One wintry Thursday morning, under a queer blurry sky, an old woman trekked down a bustling city street with an unsightly burlap bag hanging from her shoulder. The people that passed her noted her appearance which seemed awfully ordinary except for the bag, of course, which couldn’t possibly be a handbag.
Every once in a while she would stop and ask a passerby something, then shake her head and keep walking. This happened from early morning to evening so that the people who passed her while on their way to the office or store would pass her again on their way back. The ones she had already stopped and spoken with would give her a wide berth more often than not. She really did seem strange, but in a familiar sort of way.
The challenge: 190-210 word limit; character: spy; incorporate assigned picture.
(This is the second of a two-part story. For the first, click here.)
It seems a blur and to this day Norbit is hard put to explain exactly what transpired in the moments after his foot’s encounter with a figure in a shimmering suit and hat of purple riding what appeared to be a bicycle, playing what looked to be a miniature keyboard.
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. (Hebrews 13:1-3)
Elder Jud Norbit was a wizened old man, weathered by work and age. He left for his office at a quarter past seven and returned at a half-past six every day except Sundays. He was met at the door by his manservant, Pritcherd, who wore a sympathetic look just as effortlessly as he anticipated every movement in his boss’s routine. There was a nod that passed between them, a glance aside for the mail and afternoon paper, a glass of whisky at his elbow as he sat in his armchair by the fire in the winter, by the window in the summer, and then a decent meal with Mrs. Gray serving in her white apron, followed by a steaming cup of cider in the winter, tea in the summer, on a polished silver tray at his desk in the study. A quick look at the accounts and the necessaries on his computer, a brief email sent here and there, and he closed his browser and rose and stretched. It had been a long day.
“Have a seat,” she said, looking away, half afraid.
“Don’t mind if I do,” he said, sitting on the bench.
“I’m not sure why you came.”
The silence grew like the gray shroud covering the lake. Immense and bleak.
She didn’t say much anymore.
Her mind had gone. She knew it.
Two kings there were in ancient times, Lemuel and Qoheleth. They lived in neighboring lands and in the days of their boyhood had been eager to visit one another under the indulgent eyes of their parents. As the years rolled by, however, the duties of their royal crowns served to keep them apart till, in the shadow of their old age, they met again under the cedar trees where once they had played.
As they walked together, they talked of many things, of perils in kingship and of victories in war, of great gain and of equally great loss. They talked as easily and naturally as if there had been no lengthy passage of time since their childhood rambles. At length the evening shadows fell and they paused to listen to the sound of running water from a nearby stream and the whisper of light breezes among the forest ferns and leaves.
Matthew So-Yohu had thought it was a day like any other when the unthinkable occurred. Pushing aside that inherent illogic, So-Yohu grimaced internally and continued his speech. His unnameable audience was transfixed. So-Yohu’s grimace grew. He felt it stretch within his soul like a rubber band as large as Archimedes’s hypothetical lever. Would the grimace grow until it exploded his soul’s natural capacities or would his soul expand in its turn to accommodate the increasing proportions of his grimace, thereby proving itself infinitely flexible, gargantuan, and monstrous?
At this point the grimace transformed into a grimmus, which in fact it had been all the time, and So-Yohu was able to relax. The grimmus, however, could not.
So-Yohu’s grimmus got to work at once, as all grimmuses are compelled to do. It began with an ordinary 16-oz can of tomato sauce that So-Yohu inexplicably purchased on his way home from work. That was the unintentionally easy part since djinns can abide in anything but prefer the packaged effect. The intentionally easy part, of course, was summoning the djinn. Like cherries in an Anatolian cherry orchard after a moderately hard winter, plentiful spring rains, temperate sunshine, and only a modicum of infestation, djinns are everywhere. One doesn’t have to know where to look. The grimmus had only to choose. And that was the difficult part, though Who made it so, the grimmus knew very well.
So-Yohu’s grimmus did actually settle on one djinn but he ended up summoning another. Their little joke. But in cases like that and otherwise, the grimmus understood, the outcome was predetermined.
So the djinn claimed occupancy of the 16-oz tomato can that its owner, placidly unaware of its contents, carried in a large paper bag all the way into his domicile.