Sunday, 24 April 2011

Riders - Missing (Chapter 6 - More than a game)

I am now about a quarter of the way through my story, so this will be the last full chapter that I post on my blog.  But not to worry, I will still give short bits every so often and once it is complete will let you all know.  In this chapter however, I would really like some input from any golfing experts out there on whether what I have put down is correct or not.  Not a golf player myself I have had to go on what I have heard on watching recent golf games on tv. 

The shortening shadows of the four riders stretched out across the first tee as the red sun rose slowly above the horizon awakening a new dawn on a beautiful Sunday morning. 
The brightening sky in different shades of blue, was cloudless and the gentle breeze softly shimmered the neatly mown kikuyu grass.  The flat wide fairway bordered by bushveld, shaped a welcome haven for their relaxation.
‘Beautiful day for a round of golf,’ commented Khaos raising his Oakley sunglasses to gaze down the first fairway.  He took note of the fairway bunker on the left and selecting his five iron he removed the fluffy bear sock protection.  Fashionable attired in a red Nike polo-shirt, cream golf shorts, tartan red socks and Nike Air Zoom Vapor shoes, he was the image of the professional golfer.   Of the four players he was by far the more accomplished with an impressive handicap of two.  It was his dream that once he retired he could join the Pro circuit.
‘Mmmm,’ murmured Thanatos distractedly looking towards the brown hilly landscape of the Pilansberg in the distance.  He was not an avid golf player but the four had been playing different golf courses every month for as long as he could remember.  With a handicap of sixteen he was almost the weakest player except for Demeter who mostly excused herself to sit in the golf cart for the entire game, complaining of heat exhaustion and dizziness.  Unlike, Cycnus it did not bother him that Khaos won each game and he did not resort to blatant cheating.
‘It’s getting late and this African sun is already so warm,’ Demeter fanned herself extravagantly with the scorecard.  ‘I think I will play caddie today and keep the scorecard.’
‘It’s only 06:30, Demeter; you haven’t played a game for ages,’ teased Khaos, ‘is it a sign of old age perhaps?’
‘Just because I am ten years older than you, Khaos,’ snapped Demeter, ‘it does not mean that I am old.  It is just that I am more sensitive than you and feel the heat.’
‘Now, now,’ interrupted Cycnus as if he was addressing children, ‘lets not spoil our beautiful morning of golf.  I am feeling exceptionally confident today.’  Cycnus had removed his breastplate and sword and carefully stored them in the back of the golf cart.  He was wearing a new bright green striped golf shirt and shorts with a tiny beret perched precariously on top of his flaming red hair.  The outfit was perhaps his way of trying to distract the others from their game.
Shrugging carelessly, Khaos teed up, did a few practice shots and then took his final swing.  The club connected with a clean thwack and the small white ball lifted perfectly into the air, curving slightly to the right and landing about two hundred meters in the middle of the fairway.
‘Nice shot,’ congratulated Thanatos trying desperately to relax and enjoy the game.  Their games had always been a way for them to unwind and forget about work, enjoy the outdoors and each others company for awhile. 
‘Thanks,’ Khaos replaced his club into his bag and turned to stare at Thanatos who was busy teeing up.  ‘Um .. I suggest you remove your coat before you play, Thane.  I don’t think it will improve your game any.’
‘Right,’ said Thanatos quickly removing his long black hooded coat and laying it carefully over his bag before returning to the tee.  ‘I forgot.’
Khaos and Cycnus watched him speculatively, Khaos in concern for his friend and Cycnus in fear of problems untold.  It was obvious to everyone that something was bothering Thanatos, it was not like him to be so distracted.
The game continued amicably and without further mishap until they reached the ninth hole.  Both Khaos and Cycnus were three over par with Thanatos trailing at eight over. This long par five hole stretched out in front of them.  The slightest miss of the island green could mean disaster with the water, rocks and sand guarding it.  Khaos second shot was perfect, landing on the green in a position that would allow a definite birdie.  Much to everyone’s amusement, Thanatos’ ball soared gracefully straight into the water with a sinking plop.  It was the standing joke, if there was water, Thanatos’ ball would find it.  Cycnus on the other hand was not happy when his ball hit rock and bounced backwards into a deep sand bunker.
‘You touched my ball,’ complained Cycnus turning on Khaos abruptly. ‘You know the rule about using your powers.’
‘When did I touch your ball, Cycnus,’ said Khaos calmly, ‘I do not need to resort to using my powers to beat you.’
‘On the fifth, you walked past my ball to get to yours,’ spluttered Cycnus going slightly red in the face.
‘That was on the fifth,’ smirked Khaos, ‘if I had touched your ball then, the effects of Chaos would have taken effect immediately.   I did not touch your ball.’
‘Let’s not argue,’ sighed Thanatos quietly. ‘You can still get on the green from there, Cycnus.’
Glaring at the two of them, Cycnus stomped off towards his ball with Demeter driving behind him.
‘That man is infuriating,’ muttered Khaos heading towards the green where he proceeded to sink his ball for a birdie and followed it with a little victory dance.
Cycnus’ game went from bad to worse after a double bogie on the ninth.  This did not sweeten his steadily rising anger and after another bogie on the fourteenth he threw his putter down onto the ground in a rage.
‘It’s no use getting angry, Cycnus,’ soothed Thanatos walking to the centre of the green. ‘These games are supposed to be fun and relaxing.  You take everything far too seriously.’
‘Too seriously, me?’ Cycnus turned to face Thanatos deciding now was a good time to try coerce some information out of the silent man. ‘If anyone is too serious lately it is you.  You have been very distracted today, Thanatos.  Your golf game is normally bad but never as bad as it is today.  Are you having marriage problems perhaps or maybe your preoccupation has got something to do with the recent sighting.  Khaos was very concerned about you the other night.’
‘Sighting,’ said Thanatos glancing quickly at Khaos and frowning. ‘What sighting?’
‘We all noticed your unusual behaviour on Friday night, Thanatos,’ continued Cycnus sweetly, enjoying Khaos’s obvious discomfort. ‘You have never been late for any of our weekly meetings and you looked very distracted.  The boys also confided in me that you needed to seek advice from Khaos.  Not a wise idea considering the man’s history.  But, then I bumped into Khaos later and he felt it necessary to inform me about the young girl who had apparently seen you and how upset you were about the incident.  According to Khaos this was obviously a mistake on your side as you returned and the girl did not respond again.  I wonder if the perfect Angel of Death is starting to make mistakes.’
Demeter giggled from behind also enjoying Khaos’ embarrassment and Thanatos’ obvious rising anger.
‘I did not make a mistake,’ said Thanatos quietly his eyes darkening and the air around him turning cold creating a faint halo of mist that shimmered around him.
‘But you must have, old boy,’ goaded Cycnus further.  ‘There is no other explanation.  According to Khaos she was not a Mythic of any form as she did not have a blue aura, she was apparently not on your List and she did not see either you or Khaos when you returned.’
 ‘I cannot explain what happened,’ Thanatos’ breath cleared the air around his face long enough to see his eyes turn completely black.  ‘But it was not a mistake.  I do not make mistakes.  She saw me again on my return to collect her father.’
The lush green grass around him had turned white as the icy air spread out in a radius around Thanatos.  The developing mist spreading to the edges of the green shut out the glow of the warm morning sun. 
Khaos in an attempt to diffuse Thanatos’ anger and Cycnus obvious pleasure in the situation leant casually against the small golf cart which suddenly jerked forward and proceeded to careen down the slight hill it had been parked on.
Demeter shrieked in panic her floppy hat flying off and her arms waving wildly, ‘It won’t stop; it won’t stop.’
‘Push the break, you stupid women,’ shouted Cycnus angrily, suddenly disappearing and reappearing in front of the wayward golf cart to stop it before it landed in a large bunker.
Khaos let out a roar of laughter at the sight of the two trying to control the wayward cart.  After eventually managing to apply the break they turned to make their way back to the green.  In the meantime, the mist around Thanatos had slowly evaporated and the frost on the ground melted leaving the grass dead and brown.
‘I’m sorry,’ apologised Khaos quietly. ‘He found me at the pub, I had had too much to drink.  I know that’s not an excuse, but …’
‘It’s ok, Khaos,’ mumbled Thanatos in return.  ‘I would have had to bring it up at the next meeting anyway.’
‘Before Demeter’s odd behaviour,’ said Cycnus eyeing Khaos suspiciously, he began to rattle questions off to Thanatos. ‘You said that she had seen you again?  Are you sure?  Did you have your ring?  Is she on the List?  What do you think she is?’
‘The answer to your many questions, Cycnus,’ replied Thanatos, ‘is yes, yes, of course, no and I have no idea.’
‘She is incredibly beautiful,’ rushed in Khaos trying to ease the atmosphere, ‘she could be an angel.’
‘WHAT,’ shouted Cycnus turning on Khaos abruptly, ‘what do you mean an Angel; she is not one of us.  Is she with the other group Thanatos?’
‘Thanatos would have recognised her if she was one of the other three,’ stammered Demeter sidling up to Cycnus, ‘he attends their meetings as well.’
‘She is not one of the eight,’ replied Thanatos slowly.
‘I just meant she was beautiful, like an angel,’ stuttered Khaos quickly.  ‘I didn’t mean she was an Angel.’  He always seemed to take his size twelve’s and stuff them in his mouth.
‘She is not one of us, is she?’ queried Cycnus suspiciously again.  ‘The other four haven’t been recruiting outside have they?’
‘You know that cannot happen,’ replied Thanatos narrowing his eyes and looking speculatively at Cycnus and Demeter who seemed overly concerned about the matter.  He was the only one that should be concerned as it was he that she had seen.  Somehow, when he was with Khaos she had not acknowledged his presence.  ‘Besides, why would it worry you, Cycnus?  They are the ones short of a rider.’
Just then a golf ball bounced off the top of the golf cart and landed at their feet.  They all turned slowly and saw four men making their way towards the green.   The man in the front called back over his shoulder. ‘I thought this golf course was well looked after?  The grass on this green is dead and someone has just abandoned this golf cart?’
Khaos turned reluctantly to the other three and said, ‘Well, we have taken to long arguing, our game will be disturbed now, we will have to stop.’
The others agreed silently, retrieved their items from the golf cart, said goodbye and evanesced.
A few seconds later Cycnus appeared on the rooftop of the building where he kept a small bachelor pad.   Putting his golf bag down next to the fire escape door, he walked to the edge and looked out over the sprawling city below.  As it was a Sunday the traffic was light, but the sound of the passing vehicles drifted upwards like the sound of waves crashing on a beach.  He took a deep breath of the stale hot air, closed his eyes and mulled over what Thanatos had said earlier.  If she was not one of the eight Angels, who was she?  Was Thanatos mistaken?  Was there a simple explanation?  There were two many questions and this made him very unsettled.   There was no room for error in his plans and he did not like strange happenings so near the end.  He had to make sure everything was alright, he had work to do.  ‘Demeter.’
Demeter appeared on the roof, almost upsetting a trash can on her arrival.
‘You called, my Captain,’ spluttered Demeter out of breath and looking flushed.
‘Yes,’ replied Cycnus.  ‘I am not happy about the sighting of Thanatos.  I need ..’
‘I am sure he just made a mistake,’ interrupted Demeter soothingly.  ‘Her name is probably on the List and he has missed it.’
‘I doubt it,’ snapped Cycnus not enjoying being interrupted. ‘Thanatos is not a fool, he would not make that kind of mistake.’
‘But you said…’ simpered Demeter quickly, twisting her ring around her finger in a nervous habit.
‘I know what I said,’ interrupted Cycnus, ‘I was just trying to get a rise from Thanatos so he would slip up and give me details.’ The woman was incredibly annoying and simple minded.  He wondered how she had ever been chosen as an Angel, her mother before her must have been desperate for a successor or as foolish.  It was a good thing famine was a by product of war and poverty or she would never get anything done.  ‘I need you to check on Gaia for me, make sure she is behaving herself.’
‘Gaia, why her,’ queried Demeter, ‘do you think she has something to do with this?’
‘No, it would be impossible,’ snapped Cycnus, ‘I just want to be reassured that all is well.  We are near the end now so I don’t want any mistakes.  I have work to do or I would do it myself.  Now go.’  He wafted his hand at her as if trying to get rid of a pesky fly.  ‘Report back to me when you return.’
Demeter scurried to the centre of the roof and evanesced, returning home to collect her horse.
Cycnus went in search of Deimos and Enyo, he needed their assistance.

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