Friday, September 25, 2009

Asael XII

This is part of my ongoing novel. Think of it as Killer Angels taking place in a musket and magic fantasy world with characters that combine the religious sensibilities of American revivalism with Beowulf-like blood feuds. All this while engaging in Talmudic style dialectics. “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” is about to take on a whole new meaning.

Introduction, A Note from the Author, Prologue, I, II, III,IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI

Present:

Asael found himself in the body of a man in his early thirties with prematurely thinning red hair. The man was carrying a hard shell briefcase made from some non-metallic material. The briefcase was handcuffed to his wrist. The cut of the man’s suit was strange but it was clearly well made and very expensive. This made it all the stranger that this man was walking down a dark street across an alien landscape of what was clearly a poor and likely dangerous neighborhood. He walked past a group of scrawny children with their hand outstretched and some older man smoking something that was clearly not tobacco. “Probably something like hashish or opium,” Asael thought. Asael had never personally encountered any of these things, but had done some research on such substances and their effects after experimenting with quite a number of them in a similar dream. “It was a good thing that their effects did not carry over to the real world,” Asael mused. Lighting the street were a number of glass bulbs that burned something other than fire, hanging from tall iron poles. These were of little use as most were broken, probably deliberately and had deliberately never been replaced. Asael had on his wrist a watch unlike the mechanical devices h knew. It had a strange screen on which the numbers giving the time and date flashed. Despite the mysterious technology behind this watch, something told Asael that it was a cheap device in contrast to everything else on the man.

“This must be some future world,” thought Asael. It was funny how some things were the same. His world had neighborhoods full of rats and iniquity and this world with its fancy devices had its rats and iniquity. “I wonder what it says about me when this is the future world I dream about. Kuphdin would have thousands of fireless lights in a library with millions of books. And the books would appear on screen like this watch but big, the size of an octavo or even or even a quarto page, so people could read them.”

Upon reaching a street corner and brushing off a woman looking for business, the man reached the side of a run-down tenement building where he found a bolted iron door. He knocked in a series of taps, three then one then two. Instead of the door or a peephole opening, he heard a sharp click behind him. “Shotgun” was the word that came to his mind. “Put your hands up where I can see them,” said a female voice. The man slowly lifted his hands along with the briefcase. “Caxton Bragg, accountant, money launderer for otherwise legal businesses and delivery person for thankless tasks.” The woman was unimpressed. “Turn around slowly.” Caxton complied and found himself face to face with the whore he had just passed by. He took the moment to examine her, noting to himself that he should make a habit to take a closer look at street woman just to see if they were armed. Under the grime, the dirty clothes and the head scarf, Caxton caught a hint that she was quite attractive. There was no mistaking the shotgun though or the direction it was pointed in. “It is a custom among my people that we exchange greetings and names before shooting.”

“Gin.”

The door slide open behind him revealing several man and the click of several more loaded firearms of various calibers in Caxton’s direction. A pair of arms grabbed Caxton from behind and Caxton found himself being dragged through the door. Caxton gave a bemused smile, as if all this was just another drunken fraternity party he had crashed. “I do believe Marcellus invited me. I sent the reply and have the invitation in my left jacket pocket.” Caxton lifted his right hand theatrically to his jacket and patted himself. “Oh damn I must have left back at the hotel.” Caxton turned to Gin. “Would you be a dear and check the reservations.”

The butt of a gun came out from just beyond Caxton’s peripheral vision, clipping him on the side of the head. Caxton went to the floor obediently. He turned his head to find himself looking up at a tattooed black man. “You seem to walk where you are not wanted.” Caxton straightened himself up. “Yes that does seem to be a habit of mine. It earned me numerous lemon-chocolate swirlies as a kid. I guess that why my hair is as it is.”

“Put a lid on it Caxton,” came a voice from on top of an iron stairwell with chipped black paint. Marcellus Ciurbs had black hair that fall heavily in front covering his eyes, obstructing the view of his youthful face. He wore tight leather pants, an old fashioned silk shirt dueling shirt with ruffles and a short grey vest. His clothes and his manners marked him as a member of the aristocracy. A displaced aristocrat or one who abandoned his station of privilege out of some misbegotten sense of principle, but an aristocrat all the same.

“Caxton Bragg! What should we make of you?”

“An employee of my employer and your friend.”

“A man who whores himself for whomever pays.”

“I know some whores who would resent being compared to me. I am very much the idealist, just a pragmatic and open minded one. I never let an idea get in the way of the real world and I am always open to being persuaded to follow new ideas if the sophistry is the right kind.”

“So you are a money laundering mercenary, errand boy and now a sophist to boot.”

“And you should see the line of sophistry I have been converted to these days.” Caxton pointed in the direction of his briefcase. With a flick of his wrists he pressed a combination of buttons and the brief case opened to reveal a short barreled rifle. “Gentlemen and lady, the newest debating tool in the arsenal of my employer. It fires up to nine-hundred high powered arguments a minute. It has a shorter barrel than what you are used without sacrificing the accuracy and velocity of the point you are trying to make. You can debate at up to 550 meters. This debating tool comes with armor piercing bullets for the particularly thick unbeliever, a night scope in case you cannot convince someone by sun down and dozens of other extras, all yours for a fee.”

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