Turnabout is Foreplay
The Holy Ground Highlander Forum Midweek Challenge
Archivist’s Note: The stories and vignettes offered here from various Forumlanders have not been edited or changed other than having a spell-check performed and being reformatted for this website.
The Challenge by Leah CWPack
The Mommy Chronicles by Wain
In Case of Cowpats by Palladia
Duncan Meets Lyttony by SBO
Books and Covers by Storie
All Sorts by vixen69
Writing to Order by Leslie Fish
Memories by Friend of Methos
Fantasy Life by Ysanne
Cats by Robin
The return of THE MID-WEEK CHALLENGE: TURNABOUT IS FOREPLAY
Your challenge, should you decide to participate:
Write a short story or scene involving a character from the HL series (canonical or otherwise) who is trying to write a story about a fictional mortal...you.
Disclaimer: Remember to put "MWC" in the text of your subject line if you wish to have your entry archived.
MWC: The Mommy Chronicles
“Sorry, we’re closed,” Duncan called in response to the sound of footsteps in the dojo. The footsteps came closer, and he looked up from the screen of his laptop computer and through the slats of the Venetian blinds on his office door. He hiked one eyebrow and went back to looking at the laptop’s screen.
Methos let himself in the office door. “Joe says that if you don’t have it by midnight, then you owe him a hundred dollars.”
Duncan answered with a scowl.
Methos lifted his chin and tried to look at the computer screen. “Quarterly tax report?
Duncan turned his office chair to angle the laptop away from prying eyes.
“What is this mysterious ‘it’ that has to be in by midnight? And why is it worth a hundred dollars?”
Using his feet against the edge of his desk, Duncan swiveled his chair again to let Methos see line after line of text:
Around and around the parking lot she cruised, senses on alert, nostrils flared and pupils dilated. Here, somewhere, was what she sought--a parking space close to the supermarket yet not lost in a canyon formed by two SUVs.
“What are you writing?” Methos asked, lips twitching in an effort to suppress a smile.
“A Watcher’s report.”
The twitching gave way to a broad smile. “A Watcher’s report. Who are you watching and why?”
Duncan winced. “I made the mistake of suggesting to Joe that the Chronicles weren’t great literature.”
Methos made a delighted sound.
“In fact, I told him they wouldn’t make it in an college writing course.”
“So he challenged you to write one yourself,” Methos surmised.
“Bet me a hundred dollars I couldn’t have one in by midnight.”
“MacLeod, you’d have done better to tell him his mother wore Army boots. Watchers are very sensitive about their chronicles.” Methos’ amusement was plain. He pulled up a chair and sat next to Duncan. “Now we know why. But who? Is this the newest among us?” He nodded at the report.
Duncan made a negative gesture with his hand. “We picked a mortal. At random to make it fair. Just went over to the junior high parking lot this morning and chose one.”
Methos picked up a small spiral notepad from the desk and began to read from it. “Subject is about five and a half feet, mid-forties, with graying hair and glasses. Subject? What, no name?”
“My contact at the DMV is off today,” Duncan said.
“Check inside her car,” Methos suggested.
“She keeps it locked.”
“No mailbox. Slot in the door instead.”
“So make it up. Joe’ll never know,” Methos said.
Duncan looked at him in disbelief.
“Never mind. For a moment I forgot myself.”
Methos flipped through the notepad again. “Drop off kids at school, drive home--nice house, a few weeds in the flower beds, aerobics in the living room ... How’d you know what kind of exercise?”
Although his lips were pressed in a firm line, Methos’ eyes twinkled, and laughter escaped through his nostrils. He went back to Duncan’s notes, reading silently, his finger skimming over the lines. Shower, supermarket, back home, drive to mall, try on and buy shoes. Methos leaned over to Duncan and showed him this last line, where a row of adjectives had been scrawled and crossed out. Comfortable, plain, supportive, sensible.
“Why don’t you just say it, MacLeod? She bought ugly shoes. At least she didn’t buy bras; then you’d have spent the morning in the lingerie department, and she’d have been sure to notice you.”
“I don’t think so. Sometimes I wondered if she was really seeing what she was seeing, or if her mind was somewhere else.”
Duncan looked at the laptop, then scrolled down to a new page. He and Methos read the last paragraph. The sun sank, painting the western sky brilliant colors. She returned home for the fourth time, accompanied on this trip by a teenaged boy dressed in a martial arts uniform--her younger son--and when they went into the house, she closed the door with her body and leaned against it for a full minute. The sounds of two televisions playing different shows bled out onto the sidewalk for nearly an hour, then the downstairs lights went off. Upstairs, lights went on in the four corners of the house, then an argument was heard, and finally the lights went off one by one. The house was dark by ten.”
He sighed. “Do you think this is what her life’s like every day? Driving, running errands, going in and out of that house. Does she have a job? Does she volunteer? Is this all she’s got?”
“Their lives are short, MacLeod,” Methos said. “But somehow they don’t realize that. They fill them with nothing, just one foot in front of the other, never realizing where they’re going. Let it go. It’s only a hundred dollars and a few months’ worth of I-told-you-so from Joe.”
Methos stood and gestured for Duncan to follow him. “Come on, you can’t fix her life. It’s not as though you can ride up on your charger and sweep her off her feet, but I probably shouldn’t give you ideas, mired as you are in chivalry.”
Duncan reluctantly shut down the computer and followed Methos to the double doors that led out of the dojo. “I’ve got to get that hundred dollars for Joe. Meet you in the car?”
He walked back to his office, slipped inside, and opened his laptop and the document he was working on.
The sun sank, painting the western sky brilliant colors. She returned home for the fourth time, having left her two sons at the house of what I presume is a friend. She went into the house and her husband met her at the door and, embracing and kissing her, closed the door with her body and leaned against it for a full minute. The sound of soft music spilled out onto the sidewalk for nearly an hour, then the downstairs lights went off. Upstairs, soft yellow light glowed in the northwest corner of the house, then laughter was heard. The house was dark by ten thirty.”
Duncan saved the program. He closed the laptop, smoothed his hand over the cover, and then patted it. He pulled out his wallet, his thumb dragging over the stack of bills until he found two fifties, then replaced his wallet . He took one last look at the laptop and whispered a quiet benediction, then left the dojo with a faint smile on his face.
MWC: In Case of Cowpats
"Duncan, do you know what it does to a motorcycle to hit a cow patty at forty in a hilly pasture? Laid it right over."
"I can imagine. Why were you doing forty in a hilly pasture?" Duncan looked at Richie with his usual mix of affection and exasperation.
"I'd been at this poker party at somebody's cabin. I was lost! There were owls! Coyotes! Probably mountain lions; you know how I feel about mountain lions!"
"Not in Pennsylvania. No authenticated sightings for years."
"Thanks. That's very comforting. Then, she found me. Must have heard the bike. I couldn't believe it. I mean it was after midnight, and here was this woman in a bathrobe, out in the middle of this pasture, calling me. . . well, I don't actually have a mother, you know, but if I did, I would never have. . . you know."
"Were they fresh cow patties?" Duncan wore a reminiscent grin, remembering the last time he'd had a close encounter of the worst kind with. . . no, wait, that had been buffalo.
"I am not an expert on dating cow patties!"
"Sure you are. Was it wet?"
"Fresh, then. Just like you. So, what happened with the woman?"
"She made me go into town with her. She wouldn't let me into the front of the truck. She made me ride in the back."
"How did she make you do this? Didn't you remember any of the martial arts?"
"The bike had slid down a bank, and I couldn't remember where the gate I'd come in was. She was pretty. . . persuasive. She had dogs with her, and they were all barking at me. She said if I didn't come with her, she'd chain the bike to a tree, and I could get it back whenever. Finders, keepers. I thought the police could talk some sense into her." Richie was sitting very still, as if trying to attract as little attention as possible, and he had the inward gaze of someone remembering a very unpleasant experience.
"So, what did the police do?"
"They ran me back out of the station. Booked me on the sidewalk. Because of the, uh, cowpats. I had it all down my side. Must have slid through four or five before I got stopped."
"She said she could take me home and hose me off, let me sleep in the barn. I had my wallet and credit cards, so I asked her to take me out to the Interstate to a motel. I could hear her laughing all the way to the Motel 6. She'd cheered up by this time, and she booked the room and gave me the key. Said I ought to start the shower with my leathers on. Actually, that was a good idea."
"The next morning, she had the bike on the back of the truck, all hosed off. There wasn't even any grass in the chain drive. She said she never wanted to see me on the hill again, and I said, don't worry, lady. I never want to see Pennsylvania again."
"Philadelphia's pretty nice."
"Does it have streets?"
"Lots of streets."
"Not that I know of."
"Maybe Philadelphia, then."
MWC: Duncan meets Lyttony...
Posted By: SBO, do you want fries with this combo MWC and CIMWC?
Date: Thursday, 3 October 2002, at 12:18 p.m.
Duncan MacLeod had no idea why he was sitting at his desk at 3 am with this idea that he had to write this story before his head exploded. He was not a man to write fiction, or at least what he thought was fiction. Maybe he shouldn’t have let Joe try the planning session for the upcoming whiskey tasting at the bar on him—just because he was Immortal and would recover sooner.
“Blurgh,” burped the Highlander, tasting what he thought might be 31 flavors of Scotch, “maybe I’ve looked at all the beautiful lassies one too romance novel covers. Maybe I’ve never gotten over that Carolyn Marsh fiasco. Maybe I’m just a man out of my true century.”
Nope, this was some sort or “out of body” experience he surmised as the pen touched the paper. But once it did the flow of the words from him intoxicated him more than even the whiskey had. This had the touch of magic to it…he would have to track down Cassandra and see if she was doing that voice thing to him again.
‘It was a dark and stormy night… An erratic thump at the massive castle door roused the Laird from his comfortable chair and a snifter of his favorite fine brandy. He rose to his massive 6-foot height and brushed his long raven colored curls from his face with a sweep of his long darkly furred fingers. For a more dramatic effect he loosened the tie of his billowing shirt and seductively adjusted the waist of the flesh colored breeches that looked as if they and been lovingly painted on him. The strange thumping continued…’
MacLeod exclaimed, “Gah!!! My hand, I’ve lost control of my hand!! What’s next?”
‘The Laird moved towards the door, his stride as graceful as it was purposeful—the man moved like a cat. The door was heavy, not only because of its own weight, but also the force of the rain and wind blowing against it. But, it proved no match for him. He wrested it open in one long, hard motion.
He was not prepared for what was before his eyes. It seemed to be a young boy at first, small with very disheveled wet ringlets—after all it was raining—crouched into almost a ball on one side of the door. Apparently, he’d been using his entire weight against the door in order to be heard. Dressed in sailor’s garb, the ball was soaked through and shaking, and no match for the strong Laird to gather into his arms and bring within the safety of his strong and mighty castle. The moment he did, however, he realized that this was no boy, but a woman full-fledged dressed as a boy. Her small frame relaxed against him—she was soft everywhere he was hard—and he was almost immediately.
It was then that the Laird suddenly realized he’d been without the companionship of a lass for some time as his lands and castle were on a remote part of the shore. So how on earth did this creature arrive at his doorstep? He called to his servants for extra brandy and carried her over to the fire for warmth. It was then that he got his first good look at her. Aside from the short curly locks and the fact that she was dressed as a bedraggled sailor lad, she was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen. When her glistening long sooty lashes finally opened, he noted that her eyes were as dark and soulful as his very own. He was instantly captivated—dare he thought—was this truly love at first sight? He believed he’d never love again’
“Oh, sweet Heaven,” Duncan exclaimed, “no more!” Still his hand commanded him to write.
‘The Laird called for a bath to be drawn for the lady, who had yet to speak, and retreated when the maid arrived to assist. This effort did not take long with her short hair and all. Soon she was dressed in a lovely gown which had belonged to his late wife. It did this woman more justice! She was beautiful and he vowed to make her his, but they had yet to even really speak to one another.
‘”My name is Duncan, lass, can you tell me yours?”
“Now that’s original!” MacLeod snapped, wishing for more whiskey or a gun to end the misery.
‘Her lips trembled as she began to speak. “Sarah, Lady Sarah Lewis,” she said in barely a whisper.
“Sarah, lovely Sarah. How did you get here and from where? Tell me your story if you can.”
Her heart broke with the tenderness of his words and expression. Most everyone in her life of late had been so cruel and hateful. Could she trust this complete stranger with her darkest secrets? He seemed kind enough and after she was no longer afraid, she managed to take a good look at him and was amazed. Duncan was no doubt the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. Sculpted muscles covered his body, the cut of his breeches leaving absolutely nothing to the imagination. He had an interesting effect on her—he made her feel calm in some ways, but quite excited in others. It was the “in others” she wasn’t so sure of—to feel like this must be most improper! She tingled in places she didn’t know she had!
She bit her full rosy lip as she began her tale. “My father…” she started, as a fat tear coursed down her pink cheek… “My father betrothed me to an old man with seven children just for the money to pay off his gambling debts. I stowed away aboard a sailing ship in order to escape, but became so seasick that after hours and hours of retching, I was discovered and almost cast overboard when the sailors decided to have their fun—the captain stopped them before it was too late—but he was no saint either—he cut my hair and dressed me in sailor’s clothing. He said if I wanted to go to sea, then I would have to play the part!” She was sobbing by this point, and Duncan moved to set her small frame in his lap and cradle her in his arms, soothing her as one would a child.
“But I had the last laugh,” she sniffled, “but the storm overtook the ship and she was wrecked—so I swam for my life and was cast on shore, where I could barely make out the lights of the castle. I decided to cast my fate with whatever lay on the other side of the door, rather than face any of the crew that might have survived and came looking for me, ready to carry out their earlier threats.”
Duncan spoke, “Sarah, you know I would never be a threat to you, don’t you? In fact, I believe I have fallen in love with you! Would you stay with me here forever?”’
“I can’t believe this dreck is coming out of me!” The Immortal began to cringe, whatever this was it was a curse—it was certain—at the very least he needed a bottle each of Ibuprofen and Mylanta. Still the pen moved…
‘She seemed shocked at first by his sudden declaration, but a slow smile spread across her lips. “I love you, too, Duncan, I will stay with you forever.” She amazed even herself when she then exclaimed, “Now sweep me into your rock like arms, take me to your bed and MAKE ME A WOMAN!” The Laird smiled and needed no further invitation!’
With a sudden jerk, as if it had run out of ink, the pen came to a halt. Frustrated, MacLeod shook the offending instrument and screamed, “NOW you stop??” But it was over, there were no more words. He headed for his cold shower clutching his bottles of headache and stomach cures.
MWC: Books and Covers
“Hello, there.” Her smile was genuine but smug, and the merriment in her eyes betrayed recent laughter. “Would you - please,” she motioned, and he stepped awkwardly out of her way so that she could retrieve a book from the shelf behind him.
“Wheelock’s Latin,” he read over her shoulder, procrastinating. She had caught him completely off-guard. He teetered momentarily between attempting to overcome his embarrassment and thinking of something more intelligent to say. “And Bullfinch’s Mythology. Interesting choices.”
She smiled again, tilting her eyes in his direction without moving her head. “My parents gave me a gift certificate for my birthday.” She glanced possessively at the Barnes & Noble card. “Of course, you may already be aware of that. I’ve been trying to decide which book I desire the most. The card won’t cover the cost of both, and I can afford only one.”
“So which one are you going to buy?”
“Both of them.”
“But if you can’t afford them…”
She shrugged. “Take coffee off the grocery list, buy frozen cuts of meat instead of fresh, skip the hard, tasteless tomatoes…” She walked away, then turned back, waiting.
He returned her gaze, puzzled. “Um…it was nice talking to you,” he ventured.
“Aren’t you coming with me to checkout?”
She was full of it, deliberately candid and cute. He wondered at what point she had noticed him following her and if she had intended to visit the bookstore all along, or only did so to distract him and turn the tables. All right, then. He’d play along. After all, it was his game.
He accompanied her to the counter and stood aside while she paid for her beloved books. He offered to carry the bag for her, but she hugged it close and thanked him, anyway.
“I’m Adam Pierson.” He offered a hand that she gravely shook, her lips barely caging that knowing smile. “Could I buy you a cup of coffee?”
Her weakness for Starbucks was comically obvious. The smile turned suddenly grateful. She relaxed a little and allowed him to steer her across the store to the corner café.
“You haven’t told me your name,” he mentioned, as they faced each other across the tiny table.
“I was under the impression you knew it already.”
He had the grace to blush.
“So why are you following me?”
He’d already jotted down the surface essentials: Subject is described as a petite, blue-eyed blonde, mid-thirties, with an hourglass figure and a vast creative streak. He must remember to add and observant, and intelligent, and dangerously curious.
She sipped her iced café mocha. “Mmm, this is so good,” she sighed. “It’s not like I lead an incredibly fascinating life. Some might even consider it boring. Did you start tagging along after me today, or have you spied on me before?”
“Shouldn’t you be afraid, or something?” It was his turn to be amused. “Perhaps worried, or at least slightly concerned that a stranger is following you?”
He glanced at a couple of young men two tables away, laughing at a joke he had not heard. A book about genealogy occupied the space between them. He looked back at his subject. Scottish, he decided.
“Irish,” she corrected him, having followed the same path. “Why should I be afraid of you? You don’t look or act like a man with malicious intent. Okay, so neither did Ted Bundy. But you don’t scare me.” It was a matter-of-fact statement, rather than an assertion. “Just in case I misjudged you, I’ve kept to crowded stores so that you couldn’t single me out. You should also know that I’m not a helpless heroine; I don’t enjoy fighting, but I will when I have to. I might be defeated, but I won’t make it easy.”
Adam’s soft laughter brought a more sincere smile to her face than he had seen yet.
“One more thing makes me curious about you. Every time I do something or speak to someone, you write it down. I wondered if you were working for a tabloid and perhaps had me confused with someone famous, although I can’t imagine who that would be.”
“No,” Adam said, and leaned back in his chair. “I had never seen you before this morning when you met your friend at the picnic table by the lake and listened to her share the burden of her illness.” Adam’s companion appeared relaxed, but intent. One hand rested atop the books in the chair beside her, and the other loitered on the table in the vicinity of her cup. Adam placed his hand on the table beside hers, close enough to invade her sense of propriety, but she neither flinched nor moved away. Her expression was one of expectancy, awaiting his answer.
“I am a writer,” he said. “You are the subject of my story. It’s a paradox of sorts: I’ve given you a fictional name, and I’m writing about your alternate identity - the you that everyone around you sees - rather than your real one, since you are the only one who truly knows the woman you are.”
She thought about that. Better yet, Adam realized she understood what he was saying. She smiled again, and Adam decided he was already getting entirely too used to that. She smiled a lot, but she was genuine.
“Tell me about my fictional self,” she requested. “Tell me about the woman you have been following all day.”
Adam’s eyes delved into the windows of her soul and she lowered them quickly, self-consciously. She squirmed a little and her hand bumped into his, and she studied the long, slender fingers that lay alongside her small hand. She gave a little shiver and raised her eyes to his.
“I’d like to get to know her, too.”
Adam smiled, and she vaguely mirrored a response. “Let me get you another iced café mocha,” he offered, “and I’ll tell you all about her.”
Posted By: vixen69 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thursday, 3 October 2002, at 8:27 p.m.
Disclaimer--turnabout is fair play. I did fair to him--so there. He should write me--a little. So there.
Methos found Kronos (parenthetically) in a post-modern novel, unfinished and posthumous. The man had lost his head, but curiously, it was only now that the man who knew him best had found his mind.
The warlord wrote. Methos reeled, thinking of Byron--"Mad, bad, and dangerous to know." Kronos came first, and promised to be better, the strange ticks of his mind conjuring Pynchon here, Burroughs there. But the opener shocked him:
"A Yank Bridget Jones, then," he sighed, the crisp (dried from having been damp) lined pages scratched out longhand in a notebook--quite filing a notebook some five hundred pages. His heroine--a zaftig lass in the customer service trade, was all that Kronos was not. Accommodating, polite, young, basically non-violent. He lingered over the descriptions--"Her legs not so much long as robust, muscular, striding importantly to some unimportant destination, Jennifer recalled to mind her nickname, 'Vixen', and added the hidden shimmy that registered with males sub-radar--useless in an uncrowded hallway, but useful to her self esteem. At moments altogether, she imagined she was not all bad, then, curved like Victorian furniture, and clawed." But then the conceit of the novel reared its disturbing head.
They were TV. creations. Himself. Kronos. Caspian and Silas--even MacLeod. And she--his protagonist, wrote fanfic about them, endlessly, in frustration and with relish. She admired in Kronos his being all that she was not--uninhibited, violent, confident. Kronos himself was a hero--part "Gunslinger" cowboy--part "X-files" strange. He translated easily to TV. Methos could barely comprehend where Kronos, in his seeming egocentricity, might have found the sophistication to create her. She was not Anything like Kronos--except where she was.
"Strawberries rotten, her hair hung down, into her face, as she frustrated, dealt with a customer, her headphones stinging against her ears as the elderly woman from Bayonne shrieked about her recent (twelve-year) widowhood, how it left her incapable, how all things concerning her were unfair. The pink lower lip jutted out, was bit by sharp teeth, and the eyes, like blue-dyed agates, rolled. Sarcasm dripped onto the tongue from a hidden source, and was swallowed. She groaned at the sourness of it."
It seemed to have begun with porn. This protagonist--Jennifer--no Vixen--no, Jen, was cursed or blessed with imagination for such things--not less so than Kronos himself. He reached with critical apprehension the part where the fake mortal typed out words only the true Immortal would have envisioned--sadomasochism, violence, passion--and blood, so much blood and sardonic horror. It seemed that through her, he was almost able to register an ironic trace of recognition that his fantasies were corrupt--strange to most men. In the furtive typings of a creature soaked in sake, her body "Half-lotus, ready, like a statue of Tara, to sweep to unburden the faithful--even the faithful bottle of its liquid burden--and she imagined the past..."
She sometimes wrote of things Kronos never mentioned to him--about the old teacher, about the things before the Horsemen were. The thought made him wonder--was she the voice that argued with him? Did she try to suss out why he desired Armageddon?
"Thing eshatological fascinated her, agnostic and rational. She read conspiracy theories, engaged. Not a complete stranger to thoughts of self-slaughter(rejected, always, in fear and disgust), she found thoughts of world-slaughter also, helplessly fascinating--she held truck with neither. The end of the world was useless. To her, it ended with each second--why needed others to envision some rapture, comet-riding, to an oblivion of utopia? How boring. She preferred the give-and-take of verbal battles, convincing wealthy men that they must, too, pay income tax, regardless of their political notions. But Aum Shinryko had her riveted to tabloid columns, as did the dark thoughts associated with Millenialists of all stripes.
"She did not desire death--not for herself. Not for others. But she *appreciated* the possibility. She saw too much rudeness, incompetence, stupidity, in her day-to day. She wished no ill, but all the same..."
It was through Kronos she enjoyed this trip--writing his apogee of finding that virus of his (in her own post modern touch--the character of her stories was, thinly, herself, working class, failed med student, bright but halted by circumstance). Eventually, she found love, another customer service soft-spoken man--a fellow like herself. She no longer needed the bite and slice of the Horsemen. But he ended the fantasy abruptly, unable to fathom her in the state of *not* writing him. Without him--what was she?
He saw the cartoon and smiled--Vixen's last joke.
He forgot Kronos, his fine hands killed swiftly--but had other skills. He drew, at times, an artist besides that of killing. The sketch was unmistakably Vixen--Jennifer....Her hair in her eyes, wire rim glasses almond eyes--but the form--Jessica Rabbit at an all-you-can eat buffet--sexy but well-fed. and the words she said--what he might have said himself--
"Why destroy the world if you're immortal? Why not torture it for a few thousand years?"
He thought of his own jokes--a Watcher in search of himself. He might have liked this Vixen. Shame she did not exist.
She might have been quite funny.
MWC: Writing to Order
Posted By: Leslie Fish <email@example.com>
Date: Friday, 4 October 2002, at 5:06 a.m.
Richie glared at the computer-screen, his eyes running from the Character-Point lists to the blank Character Form and back, wondering if this was really such a hot idea after all. Sure, online fantasy-role-playing games were supposed to be great ways to meet people, including girls, some of whom simply had to live in or around Seacouver -- but in order to play he had to complete the form, using up all his points, and that was turning into a major hassle.
For one thing, the game was "Dracula Now": vampires in modern-day North America, with really strict rules about just how much fantasy you could throw in. *No immortals,* Richie grinned, *Except for the vampires -- and they're usually the bad guys.* For another, the GM had warned him when he logged in that they wanted "interesting, original and well-rounded" player-characters -- and that meant some serious planning and writing. This was getting to be too much like work.
Richie sighed, and considered the first problem: Combat Points. His character had to be skillful with a weapon that could take down a vampire, not to mention the vampire's mortal henchmen. That took out Karate-masters. No Ninjas, either: RedFlame already had a classically-trained Ninja. And no modern-day Samurai: CincinnatiKid already had a Kendo-master. What did that leave?
Well, how about European-style swordfighters? He knew enough about that to use the character well. What style? No, not Three-Musketeers-type rapier: that might not be enough to take down a vampire, put him down long enough for the hunter to drive the stake and -- Richie shivered -- behead him. Where had that legend come from, anyway? Okay, rapier and epee were out. That left...
Broadsword? Well, what kind? It would have to be heavy enough to seriously damage a vampire, but light enough to wield quickly; vampires in the game could move really fast. But it had to be something that you could carry around in a modern-day city. What did that add up to?
Abruptly Richie remembered coming across the SCAdians -- the Society for Creative Anachronism, a bunch of medieval historical-recreationists, dressed in medieval garb and armor, holding fighter-practice in the park. They'd been serious about their practice, too, going at each other with sword and shield, ignoring the passers-by who paused to gawk and take pictures. Yes, it was a standing joke with them: "I'm not in a play, I'm in the SCA."
Right, that was perfect! A SCAdian could stroll around with sword and shield and full-body armor -- maybe even silver-plated -- and settle any problems just by showing his membership card. All right! Richie typed several lines into the character-sheet and calculated the combat-points. There were still a few left. Hmmm. Okay, add "shoot pistol, rifle, shotgun"...ah, and just to be safe, "crossbow". Add up the skill-levels and, yes, that took care of the combat-points.
Now, what about the rest? Technical Skills and Psychic Abilities: plenty of points to use up, there. Better start with the technical ones first. What would be useful to a vampire-hunter, but also "interesting, original and well-rounded"? Damn, that last one was tough. When Richie saw the words "well-rounded" it made him think of...
Hey, now that he thought of it, he'd seen a woman at the SCA fighter-practice: dark-haired, playing a guitar, singing medieval ballads in a voice better suited for Blues. Yeah, make his character a girl! That would be interesting and original enough; there were very few female player-characters in this game so far. Type, type, give her a name... What name had that SCAdian woman used, anyway? Oh, yeah: Leslie the Bard. That would do. Also use up some skill-points -- "sing", and "play musical instrument".
Okay, good start, but that still left a lot of unused points. What else?
Well, think of motivation, like Mac always said. How had she gotten into vampire-hunting in the first place? The old my-sweetheart-was-killed-by-a-bloodsucker routine had been used too many times. He needed something original. Hmmm... Remember Mac considering teaching a history class at the local community college. History. Yeah, the girl studied history and came across good evidence that vampires really exist. Okay, so check off "Knowledge of History". All right, but what's her connection? Is she a teacher? A student? Nah. Teachers had to put in a lot of overtime, which wouldn't leave much for vampire-hunting. A student...then what would she do for a living? Family money? No, Vivienne2000 already had a rich heiress for a character, so that was out. Okay, she got interested in history while in school, and studies it on the side in her spare time. Still, what does she do for a living?
Hey, consider that guitar. As a professional musician, she could work short hours. Also late hours: some live-music bars didn't close until two or even four in the morning. And she could say the costume was for her work, too. Okay, so "Professional Musician". Add up the skill-points.
Hmmm, still need to use up more. "Drive Car", of course, and "Use Computer". What else? Didn't the SCAdians brag about camping out during their tournaments? Okay, go down the list and add "Wilderness Skills", "Swim", "Operate Canoe", and "Ride Horse". That ate up a good bit, but there were still plenty left. Throw in "First Aid" -- oh hey, and the medieval version: "Herbal Medicine". Better add "Hunting" and "Field-Dress Game" too. Still more points. What else? Add something useful in a city. What the hell, "Journalism": maybe she worked on a newspaper in school, or before she went full-time with her music. A few points left. "Art: Drawing" wouldn't hurt, or "Sculpture" or "Painting". That would damn-well make her well-rounded enough! Okay, that took care of the technical skills.
"Psychic Abilities", now, that was going to be tough. What abilities would be useful to a vampire-hunting musician with a bent for history? Hmmm. "Sense Presence" certainly. "Sense Emotion" would go well with that, and so would "Project Emotion". Hey, "Precognition" -- that would really be useful. Ah, and "Read Objects". How many points left? Too many. Find something else. Oh, there: "Communicate With Animals". But what animals? Horses, since she rode them -- good for five points. What about in a city? Ah, cats: another five points. Just one more would do it. Something interesting, something original... Hey, that one was just weird enough: "Rainmaking". Took every last point. Perfect!
Richie gleefully typed in the entries, tallied up his points one last time to make sure he had everything, and then hit Submit. He leaned back in his chair, waiting to see what the GM made of his character. She was "interesting, original and well-rounded" enough, for sure.
The screen blanked, flickered, and then a single line of text blinked on.
"Character unbelievable. Try again. --GM"
Richie stared, then swore, as the blank Character Form reappeared. He rubbed his eyes, sighed, and bent over the keyboard again. Okay, back to square one. Keep the gender. Keep the SCA-style sword fighting. Change the name and skills. Gawwwd, "interesting, original and well-rounded" -- and also not "unbelievable". What the hell did the GM want, anyway?
Maybe he should make her a forensic bookkeeper this time.
Posted By: FOM, *fingers crossed* <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Friday, 4 October 2002, at 9:14 a.m.
She loved ice cream. That’s all there is to it. And most any flavor would do; but her favorite, when she was in the mood to have a favorite, was Jamoca almond fudge, that rich combination of coffee, almond, and the flavor requisite to all successful desert recipes (at least for her) chocolate. But there were days when peppermint was the only choice that she would consider. In fact, she really enjoyed drizzling chocolate syrup, quite artistically I might add, over a bowl full of the creamy dessert full of bits of pink and green hard mint candy.
…Methos squinted and frowned. Is this sounding like Julia Child? He gave his head a shake and tried again...
Then smiling this mischievous little girl smile, she would upend the syrup bottle and make a chocolate moat between the fortress walls (the edge of the bowl, naturally) and the treasure that lay within. Sometimes the chocolate would wind its way through the mound of cream, creating dark rivulets that streamed and flowed over and through the pink candy mountain.
…He frowned again, then rubbed his forehead between thumb and third finger. It’s been too long since I wrote in my diary. Yes, that’s it. Too long…
Now if anyone were ever to read this, I’ve no doubt he or she would wonder how it is I came to know something as small and insignificant as her favorite ice cream flavors. Not that this has anything to do with anything really, except with regard to her penchant for privacy and the unusually difficult time she had guarding that which to her is a most precious possession.
…Scowling, he continued…
The difficulty for her lay in the very nature of her profession, which is, in and of itself quite necessarily, a public one. And because of several years of consistently glowing reviews, her celebrity had grown to the point that she was beginning to be known and recognized even outside her own milieu.
At the time her most recent season in Europe and America was a smashing success. She had been featured in London at the Royal Anniversary Celebration of Covent Garden’s grand renovation. Then she sang, by royal invitation of course, for the Queen Mother’s last birthday. It was a small, mostly family affair.
…Hmph, he thought. Royals. Didn’t phase her a bit…
Prior to those events, in May it was, as I recall, the Gala at the Paris Opera was spectacular, the night one of those magical ones when orchestra, singers, and audience were swept up in a common sort of bond, as if all were together on a different plane of existence for a few hours. The performance was illuminated by the opera world’s brightest young stars, or so the program said, and I’m sure it was true. And she…well, I will admit, if only to myself…I had eyes only for her.
She was magnificent.
Well, she was. I know that word sounds like complete exaggeration, but with regard to her, ‘magnificent’ does not begin to say it all. I’m finding it difficult to collect the words to describe…
…He stopped. Do I really want to put this on paper, he wondered, or computer? He pondered the thought for a full minute before continuing….
It is difficult to describe that night, her performance in particular. One simply must hear and see her for one’s self to understand. She is extraordinary. And I surprised myself—I mean, my own reaction surprised me, though I guess I should have seen it coming.
I refer, of course, to Meredith diAngelos, American opera singer. That’s how most people know her, at any rate. But there is far more to this woman than her profession. Amazing that I could be so drawn in by someone who does opera, of all things. It must have been 50 years or so since I’d been to the opera. It’s become tiresome to me. After all, for someone who edited the Iliad and directed Greek tragedy and taught the players how to use those bloody masques… well, need I say more?
Meredith is remarkable for many more reasons than her dramatic and musical abilities. I was struck, well, nearly literally, by some of those qualities…
…Methos paused, and a slow grin spread over his face as he recalled that day in the barge. How unexpected, her questions, her reactions to the answers! He’d had to duck quickly to miss the flying cup…
I have no doubt that the fellows in the archeology department at university would find it difficult to believe that someone such as Meredith would bother to spend time with someone as dry and dusty as ‘Adam Pierson’. Perception. It all comes down to one’s ability to look beyond the outward appearance and discern what lies beneath. Of course, I’ve had centuries to perfect the persona those chums are familiar with. Frankly, I wouldn’t believe it possible of someone like Pierson either—to be with someone like her, I mean. But then, those fellows judge by what they perceive to be true, or factual, based on the evidence in their hands. They have no idea how very wrong they would be. Just, I suppose, as wrong as I was, at first.
Which brings me to how we met. We have a mutual friend who really enjoys opera. Actually, he met her first by about fourteen years. He ‘discovered’ her, as they say, recognized her talent, arranged for her audition with the Metropolitan, and as he told me, “She impressed the hell out of them”. They invited her to participate in their Young Artists Program. As they say, first impressions…yes, yes, how we met, I’m getting to that.
I was visiting our mutual friend in March of that same year, the year of the Gala in Paris. He convinced me to go with him to meet her plane from Ireland. He had seen her a mere three times in the preceding fourteen years, and then only from the distance afforded an audience member at the opera. MacLeod surprised me a bit, and anyone who knows me at all knows I’m not easily surprised. He was nervous as a schoolboy, nearly crumpling into petals the bouquet he had brought for her before the plane ever arrived.
…Methos dropped his pen and leaned back in his chair flexing his hand. His glance wandered to the fire, and watching the flames, his eyes went slightly unfocused as he allowed memories to surge through his mind. He savored every one. When the feelings came, and the pain with them, he was powerless to stop them. His eyes remained fixed on the fire, but it was not the flames in the hearth he was seeing. Not at all.
MWC: Fantasy Life
Methos let himself into the barge and yelled, “Only me!”
MacLeod poked his dripping head out of the bathroom door and eyed him balefully. “I just about impaled myself in here, Methos. Showers and swords aren’t a good combination, you know. Don’t you ever call ahead before you decide to drop in on your friends?”
“Nope. The element of surprise is one of my favorite survival tools. Don’t mind me -- I’ll just make myself at home,” he added, rummaging through the cupboards.
MacLeod disappeared into the bathroom, muttering.
Methos scrounged up a Kit-Kat bar, ate it, and ambled around the living space until he spied the computer. He figured he might as well check his e-mail while he waited, and maybe hack into the Watcher files just to keep in practice. He sat down at the desk to find that the machine was still on and Mac had left a file open. After a quick glance at the bathroom door he opened the file, which seemed to be a diary. His lucky day! He read a few lines and revised his opinion. This wasn’t a diary; this was a story. MacLeod was writing stories? He read the whole first page. This wasn’t just any old story; this was fan fiction. MacLeod was writing fan-fic?! He heard the shower shut off and hurriedly read as much as he could before the author entered the main room. Mac had a big white towel around his middle and was drying his hair with another.
“Can’t a man have any privacy in his own home?” Mac asked testily, tossing clean jeans, briefs and a t-shirt onto the bed.
“You want privacy, you build walls,” Methos advised, his eyes glued to the computer screen.
“What are you doing?” Mac asked suspiciously. “You’re not using my computer to break into the Watchers again, are you?” He pulled the white t-shirt on and tucked it in, then ran his fingers through his short damp hair, his toilette complete.
“You wound me,” Methos replied dramatically. “Would I do anything that underhanded? I’m simply reading, that’s all. Nice little story about a guy and a girl.”
There was a certain tone in his voice that made MacLeod’s stomach lurch.
“You’re reading my files. Methos, you’re reading my private files! Give me that, you sneak, you pervert!”
MacLeod grabbed for the mouse while Methos defended his possession with zeal. They danced around for several minutes, MacLeod trying to switch off the computer and Methos shouting out quotes while fending him off.
“’Oooooh, cook for me, Duncan,’” Methos cooed in an earsplitting falsetto, “’take me to the mooovies! Cuddle with me, my hero in plaid!’”
He fell down laughing and surrendered the mouse to a red-faced Scot who immediately erased the file. Methos lay on the floor trying to catch his breath. “Too late. I e-mailed it to myself,” he informed his glowering friend.
“Fine. Laugh yourself sick. I’m going for a walk.”
Methos watched MacLeod slam out of the barge, thinking that he just may have gone a bit overboard on the ridicule thing. He scrambled to his feet and hurried after the angry Scot. He caught up with MacLeod in a few minutes and fell into step beside him. They strode along the quay together in silence. Methos sneaked a couple of measuring glances sideways.
“Didn’t realize you liked ‘Home with Ysanne’ so much,” he ventured in a neutral voice. “On Friday evening, isn’t it? Aren’t you out a lot of Fridays?”
“I tape it.”
“Ah. I’ve seen it a few times myself. Pretty good show.”
MacLeod slowed down a little. He glanced at Methos. “Think so? Or are you just humoring me?”
“Not at all. It’s one of those shows where nothing much happens, but you feel good about watching it, somehow.”
MacLeod brightened. “Yeah, that’s it. It’s like walking in the twilight when people have their curtains open, and looking inside the homes, seeing the families just….being together. Nothing big or important happens, just day-to-day life. And they’re living it, that’s all, and loving each other. ‘Home with Ysanne’ is like that.”
There was a quiet yearning in MacLeod’s voice that made it easy for Methos to imagine him doing that very thing through the years.
“So sometimes,” Methos said, “you write yourself into that life. Try it on for size.”
They still weren’t looking at each other, but he saw the other man shrug. “Stupid, I know,” Mac said.
They walked a bit farther in silence before Methos paused and shoved his hands into his pockets. MacLeod stopped, too, and they studied the dead leaves at their feet.
“Mac,” Methos said, “I never think of you as stupid.”
The two didn’t exactly smile at each other, but some kind of communication passed between them that made the tension dissipate into the foggy evening air.
“So, Italian or Chinese?” Methos asked cheerfully, setting off again. “I’m starved and there’s nothing in your place worth eating.”
Posted By: Robin <Catnature@yahoo.com>
Date: Thursday, 10 October 2002, at 11:20 p.m.
"If you were to listen to her you would think she was a crazy, old cat lady, but she's not that old. At 37, Robin lives with three cats. Willa is orange with dark orange strips. She is also known as Will or the cat from Hell. Willa was found on the local High school campus. Mouth is black with white feet and throat with a Siamese yowl. He curls up in Robin's lap every chance he gets. Fluffy is gray, white, black and brown. She is the quietist and shyest of the three. Mouth and Fluffy were found outside and taken in.
Robin was hurt in two accidents about seven years back and lives in constant pain, something we Immortals don't have to worry about thankfully. She is 5'10", 230 lbs, wears glasses with curly brown hair that falls pass her shoulders but cut short on top, walks with a cane, especially in public because the longer she is up on her feet the worse the pain gets, and with a smile that will light up a room.
At night the porch light clicks on and the front door comes open. You will hear Robin clicking her tongue and calling "Here Willa, Mouth and Fluffy. Come on. Come inside it's dark. Come on. I'm going to bed now." The cats sometimes will come in, but more often that not one will run inside the doorway and stop, then another one will run up and stop just outside the door. They will stiff each other and both will run out in the yard again. Robin will call again and sometimes say "Fine. Stay out all night." Then she will go inside, close and lock the door and turn off the porch and house lights and go to bed,
During the day you can hear, "Mouth get down. I have to get up. Mouth, I mean it. I'm getting up. No. Mouth. Get off my lap, I'm getting up." Robin sighs. It is quite strange to listen to. Mortals ad their cats."
Methos puts his pen down and stroked the cat on his lap. "Cassie get down." the cat stayed in place "Cassandra, I have to get up." he nudged the cat with his hand "Cassandra, I mean it. I'm getting up." he picked her up and placed her on the floor, she jumped back on his lap, "No. Cassandra. Get off my lap, I'm getting up." Cassandra snuggled into his lap and purred. Methos sighed and starts petting the cat.