The Deceiver {Part 1}

The Deceiver {Part 1}

Guy sighed, gazing up at the classroom clock, silently willing it to go faster. Even by a couple seconds instead of one steady, rhythmic beat. But the obstinate device refused; in fact, it seemed even slower than usual. He gripped the edge of his desk in anticipation, silently berating himself to just calm down. Class would be over in five minutes, after all, right? And what was five minutes to him in a class like old Mr. Clout’s?

An eternity, that’s what, he thought gloomily. Oh, Wren… If only she had come to school the past several days,  he wouldn’t have to spend his days solely fretting about her. Not that she wasn’t important to him, no, but he had the average life of a student to fulfill. Not to mention his new responsibilities as a Junk Collecting group Secondary Leader. He just barely disguised a sigh as a cough, just as old Clout passed by. “Staying up too late again, eh, Mr. Rithers?” the older teacher wheezed. “That kind of behavior will only make you worn out and ill, and make you miss school– or at least not pay attention.” He rapped his ruler on Guy’s desk– Guy could’ve sworn that the geezer was the lone soul of a teacher that still did that sort of thing.

“Yes, sir, sorry, sir– must’ve just lowered my eyelids for a second.” There was one or two soft snickers from the back of the room, ones just barely under Clout’s radar. Guy knew without looking over his shoulder that it was Max and Clare. He let the snickers and whispers roll smoothly off; he was better than that, and he knew it.

As Clout turned away and headed back up the aisle of desks to resume giving his lecture on the importance of physics in everyday structure, Guy resumed resisting the urge to comb his fingers through his bangs agitatedly. He hoped Wren was okay. I should try to get my mind off her… the more I think about her, the slower time goes. He tried to think about Clout’s lecture, but, when that nearly caused him to nod off, he decided to focus on, instead, the missions and duties of being a “Secondary  Leader”. All that he knew about being a Secondary Leader was that, while he was technically in charge of the group, the REAL Leader was actually God Himself– which was funny, considering he had doubts about God, about whether He’d help them. Not that a miracle or even some divine revelation wouldn’t be nice in situations like this, where he had no clue where to even start…

Junk Collectors are resourceful– they use what they have around them to turn one man’s junk into another’s treasure. The voice in his head had hit him smack-dab, out of the blue. It sounded like his own head-voice, but… in conjunction with another? He risked a quick, cursory glance around him to see if anyone else had spoken to him, but when seeing no one, sat back slightly, dazed and bewildered. Fortunately, Clout’s back was turned to him, writing things on the blackboard. One man’s junk is another’s treasure, huh….

Suddenly, it hit him faster than a bullet. If Junk Collectors, any and all Junk Collectors, were supposed to be resourceful, that didn’t just mean when they were out in a junkyard collecting valuables to turn into something amazing or useful. Nor did it mean that they solely had to keep their eyes peeled for other potential J.C.s. It meant they should use any and every situation to their advantage, to apply it to Junk Collecting somehow. He sat up straight. Physics? Of course, it made sense now. Physics was the study of how things moved, what they were made of, the things’ energy and force, motion through time and even space…

Clout’s lecture suddenly didn’t seem nearly quite so boring.

With renewed resolve, Guy picked up his pen and began taking notes like he never had before. I can’t wait to tell Kodi… and even Wren.

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“C’mon, Jake, open up!” Guy banged on the door. “You can’t help your sister by letting her hole up in her room like Gollum for the rest of her life!” It had be three hours since Clout’s class had ended. It had been two since Guy had arrived at Wren’s house, bolt-locked front door and all. Guy was beginning to regret the whole, “breaking-and-entering” thing he and Kodi had done the first time they’d visited.

Jake’s eyes, hazel like his sister’s, finally peered through the door. “Whaddaya want?” he said. “She said no visitors, y’know.”

“I don’t care. This isn’t healthy for her, and you know it.” Guy squinted up at the taller figure. “And besides, since when did YOU, of all people, become her little MAN-SERVANT?”

Jake grunted. “I’m just trying to help out.”

“You can help her by letting me in.”

“And how do I know you’re not the cause of all this? After all, she was fine– depressed a bit, but still fine– until you and that kid showed up.”

“You can’t blame us; all we did was go along with what she wanted. How were we supposed to know it’d make her turn out like that? You can’t seriously believe THAT was planned!”

“Who is it, Jake?” Wren’s voice, soft and almost mild, emanated from the other side of the door. “No one,” Guy heard Jake say quickly.

“Wren, it’s me,” said Guy. “There’s something I need to show you, you and Kodi. Can I come in, please?”

He sensed her hesitation, but after a minute the door unlatched, and Wren peered through. She looked haggardly; dark circles were beneath her cautious, clever hazel eyes, lines around her face, complete with bed-head. “What do you want?” she said warily, as if she had not heard the first time.

“I’ve come with some new info about what we’re supposed to do as Junk Collectors– lemme in, and I’ll show you.” He held up his bag.

“No.” She started to close the door. “I’m not interested in Junk Collecting now, or ever. You can save your breath for something more important.”

“Look,” he pleaded, “I know we didn’t find them, but maybe we’ll find some other trace of them while–”

She swung about. “You really don’t get it, do you?” she half-snarled. “The Junk Collector was my one, my only chance to find my friends! But he died before I could learn ANYTHING!” She stomped down so hard on the wooden floor that Guy was afraid she’d bust through. “All because you had to go wasting time by asking him what this so-called “Junk Collecting” was! We could’ve found out where they were, how they were, and how we could get to them in the time you wasted!” She stopped, panting hard, and paused to wipe spit from her lips, tears from her eyes. “So no, Guy. My answer is no. I don’t care if that twerp anointed or elected me as a group member; I’m through. If I can’t find them, I might as well just shut myself up to die in a hole.”

“Is that what they would’ve wanted?” Guy blurted. “Phoebe and Charlotte, I mean. Would they have wanted you to just toss in the towel, give up on them? Would they have passed up the chance for an adventure of a lifetime?”

“Shut up!” She spun to face him, tears streaming steadily from her eyes like two miniature waterfalls. “I’m not going to hear more of this. You can’t make me.” And with that, she slammed the door in his face.

To Be Continued…

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Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cgc/7080721

 

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The Deceiver– Prologue

The Deceiver– Prologue

Author’s Note: Since I’ve had an unusual amount of free time, I decided to get a jump on my next short blog-story, “The Deceiver”. I’ve had plenty of time contemplating what I’d write about, how I’d go about doing it, thanks to inspiration from certain classes (particularly Rhetoric, Humanities and Shakespeare classes…). Anyways, I hope you guys enjoy this second installment as much as the first! 🙂 

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“This is your fault.”

They were all seated at an elongated ebony table that practically melted into the black richness of the cave, only illuminated by torches adhered to the cave walls, reflecting ominously off the table’s surface. There was an unsettling chill in the already cool, damp air. They had come so close, and yet…

The Fourth sat across from the Fifth, hood lowered, speaking in a high-pitched, overly feminine voice that was as painful to listen to as nails across a chalkboard. Pink-painted index pointed accusingly.

“How is it my fault when you were the one who so conveniently botched Project D?” the Fifth retorted. “You were jealous. Everyone knows that. You think that you’re so pretty, so much better than the rest of us, that you–”

The Third, a large, hulking mass of black cloak seated next to the Fourth, grunted, slamming a large fist on the table impatiently. The whole thing vibrated. “Enough. Do I need to be the peacemaker between you two until he arrives?” This instantly silenced them both. They knew very well that the Third’s definition of “peacemaker,” included a trip to the critical care unit.

They were quiet for a while, the gravity of their apparent situation melting into their figures. An unexpected mewing came from a darkened corner; the Sixth’s pet kitten had apparently caught itself a mouse. It was quiet enough that they could audibly hear him licking his chops.

“Where is he?” the Sixth whispered. “We cannot begin without him. Maybe…”

“That’s what I’m saying,” the Fourth gave an arrogant-sounding sigh, intervening in the peace once again . “Do we really even need him? I think that we can–”

“You can what, Fourth?” The Fourth spun about in her seat. The First was at the cave room’s entrance, perched on the apex of a tall spiral staircase. His voice was smooth, cool– casual. The Sixth flinched, as if almost expecting him to fly off the top straight at the Fourth. Instead, he calmly began his way down… slowly, carefully. Taking his time with the progress and his words as he spoke, verbal wordplay molded in similar fashion to a parent mildly scolding a small child. “In our community, we take care to sow our seed into only the most fertile of soil. Soil that will bear the ripest, most delectable, most promising of fruit. We have not chosen the wrong kind of seed to sow; oh no, my friends. It is the kind of soil we have tossed the seed among that concerns me.” He rounded a corner. ” If such soil is useless, nothing will grow. If weed-ridden, you must pull out the weeds together with the harvest you’ve labored so tirelessly for. …I am well aware that there have been infertile soil, soil of discontent in among our ranks,” he said. “If such soil exists, and dares pollute the exceedingly precious fruit, do you know what will happen?” Silence. “It’s quite simple, really–the soil will no longer be used. That being said, if any one of you has doubts about your place here among us, it is entirely your decision to depart. You may choose as you will.” There was a subtle touch of slicing irony in his voice, an indication of a hidden smile beneath than hood of his. Because he knew.

They would not– no, could not– leave.

When he reached the base of the stairwell, he met with the kitten, who proceeded to drop the dead mouse at his feet, and quickly back away, fur raised on end and hissing softly. The First raised one pale, spindly hand out towards the creature, then seemed to think better of it, and said, “Sixth… be sure your pet knows its place here.” She managed a mute nod. The kitten skittered off into the shadows.

He glided soundlessly across the cave floor towards the Fourth. The Fourth seemed to blanch, although did not seem to want her wavering in confidence to be known, all at once. The First threw a lazy, unexpected glance at the Fifth. “Why is it the Fifth’s fault that you failed in your part?”

“It’s not so much that as that he failed in Project F. We all know Project D was years ago; it’s water under the bridge now, but he keeps acting like it’s MY fault we’re in this mess to begin with–but if that’s my fault, then who’s to blame for F? Project F should be our top priority, as of now.”

The First reached under the girl’s hood, taking firm hold of her chin, pulling her so close their hoods touched. “You ought to know better, Margarette,” he whispered, “to compare.” No one saw what was happening under the hoods, but the Sixth could have sworn she saw the Fourth attempting to tug her chin free. It was futile; she knew his grip was like a steel trap.

“You say that Project D was years ago. The fact of the matter is, it never actually ended.” He finally released her, after saying such; the Fourth, tumbled backward, gasping and rubbing her jaw. It was such a jerk that her hood nearly dismounted her head. “Prove it,” she half-wheezed. The First drew a long, sweeping arc with a gangly, cloaked arm around their table. “Tell me what you see.”

“I see a huge spacious room, built into a cave in the middle of nowhere, filled with imbeciles who haven’t the foggiest what they’re doing.” If the Fourth’s hood had been down, she may have been bold enough to try a saucy hair flip.

“Yourself among these imbeciles.” The First circled around the table, seating himself at its head. “In a sense, I agree.” The Fifth stared at him. “You agree with HER?”

“Absolutely. Our master’s magnificent plan to bear the most tender, most flawless of fruit will all go to waste if we are empty. Or, to use a better term… incomplete.”

The Sixth’s eyes widened beneath her hood. Surely he didn’t mean…

The Fifth, seeming to share her thought, groaned. “Please tell me we’re not gonna get a repeat of what happened…”

“Oh no,” said the First, quietly encompassing his thumb with his index and opposing thumb. “This time, I guarantee our harvest will be ripe for the picking. But you are right; we cannot afford to be careless…” He suddenly stood, back to them all. “Excuse me… I must leave once more. You know what you must do.” The next words he spoke were ones that only he and his master could hear:

“When the rest are bound, I will come. Oh yes, I will come. After that… nothing. Nothing will hinder the harvest.”

His soft chuckle reverberated around the dimly lit room as he left them.

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Image Credit: https://septennial.wordpress.com/tag/torch/