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clockwork8 [2012/11/12 20:48] (current)
doan created
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 +He turned around slowly, keeping low to the floor, then looked down. There was a huge hole in the middle of the building, almost bisecting it. It looked like an earthquake had hit Twin Seeds in the middle of the night, except, as he looked out into the street through the fresh opening created by the damage, he saw that it was only his own house affected. The building was creaking and swaying to a worrying degree, as though unsure whether it was supposed to fall down entirely or not. Rubble poured down from the upper floors, through the hole in the ground floor and into the basement. Motes of white light played in the clouds of dust and debris.
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 +His eyes snapped to the room’s desk area, where his Saturn was hanging half off the chair where he had put it so he can play from his bed. It was trailing into the hole and it was about to fall down four storeys. The hole was between his bed and the desk.
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 +He reach behind him and quickly tucked the Game Gear, still safely in his bed, under his shirt, then he crawled up to the edge of the hole and reached forwards as far as he could. His fingertips brushed against the controller. Flexing his fingers and swiping like a cat trying to catch fish, he managed to grab the controller, but then he realised that pulling the controller would only result in the weight of the Saturn disconnecting the controller or snapping the wires. He had to grab the base of the console, or at least a larger handful of wires, or he wouldn’t be able to save it from its doom.
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 +Vertigo hit him, along with a stream of vivid images of himself falling to his painful, lingering and messy death, and his senses reeled. He breathed deeply to centre himself, forcing his eyes to look forwards, at the Saturn, not down. He forced his mind to think of his best friend falling instead of him, how he wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he failed one of his friends for real, not after letting the Game Gear die in the dream. Then he crawled onto a metal pipe that jutted out from what had been the inside of his floor, when it had been a floor. It had been part of the hot water system and it was leaking water all over the first floor, threatening to set something electrical on fire. Balancing on its very end, he reached out again and grabbed the base of the Saturn this time. He slowly manoeuvred it into his hand. It was too big and cumbersome and he felt his grip on it failing, so he reached out the other hand.
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 +He managed to grab the console in both hands before he fell. He knew he couldn’t try and steady his fall, not without dropping the Saturn, so he curled his body around it to shield it against the inevitable landing. He was going to die saving it. A worthless life for a beautiful and fragile one. He would repay his debt.
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 +He was surprised to find himself dangling in mid-air. Two sets of strong hands grabbed him and hoisted him back over the gap.
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 +“Thank NiGHTs for that! I was worried there’d be no survivors!” said a melodic female voice.
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 +“You don’t need to do that. I won’t harm it. I can feel how much you care about it,” said the voice, “I wouldn’t interfere with that kind of love, whether I understand it or not. I just think we need to get out of this building before it collapses.”
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 +Cass peeked up. He had reflexively gone into a foetal position, curled up around the Saturn. The woman clearly wasn’t a fire-fighter or police officer, as he had been expecting. She wore no uniform. She actually looked quite casual, in red shorts and a plain orange t-shirt, her flaming red hair tied back at the nape of her neck. She smiled serenely at him, as if they had met on a pleasant walk in the countryside. Then she offered him her hand. Shifting the weight of the Saturn under one arm, he took her arm and let her help him up. Something about her made him trust her, even though she wasn’t anyone he knew and she was in his house.
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 +“How are we going to get out?” he asked, looking down at the stairs. They didn’t look very safe any more.
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 +“This way,” she told him, walking over to the window and opening it. He looked dubiously at her as she began to climb out. He supposed it would be safer than the stairs – he would probably survive the fall from two floors up, and the window below sloped, so it wasn’t a sheer drop, but he didn’t fancy it. He didn’t think the Saturn would survive the fall, for one thing.
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 +“Should we tie the bedcovers together?” he asked her, starting to strip them off the bed, but she shook her head and stepped out of the window. She smiled at him, her face level with his, as though she was on the inside of the window looking out. It took him a few seconds to realise what was happening.
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 +“You can fly?” he asked, staring out of the window at the way she hung in the air, casually as if she were floating in water.
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 +“Well, more like hovering. Maybe a little light floating around,” she said, smiling, then she extended her arm to him, “Come on, I can show you how!”
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 +“I thought the guys in charge said I wasn’t in a dream any more…” he said, scratching his head.
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 +“No, it isn’t a dream. It’s just me. I’m good at floating,” she said, “Although it sounds like you’ve already been exposed to our world. We won’t need to go over the basics with you. That’ll save a lot of time.”
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 +“If you’re sure it’ll work for me as well,” he shrugged, then took her hand and stepped out of the window after her. He instinctively expected to drop and he braced himself for the landing, so it was a shock to find that he was suspended in place. He almost lost his balance at first, and he found himself pointlessly flailing his legs for a while, like a child learning to swim.
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 +“You need to calm down. It might help to think of it as a dream, for now,” she told him, “It’s the same principle anyway. Oh, hey, Elliot!”
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 +She waved at a figure standing below them, in front of the house. A tall, well-built male with dark hair, short and spiky, he was talking to a group of Cass’ housemates, random passers-by and a team of fire-fighters who had just pulled up in their engine. He looked as though he was reassuring them all. When he looked up, a couple of people followed his gaze, so he looked sharply down and started herding them away from the building.
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 +“Oops, I think we’re making a nuisance of ourselves,” she said, laughing, “Let’s get somewhere people can’t see us.”
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 +They floated around the side of the building, then alighted in a narrow, badly lit alleyway between Cass’ house and the next house along. It smelled of infrequently emptied bins, alcohol and urine. The next door neighbour’s cat hissed at them, then ran away, abandoning the chicken bone it had been pulling out of the bin. Cass followed the girl out of the alleyway and down the street, not stopping to catch his breath until he was in the small park next to the Twin Seeds Tower. They sat on benches next to the fountain. He looked up at the Tower, remembering its dream counterpart. Curiously, she followed his gaze. He wondered if she had seen it before, and if she had met the AdvoCat.
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 +“Don’t people ever see you floating?” he asked.
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 +“Only a few times. I don’t do it all the time, only in emergencies. I told them I was a Zen monk, and that we Zen monks do this sort of thing all the time,” she said, “I know, it sounds stupid, but they believed me. It’s a useful excuse. It isn’t just the floating that we can do that sometimes freaks people out if they aren’t used to our world.”
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 +“I guess you must know what’s come after me, if you know about the dreams,” he said.
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 +“We don’t talk about it in public, as a rule. We have a base of operations. We invented a cover story for it, that it was the town’s new Zen Buddhist Centre. We had signs put up and everything. We invent new courses that we pretend to hold every week, and make the prices so extortionate that nobody ever turns up.”
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 +“I think I’ve seen that place before,” he said, looking around. There was nobody else in the park. It was mid-afternoon, a little later than he would usually wake up, and everyone was at work. He wasn’t sure who she was so worried would listen in on them.
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 +“We’ll go there once Elliot gets back. He’s taking his time. We already got everyone out of the building, so he’s only supposed to be distracting people. I wonder if someone’s giving him hassle or something,” she sighed and looked up at the clock tower again, then began humming a tune. He immediately recognised it as ‘Dream Dream’, the song that had made the town famous. Her singing was as clear and melodic as her voice. Suddenly, he remembered where he had seen her before.
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 +“You’re Claris Sinclair!” he snapped his fingers.
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 +“Shush! People will hear, and they’ll keep pestering me for my autograph!”
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 +“I just didn’t know you still lived in Twin Seeds!”
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 +“Why would I want to leave Twin Seeds? It’s an awesome town!”
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 +“I thought you went to Bellbridge to live the high life!”
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 +“I came back. It didn’t have anything Twin Seeds didn’t have, and the people weren’t as friendly, and everything cost twice as much,” she told him, “Besides, I only really went there on business. I’m not a superstar, I’m just a good singer. I don’t have a showbusiness personality or anything. I don’t belong in the big city with the bright lights. I always knew I’d come back here once I’d found what I was looking for.”
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 +“What you were looking for?”
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 +“More Zen Buddhist business,” she said, laughing at her own in-joke. Then she frowned, “Where is that man? Doesn’t he realise there’s still work to be done? He’ll blow our cover if he stays too long talking to people! If he’s talking about basketball again…”
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 + Suddenly, the silence was interrupted by loud screaming. Sprinting down the steps was Elliot, red-faced and drenched in sweat. Claris ran towards him, steadying him before he fell over. Just as she opened her mouth to ask him what the heck he thought he was doing, another noise made everyone fall dead silent. A loud, raucous ringing noise.
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 +“Crap, they found me!” he announced, “Run!”
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 +“They? How many?” demanded Claris.
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 +“I saw three come out of the rift. One’s chasing me. I never saw where the other two went,” he said.
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 +“Oh, great, they could be anywhere! We can’t just let them run around attacking people!” she said, “Elliot, you keep that one busy. We’re going to take it down before it rejoins its friends. I’ll get the dreamer to safety and alert the others.”
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 +“Why am I always the distraction?” he sighed.
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 +“Because you can take more damage than me,” she said.
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 +“I’ll take that as a compliment,” he said, before turning around to face the Egg Clock that was floating down the stairs at a worrying speed. It had paused at the top of the stairs for some reason – Cass guessed that it was confused that there were suddenly three weird people instead of one – but now it had decided to go with its earlier plan of attacking the biggest target, Elliot. The large man jumped back out of range and entered a martial arts stance, open palms extended. Cass watched as red spheres of crackling energy, hollow globes with star shapes in the middle of them, formed and grew in his palms. He flung his hands forwards in a thrusting motion and the energy spheres shot out towards the Clock. The machine gave out a garbled series of beeps and whirrs and was knocked backwards when the energy slammed into it.
 +
 + “Let’s get going!” said Claris, motioning for Cass to follow her. They left the park and ran down the road. They began to leave the shopping district, running down a winding road on a steep hill. On either side of them were high walls with rows of trees peeking out over them. Halfway down the hill, they stopped outside an iron gate set into a stone archway. Behind the gate was a set of steep, winding stone steps and a ramp leading through a well-tended terraced garden with both flowers and edible herbs. A sign next to the gate proclaimed it to be the Twin Seeds Zen Buddhist Centre. A bus shot past them at a speed that couldn’t possibly have been safe for a slope that steep as Claris lifted the bolt on the gate, ushered him in, then bolted the gate again behind them.
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 +When they reached the top of the steps, they were greeted by a young man who looked only a couple of years older than Cass, with feathery blonde hair. He had been sitting in meditation on a bench outside the building and had opened his eyes only when Claris approached him.
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 +“Will, we’ve got problems. Three Egg Clocks, one attacking Elliot. You and Helen go back him up. This is the dreamer,” she indicated to Cass, “I’m keeping him here for now.”
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 +“Are you going to be okay on your own? They might be following the dreamer. What if the other two come here?” he asked in a soft voice.
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 +“I’ll live. I don’t think I’ll get to stay still for long, in any case,” she said, “I don’t think the Egg Clocks are the only thing that’s been going on tonight.”
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clockwork8.txt · Last modified: 2012/11/12 20:48 by doan
 
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