The Holy Ground Highlander Forum Midweek Challenge
Archivist’s Note: The stories and vignettes offered here from various Rysher Forumlanders have not been edited or changed other than having a spell-check performed and being reformatted for this website.
Mid-Week Challenge: My-Landers
Posted by Leah CWPack on 9/27/2000
Your challenge: Write your home town seen through the eyes of an Immortal. Have fun!
Posted by MacNair on 9/27/2000, 3:46 pm
This is not my regular muse...but gee, he actually cooperated and IS nice to look at. Any errors belong to ... er ... ah ... someone out there!
He spent the day wandering, dodging rivulets of water streaming off storefront eves on 23rd street and staring without seeing at the charming interiors. The smell of fresh bread and Starbucks lingered faintly at one corner. He passed through the lounging crowd easily. They gazed at the tall man in the coat and then went on in coffee conversation without a pause.
Buried in the mix of humanity, Methos could pass unnoticed amongst them, head down and hands jammed in his pockets. He felt as isolated as a dropped bird from the nest.
No sound within his heart.
This was really getting to be too much, he thought.
Insanely inspired, the words of an old song danced madly through his head: “Another one bites the dust. Another one bites the dust, hey hey hey! And another one gone, and another one gone - another one bites the dust.”
He had gone to the beach yesterday and sat, digging his toes into the cold dunes. The wind was fierce and chilly, whipping sand across his ankles and continuing the relentless wearing of the cliff edges. He felt as eroded as the rocks that rose out of the sullen sea, supporting their crowns of white seagulls.
He rested his forehead on folded arms, remembering back to that day that was still so painfully near. Waiting inside the church after everyone had gone away, he had stood for a long time in the midst of the police tape. Listening. Searching with his inward sight and perceptions for any echo - no matter how ghostly, of his old friend Darius.
In the end, Methos had simply turned away bereft of any consolation. He fled Paris.
Head down, he spoke into the hollow space of warmth trapped by the circle of his arms and legs. “You saw past all my subterfuge, friend Darius, and welcomed me anyway. Forgave everything so gracefully … as if your soul was as wide as the Savior you served. I was so certain. Had such hope wrapped up in you. And now you’re gone … eclipsed by mortals within who’s ranks I hide. And nothing of you remains living on, not even in another immortal.”
All the millennia passing by and still he went on. Unwilling to give up, unable to give in. Watching the circling game and all those in the dance, a seemingly endless spiral of blades. He was weary of starting over again in the search for excellence amongst his kind.
And just like this teaming city, with both its ugly skid row and graffiti strewn buildings balanced against the green parks and delightful water fountains, he would have to start sifting through the archives to find another one to carefully shadow.
Portland. The City of Roses.
Gorgeous booms circled by thorns. Darius had been like those flowers, but had put aside his sword long ago to pursue peace.
Methos sighed deeply, studying the elk statue in the park he had wandered
to. Perhaps this time he needed to find one who was not only a rose, but had
the thorns too. A balance of intricate beauty and perfection surrounded by the
skill to defend themselves.
Something precious … and deadly, wrapped with immortality.
He turned from the lovers on the benches, the children racing madly at play and walked back through the tumultuous city. Lost in thought. Searching through names of people that came to mind. Remembering the endless reams of pages detailing immortal living and dying.
Looking for roses. One in particular.
Repost of MWC, with paragraphs(sorry about that)
The wind blew the helmeted motorcyclist across Washington state highway 395. Richie knew it was time to pull over and take a breather. He’d heard about the fierce autumn winds in the Tri-Cities, they were legend among serious Washington bikers, but to actually ride against them was something else. He was cold and tired and just wanted to find a place to relax for a little while. A sign up ahead said Columbia Park with an arrow pointing to the next off ramp. He decided to exit and see what kind of solace he could find on the banks of the great Columbia river.
The off ramp led him to travel briefly down Washington state highway 240 and then there was the park! A fantastic piece of prime river view property owned by the great state of Washington. “God bless America.” Richie awed when he had removed his helmet. The grass was green and the trees were large, but nothing could compete with the grand dame herself, the beautiful Columbia River.
Richie had taken Washington state history in school like every other kid, and was bored like no other. Until they started talking about Lewis & Clark and their great trek West. Richie had always wondered what it had been like for them to be the first Europeans to see the river and now standing at it’s banks he could almost fathom what it must have been like for them.
The wind had whipped the river into white caps that crashed against the river bank on their way toward the Pacific. The power of the river amazed Richie. It mesmerized him and he found himself forgetting about the last few days. These last few days that had found him no longer a student, but a man on his own. An Immortal man with nothing but a sword, a bike and time. Lots of time.
Richie thought about how he and Mac had changed and how they were alike. He thought about all the things that Mac had taught him about life and death. Especially death. When he had first left Seacouver Richie had been so angry with Mac. He’d felt abandoned all over again. But now, looking at this great river that had flowed for eons, he knew that Mac was right. He knew that it was time for him to make his own place in the world. To make mistakes and learn. Maybe love. He knew that it was time. And it was okay.
Richie took one last look at the raging river. He knew the power it possessed and respected it. He still didn’t know what power he possessed but he vowed that he would respect himself. Always.
My MWC might be a little unconventional--but here goes.
Posted by vixen69 on 9/27/2000, 9:34 pm
I tried to think of a regular HL Immortal to put in my hometown, but I kept hearing my OFC’s voice. I know not everyone’s crazy about OFC’s, but no one knows being an Immortal in Philadelphia like she does. I mean…like I write her to…know…(She thinks she’s real. Sorry about this. Also, the story's a little dark. It's part of the landscape.)
Here’s Philadelphia through Genevieve’s eyes.
The City of Brotherly Love
If you want to disappear, you can find a cabin out in the woods, rough it for a few hundred years and no one would bother you. Sure. And you could also go nutty as a fruitcake. If you just want simple anonymity, go live in a big city. There’s the advantages of nightlife, culture, art, the whole nine—and yet you can just fold yourself into a city, like sliding yourself into a big old trench coat. I can tool around town for weeks and not run into the same face twice—and feel sure that no one notices mine. You can keep your small towns—the notion of a place where everyone knows your name makes me shudder. Here—I can fade into the background and still hear the pulse of life around me—in Philadelphia, it doesn’t matter, you see. Change your name, it’s easy enough to find someone who’ll set you up with fairly credible paperwork. Find yourself an apartment—plenty of people with accept cash for a room without giving you the hairy eyeball. Ditch your car—just abandon it, and pick yourself up another—simple. All within the city limits. You could just up and change your life—forget about nonsense like jury duty, taxes, vehicle registration, having a license, insurance…
Of course, I’m pondering all of this while going 85 m.p.h. down I-95 with my eyes out for some of those happy, lawless fellow Philadelphians I’m talking about. Me—I am insured, and I don’t want some jerk broad siding my car. But appreciate this—I’m flying down the highway with two swords in my trunk, a set of fake ID, a change of clothes, and I’m feeling no stress. Get pulled over? Where am I speeding to?
Maybe to take somebody’s head. That’s life as I know it. But I don’t worry about getting stopped, because the cops have more important things to look for. I don’t fit the profile of a killer.
I can guess what you might be thinking—sure, but isn’t a city a little densely populated for what Immortals do? Or maybe you’re not thinking that. If you’ve been around, you might know. In a big city, there are more people, but there are fewer witnesses. I don’t know why that is, it just is. People mind their own business—maybe I do know why. You don’t mind your own business, one day you might not have a business to mind. People look out for themselves—those are the rules. The more I learn about the Rules of my lifestyle, the more I appreciate rules like that. Rules that keep me from getting put away for just doing what I have to do.
As the truth would have it, I am speeding to a meet with an Immortal. I don’t know what the man’s hang-up is—doesn’t like my bad breathing habit, I guess. But I’m stupid, don’t let it get around—I’m no Game hag, but I take most challenges, because I’m not about to run. What, and give up all of this? Pat’s Steaks and ragging on the Phillies. South Street on Friday night. Soft pretzels sold on the Boulevard with the taste of salt and exhaust. The Daily News “Letters to the Editor” page to get my blood boiling. I know this is stupid, but I have a soft spot for my hometown—I don’t want to leave. Better, I sometimes think, to die here, than try to do it all over somewhere else. Maybe I’ll feel different in fifty years, if I live that long. If I live that long, maybe I won’t.
But I told the guy I’d meet him down on Delaware Ave at Maui, and if I tell someone I’m going to be somewhere, I’m there on time. It’s a show of respect.
City of Brotherly Love II
Posted by vixen69 on 9/27/2000, 9:37 pm , in reply to "My MWC might be a little unconventional--but here goes."
I grudgingly hand over my ID to the guy at the door, who inspects with a serious look. Getting carded—that’s the reason I hate the clubs. I have a premature paranoia when it comes to having my age questioned, even if the birth date on my driver’s license is still legit. I look twenty, and that means I’m always going to be doing this, I guess. But I get waved through, and my hand is stamped.
The club was the jerk’s idea—he isn’t from around here, so he doesn’t know any better. But the best places for combat are right around Delaware Ave—if you look at it right, so I agreed to it. Not like I’m going around saying, “Yeah, there—abandoned warehouse, great…good…keeping it in mind,” but that’s how your mind gets to working after a while. You start thinking about being ready any time, any place. You don’t know when it will next go down, so you keep your eyes peeled. I play out fights in my head, sometimes. I order a cheap beer, knowing full well that the watered-down suds won’t even begin to get me buzzed, and wait. The sound of the dance music is loud, pounding, but I can feel the signature of the other Immortal cut through it. It cuts through—there’s a good term for it. It just about explains the feeling in my guts. I don’t need to look around to know that it’s him, but I do all the same. Stupid, because how many of us are there, anyway? What are the odds? But it’s a good habit, so I look.
He’s been here awhile. I can tell that much, and he has a girl drink in hand, an Alabama slammer, or some other thing I wouldn’t touch. He says something to a girl he must have been making time with, and then starts heading my way, and I do what I usually do—start wondering where the advantage is. Did he have more than one drink? How old is he? What’s his experience?
(And these are all stupid things to think about—you just never know. Age—there’s something we’re usually too polite to ask, but I’m glad about that. I don’t want to advertise how wet behind the ears I am. But I think I’ve had some experience for my age—what the heck do I know?)
It spares me the trouble of dwelling on how I’m eye-level with his shoulder when he’s right next to me, or wondering if it’s fifty or more like sixty pounds he has on me. My grandfather showed me how the odds work out for boxing matches, and I’m well aware here of how the tale of the tape reads like a bedtime story for yours truly. But I can’t think about that. Here’s how it works—don’t think about losing, don’t think about winning. Just think about how, and what next. And that’s what I tell myself every time. And still go back over how bad it looks.
No one would ever know that from how I act though. I can’t afford to show uncertainty. Or at least, not yet.
“You got here early,” I comment. No greeting, just a comment. “I appreciate that.”
“I’m surprised you came at all.”
I raise an eyebrow at the bald bluntness of it, but I’ve gotten used to it. I know what I look like. A bimbo. I let it roll off. One thing about where I’m from—I’ve grown a tough skin. I’ve learned not to take anything too personally. I’ve been insulted worse by construction workers, passing motorists. My mother, but that’s another story.
“Eight blocks from here, there’s an auto yard. Been closed two weeks because the proprietor’s on vacation, so it’s quiet. I know there’s no security, it’s locked tight, but I can get in. No eyes. No troubles. Don’t make any guesses about me, okay?”
He whistles. “You’re prepared. I like a girl who’s prepared.”
Guys will do that. Try and rattle me with sexist comments. Which never rattle me. Women—I haven’t fought many—but they just get hateful. Me, too. I can get good and hateful. But I stay cool.
“It’s a challenge, not a date. You asked, I accepted. Follow my car—but not too closely. I hate that.”
Take nothing personally, but take no crap. The city taught me that.
City of Brotherly Love III
The streetlights are bright enough that you can see what you’re doing, I can say that much. That’s one thing I appreciate, because it’s better to do this at night. I think we’re getting to where it’s hard to find any good time of day to do it. Maybe the Game will get called on account of progress—I like that thought. We’ll run out of places to fight in secret. We’ll get found out. They’ll stamp us all on the hands just like we’re in a club. If the Gathering comes, they’ll round us up and we’ll all be shot up with sedatives so we feel way too groovy to fight. We’ll all join hands and sing “Kumbaya”, instead.
And then, I’ll wake up.
I have dreams, but I’m well aware of how big a part violence plays in our lives and the lengths to which we’ll go to keep it up. I don’t even believe in the Game, but I’ll take challenges, meet opponents, pick locks and climb fences to do the deed—why? Because, I guess. Just because. Oh sure—I don’t want to die. But you know what? We all have our reasons, and mine might just be—it’s the principle of the thing. That’s sick, isn’t it? But there isn’t a person who ever challenged me who deserved to win. So, I did. I don’t like it.
Of course I don’t like it. I scramble up nine feet of cyclone fence topped with barbed wire, shred a perfectly good pair of leather gloves, and drop over the other side, with a 42” claymore strapped to my back and a mind full of bad intent, because I don’t like it. And my buddy climbs the same fence, moaning over his fingers and torn pants, because killing me will bring him one step closer to a Prize which may or may not exist. This guy winning the Prize, the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Anything can happen, I guess.
“You know—you never did tell me your name,” he comments, getting his sword up.
“It doesn’t matter.”
“I’m Genevieve Fowler.”
“No kidding?” He shrugs. I resist the urge to add, “My apologies.” He’s had to have taken a ribbing once or twice. But what’s in a name? (Except for having contributed that one to a few attendance lists passed around by hapless substitute teachers.) Exactly. Part of the drill is that you give your name—I guess so you know who you’re going to kill. Or who will kill you. But the names never mean anything to me. And mine never means anything to them. It’s a throwback, I think, to some long ago day when duels had something to do with honor.
This had nothing to do with honor.
I should never win. I know that. When I do, it always strikes me as being a trick or an accident. Since I’m still alive, I suppose I’m just the luckiest person I’ve ever met. The son of a gun went to the Errol Flynn School of Creative Jumping off Stuff. He made the tactical error of jumping on a precariously positioned ’88 Chevette propped up on a jack after I made a swipe for his legs (having gone to the Lawncrest Recreational Center Workshop on Low Blows). The jack went. He went. My sword went.
Fireworks. Lightning. You’d think this would call more attention than it does. I stare as the Quickening blows out a streetlight and the garage catches fire. I usually don’t like to just book after I…you know. I usually like to do my own tidying up, since cops tend to leave things rather untidy. But with the fire and all, and the fact that I know just why the proprietor of the junkyard’s on vacation, and just what they sent him on vacation for, I figured they’d be able to tidy this up on their own. They’ll round up the usual suspects, find out none of them did it…and in the meanwhile, I was saved the trouble of carting that guy’s headless behind over to one of the more secluded piers by Penn’s Landing and …misplacing it. The Delaware does give up its dead…but usually several miles away.
City of Brotherly Love IV
I leave in a hurry, carefully zipping the claymore into a bag intended for a lacrosse stick. It’s not a bad fit. I decide I don’t want to go back up 95—so I tool up the side streets. I’m usually hungry after a fight—I don’t know why, it just happens that way for me. But part of me doesn’t want stop driving. I don’t know how many times I’ve done this—I get too keyed up to go right home. I find myself in Northeast Philly, and since I’m on Frankford Ave., I stop at the Dining Car. I love diners—the idea of a place that’s open all night and serves breakfast whenever I want it appeals to my need for instant gratification. I sag into a booth, and bask in the comfort of the harsh florescent lights. Someone thoughtfully left a City News on the table, so I page through, but my mind wanders too much to really read, so I just watch the people.
Sure, there’s the usual college kids, eating some fried foods to soak up the night’s alcohol intake, but what I always notice about diners in the wee hours is the number of old people. If being old means not really sleeping a whole lot, I’m in training to live a long, long time, because I know how it’ll be the next few days. I’ll walk the floor at night. I’ll jump when the phone rings during the day. But the truth is…I won’t sleep, because when I close my eyes, I’ll be remembering what I just did. After a few days of that, I’ll just take to drinking myself to sleep. I know—because I’ve been here before. But the phone will never be the police, and I will get over the killing.
I just have to.
I order a western omelet and some scrapple on the side. I don’t know what’s in scrapple. I know I don’t want to know what’s in scrapple, but I’m craving grease. I also get coffee, and I relish the nice, smoky, burnt, bitter taste of real diner coffee. It isn’t Starbucks. It’s just heaven. I begin to write my story—what I’m going to tell Steve when I finally get home.
I met an old friend from high school. I’ve used it before, but it sounds plausible. We talked all night. We hung out in a diner. Whatever. I know he never believes me, but what am I going to tell him? He isn’t ready for the facts of life—“Honey, when two people love each other very much, and one of them is mortal like you, and the other isn’t, sometimes the one who isn’t does bad things like take other people’s heads, and by the way, stop talking about why don’t we adopt or I’ll go ballistic…”
No. Won’t happen. Can’t happen. I chew some scrapple, order more coffee, pretend to read the paper, and then pretend to ignore the fact that the sun’s coming up. And when I’m good and ready, I pay the check, get in my car—and drive.
Sometimes I can fold myself into the city, appreciate it when I’m where I don’t know anyone, and no one knows me, and I like the indifference, and I crave the anonymity. I can walk the street, and not know anyone I see. And they don’t know me—I’m just like anyone else. Just another person with a story, that’s all. And sometimes, just watching people, going about their business, doing whatever they do—I disappear.
Link: Vixen's Den
MWC: Anchorage, Alaska
Posted by HonorH on 9/27/2000, 10:39 pm
(Warning: Stream-of-consciousness PWP straight ahead)
Alaska does not bear civilization gladly.
I live in the largest Alaskan city, Anchorage, so this may seem like an odd statement to make. But it's true. Other cities have tamed nature, subdued it. Anchorage exists only because Alaska hasn't seen fit to wipe it away . . . yet.
Any resident of Anchorage, any Alaskan, will tell you this. It's obvious when you live in Alaska, and I have lived here for over 100 years.
When I was just twenty, my husband and I journeyed to Alaska, chasing gold in the Klondike. Back then, Alaska was thought to be an opportunity to be had. Something to conquer in search of riches.
Alaska has a will of its own. My husband and I discovered that too late. We met our deaths here. The difference is, I revived. He didn't.
And I stayed. Some may find that difficult to understand, that I stayed on in a land that had beaten and killed me. The thing is, I had to. I think I wanted to prove that I was worthy of this land I'd found.
My teacher was a Russian Orthodox priest who let me know what I was, and what would be expected of me as an Immortal. I accepted my Immortality, but I actually didn't learn to swordfight until the 1970s. There wasn't any need, you see; it's entirely possible that there simply were not any other Immortals in Alaska until then. Besides, having learned how to survive in Alaska, I'm not easy to kill.
There's a drive you can take out of Anchorage to the south, a fairly popular one, along the Seward Highway. On one side are mountains, the bare beginnings of the Alaska Range, and on the other side is Cook Inlet. You can look across the inlet to see two promontories of land: one fairly close, and the other, more distant, is actually the Kenai Peninsula. On a clear day, you can see it far in the distance. You can look at it and follow it to the edge of your vision, then crane your neck until finally, farther out than you believed possible, it disappears into Prince William Sound.
Then you realize how small the Kenai Peninsula is compared with the rest of Alaska. In that moment, you understand how immense this place is.
You drive out to Seward, a two-hour drive under good conditions. Along the way, you pass through mountains, forests, and over and beside streams and lakes glowing blue-green with glacial silt. The trees and grass are the deep green that comes of being exposed to sunlight nearly twenty-four hours a day, yet there are patches of snow further up the mountains.
That's when you understand how wild this place is. It follows no rules but its own.
At some point, as everyone does, you come back to Anchorage. You can go to the Dimond Center mall and catch a movie and some shopping, visit Barnes & Noble in midtown, go downtown to the Performing Arts Center and take in an opera, return to midtown and get a beer and pizza at the Moose's Tooth. Seems civilized enough.
Then you live here for a year. You watch the streets buckle under the strain of the cold above and the permafrost below. You wake up one fine morning to find a moose chowing down on your birch tree. You look at your watch in the summer and suddenly realize it's nearly midnight and still broad daylight. You look at your watch in the winter and realize the sun's gone down and it's not yet 4 pm. A 5.7 earthquake startles you out of your sleep, yet barely makes the inside of the Metro page of the Anchorage Daily News the next day. Snow slows traffic to a standstill. Poorly made buildings buckle under the strain, roads are resurfaced, cars break down, and that ornamental tree you transplanted from California gives up and dies.
That's when you realize this place doesn't want you, doesn't need you, in fact, doesn't give you any notice at all. If you survive, fine. If not . . . so be it.
Some people can't take it. They want a place where nature is predictable, where it doesn't keep them up at night, freeze them to the bone, or rattle them out of their beds of a morning. The immensity, the wildness, overwhelms them, and they flee.
Not me. I live in a world where someone may try and take my head off any day. Someday, it'll happen. I'm not content to simply exist until it happens, though. I want to live. Alaska lets you know you're alive.
Sometimes, on a really clear day, I like to hike to the top of Mount Flattop, which is within the Anchorage Bowl. If it's clear enough, I can see all of Anchorage spread out below me. I can see Fire Island, right off the tip of the city. Further out, there's Sleeping Lady, beautiful and serene. And then, on the clearest of clear days, you can see Mts. Denali (McKinley, to those outside Alaska) and Foraker, far in the distance and more immense than you can imagine.
Alaska is real. Alaska is immortal. I'm not.
That's the way it should be.
(Incidentally, should you ever visit Anchorage, visit the Moose's Tooth for pizza. Best you'll ever taste.)
Link: Hall of HonorH
MWC, Appalachian style
Posted by Ysanne on 9/28/2000, 10:09 am
(I used my home town in SE Ohio as the setting)
He was a big man. Standing six and a half feet tall and carrying over three hundred pounds, he lumbered rather than walked, like a bear balancing on hind legs. The bear image was enhanced by the bushy beard covering the top third of the faded black t-shirt, and the bushel of wiry hair exploding from the bottom of his soiled baseball cap. Emerging from the dim "Mine" saloon into the bright light of mid-day, he squinted and grimaced, showing a shocking lack of dental care.
Getting his bearings, he shambled across the small public square, heading for the People's Bank. The square had been refurbished since his last visit, with white lights adorning the red brick facades of the buildings, and the center fountain repaired and splashing water again. He didn't notice, intent on his destination. The folks on the sidewalk eased out of his path, returning his silent nods of greeting politely, if a bit warily.
Inside the tiny bank, a young woman glanced up and saw him coming.
"Oh nooo," she moaned, "here comes that Frog Pickett again. I'm takin' my break!"
Slamming down a "window closed" sign, she scurried through an open door behind the counter and closed it behind her. The older woman at the remaining window frowned and sighed dramatically, then arranged her features in a pleasant formation as the double doors swung open.
The big fellow made his way through the small lobby, leaving a nearly visible miasma of beer fumes and unwashed body odor in his wake. He rested his meaty forearms on the counter and leaned forward, grinning. The clerk leaned back in defense of her olfactory sense and smiled back in a business-like way.
"Hi, Frog," she said, "what brings you here today?"
"Money," Frog told her succinctly. There was a pause.
"Puttin' in money or takin' out money?" the clerk finally asked, her voice slightly distorted by closing off her nose and breathing through her mouth.
"Gettin' out," explained Frog. There was another pause.
"Uh, how much would you like today?" prompted the clerk, backing up a step or two as Frog sighed gustily.
"Couple hundred. Maybe four."
"Fine," the woman replied heartily, her hands flying over the computer keys.
The rest of the transaction may have set a new record for speed in bank business, with the fifties, twenties and tens counted onto the counter so quickly that her hands were a blur. She shoved the stack of bills under the glass partition with a wan smile, and a huge, dirty paw scooped them up and stuffed them into a pocket of the ragged jeans.
"'bliged," he said politely, and touched the peak of his cap with two fingers as large as bratwursts.
She sagged as the glass doors closed behind Frog Pickett, and the lobby came alive. The loan manager began spraying Lysol into the air and the young woman popped her head out of the break room.
"Is he gone?" she asked in a stage whisper.
"You know he is, Marva," grumped her fellow clerk, pouring alcohol over the counter where Frog had rested his arms. "I swear, it's your turn next time he comes in, if I have to chain you to that window!"
"What's with that guy, anyway, Frieda?" Marva asked, spraying more Lysol into the air behind the counter while her friend wiped her hands with the alcohol.
"Frog's been around ever since I worked here," Frieda replied, "and I swear he's worn the same clothes, too. Lives up in Bone Holler somewhere you can't even drive to, so he walks. Comes into town every so often for money and buys supplies, drinks himself stupid, then walks back to the holler."
"He's like one of them urban legends, like that movie," Marva mused.
"Huh," Frieda grunted, "more like a curse. His daddy was just like him, and his grand-daddy, too, or so says my grammaw. She says somebody named Frog Pickett has been around since before she can remember. And nobody knows where his money come from, but it just lays here gatherin' interest."
"Weird! Don't he have a wife or kids?"
"Nobody ever sees 'em if he does. It's like Frog Picketts just pop up wild in the holler there, like toadstools."
The two women shook their heads in bemusement, then broke off talking as two customers entered the bank.
Frog Pickett walked along the trail leading up the hill to Bone Holler, his arms full of a big box of groceries, his belly full of Bud Light. It had been a good visit to town. He loved this place, wouldn't live anywhere else. Actually, he had never tried to live anywhere else since he had worked on the railroad out West years ago and made all that money. First thing he did was come right back to the holler and the neighboring town. He bulled his way through some hanging vines whose thorns laid open his arms in several long, bloody welts. He paused, watching with dull interest as tiny blue lightning forked along the wounds, healing them immediately. Laughter rumbled around in his chest, and he shook his head in satisfaction. He never got tired of seeing that, not in a hundred years.
MWC "Folk Forever" (I'm early this time)
Posted by Ghost Cat on Sunday, 1 October 2000, at 8:25 p.m.
The theme was "Immortals in your hometown", my version is "Immortals go to the festivals". Edmonton is quite famous for its summer festival season, and this may end up part of a series.
The Edmonton Folk Music Festival, known simply as Folkfest, was an outdoor festival in the original sense of the word. No seats, no shelter: just a stage and a hill. Every long-term Folkie had a love-hate relationship with The Hill. You came, you staked out your favourite spot; each day you started over, hoping no one came early and took your place; and of course, you had to _climb_ the damn thing.
Joe Dawson was a veteran Folkie, as much as he could take time off his "work" every year to see it. This time Joe had cheated a bit; besides, it was about time Mac got to see a little bit of what _he_ was passionate about.
It was a crisp August evening in Edmonton, but at least it didn't look like rain. Their tarp was more than halfway up the hill, and Joe was almost ready to admit he was getting too old for this. Bundled up in true festival style (at least five layers of clothing, plus gloves), Joe leaned over his cane and looked enviously at MacLeod. Duncan was clad in jeans, plain white T-shirt and black leather jacket; quite a few Folk girls admired him as he walked past, striding easily as if he were on level ground.
Joe glared at the Immortal, "You know, sometimes I hate you."
Duncan turned back to his Watcher, all Innocence. "Hey, I was born a Highlander."
Dawson growled, half to himself, "Highlander? You're a bloody goat!"
Suddenly Methos appeared from another direction, with a wide grin; "Did someone say goat? There's a booth down there that sells goat, best I've had in almost a thousand years."
Joe and Mac shared a did you invite him? look; both shrugged in unison. Methos just gave one of his infuriating grins and dropped into step as they climbed. He tried to make up for his awkward appearance with equally awkward conversation: "You know what goes great with goat?" The answer came in stereo: "Beer?"
He looked hurt by the implication that he was predictable. "No actually, mead. But since nobody makes decent mead anymore..." By then they had reached the tarp. Joe turned around carefully, looking down slope toward the Beer Tent. "There's no way I'm going back down there!"
Methos pounced cannily on the opportunity, "You mean you'd save the spot for us? That's great." Dawson recognised the irony of two old/young men abandoning a much younger Old Man while they had their fun. As they took their first steps down he cleared his throat meaningfully.
"Don't you boys have a tarp marker?" The world-wise Immortals stared at him without a clue. "Something so you can find your way back again."
"Um, can't you just stand up or something?"
Dawson shook his head wearily; "Do you guys have _any idea_ how many people are going to be on this hill?" Twin shrugs. "A marker just makes sense; usually it's something big, easy to recognise and-unique." Both Immortals stared in horror at the Watcher; each glanced at the other.
Duncan spoke up first, "Well, I'm not using mine!"
Methos sounded almost petulant, "What makes you think I even have mine?"
So began a pitifully childish exchange, which the Watcher observed with mixed amusement and annoyance. "Yours is more memorable"-- "Yours is bigger"--"A ha! So you admit it"-- "Size isn't everything! Yours is older." Joe could barely keep himself from laughing as Methos growled "Damned right, practically a museum piece!" Duncan brought out a verbal coup de grace: "Yours hasn't been used as much!"
The Eldest Immortal sputtered his indignation; "I resent that remark!" Finally, though, he just threw up his arms in defeat: "Forget this, I just want my beer." Despite his own words, he pulled the ancient weapon from his pack, driving it deep into the soil beside the tarp. He levelled an accusing finger at the Highlander: "Just remember, I'm under your protection now."
As the two picked their way down the slope, Joe could hear a muttered exchange behind him. "That thing's going to block the show!"-- "Fine, you tell them"-- "No way, you tell 'em!"
"Folk Forever" Part 2
It soon became quite clear why the hill wasn't very busy, not to mention why the Beer Tent had its own security. The man in the tan coloured T-shirt was ushering people in small groups only, and the two were lucky to get in together. Methos found the whole idea of separate ticket and drink lines vaguely amusing, while Duncan couldn't shake a sense of unease. Even from the back of the line, they noticed the rather attractive redhead behind the counter; Methos gave Duncan a knowing smile and a nudge. They were the next to be served before the Buzz finally hit, the two froze warily and there was even a catch in the redhead's pleasant voice as she turned toward them…
"Hi boys, what can I get for-YOU!!", the last word was spoken in such a tone of scorn that everything stopped for a moment. The object of that concentrated ire was Methos, who froze like startled rabbit.
"Cassandra, " he managed finally, "it's so nice to see you volunteering your time like this." It sounded rather lame, even in his own ears.
"I knew if I stayed around beer long enough I'd find you again."
Duncan quickly interposed himself between the two ancients; Cassandra was already half way across the counter with death in her eyes. "He's unarmed!"
She bared painted nails like claws, not even taking her eyes off her intended target; "That's his mistake, not mine." Already some of the less inebriated patrons were backing away. In the background Duncan thought he heard a tense voice hissing into a radio. If he could just defuse the situation a little longer- a desperate thought came to mind.
"You can't do this. It's Holy Ground," his voice was an insistent whisper. Methos looked on this with amazed confusion, while Cassandra was merely annoyed. "For whom?" she challenged angrily. "Considering the purple haze hanging over this place, probably the Rastafarians." She shot Mac a look of mixed shock and disappointment; "That's the kind of shallow, fabricated argument I'd expect from this manipulative bastard, not from you."
Duncan glanced over; Methos looked pale as a ghost and ready to flee into the crowd. A lot of help he'd be. Perhaps a rational approach would work, "Look, this is a public festival. There's innocent people here, thousands of dollars worth of equipment..." Methos opened his mouth, once again, at exactly the wrong time; "And besides, have you ever seen a beer keg explode? It's just not a pretty sight."
Just then a new Buzz froze the trio where they stood. A quiet, confident voice asked, "Is there a problem here?" Cassandra's demeanor shifted instantly; "No trouble here, Charlie. No problem at all." The man's dark festival T-shirt read Site Security and he had the subdued presence of a man accustomed to command. "I certainly hope not. There will be no Situations on my shift; have I made myself clear, Ms. Donan?" Cassandra actually paled for a second and swiftly returned to her duties.
Charlie led the two men through the crowds to a more private corner. He fixed each of them with a dark look before speaking. "All right, what was _really_ going on in there?" Methos was conspicuously silent, leaving Duncan to explain; "There's a lot of old blood between those two; tempers flare pretty hot when they get together." The cause of all the trouble finally rose to his own defense, "Honest, I never expected I'd run into her again."
The man gave them both a stern glare. "I meant what I said back there. I run a clean site and I make sure _nothing_ goes wrong on my shift." The radio on his belt suddenly flared to life: Concession Gate to Two-Forks. He held up his hand in a quick command before keying his radio; "Go for Two-Forks." The call-sign more than the gesture shocked them to silence. Even so, they only caught snatches of the radio exchange. "Stop the vehicle now;" his voice was calm and controlled; "you know the site is live." A pause; then, "No one drives into Gallagher Park on festival weekend. If they give you any trouble tell them they'll have to deal with me."
The man looked up suddenly; blinked for a moment as if he had forgotten the pair already. He quickly forestalled the question on both their lips; "An incident in the Site Kitchen years ago; the name stuck." A touch of mischief flashed briefly in otherwise somber eyes; "Besides, it's not like I need a knife." Without another word, he turned his back and walked away, presumably in the direction of the aforementioned gate.
Duncan pointed back into the crowd, "Still want that drink?" Methos jerked his head no, feeling a sudden need to put a large steep hill between him and a certain beer wench.
"Folk Forever" Part 3
As he watched the dark-haired pair practically sprinting up the hill, Joe had a feeling that things hadn't gone well down below. Remembering that festival season was his well-deserved break from the world of Immortals; he wondered how he had managed to get saddled with two of them. "Trouble find you again?"
Methos sighed, "You could say that; Cassandra's down there and she wasn't too happy to see me."
Dawson couldn't believe it, his luck was actually getting worse. "Guess this means I won't be seeing Wilson Pickett tonight, then?" The Watcher started gathering things for a quick getaway; it wouldn't be the first time.
Mac knew how much this meant to the old man; "Wait, it's not that bad. Someone else stepped in; someone who could get her to back down."
"Oh, so you met Charlie then?" The two Immortals gaped at the casual tone. "That man ran a tight ship, and he runs Folk site the same way: firm, but fair. Why do you think they let me come up here every year; I promise to keep an eye on Two-Forks and the others."
MacLeod couldn't believe it, "There are more of Us here?"
Dawson just smiled, "Sure. When you've got all the time in the world, why not volunteer? That reminds me, you'd better be careful around Two-Forks."
"Why, is he looking for heads?"
"No, warm bodies." Before he could explain further, a young Security volunteer puffed up the hill.
It took a couple of seconds for him to get up enough courage; he'd never been asked to do this before. Pointing awkwardly at Duncan, he stammered, "Charlie wants to see you." Realizing how ridiculous that sounded, he tried again; "I'm supposed to bring you to the Production Office." There wasn't a speck of authority in his voice, despite all his efforts.
Mac almost felt sorry for the kid, but that didn't stop him from getting worried. He glanced over at Joe, who could only shrug. There was only one way to find out. He got to his feet, much to the relief of the volunteer. Mac smiled over his shoulder; "I'll be back in time for the show. I hope."
It was a fair hike down to the off-season ski chalet that served as the site's production office, but the volunteer didn't say a word. This wasn't the kind of job he'd signed on for and as soon as he finished this he'd be glad to go back to a nice, boring gate position. There was something about this man that gave him the creeps; even Kitchen Gate, considered 'exile' by most during festival weekend, was beginning to look good.
Duncan couldn't help feeling like a lamb being led to slaughter. He didn't want to hurt the kid though, he was just doing his job and he wasn't even getting paid for it. The only thing he could do was stay alert and be ready for anything. His escort brought him right up to the door of the tiny building before almost sprinting away.
The only thing Mac hadn't prepared himself for was a crushing anti-climax. The office wasn't much: a few cheap desks, some ratty looking couches. In his current state, a shrunken head loomed large in his attention, until he realized it was made from a coconut… strange place. It wasn't hard to pick the source of the Buzz out of the group; matching it to a face he already recognized. The one they called Charlie Two-Forks grabbed his elbow even as he was reaching into his coat. "Not here," he hissed, "I've a reputation to keep." The man obviously wasn't interested in Challenge, which left Duncan off-guard and uncertain. Reluctantly, he let himself be steered to one side, though he would not be cornered. "You wanted me, you got me."
The man waited until he was sure they were alone. "Relax. If this were about the Game, do you really think I'd endanger one of my crew bringing you here?"
MacLeod wasn't quite ready to back down yet; "I've seen men who would."
"I heard more about what happened today. You've got a good head on your shoulders and, frankly, I'd rather see it stay where it is. You can think on your feet and you work well under pressure." Watching a smile spread slowly on the other man's face, Mac remembered, too late, Dawson's comment about a need for warm bodies. His fate was sealed by a single phrase: "So, how are you on the night-shift?"
Back on the hill, Joe found himself watching Methos more than the stage, "Don't look now, but I think your concern is showing."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You just flinched when you thought you saw lightning down there."
"So, it's raining." Joe paused, looking him in the eye; "You really are worried about him, aren't you?"
Methos is saved from a confession by a Buzz. He turned to find Duncan climbing wearily to their position. "You okay Mac? You look like you just made an appointment with something sharp."
Duncan sighed deeply as he settled down on the tarp; "It's worse than that. I wasn't challenged; I was recruited. I'm a Nighthawk!"
Just so you know, almost everything about the festival and the site is accurate, except for the Immortals themselves. I know, I was there.
The Nighthawks team is night security, one of the most difficult and least appreciated volunteer teams. It's also the only team you can get into without being put on a waiting list for a few years. Volunteers in general are weird, but 'hawks make everyone else seem sane in comparison. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the people I was working with were Immies.
About Two-Forks, yes he really exists, that really is his radio name, and he probably _could_ out intimidate Cassandra. The explanation for his name was a total guess though. I found out later that "two forks" referred to the two fork-lifts on site every year. The man I pictured as a two-fisted eater is actually diabetic. oops.
My MWC: Galveston, Oh Galveston or The Immortals Rent (part 1)
Posted by SBO, struck by a muse...owww! on 9/29/2000, 9:13 am
A Beach House...
The immortals belong to DPP, I belong to
myself, the places are real and the rest of the people mentioned, well let's
just say some of you may recognize yourselves:
“Well, this has to be the jumping off place of all jumping off places, MacLeod,” Methos grinched as they approached the causeway that connected Galveston Island to the mainland. He noted the city marker as the rent car sped toward their vacation destination. “Look at that ‘Population 59,070’—there won’t be anything to do…” he continued complaining.
“I thought that’s what you wanted—a centrally located, quiet place not really inhabited and not a magnet for other immortals,” MacLeod sighed, “We’ve rented a beach house in the westernmost part of the island. It’s deserted this time of year—after Labor Day and all. This is a place where we can get warm, relax, see the sights, sit on the beach…drink a margarita or two…”
“Warm? It’s bloody boiling if you ask me—remember they’ve just had their hottest day in recorded history—104 and that’s in degrees Fahrenheit! And there had better be a brewery—I don’t care for margaritas. And while we’re at it I’m not at all thrilled about sand.”
“Do tell me what you really think, Methos,” snorted the now agitated Scot. “Quit yer complainin’! Yes, the brochure mentions a very nice brewery right on The Strand. That’s supposed to be the renovated 19th century business district close to the port. Oh, look here, they even have a 100-year-old sailing ship that was built in Aberdeen restored and open for tours! They built great ships there, you know!” MacLeod’s mind drifted to thoughts of his homeland and his rather raucous adventures with Connor in Aberdeen.
Methos focused on the lines in the highway to quell his queasy stomach. “No, Mac, no ships for me. You know why.”
“Well fine, then, there’s also supposed to be the largest history of medicine collection in the southern US at the medical school here. How does that sound?”
“Fine, you go see the ship and I’ll go see the same rusty instruments I used centuries ago—sounds like a jolly good time to me!”
“Fine!” MacLeod snapped. There was just no pleasing him.
“Fine!” Methos popped back. If they had their coats they be flinging them by now.
Fine way to start a week’s vacation with the old man, MacLeod groaned to himself. Amanda will be pleased to that they would arrive in such a foul mood. But Methos was right about one thing, this semi-tropical island was, indeed, bloody hot. And hiding a sword when you’re wearing shorts will probably prove to be quite a challenge.
“Okay, where do I turn again?” Methos asked the navigator.
“Right onto 61st Street and then right again on Seawall Boulevard. Amanda should have already picked the keys up from the rental agent.”
Within a few minutes they arrived at the beach house. It was one of those towering futuristic designs in a natural wood finish.
“I hope I don’t get talked into painting this house, too!”
“Oh would you just stop,” Mac had finally had it. “That’s the way it’s supposed to look! And what was I thinking when I thought the only w(h)ine I was going to have was with dinner. Thank God, there’s Amanda standing on the porch—maybe she’ll be in a better mood.” The car came to a stop, but the look on Amanda’s face made MacLeod’s stomach lurch abruptly.
“Well, it’s about time you got here—the AC’s shot.” She was none too happy. “I’ve already talked to the agent—they can’t get it fixed or get us another house for a couple of days. Seems they’ve rented everything they’ve got to retirees fleeing the first snows of the season. And at this point, snow is really starting to sound good. Duncan, I’m going to melt here.” And as if to punctuate the point a rivulet of sweat started down her neck
Great, MacLeod mumbled to himself. First Methos, now Amanda. A week of this and I’ll want to take my own head. Thinking fast, he said, “Look you two, this is my vacation, too. We’ll just have to make the best of a bad situation and think about what we can do to salvage it. Why don’t we put on our suits and go for a quick swim—it’ll give us all a chance to cool off,” in more ways than one he thought.
“Only if I get to see you in the suit I got for you, Duncan,” she said dreamily, her demeanor undergoing an almost instant transformation.
Methos raised an eyebrow. “This I’ve got to see.”
Amanda led them inside where she produced a small shopping bag—a very small shopping bag. Duncan peered inside and let out an inhuman sound, “Amanda, there is no way I’m wearing that anywhere—not in our bedroom and most assuredly not on any beach. There are laws, you know. And where would I carry my sword.” Amanda turned her face to him and smiled sweetly. “Amanda, don’t answer that.”
While he was sputtering with horror, Methos snatched away the bag, reached in and snagged what was inside. “Blue is definitely your color!” Methos actually guffawed, “Have I told you my theory about ‘The Prize’ going to the immortal with the best legs? You just might have it there, Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod!”
“Give me that!!” Duncan roared.
Galveston, Oh Galveston or The Immortals Rent A Beach House (part 2)
Posted by SBO, giggling at the mayhem on 9/29/2000, 9:29 am , in reply to "My MWC: Galveston, Oh Galveston or The Immortals Rent (part 1)"
“He may just be right, Duncan,” she giggled, “after what I’ve seen walking on this beach so far today, that should be a stipulation of ‘The Prize’—the last immortal should be the only one allowed to wear shorts or Speedos ever again.”
“AM-AN-DA—two of those ‘suits’ sewn together wouldn’t make a decent Speedo! And the only thong I plan to wear this week will be on one of my feet.” MacLeod snorted.
“Well, if you insist, but that’s going to look awfully strange on one of your feet,” Methos mused.
That was it, Duncan decided. “I’m off to see the city—you two can come along if you like. I might just start with the medical collection.”
“Nope, darling, shopping for me. There are some quaint little boutiques downtown I want to check out. I have my own credit cards this time, I promise!” Amanda suggested, “Meet you two for dinner?”
“Sounds good. Methos, you game?”
“Oh, why not? Give some little medical librarian a run for her money—could be fun. What else do I have to do here?”
A thirty minute drive later they arrived on the campus of the medical school. “Parking is bloody awful here, isn’t it!”
“I don’t believe it,” Mac said, “you’ve found yet another thing to complain about. But this time I have to agree with you. This is a nightmare. How can one small island hold this many cars!”
Finally they decided to park in a public lot and hike the rest of the way. Eventually they made it to the Library. As soon as they entered the lobby, they were assaulted by the familiar old book smell. A display of historical items practically met them at the door.
“See I told you—old instruments,” Methos drolled.
“Look at that Lind’s ‘Treatise on Scurvy.’” Mac peered into the display case. “Ever see scurvy? Nasty business that.”
“Yes, the monks, small boat no facilities, no fruit,” he remembered. “Listen MacLeod, are we going to do this or not?
A sign at the elevator directed them to the 4th floor. As the pair entered the history department, they noted the quiet disturbed by the bells hanging on the door and the frustrated mutterings of the Collections Manager attempting to repair an antique microscope. Her head snapped up when she heard the bells.
Galveston, Oh Galveston or The Immortals Rent A Beach House (part 3)
Posted by SBO, once more with feeling on 9/29/2000, 9:42 am , in reply to "Galveston, Oh Galveston or The Immortals Rent A Beach House (part 2)"
“May I help….yee…” the last word died in her throat as her face turned chalky white and she slid unceremoniously to the floor.
“This is beginning to become a habit, MacLeod. Do you always have this effect on women?”
Mac glowered at Methos. “Come on, we have to make sure that she’s okay. I’ll give her CPR, you call for help.”
As soon as Mac’s lips touched hers, she began to come to, eyes opening wide. “Are you okay, miss, miss???” he asked.
She sputtered a bit before answering in a not too coherent, squeaky way. “SBO…yes…fine…”
“Is there anyone we should call?” Methos wondered as he stood at the phone.
“My friend Lark, ‘cause she’ll never believe this!!”
Neither of them expected that response. “Believe that you fainted?” Mac went first.
“No, believe that you guys are standing in my office. Tell me that we didn’t just reenact a scene out of ‘Chivalry’?”
“Chivalry?” they asked in unison.
“You know, an episode from the fourth season, the one where you show your assets,” SBO pointed a finger at MacLeod, “and he paints your nose,” her finger moved to Methos.
“I think you must have hit your head when you fainted,” Mac said, “have you ever fainted before? Perhaps we should see that you get to the ER.”
“Only once when I met the actor that plays you—but that was a swoon, not a faint.”
“Actor that plays me? I really have no idea what you are talking about.” Mac tried to be nonchalant.
“And I suppose you’re now going to tell me that ‘I’m not an Immortal, but I play one on TV’.”
At that point SBO began a description of all things Highlander. Very spooky--it was as if she knew everything about their lives. She ended with a description of what had been going on recently, “and here in the new movie were your assets are even more erm…prominently displayed…. Do you have any idea how big that can be on a 75’ screen and how it can drive even the most sensible woman into a frenzy so bad that she is forced to watch over and over again?”
Methos actually giggled. “I see that you still don’t believe me. Come over to my computer and I’ll prove it to you.” SBO clicked on her “Favorites” list and clicked once more on The Confessional. She scrolled down the list and hit a post from HLassie that described Duncan’s “Almighty/Adorable Booty Ridge” and another from Robin that complained that there wasn’t enough Methos in Endgame.
Then, to top it all off, she described what a fru was and then clicked onto Celedon’s Chambers and the Galleries. “Here,” she said, “the ultimate proof.” The mouse touched on “Shirtless Katas.” “You see, Duncan, the term ‘nekkidsweatykata’ was meant for no one else in this world but you!”
The stunned immortal pair collapsed into the leather chairs in the outer office. They told SBO that she was right, that it wasn’t all illusion, but they also swore her to secrecy about their visit. She readily agreed—no one would believe her anyway, she figured.
As they left the Library, Methos turned to Duncan, “Well *that* was interesting!”
“Oh Methos, don’t start. I’ve already begun to think this vacation is doomed. Let’s just meet Amanda and see if we can’t have a nice dinner and discuss our options. They trudged to the car and drove the short distance to the Brewery on The Strand. Amanda met them outside.
“No time for dinner, boys. We’ve got a problem—the Public Library is missing one of their Faberge eggs and for some reason the local constabulary thinks I have it—I’m outta here.”
Duncan shot her a very disapproving look. Methos hooted with laughter. “That’s it I’ve had it—this vacation is over. Amanda, you find your own way out of this… Methos? You coming?”
Trudging to the car once more, Mac turned
to Methos and uttered the same words that Dawson once said to him. “Remind me,
next year, separate vacations!”
Hope you enjoyed the silliness. Off to smack a muse!!