Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 32

Sumner was going on at a great rate, laughing and proclaiming the wonders of my stupidity, all the while the rest of the group just sat and stared at me completely flabbergasted. “So, when did you decided exactly, that throwing up on the Elders Royal Guards would be the best plan of attack? I mean, its brilliant really. I bet you almost got away with that one. Sir, please, come right in… we yield the field to you.” Sumner continued cackling. And then wandered away to the mini-bar to see if there were anything good to abscond with.

Yolanda was very tentative when she began. “Ben? Are you feeling ok?” She then stopped for a moment and finally continued again, “I mean… would you like to rest a bit? Maybe get a shower and sleep a bit?”

“Yo, I have not purged brain cells since the last time I saw you. You don’t need to keep using this pedantic tone with me, really. Yeah, I get it, it was stupid. But I didn’t know where I was. All I knew was that Bea was inside. And so I followed. Yeah, stupid. I get that.”

“Stupid doesn’t even begin to sum it up Ben. Here in the Elder City, there are pre-schoolers who can wax you in a match. And what do you do? You decide to walk straight up to Central and attack it in a full frontal assault… by yourself?” She shook her head as Sumner laughed again a bit of a hyena laugh as he continued to envision it.

Cat jumped in now to see if she could put some distance between Yolanda, Sumner and myself.

“Hey Ben, I’m glad you were quick on your toes up there. I can’t imagine pulling off something that fast if I were in your shoes. Really glad you are safe!” She went to jump into my lap and give me a hug, and quickly demurred when she smelled me as she got closer.

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad I’m sure… sorry about that.” I got up off the couch stiffly and headed into the bathroom to shower. I was still moving slowly from the muscle pain from the car collision. “Maybe while I’m showering you guys can start figuring out how we are going to get into that building to get Bea out.” And behind me I could hear Sumner’s maniacal laughing starting up again.

I grabbed my duffle bag and walked into the bathroom and undressed slowly.  And then I went to turn the shower on and was immediately confused.  The math didn’t add up.  I couldn’t figure out where the controls were to make the shower turn on that obviously was intended to come from the ceiling.  ‘Why did it have to be the 20’s of all time periods?  Couldn’t they have picked a more technologically advanced era?’ I thought to myself.  And I began swearing under my breath.

“Guys?  The shower?” And with that Sumner walked in on me while I was standing there naked and pulled the chain on the ceiling, and just like that water began flowing down into the tub.

“Ahh.  I see.”

“So do we!  Close the door!” Yelled Yolanda.

“Oh Shoot!”  I slammed the door tightly behind Sumner as he laughed his way out of the bathroom.

As I showered I began to review the situation before us as I saw it today.  The Elders, the most powerful Cranials known, had Beatrice confined in a large hotel.  This hotel was also protected by numerous guards of various unknown capabilities.  And to make matters worse they knew I had to be coming.  So while they probably didn’t know I was here yet, they understood I would be coming soon.

I finished showering and began to towel off.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Beatrice.  I started to obsess a bit and I realized that if I didn’t stop thinking about her I would do something stupid out of sheer fear and concern for her well-being.  I decided right there that what we needed was a rock solid plan to slip Beatrice out from the hotel without them being any the wiser.

Jeans, t-shirt and some flip flops that didn’t smell of drunkard, I wandered back out to the room.  Cat quickly responded by coming and getting the hug she wanted earlier.  I tussled her hair and laughed a bit at that.

And then I got serious and turned to the group “I think we can pick the Elder’s pockets and walk out of Chicago with Bea in tow without their being any the wiser.”

DJ was the first to laugh “I thought your frontal assault of the hotel yesterday was a bit much.  Now you want to break in and steal her?  This is a fools errand.  Don’t get me wrong I’m all in.  But let’s do our best to save our skin in the process shall we?”

“No offense DJ, but I’m a little shocked at your lack of chivalry here.”  I coughed, shook my head and then said, “She is, after all, your girlfriend.”

DJ flared all his Jugg at once and flashed in anger.  I did my best to stand down and keep all my thoughts on the here and now.  Let him kill me if he’d like to.  But the truth was the truth.  It was Cat that saved my life right then.  She walked straight up to DJ and held his hand, looked into his eyes, and then he stopped.

Yolanda was fairly annoyed at this particular pissing contest.  “Alright 3rd graders.  So glad we have our property issues finalized.  Can we get on with this?  I’m intrigued at the idea of breaking into the Ford Knox of the Cranial world and how wonder boy here plans to do this.  You do have an idea don’t you?”  I sort of scrunched up my face at this.  And then eventually I shook my head a bit.  “Nothing?  You’ve got nothing?”

“Well, I don’t know the Elders, or what their weaknesses or fears might be.  If I knew that then maybe we could make one come true,” I sort of thought out loud.

Sumner, in his ever helpful way, jumped in at that.  “The Elders are gods Ben.  They are beyond time.  They are from another physical plane of existence.  They have no fears.  That’s why I love this plan.  If I come out of this alive I will be all the rage with all the women the world over.”  And then he chuckled a bit.  Yolanda leaned over and smacked him in the back of the head with a sharp crack.  “Hey!” he half yelled half laughed as he ducked for cover on the other side of the couch.

And then Cat looked my way and said, “That is easy.”  Everyone turned their eyes to her now and quieted down.  Since when was anything “easy” with the Elders.  If had been anyone else in the group starting out this way they would have been heckled for sure… but not Cat.

“Do go on dear,” I offered.

“Well… the Houses are defensive positions really against all the other Houses.  Its more complicated than this – but Ghosts are deathly afraid of TKs, right?  I mean historically.  TKs are more afraid of Juggernauts than any of the other Houses.  Juggs get mentally messed up by Shifters, right?  So they created these Houses to protect themselves from each other.”  She stopped there for some reason.

“You have our undivided attention Kitty Cat,” I said.  “You can’t stop now.”

She put up a finger, holding me off for a moment as she continued thinking, “Someone is going to be coming to the door in a couple minutes.  But I can’t see who it is.”  With that I was truly frightened all of a sudden.  We were just talking about assault the Elder Headquarters, and one person coming to our door frightened me?

“We run?” Sumner asked.

“No. No.  Its fine.  Just house keeping.  I think.” I would never get used to that.  Such an amazing power to see the future.  I was going to have to talk to her about that some other time.  So amazing.  Sent shivers down my back really.  “Ok, where was I?  Right, the Houses. So they built these natural segmentations of power to keep themselves safe.  To create barriers between themselves.  There is prophecy to indicate they will one day be unified and a new day will come.  But both times that this was tried previously instituted full scale House pogroms across the globe.  I mean, look at what happened to House Empath.”

“New guy alert.  Somebody?” I laughed a bit as I said it.  But nobody offered.  “Oh come on, I don’t know any of this stuff.” And then I realized they just didn’t want to talk about it.
Instead of telling me outright, Yolanda sent me mental pictures of what had happened.  Woah. Killings, blood, mayhem.  But the scariest pictures were the forced breeding programs to interbreed the Emp powers into the other houses by select individuals.  It was a very dark day. And I suddenly understood why no one was talkign about it.  “Ok, I get it.  You can stop.” And thankfully, the images let go of my brain at that.

“And that was the end of House Emp.  There is fear in the four remaining Houses that something similar will happen in the future to them.  The Elders are charged with keeping the stability of the order and this hits them particularly hard.  I don’t think you understand just how much the four houses hate each other.”

“They seemed pretty unified to make my life miserable.” I countered.

“You, my friend, are a totally different story on many many fronts.” answered Sumner.  “Running through the back of the Elder’s minds is the fact that you may be the one to unify the houses. Or even worse.  Maybe you just think you are the one and instead you usher in another era of anarchy and chaos.  You are a threat pretty much to everyone, including me.  But seeing as though they figure I’m damaged goods, I figure you are my only game going.  And basically since you fell for the redhead, I basically am stuck following you around on your quixotic quests.”

“Which brings us back to full circle.” leaned in DJ.  “Beatrice, and breaking her out?  How is this fear the Elders have going to help us get her out?”
I thought about this for a second and then I spoke up, but more to myself than to anyone else.

“If only we could turn this fear on its head – spin it back at them.  Make us, I don’t know, make us look bigger than we are.  If we could make them think that our goals are totally other than what they are.”

“What are our goals?” Yolanda enquired honestly enough.

“Bea.  Bea is my only goal.”

Leif paced the park back and forth across the open space amongst the city park across the street from the Headquarters.  He had already told himself more than once to stop.  But the moment he began thinking again he started the habitual routine over again.  There was just so much on the line and this had to go perfectly or this would all be for naught he thought.  But he’d already handed over his one playing piece and he just didn’t know how to extend his usefulness with the Elders now.  They were appreciative, and cordial, but they didn’t fully understand the gift that they had been given.  But if he could only stay one step ahead of Ben, if only he could out think this upstart he would be able to show the Elders really what he was capable of.  Not only would they see the benefit in their holding Beatrice, but they would also see his value to them and the order.

The pacing was getting worse now.  The grass under his feet was thoroughly in danger now.  It was then that the emissary zig-zagged his way through the front doors and across the street between the old Model T’s and classic sputtering cars going this way and that.  The man was dressed in a long trench coat and black hat.  He wore sunglasses that didn’t fit the era in anyway.  He stood out just in his differentness to this day and age.

“You asked to speak?” the man said.

Leif stopped where he was and willed himself to convey this message as clearly as he could. “Yes, if you could please send my thanks to the Elders for their kindnesses to me.”  The figure nodded curtly more annoyed at the politics than anything else.  “And if you could make them understand that Beatrice is the key.  She holds the answer to everything they need with regard to Ben.”

“Of course she does.” the figured answered.

This matter of factness annoyed Leif to no end.  It was exactly how the Elders treated him earlier as well.  Sure, they paid him well for Beatrice.  But it was a contingency play and nothing else.  Beatrice was the backup plan – a what if – hedge our bets sort of thing.  They didn’t truly understand her importance.

“If I were Ben I would make it seem like I was attacking the front doors.  Running straight at the Elders for an overthrow attempt.  I would work hard to confuse the situation and then sneak her out the back door.”  It was just so obvious and he had only just come to it while he was talking.  The thoughts crystallized in his mind as he was saying them.  It was like he was having an epiphany as he spoke and the vision of the future was clarifying itself right before his eyes.

Trenchcoat was unmoved.  He wasn’t seeing it – this much Leif was sure of.

“The Elders have really appreciated your assistance in this matter and will take this information under advisement.”  With that he nodded and began his way back across the street. Leif knew then that he would go back to the other trenchcoats and laugh about this ‘clandestine’ meeting in the park and the loon who just wouldn’t get a grip with reality.  Leif flushed with anger.  It hit him so suddenly he didn’t know what to do with it.  But it was then that he realized exactly how to set his trap.  The trap was already baited and set.  Leif grinned to himself as he realized that all he had to do was to go and collect his prize.

Beatrice had spent the last several days staring at a wall.  The Elders had given her an extravagant living space and a wonderful reception.  So the confinement and the solitude had all been of her own doing.  But the thought of being a trap for Ben was absolutely driving her mad.  ‘Why were men all the same?’ she wondered to herself.  ‘Always the same.’  She swore out loud at that and a handler walked across the long floor of the hotel suite and poked her head into the room to see if everything was ok.

“Ms Gladwell?  Everything alright in here?  Can I get you anything?” she really was a very sweet person, and Beatrice had nothing against this random person assigned to babysit her.  But just then all she wanted to do was to phase attack her until she couldn’t see straight and then run for the hills.  This was about as impractical an idea as she had ever had.  But, that didn’t stop her from yearning for it all the same.

“Yes, I’m fine.  Thank you.” and then more to herself than anyone else she said, “Yeah, everything is going to be ok.”  But the words coming out of her mouth didn’t ring true even to herself.

“Can I get you something to eat?” she said looking at the tray of food by her bedside that hadn’t been touched from earlier that morning.

“I think I’m fine.  But I do appreciate it.  Thank you.” she smiled as she said it.  But in her mind, the only thought was ‘Now, do go away.’  And magically, just like that, the woman complied and was gone.

The main cause for her angst was the fact that no matter what she did, she knew that Ben wouldn’t listen to her.  Even if she could talk to her right now she was sure exactly how it would go.

“Ben… don’t come.  Leave me to be.  Eventually they will decide that I’m unimportant and possibly let me go.  There is always that chance.  Whatever you do, don’t walk through those doors.” His answer was so flat and two dimensional she puked at its obviousness.

“Just stay alive.  I will come for you.”  Which was sweet really.  But really stupid at the same time.  And then it came to her all at once.  She had to figure out how to get herself out. Take the fight to the Elders herself, which would then make all of Ben’s plans moot.  She giggled a bit at this and smiled a positively nefarious grin to herself.

“Mam?  Food would be good on second thought.”