Saturday, September 8, 2007

Markus and Deidre wore black cloaks now, hoods pulled up over their heads to hide their faces. Their light bobbed up and down with each step as they approached the shack. Whispering into the silence Deidre said, "Finally, a little luck. We'll be able to give Alec and Jacky a good life."

"Yeah, after tonight we'll be able to give them anything. No more carting to town to sell goods nobody buys. No more empty house. We'll have everything we've dreamed of."

The two reached the shack and stopped outside the door. "Remember, you hold him down and I'll do the dirty work," instructed Markus. He reached for the doorknob and the rust from the years of weather caused it to squeak lightly as he slowly turned it. Opening the door just a crack, Markus poked the lantern and his head through to see Cameron still lying on his back, his chest rising and falling slowly indicating he was still asleep. The two crept into the room, Deirdre lightly stepping on the dusty floor to get around to Cameron's head while Markus followed, setting the lantern on the floor by the door and drawing a knife from under his cloak. Deidre placed her hands on Cam's shoulders to ensure that he didn't roll over unexpectedly and Markus raised the knife in both hands over his head. An evil look twisted both of their faces, the light from the lantern showing demonic smiles on both their faces.

"Now we are set for life," Markus hissed.

Cam's eyes flashed open. "What are you doing?!", he cried as he pushed himself to roll off the cot.

"NO!" Deidre tried to grab Cam's shirt as he started to roll but could not hold the man. The dagger plunged down stabbing straight through the canvas that made up the cot, cutting right from where Cameron's heart would have been down towards Markus. Cam had not rolled off just yet and with the canvas now cut and Cameron's weight at the end it ripped fully the length of the cot and Cameron fell through it, landing on his backside with a thud. Markus stabbed down again and missed as Cam was rolling off to the side, away from the two of them.

Deidre jumped on Cam as he emerged from under the cot. She mounted him, putting her legs on either side of his stomach and pushing both his shoulders down with all her weight.

"What? What are you doing to me? Markus!?" Cameron shouted frantically as he struggled and writhed under the woman. Adrenaline must be pumping through her veins as she was able to hold Cam down without any trouble. Her hood had fallen off in the jump onto him and he could now see that her eyes were almost on fire, they were alight with wildness.

"Sorry Cameron, you really seem like a nice fellow. But we are only doing what we have to for our family, for Alec and Jacky," Markus said. He was casually walking around the cot and Deidre, around to Cameron's head brandishing his knife. He knelt down and put the knife to Cam's neck.

The second time tonight this has happened. What the hell is going on?! No sooner had he thought that than the light in the lantern grew. The flames expanded, shattering the glass. They flickered out around the metal casing and lapped up the sides of it. In a flash a hand formed and lashed out, flying towards Deidre faster than one could have believed, expanding to the size of a human along the way. The fingers of flame wrapped over her shoulders and around her waist. Fear replaced the wildness in her eyes. Then pain. She let out a shrill cry of pain as the hand squeezed and burned her.

"NO! DEIDRE! LET HER GO!" Markus jumped up from his knees and ran behind her slashing his knife through the fiery arm that had hold of his wife. The smell of searing flesh filled the room. A second hand formed at the lantern and lashed out, grabbing hold of Markus from the front. The palm burned his chest and the fingers wrapped around his neck and waist. Markus let out a scream of intense pain as the hand of flame held him and crushed him. The hands raised up both Markus and Deidre and through them across the room, sending them both head first into the wall. Their clothes still burning, they lie unconscious on the floor of their own shack. The heat from the lantern was now so intense that the floor burst into flame around it.

All the while Cameron was in shock on the floor. He watched as Deidre was grabbed by the fiery hand and as her head slumped after mere moments. He watched Markus run to try and cut down the fiery assailant only to be grabbed himself. He watched as they were flung across the room and lay motionless in a twisted, burning heap on the floor.

Suddenly he broke from his state of shock and noticed the heat and the flames. They had spread quickly, the door was enveloped and they were now creeping towards him. I have to get out of here. Cameron picked up what was left of the cot and through it out the window nearest him. He climbed through it and ran off towards the woods.

Two shadowy heads peered out from an unlit window at the house and followed him all the way until he disappeared. The flames had completely enveloped the shack and their light was reflected off the trails of tears that streamed down the faces of Alec and Jacqueline Roth.

Monday, September 3, 2007

As Markus and Cameron approached the house Cam could start to see it in more detail. It was a log cabin with a porch two steps off the ground. Even though it was only one storey high, there was likely enough space beneath the slanted roof for some extra storage. There was a worn path that veered from the main path off to his right seemingly leading back to the house on the side where Cameron thought he could make out the edge of an entrance to a cellar. Also now he could see that off in that direction was a small shack with no lights on at all.

The two men climbed the steps and Markus opened the door. Inside the house was furnished rather sparsely. To the right was an average, square wooden table with four places set for supper. In the far corner was a room with the door open, the clattering of pots could be heard coming from there. Off to the left were a couple of smallish looking rooms with the doors shut and an area littered with children's toys. Aside from that there was a small cupboard, bookcase and desk with papers strewn about. The floors were mostly barren wood with only a small carpet under the table and a heavily used one at the entrance.

"Honey! We have company! Kids! Come say hello!" Mere moments passed before one of the doors burst open and two children burst through. They raced each other to stand before Cameron, faces alight with radiant smiles and eyes sparkling with innocence. "Cameron, may I introduce you to Alec and Jacqueline."

The two were dressed simply, much like their father. Alec looked to be about 16 years old, but was short for his age with brown hair and brown eyes. His face was freckled. He wore brown overalls that were a bit short for him showing his bare feet and ankles, and a long sleeved white shirt that ended in grubby hands. "Hi!"

Jacqueline was dressed similarly. She was sockless with brown trousers that were a little too short and a white shirt that ended in hands that were less grubby than her brother's. She seemed to be about 18 though a bit tall for her age. She was a brunette like her brother though she had green eyes. "Hi! Pleased to meet you sir."

Cameron shook both their hands and said with a smile, "Pleased to meet both of you too."

From the kitchen came a woman's voice, "Ok, all of you, get to the table. Dinner is ready." Alec and Jacqueline rushed over to the table and took their seats without missing a beat. Out for the kitchen stepped a nondescript woman of average height and brown hair pulled back. Like the rest of the family she was dressed simply. "Hello there!" In her hands was what looked like meatloaf and potatoes which she carried over to the table.

Markus led Cameron over to the table and pulled up a chair for him, sliding his own over in the process. "Honey, this is Cameron. Cameron, that there is my lovely wife Deidre."

"Hi there. I'm...Thank you all for taking me in this evening. That food smells delicious!" Cameron took his seat along with the rest of the family. Food was passed around, Cameron and Markus laughed as they recalled meeting outside moments ago.

"So you never did tell me why you ended up in my cart..."

Alec's eyes lit up inquisitively. "Yeah, and what's with that cut on your neck? Did you get into a fight?" You could see that he was starved for some stories of action.

Cameron's face flushed bright red. "Oh, haha. No, no. Nothing that interesting. Just a ... a squabble with my girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend now I suppose. The cut was ... was from ... I was shaving this morning when she told me she was cheating on me and leaving me. I kind of slipped I guess." He hoped that they didn't ask more. He was of course lying through his teeth, if he told the truth they would no doubt kick him out the moment he said anything about magical disappearing scorpions and murder attempts ... and completions.

"Oh," was all that Alec could muster, his face a picture of disappointment.

"Yeah, I just needed to get out of that town for a while. Travel for a bit, you know. Get some actual space between us. Guess, that's sort of depressing for dinner conversation. Sorry."

An uncomfortable silence hung over the table for a minutes that felt like hours. Everyone ate while looking at their plates as they emptied. Eventually Deidre and Markus began to talk about how their days were and the tension started to ease, though Cameron remained silent. Dinner was finished by all and Deidre began to clear the table while the kids ran off to their room and Markus led Cameron to the door. "Come, we have a spare room in the small house outside that you can stay at for the night. In the morning I can give you a life to the next town, sound good?"

"Sounds perfect, it's quite generous of you," Cam replied. "Thank you for the food Deidre, it was terrific!"

"You're welcome Cam, have a nice night. I'll make you some food before you two leave in the morning."

Markus grabbed a lantern as he and Cameron left the house and went around the back to the shack. He opened the door, "Well, here you go Cam. Have yourself a nice night now, we'll see you in the morning."

"Thanks again Markus, this is truly the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time." Markus handed Cameron the lantern and opened the door to the shack for him and closed the door behind him. Inside was a cot and a small dresser that was empty. There was a small layer of dust on the floor and furniture, obviously they didn't entertain company all that often. Cam cleaned off the cot and fell into it in exhaustion.

I can't believe how lucky I've been the last little while. I mean, obviously not earlier tonight, but this Markus fellow and the tailor before. They didn't have to do anything to help me. Maybe it's just the region? Cameron yawned a gigantic yawn. Maybe all the native people around these parts are just polite and trusting and helpful? I wish I could stay here longer. I wouldn't mind ... He yawned again. What was I thinking? Yeah, I wouldn't mind staying here a while longer with Markus. I guess I couldn't really pay my room and board with my tricks. Maybe there's something I can offer, I'll ask him in the morning. Cam yawned twice in succession. He looked out the window and saw the lights in the house going out. He turned his lantern off and his eyes closed of their own accord as soon as the darkness enveloped him. Sleep assaulted Cameron and he was passed out within seconds of his eyes closing.

The moons hung high in the sky now, the stars shining down upon the ground with them. An hour or so passed before the door to Markus' house opened and a light and two people emerged walking towards the shack that Cameron slept in.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cameron fell asleep to the rhythmic sounds of the horses pulling the cart and the creaks of the wheels. With a sudden lurch the wagon came to a halt and Cam rolled once forward and hit his head on a basket before rolling back and falling off the cart altogether. In all honesty, had Cameron not been there all the cargo would likely have fallen off on the trip.


If he hadn't been hazy from the hit on the head or being suddenly awoken, Cam might have heard the driver dismount and start to walk around the back of the cart. Unfortunately for him, his head was in a haze and the first time he noticed was when the man's foot jabbed into his side, startling them both.

"Ouch!"

"What the...?" The man said.

"Oh...oh, um, hello sir." Cam said from the ground, trying to look non-nonchalant, but failing horribly. "I hope you don't mind, I needed to get out of the city and well, your cart was going by and I figured I would just, um, hitch a ride?" He was fumbling for words to try and both put the man at ease and maybe even illicit some sympathy.

The man was silent for a moment, eying Cameron from head to toe. The clouds from the earlier storm had cleared and the moons and stars were out now, but it still would be difficult to judge a man that was half hidden beneath a cart. A smile crossed his lips, "You should have just flagged me down friend. I would have let you ride up front with me rather than cramped back here. My name is Markus." He offered a hand to Cameron to help him up.

"Ah, well I figure you can't be too careful these days..." Cameron realized that was a stupid thing to say just then. He was a stranger, meeting a stranger who's cart he had just sneaked into. He took Markus' hand, "My name is Cameron. Pleased to meet you."

"Come, you can stay with me and my family tonight." Markus had to reach up slightly to slap Cameron on the back and grab his shoulder as though they were old friends before leading him towards his house. It was one-storey high though very wide and candle and lantern light emanated from within. It looked like a very warm and inviting household to be sure. Cameron would be glad for a warm bed and food after all that had happened this evening.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Cam ran across the empty street and ducked into the nearest alley he could find. The rain had picked up considerably since he had returned from his room and even just the short run had soaked his hair and shirt and shoes.

He leaned back against a wall of the alley and stared up letting the rain fall into his face, wash over him. He felt more calm now. Cameron finally found some shelter deeper in the alley under the overhang of a roof. He looked down and realized that he had a trail of red down the middle of his shirt; the night's activities sudden came back and hit him full force.

What the hell just happened?! He thought. What did that guy want from me? He said something about not going back empty handed? What did that mean? Where would he have gone? The questions were rushing through his mind almost faster than he could think of them, they all seemed to spontaneously pop up in his head all at once. For all that...how did he do what he did? I swear I couldn't move when he first came in...and the scorpions... He shuddered at the memory of the hundreds of legs all over his body. But he wasn't scared, he didn't care at all that they were on me ... on him. And what happened to him? He got ripped off me, did ... did I do that?? There were too many questions and not enough answers. I for sure can't go back to the inn, good thing I didn't leave anything behind. Except my money. He sighed. I should get out of town, it was almost time to move on anyway.

Cameron made his way out the back of the alley, sticking close to shadows and trying to stay as inconspicuous as a man with a bloody shirt can be. The shadows were surprisingly hard to come by, it seemed that he was in a residential area and most people were still awake and milling about their houses. Tucked in among the houses was a store that looked promising to Cameron, a tailor's, to which he ducked into.

As soon as he stepped in the door, a booming voice rang out. "It's you! I saw you the other night at that inn, you were marvelous!" Cameron had no idea that he was becoming so well known, he had rarely ventured out of his room at the inn the past few days. "Oh, oh, what has happened to you? Come, come, let me help." Cameron saw a man that did not befit the voice. He was older, but not elderly, and shorter than average and slight. His hair was receding already and had begun to turn white and wispy. He wore glasses and plain clothing.

"Thank ... thank you, it's been a long night." Cameron's voice was meek and soft, a far cry from the confident man this tailor had likely seen when Cam was performing. The man disappeared into the back and moments later came out with a new shirt and a cloak, not of the highest quality but they would more than do the job for now. "I ... I'm sorry, I don't have anything to pay you with ..."

"Oh, no, for you sir these are on the house. Your show was the most entertaining display I have seen in all my years! It was ... magical." His eyes shone when he said that word. "Please, they are my gift."

"You are too kind. I ... I don't even know what to say." The man's kindness was entirely unexpected after all that had gone in this evening. Cameron shook the man's hand. He even went so far as to put his other hand on the back of the man's hand and bow. As they let go a puff of blue smoke erupted around their hands and the man let out a huge chuckle and smiled. Cam spun around, cloak flying about, and fled out the door.

The rain had stopped. That man, I think ... did I ... inspire him? It was too much, from the lows to the highs of the night, Cameron needed to relax and sleep and get out of town. He heard the clatter of a hooves and a wagon coming up the street. He ducked into a shadow and the wagon came around the corner. A man in simple clothes was driving it and as the wagon rolled by he jumped into the back quietly and slid down behind the baskets that were there.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The door swung wide and the bard from downstairs stood in the doorway. His clothes were unusually drab for a storyteller and musician such as he. Instead of the traditional bright reds and yellows and blues, his clothes were of more earthy tones, dark greens and tans and greys. He had a black cloak on, the hood pulled over his head causing all but his chin to be shadowed. On the cloak, over the heart, was a symbol and from the quick glance that Cameron got of it, it appeared to be two golden hammers crossed in an 'X' with the hammer ends at the top and surrounding the hammers was a wreath, open-ended at the top.

The glance Cameron got was quick because no sooner had the door opened then the man had stepped inside and closed the door. He moved like a cat stalking it's prey, swiftly and softly. "So, you are Cameron Devonshire...", his melodic voice drifted off towards the end of Cam's name. Cameron was frozen in place though and couldn't make even a squeak in reply. The best he could do was stay on his feet and watch the man. "I wonder, how is it that you can do those things that you did out there today? It's not every man that can make rain indoors...barring of course a leaky chamber pot upstairs. But that's not what you did is it? Of course not, that wouldn't explain the flower, or the ivy for that matter." His voice was almost mesmerizing, Cameron didn't want to interrupt, in fact he still couldn't speak. "Come on Cameron, speak up. I need to know how. I can't go back empty handed."

Cameron's brain got back into motion with that. "Empty handed? Where do you have to go back to? What's this all about?" He was thoroughly confused by this bard standing in his room, awing him with nothing but his voice. Cam found he could move a bit more now.

The man's body language shifted, he seemed perturbed that Cameron had spoken and moved. "It's no concern of yours." The melody of his voice was gone, the words felt more like they were spit out in haste. Cameron caught a flash of light and some movement from inside the man's cloak mere moments before he was lunged at. The man came flying straight at Cameron, dagger flashing through a moonbeam that passed through the shutters. Cameron's limbs felt like dead weights, but he managed to fight through it and reach out to grab the man's wrists a fling him aside. He crashed into the wall, and with the effort Cameron fell to the ground. The other man rose slowly, matching Cameron as he rose from the floor as well. "Give up Mr. Devonshire. Your time is done." The man lunged at Cameron again, but again Cameron fought off the attack, smoother this time and he maintained his balance.

"What's going on here??" Cameron was still fully perplexed. Why was this man trying to kill him? Who was he??


The man straightened himself again. This time he stood still though, he put away his knife and just stood straight with his head slightly bowed. Cam could just barely hear the man mumbling something. It stopped.

Silence.

Cameron faced the cloaked man. Out of the bottom of his eye Cameron thought he saw some movement, but he knew that taking his eyes from the man was not a good idea. The movement continued, the bottom of the man's cloak was rippling. Cam chanced a look down and his feet froze to the ground. Scorpions, fifty or more of them already were racing towards Cameron with several already on his boots and more pouring out by the second. Cameron was scared stiff. His eyes darted around, head on a swivel, trying to look for anything that could help. His pupils dilated, he was scared to his bones. "What can I do? What can I do??" Was all that he could hear in his head. He started to swat at the scorpions in a vain attempt to get them off of him. He fell on his back on the bed and they swarmed over him as he thrashed on the bed.

The man drew his dagger again and started to approach the mass of scorpions and the thrashing mass under them. He held the dagger out in front of him, an evil smile could be seen from the bottom of his hooded face, he seemed to not care at all about the scorpions. He bent over Cameron and grabbed him by the shirt and lifted him up. "Say goodnight, Mr. Devonshire." The dagger inched towards Cameron's throat, creeping closer and closer. The man paid no mind to the scorpions though they still covered Cameron. The point of the dagger reached Cameron's neck and pierced the skin, a small drop of blood oozed out and dripped down his neck. Cam was sure he was going to die.

Suddenly the dagger wasn't at his throat anymore and the scorpions were gone. The cloaked man was wrenched back and flung. Cameron leaped up to his feet and hearing a scream glanced at the man. He was dangling from the ceiling by his neck and wrists, held there by what seemed to be roots. His face was turning blue and his legs were thrashing about in the air.

Cameron bolted to the door, flung it open and ran out and down the stairs. One of the waitresses, the one he had caused the rain to fall on, was at the bottom of the stairs and as he came flying out she was knocked to the ground, banging her head on the wall and being knocked unconscious. Cameron fled to the streets under the cover of darkness and rain.

The screams from his room had stopped.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

In the brief moment with the flash of light and clap of thunder, Cam dropped to the ground and rolled off the side of the stage, lunging and hiding behind the bar before anyone could gather their wits. He sneaked along behind the bar and back into the pantry where the ale was kept. Thankfully in this room there was a window; the previous two nights he had hopped out and climbed up the back of the building to his room, but in this weather he didn't want to do that. For now he sat beside a keg of ale, out of sight of the doorway so that nobody would see him. There was no sense in destroying his perfect illusion just to keep from getting wet.

He still wasn't entirely sure how exactly he was doing any of what he did. A few months back he felt...something...around him. Just on the peripheral of his consciousness. It was like a shadow seen out of the corner of your eye but when you look straight at it there is nothing there. This something was the same, whenever he had tried to categorize what it was it disappeared and he lost it. After a couple of weeks of playing cat and mouse with the feeling Cam decided to one day just embrace it and when he did so, certain things that he thought about would happen. A breeze would drift by, a light would illuminate, grass would grow and so on. With some practice he was now able to control little things and with a little flair he was able to put on quite a show.

The night wore on, a few times the serving ladies came into the pantry where he was and were surprised by his presence. Not because they were surprised he was still alive, but they'd known that he usually went back to his room afterwards to make sure nobody saw him. One tried to make small talk but Cameron was in no mood at that time to banter with anyone. It was incredibly boring sitting in the pantry. He went to the window and looked outside, the rain had mostly stopped and it was just a light drizzle now and Cam figured it would be ok to make a move back to his room now. He opened the window and hopped out into the alley, jumped up on some crates he'd arranged out back below his window, popped it open and hopped inside.

Cameron closed the window and the shutters, his hair was slightly damp as was his jacket, pants and shoes. He took his tuxedo jacket off and hung it on the chair and grabbed a dry cloth from his dresser and tried to dry his hair with it.

As he was drying his hair he saw the shadow of two legs come from under his door. They clearly weren't Logan's legs, they were far too slim for that. The doorknob started to turn...

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cameron turned his palms down and lowered his hands to his sides very deliberately and brought them up in front of his body. His hands met in front of his face, index fingers touched to his lips. He intertwined all his fingers slowly, clasping his hands together with only his index fingers left protruding.

With a suddenness the crowd wasn't ready for he pointed to a table with his hands and a daisy grew right out of the wood. The women smiled and clapped and fought to smell it while the men chuckled heartily. Cam whirled again and pointed to another table as ivy slowly wriggled out from the cracks in the table to entwine the whole of it causing the people to stand and take their drinks with them. Another twirl in the opposite direction this time and he wound up pointing above a table, only to have it start lightly snowing over that table, fresh flakes landing in the patron's beer and on their heads as they shivered. A fourth twirl and he pointed above one of the waitresses' and small raindrops fell from the roof around only her, coolly and slowly wetting her clothes and hair to the delight of all the men and a giggle from her.

It had taken only a minute, and Cameron had already astounded the crowd. There were two reactions from the crowd, they were either silent with jaws on the floor in disbelief or they were standing and hooting and clapping. No one had seen this type of thing before. Sleight of hand sure, common parlour magicians were a dime a dozen but Cameron was showing them something else, something that made them believe that the world was changing, that there might be hope.

As suddenly as he started Cameron resumed his original position with his index fingers at his lips. His fingers unraveled and he dropped his hands to his sides slowly and carefully. Cam closed his eyes and tilted his head up. Just as deliberately as he had lowered them, he raised his outstretched arms to shoulder height with his palms facing up. He paused...and paused...and paused. The crowd grew quiet, eerily quiet. The daisy retreated into the table from which it had sprung. The ivy slowly receded back into it's own table. The snow stopped. The rain stopped. A stiff breeze that nobody could feel made Cameron's jacket and pants flutter. Suddenly a searing bright light illuminated the whole room followed shortly after by the sound thunder. When everyone had their wits about them again they all whispered, "Where'd he go?!"

Cameron had vanished.