Monday, May 28, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 7

The Case of the Misplaced Hero
by Camille LaGuire 

Episode 7 - Welcome to Awarshawa

WHEN PROFESSOR THORNTON opened his eyes and saw the rocks towering over him, and felt the gravel under him, he knew things were not as they should be.

And that was magnificent.

Perhaps it was the influence of the four margaritas -- or was that five? -- but he was tired of things being as the should be.  He hated things being as they should be.  He shoved himself to his feet and staggered forward.  He didn't see Alex, since he was facing away from the water, but he remembered the car -- a Tin Lizzie, or something like it.

He tottered toward the road, but the car was now long out of sight, and he wasn't sure what direction it had gone.  So he tottered right on across the road, not looking where he was going, and hit a stone wall.

He bounced off it, twirled around, and a hand grabbed his arm to steady him.  It wasn't Alex.  It was a soldier.  A soldier with a very long gun and a very long bayonet attached to it.

"Hello," said Thorny.

The soldier said something very harsh in a strange language.

"I don't understand," replied Thorny.

The soldier poked him with the bayonet, and gestured for the professor to put his hands up. Thorny complied, having nothing better to do, and soon they were marching along the road, the bayonet poking him along faster than he had any right to be going.

They joined a group of people -- several soldiers and a cluster of peasant women in babushkas and men in baggy trousers and boots.  The peasants were all in a line, and the soldier shoved Thorny into line with them.

There was a man in a fancier uniform, with a polished helmet and boots and a sword at his side.  Thorny staggered back out of line, and went over to give him an elaborate salute.  The officer had his back to him and didn't see.  Someone pulled Thorny back into line by the sleeve.  A peasant girl.

"Don't salute!" she hissed, in a thick accent.  "You are in Awarshawa.  It is considered anti-revolutionary."

"Really?" said Thorny.  "How do you show respect, then?"

He said it loud enough that the officer turned and looked at them.  The girl shuffled back, behind Thorny.  The officer came forward and frowned.  He was taller than Thorny by at least a head, with severe eyebrows and a pointy mustache.

"You speak Imprish?" said the officer.

"No," said Thorny. "Not at all.  I speak English!"

"Where are your papers?"

"I'm afraid I graded them all and turned them in," said Thorny.  "It's the end of the semester, after all."

A soldier hit him on the side of the face with the butt of his gun, and he rocked backwards, nearly losing his balance.  The girl grabbed his arm and righted him.  Thorny's head reeled and a vague pain in his jaw made him grateful he was drunk.

The girl, meanwhile, was addressing the officer.

"This man is obviously a victim of the train wreck," she said. "He is confused. He must have fallen in the river.  His papers are gone."

The officer paused and turned his full attention to the girl.  She stood boldly, looking him in the eye.  He smiled an oily smile and reached out to touch her face.  She pulled back.  The officer smiled again, satisfied, and he reached up and... good lord he didn't!

"Did you just twirl you mustache?" asked Thorny, aghast.

The officer made a gesture, and the soldier hit Thorny again.  Thorny went down, and the soldiers hauled him off and threw him in the back of the car.  A moment later the girl was shoved in along with him.

"Oh, dear," said Thorny, as the car began to move.  "Did I get you arrested?"

"Yes," said the girl.  "You did."

"Very sorry."

"Old man you must keep your mouth shut.  Answer their questions, be obedient, and for the sake of all, do not smile at them!"

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