Thursday, September 27, 2012

Misplaced Hero - Episode 42

Episode 42 - The Mentor
by Camille LaGuire

Alex had no idea where to go, but he supposed that was all right because he couldn't actually go any place anyway.

His sprained left ankle hurt like hell, so maybe it was broken.  The cut on his right leg was still oozing blood, though, so it was more important.  He used the large hankerchief he found in the pocket of Pookiterin's uniform to tie up his leg.

He hadn't heard much of the fuss that went on up on the road above.  He just saw a lone soldier come down and cast about.  She spotted the blood trail, but didn't follow it.  She had gone away.  They'd be looking for him in the morning most likely.

And he couldn't move.  Not much anyway.  He might make it to one of the boats that were tied up by the little dock.  It was the only way he would get very far on that ankle... but he didn't know where he would be going.  Had no plan.

It seemed like it would be better to try to find Lina.  She said he'd never find her, but she said she lived in the village near the wreck... but he didn't know if she was telling the truth.

Or he could make his way back to the kitchen in the inn, and throw himself on Niko's mercy. Niko would at least feed him. Alex realized he was starving, and exhausted, and thirsty.  He didn't know if he could make it up the steps, let alone back to the inn.  And they'd probably arrest him.

He lay there in the dark under that upturned boat and considered ripping apart the jacket to make a pressure bandage for his ankle, but he was too cold.

Then he heard the sound.  It was an odd sound; familiar and yet wrong.  Footsteps on gravel and something ... crinkly.  Like plastic sheeting.

The footsteps crunched closer, and a small light played across the ground. Alex couldn't see anything but dark feet and that light that flicked back and forth; a flashlight or lamp following the blood trail.  Had the soldier come back?

Alex tensed, and tried not to make a sound as he strained to see more. The feet came to a stop beside the boat, and something dropped loudly to the ground.

It was a plastic zip-top freezer bag, wet but sealed up, with a first aid kit and a roll of duct tape inside.

"Alex?" said a voice.  It was Thorny.

Alex rolled out from under the lee of the boat and Thorny knealt down. He was dripping wet, but he had another plastic bag with more first aid supplies: hand sanitizer, a towel, scissors.

"Thank God you're alive," he said.  "How badly are you hurt?"

"Just a bad cut to my leg and a sprained ankle."

Thorny was unpacking his medical supplies.  "We'll get it bandaged, and then we'll waterproof it with the duct tape.  This river might be clean enough, but that muddy river back home... You don't want that water getting at the wound."

"Thorny, I'm not going back," said Alex.  "This is home."

Thorny looked at him firmly.  "You need urgent care.  The emergency room.  And, frankly my boy, you are not ready for this yet."

"I'm not ready?"

"Not yet," said Thorny.  "Listen to me.  I am your teacher.  Your aunt told you you'd jump in the lake when you were ready, didn't she?  Well, you didn't jump in the lake.  I did.  You did a fine job of getting me out of trouble, but you are not ready for this.  Not, at least, until your leg heals up, and we have a chance to settle our affairs. I don't know how long it will take to sell my house in this market..."

"Sell your house?  Thorny you don't belong here."

"Nonsense! Anyone with heart belongs here," declared the professor.  Then he went on in a hushed voice.  "This is the best thing that ever happened to... to anyone.  Certainly to me.  You can't shut me out of it.  You can't leave me to explain your disappearance to the police, when you were last seen in my company.  You can't do that to me."

He paused and examined Alex' wound in the light of the flashlight.

"Besides, I have a plan," he said. "I've been thinking about that paper you wrote, and what most of those heroes have in common. They're all rich. Zorro, Batman, the Scarlet Pimpernel; they all have enormous fortunes.  That's what we need, Alex.  That will allow us to do anything."

"They all inherited a fortune from their parents."

"And so did you, didn't you?"

"In American money.  I can't use that here.  There's no rate of exchange...."

"But there is!" said Thorny.  "The oldest money exchange in the world; Gold.  We both go home, settle our affairs, sell homes and cars, pretend to have become paranoid survivalists, and cash our money in for gold."

"I can see us bringing hundreds of pounds of gold in our pockets. We'll drown."

"Diamonds, then."

Alex paused.  That could work.  Maybe not for an enormous fortune, but for enough to get them set up.  And who knows, maybe they could make multiple trips....

"It's settled, then," said Thorny.  "We'll get you home, and we'll both drink enough so that we can tell the people at the emergency room that we were smashed and tried juggling knives or something.  And then while you're recouperating I'll sell my house, and you'll see if you have any of your aunt's things left. Perhaps she left some papers or something--"

"She did," said Alex.  "I thought they were notes for a novel."

"Excellent!  That will be our first priority, then.  Do our homework.  You'll have to teach me some of the lingo, too."

By the time they were done talking, Thorny had the leg bandaged tightly, and sealed it with duct tape.  They taped up the ankle too, and with Thorny's help, Alex was able to hobble to the dock and look down in the water.  He wasn't wearing the ring, and so he couldn't see any but one reflection, that of the Awarshi rocks and boats and woods.

He almost pulled back, thinking again about how he was home and how he didn't know if he would be able to get back, but Thorny locked arms with him, and tipped them in.  Alex had time to think:

"I will come back. I will--"

Then they entered the water without a splash.

That brings the story of The Misplaced Hero to an end.

For a teaser of what will happen in next summer's story...stay tuned for the credit cookie:
(Bonus episode) "And What About Lina?"

The Case of the Misplaced Hero -- now available as an ebook at major online retailers, including:

In most ebook formats at Smashwords, plus Amazon's Kindle Store, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel, Apple iBookstore(Coming soon to Sony.)

Now also at Amazon's international stores: UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan.


Anonymous said...

Excellent job Camille. I look forward to the preview.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Ryan!

I realize, coming off this story, that there are five or six unresolved story lines I could do. It would take years to get beyond this one to the main stories of the series....

Maybe I'll do some non-serialized novelettes in between? Dunno, depends on my time.

Thomas E said...

I enjoyed that, Camille. Thanks.

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks Thomas. It's good to hear from people who've been reading!