Greed is Good Part 3: News from the Old World (1st Draft)
- http://www.eoghann.com/greed-is-good-part-3-news-from-the-old-world-1st-draftYou can find previous installments here: http://www.eoghann.com/greed-good-part-1-mostly-dull-1st-draft
I fought the sudden urge to hang up the phone and leave the house before The Ceannard got on the phone. It's a bit like being summoned before the school Principal, you know it's not going to be good, you know you can't avoid it, but oh boy do you want to.
'Mr. Brodie." An elderly voice said. Too late!
"Ceannard." I responded, "You're up late." Actually given the time difference, it was probably more a case that he was up early.
"Yes, well, some of us have a work ethic Mr. Brodie."
"And some of us are trying to go to work." I couldn't keep the irritation out of my voice. Living this far away from the Ceannard and the rest of the dinosaurs had left me used to a certain freedom of action.
"Well, I certainly wouldn't want to get in the way of your career as a stock boy." The Ceannard's voice bit off his response with equal testiness and I belatedly remembered that his temper had been legendary. Didn't seem like he'd mellowed with age.
"Security guard." I muttered, knowing as I said it just how defiantly juvenile it must sound.
"Reports of your activities have come to our attention." The Ceannard continued. "Disturbing reports." I braced myself for the inevitable censure. "We have seen similar activity in various locations around the world."
Okay, that I wasn't expecting. I had arrogantly assumed that this activity was all centered on me. Apparently I was not so important after all.
"These activities represent an alarming increase in hostile magical events across all continents."
"What's causing it?"
"We don't know. We're investigating of course, but naturally no one wants to talk. I've always said secrets will bring us all down in the end." I could picture the Ceannard shaking his head as he spoke.
"But, it's coordinated?" I pressed. The Ceannard laughed bitterly.
"You're not a fool boy, despite that unfortunate business. Hostile magical activity on multiple continents, this is entirely deliberate. We are reaching out to all our contacts and asking them to report anything unusual as well as warning them to be careful. You are isolated and vulnerable."
"I appreciate the concern sir, but I seem to have done okay so far."
"You can't blow up a building every time you get in a bit of trouble boy." The Ceannard snapped. "For god's sake learn some subtlety. There's more to wizardry than explosions."
"Yes sir." I said as the line went dead. Damn but he was a grumpy old man. He didn't have to reach out to me personally though, particularly not given how I had left Edinburgh. That was more than a mere courtesy call. Whatever was stirring out in the world, the Parliament was worried about it, and here I sat on my own with no one to cover my back and a bloody great geas dragging mystical attention from miles around. I had a feeling my status as unwanted and unacknowledged black sheep was about to come to an end.
Business was booming at the Blue Ridge Casino, which was just as well for me considering my job at Supermart 13 was on perpetual hold. There isn't a lot of call for people to stock the shelves in a pile of smoldering rubble after all.
The casino wasn't dependent on locals for revenue, though it would happily take, but pulled the suckers in for a hundred miles in all directions. It had been expanding year on year for most of a decade and now looked every bit the gaudy, tawdry, temple to greed that it aspired to be.
Every evening when I walked into the place I was met by a wave of stale air and smoke. The casino was probably one of the few public places left in Charles Town where smoking occurred in open areas. In theory those areas were separated from the rest of the casino, in practice it turns out that smoke travels.
The other thing that greeted me every evening was noise. Ringing, beeping, clanging all accompanied by the background roar of a thousand people talking. It's all rather overwhelming the first five or ten times you experience it. But I'd built up a resistance. I enter an almost zen like state of calm as I walk into the building. The noises and smells just wash over me without penetrating. Most of the time.
I'm not sure how many slot machines exactly the casino had, but I figure it must be enough to seat the entire population of Charles Town. The slots you see are the bread and butter of the casino. Yes, it has horse racing and table games and those attract the higher end clientele, but all those slots just soak up quarters and dollars. In fact these days they happily give you a special card so you don't have to get up to refill, just let your bank account drain directly into the machines.
Lee Anne was exactly the sort of gambler that the casino loved. She was in here every weekend sitting in front of the machine with a cigarette in one hand and the other pressing the buttons. She sat there for hours barely moving her hand just stabbing at the buttons again and again.
I waved to Lee Anne as I walked past and she waved back without letting her concentration slip. I made a mental note to stop back later and see how she was doing, she always had some gossip to share. Right now though I need to get to my spot and relieve Jim.
Jim wasn't where he was supposed to be though. For a moment I was left wondering how to locate him in this sprawling building without alerting management, but then my geas solved the problem for me.
I heard a yell, followed by a thump and then a bellow of rage that could only have come from a man the size of Jim. Following that noise I jogged along a row of slots and made a sharp right. Sure enough, there he was engaged in a bizarre wrestling match with a woman who couldn't have been less than 80 years old. #SaturdayScenes #TheCaseFilesOfDouglasBrodie #GreedIsGood #amwritingfantasy