Saturday, October 8, 2011

Locke Hills - Day 1, 5:00 pm

Vincent stood in one of the front rooms of a Tudor, watching the other three across the street through the panes of the large window. Marcy and Tim took quick steps across the front lawn, taking pictures of the house from different angles and murmuring together, and Mike kept trying to catch up to them.

"Guy's beat, and he doesn't even know it," he thought to himself, smiling grimly and with some pleasure. He was in sight of the top of the stairway, and he could sense that Gordon was up there watching him. But he didn't turn around. Gordon was a strange one. Not much scared Vincent -- but he was beginning to wish they'd had someone else with them. He considered calling Mike over, putting him out of his misery. Then again the light was coming in bright and straight through the western windows in the back. Shadows spread out from the corners and counter tops and knit together, the heavy dustfall sparkling in the air.

"You about done up there?" he shouted. After a space, Gordon answered dimly. They locked up and walked out into the vacant street to pack their things into the van. Before long the other three saw and joined them. Mike looked sullen, and Tim looked flush and triumphant, and it was obvious how that had gone. But Marcy was distracted as they prepared to go. She kept going quiet for little moments, here and there. As if she'd picked up a sound just at the edge of hearing.

"What?" Tim asked. "What's wrong?" But she shook her head and smiled and wouldn't say.

Soon they were driving on the long road that circled the subdivision, headed for the entrance. Vincent spotted a loose gutter hanging low on a Lee. He drove serenely for a little while longer, before realizing he must have missed the way out. Soon after that, the Lee's loose gutter appeared again, and he knew he'd made a full circle. He slowed down, watching carefully and sensing that the others were aware they were lost. It seemed impossible, but then the loose gutter loomed ahead for the third time.

"Dammit," Vincent muttered, and for a second he didn't realize Gordon had spoken up from the back.

"Counterclockwise," he said. "It's because you're going counterclockwise. Turn around. Go the other way." And that made no sense, so Vincent ignored it. For awhile. But after half an hour of circling, he suddenly hit the brakes and wheeled the van in a wild U. He didn't want Gordon to be right -- just the thought of it scared him. But within five minutes, he found the exit right where it was supposed to be. It was as if it came out of hiding.

"Tired," he said, loud enough for Gordon to hear. "Must be really tired." But Gordon was asleep by then, unconcerned. They all drove to the hotel without talking about it.

"Get some rest," Vincent told them. "Long week ahead."


(Photo by Sean O'Flaherty. License information here.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Very Special Apocalypse - The Bank Manager's Coffee Break

Two strange things need to be noticed at this point:

First, Clavicle's blood is drying on the wall and the floor, and already it is clear to Donald Shimoda that the documents of his victim are incomplete. The list of Clavicle's blackmailing targets is missing a page. Shimoda could ask Clavicle himself, but he'd have to resurrect him. Trouble is, he's done a rather thorough job of killing him. Besides, he isn't that kind of messiah.

Second, a dark brown van is just then driving past the office complex. A few passersby notice that the driver seems to be wearing a cape. It has a bumper sticker that reads: I'D RATHER BE SCRYING. The van drives a quarter of a mile before passing the parking lot where the missing piece of paper lies in the bushes beside a bank's entrance. This bank will soon get robbed and the piece of paper will be noticed by the thief during the getaway, because of certain details that will become clear later. The bank manager -- who will deal with that crime on the same day homicide detectives tell him he was the last man to see Klavicle alive before his brutal murder -- is right now having his second cup of coffee and trying to relax. It's been a tough week so far, and he hopes nothing too taxing awaits him. Which is evidence that we live in a random and meaningless universe, and none of this is organized for your benefit. Or that someone up there really hates bank managers.

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