10 Lordes – (day 10)

by

Angie Capozello

Virgil lit up a cigarette and stepped out onto the porch before Lares could start complaining. That was one of the backdraws to having both telepathy, and empathy. He knew exactly how much his bad habits bothered people.  Not that he ever let that stop him. Better to smoke, than worry about whether he would have to crawl around inside the mind of the cretin that was gutting celebs.  Dressed them up in costumes before he killed them. Gotta love LA, even the serial killers were drama queens. He took a drag off the cigarette and let the nicotine calm his jangling nerves.

Lares glared at him through the screen door. “Why do you do that Virgil? You know how bad they are for you.”

He shrugged. “Did a job in Russia a few years back. Had the entire psyche of one of their captured agents dumped into my head so I could take his place. Turns out he was a chain smoker. Never have managed to kick the habit.” He took another drag off the cigarette – a Lucky Strike, unfiltered.

He could feel the weight of her disapproval hit him like a gut-punch. She was doing it on purpose, to make her point.

“The medics at HQ can fix that.” she said.

He imagined a wall, with a polished mirror on the outside and threw the guilt trip right back at her, enjoying the wince as it hit.  “Just returning the love, baby. How about you focus on the mission?” He tapped another cigarette out of the pack, lit it off the butt of the first one and took a nice, long drag.

Lares scowled at him, and the ghost she had been working with passed straight through Virgil on its way outside.  It felt like splinters of ice being shoved into his brain.  He shuddered and finished his smoke with a single pull.  “Nice. Do we have an address?”

 “10 Lordes street. 21st floor. There’s a man on the balcony. We’d better hurry, Charlie was insistent.”

Charlie must have been the ghost. She always took the time to find out their names.  It was the sign of a good ghost talker, but it gave him the creeps.  It was bad enough she dragged them up from their rest, but to make them remember?  He waited while she oriented on the ghost, and let it lead them at a fast trot down the boulevard. 

The building was a typical office complex, full of people in drab suits leading drab little lives. Holiday musac drifted out onto the street every time someone opened the lobby door, and a bored receptionist played with the fake holly draped around her desk while talking on the phone. 

Lara linked her arm in his. “Okay, pretty boy. Time to turn on the charm.”

Virgil had been a child actor, and his career had gone as well as those things ever did. Quick rise, quick fall, a few stupid choices and then no-one remembered him.  At thirty five he was still movie star good looking – sun streaked hair, chiseled features and a million dollar smile when he cared to use it.  Add in the telepathy and everyone loved him, for as long as he wanted them to.  Except he was an empath, and he knew it was all fake.  At least the Agency had given him something real to do, something that made a difference. Even if he hated every minute of it.

Getting into the building and past security was easy. All he had to do was remember what it was like when the whole world loved him, and wanted to give him anything he asked for. Then he projected that feeling, and the guards opened doors, and the receptionist cast wicked looks his way.  He breezed past with Lares on his arm, as if they were walking down the red carpet. They got into one of the elevators and he convinced everyone to get out, and forget he was ever there. 

Lares hit the button for the top floor.  “You are one scary son of a bitch, Virgil.”

“Be glad I grew a conscience.”

“Amen to that.”

“You had better send your new best friend into the security cams. My little Jedi mind trick won’t do us much good if someone checks the tapes.”

“His name is Charlie, and he’s already drained the power from them.”

The elevator dinged open, and released them from the torture of listening to Manheim Steamroller’s yuletide bombast.  The area was empty, except for piles of lumber and carpenters tools.  Lares exchanged a look with him – it was the same as the other locations, renovations providing all the tools the killer needed to set his stage. 

Virgil scanned the area, but the only thoughts came from stressed and irritated office workers on the lower floors.  He kept his voice pitched low.  “Did Charlie mess up on the timeline? You know ghosts get premonitions up to a day in advance.”

Lares shook her head, and waved him through some plastic that had been hung to keep the sawdust from filtering into the elevators. 

He ducked his head as he passed through, and stepped into a winter wonderland.  Drop cloths had been tacked along the walls, painted to look like snow covered woods.  Shredded Styrofoam peanuts covered the floor to simulate more snow, and boxes were stacked and painted to look like castle walls. A small, raised wooden stage completed the scene.  “I wonder what play he’s re-enacting this time?”

“It was going to be Swan Lake. But I think Romeo and Juliet can be made to fit.” 

Virgil spun around to find himself face to face with a man that looked like every other scruffy, over-worked, underpaid PA he had ever seen on a movie set.  He had wild eyes that stared for miles, as if looking at a vision only he could see. 

“Your death will be beautiful. Touching. Every paper in the nation will immortalize your names, and my art will live on through you.”

Virgil tried to reach the man’s mind, and found nothing to hold onto.  Lares stepped up to the stage, a nail gun in her hands. She raised it up to point it at her temple.

“Bid me go into a new-made grave, and hide me with a dead man in his shroud,” she said, her voice distant and sad.

The murderer was another telepath.  No wonder he could pull off these stunts in broad daylight. Virgil grabbed the man by the front of his shirt and shook him, pitting his will against the madman. “Let her go. No one has to die here today.”

“We must all be willing to die for our art.”

The man smiled, and a wave of despair washed over Virgil. It was like someone had opened up the blackest corner of his soul and plunged him into the heart of it. He knew Romeo’s lines.  It was the last part he had played, before his own star had burn out. 

Lares whimpered, her whole body shaking as she fought to keep from pulling the trigger.  Virgil forced himself to move, shoving his opponent backwards.  “You can talk about despair all you want. But until you feel it, your art is nothing.” 

Virgil opened up the floodgates.  Isolation, rage, self loathing, desperate longing for approval, the whole ugly downward spiral that ruined his career and shattered his nerves played out all over again, in a focused burst of emotion.  The murderer staggered back, his mouth open in a silent scream.  He broke loose from Virgil, and ran to the far end of the room where a balcony looked out over the city. 

“Stop him!” Lares yelled.  “We need to question him!”

Virgil knew he could not catch the man before he took a flying leap over the low railing.  But he had twenty stories to fall before his mind took the final curtain.  Virgil latched on, finding the cracks that terror left in his psychic defenses.  Twenty stories, and the man still fought him. Fifteen, ten, five… one…

A shock sent him reeling back into his own body.  Lares stood in front of him, an empty thermos upended over his head. 

“I got it,” he said. “All of it. He had accomplices.” He was surprised at how rough he sounded.

 “You idiot. You stupid, moronic, jackass!”  Her voice had a hysterical edge to it, and she was pounding her fists on his chest as she yelled at him. “You would have died with him. If you ever, EVER make me summon your shade, I’ll kill you!”

He laughed at the irony of that, and held her hands to stop her from hitting him. “I didn’t know you cared.”  A ding came from the elevator, and a musac rendition of the twelve days filtered out.  He gave her a crooked smile. “I can just see the headlines, someone leaping at 10 Lordes.”

“Oh god. That is not funny.”  She leaned her forehead against his chest.

“It’s laugh or cry, baby. Either way, it’s better if you let it out.”  He stepped back, and the smile turned lopsided as he saw how bad his hands were shaking.  He dug out a cigarette, lit it up, and took a long drag. And for once, Lares didn’t complain.

Advertisements

14 Responses to “10 Lordes – (day 10)”

  1. Patti Larsen

    AWESOME! Loved this story, hope this is a small part of a bigger picture… feels like a series? Great work, nice pace, MORE! 🙂

    • Angie

      Thank you! 🙂

      The characters are from my first nanowrimo attempt – realized later that it needed to be entirely re-written from Virgil’s point of view. On my to-do list, but have a couple other projects to finish up first.

  2. Sam Adamson

    I love the voice in this story. Being a telepath sounds really interesting, but me being me (ie: awkward!) I want to know more about Charlie. More please! 😀

    • Angie

      Thanks Sam! I may do a few more shorts with them in the near future, but have to finish up Nox and Grimm first 🙂

  3. Tony Noland

    Terrific sci-fi noir – I love it!

    • Angie

      Thanks! Watching all those Bogart films paid off 😀

  4. Tweets that mention 10 Lordes – (day 10) « 12 Days 2010! -- Topsy.com

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by techtigger. techtigger said: Check out 10 Lordes, my story for #12days2010 http://digs.by/dJlBG5 also on day 10, @lil_monmon http://digs.by/g2p8hV #litchat #writechat […]

  5. lil_monmon

    SWEEET!!! I love the premise and the characters. Please do more with Virgil and Lares, I’m getting such a thrill from their dialogue and interaction. It’s rare these days that a story can suck me in like this one did. Excellent job, Angie!

    • techtigger

      thank you! It was fun to play in the ‘real’ world, after spending so much time writing fantasy. I will do more with them, I promise 🙂

  6. TEC4

    Lovely. Neat premise, really interesting characters. I, too, would love to read more about them.

    • techtigger

      Thanks! I thought it would be a neat idea, to have secret agents who use ghosts to do the spy work. How do you hide anything from spies you can’t see, right? Now all I have to do is find time to work on it *lol*

  7. Pj Kaiser

    This is terrific – left me wanting more also. Interesting characters and suspenseful writing 🙂

    • techtigger

      Thank you! i know, i keep saying that but I mean it! I really do appreciate all the comments, keeps me writing 🙂

  8. Cecilia Dominic

    What a cool concept! Loved the strategy and the risk at the end, especially since it brought out Lares’ feelings for him. Great take on the leaping lords. 🙂

    CD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s