Fantasies and Realities: Episode 9

Minerva crawls out from her hiding place behind the hedge surrounding the Hannard's Ford Sime Centre. It's a dark, cloudy night, and her slender 9-year-old form is almost invisible. She's very carefully carrying a locked metal box.

Minerva looks carefully around one more time, then turns and reaches back into the hedge.

Thouglas peers through bushes and the dark as well as he can.

Minerva pulls her twin brother out of the hedge.

Minerva: (whispers) It's completely dark in there. I don't think there's anyone home.

Thouglas: They don't need light to see by. You know that.

Thouglas remembers to whisper a bit late.

Bibi stirs restlessly in her sleep.

Minerva: I think they all went with that guy who came riding in in such a hurry.

Minerva: I hope they're all gone. I wouldn't want to actually hurt anybody, even if they do consort with demon Simes. They still might be redeemable.

Minerva has great faith in the possibility of redemption.

Thouglas: I dunno. I think there's gotta be some of them in there hidin' in the dark like they do.

Thouglas couldn't care less about redemption -- theirs or his.

Minerva: If the Reverend is right, then they can't detect pure children.

Minerva glances at her twin, wondering if the concept of purity is strictly relevant here.

Thouglas: Yeah, okay whatever. Lets just do it and get back home before Pa misses us.

Thouglas didn't think up this little adventure. Nerva usually does all the thinking for them.

Minerva: He'll know it was us eventually. He'll know it had to be someone who knows where he keeps his stuff. And Pa counts every stick of dynamite, beginning and end of every shift.

Thouglas doesn't put much stock in the preacher or the doctrine of the Church but mayhem is his favorite thing.

Minerva: But I think he'll approve, because we're doing Godly work here.

Thouglas pauses. Maybe this isn't such a good idea.

Thouglas: Yeah, okay.

Minerva tiptoes across the lawn with exaggerated caution.

Thouglas does like the loud noise and the thought of adults running in all directions.

Thouglas: You sure you got all the stuff?

Thouglas didn't check the box before they left.

Minerva: Four sticks of Thunderbolt Number Three, plenty of slow fuse, matches, string, and the key to the box.

Thouglas: Yeah, that's everything.

Minerva: Now hush.

Minerva leads her brother around the side of the building.

Thouglas grumbles something about bossy girls.

Thouglas: What was that?

Minerva: What was what?

Thouglas squeaks at a sound on the porch.

Bibi turns over as a mouse runs along the baseboard in her bedroom.

Thouglas: There's someone comin' out.

Thouglas hunkers down.

Minerva sees a cat run down the porch steps and off into the bushes.

Minerva: Thouglas, don't be such a baby! God is on our side.

Thouglas feels a bit ~~ embarrassed ~~ that his sister is braver than he is sometimes.

Thouglas: Yeah, well okay.

Thouglas can't help looking around to make sure no one is sneaking up on them.

Minerva stands on tiptoe to peer through the open kitchen window. It's totally dark inside. She smells vegetable soup, and her stomach rumbles loudly.

Thouglas: Shhhhh!

Minerva hunkers down.

Thouglas's stomach makes a sympathetic noise.

Minerva: Is someone coming?

Thouglas: No. Let's just get this done. Where's the key?

Minerva: Then why did you shush me?

Thouglas: I don't know! Just -- open the box.

Minerva's grin is invisible in the darkness.

Minerva: I thought you had the key.

Thouglas: What? Oh yeah, right. [fishes around in his pocket]

Minerva enjoys teasing her brother. She pulls the key from her pocket, and waits for her brother to notice it.

Thouglas pulls a dirty snot rag, some rocks and a dead frog out of his pocket but no key.

Thouglas: I don't got it.

Minerva: Yuck! What's that lumpy thing?

Thouglas: Never you mind.

Minerva: (suspiciously) It looks like a frog.

Thouglas had forgotten about the frog.

Thouglas: So.

Thouglas ~~ puffs out his chest ~~.

Minerva: Frogs are God's creatures too. You're not supposed to hurt them.

Thouglas: I didn't. Well, I didn't mean to. I just wanted to keep him.

Thouglas ~~ deflates loudly ~~.

Minerva: Ever hear of a glass jar? Even a girl knows you're supposed to put them in a jar and punch holes in the lid.

Thouglas: Well I didn't have one on me, okay?

Minerva: Then don't catch a frog until you do have one. Idiot.

Thouglas would sock her one, but Nerva has a mean right cross.

Minerva sets the metal box on the ground, and unlocks it with a loud click.

Thouglas rolls his eyes.

Thouglas: Why don't you just go knock on the door if you're gonna make that much noise.

Minerva ignores her brother. From the moment the box opens, her attention is entirely upon it.

Thouglas is paying closer attention himself. This is where the fun starts.

Minerva wires a very long piece of slow fuse to the bundled dynamite, with the skill of one who has watched her father do this a hundred times.

Thouglas: That's too much fuse.

Minerva has practiced in secret many times in the past week, using string and candles.

Minerva: Better too much than too little.

Thouglas: It'll take forever to burn down.

Minerva: You in a hurry? Patience is the way of the Lord.

Thouglas: Somebody might see it before it goes off, you goof.

Minerva: Oh, all right.

Thouglas: Cut at least an inch off.

Thouglas has set a few charges with his Pa. After all it's man's work.

Minerva takes her pocket knife and trims a token half inch from the fuse.

Minerva: Happy now?

Thouglas: Yeah. That'll give us enough time to get clear. Well, ya gonna light it?

Thouglas wants to be well clear and in a good spot to watch the fun.

Minerva wedges the bundle of dynamite under a loose board with the fuse trailing out, and hands her brother the matchbox.

Minerva: Why don't you light it?

Minerva begins running as soon as her brother's hand closes over the matchbox.

Thouglas grins from ear to ear. Then wonders why she's so willing to let him do the honors.

Thouglas realizes why.

Minerva wriggles through a hole in the back hedge.

Thouglas strikes the match and holds it to the fuse. It sparks and hisses loudly. He grabs the metal box and starts to get up.

Minerva: [stage whisper] Hurry!

Thouglas slowly realizes that he is caught on something. He pulls frantically and the strap on his overalls. It's stuck on a branch.

Thouglas: I'm stuck.

Minerva: Cut it.

Thouglas fishes around in the other pocket trying to find his knife. He finds it just as the strap breaks and he lands hard on his face.

Thouglas: Ooof!

Minerva runs back to her brother, her knife in her hand. She trips over something invisible in the dark, and falls.

Thouglas shakes his head as the stars dance around behind his eyes and cracks his head on the box that he had just pulled towards him as something lands on him.

Minerva's knife lodges itself in the meaty part of her thigh as she hits the ground.

Minerva: (loudly) Owwww!

Thouglas: Nerva! Get off me! What -- what's wrong?

Minerva lies gasping and writhing in pain.

Thouglas finally realizes that his sister is howling because she's hurt.

Thouglas: Minerva?

Thouglas feels around in the dark trying to locate his twin's head.

Minerva: (gasping) Leg. Knife.

Thouglas: Oh, God! Hold on.

Thouglas, not a prayerful child, prays that it isn't too bad.

Thouglas finds the knife and his sister's leg.

Thouglas: I can't pull it out.

Thouglas remembers some of his first aid.

Minerva: Help me up.

Thouglas gets to his feet and drags his sister up with him.

Minerva: Run!

Thouglas: We gotta go. The fuse is lit.

Minerva: I can't walk. You go.

Thouglas starts dragging his sister off to their planned vantage point in the back hedge.

Thouglas: I ain't leavin' you here.

Minerva tries to walk, but only one leg is working.

Thouglas almost gets tangled with Nerva's one working leg, but manages to keep moving.

Minerva clings to her brother and struggles to keep her legs under her.

Thouglas can't spare the breath to answer her. He keeps moving as fast as he can until he can nearly reach out and touch the hedge.

Minerva: (explosively) Almost! There!

Thouglas heaves a sigh of relief -- just as something large kicks him in the back and throws them both into the hedge. He hears the explosion just as his face slams into the hedge. He instinctively covers his eyes which is all that saves him from blindness.

Minerva drops from her brother's arms and curls into a ball, blocking the gap in the hedge. She whimpers.

Thouglas falls sideways to the ground and decides that it feels better than a face full of branches. He realizes that he can't hear a thing as he sits up trying to find his twin.

Thouglas: Minerva!

Minerva: ~~ urgency ~~ Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep if I should die before my time preserve me from the demon Sime NowIlaymedowntosleep...

Thouglas: Minerva! Where are you?!

Minerva: ifIshoulddiebeforemytime...

Thouglas feels around in silence and the darkness frantically.

Minerva clutches at his leg.

Minerva: ...fromthedemonSime...

Thouglas jumps as he feels someone grab his leg. It finally dawns on him that it must be his sister.

Thouglas: Minerva, are you all right?!

Minerva: ...praytheLordmy...

Minerva has really lost it.

Thouglas realizes that it is silly to ask because a) he couldn't hear her answer and b) she has a knife in her leg.

Thouglas: We gotta get outta here!!

Minerva clutches frantically at the one warm living thing within her reach.

Thouglas: Come on!

Thouglas grabs his sister and tries to get through the hedge.

Minerva struggles in his grasp.

Thouglas: We gotta go! Come on! I'll help you!

Minerva: Thoug? Is that you? ~~ dazed ~~

Thouglas tries to get them oriented to get through the gap.

Minerva: Gotta get outta here!

Thouglas thinks he can hear her a little.

Minerva grabs her brother with hysterical strength and drags him through the gap in the hedge.

Thouglas doesn't resist. Following Minerva is what he does.

Minerva collapses, pulling her brother down on top of herself.

Minerva: Ooooof!

Thouglas is getting mighty tired of falling over. He shakes his head to clear it enough to get up again.

Thouglas: Come on!!

Thouglas grabs his sister and starts dragging her off toward home. He's forgotten about watching the mayhem they've caused. He just wants to get out of here.

Minerva raises her head as, in the distance, the fire engine's siren sounds.

Thouglas can't hear the the fire engines. All he wants to do is to get home and get Minerva taken care of.

The Sime Center burns to the ground, killing everyone inside.

Bibi wakes up with a scream!

Dolmada: What's the matter, Hajene?

Bibi: Another need nightmare... client died on me...

Dolmada: Ah. Well, let's try to get you back to sleep.

Dolmada applies her nageric massage skills to get Bibi back to as peaceful a sleep as a Sime in need ever gets.

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