AUTHOR’S NOTE: As I age, I’m convinced that writing is as much an act of knowing what to say versus what to leave unsaid. Upon reading the chapter that follows, which was initially written many years ago, I was aghast at how much material was unnecessary if not downright embarrassing. In total, 1,403 words were cut from this chapter. I trimmed entire sentences and sections that did nothing to advance the narrative and, if anything, distracted from it. Like anything else that matters, writing is learning. Learning how to write, and learning how to edit what you’ve written. A writer must rely on his or her internal radar to recognize that not everything put to paper is gold; in fact, most of it’s not. Suffice to say, Given the choice, I’d rather read a 10,000-word story that is compelling and succinct versus a 25,000-word mess of adjectives and dream sequences that serve no purpose other than to appease the author’s penchant to ramble on. But that’s just me.
Among nature’s most simple, remarkable, and distinct creations is the apple. In theology, the apple symbolizes temptation, immortality, knowledge, and the fall of man. It is synonymous with good health–an apple a day–and is commonly associated with Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. In many rural areas, apple picking is an annual tradition. Their sizes, shapes, varieties, colors, textures, and flavors are as varied and individual as the days of the week.
The apple that had been forced into Trevor’s mouth during his brief stretch of unconscious was neither flavorful nor delicious. As cognizance slowly returned, Trevor knew that he’d been gagged; the Scallion, who stood above him outfitted in full villain regalia, confirmed the fact.
“I’d advise you not to try chewing your way through the apple. I’ve injected a fast-acting poison into its center that is, I assure you, is quite lethal if swallowed.”
Trevor was fully conscious and his vision was clear, as was his predicament. He was securely bound to a chair. The apple in his mouth was kept in place by electrical tape that affixed across his lips. Trevor mumbled an inaudible curse.
“Please, don’t try to talk. I remember well our last encounter. I’ve no wish to have my defeat repeated. It was, I’m sure you’ll admit, mere luck on your behalf that the slightest unforeseen wind gust altered the trajectory of my Spanish Onion bomb, causing it to explode near the guard dogs and in turn causing them to to attack me, their own master. I haven’t forgotten it. Nor have I forgotten the indignation suffered me by the incompetent emergency room staff. Incompetent, and unfriendly. But I digress. Such are the rantings of the truly gifted.”
Trevor gazed quizzically at the Scallion.
“You have questions, I know. You might first thank me for having not gagged you with an onion, which I’m sure you’d agree would have been far more symbolic. An apple is good enough for you. What are my intentions, you wonder? Why have I so precisely bound you to a chair? My intentions, I assure you, are quite sincere–quite pure.” He paused momentarily, sipping water from a crystal wine glass.
“Are you familiar with the city of Kandor, the capital of Superman’s home planet of Krypton that was miniaturized and stored within a glass bottle? As a child I was fascinated by the concept of a shrunken city. Which is why I discovered the means to make fantasy a reality. I intend to shrink or reduce or minimize every major metropolis on the planet. I and I alone shall determine the rules and regulations of this new micro-world. It really is everything I’ve ever wanted, and then some.”
The Scallion circled an elegant dining room table, upon which sat a four-course dinner that featured leek soup and rack of lamb with a shallot glaze, as he boasted of his plans for the world he would, quite literally, reduce to his whims. Trevor struggled not to bite into apple but reflexively bit off a piece of the fruit, and swallowed. It was then that he noticed something peculiar. He began to stare. As the Scallion rattled and prattled about new world orders and the under-use of the pearl onion in French cuisine, Trevor continued to gaze with vigilance at the object of his attention. He locked his eyes on it, finding himself unable to turn away.
“. . . and following a series of propaganda films likely to be entitled Surviving Under the Reign of The Scallion, I will decide who lives, who dies, and who–”
The Scallion realized suddenly that Trevor hadn’t made eye contact for several minutes and appeared to be preoccupied with . . . something.
“What are you staring at? What is it? What?”
The Scallion angrily glanced about the room. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. He considered removing the gag–to force Trevor to speak–but even in his growing rage he knew better than to take the risk.
“WHAT?!” he asked again, enraged.
And then he realized exactly what it was. Realized what was occupying Trevor’s mind and vision. The cape. His cape. The cape that he’d damaged earlier with a steam iron. Trevor had become acutely aware of the cape’s imperfection and the Scallion knew that Trevor, were he not gagged, would be laughing. Laughing at his enemy–at the little man who was too inept to launder and press a cape without damaging it. He lunged at Trevor, intent on striking him, but hesitated.
“You seek to goad me. To reduce me to the base act of physical violence. I assure you, I am quite capable of–”
Trevor’s eyes once again bypassed the Scallion and focused instead on the bottom of his adversary’s cape.
“Stop staring at it, damn you!”
He stormed away from Trevor and uncorked a bottle of chardonnay.
“It’s of no significance. Laugh if you’d like. Chew through the apple and laugh. I double-dog dare you. It’s perhaps a good time to divulge to you a tidbit of information you may find most interesting. While you were semi-conscious, I placed you under hypnosis. In that wakeful-dreaming condition you revealed many secrets to me . . . Trevor. Fear not. You shan’t survive long enough to be fully exploited. However, you should know that, as the future ruler of this world, I shall require a queen. And although your lovely Marcia isn’t my type, she’ll serve in the interim until a suitable companion is found, after which, she can join you in eternal slumber.”
The Scallion smiled as Trevor’s eyes locked in fury with his own. “Ha ha. Finally have your full attention. I’ve sent my companion, Mr. Black and Blue, to retrieve her. They’ll be joining us momentarily.” He tipped his wine glass and drank rapidly, not pausing to savor its aroma.
“You see, I too have something to laugh about.” The Scallion sat at the table and began to eat.
“Mmmmm. Quite delicious. You really ought to try the soup.”
The apartment was dark. Jones the cat slept peacefully, dreaming of mice and balls of yarn. Marcia lie awake in bed, eyes wide open. Dreams of a sandy beaches and ocean waves at winter had been suddenly interrupted. An intruder was nearby. Even from the enclosed bedroom she could sense the thick, sappy smell of Polo cologne, a scent that she knew all-too well from a college romance and former lover who bathed in the stuff.
The scent was so invasive that it had roused her from a sound slumber. The Polo-wearing prowler was in her home. The kitchen floorboard squeaked one by one. Marcia realized her odds of survival would increase if she quickly locked the bedroom door. She could then escape out the window–a two-story drop to the lawn below but doable. The footsteps were closer. Time for fast action. Marcia kicked aside the cotton sheet and comforter and sprung from the bed. The door was four feet away. She covered the distance in less than one second and hastily turned the privacy lock. An instant later, the lock was tested by the stranger who stood on the opposite side of the door. Marcia staggered to the bedroom window and pushed aside the treatment. The door shuddered against the stranger’s weight as Marcia unlocked the window. She knocked aside various photo frames which crashed onto the floor. Glass shattered and Marcia’s feet danced as she sidestepped the sharp fragments. An eerie sound, like metal on metal, enveloped the air as the composition of the bedroom door began to change. The edges of the door glowed brightly. Moments later the door imploded. Mr. Black and Blue stepped into the bedroom and stared at his prey through soulless eyes. Marcia unlocked the window and kicked out the screen, but was quickly pulled away by the hair. The scent of Polo filled her nostrils and she felt suddenly nauseous.
“Sorry, babe. You ain’t goin’ nowhere, ‘cept with me.”
NEXT: Kingdom gone.