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Word count: 99
This was written with the prompt beaver slap provided by the Carrot Ranch’s May 30 Story Challenge.
I had travelled far and finally reached her estate in the late evening. The Countess lived in an old mansion. I noticed on my arrival that the grounds were unkempt. In the darkness I could see shadows of bushes and trees that were long in need for some pruning. Probably once elaborate gardens that had since fallen into disarray. Once the carriage had delivered me to the doorstep. I knocked on the large front door made of oak. A woman I took to be the maid opened the door. She was dressed on a long black gown and had blonde hair that fell beyond her shoulders. She carried a lantern in her left hand. She looked very pale.
“At last you’ve arrived!” She exclaimed.
“I’m here to see the Countess.” I told her.
“Yes I know. The servants are asleep. I am the Countess.” She replied. I was taken aback. I had been led to believe she was an old woman now, but she looked younger than I was.
“Oh.” I replied, somewhat dumbfounded.
“Come in.” She requested. I walked in with a couple of my bags and she closed the door behind me. “This way.” I followed her in the darkness with the lantern leading the way. We came to a door, and beyond it was a lit dining room. The table was mahogany and was huge, almost from one side of the wall to the other. At one end was a plate with cutlery, surrounded by some silver serving dishes.
“This is a wonderfully long table. You must hold exquisite dinner parties here.” I stated.
“I used to. It’s been a long time since I’ve had guests here, but please, you must be hungry. Help yourself to the fare.” She requested. I then noticed I was ravenous, and realised I hadn’t eaten anything since the morning, since I had spent most of the day traveling. I sat down and served myself some of the food out of the serving dishes. I also helped myself to the red wine in the carafe. The Countess sat down beside me and watched while I ate. She never ate or drank anything, telling me that she had already fed.
After I had eaten, we went to a spacious drawing room and both sat down on comfortable chairs that faced each other across the room. She asked me about where I came from, and wanted to know all sorts of details about where I lived, my family, my life growing up, and my relations with others. After so much talking I began to feel tired, and noticed the sky outside was beginning to lighten, we had talked all night.
“This has been fascinating.” The Countess remarked. “We’ll continue our talk this evening. Sorry, I seem to have kept you awake all night and you must be tired. I too need to rest now.” She stated.
When I went to my bedchambers, I found all my bags had been placed in the room, though I had neither seen nor heard any servants. I went to bed and fell into a dreamless sleep. I awoke late the next day. That night I was again in the drawing room talking to the Countess about events in the world outside. I had come here to attend to her library, as I had been told the Countess’s collections of books were in disarray, and she needed someone to sort them out and properly order them, which was my speciality, but the Countess didn’t seem too concerned about it. Maybe she just desired to have another learned woman here.
Every night was the same. After I had dined, I would talk with her until the dawn (and every time she would apologise for keeping me up so late), and then we would both go off to sleep. I began to sense that all she wanted was a companion to talk to, or play cards with (as we did some nights), rather than what I had been employed for. There were also supposed to be servants here, but I never saw them. Yet every day there were cooked meals for me and someone made my bed and changed the sheets when needed. I looked out for them and listened intently at times, but I never had proof that there was any life in this mansion, other than myself.
I was no fool, however. I was well-read and knew many things that other people had no idea of, much of it obscure and arcane lore. The Countess never ate or drank anything in my presence, nor did I ever see her in the daylight. She would always end our conversations precisely at dawn. She had lived for many years, but looked to be in her twenties. I guessed what she was, yet no harm had come to me during my stay here. Nor did I ever feel that I was in danger. She just seemed to want someone to talk with, so I decided to take no action. Besides, I too was alone the world now, and often craved company myself…
I was recently watching the 1977 BBC version of Dracula (one of my favourites) and was struck with the thought what if Dracula and Jonathan Harker characters were instead both women and the vampire just wanted a friend, rather than have someone to help them move to London? As a side note, the organise the library idea I got from the Hammer version of Dracula (1958)…
I wrote this for Star Wars Day, but due to being busy I was unable to complete it, until today.
“Wow it’s so amazing we’re on our first mission as members of the Rebel Alliance.” Ennik said. “This is so exciting!”
“Yeah, it’s super!” Brynla replied sarcastically.
“But I thought you wanted to be in the Rebel Alliance now?” Ennik asked.
“Maybe, but what is the first mission they give us? We’re nothing but a glorified taxi service.” Brynla explained.
“Well maybe they’ll give us a better mission next time.” Ennik suggested.
Their ship came out of hyperspace. Before them was the planet Kremut shining dully in the deeps of space.
“Mistress, we have come out of hyperspace.” E-5JF stated.
“Yes, I know.” Brynla was convinced that the droid was getting worse. It needed a serious reprogramming, preferably with something large and heavy… Unexpectedly an Imperial Customs Frigate came into view.
“Mistress, there is an Imperial Customs Frigate before us.” E-5JF told her..
“I’m aware of that!” Brynla replied.
“Freighter we have you on our scope. Prepare to be boarded for a customs inspection.” Said a harsh-sounding voice over the intracom.
“Not again!” Brynla complained.
Shortly afterwards, stormtroopers were investigating the hold while an Imperial Customs Officer stood next to Brynla who slouched against the wall with her arms folded.
“So what’s in your hold?” The Imperial Customs Officer asked.
“Corellian ale.” She replied.
“So what’s a pretty girl like you doing in a job like this?”
“Making lots of credits.” Brynla watched the stormtroopers reappear carrying a number of boxes. “Hey that’s really going to cut away at my profits.”
“Too bad. But if you want to make a complaint feel free to come over to our ship. You never know, you may get it all back if you’re especially helpful.” The Imperial Customs Officer stated.
“I’ll think I’ll just take the loss.” Brynla stated. The Customs Officer looked disappointed.
“Fine. It will be your loss then.” He replied. With that he and the stormtroopers departed back to their Customs Frigate. Brynla walked back the cockpit and joined the others.
“Just once I would like to meet an Imperial officer who isn’t a complete sleazeball.” Brynla stated to Ennik as she returned to the cockpit. “Why does the Empire make it so easy to hate them?”
“Er… I don’t know, sorry.” Ennik answered.
“Hate is not something I’m programmed to understand.'” E-5JF offered
“Relax you two, it was rhetorical.” Brynla stated.
“You and the droid unload our cargo and deliver it, then load up the new cargo.” Brynla ordered once they had landed in Docking Bay 37.
“Righto!” Ennik replied. “Where are you going?”
“For a drink.” Brynla replied as she walked down the ramp.
A few minutes later she was sitting in a booth with a glass of ale in her hands, waiting. A man sat down on the other side.
“I hear banthas still roam freely on the sands of Tatooine.” He declared. There was an awkward silence.
“May it ever be so.” She replied woodenly.
“So you’re the one taking me to the Alliance High Command?” He asked.
“Apparently.” Brynla answered. “My name is Brynla.”
“I’m Laslo.” The man replied.
“So why does the Alliance want you?” She asked.
“I have stolen data from the Empire showing troop and ship deployments in this sector.” He told her.
“Okay.” Brynla responded. “Shall we go now?” Laslo nodded and as they both began to stand up, two people unexpectedly joined them in their booth. A woman with long silver hair placed a blaster into Brynla’s ribs.
“Hello my pretty lady. You’re both going to come with us.” The woman declared.
“It’s been a while since I was called a lady.” Brynla replied as she realised her easy mission had just become a lot more complicated…
“Look what we found: two Imperial spies.” The woman announced. Laslo and Brynla had been led to a building on the outskirts of the spaceport. Inside was what looked to be a group of heavily armed commandos who now all looked at Brynla and Laslo rather suspiciously.
“Imperial spies? Give me a break! Do I look like an Imperial?” Brynla argued.
“Why what does an Imperial look like?” The woman asked.
“Well the ones I encounter all have a fondness for wearing uniforms.” Brynla replied.
“Their spies don’t.”
“What makes you think we’re spies?” Brynla asked.
“That man” The woman said pointing to Laslo, “is an Imperial Agent. We’ve been following him. We knew he was waiting for his handler to show up, and so she has!” The woman stated looking at Brynla.
“I’m not his handler. I came to take him to the Rebel fleet. He has important data about Imperial troop movements.” Brynla informed her. The woman raised her eyebrows at Brynla.
“I think I would know if there was another Rebel cell operating here.” She declared.
“Well obviously you don’t.” Brynla replied. The door suddenly burst open revealing a squad of stormtroopers.
“It’s the rebels! Blast them!” One announced. They began opening fire with their blaster rifles. Brynla hid behind a door frame, grabbed her blaster back and returned fire.
“Do you still think I’m an Imperial spy?” Brynla shouted at the woman.
“I must admit it’s looking less likely!” She replied as she also fired back at the stormtroopers.
A short time later all the stormtroopers were dead. Brynla watched the woman looking over the body of a fallen comrade. She then looked up at Brynla standing there.
“Maybe I did get it wrong.” She conceded. “But I did think he was an Imperial spy.”
“I understand you have to be careful. By the way, I’m Captain Brynla.” Brynla said. The woman looked up at her uncertainly.
“I’m Major Thinnik.” She responded eventually.
“Well I guess I better get Laslo to the fleet. Where is he?” Brynla asked. She looked around and eventually found him lying on the floor under a couple of other bodies.. “Oh crap!”
“I don’t understand why you insisted on loading the contact into the ship’s hold in a box.” Ennik stated as they flew away from Kremut.
“It’s so the Imperials won’t find him.” Brynla explained.
“But we’re now heading for the Rebel fleet. Surely we can let him out now?” Ennik argued.
“I think not.” Brynla answered. Her orders were to bring Laslo to the fleet, so that’s what she was doing. She suspected they were going to be rather disappointed.
It was called High Water: a deep blue liquid that gave a higher state of consciousness. Some users became aware of the web of life surrounding them, and having previously felt cut-off, became more connected to it. Others found themselves wandering around the cosmos among the stars…
The Authorities, of course, wouldn’t stand for this, and so stamped out its usage wherever they could find it. However, those who became reconnected to nature continued a deeper symbiosis with everything around them, while others gained a more profound understanding of the Universe’s workings. Not even the Authorities could stop that.
Word count: 99
This was written with the prompt high water provided by the Carrot Ranch May 1 Story Challenge.