Before we get into Black Ice – Chapter 3, there is a point of business that I must address. Suellen over at Meandering Matriarch has been so kind to nominate me for an award. One of the four bloggers who has done so, so far, in my short two months of blogging. This means that Meandering Matriarch is now among my top four all time favourite bloggers. What a happy coincidence, I might add. This has nothing to do with her giving me an award at all.
I must confess that I haven’t been as devout a follower of the Meandering Matriarch as I have of other blogs – sometimes there is just not enough time for ALL of these blogs, which really is quite sad. However, because she was generous enough to nominate me for this award I decided it was appropriate for me to do some more in depth digging around in her blog. If you want more page views, simply nominate me for an award. They always said there was a reciprocity to gift giving. I guess this is it.
If you’re looking for a great blog to read – that isn’t mine, of course – then you should probably check out Meandering Matriarch. She loves to write about her life, but not in a narcissistic way, and she also shares her views on anything from Dictionary.com’s Word of the Day to eating Chinese food in China – not to mention her many journeys around the world of which I am very jealous of. I still haven’t figured out if she lives on a farm, but she does have some roosters that seem to run rampant in her yard and they often pop up in her blog, whether expected or not.
Apart from having her blog for over three years, she’s been featured on Freshly Pressed, something I hope to achieve one day. I am very excited to have been nominated by such a successful blogger and great lady.
What award did she nominate me, you ask?
Well, I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Again.
That’s right. It’s my second time for this award, and I’m just as excited about it this time around. To save some time because I really should be studying, I will refer you to this post: A Very Inspiring Blogger Award. There you can find my seven interesting things about myself. I’m much too lazy to write seven more things, as I just posted the first seven two weeks ago. However, while my original seven nominations still stand, I’d like to add a couple more to this list.
Please check out all of these fantastic blogs and then go back to my first Inspiring Blogger Award post and check out all of those blogs, too. Hell, just check out all of the blogs I’m following under the ‘Recommended Blogs’ heading in the sidebar to your left.
Now, for the good part of this post. I mean, the other good part. 😉
A Novel By William Louison
The next week passed by extremely quickly, and saw Kora improving at her job day by day. Even Brill, who was still skeptical, had to admit that Kora was doing exceptional for her time there. Everyone on staff seemed to like her, but she had received the most feedback from the customers, who all praised her ability to put a smile on their faces even after the most dismal of days. The female patrons liked her because she was reserved and modest, and the male patrons liked her because she was an incredible beauty wrapped in mystery. If Brill were in another life, living as an upper class citizen, where such things as looks matter, she might actually be jealous at the natural attractiveness Kora appeared to have. But down in the slums, the more attractive you are, the more likely you will get targeted by kidnappers and rapists. So, Brill was quite content with her average face and common appeal. Her own cynical mind, though, couldn’t help but fear for Kora. Most of the customers were harmless, but Brill saw the way some of them looked at Kora and it made her stomach twist.
One night, Brill found herself serving drinks at Black Ice. The evening was by no means busy, but there was only her and another server on, so they both had to stay on their toes. Brill recognized most of the patrons, the ‘usuals’ as they were called. She worked one third of the place, Liz worked another, and Kora worked the back of the bar – the least busy section. It worked out well, and Brill liked working with Liz because Liz had been a server for many years and knew how to keep things moving, even when it was busier than expected. She was also glad at how independent Kora was becoming, because she usually hated working with new girls.
Brill found it funny that the same customers sat in the same seats on the same nights – some coming every night. Tonight was the least busy night of the week, so it attracted a less-partying crowd, and the overall vibe of the bar was one of relaxation and recreation. The music played quieter and was far less likely to attract a dance crowd, which was a nice change of pace for the workers of the bar.
The whole night, as Brill served drink after drink, she had not seen Sin once. It was not completely bizarre because she knew he had a lot of things to do, as well as serve the special needs of clients who came in looking for something a little stronger than alcohol. But Brill had watched only one such customer enter Sin’s office, and he had left several hours ago. The fact that Sin had not yet come out to check how business is going tonight was unusual, at least to Brill. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind, making a mental note to remember to see if anything was bothering Sin when he came out at the end of the night – morning, really – to thank his workers and to lock up the bar.
Closing time came, and Sin had not yet left his office. Brill, Liz and Kora were cleaning up the place, wiping tables, carrying the used cups to the mechanical washer in the kitchen. Brill watched the time tick by as they cleaned – the bartender left when the bar closed at three, the chef left half an hour after – and right now it was quarter to four, fifteen minutes before their shift was done.
“I think e’rything’s finished,” said Liz, a green-scaled female Daxin. Her bald, scale-covered head shimmered under the neon lights, and her flat, nose-less face was happy they were finished early. Her accent was all too apparent, but still understandable. “Is Sin comin’ out to lock up the place?” she asked, sounding less worried than Brill was beginning to feel.
“It’s alright, Liz,” Brill told her, flicking her thick ponytail back over her shoulders. “You head home. I’ll just go remind Sin we’re done, in case he fell asleep or something.”
“Awe,” the Daxin female replied in her typical, perky voice. “Thanks Brill. Guess I’ll catch ya ‘morrow then!”
Brill forced a smile. “You bet. Be safe walking home,” she said, watching her coworker disappear into the back room. She had almost forgotten that Kora was with them, because the Tavian had been so quiet. Brill was startled, then, when she turned around and saw Kora’s red-face staring at her.
Kora saw her jump. “Sorry if I startled you,” she said right away. “I seem to do that with a lot of people.”
“Not the customers,” Brill said, pointing her finger at Kora. “Many of them seemed to like you very much.”
If Kora’s skin wasn’t already red, Brill might have thought that she was blushing. “Is everything done?” Kora asked, quick to change the subject without making it too obvious.
Brill nodded. “Yeah, we’re done. You go home…well, downstairs,” she said with a short laugh and Kora smiled. “I’m just gonna go talk to Sin for a few minutes, and then I’ll be heading out too.”
“Does he usually stay in his office all evening?” Kora asked, glancing over at the closed door to Sin’s office.
“You noticed too?” It was a rhetorical question, and Kora’s language skills had even expanded to pick up on that.
“Okay,” Kora replied, flashing a quick smile. “Good night, Brill.”
“Sleep tight,” Brill told her. Kora gave her a funny look, but obviously thought that it was too much trouble to ask what Brill had meant. She just smiled again, turned and headed for the back room.
When Kora was gone, and she was left alone in the bar, Brill headed over to Sin’s office. She opened the door without knocking, as she so often did. Some had told her that she was taking advantage of her friendship with Sin because at work their relationship should be one of work. Brill had promised herself that she would work on ameliorating her habits and try to be more professional. Right now, though, she was concerned for Sin, her mind having played through many possible reasons why he would have hold himself up in office all night. None of them had a happy ending.
Sin was staring right at Brill when she opened the door, but his eyes were dead. He sat there, in front of his small computer console which was usually in one of his desk’s drawers, devoid of emotion. “What happened?” she asked, breaking the numbing silence of cold office.
His eyelids were the only things on him that moved, closing down over his eyes. “I’m in trouble,” was all that escaped his emotionless lips.
A strong feeling of panic was building up in Brill’s insides. She felt her breaths become shorter and closer together as a worst case scenario played in her mind. “Did they raise rent?” she spat out quickly, before firing off more possibilities. “Did you not make rent? Are they taking Black Ice back? Kicking us out?”
Sin slowly shook his head. He opened his eyes and looked right into Brill’s. “It’s about my brother.”
Brill saw genuine concern in Sin’s eyes, but also great fear. She took a deep breath. “What’s this all about, Sin?” Brill’s mind switched gears completely, her thoughts focusing on Sin’s younger brother of three years.
Off hand, she couldn’t remember his name, or much of what he looked like. She did know, though, from the stories Sin told her about him, that he was reckless in his youth, but even more so as he got older. Sin had often described him as immature and selfish, but Brill knew he cared greatly for his brother. Before Sin owned Black Ice, he was gallivanting around the galaxy with his brother getting into all sorts of trouble, but all sorts of fun.
However, his brother had decided to take a job offering up with the Syndicate, quite possibly one of the largest crime organization in the known galaxy. Brill and Sin both knew that the syndicate was the last ‘business’ anyone respectable wanted to join and be a part of. There was nothing illegal that the syndicate didn’t have a hand in, whether it was drug trafficking, smuggling, theft, bounty hunting, slavery or the like.
If a person is a good employee, to their standards, they are lucky if they get paid enough to eat, but if they are an excellent worker devoted only to bettering the Syndicate, they’ll stay in the organization a long time.
Brill didn’t know much else about the Syndicate. She heard the name many times, and knew that the Supreme Court’s Enforcers were constantly trying to bring down the Syndicate. A part from that, she had no real reason to pay attention to the Syndicate, and so she neither paid attention nor cared much about any information she heard on the Syndicate. Somehow she felt that in the next few minutes, her opinion on the matter was going to change.
“I don’t know what to do about the message.” Brill’s friend sounded distraught. “Why would he send it to me?”
“What message?” Brill asked quickly, not only her worry rising, but also her curiosity.
“Oh right,” he said, as if waking up from a trance. “I’m sorry, Brill. I’m just worried for him.” He waved her to come to the other side of the desk. “I’ll show you the message he sent.” His eyes looked distracted, and the worry Brill felt was growing in her stomach like a disease spreading throughout her body.
Brill found herself looking down at the screen of Sin’s console, not sure what to expect. A face appeared that looked like a younger, yet more ragged Sin. His eyes were more orange in colour than Sin’s, and his skin was a shade lighter. “Hey, Sin.” His voice sounded like he was trying to hide panic. “I made a mistake.” Brill gave him credit for admitting his fault right away. “As you know, I’ve been working for the Syndicate, but I think I’ve done something to really tick them off.” He glanced over his shoulders, an action, Brill was sure, that he started doing a long ago, when he first joined the Syndicate.
Sin’s brother took a deep breath, and then continued. “I’m not sure I can tell you what it is, you just have to know that the Syndicate is after me.” His eyes fell away from the screen, his face covered with shame. “They want me dead, Sin. Even after I tried to fix it. There’s just no reasoning.” He took another deep breath, preparing himself for what he was going to say next. “I normally wouldn’t have bothered you with this until after the situation was resolved, or until I was on my deathbed, because you don’t deserve to suffer for my stupid mistakes.” He sighed. “But, this one is different. They’ve put a bounty on my head. I’ve gone into hiding, and I hope they don’t find me. I wanted to tell you. Actually, I needed to tell you, Sin-” he choked on his own words and Brill thought she noticed a tear start to form in his eye. “They know I have a brother, Sin. They know you’re my brother. The Syndicate has a history of involving family members in their affairs, especially when they want to find someone. I’m sorry for all of this, Sin.” Sin’s brother blinked hard, trying to calm his breathing. On the verge of tears, he said, “I’m sorry if you get involved in this. If it comes down to it, I hope they get to me before they get to you.” The screen flashed white once, and then Sin’s brother’s face was replaced with black.
“I knew he should never have gotten involved with the Syndicate,” Sin said, already sounding guilty.
Brill forced herself to not roll her eyes. Sin didn’t need her attitude, he needed her friendship. “It’s not your fault he got mixed up in this.” She placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I’m sure he’ll be fine. He looks like he knows how to handle himself in trouble.”
Sin was already shaking his head before she finished. “You don’t understand the gravity of the situation, do you?” His voice was instantly condescending, but Brill tried not to take offense to it. She knew he was under a lot of stress.
“Sin, I don’t know much about the Syndicate,” she started to say.
“That’s just it,” Sin cut in before she could finish her sentence. “When they want something, or someone, they don’t stop. They always get what they want.” He slammed a fist down on his desk, which startled Brill. “He could be in real trouble.”
Brill wasn’t sure how to respond to that; she didn’t want to say something that wasn’t true. Deep down, Brill knew that Sin’s brother might not be safe – he might not even live – but she didn’t want to let Sin know her feelings. She knew that at his core, he knew the realities of the situation. Right now, though, his thoughts were irrational and realities don’t matter. “Is there anything you can do? Anyway you can help him?” She knew it was ridiculous to even suggest. How would Sin even find his brother?
He just shrugged his shoulders and slouched down further in the chair. “I don’t think that there is anything I can do.”
Brill heard the hopelessness in his voice, so she decided to change the subject. “Why did he say that he was sorry if you get involved?” Brill was not, by any means, stupid. She knew what Sin’s brother had meant, she just thought it would be good if Sin could talk about it for a minute or two, and maybe take his own safety into consideration, not just his brother’s.
“The Syndicate might come after me to find out where he is,” Sin explained as a blanket of fear fell over his face.
Brill stayed silent for a moment, giving Sin some time to let what he had just said sink in. “What will you do if they come here?”
Sin looked up at Brill, searching for a glimpse of optimism in her dark, mystifying eyes. “I don’t know what I can do,” he started, his voice trailing off.
“Yeah,” Brill replied, as if she was expecting that answer. “That’s what you should be thinking about,” she told him. “Now, not only is your own safety at risk, but the safety of your employees, your patrons and Black Ice as well. Sure, your brother is important, but so are all of these things as well.” Brill held out her hand, as if to draw his attention to something. The trouble, though, was that there was not much in his office besides his desk, chair and little glass spaceship. “This office used to be lavish, Sin. You had so many things in here that you liked and were proud of.”
“Those were just material things,” Sin argued. “These are people’s lives we’re talking about.”
Brill rolled her eyes at him, not going to accept that argument. She stuck a finger out, aiming at the little, glass starship she had bought for him. “If they’re all just material items, why’d you keep that?” She knew she had hurt him, she saw it in his eyes, but she continued anyway. “That’s my point. You’re just clinging on to what fragments you have left – your friends and this bar. Do you want to lose everything, Sin? Because after seeing that message, it’s all on the line. If they come for you, that’s it. Everything’s over.”
Sin nodded. He knew that Brill was right, he just didn’t want to have to admit it to himself. “Brill, you’ve gotta help me, girl. What can I do?”
“We’ll figure it out,” Brill assured him, squeezing his arm. “I think I’ve said enough. You know the situation, right?” Sin nodded in acknowledgement. “So then let’s take a break, get some sleep, and we can discuss it tomorrow, okay?”
“Yeah, that’s fine.” The emotion was once again gone from Sin’s voice.
“Night, Sin.” Brill squeezed his arm, once again, before she turned and left. Brill knew already that she would be using her crystals yet again tonight. They were an easy way to relieve the stress of life. And she knew, as well as most people, that living a life like theirs in this galaxy was stressful.
Not The End
If you missed any of the previous chapters of Black Ice, you can find them by following this link. It will take you to a page on my blog where I am collecting them all.
Thanks for reading!
- Sunshine Award (crankygiraffe.wordpress.com)
- Very Inspiring Blogger Award (rhubblog.com)
- I’m Not Worthy, But I Will Take It (turnaroundandswim.wordpress.com)
- Very Inspiring Blogger Award Winner! (beefelle.com)