Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sunday Excerpt for September 17th, 2017

It has been far too long since I posted any excerpts here on my blog. Part of the reason was that Friday Fiction dwindled away, though I would love to see it return with many of my writer friends from Faithwriters and beyond.

For this new entry, I’ve posted the opening scene from last year’s NaNoWriMo project, “The Daedalus Episodes.” One of the stories in the Pod series is “The Daedalus Child,” about a young man born with his arms engineered as wings, who ends up as the living model for an animated superhero character, Daedalus. I had thought for a while about writing some of the stories about the superhero version of the character, and so made that my NaNo project last year. This story is still in the original draft stage, and I expect to begin revising it sometime soon, but for your reading pleasure, here is the introduction of the character who will become Daedalus.

The Daedalus Episodes

 by Rick Higginson

Episode 1 Scene 1

            She walked between two deputies without pausing, earning her condemning looks and a staccato challenge. In response, she flashed her ID over her shoulder and continued without looking behind her. Once inside, she went straight to the small office in back and entered without knocking. “Are you in charge here?”

            The sergeant stood up. “I’m going to assume, ma’am, from your demeanor that you’re with the Feds.”

            “Nancy Rich.” She opened her ID again. “Domestic Security. I’m told you have a ‘specimen’ that is of interest to us.”

            “I’m Sergeant Jeremiah, and I’m the ranking deputy on site.” He took a closer look at her ID. “Yeah, we got a ‘specimen,’ though that’s an interesting way to describe it.”

            “Take me to it, please.”

            He squeezed by her in the tight confines of the office. “This way, ma’am.” Gesturing to two other deputies standing beside a security door, he waited until one unlocked it and held it open for them. “None of us has ever seen the likes of this – thing – before, so I hope you understand the additional security.”

            “Understood. How was it captured?”

            “Two of my deputies were on patrol and found themselves in a weird storm yesterday. They pulled off to the side to wait it out, when they said it just dropped into the bushes a short ways in front of them. It was unconscious when they got to it, so they bundled it up and brought it here.”

            “I see. Has it regained consciousness?”

            “Yes, ma’am, about two hours ago.”

            “Has it given you any difficulties?”

            “No, ma’am. It’s just huddled in the back corner of the holding cell. We tried talking to it, but it never responded to anything we said.”

            They stepped in front of the cell. At the rear wall, a human-like head poked just above a wrinkled flesh-colored membrane.

            “What’s it hiding behind?”

            “Best I can describe it, ma’am, is that the thing has wings, kind of like a bat.”

            She considered the information, and slowly exhaled a deep breath. “Are there cameras monitoring this area?”

            “Of course.”

            “I want them shut off. No video or audio recording, and I want all your people out of this area before I approach the specimen.”

            “With all due respect, ma’am, I’d strongly advise against that. We don’t have any idea what it’s liable to do if approached.”

            “Look at the face, sergeant. I’d say it’s about the equivalent of mid to late teens in age, and it’s terrified. It woke up locked in a cell, held by people it didn’t know.” She raised her eyes to meet the sergeant’s, and smiled. “The reason I’m here is that I am very good at what I do, and I don’t anticipate having any trouble with the specimen.” She pulled a folded piece of paper from her purse. “If you need any more convincing, this is the order giving me custody and authority over the specimen and the situation. Unlock the cell, and leave me to do my job.”

            He read over the document before giving her a skeptical look. “I’d feel a whole lot better if you’d at least allow me and another of my deputies to remain here and keep an eye on you, just in case.”

            “Go, and turn off all the monitoring equipment.” Her expression turned stern. “And close the door behind you.”

            When he had complied, she opened the cell door slowly. Before entering, she removed a small device from her purse, pressed a switch, and then placed it on the flat cross bar midway up the cell wall. The specimen watched her as she approached, but made no move either towards her, or to try and keep as much distance between them as it could in the small confines.

            Crouching in front of him, she pulled a tiny earpiece from a container in her purse. She held it where the specimen could see it, before she slowly reached to put it in his ear.

            Her hand moved involuntarily away from its head, so she held her other hand where it could see, and then made a show of removing an identical earpiece from her own ear. She placed the first one into her other ear, and then again reached to place her own in its ear. This time, she was able to insert it, and then leaned back. “Can you understand me now? Nod your head if you can.”

            Its expression turned to puzzlement, but it nodded.

            “Good. What I just gave you is a translator device. Do you have a name?”

            “I am called Adedeles.”

            “I am called Nancy. Are you hurt, Adedeles?”

            “I am bruised from the fall, but nothing serious. What is this place? Why is everyone I see crippled?”

            “That will take some explaining, but for the moment, you are safe. Can you stand and walk?”

            “Yes.” With a little effort, it rose to its feet, holding its wings folded in front of it.

            “May I look you over, to see if you have any injuries you are not aware of?”

            It held its wings out slightly, revealing a sling-type garment that wrapped over both shoulders and then through the crotch. He turned about, allowing her to examine his lean frame and fleshy wings.

            “You have a few scrapes back here, too, but nothing that looks worrisome. I need to get you away from here. Will you come with me?”

            “Will you answer my questions if I do?”

            “Yes, I promise, I will answer all of them to the best of my ability.” She took the blanket from the bunk. “Let me drape this over you for now.” She wrapped the blanket over his shoulders, bringing it around for him to grip with his thumbs, which were the only digit he had that resembled a human finger. “For now, don’t speak until we are away from this place. It will be safer for you if the people here see you as quiet and passive.”

            “I have been quiet and passive since I woke up here.”

            She smiled, and placed her hand lightly on his back through the blanket. She took her jamming device from the crossbar and placed it back in her purse as they walked through the cell door. The outer door opened to her knock, and she led Adedeles out into the main room of the substation.

            Most of the deputies backed away, some with their hands moving towards their holstered weapons as they formed a loose circle around her.

            Nancy waved her hand. “Your fears are unfounded. He presents no threat to any of you.”

            One of the deputies kept his hand near his sidearm. “Where are you taking it?”

            “Your sergeant has my authorization to take him into Domestic Security custody. You didn’t really think you were going to keep him here indefinitely, did you?”

            “There should be more than just you.”

            She strode over in front of the deputy, with Adedeles staying just behind her. She was a good eight inches shorter than the muscular deputy, and he gazed at her with unmasked doubt. “You think I can’t take care of myself, deputy?”

            “Let’s just say I think this warrants more than just one middle-aged, overweight woman.” He cut his eyes between her and Adedeles, keeping his hand poised over his pistol.

            “You’re an idiot.” With a swift motion, she snatched the pistol from his holster, ejected the magazine and cleared the chamber. Before the pistol hit the floor, she seized his hand and swept his legs from beneath him. As the pistol clattered on the tile, she pinned him down and looked about the room. “Anyone else want to doubt my ability to take care of myself?”

            Sergeant Jeremiah raised his voice. “All right, people. That’s enough. Stand down and allow Agent Rich to do her job.”

            She released the deputy. “Thank you sergeant.” Everyone continued to stare at her, some fearfully. She laughed gently to help ease some of the tension. “If you’re worried I’m going to pull out some flashy device and erase your memories, I can assure you that technology has not been invented yet, that I’m aware of, and you’re all going to be talking about this tomorrow. You might want to keep the talk amongst yourselves for now, just in case the Government decides to classify this, but I have no way to make you forget what you’ve seen.”

She ushered Adedeles out the door and to her van. Every deputy followed them out and watched as she settled her charge in the vehicle. Without another word to the assembled officers, she got into the driver’s seat, started the engine, and pulled back onto the highway.

            Once she was a few miles up the road and confident none of the deputies were following, she adjusted the mirror to look at Adedeles. “All right. This should be private enough for your questions. As to your first question, you are still on Earth, just not the Earth you are familiar with.”

            “I do not understand.”

            “You were caught in a storm. Describe the storm to me.”

            “I had never seen a storm like it before. I was trying to get to shelter, but I could not seem to fly against it.” He hesitated a moment. “I thought I must have injured my head, because I thought I saw…” He looked out the side window of the van. “It was not possible, though.”

            “You saw another world.”

            “How did you know?”

            She stopped the van in a roadside turnout, and then twisted in the seat to face him. “Because I saw one in the storm that brought me here from my Earth, many years ago.”

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