The last time I did any writing was July 5th . . . nearly a month ago. That’s fine because I did some editing and wrote a whole lot on my blog, responded to comments, and spread my wisdom around the web.
But July 5th was the last time I did any fiction writing. That bit of fiction is HERE. For them who already forgot about it and for them who had not seen it, it was an exploration of yet another idea; about alien invaders nicknamed Hens.
As I said, I do that sometimes; I start writing, let my hands dance on the keyboard, and see if anything interesting comes up. A friend told me the Hen story didn’t have a “hook”. Reading back at it, he’s probably right, although I still like where I am going with it.
Now, I’ve been happy just playing with my photos, but I’ve also been reading what my fellow Vipers 19 are doing . . . they are writing. They are submitting stuff, searching for agents, plotting stories, editing stories.
. . . they kind of make writing seem fun and exciting. And then, I remembered; it is.
Now, I had the choice of starting on a couple of new ideas I have, continuing on any of the four or five things I have open and floating out there, OR . . . you guessed it, Bob; something completely new.
I think I am my best when focused on something, but I am my second best when I just start writing and see where stuff goes . . . tonight, you get second best.
Copyright 2015 – E. J. D’Alise (ViperXIX)
You are not paranoid if people are actually spying on you.
Ed had read that somewhere; more and more it came to mind. It came to mind because of math.
What are the odds that every time you looks up or turn, or look at the reflection in a window, you notice someone looking back, turning away the moment you make eye contact? Slim to none, is what Ed figured.
He turned the corner at the supermarket, looking at the overhead mirror as he did so. The girl put down the box she had pretended to read and hurried to where he just turned. She almost got there when she too looked up at the mirror. He waved. She skidded to a halt as he stepped in front of her.
“. . . uh . . . hi.” She looked around as if afraid of being seen. Or being seen talking to him.
“You want to grab a coffee? That way you can tell me why you are spying on me.” Ed smiled as he spoke. She was, after all, a very pretty girl. Early twenties, fit, modestly dressed, plain hair . . . almost a deliberately bland look, as if wanting to blend in, to not be noticed.
“I . . . I can’t . . . I . . .” she stopped, turning toward the approaching man. Somewhere between thirty and fifty, the guy looked solid. Dark clothes masked his exact shape, but he moved like someone confident of himself.
Ed noticed the girl blanch and heard her sharp intake of breath.
Just before stopping in front of them, the man’s serious face broke out into a smile. Ed assumed the guy was making an effort at looking friendly. Mentally, Ed gave him a D-minus on the effort.
“Marin, there you are. Let’s go,” the man said, “we’re already late.” His hand went to grab the girl’s elbow, but Ed stepped in between them. The man’s hand recoiled as if afraid of contact.
“Hi. I’m Ed. Would you be so kind as to tell me who you are?”
The man hesitated, then replied with a curt “Bob.”
“Well, Bob,” Ed said putting his hand on the girl’s shoulder, “it seems to me this girl is afraid of you. Perhap . . .”
He did not finish; the look of horror on the man’s face combined with the trembling of the girl’s frame made him stop. Ed looked from one to the other, confused. He was missing something, but what?
The man backed up, and the girl made to follow him, but he held up his hand, stopping her. He then turned and quickly walked away.
The girl’s shoulders visibly sagged, and she had gone pale.
“Are you alright?” Ed asked.
She straightened her shoulders and raised her head to look up at him before answering.
“I’m sorry. Yes. Yes, I’m alright. Sorry to disturb you.” And with that she walked away.
He followed. Before they reached the end of the aisle, two men turned the corner, blocking the way. The girl looked back at Ed, and then past him. Ed also turned. Two more men blocked the other end of the aisle. All four men wore what looked like one-piece outfits that covered their hands and feet. The collars came up to their chin.
The girl looked really scared now. Ed looked back and forth to the approaching men, got close to the girl, and gently got her to the side of the aisle. He then stood in front of her as the men approached from each end.
They slowed, and Ed took the opportunity to take out his phone and begin snapping photos. The men all stopped and shielded their faces with their arm.
They stood like that for a half minute or so until Ed put the phone away. They lowered their arms and would have resumed advancing were it not for the next thing Ed pulled out. It was a plain-looking gun.
The men stopped. They stood as if paralyzed. Another shopper turned down one end of the aisle, stopped, and then quickly moved away, probably heading to warn the manager and call the cops. Ed didn’t mind.
The men turned as one and headed off. Ed put his gun away.
“You’re not supposed to have a gun.”
“Uh . . . Marin, is it? As it turns out, I do; more than one, actually,” Ed answered. “But I’m curious as to what you mean.”
Marin looked uncomfortable. Looking both ways again, she grabbed his elbow, leading him away from there. She spoke quickly as she answered.
“There’s nothing about guns in your history, but right now, we need to move from here. When we’re clear, I’ll go my own way; we can’t stay together.” She sounded more confident and less scared as they made their way through the store. She was not weak, either; her grip was strong as she was pushing Ed along with a force disproportionate to her size.
Ed complied as he did not want to explain anything to either the store manager or the cops. As it was, they were likely on the surveillance video and he would eventually be asked about this incident, but right now he did not feel like spending a few hours answering questions. As the automatic doors opened, the girl pulled a little device, aimed at one of the cameras and pressed the side of it. A small flash and the smell of burnt wire insulation and Ed got the feeling there would not be any video of this whole sequence of events.
Perhaps he would not have to answer questions, after all.
Out in the parking lot, Marin directed them to his car. Ed looked up at the cameras mounted on the lampposts. They too were smoking.
They stopped near the car, Marin letting go of his elbow.
Ed leaned on the car.
“What are you doing? You need to leave before the police get here.” Her voice elevated, she was obviously a bit stressed. She also kept looking around, although Ed was unsure if she was more worried about the cops coming to investigate, or about the goons in the dark suits.
“I’ll leave if you come with me,” Ed answered as he leaned one elbow on the hood and crossed his ankles.
She focused on him with more fire than she’d shown so far.
“That’s not happening. What will happen, is you getting in this car and leaving,” she said
“I don’t think so,” Ed replied as he pulled out his phone. “Someone who knows me might tell the cops about the little incident in there, and I have proof to exonerate my somewhat illegal act of brandishing a gun.”
Marin pulled out her little gizmo, but before she could do her zapping thing, Ed interrupted her.
“Automatic backup. Unless you’re going to take down Google, those photos are beyond your reach. Plus, I don’t have insurance for this phone; you frying it would make me quite cross.”
She looked around one more time before giving in.
“Fine; let’s go before this gets messy.”
A few minutes later they passed a couple of cop cars speeding toward the shopping center Ed and Marin had just left. Their flashing lights were on, but not the sirens.
“So, how about that coffee?” Ed asked.
“Look, I’m with you because you’re a stubborn ass and I needed to keep you safe, but don’t think I’m going to become your sidekick. We’re splitting up at the first chance we get.”
Marin had answered as she kept her eyes on the rearview mirror. She also stole the occasional glance at the sky.
“Don’t know if I should say anything, but you seem older and more assured than when I first saw you. By older I don’t mean looks. Your mannerism has changed.” Ed also stole the occasional glance at the mirrors and took a creative route designed to identify any potential followers. Unless they were using multiple cars or helicopters.
“I like it,” he added.
Marin broke away from scrutinizing the mirror and looked at him.
“You think this is funny.” It was a statement, not a question.
“Yeah, kinda,” he answered.
“You have no idea just how not-funny it is.” She resumed looking at the mirror and scanning the sky.
“OK, so now I really want to know what’s going on, who you are, what’s your relationship to Bob, and why those goons were after you.”
Marin didn’t say anything for a few minutes before sighing, sitting back on the car seat, and turning to face Ed.
“You are the wrong Ed Green. I tried telling them that, but they insisted you are the right Ed Green.”
If the words were meant to enlighten Ed, they failed miserably.
“OK, I’ll bite; what makes me the wrong Ed Green?”
“You have guns.”
“. . . and, the other Ed Green, presumably right Ed Green, does not have guns,” Ed picked up the conversation where Marin stopped. “I still don’t see the big picture here; you’re going to have to tell me more. You can start how me not having a gun might have gotten you hurt back there.”
Marin sighed before replying.
“Yes, you saved my life back there . . . and also screwed it up.”
“. . . uh . . . ‘you’re welcome and I’m sorry’ seems appropriate, but you’re really not explaining much. In fact, you’re just mucking things up more every time you open your mouth to speak.” Ed still had a playful tone to his voice, something Marin found a tad irritating; this was serious business, and this guy treated it like a game.
“Alright; this will seem a bit strange, but here goes nothing; I am from the future, and so is Bob – his actual name is Herion, by the way – and so are the Fixers,” Marin said, and held up her hand as Ed started asking a question.
“The Fixers try to undo things that might have repercussions down our timeline. You noticing me was bad. Us talking was a disaster. Bob tried to remove me from the situation before it got worse, but you touched me. That was a catastrophe. Physical contact has the possibility of transferring DNA, and that usually has consequences. The Fixers would have wiped you, erasing any memory of me, and I would have been ended, both here and when I came from, but you had a gun.
“The moment you stopped the Fixers,” Marin continued, “the rest of me was sent down. My full personality, what makes me ‘me’. Uptime, my now empty body will be destroyed.”
She stopped, hesitated, and then continued as she turned her head away from Ed.
“The thing is, I can’t be allowed to live here. I now have a huge target on me; it’s the Fixer’s jobs to remove me as soon as possible before I mess something else up.”
Marin looked back at Ed.
“They have to eliminate you as well. Were you the right Ed Green, they would have done everything possible to keep you alive,” she finished.
“. . . but I’m not the Right Ed Green. Sounds complicated. Do you guys do a lot of this? And what’s so special about the Right Ed Green?” Ed sounded even more jovial.
Marin studied Ed. She did not speak for nearly a minute, observing him, his checking of the mirrors, his precise driving.
“Are you a policeman?” she asked.
“What? No,” he replied.
“You seem to be taking this rather calmly.” Marin looked back out as she spoke, taking note of where they were. Not as many houses, not that many cars, and getting into rural areas with even fewer homes and cars.
She was silent for another minute before asking, “What’s going on? Who are you?”
“Why, I’m the Wrong Ed Green; I thought we had that established,” Ed replied.
The End (for now)
OK, I am tired from house chores, working out in the yard, eating a big bowl of pasta, and snacking on crêpes and blueberry muffins. I still have to drink a glass of orange juice before heading off to bed (I’m a tad dehydrated), but despite all that, I kind of like what I wrote. Two thousand words is a good chunk of words to put down on virtual paper.
. . . still don’t know if it has a hook, but now I can hold my head up as I face my fellow vipers. Well, at the very least, I don’t have to look away in shame at not having written anything for nearly a month.
. . . it is quantity and not quality, right? Right?
That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.