Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Beachhead



APPEAR
3: to have an outward aspect : seem <appears happy enough>
(a writing prompt from Trifecta)

and

Fetching
(a writing prompt from Studio30Plus)



“How did you think it would appear?” Lucas said, “Castle?  Dark tower?  Mc-Bloody-Donalds?”
 His companion, a tanned athletic man shrugged.

“Worse,” he said, “You said the Enemy is a corruptor, destroyer.   This is... business.”   They were facing a large building with a gabled roof.   Modern paintwork gleamed with the corporate smile of welcome.  Trust me, it said.

“Business,” Lucas said, as someone may have said ‘tumour’.  “Anyway, the incursion’s only starting here.   Some time until the enemy takes control.   Hundred years, maybe more.”

They crossed the car park and walked up some stone steps toward the glazed reception area, a modern growth on old stone.

“The girl, Xam, is here?” the warrior said.  He sounded eager. 

“You liked her, eh?” Lucas said, “Well, yes and no.  One of her is here, but not her.  Xam doesn’t travel, she just... is.”

The two men stepped into the lobby.  Old photographs showed the building as it had once been, monochrome, grim, braced to spring, glowering windows dark and watchful.    The receptionist was a slim woman in her forties with neat blonde hair and a fetching pressed-blouse efficiency.

“Samantha Kettlewell,” said Lucas looking at her badge, “No appointment I’m afraid, we’re here to wreak havoc.”

“When did you ever do anything else?” she said, then she looked at the other man and grinned.  “Hello again.   Sleep well?”   Her voice was innocent, her eyes more truthful.

 He frowned.  “Yes, but... Xam?”

“Slept very well,” Kettlewell said.   The warrior swallowed.  Yesterday she’d been younger, stranger, and far different in Context.

“Aye well, enough,” said Lucas, “How long till the Enemy’s real enough to face?”

“A century and a half,” Kettlewell said, “I’m picking up echoes.  It’s going to be grim.”

“Which way?”


“Downline,” said Kettlewell, “the place is a workhouse then.   I think I’m an inmate.  It’s obscured I’m afraid. The Enemy is wary.”

“It should be,” Lucas said, “Come on big fella, let’s go cause mayhem.”

The two men departed silently.  Samantha answered a ringing phone.  Routine.

*

The image above, which is copyright Peter Higginbotham, is of a property in Whitby, North Yorkshire in the United Kingdom which is now a shared premises for a number of small businesses.   Prior to that it was a fever hospital.   Prior to that it was a workhouse for the lodging of the destitute and hopeless.  Local stories suggest the place is haunted, but there are stranger things than ghosts lingering in the shadows and hauntings aren't always one way things.  

34 comments:

  1. This is some really interesting science-fiction. I'm pretty glued.

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    1. Thanks TBM - glad you like it - others in the sequence appear under the Lucksmith label on this blog if you want to look them up.

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  2. "Old photographs showed the building as it had once been, monochrome, grim, braced to spring, glowering windows dark and watchful."

    Your gift for bringing a piece to life through your descriptions just leaves me in awe! Well done, Thomas!!

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    1. Thanks Valerie, I'm glad the descriptions work for you. I really appreciate the comment.

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  3. Nice imagery. Great writing!

    best,
    MOV

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  4. Your writing is crisp, I enjoyed it. Equally so the history of the building in the picture prior to was stimulating.

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    1. Thank you - I discovered that building a few days ago and its history and it set me thinking at once of course.

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  5. The corporate smile of welcome - that's good. And her voice innocent, her eyes more truthful. I like that too. Quite a fascinating history that building houses. Your writing is top-notch, as always..

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    1. You're very kind Steph, glad you liked the piece. And yes, the history of the building is both true and fascinating - one wing was for male inmates, one for female by the way (you can see the two wings in the photograph) with wardens and overseers for each, plus the various tasks divided up between the sexes. Victorian workhouses were grim places.

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  6. This is an interesting scene. I'm curious as to what havoc and mayhem they intend to cause!

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    1. Thanks Janna. And they'll cause whatever havoc and mayhem they can get away with

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  7. This is -wow- impressive. You blended characters and situations in such a fashion, the receptionist is just a regular person from the normal world and her visitors are - where are they from? And this Xam woman who "doesn’t travel, she just... is" is the kind of person I can only dream of being. You have such a vivid imagination and such a way to create imagery.

    I am really really glad I read this, and totally happy you shared it with us.

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    1. I really appreciate your feedback - it's great to know which bits work and which don't. If you like Xam and want to know more of her, look for the story "High Priestess" on this blog.

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    2. I absolutely agree with you on this one! (I love it when somebody before me says exactly what I would have said, saves time to write :D )

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    3. Thanks Alice - I'm glad you liked it

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  8. Very impressive blending of the real with the unreal. Your characters are quite vivid yet, leave lots to the imagination, as does your storyline. Very evocative writing. Well done, Sir!

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    1. Thanks Tom - really glad that you liked this.

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  9. This strikes me as The Matrix meets Doctor Who lol I like it (:

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    1. I like those comparisons :D Thank you

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  10. There's some interesting stuff going on here! The hints at the larger story are such a tease.

    Thank you for linking up!

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    1. Tease, me? Oh perhaps just a little. Thanks for commenting

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  11. we're here to wreak havoc; let's go cause mayhem
    So psyched!
    Also love the paragraph on the building.

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  12. Oh, I like this a lot! Definitely leaves me wanting more. I will have to check out the other pieces in the series. Great use of imagery and excellent job pulling the reader into your world!

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    1. I'm really glad you liked it Suzanne - if you do check out the rest I hope you enjoy.

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  13. Something of a time travel adventure, with good vs. evil thrown in? I am intrigued. Reminiscent of the older Terry Pratchett in tone, but I liked the mystery swirling in the undercurrents.

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    1. Much appreciated - thanks very much for commenting

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  14. Stopping by from S30P.

    A seemingly effortless inclusion of the two prompts, and a great hook. I love a little foreboding.

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    1. A little foreboding is a good thing I think. Thanks so much for commenting

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  15. You "keep" me by causing me to work at figuring out what's going on. I feel the tension almost immediately and wonder what's going on! Good work, Thomas.

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    1. Thanks Souldipper, glad you enjoyed things

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  16. "Trust me, it said." That's a great line and sets the tone nicely.

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    1. Thanks for the feedback, much appreciated

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