Thursday December 29th, 2016

The exercise:

Write about: target practice.

Went for a family snowshoe around the orchard this morning, with Miles on Kat's back. Max didn't last very long, but I'm hoping the more he does it the easier it gets for him.

Kat took this shot for me:

After lunch Max and I went into town to run a couple errands. Picked up a few small canvasses for him to paint, grabbed a cover for our new tablet (on sale, even), and got a deal on Christmas gift tags for next year (like 100 of them for fifty cents).

Tomorrow I'm planning on taking a solo trip to Oliver to spend a gift card I got for Christmas at Mark's. Not sure what I'll end up getting, but I hope to have fun figuring it out.


"You rang, Sire?"

"Indeed I did. And I thank you for coming with such haste."

"What do you wish of me, Sire?"

"I have important matters to discuss with you... but first I would like you to take a step to your right."

"Like this, Sire?"

"Perfect, perfect."

"... Sire?"

"Right, right. There is an artist due to arrive at court this evening. He is to paint my royal portrait and... could you take two paces forward? Thank you."

"Of course, Sire."

"I have been unable to decide in which light I would like my image to be captured. One half-step to your left, if you'd be so good. There you go. Just right, just right..."

"... Sire?"

"Ah, please excuse my absent-mindedness. So very many thoughts competing for my attention these days."

"Of course, Sire."

"Continuing my previous thought, I have been equally unable to choose which room I would like the artist to... three steps back now. That's a good lad."

"Sire.. am I being used for target practice for your son again?"

"Indeed you are! But don't worry, I checked myself to make sure that the darts are not poisonous this time."


Greg said...

That's a good picture! You look slightly embarrassed and Max looks as excited as ever :) It's a nice family semi-portrait (I considered semi-family portrait but that sounds worse somehow. Hemi-family portrait, to indicate only half the family are in shot?) Have fun with the shopping for yourself!
Hehe, I like how the King's words start off seeming to indicate that he's trying to find the best lighting, and are gradually revealed to be a ploy to get a target in the right place. The slow reveal works really well, especially with the courtier's weary realisation of what's going on and the complete lack of apology they get. Remind me never to listen to you trying to position me anywhere :)

Target practice
"What did your last henchman die of?" The voice was a furious whisper. For a few seconds there was silence, then there was a twanging sound, a rush of air, and a scream.
"You're our first hench...person," said Bill. He was sitting in a lawn-chair at the edge of a broad field wearing cricket whites and holding a glass of Pimm's in one hand. If it hadn't been for the snow on the ground and the transparently thin ice coating his drink he could have been a casual summer sports' spectator. "So I don't think that has an answer, exactly."
"Your competition died of drowning and topological inversion," said Ben. He was wearing a navy-blue beret, a black polo-neck, and charcoal grey slacks and holding a lit cigarette, a Gaulois, that he carefully wasn't smoking. He was standing just behind Bill's lawn chair, and together the pair looked like part of an Impressionist painting.
"You probably remember," said Bill. "The swimming competition woke up a Kraken, which was unfortunate but was a bloody good test of speed and endurance in the end. You did very well there."
"And looting the tomb of the Nahuatl Snake Queen would have been easy if she'd been as dead as we thought," added Ben. "Again, an excellent turn of speed there, and some very nifty thinking with the spike pit and the feathers. We were very impressed. And you didn't get topologically inverted!"
"So this should be easy," said Bill. "All you're doing is picking up the archery target for us."
"In the middle of target practice!" The whisper was just as furious, and came through the earpieces that Bill and Ben were wearing. There was another whoosh of air, and the thwock of an arrow hitting something. "How is this safe?"
"Because the archers are all blind," said Ben. "The RNIB like to organise days out for their members, and they've organised an archery tournament. It's a demonstration that you don't have to be sighted to be stupid."
"So provided you're careful and don't move too fast," said Bill, "none of the partially sighted ones will spot that you're moving, and no-one's got a snowball's chance in hell of hitting you anyway." A scream punctuated the end of his sentence for him.
"Oh yes?" hissed the henchperson.
"That was one of the archers," said Ben. "They keep turning around and firing into their own ranks. It's quite funny really. If you don't mind a little blood, and you don't look too closely at the ones that aren't moving any more."
"I don't mind a little blood," said Bill.
"I do! Why can't I just get the bloody target after target practice is over?"
"Ah," said Bill and Ben in unison. They looked at each other, and then Ben spoke. "It's cursed. It's only mostly safe to handle if you pick it up during target practice. Otherwise it might slightly summon Pirilliha, who's sort of a Portuguese porcupine god."
"Bit short-tempered," said Bill.
"Prone to overreacting, according to legend," said Ben.
"But you can run fast, right?"

Marc said...

Greg - I think I like hemi-family best :)

Don't be so suspicious of my motives! I have only your best interest at... actually, good you shift to the left a little bit? :P

Holy mercy, this is great. The description of Ben and Bill at the start is fantastic, and the dialogue is spot on, as usual. Add on the slow revelation of what's going on, and why, and we've got... a bloody good Ben and Bill story!