Flight, for Bast in The Now was a luxury like no other she had ever experienced in The Then. No longer did she have cause for concern from torch wielding mobs hungry for a good burning. The Now let everyone out of the closet and into the routine daily eye of society as a whole. There were vampires getting together in pubs socially most nights, usually for the quizzes; entire covens’ of witches took cooking classes; Valkyries played competitive bowls, ghouls ran legal firms, ghosts ran highly lucrative ghost tours around the oldest sections of every city across the globe in time and place. And Bast could fly.
The evening around her was warm and fragrant, and she guessed she must have been at least a kilometre above the ground. She passed two very young-looking witches that looked suspiciously as though they had pinched their mothers broom for the night, passing her from the opposite direction. Clouds of bats were out in force as she moved away from the lights of Paris far below, and onto a higher plane. Entering the polyheaven’s was done with ease. Deity’s, whilst arrogant and deeming themselves to be above those of mere mortals, were fairly easily accessed in The Now, and after a good half an hour on the wing, Bast finally landed in front of God’s office once again.
Not knowing if he would be in or not, she retracted her wings through the slits in her dress, and entered through the same door she had exited only days earlier. Walking tentatively down a dimly lit corridor, she could see brighter light coming from beneath God’s door. Raising her hand to knock upon it, God’s voice rang out loudly. “Come in Bast, I’ve been expecting you, although at a more convenient hour would have been nice. I was just about to lock up for the evening.”
Entering, she noticed for the first time that he wore a toga, in the style of a highly appointed Roman. His name bar on his left breast read ‘God’, and he had a gentle glow she had not previously noticed.
“Hello God, sorry about the hour. Were you wearing a toga last time we were in?” blurted out Bast.
“Yes. Now, whilst I have been expecting you, I wasn’t entirely sure of the reason you would be dropping in.” stated God. “Now, without sounding too rude, I have Mrs. God expecting me shortly, we are supposed to be going out for tea with Her bloody sister. As such, let’s get on with it.”
“Okay,” began the slightly mollified Bast. “I’ll get straight to it then. Two things. Firstly, in us capturing Black Annis, are there any legalities in The Now we need to be adhering too? Secondly, how do we keep her once we have caught her. By that I mean, how do we stop her time slipping away until we can get her to Death?”
“Ah, good. Simple questions with simple answers.” said God in relieved tones. “To the first question, reasonable force is the only level of force you are able to use. In this case though, I think we might be able to get around that. A psychopath is a psychopath no matter how you look at, and, as you are doing this on behalf of Death, you should probably alert her to the reason you are apprehending her. Again, in this particular case, that might be easier said than done.”
“To answer question number two, about the only way you can stop her time slipping is to have someone physically attached to her at all times. Personally, I would be rendering her unconscious, black bagged over the head, and cuffed ankle and foot with a chain the waist. Just remember, if she does try to time slip, and you are holding her, you could well be dragged along to whenever it is she is trying to escape to. Now, as Mrs. Death is waiting, I’ll escort you to the door. Oh do keep me abreast of the situation. Goodnight my dear.” and with that, God firmly pushed Bast through the open door, locking it behind her before she had a chance to speak or thank him.
It was a flight filled with deep thought all the way home, tomorrow looked like it was going to be a very long day.
“Well,” stated Maude. “we really ought to go and look at the terrain before we plan anything further. Black Annis escaping us because she was able to disappear down a handy hole in the ground, or to jump into a fast-moving creek specifically because we hadn’t planned for it and developed the appropriate contingencies. We could also plant traps, leave handy gear there for use prior to and after our arrival.”
“I was also thinking,” murmured Cat with a huge cheesy smile spread from ear to perfect ear, “what sort of hand cuffs are we going to use on her? Something from this period, something from the 23rd century, something from Bast’s ‘Big Box Of Toys’ she keeps under the bed.”
“I’ve never used those pink fluffy bloody handcuffs,” snarled Bast. “Actually, you were the one that gave them to me! So what the hell are you having a go at me for?”
This brought laughter from both Maude and Cat.
“Actually, in all seriousness, I think we should be using whatever is the best quality that is available at the moment.” said Maude. “Anything from the future will have more technology as part of their construction. In my experience, anything that involves batteries, keep your mind out of the gutter Cat, but, anything that involves batteries usually breaks, or they run flat at the most inconvenient moment. Most of the shackles within a hundred years of now were often brittle through poor workmanship. So, as well as the cuffs from this time period, I think we should try to get our hands onto a straight jacket.”
“Also from Bast’s “Big Box Of Toys!” quipped Cat, rolling around laughing at her own joke. Bast threw a cushion at her.
A loud knock at the door cut through the revelry. Jean d’Arc, his charcoal face split into an enormous grin stood in the doorway.
“I ‘ad no idea you ‘ad a big box of toys Bast, wait until everyone beneath the stairs ‘ears about that!” Jean said through raucous laughter. “Anyway, Death’s ‘ere, so is ‘er bloody dog, so’s you might want to move Sardine somewhere else, if you get my drift.” With that Jean turned on his heel, and strolled out the way he came. His ribald laughter could be heard as he passed Death in the hallway.
“Evening ladies!” Death said cheerfully, sashaying into the room, her blue rinse perm bobbing of its own accord. Inside now, she flopped into a handy lounge. “How goes the hunt?”
With a bang and a yelp, Mr. Darcy shot out from beneath the table, tail firmly tucked up between his legs. Rosy drops of blood ran down his long slender nose, dripping onto the floor as he threw himself at Death’s feet.
“Well, Sardine hasn’t lost any form.” laughed Death, watching Bast’s black and white cat stroll out from beneath the table, head held high with a look of smugness about her. “That’ll serve you right for stirring the cat up! Silly bloody dog, anyway ladies, where were we?”
“You were just asking us about how the hunt for Black Annis was going. We were just about to tell you that we are making headway.” said Bast, going on tell regale the tale of the in’s and out’s of the hunt.
“Sounds good ladies, although I’m not too sure I like the way you are behaving Maude. You’re gaining a bit too much of your old spark for my liking.” Death said, leaving Maude to physically shrink, returning to her hunched and cowed long faced demeanour, as if the woman she had been five minutes earlier had not existed. The other two girls noticed this, and caught her eye simultaneously. Maude gave them both a small, sad shrug.
A few minutes after Death had left, Cat said, “Hell we didn’t ask her if the boot of the car would hold Black Annis?”
“Bollocks to her.” snapped Maude. “It’ll work alright, we don’t need her approval to bag the nutcase.” saying ‘her’ with utter venom and disdain. Standing from her seat beside the table, she turned and strode purposely toward the bar secreted in the corner of the room. Leaned over it, Maude grabbed the nearest bottle of absinthe, tearing the cork from it with her teeth. Lifted the green bottle to her lips, taking an enormous swig.
“Christ on a bike Maude, I knew she irritated you, but I had no idea she angered you so much.” declared Bast.
“After a few thousand years of it, it has only taken a week amongst friends,” Maude said self-consciously, acknowledging the use of ‘friends,” worrying herself that the sentiment was neither reflected, or a step over the mark. She continued. “I had forgotten what it was like to be part of something with a purpose, and it’s not a small dolphin I’m talking about either.” the latter said with a wane smile.
“Well old girl,” Cat injected, “you are definitely amongst friends, but,” Cats tone turning from gracious good humour to broken glass and vinegar instantly. Maude visibly cringed away from her, “if you keep up that sort of behaviour, the only one that will have her nose in drink will be you. And I’m buggered if I’m going to be left wanting a pint without one in sight!” in two swift steps, Cat had reached the startled Maude. With a wink and a grin, she took the bottle from Maude, raised it to her mouth, and emptied it in one long pull. Leaving Maude laughing loudly, and Bast hurrying to the bar to keep up. The girls planned early morning start rapidly becoming a late morning hangover.
As far as Maude was concerned, all was good in the world with these two at her side, and to hell with Death wherever she may be.
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