Author Topic: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)  (Read 2847 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Kitulean

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1482
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 203
  • Gender: Male
  • Kit Army Second
The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« on: November 27, 2010, 06:41:26 AM »
I promised that I'd start it soon, and well, it's soon. ;) Here's the start of the next book, guys. Hope you enjoy.

Chapter One
"What see'st thou else In the dark backward and abysm of time?" Prospero, Act I, Scene II

Sometimes you just have one of those days.

Water soaked through the bottom of my jeans as my tennis shoe came down straight into the middle of yet another puddle. "You know what would be great right now?" I shouted sidelong to my companion in our headlong run out of the drainage tunnel.

Often, the pink haired dryad girl that had, in the course of a very short time, become my best friend, tossed a look over her shoulder as we burst out of the tunnel and into the open. "I don't know, a minigun? Maybe a rocket launcher? Or a burrito?"

The last bit made me squint at her just as we hit the sunlight, emerging into a large drainage ditch with 15 foot high sloping walls. "A burrito?"  Often has a thing for food. She puts away more in a day than most people do in a week. Yet she still looks like an athletic young sixteen year old girl. Considering she's more than two hundred years old, I don't know which part is more unfair.

The girl shrugged. "Well I'd feel better." One more quick glance back and then she nodded. "Break right on three. One... two..." Just as she shouted "Three!" Often threw herself to the left. At the same time, I hurled myself to the right.

We were both lucky that she didn't count any slower. Because in the exact instant that the two of us threw ourselves in opposite directions, something massive entered the space where we had just been. Something massive and... scaley.

Less than three years ago, I was a student in an average college with no declared major. Now I'm literally inches away from a snake the size of a subway train that wants to eat me.  As far as years go, mine have been eventful.

I've already written about how I came to discover both my powers and my true nature. But suffice it to say, my name is Macbeth, and I am Lachesis, one of the Moirae from the Greek Myths. Some call us the Fates. Over a thousand years ago, my sisters and I worked to destroy the greatest evil that this world has ever known. Echidna, the mother of monsters, had to be stopped. But one of my sisters, Atropos, turned against us. It was all we could do to seal ourselves into a vortex of time with the betrayer and the Great Evil.

And now we're back in this world. Now, Echidna has absorbed Atropos and taken over the body of my brother, which she claims to be her own. The last thing she said to me before leaving before was that she was going to wake up some monsters.  The seventy foot long snake to my left would seem to seem to lend credence to this claim.

We had come to Detroit, and begun exploring the drainage tunnels, to find the bracelet that I had worn eons ago. I didn't know why it was important, but my vision of kids finding it in one of these tunnels convinced me that it was. Since the vision hadn't given me any clue of the children's identities, we hoped that finding the right tunnel would eventually lead to them. The first two tunnels had been dead ends. This one had been... well considering the snake, the term dead end might still apply.

The thing was massive. I had seen monsters that Echidna created before, but those were only gargoyles made from ordinary people. This was different. This was terrifying. I would like to repeat that through the first 18 years of this life, I was an average girl. We're not talking about Conana the She-Barbarian here.

On the other hand, we couldn't just let this monster roam loose. I had the sneaking suspicion that the local police were even less qualified for this particular job than I was. Detroit was a rough city, but not that rough.

"We have to take this thing down before it hurts anyone!" I shouted to the girl on the opposite side of the giant snake. At the sound of my voice, the snake's head whipped my way. Poison dripped from its fangs as the creature lunged at me. Ironically, if it had  been a normal sized snake, it would have latched right on. But bigger things are, by their nature, slower. I was able throw myself into a side roll back closer to the tunnel entrance while the snake snapped at the air where I had been.

Often nodded grimly. I could see the dryad, from my position half tumbled into the dirt, as she gathered herself and then leapt. She landed on the back of the monster, near the head, and then held on for dear life as the snake threw itself up and back in anger. The head of the snake rose above the high walls of the culvert, while Often shouted. "You never told me what would be great right now!"

"Oh yeah." I answerd while picking myself out of the dirt. The snake was thrashing, throwing itself around violently while Often struggled to hold on. "I was going to say that Crocodile Hunter guy would be useful!" I took a breath, muttered a prayer, and then ran at the snake once more before throwing myself onto its back.

The snake twisted itself all the way around, momentarily distracted away from the rider perched just behind its head. Often called down. "I'm pretty sure he died, babe!"

"Well **** then." I replied, watching the snake's tongue as it flicked out of its mouth. The body was wide enough for me to straddle like a large horse. Instead, I picked myself up to stand on it, balanced precariously like a surfboard. "Does he have an understudy?"

"I dunno." Often admitted even as the snake reared itself back, nearly losing her in the process. "But I don't have his number anyway. Can we go back to my grenade launcher idea?!"

"I wish." I answered under my breath. The snake was going to lunge any second. I could see its tongue lashing at the air, tasting it. Then I remembered something from biology. "It uses the tongue like we use eyes. Often, grab the tongue!"

Immediately, the other girl threw her hand out, past the snake's mouth while she held on with one arm. Her hand closed in a tight fist around the outstretched tongue, and then she yanked. The vicious hiss of fury that escaped the creature then was chilling. Now it was mad. I tried to remember why this was a good idea.

Furious now, the snake thrashed itself around several times. Often was barely able to hang on. I could see that she was losing her grip, so I had to act. Raising my foot, I stomped down as hard on the snake as I could. "Hey, stupid! Did you forget about me?" My propensity toward idiotic good ideas continues.

I had the snake's attention now, for better or worse. Blinded as it was without the use of its tongue, the monster could feel exactly where I was. Without any warning whatsoever, the thing threw itself down at me. In its fury, it moved faster than it had before. If I was a normal girl, I'd be dead.

But, as average as I had been at one time, I was anything but normal now. In the space between seconds as I stood on the back of that monster, I saw it lunge. I saw the mouth close over me as the thing tore my body into its gullet in a single bite. I saw myself die. And I saw how to make sure it didn't happen. My powers allow me to see into the future. When I am focused, I can see the next few seconds of a fight and know exactly what to do. Right now what my incredible, awe-inspiring power was telling me to do was truly breathtaking. It told me to dodge. I'll give you a moment to tremble at its majesty.

As the snake struck, I was already moving. "Often, down!" I shouted while throwing myself into a backwards roll. The whole body of the snake shifted under me, and I fell from the thing's back, landing hard on the dirty cement. It hurt, but my pain was nothing compared to the monster's. While Often landed on her feet next to me after tossing herself away from it, we both watched the snake bite directly into the spot where I had been standing a second earlier. Only I wasn't there anymore. Instead, the giant monster had bitten directly into its own back.

The thing seemed frozen in surprise, with its deadly fangs jammed through its own scales. We could both see the poison seeping into the creature.  It seemed woozy already, but still pulled its head upward, starting to draw the fangs out.

Often looked to me, and I nodded to her. We both had the same thought. Without needing to exchange a word, we moved. The dryad ran forward and leapt up once more. She landed directly on the creature's back, less than a foot from its head. Her hand came back and caught my extended wrist, hauling me up with her.

We stood in front of the wounded snake's head. It was moving slower now, its own poison moving through its body. But it wasn't down. Not yet. The snake opened its mouth to attack once more, if nothing else then to take us down with it. However, we didn't have any plans on accompanying the vile thing into the hell that it was about to descend into.

As the snake opened its mouth in preparation of its double girl meal, each of us followed our unspoken plan. Rather than dodging, we both lunged forward and reached out. To the surprise of the snake, and I'm sure of the boy at my school who used to torment me with a garter snake if he could have seen me, my hands closed around the extended fang. Beside me Often held the other one. Together, the two of us yanked backwards as hard as we could. With a ripping, tearing sound that I swear made the snake scream, we tore the fangs directly out of the serpent's mouth.

I could feel the poison dripping from the fang. It burned my arm, but I couldn't hesitate. Rearing back with the 4 foot fang clutched like a sword over my head, I slammed it down directly into the snake's still lowered head with a scream. At the same time, Often shoved her fang into the underside of its mouth and backwards through its head.

With a fang through the top of its head and through the bottom, the snake was completely still for a moment. Then it fell apart. Exploded would be the best term, since both Often and myself were hurtled backwards into the cement wall with enough force to knock the wind out of us.

By the time I could breath again, picking myself up, the body of the snake was nowhere to be seen. "What happened?" I asked with a flinch as I saw the blistering red mark on my arm. I hoped the poison wouldn't do anything worse than that, since it hadn't done more than drip on my skin.

Often answered while dusting herself off. "It died. When a monster like that dies, its body is destroyed. The physical remains are taken back to wherever the monsters come from as raw material for the next monster birth. The ahhhh, force of the monster's energy leaving the shell is what we just felt."

"Next monster birth?" I echoed. "Oh yippee. Come on, let's check that tunnel again before this next monster thing decides to pop out."

"It takes longer than that." The other girl scoffed. But she still followed me into the tunnel.

"Not taking the chance." I called back to her. "If this is the ditch those kids were playing in when they found my bracelet, I'll recognize the area." I paused then before adding. "I hope."

"I hope the bracelet is worth it." Often said. "You still haven't been able to remember what it does?" She came up beside me, taking my arm. "Let me see."

Obediently, I held my arm out to her. "No." I knew I sounded frustrated. "I just know it's important. I have no idea why." Then I flinched as the girl touched the redness on my arm. "Oww. Tell me that stuff didn't get into my blood."

"It didn't seep through." The dryad responded with a look of concentration as she examined my skin. "It'll be sore for awhile, but as soon as we get out of here, I'll find some ointment for it. You're okay, Macbeth."

I scoffed at that. "I tend to think of myself as more than okay." But I shot the other girl a thankful smile. I didn't know how I'd gotten along without her before. Truthfully, with the insanity that my life now was, with actual monsters rising, I wouldn't get along at all without Often. Our banter aside, she is my best friend.

She returned my smile, and seemed to be about to say something else, when I interrupted. "Here." My quick voice startled even myself as it echoed around the dim tunnel, near where we had been before the snake came up out of the recesses and scared the hell out of us. "This is where those kids found my bracelet. I remember that graffiti." I pointed to the painted markings  on the wall.

There was no answer. I turned to find my companion biting her lip as she stared at the floor in thought. Quietly I asked. "What's up?"

After a moment, Often looked up. She looked worried, which frankly meant I should feel terrified. "That snake wasn't nesting here. It was here for a reason. I think it was the same reason that we're here."

I frowned. "You think it was looking for the bracelet?"

"Yeah, I do." She answered. "And it wasn't the only one." Stepping back so I could see, she pointed to the ground. I had to squint and move closer, but I could make out several distinct prints. Some looked like clawed feet, others like hoof prints that were way too large to be cows.

Staring at the tracks, I swallowed. "More monsters. You think they were here for the bracelet? I guess it's a good thing it's gone already then. Lucky break?"

Often didn't smile. "Most monsters can track magic, Mac. They can smell it. If the thing was here, they'll be able to follow it."

That made my eyes widen. "Oh **** no, please. You mean that..." I trailed off, not wanting to say it.

She said it for me with a nod. "If we don't find those kids soon, the monsters will. And Macbeth? Those kids are going to die."

Offline A ghost you know

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1971
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 58
  • Gender: Male
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2010, 10:34:30 PM »
Yay, book 2 is here! :D

Great chapter as usual! Something tells me this is going to get even more suspenseful than the first book, and I love the cliffhanger ending as well. I'm looking forward to seeing more!
RAFdating Horsefan1023 (Seal)! :D

Offline KitsuneMarie

  • On the move
  • Gold Donor
  • *********
  • Posts: 5195
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Country: us
  • Karma: 351
  • Gender: Female
  • Fantastic Ms Fox
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2010, 10:21:57 AM »
Awesome! I'm so excited! This is great already!

I'm still torn up over Carter, though...
« Last Edit: December 01, 2010, 10:24:15 AM by O Christmas Kit »
Aluminator's RAFsister

Offline Phoenix004

  • RAF Ancient
  • Sr. Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 20467
  • Insanity Meter:
    2%
  • Country: gb
  • Karma: 707
  • Gender: Male
  • With great RAFpower comes great RAFsponsibility...
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2010, 02:48:40 PM »
Can't believe it's finally here! Yay! :D

Very good start Cerulean, I sometimes find action scenes boring to read if they're done badly, but this one was written well and fun to read. Glad Often is still around, the dynamic between the two characters is highly entertaining, especially the constant banter.

Looking forward to seeing more! :)
Animorphs Travels #1 The Invasion
http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=10876.msg860745#msg860745

RAFcon 2015: It's always Hot Dog Day somewhere!

Coolest Member of the Year 2014

:raftrophy:

Offline Kitulean

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1482
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 203
  • Gender: Male
  • Kit Army Second
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2010, 06:05:22 PM »
Thanks guys! I'm glad you liked the action scene, Phoenix.

Chapter Two
"Would I might But ever see that man!" - Miranda, Act I, Scene II

"So what you're saying is, no pressure whatsoever." I said quietly while turning away from the footprints to touch the graffiti on the wall. I had to get some kind of connection with this place. Not for the first time, I cursed the fact that I can't just force visions to happen. A nice little 'this way to endangered children' prophesy would have been nice right then.

"No more than usual." Often countered. The dryad was down on one knee on the other side of the tunnel. She appeared to be running her fingers through the dirt on the floor. "Come look at this, Macaroni."

"What is it?" I asked while stepping back over to her. "More monster tracks?"

She shook her head and indicated with her finger. At first I could tell what she was pointing out, since she appeared to be gesturing to the same tracks that she had already shown me. But, upon closer inspection, I could see a normal pair of small human shoe prints leading further into the tunnel. The prints were on mixed up with those of the monsters, which sometimes made them hard to pick out. But it was definitely human tracks.

Still, I didn't quite get the relevance. "We know they came down here. This doesn't tell us where they went."

"Maybe nowhere." Often responded, straightening. "Look at the tracks, Mac. If you look at the monster tracks going that way, back out the tunnel, the kid tracks are completely obscured. But going that way, further into the tunnel, they're not." She turned to me, smiling a little quirkily as she explained. "Babe, that means that the kid walked in to this point, then the monsters walked past, and then the kid walked further into the tunnel on top of their tracks."

I looked back the way she had pointed and then squinted. "You think this kid was right here when the monsters went past? And then the kid, what, just kept walking?"

"Well." Often started with a shrug. "If you saw a bunch of evil looking freaks walk past, would you go the same direction they were heading? It's a tunnel, Mac. The kid either had to follow the creepies or go the other way."

"Point taken." I said, already starting to walk after the prints. Our feet sloshed in wet shoes as we moved. "But still, are you sure they're still down here?"

Her answer was another shrug. "We don't have anything else to go on right now, babe. Until your mo starts jo'ing, I don't have any better ideas."

She had a point, so we started to walk, following the footprints. Then I thought of something rather obvious. "If the kid was right there, why didn't the monsters touch them?"

My companion shook her head. "I don't know. Maybe the kid was hiding somehow? Or, hell, maybe the monsters were just super focused on what they were doing. Oblivious servants of evil isn't completely out of the question, you know. Besides," She added. "We'll find out for sure once we get the kid."

"Right." I shook off the urge to hammer this out with more questions that Often couldn't answer any better than I could. She had a point, after all. We could wonder all day or we could just head out and ask the kid in person. Then again, in a contest between 'sit and think' and 'act', Often will pick the latter nine and a half times out of ten. Which still didn't make her wrong in this case.

The tunnel gradually curved and rose toward daylight at the other end. I could hear the steady roar of cars going by above us, and as we stepped into the light, I saw that we had just passed under a freeway. Ahead of us was a field of weeds, then a waist high wooden fence before the ground sloped down toward the parking lot of a Target.

"That kid could be anywhere." Often groaned out loud with obvious irritation.

I felt a little sorry for her. She hadn't wanted to come to this city, with all its smog and un-naturelyness, but she'd come to help me. Reaching out, I put a hand on the girl's shoulder to squeeze reassuringly. "The kid was probably running scared from monsters. If that was me, I'd head for the store and a payphone."

Often's hand touched mine just briefly before she nodded. The little bit of weariness that had crept into her last words was gone. "Come on, we'll find the kid. Before they call 911, hopefully."

Raising an eyebrow, I started toward the low fence, climbing over it. "Not like they'd believe any of it." Then I winced. "But they just might send out a car to pick up our wayward wanderer to take them home."

"Exactly." Often nodded and hopped the fence. Together, we jogged down into the parking lot. It was three quarters full, which I hoped meant a line for the phones.

As we reached the doors, I looked to the other girl. "So we look for a scared kid with dirty clothes trying to tell people about monsters. Shouldn't be too hard to narrow down, right?" I tried to sound optimistic.

"Easier than you think." Often replied, raising her hand to point. Ahead of us, a small streak of a boy with a shock of white blonde hair shot through the inner doors with a uniformed security guard on their tail. He was covered in mud and weeds, with a face that looked dirty enough to have passed as commando camouflage paint in the jungle. The guy behind him was obviously furious, trying to grab the back of the kid's brown tee shirt.

Just as the guard bellowed for the kid to stop, the dirty boy shouted. "Ogre!" Then he cut left and bolted, blowing right between us.

 I gave the kid a quick look and said. "Often." She responded without words by pivoting to go after the boy. Meanwhile, I ran interferance. As the heavyset security guard came puffing like a glazed jelly addicted freight train through the doors, I held both hands up. "It's about time! Do you have any idea how long I've been waiting for you?"

The guard tried to move to the right to get around me, still focused over my shoulder. He started in a condenscending tone. "Lady, I'm busy. Move your ass." He put his hand out to shove me aside, like I was inconsequental. Hell, to him, I probably was. This guy should have been a bouncer in some elite nightclub, or wrestling in some underworld fight circuit as the Masked Boulder. Next to him, I barely topped five feet by a number of inches that could be counted on one hand without using all the fingers. If he had been in the mood, the man could have steamrollered over me with less thought than you give the fly that splats against your windshield on the freeway. And he looked like he was really close to that mood.

But you know what? I just helped kill a giant snake. Mr. Fo Fum here didn't really intimidate me. Instead, when he moved to push me away by the shoulder, I latched onto his wrist. "Oh no you don't! I'm first. I don't care who locked their keys in the car or what kind of  coffee break you think you're going on. You're going to help me. I'm not waiting around any more."

The big guy put both of his hands on my shoulders firmly, still surveying the lot. His eyes fell on the far side where a couple of distant figures were climbing the grass. "Look, miss. Whatever your problem is, it ain't mine. I'm busy. Now move. I've got to get that thief."

"Thief?" I turned quickly to look that way. It was convenient the way my genuine surprise blended seamlessly into the act that I was portraying. Why was he calling the boy a thief? What was going on?

"Yeah, thief." The guy used my distraction to push me aside and started to take a few steps. But it was obviously pointless, as the boy was long gone. Heaving a sigh, the big man took a radio off his belt to report in. "He's gone." There was a buzzing static voice and he shook his head. "No, some girl got in the way. I don't know."  He turned to look at me, eyes narrowing into slits. "What did you say your problem was?"

Oops. Now my back was to the store and the massive security guard was in front of me. Briefly, I  wondered where the hell my premonitions had been on that one. "You want to know what my problem is?" I thought fast. The truth was, if this guy detained me, bad things could happen. "Come on then, if you're done chasing little kids. I'll show you what my problem is." I still had no clue, but I turned to walk determinedly into the store.

The guard relaxed a little bit since we were going inside and I hadn't run for it, and I kept my eyes moving to look for what my problem could have been. It's sad really, because if this had been an ordinary day, I could have pointed in any random direction and found something to complain about. But just because I happened to need something bad, this entire store appeared to be run in pristine, clockwork and friendly fashion. Figured.

The guard didn't grab my arm and escort me, but he was close enough that he'd be able to if necessary. I could tell that he was still wavering between thinking I was just an annoying little girl or that I was in league with the pint sized criminal. I thought about explaining the truth, that I was just after the kid because he might have something of mine. But that would still get the police involved, which I wanted to avoid.

Oh well, if an opportunity wasn't going to magically present itself, I was just going to have to make one. Just as the guard started to clear his throat, I pointed to the grocery section of the store. "There." The idea came to me even as I walked straight to the cold storage area where the milk, cheese, and eggs were. If this worked, all that cartoon watching while growing up was going to be completely justified.

As the guard stood next to me with a half questioning and half doubtful expression, I grabbed the door to the refrigeration unit and pulled it open, letting a bit of cold air out. "Do these look fresh to you?" I demanded, reaching down to pick up one carton of a dozen. I passed it up to him.

The man took the carton of eggs and examined it before grunting. "Yes." The date printed on the carton was clearly for a couple weeks away, and the eggs inside looked fine.

I gave a doubletake like I didn't believe him, then huffed. "They just put that in then. What about this one?" I grabbed another carton and passed it up to him as well. It also passed inspection. Acting annoyed, I pointed a finger at him while he held the two cartons. "If someone bought those rotten things, you people will have a lawsuit on your hands. Maybe an FDA shut down. You better hope I find them."

One by one, I grabbed more cartons, checking the date before pushing them at him. Before long, I had taken about eight cartons of the eggs from the fridge. Then I shook my head. "Huh." Thoughtfully, I reached out and picked up a quart of chocolate milk. "Nope, this one looks fine too."

Rising, I turned to the guard, who looked completely annoyed as he stood there holding eight cartons of eggs in his arms. I popped open the lid to the milk and he blinked. "What the hell are you--"

"Mmmm." I interrupted him while taking a swig of the chocolate milk. "Fresh." Then I dropped the lid to the floor and carefully placed the open chocolate milk on top of the cartons he was holding. "Good luck with that, buddy." Just as his eyes widened with the realization that he couldn't easily put any of this down without spilling everything, I turned and bolted. I can neither confirm nor deny a Woody Woodpecker laugh.

********************************************************
It wasn't hard to find the other two. I just backtracked to the opening of the tunnel, spotting the familiar cerise colored hair standing near a smaller form. When I approached, I could see that Often had a tight hold on the kid's arm. Apparently sticking around hadn't been his idea, and he didn't look all that happy to have been forced into it.

Turning my way, the other girl gestured pointedly. "You better take this kid before I forget how to be nice."

For his part, the boy rolled his eyes. "Yeah, cuz I'm scared of a little punk girl after the monsters." He yanked his arm and Often released him so that he stumbled a little toward me.

"Monsters?" I asked, stepping that way, keeping the boy between us. "You mean the monsters in the tunnel."

"No, I mean the monsters on Mars." The kid retorted sarcastically. "They're little and green with bright orange hair and they smell like antelope farts."

Ignoring that, I considered the boy for a moment before speaking again. "My name is Macbeth. What's yours?"

"Macbeth?" The kid asked incredulously. "That's a stupid name. What's your dad's name, Othello?"

"Mercutio." I countered. It wasn't my dad's name, but if he thought he could make fun of my name better than I could, he was sorely mistaken. "Pretty good though, I don't know many ten year olds that could think Shakespeare and grab Othello from memory. Now what's your name, smart guy?"

"I'm eleven." He responded with a mixture of pride and sullenness. "And my name is Nicholas. Now leave me alone. My mom's gonna be home soon and I need to be there or she'll flip."

"You want to go home?" I asked, a little confused. "After everything you just saw? I mean, you did just see it, right?"

Nicholas shrugged. "I saw monsters, big creepy guys, but who's going to believe me?" Now he sounded even more sullen. "I tried to tell Pete, the guard, but he wouldn't listen."

"He called you a thief." I said pointedly, giving the kid a look.

"I didn't steal anything!" He protested, holding his hands up. "... today. He's just all bent out of shape because I took a few little things last week and he couldn't catch me. Does he have to hold a grudge?"

Holding up a hand to stop Often's retort, I let out a sigh. "So you saw the monsters, then you ran to tell the guard at the store, but he started chasing you for stealing things last week. Right?"

More sarcasm flooded the boy's voice. "Gee, it's like you're psychic or something. It's not like I just barely said that."

 "Fine." I said, forcing myself not to rise to his bait. "But what exactly did you see in the tunnels? And why didn't they ummm..." I tried to think of how to put this diplomatically.

"Eat you." Often, who rarely worried about diplomacy and was obviously less inclined to do so now, finished the sentence for me.

"Hell if I know." Nicholas shrugged. "I figured they were just ignoring me. I was standing right there and they all just came stomping past. It was like I wasn't even there." He added a little more quietly, that sullenness tainting his voice once again. "Like usual."

Wincing inwardly, I considered that. "They walked right past you? They never looked at you?"

"That's what I said." The kid folded his arms. "Now can I go, or are you a couple of witches that want to boil me alive?"

"We're not witches." I started to say.

Often interrupted. "The jury's still out on the boiling you part."

Shooting the other girl a look, I bit my lip. "Okay, one last thing, Nicholas. You and your friends, you play down in those tunnels a lot?"

"They're not my friends." Nicholas started to say, then trailed off as though realizing how lonely that sounded. "Like I need more of those. We just hang out sometimes. Our folks tell us not to play in the tunnels. So you know, we do."

"Right." I said, unsurprised. "But the other day when you were down in the tunnels, you guys found something. A leather bracelet." His surprised look told me everything I needed to know. "What did you do with the bracelet, Nicholas?"

He hesitated, and Often spoke up. "We could always go see if Pete the security guard still wants to talk to you and your mom."

A momentary flash of panic crossed the boy's face and then he kicked a rock. "It's just a stupid old bracelet. Fine, it's in my room. I'll take you there and then you get out before my mom gets home. And you don't say anything about Pete."

"Deal." I said, and then we both shook on it. I gestured for the kid to lead us, and we started to walk along the side of the freeway.

It took about twenty minutes to walk to the kid's house. Nicholas lived in a low rent suburban neighborhood in a small house that looked almost identical to the houses on either side of it, save for a yard that was less maintained. He shot both of us a look as though daring us to comment on the state of the overgrown weeds in the front, then shoved his key in the lock when we were silent. Though for her part, Often looked pained.

Murmering that she'd stay out there and wait, the dryad crossed to a sick looking tree and put her hand on it. She appeared to be whispering to the tree. Nicholas stared at her but I gestured for him to keep going, so he led me into his home.

Once the two of us were inside what looked like a rather cluttered front room, Nicholas started to walk to another door near the back of the room. "My room's downstairs. Just don't touch anything."

He got as far as the door before my eyes fell upon a picture set up on the television in the corner. Instantly, I took three steps and grabbed it. Seeing that, Nicholas spun with his hand on the door. "Hey!" He shouted. "Put that down!"

I ignored him for a moment, holding the picture. Then I looked to the kid. "Nicholas, what's your last name?"

He told me, and my hand gripped the picture even more tightly. This was insane. It was impossible. The odds against it were higher than I could even dream of calculating. But it was true. The picture I held in my hand was of Nicholas, a girl a few years older than he, a woman who was obviously his mother, and a man who had to be his father.

Nicholas's last name was Tavelli. The man in the picture was Carter Tavelli. Nicholas was his son.

Offline Mythgirl

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1768
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 21
  • Gender: Female
  • Everyplace needs a sugar-happy dryad!
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2010, 06:22:00 PM »
Wow, this is great! You are too good at that "cliffhanger at the end of the chapter" thing. Can't wait for the next chapter!
<~~Click please!

Seal, Sakki, Kayla, and Blue are my siblings. I may have others, but that is yet to be confirmed. TobiasMasonPark and Mewmorpher are my cousins.

Mutually RAFcrushing on Rukh! :D

Offline Phoenix004

  • RAF Ancient
  • Sr. Staff
  • *****
  • Posts: 20467
  • Insanity Meter:
    2%
  • Country: gb
  • Karma: 707
  • Gender: Male
  • With great RAFpower comes great RAFsponsibility...
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 07:27:07 PM »
I have to agree with mythgirl, I totally didn't see that one coming! Macbeth improvisationally covering herself in the store was very funny. :)
Animorphs Travels #1 The Invasion
http://animorphsforum.com/index.php?topic=10876.msg860745#msg860745

RAFcon 2015: It's always Hot Dog Day somewhere!

Coolest Member of the Year 2014

:raftrophy:

Offline KitsuneMarie

  • On the move
  • Gold Donor
  • *********
  • Posts: 5195
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Country: us
  • Karma: 351
  • Gender: Female
  • Fantastic Ms Fox
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2010, 12:46:37 AM »
I like this kid! He knows his Shakespeare! I'm pretty sure the only one of his play names I knew at that age was Romeo and Juliet!
Aluminator's RAFsister

Offline Kitulean

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1482
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 203
  • Gender: Male
  • Kit Army Second
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 09:12:44 AM »
*blows the dust off this thread and almost chokes to death*

Ahem, let's try this again, shall we? A brand new chapter! Anyone still like to read?


Chapter Three

"This is strange. Your father's in some passion That works him strongly." - Ferd, Act IV, Scene I

The boy who had found my bracelet just happened to be the son of the first man my visions had influenced. The son of the man who had found me two years later and helped set into motion the events that had led to my learning the true nature of my abilities, of my own past. Coincidence? Was it even possible at this point?

In the line of work I've found myself drawn into, 'coincidence' is a four letter word. Four letters as in DNEH. Does Not Ever Happen.  No, there was a reason that Nicholas was here, a reason he'd been the one to pick up that bracelet. But what in the name of Cronus was it?

"So you're supposed to be some kind of superhero or something?" The voice interrupted my intense musing.

"You must be the Batman type." Nicholas continued as he stepped away from the stairs with my bracelet in his hand. "With all that brooding."

I shook my head automatically, holding a hand out. "It's called musing. It sounds less depressing than brooding. Besides, I have some happy thoughts too. Brooding people aren't allowed to have happy thoughts. And you, kid, are far more likely to be a brooder than I am."

Hesitating, the kid tossed the bracelet up and then caught it with a pointed look. "And you're evading the question. My dad was a cop, so I know your kinds tricks."

"My kind?" I had to ask, raising an eyebrow. The kid had something. I wasn't sure what the term was, but I was pretty sure there was a Yiddish word for it.

Finally, Nicholas held the bracelet out. "Sure." He said with the hint of a smirk. "You look like a hoodlum."

I took the leather bracelet, examining the dark green jewel within. "Hoodlum? You learn that word from all the old people chasing you off their lawns? And might I add, Mr. Shoplifter, that pots are just as black as kettles."

His eyes rolled so far back they were in danger of falling into his occiptial lobe. "You're still evading the question, Juliet."

"Macbeth." I corrected, running a thumb over the jewel. It felt warm, but that could be for any number of reasons. "And I am not a superhero. Why would you even ask that?"

"Well obviously you're after the monsters." He shot back. "And I'm betting that bracelet is going to help you do it. What does it do, give you superpowers? Can you fly?"

"I don't know what it does." Admitting that, I started to the door. "And no, last time I checked I have to pass through TSA to fly, same as you."

"What kind of superhero can't fly, Portia?" The kid followed me to the door. "Even Buffy figured out how to fly eventually. I mean, it was in the comics instead of the show, but it still counts."

Shaking my head, I opened the door. "A, I never said I was a superhero. In fact, I seem to recall saying that I'm not. And B, when someone writes a comic book about my life, I will be sure to insist that I gain flight powers just for you."

"Yeah." This eleven year old boy replied. "Comic you would probably have bigger boobs too."

I whirled to stare at the kid while emitting what had to be the closest approximation to the sound of a choking walrus that a human is able to produce, when another voice chimed in from the open doorway. "Oh yeah, I've tried telling Mac. Low-cut top plus push-up bra will open more doors than her wit ever could."

"Okay." I let out a long sigh. "If both of you would please get off my chest." Even as both of their mouths opened, I snapped my hands out to either side and covered them.  "Shut. Up."

"Mmmmkay." Often mumbled around my hand, holding up her own as she pulled back. "I will not say another word about it. Girl scout's honor."

"You were a girl scout?" I asked doubtfully.

"I've eaten enough of their cookies. It should count." She returned. "Point is, subject closed."

Letting out a breath of relief, I nodded. "Good."

Barely had I stepped past her onto the porch than I heard her add as an aside to the kid. "But have you seen the way she fills out those jeans?"

"Ooookay!" I clapped both hands while turning back. "Thank you for the help, Nicholas. Excuse us one minute. Often." I grabbed my friend's hand while she was still snickering and yanked her away from the porch, to the much healthier looking tree.

"Listen to me." I said, casting a glance over Often's shoulder and then looked back to her. "That kid is more than I thought."

"Yeah," She agreed. "Maybe we won't have to boil him after all."

"No, I mean he's..." I started to explain, then lowered my voice. "Don't freak out, but that kid is Nicholas Tavelli. He's Carter's son, Oft."

That managed to knock the amused look from the other girl's face. "Wait, what? No, that's not... " She started to protest, then frowned. "That's not possible, is it? Wouldn't we have seen him at the burial?"

"We didn't set foot on the grounds." I pointed out. "Remember, that whole thing about Echidna being able to sense people in graveyards."

Hesitating slightly, Often's neck twitched. I could tell she was itching to turn and stare at the boy. "You're sure he's Carter's son?"

I nodded. "Trust me on this one. I saw the picture inside of them together. He said his dad's a cop. His last name is Tavelli. Carter is his father."

"Okay, so now what?" Finally losing her inner struggle, Often turned her head to look at the kid on the porch. "There's gotta be a reason we're here now with him, right?"

"I don't know." I admitted. "I mean, what do I say, I saw your father when he died? I was there? I'm the reason he--" My voice choked up as my throat closed off. Not that I could have spoken further than that anyway, because Often put her hand up to cut me off.

"No." She said. "Do not take blame away from where it belongs, Mac. You can feel responsible to put a stop to Echidna, but don't you dare blame yourself. I've seen too many people decide that responsibility and blame are interchangeable, and I'll be damned if I'll let it happen to you. Feel pissed, feel inspired, feel mean, feel anything you need to feel to focus on what needs to be done. But do not feel guilty. It was not your fault."

Before I could adequately respond to that, Nicholas was there. His voice was amazed. "Holy crap, what did you do to our tree?" His hand reached up to touch one of the now living leaves. "You Lazarused our Maple." Narrowing his eyes, the boy shot a look away from the tree. "I thought you said you weren't a superhero."

"Wasn't me." I replied with a gesture to my companion. "That was all Often. And you didn't ask about her." My mouth opened to continue, but something drew my attention toward the house once more. Something off about it. Something blurry about the air that didn't look quite right.

The other two were still talking, Nicholas directing his attention to the pink haired dryad. "So you're like Poison Ivy's sister or something?"

"Please," Often retorted. "I am so much cooler than Poison Ivy. And I don't hate humans. Actually, I have a lot of fun with--"

"Down!" I shouted, shoving the kid out of the way while falling sideways myself. What I had seen, the slight blurring of empty air on top of the roof, had lunged straight for us. Barely more than a smudge in the air itself, it landed hard right where all three of us had been. Often had reacted immediately, throwing herself backwards the instant I had yelled.

It decloaked then, or whatever you'd call it. It became visible, and I wished it hadn't. Seven feet tall, and the very definition of rock hard abs. And rock hard face, rock hard pinkie finger, rock hard hamstring...

"****." Often voiced my own annoyance from the other side of the thing with it between us. "Gargoyle."

We'd faced these monsters before. Echidna loved to turn human beings into them. Funny story, we'd never actually fought one directly. Evading was the name of the game. But then, it didn't really look like it was going to let us just leave. Not when it was directly between us, and I had Nicholas to worry about.

"Get around him, Mac!" Often lashed out at the thing to get its attention, kicking it hard with her foot. The blow was enough to make the huge winged being stumble sideways. "I'll get us out, but you've got to--" Her words were cut off, as the gargoyle lashed out with a vicious flap of its wing. The leathery wing smacked into Often, knocking the girl into a tumble across the weeds.

"Hey!" I shouted, pushing Nicholas away. "Get over to Often, she'll get you out." With one hand, I tugged the leather bracelet onto my other wrist, praying like heck that it would do something pretty damn special. "Yeah you, rock breath. Come on. You know what, I seriously object to being forced to fight you. Gargoyles are supposed to be cool. I mean, Goliath, Brooklyn, Hudson... come on, man. Give me a break here, you guys were my heroes."

Sadly, my words did not somehow persuade the gargoyle to switch sides. If only. It did, however, draw the thing's attention onto me. Yay? With a cold sneer of its beak, the creature lashed out with a sharp clawed hand.

But I had already seen it lash out. I'd seen each and every way it could have attacked, and knew precisely how to dodge to avoid the scenario where I ended up bleeding out on the ground. As focused as I was, I could see what the thing was going to do long before it actually did it.

Except the creature was ungodly fast, and if I made a single mistake, its talons would rip right through my flesh. I didn't even want to think about what those claws would do, or how easily they'd tear into me if they connected. I needed a real way to defend myself, because dodging all day was going to get very old, very fast.

The creature lashed out again, and my hand, the one with the bracelet, moved automatically to intercept. Wait a minute. Back that crazy train right the hell up. Intercept? What in the hell did my Benedict Arnold of a hand think it was doing? I did not need to lose an arm just to prove the situation was serious, thank you very much. This was not Star Wars. As much as a cybernetic replacement would have been pretty awesome, it just wasn't in the cards.

However, before I could think about yanking my hand out of the way, something materialized within it. Just as the monster's claws swept forward while the thing gave a shrill shriek that flooded my nostrils with the smell of honey glazed ham for some reason, I felt my fingers close tightly around a solid object that simply hadn't been there a moment earlier.

It was a sword. The sword that I had seen in the vision of my past self, my fully realized self, who had made mountains grow from nothing before defeating a small army of armed men.

The gargoyle's shriek was cut off as, in mid slash, its arm met my blade. Almost more shocking than the sword's appearance was what happened then. These rock creatures, these monsters made of stone feared very little, and nothing at all that I could have thrown at them thirty seconds earlier.

But this one, quite abruptly, learned to worry. Because my blade met its stone arm and cut through it like a knife through butter. Before either of us had any idea what had happened, the monster's arm was on the ground and we both just blinked at it in confusion.

I had totally Obi-Wan'd the gargoyle!

"Mac!" Often yelled, having regained her feet with the help of Nicholas. "There's more of those things coming. Compare your awesomeness to movies later!"

Okay, maybe she knew me a little too well sometimes. But she was right, four more of the gargoyles had sprung from the roof of the Tavelli house, all set to join their one-armed companion, who was recovering from his own surprise. Bad ass sword or no, five of the the things, or even four and a half, were too much.

Twisting away from the gargoyle's awkward one armed lunge, I ran to the other two. As I moved, the sword vanished from my hand. Okay, weird. But I'd figure it out later. I barely reached the others before the rest of the gargoyles landed on the ground all around us.

"Say good bye to the wicked witch's army of monkeys." Often declared, grabbing both my hand and Nicholas's. "Because these ruby slippers are leaving!"

We were gone then, sucked through the nearby maple tree that the dryad had healed. One of Often's useful skills was her ability to teleport through any plant to any other plant.

Of course, as accustomed to it as I had become, our other passenger wasn't quite so desensitized. Nicholas stumbled backwards with a cry, landing on his butt on the ground when we emerged. "Oh my god!" The once-jaded kid yelled. "What was that?! What did you do? Where are we? How did we--wait did you just teleport? Did you seriously just teleport? Wait, are we right by that Target again? Right near where I found that thing."

"Yeah," Often replied, failing to hide her delight with herself. Not that she really tried that hard. Or at all. "Pretty awesome. This was the first place with plants I could think of." She gestured to the weeds around the drainage ditch we had appeared next to. "And don't worry about the screaming. You should have heard Macintosh's girly squeal when she teleported the first time."

I shot her a dirty look. "You had just knocked me off a skyscraper and we were freefalling."

"Okay." Nicholas had one hand on both of our arms. "Monsters. Gargoyles. Magic swords. Teleporting. Tell me what the hell is going on."

"Language." I corrected reflexively. Come on, he was eleven. Besides, I was sort of responsible for him. Especially now. "And..." I had to trail off. What did I say? How much could I tell the kid? How much did I dare put on him?

"Sure, okay." Nicholas gave me a look. "There are actual 'tear your liver out and eat it' monsters on my front lawn, but you go right ahead and rinse my mouth out with soap for saying a bad word. As long as your priorities are straight. After all, we wouldn't want this to get some kind of PG rating or something."

His eyes widened then, before I could respond. "My house! My mom's going to be home any minute. I have to warn her." Moving both hands to his pockets, the boy said another word that would have required a lot more soap. "I forgot my phone."

"Here." I reached into my pocket, took out the wallet there, and tossed it to him. "There's a phone card there. You can use it on the payphone."

"Seriously?" He snorted. "Those things still exist?"

While he dug for the phone card, Often coughed. "So about that MacGuffin bracelet. And the super special sword you pulled out of it."

"I have no idea." I said, holding up both hands. "No clue what happened. Your guess is as good as mine. I don't even know what I did to make that sword appear, or why it vanished. Maybe my life has to be in danger?"

"It was still pretty cool." The other girl smiled. "Did you see the look on that monster's face when you cut his arm off? He was like 'duhhhh it's supposed to be the other way around'." She clapped both hands together once. "Now, I need food. Does anyone else need food? Life and death situations make me hungry."

"Eating makes you hungry." I replied casually, turning to the kid. "Nicholas, you ready to call your mom?" I blinked then, because he was staring very intently at something in my wallet, and his face had gone pale. "Nicholas? What?" I stepped that way.

"Why do you have this?!" Suddenly, the boy's voice was a shout. My wallet fell to the ground, and he was holding up a picture, clenched tightly in his hand. "What is this? Who is this?" His demand was shaky, and his eyes were accusing.

Confused, I stepped slowly closer to look at the picture and frowned. "Nicholas, that's just my dad. It's my father." Raising my gaze from that to the boy's face, I asked quietly. "Why? What's wrong?"

Face twisting up, the kid turned the picture to look at it once more, then hurled it away from himself like he couldn't stand to look at it anymore. "I saw!" He shouted at both of us. "I saw him, and then they couldn't find him anymore. But I saw him when he came."

I couldn't understand any of this. "You saw... him? You saw my father? What did you see, Nicholas?"

His eyes were bloodshot, focused on  mine. "I saw him take her! He's the one, I saw him! He took my sister!" Nicholas's voice was a strained, hoarse cry. "Your dad killed my sister!"
« Last Edit: March 19, 2012, 06:57:06 PM by Kitulean »

Offline KitsuneMarie

  • On the move
  • Gold Donor
  • *********
  • Posts: 5195
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Country: us
  • Karma: 351
  • Gender: Female
  • Fantastic Ms Fox
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2012, 07:25:18 AM »
You know, the thing I love about Macbeth is that she's on the reader's side. So when totally nutso things happen, she's just as dumbfuzzled as the rest of us, which makes her very believable as a character.

Sorry I just now got around to reading this, Cerulean, but wonderful as always. I hope you'll update again. Oh, and weren't you working on getting book 1 published? How's that going?
Aluminator's RAFsister

Offline Kitulean

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1482
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 203
  • Gender: Male
  • Kit Army Second
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2012, 06:08:34 AM »
Thanks, Marie. That's what I go for, to make Macbeth believable and leave the reader some sort of point of reference to use.

And now that I'm back to working on this stuff, I'm currently doing the boring part of book prep before trying to work out a publishing route. Namely, going through and fixing all the typos, grammar errors, etc. Wish me luck with that sleep inducing stuff, please? :D

But here's the plan for this book. I am going to shoot for getting two chapters done a month. We'll see how that goes, but I need practice again on keeping a schedule and making myself write more. So thanks for all the encouragement, you guys. It definitely helps :)


Chapter Four

"Canst thou remember A time before we came unto this cell?" - Prospero, Act I, Scene II

Throughout the years since my first vision, there have been very few constant, dependable facts.  So incredibly rare is something I can point at and say that what I know about it, I know with absolute certainty. Even less since my true past was revealed to me.

Up until five seconds earlier, one of those preciously scant hard facts was that my parents were absolutely innocent from all of this. I had known, solidly and completely known that neither of them knew anything about my situation or true identity, that they were simply Shakespeare loving civilians.

And if I hadn't thought that they could possibly know anything about my life, the idea that one of them could be a murderer was so far off my radar that it might as well have been a cotton ball on Neptune for all that I could have seen it coming. The accusation nearly made me stumble, even as my throat closed off completely. Even if I'd been able to speak past the dark lump in my throat, I had no words.

He had to be wrong, right? My father was… pretty much as far from a killer as you could get. I mean, sure he was a bit anal retentive about cleanliness. He wore his hair close and short, his clothes were always neatly pressed and he was very clear about where things go. He was a man who always had a plan, who always knew what he wanted, and laid out a plan of how to get it. He was an architect though, which from what little I know, is pretty much the poster child profession for needing to plan things out before you do them.

Aaron Baston was careful, precise, and absolutely not a murderer.  He was my father. Not as warm and cuddly as some, maybe, but he'd certainly never killed anyone.

"Look, kid," Often was saying. She had already moved between us. "you wanna throw wild accusations out there, pick someone else. There's no way. Mac's dad, and please note the seriousness with which I am treating this situation that I didn't make a 'mac daddy' joke, is not a killer. I think she might've noticed, I'd think that something in her…" She trailed off, not sure of how much to say, before shrugging. "Something would have told her."

"Yeah?" Nicholas's voice was a low snarl. "Well I've got something that 'tells me' things too. It's called my eyes." His own were burning a hole through Often and into me. "I saw him. I saw that man take my sister. He's the one that killed her. I saw him, and I'll never, ever forget what he looked like, ever. So unless your father has some evil identical twin--"

Often interrupted at this point.  "Not entirely out of the realm of possibility, considering the last few weeks."

Nicholas pressed on. "Either way, that's him. That's the guy I saw."  His hand came up, finger pointing accusingly. "Why did he do it? Why did your father take my sister? Why did he kill her, huh? Why?! Who is he? Who is he, Macbeth?!"  Somehow, I didn't feel any better about him finally saying my name correctly.

My mouth opened, but no sound came out at first. I had no idea. No clue what to say, whatsoever. What could I say? Finally, I turned and moved toward the Target again, to the payphones. The only words I could manage were a tightly spoken, "I'm going to find out."

I didn't take the phone card back. If my parents did know anything about… any of this, if any of it was true, the absolute least they could do was accept a collect call. That's me, extracting vengeance one semi-inconvenient phone bill at a time. Maybe I'll see if Often can get us to Zimbabwe for the next one. That'll teach them.

My sense of humor faded as I dialed and spoke my name for the collect service. I held the phone tightly, looking anywhere but at the other two.

The phone rang through to my father's cell phone. It rang, and rang, until his familiar voice mail picked up. He never didn't have his phone on him, and it was still early. He'd most likely let it ring through when he didn't recognize the number. But I disconnected, then picked the phone up and dialed through again. I'd do this all day until he finally answered if that's what it took. I wanted answers.

After the third try, I shoved the phone down once again. Finally, I looked back at the others. "No one's answering." I explained, unnecessarily. They weren't blind.

"Maybe he's skipping the country," Nicholas retorted darkly before adding, "or off killing some other innocent girl. Hard to answer the phone when you're elbow deep in--"

Often stopped the boy with a sharp nudge and a terse voice, "We don't know anything yet. Just stop. Mac, try your mother?"

I grimaced, but turned. "Yeah, I can do that. I can get her. I'll get someone on this phone if I have to stand here all day long hitting buttons until my fingers bleed." I punched in the number. "Answer the phone, mom. Pick it up. You know your daughter uses payphones, so just answer it. Answer the phone!"

She did. The phone clicked and then a recorded message asked if she accepted the charges. Without pause, my mother's voice filled the line after she acknowledged that she did, "Macbeth, are you all right? Which city did you…" She hesitated before finishing. "get off to this time?"

As far as my parents knew, I had dropped entirely out of college for a sudden midlife crisis a couple decades too early. I had claimed I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and I was going to hitchhike across the United States until I figured it out. You can imagine the kind of reaction that brought. Here's a hint, if you're ever in a similar situation, just claim you're going to university in Zimbabwe. It'd save you a lot of tears.

"I'm in Detroit, mom." I answered, trying not to let anything show in my voice. "I need to talk to dad, but he's not answering his phone. Tell him to answer."

There was silence for just a moment, before she responded, "Sweetie, your father is… he's on a trip. One of his scouting expeditions." My father commonly went out on trips to look for building locations for new projects. "I can have him call you, what ummm, what number can he reach you at?"

This complicated things, and I could feel Nicholas glaring as if half convinced that I was speaking in some secret murderer code to warn my dad. He was angry, and I couldn't blame him. I wasn't exactly a bowlful of sunshine myself. But I tried not to take that out on my mother, even as my hand gripped the phone receiver tighter.

"Just call him. He'll answer you. Tell him I'll call back in two minutes and he needs to answer the phone this time. Tell him it's important."

There was trepidation in her voice. "Are you in some kind of trouble? Are you safe, Macbeth? You said you're in Detroit. All I hear about that place is all about the gangs and the dirt…"

Was I safe? I resisted the urge to snort. "Mom, I'm fine. I'm standing in front of a grocery store, and it's not exactly Crime Alley. Just tell him to answer the phone."

After a second of hesitation, her voice came back. "Okay, sweetie. I'll tell him. You tell your father if you need anything, all right? I really think you should--"

I didn't have time to hear this lecture, or plea, or whatever it was. "Gotta go, mom." I interrupted. I paused before adding, "Love you, tell him." Hanging up, my hand held the receiver before I let out a sigh. "Two minutes. Then I'll call him back. I'll get to the bottom of this, I promise."

Nicholas didn't look fully convinced, but at least he wasn't outright glaring at the moment. Instead, his gaze was focused on the picture, and there was a look of such forlorn loss that wiped away his entire tough guy persona that all I wanted to do was hug him. Call me a sappy little girl if you must. But he looked so terrible in that second, obviously remembering his sister and no doubt his father as well, that I couldn't help it.

I might have even taken a step that way, if Often hadn't spoken up. "Kid, you want a soda?" She was moving to the machine, smoothing out a dollar bill on the way.

His dry, sarcastic tone returned even if the sorrow didn't quite leave his eyes. "Yeah, by all means, give me a root beer. That ought to make up for everything. Maybe you'll get lucky and end up with a twofer so you can erase the grief about my dad dying too."

"Screw that." Often responded idly, already putting the dollar in the machine. "I get two and the extra's mine." She drew the can from the machine, passing it over to him before looking my way. "You gonna call him back, babe?"

"Yeah, babe." Nicholas emphasized the second word while popping the tab on the can. "You gonna call him back?"

"That's Miss Babe to you, buddy." I retorted. His only response was a raised eyebrow. I sighed and picked up the phone again. My fingers found the buttons practically from muscle memory at this point, and I listened once more to the ringing tone.

This time, however, the phone clicked over and I heard my father answer with his customary, "Aaron Baston speaking." It was the same clipped, precise tone I'd grown up with, and I had to fight the urge to smile. It was, after all, the first time I'd heard his voice in some time. I'd avoided calling home since Craig was taken. I didn't have any idea what they thought had happened. Maybe they thought he'd gotten the urge to wander the country as well, and were busy lamenting what they must've done to have two such irresponsible children.

"Dad, it's me." I said. Then I winced. Duh, he knew that. Mom would have told him. "I…" Now I wasn't sure how to go on. What did I say? Dad, do you remember kidnapping and murdering a teenaged girl? Do you recall having an evil yet goatee-less twin?  There was no way to start this conversation. "Are you busy?"  Nicholas looked like he wanted to throw that soda at me for that one.

"Macbeth," my father responded carefully, "your mother said that you had to talk. She said it was important and you were going to keep using the payphone until I answered. Tell me what's wrong. And while you're at it, why don't you tell me why you can't go inside and get one of those prepaid phones so you don't have to use the dirty public one? If it's a question of money, we can pay for it."

"Dad, I told you before," I started with a sigh, "I don't need money from you or mom. I'm okay. I mean, I had to ask you…" I trailed off, putting one hand on the brick wall next to me while raising my gaze upward.

His voice came back, interrupting my thoughts. "Had to ask what, Macbeth? Sweetie," Terms like that always sounded strange coming from him, unnatural.  I'd always thought he was just awkward at displaying affection. "you can tell me. Stop beating around the bush."

I didn't move, but my eyes closed. I wanted to throw the phone against the wall, but I kept cool. "Dad, what do I do if… I find a runaway kid?" I heard Nicholas let out a choked noise of anger, but Often stopped him from talking.

There was a pause from the other end of the line, before my father responded. "Call the police, and keep him with you."

"Yeah." I agreed. "But he says his parents abuse him." Even more noise from behind me, but I ignored it.

"Stay with him," my father advised. "until the police get there. Help him explain. Make him explain."

"I guess so." Turning away from the wall, I met the incredulous stares from both of the others. "I've got another friend with me. She can help me stay with him. He's pretty messed up though." Pausing, I pointed to Often and gestured her forward. When she came, I held one hand out for her to wait a second. "I think you should talk to 'em."

There was a sigh from the other end of the line. "If you really think I should talk to her, before the two of you can handle it."

Flinching, I shook my head. "No, no you're right, Dad. I can handle it. We can. We'll just call the police and wait inside." Turning away from the thoroughly confused others, I added, "Thank."

He started to speak again, but I hung up. Maybe it was stupid, but I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't talk to him.

"Hey!" Nicholas came forward then. "What the hell was that? Did you just chicken out or something? Why didn't you ask him?"

"Come on." I was already walking to the doors.

"What?" Often was moving after me, grabbing Nicholas by the arm. She was still confused, but followed my lead. "Did you forget about Mister Overly Enthusiastic Security Guard?"

"He's better than what's out here." I responded, moving inside without looking back.

"What…" Nicholas echoed my words. "What's out here? What the hell are you talking about?"

"He said I should go inside and get a cell phone." My reply was dark. "Go inside and get a cell phone."

"Okay…" Often's head shook. "So what?"

We were in the store by then, and I cut to the right, moving quickly past the registers. "I said grocery store. I told my mom I was in front of a grocery store. I wasn't thinking at the time, because they do have groceries. That was the whole way I got past Pete the guard before. But I said grocery store. He said 'go inside and get a cell phone'. Why the hell would he think I could get a cell phone from a grocery store? Unless…"

"Unless he already knew it was Target that you were in front of." Often finished, moving faster.

"Yeah," I replied. "Then I tested him. I said I found a runaway 'kid'. I didn't say which gender. He immediately said 'him'. Could be a guess. Then I got you to come like I was going to give the phone to you, but I mentioned the runaway. He should have thought I meant for him to talk to Nicholas. But he said he'd talk to her if it would help. He had to be watching." I was glaring now, and a couple of shoppers were moving out of the way rather than pass nearby.

"What?!" Nicholas's retort was even louder now, more aghast. "You mean he's outside? Let's go kick his ass!"

"No." My voice was hard, I knew. Maybe too hard, because he stopped talking. "I want answers. I want to know what's going on. I want to know how much of my life was fake, how much he knew about even before this. I want to know what else he's lying about. If they knew about Maisie, if they know what happened to Craig, if they've been in on it the whole time. I want to know."  I reiterated strongly. "I am going to know."

Often kept a firm hand on Nicholas's arm while trotting to keep up with my pace. "So, not to belittle the plan or anything, but how are we getting answers out of him if we're running away?"

"We're not running away." I replied, finally stopping in front of the door I'd been looking for. "We're coming here." I tapped the sign next to the door. When they saw it, both of them groaned. The sign was marked 'security'.

Taking a breath, I pushed the door open and stepped right into the small room. "Hope we're not interrupting!"

If I'd been in a better mood, I probably would have been amused by the look of confusion, then shock that crossed Pete's face as the security guard stared at us. He sputtered once, then jerked himself up from the desk where he had been watching a movie on one of the screens, ignoring the rest of the security monitors.

"Often." I said. Without another word needed, my friend vaulted the desk, landing beside Pete. Her hand took the pepper spray from his hand that he'd been producing, and she tossed it into the corner before giving him a hard shove that made him stumble back into the corner. While she was dealing with that, I moved to the monitors and began to scan them.

Pete was pissed off now. "Hey! I don't know what the hell you little delinquents think you're doing, but this isn't funny. When the police find out about this little prank--"

"Oh hush, Pete." Often's head shook. "We're not here to hurt you or steal anything. We just need to borrow your cameras for a minute. Then we'll be out of your hair and you can go back to watching…" She paused, looking toward the screen he had been focused on. "Dude, FernGully? What are you, ten? Even I think that movie's a serious load, and if you knew what I was, you'd be like 'oh damn, my taste really does suck'."

Nicholas had edged around the desk to watch with me. "Where is he?"

I started to shake my head, and then raised a hand to point when I abruptly saw him. "There. He just came in." Frowning, I left my finger near the screen. "He's on the phone… who's he talking to?"

"Probably his evil sidekick." Nicholas muttered. He then realized he may have gone too far, and added in a low voice, "sorry." He kept watching the screen, before nodding with his chin. "Probably this guy." There was another man on a cell phone, coming into the store while making a beeline for my father. Both of them were putting their phones away as they turned to converse.

"He looks a little like a taller Seth Green, doesn't he?"  Nicholas commented. When I didn't answer, he turned to look at me. "I said--" He blinked at what must have been the look on my face. "Hey, what? You know that guy?"

"Mac?" Often called from where she was keeping Pete out of the way. "What's wrong?"

My finger traced over from my father, to the man he stood casually conversing with while both surveyed the crowd of shoppers. "… him." That was all I could get out at first. My mouth worked, and I swallowed twice to clear the lump out of my throat. "It's him."

"Him who?" Both Often and Nicholas spoke together. Then I realized there had been three voices. Security Guard Pete had, bewilderedly, asked the same thing.

My finger stabbed hard against the screen, against the red-haired man's face. "Him." I repeated. "It's him." Before they could ask again, I went on. "The first one. My first one. The first man I ever stopped. The murderer. The psycho from the apartment next to Carter. It's him."
 
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 06:36:46 PM by Kitulean »

Offline KitsuneMarie

  • On the move
  • Gold Donor
  • *********
  • Posts: 5195
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Country: us
  • Karma: 351
  • Gender: Female
  • Fantastic Ms Fox
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #11 on: August 19, 2012, 06:23:42 PM »
Hey Cerulean, I dig it. You wanted comments, so here are mine for the chapter:

1. Awesome cliff hanger, as always. Really, you're killer at them.
2. The emotional response Macbeth gives in response to seeing the killer seems appropriate to me. The response she gives in light of the newfound suspicions about her father, though, seem not strong enough--specifically when she's talking with him on the phone and afterwards explaining herself to the other two.

But basically, awesome DUN DUN DUN moment! Keep up the good writing!
Aluminator's RAFsister

Offline Kitulean

  • Jr. Xtreme Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1482
  • Insanity Meter:
    0%
  • Karma: 203
  • Gender: Male
  • Kit Army Second
Re: The Tempest (Macbeth Book 2)
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2014, 11:49:40 PM »
Oops, had this lying around and ought to throw it up. FYI, the first book is available on Kindle for anyone interested in a nonforum-based version.

Chapter Five

"Good wombs have borne bad sons." - Miranda,  Act 1, Scene 2

"Wait, murderer?"  Pete the security guard was the first to recover. Partly because he didn't have the slightest clue what I was talking about. "Okay, okay that's enough. That's enough of this… this… whatever it is. It's not funny anymore. Whatever you're doing, some murder mystery live action game, you can stop now. I mean it."

"Dude," Nicholas intoned incredulously as he looked at the man. "Live action murder mystery? Do we look like that big of…" He trailed off, glancing toward the two of us. "I mean, we're not."

"Hey, murder mysteries are cool." Often gave the kid a shove and then turned back to me. "You're sure it's the guy, Mac?"

"Trust me." It had taken me a moment to find my voice again after that pronouncement. But honestly, after some of the things that I had learned recently, this was barely a speed bump to my train of thought. On the other hand, trains don't exactly handle speed bumps very well. "I'm sure it's him." I touched the screen and swallowed. "My dad…" I had been holding the reaction to that back. The anger that I felt, the betrayal, the confusion, it all swelled up in my head. If I let it out, if I even examined it for a moment, I would have fallen apart. I blocked my mind off from it as much as I could. Later. I'd think about it later. "My dad is working with a psychopath."

Nicholas opened his mouth, but the look that Often shot him made it clear that joke or no joke, he was not to say a word. He scowled, still clearly wanting to make a remark about his sister, but reluctantly kept his silence.

On the screen, we could see my father and the red haired man step away from each other. My dad was moving toward the restrooms while my old friend started toward the security room. In other words, he was coming toward us.

"Okay, what's his name?" Often asked, looking toward me. "The first guy you helped take down."

"Yeah, I didn't exactly stick around to learn it." I admitted with a wince. "It's just, I didn't know how to explain why I was there, or what I did. It was all new and crazy. It's still new and crazy. But I didn't really want to talk to the cops about it. I didn't exactly see that going well."

"Can't blame you, cops are usually ****s," Often replied as her eyes rolled.

Nicholas couldn't keep his silence any longer. "Oh come on. I'm not allowed to talk about how her father murdered my sister, but you can badmouth my dad?"

"I said usually," Often said smoothly without looking away from the screen. "Carter was an exception, kid. An exceptional exception. That doesn't mean the rest don't stink."

Even Pete the security guard looked like he was about to take offense, so I decided we needed to get back on target. "Anyway, Captain Fruitcake, whatever his name is, happens to be coming this way. We need a plan."

Often turned away from the screen finally. "What plan? Macintosh, it's one guy. One. I'll flip a coin with you over which of us shoves him in that trash bin."

Pete snorted. "You girls can't weigh more than two thirty between the both of you.  If you really think he's some psychopath, he's probably dangerous. What are you gonna do? Tickle him?"

Often gave the guy a dirty look. "There's two trash bins there, Pete. Two of them." Pete took the point and shushed.

There was a polite knock at the door, Pete raised an eyebrow. "Psychopaths knock now?"

I shrugged.  "You'd be surprised how seldom huffing and puffing actually works.  But trust me, he's of the large, terrible, and canis lupis categories. Much worse than you're prepared to deal with."

Nicholas muttered under his breath, "That much was clear as soon as we got past the twelve year old girl category."

"I love it when everyone's getting along." I said airily while walking to the door when the knock came again. "It gives me such a feeling of team spirit. Rah Rah underdogs." I put my hand on the door and looked toward Often. She nodded back at me, and I quickly turned the knob and pulled the door open.

No one was there. The spot in front of the door was empty.

Often and I both stared at the opening before frowning at each other. Then I leaned out and looked both ways. Lots of shoppers, but no crazy guy.

"That's weird." I said, turning back around.

I know. I know what you're saying to yourself. Trust me, I've said it to myself a dozen times since then. Hindsight is twenty-twenty and all that. So why don't we all say it together?

The red haired man was behind us.

Nicholas opened his mouth to shout, but the man's hand lashed out and smacked him across the face. Often turned, just as the man launched himself forward in a kick that hit my friend in the small of her back and knocked her out of the room. In the same motion, his hands caught my shoulders and I was shoved violently at the wall.

"Now then, lovelies." The man closed the door and twisted the lock as he turned back toward us. "Maybe we can have a little fun. We never did finish our lunch, did we, Sarah?" Oh, lovely, we were back to that again. At least now I knew whether I'd been Betty or Sarah. Because that was a mystery that had been keeping me up at night. 

"To be perfectly honest," I informed him curtly, "I miss the cat."

"Oh Nana…" The man spoke the cat's name with an air of fond memory before sighing. "She cared so much for Miss Betty and Miss Sarah. It hurt her so when you ran away. That was mean, Sarah. It was rude, and you're to be punished for it." He scolded with a dark look. I could hear a thud against the door as Often threw herself against it, but the lock held.

Pete the security guard rolled his eyes and straightened. Apparently he was not intimidated by our talk of missing cats named Nana. "Okay, look, pal. Whatever's going on between you and these kids, clearly it's something you need to take outside. You've been scaring them enough for--"

That was as far as poor Pete got before my vision went blue as several paths of the immediate future made themselves known to me in that frozen second. I saw the red haired man turn, pull a pistol from his back, and shoot the rent-a-cop in the face. I saw myself shout a warning, which made Pete jerk to the side but the psychopath adjusted instantly and hit him with the second shot. I saw myself jerk forward to stop it, but the creep simply fired his gun with one hand while producing a switchblade knife with his other hand that slashed across my throat. I saw myself try to grab the nearby swivel chair and throw it at the man, but it was too far away and it took too long for me to reach.

Another scenario, and another, and then another played through my mind.  More and more of them, and none ended well for us. Nothing worked out. One, two, or even all three of us died when Nicholas was included. Whether I tried to warn Pete, or threw myself at him, or at the red haired man, or threw something else at him, it wasn't enough. Now, the man was reaching behind his back for his weapon in the true timeline, and I was out of options. Every logical path failed.

So it was time to get illogical.

"Blueberry Kansas Lemon Snails!" The words blurted their way out of my mouth, the most random, nonsense phrase I could think of. It meant absolutely nothing. I had no plan behind the words other than to grab the red haired man's attention.

It worked. The man turned to me, a frown touching his face while his hand remained behind his back. "What did you say?"

"Blueberry Kansas Lemon Snails." I informed him. "Haven't you ever had any? They're delicious and nutritious."

The man was quiet, his hand still behind his back. "You're making that up." He decided.

"Nooooo." I stressed the word, shaking my head. "Come on, Betty taught me to make them."

"Betty." The man's hand very slowly lowered, releasing the gun that he had back there. "She taught you to make…"

"Blueberry Kansas Lemon Snails." I intoned with a slow nod. Hesitating, I brought my hand up, empty palm up as if I was holding something in it. "See?"

He squinted, leaning forward just a little. "See what?"

"The snails, silly." I shook my hand slightly as if there was something there for him to look at. Then I brought my hand up to my mouth and pretended to take a bite, sighing as if it was delicious. "Mmmm. Betty knows how to make some delicious lemon snails. The blueberries just give it that added yum."

"There's… nothing." The man said, sounding confused.

"Oh sure there is." I assured him, taking a small step forward with my hand stretched out. "See?"

The man looked for just a second, but then shook his head abruptly. "No, get back!" He demanded, his hand already moving behind him toward his gun once more. "Back, back you go!"

I obeyed, taking a step back. However, as I stepped, I angled myself just a little bit so that I ended up a foot or so to the left of where I had been before. "Sorry, I thought you wanted some. Should I tell Betty you don't like them anymore?"

"Anymore?" The man was even more confused now than he had been. Good. "I never had them. I never did. She's lying, isn't she?"

"She is." I affirmed, just before my hand grabbed the back of the swivel chair that I had positioned myself nearer to. I shoved the chair as hard as I could across the room, and it slammed into the man just as his hand came out from behind his back with his weapon.

Every scenario I had seen through my future sense had ended horribly. So I used utter randomness to change the scenario, and essentially reset the situation with myself in a better position. It was a trick that would serve me well in the future, as it had here.

The chair crashed into the man and knocked him off balance, sending his first shot into the wall next to Pete's head. The explosion of noise was deafening in the small room. The security guard's eyes widened and he let out a shriek that was barely audible before hurling himself toward the floor, papers from the desk scattering through the air.

"Stay down!" I shouted at both him and Nicholas while throwing myself across the room at the armed psychopath. I believe that after all I have done already, my survival instincts have simply chosen to get themselves good and drunk and pass out at times like these.

The man was kicking the chair out of his way as he fought to recover his balance. His gun was coming back in line with Pete, but I'd reach him before that happened.

Or I would have reached him. In the instant before my hand lashed out to grab the man's wrist, he was gone. One second he was there, and the next, he'd vanished.

My vision went blue, and I saw myself crumpling to the floor as the red haired man appeared behind me and brought the butt of his gun into the back of my head, which would have left me helpless.

Instead, when the man tried to pistol whip me, I was already ducking and twisting around to swing an arm almost wildly into his stomach. Anything to stagger him. But he was gone again, and I hit only empty air.

A blue tint into my vision showed me the man reappear ahead and to my left, his gun already aimed with a bare second before he fired, taking me in the shoulder.

Into the real world, and I moved without hesitation, throwing myself into a roll that took me behind the desk. The red haired man appeared as I had seen. He fired where I had been, where I would have taken that bullet if I'd hesitated even for a fraction of a second.

As I continued my roll, I saw yet another vision. The man reappeared next to me, caught my hair before I could recover, and hurled me face first against the wall. Instead, I jerked myself bodily to the side at the last second as the man appeared where I would have been, and lashed out with a foot. That time I connected with the side of his knee, and the man staggered with a cry before vanishing again.

One more time I saw the vision of the man appearing on the other side of the room, next to where Nicholas had taken cover. His gun aimed down, and he killed the boy with a single shot before I could move.

I would not let that happen.

My arm moved before I quite knew what it was doing, and I felt the weight of the sword that had sliced the gargoyle's arm off earlier for the briefest of moments before I released it. The sword flew from my hand barely a half second after it had appeared, and traveled the distance across the room. The red haired man appeared, gun already aimed. Had I thrown my weapon when he appeared, it would have been too late. But I had thrown it just in time, and the sword took its second limb of the day. It sliced neatly through the mad man's arm at the elbow and embedded itself halfway into the wall as the forearm and gun fell useless to the floor.

I leapt forward while the man stared down at his severed arm in dull surprise. Before I could reach him, however, he let out a savage, horrifying howl of rage. Then he was gone, leaving his arm and his weapon behind.

Placing my hand on the hilt of the sword that had buried itself into the wall, I yanked it free and turned. My guard was up, but something told me the crazy man wouldn't be returning for his weapon any time soon. In the background, there was a blaring fire alarm. Apparently the gunshot hadn't exactly gone unnoticed.

Speaking of which, "Don't touch it." I said sharply to Nicholas, who had been moving toward the gun. "Just leave it alone."

"It might help." The boy protested, though he stopped reaching for the weapon.

"Trust me," I assured him. "It's more trouble than it's worth. Not hard to guess what kind of nasty things he's done with that. Things you don't want to be associated with." Looking to the security guard, I added, "Pete, call the cops and tell them… whatever you think won't get you locked away. Come on, Nicholas." I started to the door and the sword that had been clutched tight in my hand disappeared once more.

"Okay, how do you do that?" Nicholas demanded while sliding past me to open the door. "It's there and then it's not there."

"I wish I knew." I admitted with a sigh. "But I don't. I don't even know how to pull it out. It just sort of happens."

Nicholas pulled the door open, just in time for Often to very nearly hit him in the face with the bottom of the fire extinguisher that she had just been swinging toward the door. I yanked the boy back a step, which was enough space for Often to catch herself.

"What the hell?!" Nicholas's eyes were wide. "We almost get kill--"

Covering his mouth with a hand, I looked to my friend. "He's gone. Well, ninety-five percent of him is anyway."

Squinting, Often leaned past me and looked into the room where Pete the guard was retching. "You Vadered him? Dude!"

"Is that really the best term?" I asked, considering. "I mean, Vader did the cutting. Should it be Vadering or Luking?"

"Skywalkering." She compromised. "Covers both angles. And besides, Vader gets like, every limb cut off by the time--"

"Are you two clinically deranged?!" Nicholas was staring at us. "The SWAT team's about to surround this place, Blondie just cut off some Nightcrawler wannabe's hand, and you two are arguing semantics about what the term for that should be!"

"Nightcrawler?" Often asked. "That how he got in the damn room?"

"Yeah." I gave Nicholas a push and started to run back toward the fire exit. It looked like the store had completely emptied out. "Didn't seem like he needed a flower or anything to do it either. You pull the alarm?"

Often brought up the rear while I ushered Nicholas onward. "Nope. I was looking for a way into that room. The gun went off and…" She hesitated. "And I wasn't really thinking about warning other people. Besides, they got the message quick enough. There was some PA announcement about exiting the building in an orderly fashion. But you know, from what I saw, they weren't listening."

"Probably looked like a Black Friday sale in reverse." I commented, stopping by the fire exit. "What about my dad?"

"Didn't see him either." She took up position on the other side of the door. The sirens were getting much louder and closer now. It was time to leave. "I guess our next conversation is going to be a big one."

"Yeah." Nicholas put his hand on the door and gave a hard shove. "I'd like to say a few things to him…"

He trailed off as the three of us stepped through the doorway. At first I thought he'd caught himself because he didn't want to bring that up again. Then I got a good look at where we were.

"Well this is… different." Often managed.

Truer words had never been spoken. Because we had not emerged into a parking lot or alley behind the store. There was no pavement to be seen, anywhere.

We were standing on top of a hill, overlooking what appeared to be an entire Roman cavalry regiment thundering past on the stone road below.