War of the Worlds, The Invasion continues. A sample of something I write a while back. Fun stuff with an odd bent to it.
In the year of our Lord
Eighteen Hundred and Ninety One
This August Thirty First
The Globe Theater
The Queen's Room
"To be or not to be...that is the question." My lead actor spoke upon our stage. I watched from the second level gallery, making sure his pitch and diction were strong and clear enough. He looked up at me and I gestured for him to continue, but my mind was elsewhere. So much has happened since I last put anything down in my journal.
I'm not sure where to begin.
When last I wrote I mentioned I had sent my favorite pigeon to bring a message to my friends in Paris. I needed to know if they were alright first, and then if there were problems, what I could do to help. I had the ear of our Queen, and was not loath to wax it with soothing words on their behalf if need be. She was a stern queen, but a fair one. She loathed men who were weak and full of folly, but she loved men who were brave and daring, such as Jules and Wells.
Wells had been on her list of men she was considering knighting for his pretigious output of fictional journeys and adventures. She likened him to her other favorite, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whom I have not yet had the chance to acquaint myself with personally, as we do keep our lives in pretty much different worlds these days. I have passed him in the palace from time to time and we have chatted briefly, but that is not the kind of conversation that leads to a deep friendship, but rather a shallow courteous one.
I tend to the opposite. I like to know those I am around in all the ways possible. I suppose that is because I am a writer, an observer of life and as such my mind demands more details than most who go day to day on their life journeys.
As I was seated observing my actor deliver his soliloqy, Sarah returned. She always knew where I was and I always kept a treat for her. Perhaps that motivated her more than anything else, I can not be sure of what goes on in a pigeon's mind, other than utter kindness.
She landed on the railing beside me and cocked an eye on me, then nodded to her right foot where a note was attached. I gave her a treat, and hurriedly untied the message to read it. I was distressed while doing it, because my actor had just blown the next two lines and said, "whether it is bolder to go outside and face the storm than..." Furious at the disruption of my beautiful poetry, I almost chased Sarah away, but I kept my temper in check for both her and the actor.
He was having a rough time at home as I understood it. Something about a romance with another man that wasn't going well. I felt for him, for relationships were difficult with the opposite sex, let alone the same. It is the nature of relationships that they have difficulties. If you are looking for a peaceful and tranquil ride throughout your life, then do not seek a relationship, as they are not always tranquil or peaceful, they are human. And humans feel and sometimes too deeply. And sometimes too shallowly. The choices we all must live with.
I motioned to the actor to do it again and as he did I swiftly unraveled the note and read it.
"Dear Will, it is with the utmost sense of urgency that I request you speak with the brotherhood. Paris is in distress such as no man could ever have suspected to happen. Our beloved Eiffel Tower is now a broken toy, and much of our fair city has been burned and leveled to the ground. I fear that my dear friend Wells is taking this much harder than I, and I can barely look at myself in our mirror now, knowing we might have unwittingly set off the monstrous destruction we now survey about us."
It was a long note. I looked up and the actor was looking at me, an expression of what next. I glanced at my Stage Manager who stood right stage watching and motioned for him to cue the man. He did so and the actor got back in character again and continued.
I returned to the note, my hands trembling, for I feared the rest of the news that surely must be there.
"A strange device from another world has descended into our fair city and it immediately began destroying anything and anyone in its path. I fear it is but the advance guard for something far worse."
I looked up and muttered to myself. "Worse than destroying Paris?"
I shuddered in horror.
I read on.
"Contact the brotherhood, let them know we have a greater peril now than the war between our nations. That a War of the Worlds has begun.
"I shall endeavor to contact you again in two days if able. For now my friends and I must help as many as possible to survive this catastrophe.
"Your friend, Jules."
I looked up again, tears misting my eyes. It was that bad. The Captain's words rang in my ears again in remembrance and I knew at that moment that the play was not the thing in this case, and that the Great Wheel now turning was being spun by hands not meant to be guided by our Creator, but by something far darker.
Pardon me if I seem somewhat melodramatic, but that is my nature as an actor and writer, but as a human being I can only shudder in horror at the thought, "A War of the Worlds has begun."
And it was at that moment that a great shout arose from outside the theater, as if a great crowd were crying out in horror.
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Death and Destruction
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
He was taking a pounding that's for sure. The swashes were beating the hell out of him and he wasn't able to do a thing about it as long as his power pack was recharging. A couple dozen more charges of their hammer guns and it was all over.
How in God's name had he gotten stuck in the missionary position to the merciless bastards pounding his suit into atoms?
"A swash is a slang term for Nazi foot soldiers." Einstein told him as he sat at the edge of the cliff overlooking Lake Lucerne.
"Beautiful view, pops."
Al ignored his tease and went on. "The tropes are the super swash, genetically enhanced super soldiers capable of pounding you into the ground with one fist behind their back."
"I wonder if they still sell raspberry chocolate down there."
Al ignored this comment as well. "The zoms are civilians who have had their minds wired to remove all sense of self. They are still whole beings, but no longer in control of their senses. That is why we try not to kill them whenever possible. Instead we try to turn them."
Harry turned to eye Al, who was tamping his pipe onto the rock beside him, and reloading from a pack he pried from his jacket.
"Zoms are nominally still human people, just altered so that they have no control over their own body."
"A term I picked up..." Harry paused, trying to remember where he had heard it, and then shrugged. "From somewhere...somewhen."
Al nodded in a kind of fatherly way, and then scooted closer to Harry, examining his eyes. "The time dilation still hasn't worn off."
"Tell me about it. I feel like a taco turned inside out."
Harry turned to Al. "You really need to get out more."
Al laughed, and then tapped Harry on his right knee with his pipe stem. "Your next mission is critical. You must not harm the Zoms, even if they block your way to completing the mission. If it comes to it, you have to turn back."
"What if they're about to kill me?"
Al was silent.
Harry sighed and took a deep breath. "Life sure sucks sometimes, doesn't it?"
"Now that..." Al smiled. "That I understand."
Harry sighted the landing position in the cross hairs of his scope and began banking his rocket suit in that direction. He hadn't seen a single Swash jet since he had entered lower Lithuania, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on your sensibilities. He took a quick suck off his water stem, then clicked it shut and eyed the landing trigger. It was square on. He initiated thrusters and his suit slowed, then turned in a quick arc and landed him on his feet. He bent somewhat to absorb the impact, leaving a deep groove in the pavement he had landed on.
"Glad that was you and not me." He told the pavement, and then headed for the rendezvous point. He was meeting with a resistance leader, a pretend Zom, who was known to be faulty by the Swash, but ignored as long as he continued to do his job, which was loading and unloading weapons.
Harry's job. Rocketman's job was to make sure that loading and unloading came to a quick and timely end. The Allieds were mounting a quick thrust into the region in an effort to sweep out all the Zoms and return them to their own control, so they could join the resistance, which was spreading across Europe, however slowly.
Harry dreaded sometimes the work he did, because it kept him from returning to America, where the brain of Hitler ran everything. New Nazi New York it was called. The skyscrapers, the Empire State Building and the Monarch Building were now the headquarters for the Nazi party in America, which now led the war on the rest of the world.
When America fell during the last days of World War Two, it had ushered in a long period of subjugation and experimentation by the Fourth Reich, the reborn Nazis, led by a brain only Hitler, who lived through a robotic counterpart. It was Harry's determination to end that body that drove him on every mission in this alternate timeline.
Sometimes he missed the real timeline, but these days he wasn't so sure any timeline was real anymore than the other. No matter which one he lived in, he was getting shot at, battered and bruised, and the love of his life was dead.
But funny enough, the person he missed the most, was Jet, who had survived in the first timeline to be his best buddy and helper, but in this one, somehow didn't exist.
Harry parked his rocket suit inside the designated building, and then headed for the meeting place.
"Raspberry." Harry whispered in the ruins of what was once a beautiful church, its gothic spires marred by bullets and bombs, its beautiful stained glass windows shattered, its pews broken and scattered across the interior of the once magnificent structure.
"Chocolate." Came the counter answer.
Harry grinned, and stepped forward, and then as he lifted his hand to shake with the other person, he almost had a heart attack. It was Jet!
The person facing him gave him a blank look. "Who is that man?" He turned to see if he had been betrayed by Harry, someone hiding in the shadows perhaps.
Harry's emotions battered him. "Don't you know who I am? Your best friend. Your battering ram. Your personal line of envy."
Jet, a tall and well muscled black man, with deep brown eyes and a face marred by a slight scar on the left side of his neck frowned. "I've never seen you before in my life."
Harry didn't see the scar at first, but when Jet turned to look to his right, he did. Harry tensed. A Zom! Then he relaxed. Of course he was. He was an underground Zom, one who the rewiring had failed in.
"Where's your suit, Captain?"
Harry ignored the question and came closer, looked into Jet's eyes. The man stood stock still, as if frozen in place for a moment, and then he backed up. "I need to see the suit."
"Why would you need to do that?" Harry asked, his worry radar going full blast now. Something didn't pickle right in his brain. He gave Jet a closer examination. "The man I met was supposed to have a scar on the left side of his neck. Yours is on the right."
Harry ran for the exit of thee building, just as ten Swash entered, carrying their hammer guns ready to fire. Harry dove out a stained glass window that had been shattered to his right, and landed on his back, rolling to his feet. In seconds he launched himself swiftly towards the hiding place of his suit.
He felt, rather than heard the hammer guns fire. Their weaponry was so powerful that it fused the air about him, causing the skin closest to the blasts to blister from the intensity of the heat caused by their searing beams of energy.
He dove to his right, then threw himself into a cellar, crawled swiftly across it as quietly as possible, then levered himself to another window, and crawled out. He looked round, listened a moment, hearing nothing, he ran towards his hiding place. He reached it, just as the sound of alarms rang out and Swash lanced the air about him with their hammer guns. He landed inside the hiding place in a ball, rolled to a stop at the foot of his suit, then climbed inside of it. He clamped it shut, sealing it against the outside, then turned it around to exit.
That was when a trope stormed into the building and landed a hammer like punch to Harry's helmet. Harry stumbled backward and with the weight of the suit so great, he couldn't maintain his balance. He fell onto his back, just as the swash burst inside.
"The Fuehrer wants the Rocketman alive." The trope ordered, and then grinned. "But he didn't say in what condition...alive."
Stunned by the blow still, Harry shook his fog away and launched a mini-rocket into the midst of the swash, blowing up half of them, but the rest plowed through the death and destruction, trailing guts and blood, then dove on him and began pummeling him.
He could no longer move, or resist. Several of them had placed some kind of magnetic clamp to his arms, causing them to seal together. He was helpless as a baby. He couldn't fire rockets, couldn't get out. In other words his ass was cooked!
Harry looked at his charge. Not enough to launch horizontally without frying every circuit. And no way to know if the magnetic clamps did anything else than hold his arms together. He might become a flying torpedo and hammer himself to death against a wall, his stabilizers and softeners running at low ebb.
He watched his charger begin to renew his power supply. It was a new one altered from the last by Tesla, who had used a new form of energy to power it.
"It will make you nearly invincible." He had promised.
"Yeah." Harry quipped to himself, unheard by the swash or the trope. "At least my suit. Meanwhile, I'll be turned into soup inside this bell!"
The Trope shoved the remaining swash aside and grinned into Harry's face. In a very bad imitation of German...even though he was German...he said, "And now I shall smash your face into atoms."
"I thought you needed me alive!" Harry joked.
"Not you. Just your brain."
"Then you better aim a bit lower, as now you're aiming right at my brain pan."
The trope gave him a confused look.
Harry's suspicions were confirmed. The trope couldn't see through the helmet plate glass. It was too dark inside the room. Harry glanced at his charger. Almost full. "I bet you're so strong you could handle me all by yourself, even if I had my arms free."
The trope grinned. "Yes. And still take your brain."
The trope laughed, and then smashed Harry's midsection, breaking the clamps.
The suit rang like a bell, even more so than when the swash had been pounding him.
The trope yanked Harry to his feet as effortlessly as if the Rocket suit was just a suit of clothing, instead of armor and stuck his face into the Helmet's glass, peering inside.
Harry's eyes went round with horror.
The trope had no pupils.
The trope swung its fist back, preparing to complete its death stroke.
Harry smiled, and then flicked a switch with his tongue.
A horrible screeching sound rang throughout the building. He had planted the resounders shortly after he landed, just in case. It was the just in cases you had to be the most cautious about, not what might be's.
The trope clamped its ham sized fists over its ears and screamed, joining the screams of the swash.
Harry saluted the soldiers. "Say bye-bye."
The trope gave him a blank look. "Bye-bye?"
Harry launched a mini-rocket into the trope and the swash, launching straight up and through the ceiling of the church. He wasn't there long enough to see them explode, or hear them scream. As he raced from the building's roof, he turned to the south and there below him stood the zom Jet.
The zom stood there watching him fly off, making no move to fire the hammer it held in its hands. Just watching, a hand over its eyes to watch him as he blasted into the skies.
Harry's heart pounded in his chest.
"I'll be back, Jet. I swear it!" He promised, his eyes watering from the pain of leaving the only real friend he had ever had. He blinked the tears away, and then accelerated across the skies, towards Switzerland and home base. Away from death and destruction. And away from a friend who meant more to him than life itself.
"I will return." He swore to himself, as he fired the rockets that steered him north towards the Alps.
"I will, Jet. I swear it by everything I hold Holy. I will return for you. Or die trying." He said, his eyes misting even more as he shot up above the clouds and became a speck of light to those below.
The zom, who might be Jet, dropped his weapon and put fingers to his eyes. They were wet.
"Why? He asked no one, and then leaving his weapon behind, he marched away, a lone figure in a land of war and destruction.
Or am I?
But don't be surprised. Things can happen when you least expect it in the Baker Street Universe. And from the direction you would least expect it.
The biggest, baddest villain ever is on the way. And that's for sure.
It Tastes Like Chicken
"A Journey to the Center of the Earth Story"
By John Pirillo
Dawn came like a brick load of cement. Pitch black. Always pitch black. It took him a few moments to organize his thoughts. As always. Tired. Dead stone tired. Like the rocks that hovered above, below and all sides of him. Dead tired.
"Get a life!"
He groaned, and sat up.
Rowlf growled when he bumped into the very large Insectoids side. Rowlf was a member of an underground species that he had discovered after they became separated from the Hollow Earth Special Forces. He looked creepy as hell, but had the heart of a cute puppy. Just so long as you didn't look into his mouth, everything was fine, but if you did, all bets were off. Ugly. Ugly. Ugly.
"Youse ugly twos!" Rowlf growled at him.
"Damnit. Talking in my sleep again."
He felt Everett sit up next to him. "When don't you? Stop talking that is."
"Thanks a lot."
Rowlf stood up next to them and rubbed his hands over the moss on the wall next to them. Agitated, the moss tossed chemicals up and down their furry lengths and began to glow a soft green color.
They had discovered the trick by accident after running out of matches and batteries for their lights. If you rubbed the moss one way, they glowed, came to life. Another way and they shrugged off their pale glow and descended into darkness.
Strange. But what wasn't hundreds of miles below the surface of the earth?
"I heard something." Russ insisted.
"You always hear something."
Rowlf growled. "Heard something."
"You always hear something, you big grasshopper, your hearing is like radar."
"Yeah. You heard me."
Everett stood up and stretched. "Can we see about breakfast. All this growsing is making my stomach growl."
Russ stood up and leaned against the wall, one shoulder against Rowlf, who acted as if he didn't notice, but he did. Rowlf loved his friends. He didn't understand or know why, only that they were stone buddies. Rock. Like the world about him. They didn't change.
"What do you suggest we start with??
"How about lizard eggs and worms?"
"Sounds good to me. So where?"
Something ran fast past them on the cavern floor, then scrambled up a wall and turned to eye them. Its two huge eyes were watery and bright.
"Well..." Everett said in his sharp English accent.
Rowlf finished chipping stone against stone and the dry moss in the shallow bowl of rocks they had mounded sparked to life, casting flickering shadows as flames licked at its mass. Everett stuck the lizard on its stick he had poked from its anus through its mouth over the fire and sat back, hands cupped over his knees.
"Smells like Chicken." Russ quipped.
"Yeah. Butt ugly chicken." Everett snapped back.
"No offense, Rowlf."
Rowlf shut his eyes and in his own way grinned, though neither of them could have recognized it. His race had much more subtle ways of showing amusement, affection, anger and so on. His eyes would twirl slightly when he was amused or happy. Depending on how much would determine whether it was amusement or happiness. Right then at that moment, it was amusement.
"Figure this should last us about ten steps." Russ countered.
"Hey! Ten steps are ten steps further." Everett added.
They both broke into laughter.
Rowlf's eyes snapped open. "Waughter? Why?"
"It's called irony, dear friend. Irony." Russ explained.
"Wike weapuns you worried?"
"Oh yeah, they really worried us." Everett joked.
Rowlf gave him a puzzled look, but Everett couldn't read it. Yet. He was starting to pick up on some of Rowlf's body language. He could tell when he was tired, hungry and curious by the way his antenna would droop or straighten, much like his pal "Jerry," his cockatiel would do with his tuft of feathers.
Russ looked over at Everett. "Still counting?"
They both broke into laughter, causing Rowlf to examine them both again closely.
Russ snorted. "Don't worry, Rowlf, we're not going mad. Crazy, maybe, but not mad."
"Not a helluva lot these days." Everett sighed.
He looked down the long black corridor to their right. "Wonder how far this one goes."
"I'm more interested in when do we find the one that gets us somewhere." Russ shot back.
"Yeah. Real juicy fat chance." Russ agreed.
Both were silent, meditating on thoughts best left unsaid. Both felt a tremendous sense of loss and sadness, but their friendship with each other and Rowlf kept them from sliding into despair, even though at times, it didn't seem far off.
"When we get back home, they'll call us heroes."
Russ snorted derisively. "I'd rather they called us a buffet. I'm starving."
They all then looked at the lizard, which was not quite toasty.
Rowlf's stomachs made grumbling sounds. "Sharving much."
"Rowlf. You eat it." Russ told him, suddenly feeling generous.
Everett looked at him like he'd just snapped, but said nothing.
Rowlf didn't budge. "Youse fwail. Must wheat fust!" He insisted.
Everett snatched the lizard. "Since neither one of you want it."
Before he could take a bite, the lizard was wrenched two other ways by Rowlf and Russ.
They each ate their portion in a delicious silence, savoring the warmth of its crunch skin and meat, as slight as it was.
Russ picked some smaller bones from his teeth and spit them out.
Everett did the same.
But Rowlf just crunched them up and swallowed them, his eyes rolling with pleasure.
"Sometimes I wish I was a dog." Russ admitted.
"Me too." Everett agreed, his eyes watching as Rowlf picked up the bones they had spit out and began crunching them.
Rowlf eyed them happily. "Whaste bwest part!"
Everyone broke into laughter.
Russ caught his aching sides, and then subsided into silence a moment. "Here we are...at the center of it all... and we're wise cracking about some dumbass lizard's bones."
"Yeah. Ain't it great?" Everett cracked in his best Ringo Starr imitation.
They all broke into laughter again.
Then the sound of something monstrous moved in the darkness.
They all jumped to their feet, grabbing their makeshift weapons of bone and stone.
Another day. Another monster.
As the monster rushed down the corridor to eat them, roaring like a monster from hell, they rushed up the corridor to eat it, screaming like a tribe of cannibals about to eat fresh meat. Someone was going to have a great meal this day. Hopefully it would be them!
Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Stricken Flag
By John Pirillo
The morning sun blazed across the horizon with fingers of fire that lit the dawn and stirred humanity from its dull slumber across the Victorian capital of London. Street vendors roused themselves from their simple beds, loaded their carts with apples, oranges, pears, walnuts and almonds, cashews from the India Isles and cinnamon from the Chinas. They folded dazzling, colorful silks woven in the Japans, as well as bright silver and bronze pots hand crafted in the Americas. Anything that could be made and made cheaply, or bought cheaply to be resold on the streets was game for them as they woke up and readied themselves for another busy day of striving to gain one more pound for their family to survive upon or themselves to drink down for that night.
The merchant ships stirred lightly against their restraining tethers, anchored to the wharves by sturdy rope and anchors, while sailors blinked blood shot eyes from sleeping off a drunk, or being up all night at the crow's nest.
The Queen's Royal Guard dressed to kill. Literally, marched through the dawn fog that was misting along the wharves as they made their way to a lone ship. It had slipped into its berth earlier the night before and had not stirred with life since.
Captain Mortimer Herald, a young man, with a future as bright as the morning sun, led his men to the ramp into the ship and was the first off to lead them up. He was never one to shirk responsibility or danger. He drew his sword, as did the others. None expected anything lethal, but better to be prepared.
They had been warned of the unusual stillness of the merchant ship by Wells and Jules, whose warehouse was several stretches down the wharf from it. They had returned from a flight to Paris where they had been tending to some friends they had there.
"Men, no harm unless attacked." Captain Mortimer insisted.
The men didn't have to answer. They knew how angry he was if thwarted in his instructions, and besides that, they took pride in such a strong and obviously brave young soul leading them into victory after victory. They were the most highly decorated platoon of her Majesty's royal guards.
The Captain climbed the ramp to the ship and stepped down on its main deck. Still quiet. He sniffed the air. A strange smell seemed to pervade it. He nodded to the men behind him and they all spread out, taking fore and aft of the ship, while several headed for the top deck.
He took two men into the hold, where he expected the Captain to be, since the Captain's cabin appeared to be empty with no bed slept in. Which was peculiar perhaps, but not unusual when a crew was anxious to get home and dared not rest if they had a certain deadline to make. Though in retrospect, remembering the expected merchant ships, there were none of this flag expected. Something about the flag stirred a memory, but he couldn't pinpoint it, which was unusual, as he wasn't one to forget. He filed it for later thought, and continued into the hold, his sword at the ready.
His right hand man shook his head. He looked to the other. "Shelly?"
Captain Mortimer nodded, uncertain nonetheless. Something smelled about the way the ship was so quiet...as if it had been abandoned. Or worse.
As they got deeper into the hold, Figgins began swinging his sword wildly, screaming. "Bloody Mary if you'll take me with you!"
Then Shell did the same. "Captain, we're surrounded."
Captain Mortimer looked wildly about him, fully expecting to see some activity, but there was none, until he stopped looking, then he saw them. He saw...
Watson put a handkerchief over his nose as he descended into the hold of the abandoned ship. He slowly removed it, sniffing the air, and then waved above him.
Sherlock descended, followed by Inspector Bloodstone. "What a disaster." He stated, eyeing the dead soldiers that lay on the floor, their bodies emaciated and torn by something sharp.
Watson kneeled next to one and Sherlock next to another.
"Cloves." Sherlock stated.
"Same." Watson agreed.
They both stood and looked at the Inspector. "These men were exposed to a deadly gas manufactured by the Germanies. It was used in the last war between them and the French." Sherlock explained.
"No, you don't." Sherlock explained calmly. "That gas was totally removed from the face of the planet. It does not occur naturally and none but the one man who invented knew its formula and Her Majesty, Queen Mary of Scots, had him behead."
"Nasty affair that." Watson said, remembering the public execution. "The executioner had to use his axe several times to finish him off. Poor man was in great pain before he died."
"As were these, dear Watson." Sherlock reminded him.
He looked at the Captain, whose face was filled with horror, his eyes forever frozen on something only he could see. "He had such promise. I knew his father."
"As did I." Inspector Bloodstone added. "Her Majesty was grooming to take over her forces in the current war against the Hollow Man."
"That will grieve her greatly." Watson said softly.
"Yes. Because she also loved this young man as a son. He was, after all, a nephew. However, distant."
Sherlock nodded. "Whatever gas was here now is gone."
"As it would be." Watson declared. "It only lasts twenty four hours."
"But it still doesn't explain the vanished crew." The Inspector pointed out.
"No. It doesn't." Sherlock replied, but one thing might.
He stooped and drew a finger across the wounds. "Notice that the slices are very light and though bloody, are not deep enough to have caused their deaths."
Watson kneeled beside him. "By Jove, Holmes, you have the straight of it. These men were plucked from this mortal coil by fear, not pain."
Sherlock eyed his friend. "Oh, they experienced pain all right. I imagine more than you or I could endure."
"Notice the extension of the young man's eyes."
"As if they were ready to flee their sockets."
"The color on the rim of the white."
Watson took out a magnifying glass. "Inspector, could you hold that lamp a bit closer."
The Inspector did so.
Watson inhaled sharply. "I believe the iris was actually detaching from the white itself." He looked at Holmes. "That's impossible."
"When the possible has failed..."
"We examine the impossible." The Inspector finished for them.
Sherlock stood up and swept up the stairs from the hold.
"That was strange." The Inspector said with distaste.
Watson laughed. "Oh, you don't know the half of it. Hurry, he's on to something."
They rushed up the hold stairs and came out onto the main deck. As they did, Sherlock was rushing to the jack mast where the flag hung limply in the bright afternoon sun. The Thames waters rippled noisily to the sides, swishing in and out, causing the ropes and pulleys of the sails to cling and clang as they banged against each other.
"Ah-ha!" Holmes cried out.
Watson and the Inspector caught up with him. The Inspector started to reach out and touch the flag that was near Holmes. Sherlock grabbed his wrist in a viselike grip and looked into his eyes. "If you value your life, you will not touch this flag. It is stricken."
The Inspector's face went white as a ghost.
"Smell the cloves."
"Dear God!" The Inspector uttered angrily. "The flag!"
"Yes." Sherlock affirmed. "Their very signal of safety and safe port was also their death. For if even one touched it, the poison would spread to the others and touching the flag released a mist like poison that swallowed the entire ship before all expired."
Watson shook his head. "The Hollow Man has struck yet again. And not one soul could strike a blow to save themselves."
Sherlock nodded. "Such is the nature of war, Watson. To those who lose, it is victory for the winner."
"But what happened to the original crew?" The Inspector demanded.
Sherlock clasped his hands behind his back and looked out to sea. "The Hollow Man always has a need to expand his crew of the living dead."
Watson and the Inspector both crossed themselves at the same time.
"The Dark War nears." Sherlock said with a scowl. "And has even begun in small ways, and none are as yet aware how deadly it has become."
"God have mercy on our souls." Watson muttered.
"And let us pray we keep them intact." Sherlock uttered, and then marched solemnly down the deck to the ramp to debark. He had much to ponder and think about.
Dial T for Time and Destiny
"A Lord When Story"
By John Pirillo
Lord When settled into a booth in the back of Denny's, his eyes focused on a young couple seated on the opposite side, several booths up. The booths were covered with leather like plastic of shiny red, interspaced with ribbons of blonde wood, very highly polished. The floor was gritty from the recent rain. He glanced outside and could see the puddles of water gathering in the street gutters, slight reflections of clouds and an emerging sun shining there.
"Ready to order?"
He turned to look at a very petite, older woman, probably in her middle forties, with blonde wispy hair that threatened to run away from her forehead at any moment, a pair of narrow lips smeared with some kind of lip-gloss and kind blue eyes that considered him thoughtfully as he examined her.
"Not yet. Thanks!"
She nodded, and then gestured to the street outside. "It's not always like this here."
She looked at him more closely. "Never seen you here before."
"I usually park outside the city and walk into town later. Like the privacy."
"Gotcha." She said, taking that as a warning to shut up.
He quickly stopped that assumption. "I like your town." He smiled. "It seems pleasant, like you."
She blushed. "Honey, I'm way outside your boundaries." She held up a marriage finger.
"And rightly so." He uttered with a smirk.
She laughed. "Coffee coming right up."
She smiled as she headed for the small kitchen, where she kept her small pot of coffee brewing. She didn't believe in those automatic ones. No control over the final product. She knew by scent when the coffee was strong or weak and preferred to keep on doing things that way. Her husband, the cook, grunted at her as she entered and she noticed the order up. "On it." She told him, then quickly started a fresh pot of coffee, then swept the bacon and fries sandwich combo up in her right hand and a tall, fizzing coke in the other and headed back out into the dining area.
Lord when watched as she served the older couple in the back, nodding and chatting, as warm as could be.
He glanced at his watch.
He put a hand under the table. "Shhh. Someone will hear you, even if they can't see you."
"As if you cared." Binky replied sharply, but still keeping it down.
Lord When felt Binky shuffle around and his tail brush his pants leg, then he knew the tiny friend had managed to position himself with a better view of the dining area, as limited as it might be. Binky was always in protection mode. Must be hard on his circuits. He mused to himself, and then brightened as his coffee came out in a steaming mug on a tiny tray for him.
The waitress set it down, added some sweeteners, then a spoon and napkin. She hoisted her order book. "Anything yet?"
"Do you serve vegetarian burgers?"
She gave him a surprised look, and then stooped closer to whisper. "I never thought I'd live to see another real, honest to gosh vegetarian eater."
He gave her a surprised look. "I thought this town was a bunch of older hippies."
She laughed. "Honey, the only thing hippie about this town anymore is no one wanting to pay their taxes, and there ain't a single person born who doesn't fit that description."
She laughed again and then said. "I could have the Hub do you some nice soy burger if you like. He always keeps a stash in back for the occasional nostalgic person."
"Great. Any fries or anything with it?"
"And a coke please."
"Give me fifteen and I'll have you the best dressed plate in town...and eatable too."
He laughs. "I'm sure it will be. Thanks."
She scoots off into the kitchen again to give the order, while he turns his attention back to the street again. "How long, Binky?"
"Beep. Beep. Maybe ten minutes."
"Maybe? That's kind of strong language coming from you."
Binky makes a short snickering sound. "Coming from those lips, I take that as a compliment."
An older man seated across from Lord When leans across aisle and whispers. "Whatever you're having, I'd sure like some." He winks, and then goes back to scooping up vanilla ice cream which buries a chunk of cherry pie.
Lord When gives him a smile, and then looks at the street again. "Sure this is the right time?"
"And right place." Binky insists from beneath the table. "And could you have her bring me a plate of batteries please?"
"She might think that a bit odd."
"No more odd than eating beans for a meal."
Binky doesn't reply. He gives a sharp squeak. "Here it comes!"
A great shadow casts across the Denny's, then the street and a huge WHOOMP sound shakes the building. The building rattles so hard that dishes fly off tables and customers hang on for dear life.
Lord When hears a scream from the kitchen.
"Now!" Binky hollers.
Lord When runs for the kitchen the same time as flames erupt from it.
He dashes inside, and into a cloud of black smoke, made by the Cook's stove which has just had had a bottle of oil spill onto it, spreading a fire swiftly across stacked empty egg crates and milk crates.
The Waitress is striving to pull her husband, the Cook, a very large man from the floor, where the flames are eating towards his feet. He's unconscious. Lord When rushes to her side and helps her lift the heavy man. They stagger towards the back door, but it's jammed with a fallen frigeration unit. Suddenly, the unit makes a loud groaning sound and begins to fall towards them.
"Beep, beep!" Binky bleeps as he rushes into the room and becoming visible wedges against the unit to keep it from falling.
"Oh my God!" The Waitress calls out as she sees the strange bionic robot before her. She looks at Lord When. "He acts as if he knows you."
"He does. He's my traveling companion."
"You young hippies are sure a different crowd from my sort." She shoots back. "Quick, hold him up while I get the fire extinguisher."
She rushes for the other side of the kitchen, yanks a red bottle down and begins spraying down the fire on the floor and counters. It's not enough. "Not working." She yells.
Lord When looks at Binky. "A little magic would be nice."
Several customers, including the older man that was seated opposite Lord When rush inside. "Betty, you all right?" The older man yells.
"Do I look all right?" She yells at him when the fire renews itself and explodes into a more furious mass of flames.
"They'll all see!"
"Too many lives depend on us now. You know what happens next?"
Binky shoots between Lord When's legs and past the men, who all gawk at him like he's something from outer space. He stops before the flames, and then emits a high frequency beam that freezes the flames.
The room falls into a stunned silence, and then the older man snaps out of it. He looks at Lord When. "I'll take one of him as well."
The two men rush around the flames and take Betty to safety in the main dining room and then come back and help Lord When carry the Cook, her husband, into it as well.
They set him down in a booth and he begins to revive.
Binky rolls up and lifts on his hind feet, his glowing eyes looking at the man. "Pulse high. Heart okay. A diet is his only problem." Then he lowers himself and exits the diner to the sound of clapping and awestruck voices.
Lord When looks at Betty. "I'm afraid I'll have to pass on that veggie burger."
"You come back anytime." She says, smiling, taking her husband's hand as he stirs from unconsciousness. "We owe our lives to you."
"And that critter." The older man adds. Winks. "Sure I can't get one like that?"
From outside the diner they hear "Beep Beep. Bleep!"
"What'd that critter say?"
Lord When smiles at the older man. "Not in a billion, billion years."
Everyone laughs and Lord When exits.
They all follow him to the door and then gasp as his Time Boat begins to materialize in the middle of the street. He turns back to wave at them. "And about that sound. You should be glad it didn't land here."
He waves again, and then as a boarding ramp extends from the belly of the barbell shaped vehicle, he climbs it, followed by Binky. They enter the vessel and it begins to make a loud humming sound, then shimmers a bit and vanishes.
The older man looks over at the Waitress. "Why would he say that?"
An excited Sheriff comes running up. "Everyone okay?"
"Where the hell was you when that fire happened, Grizzly?"
The Sheriff, who had a long hippie beard, frowned. "Didn't you have the TV on?"
"The Twin Towers in New York City just went down big time."
Everyone froze for a moment and then looked up at the sky. What had happened while they were in the diner?
Inside Lord When's Time Boat, he adjusted the time spooler, setting it for their home. His and Binky's. "Well, Binky, I guess we did some good today."
"Never got my plate of batteries."
"Or my veggie burger. But sure appreciated some people making it to another day, when so many others didn't."
They were both silent a moment as the image of Twin Towers collapsing in New York lit up their view screen for a moment.
"I wish we could stop that." Lord When uttered, his voice sad.
"It would disrupt the time stream. You know that."
"What about what we just did?"
Binky was silent.
Lord When's eyebrows arched. Or had they already?
The Time Boat made a sizzling sound and then like a bolt of lightning shot away from earth and into the vast depths of space and time.
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