The In-between – Part 9 of 31

Okay so I’m doing M’s prompts and going to try and do a full month as one long story with no planning. Today it is ‘Cylindrical Circumstances’

The instructions are to simply write for ten minutes or so each day and that’s about it.  It’s certainly taking me longer than ten minutes but I will keep going with this for as long as I can.


Cylindrical Circumstances

Part 1   Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6  Part 7   Part 8

Plumduff turned the key slowly in the lock and pushed the door open, wincing as it squeaked.  The air was thick with a sickly sweet smell, certainly not at all what I was expecting.

“They’re nocturnal creatures and sleep heavily” she whispered reassuringly, the expression on her face anything but.

“What are we doing?” I asked following through the door.  “And what is that smell?” She waved a hand which I took as an instruction to close the door.

“I received a tip off that Periscope has something rather unique, and Periscope being the  the fellow that Periscope is he really should not have such a thing.”

“And the smell?”  I pressed.  It really was rather pleasant and was making me feel most tender towards Plumduff despite having a fair few decades in me.  I wasn’t sure whether he tights were wrinkled or her legs but I suddenly rather liked it.  A lot.  My head swimming I tugged on her sleeve.  “Margaret, you know it makes me want to…”

“Oh dear how very forgetful of me” She said pushing me back with one hand and reaching into her bag with the other.  My voice trailed away and my eyes began to close.  “Take this.” She said.

She passed me a small yellow tablet which I instinctively popped into my mouth and swallowed.  “Looks beautiful” I said, “Just like you.” A moment or two later  my clarity of thinking returned.

“Sorry about that” she whispered, beckoning me to come closer until my face was just a few inches from hers.  “Periscope’s a Glorian and when they sleep they omit a powerful Pheromone which both arouses and renders any potential enemy harmless.  Unless you take countermeasures that is.”

She winked mischievously.

Eager to move quickly along to absolutely anything other than Plumduff’s legs I tugged again at her sleeve.  “What does he have?” I asked.

“If my sources are correct then he has something in his possession which will allow him, or more likely a highest bidder, to traverse each of the realities and timelines within the Fracture at will. ”  She straightened up and fixed me with a stare that made confirmed what I had already suspected, and that Margaret Plumduff was far more than she appeared.

“That simply will not do” she added.  “Now follow me, stay sharp and don’t get yourself killed again.”  And with that began to walk slowly down the hall that lead away from the front door.  I stayed close behind as she passed another door, peeked inside and moved slowly on.  At the end of the hall there were two more doors, the one on the left closed and the one on the right slightly ajar.  She approached the door on the left attempting to get a glimpse of what was inside but the room was dark and without pushing inside it was impossible to tell.

Plumduff paused to the side of the door, took a deep breath and pushed inside, and that was precisely when all hell broke loose and I witnessed at least 11 different things , none of which made even the slightest jot of sense.   There on an oversized bed was a monstrous scaled creature which I assumed must be Periscope.

It was Humanoid in that it had what were probably 2 arms and 2 legs and something at one end which (I think it was an end) had something that could just about pass for a head with an eye in it.

It was at least  3 metres in length and with my limited understanding of alien physiology had what I assumed was a significant chest and stomach which made it look like a small hillock rising and falling calmly as it slept.

Atop the hillock there appeared to be a number of other something’s, mostly black in colour with bright white eyes just about where you would expect to find eyes.  That aside the rest of their form seemed to be optional.  One of the creatures seemed to be reaching inside Periscope as he slept.

“Stop them” shouted Plumduff exploding into a run towards them her shoes now clickety clacking with the effect of a speeding freight train.

By the time I had managed a “how” she was already at the bedside.  What were now quite obviously three different creatures hissed and scattered as she vaulted up onto the bed and then up onto his chest forcing the creatures to scatter.

My first thought was “Impressive” as she stood atop the creature, her yellow cardigan still buttoned firmly and her bag slung over her arm.  My next thought, one of a more pressing nature given that the creatures were now heading directly for me was “Oh bugger.”

“Stop them Armitage” Plumduff shouted as they barrelled towards me, black forms scrambling and eyes blazing.  I steadied myself and then, with the discretion I was always assured was the better part of valour, stepped aside and watched them leave the room, head down the hall and out of the apartment.

“What are you doing boy” Plumduff shouted, her hands now on her hips.  “You could have had them.”

Whether it was just the effects of what had been a very long day or perhaps the relief at simply not being in the cross hairs of whatever the assailants were I felt suddenly less inclined to the politeness I was brought up to show to one’s elders.  Even ones stood atop a heaving scaled alien with the panache of a young Edmund Hilary.

“I would very much like a cup of tea” I said in reply to her admonishments.  “Do you think our friend Mr Periscope has any in?”

Before I could check Periscope began to convulse wildly causing Plumduff to slip from her vantage point.  She landed on the floor next to me with the grace of a cat, brushed down her dress and straightened her hair.

“Something’s wrong” she said placing a hand on the creatures side.  Within moments the convulsions had turned to something more violent and he began to thrash about on the bed wildly.  The pointy bit at the far end suddenly raised itself from the bed and the thing that was now most definitely an eye opened briefly as Periscope let out a quite hideous guttural scream.

I placed my hands over my ears until the screaming stopped, and as it did the thrashing slowed until his breathing returned to normal.  It then stopped completely.

“They’ve poisoned him” Plumduff screamed reaching into her bag and pulling out a long silver cylinder.  Leaping back onto his chest she twisted one end of the device and what I assumed was a needle appeared.  She then raised it high above her head and with both hands plunged it deep into his skin.

“Come on Periscope” she said putting her ear to his stomach. “Let’s not let it end like this eh.”

For a while nothing happened and I watched her lying there on his chest until quite suddenly she leapt back down and insisted I stand back.

“This won’t be pleasant” she insisted taking a step back and with that the mass that had previously been Periscope dissolved and collapsed quite instantly, spilling a liquid version of his once scaly self onto the bed, across the floor and onto my only good pair of shoes.

“What the hell” I said attempting to get out of the way of the mess as it flowed across the floor.

Plumduff didn’t say anything but walked over to the bed, climbed up through the mass of ex-periscope and reached and picked something up.  Climbing back down she reached into her bag, pulled out a handkerchief and gave the item a wipe.  It was about 6 inches long, cylindrical in shape and seemed to be made of a metal or silver.

“A crafty smuggler that Periscope” she said smiling.  “Seems we got it after all.”

 

Part 10 is here