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    Cruella de Vil

    Tyson watched Vladimir with curiosity. What is he hearing? What do they say to him? Is it like someone talks over his shoulder? Or is it like thoughts in his head? Is it like someone left the TV on or the background noise on the train? What? It didn't really matter in the end, because he just would not - or could not, Tyson noted to himself - ignore them. Cynthia told him a while ago that Vladimir's brain gets confused. The older Russian-Australian's scrambled mind didn't think to remind him the voices weren't real, or that weird demon with all those extra heads or the strange delusional thinking, so he didn't have any reason to question them. That didn't mean it didn't give Tyson the creeps, though. When Vladimir was having an off day - which wasn't uncommon while he changed his medications - he looked scared. If he got especially bad, he spoke incomprehensive nonsense in two different languages. "You need to have more faith in me," Vladimir whispered, his blue eyes darting around the room. "I know what I'm doing." "Oi!" Tyson had enough, shoving his friend's shoulder and pulling him from his weird dissociative behaviour. "You loud bitches can fuck off. He's mine from now on and I've never been any good at sharing." Vladimir coughed and struggled to coordinate his blinking. He'd ingested a potent dose of his antipsychotics earlier, and they knocked him for a loop, but at least he was more or less back from the realm of the fairies, as the Korean cook liked to say. As far as Vladimir and everyone else knew, the pencil sharpener debacle was long over, and the official story was that an anonymous patient had taken it in their pocket and forgotten about it. Neil swept it under the rug to protect Tyson, a gesture so loving and sweet from a man who probably erupted in hives if someone filed something outside alphabetical order that it broke the intense resentment Tyson harboured towards the system. "Is Mum coming?" Tyson asked him in an attempt to keep his attention focused. "Every day," Vladimir stretched his arms over his head and yawned. "You better come and see her, because I'm starting to think she likes you more than me. What about yours? You haven't seen her in a while." "Apparently she's threatening to sue the hospital if they don't force me to see her this time," Tyson rolled his eyes, imagining the look in his mother's furious brown eyes when she finally met with him. "I better do it. I can't avoid her forever." "She sounds like such a Cruella," Vladimir screwed up his usually serene face and he looked mad. "What?" "Cruella de Vil!" "She's my Mum. Don't talk about her like that," Tyson answered defensively, the words almost surprising him. Only he could call her names. Nobody else. Not even Vladimir. "Oh. Sorry," the boy apologised sheepishly, still snug on the couch where the two had napped for nearly ninety minutes together. "She sounds like she makes you really unhappy, Tys. I don't like that." He's concerned, Tyson thought, his ire cooling in his chest. That's all. He's not trying to be a dick. "I dunno, Vladylady," Tyson looked to his hands. Dark brown, just like hers. He looked just like she did. "Have you ever really hated and loved someone at the same time?" "I have three brothers. What do you think?" Vladimir offered a smile, and Tyson did return it, but it wasn't what the younger boy meant. He'd met the other Tchaikovsky boys. Dmitry, Sasha and Ilya. They were friendly enough, though he definitely wouldn't be able to tolerate the younger two for more than half an hour. He wondered what it would be like to have a brother. He only had a sister, Kelly, and they sometimes went literal weeks without speaking a word to each other. They were as strangers. He didn't know anything about who she was beyond the immense amount of tutoring, sports and accolades. She was just as angry and miserable as he was, so when they did interact, it was woefully negative, and the two just stopped bothering. And his parents? One was involved in everything including his bathroom schedule, and the other didn't notice him at all. No. Tyson wasn't asking if Vladimir has ever briefly disliked someone he loved. He was asking if he ever wanted to knife them in the throat as much as he wanted them to hold him and let him cry on their shoulder and tell him they loved him. A woman he'd never seen before interrupted his negative thoughts, standing in front of him and smiling. She was the least exciting person Tyson had ever seen in his life. She wore a very conservative blouse buttoned to the top underneath a white knitted cardigan, and her strawberry blonde hair was tied into a ponytail. "You're Brianna," he decided immediately, and her smile widened. "How did you know that?" She asked him with a cheerful laugh, and Tyson wanted to tell her to leave him alone. He wasn't in the mood for optimism and cheer, yet everyone in the mental health industry seemed to have a penchant for slapping him in the face with a smile. "I'm actually clairvoyant," he replied sarcastically, and Vladimir nudged him, a look in his eyes that quite obviously said 'don't be rude.' He'd seen that look a million times. "I have an appointment with a psychologist today, and you're the only person I haven't seen a million times," he added, but she was like a bloody mannequin. Great. "That's me. I'm Brianna. And you're Tyson," she ignored Vladimir completely, which was annoying. "Would you like to come somewhere else for a chat?" "With respect, Brianna," Tyson was going to be completely honest with her, he decided. "I've had a pretty intense day, and I'm wiped out on my pills. Is there any chance we can reschedule or something? I'm just not up to it now." "If that's what you want, then we sure can!" Her smile never wavered, and he really wished it would. He didn't believe anyone who was happy all the time. Cynthia, Neil and Masha had all shown vulnerable sides to themselves, and he trusted them all the more for it. This Brianna, though? Tyson did not imagine he could have a constructive conversation with her unless he were mentally prepared to do so. If they talked now, he would be rude, sarcastic and unhelpful. Not because he hated her, he just... wasn't able to do that right now. Especially for someone who wasn't so used to guarding themselves and putting their feelings aside, starting an open relationship with a therapist was difficult. "I can come by tomorrow, I think, but it won't be a long talk, okay?" Brianna added, seeing the look of relief on his face. "I mostly want to touch base with you. Nothing big. Now I just need to ask; are you sure you want to cancel?" "Yeah. I'm probably just gonna be an arsehole," Tyson admitted, and Brianna nodded. "Fair enough! Thanks for giving me the warning," she turned to leave and pulled out a small card. "Any time you need to talk, give me a ring, okay? Any time. Just tell one of the nurses and they'll help you out!" Tyson was grateful as she respected his wishes and left him alone, and he slipped her business card into the pocket of his dark purple jeans. That was decent of her, and he already decided he trusted her more for her restraint. Amazing what changes come in a week, he thought to himself as he got caught up in Vladimir's blue eyes. Maybe there's some merit to all this incessant therapy and hospital ward shit after all. It's kind of like a soft reset button. The outside world can't fuck with me so much in here, not until I'm ready. Some of the patients got leave to go out with their families. Annie did. She went out every day, sometimes even by herself, and she always came back. Tyson, even though he was a voluntary patient, was not allowed to leave even with his family until his risk rating fell. Fair, he supposed. It's not like I've shown everyone what a well-adjusted person I am. "So I hope this isn't offensive in any way," Vladimir began, and Tyson braced himself. Any time someone began a topic like that, it was followed with something absurdly racist or offensive. "But why are your hands like that? Why is this side so light?" Vladimir gripped him by the wrist and exposed his palm. It was a lot lighter than the rest of his skin, still olive-tinged, but not so dark. "Why does that happen?" "Oh," the boy shrugged and looked for himself. "Something about how the skin produces less melanin there. I'm not really sure, honestly. It's not something I think about. My feet are the same. See?" He took his right leg and propped it up against his leg so Vladimir could see the underside. "Oooh. I'm just white all over," the older boy traced Tyson's palm with the nail of his index finger. It felt nice. "Seriously. It takes me about twelve minutes to get a sunburn, and I don't even tan! I just peel all the skin off and get even whiter. Do you get tans?" "I do, actually," Tyson revealed, scooting back and crossing his legs. "But I'm always brown, though. Sometimes I wish it were different." "Why?" Vladimir asked him, almost surprised by that answer. "I like you this way. You're really cute." Tyson gushed, flattered beyond words by Vladimir's compliment. Even under the rich brown, his blush was visible. "Stooop! I just mean I feel like things would be easier if I were white, you know? People tell me to go back where I came from and stuff just because I'm brown. They all make jokes about me being some Muslim terrorist or some shit, and they don't know anything about me or where my family comes from." "Where does your family come from?" Vladimir asked, genuinely interested. "I don't like to talk about it very much," Tyson admitted, withdrawing into a ball, yet letting Vladimir touch his hand. He didn't know physical affection was so... nice, nor did he realise how much he craved it. When Vladimir nodded, that was enough to convince Tyson to open up to him somehow. "Do you know who my dad is? Chase Lovett? Running in the next election?" "Oh, no way!" Vladimir's eyes bugged. "You're that guy's kid?" "Yeah," Tyson's eyes fell. "I don't see him much, though. We don't even speak. He married my Mum and had my sister and me to prove he's not racist. That's literally it. That's why I exist. He's basically a Nazi, Vlady. He hates immigrants, Aboriginals, gay people, transgender people, women, anyone who isn't a Christian. Especially Islam. And people know this. You probably heard about the scandals about his alt-right activism twenty or so years ago. So he married a brown woman, whose dad was a refugee from Sri Lanka, and he had kids with her. I'm just... a brown kid who exists as a part of some Nazi cunt's political campaign. That's why at home I never have any time to myself. Mum, a self-hating hypocrite, makes sure I'm the smartest and the fittest and the most successful kid around so my Dad looks like he can do great things for the minorities in Australia. I'm not even a person to them, Vlad. Just... an example. I exist just so my dad can pretend he's not a racist. That's why I wish I was white." Tyson didn't know when he started crying during his short speech, but his eyes were wet and his throat tight by the end of it, and Vladimir was rubbing his shoulder. It was a shame the AIU cracked down on patients and physical contact because Tyson wanted a full body hug, but one of the nurses would break them up. The small kisses they would sneak together when nobody was looking was enough for now, he supposed. "You could've said all that to Brianna, you know," Vladimir chuckled, and Tyson grunted in response. "She'd know what to say! I don't. All I can say is that you're special to me, and meeting you is probably the best thing to ever happen to me... ever. I mean that." When Tyson grunted again, Vladimir continued. "The last hospital I was in was for like, the super disturbed people. I spent nearly all day every day locked in my room because my doctor told the nurses I was a dangerous psychotic. Sometimes he'd make them tie me to the bed for hours. He hated me so much. He always told me I didn't deserve to see daylight again. Then I was transferred here, and these nurses are a million times better. This ward's awesome, but still, I wanna get out, Tys. I wanna go out and have a life and stop coming back to these places. With that doc, I was probably never going to get out. With Cynthia, I have a real shot, you know? And you're the one who gave her to me. I owe you a lot, you know. I'm thrilled you're here, even if you're not." "If your doctor was such an arsehole, why didn't you report him?" "I did! I reported until I was blue in the face, but I'm just a schizophrenic in the middle of a psychotic break, and he's some big shot psychiatrist," Vladimir looked down at his knees. "We don't all have your sort of influence, Tys. I'm a nobody who... did some bad things. But the nurses listened to me, though. They all went high up to complain, and that's how I got transferred to this wing. They're really amazing people, our nurses. I don't know what I'd do without them. And Cynthia, too! She's going to try and get my old doctor's license to practice revoked. Heh." "Good! He probably breached a dozen rules and laws treating you like that! What the hell was his problem, anyway?" The younger boy was fuming. "It's a long story," Vladimir replied softly, eyes full of hurt and regret. "You don't need to worry about him or me or anything. Cynthia, Neil, Sue and Alice are gunning for him, and that makes me feel really special." "Yeah, well good!" Tyson grumbled. "I hope they take his career away because if I see him in this place, I'm kicking him in the balls until they spring up and knock his eyes out." When he realised Vladimir wasn't angry like him, he wondered why. It was so unfair! How many doctors mistreated their patients? How many people like Vladimir never got heard because of their condition? But it was the other boy's problem, he decided. If Vladimir wasn't angry, then Tyson didn't have a solid reason to be either. As though he knew what Tyson was thinking, Vladimir gently kissed his fingers. The two of them sat quietly together as the television aired recycled crap through the afternoon - it was a crime the place didn't offer Netflix or something - and let the minutes and hours dwindle away. One of the problems with the Acute Inpatient Unit was the immense amount of time the children had. Aside from meals, appointments and the education unit, there was nothing to fill the days. Kids were bored. Kids were lonely. But that was the public system, he supposed. "Tys, your Mum's here. I really think it's time you came and saw her," Dale, a man disturbingly old for someone who dressed and behaved like a teenage punk, came to harass him, and Tyson shut his eyes. "Why? She's gonna be a bitch, and I'm gonna lose my shit," he lamented, but Vladimir gave him a gentle push. "Fine, but if I kill her, you have to bury the body." When Dale's mouth opened slightly, Tyson remembered where he was and why he was there, and he raised his hands. "A joke! Fuck." "I think you can leave the language in your room, mate," Dale chastised him. "Now, if you and Mum don't get along, then you don't need to lose your temper, okay?" "Why don't you ever tell her not to be a slut?" Tyson asked him with a leer as he hopped to his feet and stabilised himself on the crutch he'd been burdened with for over a week. "Why is everything my fault all the time?" "Nobody's saying that it's your fault," Dale was in a mood today, it seemed. "But you are responsible for how you react to things." "Okay but that doesn't help my shit-uation, does it? She's always gonna be a bitch, and you're only ever gonna tell me to get over it." He walked on and past him, and Dale tailed him. He wasn't allowed to have unsupervised visits yet, thanks to his risk rating - neither was gentle Vladimir. Having Dale or Petra stalk him and listen in on everything made him feel so... exposed. It stripped him of his dignity. He wasn't a prisoner. Unfortunately, everything was legally tight about it, and Tyson couldn't pick open a loophole to get his own way this time. It was an unusual predicament - he was so legally savvy and informed that it left him nigh untouchable while his inpatient commitment was voluntary. On top of that, all the power Tyson had in this place came from his mother's ire. Her expectation that the staff would "fix" her son. It wasn't hard to spill tears and point fingers and have Edith destroy someone. One bigger boy in Year Seven spat in Tyson's face, and a week later, his family had to pull him out of private school because neither of his parents had a job anymore. The thought made Tyson grin. Edith had a look on her face that could have curdled milk on sight. If she frowned at a cow, its udder might have exploded. She looks like me, he thought with a miserable sigh. Me, when I'm angry and see myself in the mirror or the reflection in the pool or hot tub. I'm exactly like her. "Tyson! Where have you been hiding?" She stood up to greet him, but there was no hug. No kiss. She didn't say she was pleased to see him or act as such, nor did she show any concern for his well being. "I've been coming every day only to have the idiots who run this place tell me that you won't see me." "They might be idiots, but to their credit, they're actually good to me," Tyson sat down next to her on the couch, resting his tender ankle on the coffee table in front of him. "Why are you here, Mum? Did you leave Kelly alone? She'll eat a sneaky lamington if you're not watching her." "I'm here to take you home," she answered, sitting straight-backed and with her legs crossed like the picture-perfect woman she was. "It's been a week. They've had plenty of time to fix you. I want you to get your stuff." Tyson looked to Dale, who did not come to his defence as Petra did last time. Why did everyone let his mother talk to him like he was trash? They were gutless, all of them. If Edith wasn't going to change, Tyson had no reason to bother trying at all. Why? So he could remain a miserable and lonely prisoner shackled to his cold, distant mother? There was no point, was there? In spite of how much he hated it in the hospital and desired to leave, he was now beginning to have second thoughts. He didn't have anything to live for earlier, but... maybe that wasn't necessarily the case anymore. Giving up the means to kill himself seemed to open up a small avenue of hope - hope that maybe he might yet find a way to be happy. He liked Vladimir, and the feeling was mutual. Cynthia was moving heaven and earth to try and help him through his crisis, even going so far as to treat Vladimir free of charge. And as much as he denied it to both himself and his friend, he really did enjoy teaching Charlie the miracles of addition. When the distressed and broken boy lit up with the joy of succeeding in his learning, Tyson felt warmth he didn't know existed. He looked back to Edith and shot her a filthy glare - one she quickly returned. "Guess what, Mum?" Tyson leaned closer to her, hatred and fury shooting through his body. But he would not snap. He would not lose his temper. Nuh-uh. No. Not this time. He was not going to spend more time in the quiet room because his mother was a self-centered cow. He whispered his next sentence so Dale could not hear him. "I nearly killed myself today. It would have been pretty easy. Even in here I can kill myself if I want to, and there's nothing you can do about it." "How? Why? What kind of place are you jokers running?" Edith looked between her son and his social worker, who looked like a deer in the headlights. Big, tall Dale was terrified of small, petite little Edith, and he absolutely had reason to be. "Don't you threaten me, Tyson. I will have you transferred to a locked ward if you even think about it! I mean it!" "Yeah, sure. Lock me away and hide me, and tell everyone I'm in Sri Lanka," Tyson rolled his eyes. "Except you can't. Not without reasonable grounds, and you don't have any." "I will make reasonable grounds if you can't behave yourself," Edith warned him dangerously, her voice low and full of anger. "It's time for you to come home and stop this nonsense, already. Come now. You've had your fun, but reality is waiting for you, Tyson, and the longer you continue this rot, the harder reality is going to smack you in the face when you're discharged. Now, I want you to pack your things and come home with me. I've had it with this place, and I've had it with your games." "Hey Dale, she can't make me come home, can she?" Tyson knew the answer already, and it was likely his mother did too, but Dale would spell it out for her. She might have a ghost of a chance of listening to him. "Mrs Lovett, h--" "Belmont-Lovett!" Edith corrected him. "Sorry. Mrs Belmont-Lovett," Tyson could almost taste Dale's disdain as he spoke. "You are legally allowed to withdraw Tyson from our care as long as he remains a voluntary patient." Edith stood up, almost gloating in her victory, but Tyson knew the loophole that was coming next, of course. Dale continued. "However, he still remains a threat to himself, and we're not comfortable discharging him until we believe he can live safely in the community. We are taking steps to--" "He's my son, and I will keep him very safe," Edith replied icily, strolling right past her son as if he were some store mannequin and standing toe to toe with Dale. "Who do I talk to about taking him home right now?" "You can talk to Dr Ellicott. She's Tyson's primary psychiatrist. She'll make the final decision. But keep in mind, Mrs Belmont-Lovett, she might not agree to discharge him. She may even change his legal status to involuntary if she had no other choice." Dale concluded, and Tyson knew he was safe and sound. Cynthia knew that he wasn't ready for discharge yet, as did the rest of the staff at the AIU. But how far would Edith go to get her way? Tyson had seen her shut down a small food van business just because the manager dropped her drink on the ground and splattered on her shoe, even though he apologised and provided one to replace it. "When can I see this Dr fucking Ellicott?" Edith flared at him, so angry that Dale took two steps backwards. "Cynthia, yes? When? Speak! Are you deaf as well as stupid?" "I don't know when she'll be in next, and I would appreciate it if you did not shout at me or speak to me like that. I don't get paid enough to be abused for no reason," Dale replied in a quiet, shaky voice. "I can give you her contact number." "Unbelievable," Edith laughed without a hint of humour. "I'll be in tomorrow, and you better make very sure this Elli-bloody-cott woman is here because she and I are going to have words. And you," she got in Tyson's face, and the boy glared defiantly into his eyes, even seeing his own reflection. His face was exactly the same as hers, and that caused turmoil inside him. "Get in shape, cover those hideous scars and act like a Belmont-Lovett, for fuck's sake! Otherwise, my team of lawyers will have all of the quacks here out of a job! And Tyson, I'll lock you away in a real asylum until you're begging to come home and act your age!" She stormed from the room and slammed the door behind her so hard that everything in the visitor's room seemed to rattle, including the boy and the man. Tyson was surprised at how well he managed to handle that. He wasn't a stranger to his mother's offensive outbursts. Dale, on the other hand, seemed to be shocked to the core, and that gave Tyson some smug satisfaction. They all assumed she was just a difficult, bossy woman and Tyson embellished his stories about her out of spite and contempt. No, she really was a cunt. A Cruella de Vil, as Vlady said, ready to sacrifice her children so that her husband would buy her another exquisite coat. "So are you gonna be coordinating my family therapy or what?" Tyson taunted him.
  3. Lizzydolphin37

    The Buckle

    Well I hate to repeat what everyone else said but here I go anyway, great story like all your others, would love to see you add to it. I also read all your stories between several different sites every couple months. Would love to see you posting new stories also. Thanks for sharing Rob.
  4. Today
  5. quokka

    Alo Chapter 26

    “Good morning boss, a nice early start for you today” Troy said to me. “Yes, I wanted to give the P & W Rangers copies of this list of station staff, so they don’t go fining you for breaches to their new signage, I suggest that you let everyone know, that the rangers will give on the spot fines, for anyone taking vehicles onto the beaches, and a 6 month ban from entering the station, which is my bit of input, and fines for camping outside the designated camping areas, that we recently set, which is basically on the East side of the access track, no exceptions” I announced. “That sounds fair enough, we will let the rangers do most of the hard work, but we will do our patrols too” Troy responded. “That is all that I ask, have a good day” I said, as I spotted the two rangers stepping out onto the veranda and looking out towards the ocean, and I walked towards them. “Good morning gents, I have a list of staff that work on this station, including the two caretaker couples, my senior station hand and his wife, two junior station hands, and the mechanic and his apprentice, who won’t be here until mid-next week” I said and I handed over the three copies. “Thank you, I hadn’t thought of that when we left your centre yesterday, now we know who not to fine and penalise” Scott said smiling broadly, and Tony laughed. After a brief chat, I jumped back into the buggy, patted Angus, and we set off south to the boundary, as I wanted to check everything, before returning to the office. A very long 3 ½ hours later, we arrived back at the visitor centre, having done the full length of the station, and back to the homestead compound, having completed 80 kilometres of rough track driving, and I was feeling quite tired, as I staggered into the centre, with Angus close behind me. “Good morning boss, my you look worn out, and it isn’t even 10am yet” Sue commented to me. “That would because I have been from the bottom boundary to the top boundary and back down here in the past 3 odd hours” I replied, as I lead the way to the apartment, to get Angus some water. Back in my office, I sat back and relaxed a little until I heard the radio call. “Matt to homestead, over” I heard him say and I groaned as I reached for the radio mic. “Go ahead Matt, over”. “Boss, we have some idiots who have already got themselves well and truly bogged on the beach, one km north of the paddock fence above Pelican Point, over” Matt said. “How far away are they from the water edge, over?” I asked, “They are in it, the wheels are at axle depth, and the water is almost to the bottom of the door, over” Matt replied. “Ok, I will bring the tractor to pull them out, tell the vehicle owners to expect a heavy towing fee, payable before leaving the station” I responded. “Tony Ellington to Mr Templeton, over” came a new voice on the radio. “Go ahead Tony” I replied, “I am almost there at the centre, and would like to follow, you so I too can deal with this matter, over”, “Very well Tony, I will be down at the machinery shed, over and out” I replied. “Sue, we have trouble just south of Sandy Point, Matt is already there, I need to go and pull an idiot out of the sand, can you look after Angus please” I said as I came out of the admin area. “Yes sure, not a problem, good luck” Sue replied, just as the phone rang, and I left the building before I could hear about the call. Once I had fuelled up the tractor, checked the water and oil, Tony had arrived, and placing a water container and a small esky of snacks on the back of the trailer, I climbed up and set off, going the same way as before, around via the airfield, and following the station track, alongside all of the burnt area, with Tony following behind me. Once through the gate, which I relocked, I followed the fence line to the coast, and turned onto a disused track, and headed north, where it wasn’t long before, I spotted the bogged ute, and Matt standing by the station ute, well away from the beach. When I climbed out, I noticed that Tony had stopped some way back, and I smiled, the poor bloke was about to be hit with a huge towing fee, and a 6-month ban, plus a P & W fine. “Err hi, are you able to get me out?” the owner of the vehicle asked me. “What made you do a stupid thing like get too close to the water, in an area that is off limits to all vehicles” I snapped back. “I am sorry, I was distracted by the sheer beauty of the place, I sort of drifted to close, and before I could do anything, it was too late” the man replied, who looked kind of familiar in some way, but I couldn’t work out why. “Well firstly you need to read and sign this form, to say that you are to pay the full amount of the towing fee, before leaving the station or have the vehicle impounded, until the fee is paid” is said, as I handed over the clip board and pen to the man, who looked to be about in his mid-30’s, and a boy was sitting on the beach not far away, and he looked miserable. “Wow $1000 is fairly steep, but considering it was my stupid fault, I will agree to it” the man said as he filled in the paperwork and signed it. “In addition to the towing fine, because you are in a restricted area, were vehicles are not permitted, you will also receive a …” I stopped speaking, when I looked at the paperwork, and saw the name the man had written. “Davis Carter?” I asked. “Yes, that is right” he replied, are you the older brother of Sarah Templeton, nee Carter?” I asked nervously?” “Yes,right again, we came up here to visit my brother in law, who works around here somewhere, do you know him” the man replied. I was a little shocked at this news, and I glanced over to the boy, who I presumed to be my nephew by marriage. “And that would be your son, Alistair?” I asked. The man nodded his head and frowning, then he suddenly realised, “Lloyd?” he asked me, and I just smiled and nodded my head yes, and we shook hands, just as I spotted Tony approaching on foot. “I will be right back” I said to Davis, and I headed towards Tony. “Umm, I have an unusual request to make, I know this guy has broken all the rules and he should be fined and banned from the station, but I am asking if you can make an exception in this case” I said to Tony, about 150 metres away from the bogged ute, where Matt was pulling out the straps and he was duck diving under the vehicle to try and secure the strap to the vehicle. “Matt, just wait a minute will you” I shouted out to him, after he came up spluttering, and Matt gave a wave of understanding, as I turned to face Tony again. “It’s a long story, but in short, I first came to this station many years ago, and met this wonderful lady, who became my wife. Last year when she died, I returned to release her ashes into the ocean, and I have been here since, first as an employee of the previous owners and now as the owner. This idiot is in fact my brother in law, who until today, I had not met, can I ask that you make the fine as small as possible please” I said to Tony. “Well, since you asked so nicely, I will make an exception, and forgot that I even heard about it over the radio and I didn’t see a thing just now” Tony said smiling, and he turned around and headed back to his vehicle. As I walked back towards the bogged vehicle, the boy was now holding onto his dad’s hand, and they were talking softly. “Alistair, this is your uncle Lloyd, you Aunty Sarah’s husband” Davis said making the introduction, and I squatted down so I was eye level with him, and he looked at me shyly, before sticking out his hand to shake. “Hello Uncle, I am Alistair” the boy said shyly, and we shook hands. “Well now, let’s see if we can get you out of this mess” I said as I stood up straight. “Who was that, you were talking too?” Davis asked, “as you may be aware, this is the Ningaloo Reef Marine Park, and that was the District boss of Parks and Wildlife, who along with two others will be patrolling this coastline for the whole long weekend” I replied. “So, what did you say to him?” Davis asked, “I just said, that the idiot who bogged his car, is my brother in law, and I asked for a minimum fine” I replied smiling, and Davis just laughed out loud. “So what fine am I going to receive?” Davis asked. “A good spanking from one of my dolphin friends, when I see her next, for being a naughty boy” I replied, and Davis just laughed harder. “Are there really dolphins out here, Uncle Lloyd” Alistair asked. “Yes there is nephew, in fact, one of them was with me when I said goodbye to your aunty Sarah, remind me to show you the video clip of it” I replied, and I turned to face Matt, who was standing close to the vehicle. “It is difficult to get a strap around the axel boss” Matt said to me. “Davis, do you have any goggles?” I asked, and he quickly retrieved them, and kicking off my boots and socks, and my shirt, I grabbed the goggles, and headed into the water. After a bit of a struggle, I managed to get the strap into place, and meanwhile Matt had backed the tractor enough to reach the other end of the strap, and still far enough away from the soft sand. Once the vehicle was un-bogged and just off the station track, Matt stopped and let the tractor roll back a little to release the pressure on the strap, which I unhooked at both ends. Matt, can you take the tractor back to the shed please, there is water and snacks in the cab for you to have, I will be along soon” I said to Matt, and now that he was free of the straps, drove off eastwards towards the main access road. Once I was dressed again, I looked at the 4wd car, which had no snorkel, and I had doubt that it would start again, but to stop any further damage, I took the keys out of the ignition, would down two windows and closed the door. “He said boss, so are you the station manager?” Davis asked me. “Yes, I am, now are you staying here on the station?” I asked Davis, “yes, we arrived late yesterday, and we are camped at the north end of Sandy Point” Davis replied. “Ok hop into the ute, and we will go to your campsite” I instructed them, and we set off up the track. “That one just there” Davis said to me, and I was expecting to see at least a camper trailer or something similar, but all I saw was a couple of camp chairs, a six-man dome tent and a toilet tent. “That’s it, that is all you have?” I asked sounding surprised. “Yes, we came a little unprepared, I was planning to make daily trips into Coral Bay for food and water, and showers” Davis replied. “Man, you really are a city person, you know that you are meant to be fully self-sufficient, when you come out here, people can die out here, it is very easy to do and it has happened in the past” I said lecturing my brother in law. “Yea, I get that now, I guess I didn’t think this out properly. We have been really struggling lately, I lost my job a few months ago, and I couldn’t pay the rent, so we ended up being homeless, and have been camping in a caravan park for the past few months. I was getting really desperate, so I packed up what we had, and we headed up here, remembering that Sarah had mentioned this magical coastline, where she and you met and spent some time together” Davis said. “Well mate you are very lucky, it could have got far worse for you, if one of the station staff hadn’t spotted your vehicle, as I said before, people have died because they are not prepared for the harshness of the land” I responded, as I calmed down a little, as I heard the down on their luck story. We packed up the campsite and put everything that they owned into the back of the ute, and we began the journey back to the homestead. “Where are we going Uncle Lloyd?” Alistair asked, after about fifteen minutes of driving north to 14-mile and then east towards the main station road. “I am taking you and your dad to a more comfortable place to stay” I replied. Once on the main station road, I was able to increase the speed, and about 45 minutes later we arrived at the homestead complex, and I drove down to my new house and stopped near my car. “This is my house, you will have to share a bedroom, but it is more comfortable than camping in a tent” I said. “This is more than just comfortable, we are so thankful that you rescued us” Davis replied. I let Davis and Alistair to settle into the house, while I headed over to the visitor’s centre, where Sue was talking to someone, that had their backs to me when I walked in. “Here he is now, Lloyd, this couple have come to speak to you” Sue said, and when the couple turned around, I stopped dead still. “Well this is a very unexpected visit” I commented, what do you want, as I am quite busy, as you know Easter is a very busy time” I commented, as I began to walk towards the door to the hall. “Please Lloyd, we have not come to abuse you or anything like that, wewere shocked, when we found out that it was you that bailed us out of the financial strife, that we had got ourselves into” Jeremy pleaded. “It was you that offered the generous amount of money, when we had to relinquish the station, we just wanted to thank you for all you did for us, if the bank had still owned that loan, we would have left the station with absolutely nothing but our personal belongings” Angela Dalworth added. “Yes, well, I guess I am just an old softy at heart” I responded, with a half-smile, as I saw the questioning expression on Sue’s face. “Sorry Sue, this is Jeremy and Angela Dalworth, my former employers, and former owners of this station, this is Sue, she and her husband Dave, own the neighbouring farm to mine down at Northampton, and are now working on the station” I said, making the introductions. “We heard about the earthquake, and that it destroyed the main house, I wondered how you were going since then and with the cyclone destruction before that” Jeremy stated.
  6. Chapter 2 is up! Chapter 3 is coming soon! Enjoy! And let me know what ya think!
  7. "GFD: Dead Language 2" I awoke the following evening with the disturbing echoes of a vampire dream in progress, vanishing into thin air like fading wisps of black smoke. Thinking back on the one who sired me, the one I gave my heart to all those years ago...I realized that the pain of his loss has never left me. Perhaps it never will. A love like that...you only get once. Even in an immortal's lifetime. I rubbed my eyes as my sleep cycle came to an end and my limbs began to loosen up again. Then after a short ritual of washing my hands and face in a basin that I kept next to my bed, I journeyed through the darkness of the underground monastery to do some quiet, early evening, reading in my study. Removing some of the oldest and most troubling texts that I owned from the dust covered bookshelf, some of my most engaging projects...I sat at my desk and carefully traveled through the worn pages of old parchment. The confusing lore, a mystery to me. Even my practiced mind could only catch a word here and a word there. Sometimes close enough to guess at a certain phrase or passage of some meaning. I began to wonder if this new visitor of ours could help me catch a glimpse...just a glimpse...of the ancient knowledge and theories that these vampires had left behind. To decode the messages of the iluminirae...would be a gift beyond words. I was grateful for the silence that night. My mind was buzzing with activity, but the soundless surroundings of candlelit darkness was what allowed me to enjoy these moments of quiet isolation. An isolation that was soon interrupted... The knocking at my chamber door was so soft that I barely recognized it as any sort of deliberate signal. A bashful knock. Diffident, but somewhat needy. I looked back over my shoulder to see Shiloh standing at my door. His angelic face peeking ever so slowly into the light. We were both silent for a moment. Shiloh attempting to overcome his fear of a stranger, and me nearly gasping at the sight of his gentle beauty. Clearing my throat, I said, "Come in. Come in. It's alright." "Are you sure?" He said, his voice cracking just a little bit at the end of his sentence. I don't know if I'll ever understand why a vampire would want to crossover while his voice was changing. It must be hell to live through that after a few years. I motioned for him to step inside, and he closed the door behind him. Not all the way...but close. "You're up awfully early, Shiloh." I said. His frightened eyes looked upon me as if I was fingerprinting him for a lengthy arrest. But through all his boyish trembling, he said, "I can't sleep late. Not like the others do. I always wake up early." "It's quite alright. It happens more often than you might think with crossovers as young as yours. There's a lot of youthful energy left over. You'll get used to it." I told him. He was looking around me, seeing the stuff on my desk. Nearly forgetting my manners, I offered him a seat. "You mean...you don't mind if I join you? I'm not bothering you, am I?" He said. "I promise to let you know if you do." I smiled. The boy smiled back at me, and while it may have been a simple and carefree gesture to him...the absolute glory of it nearly caused my heart to stop, mid beat. He was wearing a cheaper brand of optrix to hide his eyes from the public, and the vampire glow was penetrating through them despite their design. The very grace of him....it was captivating beyond measure. He reminded me so much of my beloved... Not physically, but in spirit. If I believed in such a thing as reincarnation...Shiloh would be my proof. My concrete evidence that my love was willing to defy time and space to come back to me. I couldn't help but to stare. Feeling a bit more confident from my invitation, the curious boy began to look around at the shelves in my study. "Soooo many books..." He said softly. "Yes. I collect them. I try to acquire as many as I can, as often as I can." I told him. "I believe that all of our knowledge, all of our emotion....our very purpose for being here....it is contained in the art, the music, the images, and the stories that we have to tell one another. If you don't tell your story, then you allow it to die with you. As they say, you won't find greater hidden treasures anywhere than you will in a graveyard. Poor souls who never took a chance at sharing their knowledge, their passion, with the rest of us. And we all suffer for it. Because that piece of the puzzle can never be found again." I felt myself babbling, wondering if this young newblood was going to suddenly get tired of my preaching and walk away. But he didn't. He absorbed every word. And he actually answered me. I was truly impressed with that. "So, you try to learn stuff from them all?" He asked. As his shyness began to slowly melt away, I could feel my heart inflating with the very sweetness behind those beautiful eyes of his. I attempted to keep my infatuations under control, but his blond hair and soft, sweet, lips seemed to call out to me. His golden locks weren't straight, nor were they curly...but some hybrid of both. Hanging in shiny wet ringlets over the tips of his ears, concealing his slightly elvish features...but not effectively enough to hide his breathtaking allure. I sighed to myself as he looked through my books, and I didn't dare let my gaze drop a single inch below his shoulders. It was not my intention to ogle the boy, or save any mental details for some sordid sexual fantasy once he was out of my presence. But his beauty was undeniable. And despite my inner conflicts....I couldn't help but be in awe of him. I nervously cleared my throat. "The scriptures? Yes. I try to learn and marvel at every last one of them. The older the scripture is, the better. Ancient texts are my specialty." "Why?" He asked. His voice, so delicate and cute. His face so sweet. Just hearing him ask the question sent a pleasurable shiver down my spine. And it was merely a single word. I was surprised that I was able keep my focus as a few of his bright blond locks slid forward into his dazzling eyes. "Well...the older scriptures were written in another time. Back when the authors looked at the world very differently from the way we do today. It was during a time when the world wasn't so full of mindless distractions." I said. "I think people contemplated the mysteries of life more deeply back then. They gazed up at the stars above, and they fantasized about the wonders of creation. The meaning of their existence." Shiloh was looking over at me, as though he was trying to understand. So I smiled, and said, "Of course, that was WAY before reality TV and the latest iPhone apps. Nowadays...if something doesn't immediately stimulate the insulting simplicity of the five senses, people figure that it simply doesn't matter. I try hard to teach my students that the deeper meaning in life is more than what they can see, or taste, or touch, or purchase with a credit card. It goes far beyond that. And it's their job, their duty, to find that chosen path for themselves. And for others." "But aren't they just musty old books?" He asked, now moving to hop his bottom up on my desk, and pull one of the books into his lap. Seeing as he was handling the old book with the roughness of a quarterback handling a pigskin football, I gently took it back from him and set down on the desk. "No. No not at all. Words are magic." "Magic?" "Yes. As an essential part of vampire culture, we realize that the written word is the true embodiement of immortality. These thoughts, these ideas, these emotions...once written down and shared with others...have been given the power to outlive us all. They resonate with all of us on some level. No matter what age or era they pass through, they will always maintain a certain level of significance. Once they've been brought to life by the author, they will be an inspiration and a guiding light for centuries to come. The power in that...is immeasurable." Shiloh seemed impressed. His eyes looked at more books on my desk with interest. "So that's why words are magic?" "Indeed. Words alone could be used by the lowest peasant or field worker to bring about the fall of kings. Create revolutions. Or to woo the heart of a loved one. Words aren't just made for entertainment. They're meant to create an awakening in the human spirit. You can use words to change consciousness itself. If you look in the right places, it is believed that you can randomly find just the right passage, justthe right phrase or quote, that will ultimately change your life forever." The boy looked away for a moment, then he asked, "Have you found ‘your' magic phrase, or whatever?" To think about it, I answered honestly, "I have found some marvelous stories and ideas in my years, some incredible philosophies and fantastic commentaries on societies both in daylight and in darkness...but...I'm afraid that one perfect message hasn't come my way just yet. Perhaps if I keep writing my own scriptures, I'll be able to write it myself someday." "How will you know when you find it?" "You'll know. There will be...a sudden ‘unraveling' of the mind. Followed by an overwhelming joy, and the courage to do almost anything. The power to heal yourself, and stand bravely in the face of your worst fears." I said. "That's why I am never selective with my influences. I absorb everything I can. Listen to every kind of music, watch every kind of film, read every kind of book. Because you never know where your special message may lie or what direction it might come from. The most exhilarating collection of words that you've ever heard might be wrapped in a song that you were sure you were going to hate. The point is to listen. Experience. And never allow your horizons to contract t a size small enough to fit into a tiny little box. Wisdom should never have a limit. There is far more power in realizing what we don't know, than defending what we do." Shiloh smiled. "You certainly sound like a teacher." "Heh...do I now?" "Definitely. Hmmm, but that's cool, I guess..." He said. I wasn't sure if he fully grabbed the concept, but as I saw his fingers fidgeting, and inching toward my book again, I decided to give his boyish curiosity a rest. I stood up and told Shiloh to sit in my chair. I figured he might take care more care if the book was spread out on the desk and I was there to supervise. He scooted closer and reached for one of the books in front of him. "Hold on, hold on. Careful now. This is not a ‘comic book'. It is very very old." I leaned over him to slowly open the book to the page where I had it bookmarked with a small sash of purple silk. Inside the book were passages written in verzpertillio, a much older dialect than anything that I was used to. It had taken me the better part of 15 years to decode what little I had, and even then it wasn't enough to make sense out of it. I kept coming back to this page, as a picture had been drawn into the parchment that was an almost exact replica of DaVinci's ‘The Last Supper'. I never figured out how the scripture and that drawing were related. I would spend days trying to make a connection, but to no avail. "Are these magic words?" Shiloh asked. "They might be. No one really knows for sure. The writer of these passages was rumored to have been tortured to death for his message. These texts have been studied by some of our greatest scholars but they've never been fully translated. I'm not sure what it was that he wrote in these texts, but he angered the whole of his community, and he was murdered for it." I leaned closer and said, "I'm not quite sure what his theory is, but after years of trying to put the pieces together, I think it may be about..." "It says that Jesus Christ wasn't the son of God." Shiloh said. I found myself gasping at the idea, and the ease with which he said it. "What?" "That's what it says. Right here. See?" He pointed to the page, but I couldn't make any sense out of it at all. What was he seeing? What was his mind translating the scriptures into? "That's funny. It says there's 12 planets in our solar system. I wonder what the other three are..." "Wait...slow down. Shiloh...are you telling me that you can read something as old as this?" "Well, of course I can." He smiled. "Ummmm, well not literally. I mean, just looking at the page it all looks like scribbles and gobble-dee-gook to me. But it still makes sense." He scooted over to give me more room to look at the book from over his shoulder, and although I couldn't read the text, I followed his slim finger on the page anyway. "It's a calendar." He said. "The painting, I mean." "A calendar?" "Yup. A big cosmic calendar. According to this writer guy, the original Aramaic text translation wasn't ‘the son of God', but the ‘Sun of the gods‘, plural. Gods being the planets. The Sun, giver of life and light. The source of creation. Sacrificed into darkness each night, only to be resurrected again in the morning. The calendar painting was made from star positions and planetary alignments...." Fascinated, I found myself wide eyed as he went to the other page and kept reading. "The DaVinci picture isn't just Jesus at the last supper...it's a depiction of the calendar itself. See? Jesus in the middle. The Sun. That's not a halo, it's a glow. Surrounded by 12 planets. 12 planets, 12 disciples in service of the Sun. But it says the disciples in the pictures are positioned in such a way where they lean toward or away from each other to leave spaces in between them. It breaks them into four groups of three, six on either side of the Sun. 12 months of the year, split into four clusters of three. Four seasons, three months each. With Judas being Winter, the death of the Sun...." "Where are you getting all this?" "I don't know. I just...look at the page and I just...know. My head just figures out how to get the words right somehow." He said. "I guess it's not all that different from the Mayan calendar, except many of the people around the area couldn't read or write. So the aspects of the calendar were told as stories that people would remember. Predicting plagues, volcanoes, earthquakes, great floods. By keeping them as stories, people could remember the dates and seasonal changes without having anything written down. I take it the religious people of that time didn't take too kindly to somebody writing this stuff down. Certainly not one of our kind. That's a blasphemy of the worst kind to most people, I'll bet. But to me, it sounds kinda cool. Say, do you mind if I keep this? I always wake up early and it would be cool to have something to read." I was staring off into space. He had been so excited about the texts that he was reading that he hadn't even noticed how utterly flabbergasted I was at his ability. All those years, all of the hard work that I put in trying to decipher some kind of meaning from this particular set of vampire scriptures...and a newblood vampire walks into my study and cracks the code in the blink of an eye. Part of me was jealous. Part of me was hurt. But most of all...I was absolutely overwhelmed by the magic this boy had inside of him. Fascinated, first by the beauty of his appearance, and now by the beauty of his mind. It created a spark in my heart that I haven't felt since...since... "Mr. Vicke?" Came the soft voice from below me. "Yes?" "The book? Can I keep it for a while? I'll give it back. I'll take good care of it. I promise." Shaking myself from my daze, I looked into his eyes, and quickly found myself lost in another stupor. "I'm afraid that the books in here aren't allowed to leave this study. But, if you like, whenever you wake up in the evenings during your stay, you're more than welcome to come back and read them any time you like. I will leave the office unlocked, as long as you promise to be careful with everything you touch." "Awesome. And I'll be good. I promise. These are magic words, after all." He grinned at me, and I was breathless with the radiance of him. Something about him just made me smile. "I hope I'm not ‘interrupting' anything..." Came a gruff voice from the doorway. There stood Charlemagne, the boy's so-called protector. And here I was leaning over Shiloh with our faces only inches apart, reading from the same book. Suspicion blazed in his eyes with bonfire fury, and I straightened up to put some distance between us. Instantly, I saw Shiloh's head drop, and that wonderful light within him seemed to dim greatly in Charlemagne's presence. "What I have told you about wandering off by yourself before I'm awake to guide you? Huh?" "I'm sorry. I got bored." Shiloh mumbled under his breath. "You got bored? Well, you're going to find yourself a whole LOT of action if you keep this up. What part of ‘Termination Order' do you not understand?" Charlemagne barked at the young boy, and he got up from my seat at the desk to leave. "Thanks, Mr. Vicke." Shiloh said with a gentle pout in his lips. "Please, call me Mason." I said. Charlemagne instructed the boy to go back to his room and wait there, but he remained in the office with me. I looked this killer in the eyes but kept my calm. "He's just a boy, you know? He's not a soldier." "And just what do you know about protecting him from the horrible things he might have to face if he's discovered here? Huh?" I turned to slide a few books back into the empty slots of my bookshelf. I kept my back to Charlemagne. The look of the gritty scowl underneath that tattered mustache made me sick. "Your job is to translate the texts we give you and help us find their true meaning so that we can get enough leverage to convince the Elders to call the dogs off. Once that's taken care of, we're out of here." "Shiloh has a gift that goes beyond anything that I was prepared for, but the scriptures that you brought with you are too complex for even his extra to comprehend. This won't be easy work. It will take time." "Yeah? Well, from now on, I think it would be best if your little ‘library sessions' were supervised by a third party. Call it a personal precaution." He said. The insult of it hung thick in the air. His message, far from subtle. But I wasn't about to let him antagonize me into losing my grace. "You don't like me very much, do you, Charlemagne." I asked him. "Can't say that I care much for you, no." He answered. "Not for you, and not for what you stand for." "Meaning what, exactly?" "I think you know damn well what I'm talking about." He said, his voice still grainy with restrained anger and mistrust. "I take it you're talking about the boy, then?" His tension seemed to increase, but he hid it well. "It's my job to protect him at all costs, Preceptor. Even from you. I expect that your Mage made that clear upon my arrival?" "So you think it's my intention to hurt him? Is that it?" "I know more about you and your halflife sire than you may think. I saw the look on your face when that youngster entered the room last night. I know that look." He said. "When it comes to that fourteen year old's protection, you'll have to excuse me if I don't stand on the side of some pedophile who believes that it's perfectly alright to rape children." Still calm, I said, "Pedophiles don't rape children. Rapists rape children." "Funny...I don't see much of a difference." "Most don't." I said. "You're attracted to women, aren't you?" "Damn right, I am." "Well, tell me, Charlemagne...have you ever thought about raping one?" His face folded up into a look of utter disgust. "No. I'm not some sick freak, like you are...." I turned to look at him, scars and all. "Well, how would I know that? I mean you have an attraction for women, right? Isn't that your goal? Your ultimate fantasy? To hurt and traumatize them and nothing else?" I asked. "Isn't that...what you stand for? How can I feel safe leaving you alone with any woman on the planet when I know that you're attracted to them? Aren't you the potential bad guy? Aren't you willing to commit any vile and disgusting act to satisfy your carnal needs with someone that you find beautiful, even against their will? Aren't you dangerously close to violating each and every single woman that is in your immediate vicinity, simply because you find them alluring? You must be some sort of an untamed monster. If your attractions were to be judged by the same standard as mine, the local villagers would be chasing you out of town with torches and pitchforks right now." Charlemagne seemed unmoved. He stood there in silence, his eyes still burning an angry hole right through me. "People who fear my attraction do so because they think that it comes from a place with a total lack of self control. An attraction is just that...an attraction. I want love and affection and just as much of a mutually satisfying relationship as anyone else does. It's not about power or stealing innocence or manipulation or violence. It's about appreciating beauty and having beauty appreciate me in return. But I guess people like you will never understand that." "You'd guess right, sweetheart." Charlemagne said. "Great speech. You rehearse that?" He turned to leave my office, but not before saying, "The boy is hands off. Got it? From now on...if you want to talk to him...you talk to me first. Stick to that rule...and you and me got no problems. I've got a job to do, and I don't need to be looking over my shoulder for some underwear sniffing pervert with a deluded sense of ‘love and affection'. I only give one warning, Mr. Vicke. This is it. Stay away from him." With that, he left my office and shut the door. Sometimes, words can move mountains. And other times...for some people...the mountains are just too big to be moved. I finished cleaning up my study, and walked out into the hallway, only to feel a light tugging on the back of my shirt. I turned to see Jericho's smiling face behind me. "Preceptor Vicke...I've been working on some new ideas. I wondered if maybe you could read them over for me. I want to know what you think." "Certainly." I said, thankful for the distraction from my frustrated mood. "Leave them on my desk, and I will definitely get to them this weekend. I'm in the middle of an important assignment right now, and I'm afraid that I can't spare you any time over the next few evenings." "But...I want to be there when you read them." He said. "You know...I was thinking that...maybe, one night...when you're not busy..." He blushed slightly from embarrassment, but there was still an aura about Jericho that was so mischievous that I wouldn't be surprised if he had taught himself to blush on command. "...Well...maybe I could come to your chambers one night, and we could read through them. Together. I am your star pupil after all, right?" Nervously, I searched my mind for easy ways to turn down his offer. But it was at that moment that I saw a shadowed figure walking out into the middle of the hallway. He was too tall to be one of our halflife students. He had long, greasy looking, brown hair, hanging down to the collar of a long black trench coat. He had a rather full five o'clock shadow on his chin, and he stood still once he became aware of the fact that I had spotted him. "Excuse me?" I said. "Can I help you?" The man didn't say a word. He simply walked forward again...and when he came to the door sealing off the next wing of the underground school...his body became a soft gelatinous liquid...and he slid right under it. "Whoah...who was that?" Jericho asked me. Suddenly, I put a hand on his shoulder. "Listen to me very carefully, Jericho. I want you to hurry over to Mage McClaren's office as fast as you possibly can and tell him that we have an intruder. He'll know what to do." "But...?" "Do as I say! GO! Now!" I said, and watched as Jericho took off running towards the Mage's office. I went back into my study and took a hold of my scribe. The bladed one, not the one used for traditional practice. I knew that I was going to need it. As I said before, after all I've been through... ...I know an assassin when I see one.
  8. hobo

    Chapter 9

    the last chapter of 2015 already sees such a story that will not be finished
  9. hobo

    Chapter 9

    Patrick will not let anything happen to himself is in the storys always storrys so. the bully always gets away with it. .If jordan is asked about his screwed up face, he'll say everything's okay.
  10. hobo

    Chapter 7

    "Because he's the mayor's son." I finished. "I know." Where does the story play in the Congo? the son of the citizen can do what he wants? in Germay the brawl would stand the next day in the newspaper and the bürgenmeiste would have to worry about his re-election.
  11. “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening. It just stops you from enjoying the good.”
  12. frosenblum

    Together

    Another great chapter. This story has built slowly, focused mostly on the quotidian, so I didn’t notice how deeply Erica, Andy, and Adam wormed themselves into my heart. Until this morning, that is, when “Never Too Late” was the GA story I could hardly wait to read first -- rather than the series that’s been my first Friday read for years. (Sorry, Carlos.) Thank you, Northie, for compassionately exploring the life of an older man, as well as the challenges and rewards of (non-sexual) intergenerational relationships. As for Felicity, I wonder if her husband’s over-the-top behavior at the wedding will be the catalyst that precipitates her breaking free. I sure hope she doesn’t wait and suffer that long before she leaves him.
  13. OUTFI Our unusual togs frightened Ian SILLY
  14. Finally! Might be getting somewhere. Vitamin D test came back and I am apparently moderately vitamin D deficient!the low range of what they consider normal is 25 and mine came back 15. Thank you again @mollyhousemouse for suggesting they test my vitamin D levels.

    1. Reader1810

      Reader1810

      Glad you’ve got something to investigate now, Renee. Having said that, I wish there wasn’t a need for any investigations. 

       

  15. ...and back to the tired grandpa! (44 hours spent baby sitting this week!)
  16. Myr

    Notification quirk

    I have reported the bug.
  17. Yesterday
  18. Happy Easter be careful of eggs!
  19. Valkyrie

    Notification quirk

    I've been receiving duplicate notifications since the upgrade too. Not for everything, but it seems to be for when someone reacts or comments on a chapter. I haven't noticed it for forum posts or when someone sends a PM. I use Google Chrome on an HP laptop with Windows 10.
  20. Sunday was a day of partings. When Harry Baxter left for the airport in the morning, Will was at the hotel to say goodbye and explain that he was staying on. Harry looked a little miffed. Then he shrugged and agreed to water the pot plants in Will’s flat, so Will told him about a spare key he kept under a mat. Finally Will checked himself out and moved his bags by taxi to Lindenstrasse, where an excited Oskar and Marietta were waiting for him. In the afternoon, Terry and Ramon were leaving by Lufthansa for Washington via Berlin. Will rode out to the airport with them. Strelzen Tildemann, several kilometres south of the city, was brand new, all stainless steel and polished grey granite, full of expensive shops selling things at prices that most local people could not dream of paying, as Oskar had complained to him before he left. All three had a McDonald’s, much to Ramon’s disgust, but Terry said he had an addiction problem. Looking at his physique, Will doubted it. He still chewed a chicken sandwich along with his friends. It was as Ramon made a dash to the loos that Terry fixed a sharp gaze on Will. He had been an easy-going and happy lad in all Will’s contact with him so far, but suddenly all the cheeriness evaporated. Will was looking into the calm and slightly grim face of a man who he guessed had seen some terrible things and had survived them, perhaps against the odds. Will realised there was an awful lot he did not know about this man. He remembered Matt’s words. He was about to meet the real Terry, and was not certain he wanted to. Terry cocked an eyebrow and leaned towards him. ‘Did I ever explain my job, Will?’ ‘You mentioned you were in security for PeacherCorp and minded Andy Peacher’s back.’ ‘That’s true, but perhaps I should have told you that I am the senior security consultant for the Peacher and Roedenbeck corporations, two of the biggest conglomerates in the Western world.’ ‘Er, sounds like an important job.’ ‘It is. I’m telling you this because I want you to take what I’m going to say next very seriously. You must not trust Oskar.’ ‘What the hell!’ ‘You heard me.’ The calmness of Terry’s response quelled Will like a face full of cold water. ‘Why do you say that? You know about the porn stuff?’ Terry gave him an appraising look, which made Will feel very uncomfortable. ‘So you did know then? Well that’s interesting. I wasn’t actually going to tell you. I recognised the boy as soon as I saw him, of course, having been a bit of a perv on the quiet in me younger days and more than friends once with a mega-perv from Germany called Axel Friedrich. Your Oskar – or shall we say Marc – does have a distinctive face, doesn’t he? I spotted him online two years ago, and, well, you don’t forget a bod like that in a hurry. But it’s not the porn which bothers me. Don’t tell Ramon, but I actually was in a lower-end porn video meself once, so who am I to throw stones at your Oskar?’ Will was intrigued despite his unease. ‘Then what is it?’ ‘He’s lying to you. I’m not sure what about, but there’s something behind his words.’ ‘How can you be so sure?’ ‘I’m a human lie detector: face, voice, eyes, pulse, perspiration – they give themselves away to me. You have to be real good to get past me. He lied twice in my hearing. The first time was about the attempted mugging. He’s also concealing something about that place, Terlenehem. I don’t know what’s going on, but I doubt you fell into his bed accidentally; he wanted you there.’ Will was deeply shocked, yet he found the courage to ask the important question: ‘And did he lie about his feelings for me?’ Terry gave a half-smile. ‘Perhaps, but I … no, I can’t say. There is something there, maybe. I can’t suggest more than that. What I can do is give you this.’ He handed Will a business card with the well-known Peacher logo embossed in one corner. It was very impressive. ‘This is my special card, given to few. The number will reach me priority, toll-free even from abroad, and the e-mail address is for my private account. If you are in trouble at any time, contact me. I can do things. For you I will do things.’ ‘Why me?’ ‘I like you, Will, I like you a lot, and I won’t have you harmed. At the moment, I suspect you are in the grip of people who may not have the best of intentions towards you. Besides, you remind me so much of someone I knew and loved, but who …’ He shook his curly head. ‘Enough of my many tragedies. But it’s not just that you’re a friend and fellow-tenor. You’ve come into the orbit of Matthew White, and anyone whom Matt takes on is my responsibility too, because Matt is my boss’s reason for living. I won’t have either of them upset. It offends me. There are a number of people in prison now because they offended me.’ Will was cowed. This was no braggart. He had never met such a man before, so very cool and controlled, so much in the moment. It was a little awesome. And at the time he heard it he believed everything Terry was saying, even though his heart was crying out for love of Oskar. Terry’s eyes flicked over Will’s shoulder. Will glanced around to see Ramon on the way back. When Will returned his gaze to his friend, the old grinning Terry was there again. Nothing more was said, but it was a very troubled Englishman who got on the shuttle train back to the city. What was he to make of this? He found it difficult to dismiss the things Terry had said, yet he did not want to think any ill of his Rothenian lover. He began to believe what was the most convenient thing to believe, that Terry was over-suspicious. Suddenly it occurred to him that Terry did not expect to be taken seriously, which was why he had left the card. Will studied it again before shoving it firmly into the back of his wallet. His one concession to Terry’s suspicions was not to throw the card away. At Strelzen’s main station, the Kung-Rudolfs-Bahnhof – a passable copy of the Gare du Nord in Paris – Will hopped on the tram to the Lindenstrasse. As it clanged its way through the quiet Sunday streets, his thoughts continued to wrestle with what Terry had said. He found he could not deny that his own mind had been troubled. There was something bugging him … but what was it? Whatever it was, it wouldn’t come back to him at this point, but he wouldn’t forget it. * * * Hendrik checked over the menu at the Köningen Flavia. ‘Drink, boys?’ He noticed how moody both Felip and Oskar were. ‘So how is it going?’ ‘I’ve persuaded him to stay on in Strelzen.’ ‘I can’t imagine how.’ Hendrik gave a bland smile and got a cool look by return. ‘Not only that but we’re going to work together on Matthew White’s current project. He’s paying me a lot more than you ever did.’ ‘Remember your contract with me, Oskar. But well done, well done indeed.’ Felip cut in. ‘I don’t think that much about the boy. He is thin and whey-faced, like all those English. How can you be so sure he will perform?’ ‘You only saw him in the club, late that night. I’ve slept with him. I’ve seen him naked in the morning sunlight. I’ve had him groaning beneath me with lust for my cock. He’s crazy for it. And he took all of me in one go. I know how he will perform, believe me. He is a natural and he’s an unmistakable Westerner.’ Felip wasn’t giving up. ‘But he’s English and we want an American.’ Oskar shrugged. ‘He speaks English, and so do the Americans. Also, he made the table laugh when he put on an American accent to amuse Dr White’s party. They said it was brilliant and they all live in America. It’s not a problem.’ Hendrik looked at them both appraisingly. ‘I need to see him. Bring him to Ribaud’s tonight. I’ll be at my usual table.’ * * * Will encountered the surly concierge on the way in. The man blocked his access to the stairs, clearly out for trouble. He was subjected to a barrage of incomprehensible questions in Rothenian by a man who knew no English – or pretended he didn’t. Brandishing the door key Oskar had given him produced no let-up in what was plainly becoming an abusive tirade. Will was almost in tears when Oskar entered behind him and began laying into the concierge passionately. Eventually the man turned his back on them, slamming his door. Oskar took Will’s arm and pulled him into the lift. They kissed as it clattered and groaned its way to the fifth floor. ‘He’s a surly bastard,’ Oskar explained, ‘and homophobic too. He was a secret-police informer in the old days, I think; most of the concierges made extra money that way. I bet he wishes he could put me in the labour camps as they did to people like us under Horvath.’ ‘I wish I knew Rothenian,’ said Will plaintively, opening the door. Marietta danced round them both. ‘We can start this afternoon, if you want.’ ‘I do want. Can I learn the rude words first?’ Oskar laughed. ‘You get those as a reward if you work hard, men leblen Will.’ ‘Men leblen?’ ‘My darling, my love.’ Will flushed red with delight. ‘That I will remember.’ They sat in the flat for a while over a rich, dark coffee that Oskar made, then took Marietta on a walk through the back streets to a small park, never ceasing to work on words and phrases. Oskar was a very good teacher, as Will easily recognised, being a rather fine one himself. They made progress slowly, with much repetition. Oskar reinforced his instruction with funny little jokes and surprise tests. Will just hoped his memory was up to the demands on it. The fact that the language was so heavily drenched with Germanic and Latin words helped a lot, although the common and highly irregular verbs were going to be a problem. After they returned, they kept hard at it. At five, Oskar finally stretched and rose from his chair. He pulled Will up and kissed him, then looked down at Marietta. ‘What is it with you, dog? Don’t you want to defend my honour from Will?’ The terrier gazed up at him and snuffled. Shaking his head, Oskar went back to kissing Will. They adjourned to the bedroom and were soon naked together on the covers. ‘You kiss me full on when you make love to me,’ said Will. ‘So?’ ‘In the films, you guys sort of flicker your tongues together, like this.’ He demonstrated and Oskar co-operated. ‘It is the way we do it for the cameras – porno-kissing. It is supposed to arouse the watcher. It tickles nicely.’ ‘Does nothing for me. Well, not entirely true. It’s sort of sexy when you do it, it just looks weird.’ ‘You would be amazed how traditional is the porn business, my Will. Some of my colleagues would be offended if you criticised their age-old practices. Anyway, I know one place where you will like it.’ He got Will on all fours and demonstrated, then followed his tongue into the same place with a longer and more solid organ, sheathed dutifully in film. He took his time beating leisurely into Will, on his knees panting in a high-pitched moan when he wasn’t licking and kissing the back of Will’s neck. ‘You are so sexy, leblen. You make the cutest noises. Ooo … you’re going to drip on my bed; let me lick that off.’ He pulled out, leaving Will a little distraught at being empty and ready to admit to himself that he really was a bottom boy. Oskar drew back Will’s penis and suckled the precum off it. ‘I love your juice,’ he said. Will recognised the words from Rothenian Boys 7. He found them deeply arousing. Then Oskar reengaged with Will’s anus, and picked up his speed. Five minutes later he came with a remarkably extended groan. After a nap, Oskar checked his watch at the bedside. ‘Let’s go out and have a drink and a meal. I know this great place on the Radhausplaz, away from the tourists. It is called Ribaud’s. Have you heard of it?’ ‘No. Is it expensive?’ ‘A bit, but Dr White’s money will take care of that, hein?’ ‘I suppose, though I don’t want to take advantage of him.’ ‘Of course not.’ * * * ‘How many words for penis in Rothenian?’ Will was impressed. ‘I have counted twenty-four, but some of them are not for ordinary use. We must be a very fixated nation, do you not think?’ ‘Strewth. Mind you, English has got quite a few, not that I’ve sat down and actually counted.’ Will looked around the restaurant. They were eating inside, though most people were at the big array of tables out on the cobbled Town Hall square, because Oskar said he occasionally got stared at by passers-by and didn’t like it. Will saw his point. He had let Oskar order for him, and they were tucking into a meaty game stew with lots of mushrooms. Stews and casseroles seemed to be the Rothenian speciality. Will had kept a menu card and was throwing out random questions about foodstuffs and eating. His initial enthusiasm for Rothenian had not at all died down, nor had Oskar shown any boredom in answering and tutoring him. ‘No, Will,’ he was saying, ‘we always put the accent on the first syllable of every word. If you don’t do that it sounds really weird to a Rothenian hearing you. Try again.’ Across the restaurant, a fuss began as waiters scurried round a new arrival, a tall, bearded, charismatic man who came in with two young girls hanging on his arms. They were seated in state and the maître d'hôtel hovered over them solicitously. Oskar caught Will’s gaze. ‘Don’t stare, Will, it is rude in Rothenia.’ Will snapped out of it. ‘Oops. Sorry. It’s rude in Britain too.’ ‘Did you get a good look, then?’ ‘Who is he, a minister or something?’ ‘No, but he is famous. He is Hendrik Wilemmin, and you have heard of him, I think.’ ‘Rings no bells …’ ‘Pardon me?’ ‘I don’t recognise the name.’ ‘Oh. How about “Anton Aramis”?’ ‘That’s familiar, though I can’t work out why.’ ‘Falkefilm?’ Now Will knew who it was. That was the name adorning the boxes of his now-forgotten porn collection, the producer and mastermind behind the Rothenian porn industry. ‘That’s your boss? He’s younger and fitter than I thought.’ ‘You can rise fast if you are as clever, unscrupulous and energetic as he is.’ Will paused, and then launched into the question he had been longing to ask even before he had met Oskar Prinz, and knew only Marc Bennett. ‘Oskar, how did a man like you get into an industry like this?’ Oskar smiled slightly. He had been expecting the question, and was surprised it had taken so long to come out. ‘Are you being judgemental, dearest Will, about what I do for a living?’ ‘I guess I am,’ Will admitted. ‘Ach. The answer is really quite simple. When I was eighteen and doing my military service, my parents were killed, crushed on the autoroute by a Serbian truck. It was terrible. I was not allowed to go home and help Helge, my big sister. I was in a very bad state. A friend in barracks helped me a lot, gave me love and attention and taught me how to be queer. When we were let out on weekends we used to go to King Henry.’ ‘What?’ ‘You know, the big statue on the Rodolferplaz. That is where young, gay soldier boys often spend the early evening looking for a pickup. He took me with him, and we began cruising. It was exciting, and sometimes I was not so proud that I did not take money for it, money I could send home to Helge. I am a real whore, as I have warned you too often now. ‘One evening just before my eighteen-month term was up, Hendrik approached me in the Rodolferplaz, not for sex but with an offer of model work. By that time I was so screwed up I had no plans, so I knocked on his door for an audition. It was pretty soon clear that more than modelling was involved, but I was a young gay full of himself, and pretty shameless when it came down to it. It was not too difficult to go along with things because the money is very good, even if not as frequent as one would like.’ ‘How much does he pay?’ ‘Hendrik is a bastard, but he’s not a cheap bastard. You can get three thousand dollars for a set with a guy, even more for the big ones. A starring role in a special is worth at least three times as much. That sort of money goes a long way in Rothenia. Some of Hendrik’s earlier boys have already retired and opened their own businesses. Others of them do casual or full-time work for Falkefilm. Some are now cameramen. Felip, for instance …’ ‘Felip?’ ‘For a moment, Will, I forgot we are only recent friends. Felip you would know as Max Wolf.’ ‘Oh right … the guy who …’ ‘Yes, the boy whom I screwed and who screwed me in Rothenian Boys 7. He is the only one at Falkefilm I’d consider to be a friend, although he can be irritating. We socialise sometimes. No, not like that, Will. We are not lovers, at least off-camera. Anyway, Felip is one of Hendrik’s scouts, he goes to swimming pools, clubs and gyms looking for talent and inviting them for an audition. He gets head money for it, a finder’s fee. The gay boys home in on him, so half his work is done by his pretty face. He is pretty, is he not?’ ‘Not as handsome as you are, Oskar.’ ‘Thank you, but you will never convince him different. Most of Hendrik’s boys come from that sort of approach. I was a bit of an exception to get a personal invitation.’ ‘Er … was he interested in you sexually, then?’ ‘Hendrik’s sexuality is a bit of a mystery. Mostly he sleeps with women, but there are some stories about him and one or two of the boys. But not me. Me he is a little protective of.’ ‘I’ve heard that Falkefilm gets a lot of guys who are straight, but will have gay sex for cash.’ ‘Certainly it happens. Sometimes boys are bisexual. Sometimes they think they are straight but find out otherwise when they give it a try. But many of us have long known we are gay. Sex is complicated, is it not? When did you know about yourself, Will?’ ‘Not till university for sure, and I only lost my virginity a month ago.’ ‘What!’ ‘It’s true.’ ‘Jesus. But you are so hot in bed. You English are strange …’ ‘Even the queer ones.’ Will was so intent on the conversation that the sudden looming above him of a tall man took him quite by surprise. Oskar stood, and Will did too. It was Hendrik Wilemmin. They shook hands and there were formal introductions. ‘This is Will, William Vincent, an English friend I have made,’ Oskar said to his boss. ‘Good evening, Will, do you like our city?’ There was more than a trace of American in the accent of his English. ‘Very much, Mr Wilemmin. I could easily stay here forever.’ ‘I expect sweet Oskar would be part of the attraction.’ Will smiled, but did not answer. He was not going to discuss his sex life with a porn king. ‘Oskar, Josep said to remind you that you’re needed for a workout tomorrow at nine-thirty.’ ‘Sure. I will be there.’ ‘Have a good evening, boys.’ They thanked him and resumed their seats. ‘Powerful character, that,’ concluded Will. Oskar was quick to agree. * * * The next day, they were supposed to meet Matt at his hotel for lunch. Having the morning free, Will readily agreed to go along with Oskar to his gym. Will had a pair of shorts, trainers and a singlet, so he thought he’d work out too. It had been a while. The World Class Fitness Center and Solarium was only three blocks away west on Lindenstrasse. It was impressively well equipped. ‘So this is where you get your physique,’ Will observed. ‘Something of it, but I was always a keen swimmer. Although that’s where most of the muscles come from, Josep here tones me up.’ Josep was a shaven-headed muscle man who came up to them unsmiling. He took them into a glazed-off area, where he had Oskar get up on a table and began working on what Oskar said was a recent muscle strain. Will sat and watched. He tried to pick up words from their conversation, but they talked far too fast for him. Eventually Oskar sat up and received some instructions. He looked at Will and grinned: ‘Your turn.’ ‘What?’ ‘Get up here and take off everything except your shorts. Josep’s agreed to look you over and give you some advice.’ ‘Really? I never had a personal trainer before.’ ‘You’re nice looking, my Will. You could be better looking yet with a proper regime. Josep is an expert. And it is free because he works for Hendrik. We are here on Hendrik’s bill.’ Will shrugged and did as he was told, lying on his back. Josep, at last giving a small smile, began a systematic exploration of his muscles, poking here and pressing there. Josep stretched his arms and legs and rotated his neck, which gave a disconcerting click. His eyes were checked with a small torch, as also were his tongue and ears. Then he was shifted on to his front, and the same happened. Will almost leapt in the air when a hand reached under his shorts to give his buttocks the same treatment. ‘Okay, Will, sit up!’ instructed Oskar. As Josep said a few things to Will, Oskar translated: ‘Josep says you are not in bad shape, but you could be a lot better. Your legs and pecs are excellent. Your ass and shoulders could do with some work. He is afraid he cannot compliment you on your abdomen, which is slack and needs some serious work.’ There was some more Rothenian. ‘Josep will draw up a plan for you. We will be coming here regularly, as I too have to tone up, so we can exercise together, is that not good? Oh, and he wants you to lie on your stomach.’ ‘Why?’ asked Will, as he complied. ‘Ouch!’ he yelped, when Josep pulled down his shorts and injected his backside with a clear fluid. Oskar laughed a little wickedly. ‘Josep says you have a bad vitamin B deficiency, which he has now corrected. If he remembers, he will give you a booster next week.’ ‘Hey!’ objected Will resentfully. ‘He should ask first! You don’t just jab people.’ ‘You got on his couch, Will, so as far as he was concerned you became his patient. He is a qualified physiotherapist. Say thank you to the nice man.’ Will was still a little peeved as he rubbed his bottom, but the sting soon faded. Josep went to a desk in a back room, scribbled some Rothenian instructions and handed them on to Oskar, who led Will into the main gym, singlet and trainers in hand. ‘Okay my Will, thirty minutes with these weights, get down there. Good. Lift with your legs, that’s fine. I will be on the running machine.’ * * * They exercised for two hours. Although it left him aching, Will did feel a lot better for it. He was also ravenous, and ready for lunch. After showering they returned to the flat to change. Realising they were running a little late, they took a taxi to Matt’s hotel, the Strelzen Hilton, a large new block northwest of the palace gardens, looking down on the New City. They found Matt already in the restaurant, a book propped up in front of him. He rose and exchanged handshakes with his guests. ‘Good to see you, boys. First we order. Can you get egg and chips in Rothenia?’ ‘Egg and chips?’ asked Oskar. ‘It’s England’s great culinary contribution to the world.’ ‘I thought it was the fish and chips,’ Oskar countered. Matt sighed. ‘Many people make that mistake. Somehow my life is a conspiracy to deny me what I want most in the way of food. My trainers forbid it to me, and I’m never in a place where you can order it off the menu. Oh well, it’s eating Rothenian I suppose.’ After they had made their choices, Matt got out a notepad. ‘How long can you give me, Will and Oskar?’ Will pondered. ‘I can go as far as four weeks before I’ve got to get back home …’ he glanced apologetically at Oskar, who looked mournfully back at him. Oskar said that, apart from some odd commitments, he could be with Will for most of those four weeks. Matt nodded. ‘Four weeks is good. I’ll need to be updated by e-mail every so often on what you discover. Remember, I need information that will assist me in writing the script. The focus will be on the royal Elphbergs, and I think we’ll be concentrating on Osra and Flavia. The men come into it, but only as they touch on the women’s stories. Oskar, we need those folktales about Osra you mentioned. Will, I want to know everything about the assassination of Rudolf V in 1862. The uniting theme will be the eighteenth-century zenith of the Elphbergs, their unification of the country and the tragic collapse of the dynasty only a century later. We focus on women in love. Got it?’ ‘Yes sir,’ they said together, and grinned. Matt smiled kindly back. ‘Visual sources are a priority, of course … portraits, woodcuts, objects of art. Just don’t make the mistake that a lot of documentaries do by ignoring the literature.’ The food began to arrive, and Will did it full justice. They busily exchanged ideas across the table, both Will and Oskar getting caught up in Matt’s enthusiasm. ‘So that’s that,’ Matt concluded. ‘I’ll be off tomorrow to follow up some leads in England. The last king of Rothenia, who died in exile in Surrey in 1979, has relatives still living both there and in Norfolk. ‘I’d like to see you in London in a month’s time, Will. This card contains the e-mail address and telephone number of my PA, Dave Evans. He’s scarily efficient. He’ll fix up the appointment. And if you ever change your mind about teaching, believe me, the job offer is always on the table. Finally, there is this.’ He produced two fat envelopes, which the boys opened. ‘I think this should pay for all expenses and your labour.’ Oskar looked up in disbelief. ‘Dr White, this is a quarter of a million krone!’ ‘Good, the bank got it right then. Will has got 100,000 more than you. He has to get home afterwards, and this way he can go first class. But I’ve paid you both the London research assistant’s rates.’ Oskar swallowed hard. ‘You can count on us, sir.’ As they left the hotel together, Oskar said, ‘This is very generous, 50,000 krone is two months’ wage for a doctor or a teacher, and he is giving me that much for less than a week with books.’ ‘Even more generous than Hendrik, isn’t he?’ ‘He is. I think we need to celebrate tonight with Tomaszu and the others. I shall ring around.’
  21. Katya Dee

    Chapter 17

    Almost posted an explanation about fingerprints and whatnot when my computer flipped me off, insulted me in binary, and generously presented me with a blue screen of death 😠There is no way I could resurrect that sheet of my comment, so here is a short version. Fingerprints wouldn't be an issue: the car belonged to Sam's father, so Sam's fingerprints would be all over that car. He had to unwrap the tarp to see what was underneath it, so his prints there would be expected. As for his alibi... It's not as if I missed that detail -- I simply figured his neighbors would vouch for him because being a good, supportive neighbor is very important to every single tenant in that apartment building... (yeah, Im lying -- I totally missed that detail 😶)
  22. Dr. John NYC

    Chapter 8

    Jae is not just doing it to understand Dan better, I my opinion. He also recognizes that Justine is still family in the back of Dan’s mind AND thus Justine is a potential problem they will have to confront. Family is also integral to Jae so connecting with Justine as family is how he can help and protect Dan — and their relationship. Of course, I’m not the author, so my musings are just that.
  23. northie

    Notification quirk

    They're both for the same chapter, 'Together'. Here's another one soon after, with alexk appearing 3 times for the one reaction:
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