man,
With danger concealed
And fatality assured.

Scintillae of light
Glitter on a carpenter's cup.
Lift it and know divinity;
Place it before the Siege.

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Marc - but you haven't even begun to read Phoenix Triumphant how am I supposed to write about a siege if you haven't even gotten to the end of Phoenix Rising? No matter I shall think hard of something else on my way to work... sadly my alarm just told me I have to go start getting ready for work now.

:} Elorithryn

morganna said...

Tight, won't move -- can't
Breathe deeply -- too stiff to
Move. The cough shakes my whole body.
How can I cough when I can't breathe? I cannot
Go on. It's a mystery as
My body rebels -- I
Must be under

Iron Bess said...

@Jordan - good one, I like the juxtiposition between the modern day reference of flying and weather gods.

@Greg - I really like "Scintillae of light"

@Morganna - you definitely captured the feeling of flu.

The Siege

The clay clung to Tesza’s knees as she stood up, it was everywhere, it was in everything. “Red as blood,
Thick as mud,” she whispered the first two lines of the Baneak life poem. The sun was only now breaking over the eastern escarpment ridges turning the valley into a crimson tarn. The castle walls wore a thick coating of valley terracotta which blushed red in the early morning sunshine. As Tesza stood looking at the solid monolith it seemed to have been carved out of a giant piece of jasper, all planes, and cubes, standing for millenniums on end. It looked impenetrable, and it was. Not once in its four thousand years had it ever fallen in battle. Only twice through treachery, and both times that had been from within.

Brr-rump, bah-thump! The Doxin drums had started for the day. Shielding her eyes with an upraised hand Tesza watched them begin their slow march down Ballint Hill hauling their trebuchets and catapults behind. They would be here in a half stick of time so she would have to hurry before the small pedestrian bridge was raised for the day. Thankfully there was only three more sunrises before the Doxin warriors withdrew for the last time and life returned to normal in the besieged city.

Every two sun-turns the Doxin invaded the Baneak Valley and lay siege to the keep where they would engage in combat with the valley folk for exactly fifteen days before marching back across the Banortin Plains to the Doxin homeland of Ior’nah. The Baneak hated this rite only slightly less than the Doxinee, but neither side could do anything about it, it was part of the old pact agreed upon a thousand years before.

Cathryn Leigh said...

@Iron Bess - that's an interesting pact... Kind of makes me think of soemthing from... authors are David and Leigh Edingins... The BElgarad, yes where the princess is sent to an abadoned kingdom for a few days to see if the rightful King shows up to marry her.

Anywaho I fiugred something out. Short and sweet, but complete. :}

The Siege

A flurry of midnight activity, under the darkened sky.
Soundless men working hard through the night.
But oh how delicious the surprise.
When the General found he was stuck inside.

Krystin Scott said...

@Cathryn - I love Eddings, I have all(26?, yes I think it's 26) books of the series. it makes for a long read but its worth it, Polgara is my fav character.

Damon T. Werst was more than just your typical bully. Sure, he took lunch money and made kids drop their books but he had a way of manipulating every situation so that no one of authority ever saw his intentional “accidents” for what they really were; a constant onslaught of humiliation and undeniable extortion.
Connor Liberty, an undersized fifth grader at Injustice Elementary School had the unfortunate honor of being one of Damon’s favorite targets. Connor tried to avoid all situations that may put him in jeopardy, even going so far as being late to class and gaining a week’s worth of detention for his efforts. But it never took Damon long to catch on, so Conner was often ambushed and today was no exception.
Just as Connor had past the first grade hall Damon rounded the corner and grabbed hold of him.
“Afternoon Connor.” Damon smiled a toothy grin. “Hand over the cash.”
“I d … d ... don’t have any” came Conner’s shaky reply.
“What do you mean, you don’t have any?”
“Mom packed my lunch today, Haggis and Blood Pudding, a special treat.” He squeaked while holding up the bag.
Damon sniffed. “Ew, what’s wrong with you Celts, that’s disgusting. Now pay up! Or I’ll pound it out of ya.”
Connor couldn’t speak, his hand dove into his pockets one after the other but each time they came up empty.
Enraged Damon shoved Connor hard in the chest causing him to stumble backward and fall. “See ya at three O’ Clock midget”.
News of the upcoming fight traveled fast. Before long kids started approaching Connor wishing him luck and sometimes asking questions; like what he’d want printed in his obituary or if they could have his shiny red bike. The time ticked by much quicker than Conner had realized, while he sat frozen in fear staring out the classroom window, wondering what would happen next; the hands of the clock continued to mark every minute of the last class of the day.
Finally the bell rang and the students poured out of the large double doors of the school’s main entrance. Some went home but most stayed for the fight. Connor was apprehensive and waited until the halls were empty before looking out the large windows and spying Damon standing in the snow waiting for him at the end of the long cedar lined walk that marked the entrance to their school.
Conner walked out knowing that he could not wait inside forever. A fight was inevitable and he was going to lose. As soon as the boys were face to face Damon gave him a shove, then another and a punch to the stomach. Conner crumpled and fell.
As Damon began his advance, a great cry was heard over all the jeering and cheering of the bystanders. From behind the cedars emerged Pimpleface Sally, Joey Boogers, Bookworm Fay, Wedgie Steve, Gus the Nerd, Stick Figure Suzie, Odd Olive, Warty Todd, Clumsy Casey, Wimpy Wesley, Dippy Derek, Crazy Craig, Jumbo Jim, Fatty Patty, Snot Nose Ned, Loser Logan and a large number of Damon’s other victims. Damon stood staring, not fully comprehending the vision of what he was seeing.
That’s when it started; taking aim as best they could the horde of outcasts began throwing snowball after rock filled snowball at the burly brute. Damon’s heavy winter coat cushioned most of the impact but the better placed hits smarted something fierce. It wasn’t long before welts of various colors began to appear on Damon’s face. He began to cry, and then made a break for it, running home as fast as he could.
The outcasts cheered, while Joey Boogers attempted something that may have resembled “The Jerk”. The bystanders that weren’t doubled over in hysterics at the sight of Joey cheered and clapped. Everyone was happy; they had little to fear from Damon now. They had been weak alone but together they were strong and they had made today a day that Damon was certain not to forget.

Anonymous said...

Marafin stood on the wall behind the parapets and gazed out at the army on the plain below.

“Surely they must number in the tens of thousands,” he thought and grimaced. Still, even though their numbers were vast such were the defences of the fortress that numbers meant little. He turned to look at the young infantryman who stood a few paces away, respectfully leaving his superior officer to his thoughts.

He drew the young man forward with a hooked gesture of his fingers.

“I'm sure the Strategos have already arranged that messages be sent calling for aid from our allies,” he started, by way of an explanation. “But we cannot rely on our shell to keep the enemy from our succulent flesh. Many great tortoises have ended up in the soup by trusting to only their defences”

The young man smiled at the metaphor.

“Go fetch me the master of the masons guild and tell him to meet me at the armoury.”

The young soldier snapped off a crisp salute and hurried off to carry out his command.

Marafin looked back out through the parapets and took in the vast army once again, then smiled grimly.

“How many besieging armies expected the very plain upon which they were camped to be riddled with tunnels?” He thought. “Soon enough, they will learn the folly of their choices.”

Anonymous said...

No excuses for my absence. Sometimes one just needs a little perspective. Especially after one's job eats their life whole. Glad to be back!

Cyril paced erratically back and forth, occasionally glancing out the window to the darkened street. Across the room, sitting on the floor, Mary was muttering under her breath, her hands a flurry of odd gestures. At the nearest table, Arthur was unfolding and refolding, adjusting and readjusting every item on it. This was his fourth trip around the room. Elizabeth, leaning casually against the counter, a peaceful smile spread across her face, seemed to be the only one who was perfectly calm but on closer inspection, her unblinking eyes were fixed on the large clock on the wall, fate ticking away one painful second at a time.

Then there was me, the newbie, freshly planted in their midst only last week. Everyone had seemed so normal and clear headed the first two days. On Friday, the email came in from corporate and the four of them disintegrated before me like cotton candy in the rain. I just didn’t understand how this one event could rob them so completely of their sanity.

Suddenly, Cyril gave a shout and nearly pulled the faded, pink curtain off the rod, “They’re coming!!”
He scrambled quickly behind the counter, dragging me behind him by the back of my shirt, his face changed to a hard set of resolve. Mary shrieked loudly, her left hand ten keying complicated numerical patterns in the air. Arthur walked to the plate glass storefront and stared out, his breath fogging it dramatically. He wrote the word ‘help’ on its cold, opaque surface. Elizabeth did not move.

As the remaining 15 minutes moved quietly into oblivion, time certainly did not stand still, but everything else inside Little Miss Muffet’s did. Even Mary had closed her eyes and moved into what appeared to be a peaceful, yogic pose. I wasn’t certain I was breathing anymore as I watched the stream of little girls with their half awake parents line up on the sidewalk. The gravity of the situation began to settle upon me like a shroud. Within a 200 mile radius, we were the only outlet that sold the most sought after doll line in America. Today would be the release of the newest addition and the biggest sale in company history. I understood now. Our survival was uncertain at best. These were dark times indeed. The little hand connected with the 6. Arthur moved mechanically to the door, turning the lock in one smooth motion then stepping quickly out of the way. The siege was upon us.

Marc said...

JorJack - I would love it if you brought some warm weather with you.

Great descriptions and imagery. I feel your pain :(

Greg - I thought that last line might give you pause :P

Wonderful language in your poem!

Cathryn - I will get back to it, I promise :)

Morganna - bang on description of being miserably sick.

Iron Bess - wonderful descriptions at the start to really set the scene. And you've got me very curious about these two peoples and their strange pact!

Cathryn (again) - love the poem, it has a great rhythm to it :)

Krystin - friggin' love all those names :D

Also: great scene. Really painted a picture for me with those descriptions.

GZ - ooh, that sounds like an exciting sneak attack just waiting to happen. Nice :)

H.N. - no excuses needed. Welcome back!

Fantastic stuff. That opening totally drew me in, and I can fully appreciate their situation :)