Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Riders - Missing (Chapter 4 - Forewarned) cont 2

Yes, I know.  I have not posted anything for awhile, but I have been busy writing.  In fact I have managed to finish a few chapters now.  Very rough chapters, but chapters that have potential.  So here is the last bit of Chapter 4 as it stands.

‘Hooligans,’ muttered Betty disapprovingly.  ‘How can they make such a noise near a hospital.  There are sick people needing rest.’
Zoe smiled wanly agreeing mutely to the elderly ladies reprimand of the youth of today’s society.
‘Now, look at you,’ rushed Betty glancing at the untouched coffee in Zoe’s hand.  ‘I bet you have not had anything to eat.  There is a little canteen just off the main reception where we can get a sandwich or something.’
‘I’m really not that hungry,’ said Zoe quietly, realising that it was futile to protest.  She knew from experience that Betty did not take no for an answer.  Her husband had passed away ten years ago in a fishing accident and since then she had been the mother Zoe did not have.  She always ensured that Zoe was fed and clothed and educated correctly.  Betty adored her old friend Alex Alexander but knew that he was a tad scatterbrained at times.  She still marvelled that the girl had turned out so well. 
Bustling around now, she got Zoe to her feet and escorted her down the passage towards the main reception and the small canteen.  As the walked slowly down the passage Betty kept up a non stop barrage of chatter.  Describing her last visit to the hospital and which doctors and nurses were the best.  Zoe stared dull eyed ahead of her, not taking in her surroundings and letting the sounds and voices wash over her.  What would she do if something terrible happened to her father?  She would be alone in the world.  She had never met any of her father’s relatives and she was not even sure if her mother had any family.  Her father never seemed too clear about her mother’s past and was very vague about where she had come from.  The only story he told time and time again was how they had met – that dramatic stormy night twenty years ago.  As they passed the reception desk, Betty shivered and Zoe instinctively put her arm gently around her shoulders at the same time she had to sidestep a puddle of water that had been walked into the main reception area. 
‘My, the weather has really turned miserable,’ murmured Betty, ‘I should have brought a cardie.  Aren’t you cold, child?’
‘No,’ replied Zoe trancelike.  Her mind turned again to her father and how frail he had looked lying in the bed.  Oh, please let him be alright prayed Zoe silently.
The short elderly lady and tall dark haired girl passed quietly into the canteen and proceeded to the counter where Betty ordered two salad rolls and two hot chocolates.
‘There,’ said Khaos happily turning to Thanatos, ‘it must have been stress that caused her to see you earlier.  She did not see us now; she walked straight past us without a look.’
Both were standing next to the main reception desk at the hospital, water dripping from their coats onto the polished floor.  They had just entered the main doors when Thanatos had seen her walking down the passage towards them.  He had stopped and indicated to Khaos that it was her.  There was a short, plump lady in a green floral dress walking next to her, but he did not take much notice of her.  Even though the girl had been crying and her eyes were red rimmed she was still incredibly beautiful.  His heart tugged painfully, who was she, why could she see him and why did she have this affect on him?  As they drew closer the old lady had shivered and the young girl had placed her arm around her shoulder and both had passed inches from himself and Khaos.  There had been no eye movement or any acknowledgement that she had seen either of them.  Why?
‘Happier?’ asked Khaos quietly looking at his friend.
‘Yes,’ said Thanatos slowly.  ‘You must be right, it must have been stress.’
‘She is very beautiful,’ observed Khaos, ‘but definitely not a Mythic.’
Sighing slightly, Thanatos turned and walked out the front doors and Khaos followed thoughtfully after taking another quick look at the girl in the canteen.  She looked strangely familiar, but for the life of him he could not say why.
Khaos suggested a quick trip to the Clurichaun pub nearby, but Thanatos pleaded tiredness so returned home.  Thanking Khaos for his help, he walked quietly into his house and upstairs to his wife.  For an hour after his return he lay there in the dark and talked softly to his wife about what had happened during the day.  Eventually feeling a little more relaxed, Thanatos pulled his wife gently into his arms, kissed her goodnight and lay with her until she fell asleep.  Once he was sure his wife was sleeping peacefully, he got up and went into his study to complete his paperwork for the day and check his assignments for the next day.
A few miles away Khaos was perched precariously on a tiny barstool with a large tanker of ale in his hand talking loudly to the Clurichaun standing on the stool behind the bar.  Even with the help of the stool, the startling green eyes and red beard of the short barman were barely visible above the top of the polished wood.  It was a quite night with only four other occupants at the pub.  A young couple sat cosily in the corner cubicle talking softly together and gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes.  An elderly gentleman in the next table with his head resting against the wall and his eyes tight shut appeared to have fallen asleep and the pleasantly rounded woman with bleached blond hair swaying to the music by the juke box.  Khaos was eyeing her appreciatively when in walked Cycnus, Deimos and Enyo.  Both Deimos and Enyo were still dressed in their formal suits and ties and immediately looked out of place in the small, dark pub.
Cycnus, seeing Khaos at the far end of the bar grimaced slightly but walked across the threadbare carpet to great him casually.
‘Khaos, at your regular spot I see,’ said Cycnus disapprovingly. ‘Lost your sidekick I see.’
Deimos and Enyo had followed Cycnus across the room and were now looking around in disgust, not wanting to touch anything in case they caught something.
‘Ahh Capitan,’ slurred Khaos trying to stand and salute but almost losing his balance on the tall chair. ‘Whaa brings you to the Dog and Whishle?  Bob, I drink for my friends.’ 
The barman turned to Cycnus raising an enquiring bushy red eyebrow.
‘A draft for me,’ said Cycnus carefully seating himself stiffly on the nearby stool and arranging his sword to hang down the side.
‘And you,’ enquired the barman to Deimos and Enyo. ‘I will need to see some identification first.  Can’t be seen serving alcohol to minors.’
‘I will have a soda,’ said Deimos quickly, taking out a handkerchief and wiping the next stool before sitting down.
‘Make that two,’ followed Enyo, blushing slightly as he turned and the woman gyrating by the juke box winked at him.  Quickly turning back he remained standing stiffly near Cycnus’ chair as if he was his bodyguard.
‘Khaos, who are these fine young friends of yours,’ enquired the woman walking across the bar and casually draping her arm over Enyo’s stiff shoulder.
‘Desiree, you Siren,’ chuckled Khaos watching Enyo squirm under her caress. ‘They are far too young for you.’
‘Age is nothing,’ she whispered near Enyo’s ear. ‘I am sure I can teach them lots.’
Enyo turned a brighter shade of red and Deimos could not help but laugh at his friend’s obvious discomfort.  Enyo always seemed to attract the ladies with his youthful, clean, innocent good looks.  Deimos on the other hand was thicker set and there was already evidence of a receding hairline.
‘Be gone women,’ ordered Cycnus.  Enyo’s inability to remain professional and forceful in these situations displeased him.  If he was going to acquire respect he needed to be more dominant and demanding.  Woman made men weak, something that was not acceptable in their position.
Ignoring Cycnus, the woman continued to caress Enyo’s short blond hair and tickle his ear.
‘I said, be gone,’ roared Cycnus standing up and causing the woman to jump and step back.
‘Ok, ok, easy on tiger,’ cajoled the woman. ‘Only having a little fun with the youngster.  He needs to lighten up a little, needs a woman’s touch.’  She smiled sweetly at Enyo, blew him a kiss and returned to the juke box to select another song.
‘You are a bit uptight, tonight Cy,’ hiccupped Khaos downing his beer and indicating for another.  ‘Wha eating you?
‘Nothing is eat ... bothering me,’ corrected Cycnus abruptly. ‘If anyone is troubled tonight it is Thanatos.  The boys informed me that he was late for the meeting tonight?  This is very unlike him.  They also mentioned that he had not had a good day.  Is there some problem?’
‘No,’ mumbled Khaos, ‘there was no problem, it’s all sorted out.’
‘So there was a problem?’ wheedled Cycnus moving closer to Khaos.
‘Nothing serious,’ replied Khaos burping loudly and causing Cycnus to move backward. ‘You know how paranoid Tha .. Thane can be.’
‘Yes,’ replied Cycnus. ‘But it must have been serious for Thanatos to be late for the meeting.’
‘Nothing big,’ answered Khaos again. ‘Just that it was seen.’
‘I don’t understand,’ said Cycnus. ‘What do you mean it was seen?’  Talking to Khaos in one of his drunken states was like trying to pull teeth and he was getting very frustrated with the incoherent mumbling.
‘Not it, he was seen,’ shouted Cycnus loudly as if he was talking to a deaf man.   ‘He was at the hospital tonight to collect a passenger and the guy’s daughter apparently saw him and spoke to him.’
‘What …’ roared Cycnus jumping off the stool and almost knocking Enyo over.  His face becoming flushed and his nostrils flaring, he glared at Khaos furiously. ‘He was identified?’
‘No,  no….’ rushed Khaos quickly. ‘It was a mistake.’  He put his glass down quickly and tried desperately to clear his head.  Cycnus sudden fury was surprising and alarming.  The confusion did not merit such a strong reaction.
‘We went back to confirm and she walked right past us, didn’t see us, nada, zero, zilch.  As I said, Cy, it wasn’t a problem.’
Cycnus sat down slowly, his heart still pounding fiercely.  Something was not right, the break in the circle and a sighting at the same time did not feel like a coincidence.
‘I have work to do,’ said Cycnus suddenly, pushing his untouched draft aside and standing up. ‘Deimos, Enyo lets go.’
Khaos stroked his beard thoughtfully and watched the three men leave the bar.  Thanatos would not be happy that he had told Cycnus, he really should stop drinking so much; maybe it was time for him to settle down.
“Bob, how about another one for the road,’ said Khaos turning to eye out Des dancing to the music.

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