Posted in 2014, fiction, my writing, Writing

The Uprising – Chapter Two

“He’s a friend.”

The Astor
1210 hours
Lachlan bent his head to the wall, listening to the footsteps that echoed along the corridor.  Heavy boots, stomping along the line of cells – knuckleheaded guard named Tate.  Clicking heels in the distance – the General’s wife.  Light but firm tread, purposeful and heading his way – Commander Daniel McTavish, the new TaskerOne.
He shifted away from the wall, back to the metal cot, flopping back as he covered his eyes with a forearm.
“Stop pretending, Douglas.”
Lachlan said, voice rough, “Congratulations, Danny Boy…or should I call you ‘Commander’ now?” He lowered his arm, glowering at the man standing on the other side of the bars.  “You got some pull now?  Maybe you can get me out of this hole.”
The Commander frowned, but said nothing in response, glaring back at him.  Lachlan grunted, sitting up as he planted his feet on the floor. 
“We’ve known each other, how long, Daniel?”
He shook his head.  “Lachlan.”
How long?” Lachlan said in a hard voice. 
“Doesn’t matter.  I can’t get you out.  You broke the law.”
“Yeah…I get it,” he said, picking at a scab on his ankle.  “Gotta make a good impression on the powers-that-be, aye?”
The Commander, nodding slightly, said, “They’ll most likely have you executed.”
“No surprise.  Gotta set a precedent, right?” Lachlan looked up at him, eyes too bright.  “Haven’t executed anyone in ten years, aye?”
“Yes.  Under the previous T-One.”  The subject was a touchy one.  No one really said the words, but an execution was never the normal response to a crime.  For any crime.  Usually the most extreme crimes were punished by banishment.  Nobody wanted to leave the City.  Not safe.  They called it the Wilderness for a reason, after all. 
“Do I get a final request?”
Daniel’s lips twisted in a sour smile.  “You want a priest?”
“Haha.  Very funny, Daniel.” He shook his head.  “I think you know what I want.” He met the Commander’s eyes with a meaningful look.  Daniel stared back at him, before nodding tightly.
“That I can get you.”
Lachlan managed a smile, laying back on the cot again.  “Can I sleep now?”
The Commander chuckled.  “Knock yourself out.” 
Lachlan rolled onto his side, stopping only to look back at Daniel.  “So, how was the ceremony?”
Daniel stared back at him, face expressionless.  Lachlan sighed, shifting back onto his side and closing his eyes.  The sound of the Commander’s firm tread filling his ears as he drifted off. 
                                                            * * *
“Commander McTavish?”
Daniel walked into his office, finding the General’s wife facing the doorway.  “Helen?”
“Congratulations on your promotion,” she said. Madam Helen Briar was the kind of woman who drew attention.  Bright hats – she was wearing a sunflower yellow fascinator today – dark mascara, slim body; and that voice.  Sharp, no-nonsense, but easily slipping into sensual, dangerous territory. 
He smiled, tightly and said, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your presence, ma’am?”
Helen said in a low voice, “Must there be a reason, Daniel?” 
Daniel’s brow creased.  “There’s always a reason, Helen.”
She leaned against the edge of his desk, folding her arms.  Lifting his eyebrows he waited for a response.  In the past, whenever the General sent his wife to see him, it was always in an official capacity, and also because whatever needed to be said was too hard for him to say himself.  Typical behaviour from a man who made himself look big when really he was a weedy little shit…
“He wants you to fast-track the execution of Prisoner 77.”
Lachlan Douglas.  Daniel smoothed a hand over his jaw, schooling his face into an impassive mask.  It wouldn’t do to let on how much that command hurt.  They had history.  Close friends.  School mates.  Biking together in the city.  Gatherings, picnics on the outskirts of the residences.  And other, not so innocent pursuits… It wasn’t as if the order was unexpected, though.  In the latter years, Lachlan had taken to questioning the status quo, making unsanctioned ‘trips’ out of the City.  And…digging up contraband.  Records.  CDs.  Instruments.  He was caught in the middle of the City, setting up what he called a ‘busking’ station.  That was the reason for his arrest.
“On what grounds, ma’am?” Daniel said, lifting an eyebrow.
“You need to set an example on your first official day at the top.” 
Daniel walked around his desk, taking a seat, steepling his fingers beneath his chin.  “There are any number of ways I can do that.”
Helen shook her head.  “The General wants the announcement made by the end of today.”
Daniel’s jaw tightened then he nodded.  “Tell him it’s done.” He pulled the phone toward him, lifting the receiver.  Pausing, he looked pointedly toward the door.  Helen smiled, inclining her head to him.
“I’ll let him know.”
He waited for her to leave, before punching in a number, holding the receiver to his ear.  “It’s Danny.  I need the key.”
                                                            * * *
“You sure you want to do this, Danny?”
Daniel was grabbing stuff from the shelves – bandages, rope, a couple of box cutters etcetera – shoving them in the duffel on the solid oak bench.  He glanced sideways. 
“Do I want to risk my position by helping a felon, bro?” He zipped the bag and said, “He’s a friend, Elliott.”
“I know that.”
Elliott Preston was the City bounty hunter.  He was also responsible for The Locker, the place where all confiscated contraband was stored.  Daniel found it ironic that the Council trusted him, considering who his brother was.  Philip Preston was a career criminal, in fact he was recently paroled.  Then again, perhaps that’s why Elliott wasn’t fazed by what they were currently doing.  Stealing from the Locker. 
Pausing, he glanced at Elliott again.  “Your brother would love this.”
“Don’t even say that, Danny,” he said, shaking his head.  “I’d never hear the end of it.”
Daniel’s soft chuckle seemed out of place in the huge warehouse.  He wasn’t given to light-heartedness, usually.  Hardly surprising in the current climate.  It wouldn’t do to be amused in light of his profession.  Dealing with lawbreakers was no joking matter.  Perhaps becoming one himself would shed new light on that, though. 
“How’s he doing, anyway?” Daniel said, going over to another shelf holding an assortment of firearms.  He kept his eyes on the weapons, allowing Elliott to answer in his own time.  Running his fingertips along the cool metal, he waited. 
Elliott sighed and said, “He’s making friends with the neighbours.”  A short laugh.  “Asked the kid next door to mow the lawn.”
Daniel, glancing sideways at him, selected a handgun from the shelf, adding it to the duffel bag and said, “Can’t he do it himself?”
Elliott lifted his shoulders and said, “I think he just wants the company.  He’s not allowed to do much, being a parolee ‘n’ all.” 
Daniel smiled, doing one more check of the shelves.  “No harm in that.”  He rechecked the duffel then swung it over his shoulder, pausing when Elliott’s hand gripped his shoulder.  “What?”
“You know what you’re doing?”
Daniel ground his teeth and said, “We’ve been planning this for years, Elliott.” 
Elliott held up a hand.  “I believe you.” He shouldered passed him.  “Let’s go bust him out.”
Daniel’s lip lifted slightly as he said, “There’s one more thing I need to get before we do.”

Posted in Uncategorized

Tail end of 2014

And so.  Time for new challenges.  I’m free.  As a bird, or however the saying goes.  New doors will open and that’s saying something at least.  I’m excited for what this season will bring.  Excited, and nervous, but that’s entirely normal.  All I know is that dwelling on the past does nothing.  Looking to the future whilst being comfortable with the present is where it’s at.

I’m going to take advantage of the time I have, to start that book.  To enjoy reading a good book or two or a hundred, and to appreciate the life God has given me.

Next month, my friend and I are going to see The Madden Brothers at Crown Perth.  I can hardly wait.  Their debut album ‘Greetings From California’ is an absolute masterpiece.  But, I’ll not bore you with details as I’ve already written a review piece that will appear in next months Simple Plan Space online magazine.

Right now, I’m sitting here, eating chicken carbonara whilst writing another chapter of The Uprising.  I am also rewatching season two of Hawaii Five-0 in view of finishing all four seasons that I have on DVD so I can then catch up with Season 5.  [Book ‘Em Danno is my text message tone…lol]

And, I am also relistening to James Macpherson’s message from the weekend.

What you dwell on will determine what you dwell in. 

Very pertinent to my life.

These verses from Psalm 16 is what I leave you with for now.

I have set the Lord always before me. Therefore, my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure. Psalm 16: 8-9

Posted in 2014, fiction, my writing

The Uprising – Chapter One

“No aptitude.”
Valoren City
9th May, 2025
0800 hours
The smell of burnt toast wafted across the room as Robbie walked in to the kitchen.  His mother, Celandine, was at the stove trying to salvage the crust whilst his older brother, Joshua, was yelling something about pigs and goats. 
“Seriously, J,” he said as he plopped down on the sofa near the door.  Joshua paused, head swinging around so as to cause the long sweep of dark hair to cast shadows across his eyes.
“You’re awake, Robert.” 
Robbie twitched an eyebrow.  “Aye.  And you’re going on about pigs, again.  What’s the point?”
His brother’s brow scrunched up.  “They arrested Lachlan.”
There was a heartbeat then Robbie groaned.  “Oh.  Those pigs.”
“You should’nae call them that, son,” Celandine said as she plated the meagre serving of toast that she’d managed to not burn.  His eyes flicked sideways at her words as he slouched on his seat, folding his arms over his chest. 
Then he looked at Joshua.  “What’d Lachie do?” He didn’t really want to know, but it was better than letting their mother berate him further. 
Joshua picked at the toast, keeping his eyes fixed on the plate as he said, “The eejit was caught with a guitar out in the streets.” 
Music.  Making music was verboten.  A crime.  Punishable by law.  The fact was life.  Robbie knew no other way.  But, he was curious, ever since he was a bairn.  Always questioning the whys and wherefores of the law.  So, hearing that Lachlan was caught with a guitar – his interest was piqued.  Turning to face his brother more directly, he raised his eyebrows at him.
“What the Hell was he thinking?”
Joshua shook his head, a barely perceptible motion that Robbie only caught because he was paying close attention. 
“Whatever he was thinking,” he said, in a low murmur, “it’ll most likely get him shot.” Joshua glanced sharply at him.  Robbie cocked his head a little to the left then slew his eyes to the side not liking the knowing look that lurked in his older brother’s eyes. 
As he did so he heard the doorbell ring.  Celandine paused at the stove her own gaze drifting toward the front door. 
“I got it,” he said as he pushed up from the couch and crossed the floor. 
Theirs was a small house on an equally small Lot in the centre of the residential sector.  The kitchen/living room was situated right in the front of the dwelling with no threshold to speak of.  Then again it wasn’t like they could afford some fancy home like some people.  Those houses close to Council were the largest and housed the richest people in the City…they lived in the poorer part.  Not that they were destitute.  Those people lived in the Slum. 
Robbie got to the door and lifted the latch to pull the door open a crack.  Peeking through the small gap and squinting he tried to make out the silhouette on the other side.  The early morning sun was a little too bright so he had to shade his eyes. 
“Who is it?”
“Phil-Pips.  From next door.  Not gonna bite, kid,” the silhouette said, the voice amiable.  Robbie opened the door more, brow furrowing as he studied the man that was revealed to him.  Dark eyes met his, a crooked grin twisting the lips on the elder man’s face. 
“Didn’t think you were the biting type,” Robbie said, though his tone was slightly suspicious.  The corner of Pips eyes crinkled, laughter evident in their depths.
“Robert, right?” he nodded as Pips went on, “Know this is unexpected…but I couldn’t help noticing the sign at your gate.” 
Robbie blinked.  “Sign?”
Pips pointed back over his shoulder to a makeshift banner that was flapping in the breeze, made of cardboard and looking decidedly weather worn.  Robbie blinked some more.
“Oh.  That sign.”
Pips looked at him.  “Yeah.  You still mow people’s lawns?”
Robbie flushed, kicking himself mentally.  He really needed to take that sign down.  He and Joshua had stuck it up early summer to try and make a little extra money so they could help their Mam.  Times weren’t easy.  They’d initially been inundated by friends and neighbours asking for help, but then that had trickled to a stop as the season progressed.  It was probably two weeks since the last person had called. 
Robbie gripped the doorframe, tapping his fingers against the wood as he looked thoughtfully at Pips. 
“Maybe,” he finally said.  Pips nodded, his eyes sliding to try and look behind him.
“Could I come in for a minute?”
Robbie stiffened slightly just as Celandine called out from inside.
“Who is it, Robert?”
He said back over his shoulder, “Neighbour.  Pips.”
“Ask him in for some tea, son.”  Ever the hospitable one was Celandine Douglas.  Robbie’s lips twisted in a wry smile at that thought then he turned back to Pips. 
“Alright.  Come in.” 
                                                            * * *
Pips looked around the small, yet cosy kitchen not much different to his and Elliott’s.  Though neither of them cooked much and there was a lot less clutter in their house.  The cupboards were in the same place; the counters, the sink…but of course this dwelling had its own personal flare.  A bunch of lavender hanging from a hook above the stove; the fresh aroma tickling at Pips’ nostrils.  Assorted picture frames with family photos… two young boys smiling in scattered images.  He and Elliott had nothing like that on their walls. 
“Tea?” The woman that the boy introduced as his mother, Celandine, approached him holding a teapot.  His first impression was of the pot that was being held at his eye level.  Yes, it was an actual flowery porcelain item like what his own mother would’ve owned back when she was still alive.  He didn’t like to think on that too much.  He forced a smile, nodding slightly.
“Thanks.  Black, no sugar.” 
She smiled, the crow’s-feet at the corners of her eyes deepening, as she turned to pour the tea.  Pips observed her for a moment; her dark hair was pulled back in a messy bun, wisps escaping around her face.  Her expression was warm, even if it were a little world-worn.  And, she was careful with the pouring of the tea…meticulous.  Like his own mother. 
Halting that thought, he glanced over at the boy. Robert was now sitting next to an older boy at the table.  Obviously his brother; they had the same eyes, the same eyebrows. 
“So.  The mowing?”
Robert lifted his eyebrows.  “I did say maybe.”
Pips chuckled.  “You did.” 
His brother snorted as he stood and said, “Robbie says ‘maybe’ to everything.  Usually means no.”  He pointed at himself.  “I’m the one who usually ends up doing everything.”
Pips smirked as Robbie scowled, shoving at his brother’s shoulder.  “Piss off, aye.”
“Robert,” Celandine said, scolding him gently.  Reminding Pips again of his own mother.  He was forever getting told off for little infractions when he was younger.  Maybe if she’d lived longer he wouldn’t have ended where he did…
“Sorry, Josh,” Robbie said, but without any conviction.  “Anyway, we go back to school soon.” He met Pips gaze. 
Pips lifted his shoulders.  “This would just be on the weekends.” 
Joshua scoffed again and said, “We don’t have school.  Robbie’s twenty-one.” 
Pips brows scrunched together as he managed not to say the words that tingled at the tip of his tongue.  The kid looked fifteen.  Which, if what Joshua said was true, was definitely misleading.  The lankiness of his limbs and the babyface was what had confused him. 
“So, what do you do then?” Pips asked, admittedly a little curious. 
A strange look flickered across Robbie’s face.  Pips only just caught it, then it was gone as the kid replied in a soft voice.
“Work for the City,” he said, his top lip curling on the words. 
Joshua said, rudely, “He’s a Flusher.” 
“Shut up, Joshua,” Robbie said, his cheeks reddening. 
Pips stared hard at the kid, surprised.  Flushers were not given any respect.  It was the least of the City jobs; cleaning up the waste and doing other menial tasks that the rest of the citizens would not deign to do.  To hear that this boy was one of…those… it was almost worse than being a criminal.  Robbie glared back at him, as if daring him to make a comment.  He took the dare.
“I’ve never met anyone from the Residences who does that job.” 
Robbie’s lips twisted into a bitter smile.  “Aye.  Wasn’t a choice.  Had no aptitude for anything else after school.” That same strange flicker passed across his features again, gone as soon as Pips tried to focus on it. 
“You sell yourself short,” Joshua said, his tone surprisingly gentle.  Pips smiled a little, recognising a little of Elliott in the elder boy’s words.  Elliott was always telling him the same thing.  Robbie started to roll his eyes.  His brother punched his shoulder. 
“You always say that.  Anyway, the things I can do…well.” Robbie shook his head.  “Not allowed to do.” 
Pips brow furrowed.  “What do you mean, kid?”
The boy met his gaze, dark eyebrows drawn tight together.  “Why’re you interested?”
Pips lifted his shoulders.  “No reason.  So…?”
Robbie sighed then smiled a little.  “Alright.  I’ll mow your lawn.  For a price.”
Pips snorted and said, “We can talk price when you come over…tomorrow okay for you?”
Robbie smirked.  “I could come now, but Mam needs help with chores.”  The longsuffering tone to his voice held a certain amount of affection, which made Pips feel suddenly sad.  His parents were long gone…but that was a history he didn’t like thinking about. 

He nodded to Robbie then smiled as Celandine came over with a cup, handing it to him.  He smiled in thanks and took a long sip.