Wednesday October 26th, 2016

The exercise:

Halloween Week continues with: the intruder.

Now I remember why I've never done a theme week leading up to costume and candy day - I don't like mixing Halloween with my birthday. I guess having kids has lessened that a little.

Had a good day. Kat made my favorite fall dinner (carrot soup), Max got a kick out of wishing me happy birthday like twenty times throughout the day, and I brought home some treats from the bakery (chocolate croissants for me and Kat, a coconut macaroon for Max) in lieu of having cake.

All right, it's getting late. Let me figure out the next steps in my story.


"Who the hell are you?" Ryan demanded of the pale woman standing at the foot of his bed after sitting up and clutching the sheets to his chin.

"Who the hell are you?" she countered, hands on her hips and eyes wide with indignation.

"This is my house!" He was so distracted by the realization that this statement was far from the truth that he didn't notice the look of panic that flashed across the woman's face. "Well, it's my family's home. That is, it belongs to my family. A member of it. Anyway! What are you doing here?"

"Sounds like you've got about as much claim to be here as I do," she said, sounding rather relieved. "I'm a bartender at a university club downtown, which means I work at night and sleep the day away. I started last week and couldn't find a room to rent, so I, uh... ended up here. Just until I can find a proper home. You know?"

"I see." Ryan studied her for a few moments and decided that he liked her short, messy black hair and ruby stud earrings. He wasn't sure about the wrinkled Mets jersey - or what might be hidden underneath it - but figured he could make up his mind about that later. "I'm Ryan."

"Hey Ryan," she said with a small laugh that relaxed her whole body. She shifted her weight to her right leg and crossed her arms. "I'm Angie."

"Nice to meet you." Ryan moved to get out of bed, then remembered he'd left his pants elsewhere. "Uh, did I steal your bed? The sun will be up any minute, so you can take over now."

"Don't worry about it," Angie said. "I'll take another room for today. We can figure the rest out after I get some sleep in me, all right?"

"Yeah, sounds good. I'll try to be quiet for you."

"I'd appreciate that."

And that was when the whispers began to waft through the house.


Greg said...

Carrot soup is excellent! I like the Modernist Cuisine touch where you pressure cook the carrots with baking soda first for twenty minutes to develop caramelisation before making soup with them, but even without it's very nice. Butternut squash too.
Happy Birthday! (Though I feel like Max may have pre-empted me a little...) I think you'll probably lose your birthday to Hallowe'en for a few years, but then get it back again as the kids get older :)
I wasn't expecting another live human! And I rather like that they both seem to be in the house with permission, exactly... now we know something terrible will happen to them! The details are still all there, from the Mets jersey to the lack of pants and the offer to timeshare the bed - nice! And another cliffhanger too :)

[I'm going to give up being optimistic that I can be polite and just post once and go straight to the second post for mine today.]

Greg said...

The intruder
David shook his head very slightly and gestured so casually that neither Ernest nor Ignatz realised at first that he'd done anything.
"Start squeezing now," he said, while the would-be vistor knocked again. "Ignore the door."
A slow but steady trickle of lemon juice fell on the chalk octagon, somehow failing to wash the chalk away, and the glitter around Father Ignatz subsided. David adjusted where he was standing so that he could see Father Ignatz too, and then applied his will to the candle. The knocking at the door became more insistent. Father Ignatz wiped a hand across his forehead, clearing a faint sheen of sweat. The feeling of warmth in the room grew stronger, and there was a spark at the blackened wick of the candle as though it were trying to relight.
"Fizjorp" said David, his voice terribly calm. He seemed to be staring into a distance only he could see, and as a faint tendril of smoke struggled away from the candle it twisted and stretched, pulled by the invisible web of power that he was creating using the counters and the octagon as a template. The lemon juice trickled steadily, and Ernest's knuckles whitened as it grew harder to keep the flow constant. The knocking at the door stopped, and then became a hammering.
"A'ml mitluhh," said David. Something heavy slammed against the door and the whole carriage rocked. There was a screech from outside the window as the wheels of the train pressed heavily against the rail and sparks were thrown up beyond the window. The lemon juice sputtered a little, and Ernest squeezed harder, his face now drawn with worry. A hint of glitter appeared around the base of Ignatz's robes. The warmth became an oppresive heat, and something slammed heavily against the door again. The wood cracked.
David pressed down with the power and reached, without looking into his bag. An unused candle came out, white and pure, and he dropped it into the octagon. It fell and lay still; no bouncing, no rolling. As the last of the lemon juice fell he applied his full will to the Law of Similarity, the arcane shapes that he'd formed closing in and embossing on the world within the octagon. The wooden door of the carriage exploded into splinters, and Father Ignatz, the only one who could see it clearly, cried out.

There was silence. Inside the octagon was a white candle and a white candle stub. Two crushed lemons fell from Ernest's nerveless fingers, and David exhaled as though he'd just remembered he had lungs. Father Ignatz visibly braced himself, forcing himself to stand upright, and rubbed his eyes. The bottom three inches of his robes were missing. There were burn marks on the door frame as though something aflame had been stood outside and the train's guard, a portly man with a wiry grey moustache stood just beyond looking as though he might faint at any moment.

Greg said...

"Our visitor, our would-be intruder," said Ernest, "was undoubtedly the horror that Lord Campion encountered. As strange as it might sound now, I think we were quite lucky to be able to see it." Neither David nor Ignatz looked like they agreed with him, and the train's guard, who was lying on a bench and looking ill, shook his head violently.
"I don't think you understand how close we came to meeting that horror terminally," said David. "I would measure it in seconds, Ernest."
"But you were a match for it," said Ernest. "You handled yourself superbly, and we all are still here because of that."
David was visibly proud for a few moments. "Even so," he said.
"Sir, you didn't see the horror yourself," said Ignatz. "Myself, and this man here -"
"I saw it from the corner of my eye," said Ernest. "Which I admit, was probably safer and less damaging. But I am grateful nonetheless. All information is valuable, if only to be able to understand what is important."
"The cost of obtaining the information though."
They all looked at the train's guard.
"Can we help him?"
"I can," answered Ignatz. "Though I could use a short while to recover myself."
"I could make up some Imperium Elixir," said David, his sense of pride still radiating. "Would that perhaps help?"
"That would be ideal," said Father Ignatz with such sincerity that the whole room seemed to lighten.

[Three posts. I am sorry.]

Marc said...

Greg - ooh, I like the sound of caramelizing the carrots first! I shall pass that one along to the chef :)

Thanks for the continued kind words on mine!

Hah, stop apologizing for writing so much. When it's this good, there is simply no need for it.

Fantastic details and tension, and the story continues to develop and reveal itself. Looking forward to reading on!