Other Tales: Shocking Turns

on November 25, 2009 in Other Tales

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody American readers! Here’s the fourth incentive story… you folks passed $1,000 this past weekend, putting us now more than a third of the way to the promised Aidan story. I would have had this ready for you earlier but something came up. Repeatedly. Nasty bug going around here. I’m thankful I didn’t catch it a few days later, or else I’d be having a very poor holiday.

I’m having some family time right now. Check back Monday for the next regular update.


“So…” Hazel said to Two as they set out from the union across the dark campus at the end of the golem girl’s work night. “Who’s the bloke, then?”

“Kyle,” Two said to the gnomish woman.

“He offer to walk you home often?”

“Every time I work,” Two said. “I told him no the first time because I’m not supposed to go walking at night with boys I don’t know.”

“It’s not just the boys you don’t know you have to watch out for, you know,” Hazel said. “General Shiel was showing off some statistics the other day about how it’s the boys you know that bear the most watching.”

“She isn’t really a general, you know,” Two said. “That’s just in the game.”

“No, but I dare say ‘general’ is a sight more polite than the other title I’d give her,” Hazel said. “But I have to say she has a fair point there. I mean, most of the boys you don’t know will never have a chance to bother you in the first place, will they?”

“Kyle doesn’t bother me. He’s nice.”

“Well, you be careful all the same,” Hazel said. “Just ’cause a lad’s nice to you doesn’t mean you owe him anything. Doesn’t mean he’s nice, either.”

“Hazel, that doesn’t make any sense,” Two said. She was used to her friend not making sense, of course, but sometimes she could go too far. “If somebody is nice, that does mean they’re nice.”

“It means they can be nice,” Hazel said.

“And if they are, then they are,” Two insisted. “That’s a tautology.”

“Well, think about Miss-Mad-With-The-Fox-Ears.”

“Sooni,” Two said.

“Yeah, her,” Hazel said. “Think about how she acts when she wants something sweet from you.”

“Spoiled,” Two said. “Mean. Entitled. Immature.”

“Alright, but think about how she acts when she realizes that isn’t working,” Hazel said. “She puts on a big show of being nice to get what she wants. Not a terribly convincing one, maybe, but she has the form down even if she can’t manage the shape of the thing.”

“Hazel, the shape is the form,” Two said.

“Love, don’t interrupt me when I’m metaphoring,” Hazel said.

“I don’t think that’s a very good met…”

“The point, love, is that if she can manage it so closely even with her respectful distance from reality, then a lad who’s even halfway savvy can likely fake nice well enough that it’s indistinguishable from the real thing.”

“But if they’re indistinguishable, then how is it not the real thing?”

“Real nice doesn’t disappear when it has you all alone, or when it decides you aren’t being nice enough in return,” Hazel said. “I’m not saying that your Kyle’s not alright, Two-love. Just that there’s many a Jack Lamb can come on just as nice as he does.”

“Who?”

“Oh, sorry,” Hazel said. “I guess that’s a bit of a Shirism, isn’t it? A Jack Lamb is a… well, there’s this character in an old tale who gets the best of shepherds by making himself into such a perfect little lamb that no one can tell the difference, but then he’s actually… I think the tallfolk have a saying they took from the story, actually.”

“I’m not a shepherd, Hazel,” Two said.

“No, love, you’re a lamb,” Hazel said. “And there are those who’d dress themselves up all fluffy and nice, come at you all charm and smile, and as soon as they have your trust and you’ve let your guard down… well, they’d gobble you right up just as quick as you can say ‘Jack Lamb’.”

“What if I said it very slowly?” Two asked.

Hazel sighed.

“Love, just promise me you’ll be careful with the lads, even if you know them and even if you’re sure that they’re nice.”

“How careful?”

“As careful as you need to be, to feel safe.”

“I felt safe with Kyle before,” Two said, scowling slightly.

“I’m not saying it’ll be easy,” Hazel said. “But life isn’t easy for us, the small and the slight. It’s a big man’s world and we’re neither one of us neither. It’s too much to hope that every man who isn’t honorable will be honest in his intentions. Do you follow?”

“No,” Two said.

“Well, think on it,” Hazel said. Two stopped walking. “Intermittently,” Hazel added. “Don’t just spin your cogs over it.”

“Spin my what?”

“I mean, don’t sit there cogitating on it right this moment,” Hazel said. “It’s more something to meditate on.”

“Okay,” Two said, making a mental note to do so the next time she meditated.

They were passing by one of the easternmost residence halls on the path to Harlowe. The small red glow of a cigarette in the alcove of a side exit was the first sign to Hazel that someone else was abroad in the vicinity. With her own words of warning echoing in her mind, the usually easy-going gnome went very quiet and very still even as she kept pace with Two, her bare feet padding silently and her body all but motionless above the waist.

“Hey!” a male voice called. “Hey, you!”

“Just keep walking, Two,” Hazel whispered.

“Hazel?” Two said, a little confused. She was used to losing track of her friend Hazel, but it usually didn’t happen when they were walking side by side and had just been engaged in conversation.

“Hey, wait up!” the boy called, and Two did. Hazel turned around before she did. The boy looked harmless enough… short dark hair, slightly tanned skin. He looked much the same as any of a number of human men his age.

He wasn’t alone, either. There were two other young men sort of edging their way out from inside the alcove behind him. They looked curious. He looked purposeful.

Hazel didn’t like that look.

“Hey, turn around,” the guy said to Two. Hazel might as well have not even been there, it seemed. “Let me look at you.”

Trembing slightly, Two complied.

“You’re the Harlot golem,” he said. “Shit, I thought so.”

“I’m a golem,” Two said in a slightly nervous tone of correction.

“You mess around with the nymphs and the demon girl,” he said. “My friend said you give awesome head.”

“Alright, that’s enough,” Hazel said. She reached up for Two’s quivering hand. “Time we were off. You tell him you don’t want anything to do with him.”

“I don’t want anything to do with you,” Two said as the guy stared down at Hazel like she was an apparition who had just that moment chosen to manifest.

“She’s just saying that because you told her to,” the guy said. “I could tell her to tell you to take a flying fuck at the moon, but I’m man enough to tell you that myself.”

“But not man enough to find a wet inkwell to dip your quill into,” Hazel said. She tugged on Two’s arm. “Come on, we’re going now.”

“Hold on,” he said, grabbing Two by her upper arm. “Why don’t you let Blondie decide for herself?”

“My name is Two,” Two said in a loud, slightly quavery voice. “Please take your hand off me. I don’t like it.”

“What if I say you do?” he asked.

“Then I say you’re mistaken,” Hazel said, giving the boy a hard kick in the shin.

“Ow! Leave the fuck off, you halfling bitch!” the guy said. He twisted around to face her, wrenching Two’s arm as he did.

“Halfling?” Hazel repeated, her face turning red. “If I’m half of anything you are, that’s too much for me.”

“If I were you, I wouldn’t mouth off to someone twice my size,” he said.

“Please let go of me,” Two said.

“If I were you, I wouldn’t puff out my chest at someone who could uppercut me in the lowers,” Hazel said.

“I asked you to let go of me,” Two said. There was a crackle and a flash of light, and the man went rigid and then fell to the ground, writhing and twitching with half his body off the concrete path. Two’s hand. was clutched tightly around her little mace, the head of which was faintly sparking.

“F-f-fucking Harlot wh-whore,” the downed boy said, flopping around onto his stomach as he tried to get up. Two took a step forward and very calmly touched the head of her little mace to him, administering another vicious shock. He convulsed and was still.

“Getting a little vicious there, aren’t we?” Hazel asked.

“I’m supposed to use it to subdue attackers,” Two said. “He wasn’t subdued.”

“Oh, well, best give him another jolt, then… just to be sure,” Hazel said.

“Okay,” Two said, and she did. He twitched at the electrified touch of the mace, but there was no further reaction.

“He could be faking,” Hazel said.

“I don’t think so,” Two said, shaking her head. Other than the rising and falling of his chest, there was no motion from the fallen figure.

“He’s probably felt his share of stuns before,” Hazel said. “He’d know how to withstand them and how to imitate their effects. Better give him a little foot to the rear just to be sure, like this.”

She gave the very distinctly unconscious figure a kick on the backside by way of demonstration.

“I guess he’s not faking,” Two said.

“Best you check, too,” Hazel said.

“Why?”

“Well, you can see better in the dark.”

“Okay,” Two said, and she lifted up her foot and gave a kick of her own, with no more effect than Hazel’s. “Is that good?”

“Good enough for now,” Hazel said. She glanced back at the doorway, which was now deserted. “But we’d best get him back onto the path… wouldn’t be decent to leave him for the ghoulies, if his friends don’t find some decency of their own.”

“Okay,” Two said, and together they pulled the boy none too gently back onto the path.

“That’s our good deed for the day, then,” Hazel said, brushing off her hands. “Let’s get back to the hall.”

“I don’t know if that counts as a good deed,” Two said as they set off together.

“It’s better than what he’d have done, and better’s better than good.”

“That boy wasn’t a Jack Lamb, Hazel,” Two said.

“Well, that’s the thing,” Hazel said. “He didn’t think he had to be subtle and clever, or nice, so he wasn’t. Doesn’t mean he doesn’t have it in him… well, the nice part, anyway.”


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9 Responses to “Other Tales: Shocking Turns”

  1. pedestrian says:

    Dammit A.E., every page you manage to delight me.

    I just just hope that my newly adulted grand-daughter remembers those years of self-defense lessons considering the goofs she chooses to associate with too annoy her mother.

    Current score: 1
    • Pamela says:

      I’m not sure it’s self-defense to kick someone who is clearly unconscious. A bit cathartic, sure, but not necessarily much more honorable than he was.

      Current score: 3
      • Anthony says:

        Exactly. There’s a fine line between self-defense and assault, and Hazel dragged Two *well* across that line there. They’re just lucky he was unconscious and there were no witnesses, or they could both end up in some serious trouble for that.

        Current score: 5
        • anonymus says:

          better to make a point that it won’t be pleasent than to have his friends come and deal with them too, i would still considere it selfdefense

          and seriously:
          he is a (hopfully only woulbe) repist a brutall mauling (I dont considere stunning him a brutall mauling) would not be to bad an experience for him
          (and for TWO too, to learn to do it of her own volition)

          Current score: 1
      • Eli says:

        “Won’t somebody please think of the rapists?”

        Yea, kicking a man who just finished trying to sexually assault you, to make sure he’s really down, is just as dishonourable as trying to force someone to let you push your penis into their mouth. Totally.

        Current score: 15
  2. iSuigetsu says:

    I’m pretty sure that, in what amounts to a reaction after an attempted rape, no fair jury would convict her. Besides, he may have a bruise or two, but it isn’t as if they brutally mauled the poor innocent victim.

    Current score: 4
  3. MentalBlank says:

    Personally, I was hoping she’d shock him again. Rapists are too often able to commit their crimes without much, if any, repercussions. Perhaps now, with a couple of bruises to the posterior as a reminder, he will think twice before bothering an innocent woman again.

    Current score: 3
  4. Mike says:

    Heheh. Don’t tase me, TWO!

    Current score: 3
  5. popesuburban says:

    Hazel, you are a treasure.

    Current score: 0