Valentines dance, p.1
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       Valentine's Dance, p.1

           Anushka Haakonson
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Valentine's Dance
Valentine's Dance

  By Anushka Haakonson

  Copyright 2006/2013 Anushka Haakonson/Learning To Surf Publishing


  Bricks and Bows

  Not A Parka Crowd


  Coming Soon

  Bricks and Bows

  Scotland: 2000AD (or thereabouts)

  The headlights looked dim in the downpour. They followed the road travelling way too fast for visibility. The car skidded to a stop, turning 90º so that the headlights fell between the decaying gateposts. Two men got out of the Lamborghini Diablo, oblivious to the rain. The older man wore a black suede coat, which was doing a remarkable job of keeping him dry. His jet-black hair, however, was drenched in seconds. The younger man wore a nondescript parka of some woody colour with the hood up. His glasses were steaming over at the edges with the moisture. By sticking a finger under each cheek and dragging it across the glass, he wiped off the worst of the moisture.

  "Come on, Gilbert," said the older man dragging what looked like a violin case out of the car.

  Gilbert hauled his backpack out and followed David Liffey up the overgrown broken drive. The two men strode confidently towards the manor's looming entrance watched by two rat-like eyes peeping through a crack in the slightly open door. They watched as David suddenly stopped, turned to Gilbert and pointed off to the left. Gilbert nodded, strode through the thicket, and returned a few seconds later with a thin metal object in his hand. The twosome continued up the drive. Silently, the door shut.

  "We'll be expected," commented David in the soft tones of the Highlander as they started up the steep steps which lead to the imposing door.

  Gilbert grinned wryly. He had already guessed as much.

  The door swung open seconds before they reached knocking distance. David and Gilbert strode through unhesitatingly onto the dusty, frayed carpet. The door creaked shut behind them. Ignoring the haunted house dramatics, the two proceeded towards the only source of illumination at the far end of the hall.

  The room would have been wonderfully grand if it were not for the dust and wear. An old woman sat in a rocking chair with a cat on her lap. Both appeared to be sleeping. David and Gilbert surveyed the scene professionally. Gilbert walked over to the ashen fireplace. It was stone cold and damp. He caught David's eye from across the room. David nodded. It was time to open the violin case. He took out a beautifully polished violin and held it in one hand with the bow. With his other hand he carefully shut the lid and picked up the case. Gilbert had also opened his backpack. He quickly found the length of rope he required. This he attached to the rusty bow he had taken off the iron Cupid statue in the garden. Letting the tied arrow drop from his grip, Gilbert allowed the arrow to point the way forward. It swung around once to point at the fireplace. David stepped prudently aside as Gilbert swung the arrow at the fireplace. This was going to be one Valentine's Day to remember.

  Gilbert's first try knocked a crumbly brick out, revealing a little light in a space beyond. The crash of the brick might as well have been an alarm clock. The old woman and the cat awoke at once. The cat jumped at Gilbert, claws stretched for his face. Gilbert ducked aside, allowing the cat to sail into the space beyond the fireplace. Then he quickly sidestepped as the old woman, screaming and spitting with claws out like the cat, tripped over the well swung violin case to land dazed on the floor. Gilbert looked from the old woman to David who shrugged and smiled and walked to the fireplace, carefully stepping over the old woman who was just finding out that she was stuck to the floor. David put a foot to a brick three down from the gap and shoved. The back of the fireplace swung open. David, violin and case in either hand, stepped through. Gilbert took a last look around the room, hefted his backpack with the arrow sticking out jauntily, and followed David, avoiding the unconscious cat.

  Not A Parka Crowd

  They walked down a well-lit corridor strewn with discarded water bottles and sweetie wrappers. The persistent bass of dance music thumped down towards them. David sighed. He did not like modern dance music. It was sooo boring. Gilbert did not like the music either. It was the type of music his younger brother and sister loved to blast back home, and the cause of some of the most heated sibling fights, Gilbert being more a fan of indie rock. The hangover he had been successfully ignoring was reasserting itself. Gilbert glowered at the end of the corridor – the source of the music.

  "Head hurting you?" asked David without turning around to look at Gilbert.

  But Gilbert knew the amused smile was there. He did not bother to reply.

  Gilbert followed David through the vibrating swing doors. It was like walking into a wall of sound, splashed with a heaving mass that resolved itself into dancing bodies. Gilbert opened and closed his mouth and swallowed, trying to relieve the pressure in his ears. This was worse than flying! David indicated that he would go off to the left whilst Gilbert should head off to the right. Then David set the violin case down, walked off confidently, and was immediately swallowed up by the throng.

  Gilbert began weaving though the edge of the crowd. He was extremely conscious of standing out like a sore thumb. This was not a parka crowd, nor did anyone have backpacks with rusty arrows sticking out of them. And it was sweltering. Gilbert pushed his hair back and took a moment to take off his parka, tying it around his waist. Then he shouldered his pack again, after removing the arrow so as to carry it in his hand. He ignored the rat-like eyes he knew were watching him. The eyes belonged to a face that was pale and puffy, sitting above a broad shapeless nose and a thin slash of a mouth. The face was attached to enormous shoulders (note lack of neck), which in turn rested on a torso that could have been the body double for Conan the Barbarian – the legs too. Gilbert calmly wiped his smudgy glasses with the damp end of his t-shirt before proceeding on his course. The rat-like eyes stayed clamped to the back of his neck. 'Ah, well,' thought Gilbert absentmindedly smiling at a pretty girl who was staring at him. She smiled back revealing very pointed, sharp teeth. Having made his way halfway down the room, he leant against the thudding, cool wall, waiting for David, half turned so that he could observe both the now visible stage and Rat-eyes standing slightly behind, at the edge of his peripheral vision.


  David did not keep Gilbert waiting long. The music suddenly stopped leaving a very confused DJ searching for unplugged cables on his desk. Then David was up on stage smiling shyly at the booing crowd. Giving a slight bow, he put the violin under his chin and drew the bow across. A haunting strain filled the air stilling the angry crowd. David played a slow entrancing melody. The crowd stood transfixed. But not Gilbert.

  Gilbert had, at the first appearance of David on stage, quickly thrown the arrow up towards the middle of the roof. It was caught high up in the girders. Rat-eyes charged him then. He missed Gilbert by a couple of seconds for Gilbert had swung himself out and above the entranced crowd to hang suspended over the middle of the room. Rat-eyes snarled, but was soon unable to ignore the music. He too joined the entranced. 'So much for trance music,' thought Gilbert with a grin swinging out in a wide arc, kicking out to increase his momentum and swing. He aimed to reach the little platform high above the stage where the plastic cupid was held.

  David played on. The crowd remained statue-like. Gilbert used the heels of his boots to lever himself onto the girder's edge to gain the platform. The cupid smiled insipidly at him but its eyes pleaded. The haunting melody seamlessly worked itself into a lively jig. The crowd began to dance in inhuman precision. Gilbert worked fast. He unhooked the arrow from the rafters and hauled it in. Then he removed the plastic arrow from the pleading cupid, and stuck the rusty one in its place. He surveyed the statue critically, took off his parka and tied it around t
he statue's portly waist. The statue conveyed relief. Now all Gilbert had to do was wait for the arrow's magic to work. It did not take long.

  In just a few seconds, the plastic statue began to change texture. First into pale seeming fluid then into luminous flesh. The rust on the arrow began to flake off, revealing gold (or electrum, Gilbert suspected). In a little over a minute, as David began to go into another jig, the cupid was able to talk.

  "Thanks mate. I'd thought I'd never make it out of this scrape." His voice was deeper and huskier than expected, contrasting oddly with the Cupid's bow mouth.

  Gilbert nodded, "We'd best get out of here."

  "Right you are," agreed the cupid, "Do we fly?"

  Gilbert opened his mouth to answer, but was distracted by a menacing hiss. Rat-eyes had proved more resistant to David's music than all the other vampires.

  The cupid ran to hide behind Gilbert. He was only a deputy of the God of Love! He was not paid to put up with all this unpleasantness, least of all being kidnapped by a bunch of vampires who needed the Allure Potion (in which all cupid arrows are dipped) to continue their grocery shopping that Valentine's Day. Rat-eyes hauled his bulk onto the platform grinning evilly. Gilbert acted quickly. He threw a double inebriating spell using the little known fact that vampires do not hold their liquor very well – something to do with blood/alcohol levels. And Rat-eyes proved an excellent proof of the theory. He belched when the spell hit him, grinned woozily, and staggered unsteadily diagonally backwards. Then he hiccupped softly before suddenly keeling backwards off the platform to hit the ground with a massive thump. Silence. Every eye turned to Rat-eyes (now beginning to loudly snore), then moved up to find Gilbert, with the trembling cupid hanging onto his t-shirt, hastily describing a transportation circle on the platform. David was doing the same below. A long furious hiss grew in the huge space, as the whole crowd began to levitate. Gilbert grabbed the cupid's pudgy arm and jumped into the transportation circle, leaving the angry, snarling crowd of vampires behind.

  Gilbert landed gracefully, only to find himself immediately knocked to the ground, winded and half-crushed by the overweight cupid. Fleetingly, he wondered how this particular cupid managed to fly. The deputy god got up clumsily, squishing half of Gilbert's fingers under a heavy foot. Gilbert, with a groan, picked himself up painfully. They had landed a few miles from the vampire house."Right then. Thanks mate," said the cupid vanishing before Gilbert could get his breath back and request his parka. The rain was still pouring down. A pair of headlights was rapidly approaching.

  The Lamborghini pulled to a graceful stop at Gilbert's feet. He slid in, sopping wet, to squeak down into the leather seat with a sigh. David watched him in amusement then put the car into gear and took off saying with a straight face, "Your are a mug for a soppy story, aren't you?"

  Gilbert did not trust himself to reply.

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