William Doonan

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The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Eight

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July 24, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson       http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

Although it felt as if we were traveling to another world, the Alcazar was only a few blocks away, so it only took us about five minutes to get there.  Seville’s public parks are not empty at 4:30 in the morning, far from it. 

Beer was flowing in great quantities from tall bottles, wine too, and love in all its forms was being made and played on benches, in flower beds, even in the playgrounds that would soon be turned over to Spanish children.  But since we didn’t appear to be police or prostitutes, nobody paid us much mind.

Baltazar soon led us off the path and through a tangled maze of vegetation.  The hidden door in the fortress wall had been padlocked, but a pair of giant clippers made quick work of it.  Our small army was soon inside.  The last time I was here, I was terrified.  This time too, but it was a different sort of terror.  This time I didn’t feel helpless.

Leon remarked on the foul air, noting that the liquid dripping from the walls reminded him of an apartment he once sublet in Muncie, but the rest of us paid him no mind.  Sacromonte shone his light about the room as Baltazar led the way.

We were cautious, conscious of the noises our movements made on old stones and old boards.  Most of us were, I should clarify.  Cuellar, who would not be excluded from our mission despite our protests, proved to be more flatulent than anyone could have anticipated.

We turned a corner into a great hall which I dimly remembered from my last visit.  In my haste to leave, I had apparently neglected to admire the exhibits of ancient weaponry.  Duran could not look away.

“A toledo sword,” he said, hoisting one from the rack.  “Now there’s a weapon you can trust.”

“If you take the time to train,” Cuellar reprimanded him.  “You were never an effective swordsman, not even at Cajamarca.”

“No,” Duran agreed, tying the scabbard to his belt.  “No I was not.  And for all I know, this was my very sword, the one General Ruminavi used to cut off my feet.  How I miss those feet.”

“You’ll want to see this,” Cuellar called to him, even as we tried to move our party forward.

“Oh, my yes.  Now there’s a weapon I can manage.”  Duran purred as he hefted the harquebus from its pegs.  “A tortuous weapon on a good day – two minutes to load, half again if your hands are shaking.”

“And louder than an Andalusian whore on All Souls Day,” I said before he could.  “We’ve heard this all before.  We can come back another day, but we need to move.”

“There may be no other day,” he said, inspecting the weapon.  “Vasco, fetch me the powder.  I’ve just spotted a fine ball to load.”

So we waited until Cuellar returned with a powder horn and Duran loaded the harquebus.  Suddenly, a stranger jumped in front of me, aimed a gun at my face and fired.  I froze, imagining myself to be both dead and deaf, but the stranger quickly threw me aside and fired two more times.  It was a full moment, how ever that can be measured, before I realized he was shooting past me, saving me.

Three men lay on the ground, each shot in the forehead.  They wore slippers, which is possibly how they had snuck up on us.

“Sopay watches us all,” Cuellar spat.  “He will have our souls for a poor snack between his breakfast and his lunch if we do not come to him now.”

I turned back to my protector.  “Who are you?”

“Segovia,” he said, as he reloaded a pair of antique pistols.  “You were careless.”

“He’s with me,” Leon said.  “I’ll explain later.  It’s time to split up.  Gentlemen, we’ll see you later for cocktails.”

I was willing to leave it at that, but I felt a stab to my heart when I saw the look that passed between my lovely Naya and Segovia.  They had been lovers too, I realized, some two hundred years ago.  And yet Segovia was a human, not a mummy.  By now I could easily distinguish the living from the…the not quite living.

Baltazar pointed to a low doorway which I remembered.  We had raced through it when we escaped from the harem.  “We go this way,” he said, and we bid farewell to him, to Leon, and to Segovia.

And so I led my own squad through the hall of ancient weapons.  I can’t use the term fearless to describe my sense of mind.  I don’t think I ever could, but my fear was manageable.  I had only some idea of what was waiting for me behind that broad door in front of me, but I was confident it would be something unimaginably terrible.

Even so, I walked first, my lady behind me for her protection, which was probably not necessary given the unique nature of her existence.  But knowing she was with me gave me great comfort, as did the presence of my benefactor Sacromonte, and the two long-dead conquistador knights I now called friends.

A month and a half ago, I knew not one of these individuals, and yet each was now somehow precious to me.  I felt certain that they would be the great friends of my life.  But when that door opened and I saw what stood behind it, I didn’t have much faith that life would transpire for very much longer.

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August 6, 2012 at 2:11 am

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Seven

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July 24, 2011
Seville, Spain
Samples      http://www.greatbigLeon.blogspace9.ex

Good music, fine wine, old friends — and I mean old! — we had ourselves a tearful reunion of sorts.  Shortly before 2:00 a.m. we crammed ourselves into Melchor Sacromonte’s little office behind the kitchen.  Assembled theirein were the following: Sacromonte; his muscle-guy Baltazar; my bud Bruce; his smoking-hot new dead girlfriend; Duran; and Cuellar, who looked like he lived under a bridge.  Good times!

I’ll admit it was awkward at first.  I was half in the bag from all the drinking, and I couldn’t stop staring at this girl Naya, who had nestled her five-hundred year-old self in Bruce’s lap, where she sat purring.  Cuellar was having a hard time with it, you could tell.  He asked her to dinner twice.  Not a tooth in his head, and I’m pretty sure he wet himself each time he started talking, but he actually asked her on a date twice.

Sacromonte was all business.  “Where is the gold?” he demanded.

“We’re working on that,” Bruce told him.  “There’s just one thing we need to do first.”

Sacromonte stared at his brandy.  “He is quite probably the most powerful man in Europe.  He will be heavilly-guarded.  Not only does he own the police, but on such a day, his wedding day, he will certainly take extra precautions.

“Here’s one thing I don’t understand,” I ventured.  “It’s our working supposition that the possessed Gaspar Quiroga y Vela, the five-hundred year-old Grand Inquisitor of Spain, intends to marry our friend Kim, right?”

I got some shrugs and general nods of agreement.

“Then how is it he lives in the Alcazar, one of the most famous buildings in Spain?  It’s a museum.  It’s open every day for tourists.”

“Part of it is open to tourists,” Sacromonte told us.  “Several of the upper levels are the property of the royal family, their official Seville residence.  But it’s been a long time since they dared enter.”

“So they know who he is?  They know that he lives there?”

Sacromonte lit a cigarette.  “They know who he is, but not what he is.  A malevolent businessman, nothing more, if you were to ask.  But he hovers like a doom over the monarchy.  They’d not dare oppose him.”

“Then how do we get in?” I asked.

“I’d advise you not to.”

“We get in,” Bruce chimed in, “the same way we got out.  There may be police and guards, but they won’t be in the harem.  They wouldn’t dare go there.  Baltazar knows the way out through the harem, so therefore he knows the way in.”

The large gypsy by the door looked up when he heard his name spoken, and once he had processed the words, he began shaking his head.  “No, no.  What would be the point?”

“The point would be to get me into the same room as him, close enough to touch him,” said Bruce.

Cuellar shrieked with either glee or horror, perhaps both.  “He’ll smell your blood before you enter the room.  He’ll have your soul in a place where it will never stop screaming, and he’ll flay your skin to keep him warm at night.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take,” Bruce told him.

Bruce is like serious diesel at this point.  He’s a fearless diesel dude.

Sacromonte stared at him.  “And if we do this, you will bring me to the gold, or the gold to me?”

“Without hesitation.  You’ve earned it.”

Sacromonte gave it some thought.  “We will need to strategize.”

Bruce nudged the girl off his lap and produced a floor plan of the Alcazar, which he spread out on the desk.  “We enter here, through the hidden door in the fortress wall.”

Sacromonte nodded as Bruce continued.  “Once inside, we split up into two teams.  Leon, you and Baltazar find Kim.  Because if Quiroga gets cornered, he may try to use her.  Meanwhile, Duran and I will head to the private residence.  We’re going to hit him where he sleeps.”

“He doesn’t sleep,” Duran noted.

Bruce stared at him.  “Even you sleep.”

“But he’s far more powerful than I.  Remember, he is something more than a mummy, to use your term, something more than me.  He is also a sopay, a very old and very powerful malignant.  And that sopay has no more need for sleep than a shadow or a suicide does.”

“He’s right.”  Sacromonte poured another glass of sherry.  “And Cuellar is right too.  He’ll kill you the moment you walk in.”

Bruce shook his head.  “He’ll welcome me.  He needs to talk to me.  Remember, I have something he wants.  He can’t find the gold without me.”

“Then I’m coming too,” Sacromonte said.

“I’m coming too,” Cuellar managed to get out before a sneeze sent tendrils of mucous across the room.  “Pardon.”

“No, no.”  Our newly-formed gang seemed to agree on this point.  “You would be better here manning the telephone,” Baltazar suggested.  “Right here in the nerve center of it all – a most important role.”

Cuellar spat, then sulked back into a corner.

“You must all understand one thing,” Naya, the girl began as she clasped Bruce’s hand.  It was the first time I had heard her spoke, and her voice was nothing short of angelic.  “I will not leave his side, come what comes.  I have my own score to settle.  And I am not without considerable strength and resolve.”

More shrugs and nods of agreement.

“Let’s talk supplies,” Sacromonte offered.  “I will be armed, as will Baltazar.  Do any more of you wish to bring weapons?”

Bruce shook his head.  Only Cuellar and I nodded.  Cuellar got ignored.  I got a brutal-looking .45 automatic with a spare clip.

“One more thing,” Bruce noted.  “We don’t yet understand Kim’s frame of mind.  She may not welcome us.  Even so, we must take care not to harm her.  She’s one of us.”

“Word to that, my my mummy-hunting brother.”  I looked around the room.  “So what else do we need?  How much water should we bring with us?”  That got me nothing but frowns.

“We’re going to be in and out in an hour, Leon.  Have a drink of something now.  Use the bathroom too, while you’re at it.  We’re leaving in fifteen minutes.”

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August 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Forty-Two

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July 27, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

It took us two days to find Sebastiano, but Naya let us to him as she promised.  It was mid-afternoon when we came across the old priest holding court at the San Fernando cemetery.  Some distance from the monumental graves of poets and politicians, smaller plots marked the final resting places of orphans and the dispossessed.

A not-insubstantial line of beggars, runaways, and gypsy women with their children in tow led to the nondescript gravestone from which Sebastiano gave out his blessings and his offerings. Behind him, an ageless hunchback tamped the earth back over a grave which had been recently disturbed.

Not wanting to interrupt his ministry, we waited in the shade of a poplar, watching as the old priest doled out rings, wire, bits of filigree, even thin plates, all gold of course.  As I suspected, the seventeen coffins that Sebastiano recovered from Peru two centuries ago did not contain the bodies of priests, but rather the Inca gold that Duran and Cuellar hid in the pyramid, to cheat the Spanish King of his share.

As the line thinned and the grateful stragglers headed off to the jewelers of Seville to convert their treasures to cash, Naya made her way forward.  The old priest fell to his knees when he saw her.  He folded his arms around her knees and wept.

He made no sound as Naya explained the events of recent days, recounting our adventures, but some distress was evident when she told of the destruction of Sebastiano’s greatest accomplishment, the malleus momias.  Naya’s explanation of the internet, and the place the book now had in that realm, was slow to load.  When he spoke, Sebastiano did little more than murmer, his tongue having been removed by the Inquisitor centuries ago, but Naya seemed to understand.

This was the last of the gold, only a few pieces remained.  It had all been doled out, all that Inca treasure, over the last two hundred years to the needy, to the orphans of Seville.

Sacromonte sighed as he rubbed the last few pieces between his fingers.  “So much effort, for so little,” he said.  “So in the end, we fail.”

But that wasn’t the case, of course.  We didn’t fail.  Sebastiano did the work of a priest, long after his dying day.  And that is an accomplishment of some sort.  And of course, we did find the gold.  Duran let those few pieces slip through his remaining hand.  He’d already taken his share, he reminded us.  Vasco Cuellar bit a gold ring to be certain it was real, then swallowed it to be certain he would keep it.

We wouldn’t hurt for money, of course.  The last thing a demonically-possessed long-dead inquisitor thinks about, apparently, is naming an heir or an executor, but for good measure, we took all the money anyway.  Quiroga’s company, Grupo Yapos Iberia, now drained of nearly six billion euros, would soon see the departure of all its executives and the foreclosure of all its properties.

We would split the money.  There was a lot of it.  We had but one final duty here before we left the cemetery.  Naya had insisted on it and ultimately, we reluctantly agreed.  “It’s something he has been craving for centuries,” she counseled.

So we waited as she explained to the old priest what had become of his words, so painstakingly recorded nearly five hundred years ago.  And we waited still as she told him what that meant for him.  When he finally understood, he wept openly, tears falling to the ground.  He nodded once, then again and again as if he could not stop.

“He wants to say something first,” Naya told us, “but he doesn’t know how.”  So I opened my laptop.  Sebastiano was our number nine.  We still had a place open on this, our last day of service from Blogspace9, and nobody deserved it more than he did.  Naya would help guide his fingers on the keys.  Then when he was ready, she would guide his fingers to the PLAY key which would bring his old words back to life, and guide him out of this world.  Although we had just met, we said our goodbyes.

July 27, 2011
Seville, Spain
Father Sebastiano Gota                http:www.sebastiano.blogspace9.ex

Have mercy on my soul, O God.  Restore me to the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing heart.

Amen.

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August 1, 2012 at 9:37 am

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Six

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July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Samples      http://www.greatbigLeon.blogspace9.ex

As far as Flamenco restaurants go, this takes the prize.  Aside from the fact that I’ve never been to any others, this is truly exceptional.  Let me count the ways: 1) dancing girls are so far beyond hot that my head hurts, 2) this is the best food I’ve ever had in my life.  Sherry and ham, Bruce?  Who would have thought to serve sherry and ham together?  But you know what, it works.

Paella – what’s not to like about paella?  And a little sirloin steak to boot!  Bruce, man, I’d say you’ve been living the life, but that wouldn’t be fair.  I know it hasn’t been all fun and games for you, what with being a wanted criminal, and having to organize your girlfriend’s cannibalistic death.  I have to say, Bruce, I’m a little impressed.  You are a cold, calculating, cannibal-loving mother-fucker.

I’ve been here for about an hour.  I sent a message back to the kitchen that I’d like to speak with your new friend Melchor Sacromonte, but they looked at me like I was crazy.  And he hasn’t shown up.  Nor have you.  We have some thinking to do, my friend, some planning and plotting.  Bruce, what is our plan here, other than finding Kim?  Hey, they have gazpacho!

One odd note – there’s this old guy sitting a couple of tables away who keeps staring at me.  I think he’s a dandy.  He’s wearing expensive-looking clothes, but they’re not right for the occasion.  Also, he has a pocket watch and an iPhone.  How’s that for accessorizing!  He’s drinking brandy and smoking a cigar, which is pretty cool, but there’s something off about him.

July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Duran                   http://www.harqubusier.blogspace9.ex

A man of good taste – you went ahead and ordered the fixed-price gastronomy meal when you could have opted for the basic tourist chum.  It cost an extra twenty euros, but worth every centimo.  For the next course, I’d advise you to decline the gazpacho, and instead elect the Fois-Gras ravioli.  Yummy.

July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Samples      http://www.greatbigLeon.blogspace9.ex

What the hell?  Duran, is that you?

July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Duran                   http://www.harqubusier.blogspace9.ex

I’m drinking sherry, not brandy.  And I’m not a fruit.  My clothing is impeccable, quite flattering, and considerably more apt for the ocassion than that ridiculous frcok you have on.  A hoodie?  Did you think the restaurant might be so cold you’d be driven to don a hood?  If that’s a normal concern, I would suggest frequenting warmer restaurants.

July 23, 2011
Cupertino, CA
Administrator      http://www.admin.blogspace9.ex

Due to security concerns both perceived and actual, and at the request of Dr. Bruce Hanson, who is now project leader, we have closed communication channels to all non-subscribers.  What this means is that the original nine accounts are the only access points to this blog. 

Because Cyrus Sanderson and Lane Cavalcante are reported deceased, only seven accounts remain active, and one of those has never been used.  Although law enforcement can request access to this blog, the court order that would grant them that permission takes approximately five days to acquire, and you have only four days left on your service contract.

Therefore, please use these channels in confidence as you plan your resolution.  On behalf of Blogspace9, we wish you much success.

July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson       http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

I’m working on it, boys.  Give us a moment to breathe here.  Yes Leon, we need to meet.  Ten minutes from now, your server will hand you a napkin with an address on it.  You too, Duran.  Meet me at midnight, not because I’m trying to make a point, or because there’s something creepy about midnight, but because it’s almost eleven now and I haven’t had a shower yet.

Remember those documents I copied at the university about a month ago?  I just had another run at them.  If you remember, I was looking for hits on Sebastiano.  I didn’t give it a second thought because the timeline was wrong, but there is a reference to a Padre Sebastiano that intrigues me.

In 1776, the parish of San Lorca de los Penitentes funded an expedition to sail to Peru to recover the bodies of seventeen priests.  The bodies were to be returned to Spain for burial in the cemetery in the town of Cantaluz, high in the Pyrenees.  And the leader of the expedition was a priest named Sebastiano.

A common name, so initially I figured that this was a different Sebastiano, but it wasn’t.  I did a little more research.  The parish of San Lorca de los Penitentes was abandoned in the mid-1550s because the parishioners vanished.  And we now know why – it’s because Cuellar ate them, so there would have been nobody there to fund the expedition.

Yet Sebastiano sailed in March of 1776, returning later that year with seventeen coffins.  My friends, what do you think might have been inside those seventeen coffins?  If you’re thinking priests, I’m a little disappointed.

July 23, 2011
Seville, Spain
Cuellar    http://www.perdido.blogspace9.ex

You know, a little forgiveness goes a long way.  Had you been there in that village, you’d have a sense of how insufferable those wretches were.  But I try not to dwell on the past.

A tidbit I wish to convey – the Cardinal of Seville has been summoned to the Alcazar tomorrow at sunset to secretly officiate a wedding.  A cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church is not normally, nor easily, summoned.  Yet summoned he was.

The Inquisitor intends to take a bride tomorrow, a bride who is already in residence.  Your friend has arrived.  I can’t imagine it will be possible to secure an invitation at this late date, but I’m certain that gifts will be appreciated.

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July 22, 2012 at 1:19 am

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Five

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July 22, 2011
Madrid, Spain
Samples http://www.greatbigLeon.blogspace9.ex

Just landed in Madrid, Bruce, my brother.  Hang tight.  I’ll be in Seville in three hours.   I know how to find you.

Let’s be clear about something.  All I want is Kim.  I’m coming for her.  And hey, the flight was nice.  But I didn’t fly first class.  I traded in that ticket for two coach flights.  I brought a friend.  You’re going to like him.

July 22, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

Mass was ending at the cathedral, so it was easy for me to slip into the crowd.  We had exchanged clothes, Cuellar and I, and I smelled like a urine-soaked corpse.  I got a few evil looks from good Catholics, but that’s all.  I don’t think anyone recognized me.

I recognized Laney instantly.  I knelt at a pew and bowed my head in some semblance of prayer, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  She was standing in front of that giant sarcophagus, the magnificent tomb of Christopher Columbus.  Even now, some pilot light of love refuses to be extinguished.  What can I say?  I miss her.

She frowned when Cuellar approached, but she left with him, followed semi-discreetly by three guys who looked like cops.

I’m not sure why I trusted Vasco Cuellar.  He was almost certainly insane, not without reason.  But I knew he would do as I requested, and lead Lane around the city until he was sure they weren’t followed.  Then he’d take her to Corte Ingles, the  department store, and buy her a change of clothes.  She’d change in front of him so he’d be sure she didn’t have any wires or tracking devices.  Sorry for that, Laney, but there was no other way.

I was my usual table behind the bar at Duplex, the bistro next to my apartment.  I drank two beers and ate three plates of tapas, and I was starting in on a plate of cheese croquets when she arrived.  Cuellar told her where to find me.

“I don’t know if I like you with a ponytail,” she said.  “Is that even your hair?”

“Some of it.”  I kissed her on the cheek.  “Sorry for the run-around, but I had to make sure that your goons weren’t going to be joining us.  I like your tracksuit.”

She sat, and I ordered her a glass of wine.  “You look good, Laney.  Just there, you coming in through the door, it reminded me of that party in New Haven when we met.  A girl like you going for a guy like me, it seemed too good to be true.”

“What’s her name?”

“Excuse me?”

“The girl, what’s her name?  I have a right to know, even after all this.  Cheating is the worst.”

I shook my head.  “No, it’s not.  But for what it’s worth, her name is Naya.”

“A one time thing, or is this still going on.”

I looked down.  Despite everything, I felt guilty.  “It’s still going on.”

“I see.”

“My turn.  So this was all a big set-up from the start?”

“Yes.”

“You and Cyrus needed me on the project, so you screwed me and screwed with my head and brought me onboard because I was the best historical researcher currently working on sixteenth-century Peru.  I was your best chance of finding the gold.”

“That’s right.”

“To old times,” I said, when her wine came.  We toasted.  “What’s in it for you?  What did the good Grand Inquisitor/Sopay offer you in return?”

She ate one of my cheese croquettes.  “You know, the kind of things that are hard to refuse; eternity and great wealth.  I grew up poor, Bruce.”  She reached for my hand.  “I was always going to tell you.  We could still finish this together.”

“Right.  So it started out as a scam, but then you grew to love me.”

She drank more of her wine.  “No, Bruce, I never grew to love you.  There’s nothing that appealing about you.  And I can honestly say that I tried.”

I didn’t know what to say.

“So no, we can’t still be together.  Besides, you cheated on me.”

“I did.  And it was really great.”

“But we can still finish this together.  You know where that gold is.  Tell me.  Give me the book.  I get what I want, and you get a pile of money.  Then go do whatever thing you want.”

“And if I say no, you hunt me for eternity, call your cop buddies, all of whom work for that Sopay.”

“Something like that.”  She motioned to the bar girl for more wine. “Bruce, honestly, I am fond of you.  And I would like to see you live through the night, but that’s not going to be possible unless you do as I say.  You have no idea what my friends are capable of.”

“I have friends too, Laney.”

“I know.  Sacromonte has been good to you, but he’ll be dead before morning.  And Cuellar, well aside from being dead, is a barely-sentient creepy troll.  And that was just mean having me undress in front of him.  He was actually drooling.  It was disgusting.”

“You misjudged me,” I said.

She shook her head.  “I don’t think so.  Half the men in this bar are giving me the eye, and each one of them is thinking the same thing – what is she doing with that loser.  So when I get up in thirty seconds and give one of them a great big kiss, and ask to borrow his phone, he’s going to smile.  And Bruce, if I make that call, you’re going to die.  So be smart.”

A girl came over with her wine, my girl.  She was lovely, I can’t even begin to describe just how lovely.

“I’d like you to meet Naya,” I told Laney.  “I’ve told her a lot about you.”

Laney looked confused.  That confusion turned to horror when Naya grabbed hold of her wrist.

“I told her that you had exceptionally good taste, but she said she’d have to find out for herself.  Goodbye, Laney.”

Written by williamdoonan

July 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Four

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July 22, 2011
Seville, Spain
Hanson       http://www.historyismine.blogspace9.ex

Sacromonte warned me not to go alone.  In fact, he forbade it.  But in the end I snuck out, which turned out to be a very bad idea.

It was a grey morning in Seville.  Though the chance of summer rains here is nearly nil, the sky was filled with dark clouds, and as I walked toward the cathedral, I felt as if they were following me. 

My best friend in college was a guy named Martin Fletcher who played pool every day.  I haven’t seen him in awhile.  We were supposed to go visit him last Christmas, Laney and I, but his mom passed away so we postponed.  Martin lives in Columbus, Ohio.  So I understood Laney’s reference.  I was on my way to the cathedral to meet her at Christopher Columbus’s tomb.

Rounding the corner, passing my old stomping ground – the Archive of the Indies, I glanced up at Giralda Tower, the twelfth-century minaret that crowns the cathedral, and I nearly fainted.  There was something up there, something very dark, and it was staring right at me.  I can’t tell you how I know this, but it felt like half of hell was perched up at the top of that tower.

I took a moment to calm myself.  I bought a coffee, and then another for a vagrant who asked me to.  A small kindness, I told myself.  He was a miserable wretch of a man, nearly toothless, smelling like damp earth, weighing a hundred pounds if his pockets had been full, which they presumably were not.

I was early for my meeting with Laney, and I didn’t want to spend any more time than I had to near that tower, so I wandered through the alleys of old Seville.  Looking back, alarm bells should have rung when I noticed the vagrant following me, sipping his coffee as he stumbled to keep up.

I don’t know how exactly it happened, those alleys wind back on themselves, but one moment I noticed he was no longer following me, and a moment later he was standing in front of me.  “You think he can’t see you right now,” he said, “but he can.  From that tower, he can see the whole world, even as far away at the sun as it spins around us.”

I felt a spike of fear.  I threw my coffee at him and turned to run, but I didn’t even get a step in.  He was on me faster than I would have thought possible, and his grip was unlike anything I have ever felt.  I thought my arm would break in two.

“It is nearly unbearable,” he began, once he had me up against a door, his hand on my throat.  His breath was fouler than I care to describe.  “Nearly unbearable, the praise he would lavish upon me if I gave you to him.  My soul cries for that kind of praise.  Perhaps I would even be forgiven.”

“Who are you?”  I could barely get the words out, so choked with fear. 

“Do you think he might forgive me?”  He shook nervously.  “Might I enjoy his holy forgiveness?  He is, after all, a priest, as am I.  How many Hail Marys do you think for my penance, young Bruce?  How many?  Can you answer me that?”

“You’re Cuellar,” I managed to gasp before his grip tightened.

“Shhhh!” He looked around in fear.  “Do you think he can’t hear you?”

“What do you want?”

“How many Hail Marys do you think, for my penance?”

“All of them.” 

He shook his head, then he let me go.  “You’re right, of course.  There is no forgiveness.  There is nothing for me.  He took it all.  I was damned long ago.”

“Why did you follow me?”

“To protect you maybe, to help you.  To save you, to capture you perhaps, even to eat you.  I had not made up my mind.  Choices are difficult for me.  Picking which socks to wear can take me upwards of an hour’s time.  And I have only the one pair.”

“How did you find me?”

He rubbed his hands and stared nervously as a young woman walked past us carrying a bottle of wine.  “So tender,” he said, admiringly.  “I wander the streets.  I’ve been watching you for some time.  You should be quite thankful for my help.  Not five nights ago a policeman followed you back to your apartment.  I killed him as he took out his telephone, presumably to make his report.”

“Why are you following me?”

“Because you’re in danger.  You would go now to the cathedral, I might guess.  You’re to meet your girl there but they won’t let you leave.  They won’t ever let you leave.  They’re gathered there now.”

“Who is gathered there?  How do they know where I’m headed.”

“All the minions of hell, that’s who.  Sopay would have you within the hour.”

“How do they know where I’ll be?”

He looked me in the eyes.  “You know how they know.  You’ve known for some time now.”

I nodded. 

“She was always his.  I’ve told you this before.”

I nodded.  “But I still need to see her.”

Written by williamdoonan

July 9, 2012 at 3:32 am

The Mummies of Blogspace9: Chapter Thirty-Three

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July 21, 2011
Frankfurt, Germany
Cavalcante          http://www.diggirl.blogspace9.ex

 

I’m not sure what you want me to say, Bruce.  We’re supposed to be engaged, but that doesn’t keep you out of other girls’ beds?  I’m sure she is extraordinary, but it doesn’t matter.  If you’re mine, you’re mine.  Are you still mine?

I’ve had some time to think.  I know we’ve been through a lot, but it’s important that we meet.  I’m coming to see you, Bruce.  We need to talk, but I know we can’t just come out and pick a meeting place.  You are, after all, the most wanted man in Europe. 

We spent last Christmas in Boston.  I’ll never forget it; the snow, the eggnog at your Aunt Ruth’s.  The dinner cruise on the Bay – it all seems like another life, doesn’t it?  But we almost didn’t go to Boston, if you recall.  In fact we were going to go someplace else.  Your old tennis buddy from college, we were going to visit him.  I’m not going to say too much because I don’t want to give it away.  But the name of that city, where your friend lives, references a locale in the city you currently reside in.

I arrived in Frankfurt an hour ago, and I’ll be in Spain in the morning.  Meet me at that place at 9:00 am.  I will look forward to seeing you, Bruce.  We have a lot to discuss.

 

July 21, 2011
New York, NY
Duran                   http://www.harqubusier.blogspace9.ex

Colleagues, you’ll surely hear of this as soon as the authorities determine what exactly they are dealing with, but let me provide you with some news you may find illuminating.

The cargo ship Parador Joya approached the Spanish port of Malaga last night just after midnight.  Because port authorities had received no radio communications from the vessel, they dispatched not only a harbor pilot boat but also a Civil Guard patrol vessel. 

Recent concerns about smuggling and terrorism have rendered military authorities skittish, and a fast-approaching ship that does not respond to repeated contacts is not normal.  In short, when armed naval soldiers accompanied the harbor pilot onto the vessel, they found not a single living soul.

Captain Alarcon was discovered on the bridge – I suspect that’s how it will be reported by the news agency.  But in fact, my contacts in the shipping industry have privately informed me that most of Captain Alarcon was discovered on the bridge.  The partial remains of seven other crew members were discovered in the ship’s hold, where presumably they had taken unsuccessful refuge from whatever was hunting them.

No cargo was found on board, and one of the life rafts was missing, leading the authorities to conclude that whoever committed these murders disembarked as the ship approached port.

Colleagues, we can countenance no reasonable doubt as to the identity of the perpetrator of these events.  And she is coming your way.  So therefore, am I. 

July 21, 2011
Seville, Spain
Cuellar    http://www.perdido.blogspace9.ex

She’s coming to me, I can feel it.  I can smell her in the summer air.  And I plan to welcome her with the warmest embrace.  I shall love her always.  How long I have waited for another of my kind!  Gumecindo, I don’t know how I will feel about seeing you again.  I will endeavor to be civil, I assure you, but you must promise me – if the girl favors you, you must promise to relinquish her to me immediately. 

July 21, 2011
New York, NY
Duran                   http://www.harqubusier.blogspace9.ex

Vasco, even the most feeble-minded of imbeciles would not naturally conclude that the girl is coming for you.  Now please go ply yourself with some voluminous intoxicating beverage so that you might disabuse yourself of this folly. 

Given that, curiously, I look forward to seeing you, my oldest friend, after all these many centuries.

Written by williamdoonan

June 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm