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|The Nail (standard:science fiction, 3420 words)|
|Author: Katherine Kendrick||Added: Sep 21 2005||Views/Reads: 2037/1433||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|Our unusually innocent hero, Isos, has questions about his past. Madeliene, an unlikely friend, may be able to help him, but his religious scientist father is definitely hiding something big. . .|
The Nail By Katherine Kendrick Prologue The square was deserted and the full moon was high in the black sky. The streetlights cast a translucent light on the brushed stones, forming tiny shadows on their uneven surface. The air was chilled with night, and a stray cat stirred as it heard movement below. The feline opened an eye lazily to regard the figure as it drew the dark coat tightly around its shoulders. Quiet footsteps scurried along the side of the empty meeting place and towards the huge imposing building which loomed threateningly over it. The giant Gothic Cathedral was one of the finest examples in the world and was entered via two colossal doors, each adorned with the most intricate carvings of ancient stories. However, the person ignored these and ducked to the side, standing for a minute fiddling with something in the door. After a few minutes there was a click, and the little side door was released. The cat watched the figure go in and returned to his slumber. So he didn't see some minutes later, as the dark shape re- emerged and refastened the door, clutching a tiny box to its chest. The Girl The sun was just dropping over the horizon, illuminating the stained street in a strange half light. Bruised foreign fruits lay on display outside the grocers, on squares of cardboard, their smells intermingling with the fumes of the passing cars and producing a sweet but dirty smell. The man observed the shops and people as he walked, unlike the other inhabitants of the pavement, who walked as if blinkered, eyes straight ahead, but not even seeing that direction. Going about their business on autopilot; most of them would get to their destinations with no memory of the journey there. His eyes met a woman just standing, she didn't seem to be on her way anywhere and was just watching the passers-by, she seemed to be assessing them, with a critical look in her eye. As she saw him looking at her she raised her chin almost imperceptibly seeming to question him. As he didn't look away she tilted her head again, this time seeming to gesture for him to go over to her. He did so and stood beside her. They regarded each other for a moment and finally she spoke. ‘Did you need my help?' He wasn't sure what she meant so asked ‘What sort of help?' She raised her eyebrows and sighed. ‘Are you shy?' Confused now, he stuttered ‘Well, not usually. Do you need my help?' She looked surprised. 'Is that some sort of a joke?' ‘Of course not, why would I joke about helping?' ‘Look, my time doesn't come for free, if you want to hang around you're going to have to pay, otherwise piss off.' This time it was his turn to be surprised. He looked up the darkening street while formulating his answer. ‘You just offered help and now you want me to pay you for it?' A look of exasperation crossed her face, but was suddenly replaced with intrigue. ‘You really don't know what I am do you?' ‘A woman? A conditionally helpful woman?' She didn't miss the glint in his eye as he said this, but before she could reply he said, ‘OK, I'll pay you, how much do you want?' A souped-up car with a stomach vibratingly loud bass stereo system and monster exhaust roared past, so he only just caught what she said, but thought it was something like, ‘Depends what you want.' She didn't look receptive to the idea of repeating it, so he tested, ‘I just want to help you. You look like you could do with a talk.' ‘Oh Jesus, you're not one of the God squad are you? Going to help me to change my ways for a better life?' ‘A better life than what?' This time the exasperated look remained for longer. ‘Fine, I can listen to your cryptic conversation all night if the money's on the table. Do you want to stay here?' He thought about it for a minute. ‘No, let's go back to my house.' ‘Fine.' His living room was large, but the impression was otherwise, as it was filled with shelves so full of books and papers that many were now piled in every handy spare space and many inconvenient ones. Loose heaps rested precariously on tables, chairs and even the floor. There were paintings on the walls, but they didn't seem to have been carefully chosen, some even looking suspiciously like the generic images which come with the frame. There were no plants or ornaments, but the furniture was detailed and musty. ‘So do you live here alone?' she asked. It would figure, only a bachelor would live in such clutter. ‘No, I live with my father. But he is out for the evening. Come in, sit Click here to read the rest of this story (226 more lines)
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