Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Magpie Tales #2

A Whiff of Brimstone

At first glance, the man stretched out on the rose patterned carpet of room 411 in the Hotel Forum, a fading landmark in the crumbling post Communist city of Bratislava could have been drunk or passed out. When Marek Holzt of the Kriminal Politzei turned him over, unnaturally pinkish skin tones, almost exactly matching the carpet and the contorted rictus of pain on its face told him, this was a corpse, a very dead corpse.

His first task was to figure how the man had died. Carefully scanning the room’s surfaces, his attention was caught by an open box of matches bearing the hotel’s logo; nothing surprising there. Most Eastern European men still smoked like fools. One match, an odalisque stretched across the top of the box, sported a most unusual burn pattern. His cop’s sixth sense jangling, he pulled on a pair of rubber gloves, (Not everything you see on American cop shows is erroneous.) and gingerly lifted the match to his nose.

A quick sniff told him everything he needed to know. “Josep,” he said to his partner, handing him the match and box. “Get these analysed. I would guess our dead man was poisoned when he went to light a cigarette. Now all we have to do is find out who he was and why someone wanted him dead.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Magpie Tales #1

After a long hiatus - too long, I know - I am resuscitating this blog to post, among other things, snippets of my writing. This is the new beginning

Words: 211

This is a part of a longer story I am working on. The Brothers of the Sword led by the Prince Bishop Albert, and Pope Honorius III’s Legate, William of Modena have just completed a march across the frozen Bay of Riga to attack the pirates living on the Oesel Islands. This is their first morning after making landfall.

The first warning of the day to come, a thin line of lurid pink had just begun to tint the sky, when we were wakened for Lauds. That evil tone wrapped itself around the flat plain of our encampment like a noose about to strangle us all. We assembled groggy, shaking bad dreams and night dust from our eyes, falling to our knees at the Prince Bishop’s imperious command.

Lacking a proper chalice, Bishop Alert pulled a silver object from under his cloak – a silver beaker – raising it aloft as he began the recitations preparing us to partake of the Lord’s Blood before advancing into battle. The sun appearing over the far horizon, flashed just at the same moment, bathing the beaker in fire and blood. The blaze seared my eyes and I bent my neck, wondering whose blood and how many deaths would ensue in the cleansing fire of Albert’s fury.