I finished an intense round of edits last night, or rather at 3:30 this morning, then glanced at the clock and realized what day today is, and panicked! Because today is Friday, August 8th, the scheduled date for the return of poor Alexander Mitus Scott Beauford III’s story. So being completely brain-dead after hours spent tweaking, revising, cutting, rewriting, and revising again, what did I do? Sat down and pounded out Installment Five of When Destiny Comes Calling. I did it for you. Enjoy.
A high pitched scream brought Alexander reeling to his feet, pistols drawn. “Hullo? Miss Destiny, is that you?” He turned in a circle, scanning the dripping woods for any sign of the exasperating woman. He found it hard to believe that such a high pitched scream could have come from her throat. She just didn’t seem the type.
A second cry rang out, and this time Alexander dove into action. He darted off through the swamp in the direction of the cry, wet pistols held at the ready, wet cloak flapping about his legs, wet sword rattling in its sheath. He could only hope he wouldn’t be too late.
“Hold on! I’m coming!”
The third scream was even louder and shriller than the preceding ones, and it was followed by a roar so deep and fierce it could only come from an ogre. Alexander tugged his sword from its sheath and crashed out of the thickness of the swamp onto a dry, bare hummock of land. He halted, shocked at the sight before his eyes.
An ogre stood before him, massive as a boulder, with a head the size and apparent density of a sixteen pounder cannonball, and skin the hue of swamp mud and the texture of lichen. If lichen were armored, that is. The ogre stooped and poked at something on the ground, and the shrill scream rang out again. Alexander caught a glimpse of gray cloth and sprang into action.
Wielding his sword with a strength acquired through long hours of cannon dismantling and refurbishing, he swung at the back of the ogre’s knees. The blade sank deep into the monster’s skin, so deep that when the beast stumbled forward with a cry of rage, the sword tore free of Alexander’s hands.
Leaving him unarmed before an enraged ogre.
He gulped and tried to reconstruct what had just happened in his mind. It hadn’t turned out quite like he’d envisioned.
“Don’t just stand there! Move!” A voice he knew all too well rang in his ear.
Alexander prided himself on his ability to receive commands and completely ignore them. A habit he would have to break should he ever join the military, but one that proved remarkably useful in the meantime. But something told him that this was a command he should not ignore. He ducked behind a tree just before the ogre’s fist came smashing down where he had been standing.
Then Miss Destiny stepped into view, a pair of curved swords in her hands. She sprang into action, and Alexander’s mouth dropped open at the speed and grace with which she moved. The crippled ogre didn’t stand a chance. Within moments, the monster was reduced to a bleeding hulk sprawled across the ground.
Miss Destiny slipped her swords over her shoulders and they disappeared into thin air, then she bent down and tugged Alexander’s blade free from the ogre’s knees. He staggered out from the behind the tree, for once at a complete loss for the proper words.
Help decide what happens next! Leave your vote for your favorite story option in the comments!
Option 1: Alexander plucked his sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. All without saying a word. Miss Destiny patted down her hair then smoothed her skirt, though he didn’t know why she bothered since the hem was stained with ogre blood.
“It was a good effort,” she said. He grunted. “Really, it was. With a bit of training, some exercise, a little real world experience, I do believe you’ll do, Alexander.”
He crossed his arms over his chest and plopped down to the ground. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Destiny sighed and flounced away. “Well, all right then, though I did believe you wanted to end your family curse!”
Alexander watched her go without a shred of remorse. Insufferable woman. Was this the truth of the family curse? Cursed to failure? To be so completely ineffective as to be shown up in ogre fighting by a prim lady in a fitted gown who fought with vanishing swords?
Option 2: Alexander plucked his sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. He spoke without turning to face her. “You screamed.”
She nodded. “I did.” Sounded so pleased with herself too.
“It was really high.”
“I suppose it was at that.”
“My ears are still ringing.”
“Well, gracious me, Alexander. Do you want me to fetch a doctor for you, or do you think you can pull it together enough to carry on with the mission?”
He spun around then, no longer able to contain his frustration. “Well, hang it all, Miss Destiny, I don’t know! I haven’t the faintest clue what the mission supposedly is. I don’t know where I am. And you apparently can’t give an ounce of helpful information to save your life. So, the truth, if you please. Were you honestly in any danger back there, or were you simply endeavoring to devise a new way to torment and embarrass me for your own amusement?”
Her eyes twinkled. “It’s called a diversion. One would expect a young military enthusiast who’s done such extensive research would be able to recognize it.”
Option 3: Alexander plucked the sword from Miss Destiny’s hand, scrubbed it with a slimy swamp leaf, and sheathed it again. With a world weary sigh, he sank down onto an obliging rock near the ogre’s corpse. “What in the name of all things fierce and ferocious was that?”
Miss Destiny sighed. “It’s called an ogre. Gracious me, but I would have supposed you would know that by now. Come along, dear. You can come out now! It’s quite safe.”
Startled by the abrupt switch in tone and conversation, Alexander spun around. Miss Destiny stood on the far side of the hummock assisting a young woman out of the bushes. She was clad in a gray cloak over a starched black and white servant’s dress, and carried a bundle in her arms.
Alexander started to his feet. “Is that what I think it is?”
Miss Destiny shrugged. “Please note that I have made no claims about being able to decipher the workings of your mind.”
The bundle wriggled and a tiny fist shot out of the wrappings. From within the blanket, came a high-pitched squalling.
“It is . . . it’s a baby!”
Stop by next Friday to see your vote change the course of Alexander’s story! As always, if you enjoy the post, you are welcome to share it, please just link back to this blog.