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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
MYRRH, the first book in the Ceremonies of the Horsemen, is now available via Dog Ear Books. Check out the book's new Web site,
NOTE: Only the paperback is on sale at this time ($18.95 plus shipping). All formats of Ebooks soon
September 13, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 276: Between Two 'Verses

In the stationery room, Francis and William watched the window rise. I stood behind them, getting a fine view of two horse butts and not a lot more. Damn these architects and their small closets...
-Looks like we’re over the tree line, very good. –F.
“Better be,” said Victor at his laptop, “because I’m out of magnets. Vortura, NHC status from your end.”
“Collimator interlock on line, all bunches remain injected… all quad mags at full.”
-Almost within! –D.
“OK, thanks.” More key patters.
-Yes, Leah –D.
“Get into the building faster!”
“Still 7.3 TeV output, 92% of ‘c’?”
-Already there… doors jammed shut… They know that the building’s full of hostages, one of them must have called this in. So they won’t strafe us –D.
“Exactly, Victor,” Vortura answered. “No trouble yet.”
David and Geist entered the hallway; he motioned for William to head for the closet. As William passed him they exchanged handclasps in the old manner; at the head of the hall David pointed his scythe at the hostages, each and every.
-We are almost done… remember this day! Every one of you! You have seen us before, you will see us again –D.
“On your way up,” intoned Schneider. He almost sounded as if he were about to read from the Torah. The view in the window rose a bit further. “Now at 93% of ‘c.’” All right, maybe he didn’t.
The CW lifted further in our view. At last the sound of the ‘choppers’ made itself heard through the double doors from where we stood.
-They can’t see you from outside the building, David? –P.
-I thought of that! –D.
“What are the helicopters doing? Any idea?”
-Still outside the building, have not landed –D.
-They really have too little room to do so. Too many trees on this part of the concourse. –P.
In the opposite hallway, someone at last lost their lunch.
-Terrible! Someone will have to clean that up –D.
-Leah, I’m around the corner and down the hall, I hear the rotor blades at ‘hover’ speed. I hear none of them winding down. Don’t worry. –P.
“Told you it’d be better if I stayed here…” she tried not to tense, but did anyway.
-‘Bout a hundred feet in th’ air, Victor. –W.
“Raising the voltage. 7.4 TeV.”
-We are travelin’! –W.
Not with a capital T, unfortunately. The CW began to make its way out over Aeroport Geneve.
-See, this is th’ big problem. We look inwards from here, ya know? We can only see where we’ve been from this vantage. –W.
Sad to say, all in ‘Verse I remained where it was. The drone of heliblades kept level; were they attempting to figure strategy now? Although, how much notice had we given them…?
“I thought we discussed this, William,” Leah replied. “Sorry if we didn’t. You can’t reverse the direction of the windows. We’re good, but we’re not G-d.”
-Yeah, two o’s instead a’ none. We can deal with it. –W.
“Good ear on you, there.”
-Just not fer, uh, Schostakovich, that’s all. –W.
“I let you off the hook for that a long time ago,” Leah reminded him, fingers still buzzing on her laptop.
-Oh. Well, thanks. –W.
“Raising to 7.5 TeV,” noted Schneider.
-Moving out, over France… rivers, countryside, uh, small cities… --W.
“Yes,” added Vortura, “no need for rampdown and refill that I can see yet.”
-Aright! We hit the water. –W.
“The water, or the airspace above it?!”
Robot finally found his voice, or it him. “Vic, you gotta go up. Another 100 feet.”
-Sorry again, Leah, ah, th’ air over th’ water. Looks about th’ same height. –W.
“Now rising to 94% of ‘c,’” Dr. Schneider announced.
“Can you stick your head out of the window and see any of the other slots?”
-O’ course, why not. Starting t’ rise again, Vic, maybe a little too fast. –W.
“Please be careful.”
-Jeez, Lady Leah, you’d think we were leavin’ Switzerland fer the Crusades or somethin’. –W.
“Not my ancestors, thanks… on either side.”
-Ours neither. Uh, good call, Robot World, we got a cruise ship’s wake below, we must be comin’ up behind it… Whoa! Th’ main mast just went right through me! –W.
“…So it’s possible to climb through it one way but possibly not the other? Stupid question, yes…”
At this point we began to hear smashing on the exterior glass doors under the continuing rotorwash outside. Why would it not occur to me that the assault team would not rappel down on ropes…
-Yes; why wouldn’t it? –D.
-Stay out of sight, David! –P.
-Can see the two CWs on both sides a’ me. Th’ one we came through sideswiped the starboard a’ th’ ship but I don’ see any change or disturbance. Leah, must be like it don’t matter if yer goin’ backwards like this. –W.
“Phew! Again,” Leah said, madly typing on.
“Thermos here—“
-Was just wondering what had become of you… --P.
“7.5 TeV,” muttered Victor.
“Yeah,” Thermos continued, “something weird in the mains, Dr. Schneider. Wavering input from the local grid to the NHC. About .004%.”
The smashing continued against the glass doors. They don’t make security forces like they used to… wait, now, I’m in the wrong ‘verse.
{-Th’ right one, you mean. –W.}
(-Oh. So we are. Thanks. –P.)
“Fun…” Schneider said. “Although we’ve been well past 94% ‘c’ and 7.5 TeV before this. Inquire of the local Power Authority. Whoever they are, please, Thermos.”
“Calling RePower Aktiengesellschaft now, going out of service…”
“Vortura, monitor the fluctuations, please.”
“…Not all that bad yet…”
“Is our UPS capability at full? Can you check?”
“Attempting to connect…”
(-Uh, Azrael? –P.)
-Continuing t’ cross th’ water, I figure th’ Atlantic. All looks pretty solid. –W.
“Still that tone to everything, William? Francis?”
-Pretty much the same, Leah. In here we are more or less the way we usually look, and yes. The water I’m looking at can’t be this dirty. –F.
(-Azrael, yoo hoo… --P.)
“Yes, let’s hope they got that right...”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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September 10, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 275: Pinkerton's Revenge

“You will pardon if I don’t introduce everyone else, Al-Adil, I’m certain," said Sir Hal. To the remainder: "So I’ll give the quick overview of the situation ‘in re’ what was in everybody’s notes and then Al-Adil shall have the floor for as long as it takes, or for as long as her voice holds out.” Sir Hal drew up one of the papers before him. “To commence. Anoraks among us may recognize this one: in 1893 the US Congress, back when they were still pretending to be a republic, passed the Anti-Pinkerton Act, which in part reads, quote…
“’An individual employed by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, or similar organization, may not be employed by the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia.’
“End quote. How that does not prevent the USA’s hiring of such as Aegis for the odd wet job is something else upon which we will not waste time. Suffice to say that as is often the case, the government in question prevents other entities from having their fun, but doesn’t do similar for itself. We note that not here, nor anywhere else in US law, is any government agency enjoined from hiring itself out as a private army for some multinational corporation, or a similar entity, who might want some bins emptied for an astronomical fee. So to speak. Since astronomical fees are something in which the USA is very interested at this time, should the Economist be believed.”
Faces began to set all about him.
“Thus my concern that not only will we in the next 3 days encounter eight bombers, but we may also find a certain security agency, once thought of as our ally, running interference for them. We have no choice but to assume the absolute worst. We will have CO19, Special Branch and other forces at our disposal and a list of known Agency operatives from which to work, of course, given the Home Office’s approval. And no, we have not informed the Castle, nor will we. If the world’s last reigning superpower has gone rogue on us because they owe half the world that doesn’t owe them, then we owe them not a word.
“The cause of this wretched mess doesn’t interest me, nor should it you. We will find these persons and deactivate them, we will divine those who wound the clock, and Britain will answer them as we see fit.
“Our large female contingent here today, many of you borrowed from other sections, is to be explained thus: The Muslim population of Great Britain must not think themselves threatened by any but this entity which has clothed young and old men from all over the globe, mostly the Third and Fourth Worlds, we are told, to resemble their most observant women, and which have sent them here to outstrip even the carnage of 7/7. Miss Al-Adil will assist in the preparation of a written announcement to be given – yes, given, if at all doable, physically handed out -- to every mosque in the greater London area stating that due to certain well-publicized crimes elsewhere – we’ll be no more specific than that if we can help it – observant women who insist on wearing abayas and facial veils when in public absolutely must stay home for a given 72-hour period. I’ll want a rough draft of the text ASAP, Al-Adil. That’s crucial. It has to begin distribution this afternoon without fail. You female agents who encounter any on the street in the time after said ‘curfew’ takes effect – for that will be your job of work here - will then exhort them to go home immediately. Pregnant ones shall be escorted to certain areas where they may indeed be detained in relative comfort until the 72 hours ends, ‘for their own safety.’ Quote, end quote. That we are keeping an eye out for pregnant observant Muslim females will not be included in the text of said announcement, you understand; only that we want all women so attired home and safe. As observant Muslim women in said dress are usually acccompanied by men to which they are related by marriage or blood, we’ll have maile agents out as well to speak to them. One hopes that the British Muslim community will read between the lines. Those who monitor the Net of Steel will be checking for women in ‘abaya’ and veils for the curfew period, of course. Will we encounter outrage? Why wouldn’t we? We’ve never told them the entire truth before, why would we do so now, am I correct? Although again, given recent history in Mashhad, Aleppo, Belgrade, and Geneva – to say nothing of the attempt in Paris – the outrage may be somewhat muted. This ‘unknown terrorist entity’ – our story until I have otherwise countermanded -- is employing what most liberal groups prefer to call ‘the downtrodden’ for their dirty work. No less are they besmirching the good reputation of upstanding British Muslim citizens. Said facts should reaim at least some of the general ire. This time we may actually be seen as operating in the general interest of the British public!”
“Huzzah,” Edith added with only a small amount of sarcasm.
“We of course reserve the right to fine-tune this operation, should information and belief permit. One impertinence is all we have time for, and it is this: if all is correct as we now have it, will the rogue multinational of the hour request a seat in the UN General Assembly in the new year? Will Lukoil follow them? Will Sony? What of the Security Council? Not known, not cared about in this time frame. Let the FO and the existing UN membership have at that one. Just now, the Gate – the software company - are the sentimental favorite for this insanity. We lack enough nails to hold shut their casket, assuming the plaque on the front doesn’t sport someone else’s name. We hope to acquire that, this coming week. May same dearly occur. Until we are certain one way or another, you commit nothing to your laptops or other devices concerning this matter. Nothing. It’s bad enough that the alert, when it goes out from each mosque, may cross veddesk of someone at said ‘terrorist multinational.’ Should that apply. In fact, once you all have committed the briefing material to memory you will return every scrap of it to me, signed at the top of the front page. It reads EYES OUT for a reason.
“One last word. We’ve all seen photographs of what became of the seven men who attempted to detonate an eighth of Paris. No one has claimed responsibility for this bestiality, either. There is no other word for it. A far greater act of violence was prevented, yes, but the method used to do so was only trivially less so. If the main enemy here has made for himself an enemy, recall that they are not under any circumstances our ally. We don’t know their provenance. We cannot count upon them to assist again. We can only contain and act to neutralize what we know. Thus, the situation. Eight IUEDs. The CIA, at last metastasized into the American KGB as we always suspected they would become, and an unknown third quantity which may or may not already be in London sharpening their own blades for we know not what purpose and whose necks. In twenty-four hours, if not less, we’ll be in motion. We’ll talk again, but for now, Godspeed. With a capital G.
“Miss Al-Adil, you have the floor.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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September 7, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 274: MI6 at Thames House

It was a conference room like any number of others; each wall, however, did hold a large dead video screen but for that beyond the seeming head of the table. This one broadcasted the Five coat of arms. Leila, interested to note its Latin inscription, had very little knowledge of same so instead she stood at the first open chair to the left. Sir Hal, impeccably situated, held court from the first seat on the right towards the screen. A tired, middle-aged dark blonde-haired woman occupied the chair of seeming honor. With no file folders before her, just a few sheets of Ministry stationery, she gripped a pen in both hands as if she were used to carting more about. Young women and one lanky older man sat viewing Leila from various chairs.
“We are to order, it would seem,” began Sir Hal. “Right on time, Al-Adil. Everyone, this is our MI6 liaison for today’s fresh hell. You know about Paris, what little we’ve been afforded to know, you’ve read the incident report. Such as it was.” He awaited no assent, indicating the woman at the head of the table. “Miss Al-Adil, you’ll be seeing the most of our head analyst, Edith Quecture.” The woman nodded, slightly. “You’ve brought her something to keep her occupied.”
“Yes, Sir Hal. Good afternoon, everyone.” There was a name she knew; out of Leila’s leather, strapped carry bag, a present from her father that she had loathed (“Abba, it makes me look like I work in the City! Ugh!” she had wanted to say, but as ever, wouldn’t have dared), came a folder (an A4, yes), an exact copy of the one she would keep. Carrying it to the table head, Leila placed the folder before Edith. The older woman didn’t appear to look much like her boss’ boss, but taking note of that sort of thing wasn’t Leila’s strong point anyhow. She couldn’t quite recall ever entirely seeing Dennis in his son’s or daughter’s faces, either. To business.
“Thanks very much,” Edith Quecture acknowledged. Now she heard the
likeness! “I assume that this is every scrap. Hal requested that specifically.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Leila answered, expecting more from her but Weston Quecture’s daughter (?), so far as standoffish as her older relative had been early on, instead looked to the DG.
“Very good, then, take your seat.” Without waiting for Leila to do so, Sir Hal began his opening remarks. “We’ll have no gasps of disbelief concerning the matter, there isn’t time. Take it for granted that we won’t be opposing Constantine the Great’s invisible army, the DDR, the Guaonbu, the Estonian mob, or Singapore’s charm boys as we often do, over the next thirty-four to fifty-one hours. That doesn’t mean that they have vanished, but if they know what we do, they may well have decided to absent themselves from London for the upcoming period so that their agents would not be blamed. It is our belief, thanks to Six’ research, that eight bombers will enter London, dressed as pregnant Muslim women in abayas and veils. They are not so. What they are is an advance ‘Adler Tag’ – for you history buffs – that will if successful bring a very definite advantage to, it is strongly believed, a private corporation that sells software. The world has gone mad.” He sounded as if he were talking about… what was that… the results of a cricket match.
“Bloody computers, anyway,” offered the thin, not quite leonine middle-aged man across from Sir Hal. “If you piled ‘em all up on the Isle of Wight and had a Burning Man-style bonfire and a nice concert for afters, they’d none of ‘em be missed.”
“If you can see amongst the seeds of time, Philip…” Leila forced herself not to roll her eyes. Somebody else who quoted Shakespeare! “Leila, this is our supervising field agent for this operation, Philip,” Sir Hal indicated the speaker. “Usually he is to be found – or not found -- out there in the relative hinterlands making war on our domestic opponents, but he’ll be keeping you, Edith and myself company here on premise.” A certain humor crept in: “He would be very unwelcome in most of the areas where prep must begin and operations must be undertaken.”
“They tried me in an abaya and a veil,” Philip quipped. “I didn’t exactly bring it off.”
“Regrettably,” agreed Sir Hal. “Should he start to climb the walls, I’ll handle it.”
“And I will,” Philip nodded to Leila as she sat and placed her copy of the file, closed, on the table. Abba’s leather bag (black, of course; he knew his daughter’s taste) sat by her left ankle on the floor. She would try very hard not to forget it when she went home. If she went home.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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September 4, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 273: Kardashev Type 0

Time to make the hostages work for their breath...
{Careful, Petey, Den Mother might be listenin'-- --W.}
-One question only, madam. Do you know where Dr. Graham James is today? –P.
“No, mein Herr,” she near-stammered. Swiss German accent. “He has missed all his classes yesterday and so far today, that I know of.”
-Thank you. Anyone else seen him? Don’t all talk at once. –P.

-Then we won’t be staying very long. Try to be thankful. –P.
-Which of ya feels like makin’ a run fer it? –W.

-I believe that I hear the silence of the grave. Good. You may all stay out of yours. Today. –P.
-Time to find our exit. –F.
With a pat he urged Midnight back towards the lobby. He turned the far corner, sharing with me a look.
-Agreed. –P.
-All right, Tank, guide me. –F.
“According to the hyperCAD, you are thirty feet away. Down the hall, to your left… yes, there.”
-A metal door, a doorknob, nothing special. –F.
“I can’t believe that these two universes are so similar,” Vortura said. “Dr. Schneider, the NHC is minding its manners very nicely.”
“Good,” said the head tech. “As is the corresponding device in ‘Verse I. Far as we can tell.”
“I’ll explain that also.”
/-To us, please, not them! –D./
“That’s a fault of perception, Vortura,” Leah corrected her. Her fingers clattered on her laptop keys. “Remember, there’s an excellent chance that unlike here, ‘Verse I is a multiverse. Taking the wide view, that is. No pun intended; but it makes our eyes filthy liars.”
Francis leaned, flipped open the door.
“So I’m not young and beautiful.”
“All right,” Leah smiled, pattering on, “you have me there.” One could hear it in her voice. I admit, I was rather getting to like it.
[-Now we are in trouble… --F.]
-A closet, all right. A stationery closet. With a very nice CW! Just like the one in the electrical closet, next building back. –F.
“How’s that for lucky?” asked Tanker.
-Dead on. David, no further interruptions from the outside world? –P.
-Like a tomb –D.
-Just how we prefer! –P.
“Francis? William? What about the shimmering color field effect you saw when you first entered the companionway?”
-Getting more faint. Still see it, but it’s as if our eyes have become used to it. –F.
“Weird,” she said, a bit more conversationally. “Like smelling a rose for an hour; the brain turns off your ability to detect the scent.” Her fingers flew well ahead of her, or seemed to. “Maybe,” she added.
-What do you see through the window, Francis? --P.
-Another view of the airport, this time through the tree stand. Same sepia-tinged coloring, like an old movie. Peter, come over, please. –F.
“Beginning to make sense…” Leah seemed to nod.
-On my way, Francis. William, will you keep an eye out? –P.
“I need a bathroom,” a young man called.
-Got ‘em. You’ll need a six-foot trench if ya don’t shut up. No bathrooms, no nothin’. Stay exactly where we put ya. All of ya. –W.
“They are very good at sounding like they mean what they say,” Vortura offered. “Dr. Schneider, the NHC is steady."
Turning through the hallway, I caught a view from the back of David, scythe at port arms, ready and on the watch. His blade lay yet across Geist’s back, occasionally glinting in the now-clouded, now open sunlight. I thought of all the medieval towns that I assume had sprung out of long-used barbarian camps ‘here’ since they had never been decimated by us. By our not having ‘been’ here until now, what exactly had our missing these two millennia proven? Or not?
-No time for moonshine, Petey –D.
-True enough. –P.
“Hm?” One had to wonder if Dr. Bernheim’s fingers had begun to hurt. Didn’t sound that way… I stopped at the closet doorway and had a peek inside.
-It’s all right, Leah, I’m getting maudlin –P.
“I understand that all too well…”
“Now is not the time, people,” said the chief engineer. “The hard part’s starting.”
-This is the CW, all right. Now, Dr. Schneider, lift us up. Back to about 60 feet. –P.
“OK,” I heard Victor say. “Putting the dipole magnets back on line… Robot, how’s our levels?”
Our view of “’Verse II’” began to rise towards the treetops.
“Higgs measurements still off the chart both ways, CMBR still a twinkle higher, everything else about the same as here.”
-Entering the building now –D.
-Why, David, what’s going on? –P.
-Three attack helicopters; Mil Mi-24X Krokodil gunships, Swiss Air Force insignia –D.
“David?” A sudden cease of fingers on keys.
-Advancing from over the airport –D.

“Well, there goes my last youthful illusion,” commented Dr. Schneider. “I thought they were in Paradise until now.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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September 1, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 272: Lining them up for the...

I saw it at almost the same time; surreptitiously if nowhere near enough, a young woman some forty feet from me drew up her cellular. I came up with my arrow-nocked bow and shot it out of her hand; it smashed against the pathstone. She fainted dead away.
-It appears you were not listening! –P.
Tanker found his voice again. “…From what I can see on the HyperCAD program, their earpieces are broadcasting that they have about… I can’t tell. A hundred? A hundred ten hostages?”
I made it a point to whisper the following, you may be certain.
-We agreed to shed no blood. We will not. –P.
Gratified, I heard Leah tell the crew, “You can trust these men, Dr. Schneider. Everybody. I did and I’m still here. On Saturday they accompanied me out of the main building after the bombing and they stayed with me even though now Interpol knows who they are. They risked everything for someone they barely knew.” In a markedly different tone: “That’s why they’ll do it again now. On my honor and my reputation.” In ‘Verse I the guard propped the doors open and put his hands back on his head. William waved him in the doorway before him, lowering his head to get into the front lobby. Francis drew his blade as well.
-Drop everything! Take nothing with you. –F.
In ‘Verse II, we heard the technicians mutter.
-Everybody else into the Anthro/ Psych building, we said! –F.
“Please,” Leah asked. “I apologize for not saying, but they didn’t tell me that this would occur. But I didn’t ask, either. I clearly had my head in the equations for too long.”
David looked for the hanging telephone service cable to the building, lifted his blade and hacked it down.
-Good’un, Dave. –W.
“All right,” Vortura said, not too happy with it… “but if there are any other surprises coming up, why not tell us now?” Robot and Tanker agreed.
“Fair enough, then. Please listen to this closely and tell absolutely no one. I was approached over the weekend by an operative from the US government who wanted to claim this, this malfunction we’re working on to correct, as some kind of weapons tech.”
“What was--?!”
“It’s all right, Thermos, I’ve taken care of that too. With Peter’s, David’s, William and Francis’ help I had him arrested.”
-Waiting for another assurance, are you? You have it. No more. –P.
“So these guys,” Tanker asked, “these guys helped you get some lunatic terrorist off CERN’s back? They may have saved our jobs, then.”
“Yes,” said Leah, deciding. “That’s exactly what he was. A terrorist.” It hurt to say it, she hated saying it, but it was true.
“So the bombing--?”
“I don’t know, Thermos. Possibly.”
Dr. Schneider, displeased, said nothing. Yet.
“Thank you, Peter. I’m very grateful. For everything.”
-Well, so far. –P.
“And Francis, David and William, too!” she added. Though one had not yet thrown in. “Dr. Schneider?”
”Leah, I do not like getting my people and myself jammed up. By your intrepid explorers or by some maniac or other. If that’s what they call this.”
It sounded rather as if this was the first time Victor had called her that.
“Nobody is jammed at all, Dr. Schneider. I’m sorry, this was high priority, we can’t expose CERN to a multimillion euro or dollar lawsuit if an airplane gets hit by a stone in one of these slots. To say nothing about the American Army 10th Mountain Division landing on our property and taking over…”
-You two! –P.
“Wait, Doctor, this guy said he’d what?” said Tanker.
“He did. And please remember, Peter found me someone to talk to who told me what to do. These are the good guys. I know it’s hard to believe, but…”
With my ready bow I pointed out two students and indicated the fainted woman. They began to carry her into Anthro/ Psych.
“…By comparison, yeah, maybe, but… all right. Fine.” It appeared Schneider was on board. “The bad good guys.”
“Aye, like Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies,” said Robot. Although I think I preferred being Ferdinand Magellan…
“This guy they’re looking for is in it deep—“ Thermos began. In ‘Verse I the students continued into the building, hands on their heads. William pointed them to the right of the interior hall, once inside. A seesaw siren began to whirr in the distance. I shouted, that all who weren’t yet indoors might witness.
-Someone else did not heed. Now, I suggest you watch this. –P.
Roaring over the lawn, a campus police vehicle approached. Students turned to see while with three arrows I blew out the approaching van’s two front tires and caved in the windshield, dead center. One doubted that Nadia would have much approved, but a target is a target. Luckily, over here she was only 17 and still verbally (one hopes) ‘cold-cocking’ young males who had the nerve to look at her at her Cologne high school.
-Let’s hope that this next one’s the right CW, Tanker… --F.
“…me too, Frank.”
-No one wants this over with more than we do. –F.
Clopping for the main doorway, I announced to all…
-I have another one of these here for the next person who tries to contact anyone for help. Do that, and it’s you who’ll need it. –P.
A boy clearly too young for his large size cried, “What are you going to do to us? We--”
Francis whirled, with Midnight’s help, and pointed his steel.
-Stupid questions get answered with this. Le ferme! –F.
The boy passed into the building with no further bleating. I pointed towards the van, indicating to David. Since howling to a stop on the grass, no one had come out of it.
-Could you empty that for me, please? –P.
-Glad to –D.
-Better I go help Willie with crowd control... Anybody, how’s our exit? –F.
“Steady as a rock,” Victor answered, himself somewhat missing the same assurance. “Ready to manipulate.”
Francis gave his reins a gentle snap and Midnight carried him into Anthro/ Psych. David swept away to my rear, approaching the van from its right side.
-I’ll empty out the first floor’s front office. –F.
David drew the extra-long scythe from his equipment bag, folded it out and lay his sword across Geist’s back. I viewed the selective carnage; not at all what I’d hoped for, no! Backpacks lay strewn on the grass; pens, papers, so forth. Nothing more sanguine, let’s say. We had at least cleaned out this section of the campus, if naught else. In the building Francis ordered all the main office staff into the hall. Wisely, they also went without complaint.
-Exact fix on the CW, Tanker, given where I’m located. Please. –F.
“Dr. Bernheim? Some weird phone, there,” Vortura said.
-Very good! Come out! Hands on your heads, hand over your communicators… --D.
“Trying to get an exact…” Tanker answered Francis.
“…It’s really too expensive for me, I’m probably going to send it back,” I heard Leah say. I wondered, I will admit, how close we’d come to losing her approval. No time to think, however…
A bit stunned, and all unarmed, it appeared from here, four more campus police climbed from the damaged van. David dropped their walkies in his side bag. It is possible that, sitting astride his pale mount, scythe in hand, he was seen by them for what he was.
-Is, my dear brother! Is –D.
-Pardon. –P.
In minutes, the policemen joined the hostages lining the main hall within. I entered the building next.
“I got it, Francis. Forty feet to your rear left. Opposite hall on the main floor to where you are right now.”
-David. Will you keep watch out here until we find the CW? –P.
-Call me when you do –D.
Geist huffed as if to make it known that sentry work was beneath him, but David patted him.
-Soon, my friend; soon enough –D.
“David, Peter, are your horses holding up?”
-…All fine, Leah. They’re war horses, they know what they’re doing. –F.
In the main hall, I nocked an arrow – just to get their attention -- and surveyed our charges. William and Francis had taken up positions at the end of the hostage line and the center. I moved the arrow point up and down the hallway.
“Any of you,” Leah went on, “you’ve been in that universe about half an hour or so, now. You see nothing out of the ordinary. Purple clouds, naiads…”
-Horus in French cuffs? Sorry, nothing odd; almost seem as if the universe was shaken up in a bag and everything just rearranged like game pieces –D.
-Who works in the office, here? Anybody? –P.
“Mm-hm,” said Leah, fingers in motion on her laptop.
“So much for God’s sense of invention…” offered Robot. “…Sorry, Dr. Bernheim.”
An old woman raised her hand gingerly, as if she thought I might consider having William hack it off. She was correct. I would.
“I’ll let you get away with that, this time…” Leah replied, typing as usual.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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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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