Prologue – The Quiet City (a Halloween sampler)

The Quiet City

By Tom Pogson

Prologue

It started the moment she locked the door.

As soon as the gold-colored tumblers of the deadbolt clicked into place she felt something inside of her twist. Her chest felt tight; her neck like it was swarming with spiders.

Then came a tremor in the cartilage of her bones, in her sinews and the fiber that binds a soul to the earth. Amy knew she was in the worst kind of trouble.

Something had felt wrong since she left the employee entrance of the British Columbia Archives building beside the museum. Skirting the long concrete bench she climbed the eight stone steps to the sunlight and traffic of Government Street. Even with the warmth of afternoon sun on her face she could not lose the feeling that something wrong was weighing her down. It was not like those final nights she had with her cousin Amber. This was not sorrow or guilt. It was bigger. There was no shaking this off.

Amy Paul crossed the road, passing the grey stone buildings of the Victoria Legislature, hurrying past the stone memorials and the fountain on her way to her apartment on Croft Street. It was the same thing she usually did with the exception that she did not feel like stopping off anywhere on the way home. Normally something would tempt her in. As she got closer to home it felt like she was hearing the drone of a nearby bee farm.

Now on the other side of her front door, it felt like she was inside of the hive.

Cautiously Amy lowered her backpack to the floor. Strands of her long brown hair rested on her glasses as she moved slowly, no idea what was keeping her so fearful. The bag slumped against the brown wooden closet in her front entrance way as she turned around for the hallway light switch. It was early November, so the little one-bedroom apartment was still illuminated by a soft silver-grey seeping through her drapes.

She could not see anything different as her brown fingers slid up the to the plastic rectangular fixture, setting upon the curved plastic light switch.

Listening to the still air as the lights came on, the soft tungsten glow spilled into the kitchen and the living room. The only sound was her grandma’s old metal fan on the dresser in the bedroom that she never turned off.

Amy stepped forward and turned on the kitchen light beside the rounded green fridge. She looked towards the dining room table where the wide silver smudge bowl that Aunty Kathy gave her rested next to a ceramic bowl of bright red apples. She looked towards to the bedroom, which had become slightly darker, save for the softening light from between the curtains.

It did seem dark for that time of year.

It did seem quiet.

Then the air became heavy. Amy froze. It was like you had a giant racehorse breathing on your cheek, but the kind of horse that wanted to drive you straight through the drywall.

Her head turned.

Black swirling terror froze the blood in her veins. Growing in the still air of the kitchen, the gathering black seemed made up of something between flies and finger-sized daggers. Next came a horrible hissing, tearing noise as the shape formed before her, the figure always in motion, its changing form darting around a widening mouth and red orange eyes. Jagged orifices of eye sockets, nostrils and non-existent lips perpetually altered in shape, the undulating spectral skin continuing to swim and scurry as its throat brought forth sounds from hell’s deepest heart. From there, the demon shrieked with a fury that could have dropped her to the floor.

Instead she ran, bolting around the wood division in the apartment’s center into her living room, the creature passing straight through the fridge and the cupboards to the other side causing her to leap back as it emerged with a horrifying smile.

Her first-floor patio door latch was stuck. She pushed on the latch, the white plastic refusing to budge as the spectre slunk closer. Desperately Amy tried throwing whatever she could find at the horrible face that sneered at her, shoes and books and her large white coffee mug just passing through it. She ran back around through the kitchen to the hallway, the demon following and screaming inches from the hairs on the soft nape of her neck. She tried the deadbolt at the front door, but it would not move. The gold latch was as solid and stiff as if it had never been made to turn.

“You’re mine!” it screamed from every direction in a cacophony of thousands of horrible voices.

She ran through the kitchen again, hoping to this time smash a window but it appeared there as well, blocking the way. Each way she tried to turn it faced her, shrieking almost victoriously, until Amy was cowering, trembling in the corner of the dining room, under the table holding onto the smooth curved ash table leg.

Then it began laughing at her crumpled shape, a horrible grating noise surrounding the young woman as the demon neared her from the kitchen. It grew in size and darkness until it blotted out the light from above. Then another demon just like it appeared and began closing in, this one from the living room where it rose from behind the couch. Then another appeared and another.

A demon rose up behind her, right out of the wall, followed by five more, all of them now laughing viciously, the sound becoming a single scream. All of them wanted her death.

The first one gave a great scream like the roar of a thousand eagles, the room shaking and the table snapping in two above her. Red apples scattered across the floor.

In front of Amy’s near crumpled form fell the sage stick and her mother’s zippo cigarette lighter with the Jack Daniels engraving.

Without thinking or realization she snatched the lighter and the sage, her body smoothly swinging into unconscious motion. She rose.

Into the hellish hurricane she stood defiant, her back arching and her frame becoming taller than she even was. The noise in the room rose to piercing as the stick of sage began to burn, the white plumes of smoke billowing by her side.

Her eyes were not her own. They were ablaze with an ancient light. In a world that even the very stones beneath were in consistent flux, those oak brown eyes faced out like the one single purest element. Walls shook as if the entire city was about to sink.

By the Great Spirit, you will leave!

Louder than bombs she screamed, swinging the sage like a sword.

*** bonus teaser, Chapter One first half ! ***

Chapter One

Homecoming

Morning light through glass squares of a patio door flooded the dark wooden stairwell as he hurried up panting. Enoch found every day busier than before, ever since taking ownership of the Inn less than a year back. He didn’t have time for this, even if he knew he had agreed to it. Betty was sick. He needed to hire more staff somehow. Everything was piled up.

In the room at the end of the hall, Daniel was sitting on the soft white linen bed with the copper frame. He felt only slightly lethargically numb since he was not actually sure if he had fallen asleep.

A knock at the door broke the quiet.

“Mr. Whitmore!” came the voice of the older man.

“Yes Sir?”

“Well…it’s your wake-up call Mr. Whitmore. Seven thirty!” He said through the five- panel door. “Would you like breakfast brought up to you?”

“Umm…no, no that’s ok Mr. Sage,” he called out, “I’ll be right down!”

The response from the man outside was him knocking on another door further down the hall on the top floor of the Prairie Inn, the sound muffled as Daniel rubbed his eyes and got up to dress. Without even thinking he took out one of his Duke, Sons and Co cigarettes from the pack on the table and lit a match. Taking a drag, he went over to the source of the morning sun.

The room had two windows, both tall and rectangular running from the roof to only a little ways off the floor. The north-facing side with the tall chair in front of it looked towards a small cluster of shops, post office, little homesteads and the hutch-like railway station nestled amongst the woodland. Daniel stood facing the other sunnier window, morning sun streaming in through the light cotton curtains. Wearing only his white linen pajama bottoms with the blue drawstring, he looked outside to see what he could not have made out when he arrived the night before.

From the railway tracks that passed just yards from the steps of the hotel, he saw a single dirt road running east to west between the rolling fields where two farmers were already busy under the cool mid-October sun. A single country road crossed just beyond the first ridge, evident by a single horse drawn carriage that rolled along, it’s black hood like a little sail crossing a sea of sporadic woodlands, farmland and irrigation.

Except for the white capped mountains in the distance there was very little to remind Daniel Whitmore of his last clerical posting in the young town of Cranbrook, deep in the Kootenay Mountains.

Now on the Saanich Peninsula the only sounds was the singing of little chestnut chickadees that had decided to make a nearby poplar their gathering place.

He blew smoke towards the window which curled up over the wood frame towards the sky. In the clear glass ashtray on the dresser he extinguished the single red ember of his cigarette.

His little room it was so peaceful after the steamship journey through the Gulf Islands, and before that, the port of Vancouver.

The train he now needed to Victoria was not for another hour and a half so he decided he would get something to eat first from the pub downstairs and maybe a cup of coffee. He grabbed his felt hat of the low-slung white dresser, clicked the door latch, and went out into the hall.

An hour later he walked out into the warm light of a near cloudless morning, Daniel in a slight hurry toward the village up the tracks.

The little hut with the words “Turgoose” written in black ink over it’s rain cover was empty as he climbed onto the dusty slats of the wooden platform. The wood creaked under his weight, which was still somewhat slight even after being a regiment veteran of the South African war as a younger man. Now at thirty-two, the only clue to this was his colt six shooter that still travelled with him, concealed deep within his case.

*** to be continued…***

Thank you for reading and supporting independent artists! If you enjoyed this please link and follow me! Have a great Halloween!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

Who was Jack the Ripper? The Quiet City blog article

The year was 1888.

The place was Whitechapel, east London, England.

In a year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the height of the British empire a single person would thrust the world into the next century. A single murderer, a serial killer would push social change and create a legend that is still mysterious and compelling today.

From a letter that started “Dear Boss” referring to George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, the name was born. Whether it came from the killer we will never know, but it was crudely signed “From Hell, Jack the Ripper.”

Between August and November of that year is believed to be the Ripper’s main period of activity. During that time seven or more kills are attributed to Jack, with five that cannot be questioned.

Called the Canonical Five, their deaths shocked people around the world with the sheer brutality and the Ripper’s ability to kill so savagely and then seemingly blend into the night. It did not help that crime scene investigation was still in it’s infancy with the exception of the French legend Eugene Francois Vidocq in 1857 who incidentally inspired both Sir Authur Conan Doyle with his character “Sherlock Holmes” and Victor Hugo with his character “Jean Valjean.”

The Canonical Five were, in order…

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly

Whitechapel 1888

Named the Whitechapel Murderer and Leather Apron for a piece of cloth that was left at the crime scene of Catherine Eddowes (though it could have also been a piece of her own clothing) the number of possible suspects are numerous.

Many are connected to aspects of the crimes and a few have confessed but with no final conviction ever publicly made.

William Henry Bury caught the attention of Ripper investigator Frederick Abberline for the fact that Bury had killed his own wife in a similar way to the death of first victim Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols.

Thomas Neil Cream who had been a killer in both North America and England, and was a doctor with the knowledge of anatomy that would have assisted in the killers more vicious trademarks famously had the last words while being hung “I am Jack the…

There is the Royal Conspiracy, portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movie “From Hell”, which involved members of the freemasons leaping to the defense of the Royal family who were being blackmailed by a prostitute.

There was polish immigrant George Chapman who had poisoned three of his wives before being hung in 1903. Like Thomas Cream he had a high degree of medial knowledge which is still debated as to whether necessary. Many maintain that a butcher could have been just as effective, provided the person had the strength to inflict the wounds that were done so deeply and quickly. The change in way of killing makes Chapman also potentially unlikely.

Francis Tumblety was another possible killer who knew Whitechapel well. Arrested for gross indecancy he collected uteruses and pretended to be a doctor. He fled London in November 1888 at the end of the murders though his kind of kill never came up again in the North American cities where he fled to, something unusual for a serial killer.

Most famous and considered very possible was Aaron Kosminski, a 23 year old polish immigrant who was certified insane in 1891 and was committed an asylum. His name first appears in a police constables memo as a possible killer with a strong hatred of women and homocidal tendancies. One theory is that the police themselves kept his incarceration quiet as no good could come from the suggestion that a polish jew was guilty of something that had already incited antisemtic and racial hatred in the London streets. Kosminksi also resembled a man who ran from a constable during one of the murders. But there is also every possibilty that his connections to the murders was put in place to create the perfect hated scapegoat so even with recent findings involving the DNA of a decendant of Kosminski we will never know.

In The Quiet City I will bring in my own version of the ripper again, one connected to Whitechapel but in very new and hopefully unexpected way.

Thank you for reading my blog post and if you like it and want to know more about my historical thriller set in Victoria Canada, please follow and give this post a like! I have more blogs planned before I launch the book as well as the “Writer” section of my site which has links to some of my other work including the Telus Optik winner “Ollie and Emma”.

Thank you again for supporting indepedant artists!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

The Room called OOG

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Hi there!  My name is Cece Sawyer.  I am Tom’s girlfriend and I have a very strange tale to tell.

It all started back when we moved into the little apartment in Victoria, British Columbia a couple years ago.  Tom was always working.  Every single day it was a kiss goodbye before heading out to his office to do writing, heading out to do shows with the band or heading out to clean the big building up in Saanich.  He’d send me little texts now and again to let me know how things were going, and after doing some housework I would keep myself occupied with coming up with ideas or meeting the neighbours.  This would usually happen when I went downstairs to get the mail or do the laundry.

There were two strange things about the building.  One was how the staircase on the front of the building lead to a big empty room with plants.  We live on the top floor so this room is just one floor above us.  I remember when I first went up there.  The room was dark so I actually wondered for a moment if I was intruding on someone else’s space.

“Hello?” I said as I neared the dark room.

It was a bit silly as I found out, turning on the light to reveal a single room on the top of the building, filled with old furniture.  It was like someone had gone to a second hand store and bought everything.  Big leafy green plants were in every corner.  There was an old record player with one of those metal horns that you only see pictures of.  There were old couches that looked like the one my Grandma had in our house on the Beecher Bay Reservation where I was born.

And there were books.  So many books and old copies of National Geographic that I also hadn’t seen since being at Grandma’s house.  She had them in the basement and didn’t want to throw them out because they were Grandpa’s.  I recognized one of the ones that were on the coffee table in the room.  I was from the 1960’s and had a big pull out map of the moon.  There were issues with that classic yellow border about Zimbabwe and Nepal and the first plays in Greece.  I liked reading when Tom was away so at first I would just pop upstairs and go through the books.  Some of them were kept in this one shelf with a glass case and they looked very old, like they had been rescued from a sunken sea chest.  I had to be very careful as I open these books as the binding was very frail and the first couple pages had disappeared.

I did this until months ago when I asked our neighbour about the other room.

Down by the laundry room, and around the corner from the mailboxes was this room or apartment, or at least a door that had no number.  Over the security viewing hole, like an apartment’s door, was the word “OOG.”

To this day I’m not entirely sure why it said that, even with what I know now.  Or I think I have an idea.

Anyways, I noticed after a while that I had never seen anyone ever coming in our out of that door.  I was sure I would bump into someone when I carried our big, round laundry basket downstairs but it never happened.  I feel a little bad about this, but one time I even dared myself to listen closely.  I never had the nerve to knock or go right up to it. 

So, I ended up talking to our neighbour Wayne who had lived next to us on the top floor the whole time.  He’s lived there for just years and he was always going upstairs to take care of the plants. 

“Oh, that’s just storage.  Yeah, no-one actually lives there,” he laughed as he went upstairs with his mail.

So that was that, but don’t worry because it gets way weirder.

It was when I was doing laundry downstairs, in the big white room next to the OOG door.  I had just done the dry cycle and was putting clothes on the long table under the bulletin board.  Everything was going normal as I was taking clothes from the white basket and organizing them when one of the socks fell off the table and went right behind the dryer.  I was annoyed of course, but more relieved it missed the garbage with all the lint in it so I moved that out of the way and went down to reach behind the dryer.  The sock had somehow gone into this little square opening on the back of a dryer which was sort of hard to get to.  After moving the whole dryer a little and squeezing behind there I finally got it and was about to leave when a flash of something got my attention.

It was a key.  Attached to the key was a little brown wooden tag that said, you guessed it, “OOG.”

Now I know what I really should have done.  I should have popped it in the mail slot in the office since it was clearly property of the building and maybe they needed it to get into the storage room.  But maybe they had another key.  Surely they would have noticed if a key went missing.  I sat there kneeling for a bit looking at the little copper colored key and its wooden tag for a moment.  I heard the click of the front door of the building close and some people talking and at that moment the key slipped into my pocket.

I gathered up the rest of my laundry and went upstairs.

With the laundry put away and everything else done, my mind was immediately drawn back to the key.  I seriously tried to not think about it.  That was impossible.  I mean, it couldn’t hurt to look inside the little room.  I mean it was just a storage room and the building manager was only here for an hour in the morning.  It was already the afternoon.  As long as I closed the door behind me, no one would be the wiser.

And that’s exactly what I did, my heart just pounding the whole time until I closed the OOG door from the other side and found the light switch.

It was a storage room, alright.  It wasn’t just boxes but tonnes of stuff that I couldn’t work out what they were for.  The room had been a large bachelor suite on the lower front of the building and light from outside crept through the white curtains into the low light from the overhead, illuminating the dust and the hodge-podge of everything from long water pipes, to sinks to very old appliances.  I walked along the wall just kind of having a look.  I couldn’t see anything that was really that interesting as everything looked a bit old and I didn’t want to actually take anything from the room because that would be stealing.

After all, my rule was I was going to just look.  So, I was just looking.

Then I got to the door.  Not the same door that I had come from but one at the corner by the front window.  It was interesting to me because there was a door in the laundry room, so I naturally supposed this was going to lead back into that.  It was kind of funny as the door wouldn’t really need to be there.  The laundry room was literally around the corner from the front door so why would this flat need a second door just for that?  I opened it and came into a hallway.

That’s right, a hallway.

It was very short and went to another door that was locked from this side.  I have no doubt in my mind now that the second door is the door to the laundry room.  I’ve never gone through that way because that isn’t the interesting bit.  Stepping into the hallway is when it got interesting.

This is when I discovered what I have just come to call The Grotto.

For you see, between the door back into OOG and the door into the white tiles of the laundry room was an intersection of a hallway that sloped sharply down towards a blue painted door that had been left slightly open.  I could not resist this.  I went down and, just like upstairs…

“Hello?”

Nothing.

Going inside was a like a trip back into the nineteen sixties, not that I had ever been there.  What I found below what I thought was the lowest floor of the building was a fully furnished and rather extravagantly laid out apartment.  There was an old fridge that was thankfully empty (in no-one had been down here since the sixties…UGH!), big raised couches that curved around like something out of a magazine, doors of beads, paintings, more books and in one room there was even blankets hanging from the roof.  There was a glass ball in water that when you turned it on would turn about and put out little clouds of white smoke.  There were little eves in the wall that had shot glasses from all over the world and two pistols over the couch with mother of pearl grips.  There was some very expensive looking wine and family photos in the kitchen.  There was this one room that was locked and so help me, I couldn’t open that one.

And the photos!  The place was obviously rented by a very handsome young man back in the day, because he seemed to be in every photo next to famous people from Freddy Mercury to the Dali Lama. 

It took me a moment to realize…someone was still paying for this place.  Someone was paying for it but no-one had been down here in decades.  I looked to see if the television still worked, like the electricity.

It did. 

And this is where things got really crazy.

(To be continued!)

Diner Lights Ep1 Road’s End

Bus Depot on Douglas Street, Victoria, BC 2014

Sam knew something was wrong.  It was the first time they had ever separated, but the reason for it seemed perfectly legit.

“Ok man, can you just go ahead and we’ll meet you there.  We’ve gotta sort shit out with Donna.”

That was the last thing Gav told him at the bus station in Vancouver.  The gig that night didn’t happen because it never would have.  The next one was a fall through as well for reasons of some kind of confusion between Donna and the venue which turned out to have way less money and naturally Gav wasn’t going to go for that.  They could have played anyways but Gav was in a mood.  Donna suggesting busking didn’t help.  Nothing like being stuck in a rainy night in a hotel where everyone pretends the others aren’t there.

The next show would have been some place called Steamers in Victoria.  There was a local funk band called Three Sixty that was going to open.

Sam sat on the wooden bench inside the old bus station, looking stupidly through the houses in a real estate magazine.  It was the only thing you could count on to be free.

There were payphones but he didn’t know if they were on the ferry or even on that last leg that goes through all the farms and small communities in the Saanich Peninsula.

All he could do is wait.  He looked inside his pack of cigarettes.  Not many, but he wasn’t too bad.  He looked around but the place still had those ashtrays on the metal stands so he lit up and blew smoke towards the stained plaster roof.

“Excuse me!”

Sam almost dropped the smoke as he looked up to see a man looking at him from behind the sliding glass window of the bus station’s office.

“Sorry, man…I thought,” he said pointing towards the ashtray.  Some places were becoming non-smoking but then, why would the ashtray still be out?

“No, no you got a phone call buddy.”

Sam butted the dart out and went over to the glass window, the next of his guitar bag hanging over his bag on the end of the long bench.

He picked up the phone.

And got the news.

The band was over.  Donna and Gav had just this huge fight.  Like, huge.  Like cops were involved.  They hoped he could somehow get back to Perry Sound.  After that Sam didn’t really take in what they were saying.  He just felt faint.

“Yeah, that’s fine.  I understand.  No it’s ok.”

Sam gazed off into space while the man in the back occasionally looked at the young man with the mess of dark hair whose face had just gone pale.

“Right.  Bye.”

He put the plastic black phone back on it’s cradle and nodded to the man with the striped white shirt and grey balding hair.

“You ok, there?”

“Oh, uh thanks,” Sam stammered “Yeah.”

Sam went back to his stuff and just sat there.  He picked the cigarette out of the ashtray and struggled to find his lighter.  Then it wouldn’t light.

“Come on!”

Nothing.  It was out.  He tried shaking it.  Sometimes that stuff works.  It didn’t

“Here,” said the older guy holding out a pack of matches.

“Oh, thanks man!” he said quickly getting them and sitting back down again.  He lit up and looked at the matches that said Empress Taxi.

He had some money but only just enough to get back to Ontario.  That’s what he should do,, he thought.   Back to the group home where he was staying. Back to that tiny room in late October with the frozen air coming off Superior.  He looked at the board and the next bus back to the big station across from Science World was coming up.  He would have to buy a ticket soon.  From there he could get a bus to Winnipeg and from there he could get that same route they took months ago, just heading east.

He sat with his smoke and looked out the window where the bus that brought him here was still lurking under the canopy out of the light rain.

 

(Ps I must add, my band is fine lol)

 

Bard – Chapter One

958-mossy-tree-bark-1920x1080-nature-wallpaper“Well, this is certainly awkward.”

There wasn’t much else to say at that point.  I was lying face up in the Commons of the Bly Forest, as place that is as sacred as it pretty much gets with more and more Jeekan faces glaring down at me.  And it was not comfortable either.  When you finish coming down from a climb of the Tiki Tree you usually have people to help you up.  They pat you on the back and talk to you.  They’re excited for you.  Not me.  And fair enough really, considering that the tree that was behind me did not use to exist.  I made a tree.  Around here that was kind of a big deal.

We live in trees, us Jeekas.  Trees are our thing, pretty much.  I was born in one.  I learned to climb before I could walk.  Our red wand soldier Jeekas have a drawing of the mighty Tiki Tree on their shields.  They were not just a part of every moment of a furry little guy’s life.  They were downright mystical.  The Bly Forest has long been called the Po-Ha Spirit Shal-Than’s sacred garden.  Indeed, from where I was lying I could barley make out the afternoon sky, filtering its way through the dense foliage high above.  The Tiki Tree, or this side of it, took the most of my view.  That thing wasn’t a tree when you stood before it like I had done the day before.  It was a mountain. It was sheer wall of bark ascending into dense foliage with skybug lanterns swinging above the whole of the Commons. It took long to climb, which is saying something because climbing with our fore and hind claws was kind of something we are known in Tarsha to be good at.  All around the Commons, which is the sweet grass circle between the Tiki and the wand trees, we numbered in the hundreds.  The event was over but lots were sticking around to see what would happen with me.

Ok, they all were.

Because of that it took a while for Readspa Weet and his horrible little nephew Dinnlen Weet some time to push through the crowd to get to me.  Readspa was the Seat of the Tree, the head governor of all the Bly.  I was not looking forward to meeting him as I lay below the curved branch that had brought me to the forest floor.

“There he is Uncle!” Dinnlen said as he got close “There’s Jeebles!”

Oh, yeah…Dinnlen was enjoying himself thoroughly.  One more thing I had done wrong.  One more thing to go to a governor about, and he was related to the top.  The guy was in spoiled rich pup heaven.

“Don’t you have workers you would rather be lashing, Dinlenn?” I said.  We were never really super close.

I didn’t see him.  He was clearly standing back a ways from me, along with some of the others in the crowd, as though they didn’t know what I was going to do next.  Perhaps I was going to turn into a Turweef spider and begin lashing in every direction.  Truth is I had just had fallen hard from the rope branch that hung like a thick snake above my head.  So when it came to lashing out with anything, I could barely move.  Then two Jeekas did come close.  Dominion Red Guards.  Seeing those two standing above me with wands drawn to my face was enough to get my attention.  I shelved my snarkyness in an hurry.  The gemstones from both wands were close enough that I could almost grab them, which would be, of course, immensly stupid.

The gemstones swirled like eddies in a river, not pulsing but glowing steady with a heat that cannot be described in terms of temperature.  You just felt the fire within those pure shards of Si.  You knew about the power of rock-thrower, that could send stones beneath you into a hail of the fastest missles.  You knew that the guards simply had to touch your skin and let the power seep into your flesh.  The fire would reach your center like rot shredding its way into a trees very root.

“Get him up,” came a command from a gentle firm voice.

With wands still on my face, another set of strong arms hoisted me to my hindpaws.  Still feeling a bit shaky, I padded myself down for a moment and thanked them for helping me up, which did not receive much in the way of smiles.  In the crowd behind Readspa Weet and Dinnlen I could see some of the others moving their muzzles side to side slowly.  They weren’t eating.  That movement came from how we Jeekas chatter out teeth, which again has nothing to do with how cold it is.  It’s always the perfect climate in the Commons.  No, chattering our teeth is something we do when we are angry.  Well, that or afraid.  Or someone just sent a hundred foot tree rocketing from the soil beneath them into the sky like a ship crashing into a headland.  I was just that popular that day.

“You care to explain what happened Fleet Jeebles?”

I just looked at him.  I actually was trying organize my thoughts so I could work out where in the story should start.

Climbing the Tiki was a rite of passage for Jeekas my age.  You got to the top, took a rope branch down to one of the six trees, got the wand that decided how you would serve the Bly and then come down.  Dinnlen had just done it, as had Teekthie (from the Tikitaa district like Dinnlen.  Hated her.) Bithel (from the Heepata like me.  Nice guy, and I’m not just saying that because he was working class too.  Kind of dull though.  There, I said it.) and about forty other Jeeklings.  Jeeklings going up the tree.  Jeekas of the Bly coming down.

I was a Jeeka now.  And boy, was I in the deep fertilizer.

“I got in an arguement with Dinnlen, sir,” I managed “It was nothing.”

And that was a give my head a shake moment.  Why in blackness did I go there?  I could have just said that I didn’t know.  I could have said that it was the darndest thing.  But straight away with “Golden Trousers” himself leering, I knew that Dinnlen had told Readspa his version of our arguement on the top of the Tiki.  I was a bit of a fistfight in probably the most dangerous place in Tarsha to do that.  Not only is it high, high…I can’t even describe how high up it is…but the intense Si of that place doesn’t exactly approve of people fighting or indeed having a little sightseeing moment.  Everything started to sway and Dinnlen and I had to jump onto the first rope branch we could see.  Our harnesses clicked into place and down we went, flying and spiralling around through the clouds on our way back.  He vanished from my sight as I burst through one cloud and into another, the rope branch swinging and diving past others until it came to its end.  The end was still high off the ground and without a wand tree in sight.  I firmly believed I was fertilizer myself when…well…I made a tree.

I explained all this to Readspa.  At least I think I did.  No Jeeka, not even the red army could beat the Seat of the Tree for looking intimdating.  His purple stone wand could tell you if you told the littlest fib and he was a very tall elder with eyes that looked right into you.  He got to his position by his extraordinary insight and razor sharp wisdom.  I’m not being sarcastic there.  You would not want to play a game of stones with Readspa Weet.  He came from generations of great governors.  His great grandsire had been the one to settle the war between the Lotherans of Laboi Canyon and the Bly.  Their weapons still remained in the stone columns before the Clay City of Tercichio thousands of leagues away as a sign of peace.  I guess the idea behind that was that neither of us could get those great weapons back.  Only the immortal Vakkal could enter their home.  The Si energy in that place would drive any mortal Si mad if we tried to enter.

Anyways, back in the soft cool of the Commons, I couldn’t really look at Readspa as I explained what I think had just happened.  I told him about getting the wand in the empty round room.  I told him about the wierd inscriptions on the walls, running around the ridge between the round wall and the solid ceiling.  There was also the fact that the empty room was in a tree that came out of nowhere just moments before.  And there I was standing before him with a pure white wand in the wand-sheath behind me with no color at all, so it looked like someone had made some kind of mistake somewhere.  The wands were orange for a worker, green for a farmer (that was my father’s kind) red for a warrior, blue for a healer, purple for a governor, and yellow for a seer.  Mine was like some wierd kind of exclamation point.

Dinlenn said I threatened him which was kind of annoying.  We threatened each other.  Actually, we threatened lots of other Jeeklings because they had to get past us scraping to get to the rope branches.  That’s the kind of thing perfectly sane people do.

“Fleet, have you ever been outside of the Bly Forest?” he asked bringing his wand between us.  The light from its regal purple began to glow.

“Um…no…sir,” I stammered.  I hadn’t.  He knew that was true immediately.

“Have you ever been near the Southern gate?  Sands of Umahh?”

“No sir.”

He considered me for a moment and then, with his wands ability to amplify his voice he sent everyone on their way.  Dinlenn protested but he was met with the same authority from those sharp eyes.  Suddenly I had the very wierd experience of standing in the soft coolness of the Commons with Readspa Weet.  Well, and his gaurds.  He wasn’t that reckless.

“Follow me little one,” he said with a concerned face before leading me back to the Tiki Tree, to the other side where between giant natural curves in the grain we entered the Room of Roots.

I was made to wait in the that round lower room with its ceiling that was so high that you couldn’t actually see it, sunlight streaming in from where I had entered and through a similar entrance far to my right.   Guards stood by the door to the upper rooms across from me, the whole interior carved into the base of the Tiki Tree ages ago.

There were benchs all around the circular room with a darker wood star in the center.  The star had six points, one for each of the gemwands.  I sat with the quiver behind me holding the wand whose gemstone did not belong.  The thick cloth and metal hook still hung there on my back too from when it held me to the rope branches in the sky high above.  The guards did not look at me.  They stood like statues, hands behind there back, next to the skybug lite stairway that climbed out of sight.  I had never been in the room before.  I had spent most of my time in the working class district of the Heepata far to the southwest except for when I was born.  I was born in the Typlem Hollow on the north border where we had a grain farm.  That was before my father’s accident.  We had lots of food before entering the Bly-supported trees of Heepata.  I had been in that district for so long that I could barely remember those days of playing with my little sister in the tall grasses and the open sunlight that danced on the Dawzu River.  It flowed far from the Great Eastern Range and the eastern canyons before passing through the Bly and under it.  I had been in the submarine trails where some Jeekas lived below the surface.  Down there it was all giant roots and skybugs dancing above the white water and pathways.  On the wall above me was a giant drawing of the Bly Forest and it’s communities.  We rarely left the Forest other than in goodwill parties to the city of South Leah far away.  That didn’t happen that often.  We were still somewhat shy when it came to Lothrans.  I had seen one when I was a little Jeekling pup.  Or at least I think I had.  My father met someone on the northern road before the Bly Gate.  They talked and I watched from a distance with my mother keeping a firm grip on the fur behind my neck.  That was probably a very good idea at the time.  I’ve never been known for my self restraint.  That rumor wasn’t helping me much now.

“Meepsa!”

My sisters name.  My father’s voice!  I suddenly sat bold upright on the smooth ashwood bench.  Creet Jeeble’s voice came from the other door to my right, sunlight and tiny sparkles of air playing in its bright north western entrance.  That’s where suddenly I saw a very familiar sight.  The sight of soft white and hazel fur around black excited eyes.

“Big brother?” came her little voice, it’s little sound echoing into the vast chamber.

I looked at the guards, worried, and then back at her.  They hadn’t moved or anything.  I guess someone two and a half feet armed with a birchwood doll wasn’t a major threat.  Still, it was Meepsa, here, in the same room as Jeekas who could…I went over to her as quickly as I could within breaking into anything that looked like a run.

“Meepsa!” Father called again from somewhere close.

“In here!” I called out the window as the little Jeekling raced up to my legs and with her muzzle to one side which still pressed into my stomach, she hugged my legs with all of her might.

“Oh, there you are!” Creet Jeebles, that’s my Father, said “Are you ok?”

“I’m great, sir.  Um…” I said turning to the guards and motioning to the bench “Is it ok if my family sits on the…”

They didn’t move.  I guess it wasn’t not ok since they didn’t seem to be opposed to it.  I still felt nervous with those red wands near my family.  I felt nervous with them near me.  I mean I had been in trouble with the local governors for getting in fights with upper crush twits like Dinlenn, but I never had those guys around.

“Ok,” I said to the people I loved most in the world like someone at a district meeting “Try to keep it down a little bit.  I’m waiting for Readspa Weet to come back.  He told me to wait here.”

“Readspa Weet!” my Father said “And the Room of Roots.  You’ve had quite a day!”

“That’s right, sir,” I said “Let’s just sit over here.  Meepsa?  Can you let go of my legs now?”

“No.”

“Or we can stand here,” I agreed.

Oh yeah, I call my dad sir.  We all do.  It’s just a Jeekan show of respect to an elder.  Meepsa told me she was scared when I didn’t come down right away like everyone else.  That’s when they heard of a tree exploding from nowhere.  They had been on the other side of Tiki Tree so they got the information second hand.  That’s how big this tree is.  Even this room could fit a hundred of us in it easily.  And, fun fact, from what I’ve heard, you can actually see the Tiki from anywhere in the Tarshan Peninsula.

I heard that one from my Father.  He had been to the northern city of Moz once to sing with a choir for the Lothran’s midwinter festival.  He is where I got my musical traits.  My mother was always the pragmatic one.  I remember my father singing all the time when I was younger.  It was an unexpected treat to hear it these days.  It’s one of reasons I built my first clavacar.  The thing was terrible but when I strummed it I could make a sort of chord like sound.  Sometimes the thing even sounded tuned.

“What’s going to happen, son?” he asked as Meepsa looked up at me.

“Mr. Weet asked me some questions and…I don’t really know,” I replied, only to see Readspa Weet coming out of the stairway with two more guards and a Jeeka who dressed with a yellow sash around his frame.  A yellow wand.

“Fleet Jeebles,” the yellow wand said in greeting.  He did not hold his wand in his hand.  He didn’t need to be I knew it was on as he looked me up and down.  He walked around me before asking to show me the wand I had received.  I took it from it’s sheath behind my neck and held it up for him to look.  Everyone looked at it as though I was holding a rare bottle of Thorkberry.

“You can put it back in your sheath, Fleet,” the yellow wand said, apparently content.  He nodded to Readspa Weet before heading back to the stairwell with one of the two guards accompanying him.

“Creet Jeebles,” Readspa said to my father softly “How would you like if you and your family got to go to the Lothran city of North Leah?  And we will pay your way.  Handsomely.”

All three of the Jeebles family stared at him dumbfounded.

——————————

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  It’s a new spin I’m trying out on an older project and would love to hear any constructive thoughts.

Cheers,

Tom

Jack’s World

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     “Shh!  Get in here!” came a voice from inside the unlit room.

It was not the sort of thing Gary expected to hear as he doubled back with his scribbled note in his hand.  He had been walking around level one west for fifteen minutes far too long and he when he first heard the boy’s voice he thought maybe he was losing it.  Or maybe those rumors of the hospital having ghosts were true.  He stopped and peered into the shadows of the small office.

“Hello?”

“Just come in before they see you!”

Gary stepped in and instinctively felt inside the door frame for the plastic of a light switch.

“No!  Don’t turn the light on!” He commanded “Either come in or go!”

Gary was a little taken aback by this.  What was this kind even doing in someone’s office?

“Where are your parents?  Should you even be in here?” Gary said trying to bring in some adult authority.

“Parents dead, it’s my time off and this is Brian Hendricks office and he’s never here until late.  Just hold on a sec!”

Gary saw where the voice was coming from.  From the glow of the window that was ground level with the grassy back garden of the hospital was young Jack.  He sat on a the wide windowsill opposite the books above Dr. Hendricks softly glowing fish tank.  He had a book in his hands, open to nothing but typed print.  Just as Gary noticed him the sprinkler system kicked on.   The view became a fog of jet streams of cascading water and the rainbow of the light mist that brushed the glass.  Jack lifted a hand proudly as if he caused a magic trick to occur.

“One of my favorite places in the joint,” he explained “you’re very lucky to see this moment and definitely lucky to know me.  I’m Jack.  I am your guide to anything and everything.”

“Right,” Gary tried to understand “well, it’s good to meet you Jack but you probably shouldn’t be in here and I’m late to appointment so both of us should get going.”

“Who’s the appointment with?”

“Well that’s not really any of your…”

Jack jumped down from the window onto the chair and then flopped down   like he had practiced the move for a performing circus.   The young boy in the baseball hat, t shirt and jeans flicked on the desk lamp and picked up the phone.  He turned to Gary like a Medical Office Assistant.

“Well?” He asked.

“Come on kid,” Gary laughed “this is silly and you should get outta here before security nabs you.”

“Just give me a name,” Jack said without blinking.

Gary looked at him and then down at the book he was reading.  It was on arrhythmia, specialising in elder care.  He was already twenty minutes late now.  He surrendered and looked at his paper.  From the outside hall light.

“Dr Novak.  I’m his nine thirty.”

“Right…Gary Allenson.  Nine thirty…of course you are.  Yeah you’re one floor down.  Not your fault…he moved two months ago and Sheila hasn’t gotten round to changing his email template.  I’ll call him and say your late.  He can probably still take you.”

Gary could barely make a thought.  His mouth just gaped.

“If you get going, anyways,” Jack said after he dialed the number “Hi Leslie…”

Gary couldn’t believe it. 

Jack looked up from the phone and gave him a look.

“He’s not coming to you!”

Gary made an agreeing expression and headed for the elevator.  In the elevator he still tried to get what just happened.

—-

Preceeding was a story idea I’ve had for a while which this is just an introduction to Jack and his strange life.  Hope you liked this one!

Cheers,
Tom

Created by TomPogson.com

Story idea one.

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I remember nothing.

It is early morning and I am wrapped in the cradle of the lapping waves and the woodland surrounding the beach.  Tracks lead from clearing in the bush, pushed back by what I can only assume is my own frame.  I don’t remember pushing through them.  I don’t remember the night before or who I was I was when I came here so determined.

The smell of the water is the first sense I have as my eyes open to face the side of a fallen tree, my fists clenching firmly packed sand.  I slept next to the side of a single piece of driftwood, it’s shape slashing diagonally across from last tufts of grass near the rise of the woodland to the constant motion of the waterline.  The waterline is moving slowly and uncertainly as it pulls out, its rhythm too gentle to be the open ocean.  I seem to have such basic understandings of things.  But I have no idea where they came from, what this place is or how I came to be in the clothes I wear.  I remember nothing.

The clothes I see on me are ragged, tattered in all likelihood from whatever brought me to this strange sheltering place.  Black dress pants.  Long sleeve shirt.  An old beige coat with rippled stretchable fabric at the wrists and waist.  The coat is torn in a single slit on the left elbow.

Standing up and discovering the soreness in my legs and that left elbow I walk to the waterline.  My sand filled black dress shoes reach the hissing sunbaked edge of the tide.

I knee down, peering into the shifting light of cold water.  I manage a reflection between the shimmer of the sunlight and twists of hair-like kelp.

I learn little.  I notice a hint of blue and look down to see a blue metal nametag that says “Charlie”.  I’m in my mid thirties somewhere.  My hair is rumpled, unkempt and chestnut.  I see nothing else that would set me apart from another man at this age.  I’m unshaved and my name is Charlie.  Or that is what the tag says.

Looking into my reflection the sound of the helicopter blades grows until the ripples of waves are static across the view.

(Started playing around with this idea as a morning writing exercise.  I don’t know if I will keep up the odd present tense but I like the idea of someone who has to start things over from zero like this.  Let me know any constructive ideas.  Cheers!

Tom)