Friday, November 14, 2008

Chapter 9 - At sea

Valero stood meditating at the Stern of a large sleek yacht. She was long and tapered at her tip, rounded out to sloping curve like that of a wasp and ending though her legs sat beneath her under the waves, ready to leap. Even at rest she portrayed speed and power. The light of the ship died as it left its small porthole window before it made it to the deck. This bestowed Valero with an undeserved conical, amber halo. The ship sat atop the waves like a shark laying easily at the surface. The sea was quite choppy, water nearly black against the graying sky and the clouds were moved out toward the sea. There, the fading sun pierced dimly in spots as though to only reveal the vast darkness and at her command a silhouetted figure, brilliant against the glooming dusk.  The Portuguese coast flanked his back approaching infinitely from both directions. The rain did not fall yet and there was no lightning or thunder, just wind, though it did not appear to be affecting the deck much. He stood and snapped a finger. A man came out holding a crystal goblet with a burgundy liquid inside. He bowed at the man and held it out. He reached out for it and then turned his head ever so slightly. He then waived his hand back ushering the servant away. 


He moved to the rear of the ship where he saw a man walking upon the waves, the water flattening out under his foot like snow having been shoveled in front of him. It stayed for about 3’ on either side of him and about 2 feet from his shoulders. As he approached the ship, the water raised like a stair case to meet the railing of the ship. He stood there and the water moved him like an escalator. Once he reached the zenith, he flipped around and landed in front of him and made a bow at the man who was already standing on the deck. As the man retreated from his bow, the fabric of his black and white garments became very threadbare and began to unravel. The thread raced around him in a torrent of motion until the cloud of grey and silver cloth fell down into a pair of low crop deep black jeans, slightly flared at the ends covering all but his toes. His shirt was a painted on tight white tucked shirt. The East Asian features of his face which had once been soft and supple were now rigid and squared, giving him a chiseled appearance. His round baldness of his head served only to contrast the stark, hollowness of his façade.


From his right pockets, he pulled out what looked like a large black marble. His fingers were short and quite thin. He held it to his narrow lips and tenderly whispered something at it. He flung it out to the sea, but before it could land, it spread out flat to an area roughly 50’x 40’, retaining its black, transparent hue. It exposed the remaining color of the background in which it sat motionless. With his other hand, he pulled out a long, slender piece of paper with pictographic writing on it. He rolled it into a tiny roll, held it too, to his lips and whispered something else. He threw it up in the air where it shattered and fell into the black space hanging out the back of the ship. An image appeared of circular sun charts, symbols and moving but hazy images. The men watched for a moment as the show played on. “Aha.” Valero spoke as though his brain had wrestled a mystery loose from its place. Wan clapped his hands and the ball return to one hand while the paper stretched out unraveled and smashed into a ball in the other. The men looked at one another and then bowed. Valero’s face was not as pleased as it had been moments before. “I opposed attempting to seize the book before. I stand behind that position now.” His hand motioned flatly in a wave parallel from his body out to the water. “When a predator cannot match the speed of his prey, he lays in wait until it is close enough to catch.”


“I see, then.” He said. “We have quite a bit to do now. Our plan appears to be… altered. Your efforts have been less than fruitful.”


“The time has yet to come for more direct action. Events are not ready yet to unfold as they should. It is ours if we are patient.” Wan’s mouth did not but barely move as he spoke. His words were temperate and still, the voice of oracle prediction. Wan’s eyes remained fixed at his counterpart, unblinking in the wind. As before, his clothes became threadbare once more. He leapt from them and he man vaulted into the air as they followed him like traces of silver light. A gust took grasp of him, flinging him out and in the air, far above the ship. His garment opened like a sail as he disappeared into the dusk. Valero’s face grimaced as his guest flew from site. He knew that it was a bad decision to send Wan to fetch the book, that it was simply too soon. He felt chastised by his words. This was a feeling he’d not been accustomed to in some time.


Valero’s Fingers snapped again. The door behind him opened as a short, withered man appeared from behind it. The man trembled as he approached. His course white hair flailed in the breeze that seemed not to affect Valero. Stubble ebbed across the old man’s face giving the wrinkles of his face a velveteen appearance. The frail man, clad in a white polo shirt, the collar askew, and his knee length shorts plaid blue and white flared flatly against his frame drew closer. Valero snapped his fingers once more as the servant appeared from the same door as the old man. He held a clear, delicately fluted goblet by its base in one hand, clean linen draped around his forearm starkly contrasting his black suit, shirt and shoes. The mans perfectly groomed mustache flaked with silver strands of hair that opposed his otherwise silver, thinning hair that had only but a few strands left on his head. The servant suave and refined pinned the decanter of burgundy behind the linen as he made his way to Valero without haste. “Pour.” Valero said to the servant. The man did immediately as instructed. The sound of the liquid filling the goblet sang in a way that only real crystal can. The decanter gurgled out as its contents slipped out. The servant presented his master with the glass as he stifled the flask in the hand holding it. Valero’s eyes rolled slightly as he nodded to the servant to provide it to the old man. He accepted the glass and held it in his trembling hand. His age revealed in his patchy skin. His gaze returned to the servant and he knew to leave them. The man pivoted on heel and returned through the door on the deck to the center of the ship. “Embaixador,” Valero paused. “Você treme. Por que?” [You tremble. Why?]


The old man gave a wince as Valero’s attention, He replied, [Because I am afraid of you. Because I am old. Because you are terrible in ways I have never seen in men.]


Valero’s mouth grinned at its edges, softening before he spoke again. [Old man, you are wise and honest. This is why you live.] He pointed to the drink in the ambassador’s hand. [Drink with me. We are friends, no?] The man stared blankly back at Valero.


He responded, [No. We are not friends. We are as man and monster but I will drink with you anyway. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for you are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.] His faces severe as his words were as daggers being thrown from his mouth.


[Caution, Ambassador. Caution in your words to me.] He took the goblet in his hands to his lips and emptied it. He removed the empty container and held it upside down by the base at its stem. [Water] he whispered. The glass drained instantly becoming a puddle at his feet. [Get out of my site before the monster eats you old man.] The old man backed away from Valero and moved back through the door.