Okay, so the truth is for the past month I’ve been focusing on finishing ‘The Ritual of DUELS’, and haven’t been paying attention to this blog. November was taken up by NaNo, and the three months in between that I was on a secret mission from the government to extract the intelligence the worldwide Zionist conspiracy was keeping concerning the upcoming invasion of our planet from the Giant Platypus Collective in Universe #119.
All of the above statements are 100% true.
So I was wondering what I could post for your enjoyment to make it up, and I realised I hadn’t displayed any samples of ‘The Points’ yet.
This is an interesting one; because it was written by me, and everything I write is interesting. But also because, as per the ‘choose your own adventure’ format, the writing is in 2nd person. Most 2nd person stuff I’ve read makes the ‘you’ character as vague as possible, so they don’t run the risk of having the reader say ‘I do this? But I wouldn’t do this!’. However, in this case my POV character is extremely un-vague. The idea is that I, the narrator, am like a little voice in the character’s head, narrating his life for him as he goes about his business, and it’s the reader’s job to decide which of the many alternate universes this character exists in that they want to see. Alternate universes play a big part in the plot. It’s also in present tense, which I usually hate, but it works sometimes.
So this is an example of a single page of the story with the choices at the end, just to give you an idea roughly of how it would work. I present: Page 4C
Christ. It’s not like you can’t hold more than one thought in your head, but a murder, a missing cousin, problems with Dixon, the anniversary, your situation, and now whatever it is Mia wants is beginning to really annoy you. Given this is Mia, it could probably be anything from a link to a dancing cat video on YouTube to a confession that she’s dying of an incurable disease.
Turns out it’s somewhere in the middle.
“Hey, E—got 2 go 2 da Caymans nd c da boss coz K.H. got killd last nite! D: Cn u take da spawn 4 a few days? Shes wif yoyo. Gonna b on a plane from 9 ’til idk so u probs cant reach me, sorry ): xoxo”
You squint at your phone as if there was actually some sense within that gibberish. She wants you to take Peri for a few days, fine, you understand that, but who the hell is K.H. and what does she mean he was ‘killd’?
Not expecting much, you put the terms (adding the appropriate ‘e’ into ‘killed’) into Google to see what comes up and to your surprise the answer is there right away. Apparently a banker named Konrad Haeckel was murdered last night, two days after being found ‘not guilty’ of the massive corporate fraud he had undeniably committed. You don’t pay much attention to national news, but you’re pretty sure the name rings a bell.
If Mia’s company was involved with Haeckel somehow you can understand how an impromptu trip to the Caymans to sort shit out might have been warranted. But it’s going to be a bitch to drive all the way down to Anaconda and back up the Nine Mile Road to the nowhere that you call home, and you don’t have anything for Peri to eat. You hope Mia had the time to pack her a bag before she dropped her off at ‘Yoyo’s’, you can’t remember what the clothes situation is at your house, and if she doesn’t have her Nintendo she’s going to raise a fuss.
At least you’re supposedly on leave, so you have some leeway when it comes to arranging things with her. If any of your cases get serious you can always ask Hope to look after her; Peri gets along well with Mickey’s brats.
You decide to try to get Mia on her cell nonetheless and are just about to close the Google page displaying the results for Haeckel’s murder when a name in the article catches your eye.
‘…leading investigator on the case, Isambard Johansson…”
Johansson is leading this case? Does that mean anything?
It’s a little worrying. Johansson is also investigating Lake Emerson, which is deeply connected to your past, and now he’ll have another case on his desk that’s connected to the mother of your child. Even if it is a coincidence, would he assume that or is he going to start an investigation?
No, that’s ridiculous. How could the two cases be connected anyway, through you and Mia or anything else besides?
You’re not surprised to find you can’t get Mia by cell, and when you call Beauman with an update she lets you go so you can pick up Peri. Frankly you think Dixon and the dead guy with the glass eye are more important—it’s not as if Mia’s former college roommate is going to eat your daughter if you don’t get there within the next few hours—but Beauman calls you a ‘deadbeat’ and hangs up so you assume she’s expecting you to go straight to Anaconda as soon as you’ve passed the warehouse.
The ‘warehouse’—not so much of a warehouse as it is a huge cabin where George Dixon stockpiles weapons in preparation for the day the bogeyman comes to tell him he can’t have any more weapons—is an hour’s drive into Lolo National Forest. If Dixon and the others had all been there they’d have been visible from the road, and they’re not, so that was a waste of time.
It’s now one-thirty, and it’s going to take hours to get to Anaconda. Without thinking, you call Mickey for an update, wincing as you put your cell to your ear while driving once again.
“Lusnot—Luskonitkov,” Mickey answers.
You blink. “Did you just momentarily forget your own name, Luskonitkov?”
“Suck it, Jones. How were things with the feds?”
“Terrible. How’s our murder vic.?”
“Oh, Jesus.” He sounds slightly traumatised. “When we lifted up the body there was this fancy-schmancy bracelet underneath. ‘See that guy Evie knows’, says Beauman. ‘what’s it, McIntosh? Yeah, go see him’.”
Mickey has been to see Luciano McIntosh? That’s pretty funny.
“So I go see this guy. Jesus Christ, Evie. Just… what is he, an alien? And I’m not talking other country alien, that was obvious enough even if it was a bit schizophrenic as to whether he was a Scot or Italian, no—I’m talking E.T. extra terrestrial no-way-is-this-guy-for-real alien!”
“He’s not so bad.”
“The ‘stache alone should disqualify him from the species, is all I’m saying.”
“I’m sure he was more afraid of you than you were of him.”
“Hey, what’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means ‘tell me if we have any leads, Luskonitkov’.”
There’s a bored noise on the other end of the line. “Chen says it’s like we thought with the body, killed either with a sword or some other kind of massive blade, at least thirty inches, maybe more.”
Lunatics with swords running around Missoula. Maybe you should see if Yoyo can hold on to Peri until Mia gets back.
“CCTV confirms what the witness already told us—no licence plates. Came in from the north and drove south.”
“The north?” you repeat, because there’s not much up there but forest until you get to Canada.
“Yeah, we’re having the local patrols make inquiries and Beauman’s got the Canucks on the line. Don’t think whoever it was crossed the border recently, at least not legally.”
Still—it could be drug related. Some of those kingpins can get weird if they think someone’s messed around with them, you wouldn’t exclude the possibility that swords would be drawn.
“What about the bracelet?” you ask.
“Well, your friend seemed to think it was the One Bracelet of Power, the way he was looking at it. I was surprised he didn’t chuck it into the fire and make magic words appear. Apparently it’s vintage Victorian, but really weird—it’s got one of those cameo portraits only with the chick facing forward instead of in profile, and all scarred up. McIntosh said it was probably based on a real woman—says if it was ever insured here or in the UK, he can track it.”
“And we might get an ID on our guy?”
“Prints aren’t in the system. It’d be quicker than blood or dentals.”
Don’t you know it. You’d like to talk to McIntosh, if you get the chance.
“What about the eye?”
“According to Chen, that’s the weirdest thing, ’cause he doesn’t think it can be tracked.”
That does seem weird. You let Mickey elaborate.
“Wasn’t made by a licensed maker, ‘s what he says. Professional, yes. Modern, almost certainly. But why anyone would want a black market glass eye…”
“Gives the impression that for whatever reason he didn’t want to go to a hospital,” you muse. “Again, could be drugs. When we start with Missing Persons, we should check over the border as well.”
“So you’re not being swept away to Lake Emerson by the FBI?”
Definitely not until Mia gets back either. Which reminds you—
“Do you think Hope is available over the next few days? Mia’s had to go to the Caymans due to some banker being murdered, so I’ve got Peri, but I’m not sure how free my schedule will be.”
“Shit, the Haeckel guy? That’s all over the news, you should have asked the feds about it.”
“That would have meant talking to them for longer than I had to.”
“Yeah, well it was creepy shit, man; the guy who did it waited ’til the whole family was there, told the guy to say his goodbyes, told the mother if she tried to cover her kids’ eyes he’d shoot her too, and recorded the whole thing. Fucking crazy—not that I’ve got any sympathy for bankers, but to do it in front of the kids like that…”
You don’t really see what this has to do with anything. It feels like gossip.
“Speaking of,” you cut in, “I’ve got to drive down to Anaconda and I’m about to hit the main road, so I should get off the phone. Call me if anything comes up.”
“Will do, Evie. Drive safe—I’ll ask Hope if she’s got time, I can’t imagine she doesn’t, that fucking professional nerd sure seems to make enough money for her to do what she wants.”
He hangs up. You feel a little sorry for him, and Hope isn’t exactly your favourite person in the world for dropping him, but it was hardy her new video-game designing husband’s fault, and you know for a fact Mickey used to own several of his games before he started seeing Hope.
Things are different with you and Mia. Mia always has to be different.
You send her a text saying you hope everything is okay and make sure it’s punctuated correctly—a hint, even though you’re pretty sure she’ll never change. Then you look out at the road ahead of you.
[A] Drive back to city centre to pick some things up for Peri so you can stop by McIntosh’s and see how he’s getting on with the tracking?
[B] Go straight to Anaconda and see if Peri needs anything on the way back?