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.

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