"I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess." -Martin Luther

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Nathanael Booth and the Ring of Power, Part III

Dear Readers,
Happy New Year, by the way.
I'm beginning to tire of finding creative but applicable ways of saying "said." I hope you aren't beginning to tire of reading them.
For part I, click here.
Here is part II.
And, of course, part three awaits you below.

Georgiana froze at the door. “Does this count as a time when a girl can get the door for a guy, or is it more...”
“Goodness gracious,” Graybeard exclaimed, slamming the door open for them, “do you really think we have time to discuss the rules of chivalry...”
“I don't know, it just seems like,” Georgie's yell dropped to a hissed whisper as they passed the second set of doors into the library at a run, “it might be even more important at a time like this when things are serious for the men to be...”
Benjamin couldn't help but laugh as they darted up the stairs, feet echoing in the confined space, dodging around two professors deep in conversation. “But that would put you at the back, and you'd be the first one they'd catch!”
“That's right!” exclaimed Georgie, “it's so hard to decide.”
“Friends!” wheezed Nathanael emphatically, “Lend me your ears!”
“What?” snapped Georgie, but she was laughing.
“Which way out?” replied the other.
“Oh! Left here, down the stairs, back door towards Sanderson.”
“Thank you! Now you may continue your argument.”
“No they can't!” huffed Graybeard, “what will we do if they're waiting outside?”
“I'll show them waiting outside,” smiled Nathanael, and he waved his hand as he ran, showing the ring on his finger.
“Oh, Nathanael, I didn't know! Who are you engaged to?” asked Georgie.
They ran in silence for a few moments. A few guffaws slipped from tight lips.
“That was awkward,” Georgie turned red, laughing at herself.
“M'dear,” Nathanael consoled her, as they pounded downstairs to the back door, “this ring is incomparably more agreeable than the variety to which you allude. Allow me to demonstrate.”
He stepped out the door and rubbed the ring.
“All clear for now,” said Benjamin from the corner.
“Not for long; I hear them behind us,” came Graybeard's report from the door.
“Ah, but I hear our ticket to escape!” exclaimed Nathanael, and he had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when the bright yellow taxi cut off a truck pulling into the campus, rumbled up the hill, and screeched to a halt in front of the students.
The cabbie was working furiously on a new stogie, and his cap was pulled down flush with his eyes. “Where to doc, and don't take all day deciding this time, I've got places to be.”
“Away!” said Nathanael, hopping into the back.
“This...this is what the ring...this is why the chapel lawn...where are we going to....?” asked Georgie as the others piled in.
“Shotgun, Georgie, and make it quick!” shouted Benjamin. The back door of the library slammed open and two of the men in the suits ran out. At the same time, one emerged around each side of the library.
Georgie wrung her hands, grumbled something about stress, and jumped in beside the cabbie, barely getting her feet in before the cab was squealing forward.
The first thing Georgie saw when she looked up was one of the men in suits running straight at them.
“Look out!” shouted Graybeard, pounding on the cabbie's seatback. The cabbie grimaced, gripping his stogie with his teeth, and spun the wheel, spinning the cab in a cloud of tire smoke and sending it shooting the other way. They took the hill past Sanderson at about thirty, smashed through a shrub into the parking circle, and were already making about fifty when they hit the highway.
Benjamin and Graybeard buckled their seatbelts.
Georgie hyperventilated.
Nathanael folded his gloves and took off his hat.
“Told yous guys I had places to be, didn't I?” grumbled the cabbie as he drove, “Almost got us all killed.”
“Almost got him killed, you mean!” retorted Graybeard.
“Whatchya mean, doc? He wouldn'ta had a scratch. Not those guys.
“What do you mean?” asked Benjamin.
“About the only thing those guys can't handle is garlic. That one woulda peeled my hood like a banana, and you'd still be cryin' for your mommas.”
“Graphic!” Nathanael ran a hand through his hair, then began drumming on the door, watching the landscape hurry by. “I say, where exactly are we going?”
The cabbie slammed on the breaks. “You's the boss.”
“I've got class,” said Benjamin.
“I'm late for work,” admitted Georgie.
“Back to campus, then,” sighed Graybeard, “if you don't mind, that is.”
“You's the boss!” repeated the cabbie, “those guys'll be gone now.”
“Spoil-sports,” whispered Nathanael as the cabbie turned around.
Halfway back to campus, Georgie turned to the Cabbie with a friendly smile. “My name's Georgiana Vurner.”
“I'm so happy for you,” spat the lips.
Benjamin had a coughing fit in the back seat.

“I almost forgot!” said the cabbie as they piled out in Mac circle, glancing suspiciously up at the library. The groundspeople were there, shaking their heads at the tire marks, but no men in black suits.
“You's guys get the frequent user promo:” he grabbed a tin from beneath his seat and popped the lid. Inside were a collection of cigars.
“Oops,” said the Cabbie, and he rummaged for another tin.
This one contained rings.
Benjamin dug around with his hand.
“Come on, come on,” growled the cabbie.
Benjamin selected a ring with some sort of symbol overlaying a banner.
Graybeard took one with a jagged star burst design.
The cabbie slapped the lid back on.
“Hey!” said Georgie. “What about us?”
“Mister hat-and-gloves 'as already got one. One only, that's the rules. And you are no frequent user. You was only here this time. Now see ya!” and he roared away.
“Nice meeting you too,” rumbled Georgie.
The four watched the cab disappear and then Georgie and Nathanael turned their attention to Graybeard and Benjamin.
“Who wants to try theirs first?” asked Georgie.
“You can go, Graybeard,” offered Benjamin.
“Well if you insist so strongly...” Graybeard rubbed his ring. Immediately, a shadow fell over the little group. A rumble started somewhere above them, grew, and turned into a cascading crackling, popping sound. The air was thick with electricity.
Georgie and Benjamin moaned under their breath. Booth opened his umbrella. Graybeard grinned nervously.
“Aaaahh!” screamed Georgie, throwing her hands over her head.
“It's like, a thousand white messengers of...buttery goodness!” laughed Benjamin.
“Manna from heaven!” agreed Graybeard.
Nathanael peeked out from under his umbrella, caught a falling kernel, and chewed it slowly.
“No salt. How disappointing.”
The popcorn storm ended almost as soon as it had began, and covered only a small area. Passing students barely gave it a second glance. Clearly, someone had just dumped a bag of popcorn out their window.
“Well, Benjamin,” sighed Graybeard, “let's see yours.”

Fifteen minutes later they were still trying to get Benjamin's ring to work.
“Weeeee could try rubbing it underwater,” suggested Georgie.
“We tried that while you were on the phone,” sighed Graybeard.
Nathanael laughed. “I know, maybe it responds to a vocal command. Open Sesame! Ring around the rosy! A gold ring in a pig's snout! Silver bells are ring-ing...” they all stared at the ground. “Well, I'm sure we'll find out what it does someday,” comforted Nathanael. “At least there's still a chance it's better than Graybeard's.”
“His is practical!” retorted Benjamin angrily, but then he grinned, “no more microwave stuff for us!”
“Well, guys, this has been fun, but I'm really late for work,” said Georgie, and they all scattered to their scholarly occupations.
A few minutes later, a golfcart pulled into the campus off the highway. Onboard it sat four figures in dark suits and glasses. Each one placed a strange, wand-like object inside his coat as the cart stopped,
and then they headed off in different directions.

Nathanael was whistling as he finished his day's work in Technology Services and strolled back to Maclellan Hall. It had been a busy but productive day, and he was satisfied. Who wouldn't be, with a magic ring on their finger? As he neared the entrance, he saw a few men of Sutherland poking their heads out the windows, black waterguns at the ready for anyone they wanted to prank.
Benjamin was in his room on the second floor of Mac Hall, sorting books as he prepared to go study. Victorious shouts of laughter from across the hall told him that his fellow Sutherlanders had shot another unsuspecting victim from the window. He ducked across the hall to see who it had been. The guys were draped across the furniture in stitches of laughter. It took Benjamin a good minute to get an explanation out of them.
One started to explain. “We were aiming for a girl, and, and we hit this guy in a black suit.” Benjamin froze. “He was like, administration or something. He whipped off his sunglasses and looked so mad!”
“Where did he go?” asked Benjamin, dead serious.
“To the front of Mac, I guess...why?” but Benjamin was already gone.
As he rounded the corner of the hall, heading for the stairs, the elevator door chimed and slid open. Not one, but two men in black suits and dark glasses gazed through it at him. He crashed through the door into the stairwell, his shaking hands dialing Graybeard's number as he sprinted up to the third floor – Nathanael's floor.
“Graybeard, it's Benjamin; the men in the suits are on the hall; call Georgie, tell her to meet us...to meet us at the road out back. I'm going to get Nathanael.” he flipped his phone shut as he rushed down the hallway. He pounded on Nathanael's locked door, but there was no response.
“Look, I'll be glad to open it...” Nathanael began to joke, walking up behind him.
Benjamin jumped and gasped. “Nathanael, you scared me to death. How'd you get up here?”
“The back stairs, why?”
“The men in the suits...” down the hall, the elevator dinged. Benjamin quietly thanked God for the slow Mac elevators as the doors opened, disgorging the two black figures.
“So much for a quiet evening with Bob Dylan, I suppose,” muttered Nathanael, and they ran the other way, for the back stairwell.
They burst out of the back doors at a run and headed down the steps for the access road, looking around for the others. They were nowhere to be seen.
Nathanael pulled off a glove, “What do you think, should I use it now?”
“We should wait; the cabbie might leave and not come back if we tried to make him stick around for Graybeard and Georgie.”
“We can't wait much longer; those blacksuits are gaining on us.” The two students broke into a run up the access road.
It was at that moment that they heard a call behind them. Graybeard and Georgie were coming along the road from the other direction, not noticing the two blacksuits about to enter the road almost on top of them.
“We're boxed in,” mused Nathanael, as Benjamin hand-motioned frantically, trying to warn the others.
“Now will someone explain why I was so rudely jerked from a stimulating conversation, to kidnap a girl (not that I dislike your company, of course, Miss Vurner)?” began Graybeard.
“Look!” Benjamin pointed with both arms. The blacksuits were spreading out, surrounding them, and they drew short, shiny black wands from their coats.
“What do we do, guys?” whispered Georgie. The four formed a circle, back to back.
“Other than pray?” hissed Graybeard.
“If only I had my staff,” muttered Benjamin.
“Just a little longer...” whispered Nathanael. The blacksuit facing him walked forward, and, with a smirk, extended his wand.