Monday February 6th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: resistance.

The only thing I'm going to miss about this recent battle with illnesses in our household is how easy it is to get Max to sleep at night. He conked out in less than ten minutes the other night without a single complaint.

I can tell he's getting better by the gradual increase in how much of a fight he's been putting up the last two nights.

Miles was more congested today, but we're hopeful the worst is behind us at this point. We could certainly all use it to be, at any rate.


In a small town nestled in the foothills of majestic mountains, five men gather in a small room lit by two candles. They stand and study a map splayed out across a table with uneven legs, when their eyes are not on the curtain clad windows. There is no one else present. The windows are locked shut. Still they are unable to trust their privacy completely.

Privacy? Secrecy, to be entirely honest.

"Bases N-43 and Q-9 have been infiltrated and utterly destroyed," one of the men says, a dirty finger pointing out each location as he speaks of them. "Base D-5 is completely surrounded and won't survive the weekend. Base T-8 remains hidden and unknown. For now."

"And what about this room?" another man asks, his voice hoarse. "How much longer will it be safe for us to use? How long until that door over there gets kicked in and we all disappear like puffs of cigarette smoke in a hurricane?"

"We should move on before the risk grows too great," a third says. He looks the others in the eyes, one after the other, daring them to challenge him. "The roof above our heads and walls surrounding us are nice luxuries to have, but they are exactly that. Luxuries. We all know what will happen if we delay too long."

There is silence in the flickering candlelight. The air is heavy with stale sweat and fear. Outside, unseen and unnoticed, a snow begins to fall. A race is underway and no one can say who will win. Though, regardless of whether winter or the army reaches these men first, there is one certainty.

Their chance of survival is desperately poor.


Greg said...

I like how you measure wellness by how resistant people are to going to bed. That seems like a pretty reliable metric, all things considered.
" puffs of cigarette smoke in a hurricane?" is definitely my favourite line of this piece, though I also enjoyed the snow starting to fall at the end, and the image of the mountains at the start. There's a strong sense of desperation here, summarised well by your final line but pervading the whole writing, and it helps brings the characters plight to life. I really enjoyed reading this.

The healers had made them all leave Magdalena's room because tempers were heating and words were flying, so, with a certain amount of repressed anger and sulking they had moved to the lounge of Thomas's suite. The Lord Magical was glaring at things so hard that periodically they would burst into flame and a younger mage would quickly move to put the fire out and undo the damage caused. David Suture had been sat on a couch between the other two Lords Magical, and though Ernest had made a brief protest it was explained to him that this situation was one between mages.
"You may observe," said Lord Therewen, "and we would be grateful if you did. I do not think that anyone would accuse us of impropriety if the King's Investigator was present. But what has happened here needs to be understood. A woman's life has been endangered and we need to know if that was necessary. Could it have been the other way round? Could the burden have been shared? Why were the decisions made that were taken, and can we make better ones next time?" As Lord Therewen spoke he twisted the sleeve of his official robes between his fingers and his eyes darted constantly about, refusing to settle on anyone or anything. Lord Derby had nodded and taken a hard-backed chair at the edge of the group and now sat there quietly, his eyes watching keenly as the questioning continued.
"There was resistance," said David, not meeting Thomas's eyes. "It wasn't there when Magdalena covered the focus, it only manifested itself after I put the scaffold in place. The focus seemed to become aware of us only then, and it... resisted. I don't think I can explain it better."
"Foci do not resist," said Lord Therewen. He was sitting opposite Lord Derby in an ornate armchair and now fidgeting with some bauble he'd taken from his pockets. "They are well studied, and two mages of your abilities should have been able to handle it individually. Why did you work together?"
"It was a new focus to me," said David. "A quetzal focus. Magdalena said she'd been studying them recently, so she took the lead on it and I supplied backup."
Thomas grew angrier, and there was a feeling that the air in the room had just got warmer.
"Quetzal foci are classified information," he said, the words coming out like machine gun fire: staccato and violent. "I find it implausible that there should be such a focus here in this hotel. This is far too convenient."
Lord Therewen set the bauble down on the table for a moment, and leaned forward.
"My colleague is right," he said. "We learned of these magic six months ago, and while they are a reality in South America contact with those lands is difficult and infrequent."
"The Trumpmauer," said someone else. Ernest looked at them, committing their face to memory, but recalled no introduction to them.
"Exactly," said Lord Therewen. "I cannot see how something from there could have been found here in such a short time by pure chance. You are saying, Dr. Suture, whether you understand it or not, that this was deliberate."
"Ah," said David. He raised a hand and explained about the path through the wards and defences that he'd discovered that had led to the finding of the focus, and the anger and heat in the room rose further still.

Marc said...

Greg - thanks for the kind words on mine :)

Another installment in this saga greatly enjoyed! Also: good to have David and Ernest back in the same room together again :)