Ripple on the Still Waters of Time – Sample 1

Morfeena’s First Battle in PWC-15

A thin tendril of smoke floated up from the barrel of the pistol at her side as she stared down at her brother. He lay between her feet in the middle of the bombed out street, a slight grin curled his lip as his dead stare met her brown-eyed gaze. The bullet hole above his left eye seeped a single drop of blood as her focus shifted to it…filling her vision. The familiar pain began to build behind her temples as she dropped the pistol to the ground, it slowly drifted down as her lids fell shut.
Morfeena let the blinding headache envelope her. The world began to blur around the edges just before her eyes shut. Then the unpleasant and familiar sensation flowed over her skin, a fluttery itchy electric sensation that encased her. Half-formed words, hints of strange and intense scents, flashes of light and darkness through her eyelids, the flickering of multitudinous realities passed by her in that single blink. She knew she had doomed unimaginable magnitudes of beings to non-existence and yet she had to move on. She sensed she was again back in the lab at the same moment his high-pitched keening pierced her eardrums, then the sensation flowed over her once more as she felt a sickening shift.
As her eyes opened the pain disappeared and reality came back into focus. She looked around, she was standing in a small clearing surrounded by young saplings, a park perhaps. The grass brushed her knees, the small grove of trees surrounded and cradled her. The darkness was complete except for the unfamiliar stars shining down through their dappled branches. The smell of freshly fallen rain entered her nostrils as her eyes adjusted to the dim world around her.
And then the familiar voice that always greeted her spoke up, ”So very predictable sister. You know its just a matter of time, don’t you?”
In a single fluid movement, she dove to the left and drew Viscera from the flexi-scabbard strapped to her spine. The thin, almost diaphanous blade spinning in an arc as a staccato blast of gunfire sailed towards her. Time slowing as she willed it so, each glowing bullet crawling through the air from the twin Uzis her brother always seemed to carry with him. Viscera placed perfectly to intercept and deflect each one into the foliage above and around her as she swung it smoothly around.
She glared at Vilayne, “Now who is being predictable, Brother?”
The last word dripping with hatred and disgust as if it almost made her vomit to speak it. Viscera held straight up in front of her as she spun to face him. It’s almost invisibly thin blade glowing a faint gold as it bisected her image from his view.
He fired again, the steady stream of gunfire more carefully aimed this time as he attempted to get at least one past the wavering weaving blade. She flicked bullets in every direction one after the other, but in the end no one is truly perfect and one slipped through. Even so her blurred movement saved her life but it snuck past her sword and creased her scalp just above her right ear, as it had the eight times this happened before. Her nano-meds immediately went to work repairing the damage.
She knew she couldn’t continue at this enhanced sensory state for too much longer without serious damage so she took the better part of valour and ran. She ran hard and fast as the bullets and her brother pursued her through grove. Morfeena broke through the trees to find herself standing on the edge of a four-lane highway, unfamiliar vehicles whizzing by her from right to left. What she assumed was some form of cargo transport sped towards her and she took this opportunity to leap high in the air as she maintained the speed of the transport and silently landed on the trailer roof. She looked back to see her brother scowling in the darkness before she caught a glimpse of him waving down a passing car.
Morfeena turned forward and scanned her surroundings. The roof of the cab was smooth metallic blue and she slid forward onto it as the landscape whizzed past. Her nylon bomber jacket and her nano-camo cargo pants fluttered in the wind as she crouched down and noted the lights of a city spreading out before her as the cargo vehicle crested a steep hill. Another highway overpass loomed in front of her as she grinned to herself and leapt lithely straight up, the momentum of the vehicle sending her forward as she squeezed into a foetal pose and spun vigorously to bleed velocity. As she slowed she fell down and landed on the far side of the railing. Morfeena maintained her crouch to keep low enough to escape detection by her brother that she wisely assumed would have already killed or kidnapped that luckless driver.
Morfeena skittered off the overpass and straightened to her full six feet and brushed back her deep brown hair from her even deeper brown eyes with her sinewy left hand as she stuck out her right thumb in the multiversal symbol of “hitchin’ a ride”. A small black vehicle silently slid to the curb next to her and the window slid down on her side. She leaned down and peered inside to see a familiar face smiling back at her warmly. He didn’t notice her sudden intake of breathe or the look of recognition that flashed across her features for a millisecond.
“Halloo there! At this late hour I can understand why you would be looking for a ride. Where are you headed, miss?”, the blond-haired man with the small, crooked teeth asked as he continued to smile engagingly.
“Well, my vehicle crapped out a couple klicks back as I was headed to that city over there. Would you mind dropping me off at a local hostelry?”, she spoke in an oddly cadenced accent as she replied and smiled in her own disarmingly warm way. Though inside Morfeena was sighing in resignation at the blank gaze in the eyes of the man she had come to trust with her life a dozen times before.
“Sure hop in! I can easily get you to a local hostelry in  Vancouver. You’re not from around here are you?”, as he leaned over and popped open the door for her.
Morfeena slipped lithely into the rather cramped confines of the vehicle and shut the door as she replied, “I’ve been here many times before but I’m not from here as such, no.”
“Well that was certainly a reply, I’m just not sure if it’s an answer. But that’s cool, no worries.”, as he sat and waited a couple beats then pursed his lips in a humorous but patronizing way.
“Alright what did I forget? I know that look.”, she held his gaze and arched an eyebrow.
“Well you have to put your seatbelt on before I start driving. Um, and what did you mean by ‘I know that look’?, as he looked quizzically at her and waited as she fastened her seatbelt.
“Oh, uh, just that I have seen that look before on other people I know, is all.”
“Ah of course, silly me.”, as he put the vehicle in drive and pulled back into traffic. They headed into the night in the direction of the bright lights of the city.
Morfeena glanced over at Steve. She knew his name from the many times they had encountered Vilayne together. She only vaguely understood the quantum effects at play here but she seemed to appear again and again in the timelines that lacked her native persona. She had surmised from the constant encounters that somehow she was quantum entangled with Steve Doe.
“By the by, my name’s Steve. What’s yours?”, as he took a long curve down into the city proper.
“Oh, you can call me Feena.”, as she smiled thinking of the first time he had called her that pet name in what seemed like eons ago.
“Feena? That’s unusual but I like it. In fact it seems perfect. It is very nice to meet you Feena.”
“And its nice to meet you too, Steve.”
They drove in silence for awhile before Steve spoke up.
“Mind if I put on some music?”
“Sure I could go for something to relax me. I’ve had a helluva day.”, Feena smiled and nodded before leaning back against the headrest.
Steve flipped through the radio stations before settling on a classical broadcast on CBC Radio One. Morfeena flinched and pressed her fingertips against her temples as she grimaced.
“Steve I said relax, does it have to be this screeching racket?”
“This is Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach. Don’t think I’ve heard it called screeching before, but ok if you say so”, as he flippantly switched to Rock 101 and a classic rock riff burst from his speakers.
“Oooo, who’s this? It sounds like Das Hindenburg,” as Feena began a little air-guitaring with her fingers.
“Not sure who that is but this is Led Zeppelin. Black Dog?” he queried at her blank expression.
“Are you sure? Because that really sounds like Johnny Booke on guitar. He was a wizard back in the ‘70’s before he drowned in his pool,” a wistful expression crossed her face as she spoke.
“Ok, this is getting kinda weird now. You can stop being strange anytime you like. That’s Jimmy Page and it was Keith Moon who died, the drummer.”
She grinned and winked at him slyly.
“Had you going there, didn’t I?”
Steve shook his head and chuckled at how foolish he was. He’s never that gullible. Then he got back to focussing on the street in front of him as they entered the city proper. Beside him Feena relaxed as she settled back in her seat, realizing how close she had gotten to letting slip too much too soon. Luckily, he hadn’t realized she was serious about all of it. Feena knew she was vulnerable, killing your brother in cold blood and then being shot at by the same man is too damn disorienting. It was only a matter of when she would slip up, not if she would.
After awhile as they were heading along Oak Street, Steve spoke up again.
“So what’s your price range? Motel, hotel, something five-star maybe?”
“Motel will do fine Steve. I don’t expect to be in town for more than a couple days.”
“Oh, really. That’s too bad you won’t get to explore Vancouver. It’s a beautiful city and at this time of year its actually not raining… much”, he chuckled again at his own joke as he turned off the street into a Motel 6 and found a parking spot near the office.
“Well, I guess this is where we part ways Feena. I’m glad I could help out and here’s to hoping we meet again’, as he dipped the brim of an imaginary pith helmet and smiled in that slightly sad way he always did when he was doing the right thing and hating every minute of it.
“Actually, Steve I have a bit of  a problem and a proposal to you”, she rushed through her words before he would have a chance to think too hard on what she said next.
“You see the business I am in town for is not exactly… legit. And there is a man after me that is looking for a woman checking in at local hotels. A single woman. And if you would check in with me, even for a couple hours, that would be great. And I can pay you for your time of course”, as she pulled out a large wad of 20s and 50s from her bomber jacket.
“You can have half of whatever’s left after I pay for the room and a few supplies later. Whadya say?” and she gave him her brightest smile and biggest puppy-dog-eyes look she could muster.
“Well, my mom… uh I mean my landlord. Yeah, my landlord, figures I was going to be at my buddies place all night so I do have the time. But this business you’re on, it doesn’t involve killing anyone, does it?” he looked concerned and yet he couldn’t conceal the hint of excitement in his voice, not from her.
“No. Not unless they try killing me first”, and she smiled and laughed at her bon mot even though she was actually telling the stone cold truth.
He shared her smile and nodded in approval,” Alright then it’s a deal. We can share pizza and beer and surf the Web for awhile, maybe watch some tube.”
He stepped out of the car and rushed around to open the door before she had fully gotten out. He whispered under his breath.
“Best to look like a couple where people can see us”, he smiled at his faux-spy antics as he held out his hand to help her out of the car.
Feena grinned again and nodded elegantly as she took his hand, stepped out and they headed to the office hand-in-hand. Steve held the door open and she walked to the front desk with him close behind. The rather rodentious, tatt’ed and pierced gentleman at the desk looked up from the Maxim he was not so much reading as strip-mining with his eyes and smiled at them.
“Welcome to Motel 6 folks, how-can-I-help-you?” he rushed out to get them moving quickly so he could go back to being less bored.
Feena let Steve take lead on this and figured she would just pay when needed. Pwik-isms always eventually caused her to stumble when she interacted with the natives. She had almost done that already with Steve and she didn’t want give him any more reason to question her story than he already did.
“Yeah, hi uh… Doug,” as he peered at the very worn nametag he sported on the clerk’s open bowling-style Motel 6 shirt.
“We’re looking for a room. We’ll be spending a couple nights. One bed will do just fine”, as he smiled knowingly at ‘Doug’.
“Sounds great, bro. That’ll be hundred twenty plus GST and PST”, as he pulled down a key from the board.
“Wait a sec. It says 50 a night right there on the neon sign, bro”, as Steve arched an eyebrow and jabbed his thumb over his shoulder to the very obvious signage just outside the front window.
“Dude that’s a night, singular. You guys are staying 2 so there is 20 for cleaning services and free ice”, as he took down a second key for the ice cooler.
“Fine, I guess. Honey would you mind paying the man?” as Steve turned to Feena with a knowing wink hidden from the clerk.
“Sure honey”, she replied with a vacuous smile and pulled eight 20s from her pocket and put it on the front desk.
“Thanks, ma’am just let me get you your change”, he paused slightly as he picked up the bills and placed them under the counter and handed over a bunch of coin and a five.
Steve picked up the keys and nodded to ‘Doug’ before taking Feena by the hand and heading to the unit on the opposite side of the lot conveniently next to the ice machine.
‘Doug’ waited until they had entered their room before grabbing his cell and snapping a picture of the 20 with WAC Bennett’s face on it and sending it along with this text:
She just arrived. I want MY reward when Pearson gets here BRO
Then ‘Doug’ did a little happy dance behind the counter before settling back into his seat and reading his Maxim while waiting patiently.

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