Monday, May 13, 2013

Insert Mutilated Bedsheet Dresses Here (part 5 of 5)

A summer breeze rippled through the tall grass, insects hummed within its depths and the sound of a stream trickled nearby. The sun beat down upon the rolling plains, beautifully accenting the wheat and corn as it made its way towards the harvest.

A bright flash, reminiscent of a great thunder storm, shone from the top of one of the distant hills. Closer to, the light took on a rainbow quality, swirling in an iridescent gleam of all the colours of the spectrum, but in a beautiful, magnificent pastel tone. There was no one on the hill to witness the arrival of the two individuals, both sopping wet, and sporting significant injuries.

Merle and Richard toppled through the plothole, landing on the warm grass. Both shielded their eyes from the brightness of the day. They had, after all, come from Roman night.

"Eurgh..." Richard, still suffering the affects of too much alcohol, stripped the outer layer of his toga, dumping it in a heap at his feet. He didn't care who found it.

Merle watched him with an incredulous look, but sighed. She too was soaked, but the warm air around her was already beginning to dry the light fabric of her stola. She reached into her damp hair, pulling the neat arrangement from its pins, and letting to fan out over her back.

Both watched the plothole vanish. Its spiralling illusion of colour faded away, and soon they were gazing across the rolling plains. Merle continued to observe the environment, but Richard slumped onto the grass. He took a deep breath, allowing the warm summer air to fill his lungs, and he smiled briefly. In some ways, he thought, this place – wherever it was – reminded him of his home...his original home.

"I think we will stay here for a while..." Merle announced, as Richard shuffled to lie down on the green blanket of the hillock. At her words, he looked up, propping himself onto his elbow. He wanted to ask about his brother. Robert may have been the weaker of the two of them, but despite everything, he felt a fraternal loyalty to him.

"What about..." he started to ask, but Merle turned with a snap, and looked at him.

"Robert is a casualty of war..." she declared, "... and besides, he has his orders. When the time comes, he will know how to act."

Richard nodded. Merle had explained all of this to him before they had arrived in Rome. He had been concerned about it then, but it was necessary. Mirani would pay for her betrayal. "Yes sire..."

Merle joined Richard on the grass. Her dress was nearly dry already, whilst Richard – looking down at his still soaked tunic...

Richard sighed, lying back against the lush vegetation. "What plans do you have for this place?" he enquired. When he had briefly looked around, he hadn't recognised it at all. It was clearly not somewhere they had been before.

"This place reminds me of home," Merle murmured, looking up at the cloudless sky. "I think I will stay off their radar for the time being...but there is still plenty of work that can be done here, Richard. Plenty of work."

Richard rolled his head sideways, his inquisitive gaze absorbed every detail of Merle's perfect face. "In what way?"

"Oh... my dear son..." Merle leaned up onto her elbows, "this fandom will have to be manipulated subtly. There are powers at work here... powers that even that bitch of a Librarian knows nothing about..."

There was a rustle of the grass behind them...

"Oh yes, my dear Merle..." the voice was oily and yet enticing at the same time. When the pair turned around, there stood a man. He was dressed impeccably. A black suit with snakeskin shoes. As he saw them look at him, he smiled. "I was wondering when I would see you again..."


"You won't get away with this!"

"Someday we will be free of this jail, and you will all be sorry!"

"I hope you rot in he-"


It was almost possible to see a flaming mane and tail appear from Claire's body, as she roared at the prisoners in the basement. A terrified Robert wished he could cover his ears, but his arms were still tied behind his back, and he was being steered firmly by Michael. He was having trouble walking in a straight line, thanks to the monster of a headache that the frying pan blows had left.

A cell door on the end block was pulled open, and Robert felt his hands being released from their bindings before he was pushed through the door. It slid closed behind him, and Michael twisted the key in the lock.

"We'll be back down in a few hours with your uniform," he informed him.

"What are you going to do? How long will I be down here for?" The Stu's voice held a panicked edge. The cell was small, bordered on all four sides with strong barred steel and containing only a narrow bed, a sink and a toilet. He had joined a total of about twelve or thirteen others, locked up just as he was, all wearing a very noticeable colour-coded T-shirt. Robert still wore his red Roman tunic, the awkward toga having been removed by his jailers.

"Depends on what the leaders decide," Claire shrugged. "And if you behave and co-operate with us, maybe your stay down here won't be so bad. If you mess around... well, you'll just make it worse for yourself."

Robert, now clutching the bars, bowed his head, grim acceptance and sorrow on his face. Claire slipped an arm around her fiancé's back, and tugged at the toga thoughtfully.

"Hey... do you know when you have to give this back?"

Michael's gave a naughty smirk. "Actually, I kinda like it, so I was going to see if I could keep it..."
Beaming widely, Claire kissed him. "Oh good... then don't you think we should retire for the night?"

"I think that's a very good idea. Lead on, my lady… or should it be my dear Aelia Minor?"

"Ugh!" The disgust in McLaren's voice carried easily from a few cells down from the new prisoner's. "I think I'm going to throw up..."

A sparkly pinecone was thrown hard at his head, and the other Sues and Stus nearby winced. That had looked exceptionally painful.

As the pair left, sealing the doors behind them, Robert slumped onto his bed, his aching head resting on his arms and knees. He could almost feel the curious gazes of the others on his back, but he wasn't ready to talk to them yet. There were a lot of thoughts rushing through his head – fear, abandonment, confusion, unanswered questions – that he wanted to sort out before he calmed down.



"Hold still!" Miriku's voice was firm, as her older sister squirmed.

"Ow! Miri! That hurts!"

"This the last stitch, so stop complaining!"

Tash growled as Miriku finished the last of the stitches that now held the wound on her shoulder shut. In the next bed, Rhia had submitted to having her knee examined by Valerie. Cristoph sat beside her. He had been unharmed in the fight, and one of his first actions upon returning to the Library had been to change back into his ninja garb. He felt so much better now he wasn't wearing a short dress.

"I think you're very lucky," Valerie muttered, straightening up from Rhia's bed. "It's always going to be weak after an accident like that, so you're fortunate that he didn't do more damage."

Rhia relaxed, but Cristoph was scowling, and swearing vengeance on Robert for inflicting pain upon his lady.

"You should have come straight back when it happened," Valerie was saying. "As it is, you should avoid any strenuous activity for the next day or two."

"Does cooking count as strenuous?" Rhia asked.


"Then that's okay!" the chef beamed.

"What I want to know," Ben piped up from perching on a nearby chair, "is what the hell was up with all my attacks in there?"

"They were rather amusing, especially your face afterwards," said Tash. "I'm surprised you didn't use the floodgates on yourself."

"Hey, I had a job to do. It was hard enough without doing it drunk on wine!"

"Yes, speaking of which," Valerie gave Ben a pitying look. "Shirley saw all of that on the monitor screens. She was really mad. I'd keep an eye on your crotch for the next few days. Some of the threats she was muttering were nasty."

Ben paled, and flopped back into the chair with a moan. "Great...I wasn't even intending to do it." He turned his head towards Alice, who sat twisting the hem of her dress in her lap. "Alice, you're a walking textbook of knowledge. What do you think happened?"

Everyone's eyes turned to the English graduate, who blushed, before shrugging weakly.

"'When in Rome'," she quoted. "Apparently it becomes 'My Vineyards are not controlled by the Spirit of the Bosphorous' and 'Don't anger baskets of fish'."

There was laughter in the room, but she pouted and folded her arms. Alice's good mood was rapidly deteriorating. Not only had she been dragged off to the Library for an STD check as soon as she had exited the plothole, but Louise was nowhere to be found. She had been in such a foul mood after Merle's escape, that she had marched straight to her bedroom to do what she did best in these kinds of situations...sulk. Alice was anxious that she couldn't go and cheer her housemate up.

"So in summary," Valerie ticked off the Sues on her fingers. "We've got Robert in the basement, and Richard and Merle have gone who knows where. That correct?"

"Pretty much," Tash nodded. "Add that to a wine-soaked Roman house, and the ancient world's biggest clean up operation ever, and that pretty much sums up the whole trip... incidentally," she snapped her fingers at Ben and Cristoph. "Can you boys go sort out the clean up of the fandom? It'll get you away from Shirley," she added, seeing the terrified expression on Ben's face.

Cristoph bowed and vanished through the doors, followed by a skittish-looking Ben. Alice wished she could go, but knew that until her test results came back, she would be going nowhere. Seeing her irritation, Harriet patted her on the back.

"Don't worry about Louise. She can't sulk forever."

"It's not that I'm worried about," Alice shifted uncomfortably. "I've lived with her for nearly three years. I've dealt with her sore moods a million times before. I just wish I could go help with the clean up operation. It would be a great chance to learn more about the culture! And… I'm worried about these results."

"I'm not trying to be cruel, Alice," Rhia began, as the anxious agent hid her face down the neck of her dress. "But did it not even cross your mind that this might happen as a result? I mean... it's Mark Antony. Who knows where he's been?"

"I wasn't planning on sleeping with him!" Alice wailed from down her top. "I don't know this stuff! He just... made me an offer I didn't know how to refuse!"

"Well..." Phoenixia reappeared from the back of the hospital wing, carrying a piece of paper with computer print all over it. "Thankfully, you'll have plenty of time to learn how to refuse. You're clean."

"Really?" Relief was already spreading across Alice's face as she reappeared from inside her clothing.

"Yup. You're a lucky girl Miss Wood," Phoenixia nodded, pulling a couple of large syringes out of her pocket. "However I've had the chance to develop a few general antibiotic combinations to tackle anything that may be lingering… so roll your sleeve up, missy!"

Alice went pale, obeying the instruction slowly and wincing as Phoenixia administered the two injections, muttering something about a painful lesson for getting laid.

"Well yes, that's one of the reasons it exists!" grinned Phoenixia, throwing the result papers over her shoulder, dumping the syringes in the biohazard bin and throwing herself ungracefully onto the end of the bed. "And now that that worry is over, I get to pry!" She poked Alice in the side. "Sooo? How was he?"

Alice blushed a million different shades of red. "Nixie!"

"Oh come on!" Phoenixia poked again. "I saw up that tunic! Must have been a hell of a ride!"

She wriggled her eyebrows suggestively, and Alice returned her head down her dress.

"Allie, just throw her a small bone," Tash advised. "Then she'll leave you alone." She frowned as she addressed Phoenixia. "And then you can make yourself useful by looking up 'Suebook' for me."

There was silence for a very long time... until finally…

"It was... okay... I don't know what's good or not. He seemed to be doing most of the work."

Harriet and Phoenixia smirked, while Tash giggled. You could almost see Alice's blush getting worse through the material now covering her face.

"Basically Allie, did you enjoy it?"

Alice re-emerged with a beaming sunny smile on her still-pink face.

"Then he was good. Simple!" cheered Tash, patting her friend on the back.

"I've got Suebook, by the way Tash," Phoenixia added, ruffling Alice's hair affectionately as she spoke. "Want to see it on the big screen?"

The leader nodded, and the widescreen television that hung above the opposite row of beds flickered into life. The website was almost a carbon copy of Facebook, except with purple banners instead of blue.

"I've created a fake account," Phoenixia explained, her eyes flickering as she worked her way through the website. "So we can have a look around...don't want to draw attention to ourselves. Just getting into a few of the pages..."

She paused as the site refreshed to reveal the homepage. Top of the news feed was Merle's status, updated not an hour ago. It read, "Merle Ravensclaw just watched the Librarian getting soaked. Utterly hilarious. Thank you Timon of 'Rome'!"

An unidentifiable noise escaped Tash's mouth, and her face turned cherry red.

"Wow..." Phoenixia looked impressed. "Look at all the people who like this status! Matthew... @... Mesha... Runoa has Suebook?"

"THEY ARE ALL DEAD WHEN I SEE THEM!" Tash finally found her voice, stomping from the medical wing and off down the corridor.

There was a moment where nobody spoke. And then Alice continued as though nothing had happened.

"So... who wants to spam the Sues?"

The laughter echoed through the hospital wing.

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