Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Wizards of Winds and Waves, chapter 2

The adventure in fiction continues.
I actually have the story up to ten chapters now, so even if I take a break from it for NaNo, I can still put up an episode a week to keep the clamoring fans happy. (OK, fans, now clamor, darn you!) I just wish the story would LET me take a break!
Wizards of Winds and Waves
Chapter 2
“You can be trusted. You’re honest. And you have talent.”
“Talent?” I knew that over the past two years, since I’d taken up sailing, I had taken great joy in learning to handle my little skiff, and I was getting to feel confident in handling it – even in weather that was a bit rough, I reveled in the feeling of skimming over the waves, as one with my little craft. But I’d never considered myself talented, as much as my skills had developed.
“You may not realize it, but in just two years, you’ve become the fastest dinghy in the bay. But that’s not the only talent we’re looking for. We’ve been watching you, and we’ve seen something more.”
“Call it ESP, magic, psychic ability, whatever. You don’t know it, but we’ve been testing you, and you have it.”
“No. That stuff doesn’t exist.”
“Yes, it does, but the world has no way of proving it. And we want to keep it that way. Our talents are secret, and we can best make use of them if nobody knows about them. All the world sees is the fakes, the hucksters out to make money by pretending, and convincing others, that their skills are real. So long as all of the examples the world sees are fakes, those of us whose talents are real can escape notice.”
While Runyon was speaking with me, the sailing conversations around us had continued, with a great deal of conviviality. Even though Janice had disappeared along with the rest of the tavern, all of the pitchers on the table had remained full of beer. Well, not exactly that, I noticed. Whenever a pitcher became empty, the next time I looked at it, it was full again. I never actually saw it fill up, but clearly something was happening to keep the beer flowing. A plate containing a grilled-cheese sandwich and French fries had also appeared in front of me at some point, and I realized I had been munching on the sandwich for quite a while.
Suddenly, the room fell silent, and everybody was looking around apprehensively, especially near the tops of the walls, glancing tensely up into the corners. “Seeyeffarray,” someone whispered. “Jaydeeyemdee,” another said. “Deecuwempee.” “Ellayowell.” The tension in the room increased, and the group stood up and began moving together in a knot, with me at the center. I could feel emotional vibrations of apprehension, not quite fear, but definitely uncomfortable. It felt like there was a ringing in my ears, but when I listened to it, I couldn’t hear it any more, just the group, still whispering out meaningless combinations of letters. “Yooarrdoubleyouemm.” “Peeyiveeyo.” I could feel the muscles in my back and neck tense up, and my palms turned clammy with sweat. I was surprised to notice that I was shaking all over.
Everyone stood, gathered tightly together, for several minutes in silence. I felt, rather than heard, a low-pitched humming filling the room. Then the tension relaxed, like a shoelace coming untied with a pull on the loose end. As one, the group relaxed with a sigh. I realized I’d been holding my breath, and I exhaled deeply, letting go of the tension of the past few minutes.
“What was that about?” I asked.
“That was the Others,” Runyon replied. “They test us all the time. We can’t let our guard down. If they ever caught us unprepared, we’d be worse than dead.”
“And that alphabet stuff?”
“We each have our protection code, which we learn during our training. You’ll get yours when the time comes. When you know your code, you will be able to block the Others’ attempts to get at you.”
“But if I don’t know my code?”
“You’re in the most dangerous state. You have been found, but you have no training yet, and no code. That was why it was essential for us all to come together and protect you. Your training will show you how to know when the Others approach, and how to use your code. Then you will learn your code. Until then, you will need protection.”
“So if I get the training and the code, I will be safe from all attacks?”
“No, but your code and the knowledge of its use will protect you from the most common attacks. The Others have stronger attacks, and resisting those requires a group effort and especially strong codes. But those codes are dangerous to use, and only a few of us are strong enough to use them safely.”
“You seem to assume that I’m already a member of your group. But what if I don’t want to join?”
“Really, you have no choice. You have been discovered by us, and if you remain unprotected, you will be discovered by the Others.”
“Who are these Others, anyway? Why should I be afraid of them?”
“In this world, no force is truly neutral. Some forces act for good, for freedom and the benefit of humankind, and nature, too. Other forces are selfish forces, seeking gain at the expense of a loss on the part of humanity or the planet as a whole. We must always guard against the Others, to keep them from destroying what cannot be replaced.”
“This is getting to sound more and more hokey the longer I listen to it. I’m not out to save the planet. I just want to live in peace and sail my boat.”
“That’s not a choice any more. You can stay with us and let us protect you and teach you. Or you can refuse our help and be at the mercy of the Others.”
“Why should the Others be dangerous to me, if I’m not getting into the battle?”
“They will either use you or destroy you. You will be a helpless pawn, enslaved for the power you hold, or you will be killed. I know you felt the danger as they attacked the group this evening.”
“The power I hold? I don’t have any power.”
“Oh, but you do. We’ve been feeling it for a long time. We’ve been shielding you from the Others, so they have not learned of your existence yet. But when they do …” Runyon’s voice trailed off.
“Why would the Others be so interested in just another magical individual – assuming I really am one?”
“But you’re not just another magical individual. Your talent goes beyond anything we’ve seen before. We have to protect you until you can develop it.”
“And if I don’t want to go along with you?”
“We can’t force you. That’s not our way. But the Others can force you, and we have to keep them from getting control of your power. We’d have to destroy you to keep you out of their hands.”
“That sounds like a threat.”
“It isn’t. It’s just the way things are.”


Post a Comment

<< Home