Sunday February 2nd, 2014

The exercise:

It is time for our second monthly installment of Vancouver Irrealis.

I know that it's only the second day of February and I've given no warning that this was coming today. But I haven't had much mental space to come up with a writing prompt today and I've also been wanting to write this since about five seconds after reading Morganna's January entry.

Kat was back assisting the online course today, so Max and I went to our favorite coffee shop this morning. I think he got a little too wound up (hmm, that sounds like he was drinking coffee...) as he didn't go down for his nap until 2 o'clock. Usually it's around noon. So that made for a pretty long stretch.

Tomorrow we head up to Penticton for our visit with the dentist. Wish us luck.

Well, wish Max luck. Although, if you have a bit extra to go around, I wouldn't mind a bit for myself.


"He really does look the part, doesn't he?" Tristam's waitress said thoughtfully, taking a half step back to take him in from head to toe. "Not like that guy we had show up last week, hey Yakth? Remember those short, stubby fingers he had?"

"Oh goodness, I just about fainted I was laughing so hard!" While his waitress and her friend carried on, Tristam looked down at his hands again, wiggled his fingers experimentally. "Wait a half-second, Anne-Marie." Tristam looked up again at this. He was certain her name tag had read Maryann when he got there. Which, to be fair, was no longer there. As it were. "Do you think he's one of... those?"

"One of which?" Tristam asked, as much to remind them he was still an active member of the conversation as anything else.

"People from your side have begun showing up on our side looking like one of us," Anne-Marie said, her expression still friendly but now tinged with concern. "Seems harmless to me, really. The Icepol though... it's ridiculous, honestly."

"The Icepol... you mean the police?" Tristam felt like he was starting to get the hang of things, just a little bit. "What do they think?"

"It's an invasion," Yakth said with a shake of her head. "They say folks like yourself are the first wave, spies or some such."

"How do they even know when someone like me shows up?" Tristam looked around the restaurant, suddenly feeling nervous. A few of the other patrons, all of whom seemed vaguely familiar, were speaking into devices that must have been their equivalent of cell phones. One in particular looked away quickly when she saw him looking in her direction. "People report them."

"Those that are caught before returning to the other... your side are arrested, dragged away for questioning." Anne-Marie said in a whisper heavy with promises of secret horrors. Tristam didn't bother asking what sort of methods were employed in the interrogations. "You should probably get out of here."

"I wouldn't know where to go!" Tristam checked the sidewalks and streets but saw no sign of approaching law enforcement. Not that he'd know what uniforms they'd be wearing, if any. He tried to swallow and found that he could not.

"Come on, then," Anne-Marie said after exchanging a long look with her coworker. "Grab your bag and follow me."

Tristam stood and gathered the duffel bag at his feet, the grip of terror forcing questions to become actions. As he followed his waitress's hurried steps through the restaurant he almost forgot that the bag he was clutching to his chest had been a briefcase when he'd first sat down to eat.


Greg said...

Good luck at the dentist then! For both you and Max, I think :)
As it happens, when you mentioned yesterday that you'd been sorting out links to the various longer-running prompts I wondered when we'd come back here, so it's no big surprise! I've been looking forward to it too, and you've not disappointed. I like your names (Yakth especially!) and the Icepol; very nice, gentle touches of difference. There's a whole new level of interest now, with this threat of internment and the suggestion of an invasion... but I wonder, are the people of Vancouver irrealis going the other way? All in all, great stuff!

The door at the back of the restaurant led into a narrow, terracotta tiled service corridor with what must be toilets on the left and right immediately through the door, and the kitchen and exit then on the left and right further along. Tristam paused at the toilets, looking at the little signs that adorned them: one side was a smiley-face with horns and the other sign was a smiley-face with fangs. Which was which, he wondered. The smell confirmed his guess that they were toilets though.
"Come on!" Anne-Marie glanced back to see him staring at the signs. "And stop staring, that's such a live giveaway. Even tourists don't gawk as much as you crossovers."
She ushered him out of the exit, though he managed to peer through into the kitchen anyway. It all looked normal: men and women in white coats moving around stainless steel surfaces with knives, rolling pins and mallets in their hands. Flame leapt beneath a wok, steam hung high over the counters, and there was the delicious smell of bacon.
"Right," she said, slipping her apron off and hanging it on a peg just inside the door. "I'm going ten minutes early but I've been employee of the month twice, and that was just last month, so I guess it'll be ok." She looked at his puzzled face. "That was a joke."
Tristam nodded, realising he was being stupid now. "Where are we going?" he asked.
"Away from here," she said. "You've been fixed, you saw the choster in there talking on their nephos; at least one will be after the bounty for you."
"Men and women, in general, you know, choster." She waved her hands as though swatting something he couldn't see. "Damn, why are most of the words the same but not all of them?"
Tristam shrugged. "Are we walking?" he asked.
"I don't know where we're going yet. Well, you can't fit on my kibe behind me, so maybe we'd best hire a xita. Got any more shac on you?"
Tristam remembered her asking him about shac or reditc and guessed that she meant money. He reached into his pockets and pulled out some notes that were brightly coloured and utterly unfamiliar. Marie-Anne whistled. "Show-off," she said. "Xita is it then."
"But where are we going to go?" Tristam could hear that he was whining, but he didn't care. Everything felt overwhelming now, like the world was pressing in on him.
"Let's try the Library monument," said Marie-Anne after a moment. "There was a big earthcrack there a year or two ago, and they built a small park and a monument to commemorate the dead. It's usually pretty quiet and you can't make too many distakes there."

morganna said...

Hiring the xita had been interesting. Anne-Marie had told Tristam just to keep his mouth shut, let her do the talking. He had done so, although he'd gotten a few odd looks from the xita-driver.

Now he was at the Library monument, inside a grove of trees. Anne-Marie had gone back to the cafe, telling him she would return at dusk. The trees weren't really trees, because their trunks were glowing blue and the leaves reached out for him if he got too close. He was trying not to think about that too hard.

He had found a small pond, in a little clearing. The grasses around the edge didn't seem to be hungry, so he sat down in them. He leaned over the water, but something with teeth came to the surface with a SNAP! so he leaned back again.

He was just getting comfy when he heard a noise in the trees.

Marc said...

Greg - glad it wasn't a total surprise then, and I'm very pleased that you enjoyed mine!

I think that this supposed invasion could go in many different directions, including one or both sides actually attempting to invade the other. Or it could all just be a fuss over nothing. Who knows?

Why do I find that off-hand reference to bacon vaguely disturbing?

Also: you raised a good point with only some words being different. Don't know if any of us will come up with a good explanation, but it's certainly something to think about.

I like the hideout you've found for our hero as well. Nice work!

Morganna - love what you've done with the place, so to speak :)

The glowing blue trunks and reaching leaves are fantastic touches, and you managed to end on a nice cliffhanger as well.

I'm enjoying all of this immensely already :D