Sunday December 4th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: the chase.

A refresher before reading mine, for those that need it. Because it's, ah... been a while since last we heard from these three.

Day started out sunny, then we got hit with a windstorm and snow, then it went back to being nice again in the afternoon. If the forecast is to be believed, then temperatures have just dipped below zero outside and won't be going back into the positives for the rest of the week.

I suppose that's all right, what with it being December and all.


"They're shooting at us!"

"Drive! Just keep dri- aaaaahhhhh!"

"Crystal? Crystal!"

"Eyes on the road! I'm fine. I think."

"You've been shot, Crystal."

"No kidding, Tammy. Now hit the floor unless you want to join the club."

"Are you okay? Should I pull over?"

"Are you kidding me? If you take your foot off that gas pedal I'll shoot you myself."

That was the last thing any of us said for the next ten or fifteen minutes. I kept the van pointed south while Tammy scanned the maps for alternative routes. Crystal, slumped down in the passenger seat with her left hand pressed against her right shoulder and breathing in pained gasps, kept her eyes on her rear view mirror. I kept waiting for her to announce that the cops were gaining on us but she never did.

"We need to get her to a doctor," I said when I couldn't take the silence any longer.

"Pretty sure I told you I don't want to go to jail," Crystal said, but her words lacked her usual fierceness.

"She's lost a lot of blood," Tammy pointed out. She was still flat on her stomach in the back, her nose in a map of Southern California. I passed a pickup truck and had to swerve hard to get back into our lane to avoid a head-on. She wore softly as she slid to her left.

"What's our best option to find somebody to help her?"

"Would you two stop talking about me like I'm not here? I'm not dead yet, you kn-- ahhh... damn it."

"Relax, Crystal," I said as I maneuvered us around a red sedan. "Tammy?"

"Take the turn for Visalia. Should be coming up in about ten minutes if you keep this up." She paused to mutter something under her breath. Pretty sure it was something along the lines of I hope you don't. "It's big enough that we should be able to find a clinic, get Crystal's shoulder patched up, and be on the road again before anybody notices."

"Okay," I said, relieved to have a plan again.

"I'll stay with her, keep the doc honest," Tammy continued slowly, as though she were still figuring things out. "It'll take some time, easily enough for you to go and find us another ride."

"What?" I said, my relief washed away by a flood of panic.

"We can't keep the van," Tammy pointed out. "We gotta switch to something else. Get to Bakersfield, ditch whatever you get us in Visalia and do it again. Get to L.A. and pull the trick one last time before we head for the border."

"What?" I said again. "I don't know how to steal a car! If I somehow managed to pick the lock I'd probably electrocute myself trying to hotwire it!"

"Well then," Crystal said just before she finally blacked out, "I guess you'll have to carjack some poor sucker."


Greg said...

Your weather sounds like fun! Malta's getting a little bit of rain... and that's kind of it. Christmas snow? Bah humbug!
It was nice to visit the girls again, though their escapade isn't as simple as I think they thought it was going to be. Getting shot in the shoulder is managable at least, so I'm not too worried about Crystal (just yet), and I really like the reaction to being told to get a new vehicle and the humour that could ensue with a carjacking. Though in a tale this serious, I guess the humour would be fairly black and have a sad tinge to it! I really like the subtle details you keep adding, including the place names, that make it all seem like it could be a real tale; great work!

The chase
The ground floor of the Voices Hotel was, like many other hotels, given over to rooms catering to many guests. There was the main restaurant, which Samual mentioned served breakfast in the morning in case Ernest didn't feel like eating in the seclusion of his own suite, and there was a large bar with doors that opened onto the street, clearly indicating that the hotel was willing to serve anyone thirsty and not restrict itself to just its paying guests. As they passed the door they could hear a hubbub from within and see people dressed for the Edinburgh weather: heavy jackets over woollen trousers and thick boots, and the men were more heavily dressed still. A little further on was a room used for conferences; a stand outside the door displayed a creamy sheet of paper with musical notation in the corners, on which was written The Heralds of Boreas and, in smaller text underneath, 14:00-17:30. A brass plaque on the doors identified the room as the Toccata conference room. The next door along, a much smaller one, also had a brass plaque that announced it as the Sonata room. Samual stopped at the door and knocked, a rapid rat-a-tat-tat that sounded military.
"Come," came a familiar voice, attentuated through the thick wood of the doors, and Samual opened them.
The room was long and narrow; a table set around with eight chairs used up most of the space, though at one end there was a fireplace and two armchairs, and at the other a large white screen and a sideboard. Father Ignatz was sitting in one armchair, and a pale woman, slightly plump with mousy hair and the beginnings of a middle-aged moustache, was sitting in the end chair at the table. She was wearing a black robe with double-breasting and buttons running the full length, black boots polished so well that they were reflecting the weak sunlight from the window, and a slim white collar that indicated her profession.
"Lord Derby," said Ignatz, sounding both surprised and pleased. Samual bowed and retreated from the room, closing the door. "I was alerted that you might call by, but in truth I thought you'd be too busy. There are so many illustrious people here at the hotel."
"You can't exclude yourself from that group," said Ernest with a smile. "Though I can see that you're too modest to easily admit it. And you, my dear, must be Jane Melody."
The woman at the table half-smiled, half-rose, then changed her mind and sat back down. Ernest came down the room, and Ignatz indicated the free armchair.
"Jane is of the Myocean order," he said. "They are quite careful about the standards they hold themselves to."
Ernest raised an eyebrow but said nothing about it. He held his hand out to Jane, but she leaned back, holding her hand up in refusal.
"No contact," explained Ignatz. "She is purifying herself after the... ah, events."
"I was interested in hearing about them myself," said Ernest. "Might I be permitted?"

Greg said...

"Let me summarise," said Ignatz. "That way Jane can correct me if I have misapprehended, and she can take on the story from the end of my summary. On the day that Lord Campion died there was a military exercise taking place called a chase. His men split into two groups, one large and one small, the smaller of which was given an object, supposedly of value, and their aim was to reach a certain point where they would be deemed to have escaped and to have won the exercise. The other, larger, group, was tasked with chasing the small group and preventing them from reaching the escape point. They had done this exercise before, but the groups were always chosen randomly so as to prevent anyone from getting too confident in their role and to make sure that all men experienced both sides of the task. Normally Lord Campion would set off both groups, giving the one their treasure and the other some initial delay and direction. However, on this day he was delayed by messages delivered by his batman. This had happened before, and wasn't odd. In his absence Lieutenant Cosgrave deputed for him and handed out the treasure. However, Lord Campion called for Cosgrave and so the chasing group lost an additional eight minutes while they waited for the Lieutentant to return and permit them to start.
"The chase was a close one nevertheless, with the larger group using tactics well and managing to cut off the shortest route for the chased group on two occasions. Some of the officers were gambling on the outcome, though Lord Campion expressly forbade such activities. He was still in his tent however, so the officers were emboldened by his absence.
At the very end the chasing group came within eight hundred metres of preventing the chased group from reaching their target, but the chased group cleverly split into two parts and decoyed the larger group away, meeting they got their victory. Somehow, while they were celebrating, the treasure they had been given was lost, and though there was some annoyance from Lieutenant Cosgrave it wasn't deemed important enough to be worth hunting for, and so they left without retrieving it. When they arrived back, Lord Campion was out of his tent at last, and he congratulated the winners, gave punishment duties to the losers, and then took his officers aside for a briefing."
Jane nodded. "That is all correct, Sir," she said.

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, I had to refer to a map to make sure I was being reasonably accurate (and then Wikipedia to learn about the places themselves - I had no idea Visalia was so big!). Thanks for the kind words :)

A clever inclusion of the prompt, once again sir. I feel like I am helping to shape this story without having any intention to do so!

Great details abound, both in the hotel and in the beginning of the tale of Lord Campion's doom. I shall miss reading this for the next few days, but I look forward to whenever you resume the tale :)