It was a Coup de Foudre, the viewing of the ring. The sumptuous coil of gold, melded with subtle hints of silver. This was no mere souvenir of the journey to Venice, but a true Renaissance masterpiece of a long-dead master.
Hillary could just imagine him in his leggings and pantaloons, proudly holding his creation between thumb and forefinger to accentuate its lustre to his patron.
How the craftsman would have smiled as patted the coins tucked into his no longer empty pouch. The smile clearly mirrored by Hillary as she slid the crisp Euros across the counter to make the magnificent ring her own.
It came as no surprise to anyone when she entered the church and found it inhabited by winged predators. They knew she was coming, and had prepared carefully. Minions had arrived in advance of the fiends, and removed everything that might serve her. Crosses and relics had been disposed of and holy water flushed away. Even the wooden slats of the altar rail had been burned. Sister Sally, vampire slayer, was entering an ambush on her own turf.
But as I have said, it was a surprise to no one, not even Sally. The nun had seen Boris Wyldmane, a known consort of the dark powers entering into the sacred space hours before. This uncharacteristic departure from his usual habit of only entering black doors had alerted Sally to the danger.
As she began down the aisle, several blood sucking menaces stepped from the cabinet before her. Then bearing true malice and exuding evil, their leader, Domcumula stepped front and centre, followed by his sycophant Wyldmane.
“Prepare to die, slayer,” Domcumula spat.
“Not today,” Sally retorted, “I have come equipped with a mask, and the daylight of ‘real’ scientific advice.”
This isn’t right, the black-clad ninja thought as he opened his eyes.
He vaguely remembered mounting the battlements, and then being pushed backwards off of the wall. In desperation he had grabbed hold of the warrior that had shoved him, and the two fell together to the ground below. Somehow, he had managed to land on top of the soldier, who was definitely dead, his head turned at a grotesque angle.
As the ninja came to his senses, he could tell that the defenders were combing through the bodies at the base of the wall, retrieving their fallen and mercilessly dispatching their foes.
The assassin quickly began to undress and to strip the armour and equipment from the man who had accompanied him on his fall. As he removed his own britches, agonising pain shot through his entire body, and he could see the jagged bone of his left leg protruding through the skin. He nevertheless completed the task at hand, and donned the garb of the other man. His ribs also gave him pain, as he pulled on the jerkin. He pulled his own clothes onto the corpse, and then feigned unconsciousness on top of the body.
A few moments later, he let out an uncontrolled scream, when he was nudged in the leg by the boot of one of the burial party.
“Call the medic,” the man shouted. “We have a live one.”
The man then stooped down over the ninja.
“Who are you?” the man asked in Ralulee, gazing uncertainly at the ninja’s features.
“I Sealandian Mercenary,” he replied, doing his best to remember the Ralulee phrase for ‘soldier of fortune.’
“You took a hell of a fall,” the man said, lightening up a little.
“He grab me – take down me,” he replied, trying to stress a Sea-Land’s accent.”
“Well help is coming,” the man said. “We will get you to the infirmary in no time.”
The ‘mercenary’ only really understood the word ‘help’, and ‘infirmary,’ but under the circumstances it sounded perfect to him.
Soon, he was being carried on a stretcher through the gates, into the fortress that he had attempted to storm the night before. What are the chances, he thought to himself. Why didn’t I think of something like this in the first place?
“And that’s final,” Edgar shouted as he closed the front door in his neighbour’s face.
“What was all that about?” his wife, Martha asked.
“That numbskull next door expects me to move the car. He says that I am taking ‘his’ space in front of ‘his’ house. Well, I told him there are no assigned parking spots on this street, and it’s finders keepers.”
About an hour later, Martha came into the TV room and said, “Honey, that space you so vehemently argued over; I think you should move our car.”
“Why should I?” Edgar challenged in a cross tone.
“Well I think you should go have a look. John seems to have come up with a better argument than finders keepers.”
The plan couldn’t have been simpler. The monarch’s secretary would contact the guards and say that water was dripping through the ceiling of the apartment where the deposed ruler was being confined.
Loyalists would then forcefully occupy all of the appropriate tradesmen’s establishments in the surrounding area. Then when the guards sent for a repair team to investigate the complaint, and tradesman of known loyalty would be sent to the royal apartment, and a switch would take place, with the apprentice and the monarch trading garments and identities. A fake beard on the chin of both would complete the ruse.
All went to plan in phase one. Four teams of loyalists entered the workshops of the known anti-Royalist tradesmen. The assumption was that these would be the ones sent for by the coup’s leaders.
Sure enough, Ranski and Son were sent for, and the plan was set into motion. Loyal Karl Darnit and his apprentice Jan made their way to the palace, in the Ranski work wagon. They were ushered into the royal chamber, and proceeded to make such a noise and dust cloud that the guard accompanying them decided to wait outside the apartment for them to finish. Meanwhile, the monarch sat on a window seat and waited for the next phase.
With the guard driven from the room, Jan removed his overalls and fake beard, and they were quickly donned by the former ruler. A suitable amount of dust was then thrown over the deposed leader, and Jan now with a silk robe across his shoulders assumed the window seat position with his back to the door.
Darnit then went and banged on the door and announced that he was finished. The monarch, now bearing a ladder over the left shoulder began to follow the master craftsman out, only to be cut off by the guard. Yes, it proved to be an epic fail when the ample busted, and five-foot tall, Queen Hilda, replete with beard on chin, proceeded to trip over the extra fabric of the skinny, six-foot-three-inch tall, Jan Yanski’s overalls.
Dave loved his annual fishing trip with the cousins. It was a great time of family reunion, and a chance to catch up and to bond. Last year’s trip to the Gulf of Mexico had been amazing. Cousin Doug had struck a winner with Galveston as the “fish’n hole.”
This year, his cousin, Alfie picked the location. It was different to be sure.
Dave cast his line into the thick vapour.
“Alf, Buddy, we ain’t catching anything here on these hot springs. Are you sure this is how you get poached salmon?”
“The field was player-less. The board was scoreless. The School Board and health officials clueless.” What other way could Coach Tom Howard sum up the situation in what had been intended to be his retirement year?
Tom gritted his teeth as another cough ripped through his aching lungs. Each breath was an agony, and gave him the sensation of inhaling broken glass.
“Go ahead with practice,” he had been advised. “Teenagers are low risk carriers.”
Well in his book, that was “a fumble of epic proportions.” Now he only hoped to see next season. “Fingers crossed, and go for the Hail Mary,” he whispered to himself.