Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blood is Thicker than Water: Forte and Broadstead Team Up Part 1

Samuel Forte, balanced on the two back legs of a kitchen chair, propped his feet on the room’s small coffee table. He had gone downstairs to where the lady of the boarding house had prepared breakfast. After eating both his share and Stewart’s, he climbed up the stairs to wait for the priest’s return. Forte’s collar was unbuttoned, his hair was still mussed by sleep, and his beard was full of breakfast crumbs. He was not bothered by any of this, and he waited patiently for Father Stewart to come home from morning mass, or where he was, and offer him some sort of drink.

There was a knock on the door, and Forte moved his stockinged feet off the table. He undid the locks and opened the door. On the other side was J. Hamish Broadstead. Forte slammed the door and returned to the sitting room.

Broadstead, for his part, was confused, firstly, at seeing Forte again, and secondly, at such a curious reception. He beat on the door again, and after five minutes of no response, decided to enter the premises himself.

“Is anyone here?” his voice filled the front room. He took some tentative steps forward. “Father Stewart? I hope that ruffian Forte hasn’t done anything to you!”

“Shows what you know.” Forte stepped into view under the doorway that joined the two rooms. Strapped on his back, lights flashing, was what Forte referred to as his spirit removal gun. He had the nozzle of the machine aimed at Broadstead.

Broadstead stood his ground, as cool as a November breeze. “Aren’t we being a little melodramatic, Forte?”

Forte came forward. “The father thought you might be coming by. He’s not here though. He’s out doing some priest-like things, being a priest and all.”

“Ah.” Broadstead tightened his grip on his cane’s handle. “That’s your supernatural ghost remover, is it? Don’t suppose it has any effect on those of us more corporal in nature?”

“How do you know I haven’t adjusted it for narrow-minded bug professors?”

Broadstead guided Forte’s nozzle out of his line of fire with the tip of his cane. “Just a hunch.” Broadstead turned to go. “I hope,” Broadstead spoke without looking back, “that I can convince the father to have nothing to do with you. I at least owe him that.”

“Shows what you know, jack. The father and me, we go way back. And he hasn’t got the time of day for a stuffy old tweed like you.”

The door opened in front of Broadstead. A white-haired gentleman was framed in the doorway. Broadstead instinctively stepped backward before regaining his composure.
Forte shifted to the new target, asking himself, “Supernatural?”

“Who the devil are you?” asked Broadstead.

The room melted away, much to Broadstead’s amazement. He, Forte, and this newcomer were all in a dim, gloomy chapel, one solitary candle cutting the darkness.

“I am Benjamin,” the man in the cape said, as if that alone were enough.
Oddly, to Broadstead, it seemed enough for the moment. Broadstead shook himself. Why did he feel as if this man were examining him from outside a glass case, and he himself were pinned down for display?

Forte, oblivious to the scene change, held a small box that clicked rapidly. “Definitely supernatural,” he announced to the world in general.

Benjamin gazed at Forte, eyes flashing. “You don’t want to hurt anyone with that gun, do you, Samuel?”

“No,” Forte began woodenly. “I don’t—hey!” Forte shook his head and looked away from Benjamin. “Undead mind tricks. Very clever, but not clever enough.”

The pack on Forte’s back whined as Forte focused an energy beam. The knockback sent Forte sprawling on the floor.

Broadstead flattened himself behind a pew. “Good God, man, are you crazy?”

Broadstead cautiously peered over the edge of the bench. The altar had been hit by the blast and broken in half, its remains smoldering.

Broadstead bolted back toward Forte. “You idiot! I thought you said it worked only on the insubstantial! How are we going to explain this?”

Ford wriggled like a turtle on its sell. “You don’t understand, Broadstead! That’s a vampire!”

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