The Holyground Highlander Forum Midweek Challenge
Archivist’s Note: The stories and vignettes offered here from various Holyground 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
Dear Dad by Wain
Westin Away by Daire
Duet by Hayden
This could be heaven or this could be… by SBO, Mr. SBO and Sundowner
MWC: Westin Away!
Your challenge, should you decide to participate:
Write a short story or scene involving one or more of the HL characters--who has inadvertently booked him/herself into Westin L.A. Airport Hotel on August 24, 2001. Suggestion: Consider making the character someone who was *not* on the guest list.
As always, if you wish to have your entry archived , don't forget to put "MWC" in the subject line of your entry posting.
MWC: Dear Dad
26 August, 2001
How are things at the bar? I’m still planning to stop by for a visit, but my plans have been changed. You know how that goes more than I do, don’t you?
I hope you can smooth things out with the higher-ups for me. I’ll be going way over my expense account for this month, and you’ll never guess why—or where I’m e-mailing you from, for that matter.
I followed my assignment from Madrid to Boston to Los Angeles. I had a terrific time in Madrid, by the way. You were right about that blues club, but of course you would be, wouldn’t you? There’s nothing like the recommendation of a pro. Anyway, I followed her—you know who I mean. I’ll send a detailed report when I can find a secure com line; you can read it then. Who knows who has access to the file server in this hotel?
The flights were long, and I wondered if she would realize that I was following her. That’s always been the hardest part for me, you know, finding a way to leave enough space in an airplane or train. I think there were enough other passengers on the flights to cover me.
One of the passengers is that other one I told you about last time. You know who I mean, don’t you? That man she’s been tracking since her student was killed. She was watching him so much that I don’t think she had time to notice me.
Long story short—our flight from Boston hit bad weather, and we missed the connecting flight that he wanted, so the airline put him up in the Westin near the airport. She insisted on being put in the same hotel, and when it was my turn in line, I begged for the same hotel.
And you won’t believe what I’ve stumbled into. A convention of Highlander fans! That’s right, Dad, a thousand or more of them. The hotel’s booked nearly full. The airline must have a block of rooms reserved for this kind of thing, because I don’t know how we’d have gotten a room otherwise.
They’re all over the place, Dad, up and down the halls all night and day, laughing and making noise. There really wasn’t a quiet place to think, so I upgraded my hotel room to a suite on the top floor—this is where I need your help with the suits upstairs. The noise really was awful, and my assignment picked a room up there, too. Put in a good word for me, OK? I know it’s a lot more money, but I just couldn’t stand the noise all day and night. You have to be alert to watch, right?
I’ve never seen anything like this bunch. There are groups with matching shirts, groups with matching pins, a group with matching hats, and even a group that speaks with a terrible fake French accent. I followed A. (how about I used that for my Assignment?) into the bar last night, and I think that she was amazed as I was watching the convention goers slugging down glasses of Merlot and blue Caipirinhas—want the recipe for the bar, Dad? I can get it for you—and toasting someone who apparently had won the lottery and devoted all of her earnings to paying airline, hotel, and convention fees for anyone on Holyground—do you believe that name?—who wanted to attend the convention but couldn’t afford it.
The next day, I followed A., who was following you-know-who, into the convention site. I think she’s a bad influence on me, because I filched a convention badge just like she did and the object of her—well, we can’t call if affection, can we? They were relieved of their swords at the entrance, he looking nervous; she, calm and relaxed. Maybe she was relying on the security force to keep things from coming to a challenge. I’m not so sure. I saw a couple of convention goers turning their the charms on the security guards full blast.
Once inside the ballroom, a woman gave me what she called a convention bag, complete with a folding plastic rain hat, a packet of Blue Moon Berry Kool-Aid, and a toy water snake. I found a chair in general seating and watched. Well, that’s what we’re supposed to do, right?
I listened, too. These people have a language all their own. Spew bonnets, that’s what they call those little plastic rain hats. Thud rugs, tent parties, lots of references to chocolate, and enough acronyms to put even the U.S. government to shame. I never did figure out what SNCB stood for, but it must be rich, because it caused wild outbursts of giggles every time it came up.
They talk about Immortals a lot, and you were right. They don’t have a clue. Whoever leaked the Immortals’ story to that movie writer should be shot, but at least they bollixed up most of the details. If they only knew the truth. Well I guess that wouldn’t make for exciting television, now would it?
I watched A. watch her quarry—how about I call him B.?—for a while. But then she started to watch the actress on the dais who was supposed to be modeled after her. The actress is gorgeous. How would someone with a face and body like that blend into the crowd? No Immortal who looked like that would last a year.
Within ten or fifteen minutes, A. got in line to ask a question of the actors assembled on the dais. You should have seen the look of surprise on B.’s face when he saw her step up to the microphone. I honestly believe he didn’t know she was tailing him up until then. The smug sidelong look she gave him made him drop his mouth open. What a flair for the dramatic she has! The next person at the mike was a fan who wanted to ask one of the actors for a hug. She almost made it to the dais, face alternately splotchy and pale, and then collapsed. In the resulting commotion, B. ducked out of the room with A. in pursuit and me not far behind. Someone must have been watching B., but I didn’t see who it was.
I promise you all of the details in the official report. Suffice it to say that they wound up on the roof overlooking the swimming pool an hour or so after dark. It was more private than you’d think, since most of the convention goers were at a concert. A. took him without much difficulty. You’ve never seen her in action, but she’s incredibly good, better than anyone I’ve seen so far. She and I were both surprised to see a small knot of convention goers near the pool who, unfortunately, had a view of the Quickening if not of the actual . . . deed that preceded it. Even hidden behind the HVAC exhausts—yes, Dad, I remember how to keep safely out of sight—I could see the worried look on A.’s face.
The tension was broken by applause, if you can believe it. One of the fans took a picture, but I don’t think that a disposable flash camera would have gotten much of a shot from that distance. Then the fans walked away, chattering about how they were going to have to thank the Organizing Committee for providing a Quickening, even though it wasn’t as impressive as a real one would have been.
Well, A. has scheduled herself for a flight to Rome. After I finish paperwork here and send in the official report, I’ll put in for Tony to cover A. for me for a couple of weeks, and then I promise to stop by and see you. Give Mom a hug for me, and tell her that I’ll stop by the Hollywood Walk of Fame tomorrow and take a picture of the stars of all of her favorite actors and actresses.
Lots of love,
MWC: Westin Away
Posted By: Daire
Date: Thursday, 12 July 2001, at 10:22 a.m.
“Here you are, Mr. Corrin, the keycard to your room. Enjoy your stay.” The desk clerk of the Westin L.A. Airport Hotel handed him the key with a bright smile.
He hadn’t meant to make reservations at the hotel; the travel agent must have misunderstood him. In the old days, he could have killed someone for a simple mistake. Unfortunately, the civilized world frowned on that type of behavior. He would have to grin and bear it. And there were a lot of people milling about the lobby exhibiting loud greetings and hugging as friends were evidently reunited.
To him, it was a madhouse and he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. Most of the people were women, but still a good number of men. He’d heard another desk clerk mention something about a Reunion. Ironic that he was searching to reunite with his long-lost brother. He’d been searching for years for him and had finally narrowed it down to the West Coast. One of his contacts had found his brother on his way to L.A., so he flew out on the earliest flight he could get.
The din of the lobby was getting to him. He set his jaw and headed towards the elevators, ignoring as best he could the few bewildered stares and whispers behind hands. They had no idea who he was, why think they did?
He settled into his room and took a short nap until dinner, his growling stomach waking him. In the restaurant, he got the most secluded table and put his back to the wall. Still, people discreetly looked and pointed in his direction and whispered. He couldn’t imagine who they thought he was, he didn’t stand out from anyone else in the crowd.
Ah, if only it were the old days again, he would have made these insignificant beings tremble in their shoes. He missed those times, the power to strike fear in the hearts of the populace, when no law could bind him. Even so much as a hundred thirty-seven years ago he was causing mayhem with only so much as Duncan MacLeod and his puny Rangers to try and stop him.
Finishing his dinner, he headed back to his room to retrieve his sword before heading out to meet his contact. In the elevator, which he wasn’t fortunate enough to have to himself, a woman in her mid-twenties got in and punched a floor number three below his own. She seemed nervous and kept sneaking quick glances at him. What is it with these people? This girl couldn’t know about Immortals, she wasn’t one yet.
Tremulously, she asked, “Do you usually wear the scar to conventions?”
He almost laughed, but gave a wry smile. “I’m afraid it’s more of a permanent fixture.”
“Oh,” she replied meekly as her cheeks grew flushed. Shortly, thankfully, the doors opened on her floor and she bid him farewell. “It was nice to meet you, Mr. Pelka.” Then she ducked out to escape her embarrassment.
Who is Mr. Pelka? he wondered to himself. Perhaps she just got him confused with some television actor or celebrity. No matter, it did not concern him.
The next morning
The meeting with Lenny had been fruitless; the little weasel refused to do anything more before getting his payoff. Even then, he didn’t have much more information on Methos or whatever alias he was using these days. It was wasted time.
When he had gone down to leave the hotel on another search for Methos, it had been well after breakfast and the crowd of women and men were once again in the lobby, heading into one of the conference rooms. As he passed gaping people with odd names on nametags and the open doors, he peered in just out of curiosity, and stopped. He didn’t notice the girl from the elevator a few feet from him until she spoke to him.
“Are you here to surprise the rest of the guests?”
He looked at her, bewildered. “What?”
“You know, the Reunion Convention,” she swept her hand, indicating the throng of people with cameras and giddy smiles. “A lot of the cast is here, Adrian Paul, Peter Wingfield, Stan Kirsch....” she trailed off, seeing his confused look.
“I’m sorry, madam—”
He ignored her. “—but I don’t even have a clue who those people are.” At that statement, everyone around him stopped talking and stared at him.
“From the show Highlander....Duncan MacLeod, Methos, Richie Ryan, Amanda... You’ve never heard of the show. Aren’t you Valentine Pelka....who played Kronos?”
At her words, his mind began racing at a high rate of speed. How would this girl know about MacLeod, Methos, and himself? How much more did she know about Immortals? And why did she say they were on a television show? Methos playing a mortal playing an Immortal was ridiculous. There had to be another explanation.
He fought the impulse to grab this Jocelin and haul her off to a secluded spot and interrogate her about what she knew.
Just as he was about to tell her to take him to Methos, an excited murmur waved through the ranks. Turning, he looked where everyone else’s gaze was pointed. Two burly men, bodyguards he supposed, were on either side of Methos, escorting him through the excited crowd. Methos thought nothing of it and just smiled at everyone as he continued to behind closed doors.
Now he was more confused than ever. He’d apparently found Methos, but he hadn’t felt his Quickening.
They had all thought Methos' idea grand at first but now it seemed like a twilight zone episode.
Joe needed to go to LA and Methos had declared a road trip. After all how could Joe possibly watch MacLeod all the way from LA. And of course since he was a poor grad student; MacLeod would be paying. Joe chuckled has the immortals argued over the arrangements.
The trip was relatively uneventful until Methos had gotten them lost. The delay and accompanying argument caused the trio to arrive with moments to spare. Leaving their luggage in the car they rushed into the hotel bar paying little attention to their surroundings. While the lobby was packed they were immediately lead to an excellent table.
"Wow, Joe. Great seats" the ROG exclaimed.
"Yeah, I thought you arranged them"
"No. Ahh, MacLeod have you noticed something strange about the audience."
"Now that you mention it there are a lot of women here."
Just then the lights went down.
"Hey Joe, what's the name of this band anyway?"
"Um, the Jim Byrnes Band. They are supposed to be great and I was thinking of booking them"
The quiet murmuring in the audience was increasing in volume.
"Mac those women are staring and they have cameras, too. What is going on here!" The old man looked very worried. "I haven't felt this way since the Coliseum."
Just then the band took the stage and proceeded to play the first set.
(twilight zone music begins to play in the background.....)
This could be heaven or this could be...
Posted By: SBO, Mr. SBO and Sundowner... <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sunday, 15 July 2001, at 6:23 p.m.
“Hell, I’m telling ya, she’s here. Followed her in myself,” snorted the short, pudgy man who, dressed in a lime green polyester leisure suit, looked like a 1970’s dinosaur.
“Sorry, sir. I don’t see either an Amanda Dariuex or an Amanda Montrose registered and even if I did I am not allowed to divulge information about any of our guests here at the Westin,” the desk clerk chirped perkily.
At that point, the man began to break out in a sweat that did nothing to enhance his Danny DeVitto-good looks. Taking a handkerchief from the pocket of the leisure suit, he mopped his face and then the top of his bald head, plastering his longish curls to the scalp.
“Try under ‘Amazing Amanda’,” he suggested almost as an afterthought.
The clerk suppressed an inappropriate comment and pretended to look again. “I’m really sorry, sir, there is no one here by that name.”
“How many women do you have staying at this hotel?!” he exclaimed. The desk clerk rolled her eyes and was about to explain, yet again, that she couldn’t help him.
A young woman standing behind Morty was the first to call his attention to something big going on in the lobby. “Liz!” she called out. Suddenly a titter and then a loud gasp reverberated though the growing crowd. Somewhat hushed statements of “Isn’t she gorgeous?” and “She’s so much more beautiful in person!” started to echo through the groups of mostly women, but a few clusters of appreciative men as well.
His jaw dropped. It was she--the object of his affection. She was just within his grasp!
“Amanda!! Amanda!! At last I’ve caught up with you!” Morty cried exultantly. He grabbed a handful of mints from the elegant crystal bowl on the counter and shoving them in a pocket, he scuttled off after her.
The tall, beautiful woman never had a chance to hear him. She was surrounded by the crowds and disappeared. Dejected, he collapsed on a nearby bench, oblivious to the figure next to him.
“Wow,” Morty breathed. “She’s just the most wonderful woman in the world. And so talented, too.”
“Yeah,” the figure next to him returned. “She has the most beautiful, sparkling brown eyes. And the most kissable lips.”
“And a body that won’t quit,” continued Morty.
The young man stared down the hallway, his gaze lost on the woman surrounded by the throng. They both let out a long sigh.
“I love the way she says ‘con.’”
“I adore the way she says ‘dirt.’”
“Hey, we share great taste,” Morty stood and got ready to leave.
The young man looked Morty’s green leisure suit up and down, muttering, “Maybe in women.”
Dejection threatened to become desperation, as Morty tried to devise a plan to corner Amanda among the throng of women. He noticed the women seemed to have changed demeanor since he had last seen them. They were leaving en masse from a large hotel ballroom, some looking dreamy eyed and swooning, while others drank freely from bottles of some sort of red wine. Still others looked splotchy and had difficulty reading the time from the clocks on the walls.
He cautiously stepped over a petite brunette wearing a beret who had dropped to the floor in a fetal position moaning, “Adriaaaan.” Morty hadn’t seen anything like it since he saw Rocky Balboa in the ring.
Unconscious of the fact that earlier he had sensed nothing in Amanda’s presence but awe, Morty continued in his pursuit.
“I’ve got to find a way. Maybe I can still find her room somehow. Wait—what did that woman call her?” He snapped his fingers. “Liz! She must be using an alias!” He shook his head admiringly. “That’s my Amanda, all right. Always so clever.” Morty’s reverie was broken when he ran smack into two women talking animatedly as they exited the ballroom.
“He looks just as wonderful as he did in London. Don’t you think?” said one.
“I’m just glad my camera didn’t explode,” the other answered. “I think I might have gotten some really great pics. Oh! I’m sorry, sir,” she said. “We weren’t paying attention. We were in a hurry to meet some friends for Chinese food.”
Morty decided to take advantage of the opportunity. “I was wondering,” he started.
“Yes?” the first woman prompted him.
“Do you know anything about Amanda?”
The women gave him an incredulous look. “You mean Liz?” they asked in unison.
“Um, yeah, Liz. Is that what she’s going by these days?” Morty was going to have to start a list with all of her aliases in order to keep track of them.
The women looked at each other before they turned back to answer him. “Is this your first Con?” the first woman inquired.
“Hell No!” Morty responded indignantly.
They looked at each other again. “Uh…” they trailed off.
“Do you know where Liz is going to be?” Morty asked anxiously, starting to play their game.
The women pointed to a sign that was resting on an easel not five feet away. Next to it a table displayed programs for hotel guests to pick up on their way to scheduled events. “Her Q&A is listed on the Con schedule there or you could take a program,” the second answered. “You idiot,” she thought to herself.
The young blonde who had walked up behind them muttered, “Duh!” She rolled her eyes and whispered to the two ladies, “Smoking crack?!”
He stood there with his hands on his hips, ignorant of the exchange between the women. “A con,” he muttered beginning to put the pieces together. “Is Liz running this con?”
“No!” the first two exclaimed. “She’s part of the Con!”
“Duh!” he echoed. “Of course she’s part of the con!” He shook his head, positive the three were meatheads. “Program…for a con?” he thought. “How can it be a con if everyone knows?” he blurted. Then realization struck him. Only Amanda could pull a con where everyone knew about the con. He shook his head, yet again, in admiration. “What a woman.”
He had to be in on this con. He couldn’t let her do this without him. With that thought ringing in his mind, he scurried off through the lobby single-mindedly pursuing his goal.
The second woman nudged the first with her elbow and nodded her head toward the retreating figure. The first woman pulled out a small sketchpad and, with a glance at the others, used quick and efficient strokes to capture the character on paper.
“And what’s up with the lime green suit? Polyester—that’s so retro.” The young blonde wondered.
“It’s not easy bein’ green,” the first woman quipped. They all burst into gales of laughter.
The hour waiting for Amanda/Liz’s Q&A (whatever that was) passed as slowly as the last 30 years, Morty thought. He waited patiently at the door of the ballroom until the con volunteers opened them cautiously and allowed access to the crowd that had been gathering.
As he passed over the threshold, he was stopped. “I’m sorry, sir, you don’t have an official con badge visible,” the volunteer informed him cheerily.
“Con badge? You need a badge to run a con?”
“No, sir, but you do need one to participate.”
Morty began to lament the old days; things were much simpler in the 70s. “What do I have to do to get one?” he asked nervously.
“I’d check with Member Services,” she suggested. “The table is down that hallway and to the left at the second turn. Morty turned and fled in that direction.
The volunteers faced each other as if to comment on the odd little man, but were unable to take their eyes from the disappearing figure. A gamut of expressions crossed their faces. The situation was not unlike watching a train wreck—a mix of grim fascination and horror pervaded.
“Did you see what that guy was wearing?”
The second answered, “Well, we are in California after all!”
Morty rushed to the member services table. He waited impatiently, tapping his foot and throwing out obnoxious comments randomly. Finally, after being ignored for several minutes, he resorted to entertaining himself. At first he started humming his favorite song, the one he believed best described his immortality and served as a good all-around theme song. Several bars in, the words spilled from his lips.
“Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive,” he couldn’t resist screeching, dangerously off-pitch. His finger shot into the air. His hips began to gyrate. The other hand was hitched on his hip as he shuffled his feet in a John Travolta style. It was impossible for him to avoid attracting the pained looks of passersby and those in the line behind him.
Morty finally arrived at the front of the line. A young man looked up at him expectantly. “Uh, I wanna get a con badge?”
“That’ll be eighty-five dollars, sir,” the young man answered without pausing.
“Yes, sir, eighty-five dollars.”
“That’s it! That’s the con!”
The young man’s eyes widened. “Well of course it’s a con, man.”
“No! Not a con-man! A con!”
The young man rolled his eyes. “That’s what I said.”
Suddenly the key to the whole thing hit him. “She’s brilliant! Eighty-five dollars from all these people?” Morty’s glance moved over all the people in the lobby. “That’s the con!” he said again.
“Do you want the badge or not?”
“Well, you see here…” Morty started, leaning in toward the young man. He looked for the kid’s nametag. “…Mike, there’s this babe…” He was unable to finish his sentence. In the process of leaning over the table, he inadvertently hooked his foot over its leg and unceremoniously collapsed in a heap. The table wasn’t strong enough to take his weight and it tipped over, badges, rosters, receipts, and everything else flying up into the air. In the confusion, Morty managed to nab a badge and a permanent marker. He rolled, got to his feet, and beat a hasty retreat.
“I’ve conned the con,” he smiled to himself. Odd little giggles escaped his throat.
He reached the ballroom and quickly gained entry with his badge. Liz was just walking onto the stage when Morty decided it was now or never.
Charging like a small green bull in a china shop, he threw himself forward, gesticulating wildly. “Liz? Amanda? Remember me??? It’s me, Morty!!”
Liz looked at Stan and quirked an eyebrow as if to say, “How did I get this one?”
Stan chuckled and said, “How do you do that?”
“Liz….Amanda…remember? Chicago! 1975! The Schoelfield Diamond Caper!”
“I was in Arkansas. I was a freshman in high school in 1975.”
“But we were so much in love!” Morty sputtered.
Liz surveyed the lime green leisure suit distastefully.
“I’ve been following you ever since then!”
The Con security closed in on Morty. This was obviously an obsessive fan. Morty continued spewing gibberish as the oversized security guards grasped him firmly and dragged him kicking and screaming from the room. Those present in the audience began to cheer. Liz looked greatly relieved, to say the least.
The entire fiasco had been comical at best, possibly even surreal. Several times the guests stared back at the doors Morty had been dragged through and shook their heads. They thought they had seen it all, but the image of the lime green leisure suit would be burned on their retinas forever.
“Now I really know how Adrian feels,” Liz quipped.
Later that evening several of the audience were clustered in the lobby talking about the day’s events. The incident in Liz and Stan’s Q&A kept popping up as a topic of conversation. Comments about the strange little man in green were inevitable.
“Do you suppose he really thought he was immortal?” someone asked.
“I’d hate to live forever dressed like that.”
“Smoking crack, I tell ya.”
“I could have taken him with my fan,” one lady said as she sipped daintily from her glass of wine.
“Wonder what that kind of guy does for a living? Sell used cars?”
One of the women shuddered. “How can you keep going back to an image like that? Shouldn’t we be focusing on AP’s stupendous assets?”
The lady next to her nudged her with her elbow and shook her head. “His furry arms, you mean.”
A week later, Morty exited a graphics shop with a small box clutched to his chest. He wore a wild grin on his face and was obviously tickled pink over something.
He opened the box and removed something from it. Giggling to himself, he proudly read:
"Mortimer Crenshaw, Con Organizer"