Monday February 18th, 2013

The exercise:

Write about something or someone: vulnerable.

Trying to get this finished on time and actually get to sleep at a decent hour tonight. Wish me luck.

Well, I suppose by the time you read that it will be much too late to wish me anything of the sort. So... never mind that.

Mine:

Undercover work isn't for everybody. It's not for guys with a wife and kids, or even a girlfriend. Not for anybody with brothers or sisters or parents who are still around, whether you're on speaking terms with any of them or not.

So, not for anyone with anything to live for, really.

I know the boys back at the station are keeping a close eye on me - as close as they can without raising suspicions, at least. They can do that for now, while I'm on the outskirts of the organization. There's not much to be gleaned out here, though.

In order to get the real goods I'm going to have to leave this safety net behind. Stick my neck out, hoping that these goons have been convinced by the work I've already done. Earn their trust, earn my way into their inner sanctum.

And from there I can finally bring these bastards to justice.

Maybe I'll even walk away from it all unscathed, so that I can do it all again in some other city.

3 Comments:

Greg said...

Well, I'm early enough (late enough from your perspective) to wish you a good night's sleep at a decent hour, but it's unlikely you'll check comments to see it! Good luck anyway.
Hmm, an interesting take on vulnerability; I quite the fact that despite the toughness of your protagonist the very job he's trying to do imposes vulnerability on him. It kinds of evolves from the circumstance, which is very lifelike. It's not quite long enough as a piece to really get a feel for the character, but I suspect that's because they're complex rather than two-dimensional, so that's probably a compliment ;-)

[Mine's continuing yesterday's, as the ending yesterday seems nicely set up for this prompt!]

Vulnerable
"Come with me," said Men-Kalah and he tightened his grip on my shoulder. His fingers were firm and broad and as he applied pressure, pushing me forward, I realised that I didn't have very much choice in the matter. "You are here, and now you will be there. This sounds gnomic, but it is gnostic."
"It sounds like gibberish to me," I said, letting a little of my anger into my voice. I still had no idea what had possessed me (and I was wondering now if perhaps something had possessed me, in a very literal sense) to come out, but I was certain that I wasn't happy. And I was feeling out of control of things.
We walked past a dying beggar, his face blue and his eyes starting to protrude; little red blood vessels swelling in the whites. His eyelids were yellowish and with a start I realised that his hair wasn't greasy, it was shiny with pus oozing from his scalp. Men-Kalah must have felt me stiffen, for he said, "Many are susceptible on a night like this. The priests can hear the song, and they combat it. We will fight it another way."
"Fight what? How? Why me?" The last question was the most important, but the other two were definitely contenders.
"Twenty years ago they called it a sleeping sickness. Ten years ago they called it the breath of Am√Ľn-Rakhtor and made the sign of the ankh when they spoke of it. Two weeks ago, in Escliphias they called it 'Master'."
"What do you call it?" I was trying for defiance but his words, in that deep, hypnotically sonorous voice, were sapping the fight from me.
"I call it a level-4 biological hazard, weaponised by the losing side of the Americonfusion war, but you may think of it as a bio-terror weapon."
"Huh?" I might have looked and sounded cleverer if I'd drooled a little as well, I suppose.
"It is the enemy."

g2 (la pianista irlandesa) said...

let's continue yesterday's, shall we? Because if it's good enough for Greg, it's good enough for me. ^^

By the end of the night word had gotten around that our little world was on an edge, though looking up or down into what, none of us could guess, nor did we want to. Older folks like Pete and Carmichael, my band's bass player and the cabaret's granddad, could remember a slice of time when anything vaguely musical wouldn't fly, and even a little whistled ditty could get you in trouble. Maybe not time-trouble in a case, but you could get slapped with house watch if you got caught. If you got caught with a band or a troupe, then there was trouble.

The Commissioner Weston came about, did some miraculous bureaucratic acrobatics, and let our sort back into polite society. But now with him possibly fading out, there was no telling what might happen to us now.

Nobody went out after the show that night. Somebody got a pot of coffee going, somebody else threw together scraps of sandwiches nobody ended up eating much of, and the entire show talked most of the night, wondering what we were going to do.

I stayed quiet, though. We were all in a spot---some more severe than others, but most made better by a little paper-and-change grease---but mine was an odd spot. I'd told Pete---and would tell the others if need be---I didn't have the kind of money to be clearing the ledger the way I had to. But cash wasn't my only problem, I had history. Pete knew of it, but only Carmichael knew fuller details, having a record himself, and he could understand my situation.

I could try to talk myself out, but that'd get me nowhere. Besides, what would I say? I couldn't just deny my current activities, there were plenty of people---as many, if not more, with innocent intentions as with malicious ones---who could say otherwise. And though it was less severe than my case warranted I was already on house watch. My tissue paper case wouldn't stand.

Besides, trying to talk my way out of it or offer what little cash I had would just be fruitless and humiliating for me, and nothing if entertaining for the office-dwellers.

I'd be paying for dinner and putting on a show I'd rather not perform.

But the only difference between that option and any others I could think of was that they didn't include dinner.

Marc said...

Greg - I didn't get to bed as early as I wanted, but it was earlier than I have been recently, at least.

Sigh, I totally owe you an email. Or three. Sorry, I will get to it.

So glad you continued yours. Brilliant stuff.

g2 - very, very interesting society you've got here. Loads of potential. I like it.

By the way, you've both got me in the mind for continuations. Expect one for Wednesday's prompt.

(unless I forget, in which case you can expect one reasonably soon)