Some Writing Prompts – August 2019

So for those of you who like a writing prompt or two here are some for August.  Three fairly obvious themes I think.  Make sure you add a pingback and I will attempt to pull them all together at the end of the month.  Let’s see what you got. 

  1. The day the skies burned
  2. Monorail
  3. Tomorrow, today.
  4. Dead satellites
  5. Orbital lockdown
  6. Binary lovers
  7. Apocalypse 2029
  8. Turbo
  9. Above the clouds
  10. Born to the stars
  11. Gravity
  12. Roses and bullets
  13. Darkest valentine
  14. Broken Mirror
  15. A lover’s touch
  16. Lips, blood red.
  17. My tomorrow, my yesterday.
  18. Summer no more.
  19. Innocence
  20. Love’s call
  21. Between the sheets
  22. The longest night
  23. Fangs
  24. A voice from beyond
  25. Our darkness
  26. Necrodancer
  27. Putrid
  28. The things inside
  29. Swarm
  30. The Awakened
  31. Sunrise no more

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Slingers – Part 1

I might give this a second part…

Part 0 can be found here


Dee sipped her tea from a mug and stared out of the window towards the old Victoria station.  The rain was falling, as was it’s tendency most days these days, and though it was the middle of the day the skies were dark and neon bathed the streets.

Once one of the destinations at the heart of London’s transport network, Victoria was now little more than a dirigible mooring station, the once endless stream of trains now a thing of the past and long replaced by the overland maglev’s than sprawled across the city and onwards to all corners of the country.

“You going to eat that?” Drax said motioning to Dee’s bacon sandwich.  It had been a long night bringing in Carlo and he was still rather peckish.

Dee shook her head as she watched the swarms of delivery drones buzz high above street level and disappear into the mists that covered the tops of the hab zones.

“I don’t like this Drax, not one bit.  It’s going to get us killed.”  She said watching the rain run down the window of the small café.

“Or” he said taking a large bite of the sandwich  “or it could make us rather rich Dee.”  

“It could make us rather dead more likely.”

“I will have you know that no one kills Drax the destroyer Dee, no one.”  Said Drax with a mouth full.

Dee rounded on him.  He was damn good at his job, and unnervingly lucky, but he was also incredibly annoying when it came to anything other that killing.

“Bloody hell must you persist with that ‘destroyer’ nonsense.  As if Drax isn’t stupid enough a name already, you really don’t need a nick name to compound it.  And stop talking with your mouth full.”

“Do you think I should buy a cape” Drax asked,ignoring everything Dee had said and finish off the sandwich.  “maybe something in crushed purple velvet?”

Dee sighed and looked back out of the window as a black taxi cab dropped down out of the mist and hovered just above the ground picking up a fare.  A think man in a dark coat scurried through the rain and jumped inside before it shot skywards again.  Turning back to Drax she took another sip of her tea.

“For one” and she raised a finger, “This is a recovery job.  Hardly our thing given that we are not required to kill anybody.”

Drax nodded and shrugged.

“I’m adaptable.”

“Two, we have no idea where she is and we need to somehow recover her from the Zentras.  Now the last time I checked they still controlled most of the north bank and are not to be messed with.  Why would you want to do this.”

Drax grinned and Dee knew this was not going to end well.

“Did I mention that we would will make a ton of money?  The sort of money that you need Dee.  Now what’s the worse that could happen?”

Dee knew that the worse that could happen was likely considerably worse that she could imagine.   The Zentras controlled everything from Battersea to the Black wall tunnel and were not to be taken lightly.  They ran every racquet imaginable and then some and they loved their bio-augmentations which made them particularly problematic when coupled with their maniacal obsession with such ridiculous notions as honour and family.

“I don’t like messing with the aug’s any more than you do Dee but there’s a kid out there that needs to be found and I might actually have a way to get us a bit of intel.  What do you say?”

For the briefest of moments Dee almost believed Drax’s sincerity.

“Exactly what intel might this be then?”

“My sister, she’s well in with…”  Drax never got to continue.

“Are you kidding me?” Dee exploded.  “After last time?  Drax why is she any less likely to try and kill you now than she was before?”

Drax smiled broadly and winked.  “She’s Zen now Dee,  Zen don’t kill family…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The In-between – Part 33 of 31 – A possible beginning

The End

Just a little something,  I doubt I will take it further for now but I don’t like to keep things back…


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30 Part 31 Part 32

Armitage smiled and sat back in the chair.  There was something quite homely about the place, with its high open fireplace and dark wooden bookshelves.  He fingered the leather of the tall wingback chair and finished his tea.

“He looks fun” he said motioning with his empty cup to a picture that hung above the fireplace.

An impressively moustached fellow stood defiantly legs akimbo in front of an erupting volcano.  Armitage placed the tea on the small low table in front of him.  There was something so familiar about the clink of the tea cup on the china saucer.

“So you say we’re part of ‘The Office of Entropy” he asked looking at the small grey haired woman sat next to him.  “And we’ve been here before?  If you ask me this all sounds a bit dangerous to be honest.  Are you sure about this because I am a renowned coward.”

The old lady laughed.  “Oh dear boy, we’re dead remember.  I think we can perhaps put to bed some of those worries.  All seems to make perfect sense if you think about it.”

Armitage threw her a most confused look.  “How the devil does any of this make sense?”

McCann offered more tea.  “Don’t let it worry you Armitage” she said as Armitage shook his head.  “Trust me, you’re a natural.  It will all come back to you.”

He let out an unconvinced “hmm” and sat back in the chair.

“So what happens now then?” he asked.  “Whilst I enjoy tea as much as the next man I would assume that there is more to this existence.”

McCann smiled.  “I have something to show you, come with me.”

Slingers – Part 0

A something that might be a something or a nothing. We shall see.

Just something I was dabbling with…


With a broad grin spread across his face Drax slammed the blood stained hessian sack down on the counter top.

“Pay up Carlo” he said wringing his hands together.  “Five thousand credits I believe it was.”

Carlo was nearly as wide as he was tall and his round, sweaty and rather hairless head held the appearance of being connected directly to his shoulders.  Gold chains hung around where his neck ought to have been and his pink stubby fingers were adorned with a collection of heavy sovereign rings.  He looked up slowly from behind the counter and removed his holovid.

“That was just getting good, this better be worth it Drax.” He poked at the sack with a pen.  “Who is it?” 

“Vivaldo.”   

“Really?  He seems to be a little smaller than I recall Drax.  Where’s the rest of him?”

“Hey, just cleaning house, making the streets a safer place and all that.” He leaned in towards Carlo, a serious look creeping across his face to replace his usual broad smile.   “He put up a bit of a fight so we only have the head” he said.  “Now I know you normally deduct sixty percent for an incomplete but I can explain what happened to the rest of him.”

“I really don’t care Drax, You slingers know the rules.”

“Carlo, would I lie to you?  You know me I’m straight up I swear It was unrecoverable, surely you can make an allowance.  I can even show you the vid footage.  Let me transfer it over, come on.” 

Carlo heaved himself from his chair breathing heavily.  “Is Dee with you?” he asked peering over the counter top.

Dee looked out from behind Drax. 

“Hey Carlo, good to see you.”

 Carlo grinned wiping his mouth with his hand.  “Dee, you’re looking as lovely as ever, what you still doing with this loser?  You can do better you know – my cousin Luca is on the lookout for a new partner, you and him would be great together.”

Dee tucked her long red hair behind her ears and pushed past Drax smiling.  “It’s my curse honey, we all have our burden’s to bare right.”

Carlo peered inside the bag and then closed it up again.  “We do indeed and yours is not only your beauty but this useless excuse for a partner.”

Dee laughed and placed her hands on the counter top and leaned forward to give Carlo just enough of a peek down her top.

“So are you going to give us a break this time?”  She flashed him a smile.  “It was my fault we lost the body but this is no scam.  There’s no way it survived the things that call the Thames home these days.  It’s gone.”

Carlo licked his lips and mopped his brow. 

“If anyone finds it they’ll have my license you know that right?  There’s a reason you’re meant to bring the whole body in Dee.”  He shot a disapproving glance at Drax.  “We really don’t want the man on the street knowling what’s out there.”

 “Trust me okay.  We’re good.” She said and put a hand on his arm.  Men were such fools.

Carlo sighed, took the bag from the desk and placed it on the floor next to him. 

“I’ll give you four and a half.”  

Dee smiled.  Four and a half wasn’t bad for just a head.

“And the other Five hundred?” Drax asked knowing full well that it would end up in Carlo’s pocket.

Carlo ignored Drax and slipped Dee a red credit card sized token.  “Four and a half Dee, spend it wisely.”

“You’re a gem” she said and winked as she slipped the card into the inside pocket of her jacket.

“So do you have anything else for us?  I could use a decent payday?”

 

  

 

 

The In-between – Part 32 of 31 – THE END

The End

What? I don’t like rules. Plus its only a short one. That’s it. Job done. 🙂


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30 Part 31

“You don’t want to be going over there” came a voice out of nowhere. “It won’t end well.”

It was the first noise I had heard since I awoke in this place and I spun around, desperately searching for it’s source. There was no up and no down and for as far as I could see a grey nothing stretched before me in every direction.

She was a pretty girl with dark hair dressed in a flowing white dress with a blue butterfly clip in her hair.

“My name’s McCann” she said extending a hand to me and smiling. “You need to come with me Armitage.”

The name sounded familiar.

“Is that my name” I asked.

“It is yes” McCann answered as she took my hand. “And this is Margaret” she said as a warm faced grey haired woman stepped out from behind her.

“She is new here too, I think you two are going to get along quite famously.”

THE END

The In-between – Part 31 of 31

I awoke lying on the grass soaked to the skin and the rain falling on my face.  Eyes opening slowly I stared up into a starless night sky and on the horizon lightning crackled and fizzed lighting up the clouds.  

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


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29 Part 30


I awoke lying on the grass soaked to the skin and the rain falling on my face. Eyes opening I stared up into a starless night sky and on the horizon lightning crackled and fizzed lighting up the clouds. As I sat up I could feel the low far off rumble of thunder in my bones.

With my thoughts a blur I scrambled at the edges of vague images, confusion slowly clearing and giving birth to thoughts of Plumduff and Thrumhall, O’Rourke and the face that always haunted my thoughts at times like these.
I dragged myself to my feet, rain running down my face and the cold night air clawing at my throat. Instinctively I reached for my shoulder, but there was no pain, no blood stained shirt, no bullet wound.

Unsure and confused I looked about, struggling to make out anything familiar in the darkness. Though the wind blew the rain into my face I could just make out that I was stood in a wide grassed area, perhaps a park, with the dark silhouettes of tall buildings behind me and the outline of trees to the sides and ahead. Beyond the trees there was a pale light, barely visible, and being the only real point of reference I headed towards it.

Wearily I walked, my legs heavy and my mind attempting to make sense of what had happened. I checked my hand and could feel the ring tight around my finger but there was no grey periphery. I could see everything. My watch and wallet were still missing but once again I had the jacket I had not had since the hanger.

Pushing through the trees, the crunch of fallen twigs and leaves beneath my feet, I could hear the feint crash of waves and as the rain began to lessen I came out at the side of a road. To the far side of the rode a fence cordoned a short run off to where what must have been a cliff edge because I cold hear only hear the waves and into the distance what little light there was danced across the water. A solitary streetlight lit the area in front of me and the rain glittered as it fell.

I fought the urge to call out to Quora again, intent for once to deal with whatever lay before me and looked along the road. To the right it stretched into darkness, the white lines fading to black and to the left I could make out the arched supports of a bridge someway off..

Instinct told me to head to the bridge and as I set off, the sky lit up as lightning arced across the night sky and once more and the thunder rumbled ever closer.

“I could do with some advice right about now Plumduff ” I said to myself. Even O’Rourke’s unique approach would have been welcomed and wandering through the unlit stretch of road I tried to understand why Quora had sent me here. I knew now that Thrumhall had caused key events of Plumduff’s life never to take place, and assumed that using the device he had done something similar to Crompton but here and now, this felt like oddly familiar.

I pulled the collar of my jacket around my ears and pushed on against the wind which was now blowing straight at me. With my vision obscured by both the darkness and the rain in my face the bridge drew closer and, some way off to one side, I could just make out the glowing tip of a cigarette.

Hurrying my pace I veered to the near side of the bridge, the sounds of the waves growing louder. It was hard to make much out in the darkness but the burning ember briefly sparked into life again and I could make out the face of a woman. It was the woman I had seen in my mind so often.

She jumped as I said hello. “Please just leave me alone” she said.

“Oh sorry, It’s just that I’m kind of lost.”

She drew deep on the cigarette and exhaled, the wind catching the smoke and whipping it upwards.

“You not got a car or anything?” she asked.

“No, like I said I don’t really know where I am.”

She nodded in the direction to our left. “Keep going that way you’ll find a pub about a mile up the road. The Goat and Hound.”

I paused staring at her face in the dark. “Do I know you?” I asked.

“I don’t know, do you? You from around here?”

“Maybe, I think so yeah.”

“Well what is it, do you or don’t you?” She took a final drag of the cigarette and flicked the stub out into the darkness.

“It’s hard to explain, I just…”

“The Goat and hound” she said again pointing up the road. “Won’t take you long.”

She took another cigarette from the packet and put it into her mouth.

“What ” she said staring back at me.

Every part of me said to not go but I did exactly what I knew not to.

“A mile you say? That way?” I said pointing up the road.

“Yeah” she replied and shielding the flame of the lighter from the wind she lit the cigarette.

“Okay thanks” I replied and slowly walked past her. “What’s your name by the way, I’m Armitage.”

“Isobel” she answered without looking up.

I paused, desperate to keep talking to her but she turned her back towards me away from the driving rain and out to sea.

The rain was now getting heavier and I made my way across the bridge, the lightning crackling overhead and the whole area lit up like daylight. I flinched at the sound of the thunder as it followed almost immediately after and out of the corner of my eye I made out a familiar shape in the dark.

“Hello Armitage” said Thrumhall, his voice as unmistakable as his form. He walked over from a knot of trees at the end of the bridge, a broad smile across his face.

I wanted to run but the only way was back towards her and something inside of me told me that I needed to keep him away from her at all costs.

“No need to run Boy” he continued, “it’ll all be over soon don’t you worry.”

“You know Thrumhall, you really are …” I paused struggling for the right words.

“Evil”?

“You’re worse than that.”

“Careful now boy you’ll have me thinking you’re trying to get into my good books.”

I wanted to run, to fight, to warn Isobel but I just stood silent.

“Why did she let you through” I said, “Why didn’t she just leave you there?”

“What are you talking about. You mean the girl?” He seemed genuinely confused.

“Quora. The tree. Why did she send you through with me.”

“I think you must have taken a knock to the head because you lead me here. And grateful I am too because it was next on my list of places to see.”

The night lit up again and he noticed me looking at he damage to his face that O’Rourke had done.

“Handy fellow your Cardinal” he said licking a deep cut in his lip. “Went down like a true warrior.”

He saw me ball my fists and laughed. “Come on boy, you’ve had your fun but it’s time to give me back my device and we can get this over with.”

He reached out and grabbed my jacket, pulling me towards himself and rummaging through my pockets.

“Where is it, what did you do with it? And where are the Shadows? I need to get that portal open.”

My face told him before my words did that I didn’t have it and a look of anger spread across his face. He pulled out his pistol and pointed it to my head.

“I’m only going to ask you once meat sack.”

“I don’t have it, Quora sent…”

“Quora, I don’t know any Quora Armitage. Now give me my device.”

I shook my head defiantly. I couldn’t give him what I didn’t have but if I kept him busy for long enough maybe Isobel would somehow get away.

“I’ll tell you what we’re going to do shall we?” he said. The question was obviously rhetorical though and he brought the pistol down heavily across the side of my face. I could taste blood in my mouth and my legs turned to jelly. I would have fallen to the ground had he not be holding me up.

“Shut it” he barked slipping the pistol back into its holster as I mumbled something obscene about his mother hoping to distract him. It was to no avail though and ignoring my insults about the circumstances of his birth he began to drag me back across the bridge towards Isobel.

Her back was still to us, and with the rain hammering down and the flash and crash of the thunder and lightning she did not hear us approach. I struggled, my head spinning, but I was too weak and before I could stop him he reached out and wrapped an arm around her neck pulling her into his chest.

Isobel tried to scream, but his arm was cutting off her air and with nails clawing at his arm and legs dangling he lifted her from the floor.

“You still don’t get it do you” he said. “And I though you Entropy boys were meant to be bright.”

“”Let her go” I begged. “Please, she doesn’t deserve this she hasn’t done anything wrong.”

He threw me to the side and wrapped all of his arms around her.

“Armitage, if she dies you don’t get to save her and if you don’t save her you don’t get that shiny badge. ”

“But why not just kill me?”

He laughed and walked over to the guard rail. Isobel struggled against him but she was too weak to resist him. “You can’t really kill what’s already dead boy.”

As he lifted her up above the rail, her legs thrashing, I summonsed every last bit of strength I had and lunged forward for his pistol, pulling it out of the holster that hung at his side. He spun to try and kick me away but it was too late and as I scrambled to my feet I pointed it at him.

Lightning cracked overhead, and I could that Isobel’s eyes were closed and she her kicking had almost slowed.

“Let her go Thrumhall, it’s over.”

“Over? It isn’t over boy. Not until I say so.” Once more he dangled her over the rail and laughed. “What you going to do now then?”

I walked forward purposefully, fearful and desperate despite the weapon I held in my hand. “Either let her go or I finish you right now. We all go down together.” The words seemed unfamiliar coming from my mouth and Thrumhall could tell I was afraid.

“I don’t think so” he said and steadying himself on one of the heavy steel supports stepped up onto the guard rail still holding her. “This really how you want it to pan out Armitage?”

Desperate I held out the pistol and placed it on the floor in front of me. “Okay, you win” I said my hand shaking. “Take it.”

He grinned and jumped down from the rail and kicked the pistol away from me to where he stood.

“You know what Boy” he said, his eyes now wide and a grimace on his face.

“What” I said. Not that I cared what he had to say.

“You should have pulled the trigger when you had the chance.” and with that he dropped Isobel’s limp body over the side and into darkness.

*******************************

Part 32


The In-between – Part 30 of 31

…I had expected to drift off into nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that the afterlife would turn out to be an experience that, whilst not the Hell the door knocking Christians assured me I was destined for, was never the less turning out to be a pretty awful state of affairs.

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

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26 Part27 Part 28 Part 29

In life I was not at all a religious type, preferring a scientific view of the universe and all within it and it was one that I was wholly comfortable with and that, for the most part, served me well.  On my demise I had expected to drift off into nothing, so you can imagine my surprise when it turned out that the afterlife would turn out to be an experience that, whilst not the Hell the door knocking Christians assured me I was destined for, was never the less turning out to be a pretty awful state of affairs.

“Armitage, your shoes” said O’Rourke pointing as I staggered to my feet, my face contorted. The searing pain in my shoulder made my head spin wildly and every movement I made was agony. What was left of Plumduff pooled at my feet staining my shoes once more.

“I don’t want to be here anymore” I said hobbling forwards towards O’Rourke. “I would very much like to be somewhere else so would you mind terribly if we left because I really don’t feel very good?”

“Armitage, I’m sorry” said the remaining Plumduff walking over and placing a hand on my arm. “I know you were friends. She was so worried about you when you became separated.”

“Yes, I guess we were” I said. “Funny how you get used to somebody so quickly isn’t it. It’s as if we had known each other for far longer than we did.”

“She was a damn fine woman indeed” said O’Rourke.

“And then before you know it” I continued, “they are little more than a tide line on your only good pair of shoes.”

O’Rourke placed his hands on my shoulders, not seeming to care that it was absolute agony for him to do so. “Okay boy, it’s been a long day hasn’t it.”

I nodded and turned to Plumduff. “What about you Margaret, what happens now?”

Plumduff forced a smile. “I will be just fine” she said, “I have no reason to stay now. I only came back for Clarissa.”

She fell silent for a while and O’Rourke and I shuffled uncomfortably where we stood. “Before you go though are you going to tell me why you came here? Or how? I’m sure you realise how little sense all of this makes right?”

“We’re all out of sense I am afraid” said O’Rourke, “and by way of answers the cupboard is a little bare too. I do know though that you were supposed to…”

And before O’Rourke could say any more he realised with a gut wrenching terror that in all of the chaos we had neglected to tie up Thrumhall.  He noticed as the giant hulk of a creature stirred on the floor, “You two get out of here now” he shouted pushing past me and hurling himself through the air towards where he lie.

Groggily Thrumhall threw out an arm instinctively and roared as O’Rourke was sent flying across the floor and on wobbly legs got to his feet shaking his head and turning first to where O’Rourke lay and then towards us.

“Quick now Margaret, go” I said grabbing her by the arm and pulling her towards the stair case.

O’Rourke raised himself back up and stood fists clenched. “Come here you big bugger” he said rolling his neck until it clicked. “Let’s finish this shall we?”

Thrumhall looked at the pool on the floor and then over to where Plumduff and I were heading for the staircase and let out a booming laugh. “Looks like I win Cardinal, and you tried so very hard didn’t you” he mocked.

“Oh shut your cake hole” O’Rourke replied and with fists balled and white knuckles he threw himself at Thrumhall.

As much as I wanted to stay and help which, if I am honest, was a matter for debate, I didn’t and Plumduff and I hurried down the stairs and into the room. Each step made me wince and as we crossed the floor we could hear the fight above as it thundered throughout the building. I heard Thrumhall roar in pain which was soon followed by a crash as if something large had fallen to the floor.

“You go Maggie” I said pointing her to the door. “Down the hill to the river I will catch you up.”

“Where are you going?” she asked. “You’re hurt you need to get away, O’Rourke said so.”

“Just go, you’ll know where you need to be when you see it. I need to make sure he’s okay.”

I pushed her towards the door and watched her squeeze through the gap and out onto the veranda. “Keep going, down the hill.”

There was another crash and the sound of breaking glass and I could hear both men shouting.

“That the best you got big man” shouted O’Rourke. “Come on, you don’t get to have a breather” and his footsteps thundered across the floor above once more. I peered up the stair case as I pressed against the wall to try and get a glimpse but unable to see anything I climbed the stairs slowly.

About half way up Thrumhall shouted something in what I could only assume was his mother tongue and a single shot rang out. The footsteps suddenly stopped and there was a thump as something hit the floor.

Instinct told me to flee and as Thrumhall let out a wild guttural roar I bolted down the stairs as fast as I was able and across the floor. I let out a scream of pain as I squeezed between the hanging doors and heard Thrumhall bellow from above.

“I hear you down there” he said his voice wild and full of hatred. “Thrumhall’s coming for you boy.”

With my heart racing and head spinning adrenaline coursed through me, my instincts screaming to run as fast as I could for the portal and to not look back. Run I did but as I rounded one of the houses at the brow of the hill I turned back to see him burst through the doors and step out onto the veranda.

“I see you boy” he shouted and squeezed a shot from the pistol which tore into the corner of the building just above my head. His face twisted with rage and his eyes bulging he kicked over a clay pot filled with violets as he strode down the stairs sending it cashing into the side of the building opposite.

I needed to further invitation to run and despite the pain tore off as fast as my legs could carry me. Weaving between the buildings I could hear his booming voice behind not far behind me.

“Armitage, here” came a strained voice as I reached the brow of the hill. I skidded to a halt on the pathway next to a small building with a collapsed roof. Plumduff was hidden away just inside the darkened doorway.

“Margaret, what are you doing?” I said stretching out my hand, panting. “You cant stay here come on, we need to go now.”

“This is my home Armitage, I don’t want to leave. I can’t.” The look on her face was one I had seen before and I knew she was not going to change her mind.

But this was her home, not mine, and I had no intention of staying. “Margaret I have to go. I’m sorry, just stay down okay I’ll lead him away.”

“Then go Armitage, and be careful.” She surged, smiling a last time before sliding away into the debris of the house.

My legs felt like lead as I pushed on down the hill, and as I looked back over my shoulder I could see Thrumhall in pursuit his form silhouetted against the setting sun.

“I see you boy ” he bellowed and a shot tore into the ground next to me.

I weaved and ducked as another rang out, the portal now in sight and growing larger. The more I focussed the more the grey in my periphery grew until only a thin slice of reality waited before me, urging me on. More shots exploded in the earth around me but I refused to look back, all my will concentrated on fighting the pain in my shoulder and the fire in my legs.

It was so close now, so close that I could feel the hum in the air vibrating through me and with a final lung bursting effort I slid down the sandy bank and splashed through the shallows of the river. The cold grey beyond the portal rim was right there in front of me and with my heart feeling like it would explode I hurled myself through and tumbled through to the other side.

I could barely get the words out as I lay crumpled my chest heaving “Close it” I shouted, close it now.”

I lifted my head and could see Thrumhall scrambling down the bank. “Quora, close the portal now” I shouted.

“Hello Armitage” she said, her voice cold and harsh. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

Thrumhall splashed through the river, I could see a broad grin on his face and he raised his pistol as he neared the portal.

“Close it Quora, close it.”

As Thrumhall tumbled through the portal after me my head began to spin and the pain overwhelmed me.

“Oh Armitage” she said laughing “you really don’t see how this works do you. I told you there would be a price to pay.”

Part 31

The In-between – Part 29 of 31

As I lay on the floor I think of her again, the face of a woman both kind and gentle and she reminds me that it is good to be brave, but it is also good to be careful and that if you are careful then you will not get into situations that require you to be brave.

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

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24  Part25 Part 26  Part27    Part 28

As I lay on the floor I think of her again, the face of a woman both kind and gentle and she reminds me that it is good to be brave, but it is also good to be careful and that if you are careful then you will not get into situations that require you to be brave.

I hear Plumduff giving orders as I slip in and out of consciousness, the pain in my shoulder burning like fire.  “Untie O’Rourke and then bring the ropes, we need to bind this one before he comes around.”

In my confused state I imagine it is me they are talking about and swing my good arm wildly through the air before collapsing back onto Thrumhall.

“Never going to take me” I insist as Plumduff hooks me underneath my arms and drags me free.  “Hey your shoulder is okay, we’re like twins Maggie.”

“Let’s not get too familiar eh boy, Its Margaret to you thank you very much” Plumduff replies without once moving her lips.

“Hey how did you do that?” I ask my face a study in confusion.

“Armitage, over here.”

I look towards the source of the voice to realise that there is now a second Plumduff and confused I then look back to the first, then back to the second and then back again to the first.

“Margaret, you look like you but…younger.”

“Yes, yes thanks for that” Plumduff two replied curtly.  “We really don’t have time for this.”

Plumduff the younger was busy untying O’Rourke and once his hands were free he quite quickly extricated himself from the binds and hurried over to where Thrumhall lay.

“Tie him up and put him with the others” Plumduff the elder instructed pointing to a corner of the room where a number of Thrumhall’s henchmen already lay.

“Are they dead?” I asked straining to get a better look.

O’Rourke grinned even more broadly than usual.  “All in a day’s work boy, that’s what happens when you…”

“James, Please” snapped Plumduff  “He could come round any minute.”

O’Rourke stopped smiling and started to look the rope around his arm.  “Oh relax Maggie, Armitage here gave him a right old blow to the noggin, he’ll be out some time for sure.”

My Plumduff, as I decided to call her, leaned in and took a look at the wound in my shoulder.  She lifted me forward to see an exit hole in the back of my jacket.

“Straight through boy you’ll live,” she said and turned to where she had been before I barged into the room.  I looked to see a young girl sat leaning against the wall on a bed at the far end of the room.  She must have been no older then 12 or 13 years old and was dressed in a pale white dress “Clarissa, throw me that bag from the bed would you.”

A moment passed and Clarissa didn’t move.  “Clarissa, the bag, we need to get this patched.”  When she never answered a second time Plumduff shot to her feet and ran across the room just in time to grab her by the shoulders as she slumped onto the bed.

“O’Rourke, here now” she screamed, her voice panicked.

“What the hell happened Maggie” he asked stepping over Thrumhall.  Plumduff the younger followed and all three stood over her.

As Plumduff the younger climbed onto the bed, she took the girl from her older self and held her close to her chest  O’Rourke placed a hand on her stomach and pulled it away, red with her blood.

“The bullet Maggie.”

“No, no, no this can’t be it” she shouted staggering back.  “This isn’t how its supposed to end James.  This isn’t how it ends.”

O’Rourke turned to face her, his face ashen.  “It’s too late Maggie were losing her there’s nothing we can do.  We did our best.”

She caught the eye of her younger self who shook her head and with a single motion of her hand closed Clarissa’s eyes for  a final time.

“Armitage” she said turning to me.  She look old and worn, her shoulder bandaged and her yellow cardigan stained with blood.  “You need to be strong because our best wasn’t good enough, I am so very sorry.”

“Maggie wait, there must be something we can do” said O’Rourke wiping his blood stained hands on his trousers.  The desperation in his voice terrified me.  “This isn’t what happened but we can fix it, there must be a way back.  Armitage made it here, he must have the device so we can change it back.  You can still save her, there has to be something we can do.”

But there wasn’t, because her timeline was forever altered and the very reason for her existence within the fracture was no more and with that Margaret Plumduff dissolved into a pool on the floor before me.

Part 30 is here

 

The In-between – Part 28 of 31

The more she spoke the more I found myself growing impatient, she seemed intent on labouring the point and my concern was for Plumduff and O’Rourke and not for the dramatics she quite obviously enjoyed

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

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26  Part27

 

Sometimes we do things that define us, that shape us and that show what we are truly capable of.  They are a measure of the very core of our character and speak of the nature of our person.  They are the fork in the road that dictates our path evermore and picking up the device from Plumduff’s desk and shoving it inside my jacket I considered that this could well be that moment for me.  I also considered that it was a particularly foolish idea and would almost certainly result in something quite terrible happening to me.

Before I had chance to second guess myself I slipped out of the office and into the courtyard with it.  It wouldn’t be long before McCann and the Gadzooks realised that I had disappeared with the device so I needed to move quickly and as I passed through the gates, heart racing, I slipped the ring from my finger and shoved it inside my pocket.

All around the my reality began to fade away, grey replacing the world around me and the still familiar sense of nothing filling my senses.  Once more I felt alone and lost and with no reference points for up or down my head began to swim.

“I wondered if I would see you” came a voice through the nothing.  I could hear it but I could feel it also, deep inside me as if trying to escape.  “I had so hoped you would heed my call but such are the hearts of men that your unpredictability is both your greatest strength and a weakness that so often betrays you.”

“Who are you?” I asked.  I could feel her clawing at my mind, exploring my thoughts. 

“You know of me Armitage, let’s not pretend, you came here looking for me and we met long ago when you first walked this plain.”

It had felt like mere days since I had first encountered her but I was in no way inclined to argue given all I had seen since I last stood in this sea of grey.  I spun around searching, and as quickly as the world I had known had faded to grey she was there, towering above me.  A feint hum filled the air and standing close I could see a blue light coursing through her.

I pulled out the device from inside my jacket and held it out in front of me.  It was cold and heavy in my hand and as the petals unfolded it crackled, shimmering with the same blue light that flowed through her.  “I need your help, my friends are in trouble.”

“You busy yourself with such toys and trinkets Armitage, would you not rather stay here with me instead?”  She asked as I looked up through her branches.  Though there was no sun to be seen I was suddenly now bathed in dappled light as it flooded through the canopy above and a sense of warmth and safety flooded over me.  “Let me give you respite from this reality.”

I could feel her presence surrounding me, speaking to me from inside my head.  “But my friends need me” I replied, every fibre of my being straining to resist the draw of the promise of rest.

“There will be a price you must pay if I am to help you Armitage.  Are you willing to pay what is due if I am to help you find them?”

Without waiting I answered that I was and that I would do whatever was necessary should she help. 

“It will be a heavy price Armitage” she continued “and I will insist on payment”.

The more she spoke the more I found myself growing impatient, she seemed intent on labouring the point and my concern was for Plumduff and O’Rourke and not for the dramatics she quite obviously enjoyed.

 “If it’s okay with you I really do need to be getting on” I replied.  “Are you able to help me get to my friends or not?”

“So be it” she said, her tone immediately harsh and cold.  The sunlight filtering through the leaves disappeared and a chill spread through me.  “Place the device at your feet and step back.”

Without waiting I did as she said, the hum in the air growing louder and the blue hue around the device pulsating and brightening.  The energy flowing through her began to pulse faster in time with the glow of the device until, with a loud crack, a bright arc of energy leapt from the tip of one of her lower branches to the core of the device.  As a second and third arc fizzed through the air and attached itself  a portal opened to the side of me, a deep orange circle cut into the air and beyond was the high banked river bed and the ramshackle wooden settlement I had seen back in the hanger.

“It’s time Armitage, go find your friends.” She said, her voice cold and angry, and without another question I ran and jumped through the portal.

Landing on the other side I was taken somewhat by surprise given everything was still grey.  The portal remained open and I could see the blue flickering light but apart from that everything was the same.  Gone was the river bed and the sloping hill, there was no collection of wooden buildings, just more grey. 

“Well that’s just great” I said to myself. 

I walked back over to the portal and peered through, my head in one reality and my body in another.

“I’m really sorry about this” I said feeling a little embarrassed, “don’t mean to trouble you again but I can’t seem to see anything at all.  Is something broken?”

For a moment there was no response other than what sounded very much like a sigh.

“Put the ring on Armitage” she answered.  “It’s in your pocket.”

“Oh yes” I said reaching into my pocket.  “Thanks.  Really.  I erm…I’ll just get going now” and turned back to my own side of the Portal. 

Slipping the ring onto my finger there was an explosion of colour as the grey nothing receded to my periphery, and in front of me I could see the settlement near the top of the hill that stretched away before me.   Above the sun shone bright in a blue sky and looking down at my feet I noticed, and by this point could feel, that I was ankle deep in the shallows of the river that crawled across the landscape. 

“Bugger” I exclaimed and slopped out onto the bank.  I could see there were knots of trees on each side of the hill but my instinct told me that I needed to head straight ahead. 

Scrambling up the river bank with the sun on my back I headed as quickly as I could up the hill until approaching the brow I stopped for a moment against the first ramshackle building.  It was set back some way from the others and as I peered out from behind it I could see nothing but desolation and destruction before me.  

A strong smell of burning drifted through the air, with the old wooden buildings scorched in places and completely destroyed in others, and debris was strewn across the worn dirt paths between them.  It was eerily quiet and the sound of my own breathing was all I could hear.

“Where are you Margaret?” I mumbled to myself as I continued down an overgrown path that lead towards the a small grouping of four buildings at the heart of the village.  Standing between them I looked about , they grey of my periphery revealing more buildings stretching away back down the hill, most of which looked to have been completely destroyed. 

As I approached the largest of the four central buildings, a double storied construction with a wide veranda and heavy doors that hung crookedly off their hinges, I was startled by a pair of large black birds that burst from one of the broken upstairs windows.  They disappeared into the distance and my heart raced.  I laughed, the madness of the situation not lost on me, and as I stood hand on hips to catch my breath I caught the feintest sound of voices.

As quietly as I could I hurried over to the side of the main building and pressed myself up against the wall just below a tall window.  The glass had been broken from the inside and I winced as it crunched beneath my feet.  As the sound of my own breathing calmed I picked out the unmistakable sound of Thrumhall and O’Rourke, it seemed to be coming from upstairs and though it was hard to make out what they were saying, from the tone I could tell that O’Rourke’s luck might have run out.

I walked back around to the front of the building and stepped onto the veranda, keeping as close as I could to the front of the building.  It was at this point, as I prepared myself to push through the gap between the doors, that I realised that I had in my possession exactly nothing that would be of any use in a fight.  Looking about I picked up one of the spindles that had previously been part of the balustrade  to the front and weighed it in my hands. 

“Great, and what exactly do you presume to do with it?” I whispered to myself feeling wholly out of my depth.  Obviously I should have brought McCann and the other Gadzooks but I’d had enough of other people getting me out of trouble.

As I squeezed through the gap in the doors I could hear stomping from the floor above, and Thrumhall’s laugh boomed out.  The room had a large dark wooden table that ran from one end to another and upturned chairs were scattered around the room.  On the walls there were tattered remnants of banners and brightly coloured flags and a cooking fireplace sat against one wall.  Towards the back of the room was a single staircase that lead to the floor above.

“Not got such a big mouth now do we Cardinal.” Shouted Thrumhall.

“I will have you know that this is not even in my top five beatings you fish headed son of a swine.”

The footsteps stopped and there was a loud crack and I could hear O’Rourke gasp.

“Okay, okay, top five” he said, his voice shaking “but you’ve a long way to go until you get top three.”

Thrumhall roared with laughter.  “I like your spirit, even if it going to get you killed.”

“Again?” Replied O’Rourke.

“What?”

“Again, killed again.  The Prussians beat you to it but you’re welcome to have another crack at it.”

Thrumhall struck him again.  “Do you ever shut up?”

My heart leapt as I heard Plumduff shout, that familiar matronly tone in her voice.  “No he doesn’t.  James, just be quiet will you.”

With the baton in my hand I tiptoed across the floor stepping over the broken chairs and other detritus that was scattered about.  I moved onto the stairs and slowly, step by step, ascended –  holding my breath each time the boards creaked.  About half way up I could see enough to look into the room and the first thing I saw was the back of Thrumhall and a glimpse of O’Rourke beyond.  Plumduff was nowhere to be seen.

“Let’s do this then shall we?” Said Thrumhall pulling his pistol from his holster.

“Thrumhall, you don’t need to do this” Plumduff shouted. 

“Oh but I do Margaret, I need to most definitely do this and once I have done this then I’ll deal woih you and the rest of the Office of Entropy.”

“Come on you big freak, do it.” Shouted O’Rourke. “Do it, do it I can’t be killed don’t you know.”

He raised his pistol.  “We’ll see about that shall we?”

It was at this point that I did the only thing I could think if and taking the last few steps two at a time burst onto the upper floor with the baton raised and ran for all I was worth towards where Thrumhall was still talking.

O’Rourke saw me before Thrumhall heard me. “Oh you’re in for it now” he shouted straining against the ties that held him to a heavy wooden chair.  At that point he must have heard my advancing footsteps and turned bringing the pistol to bare on me just as I brought drove the baton into his face right between the eyes.

The weapon discharged as he fell to the floor, the sound deafening.  As Thrumhall fell at my feet motionless I collapsed on top of him screaming, a searing pain in my left shoulder and my head spinning .

I heard Plumduff call my name as I fell and as I hit Thrumhall and twisted I looked up to see her rushing across the room.  Perhaps it was the pain or the adrenaline but I was pretty certain that there were two of her.

Part 29 is here

 

The In-between – Part 27 of 31

As we left the hustle of the main through fare behind and headed back to the office my mind turned to Plumduff and O’Rourke. It had been hours now since they disappeared into the portal behind Thrumhall and I felt helpless to do anything about it.

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

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25 Part 26

Back at Eldin’s McCann put the device on the table.  “There must be something you can tell us” she insisted.  ” We need to find Plumduff, you won’t get your money if we cant work out where they are and she ends up dead.”

I watched from the bed as the remaining Gadzooks poured over it.  Eldin picked it up and turned it in her hands.

“You have it all wrong McCann, you need to ask yourself ‘when’ and not ‘where’.”

McCann shot her a glance that insisted she continue.

“The thing I showed Plumduff, before she sent you to fetch this lot” and she waved a hand dismissively at Taylor, Jones, Simpson, Sparrow and Mason “was this.”  She walked McCann over to the computer screen and pointed.  “You see?”

“What is that?”  McCann looked confused.

“You still don’t get it?”

“They’re going back to stop her” said Taylor who had joined them. “Right?”

“Bingo” said Eldin.  “Pretty simple really, they take you out before you even know they’re coming for you an you will never know you’re even in trouble.”

I could tell from the silence that McCann had no idea what to do and got up from the bed and walked over.  “When are they going to?”

Eldin pointed at the screen.

“But that’s her date of death?”

Pulling up a chair she sat down in front of the screen and began to punch the keys.  Her fingers were a blur and pictures and data flashed before them.

“Margaret Rebecca Plumduff, primary date of death, location, timeline – it’s all there.”  She wheeled away from the screen to allow us to a better view.

“If that’s her date of death then why kill her then?  Makes no sense.”  Said McCann.

“Since when did ‘sense’ have anything to do with this?” I said.  If I had learned anything in the last few days it was that the least sensible option was more than likely going to be the answer to whatever question you might pose.  “So how do we get there Eldin, there must be something we can do to get that thing working?”

She smiled and pushed her hair behind her ear.  “Armitage, if I could help you I would – you seem nice enough – but I have no information on this thing other than what I have seen.  Unless you can get your hands on a couple of shadows I really don’t know, and even then I have no idea how to use it.”

“Okay, thanks Eldin”.  As far as I could tell she seemed to be telling the truth and had no reason to lie to us.

“He did ask for something else too.”

“Do tell” said Taylor.

“He has information on all of you, and was especially interested in you Armitage.”

I knew I ought to be afraid but after all that had happened I simply couldn’t muster anything other than something that came close to anger.  Perhaps not quite anger but certainly something of a mix of defiance and indignation.

“Well let him come for me” I said putting my hands on my hips, legs spread wide.  I saw McCann smile and suddenly felt rather self conscious and  shoved my hands into my trouser pockets and shuffled uncomfortably.

“That’s the spirit” she said turned back to Eldin.  “I need a copy of everything you gave him please.”

Eldin handed her a data stub.  “Figured you’d ask.”

“So what now then?” Asked Mason, “what’s the plan boss?”

“Back to the Office I guess” she said picking up the device from the desk.  We need to get this thing working.

“There is one more option” Eldin added as we turned to leave.

“Is there not perhaps a non risky option?” I asked.  “Maybe one that involves cups of tea?”

Eldin ignored my question.  “You could go and see her McCann, Quora.”

As we walked back to the office, the streets still full of life, McCann was unusually quiet.

“You going to force me to ask then aren’t you?” I said catching up with her.

“I’m sorry” she said as if a million miles away.  “Lost in thought I guess.”

“Who’s Quora?” I asked.

McCann didn’t reply so I asked again.  “McCann, Quora, who is she?”

“Do you remember when you arrived here?  When everything was grey and you wandered lost through the nothing?”

“Yes” I said.  I remembered it all too well and given the events of the last few days it held a certain appeal still.

“You met her then Armitage.”

“I never met any…Oh, I see.” I said realising that she meant the tree.  “I didn’t much care for her I will be honest.  Gave me the willies.”

“Eldin has a point though, may be worth a go.”

“Is there anything here that isn’t an immediate threat to life and limb” I asked.

“Perhaps we should just head back to the Office and talk about it there” McCann suggested.

As we left the hustle of the main through fare behind and headed back to the office my mind turned to Plumduff and O’Rourke.  Not only did we not know where they were but thanks to the device even the ‘when’ was an unknown.  If we were to find them then we were going to need some luck, and unfortunately our luck had disappeared through that portal with Plumduff.

 

Part 28 is here

 

The In-between – Part 26 of 31

Its actually looking like I might finish this…who’d have thought.

fshadows

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

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 and now looking like I will probably do all 31 as one long story. Who’d have thought eh…I had a real problem with this today, just no real time to write and when I did it was in fits and starts so it has felt all over the place but you know, I need to keep ploughing on and plough on I will and I will fix it when I edit it one day 🙂


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21 Part 22 Part 23 Part 24 Part25

“Should we not wait for the other Gadzooks?” I asked I watched Plumduff going through her bag. She pulled out a device and laid it on the table in front of her, her face still large on the screens. She held a small gold dial in her hand and watch as the handles moved slowly until they came to a stop.

“They’ll catch us up I am sure boy, but we need to move fast. According to this your watch is not on Nin, not yet. But they’ll be back soon enough.”

O’Rourke had found a bottle of something and was pouring himself a large glass of a golden liquid. “And exactly where will you find them?”

“I won’t” she replied her gaze fixed on the device. “The ‘where’ I am going to leave up to you.”

“Probably a pub then” I said joking. Neither of them laughed.

“If McCann is right about you then it’s only a matter of time until we find them again. Destiny, fate, luck – call it what you will – you have a knack O’Rourke and this time you can use it for something other than getting out of an unnecessary scrape or winning on the horses.”

O’Rourke grinned and took a long drink from his glass.

Plumduff put the device inside her cardigan pocket. “Eldin will you bring up a map of Nin for me please.” Eldin obliged and Plumduff poured over it on the screen for a while. “Where to then James?” she asked stepping back from the screen. “Pick a place.”

O’Rourke said nothing and simply pointed to a location on the map and continued with his drink. I think he was enjoying the attention and casually wandered over to stand next to Eldin who promptly walked back to where he had just walked from.

“You sure?” Asked Plumduff.

He nodded and smiled. There was something both charming and unnerving about him and you really would not want him spending any time with your wife.

“Thank you Eldin” said Plumduff heading for the door. “I will make good on our arrangement when this is all over I assure you.”

Eldin said nothing but raised a hand and waved briefly and watched as O’Rourke and I followed her from the room and out of the building back down to the streets below.

“Margaret” I shouted as I ran to catch her up.  “What’s going on?” I asked struggling to keep up with her. “What did she show you?”

“I wouldn’t worry yourself” she replied weaving her way through the crowds. It was late but there will so many creatures from every reality scurrying back and forth. “It’s more a hunch than facts anyway.”

“I thought we were meant to be partners” I insisted placing a hand on her shoulder. “Where are we going?”

Plumduff stopped and spun around to face me, O’Rourke a short distance behind us as he fought distractions at every step.

“He’s after me Armitage, and he probably intends to do to me what he did to Crompton and if we don’t stop him then he will not stop until he finishes us all off. Now keep up, we need to hurry.”

“Margaret, could we maybe stop off here?” O’Rourke shouted as he peered through the window of the ‘Goat and Hound’. “It looks most welcoming and I do have quite a thirst.”

“No you certainly cannot” she shouted back curtly, and we set off again.

Twenty minutes later we had left the bustle of the Nin’s main thoroughfare behind and we climbed upwards through winding streets. Gone was the neon, the high hab blocks giving way to smaller industrial zones which sprawled away into the distance. The streets were dimly lit and Plumduff lead us onwards with a determination and clickety clack of shoes which echoed in the still of night.

“Much further Maggie?” Asked O’Rourke trailing behind.

“There’s a dirigible yard up ahead, that’s where we’re heading” she answered and reached into her bag to check the dial linked to my watch.

“And why are we going there again?”

“Really O’Rourke, are you actually paying any attention at all?”

“No, not at all” he answered sharply.

“This way” she said taking a turn to her left and leading us through a wide set of open gates into a broad forecourt. In front of us was a huge hanger. On one door was a logo of a transport dirigible above the skyline of a city and on the other the company logo which read “Foreshaw Dirigibles”.

“In there then is it?” I asked, pointing to a small door within the larger hanger door.

Plumduff stopped and waited for O’Rourke to catch up, again checking the dial and popping it back into her bag. O’Rourke stood and looked up at the doors towering above us.

“Big doors” he said quite matter of fact.

I wasn’t really sure how to answer so didn’t, instead waiting to see what Plumduff would do next.

“Moment of truth gentlemen” she said turning the handle of the smaller door. There was a click and she opened it about an inch. No alarm went off.

“If McCann is right, and O’Rourke is somehow blessed with immense luck then I am trusting that at some point in the evening to come we will encounter Mr Thrumhall and his colleagues.”

O’Rourke grinned and slapped me on the back. “Come on Lad, adventure awaits” he said and unholstering his pistol pushed through the door ahead of Plumduff.
All clear he shouted back.

“After you Armitage” Plumduff said and pulled the door closed as she followed through behind me.
You sure about this? I asked turning her. “How can you be sure?”
“Armitage my boy, I have been here for more than a hundred years and I have never been less certain of anything but we have no other options. Now lets not dilly dally eh.”

The room was big, bigger than big, it was downright huge.  Machinery lined the walls and above winches and chains hung from the roof which was barely visible in the dim light provided by strip lights on the walls. A small dirigible floated at the far end of the hanger and a small windowed cabin was suspended beneath the long oval balloon section and the whole thing was tethered with a long rope to a steel hoop embedded in the hanger floor.

“Back there” said Plumduff pointed towards where it hung, “we need to find some cover.”

“You sure about this Maggie?” Said O’Rourke. “I had hoped for something a little more…shooty.”

“No, I’m not sure at all. But time will tell.”

O’Rourke wheeled a number of tool cases over and lined them up to prevent us from being seen by anyone coming through the doors and Plumduff pulled out the dial and sat on the floor with it in the palm of her hand waiting for it to move.

I tried to make small talk with them both but they seemed quite happy to sit quietly and wait. I still had so many questions about so many things yet now didn’t seem the time. Plumduff was especially quiet, the reality perhaps preying on her mind. We waited for a couple of hours with O’Rourke’s snoring the only noise and Plumduff constantly checking the dial.

As I lay staring up at the roof, my jacket propped beneath my head, Plumduff shook my leg and pointed at O’Rourke sat propped up against the tool case. “Wake him up boy” she whispered.

I shook O’Rourke and he opened his eyes slowly. “What is it, breakfast?”

Plumduff shushed him and gestured to the dial. I crawled over to her and it was moving, the hands rotating slowly and coming. She grinned as they stopped moving. “They’re on Nin.”

I crawled back to where I had been laid and peered out just as a bright blue flash lit up the room. The lights dimmed and then went out and for a moment the hanger was plunged into darkness. Moments later I watched as an orange circle appeared hovering just above the ground and from within stepped Thrumhall, four shadows and three of his gang. Plumduff looked over at O’Rourke who shrugged and gave her a thumbs up. She shook her head frantically as he pulled out his pistol and readied himself to stand.

“No” she said as quietly as she could. Wait.

The portal closed as quickly as it had opened and Thrumhall walked towards the centre of the room, the device visible in his hand. Plumduff motioned for me to stay low as she squeezed herself beneath the tool store to get a better look.

From the dark I continued to peer out and watched as Thrumhall placed the device on the floor and the shadows positioned themselves at either side of it. He stood over it bathed in the blue light emanating from it and as we had seen at Eldin’s, and arc’s of silver and blue electricity fizzed between the shadows and the device. The stars in the blackness of their forms burned more fiercely and with a crackle portals began to appear all around them.

Nearest to me I could see the volcano I had seen in the painting of Crompton, the red crown spewing lava high into the air as smoke billows upwards. There were oceans and plains, mountains and cities. Nearest to Thrumhall I could see a city that seemed so familiar yet as I scrambled through my mind to place it it slipped through my fingers and the thought was lost.

“What the devil” said O’Rourke his head just above mine as I peeked out. “That’s quite a thing don’t you think?”

I nodded and shushed him as Thrumhall walked over to a portal beyond which I could see a tree covered hill and a small wooden shacked settlement. A slow flowing river with high banks ran close to the opening. He turned to those with him and called them over, pointing into the portal and giving them instruction that I couldn’t quite make out. Daktar nodded and the three of them stepped through and disappeared. Thrumhall waited for a moment, pulled his pistol from his belt, and then passed through after them with .the two remaining shadows.

Plumduff had slid back out from underneath the trolley and was now stood behind us, and she dragged us both back by the collar.

“O’Rourke, we need to go now” she said her face pale and panic written across her face. “Now James, we need to get through after them.”

That was all O’Rourke needed to know and he burst into a sprint after them, Plumduff on his heels. I scrambled to my feet and took flight after them convince that this was by far the most stupid thing I had ever done. O’Rourke closed in on the portal and not looking back threw himself through it and disappeared.

As Plumduff neared it the shadows suddenly sprung into life, taking up a defensive position around the device and coiled as if to pounce.

She skirted the first as it lashed out at her narrowly missing. “Keep going boy” she yelled as she tumbled through after O’Rourke. It was too late though and the shadows now stood between me and the portal, their eyes burning like the sun and arcs of electricity cutting through the air.

I took a step back thinking that I might be able to take a run and get past but they began to advance on me. I scrambled backward and fell, my pistol spilling across the floor and they continued to bare down on my position. Reaching behind I tried to find it but it had slid under the cabinets behind which we had hidden and was out of reach.

They were now close enough for me to see the stars burning in the blackness of their bodies, and I thought this was it – my luck was about to run out – when suddenly they stopped. The blue glow emanating from the device dimmed and they instantly scampered back to it but it was too late, the connection between them and it had been severed and the portals quite suddenly disappeared as the hangar was plunged into near darkness.

I took the opportunity to scramble towards the back of the hangar and in the direction of a small door I had noticed when we had been waiting earlier. Feeling around in the dark I found what felt like a handle and pulled. A door opened and I quickly ran through pulling it closed behind me before collapsing to the floor against it with my heart pounding in my chest.

Sat in the dark I waited for the shadows to find me, convinced still that this was the end of the line for me once again. I had no idea what had happened to O’Rourke or Plumduff and had no way to contact McCann or anyone else from the Office. I put my ear to the door and listened. I could hear something outside, something scratching and scraping and coming closer.

Gripped with panic I scrambled around on the floor reaching out in the dark looking for anything that I might be able to defend myself with. As my hand felt something hard and cold and as I examined it I realised it was a chair. I picked it up by the legs and held it up ready to swing as the I heard the door handle turning slowly. Holding my breath I waited, prepared to make one last stand against the shadows.

As the door flew open I screamed. It was not a particularly manly scream, but it was a scream none the less and as I swung the chair wildly it met something soft and there was a groan as something hit the floor.

“Bloody hell, steady on Armitage” said McCann. “We’re on the same side remember.”

Part 27

The In-between – Part 25 of 31

“Keep an eye on her Armitage” Plumduff said as O’Rourke laid Eldin on the bed. “She’s going to be a little feisty when she wakes up I expect. Elizabeth, give the boy a hand will you.”

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

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 and see where each days takes this.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22  Part 23 Part 24

“Keep an eye on her Armitage” Plumduff said as O’Rourke laid Eldin on the bed.  “She’s going to be a little feisty when she wakes up I expect.  Elizabeth, give the boy a hand will you.”

“Sure thing” she replied.  “You off somewhere Margaret?”

Plumduff turned to reveal blood soaking through her cardigan.  “No, just need to patch this up.”

“Here Maggie” O’Rourke called as he rummaged through a small cabinet hanging over a sink at the far end of the room. “Looks like there’s some bandages in here.”  While O’Rourke helped bandage Plumduff up McCann bound Eldin’s hands and feet.

“Is that really necessary?” I asked.  She seemed pretty harmless.  “I would have thought she’d be grateful to us when she comes around.”

“Just a precaution Armitage” McCann insisted.  “Better safe than sorry.”

I looked down at the girl on the bed.  She was wearing a long grey cloak over a long flowing white dress with frills around the bottom.  Jet black hair fell about her shoulders and I would have said she was human were it not for what seemed to be gills in her neck and the scaled pattern that ran from her chest up towards her ears.   McCann saw me staring.

“Balerian” she said. “You don’t see many of them on land so trust me, there must be good reason for it.”

“No harm done?” McCann asked sitting on the edge of the bed.

I shook my head and grinned.  “No, I was too busy hiding.  I did see her again though.”

“The girl?”

“Yeah, seems to be happening more and more.”

McCann patted the bed next to her.  “You know Armitage, you’re lucky to be here – we all are.  Most of our kind are gone when they’re gone.  You should try enjoy yourself and let go of the past.”

“Enjoy.  Right” I said sitting down.  ” I don’t even know who she is Elizabeth.”

McCann didn’t respond because Eldin started to stir, opened her eyes and began screaming at us at the top of her voice.

“Woah steady on” McCann said putting a hand over her mouth.  Eldin struggled and thrashed around on the bed as she did so. “Hold her legs down.”  Eldin’s eyes were wide and she was surprisingly strong for her size. “Calm yourself girl, we’re the good guys okay, you’re safe now.”

Her eyes darted around the room as she breathed heavily, her gills opening and closing in time with her rising chest..

“Everything okay over there McCann?” shouted Plumduff.  Eldin seemed to recognise the voice and strained to try and see the source of it.

“Hello Eldin.” Plumduff walked across, her arm now in a sling folded across her chest.   “You can untie her Elizabeth, we’re old acquaintances.”

Eldin remained fixed on Plumduff as McCann pulled out a short bladed knife from inside her boot and cut the ties around her hands and feet.  She looked at me for a moment and then at O’Rourke and  eventually back to Plumduff.

“Where did they go?” She asked, her voice soft, warm and almost lyrical.  “Where’s Thrumhall?”

“Gone my dear” O’Rourke said striding over and straightening himself.  “Fought them off almost single headedly don’t you know.  James O’Rourke at your service.”  He gave a clumsy half bow.

Calm yourself cardinal” Plumduff said as McCann smiled knowingly.  “So Eldin” Plumduff continued.  “I think we have a lot to talk about don’t you.”

Eldin sat up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She winced and touched her face where a large bruise was already forming.  “What have you got yourself mixed up with Margaret?  Those are some pretty nasty sorts and they are most interested in you and your officers.”

“Don’t let me stop you” Plumduff said.  “Carry on.”

“You know who he is right?  Thrumhall.  You know what he has and what he plans to do with it?  I assume that’s why you’re after him.”  McCann shot a glance at Plumduff that told Eldin that the most esteemed Office of Entropy knew a lot less than she did and started to laugh.  “Oh my god Maggie you have no idea do you.”

Plumduff didn’t find it funny in the slightest.  Eldin hopped down from the bed and walked over to the machines sat on the table.  “That’s what they were after”.  She pointed at the screen and the colour drained from Plumduff’s face.

“I’d suggest you work out a way of finding them before they find you Maggie, all of you.”

Plumduff turned sharply on her feels and waved a hand towards McCann.  “You need to get the rest of the Gadzooks and bring them back here as quickly as possible.  And make sure they’re armed okay.   Don’t tarry girl, chop chop.”

McCann didn’t stay to ask why and with a nod of the head ran from the room, her footsteps echoing down the hall until the outside door slammed closed behind her and she was gone.

“Anything else you can tell us” she asked turning back to Eldin.

“You going to pay me for this?” Eldin said folding her arms defiantly.  “Information doesn’t come cheap you know.”

“When it’s all over you can name your price, but now I need you to tell me what I need to know.”

Eldin considered her position and decided that perhaps she had more to gain from being owed by Plumduff than she did by Thrumhall.   “All I can tell you is that that to trigger that device he needs the shadows, and he needs them at their most powerful.”

At this point I had a moment of clarity of the sort that had avoided me since I had arrived at the In Between and for once I was ahead of Plumduff.

“That’s why he brought us back here” I said.  “And why he always has them with him.”

“Got yourself a bright one there Maggie” Eldin said.  “Cute too, for one of your kind.”

I felt myself blushing as she turned back to Plumduff smiling.  “So what’s your plan then?  I don’t reckon you have long Maggie.”

Plumduff straightened herself as best as she could with her good arm.  “Armitage, be a dear and fetch me my bag would you.  I have an idea.”

 

Part 26

The In-between – Part 24 of 31

For the second time I found myself back in Plumduff’s office wondering whether I might be able to get a new pair of shoes. McCann handed me a drink and Plumduff paced back and force behind her desk.

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

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 and see where each days takes this.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22  Part 23

For the second time I found myself back in Plumduff’s office wondering whether I might be able to get a new pair of shoes.   McCann handed me a drink and Plumduff paced back and force behind her desk.

“He was a good man” she said, “he deserved better than that.”

“You never saw anything at all then?” McCann repeated.

“No, nothing.  One minute he was about to ask me for something the next he was gone.”  I finished the drink in one and held out the glass for McCann to pour me another which she did.  “Has to be Thrumhall though, just has to be.”

Plumduff stopped pacing.  “You are likely right but how do we explain this?” She said and pointed to the picture above the fireplace.  Where once Crompton had stood so proudly now only the volcano and daffodils remained.  “It’s like he never existed.  This is something else.”

I took another drink.  “I don’t know how they did it but The witches, Gravita and Sadara, they greed that Crompton would be first.”

“First?” said Plumduff.

“With the rest of us to follow yes.”  I finished my drink and held it out for McCann to refill again.  As if witnessing what happened to Crompton wasn’t enough I probably had a similar fate to look forward to.

“What else did you see” McCann asked filling my glass.  “What was the device, what does it do?”

“From what I saw something to do with travelling between different realities within the Fracture.  He also insists on having shadows with him at all times, and he insisted we needed to come to Nin, where you found us, but beyond that I don’t know Elizabeth.  A lot of it is a blur to be honest.”

McCann and Plumduff exchanged glances and McCann shrugged.

“What was it that Crompton wanted from you?” Plumduff asked.

“I think it might have been my watch, I’m not completely sure though because before he could finish he….”

“Why would he want that?” McCann asked before I finished.

“No idea, wouldn’t have mattered anyway” I answered rubbing my wrist. “One of Thrumhall’s goons took it from me just after the witches left me with them.  They took my badge as well.  Seems they like shiny things, I was lucky they didn’t take my ring too but managed to keep it hidden from view.”

“They have your watch?” Plumduff said a note of excitement in her voice.  “You’re certain of that.”

“Yes, think his name was Daktar.  Not the brightest of types, large head, lots of arms, foul temper.”

“What are you thinking Margaret?” McCann asked.  Plumduff seemed lost in thought as she began to pace again.

“The dials will tell us where they are, we can use them the same way we used them to find Armitage.”  I looked up hearing my name and Plumduff continued.   “But I don’t think this is a matter of where they killed Charles.”

McCann looked confused.  “What do you men?”

“The picture Elizabeth, That was taken painted after Charles arrived here and he disappeared from it as if he never existed.    They didn’t murder Charles somewhere, they killed him somewhen and whenever it was it was before that painting was made.  They were never even here when they killed him.”

Plumduff saw the confused look on my face.

“It’s the device Armitage, whatever it is it allows them to be somewhen else, that is why we struggled to find you when you first disappeared.  You weren’t here to be found you were somewhen else nd only when you returned to Nin could I track you down.”

“Super” I said noticing my drink was again empty and feeling a little light headed.  “Do you have any tea?” I asked.

“No time for tea my boy, get your stuff together” she said reaching into her drawer, pulling out a pair of silver pistols and placing them on the desk in front of her, “and wake O’Rourke up.  It’s time for a spot of revenge.”

McCann smiled and quickly exited the room to rouse O’Rourke.

“You okay?” Plumduff asked me placing the pistols in her handbag and walking across to where I sat and taking a seat next to me.

“Not really”

“No me neither” she said putting a hand on my arm.  “Been a pretty rough few days hasn’t it?”

I nodded still looking down at my shoes.

“You want to stay here?” she asked.

I very much wanted to say yes but given everything I had been through and all I had seen it seemed wrong to hide away at this point.  If Thrumhall was responsible for killing Crompton and they were coming for the rest of us then I wanted to at least go down fighting if this was to be my fate.

“No, I’m coming Margaret” I said looking up.  Plumduff smiled and reached into her bag and handed me one of the pistols.

“Ever used one of those before?”

I shook my head.  I’d seen enough of weapons when I was alive and got the general idea.

“You’ll work it out” she grinned.  “What’s the worse that can happen eh.”

“Pistols, oh goody” boomed O’Rourke as he walked into the room.  He had shed his Cardinal robes and was now wearing all black and sporting one of his own on one hip with his sword still hanging on the other.  “We’re going in heavy then are we Maggie?”

“Precautions my dear” Plumduff replied.  “Don’t want to get caught short a second time.”

“So what’s the plan then?” he asked.

“I need to grab a few things from Crompton’s office” she said and hurried out, returning a few minutes later and heading for the office door that lead out into the courtyard.  She shouted back at us the familiar click clack of her heels echoing on the cold stone.  “Do keep up people, we have work to do.”

As O’Rourke, McCann and I hurried after and we took the now familiar path and found ourselves on the outskirts of Nin once again.  It was late at night, stars burning in the clear sky above and the Neon lighting up the darkness down below.

“So where to then Maggie” O’Rourke asked.  “We could maybe grab a drink while we’re here, see how things pan out.”

Plumduff scowled at him.  Small she might be but she “was a fearsome woman when the mood took her and she was in no mood for more of O’Rourke’s shenanigans and I was inclined to agree with her.

“We need information and there’s someone that I think can help us out.” She said. “Someone I know down hear the markets, Elden.  If  you want to know something she’s the person you want to speak to.”

She lead the way as we threaded our way through the busy streets, the hab zones towering high above us and the noises and smells of a busy city all around.  Nin had developed as a trading post for so many of the other worlds that spanned the fracture and at every turn there was something more incredible to be seen.

“O’Rourke, keep up” Plumduff barked as he stopped to stare into the shop front of what I assumed was a sex shop of some sort.  I couldn’t quite work out what the creatures were or what they were doing to one another but from O’Rourke’s face I could tell it was inappropriate.

“How did he end up here Margaret” I asked.  “He seems very.” I paused.  “Different.”

Plumduff laughed.  “Another of the mysteries of the Fracture my dear” she replied.  “O’Rourke, now” she demanded.

O’Rourke grinned and ran to catch us up as we ducked down a dark passage way and up a flight of steel stairs.  Plumduff declined to knock on the heavy wooden door before us choosing instead to shoot out the lock and barge inside.  There were shouts from inside as she stormed through.

“Heads up people” Plumduff said raising her pistol, “sounds like Elden has company.”

I decided that I would be more use bringing up the rear and allowed McCann and O’Rourke to push past me and watched all three quickly running down the hall away from me.  The pistol was heavy in my hand and whilst I wasn’t afraid to use it was more concerned that I might accidentally hit one of the others.

Another door at the end of the hall was kicked open and the three of them burst through into a large open space that I decided must be where Eldin lived.  It was sparsely furnished with a bed against one wall and a few pieces of furniture scattered about. A number of what looked to be computers at on a table near a window which overlooked the bust street below.

In the middle of the room, and I assumed this was not a regular feature, were a series of portals hovering just above ground level, a different coloured pastel hue emanating from each  Beyond each I could see another word and stood in the middle of them holding the device was Thrumhall.

“Armitage” he roared a beaming smile spread across his face.  “Fancy seeing you here.”  His heavily armed gang stool to one side pistols raised.  “Steady boys” he cautioned.  “Let’s not be hasty eh.  These are Eldin’s guests.”

A woman lay at his feet who I assumed was Eldin.  She was probably not a great deal taller than Plumduff but considerably younger and seemed to be unconscious.  Her face was bruised and bloodied.

“How are you Armitage” Thrumhall continued, “No Crompton with you I see.  He not feeling well?”  HIs posse roared with laughter and Plumduff walked forward a steely look in her eye and her jaw clenched.

“What did you do Thrumhall” Plumduff demanded her pistol raised.

“Put the weapon down woman” he snarled the smile now gone from his face.  Two shadows curled themselves around his legs, their eyes burning bright as they stared towards us.  “You’re outgunned and outmanned and if you know what’s good for you you’ll leave the way you came in and be grateful you get to live another day.”

“For now” one of the henchmen said laughing.   I recognised him as the one that had taken my watch and badge.

“Maggie may I?” O’Rourke asked walking up beside her.  He leaned down and whispered something into her ear.”

“You again” Thrumhall howled training his pistol on O’Rourke.

“Indeed” he replied and without warning threw himself forward through the air towards Thrumhall and squeezed off three rounds from his pistol.  At that point all hell broke loose and once gain I found myself scrambling for cover as pistol shots rang out across the room.

Plumduff’s agility belied her age and she and McCann managed to throw themselves behind the bed as shots ripped into the walls around them while I somehow found myself stumbling through the doors and back in the passage that lead to Eldin’s room.  More shots rang out and I could hear O’Rourke shouting loudly.

“Come on then” he screamed as he skidded across the floor, the first of his shots nicking Thrumhall’s shoulder and the other ricocheting around the room.

“Scram, now” shouted Thrumhall dropping his pistol and shoving the device into his tunic.  He turned and dived through one of the portals as O’Rourke came to a halt just in front of Eldin.  I peered around the door and could see the others followed suit and piling through the glimmering holes and then, in the blink of an eye as the shadows leapt through, they disappeared.

For a moment there was silence, eventually broken by O’Rourke’s booming voice.

“Bloody chicken’s the lot of them” he complained.  “Every time they turn tail before we can get properly acquainted.”  there was a real disappointment in his voice.

“Armitage, you still alive and kicking” shouted McCann as she and Plumduff emerged from behind the bed.

“Yes thanks” I replied walking back into the room to where the three of them now stood over Eldin.  “She okay?

McCann kneeled down over and checked her pulse.  “She’s fine, she’ll come around I’m sure.”

“Good” said Plumduff walking over to the computers where a picture of her filled half the screen. “Because when she does she is going to start by explaining whey she has all this information on me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part 25 coming soon

 

 

 

The In-between – Part 23 of 31

Compton’s office was somewhat bigger than Plumduff’s, lined on two opposite sides with similar creaking bookshelves. If lacked the ornate fireplace of Margaret’s and on the walls not covered with books were displayed a collection of thick framed maps and sketches which I took to be some sort of representation of the In-Between.

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

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 and see where each days takes this.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21  Part 22

Compton’s office was somewhat bigger than Plumduff’s, lined on two opposite sides with similar creaking bookshelves.  If lacked the ornate fireplace of Margaret’s and on the walls not covered with books were displayed a collection of thick framed maps and sketches which I took to be some sort of representation of the In-Between.  Worn patterned carpets in dark reds and greens covered the floors and at one end of the room was a desk behind which he now sat with me opposite.

On his desk, again larger than Plumduff’s,  was the collection of dials that they had used to track me down and the now empty bottle of whisky O’Rourke had so gratefully helped himself to earlier.

I could see he wanted to ask me a million questions but I think the look on my face told him that it might be wise to wait a little.  I was first to break the silence, deciding that if I did not it was more than likely I would be whisked away again on a fool’s errand straight into the jaws of danger and it had been a terribly long few days.

“Why am I here Charles I asked?”  It seemed the simplest of questions but one no one seemed willing or able to answer.  He looked at me for  while, then at the empty bottle and then back at me.

“I’m sorry” he said.  “I know it’s all been pretty chaotic since you got here and hardly ideal but I assure you…”

“Charles, just answer the question” I snapped.

“It’s not that simple Armitage, you are looking for absolutes and those things are now a luxury.”

“So that’s it, I am supposed to accept that this is how it is and I should get used to other worlds and alien creatures and witches and whatever the hell Thrumhall and his lot are.  That’s just the way it is.”

“Well no I just meant…” Crompton stammered.

“Oh and let’s not forget the tree and the Gadzooks and Periscope and Margaret and watches and rings and…” My face red I paused for breath and calmed myself.  “Sorry.  And the girl Charles, I saw her again when I thought Thrumhall’s lot were going to finish me off.”

Crompton stood from his desk and walked across to a small window that looked out onto the courtyard we had accessed from Plumduff’s office.

“We don’t know why we are here Armitage” he began looking out into the distance.  “All we know is that very few of our kind make it here and those that do seem to end up in the office of Entropy.  We suspect that it is something to do with the way we died but cannot be certain.  What we do know is that someone needs to police things here, if that is at all possible, and that duty falls to us.”

“But why?” I asked.  It still made no sense.  “And why me?  Why not somebody else?”

“Armitage, there is no why it just is.  You remember Henry right?”

Armitage nodded.  He also remembered watching him wander off into the grey as if called by the tree and feeling a sense of dread.

“Henry was here before you but it was too much for him and you saw what happened.  That’s just the way things work.  He returned to everywhere and everything.”  He had a tone to his voice that I think he thought was deep and mysterious but mostly I just found it annoying and I wanted very much to throw a tantrum and shout how unfair things were.

I sighed.  “Well it all seems bloody ridiculous if you ask me.  And what about the girl.  Why do I keep seeing her.  It’s like I can feel everything she feels.  A deep sadness.”

Crompton turned from the window and leant on the desk in front of me, arms crossed.  “There are things that will become clear to you in time Armitage, it happens to us all.  You are one of so few of our kind that make it over to the fracture once we die, and there will be a price to pay eventually.  It seems to happen to us all at one point of another.  Do you remember how you died?”

I shook my head.

“Thought not” he replied.  “Always seems to escape us that one.”

As much as I liked Crompton I felt none the wiser and if anything more confused.  “So that’s it then is it, that’s all you’re going to tell me.  This is just how it is and a vague warning about something terrible that will happen some when in the future.  Super.”

“When it comes to the ‘why’ I am afraid that is it yes” he replied.  “Stick with Plumduff, follow your instincts and try and have a little fun.”  He smiled as he said this but he was wholly unconvincing.

“Fun, right I see” I replied.  The only person that seemed to be having any fun was O’Rourke and his version of a good time was not in the slightest bit appealing to me.

“On and another thing” Crompton continued.  “I could do with your wa…”

He never finished the sentence as a look of horror flashed across his face.  This was quickly replaced by one of pain as he tried to speak and then, just as Periscope had done he dissolved into a pool of nothing spilling onto the desk and at my feet on the floor.

I sat for a moment open mouthed as I watched my moccasins absorb some of what was left of him, the tide mark passing the one previously left after our encounter with Periscope.  HIs ring and watch lay in the pool of his remains and as I watched him drip from the desk I did all I could manage.

I yelled at the top of my voice for Plumduff.

 

Part 24 is here

 

 

 

The In-between – Part 22 of 31

Armitage sat motionless as Thrumhall’s men got to their feet, hands on their pistols. McCann stirred and Plumduff put a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s see how this works out” she cautioned.

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 ‘Night of nin’. I forgot to work that in though. Oops…

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 and see where each days takes this. Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16 Part 17 Part18 Part 19 Part 20 Part 21

Selfish, drunken, irrational, dangerous and Inconsiderate. Some of O’Rourke’s finer qualities, and those that knew him knew he was something else too. He was lucky. With the exception of the unfortunate matter with the Prussians things always seemed to end well for him and over time he had come to realise that should he take action then it would more than likely work out rather favourably.

He hoped this would be one of those occasions.

What O’Rourke did not know was that his luck was a matter of inheritance. His great great grandmother Dorinda Flaherty, a woman with a thing for men of short stature, had spent a night of passion on midsummers eve with a taller than average leprechaun. Nine months later this resulted in the birth of his grandfather Concobhar O’Rourke and a change in the families fortunes from that point forwards.

“What the hell is he doing?” Plumduff said peering out from the booth as O’Rourke propped himself up against the bar. It was a long, dark room with the bar running along one side and booths and tables opposite. An old man stood behind the bar stacking glasses on a shelf and save for Armitage and his companions the place was empty.

McCann unsheathed her sword.

“They have pistols” said Crompton.

McCann shrugged and grinned.

O’Rourke called out again and raised his drink. “Armitage my old mate” he said. “It’s me, O’Rourke. How long has it been?”

Armitage and everyone else around the table turned towards O’Rourke, a look of horror on Armitage’s face. He shook his head as if trying to warn O’Rourke off.

“Oh come on lad” he continued. “I know it’s been a while. Join me for a drink” and he walked over purposefully. The old man behind the bar looked at O’Rourke, shook his head and ducked down behind the bar.

Armitage sat motionless as Thrumhall’s men got to their feet, hands on their pistols. McCann stirred and Plumduff put a hand on her shoulder. “Let’s see how this works out” she cautioned.

“He doesn’t know you stranger” a squat fellow insisted stepping forward and placing himself between O’Rourke and Armitage. “And he doesn’t need a drink.”

“Oh come on now, you’re in a pub and in a pub everyone should have a drink. Barkeep, drinks all round.” He shouted, but the old man remained hidden. McCann grinned as Armitage slammed his tankard down on the bar top.

“Barkeep, drinks all round” he pressed.

“No drinks” barked Thrumhall’s man drawing his pistol. Armitage flinched and O’Rourke, refusing to be deterred took another step forward.

“Now come on friend, no need to be like that” O’Rourke continued. “I simply wanted to catch up with an old friend and have a beer.”

The creature took a step forward and raised his pistol, holding it just inches from O’Rourke’s face who grinned and stretched out a hand picking up his tankard. The other creatures bristled and reached for their weapons, Crompton and McCann with hands on their sword hilts.

“Fair enough ” said O’Rourke and in one swift movement swung the hand holding the tankard bringing it crashing down against the side of the creature’s head. As it slumped forward he dropped the tankard, spun him around and snatched the weapon from its hand before the others could even raise their weapons.

“Now” he said loudly, his eyes wide and a maniacal grin on his face. “I said I wanted to have a drink with my friend here and must insist.” He raised the pistol to it’s head. “Why is that such a problem?”

“You’re going to regret this” said one of Thrumhall’s henchmen.

“Oh come on, always with the threats and the aggression” O’Rourke replied. “How about I just take my friend here and I’ll be on my way?”

Before his question was answered a door that O’Rourke hadn’t previously noticed to the side of where the Armitage and Thrumhall’s men had been swung suddenly open and Thrumhall strode through.

“What the hell’s going on here” he boomed raising his pistol and pointing it at O’Rourke. “who the hell are you?” Plumduff placed a hand across McCann’s chest. ”

“Just wait” she whispered.

O’Rourke lowered the pistol ever so slightly. “I was saying to your man here that I just wanted to have a drink with my friend.” He motioned towards Armitage. “I’m not looking for any trouble.”

“Crompton Look” said Plumduff quietly noticing the two shadows prowling around Thrumhall’s legs. Thrumhall walked forwards and O’Rourke strained to take a few step backwards and drag the deadweight of the creature with him.

Thrumhall motioned to one of the men stood with his pistol raised. “In the back, get the crates.”

“Yes Boss” he replied and disappeared through the door.

“Now here’s what’s going to happen next” Thrumhall said one hand on the head of the shadow nearest to him. “You’re going to release my man and I may just let you get out of here alive.”

O’Rourke laughed. “How about you release my friend and we all have a drink, sound like a deal?”

Plumduff looked at McCann, the three still hidden behind the high backed sides of the booth. “This may work after all” she whispered.

“No thanks” said Thrumhall and without warning fired a shot into the chest of the creature shielding O’Rourke who stopped smiling, dropped the dead weight and vaulted over the bar. Thrumhall continued shooting and those with him opened fire.

“Alright pal” he said to the old man as they both lay on the floor together, shards of glass raining down on them. “Nice place you have.”

As Thrumhall and his men advanced towards O’Rourke’s position Crompton, McCann and Plumduff burst from their cover.

“Ill take the big lad” said McCann drawing her sword and bearing down on Thrumhall who pivoted and squeezed a shot off at her. He was too slow though and she was on him in a flash landing a blow with the hilt of the sword across his Jaw and sending him sprawling. She then leaped over the bar joining O’Rourke and the bar keep.

“Elizabeth how grand to see you” he exclaimed.

Taken by surprise the others turned to see Crompton and Plumduff close behind McCann and turned their fire on them at which point O’Rourke reappeared from behind the bar, pistol raised, and began returning fire.

“Great distraction” O’Rourke said smiling as Plumduff and Crompton dived into cover in another booth, shots splintering the table and wooden seating around them.

Two of Thrumhall’s men fell to the ground, shots exploding in their chests, the shadows scattering and melting into the gloom.

“Move it Armitage” McCann barked peering over the bar top and he scrambled to his feet and threw himself into the booth sheltering Crompton and Plumduff. Thrumhall’s lot had taken cover behind tow overturned tables and were returning fire

“Hello lad” she said grinning. “I thought we’d lost you”. A shot split the wood panelling between them and Armitage placed his hands over his head. It never ceased to amaze him that no matter what she never let go of her hand bag.

Thrumhall slowly regained his footing, noticing his downed men and waved them back. “Get the crates now” he ordered and vaulted over the table to where the two men were dragging them from the room. The shadows raced to his side.

“On me” he said reaching inside his black tunic and pulling out the device. The petals opened and a hum filled the room, a feint blue light emanating from it. Leaving the downed men behind the remaining few followed Thrumhall and formed a protective wall in front of him.

“That’s right, run” yelled O’Rourke as he reappeared once more from behind the bar firing off shots wildly. Returned shots ripped into the bar but he didn’t flinch, suddenly feeling indestructible.

He saw Thrumhall look up at him, grin. “I’ll be seeing you lot real soon” he said and then quite suddenly there was a flash of blue light, a feint pop and every one of them disappeared – crates and shadows included.

For a while no one said anything. Slowly they all emerged from their places of hiding.

“They’ve gone” Armitage said stepping over the body of one of the dead men.

“Bright lad you got there” O’Rourke said clambering over the bar, glass crunching beneath his feet. “The question now is where oh where have our friends gone.”

Part 23 coming soon…

The In-between – Part 21 of 31

Passing out through the heavy wooden doors they were back on the outskirts of the city Plumduff and Armitage had first visited in search of Periscope. Night had fallen and the streets blazed with neon in pinks, yellows and blues. Stars burned bright in the sky above and twin moons hung heavy in the sky like a pair of watching eyes.

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 ‘Artichokes and Anchovies’.

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 and see where each days takes this. Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8  Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16  Part 17  Part18    Part 19  Part 20

Plumduff scratched her head as she looked at the panel of dials before her.  Each of the Entropy officers was represented by a small golden dial which indicated their status within the Fracture but one was curiously out of sync with the others.

“I’m telling you Crompton, he isn’t on our timeline anymore.” She insisted.  “Everyone else is accounted for and even factoring in the differences across the realities Armitage is somewhere else.”

“How is that even possible?” Crompton asked.

“I’d suggest we ask the witches but given our track record I think perhaps we will need to think of something else.” Plumduff replied.

“You know what I think” said O’Rourke from the other side of the room.

“I would thank you kindly to keep your thoughts to yourself” Plumduff scalded.  “You’ve already done quite enough damage for one day”

O’Rourke smiled and took a long drink from the generous glass of whiskey he had poured himself.

“Not my fault Maggie, how was I to know he still had the device with hi.  He’s not the brightest of fellows now is he.  All he needed to do was check his pocket.”

Plumduff clenched her jaw, nostrils flaring.

“I will give you that” she conceded, “and I will put it down to jolly bad luck” she continued still poring over the dials as they clicked and whirred showing the difference in time of each agent in relation to the time in their true reality here are the Office of Entropy.  “His isn’t moving Charles, and there is no indication that he is dead, it is as if he is simply not where he is.”

McCann looked up from her seat next to O’Rourke, frowned, and went back to polishing her sword.

“Makes absolutely no sense I agree” said Crompton “but it is what it is and it cannot be anything but.  The machine cannot be wrong.”

O’Rourke put down his drink, then picked it back up, swallowed down what was left and then put it back down again.

“You know what I think” he said again.

Plumduff paused.  Not only did she have an officer missing but something hugely valuable had fallen into the hands of the Witches and the still had no idea what it was.  Now she had to listen to O’Rourke’s ramblings.

“Go on” she said and sighed.

“I think he must be at another time” he said picking up the empty glass.  McCann looked up and stopped polishing and then looked across at Plumduff and Crompton who surprisingly had not already told him to be quiet.

“It’s the only thing that makes sense” he insisted. “He’s not dead and he’s not on any of the known realities so either we have a new reality – which we know about – or his is somewhen else.”

“And what do we do then?” Crompton asked.

“Devil if I know” O’Rourke said smiling and offering his glass.  “But another whisky might help.”

“He might be right you know” Plumduff said taking the bottle and filling up O’Rourke’s glass.  “It’s as good an explanation as any and might explain why we can’t track him down.”

O’Rourke took another deep drink.  “Must be something to do with that device” he continued now on a roll.

“And you know that how?” said Plumduff.

“Oh I don’t, not in a way that can be proven” he replied.  “I just have a nose for these things.”

McCann laughed.  “He does indeed you know.  Luckiest bugger I have ever known and you’d not believe the times he just…knows.”

O’Rourke smiled and raised his glass.  “Oh Elizbeth I think that’s the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.  Cheers”

She shook her head and resumed the polishing of her sword.

“So we just wait then?” Crompton asked again.

“No” said Plumduff putting on her cardigan and hooking her bag over her arm.  She pointed to Armitage’s dial.  “He’s here, look.”

Crompton rushed over and Plumduff pointed out Armitage’s dial.  It was exactly seventeen minutes different from the large clock on the wall.

“There is only one place seventeen minutes different to here” she said heading towards the office door.  “Come on you lot” she said.  “We’re off to Vectra.”

“Ooh goody” said O’Rourke finishing his drink.  “How exciting.”

“Shall I get the others” McCann asked putting her sword into it’s scabbard.

“No, no I think the four of us will be just fine” Plumduff answered.  “We will need to do this with a modicum of stealth if the witches are still about, and as handy as your lot are in a fight I think perhaps this is best done with only the minimum required.”

McCann nodded and followed as Crompton and Plumduff headed out of the door into the courtyard.  “You coming?” She asked looking back.

“On my way my dear on my way” O’Rourke replied grinning and took a swig from the whisky decanter .

Passing out through the heavy wooden doors they were back on the outskirts of the city Plumduff and Armitage had first visited in search of Periscope.  Night had fallen and the streets blazed with neon in pinks, yellows and blues.  Stars burned bright in the sky above and twin moons hung heavy in the sky like a pair of watching eyes.

“So where do we start looking” McCann asked. “It’s a pretty big place.”

“What do you reckon O’Rourke” Plumduff asked.  “Let’s see how that luck pans out shall we.”

O’Rourke looked up the street before him.  “There” he said pointing.

“The Artichoke and Anchovie?” Crompton said his brow furrowed.  “A pub.  Well that’s hardly a surprise is it.”

“Absolutely man” he replied.  “What better place to get information.”

“And a drink” mumbled McCann.

O’Rourke insisted that he never drank on duty unless absolutely necessary.

“Lead the way then” Plumduff said rolling her eyes and allowing O’Rourke to lead them up the road and through the crowds.  As they passed through the massed creatures from just about every reality here in the Fracture she looked across to where this whole mess had started.  Periscope’s apartment.

“So you know this place then?” Plumduff asked.

“Not one bit” he replied pushing open the door and heading inside.  “Make mine a …”

He never got to finish because sat at a table at the far end of the bar was Armitage.

“See” he said grinning and pointing.  “Lucky I tell you.”

It took Plumduff about three seconds to realise that Armitage was not alone and his new friends were carrying far more weaponry than you would normally have with you if you were just nipping down to the local for a quick half.  She also realised that she couldn’t see the witches and quickly bundled Crompton. O’Rourke and McCann into a small booth.  The high seat backs prevented them being seen but also meant that they could not see Armitage..

“Heads down and wits about you” she whispered.

“I have a plan” said O’Rourke taking a drink from the large stein of ale before him.

“Where the devil did you get…” Plumduff began but stopped.

“A plan?  That’s not like you” McCann replied.

“Yes” he insisted and taking the drink he stood to his feet, wandered back out of the booth towards the bar and shouted over to Armitage at the top of his voice.

“Armitage me old mate, how the devil are you lad.”

 

Part 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The In-between – Part 20 of 31

There are points in your life when things become too much and you simply have to insist that enough is enough and you will no longer play along and be buffeted and tossed by the universe. For me, this was one of those moments.

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 ‘Leathery Lies’.

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 and see where each days takes this. Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16

Part 17  Part18    Part 19

There are points in your life when things become too much and you simply have to insist that enough is enough and you will no longer play along and be buffeted and tossed by the universe.  For me, this was one of those moments.

As if being dead was not enough, I had been forced into the service of the Office of Entropy without so much as a leisurely induction course conducted by a friendly and attractive instructor called Debbie or even a tour through the offices where the toilets and canteen would be helpfully pointed out.

No.  Instead, I had been witness and party to the most outrageous set of events one could imagine which had left me feeling rather done.

I looked around the room for an exit, stars blinking through the high windows and dim lights set in the curved ceiling.  The way we had come in seemed the only way out and I didn’t fancy my chances at making a break for it.  Sadara and Gravita stood in front of me with the shadows behind and set around the long table in front of me were an array of heavily armed creatures that looked like they would rather enjoy hunting me down if I decided to bolt.

Something boiled up inside of me.  It could have been bravery but I suspect it was more stupidity.

“Excuse me ” I said coughing politely and peering out from behind where Gravita and Sadara stood.  Everyone turned to face me.  “But would you mind terribly if I just let myself out.  I would very much like to not be here.”

Thrumhall laughed loudly and Gravita turned on me.  “Quiet flesh bag” she barked and struck me across the cheek causing me to fall to the floor.  My well honed sense of self preservation insisted that I stay down and remain quiet but such was my mood that I uncharacteristically did exactly the opposite.

“No, I will not I really have had enough of this.” I said as I regained my footing.  “Do with me as you will but this whole business has gone too far and I really must insist that you let me leave.”

The room fell silent, all eyes now fixed on Thrumhall where he sat at the end of the table.  He was a creature of some size, probably 8 foot tall and I had counted at least four of what I would call arms though they could have also have been tentacles or robot claws it was hard to tell given how gloomy the room was.  His head reminded me very much of an oversized goldfish in both shape and colour with eyes set wide apart and no nose.  He had a wide mouth with rows of sharp teeth which he seemed to great pleasure in showing off.

He stood slowly, those around the table slinking down in their chairs as he did so.  He was dressed in the sort of dark clothes untrustworthy dangerous types seem to favour in whichever universe you might find yourself and a large nasty looking pistol lay on the table in front of him.

He slammed one of his hands hard on the table and roared with laughter again.  This in turn was taken as a signal that the others could laugh and they promptly did so all looking rather relieved as the tension lifted.

“Oh you are a brave one aren’t you” he shouted loudly.  “Do you not know who I am?” he asked.  The others around the table fell suddenly quiet again which told me that obviously I didn’t.

I said nothing.

“Forgive him Thrumhall” Gravita said walking across in front of me.  “He’s new here, he is of no significance.”  She struck me again and this time I chose to remain on the floor.

Thrumhall grinned.  “Fair enough” he said and pulled the Periscope’s device from abreast pocket.  “He did after all bring me this little beauty.”

“On that matter” Gravita said wringing her hands together.  “Should I assume our deal will be honoured now that you have it?”

“Oh yes, yes of course” Thrumhall replied “No word of a lie I will take great pleasure in destroying those fools from the Office of Entropy.  Nothing will make me happier and when they are gone the Fracture and all the worlds within will be ours to do with as we wish.”

The assembled cronies around the table roared loudly and banged their weapons on it.  One particularly enthusiastic fellow discharged his weapon and a fizz of green ricocheted around the room until it grazed the shoulder of the angry looking creature opposite.  They all howled loudly and found this quite hilarious.

“Very good” she replied.  “If that is all then we will take our leave and be back to Bunderburg.”

“Leave the flesh bag though” Thrumhall replied.  “He’s fun and I think he might come in handy.” He sneered and the look on his face told me that this was unlikely to end well for me.

Gravita and Sadara exchanged glances and whispered briefly and then, without a word turned and left the room through the two large doors behind us.  The shadows remained behind and scampered over to where Thrumhall stood and he reached down and caressed them.

“Now flesh bag” he said loudly walking back to his seat.  “Time to show you what you brought me I think.”  He pulled out his chair but remained standing.  “Jaral, bring me the machine.” He shouted.

An older creature, similar to Thrumhall but considerably smaller shuffled from the shadows and placed a large wooden box on the table.  He took off the lid and then folded back all four sides.  Raised within the box was what looked like a silver flower.  A central circular body supported what could easily have been leaves that curled from the base upwards and even in the dim light it shimmered and reflected light around the room.  Those around the table leaned forward and the shadows began to prowl back and forth.

Thrumhall, still holding the device in one hand grinned and picked up the device and held it in the other.

“At last” he said holding it up to admire it in the light.  “Time and space within the fracture and without will no longer hold us back but instead be ours to do with as we wish.”

I strained to get a better look and he noticed me staring.

“You really had no idea what you had did you flesh bag” he said holding it out to me as if to tease me.  “With this and the power of the shadows I can be anywhere and any when within all eventualities past and present.”

“Oh I see” I replied.

This felt as confusing as anything over the last few days, perhaps more so, but if I was to be honest with myself I was really beyond caring.  He seemed particularly happy with himself and I decided to let him have his moment of glory.  I had not asked for any of this and there was no way I was picking a fight with a room full of fully armed goldfish looking types armed with only a bad attitude and a throbbing headache.  I simply shook my head.

Thrumhall reached inside the petals of the device and pushed the core he had taken from me into a slot in the base surface.  Instantly what little light there was in the room flickered and fizzed and a hum filled the air.  The shadows stopped prowling, walked over to Thrumhall and sat bolt upright.

The creatures seated around the table took this as a sign and left their seats to stand behind Thrumhall.

“Now flesh bag ” he said taking his pistol from the table and pushing it into a holster on his belt “where shall we go next.”

Part 21

 

 

 

 

The In-between – Part 19 of 31

“Why did you bring him?” Gravita snapped. “Now were going to have to finish him off.” She took out her wand and the tip began to glow red as she pointed it at me where I lay.

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 ‘Bottled Bliss’.

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 and see where each days takes this. Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16

Part 17  Part18

As I was dragged through the doorway the cold night air took my breath away.  After that the first thing I noticed was how high above the stars blazed bright in the clear night sky and as Sadara threw me to the ground I heard the door slam closed behind us.

It was difficult to see much from where I lay, it was dark but I could feel a mixture of snow and grass beneath me and there was the glow of civilisation on the horizon some way off in the distance as I looked about with the now familiar grey mist shrouding my periphery.

“Why did you bring him?” Gravita snapped.  “Now were going to have to finish him off.”  She took out her wand and the tip began to glow red as she pointed it at me where I lay.

“Wait” Sadara shouted raising her hand and knocking the wand from it.

“What are you doing?” Gravita’s eyes narrowed to angry slits.

“We’ve just picked a fight with the Office of Entropy, I think it would be wise to allow ourselves a little insurance don’t you.” Sadara insisted.  “Plus, did you not hear what Margaret said about him?  The tree didn’t take him when it could have which means there’s more to this flesh bag than meets the eye.  If the Entropy want him then I think it would be wise for us to keep him around.”

Gravita picked up her wand from where it lay in the snow and put it back inside her log white robes.

“Fair enough, but any trouble from him and I will finish him.”

“You’ll behave won’t you lad” Sadara said pulling me up from the ground.

I nodded.  Not that I really had a choice in the matter.

“So where now then Gravita?” Sadara asked.

“I guess we head for the lights” she answered.  “He said he’d meet us at his place in Caladros once we had the package.”

We walked for what seemed like hours through the dark, me just ahead of them and they would bark instructions at me as we walked.  The shadows bounded along at each side, almost invisible in the darkness save for their eyes burning bright.  The night was still and from the little I could see the land around us was barren with snow lying in patches.

As we walked I suggested they just use magic to get us to our destination and Gravita suggested she turn me inside out and leave me by the roadside so I let the matter lie.

“So why did they choose you” Gravita asked me as we walked.

“Who?” I replied.

“Plumduff.  The Entropists.  Why did they bring you in?”

I’d asked myself that question a thousand times in the last few days but hadn’t quite got around to asking Plumduff or Crompton.  They seemed so very confident and matter of fact about me being part of everything.

“I really don’t know” I insisted.  “I am not sure I am cut out for it to be honest.”

“Most have been something you did.” Said Sadara.  “That’s how it works did they not tell you?”

Whilst I assumed that there was probably a rule or a code of some sort that would discourage me discussing such things with someone who was most definitely what I ought to assume was an enemy I should also admit to being intrigued.  I had had so little opportunity to understand my current situation.

“They have told me very little it seems” I replied.

Gravita laughed and quickened her stride and was now walking next to me.

“What’s your name?” She asked.

“Armitage.”

“Armitage.  Right.  Well Armitage, no one gets into the Office of Entropy without being chosen.  There aren’t many of your kind in the fracture and those that there are mostly seem to work for Crompton.”  Her voice was suddenly calm and warm.

“I see” I said though most definitely did not.

“Do you remember much of your past?” She continued.  “Do you remember your death?”

I paused before responding.  I had been so swept up in things that my untimely demise was just another question on a growing list.

“I occasionally remember a woman’s face.  She’s sad.  But that is just about it.”  I waited and then continued.  “If I am honest my past is just not something I seem to think about.  In some ways it is as if it never happened and I only seem to think about it when prompted.”

Gravita placed a hand on my shoulder.  “It will come back to you boy, in good time.  I just hope you’re ready for it when it does.”

“Oh great” I replied.

My sarcasm was obviously lost on the witches and Sadara laughed.

“Oh it wont be great trust me.”

As we continued to walk through the darkness the light on the horizon grew brighter and the path grew steeper and more unsteady underfoot.

“Left Armitage” Gravita barked as the wind picked up, whistling through the trees that occasionally lined the route and whipping the snow into flurries that danced around our feet.  I bore left and after a short distance she shouted again and told me to stop.

“Over there” she said pointing over to my right into the greyness of my periphery.  I turned to where she was pointing and as the grey peeled back I found myself looking down over a high precipice and towards a city that sprawled away before me.

“Caladros?” I asked.

“Indeed it is, and a more dangerous city you aren’t likely to find so stay close when we get down there.” Gravita replied.

As I looked down it struck me that ‘city’ was perhaps a generous description because it looked more like a large industrial complex.  A vast array of pipes and walk ways connected sprawling domed buildings and whilst there were roads that criss crossed area the majority of traffic seemed to be on rails weaving its way between the buildings.  Steam hissed and vented into the air wherever you looked and towering flare stacks spewed orange and red into the night sky.

Still buffeted by the wind we wound our way down a long stone staircase carved into the cliff face that brought us out on the periphery of Caladros.  I stayed close behind the witches as we walked between the first set of domes, the shadows following silently behind me.

Each of the buildings seemed to be similar in design just of a different size.  I ran my hand against the side of one and the metal was warm to the touch, with tall doors and high windows cut into the sides.

“This way” Gravita said and quickened her pace.  The shadows melted away into the night and we pushed on.  Apart from the rattle of the trains on the tracks above and the hiss and roar of the steam and flare stacks the place was quiet.  Lights burned high in the sides of some of the domes but most were dark and there was no one else about.

I looked at my watch and it showed as late afternoon Entropy time.  Here it felt like the middle of the night.  Gravita continued to lead the way and when I looked at my watch again fifteen minutes had passed and we were still winding our way through the labyrinth of domes and pipework.

“Not far now” she said and as she did I realised I could make out a slow steady thump that sounded like the far off beat of music.  Looking about the grey gave way and I cold see that there were now taller building on each side with lights burning brightly in broad bands around the domes.

“Here, this is the one” Gravita said and we headed towards one of the larger domes.  The noise grew louder and she knocked on the door and waited.  I checked my watch again and saw the hands tick over to midnight, which made no sense at all because there was no way that it could be that late, It was no more than an hour since I had last checked.

“Now stay close” she insisted as the door swung open.  “Thrumhall is not one to be trifled with and I would caution against anything he may offer you to drink, especially the bottled bliss.”

And without another word we walked inside.

Part 20

The In-between – Part 18 of 31

“Watch out” Plumduff shouted as the creatures threw themselves through the air crashing into O’Rourke and McCann as they burst into the room

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 ‘Forgotten Ruins’.

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 and see where each days takes this. Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10 Part 11 Part 12 Part 13 Part 14 Part15 Part16

Part 17

Plumduff strained against her ties as the sisters left and headed away down the stone corridor, two of the curious black creatures taking their place and prowling slowly around where she sat in the middle of the room.

“So what exactly are you then” she asked watching them. They seemed to change form as they moved, and up close they she could now make out that the black mass that made up their form seemed to swirl and move like smoke twisting upwards from a fire into the night sky. They turned to her, eyes burning as she spoke, and one propped it’s from legs on her knees it’s face only inches from Plumduff’s.

“Oh heavens you are a thing indeed aren’t you” she said pulling back as it mirrored her head movements. “Wherever did they find you I wonder?” It’s eyes were like burning suns and up close she realised that in the blackness of their being were feint pinpricks of light. They seemed to be made of the very matter of space itself. Plumduff leaned in towards it and then as if called to heel it leapt down as quickly as it had climbed onto her and continued to pace the room with the other.

She was just about to speak again when there came an almighty crash and shouting from beyond the door. Both creatures set themselves facing it as if ready to pounce.

“Margaret, are you back here?” Came a familiar voice as she kept struggling, the ties cutting into her wrists but not giving even one bit.

“In here” Plumduff shouted. She could have sworn it was O’Rourke. The creatures took a step back as something crashed into the door and it flew open.

“Watch out” Plumduff shouted as the creatures threw themselves through the air crashing into O’Rourke and McCann as they burst into the room.

“Jesus” shouted O’Rourke as all four spilled to the floor.

“Aren’t they beautiful” shouted Plumduff. “I’ve decided to call them ‘shadows’.”

McCann held the black mouth of the shadow back with her sword which was still in the scabbard. “They’re not frigging pets Margaret” she shouted as she got her feet into where it’s stomach would probably be and kicked it off of her and sending it across the room, “this one is trying to eat my bloody face off.”

O’Rourke rose to his feet as the second clung around his next. He spun and threw himself against the wall back first putting the full force of his weight against it and pinning it to the cold stone. It released it’s grip and he grabbed it and hurled it across the room to where the first had got back on al four’s. They waited, ready to pounce but before they had the chance O’Rourke pulled a short stubby pistol from the folds of his robe and let out two shots, each hitting one of the creatures and sending it crashing to the floor.

“That should put pay to them for a while” he said holstering the weapon and pulling out a long bladed bone handled knife which he used to cut Plumduff free. She raced over to the creatures where they lie and as far as she could tell they were still alive.

“They’re okay Margaret” O’Rourke said. “It’s a stunner, use it for bagging runaways.”

“Good, because whatever they are they are special and I want to get them back to office. I’m not sure where the Witches got them but they’re something new and I want to get them catalogued.”

A huge crash and shouting could be heard back down the hall away from the room. O’Rourke pulled his sword from his scabbard and flashed Plumduff and McCann a smile. “Now, shall we get back to your friends, sounds like all hell has been unleashed in there.”

The three ran from the room, Plumduff stopping to close the door and turn the key to secure the shadows inside.

Re-joining Armitage and the rest of the Gadzooks they found themselves cut off from the main entrance pinned down behind a number of fallen bookshelves. The witches Stood at the far side of the room throwing down red and blue blasts from their wands which tore into the makeshift barricades. Sparrow, Jones and Simpson returned fire, poking out their heads precariously and then taking cover again when the witches picked out their positions. A number of Shadows scrambled up the walls in an attempt to out manouver the Gadzooks but Sparrow in particular was a crack shot and he was able to keep them at bay.

My part so far was to mostly hide behind mason who had still not stopped grinning since O’Rourke decided he was not going to wait for the witches one minute longer and instead barged inside and starting destroying everything he could.

“I tried diplomacy” he had insisted, “some people just prefer to learn the hard way.”

As O’Rourke, McCann and Plumduff reappeared I caught their eye and Margaret’s face dropped. She didn’t seem happy to see me.

“Have you got it?” she shouted as a flash or red tore into the wall next to where she had taken cover behind a large piece of fallen masonry.

“Have I got what?”

“The device?”

Plumduff must have seen the confused look on my face. “No, you had it.”

Thought she was still some way away I was pretty convinced she sighed and were a lip reader I would have been more certain that she hadmouthed the words “stupid boy.”

She tried to break cover to scamper over to me but O’Rourke pulled her back just in time and another large section of the building’s outer wall crashed down exactly where she would have been moments later. Through the dust I could make her saying something to them both, and both looked across at me.

“Just stay there” McCann shouted. She really didn’t need to tell me twice, I had exactly zero interest in being anywhere other than out of sight of the witches.

More blasts tore into the shelves and ricocheted into the walls as the witches advanced on out position. Sparrow, Jones and Simpson returned fire but the sisters seem impervious everything they threw at them.

“We need to get out of here” Simpson shouted as a shot ripped right through between myself and Mason. For the first tie he stopped smiling and suddenly looked rather angry, his eyes wide and his nostrils flared.

“You ready to go Mr Armitage?” he asked.

“No, No” I replied. “McCann says to stay here.”

“McCann knows nothing” he shouted and in one movement leapt to his feet and threw himself over the bookshelves straight towards the witches. They had obviously not expected this and both stumbled back at the sight of the rippling bare chested fury bearing down on them. It was just the break we needed and everyone raced back from the barricades and back down the passage which O’Rourke, Plumduff and McCann had just come from.

“Where the dickens are you going” O’Rourke shouted standing up, blasts from the witches just missing his head as they again steadied themselves. Mason was already being overrun by the shadows and they piled on top of him before he could reach the witches. “We never run from a fight.”

McCann dragged him forcefully down the corridor after her reminding him that in fact they did run from a fight, and they did so quite often and that there were by all accounts actually rather good at it.

“We need to get Mason back” Jones said reloading his pistols.

“Afraid that’s out of the question fella, we will deal with that problem later.” O’Rourke replied. Evidently not only were the Gadzooks not afraid to run from a fight but they had no qualms about leaving a man behind either.

“Now get to the end of that corridor” he continued pointing, put a hole through the wall and run like the devil himself is after you back to the courtyard”.

“Where’s Armitage?” Plumduff said looking about panicked. “Where’s the boy.”

Hunkered down behind what was left of the barricade I could hear Mason roaring as he fought with then shadows, and the approaching footsteps of the witches. I looked to where the others had disappeared down the corridor and realised I had left it too late to get out. As I looked back I saw Plumduff peek around the corner and then hastily duck back inside as the stone where her head had previously been was shattered by a well aimed shot from Sadara’s wand.

“Run Margaret” she shouted. “You’re cornered in there, there’s no getting away now.”

They stepped around the barricade and past me. They hadn’t realised I was still there and I was now looking at their backs as they advanced on the Gadzooks and Plumduff. A loud explosion rocked the building and dust billowed from the corridor. I turned to run as they advanced forward thinking that I could maybe make it out of the door as I had the previous time and but tripped as I vaulted the bookshelf and clattered to the floor. Gravita turned as I fell forward and as I lay sprawled on the debris littered the device we had recovered from Periscope spilled from my pocket.

“He has it” she roared and Sadara turned as she unleashed a barrage of brightly coloured shots towards the corridor. With both bearing down I turned onto my back grabbing the device tightly in my hand. Their faces pale and cruel they stooped and lifted me from the floor Sadara holding me to her chest and turning to face where Plumduff now stood looking out at us.

“What’s going on Margaret” O’Rourke shouted as the rest of the Gadzooks bolted through the hole in the wall Taylor had blown.

“The device, I slipped it into the boys pocket last time we were here. I thought he would have realised. Now they have it and they have him.”

“Not much we can do now Margaret, we need to regroup” he replied.

Sadara called to Plumduff. “Not the brightest this one is he Margaret” she teased. “He brought it right back to us, we really could not be more grateful.”

Gravita laughed putting her wand away.

“We’ll be getting off now” Sadara continued. “People to see and places to be and all that.” She waved her wand and a door appeared where they stood and before Margaret could move they disappeared through it and disappeared. Moments later the shadows peeled away from Mason and followed them through.

Plumduff ran forward but before she could get past the barricades it was gone.

 

Part 19

The In-between – Part 17 of 31

During my time short in the fracture I had already witnessed so many truly amazing sights, but the Galloping Gadzooks were not one of those.  A ramshackle bunch as I had ever seen, and who’s place here in the Fracture I couldn’t help but question.

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 ‘Bavarian Cream Dreams’.

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12  Part 13  Part 14 Part15  Part16

During my time short in the fracture I had already witnessed so many truly amazing sights, but the Galloping Gadzooks were not one of those.  A ramshackle bunch as I had ever seen, and who’s place here in the Fracture I couldn’t help but question.  Crompton had explained that he had no real idea how any of them had made it over and even less so why they had been recruited into the ranks of the Office of Entropy.  Nonetheless they had and that was pretty much that really.

Crompton had asked whether there was a plan, at which point McCann shook her head knowingly.

“A plan?” laughed O’Rourke.  He still wore the dark red Cardinal robes he had favoured in life despite being excommunicated.  A heavy golden cross hung from his neck and a sword hung from a thick leather belt around his waist.

McCann shook her head, she was pretty sure what was to follow.

“Plan’s will make themselves known when we first take action” he shouted excitedly.

“I really don’t think that’s how it works” I insisted but he wasn’t one for listening.

“Just go with it” McCann said quietly in my ear leaning across.  “Things just tend to work out for him.”

“You know you’re dead right?” I replied.

“Well yes there is that, but as Charles explained how were we to know it was all going to go so terribly wrong.  If O’Rourke is anything then not only is he a Cad, a charlatan and a steaming drunk but he is also, with the exception of the time he got us all blown to pieces by the Prussian guns, extremely lucky.”

I struggled to find a great deal of consolation in McCann’s words but Crompton assured me that the Gadzooks were our best chance of getting Margaret back.

“And I just tag along with them then do I?” I asked as Crompton patted me on the back and assured me it would all be just fine.  “Perhaps I should just stay here, they look like they have quite enough between them to sort everything out.”

“Oh no Armitage” Crompton insisted. “This is a great opportunity for you to see some action.”

I assured him that I had seen quite a lot of action in the last few days thank you very much what with the Periscope business and being chased across another world by witches and heavens alone knows what else but he was no longer listening.

“Stay close to Mason” McCann said pointing.  Mason nodded and smiled a broad toothy grin.  I nodded obediently.  He was a most impressive specimen of a man standing more than 6 feet tall, shirtless and wearing only a pair of ragged cut off trousers.  His skin was as black as night and the curved blade of a scimitar flashed in his hand.

“Should we not get him more clothes?” I suggested.

Mason roared with laughter.  “Little man I need no more than I have and I will cover myself in the blood of my enemies.”

It seemed a little excessive I thought but he seemed pretty enthusiastic about the matter so I said nothing.  O’Rourke pointed to two men stood together talking quietly to each other.  They were dressed mostly in black save for pair of silver pistols than hung from their belts.  “Jones, Simpson let’s keep it simple this time shall we, no showboating we just get in and get Plumduff back okay.  And No trophies.  Understood?”

The two men nodded and answered in unison.  “Yes sir.”

“And Taylor” O’Rourke continued without turning around  “keep an eye on Sparrow will you.”

The tall handsome man I assumed to be Sparrow sighed.  He wore the red trousers and gold embroidered black tunic of the English cavalry officer uniform.  Like O’Rourke a sword hung at his side.  A shorter dark haired moustached man in a dark suit and white shirt patted him on the back.

“Me and you again old chap eh” he remarked smiling.

“You know where this reminds me of” said O’Rourke as we passed out through the office door, into the courtyard and onto the street beyond.  No one answered, the tone in his voice made it perfectly clear that he would tell us whether we wanted to know or not.  “Bavaria and that incident with that young fellow in the bakehouse.”

Taylor grinned as O’Rourke shot him a knowing glance.  “He was dreamy indeed Sir” he replied.

“Give it a rest you two” snapped McCann.  We’ve a job to do.  “Up here on the left was it Armitage?” She asked me.

“Yes at the end of the alley, there should be a small door.” I replied

“Right then, stay close, this could get messy pretty quickly.”

“Ooh just like Bavaria” O’Rourke roared loudly.

 

Part 18

 

The In-between – Part 16 of 31

With the taste of blood in her mouth Plumduff opened her eyes and licked her lips.  Her mouth was dry and her head was pounding.

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 ‘Fight or Flight’.

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12  Part 13  Part 14 Part15

 

 

With the taste of blood in her mouth Plumduff opened her eyes and licked her lips.  Her mouth was dry and her head was pounding.  She was in a small dark stone walled room, feint rays of early morning sunshine streaming through a window high up on one wall.  A heavy wooden door was set in the middle of the opposite wall.

She strained to move, but to no avail noting that she was tied rather tightly to a small wooden chair by her wrists and ankles.

“Hello” she shouted hoarsly.  “Are you there girls?”

There was no immediate response but she did pick up feint noises from outside of the door and presumed someone must have heard her.  A short while later she was proved right and the door swung open and the witches walked in.

Gravita, Sadara – how very nice to see you again.  I do so love what you’ve done with the place.” Plumduff said smiling broadly.

The taller of the two, Sadara, walked across and placed a hand around her throat whilst Gravita closed the door.

“Where is it Margaret?” she asked squeezing.

Despite the grip of the fingers causing her to gasp relief flooded through her.  If they were asking that meant that there was still hope.

“You’ll never get it” she croaked.

Sadara loosened her grip and took a step back.

“You realise how this ends I assume?” Gravita snarled walking across to where she sat.  “A second death is permanent Margaret, you know that better than most.”

Plumduff’s jaw tightened, nostril flaring.

“She does indeed” Sadara teased.  “Look at her face.  She’s sent enough there to know what’s coming. “

Gravita smiled and ran a longtwisted fingernail across Plumduff’s cheek.  “I’d like to say it isn’t personal Margaret but it is, very much so.  The Office of Entropy have been nothing but a thorn in our side and it’s about time you got a taste of your own medicine.”

Plumduff strained at her bonds and the witches laughed in unison.

“Oh strain away dear” Mocked Sadara.  “Either tell us where it is or we take a trip out to see her.  She has quite the appetite you know, and a taste for your kind I believe.

Plumduff had seen enough first hand to know that the Tree was as unpredictable as she was hungry and would prefer not to take her chances hoping that she would let her pass by untouched.

“I’ll tell you what, how about you let me go and I wont have to tech you girls a lesson” Plumduff said, a broad grin  on her face.

Gravita slapped her hard across the face.

Plumduff winced.  Her entire body ached, she assumed she had put up quite a fight but things were still very hazy.  “So that’s a no then is it?”

Gravita slapped her again, this time harder and she could taste fresh blood in her mouth.

“I don’t have it ladies” she said resigned to her fate.  “I don’t have it and If I did I would not give it to you.”

He’s not going to be happy” Sadara said to her sister looking concerned.

“This is going to hurt you a lot more than it will hurt me Margaret” Gravita said reaching inside her robe and pulling out a long birchwood wand and holding it to Plumduff’s head.

As Plumduff closed her eyes and slowed her breathing, determined not to give them the pleasure of her suffering, there was a loud knock on the door.  Gravita walked over and pulled it open.  One of the formless bright eyed black creatures stood in the doorway.

“What is it?” Sadara snapped as Gravita stooped in hushed conversation with the creature.  “Well?”

Gravita turned as the creature scurried away.  “Apparently there’s an O’Rourke at the door who is insisting on speaking to us.”

Part 17 is here

The In-between – Part 15 of 31

The roar of a dozen cannons split the eerie silence,  thunderous volley after volley whistling overhead as smoke drifted across the battlefield.  The long lines of French infantry shuffled nervously, muskets loaded and bayonets fixed waiting for their orders as the guns, with their superior range, pounded the Prussian lines.

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 ‘Rinky Dink’.  This probably should come much much earlier in the story but I’m making this up day by day.   Not easy to introduce ideas when it’s so linear.  I based it on a poem thingymajig I did once that you can see here.

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12  Part 13  Part 14

The roar of a dozen cannons split the eerie silence,  thunderous volley after volley whistling overhead as smoke drifted across the battlefield.  The long lines of French infantry shuffled nervously, muskets loaded and bayonets fixed waiting for their orders as the guns, with their superior range, pounded the Prussian lines.

“Oh Gentlemen this is a glorious day to be sure” cackled O’Rourke, his thick Irish accent causing the French around him to stare.  “Relax Frenchy”  he continued staring down at them from atop his most impressive chestnut mare, “we’re here at the request of Emperor Rinky Dink himself and a fair price he has paid indeed for us to help you out with your particularly pressing Prussian problem.”

A shell landed unnervingly close to where they waited, throwing up smoke and raining down sods on their position.  O’Rourke cursed, pulling back on the reins of his horse and patting her neck to calm her.

“That’s no way of a man of the cloth to speak is it?” came a voice from behind him.

“Elizabeth” O‘Rourke exclaimed slipping from the horse and wrapping his arms around her.  She squirmed uncomfortably and pushed him away.  “So very good of you to join us” he said “I thought you weren’t going to make it.  You’re looking as lovely as ever I see.”

Elizabeth winced at the smell of whiskey on his breath.  The Prussians seemed to be finding their range and another shell impacted only a short distance away causing everyone around them to duck with the exception of her and O’Rourke.

“Oh, and that’ll be ‘disgraced man of the cloth’ to you, a badge of honour I wear with distinction. ”  He said proudly.

McCann took a step back before speaking.  As great a leader in battle as he might be O’Rourke was a man of very little moral repute and even less faith.  She was a slight girl with short cropped dark hair and pale skin and somewhere in her late twenties.  She wasn’t exactly sure herself given that she had grown up orphaned and in some of the worst of London’s work houses.

“The others are with me too” she said quite matter of fact.  “Usual rates and expenses as agreed?”  She posed it as a question though now that they were here they could hardly leave.

“Oh that’s grand indeed, yes yes and not only is it the usual rates but the promise of a pretty penny in gratitude when we are victorious.” O’Rourke smiled and  climbed back onto his horse as another salvo of cannon fire made the earth tremble.

Whatever the amount, Elizabeth was certain that O’Rourke would have his cut.

“So exactly who have you got?” O’Rourke asked.  “Did Taylor make it.”

“Yes He’s here” she replied with a note of distaste in her voice.  “Managed to pry him away from the school with the promise of something a little exotic.”

O’Rourke let out a loud laugh.  “He is a cad indeed.”

“Jones, Simpson, Sparrow – they’re all here.”

“And Mason?  Please tell me Mason is here the Prussians aren’t going to know what’s hit them when they see him.”

“Mason’s here yes, took some persuading after that Egyptian business but he’s saddling up as we speak.”

“Oh how brilliant, this is going to be a real blast for certain.”

McCann shifted uneasily.  “I brought Sparrow too.  He needed the work.”

O’Rourke bit his lip, his eyes narrowing and nostrils flared. “Can we trust him?”

“Do you trust me?”

“Fair enough” he answered and turned his horse towards the Prussian lines.

“Oh and there’s one more, a friend of the family ans someone I know will fit in perfectly.  Charles Crompton.  Ex army and handy as hell in a jam.”

O’Rourke patted his horse as more cannonballs ploughed into the earth now just feet away.  “Let’s do this then shall we my dear, it’s time for the Galloping Gadzooks to ride once more.”

“And what’s the plan then?” she asked.

“Plan?” O’Rourke replied. “Oh I have no plan other than to wade into those blue coated ranks and cause the most delicious mayhem and carnage.”  He grinned and took a slug from a small silver hip flask.

Elizabeth sighed.  “So same as usual then.”

***

I scratched his head and leaned forward in my chair.  “So what happened next?” I asked.

Crompton smiled and tapped the side of his nose with his forefinger.  “Aah well that is for another day, but let us just say that that Prussian Mob had a little more spirit than we had anticipated and the lack of a plan was to be our undoing.”

“So you all…”

“Indeed” he grinned.  “But it was only the beginning as it turned out and as you have seen yourself.  The Galloping Gadzooks continue to ride and luckily for you my boy they will be helping you to get Margaret back.”

 

Part 16 is here

 

The In-between – Part 14 of 31

Despite her diminutive stature Plumduff punched well above her weight, and as she gave me a shove and shouted “Run boy, back to the courtyard” she launched herself at the witches.

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 ‘Cloudy Dimensions’.

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12  Part 13

 

Despite her diminutive stature Plumduff punched well above her weight, and as she gave me a shove and shouted “Run boy, back to the courtyard” she launched herself at the witches.

I needed no second invitation, and whilst I would later regret my decision to flee, at that point in time with the sisters bearing down on us it seemed a most acceptable course of action to allow an elderly woman to do my fighting for me.

My history of violence was not one of note and barring childhood altercations I had never had to defend myself physically that I could recall.

The wooden floor thundered beneath my feet as I beat a hasty retreat towards the large doors at the far end of the hall.  Plumduff gave a jubilant cry as she dragged the first of the sisters to the floor with the second attempting to restrain her.  Straddling the chest of the first she looked back to where I paused at the door and shouted again.

“Run boy, run damn it” she shouted raining punches down on the witch.  As I pushed through the door I turned back one more time to see the taller of the sisters pick Plumduff up and throw her across the room.  She skidded to a halt in a  crumpled heap next to the fireplace, and the shorter witch got to her feet and began to stride purposefully towards me.  The other headed across to where Plumduff lay quite still.  Not waiting a moment longer I ran out into the night and back down the alley towards the main cobbled street that lead to the courtyard.

 

The night air was cold and the road uneven and I tripped as I ran for all I was worth.  A high pitched wail broke the stillness of the night and as I got back to my feet I quite foolishly allowed myself the briefest of glances back over my shoulder.

Turning the corner she was now closing in on me as she strode through the darkness eating up the distance between us.  Following close behind her were a number of the formless creatures we had encountered at Periscopes, at least three pairs of bright eyes burning in the dark of the night.  They scampered and bound past her as I turned again and ran.

I had expected a lack of exercise to be irrelevant given that I was dead, so it was with some surprise that I felt my heart pounding in my chest and my lungs on fire as I set my sights firmly ahead of me and ran.  The courtyard was still some way off at the far end of the cobbled road, and I focussed on it as everything else faded into the grey peripheral blur to either side.

The creatures cackled and hissed as they closed in on me and though I knew not to look behind me again I went against my instincts.  They were now close enough for me to make out their individual shapes and I could see wide gaping black mouths set in their pitch black forms.  The closest seemed to smile ominously as I looked back at them and without warning it leapt through the air, falling just short and tumbling along the cobble stones.

It was all incentive I needed and I turned back and ran as hard as I could through the night with them on my heels and the witch further back wailing at the top of her voice as if instructing them.

A second leapt at me and again fell short, reaching out as it fell and catching my shoulder with an outstretched limb causing a flood of cold to course through my body.  I shuddered and kept running, and as it fell it caused the others to swerve and I was able to move away from them if only briefly.

Past building after building I ran, my legs burning and my head swimming, the courtyard was now so close.  I knew I needed to put distance between them and myself to allow me to open the gate and get inside and with one final push I headed for the gate with the cackle and hiss still loud in my ears.

I slowed as I reached the heavy wooden gates and lifted the latch throwing everything I had at them and falling inside.  That briefest of delays was all the creatures needed and as I scrambled towards the door to the Plumduff’s office they were upon me.

Their icy touch coursing through me I span around to try and throw the first off but it clung to me, it’s hiss deafening in my ears.  A second grabbed my legs and with the weight of the others I stumbled and fell to the floor and in an instant my heart ceased to race and darkness filled my senses.  I could feel them not only on top of me but inside of me, their icy clutches penetrating every fibre of my body.  I struggled in vain and gasping, the breath from my mouth a painted cloud in the dark canvas of night, I was overwhelmed.  From where I lay I could see the witch approaching the open gate, a broad and menacing smile across her face.

To this point I had not considered what dying a second time might entail and was in fact uncertain of whether I could suffer the same fate twice.  I then that I, for reasons I would later understand,  remembered her face for the first time since I had arrived in the In-between.  I did not know her name but I knew with the utmost certainty that she had mattered to me once and the fear I had moments before felt turned to a deep sadness.

I closed my eyes, the weight of sadness as heavy still as the physical forms of the creatures than pinned me to the floor and as I did there was a quite deafening roar of a man’s voice.

“Hand’s off the boy” It barked and with a flash of light the creatures were hurled back across the courtyard as the witch walked through the gates.

“Not tonight Nelly” he continued and let out a raucous laugh as a second flash lit up the night.  He grabbed me by my collar as the witch wailed loudly, the creatures struggling back to their feet and hurtling back across the courtyard towards us.  It was too late though and as a third flash lit up the night, throwing the creatures back once more he hauled me through the door to Plumduff’s office and the door slammed closed.

I lay there expecting for a moment expecting them to burst through after us.

“Portal door Boy” the man said.  “Once it’s closed there’s no way through without the password.  Don’t worry yourself one bit.”  He seemed most confident on the matter.

Stretching out a hand he pulled me to my feet and holding it still shook it and introduced himself.

“Charles Crompton at your service Mr Armitage.”

I nodded and thanked him.

“No bother at all” he replied, “No bother at all my boy.”

I had seen him before.  He lead me over to the desk and pulled up a chair for me.

“Plumduff has some good stuff in here somewhere” he said rummaging through her desk drawer.  As he pulled out a bottle I knew where I had seen him.  I should have remembered the name really.  It was the man in the picture hanging over the fireplace right in front of me.

 

The In-between – Part 13 of 31

Of all the things that I had so far seen the sight before me was right up there with the most curious.  I had expected witches of the traditional earthly type but these were very much something else.

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 ‘Glass Houses’.  I am also doing this on three hours sleep so I think it’s a bit all over.

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 Part 12

Of all the things that I had so far seen the sight before me was right up there with the most curious.  I had expected witches of the traditional earthly type but these were very much something else.  Perhaps I lacked imagination.

“Let me do the speaking” Plumduff insisted as a heavy door closed behind us.  She had obviously forgotten how very little I actually knew of what was going on.  I checked my watch and it confirmed that despite it being night here it was just after nine in the morning.  My stomach rumbled and I regretted not having breakfast.

The room we were in was mostly empty.  It was small, perhaps two or three times the size of Plumduff’s office.  A fire burned in a tall fireplace on one wall and a number of bookshelves were scattered along the others, their shelves groaning under the weight of dusty leather bound books.  On a small table to one side were a collection of jars and beakers, each filled with a liquid or a powder.

It was in many ways just what you might expect, and lacked perhaps only a witches cat or a collection of broomsticks to really set the room off perfectly.  The witches however were not quite what I expected.

I heard them before I saw them, a sweet melodic voice breaking the silence.

“Plumduff, well it certainly has been a while hasn’t it.”

I strained to make out where the voice was coming from. Only the light from the fire illuminated the room and as my eyes became accustomed to the darkness where once there was nothing shadows now danced across the walls as two tall women in white seemed slowly appear out of the darkness.

“It has indeed” Plumduff replied continuing to walk towards them.  “After the events of last time I thought it best to stay away for a while.”

“Most wise” said the taller of the two, which was quite something because they towered over us.  Dressed head to toe in long flowing white robes,  with hair to their waists as white as snow they looked down as I stared open mouthed.

“New partner Plumduff?” they asked in unison.

“Don’t mind him” She replied, “he’s harmless enough.”

I paused for a moment and considered responding but by the time I had decided to speak it was too late.

“That’s what they said about you Margaret, and look at how things turned out.  What do you want this time?”

Plumduff smiled, reached into her bag and pulled out the cylindrical device we had retrieved from Periscope.  She held it up for them to see.

“Oh my my, that is a thing” the shorter one said reaching for it.  Plumduff withdrew it preventing her from taking it.

“Do you not want to share Margaret” the taller asked.

“You know what it is then?”

“Knowledge comes at a cost Margaret, you know that it is the way here in Bunderburg.  You get nothing for nothing my dear.”

“Help me and we consider your debt paid.” Plumduff said putting it back in her bag and zipping it closed.  “You obviously know what it is.”

“Our debt to you is long repaid” snapped the shorter of the two and she took a step towards us.  She was most menacing and I withdrew as she got closer.  Plumduff however did not and she stepped forward to meet her, the top of her head barely above the witches waist.  She looked up and spoke again.

“Okay, help me this time and I and all of my colleagues will stay far away from here for at least three cycles.  How does that sound?  You can do as you wish without fear of interference or repercussions.  Glasshouses, Silver Harbour, Enthorpe – all yours to enjoy until your twisted hearts content.”

I looked across at Plumduff quizzically.  The list of things I did not know about continued to grow at an alarming rate.  This sounded far more like a racket than policing.

Plumduff looked back at me and winked as the witches took a few paces back and conferred in hushed tones.

“Something is coming Margaret” they said, again in unison.  The fire died and the room was plunged into darkness.  Their voices took a more sinister tone and echoed as they spoke.  “There is something that needs what you have because it comes from nowhere and everywhere, and it has a hunger that cannot be satisfied.”

Impatiently Plumduff interrupted.

“Ladies please, there really is no need for the dramatics – just the information.” She shook her head, tutted and waited.

“That thing will let you traverse all and any reality that overlaps the fracture and enter any of the timelines.”

“See” said Plumduff.  “Nice and simple.”

“You heard what we said right?” The taller witch said thinking that Plumduff had not.

“Yes, I heard you” she replied.  “And I can see why anyone would want it, the ability to be anywhere and everywhere and any when is quite something indeed.”

“That it is” they replied together walking towards where we stood.  “I’m afraid though that we must insist you hand it over now Margaret.  It is far too valuable for you to possess.”

At this point I realised that being dead does in no way remove the fear of dying and it occurred that perhaps there were things far far worse than death to be worried about.  Stepping backwards as the witches advanced I felt Plumduff’s hand on my arm.

“When I say run, you run” she said.  Before I could nod she shouted.

“Run!”

The In-between – Part 12 of 31

Time to deal with Henry methinks or I will never get this thing finished…

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 ‘Spotted speck’

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 and see where each days takes this.  Either that or Ill stop if no one is reading it because its either too long or too ridiculous.


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

Part 9 Part 10  Part 11 

Henry walked slowly towards the tree.  Drawn inexplicably and irresistibly, each step lighter than the one before and each one satisfying a growing desperation.  At first in had appeared a speck in the distance, a dark spot in this barren landscape of nothing and as he walked towards it the silver grey branches were revealed, reaching as high upwards as her roots did downwards into nothing and it called to him in hushed comforting tones.  He could hear the verdant green leaves rustling, joyous noise in this empty windless vacuum of solitude.

“Im coming” he whispered aloud.  For the briefest of moments he considered that he may just have seen another person but then again, perhaps not.  There was nothing to see here in the misty grey and he had wandered for so very long that his mind would often betray him with flashes of other worlds and disembodied voices.

That was a long time ago now though, and for as long as he could remember there was simply nothing.

“I’ve been waiting Henry” came soft welcoming words.  “It’s time.”

Henry’s pace quickened, the gnarled trunk and sprawling  branches towering high above him as he wandered below the dappled cover of her branches.  Light streamed through the lush green canopy, yet above there was no sun to be seen.  The golden rays were warm on his skin and he felt once more alive and awake.

“Where am I” Henry asked placing a hand on the trunk.  It was rough and warm to the touch, and he could feel life coursing through it.

“You’re home Henry, you have reached the end of your journey.” Came the response.  A voice sweet and light and full of hope.

“What happens now?”

“You will join us and return to the universe and be no more.”

Henry paused.

“Sounds a little final” he said sounding worried.

“Have no concerns” the tree replied, her soft words echoing inside his mind “it is your time Henry.”

“Doesn’t feel like my time though” he replied agitated.  “In fact I suddenly feel rather alive.”

As the words left his mouth the warm golden light flooding through the leaft canopy ceased and he was filled with an icy chill.

“Do not deny me” the tree ordered, her voice now sharp and harsh.  “You are mine and it is time Henry.”

Henry leapt back from the tree and turned to run, his heart pounding.  Fear replaced longing and he knew he needed to get as far away from where he was.  Before he could take a step he felt something wrap around his foot and he fell to the ground.

“Don’t struggle” insisted the voice in his head “it will soon be over.” Another branch reached down from the canopy above and wrapped itself around his chest.  It was tight and resist as much as me might he couldn’t free himself.

“I don’t want to go” he shouted as he was lifted up into the upper branches, but the more he struggled the more he was enveloped.

“Do not resist” she hissed, her voice now cruel and harsh.  Smaller branches slithered and wound themselves about him until he was completely encapsulated like a leafy green and grey cocoon.  The leaves rustled as she squeezed tight.

“Sssleep” she uttered deep into his head as he lay paralysed.  He felt the branches and boughs tighten, making it impossible to breathe and as he drifted into eternal blackness he heard a final satisfied “yesss” and just like that the consciousness that was Henry George ceased to existence.

A final rustle of leaves and tightening of branches around his limp body reduced what was left of his physical form to energy and the tree drank deep.  His life force coursing through her, electric blue pulsing from deepest root to hightest branch for the briefest of moments.

And then, she was again still.

Part 13 is here