The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire
Episode 11 - Alex Takes the Direct Route
Alex was exhausted from jogging down that meandering road. He had no idea how far he'd gone, or how far he had to go. When he heard a car rattling along behind him, he was glad for the excuse to duck into the bushes and catch his breath.
The car looked like the same one that he'd seen earlier, heading up the mountain. It had fewer soldiers -- just one driving, and one on the running boards -- and this time was packed with civilians. Alex only caught a glimpse of a man clutching a silk top hat, and a woman in furs, as it bounced past.
Alex didn't expect to see silk hats or furs in this apparently remote location. But the peasant woman had said something about foreigners and a train wreck.
He started to climb out of the bushes, when he lost his footing and tumbled down... and further down and down, through bushes, bouncing off trees, and finally came to rest at the bottom of a steep grade.
He crawled to his feet. He was at the edge of another road. Great. Should he climb back up to the road he knew went where he wanted to go? Or follow this one? And if so, which direction? Up hill looked like it would intersect with the road he had been on. But he also knew he had to go down hill to get to the base of the falls.
Just then he heard a car, and he stepped back into the bushes. The same car went bouncing by. This wasn't a different road. It was the same road. It was zig-zagging down the side of the mountain.
Which meant he could save a lot of time by not zigging and zagging himself, but cutting straight down through the bushes instead.
And he could save even more time by tumbling rather than climbing down, which he discovered by accident. By the time he got to the bottom, he looked like he'd been through a train wreck himself. He hoped that would help him explain his presence, his lack of papers, and his confusion at questions. He had a scrape on the forehead that could pass for a head injury.
The town was a little bigger than he expected, and he staggered past a couple blocks of houses before he got to the large open square in the middle. There were people gathered there, to one side. Soldiers and peasants hurried around. Nobody paid him much mind.
As he mingled with the crowd he asked a shivering young women in a maid's uniform if she'd seen anybody matching Thorny's description.
"Oh, he must be the one they arrested!" she said.
"They don't need a reason," she said. "Not the security forces."
She nodded across the square at two soldiers in long gray coats. Most of the soldiers had scruffy, ill-fitting brown uniforms. The men in gray looked more slick.
"I wouldn't ask after him, if I were you. They'll probably arrest you too."
Given that Alex had no papers and no explanation of who he was or where he was from, he thought she might be right. All the same, he asked where they had taken Thorny, and she pointed to a big building across the the square, the local inn.
Stay Tuned for Episode Twelve: "Scouting The Headquarters"
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