Johan11

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iain_a_wilson

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Part 13

001.png

"...to my CROCODILES!"

Brigadier Menzies-Campbell laughed madly, and Thomas Van Anders' expression jumped from that of "just-holding-it-together-indifference" (1) to "dawning-realisation-of-utter-terror" (2) as the Brigadier yanked the massive lever at his side and the floor beneath Thomas flipped open, dropping the Boer into the abyss below. As he fell - his arms windmilling madly - the trapdoor slammed shut above him and he was plunged into complete and utter darkness just as he hit the water.

Much to his embarrassment he screamed loudly and shrilly (3) and started trying to swim to safety. He wasn't quite sure in which direction it lay, but his mind was operating in a fairly primal "fight or flight" mode at the moment, and was currently equating "safety" as being "anywhere other than ground zero". Suddenly a candle flared in front of him and he screamed again.

Shrilly.

The figure bearing the light grimaced.

"Geez mate! Any louder and the glass on this lamp would have shattered! The screaming is good though - makes him upstairs think you're being torn apart by his bloodthirsty pets. Best get over here though - if he hears too much noise he occasionally opens the trap door to try and catch a glimpse of the carnage. Of course, it's too dark for him to make anything out too clearly, but better safe than sorry, eh?"

Gradually the mist of blind panic lifted from Thomas' eyes. He blinked twice and could make out a British soldier holding an oil lamp in front of him. His brow furrowed.

"Guh?"

"I'll explain in a minute - just get over here."

"You must be really tall."

This remark, naturally, caught the soldier off guard and he shook his head as if to help make sense of it.

"I'm sorry?"

"To be standing in the water. You must be really tall."

"Have you tried putting your feet on the ground?"

A look of embarrassed recognition flashed behind Thomas' eyes and he gingerly lowered his feet until they touched the rocky floor of the pool.

"Ah."

"Yeah - it's deep enough that you don't splatter yourself on the cave floor when you land, but not deep enough to drown you."

"Ah."

"Don't worry, loads of people assume they're in some kind of lake. It's quite common. Because you land on your back, your mind fools your body into thinking you're in deep water. It's quite clever really."

"Ah."

"Look - follow me, will you? Let's get somewhere safer."

A look of realization, dancing alongside its long-time partner "abject terror" waltzed back onto Thomas' face.

"Crocodiles?"

The soldier held up his hand.

"No, look, no need to..."

"Crocodiles!"

"Yes. No. Look, follow me and..."

"CROCODILES!"

The soldier waved his hands.

"Keep your voice down - and come this way!"

"CROC-O-DILES!"

With a roll of his eyes the soldier lent in and punched Thomas on the side of the head as kindly as he could manage (4). The Boer's knees gave way and he collapsed in a heap. Sighing, the soldier picked him up, slung him over his shoulder and splashed his way towards a nearby cave.

~~~​

Thomas awoke with to an evil thumping in the side of his head that threatened to completely overwhelm him (5). He forced his leaden eyelids open before squeezing them shut again as the brightness of his new surroundings threatened to sear his eyes from his head (6). Thomas counted to five, then opened one eye. The source of his optic pain became immediately apparent, for there was a fire blazing in the centre of the cavern and it was voraciously devouring the huge pile of firewood on top of which it crackled merrily (7). Satisfied that he wasn't going to go blind (8), he cautiously opened the second eye and pulled himself upright. As the world swam into nausea-inducing focus he became aware of the fact that he wasn't alone. Sitting opposite him, studying him intently was an older looking man in a long black coat. Despite the fact that he was clearly sitting in a cave that was underground, the other man was wearing sunglasses (9). He was powerfully built with height to match, and his head was completely bald. Seeing Thomas return to the land of the living the other man grinned madly.

"I see that they got to you first, but they've underestimated how important you are. If they knew what I know, you would probably be dead."

Thomas put a hand to the side of his head - to the spot that was throbbing most painfully - and whimpered.

"Ouch. I feel like I already am. This REALLY hurts. It reminds me of the time I went drinking with those Scots..."

The other man, clearly expecting a different response, frowned momentarily before regaining his composure. He stood, walked over to Thomas and knelt beside him, putting a hand on his shoulder; the mad grinning still dominating his face.

"You are The One", he whispered. "You see, you may have spent the last few years of your life looking for me, but I've spent my entire life looking for you!"

Thomas smiled politely and tried to inch backwards. The other man's grip was like iron and clearly as inflexible as the grin that was still etched onto his face. Thomas shrugged.

"Look - I don't want to appear rude or anything but I haven't been looking for you. In fact, I have no idea who you are."

The other man reached out and grabbed Thomas' cheeks.

"Ow!"

He released his grip.

"Sorry. As you have no doubt guessed, I am Morpheus."

Thomas was still rubbing his cheeks, but took the opportunity to put a bit of distance between himself and his new "friend".

"Oddly enough, no. I didn't guess that. In fact, I don't even know where I am at the moment other than underground somewhere."

Morpheus nodded.

"Yes. I imagine that right now you're feeling a bit like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit hole?"

Thomas, nervously eyeing the cave entrance and sizing up whether or not he could make it there before Morpheus could bundle him to the ground, shook his head.

"Seriously, man - I have no idea what you're talking about. In fact, this whole situation is really confusing the buggery out of me."

Morpheus raised a finger, causing Thomas to flinch.

"I can see it in your eyes. You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees, because he is expecting to wake up. Ironically, this is not far from the truth. Do you believe in fate?"

Thomas, resigning himself to the fact that this man was not going to go away and accepting that his legs were unlikely to raise him to his feet let alone propel him speedily to freedom, shook his head.

"No."

"Why?"

"Because I have really very little idea of what you're talking about?"

Morpheus grinned dementedly, before standing and pacing back and forth.

"I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You've felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there...like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about?"

Thomas brightened.

"Actually, for a change - yes, I do. You're spot on. There is something very wrong indeed with the world. The British!"

Morpheus frowned.

"Er...what?"

"The British! They're what is wrong with the world - they're the whole reason I'm here. If they weren't busily warmongering their way through the Free State I'd never have signed up, would never have been captured, and would never have ended up in this crocodile pit - or wherever we are."

Morpheus deflated. Thomas cocked his head to the side.

"Something wrong?"

"No. I mean, yeah. I was kind of expecting a different answer to my question that's all."

"Look, no offence mate, but up until your last question I had no idea what you were going on about. I thought you were mad. Actually, to be honest, I still pretty sure that you're two sandwiches short of a picnic, but that's beside the point. What I mean is that whole 'there's something wrong with the world' spiel you came out with? You were spot on with that!"

Morpheus shuffled his feet dejectedly.

"So you weren't going to say 'The Matrix'?"

"The what?"

"Er...the Matrix?"

"Never heard of it. What is it?"

Morpheus shook his head and petted his lip.

"Doesn't matter. In fact, it's best we don't talk about it. You're mind is not as ready as I thought it'd be."

"Hey - what do you mean 'not as ready as you thought it'd be?' Don't go judging me just because I took a knock to the head. In fact, here's a little bit of feedback for you, pal! If you want people to understand what you're going on about, try not coming across like a slightly creepy lunatic who assumes everyone knows what he's dribbling on about - that's really, bloody egocentric if you ask me! In fact, if you took the time to actually EXPLAIN what you were talking about, rather than ploughing ahead like a mental steam train, you'd find people much more receptive to what you've got to say."

Morpheus stood dumbfounded, mouth hanging open. Before he could answer, Dave the crocodile keeper popped his head around the cave entrance.

"Ah - so you're awake Thomas!"

Dave looked at Morpheus.

"Brian? What are you doing here?"

Morpheus flushed scarlet.

"Ssh! I've told you not to call me that! My name is 'Morpheus' now."

"Really? Why?"

"It's the name I've assumed in my struggle against the machines!"

A light bulb went off above Dave's head (10) and he glanced at his watch.

"Ah - I thought as much. It's time for your medication. Look, leave me with Thomas and go and see the doc in cave three. He'll be expecting you."

Morpheus nodded before turning to Thomas.

"We shall speak soon - and I shall rip the veil from your eyes!"

Thomas flinched and fought back the urge the yelp. With a swirl of his coat, Morpheus left the cave. Dave smiled apologetically.

"Sorry about that."

"Who the hell was that?"

"Poor guy used to be a quartermaster. One day, during a stock take, he managed to get his coat tails stuck in a printing press and in his struggle to escape banged into some nearby shelving which caused a box of typeface molds to fall on his head, giving him a rather nasty bump that knocked him out. Since then, he's been convinced that the machines want to take over and that he's fighting against them."

"What was all that stuff about 'searching for me?"

"Oh don't worry about that - he does that to most people that end up here. You got off pretty lightly to be honest. There's a poor Brit soldier called John Conner who ended up annoying the Brigadier and ended up taking a trip down the trapdoor. Brian was the one that found him and he's not stopped badgering him since he met him. Something about wanting him to head up the 'resistance'. Which does go to prove that there's sometimes method in his madness when you consider where John ended up."

Thomas nodded.

"That's a good question actually - where is this?"

Dave smiled and produced a false beard from within his tunic.

"Put this on, follow me and I'll explain. Don't worry though - there are no real crocodiles down here?"

"No REAL crocodiles?"

Dave lit a torch and indicated the entrance.

"Come on - allow me to demonstrate."

~~~​

1. The sort of look that your kids get when you're telling them off. Part of them wants to remain haughtily aloof and defy your authority; whereas the child within is compelling them to burst into tears. A wobbling lip is a sure indication that the latter is about to erupt.

2. ...whereas this is the sort of look you get first thing on a Monday morning when a meeting reminder pops up from your calendar and you realise that not only have you failed to draw up the necessary documentation for the meeting, but that your boss and several other senior managers will be attending. This may or may not be a direct personal experience of the author.

3. To get a feel of what this sounded like, try dropping an ice cube down your wife's back as she walks past you. Then, either run away very fast or have flowers and chocolates on standby for pacification purposes.

4. Which is to say, he felt bad when he punched him. He was still hitting him with all the force required to knock out a fully-grown man. There's nothing kind about that.

5. Those of you who have been out for a few beers without having anything to eat beforehand will be VERY familiar with this feeling. Usually the morning after the night before.

6. Those of you who have been out for a few beers without having anything to eat beforehand will be VERY familiar with this feeling. Usually the morning after the night before.

7. Originally this was going to be described as "crackling away like a rather cheery demon". However, that comparison has already been made in a previous update, so I won't belabour the point. Twilight is still crap though.

8. It should be added that he was satisfied that he wasn't going to go blind "from the fire". However, Thomas was a religious man and therefore still quite concerned about any possible vision-related ramifications that may be resulting from a certain activity he was rather over-partial to as a teenager...

9. This should have served as an adequate warning to him. The only types of people who wear sunglasses in the dark are the blind and arseholes - and this guy wasn't carrying a white cane and didn't have a labrador in a day-glo jacket sitting faithfully at his side.

10. Figuratively speaking of course. It would just have been plain weird (and would probably have resulted in another shrill, effeminate scream from Thomas) if one had physically manifested, flashed once and then vanished.
 

AllmyJames

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Thomas Van Anders :D
John Conner :D

Very good.
 

Johan11

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Thomas Van Anders :D
John Conner :D

Very good.

What?
I don't get it!

And, very good update.

I sense that note number 2 is an experience of the author. and possibly number 3 as well;)
 

Vesimir

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Matrix? I want LotR references! I want Discworld references! Not Matrix references.

Eventually a nutjob called Bruce Wayne dressed as a bat. :p
 

Johan11

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Matrix? I want LotR references! I want Discworld references! Not Matrix references.

Eventually a nutjob called Bruce Wayne dressed as a bat. :p

No, we need weird Harry Potter references.

Or some other book series that I have actually read...
 

aldriq

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This cave is getting rather busy...

Matrix? I want LotR references! I want Discworld references! Not Matrix references. Eventually a nutjob called Bruce Wayne dressed as a bat. :p

So who do you want next waiting under the trapdoor, a balrog or Alfred with the batmobile? :eek:
 

iain_a_wilson

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Part 14

001.png

Lucas left the barn and trudged as moodily as possible back to the homestead. The small kitchen table had already been set, and Uncle Owen sat at the head of it leafing through a slightly disheveled newspaper (1) and appeared to be mouthing something that he was reading. Aunt Beru, busy at the hob, flicked a fearsome looking ladle (2) in the direction of the chair opposite Owen and, without looking at Lucas, intoned "Sit now. Dinner is coming."

Lucas slouched in the chair and sighed, a response that earned him a bang on the shoulder with Beru's ladle.

"Sit up now, young man. You should count your blessings. Not everyone gets good food three times a day." (3)

Lucas begrudgingly pulled himself upright before reaching for the water pitcher in the middle of the table and pouring himself a glassful. Despite it being late in the day, the sun was still fearsomely hot, and the water felt uncomfortably lukewarm to Lucas. Nonetheless, he drained the glass before sitting back and looking thoughtful. His throat felt less dry now, so he cleared his throat, coughed slightly and smiled stupidly.

"Uncle Owen?"

The tone of his voice (4) instantly alerted his Uncle to the fact that something was wrong, and the older man neatly folded his paper and put it to one side.

"What is it Lucas?" he said, his voice and eyes filled with concern (5).

Lucas grinned stupidly again.

"Er...nothing important I don't think..."

Owen frowned.

"You're not making any sense."

Lucas shrugged.

"Well, what I mean is this...that is...well..."

Owen waved his hand.

"What's bothering you, son?"

"I think those new slaves might have been stolen."

Owen lent forward, his eyes eminently serious. Lucas may have been haphazard, clumsy, accident-prone, the butt of many jokes, and a general calamity waiting to happen, but he was honest to a fault. The worry he could see in the young man's eyes was ample proof of the fact that something had rattled his cage. When Owen spoke next his voice was softer.

"What makes you think that?"

Lucas shrugged.

"Just something the little one said. He claimed to be the property of an Obi Van Obayomi..."

Beru dropped the pot she was carrying with such a clang that both men jumped (6).

"Sorry."

Lucas looked over at her and back at Owen, more worried than ever.

"Er...so I was just thinking that maybe he meant old Obayomi who lives..."

Owen held up his hand sternly.

"That old man's just some crazy old witch doctor. I doubt he could even afford slaves."

Lucas was staring at Beru who was frantically clearing up the stew that had spilled everywhere. Owen snapped his fingers.

"Lucas! Did you hear me?"

"Yeah. Yeah. Crazy old witch doctor. Why did Aunt Beru drop that pan?"

"She's just clumsy like you."

"No she's not, she never drops things, and she’s never had any of the accidents I’ve had. Like that time I lost control of the horse that was pulling the plow and I ended up in the town square going round and round in circles, and everyone was laughing, and…”

"That's enough, Lucas. She's just clumsy and sometimes she has these turns every now and again, and…”

Lucas’ eyes practically bugged out of his head.

"Turns? Is there something wrong with her?"

"No. I didn't mean that..."

"But you said she has 'turns'! 'Turns' are bad. Everyone knows that. If you have ‘turns’ it means your brain is broken. If she's having 'turns' she shouldn't be left alone in the kitchen! What if she has a 'turn' when she's busy chopping meat? Or using the millstone? She could have her hand off!"

Owen put his head in his hands.

"You're a well meaning boy Lucas - just trust me that everything's ok."

Lucas pointed at the stew that Beru was emptying into the bin.

"No it's not. She just had a 'turn' and spilled dinner everywhere! That's not ok. Aunt Beru - do you want a hand?"

Beru looked over her shoulder and smiled sweetly at Lucas.

"It's ok. You're a good boy. But it's ok."

She narrowed her eyes and glared at Owen.

"Sometimes your Uncle doesn't think before he opens his mouth. It would have been much simpler to just say that the handles on the pot were very hot and that I'd forgotten to put on oven gloves, would it?"

Lucas turned round to face Uncle Owen, his eyes frantic with distress.

"But the cat's out of the bag now, isn't it? What can I do to help? I don't mind doing extra chores in the kitchen if it means keeping Aunt Beru away from areas where should could have a 'turn' and hurt herself? You know – areas with knives and other sharp things. Please - you don't have to wrap me in cotton wool. I want to help!"

Owen shook his head and patted Lucas on the shoulder reassuringly.

"Lucas...son... It's all-ok. Your Aunt's fine. Now, we're just going to sit here, have dinner, and forget all about that Obayomi business, ok? Those slaves belong to us now."

Lucas cocked his head to one side.

"What?"

Owen sighed.

"That business about the slaves having been stolen from old Obayomi - just forget about it, ok?"

Lucas slapped his forehead.

"Damn - I'd completely forgotten about that, what with Aunt Beru having a turn! Thanks for reminding me!"

"Ow!"

"Sorry dear - that spoon just flew out of my hand there and slapped you on the head. I must have had another 'turn'."

The humour in Aunt Beru's voice was edgy and dangerous like a hungry piranha. She placed a new, smaller pot of stew on the table and started to serve it up. Owen rubbed the back of his head and smiled at Lucas.

"So, I want you to prepare those two slaves for tomorrow. Make sure they're out in the south field first thing."

Lucas nodded mid-mouthful of stew.

"Ok. But what if Obayomi comes looking for them?"

Owen waved his spoon in Lucas' direction.

"He won't. He lives in a cave. What use would he have for slaves?"

Lucas nodded and wolfed down some more stew. Then he stopped, brightened and held a finger in the air.

"Cleaning his cave?"

Owen put down his own spoon and sighed.

"What?"

"Obayomi might want the slaves to clean his cave for him!"

"Lucas, if you live in a cave it stands to reason that you're not very house proud, doesn't it?"

Lucas seemed to think about this as he shoveled in another mouthful of stew.

"I don't know - I think I'd want to have a tidy cave. You know, free from mud and mess and probably with..."

Owen snapped his fingers in front of Lucas' face again, causing the young man to flinch and smile apologetically.

"Sorry. Just got kind of carried away with the whole 'cave as a home' thing."

"That's quite ok."

"It's just that if I lived in a cave..."

"LUCAS!"

"Sorry, sorry..."

The two men settled back to eating their dinner, while Beru busied herself around the kitchen. After a couple of minutes reprise Owen looked up at Lucas.

"So, to get this clear you're going to have the slaves out working in the south field first thing tomorrow morning?"

Lucas nodded.

"Yes sir. Aunt Beru, this stew is great."

"Thank you dear."

"Yes, it is rather good, love. Lucas, I also want you to get some extra secure manacles for the slaves. If that little one is making up stories about belonging to someone else there's every chance he's looking for any excuse to get out of his current shackles."

Lucas almost spat his stew over the table. Owen and Beru stared at him in disbelief.

"What is it?"

Lucas frantically wiped his mouth and stared at his two guardians, mouth going but no words coming out (7). Owen frowned.

"Lucas?"

Lucas smiled stupidly.

"I've just realised - I think I left a fire burning in the barn! I'd best go and check it."

He leapt from the table and ran to the door. Owen threw up his hands.

"Lucas - if there was a fire burning out of control we'd see it through the window! And smell it! And hear the slaves screaming! Come and finish your dinner!"

But Lucas, pretending not to listen, was up and out of the door and racing towards the barn. Beru placed a hand on Owen's shoulder.

"Leave him be, dear. You know that he has too much of his father in him."

Owen turned to her, his eyes showing uncharacteristic sadness.

"That's what I'm afraid of."

~~~​

1. Groot Slaperig DID receive newspapers. However, they tended to be weeks, if not months, out of date and the townspeople were never always guaranteed which part of the world they came from or indeed which language they were written in. As a result, many of the good burgers of Groot Slaperig were unintentionally bi-lingual, and very conversant in international affairs. Owen was currently browsing the Honolulu Tribune and reading many arguments for and against the annexing of the islands by the United States. He was also puzzling over the pronunciation of Queen Lili'uokalani's name.

2. Most of the children (and some of the adults) of Groot Slaperig were familiar with this fearsome looking piece of kitchenware. Whenever Beru felt the need to administer some social justice in the vicinity of her home, this ladle was brandished with impunity, and as such had become a symbol of fear throughout the community. It was often joked that the reason the British had never occupied Groot Slaperig was because the redcoats feared the sore backsides that would result if they come within whacking range of Beru's farm.

3. Which was true. Beru was a very good cook. Some suggested that the reason for this was because the food she prepared was too scared of disappointing her by turning out bad, and didn't want to face the wrath of the ladle.

4. A questioning, imploring, whine. All children have this whine. Girls are manifestly better at it than boys, and when used to convey the phrase "Daddy? Pur-leeeeeeeeeeeease?" most fathers are usually helpless.

5. If Lucas ever asked something it was either because he wanted amnesty for some disaster he had created, he wanted money or he had stumbled upon something deeply serious and was probably unintentionally embroiled in it somehow and wanted help. A bit like the time he had given directions to the village to a marauding Tswana warband.

6. It was a good job that they did too, as otherwise they'd have ended up with a sizable quantity of "Beru Stew" on their laps. This was a potent mix of lamb and vegetables that was SO thick that Owen had used batches of it to repair cracks in the walls. This seemed a waste though as it was truly delicious.

7. Toddlers tend to do this when confronted with an accusation of "Did you do this?" They've not learned to lie properly, and the mouth movement seems to stimulate the part of the brain responsible for generating excuses. Unfortunately for them the whole rig up does seem to work correctly and the resultant explanation tends to be implausible in the extreme. Thankfully for them, these fledgling lies tend to be endearing and cute ("It wasn't me - a pelican did it!") so the toddler in question tends to be spared the wrath of their parent. Usually. A broken cup is one thing - a smiley face carved into the bonnet of a car is something all together different.
 

AllmyJames

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Did his father ask lots of irritating questions too? :p I was with Aunt Beru in that update!

Had me chortling all the way through!
 

Johan11

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Oh my *goes mad*!


This is way too confusing!:rolleyes:
 

canonized

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gosh , the way you wrap comedy into this has me in stitches . from the matrix last update to the excellent handling of dialogue this past update XD masterwork !
 

Vesimir

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Lucas ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer...

Wait a second. If this is Star Wars, van Mordenaar is his father. And princess Leia of South Africa is his sister. Which means he's a noble. And that he's british.

Oh my God. I am completely confused right now.
 

Eams

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Lucas ain't the sharpest knife in the drawer...

Wait a second. If this is Star Wars, van Mordenaar is his father. And princess Leia of South Africa is his sister. Which means he's a noble. And that he's british.

Oh my God. I am completely confused right now.

And the Clone Wars must have been the Opium Wars, and the Neimoidians the Chinese, and Palpatine Lord Palmerston.
 

Vesimir

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And the Clone Wars must have been the Opium Wars, and the Neimoidians the Chinese, and Palpatine Lord Palmerston.

The more you think about it, the worse it gets.

Palpatine for example is Victoria.
 

Eams

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The more you think about it, the worse it gets.

Palpatine for example is Victoria.

There is a certain likeness in their aesthetics, I'll admit.
Gladstone will be Yoda, "The savage in his humble mountain home, remember you will".