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MYRRH: First in the Ceremonies of the Horsemen
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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
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April 14, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 347: Enforced Ignorance

At her seat in front of Sir Hal Edwards’ desk, Leila shut her encrypted mobile. She unplugged the connector cable, pressed ‘rewind’ on the mini-recorder, and
looked across at the head of Five. He gave a nod.
“What’s next, Sir Hal?”
“Off you go to your safe house, your base of ops until the matter’s settled.”
Behind Edith’s desk outside the office, those picture windows gave onto a brighter-than-usual pre-winter early afternoon. Some faint blue limned the clouds. The analyst labored just beyond Sir Hal’s office door among piles of intercepts, cuttings and charts; two monitors obscured some of her face from sight. The remaining desks but for the receptionist’s stood empty; all the rest of the temporary section had already taken their places throughout the city.
It was as inconceivable to Leila that the sun remained high as it was that the following day would be Thanksgiving; the morning had passed at a blistering pace with Philip schooling her thoroughly on Five communication tactics and nomenclature. All was just different enough between Five’s and Six’ procedures to cause grievous harm to the operation if anything were forgotten. It just appeared that far more time had passed, somehow. Sir Hal noted her viewing the day.
“You cannot imagine their enforced ignorance.” His trademark air of judgment had gone missing; he nearly sounded wistful. Nearly.
Leila turned at the click of her recorder. “No, I can. Sir. I was one of them, three years ago. I walked around in circles, I consumed without thinking about it, I had friends and a home. I had no idea what went on in the Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza.”
“In New York City.”
“Yes, Sir Hal.”
“Why do you mention that building in particular?”
“I worked near there. My friend Dennis had a lot of Federal contracts.”
“Your adopted parent, yes.”
“One of them was upgrading the cameras in and around that building. But I have a better idea what goes on there, now.” She removed the tape from her recorder, placed it before Sir Hal and opened her loathed ‘barrister’ bag.
“Pestilence said, ‘welcome to the gulf beneath the Gulfs.’ Do you have any idea what that meant?”
“Two possibilities, if I could.”
“Certainly.” The peer allowed the tape to remain where it was.
“One, he knows I didn’t want to give him that OK to terminate. He may have researched my background and assumed I was some kind of straight arrow, which of course I’m not. Two, he knows I’m observant and he knows what I just told him means in Islam.”
Sir Hal, still close to expressionless, recalled the phrase from the Qu’ran… “As if he had murdered all mankind.”
“Yes, sir. Although in the end all he has to do is send one of his men against me while I’m in the field. It’s pretty obvious that they’re all master trackers. He knows I can’t stop him from doing that if I want him to help us.”
“Even if we give them everything they want.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Understood,” Sir Hal said. “While there is no such thing as a straight arrow.”
Leila considered Dr. Bernheim as a possibility, but the head of Five would of course not countenance that one. “Good show on the intel concerning the lack of bomber detonate signals,” he added. Sir Hal wanted no part of thanking her, one could tell, though his sense of fair play seemed to win out.
“Farid Paraswaram-Rehm of our IT Department should have that ‘well-done,’ Sir Hal.” She stowed her recorder and reclosed the bag.
“I’ll pass that on, then. Well, I’m frying other fish this afternoon. The conveyance for your safe house is expected ready in the garage in ten minutes. You’ll have one Five agent joining you. In the lobby, take Elevator H to the garage floor. We go live in five hours and forty minutes. Our onsite ‘den mother’ will have your assignment.” He stood. “Good luck, Al-Adil.”
Ready, Leila got up as well, hoisted her bag and put her hand out. Her wheeled case stood at attention by the door. Sir Hal shook her hand. “May G-d be with us, sir,” she answered. “See you on the battlements.”
It was not respect, it might never be, but Leila’s words caused a slight alteration in the peer’s expression. Turning and going for her case, she heard Sir Hal reply, at lower volume, “I look forward to it.”
Edith rose as Leila passed her desk with a nod, calling in to her boss, “I’ll walk Al-Adil to the elevator.” She didn’t wait for the lifted hand of permission he gave as he sat again. The hundred ten or so paces to the main floor bank were at first quiet; Edith took Leila’s case handle and gave it back as the younger woman punched the elevator button.
“I have something for you from both my uncle and myself,” Edith offered. With no further discussion she hugged Leila; surprised, after a half beat she gave it back. The elevator took its time, as they do in old retrofitted buildings. Moments before a tone sounded, Edith let go. “Uncle Weston has trouble with these things. You can imagine. We’ll talk on the network.”
Mind on the future, Leila did her best. “I hope so, Edith. Please tell him thanks. And to you.” Edith’s replying smile was a quick thing; she turned and made for her office again as the elevator doors bonged open.
In the lobby, our Chosen Woman –- though one wondered how much longer that would go on – switched to the H bank, and upon arrival below she noted a familiar back in a medium leather jacket and turtleneck, waiting. Philip turned, his own overnight and equipment bags ready. “So who’s seeing who off, then?” he wondered.
“New temp warrant card ready?” An approaching car hissed from a distance.
“Ink’s dry.” Leila’s gloved hand slipped into her inner coat pocket, pulled it out on its strap. “So you got your wish.” Back it went.
“Bottom of the barrel, officially now scraped.” Straight dark brown hair, thin, weathered, well-exercised features, admittedly what her friend Nunzi would have called ‘nice eyes…’ Oh, well. She had been younger. Leila might have looked twice, once. Too late now. As O’Carlan would have said, ‘fortunately.’ The car slid to a stop, trunk rising; attempting to play the gentleman, the Five veteran opened the car door and waited while Leila loaded her case in the trunk.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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April 11, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 346: 'Silas Stingy' returns

“Why are we in this situation?”
A well-aimed fist from the driver’s seat numbed the near side of Tyrell’s head.
“Shut the fuck up,” replied the voice he’d grown very tired of hearing. A sort of City accent with overtones of Canterbury. “Best you ask why you’re in this situation. You’re the only break in the wall, you and your two idiot friends. We’re giving you the only job you can handle.” The man next began another call on his mobile. He removed the battery connection from the onboard cigarette lighter. “And that can handle you.” He waited for the connection.
“Gibby, it’s Silas again… Has the toy arrived?... Good. No, no assignment for the old man of the sea yet. Keep optimistic. We’ll convene tomorrow night in your office at nine. Cheers.” He rang off.
“…When will Mum and Dad get the check?”
“It’s already arrived.” Another punch while Tyrell’s head rocked. “Just think! They’ll have no idea why they’ve received it. Until they see the evening news. Only you and your friends will be identified among the bombers.”
“Now I understand why you took my mobile.”
“Wouldn’t do for you to tell them to keep a copy, would it. Incidentally, I told you to shut up.” ‘Silas’ raised a fist again but Tyrell did not see. He sat, slack, facing ahead, waiting.
‘Silas Stingy’ turned back to his phone, dialed. “…Philly? How’s the cream cheese?... I’ve been in the American Virgin Islands far too long. In position?... Well, potentially… She is a creature of habit. She won’t move until the usual time… Because the Eurostar uses Gate software… All I want is eyes and a mouth… No not hers… She will. Scattered to the four winds, yes. We just need to know where… Don’t worry about how. I’ll handle how… Very good. And one of your men has to send me a photograph. Side, not back. Tomorrow.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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April 8, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 345: 'It's still here'

-It does exist. According to Dr. Bernheim and her colleague Dr. Bailter…”
“Dr. Augustus Bailter?”
-You’ve read about him. –P.
“Well, who didn’t, when I was a kid? They taught him in my senior year ‘gymnasium’ class in physics. He developed the idea of the ‘Bailter space.’ I admit, I thought he was dead. So she works with him.”
-He’s still very much alive. –P.
“Good for him. So this is, what do you call it, cutting-edge research.”
-Bleeding edge/ –D.
“You would say that, Dave,” Nadia trumped him adroitly. “So not only am I going to offer her a shoulder to cry on, long-distance, but I’m going to tell her that her project is based on something real.”
-She knows that! She sent us there t’ find somebody. –W.
-Well, Someone Else wanted us to find the man, as you recall, but she figured out how to get us there. –P.
With a certain resignation: “I remember this part, Peter. So on top of everything else, she’s incandescently brilliant. Please don’t tell me I have 20 years on her.”
-You’re both the same age. –P.
Nadia pushed her hair back over her left ear. “If she’s beautiful and not gay too, I may curse you, you know. Never mind that. I will.”
-…Then curse away/ --D.

“…At least we can talk about perimenopause. After we’ve dispensed with you. So. This place I’ve been visiting in my sleep; naturally I always knew it was real somehow, you’re my proof, but you did go there! I mean, back there.”
-Yesterday. It’s exactly as you remember. –F.
“It all turned out as I recall?”
-It will. –P.
“It will. And it’s still there.”
-It’s still here. –P.
“…Please explain that.”
And we did, and we did, until, satisfied, Nadia made it known that it was time to be away. We collected our mounts and departed, once again with our guide through the streets of Al Quds in the lead. “Another meeting with a donor,” she explained once we approached the souk. “And I have the Palestinian Deputy Home Secretary coming by after that. Who knows what for?” Now her cellular rang. “Our respite’s officially over…”
-We’re thankful. We are. –P.
“Of course you are,” she tossed back at me, “I’m helping you out of a jam. One second…” While she took the call, I watched her, as vital as when she was a teenager, snaking through the marketplace traffic and towards her home street’s somewhat less pressing ambience. I recalled her then, that day in Cologne a ‘Verse distant, nowhere near as conservatively attired, chattering away on her cellular as she passed Francis and me in the street. Very seventeen, she had not even given us a first look. We’d just begun to prepare me to lift up and challenge St. Michael on the spire of St. Severin’s. Bow bag and backpack on her shoulder, she’d hurried away that day, into future history. Now, however… well, yet another clock was wound. Assuming it hadn’t been before we’d arrived.
At last we came upon the door of ‘Ahl-I-Maryam’; no Khalil awaited us this time, but a similar crop of gabbing yeshiva students congregated across the street. Their ‘tzaddik’ called them in, luckily, before any of us could commit an indiscretion. G-d’s will once more, perhaps. Why not.
Having fielded several calls on her way back here, Nadia put her phone away again and crossed her arms, not entirely willing to let us go even if she did remain piqued at us and our very ‘male’ behavior. “I will do this for you on one condition. Come back, one more time, and do what you should have done in the last world. Say goodbye, I mean. If you have to bring Azrael with you, fine. Just as long as he doesn’t take me too. Swear this to me.” We did so, and received another kiss apiece. “I suppose I’ll need a friend too…” she added, and with regret Nadia made to enter her house. “You’ll get your hugs then,” she informed us, and departed.
-I will be very glad to get out. –F.
-Anywhere/ including here –D.
-Much as we’ve just enjoyed our time with Nadia… --P.
-Yeah. –W.
In single file once again we and our horses moved west, where we might find someplace to take our leave and take to the air.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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April 5, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 344: No vision, no dream, that...

Nadia viewed Leah’s business card again. “Don’t tell me. You're private soldiers for hire.”
-Exactly. –F.
“Is she observant? Jewish, I assume.”
-Yes. –P.
“Will she want to settle here?”
-Don’t believe so. She has a position in the Cambridge College physics department and at CERN.”
“Busy woman. You won’t want me to tell her who you are, either.”
-No. But she should know you’re our friend as well. Please. Tell her you miss us as much as she does. –P.
-If ya do, of course. –W.
She viewed each of us, evenly. “I just implied that I have missed each one of you since the dreams began 30 years ago. I know I’m wrong. I told Peter that I don’t care, and even though you’re doing this awful thing to this poor woman, and to me as well, I still don’t care. How’s that for completely unrealistic?”
-We aren’t men, Nadia. We just look like them. Petey told you that. We all did. –F.
Miss Basayev replied, “You certainly act like them, sometimes. You’re doing it much too well, right now. But as I said, there are some situations that Allah, may His name be praised, puts us into. He has put you into your situation, and now He has put me into this one. Remember all our arguments, Willie?”
-Ah, too well. –W.
“How about that time we tried to talk that young girl – you kept calling her ‘Athena’ – out of leaving the camp with her friends? While we were marching to the Jezreel Valley.”
-I’ve always blamed me fer lettin’ her go. –W.
“Willie, she would not have stayed. You’re no fool. It was G-d’s will that she leave, so she did. I remember what we saw on the road the next day. I recall what Hazrat Mik’hail said to you. He was furious. He called them his lambs.”
-If he was an angel, how come he didn’t know what you just told us? That it was G-d’s will? –F.
“You are asking a woman who owns a copy of the holy Qu’ran but barely ever opens it.” She knitted her thin brows a moment. “Maybe it was the same thing that’s made a mess of you four. Overexposure to the human race. That might work against angels as well. It might even explain why we see them so seldom. But, even if ‘Athena’ had known what would happen, she would still have left. Remember she even objected to me being Muslim?”
-This was entirely my fault, and no one else’s. It certainly wasn’t yours. I was raving, Nadia. I told Domitian that demigods and goddesses were approaching. He was the only ‘Dominus et Deus,’ as far as he was concerned. The more insane I became, the more insanely he responded. I was too far gone to see that. –P.
-You heard me callin’ the girl a goddess. You heard me an’ you repeated it t’ the maniac. You didn’ know what you were doin’, Petey. --W.
-I’d even forgotten how much he hated the goddess of the same name… he claimed she abandoned him before he was assassinated. The frst time. --P.
“You’ve all but proved my point! Both of you. Impossible to believe, but…”
-Athena, I mean, Galin, she said she was more scared a’ us than she was of Domitian. –W.
“Well.” Nadia sighed. “I’ve told you to trust in Allah, Peter. What happens is His to bring about. Like it or not, when we saw what was left of the children on the road that day, it didn’t break us as Domitian expected us to. It united us. He made us an army. I can’t say more than that.”
-Gee, Petey, ya might a’ let us know. –W.
-I had no idea… --P.
-I was a mindless, babbling pile of refuse in a hanging cage, and I assisted in the Emperor’s defeat. –P.
“I asked you not to call him that, Peter. He was the filth. Not you.”
-That’s my bro’, last t’ get th’ news as usual. –W.
“So what do I do about this situation?”
-You might hear about a manhunt/ in London or Cambridge by the British security services that/ will not have gone well/ after that we’d like you to please contact Dr. Bernheim and say you know us/ well, you knew us/ and express your sympathies/ she’ll need a friend/ you can tell her about your dreams as well if you like –D.
“I can, can I?” This may not have been the right thing to say. “That has been my and your secret since I was seventeen. I don’t know that I can speak of any of this, out loud, to a stranger. What’s she like? As a person.”
-Reticent. Not quick to confide. A bit disconnected on occasion. Deep thinker. Very sharp sense of humor once you get her back to the here and now. If you manage to do that, you two should get along. You’re both very tenacious. You’re both very smart. When or if you tell her about your dreams, she won’t be able to use them for her research but it will underline that she should get to work on what we collaborated on. –P.
“Really, what was that?”
-That universe you dream about still exists. –F.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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April 2, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 343: Schadenfreude

Nadia shook her head. “…I can’t tell you the relief in the streets here in the Old City when Belgrade and Geneva were attacked. ‘We are passed over,’ one donkey’s posterior on TV said. It upset me. I even sent a letter to the Palestine Times in Ramallah, and Al Manar here. We’re all members of Mary’s family! Just because you live in Belgrade does not make you inferior in any way! Does anyone know who’s dressing up these poor men and forcing them to do this? Or why?”
-Yes, but we can’t tell you. –F.
“All right! Back to your friend. Is she such bad company?”
-Not in any way. –F.
-That has nothing to do with it, Nadia –D.
“She wants to talk about things you’d rather not discuss.”
-No. She’s very open. Wasn’t when we met, but she is now. She respects that there’s a lot we can’t bring up. She’s also very correct and very charming. We enjoy her talk, her ideas, how she makes fun of us in an endearing kind of way… --F.
“While none of you discussed a sexual liaison with her? Or has she refused?”
-Never did. –P.
-I don’ think we’re her type. –W.
This piqued her interest. “Men and woman acting like grownups for once,” Nadia commented. “Like you and I do. So she’s grown fond of you. Doesn’t have a lot of other friends, you said?”
-Very few. Works much too hard. Kind of a hothouse flower. She’d tell you we’ve nearly cured her of that. –F.
“Oh, well. All the more reason to leave! Before you can’t. Before she is cured. But did you consider that she probably can’t either?”
-Yes. –P.
“You’re unable to prevent how she’ll react.”
-We’re either going to go one way, or the other. Whatever happens, we will be gone. And she’ll have wanted us to stay. –P.
“As will I, you know.”
-She did say at one point, ‘we lone wolves have to stick together.’ –F.
“Underlines a certain idealism, doesn’t it? I assume I won’t see you again, either.”
-No. –P.
“Well, at least this time you came to tell me. I dreamed once…” She thought about it. “…that Azrael arrived at the office, in the last world. It was nine years after Armageddon. Twenty-one years ago, here. He said he had met you outside a town in Azerbaijan and taken you back to the earth. To your place on Patmos.” She gave me another of ‘those looks.’ “I would rather that you’d come to tell me that yourself. You all meant a lot to me. Allah give me wisdom - some day - you still do. I was hurt that I had to hear it from an angel. These are different times. Your ‘friend’ Leah…”
-I meant it when I said -- --P.
“I am not saying you did sleep with her, or however you choose to express it. I am telling you that an actual ‘friend’ doesn’t leave and not come back without saying something. Not then and not now.”
-We aren’t supposed to have ‘friends.’ –F.
“And me? What am I, then? A mistake? When you’re gone, do you think I won’t shed a tear? I first dreamed of you years ago. At last you’ve all come back to me, in order to tell me you’re leaving again. How do you think I feel about that?”
-Nadia, I apologize. I didn’t mean it the way it may have sounded. I didn’t. –F.
“…It’s all right.” After a moment she patted my brother’s hand, then took it away in case anyone saw.
-Though Mary would not have approved, I thought. –P.
“That is not true,” Nadia patiently corrected me. “Any more than the last time you mentioned it. When we decided to become fellow travelers, not long after you murdered the two djinni in Palmyra, Mary said to me, ‘If I have to share you with him, I will do my best.’ She would not have wanted you in our house, but I was a grown woman in my 20s when the angel took you, Peter. Mary was my friend, not my superior. Actually, she was, but she considered us to be equals. If you and I had gone somewhere to sit and have tea and visit with one another, if any of you had come, she would not have forbidden me. She was not that kind of person.”
-Heck of a compliment Mary gave ya. –W.
“Don’t try to get on my good side. I’ll bet you never even told Dr. Bernheim who you are. Did you?”
-We did not/ --D.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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R E A D E R   C O M M E N T S

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"A good writer is an expert on nothing but himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue." --John le Carre

Exactly how interesting can the author be, anyway, when nobody has any idea where their creativity comes from or how the mechanics of inspiration works? Maybe it's something we all have access to. Maybe it's a sluice that empties into your head when you're facing in a particular direction and thinking a particular series of things. Then again, maybe not.
However benevolent inspiration really is, to say nothing of what it is, I suspect that any good fictional character is a lot more interesting than the person who dreams it up. So mine speak for me here.

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