Glitches Free Online Serial Novel


Chapter 33

Over the last day and a half I have sat her listening to sound of my own heartbeat knowing that it is about to end soon.  I am surrounded on all sides and don’t stand a chance of escape.  Not from deep inside the Elder’s Headquarters, completely surrounded and watched at every turn.  And so I have written my story.  Maybe someone will find these pages and take warning at the events that happened here.  Maybe it will be used as a cautionary tale for others like me in the future.  This story would have served me well if I had only known what I know now.
I concentrate on the texture of the paper and the grip of the pen in order to block out all other inputs.  I can’t even consider what is happening to Beatrice right now.  It would drive me mad if I let my mind go and thought about it for even a moment.  My friends are being hunted and are probably madly on the run, if they haven’t been caught already, as I sit here in my solitude.  Somehow I let them all down.  Obviously it was a horrible idea to even come for Beatrice.  This much I know now.  But to not try?  Was that even an option?  I still have no idea where everything went so poorly.  I haven’t been able to connect the dots and figure out how Beatrice disappeared right in front of me.  And more importantly, how Leif – of all people –  got the jump on me.

But there is something now… the sound of something rising.  I can hear it like the reverb a long lost song, echoing through my head.  Distant and remote, but its a song meant only for me. And mirrors and dances with the sound of my pen, masking itself, keeping itself for me alone. A smile spreads across my face as I close my eyes and continue writing blindly.

I think I understand.  I think I see.  What matters now is that Beatrice is alive.  She is alive and she is communicating to me.


As I ran into Beatrice’s suite a single thought possessed my mind.  Where did she just disappear to?  And how could I have been so stupid?  Of all people I should have seen past any sort of faint or deceit.  Or if someone else was leaving Beatrice’s scent for me, how could I possibly have been fooled by this?  All of the possibilities were completely inconceivable to me.  Just beyond the realm of anything I could dream of.  But here I was.  Standing in an empty hotel suite.  Staring at an open window.  And there is Leif’s laughing behind me again.  I have considered these few minutes of my life over the past 36 hours a million different times.  His laughter and my surprise.  His laughter and then my surprise.  Over and over again.

“Benjamin, we meet again.” and as he said this he walked into the room.  He moved in like he owned the place.  Which, now I guess, he did.  The guards fanned out around the perimeter and covered every possible exit point.  As they flowed in across the room I realized it wasn’t hundreds of them, but merely thirty.  Leif, and thirty men, was beyond what I could handle… I knew that.  There just wasn’t any way.  Not without bringing the entire hotel down around us all.  And I was certain to die in that sort of carnage.  So, I kept it as an option in the back of my mind as began to frantically search for alternatives.

“Leif.  So good to see you again.  It’s been too long.” I heard some portion of my brain respond while every important segment of my brain dissected and turned this particular problem around and around.

“I am confused.  Will you permit me to ask a question that has been bothering me?”

“Leif, for you, anything.  My life is an open book.” I chuckled.

“Good.” he said humorlessly.  I then understood this man had no mental acuity for being human. He just wasn’t one.  And then he asked, “My ploy was about as ageless as time.  And still you came.  Still you walked willingly into one of the most obvious traps ever setup.”

“I’m looking for the question mark.” I snipped.

“…Why?” he said with a grimace as he tried his best to consider any possible answer that I could possibly come up with that would make sense to him.

“There are things in this world you, Leif, will never know anything about.  You can research it in every University, Library or Lab, and it still won’t matter because you still won’t get it.” I was almost whispering as I said this.  I was thinking about Beatrice and the deep inner longing I had for her.  For her safety and ultimately for a life together.  “You will never understand what it means to love.  And that is why you will never understand my answer or my actions.”

“But you were so easily caught.  I’m afraid that I’m missing something.  That there is some larger play going on here and I just can’t see it yet.”  Leif rolled his eyes up towards the ceiling and thought for a moment.  “I’ve considered every possible outcome, and they all end in your death.  I see no other options.”

“And that is exactly what gives me hope.”  I enraged him at this.  He went from pensive to full red face in less than a second.  I was certain he was going to beat me to death now where I stood.  And I was resolved to receive it without flinching.  I set my jaw and sent my thoughts out into the void towards Beatrice.  I told her I was ok.  That she needed to concentrate on running.  That she should live her life with Derek.  And that she shouldn’t give me another thought.

Then, in a moment of preternatural calm, Leif relaxed.  He smiled.  And then he said, “Here is what is going to happen.”  He walked past me and watched out the window keeping his back to me as he spoke.  “We are now beginning the hunt for your friends.  They will be brought in and you will be interviewed by the Elders.  And once they are content, they will vote, and then you will die.  Hopefully they will give me the pleasure of keeping your head on a pike.  But I will leave that up to them.”

“It would be a great decoration item for any raving lunatic’s apartment.  I highly recommend a fall palette backdrop.  Maybe a few neo-modern minimalist paintings to highlight it.  Could be a gorgeous ensemble.”  He didn’t take my bait this time.  “So now you will wait. I am certain that The Elders will be happy to thankyou for what you did to their confidence a few moments ago.  And they will thank me I’m sure, for putting an end to this silliness.”

“Can’t wait.” was the only thing I could think of as a retort.  It wasn’t looking good.

As I continue to scribble out my final thoughts I wonder if there was an opportunity there in that last moment with Leif.  A chance I didn’t see coming?  An possible play I could have made. Something?  But I come up blank every single time I consider it.  I am without any sort of idea or new thought since losing Beatrice.  I had her.  It was so close.  And yet here I am.  I basically traded places with her.

It was then that I realized Beatrice was coming.  I could see here as clearly as I saw the words on this page.  She was walking in the front doors.  Through the massive entryway.  And there were others all around her.  I also so Yolanda by her side.  They were coming up the stairs now.  I couldn’t figure it out.  My brain played through the possibilities. But all I could see in my mind was that Beatrice was coming.  I didn’t care if we would soon be prisoners together or if we were soon to die.  All I could see in my mind was that she was on her way.
Like a teenager, heading out on his first date, I considered checking my hair.  And then laughed at myself at that.  I had just about gotten her killed, who cares what my hair looked like?  Then she was there suddenly standing in the door.  And the world stopped when our eyes caught each other.  I grimly shook my head and then smiled the biggest smile I think I’ve ever smiled in my life.  And her returned smile took my breath away.  Beatrice has the most amazing heart stopping smile the world has ever been graced with.  Whole planets, and stars, take their cues from Bea’s smile.  Nation’s could rise and fall by this one smile.  And I had to personally will my heart to continue beating when she flashed her eyes my way.  Such brilliance in those eyes.  And there, deep in her eyes was a twinkle, a sparkle, that I couldn’t place. Oh she was a minx.  And she was up to something.

The next few seconds are a blur.  Somehow we ended up in each other’s arms, but no distance was crossed.  One moment we were separated, and then the next we weren’t.  And it felt as if we had always been together.  I had to be careful, to will myself, from crushing her accidentally I was so excited at this moment.  And yet, we were soon to die.  How could I possibly be excited about this eventuality?  And yet I was.  In this moment, the universe was perfect and everything made sense.

And then, crashing me to reality, I heard Yolanda of all people, standing in the doorway rudely clearing her throat to interrupt.

“Seriously?” I responded with my eyes closed.  “Go away.”  And then through gritted teeth,

“You’ve done enough damage already don’t you think?”  And then to my dismay, Beatrice stepped out of my grasp and turned to face Yolanda… by my side.  She slid her hand into mine and I considered crying out of joy.  But I had bigger issues on my mind.  And that issue had the name of Yolanda.

“So?” I asked her.  “You came along for the ride just to turn us in?”

“It was the least I could do for the love of my life.”  She walked in through the shattered door stepping over fragments and shards as she slowly crossed the distance into the living room of the hotel suite.  “I was surprised you even let me come along to watch the pyrotechnics really.”  She laughed at this while surveying the room and the few guards posted throughout.

As she scanned the horizon it became clear to her just how many guards there were.  On the roof, across the street, down on the sidewalk.  Everywhere.  They were definitely afraid of me, that was for sure.  “Derek, Sumner and Cat will be found soon.  Once they realized I was turning, they fled.  But I’m sure the Elders will bring them in soon enough.”

“You are here to gloat then?  What is your purpose in interrupting?” I turned my steely gaze fully her direction and set my jaw.  I considered killing her there and then.  I knew I could accomplish this one simple task before the guards realized what had just hit them.  But then what about my time with Beatrice?  I couldn’t do it.  And I cursed myself for my timidity.

“No, I just thought I’d deliver your prize.  You have me to thank for your last living moments together.  It was the least I could do.”  And then she turned without saying another word and walked back out the doorway the way she had come.

The sun continued its arc like a backwards swine dive into the earth.  The colors exploded across the panoply of windows here in this suite.  The oranges and pinks were radiant against the clouds and lit everything in a surreal vision that was too beautiful to really comprehend or fully grasp.

We stood there holding hands, watching out the window as we saw the explosion of a million watercolors play out to its final breath.  Nowhere was the majesty of the colors more beautifully felt than against the hues of Bea’s skin.  She was resplendently dressed in the oranges, reds, pinks of the sky.  And it was then that I knew that the sunset was jealous of her beauty.  There was no more beautiful person in the world than the woman that stood next to me right now.

“Ben, I am sorry…” she started.

And I just wasn’t having any of it… and so I stopped her from talking with the slightest most tender of kisses I could have ever mustered.  I could feel our lips slipping past one another as they met.  And I felt Beatrice sort of melted at my touch.  A million concerns and stresses disappearing entirely.

We were standing in front of the windows overlooking the city, completely and totally at peace when I sensed something percolating in the back of my brain. I felt a discharge of power dance across my brain as several people materialized in the room directly behind us. I turned and looked intently into Bea’s eyes and then said to her silently… “No matter what occurs, always remember this – I will always love you.” Bea squeezed me tight, and then I held her face and kissed her gently.

I turned to face the Elders that had joined us there in that hotel suite. I bowed in a show of mock respect and welcome. The Elders ignored my mock show entirely. They were dressed less formally than I imagined they would be. More casually. The men wore dress pants, suspenders, and white shirts. The two women elders wore casual dresses that seemed more comfortable than the last time we met. All four wore hats of some sort or another as that seemed to be the identifying trait of the 20’s, they were obviously fitting in with the times.

“Ben.” Said the first Elder as he walked forward from the group of four.

“And what might I call you, good sir?” I asked as simply as I could.

“Pyrite is my name, but Pyre is the name most everyone calls me.”

“Pleased to meet you Pyre” and then I went to shake his hand. Bea sucked in her breath at this. I realized I had made a social faux pas of some sort. But I couldn’t pull up now… so I kept my hand out there, and forced the issue. Pyre, thought a moment, and then strode forward and shook my hand firmly. In the end, I didn’t realize what the big deal was about.

“And you as well.” He turned and shot a glance at his three companions and then continued.

“Let me bring you up to speed on what is going to happen.” Pyre, slid over to the large couch and sat down unceremoniously. I was more than a bit surprised by this. And so I followed his queue and found a spot directly across from him on a stool. Everyone else remained tense, and standing around us.

“Please do, I would appreciate that.”

“We have come to reach a verdict. We will vote. The voting procedures are always the same. A simple slash on a page will indicate a guilty verdict. An x will indicate an innocent one.” One of the other Elders, the other male, began handing out sheets of parchment and pens at this.

“Do you mind telling me what the punishment will be for a guilty verdict?” I asked innocently enough. “And what the sentence is?”

“The crimes are crimes against our entire way of living. And you penalty will be death if convicted,” one of the women behind Isles responded.

I wasn’t too shocked at this. “And Beatrice? What will be her fate?”

“The same,” the man handing out the sheets said over his shoulder as he returned to stand next to the two women.

“And your name? I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure of meeting.” I confidently strolled over to shake his hand.

He put both of his hands up in a defensive position and chuckled while shaking his head. “The name is Valmont, but am known as Vale. No offense, but I’d prefer not to shake your hand. You never can be too sure these days.” And then as if I wasn’t even there he addressed his three partners, “Its as if he’d never heard of us before. It is so very quant.” And then he laughed again at my naivety and ignorance.

I continued past Vale and then over to the women. “Do you two shake hands? Or is that against your dietary restrictions as well.” The two women eyed each other and then laughed at my forwardness obviously appreciating my gumption. They both extended their hands, and I took one in my left and the other in my right and gave them each a light kiss. “Pleasure ladies. I’m Ben. And you might be?”

“I am Mischief, but you can call me Myst.” Said the woman to my right. “And this is Wisp.”

I nodded a greeting to both women and then I realized what their names meant. “The Elements. No?” But then I was immediately confused. “You don’t come from the houses then? Or do the elements correspond to each of the councils?” I was more just thinking out loud at this point than really asking a question of these anyone in particular.

Pyre took the bait and responded as I headed back towards Beatrice’s side. “No. The elements don’t correspond to the houses, the elements make up the houses. Without the elements the houses don’t even exist.”

“So if you are the appointed leaders for the councils, then why is everyone so threatened by my existence?”

Wisp chimed in and spoke mainly to Myst, “Sounds like a local political issue to me.” Myst chuckled a bit at this.

Vale followed up on this comment and said, “We would have to ask the councils that question. We are not trying you for living outside of the councils. But for your blatant disregard for the bylaws of our community. You have brought more attention on our order than we’ve had in several hundred years. If ever.”

When I glanced Beatrice’s way she was looking at me out of the corner of her eye and shaking her head.

“Let’s vote.” Quietly intoned Vale.

“Wait,” I jumped in suddenly. “What if there is a tie? There are only four of you.”

“There’s never been a tie. But if there is one, then you will duel for your life.”

“A duel? Seriously? With guns?” I asked incredulously.

“No, its a match. One on one. But, like I said. There never has been one.” Responded Vale.

“And there never will be.” Echoed Pyre.

Each of the Elders scrawled out their votes and then handed the folded pieces of paper over to Pyre as he came back around to collect them.

“Seems like a bit of a formality I’d say.” I said to Beatrice.  At this she pursed her lips and subtly shook her head indicating I should be quiet.

Pyre held the votes in the air and then said, “The Elders have spoken, may these votes be binding and absolute, regardless of the outcome.”

I rolled my eyes at this.  Seriously?  This was a Kangaroo Court and Pyre knew it.  I was certain they were talking to themselves behind the scenes so why all the pomp?  They should just come out and declare me guilty and get on with it.

As he held the votes aloft I had an idea.  And then Pyre brought the votes down and opened the first one.  “The first vote on the crimes against the order by Benjamin Swift and Beatrice Gladwell.”  There was a pause and then he said quietly.  “Guilty.”

Beatrice looked at me with something that approached fear.  I had never seen her afraid before and I wanted nothing more than to protect her.

“Vote number two,” he unfolded the sheet of paper with a flourish, “Guilty.”

At this Beatrice grabbed a hold of me tightly.  And I held her closely as Pyre pulled the third vote forward and intoned, “The third vote….” and this time Pyre paused before reading it off and I could feel the electricity snap on in the room.  A grin spread across my face as I stared into Bea’s face.  Her eyebrows cocked into a question.  And I answered her with my eyes – ‘watch’ is what they said.  ‘You’ll see.’

“Not Guilty.” Pyre looked inquiringly across to each of his other Elders.  And then he looked directly at me.  “You’ve tampered with the vote?  You’ve dared to mess with the Elder’s Justice?”  Pyre had no idea what to say to this.  He was so flummoxed he didn’t even know what to do next.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” I said innocently enough.  “You see me sitting here, with Bea, awaiting the ruling from on high.”

Myst spoke out next, “Read the final vote.”

Pyre pulled the final vote forward and flipped it open.  “Not Guilty.”  He looked directly at me with a look that was definitely shock.  He was searching his memories and trying to find a moment where I could have impacted the vote and kept coming up blank.  “I don’t see how he did it.  Did any of you see anything?”  The other Elders stood there searching their memories and shook their heads blankly.

Myst spoke up again, “Then if a duel is what he wants, then a duel is what he’ll get.  I’ll dance with him,” Myst offered.

“No, he’s mine.” Pyre responded.