Monday December 7th, 2015

The exercise:

Write about: the pattern.

I've got a pretty solid headache, so I think I'll just get to the writing and then go to bed.


"Do you recognize it?"

"I'm... I'm not sure."

"What? What do you mean, you're not sure?"

"I'm pretty sure there's not much room for interpretation on that one. I'm not sure means I'm not fu-"

"Okay, okay. So what do we do?"

"There's no way we open the hatch if we're not absolutely sure it's him."

"But what if it is him? What if he's just standing out there, in the open, with the Hunters closing in on him?"

"What do you want me to do? Throw open the only obstacle between our safety and certain death because maybe that was the right knock code? What if that's a Hunter out there? What if it's twenty?"

"He should have returned by now. It must be him."

"If it is him, he'll repeat the pattern. That's the understanding. You knock. If no one opens the door, you wait two minutes and do it again. We just have to wait."

"What if waiting means he dies right outside our door?"

"Better him than all of us."

"... if the knock comes again, you better listen real hard."

"Oh yeah? And why is that?"

"Because if you're not sure again and it sounds even remotely right to me... I'm opening the hatch."


Greg said...

Hmm, I see the problems your conversers face: what if the Hunters have ripped one of his arms off? How would he get the pattern right then? It's a dilemma, and you've portrayed it very nicely, though I think I'm probably with the guy who wants to err on the side of safety here. Better one dead than everyone.

The pattern
It was dark in the old church; the leader had lit all the candles but they were badly arranged. There were several in high, bracketed candelabras that cast little orange pools of light around them, and there were dozens upon dozens in front of the shrines of two saints. Mother Mary was almost radiant in her illumination, but she did little to brighten up the rest of the church. They'd moved some of the tall white candles to the altar and that helped a little; they also gave off the best light, but it was still yellowish. Curls of smoke drifted through the air, and the draughts made the candle flames flicker and shadows dart around like subtle fish. The smell was indescribable: a mixture of dust, mould, damp and rancid fat. Julian imagined it was like what you'd get when eating chewing gum found of the bottom of a desk after it had been standing in a flooded basement for six months.
"How's the sigil of Gnoph-Keh coming?" he asked, resisting the urge to cough. The air tickled his throat with odd currents of cold air threaded through with rancid warmth from the flames.
"Nearly done, boss," said Cecil. Cecil always sounded cheerful, even when he was slaughtering four goats and hanging them over buckets to bleed out. "Got two more lines to go, and then there's just the twiddly bits."
"Twiddly...." Julian's sigh was nearly explosive. "Fine. Fine, so long as it's all correct, Cee." He looked around, wishing there was more light. He couldn't count how many people had turned up to the meeting. He spotted Andrea, shivering in clothes that were clearly too thin for October, and there was Pradesh next to her, offering to warm her up. The slap was resonant, and utterly predictable, and he bit back a laugh. But where was–
"Sorry I'm late!" Ingmar hustled in and the wind pulled the door shut behind her with a slam. "I told the bus driver where I wanted to go, and he just stared at me. It was like he was in a trance or something. I must have repeated myself about eight times before he finally made the bus move, and he never closed any of the doors either! I'm sure two of the old ladies fell off while we were driving!"
Julian forced himself to look away from her, but it was hard. Her dress, covered in a hard-to-work-out pattern of black and white geometric shapes, commanded attention.
"What are you wearing, Inga?" he asked. "That dress, what is it?"
"Dazzle art! Do you like it? I had it made specially, I borrowed the pattern from that book you're always reading."
"Unaussprechlichen Kulten?" Ingmar nodded, and did a twirl. Andrea and Pradesh both fell over and didn't get up.
"Inga, sweetie," said Julian, hunting for the words, "I think you've used the mandala of Atlach-Nacha as a dress pattern."
"Is that bad, Jules?"
"A little," said Julian. "Firstly it tends to burn out human brains so that the Spawn of Atlach-Nacha can burrow in and feed while they grow. And secondly, we're trying to summon Nodens this evening, and he's not very fond of Atlach-Nacha since the whole Peru incident."

Aholiab said...

The Pattern

Paula sipped her coffee as she watched the front door of the apartment building across the street from her favorite Starbucks. She set her cup down, picked up her stylus, and made a note on her tablet.

She considered how routine people's lives became. Everyone has a certain rhythm or pattern in their lives. Mondays and Thursdays were wash days, Tuesday was trash day, grocery shopping was every Friday. Get up at 5:30, get to work by 7:00, lunch at 11:30, and home by 6:00. Call Mom on Saturday at 12:15 and tell her what the grandkids have been doing.

There is nothing wrong with a familiar routine. It provides stability and a degree of comfort. People can rely on you and know what to expect from you.

She saw the man step out of the apartment building, look both ways down the street, and begin walking toward the business district. Another note was made on her tablet before she finished her coffee.

She rose from the table and thought about her quarry. What if you were in a foreign country and didn't want people to find you? What if you were fitting in until you could get your orders for your next attack? What if you knew that the slightest mistake would result in your capture or death?

Then you would vary your routine and avoid a pattern that your enemies could identify. You would go to work early, then late. You would walk to work one day, take a taxi the next, and maybe work from home the following day.

She walked down the street behind the man, knowing that today he wouldn't go to the stock brokerage where he worked. He had gone there yesterday, so today he would do something different. Her entire team had been trying to identify who the embedded assassin was, but he had so immersed himself in society that no one noticed him. At least not until she found his pattern - total randomness.

Marc said...

Greg - wonderfully atmospheric opening. And the build up to the finale is executed perfectly. Really, really like this one.

Aholiab - this is a great character piece, on both the narrator and her quarry. I'd love to hear more from this world you've created here.