Tucker Cummings

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Chapter 80: Mad Dash

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2011 at 9:17 am

The easiest way to catch any man off-guard is to talk about your hoo-hah. It doesn’t matter how sensitive or worldly he is. Just mention the place where your legs meet and you can get away with anything.

We duck into a storage closet and slide between worlds. We’re in a sunny park, safely alone.

“That was weird, right?”

“Em, we have to go back there. It’s still in the back of the van. We can’t let it fall into the wrong hands.”

“We also can’t afford to get shot at again.”

“So let’s get more ammo and storm the gates.”

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Chapter 79: Gesticulations

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2011 at 8:59 am

There are two conversations now. While we exchange pleasantries with the curator, we also are talking to each other.

Wordlessly, M2 and I have a conversation.

I quirk my left eyebrow at M2. This doesn’t feel right.

She scratches her nose. I’m all kinds of on edge right now.

I flick a bit of lint off my lap. Nearest exits?

She cracks her knuckles and sneezes. Depends on how badly we need to get out.

I blink twice. The LT fake-out?

She smiles.

“Could you excuse me, sir? Feminine problems.”

She turns to face me.

“I don’t suppose you have any…?”

Chapter 78: Desk Set

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2011 at 8:43 am

When we are ushered into the curator’s office, the thing that I find most unsettling is how spare the room is. After walking through corridors where every inch of wall space has been covered with art, artifacts, and displays, entering the curator’s sanctum sanctorum is like going deaf. All the sound has been cut out of the world.

He seems affable enough, dressed in common tweed jacket and corduroys. He’s dressed like a parody of a intelligent, collegiate fellow. It’s seems just ever so slightly fake. It’s a warning bell.

We take our seats, and have a chat with him.

Chapter 77: The Hallowed Halls of Learning

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2011 at 1:45 am

One of the strangest parts of being a traveler is the moment of arrest: encountering a familiar thing that has an entirely new history. It shouldn’t still catch me off guard when this happens, but it always seems to.

Today we’re at MIT. But here, MIT was founded by the Cahokians in the 11th century. It’s strange to see familiar buildings interspersed with halls of learning that pre-date Cortes.

At the heart of the university is the Museum, a sprawling complex originally used as a place of worship. M2 knows the curator in her timeline, but this is not her MIT.

Chapter 76: And Then Once More

In Uncategorized on March 17, 2011 at 1:43 am

Three hours later, and we’ve got our cargo stowed in the back of a Range Rover. Our heading: north.

Blessed north. Back to civilization, back to the banks and universities and pubs. Oh sweet Jesus, the pubs. The sun is scorching, the A/C is out, and we’re both ready for tall, cold beers.

We drive in silence for a while, M2 at the wheel, me fiddling uselessly with the knobs in the vain hopes of coaxing out a bit of tepid air to cool my skin.

“Where will we take it?” I ask her.

“The curator at the museum, I think.”

Chapter 75: What’s in the Box?

In Uncategorized on March 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

“No way. There’s no way.”

M2 chuckles softly; her laughter ricochets around the cavern like a flutter of bats.

“Em, seriously. Is this a joke? I can’t wrap my head around what I’m looking at.”

“Isn’t it incredible?” she asks me.

“How did it get down here? How…how even did you know it was down here?”

“I read too much.”

We stand silent for a moment, just staring.

“What should we do with it?” I ask after a while.

She smiles.

“Em. Em, it’s worth a fortune. Actually, it’s probably worth more than that.”

She cracks a grin.

“Let’s take it.”

Chapter 74: In the Clear

In Uncategorized on March 15, 2011 at 5:29 am

“Looks like you owe me a pint of McIlhenny’s when we get back to civilization, O’ Doubter of My Abilities,” M2 taunts me.

“I haven’t seen anything impressive yet. I have yet to be impressed with your supposed divination skills,” I retort.

She kicks at the reddish dirt, and traces the outline of a square with the toe of her boot. She crouches down and blows at the outline, uncovering what is most definitely a hatch leading under the shifting sands.

Ten minutes later, we’re 200 feet deeper, thirty degrees cooler, and gobsmacked.

“Is that what I think it is?” I whisper.

Chapter 73: Red and Barren

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2011 at 2:02 am

“There’s nothing here,” I say to M2.

“Almost nothing,” she corrects.

It’s supposed to be lush, vibrant, urban. But there’s no sign of life. We might as well be on the surface of Mars.

“What are you looking for?”

“I told you. It’s a surprise.”

“And I told you, I hate surprises.”

I am, admittedly, a whiny mess today. I think I’m dehydrated, and I skinned both my knees earlier. So the sight of M2 nosing along the ground like a bloodhound is mildly infuriating. I’m pretty sure we’re lost, and she’s too proud to admit it.

“Aha! I found it!”

Chapter 72: Interlude V: Gallery of Rogues

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2011 at 1:53 am

There’s a world with an orange-colored sky, where something with teeth lurks in the dark.

There’s a dark leader in a round room, planning a hunt with his cabinet of advisors.

There’s an unseen Margery, scrawling warnings and lies in her exclusive graffiti.

There are four men in a library, tracking red dots on a blue screen.

There’s a scarred father, looking for revenge.

There’s a teenage girl in a foster home, and she’s learned to hold a grudge.

There’s a hired gun having a nic fit, and oiling his tools.

And there’s one very angry velociraptor that’s missing her mate.

Chapter 71: Interlude IV: Margery

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 at 1:39 am

“Exploration really is the essence of the human spirit, and to pause, to falter, to turn our back on the quest for knowledge, is to perish.” -Frank Borman

“Margery, come down!” screams her mother. “You’re going to break your head open!”

The young Margery Jones, age 6, climbs higher. She wraps her legs around an even slimmer branch and shimmies further out on a limb.

“Do not make me get your father!”

Margery smiles and reaches out for the fruit glistening with dew at the end of the branch.

As she falls, the grin stays fixed.

She just wanted to go higher.