Friday, November 13, 2009

Interrogation PT 2

“London who?” Maria twists the fork again.

“London, ye cruel beastie!” The scone howls. “Big Ben, Hyde Park, The Tate, Double Decker buses. London.”

Maria eases up on the fork to look at us. “Anyone know what in the Abyss this thing’s talking about?”

Oh. Yeah. I think we do.

“London,” Avalon says. It’s not in the thoughtful tone. It’s in a slightly bewildered one. Not doubtful. He’s been here too long to doubt much of anything.

Dante looks at him. “The missing city?”

“Formerly missing from the sounds of it.” Avalon digs around in his pocket. “Also, formerly a city if we can trust what Sconey MacScone has said.”

Depending on when you’re reading this, you’re at varying levels of confusion. Some background: London is a big city in the south of a country called England. At some point in your future—or past—London vanishes. It’s not the only place. One day—possibly a Thursday—several cities around your world just aren’t there anymore. I won’t go into specifics of why or how. There’s a generally agreed upon explanation among my people that places the blame mostly on your people. Doesn’t matter. You just need to know those cities reappeared in the Twilight Lands.

Unlike Vancouver, we never found London. Except for the Chronograph. Given the evidence of mean scones and exclamation-bomb carrying pancakes, I’d say London also left the Chronograph to torment us. Obviously, the former city has transformed into a douchebag.

“Where’d you get the brilliant idea to go after Ethan?” Maria twists the fork again.

“Ow! Master was told by a lass calling herself Stellina that the Twilight King was to blame.” A whimper. “Please, I beg of ye, lassie—stop forking me.”

She looks to us. Waits. Avalon nods. She pulls the fork free and offers it to him. Accepting, he returns it to the table. Whether he wants it or not, she’s handed him the leadership of our little group. Makes sense. He’s the one with seniority. Dante hasn’t picked a vocation yet. (He’s told me there’s pressure for him to be an accountant like his father.)

“Where can we find this Stellina?” Maria asks.

“No, I’ll not tell ye that.” Sconey MacScone shudders. “I fear her far more than I fear ye.”

Maria reaches for the fork. Avalon stops her with a little shake of his head.

“Looking for Stellina doesn’t address the larger problem.” He traces something on the object he’s pulled out of his pocket. “We need to speak with London.”

“I’ll not tell ye where my master is, either.”

“You will, Sconey MacScone.” Avalon displays the small silver circle in his palm. “I’ve named you.”

A single glyph glows on the mirror. Sconey MacScone has been written above.

“Well played,” Dante says.

Yeah. I wish I’d had the resistance to exclamation marks that would’ve allowed me to think of naming the pancake. Dante would have never had to step in to save me from it later. I could have just made it drown itself in syrup.

“I don’t understand,” Maria says. “Why is naming it a big deal? I mean, how do we even know that’s what it’s called?”

“When you name something, you get power over it,” Dante explains. “Well, you do if you do it properly.”

It’s recommended you to go to school and get certified as a mirror mage first. But if you do, your parents might try to convince you to become an accountant.

Avalon indicates the mirror. “You can challenge this, if you like.”

I think the scone is sulking. It’s making discontent noises as it vibrates slightly on its plate.

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Dante crosses his arms. “There’s just a little life in you. It’s not enough will to counter a naming. Even the daf—dumb pancake had more.”

The plate rattles violently against the table.

Maria looks at me. “What’s going on?”

I finger my headphones. “I…really have no idea.”

It’s true. I don’t. As exciting as my life is, angry Scottish not-cakes aren’t something I see a lot. My people are a lot less silly when it comes to their means for revenge.

Dante gets a funny look on his face and grabs either of us. Pulls us away from the table. Avalon grabs his mug—it’s one of those big wide ones—and tosses what’s left inside into a nearby plant. Slams the upside down cup over the plate.

Parts of the scone don’t fit inside. They vibrate madly for another few seconds then explode. Like BOOM. Really. The plate goes skidding the table. Takes the fork with it. Maria yells. Dante grabs her. We duck. Shield our eyes. A cranberry scores a trail of gunky red across my hand.

When the crumbs settle, there’s a cranberry splattered against the nearby wall. Shards of a once-plate and crumbs strew the floor like limbs. Another berry-shrapnel is embedded in the counter.

The barista doesn’t meet my eyes as he walks over. He’s got a broom. And the frown of someone doing everything he can to keep his temper so he doesn’t lose his job.

“I think it’s time you left, sir,” he says to Avalon.

Avalon’s turn to frown. Not at the sir. It looks like a cranberry is smeared across his jacket.

“Of course,” he says. I’m not sure if he’s talking to the barista, but the barista nods and looks satisfied. Avalon’s jacket says nothing.

Dante and Maria untangle from each other. There’s a general lack of blushing. My respect for her increases. Not only is she mean with a fork, she knows the difference between survival and snuggling.

“What happened?” she asks, as the barista leaves. “I mean, I get that the scone thing exploded. But why? Because it wouldn’t do what you told it to?”

“No.” Dante picks crumbs out of his hair. “It was destroyed from afar. There must have been a link to his creator. London was using the scone for surveillance.”

She gives him a look that says and you know this how?

“The plate rattling. Power built up. Overloaded the scone.” He flicks the crumb on the floor. “A vassal that simple can’t hold a great deal of power.”

“Should that be possible?” I ask Avalon. “Since when could former places create things?”

He shrugs. “Last I checked, possible didn’t have a lot of sway once the dream fields were involved.”

The barista clears his throat. In that way meant to assert authority. It doesn’t mean anything. If he thinks we’re city guardians, he knows he can’t really make us leave. Not if we don’t want to. But if we were city guardians, we wouldn’t risk making him feel uncomfortable by staying.

Avalon lifts the mug that’s managed to remain upright on the table. Sniffs it. Pushes it into my hands.

“I don’t see any crumbs in it,” he says. “Finish your latte.”

I point to the mug and give the barista an authoritative look. “I’m taking this with me.”

He sighs. “Fine. Whatever.”

“Thanks.” Dante smiles at him. Guides Maria toward the door with a hand. “We’ll be going now.”

“I’m keeping it, too,” I mutter. Sip my lukewarm sweet caffeine.

“You tell him, E,” Avalon says. Real quiet. So the barista doesn’t actually hear. Neither does Dante.

We leave through the glass doors. Go out into the street. I hear bicycle bells in the distance. Talking. The metallic clack of gates opening. Robson’s no longer asleep.

I don’t think Stellina is as involved in this as Sconey MacScone would have us believe. I know she didn’t send the pancake that claimed to be delivering her message. I can’t doubt she’d tell the former city of London to seek vengeance against the Twilight King. It’s absolutely something she would do, but her harmonies didn’t accompany the pancake attack. Someone’s trying to put the blame on her.

A little while ago for me—again, I don’t know when it was for you—Stellina was involved in something sneaky. She had a deal go bad on her. It’s part of what made Maria Not Right. Why Val isn’t here and Avalon is. How Dante knows about Oliver. Now, it appears it’s also the reason why I was assaulted by my breakfast.

All these threads getting tangled together might make you think of words like Fate and Destiny. I get that. Trufax: There’s a wannabe puppet-master at work here. But let’s not flatter her. This isn’t destiny. She’s working probabilities and people same as I do. Maybe I can’t spin right now, but when I get my rhythms back she is going to get a beat smackdown so big she won’t be able to escape its echoes.

Teach her to ruin pancakes for me.

“So.” Dante tucks his hands in his pockets. “How do we find the former city of London?”

“Simple.” Avalon slips on his jacket. “We report it missing.”


John Evans said...

Obviously, the former city has transformed into a douchebag.


“So.” Dante tucks his hands in his pockets. “How do we find the former city of London?”

“Simple.” Avalon slips on his jacket. “We report it missing.”

That's pretty awesome. I don't know what it means, but it's quite intriguing. :D

Chandra Rooney said...

I'm considering using Obviously, the former city of London has transformed into a douchebag as my twitter bio.

Ethanael said...

You can, but you must pay me $5 first.