Wednesday September 17th, 2014

The exercise:

Write about: the captain.

Went up to Penticton to run a few errands today. The plan was to grab some lunch there and take it to a park to eat so that Max could get out and run around for a bit to make up for all that car time.

But then he fell asleep just as we pulled up to the lunch place. So Kat got the food and ate hers on the way home. Before we could switch drivers Max, of course, woke up. I parked at a playground in OK Falls and the boys got to eat, and then play on the equipment.

Just before we left a guy I had been staring at on and off the whole time we were there, trying to figure out if I knew him or not, came up to me with his son and asked if I was Marc. I nodded and asked, "Jesse?"

Wouldn't you know it, one of my roommates from university. We hadn't seen each other in years. He was visiting with his family for a week from Vancouver, playing at a park we'd had no intention of stopping at.

Funny little thing, this world we live in.


The station was filled with the low rumble of quiet conversation, pierced occasionally by a sudden burst of laughter. Fingers hammered against keyboards, phones rang, and papers were endlessly shuffled.

The captain was mostly pleased.


"Attention!" It was not quite a shout but it had the effect of a whip crack. All heads turned in his direction, without even a chair daring to creak into the sudden silence. "There will be no more laughter."

"He's joking, right?" It was Riley's first day on the force. After that rookie mistake, it was likely also his last in that department.

"You." The captain's stare found Riley with alarming speed. "I have grown tired of the Pierre Gang. Go find and arrest their leader."

"I... you..."

"By yourself." The captain watched as the young cop gathered his things with shaking hands and headed for the door, bumping into at least a half dozen desks along the way. "Any other questions?"

The silence continued uninterrupted.

The captain was pleased.


Greg said...

Are you sure it's a good idea to sit staring at people in a children's park? ;-) That is a great coincidence, and it must have been nice to get such an impromptu catch-up like that. It's hard to escape the feeling that it's a small world after all.
I had a teacher once, when I was young, like the Captain in your story today. Not a very good teacher as it happens, but he's not much like your Captain either. I am curious as to the nature of the Pierre gang now; clearly that's a mean task to give him, but I wonder just _how_ mean! The atmosphere you set up at the start is rather nice, it's slightly cinematic in the way you do it.

The captain
Cutlery chinked softly together, sounds muted both by the furnishing in the dining room and the sheer embarrassment people felt about making a noise in such opulent surroundings. Heavy velvet drapes in burgundy and purple hung in graceful arcs across walls and windows, and the lighting was a soft amber glow from recessed lamps in walls. Shadows erased lines on peoples' faces, hid any dust that might have been missed (unlikely as that was) by the cleaning crew, and contributed a sense that the night itself was part of the meal. People sat down at their tables feeling a sense of awe, and then the food was presented and it became a sense of gastronomic worship.
Marcus, captain of the brigade (as the front-of-house team were known) polished a wine-glass with a soft white cloth that hung from his belt for that very purpose, and held it up to one of the softened lights to check it sparkled. It did, but then he noticed an odd white blur and turned the glass to see what it was. The blur moved, sliding sideways, and vanished.
He rubbed the glass again, and held it up to the light once more. The glass sparkled, and then the blur reappeared, sliding in from the side of the glass. It grew larger, and he suddenly realised that he was seeing the reflection of someone coming up behind him. He set the glass down and turned around. Maintaining customer satisfaction was his prime role, and a customer who'd had to come and find him was sure to be unhappy.
The person was already too close to him, and he took a step backwards, trying to focus on their face. A hand came up, and though he lifted his own to catch their arm, they were moving too fast. They pressed their fingers over his face, and a deep chill ran through him as though the hand were ice-cold. It felt like his skin was burning where the hand touched him, and in turn that felt wrong, as though the hand had the wrong number of fingers.
He tried to pull the hand away, but there was a buzzing in his ears and his own arms felt too heavy to lift. His eyes started to roll back, and as his gaze reached the ceiling of the dining he realised that there were strange shapes skittering across it; roughly human sized but with long, long arms and legs, moving like crane flies.
He felt his knees start to sag and realised that he desperately didn't want to be caught by the thing clutching his face. As he vision faded he felt an arm go around his shoulders and the burning cold ran down his spine.

Anonymous said...

There was a man standing at the entrance to the ship. His back was to us, his hands fisted and resting on his hips. I could hear even from the dock that he was shouting loudly at the others.
“Well if it isn’t the old scallywag himself,” Dommel called.
The man in front of us turned. His skin was darker than Dommel’s—darker than most other humans I’d seen. He had dark brown hair with streaks of grey that was mostly tied back in a bright red scarf. He smiled widely. His nose was larger than Dommels.
“Dommel? Is that you?”
Dommel took a few steps ahead of me, throwing his arms out at his sides. “The one and only.”
“Nonsense! I knew a rascal of a kid, not a distinguished member of society. This must all be a ploy.”
Dommel laughed. “Yes. A ploy to get to your vast expanses of money.”
The man’s smile grew. “Could you lead me to this vast expanse of money? I must have misplaced it.”
Both of them stood there laughing. Standing there, watching their exchange, I again felt as small as grain of sand. Did every human feel this way when put to the side or was this only a siren feeling? My insides turned as I thought of Kyrielle and how she would be able to answer all my questions.
I jerked out of my thoughts to find Dommel offering me his hand.
He gestured to the man. “Ariece, this is the commendable Captain Niall. He and his crew will take us across the ocean and, hopefully find your family.” He then turned to man. “And this is the lovely lady Ariece. I told you about her in my letter.”
Captain Niall took hold of his chin in one of his large hands. “That I do, lad.”
He bounded off the ship to stand in front of us. I could see now that there were wrinkles around his mouth and his brown eyes. Even in his crisp cream shirt and light brown pants, he looked weathered, like an old piece of bark or the leather Mrs. Galleter showed me at the inn.
He looked straight into my eyes, his smile fading. “I am sorry for your ordeal, Miss. I and my crew are at your service.” Then brightness returned to his face. “Come aboard! Let me show you my ship.”

Marc said...

Greg - probably not. But I figured it was better than staring at the kids :P

Thanks for the kind words on mine. Speaking of cinematic openings, yours put mine to shame!

And *of course* it had to lead in to another visit from those pesky, terrifying creatures of yours. Of course it did.

Ivybennet - really enjoying all these insights you've given us into the worlds you've created. Plenty of stories to be told in all of them, they're so rich and full of life.

You've left me wanting to hear more about this voyage, as well as the adventures that await at the end of it!