Saturday, 24 April 2021

Character interviews! With Weasley_Detectives!

OK so it's interview time again! This time round I'm doing a question swap with Weasley_Detectives at Weasley_Detectives - so head on over there to read her amazing Tintin fanfic, 'Tintin and the Seal of Cagliostro': A spate of mysterious high profile robberies by the gentleman thief "Kaitou Red" have captured the public's imagination. Tintin is hot on his trail, but when jewel of the opera, Mademoiselle Castafiore, is kidnapped, the infamous reporter fears he has stumbled upon a far deadlier plot. 

She also has a Tumblr account for the story: https://kaitou-red.tumblr.com (yes, that cover artwork is hers; she's ALSO an awesome artist.) 

Weasley_Detectives has chosen to interview Bee, so without more ado, let's get on with the questions. I've chosen to interview her OC Gideon Stark, and my questions and her answers will appear after Bee.

BEE from Glory Brats

What is your earliest memory?

I don't know how old I am in the memory, but I was still small and weak. I remember hearing the babies crying, and wishing they would stop because I wanted to sleep. So I got out of my bed and went towards the noise, but before I could get there one of the older children tripped me up and pulled my hair. The others joined in, kicking at me on the floor and I could only curl up and wait for them to stop. Eventually one of the wardens came in and pulled them off me. We all got punished though. I can remember thinking it wasn't fair, but then life isn't fair, is it?

Do you have any pet peeves? 

don't like when people grab me without warning, or push and pull me around. 

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I'd like to know what other people are thinking, because then I would know how to react to them and how to manipulate them better. And if you can manipulate people then you can get them to leave you alone.

Which member of the Glory Brats are you closest to and why?

Probably Zed, because I met him first. He's quiet and thoughtful. I like being around him because he treats me like a normal person, and focuses on things that I can do, rather than making me feel different just because I can't see.

Do you consider Sparrow a friend?

I wouldn't say we're friends. I think Sparrow is bossy, thoughtless and naive. She only thinks about what she wants to do. I don't even know at this point if we could ever be friends. I don't like her and I don't think she likes me. Not that I care.

How do you think your friends would describe you?

Prickly. Quiet. Blunt.

If you could change one thing about your personality, what would it be? 

I'd like to be able to trust people more. But I know I can't. People are always selfish in the end.

Do you consider yourself a follower or a leader?

I don't like this question! I guess I'm following Sparrow, because I don't want the responsibility of being a leader. Being a leader means people depend on you, and I don't like depending on others, or having others depend on me. But being a follower is a weak position, and I don't see myself as weak. So I suppose if  Sparrow wasn't here I'd be a leader, since no one else could be.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you take with you?

I'd go somewhere sunny and dry, because I like feeling the sun on my skin, and I've had enough of being soaked through by the rain. I'd have a house all on one level where nothing would ever change position and I'd be able to find my way around without help. Zed could come with me, if he liked, I suppose.

You and Sparrow are stuck on a desert island together. You discover a pack of creatures who appear to treat you as gods. Do you and Sparrow share power, or do you divide the island into two warring nations?

Stuck with Sparrow?! I might start off by sharing power because I couldn't care less what other people do, as long as they leave me alone, but eventually I'd get so annoyed by her that I'd run off to be on my own, followed by like-minded individuals who'd worship me from a respectful distance. And we'd probably end up fighting over something stupid.

GIDEON STARK from The Seal of Cagliostro

What was your childhood nickname?

I don't believe I could repeat any of them in polite company. In any case, they were less nicknames, more threats of violence from an angry mob.

What would be your food heaven and food hell?

Caviar and cigarettes! As for food hell... Fish head stew. Don't ask.

You're a stylish chap - who are your style icons and why?

Josephine Baker. She's simply marvellous. Do you think I could pull off a leopard?

What makes you get up in the morning?

The call of sowing seeds of chaos wherever I may roam.

We know you're a bit of a gambler, but do you always win? Tell us about a time that you lost a gamble.

Well there was that time in Izmir with Archie, a fine vintage Ch√Ęteau Lafite Rothschild, and that damned Sicilian. Oh, and the Goat. *sighs* We.. We don't talk about Izmir.

We all have something we hold dear - what would you consider your most treasured possession?

Tintin. *dreamy sigh* He's such a delightfully trusting plaything...

It's fair to say that you're a hit with the ladies - what do you look for in a woman?

Strawberry blonde hair. Freckles. Honest blue eyes. A sense of adventure. Charming recklessness. A world famous reporter and staunch activist for the common good... *dreamy sigh*

Do you have any bad habits? (Apart from gambling and womanising, we know about those.)

Only espionage, treachery and the intricately detailed planning and execution of 101 notoriously high profile thefts. Ha! I jest, of course. I suppose telling bad jokes would be one of my many bad habits.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I've always rather fancied donning one of those old German handlebar moustache-beard affairs. Oh you mean about my personality? I suppose I can be a tad too self involved...

What would you consider the lowest depths of misery?

Oh, jolly good question. But what to pick? A comfortable marriage of convenience? Becoming an upstanding member of society? Sobriety? Good god, so many to choose from.

Friday, 9 April 2021

[Glory Brats 27] The house in the valley

 Sparrow woke up as the trading post was springing to life. The fire had died down to ash and cold cinders that were soon trampled underfoot as the business of the day got going. Zed and Dee had taken the second watch, and were bleary eyed as they shoved their blankets into their bags and shifted out of the way of the grownups pushing wheelbarrows and carts.

The news of Mattie's murder had spread quickly through the people present, and even new arrivals seemed to be sporting grim faces, and weapons at their belts. They could hear groups talking about how the roads were getting more dangerous for travel, with so many soldiers and militia groups around.

In a quiet corner, Sparrow pulled out the map she'd ripped from the book, and spread it on the ground. Her finger traced the lines on the paper from the Shambles to the trading post, and then stopped. Exchange looked to be nearby, but no roads led directly to it. They'd have to get as close as they could to the surrounding forest and then find their own way through.

Sparrow folded up the map and shoved it into her pocket. "Let's get going."

"What about breakfast?" Dee asked.

"No money left." Sparrow said shortly.

"Could we trade something for food?" Zed suggested. "Maybe we could spare something from the medikit?"

"I suppose so..." Sparrow took the kit out of Tekla's bag and rifled through it to see if there was anything they wouldn't need. She pulled out some tablets in a plastic bottle. "Don't know what these are for. I'll see what I can get for them."

She sprinted off towards the stalls. It was a bit like the market at the Shambles, but the stalls were bigger and fancier, and it was busier too. She found a stall dealing in medicines and other things. The woman behind the stall wore a dirty white coat over her other clothes.  She spotted Sparrow's knee and nodded at it. "That's a nasty graze you got there. Need something for it?" 

Sparrow glanced at her knee in surprise and shook her head, "No thank-you, we've already got some antiseptic cream. How much for these?" She held up the bottle of tablets.

***

Sparrow returned to the others carrying two loaves of bread. She shoved one of them into her bag and tore the other one into pieces and shared them with the group. "And everyone can have a bit of water too - we should refill the bottles while we're here."

There was a water pump in the centre of the trading post, and a queue of people looking to fill various buckets, canisters and bottles. Sparrow handed over one of the coins she'd got for the tablets and joined the line of people waiting.

***

Leaving the trading post, the clouds were gathering above them, and by the time they were out of sight, the first drops were beginning to fall. Sparrow set a fast pace, and the others tried to keep up, although Tekla lagged behind. 

"I want a piggy back..." she whined, dragging her feet in the dirt on the road.

"Not this time," Sparrow snapped, "It's too early and you've just eaten."

They were following the same road that had led them to the trading post, but it curved away to the right and led them through fields on either side that were overgrown and filled with weeds and saplings. The hedgerows curved over the road like a tunnel and protected them from the worst of the rain.

The road sloped down into a small valley, with abandoned houses scattered across the landscape. The hedgerows petered out and were replaced by wood and metal fences that were half sunk into the grass verges as though they were being swallowed by the ground.

One of the houses loomed ahead, and Sparrow looked around at the others following her and relented. 

"Hey," she called out, "We'll shelter in this next house until the rain stops."

A half-hearted cheer went through the group. The house was small and made of stone, with a red door that stuck as Sparrow tried to shoulder her way in. The lock had already been broken. The others helped push and shove until it opened enough to let them all in out of the rain. They slipped in through the gap and stood in the dark hallway. Zed opened the door nearest to them. Inside there were big comfy chairs and yellowed lacy curtains at the window. Everyone sank into a chair or onto a cushion and eased rucksacks off their backs. Sparrow stood at the window and pulled back the curtain, looking out into the rain. Suddenly she dropped the curtain and ducked down out of sight of the road.

"What is it?" Zed asked.

"There's a truck stopped on the road outside."

They heard the noise of the truck doors slamming shut, and Sparrow raised her head to risk a peek through the curtains. "They've got out, but they're all just standing around..."

One of the men lifted the bonnet at the front of the truck and stared into the engine. Sparrow slid back down against the wall. "I think their engine is broken."

Through the thin glass they could hear the men shouting and cursing at each other. There was silence, then they heard a noise at the front door.

Sparrow scanned the room. "Quick, behind that couch!"

Grabbing their bags, they all scrambled into the gap between the couch and the wall. They heard the front door being shoved open, and then the squeak of the door to the lounge. The man gave a cough, and  called out to the others behind him, "Through here."

They heard the sounds of more people entering the room, and the springs of the chairs protesting as they sat down heavily. 

Tekla covered her mouth with both her hands, while the others tried to breath quietly. Rat crouched ready to run, eyes darting everywhere. Sparrow's leg started to cramp and she winced as she tried to ease it without making a noise. Thankfully someone broke the silence.

"Did we have to shoot that guy earlier?" 

"Not this again..."

"Yeah, but did we have to?"

"Yes! He had a knife, he was going to fight, maybe one of us would have got hurt, you want that? Well, you want that?"

There was a shout from outside and the men sprang up out of their seats, reaching for their guns. One of them went to the window and pulled back the curtain, "Stand down, it's just Marshall. Looks like he's fixed the truck."

Once they left, everyone could breath freely. They spilled out from behind the couch and stretched their arms and legs. Sparrow peeked out the window again. The men grabbed something from the truck and headed back up the path.

"They're coming back!" Sparrow flung the lounge door open and ran into the hall. The door at the end had a glass panel in the top half, with what looked like a kitchen beyond. She kicked the door open. Everyone ran in and the door swung shut behind them just before the men arrived back at the front door. Zed watched them anxiously through the keyhole as they carried in what looked like a crate of bottles, but they went into the lounge and shut the door.

Sparrow tried wiggling the back-door handle, and it came off in her hand. The door swung open. She almost threw the broken handle to the side, but remembered the men next door and placed it on the table carefully instead. 

 Zed was opening all the cupboards and drawers quietly, and discovered a knife at the back of one drawer. He took it out and showed it to Sparrow, who nodded and pointed at Bee. Zed tapped Bee on the arm and then placed the knife in her hand. She examined it with her other hand then shook her head violently and held out her staff. Zed took the knife back and gave it to Dee. 

They crept down the back steps and into the overgrown garden. The remains of a path led back around to the front of the house. They tried to stay out of sight of the view from the lounge window, ducking down to crawl underneath it. Once back on the road they hid behind the truck and caught their breath.

"They killed Mattie, didn't they?" Bee said.

"Yeah..." Sparrow said, pulling her knife out and sticking it in one of the tyres. Dee did the same to the back tyre, and then all of them ran off along the road and out of sight of the house.