"All the Hues
That Fit, We Tint"

Siberia, USA: Today, global warming. Tonight, dark, unless you count the stars. Tomorrow can be reached via time machine. Yesterday, who can remember that far back?

Websafe Studio, blogging since 2003, featuring art, comics, digital whiteboards, virtual characters, Web design, writing

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


The God of Wind and Air

(Note: This short fiction, a continuation of The Decryption of Floriform X, is being collaboratively written on Twitter in 140-character-or-less bursts. The odd-numbered lines are by Websafe, the even-numbered lines by amnak. The lines are labeled with numbers to keep track of them as they flow into the Twitter stream.)

001 "Is there a bee issue in Egypt?" asked Jack Shell, pulling the lapels of his black Prada jacket closer to his unshaven chin.
002 The cab driver glanced back, giving Jack a blank look. "Huh? Ya say somethin'?" The fog was heavier than forecasted.
003 "هل هناك نحل المساله في مصر؟" said Jack. The cabbie frowned. "Existe-t-il une abeille question en Égypte?"
004 "Sorry buddy, no parlez no French," replied the cab driver. "You from Quebec?" He eyed Jack with suspicion.
005 "Upstate New York," said Jack. "Sorry for the Babel, but your hack license says Akil Amun Suleiman, and Amun's an Egyptian god --"
006 "So it does. Akil drives the night shift..." the cabbie trailed off. "So Mr., how come you know so much about Egyptian gods?"
007 Jack cleared his throat. "Well, I'm no John Gardiner Wilkinson, but I know the god of wind and air, 'the hidden one'."
008 "I didn't finish high school which is why I'm stuck in this racket. Where did ya say you was going again?" the cabbie asked.
009 "You're joking, right?" Jack squinted into the fog, trying to read street signs. "JFK. I have to catch a 4:30 flight to Athens."
010 "Yeah, I knew that. Just yankin' your chain Prof." Out of the languid fog, a siren emerged and the cabbie slowed down.
011 An ambulance wailed down Park Avenue. The cabbie consulted with dispatch. "Pileup on 495. We should head downtown, take the bridge."
012 "Fine. Just get me to the airport on time-- you got a name cabbie?" "Howie." "Just get me to the airport on time, Howie."
013 "Will do, Chief." They headed downtown. "Noble watchman," said Jack. "Huh?" "The name Howard. It's one of the great English houses."
014 "Right," dismissed Howie. "You sure know a lotta stuff Chief. So, what's in Athens? You gotta girl there?"
015 "No, a scholarly conference." At Stuyvesant Square, a woman in late middle age hailed their cab urgently, stepping into the street.
016 "No can do lady!" yelled Howie out his window. "What's the matter with people, huh, Chief?" The cab inched forward.
017 "Wait! That's Jane Streetman!" Jack thrust open the passenger door; the woman shot in, exclaiming, "Jack Shell! You're a lifesaver!"
018 "Jane, what are you doing here? I thought you were in--" Jack fumbled. "I thought you were out of the country..."
019 "I was, dear boy, but I came back. And now I've got to be in Patmos by next week, to meet," she whispered, "a man named Morpheus."
020"I hate to break up the love-in back there, but didn't you say you hadda be at the airport Chief?" Howie glared at the backseat.
021 "It's all right, driver, we're both going to JFK, aren't we, Jack?" She patted his gloved hand. "So glad you're to be keynote speaker."
022 "It's alright Howie. We're both going to the airport." Jack winked at Jane. "You're the boss," muttered Howie.
023 "Our Charon's in ill humor," noted Jane. "Howard, you'll receive full measure." Jack scrutinized the worry beads she'd passed to him.
024 "Hey lady, don't call me Howard - and, yeah, you're making me crabby," retorted Howie. He cranked the volume on the radio.
025 The gorgeously keening voice of Erin Welton filled the air, wreathed in spangled strings. "Autumn's Grey Solace!" Jane exclaimed.
026 "You always had a good ear Jane," complimented Jack with a smile. From behind the fog, JFK began to appear, eerily quiet.
027 Inside the pocket of his sleek black leather Prada jacket, Jack rolled the worry beads between his thumb and forefinger. Jane sighed.
028 After a surprisingly smooth check-in, Jack and Jane were nestled in 26 A and B. "Jack, have to ask you..." Jane hesitated.
029 "This fabulous jacket, not your usual style. Was it ..." Jack grimaced lightly. "Yes, a gift from Arden. My one peacock concession."
030 "Is Arden your peacock obsession, or your coat?" Jane chided. "And how is Arden, my dear boy?" Jack looked out the window.
031 "I concede I was obsessed," he said, to the darkening glass. "And a fool to think I could hold her interest." Jane said, "I thought ..."
032 "...I thought if anyone could, it would be you Jack. She's the fool." Jane reached for Jack's hand lightly. They were closer.
033 There was a cough from 26C. Jane turned. Tall, dark, in charcoal-gray suit and spotless white turban, he'd sat without their notice.
034 "Hello Jack," came a velvet and familiar voice. Jack and Jane turned towards the gentleman. The three of them were silent.
035 "Would you like a pomegranate, Dr. Thoth?" Jane drew the item from her bag, along with a pair of stork-handled sewing scissors.
036 "Don't mind if I do, Madame," said Dr. Thoth as he wrapped his hand around the fruit. "And what brings you two to Greece?"
037 Jack broke in eagerly. "I'm speaking on your article, Pseudo-Random Sequences in Diachronic Syntactic Change." Thoth raised a brow.
038 "Interesting," the doctor mused. "Well, then I look forward to your presentation." He glanced knowingly at Jane.
039 The attendant paused at their row. "Sir, I'll have to hold those scissors for you." Jane said, "They're jade, not metal. From India."