Friday, October 15, 2010

Marlsten's Delivery (Friday Fiction)

This week's Friday Fiction his hosted by the talented Karlene "KJ" Jacobsen @ her blog, Homespun Expressions. Click here to read and share more great fiction!


Author's Ramblings. Y'all have Amy Wiley to thank for this particular spin-off. It's rough (and unedited), but I've had Titania's character wedged in my head for most of this week and since I need to make some room to think of midterms and NaNoWriMo, you'll find this to be a brief character sketch, but a useful one nonetheless. I hope you enjoy the read--don't forget to leave a comment, I love hearing what you think! Happy weekend and enjoy the read! Oh and of course, I couldn't quite find the car that Titania drives, but hopefully this pic is good enough for your imagination to do the rest. ^_^



The sign on the building read Marlsten’s Delivery in crooked, faded lettering. On the stretch of dirt road, it was the only building in sight and not a very well-kept one from the outside. A faded and peeling scrap of paper explained the hours of operation and there was no bell to announce their arrival, when the guests entered the foyer.

There was no one in foyer, so they passed through the beaded curtain and skirted round an ancient pool table. It was dark inside, once they passed through the foyer and there were no lights in sight anywhere that they could find.

A dead goldfish floated in a murky glass globe, highlighted by a scrap of a light streaming downward from a cracked nightlight plugged into the wall near a dusty corkboard. A faint flicker of blue seemed to emanate from it.



The woman shuddered and inched closer to her two escorts.

“Ma’am?” One of the two gentlemen edged closer to his employer.

“There’s a light this way.” The other one started down the narrow hallway to the left.

The strained sounds of Mozart filtered through the hallway as if slowed by the very presence of the dust coating every object. Muffled squishing sounds came from the tattered carpet as the source of the light came through a frosted office door.

When the trio entered the office, the radio on the bookshelf sputtered and wheezed. The bald-headed man squinted up at them from beneath the fluorescent lights. Beads of sweat had collected along his hairline and he swabbed them away with one shirtsleeve, then surveyed them through a single monocle. 

The tallest of the trio, a woman in a knee-length burgundy overcoat, gave a nod to the man standing to her left. He stepped forward, cloaked in black and holding out a sturdy, black briefcase. “Mr. Marlsten? We have some business that-”

“Driver, car or both?” The man asked, replacing his monocle in his grubby shirt pocket. “It’s almost closing time. You should come back tomorrow.”

“Mr. Marlsten-”

“We’re closed.” He wrinkled a fat nose, propping up his chin with pudgy fingers. “We’re closed on Thursdays.”


“We’ve come with-”

“I said we’re closed.” The voice deepened a few more decibels, the filmy blue eyes flickering faintly.

“But-!”

“I’ll handle it Brandon.” The woman stepped forward, placing an arm of restraint on her bodyguard. “I do hope you are Mark Marlsten, because I am in great need of your assistance.”

The man sighed. “Whether I be or not isn’t the problem, lady-”

Brandon cleared his throat.

“-ma’am.” He corrected himself. “But at the moment, the options you have aren’t ones you’re going to want to take. So, for that, we’re closed.”

“The door was open.” The second guard spoke up, his head snapped around to look back at the office door.
“Stephen?” She waited.

He shrugged, faintly.

“Please, I’ll take whatever you have. This is an important matter.”

“Important enough that maybe I don’t want to get involved in it.” The fat man sighed. “Look, you want a car? I’ve plenty of cars. Many, many different kinds. You take your pick. I don’t care. I give you good deal. One condition though.”

“Yes, yes, whatever it is.” The woman offered a trembly smile. “I’ll pay whatever it is you want as long as-”

“I don’t have any drivers. You bring your own driver, yes?”

“What?” Her pale face went bisquick white. “I don’t understand.”

“I don’t have any drivers. No more. All gone.” He held up his hands. “You bring your own driver, I give you car. Okay?”

“No! That’s not okay, this can’t be…look, someone should have called ahead, to say we were coming and…this is important!”

“No driver, no car. I not giving a car to bad driver.” Mr. Marlsten wheezed. “Take it or leave it.”

“But I don’t have a driver, I mean…Stephen? Brandon?”

“We’re bodyguards, ma’am.” Brandon spoke for them both. “We’ll gladly protect you with our lives, but driving-”

“I know, I know.” She ducked her head. “I’m sorry to even ask.” She bit her lip. “Isn’t there anyone? Anyone at all?”

“No. No one. You want car?”

“I can’t drive it myself.”

“Not my problem.”

“It is a big problem! Wait, you own this place, so you can drive right? Look, I’ll pay you anything you want! Anything! I’ll make it well worth your while.”

The fat man glared at her. “No driver. No deal.”

“This is a matter of-!”

He straightened deliberately in his chair, tone changing as he rose from the chair. “Look, Mrs. Lemons, I’d be happy to assist you, but you won’t-”

“How do you know my name?” The woman took a step backward in fright. Almost at once, the two guards sandwiched her between them.

“Sit down!” Brandon ordered, already drawing his weapon from the folds of his overcoat. “Now!”

A very visible renewal of sweat returned to the man’s forehead as he dropped heavily into the office chair again. He sat.

“Pops?”

Four heads turned.

From the filing cabinet in the corner, it swung forward and a young, blonde teen stepped into the room, a can of soda in one hand and a wrapped cheeseburger in the other. Slender in appearance, flat-chested, with a neat boycut, the only hint at femininity was her soft pink lipgloss. She froze for a moment, taking in a scene and then her eyebrows knitted themselves together.

“We’re closed. Get out. Leave my Pops alone.” She thunked the soda and sandwich on the desk in front of him and twitched her nose at the sight of the gun. “And put that away before you hurt someone.” Her eyes flared a bright blue. “You’re not moving. Put that away, now.” There was an edge to her voice that made the fat man’s hands tremble as he reached for his soda and then fumbled with the top. She rolled her eyes, grabbing the can away from him and popping the tab herself. “There.” She huffed. “I told you to eat before your blood sugar got this far out of whack, you never listen to me.”

“You nag.” He grumped, guzzling the soft drink. “All day. All night. Nag, nag, nag.”

She snorted. “You’re the one that grounded me, so shut up and keep eating. If you pass out in here, I am so not dragging you all the way to-why are you still pointing that at us? Do you want to live? Put it away before I smash your skull in!”

“Titania!” Mr. Marlsten turned several shades of red.

“Don’t.” She sniffed. “Just don’t. I’ve heard it all before.” She yawned, arms stretching upwards, pausing in mid-air, deliberately.

Brandon hesitated, the gun never wavering until Mrs. Lemon gave a slight nod of her head. His arms dropped to his side, but he made no move to return the weapon to its holster.

“Who are you and why are you here?” She crossed her arms over her chest. “We only take listed clients and the last of them already showed up hours ago.” The scowl deepened. “We’re not listed in the phonebook either, so if you show up here, you better have a good reason and you shouldn’t be waving guns around.”

“T-that was a misunderstanding on our part.” Mrs. Lemon swallowed. “We’re in a rather desperate circumstance and in dire need of your services.”

“How much?”

“Excuse me?”

“How bad do you need our services? What are you willing to pay for them?”

“Titania!” Mr. Marlsten tried again.

“Eat your burger.” She retorted. “What did you tell them?”

“He said we could have a car, but no driver.” Mrs. Lemon began to wring her hands. “I don’t suppose there is anything you-”

“I’ll drive you.” Titania yawned. “Ready to go?”

“What?” The woman stared at her.

The girl shrugged. “You’re in trouble right? You came here for help? You need a driver. I can drive.” She frowned. “Or rather, I will, as soon as Pops tells me that I’m not grounded.”

“You are grounded!” He sputtered. “Titania!”

“I’m the best driver you have, Pops.” She smirked. “And I know you can’t afford to let them slip away. They’re the package, right?” She snickered. “I’ll get juiced. Send ‘em down when you finish that and not a moment before.”

“Titania!”

“Sir?” Mrs. Lemon said, faintly.

The fat man at the desk buried his head in his hands.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

“Ah, I was starting to wonder.” The girl beamed, standing beside a sleek, hulk of a car, dressed in a silver bodysuit with a metallic blue stripe down the middle. “Thanks, Pops.”

The fat man pretended not to notice, instead continuing his list of instructions to the two bodyguards.

“So, you can really drive this?” Mrs. Lemon swallowed hard, the whiteness had returned to her face and she clutched her stomach, protectively.

“Duh. And you’re really the next hope of our future?”

A deliberate air of royalty seemed to surround the woman. “Yes. I am.”

Titania flushed a bright red. “The upholstry’s new, Whatever you do, please don’t blow-”

“Titania!”

She had the decency to duck her head as the man waddled over to her side and rewarded her with a slap to the back of her head. “Watch your mouth!”

“I watch it more than you.” She stuck her tongue out.

He sighed. “Only three? You’ll need more than that.”

She shrugged. “You think?”

“Drink.” He handed her clear plastic bottle with a thick blue liquid. She did. He took the bottle back and waited. She stuck her tongue out again and he took out his monocle to squint at hit. “It’ll have to do. Keep your wits about you.”

“Don’t I always?” She kissed his bald head and unzipped the suit. “Here. I’ll call you when we reach, k? Take your pills, Pops. Doctor’s orders.”

“Call soon.” He sighed, taking the suit.

A faint, sky blue glow had taken over the girl’s body, a color now working up to her face as she caught hold of the car roof and slid through the window, into the driver’s seat. “Driver, Titiania Marlsten. Ervia, wake up, I need ya, babe.” The silver car hummed and whirred to life, a flicker of blue energy rippling over it as Mr. Marlsten helped the trio into the backseat.

The doors were carefully sealed afterwards and the section divider to the backseat began to rise up.

“Wait!” A touch of panic registered in Mrs. Lemon’s voice as she tried to lean forward.

“What?” Titania twisted around to look at her. “Don’t do that. You need the safety restraints on.” She hesitated. “I’ll have them use a sensory advisement for you, if you like.”

A faint blush colored the woman’s face. “That would be very—kind—of you, thank you.”

“No prob. But I’m putting this up, ‘cause you’ll probably get sick if you see how I drive.” She flashed a saucy grin. “Page me on ‘com if you need something. Tell your boys to sit tight.”

The divider slowly traveled upwards, sealing off the driver’s compartment from the trio in the back.

Titania sighed as she felt the pressure of the car being lowered. Her father was already opening the garage doors and she hadn’t even plugged in yet.

“Ervia?” She spoke to the digital assistant. “You there?”

“Good evening, Titania. Welcome to mission-”

“Yeah, yeah. Skip the boring stuff, just jack in already, would you?”
The answer was several thick, silver cables and a handful of black wires shooting out from the dashboard and directly into her body. Attaching themselves to her neck, chest and arms, the wires glowed a faint blue as she reached for the joystick steering wheel and carefully wrapped her gloved hands around them.

“Your adrenaline levels are higher than normal.” Ervia commented. “Shall I adjust to compensate for it?”

“Whatever. Pops made me drink a fourth one.”

“Adjusting.”

“Plot the course?”

“Recalculating.”

“Good job, E! Cleared for launch?”

“In T-minus…incoming call.”

“The client or my father?”

“Client.”

“Tell him his wife and child will be arriving soon.” Titania rolled her neck forward, gently. The car revved as the dashboard lit up. “Tell him I’ll bring them there safely.”


Her hands tightened on the joystick as she licked her lips and tilted her head back. There was still one thing to do.

Uh, dear Heavenly Father, please give me traveling mercies as I leave here. Keep watch over the garage and stuff. Help me to make this quick. It's a different kind of cargo this time. Pops wanted me to take them, that's why he grounded me. I want to live up to his expectations. I want to live up to your expectations. I want to do my best. Please, help me to take these people to where they need to be at the right time. Protect them. Protect me. Help me drive my best. Help me drive safely. Keep an eye on, Pops too. Don't let him forget to drink his meds. Amen. 

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Lights and scenery blurred by.

Time was suspended, at least, for the trio in the backseat. Mrs. Lemon drifted in and out of a troubled sleep. Her two bodyguards remained on alert, following the automated progress reports from Ervia that showed on the computer display between the seat sections.

They had already outrun two attackers and the car had shown its worth in protecting them from three snipers.

The car and the driver.

But neither guard would relax.

The woman between them stared blankly, her mind drifting, one hand on the slight bulge in her jacket, over her stomach. The ride was smooth. The silence was eerie.

In the driver’s seat, a glowing girl in blue, shifted gears and meshed her mind with a computer to safely transport her cargo to the designated destination. In perfect harmony with the nanobots she’d swallowed and the system interface she’d helped create, the result was the most famous female armored car driver to grace the history of Northridge.

© Sara Harricharan

4 comments:

Sparrow said...

But, but, but what where they transporting? Huh? Huh? Enquiring minds want to know!

Sharlyn Guthrie said...

I enjoyed getting acquainted with your characters -especially Titania. Anywhere with her sounds like an adventure!

Debra Ann Elliott said...

Great writing!

Sara Harricharan said...

@Amy/Sparrow. The "item" was Mrs. Lemon. A pregnant Mrs. Lemon. This sketch is actually only half the story, I'm almost done with the other bit, but I'm afraid it's rather LONG. (In typical sawa-style, of course!) so I opted to cut it and paste this shorter version.

Titania was really fun to write! ^_^