Flaked Tuna (CA excerpt)

Ernestine could sense movement, she was with Poppa now she could feel her familiarity. The chamber was cold and dank, she saw the gyroscope on the shelf as Poppa scanned her room. Ernestine’s experience with Marta taught her how to keep her presence to a minimum, she didn’t want to infringe on Poppa anymore than she already had the first time they met.

Poppa was furious, she was shouting obscenities in French. Ernestine had made it her business to learn more of the language but hadn’t counted on actually having an opportunity to use it.

She was able to piece together the scene with the rude boys at the bottom of the stairwell from her rantings. Poppa’s thoughts however, were of the young man named Simon and her potential escape from the castle. Climbing the stairs to her chamber after exploring the horrible lower levels of the fortress she ran into her father, who warned her that she cannot be alone within the walls of the castle since they are under siege and people are on edge and looking for trouble.

Gui de Bayeux was a kind man who loved his daughter. Ernestine thought of her own father and understood the concern in these strange times. She also felt there was a considerable amount of preparation going on in which they didn’t want Poppa to get wind of. From her past experience with the independent Poppa she knew that she would be taken as a hostage and brought north and eventually be married to Rollo, whom she assumed was encamped outside the walls at this very minute.

Ernestine’s attempt to find the missing piece to the instrument was weighing on her mind. She vaguely recalled looking for it and the professor being so conciliatory toward her, then she was returned to the mind of Marta and her story continued.

It took her awhile to realize she could suggest things without becoming too invasive and started practicing on Marta when she was first drawn into her story, picking up a brush or getting food from the kitchen. Marta and Peter were almost ten years younger than her first introduction to them when she had fully exchanged with her not partially like now, they had only just met and it was quite sweet considering the times and who these people were.

Ernestine knew this Simon Poppa obsessed over was just a passing fancy and understood after a time that he was somehow not within the walls of the castle. Otherwise this may be far more of an intrusion that she ever cared to find out. Although her past exchanges were quite explicit.

Poppa occupied her time with looking at maps, she liked to travel, pulling out a box of items she had collected and going through them time after time was another activity she enjoyed. It seemed she had abundant nervous energy being trapped inside her gloriously furnished bed chamber. The servants were around quite often and Poppa would have to unbolt the door to let them in.

She would walk down to the Great Hall, escorted by the Man-At-Arms and join her parents for meals. Her mother the Countess was unknown in her research for Poppa’s lineage. She wanted to tell Poppa to ask her a question about that. However her gentle suggestions went unanswered. Poppa had no interest in finding out and unless Ernestine came right out and asked she would continue to get the silent treatment.

This night in her chamber Poppa was distraught, she contemplated the worst scenario of the coming days. She had to face head on, her attempts to thwart what was expected of the daughter of a count; her place in society, marriage, and her future. She thought it was all in her hands, she would marry for love, not convenience — when SHE was ready. Oh, no, there’s those thoughts of Simon again. Ernestine wished she could crawl out of her ear and wait for the romantic musings of a young girl to wain. Ernestine could tell her a thing or two.

As the maids puttered around her room, picking up discarded gowns that only stayed on the girl long enough to go down to meals, she noticed a little bit of attention being paid to the instrument that sat on one of the higher shelves. She took it down to dust it. Ernestine sent a shock wave to Poppa who crossed the room and took it from her telling her she would polish it up, but actually didn’t know why.

Sitting on her bed with the instrument resting in her lap Ernestine watch while Poppa looked it over and appreciated its beauty. From then on it was placed by her bedside, Ernestine realized Poppa didn’t have a clue about the true function of the ancient artifact.

Poppa didn’t give a second thought to the servant who had handled the gyroscope but Ernestine was suspicious about the sudden interest and she was beginning to wonder about the missing part she had looked for in her lucid moments in the hospital room, she gave Poppa a strong suggestion, she picked up the instrument but hesitated. Ernestine decided it was time to speak.

At the bottom of the instrument is a small panel, use your fingers to pull it out and hold it up so I can see it.

Just as Ernestine finished the sentence Poppa bolted up knocking the delicate instrument to the floor.

She put both hands to her head and shook it back and forth. As she awaited the results of the action hoping she was able to discharge whatever that was inside her head, someone tried to open the door.

The panel on the instrument had opened in the fall and Ernestine could clearly see the small gold chip that rested inside the depression alongside the timer apparatus.

Someone was after the chip, she was convinced. She suggested Poppa put it in her eye. She knew that was  where it ended up eventually, but now wasn’t sure if this was a recurring loop, had she originally instructed Poppa? She knew it worked before and it seemed like a good solution now.

As Poppa picked up the instrument Ernestine noticed that the creator’s name had been removed, Hypatia name wasn’t to be associated with the esoteric instrument.

Tne Man-At-Arms came to the door to announce the arrival of the enemy. The suspicious maid servant and one other came inside the room.

“Leave please, I won’t be needing you to assist me, Sir James, please leave I will bolt the door behind you and come right down.”

Ernestine watched as Poppa removed the boys clothes from the satchel she had conveniently packed and put them on. She recognized the clothing from the first time she “met” Poppa,

They made their way down to the Great Hall and stopped short of the dining area. They sat amongst the people who were watching the strangers intently.

Not being able to hear every word, Ernestine still saw the body language of the ruffians and the largest one in particular who seemed unwilling to leave his weapons at the door.

Poppa pounded her foot in anger when it seemed her father caved at the first suggestion of demands. The large hulk of a  man glared at her and pointed, Ernestine had a pang of nostalgia and Poppa got up and ran up the stairs.

Wanderings

I am intrigued by what my secondary research has turned up. In my attempt to write my first novel I ran across two concepts that formulated the basis for my two WIP stories. Peter the Great of Russia was the first surprise I encountered while researching my plans for my hero to go back to the home of his father. I was amazed by the exploration and the Westernization of the country that I knew very little about. The similarities to our own Western pioneers and native inhabitants was very interesting to learn about. The wild west atmosphere of the unsettled lands east of the Urals and the people who lived and died there is intriguing. The wars and the great leaders that ruled nations and made them great changed with the men at the head of the regime. The leaders that risked their own lives and went to war and motivated their men rivaled some of the men I have come to respect in the founding of our own country, George Washington in particular.

When a great man is leading a nation great things are accomplished when a lesser man rules the country fades and looses its former glory. The rush to name an heir hardly ever produced the level of the ruler who was considering the end of his rule. The replacements were usually substandard of course there are a few exceptions.

My subsequent stories do involve Peter the Great and his time in history, I find it fascinating and have a few more ideas that will be of interest to people like me who know little about the parallel experiences in the east.

When you feel passion for a subject it is easy to tell it in another way than has been previously done. The richness of the proud people and finding a way around the obstacles of unfamiliarity to get at the story is challenging and an education in itself.

My second story is more of a historical fiction which I took a “practice” which intrigued me and I explored it using creativity to imagine what life must have been like giving life to a story that very little is known about. My third book, started off similarly but it went way off into fantasy fiction/science fiction because of a tangent I followed.

My first story which is complete was a trial in learning something new every step of the way. I hope it finds the light of day.

Crossroads

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let’s start off by saying that. I have been in a blue funk all morning. My second book was not received well on my two day adventure to CT. I am not sure why. I was so excited for the reveal, but it was a horror story getting through it. On a scale of one to ten (ten being – go find another way to expel your creativity). It was a seven.

This is the story that I ripped apart and followed the scene / sequel formula. So … either I didn’t implement that correctly or my writing leaves something to be desired.  The result was a rather stark story with no humanity.

I am working out whether the suggestion “If it doesn’t enhance the scene take it out” literally means what it infers. Again, I am sharing this because if I’m experiencing this, others are as well. If I find a happy middle I will let you know. However, the fast and furious result of the scene / sequel format may be what readers are demanding today.

Like I said the “set back” is quite frustrating, considering how anxious I was to have it read by someone other than myself.

But just as everything in this universe works, I got a text from an old friend asking me to send her some pages to read. So I did, from my first novel, Woven in Time.

I do have some work to do on my second book, aside from the current dilemma,  which I would be happy to share after the second draft is ready. I think I am going to go in and fix the obvious errors like names morphing throughout the book and characters from other stories popping in. the usual stuff.

Back to the drawing board.

Away from the office

If you have been reading along you would know about the process I’ve been going through with my newest book. I had torn it apart and used the scene/sequel  suggestion.  I perhaps didn’t  apply it properly because my sister who is reading it says it is  a little stark, that there is so much room for embellishment to make it more personal.

I am not sure if I used the process too literally or that is what the fantasy fiction reader wants. It’s a little frustrating. Parts of the book are more “human”  than others.

Having read together, half the book I will see how the rest reads before I go back to more of a  natural style than the strict scene -goal, conflict, disaster, etc format requires.

One of the comments I received about my blog was about the theme. I used a WP theme (twenty-five ) and worked with that go get what you see now. I took the pic with photo booth and uploaded it. Black and white photos work best I think, I did view other sites for ideas.

I am working from my sisters kitchen table on the iPad which is not my friend. I have so many typos and the screen is so small, but I made a commitment to blog or write daily — usually both  — so I forge on.

I miss the writing that comes when a story is burgeoning forth. I’m working on an idea for another story. I do have a WIP, my third book needs to double its size but as I mentioned in an earlier post it has to come somewhere from the inside of the story. I will get there as soon as I figure this one out. It really is quite a process.

I’m also hopeful that when I get back to the office tonight and check my e-mail that there will be some news on the nine queries and contests I entered in the last three months.

One thing I did get out of this first read experience is that I am not going to touch my first book until I resolve my temporary set back with this one. If anyone reading this is in a similar process as me, I hope it is encouraging to see the set backs and strides that are to be expected. Again I mentioned in an earlier blog some succesfull writers (published) had eighty query rejections and sometimes more than four years of persistence to their credit, its the same story with edits and belief that it is a great story. That puts everything into perspective. In other words “Don’t quit your day job” was the suggestion most often heard. However writing a book is a full- time job in itself.

Now starts the work

As I found out with my first novel, the hard part is when the story is finished. That is when the hard work begins. You must be actively involved in marketing your book. I don’t have much experience in that area yet, but I intend to learn and tell you all about it. Listening to others it can take years and many queries to grab the attention of someone who will read your story.

“If I can only get them to read it,” I am sure is the comment foremost on every writer’s mind. My second book is complete at 45,000 words and I will either go the query route or check out the self-publishing as I mentioned before. I finally have hard copy, not a first draft because I have gone through and edited, and hopefully my skill as a writer has improved. I have headed off the incomplete sentence fragments and run on sentences of my first draft.

Thanks for the great comments, I hope someone is getting some benefit from my experience. At this stage there is a lot of information archived the earlier blogs are documenting my earlier thoughts and process of writing a story and getting it published.

I believe I had successfully written a good query letter, log line and synopsis for my first novel, now I have to do the same for my latest story. Now I will be able to talk about juggling two stories at the same time, trying to get them both published.

Burning the midnight oil

It is actually midnight. I have been working on my third book, which is now my second book because it was in worse shape than my original second book. So I tore it apart. The process helped me to see where the problem was. It went from about 20,000 words to 43,000 words and counting.

I am going to Catherine’s in CT to read both books actually. Mainly to concentrate on the nearly finished one. She has seen nothing of the story so I hope to get a first-time reader reaction. I am very excited. My third book, which I started blogging on the site is about half way done. I thought it might be a short story but I think it needs to be a book. I have a beginning a middle and an end but I need to weave something into it that has eluded me so far.

My problem is that I don’t want to loose the objective of the reason I wrote it in the first place. It needs to remain simple and a little introspective. That at least is what I am saying today.

I am still patiently waiting to hear from the partial MS submission I sent in a few weeks ago (seems like longer). I have been writing solid for three days now. Its impossible to tear myself away, it is a great experience and I am planning to self-publish an on-demand book, unless I hear something from the agent ahead of time.

I am not one to sit patiently. I will be starting another story soon, I get the inspiration from my research and of course there is always another book that can be pulled out of one of the three I am working on.

I have quite a wish list of books to read, as well as my daily blogging efforts and some marathon weekends of writing. As soon as I learn something new, I will pass along the information. Thanks for reading.

Curious Allure (excerpt siege war)

I have been busy rewriting my third book. I started to learn about the Scene / Sequel format and thought it would be a good idea to show how I’ve been using it to help my story. An analysis of any kind actually will help with a saggy middle and end that won’t follow. I blogged a few scenes as I normally would and will see how it works into the Scene / Sequel format.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

As both men walked down the road toward Demont they could hear the sounds of the assault that had just begun on the castle. They both started to run, the adrenaline was pumping, the fear that the enemy would escape the assault was quelled.

As they could see the orange glow over the horizon a heavy mist overcame them and the visibility was poor. They could hear the artillery and the sound of brick and mortar toppling to the earth. Of course there would be return fire as well, but how well could they have prepared this was a surprise assault.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

The two men hardly spoke, Repo was trying to figure out how to get his equipment back from the helmet he had worn previous to its actual owner taking command of himself.

As the two men approached the front line they were met by Bleda who seemed quite upset at his unexplained absence. Atilla hardly flinched at the suggestion and went right on screaming orders and demanded some more appropriate clothing for his friend.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

Bleda was still cautious that some miscalculation or suspicion of his actual identity could mean instant death. This was the real Atilla and the actual Repo before him.

Stev wasn’t 100% sure but he believed his brother sent him to man the siege tower that seemed to be idle, that would get him out of the way for him to resume command after Bleda had been doing very well without him. He would do his best to soften the blows coming from his end.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

Repo wanted the same results as Atilla, but for different reasons. Atilla’s interests were actually Southern Gaul and Italy, he was beginning to wonder why his forces were wasting their time in this forsaken country. He would wait and see.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

He was where he needed to be but Repo was still at a disadvantage not knowing the language, he could only stand by and watch as the cannons battered the castle walls.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

With not much else to do Indico decided to interrogate the prisoner that looked remarkably like the Hun ruler. She knew the demeanor of the man had changed and no longer suspected that it was Repo looking out of those deep brown eyes at her. Flex had been doing some calculating on his own. How Repo was able to transfer from one person to another in the same cycle.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

Indico brought the prisoner some food and water. He said his name was Ruga and someone had contacted him to be at the castle and wait for instructions.

Indico let Flex do all the talking, she understood nothing of what was said.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

You weren’t here when we visited you last. Where were you? Ruga seemed confused, I was outside, but I don’t know how. I was in battle gear, mounted on a horse. Then suddenly I was back here.

“Do you have any family here?”

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

“My parents the Lord and Lady Marpain. They aren’t my real parents, I was adopted when I was four. I was bartered when my real parents couldn’t pay their taxes, quite a story — my life.

Flex could tell the sincerity in which this man spoke, his suspicions however, didn’t have to be passed on to this man of humble beginnings. He should be freed though, he shouldn’t die here in this prison.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

The hits to the outer wall shook the entire castle. Flex got Indico to go up to the battlements to let him take a look.

One end of the siege wall was out shooting the other end three to one, that must be where Stev is he considered. He could see the two figures giving orders at the forefront. He recognized Repo right away.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

Okay, Indico I’ve seen enough.

We have to create a diversion, something to draw the Huns away, there is no reason for them to be here.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

Retiring to her chamber amidst the constant barrage she saw a lone figure in the corner of her room. At first she was startled, then she realized it was Rawley. She ran over to him and hugged him, I feared you were dead, I was sent on a mission and wasn’t able to scale your walls. How did you ever get in here. I had a little help from my friend Merlin, he says hello.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

We were just asking for a miracle. We need someone to draw the Huns away. They don’t want to be here as much as we don’t want them here. Is there something Merlin can do?

“If there is anything to be done, he can do it.” Rawley assured.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

“We need to have a message sent to Atilla, that the Romans are in Metz or Rome is sending troops, something to draw them off. Repo wants them here, not the Huns.”

Rawley kissed Indico, and Flex took it like a man, with no Petra on the other side, it wasn’t quite the same. She watched him repel down the side of the Castle and disappear into the night.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

After Merlin was able to send a message, Atilla gave Repo one day to get what he wanted because they were leaving, they believed the Romans were fleeing Metz heading to Rome. That appealed very much to him. They had already started to dismantle some the the equipment to get it rolling.

SCENE goal conflict disaster

Repo only had hours to get the instrument and the mysterious metal it held inside. Then he remembered the lost twin. He wondered what kind of effect that would have on the Hun rulers if they knew the Celts were holding their brother prisoner, inside their castle. The only problem was how to communicate that to them.

With Stev and Atilla before him Repo tried to express his concern for the brother they knew nothing about. Atilla stood emotionless as did Bleda, but behind the stoic face an element of understanding went undetected. Stev could pass that information on but he know Repo was trying his best to use Atilla for his own purposes.

SEQUEL reaction dilemma decision

Bleda wanted to know if Repo knew their brother was inside, why didn’t he warn them before the weapons were turned on them?

He wasn’t going to help him, he was going to watch him squirm.

Curious Allure (FT excerpt Old North)

The Hunnic attack on Metz came in the early morning hours of the next day. The city had one full day to prepare for the attack and remove the citizens who couldn’t stand and fight.

Because of Petra’s information,  Arnold decided to keep Stev where he was. He could be of some help and the odds of Stev being killed by his brother were not likely to happen when Repo had other — more important things on his mind, he wasn’t the one who wants Bleda dead.

Repo’s anger matched Atilla’s when he found out that they had figured out his well planned surprise. He needed the girl and the instrument containing the celestial component.

He concluded that there was no use tracking her down in the usual places, they all had a forewarning and he must use his mind to outwit them.

“Line them up.” he ordered his men.

The few soldiers were lined up and questioned, then murdered one by one.

Speaking to a group of fifty captives he announced. “I will continue this method of interrogation until someone tells me where the wizard Merlin, and the girl Indico have gone.”

The needless slaughter of the captured soldiers continued, the town was now completely overcome. The number of captives doubled then tripled. Twenty more were slaughtered on the spot. A voice was heard from the crowd of one hundred men.

“North, they are headed north.” the man was dragged out in front for all the captives to see.

“Bring him to the Emperor, and kill them both.”

The crowd reacted and tried to run as they were all mowed down by the arrows released from the Huns that raced back and forth on their horses.

He stopped the rampage they waged on the city. “Mount up, we ride north,” Repo ordered.

The four hundred man army had traveled about fifteen miles and set up camp for the night. The scouts returned with the horror story from the Huns attack on Metz.

“They are in pursuit, and moving at a rapid pace, they will soon be upon us. They will attack our rear flank and pick us off one by one unless we stand to defend ourselves.”

“The King must continue on ahead with Merlin and the woman.” Rawley announced.

Knowing the King, Durmot argued that the King would never agree to such a thing.

“You may look like the King but you are not the King!” an angry Flex argued. “You don’t have his military mind, you will be killed and then the real King would have no home to return to.”

Flex made sense but it was a tough call.

Merlin suggested a charm that could way lay the enemy, it will make them think we are in full capacity and halt their forward drive.

“What would that do? They would only be confused for a few moments then continue on and catch us in the same fashion we discussed earlier.” Rawley argued.

“How far will they follow us?” Indico asked.

Flex already knew the answer. All the way to hell!

“I will stay behind.” Merlin decided. “Take the King, the woman and two hundred men and make haste, we will do our best to stop them.”

The army split and the King continued north to Votadin with his contingent.

“We will only have a short time to fortify the castle, send eight of your fastest riders ahead to warn them of the impending attack and stock up for a siege.” Dumont addressed his Knight.

Flex tried to calm Indico who had left Rawley behind without so much as a goodbye. “He will be following along behind us, Indico.”

“If he is still alive.” she replied.

The King grasped the instrument for good measure, it was strapped on to his arm and bound across his chest. He thought about the one pressing issue that he presumed everyone was thinking, how would his fortress stand up to the Hunnic onslaught when the Century Old Fortress at Merk fell so quickly?

Merlin disappeared into the trees that lined the road leading from Gaul to Brittania. The Celtic army was braced for battle and Merlin was working his magic.

The approaching enemy army knew they were close, but Repo thought they should have reached them by now. He grew suspicious over the changing weather, the rain was causing wafting low ground cover and visibility was poor.

The initial attack came from the sides, the cross bows at first made an impact, the Hunnic frontal attack was not suited for these conditions, it was not an open plain, but the advancing horde continued lobbing arrows and hitting their mark.

The second wave of the Celtic attack followed along behind the Huns led by Repo, losing men left and right.

Stev had avoided the scene back in Gaul and was riding in the center of the pack that managed to get through Merlin’s creative warfare. He was resolved to kill Repo, after the scene back in Metz there was no reason why he should be left to continue his murderous campaign.

Before the massacre Stev didn’t think he had it in him to murder anyone, but Repo had to be stopped. Stev still had the element of surprise on his side. He knew once he made his move the rest of the Huns would be right there to kill him as well.

Merlin and the remaining host followed along behind the Huns using hit and run tactics to thin out their numbers. Attacking and retreating with Merlin’s mist camouflaging their effective method.

Stev detected the actions at the rear of the guard. He thought it was strange that the decimated Metz fortress would be able to send out a force of men to follow them. He had an idea that it might be the King they were now pursuing, who had his men double back and attack from the rear. He slowed his pace trying not to bring suspicion on himself, when he saw the chance he veered off into the trees and turned back to see what was coming up behind the Hunnic warriors.

While he waited to see the enemy in action attacking the rear of his own army, a voice rang out.

“You must be Stev.”

He turned to see the young man that history had never forgotten. “Merlin?”

Back to Basics

So, now I have one novel partial MS sent to an agent, in a holding pattern and two other books — not complete because I am re-writing and editing them starting with my third book. Which veering off- track. My first novel, was complete without any second thoughts as to where it was going or how it should end. No advance plan for genre, characters or plot.

It was a complete panser strike, yes armored artillery strike . My second book was blogged and was a complete happy ending. I like the story, and the characters but it is too short — by a lot. I am in the process of adding to it. I have a beginning, a middle and an end. I have gone from 18,000 words to 30,000 words. I am exploring the reasons I wanted to write the story in the first place and I feel there is much more there.

My third story had a great beginning, the middle started to drag leaving no confidence for the ending. It was going to be a short story but I wasn’t completely in love with it. I did quite a bit of research. If you’ve been keeping up with my blog, you know that I attended a conference and have been trying to hone my skill. Blogging every day, it helps if you publish your work instead of leaving it in draft status, as I just did the other day.

Structure, outline, plot graph, scene, and sequel, etc. were not familiar terms when I sat to write Woven In Time, but I have been, ever so slowly, working my way in that direction.

I tore my third book apart, breaking it down, not sure where I was going but the process gave me a middle and end to what I had originally called Flaked Tuna. I had started a fourth book called Curious Allure by blogging about 800 words a day. There were common threads between the two stories so I combined them and I think I am on to something.

Today I went clothes shopping with my daughter for school and I literally had to tear myself away — from writing. That is the kind of emotion I had with my first and second books. Because of the tear down, edit frenzy I put on my wavering story, it is now in competition for the positive feelings I experienced with  my first two books — I wasn’t sure if it was possible. This all remains to be seen of course, — getting them published and sold will be the determining factor.

Now I have to consider whether my first novel needs to be taken back to the drawing board — so to speak. I am not going to go there until this third attempt is finished.

Do you know what I find really hard? Getting someone to read the book. So far only two people have read my first book and they are family members. It is such a personal effort to sit down and read a book. As a rule people won’t read books that don’t fall into their genre. It is a commitment to sit and read. An audio book can be listened to while driving, sleeping or doing the dishes. A book has to be read at a specific time, place or mood. It has to be worth their while and depending on how fast you read it can take up to a week of dedicated reading, when all else in your life is stalled.

My first query went out on May 28, 2015 and I haven’t heard anything from that agent. My most recent query went out on August 5, 2015 and I haven’t heard anything from that agent. My experience at the WDC15 was positive, but I am still waiting for a yes or no answer.

September 1, I plan to send out more queries, three months with no response from an unsolicited query letter I am told, — is a no. The queries have changed and will change again. It is a long process and I am using the time to create more works which I hope I will love as much as I did the first one.

I started this blog to help people like me, who are walking this path for the first time and I am leaving bread crumbs along the way.

Curious Allure (FTMIX excerpt)

Arnold arrived with Flex in tow only to find the office empty. It looked as though some things were picked up from the last time Arnold had seen the destruction left by Ned Delahunt or Stev Aungrin who ever had combed the office for the device.

“Any ideas Flex?”

You are going to have to stop talking to me like that, people will talk. Flex warned him.

“How else am I supposed to tell you what I am thinking?”

Just think, like I am doing with you  right now.

Alright then, I’m going to call the professor and hope we got our time mixed up although I’m sure we agreed to meet here at 2 pm.

Arnold called the professor’s cell and left a message. He checked with the secretary but she hadn’t seen the professor. She did report that Stev had been in his office earlier.

Alex headed to the English Department looking for Stev. He saw him in the hallway and  Flex gave a warning of caution.

“Stev, I’m looking for the professor, have you seen him?”

Stev looked very calm but when he went to open his door with the keys he was obviously nervous.

“Thanks for your help at the hospital, man.”

When the reaction was one of confusion, Arnold knew that this was the true Stev Angrin. They went inside his office. There was professor Roberts bruised and bloodied but sitting up and holding a compress to his head.

“Professor, what happened.” Stev asked concerned.

“Arnold, I’m glad you found me. They came back to my office that Delahunt character and one other guy I hadn’t seen before.

Ask him if he heard any names. Flex suggested.

Arnold asked but the professor couldn’t recall.

“Where they looking for the instrument?” Arnold inquired.

“No, they knew it wasn’t here they were looking for me, Delahunt thought I was someone else, he was calling me Dermot, and started pounding on me for getting in the way.

Arnold heard Flex’s instructions.

“Stev where were you when the minion did the particle swap with you?”

“What do you mean? I didn’t go anywhere.”

“So you remember nothing from Thursday, all day?”

“It was definitely him at the hospital,” the professor swore.

“We’ve got to get you checked out professor, that is a nasty cut on your head.”

“Stev, why did you come back to your office?”

“Oh, to bring the professor to the … ” he pulled out a piece of paper with an address on it — “Oh yes, the Oaks Hotel.”

“Your friends won’t mind if we stop at the Medical Center first?

“Oh, no Stev replied.”

“Better yet, you stay here we’ll take care of the rest.”

The Emergency room was crowded and while they waited they discussed what was going on with Stev.

“Stev must be a pawn being used by Delahunt under hypnosis and not the same deal you and I have going on. They needed someone close to you to keep an eye on you. Not everyone can swap particles with their former selves.”

“Will he be alright?” the professor asked just as he was wheeled away for a CAT scan of his head.

Arnold recognized Ned Delahunt as he entered the ER. He signaled Flex. Now what?

Go over and introduce yourself.

You have got to be kidding.

I need to know if that is Delahunt or Repo.

Arnold walked over and nudged Ned. Before he knew it he was fighting in the parking lot, Arnold’s size and physical strength made it easy for Flex to do some serious damage and analysis of this person who was at the forefront of all their problems.

The professor was admitted for overnight observation, probably because he was a staff member and they took a personal interest in his case. He was sitting in the private room when Arnold found him.

“They have put security outside your door and I had the opportunity to get back at Delahunt for all the trouble he caused Ernestine.”

“You saw him?”

“Yes, I think he was here to see you, but he won’t be seeing anyone for some time now. I am glad for the security, what’s the prognosis?”

“Slight concussion, huge headache.”

“Flex is with me.”

“Oh, hi Flex.”

“He says hello.”

“Okay so what was on Delahunt’s mind?”