Sunday April 17th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the master.

Fun fact: even though my last installment of the Wastelands was March 10th, I haven't actually replied to the comment on that post yet. So, so far behind.

Anyway. Had a good family day. Spent a good part of the morning playing construction games with Max in the dirt, then went for lunch at our favorite coffee shop with all four of us. After we got back Kat and Miles had a rest while Max and I went up to Kat's parents garage and made a wooden bench to replace the wobbly piece of crap I made as a shoe rack... I'm not sure how long ago. A few years, I think.

At any rate, I made sure this one will be more stable. Max had fun helping out, but mostly he worked on his own bench. Which, apparently, we'll use when the one I made gets too wobbly and needs replacing.

This kid, you guys.


"What have we here?"

"Who, Master. I have brought you a fellow human."

"I can see that, Sebastien. So... who have we here?"

"An airship crash survivor. As unlikely as that may seem, with his injuries and physical deterioration his story aligns with the most recently reported attack by the North Ridge Brigands. He is, as you might say, not in a good way."

"And who is, these days?"

I hear the approach of slippered feet but keep my eyes closed and my breathing regular. I'm weak - probably weaker than I want to admit - but I can still fight if I need to. Not that I think I'll need to, but I'll be ready if it comes to that.

"I have sent Scout V42 to investigate the crash site and search for other survivors, Master. And to scavenge any useful parts."

"Good lad."

He places a hand on my chest, almost tenderly. I manage not to flinch but I can feel a cough clawing its way up my throat. I try to swallow it inconspicuously but that only makes it worse.

"Fetch my medical bag, Sebastien. I'll need to use my needle to re-hydrate him. And get a pot of vegetable soup started. Make sure that you blend everything thoroughly, so that our guest will be able to ingest it more easily."

"Yes, Master. Should I bring the restraints?"

"Hmm... yes, better to be safe than sorry. It is a rather large needle, after all."

"What?" I open my eyes and try to sit up but he holds me in place with little effort. "What are you going to d-"

The rest of my words are destroyed by a coughing fit that lasts only seconds. It feels like an hour. When I'm finally able to regain control of my breathing my eyes are watering and my chest and throat are burning.

"Relax, visitor. You are safe here. In time, I will bring you back to full health."

"Who are you?" What does it matter, really? But right now I feel like I know nothing, so even the knowledge of this man's name feels somehow valuable.

"You may call me Master Francis."


Greg said...

Max looks very intent on his work in that picture, it's a really good one of him. I hope he appreciates it when he's older :) And well done on replacing your last piece of carpentry... even if Max has his doubts about your skill-levels!
Hmm, Master Francis is interesting, and slightly terrifying under the circumstances... I will watch with interest to see what happens to your narrator next. And I note that you've been catching up with comments -- well done! I am trying to catch up with comments too, but I've not helped myself by adding them fairly randomly. I shall start filling in the gaps.

I was expecting their return. I had braced myself and unlocked the cellar door, secretly dreading that Cecily would be on the other side, her hand reached up to the door-handle and a look of pain or terror on her face as she realised that I'd locked her in, but the stairs were free from bodies and I had to find even more courage to make myself go down. My heart pounded in my chest with each step, and half-way down I stopped and it took an effort of will to make myself restart again. Even when I reached the bottom of the stairs and could see her stick-thin, child-like form lying curled on the mattress I couldn't shake the fear that she might not be dead. I tried three times to reach out and shake her shoulder to see if she was sleeping before I managed it, and when her body rolled over, seemingly as light as paper, I screamed.
The urchins came to the door, crowding around it and blocking out the light, but they didn't come down, and I didn't blame them.
Her face had caved him, presumably an effect of the phlogiston. There was so little left of her head, really, that she couldn't be alive, but I still felt I had to be certain. I had to know.
I picked up a tea-chest, straining to lift it high enough, and dropped it on her head. There was a crack of fracturing bone, and her body somehow curled away, her neck not even bleeding.
I felt like I'd checked that a cockroach was dead.
When they returned I'd wrapped her body in a sheet and burned it the previous evening. Soaked in phlogiston as it was it had burned hard and briefly, purple flames leaping higher than the roof of the farmhouse. They gave off so little heat that I shivered as I watched them.
They returned and they insisted that I leave with them. I knew they wanted to search the place with me not there to distract them or hide things from them, but I knew that the spiders were there and the urchins were too. I had no doubts that my secrets would remain secret. What I wasn't expecting was the man they took me to see. The Master of Chincherry Security.

Marc said...

Greg - no worries, it's nice to have company in the catching up on comments department :D

Oh man, that was a creepy and tense opening. I think I'm glad she's gone, for both of their sakes. I certainly feel sorry for your narrator and how he'd made himself be sure.

And now you've left me with another tease at the end, leading me on to the next entry in this fascinating tale.