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Fiction Relay – Part 57: The Final Chapter

10 March, 2014

So here we are, readers, the final part of the epic tale of Suzi. We’ve crossed decades of time,  thousands of miles, dipped in and out of different dimensions and perceptions, and it all comes down to a Lowe’s Store car park in downtown Albuquerque. Even now I still have to google that to get the spelling right!

My eternal thanks to my fellow Relayers (in no particular order) Joanne, KC, Hasty, CC, Ted, Delilah, Cara and Dawn who all played a huge part in making this story what it is and in shaping Suzi’s life since she was let go from Premier Promotions back in October 2012.

If you haven’t read the previous 56 chapters that came before, you can click here for the Homepage where there are links to every episode. Or you can click here for the Summary.

And now, here it is. The final chapter, the final showdown. Fiction Relay Part 57:

***

 

‘You say “old man” as though it’s an insult,’ Sanderson laughed, ‘but I assure you it’s exactly the opposite. With age comes wisdom. I’ve been around for a very long time and I’ve learnt many things about the human race. Every war, every revolution, every uprising I’ve witnessed during my time in this world has been born from the good intentions that I’m sure you have. And for a short time, the people are happy. The winners are the good guys and the losers are disposed of. But humans are weak. It doesn’t take very long for those who overthrew their masters to become what they despised, to take over from those they defeated.’

‘Can I hit him now?’ Blue asked.

Sanderson took one step forward, ignoring Blue’s comment. He removed his hat as he spoke more quietly. ‘The most intriguing thing about people is the conflict between youthful righteousness and mature experience. At your age you are full of energy, full of principles, full of Fighting The Forces Of Evil, and I commend you for it, I really do. Then age brings knowledge and experience, of course, but – and this irony always amuses me – at the price of losing the rebellious spirit. If you and I join together we can become a perfect team. Your powers and my knowledge, your energy and my understanding of the world. We can change that cycle of war and rebellion. I know what the human race needs better than the human race does. We can rebuild the world, start again.’

‘Yeah yeah, destroy, rebuild, whatever,’ Blue said, frustration in her voice, ‘You’re just a crazy, fucked up old hippy who’s spent too long out here in the desert. Weren’t you listening to me? I am not helping, we are not joining.’

Sanderson’s head dropped. ‘You remind me of myself when I was younger – much younger. It’s a shame you don’t see how similar we are.’

‘We are so far from similar,’ Blue said, stiffening her stance.

Sanderson replaced his hat, and as he took his hand away, he thrust it in the direction of Jose. The blue strands instantly retracted to the spider in his hand with a force that knocked him to the floor, gasping for breath. ‘You are pathetic, Elijah,’ Sanderson shouted, directing the spider to attack, ‘did you think you and your spiderman act would stop me?’

‘So you know who he is,’ Ephraim said from the back of the group, ‘you know that he’s Elijah?’

‘Of course I know,’ Sanderson scoffed, ‘I knew the minute he walked into the Country Club. But I let him think he was being oh so clever and fooling me. I have to admit, he has played the part very well. And he brought The Cup to me, just as I knew he would.’

‘But you don’t have The Cup yet,’ Blue said, ‘Ephraim has it. And if I don’t help you then you’ll never have it.’

‘No,’ Sanderson corrected her, ‘if you don’t help me then I’ll have to wait a little longer until there is another power like yours. But I’m bored of waiting.’ He turned to Ephraim. ‘Bring me The Cup,’ he ordered. Ephraim looked at his hand, at the image of The Cup hovering above the box. His eyes emptied as Sanderson overtook him. Ephraim stepped slowly forward towards his new master, his hand outstretched in offering.

*Stop him* Blue telepathed to Spence.

Blue’s eyes never left Sanderson as Spence lunged towards Ephraim, grabbing him and wrestling him to the ground. Ephraim struggled against the assault, his arms swinging wildly as he tried to land a punch, and the wooden box clattered to the floor. Sam quickly crouched to retrieve it, but the heat of the box seared onto his hand and with a yelp he let it fall once more. Meagan bent down to comfort Sam, but, embarrassed, he shrugged her concerned hand from his shoulder.

Melissa watched the box tumble and reached down to grab it with her free hand. She too felt the agonising heat, her face grimacing as she fought the pain. Raj, restrained in her other hand, whimpered as he watched her fighting to hold the box, but after only a few short seconds she too let it fall.

‘The Cup is rebelling,’ Sanderson declared, ‘it doesn’t want to be brought to me. It has the same naïve principles as you do, girl.’

‘You’re not going to win this one then,’ Blue said quietly.

‘Oh I am,’ Sanderson smiled, ‘and you’re going to win it for me. If you willingly hand me The Cup it will acquiesce to your wishes.’ He nodded behind her, and she turned. Ephraim had rolled Spence onto his back and was beginning to overpower him. Spence was struggling to breathe as hands pressed against his throat and punches began to connect with his stomach.

‘Open the box for me,’ Sanderson said, ‘and I’ll call him off.’

*Don’t do it* Spence telepathed between the blows and the gasps.

‘Spence!’ Blue cried out, her eyes flicking between the fight and Sanderson. She was desperate to grab Ephraim, to grapple him away from her love, but she couldn’t risk being distracted from the man in the hat, and tears burned behind her eyes as she watched.

‘Seems you don’t have quite the power you thought,’ Sanderson said. He turned to Raj now, easily controlling his deceased, empty mind. Raj growled, snarled, a sound echoed a thousand-fold by those outside the fence, and in a flash of fur and eyes and teeth, he pounced on the injured Melissa. Blue could fight the tears no longer and through blurred eyes she watched Raj pin Melissa to the ground, his snout millimetres from her terrified, quivering mouth as he bared the white daggers which she knew could grab at her throat in an instant.

‘Bring me The Cup,’ Sanderson repeated, ‘and I’ll call the dog off your dear Aunt.’

‘Fuck you!’ Blue shouted through her sobs. She faced Sanderson now, raised her hands and stepped forward, ready to begin the fight to the finish, to take this bastard down. Sanderson lifted a palm to stop Blue. ‘I think you’ll want to watch this one,’ he said. His palm closed to a fist save for one finger which he pointed to Sam and Meagan.

‘I will fucking end you if you touch my mother,’ Blue said, her voice low with trembling menace. Reluctantly, painfully slowly, she looked behind her. Sam was seated on the floor now, Meagan laid in his lap, her head clamped firmly between his chest and the arm which he pressed ever-tighter to her throat. Blue looked up from her mother’s closing eyes to Sam, his face a calm, empty, controlled smile.

*Sammy,* was all Meagan had the strength to say to her, *my little Samantha…*

‘You can end all of this,’ Sanderson said, his voice as calm as a doctor reassuring an infant that the nasty-looking needle really wouldn’t hurt, ‘Just open the box, give me The Cup and all this will be over.’

Blue looked from one fight to another, each one going against her, each one of Sanderson’s puppets with the upper hand. Behind the three battles lay Jose, struggling below the spider, grown to half the size of the man. She was the only one left now who could fight against Sanderson, she was indeed the chosen one, the special one, as so many had told her.

*The Cup,* Sanderson said directly to her, *that’s all I need. That’s all I ask.*

There was no way she could overpower Sanderson aswell as defeat the four fighters his mind was controlling. And even if it meant saving Spence and her mother, oh and Melissa and Jose too she guessed, was she capable of battling against Raj and Ephraim and her own father to save them? It was an emotional reach too far, a struggle beyond even her powers. She had no hope. Even if she could win just one battle, she couldn’t win them all, simultaneously.

*Remember your training,* Spence told her, *Kill the power source.*

‘You could try,’ Sanderson said, listening to every word, ‘but you would never take me out before at least one of your little playmates dies. So think carefully – who would you be willing to sacrifice?’

Blue rammed her varnished nails into her palms, desperate to stop her tears.

‘The Cup,’ Sanderson said quietly, holding his palm open to accept his destiny.

The wooden box rested quietly on the floor where Melissa had dropped it. The image of The Cup had faded now and retreated inside. Blue wiped her eyes, sniffed back her tears and bent down to the box. She touched it with one finger first, warily testing its temperature. It was cool, at least to her touch. She took it in her hand, and stood. The fights around her, the coyotes outside the compound, all faded to silence now, melted away as her attention, her soul, her being, her self, focussed on the box.

She felt herself walk towards Sanderson, heard him beckoning her to him in the silence. She stopped in front of him, felt his breath on her drying cheeks as he stood over her.

‘See?’ he said, ‘that wasn’t so hard. Now open it so I can take what’s mine.’

Blue looked up into the eyes of the man now standing two feet taller than she. They had lost the darkness she has always seen before, and were now a deep yellow, a warm, soothing shade that relaxed her. He nodded, smiled, and Blue lifted the box.

She squinted slightly, braced herself for the monumental effort of prising open the ancient relic, overpowering the protection of Tsoodzil, Anansie, the forefathers, The First Man, the centuries of history and destiny.

But she was surprised at how easily her power lifted the lid, effortlessly it rose and hovered above the rest of the box. The golden glow of the legendary chalice cast upwards, lighting the two faces which looked on. The lid fell to the ground, revealing The Cup which began to swell in size, the sides of the box falling away with a clatter. Sanderson gasped as he finally saw the end of his eternal quest, his grail before him. He lifted a trembling hand towards it and whispered an almost silent “Thank You.”

He lifted it from Blue’s hand, held it in the air. Around its sides, words were engraved into the golden surface. ‘He who drinks from this cup will know the power of the worlds,’ Sanderson read reverentially, his chest swelling with pride. ‘So the prophecy is written and so it comes to pass.’ He reached into the inner pocket of his coat and drew out a small metal whisky flask. He flipped off its lid. Blue watched, her eyes steady on The Cup as he filled it with the bright, golden liquid.

He lifted it to his lips with both hands, and sipped at the liquor. He winced as the alcohol burned his throat and then his face beamed widely. ‘The power,’ he said quietly, ‘together we will know eternal and insurmountable power.’ He held the chalice to Blue. ‘Here,’ he said, ‘drink.’

Blue took The Cup, turned it round in her hands, read the inscription again, understood what she was now part of, what this meant. She sipped at the whisky, and placed The Cup carefully on the ground.

‘Now I’ve given you what you want,’ she said, ‘give me what I want. Let them go.’

‘I am a man of my word,’ he nodded. The sounds of the fights increased again in Blue’s consciousness as she returned to the present, but the struggling, grappling, gasping, slowed and quietned as Sanderson called off his puppets, released their minds from his grip. The seven companions lay still on the ground, recovering their breathing, their selves.

Sanderson raised his arms dramatically, his palms open to the sky. He closed his eyes and slowly began reciting the ancient incantations he had spent so many years learning.

Blue looked up to him. ‘Sorry, what’s happening now?’ she asked.

His eyes remained closed as he interrupted his recitation. ‘I am summoning the powers of the worlds,’ he said, ‘they will be broken and remade to my design.’

‘Oh right,’ Blue sniffed, picking up The Cup, ‘it’s just that you’re wasting your time, standing there waving your arms like a shit Gandalf.’

Sanderson’s eyes flicked open, ‘Silence,’ he hissed at this further irritation.

‘Okay,’ Blue said, ‘it’s just that – you do realise you need your eyes tested Old Man?’ She took a deep drink of the whisky, wiped her mouth with her hand. She held the golden grail out for Sanderson to see. ‘Just here look,’ she said, pointing, ‘I don’t think you read it properly.’

Sanderson lowered his hands, snatched The Cup from Blue, recited the inscription. ‘He who drinks from The Cup…’

‘Mmmmerrrrrrrr!’ Blue interrupted with her best gameshow-buzzer impression, ‘sorry, you lose. Try again, read it.’ Sanderson huffed. He was tiring of her infantile comments, beginning to regret offering her any share of his power. ‘He who drinks…’

‘NO!’ Blue announced, ‘one more try, Dumbledoor.’

Sanderson looked at the inscription once more, read it. Re-read it. Blinked. Blanched. His mouth was suddenly dry, sweat formed on his brow.

‘Well done,’ Blue said over a light whisky belch, ‘you CAN read.’

She laughed. ‘Now say it again, nice and clear for the others, and properly this time.’

Sanderson’s head was bowed, no taller now than the teenage biker girl he stood beside. He swallowed and read the inscription aloud.

She who drinks from this cup will know the power of the worlds.’

‘That’s right. She.’ Blue snatched The Cup and thrust it towards Sanderson’s darkening, weakening eyes.

‘She!’ she called into the night. Those on the ground before her turned to watch.

‘SHE!’ she shouted again, silencing the coyotes at the fence.

ME!’ she yelled at Sanderson, ‘It’s ME you piece of shit. ME! I have the power to rebuild worlds!’

The pieces of the box shuddered on the ground, lifted, floated towards Blue’s hand. She concentrated as the base, the sides, came together, her strength increasing as she forced more of The Cup’s power into her task. The streetlights around the store burst into sparks as in turn they succumbed.

Sanderson tried one last move. ‘So join with me,’ he pleaded, ‘let’s do it together, youth and experience, we can rule as one, rebuild worlds together.’

‘Nice try,’ Blue scoffed, ‘but I kind of like the world as it is. Except the bit where you’re in it.’

Blue brought The Cup to the box, reduced it to its former size and placed it inside. The lid jumped from the ground, landed on the box, slammed it shut.

‘You know, you were never going to win this one,’ she said in that offhand, almost-bored tone she reserved for moments of triumph, ‘You realise that don’t you? For you this was the ultimate battle, the final showdown, you against the world. But for me, this was just finishing one more asshole that the world will be better off without.’

Sanderson opened his mouth to object but before he could speak, his body glowed with an instant, blinding flash. He faded just as quickly, leaving behind just an after-image in the eyes of those who watched in the dark. The wooden box in Blue’s hand became very slightly heavier. A thin yellow smoke wafted from inside it for the briefest moment before it dissipated into the night air and all was still.

She tossed the wooden cube to Spence.

‘Present for you babe,’ she said, ‘don’t lose it.’

THE END

 

Except that isn’t quite the end. There’s an Epilogue

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3 Comments
  1. Reblogged this on joannebest and commented:
    HERE IT IS LOVELIES!!!!
    It’s the final chapter of the Fiction Relay started by TRG Himself! My face can’t smile any harder! {with an extra special bonus Epilogue…which I didn’t read yet so bye and read!) ❤

  2. I can’t speak TRG, I just can’t! Too much awesome! I spewed water when Blue said “Can I hit him now?” lol I have to much to say about this so I have to mull it all over and be back here after I pick my brain-bits off the wall, it was that good and I have the hugest smile on my face in the history of ever 😀
    more words to come….just, wow…. ❤
    ps: the Epilogue is beyond perfection in thirteen kazillion ways and you gotta know my wheels are turning 🙂

    • Honestly I sat down on sunday not really knowing what was going to happen. well i knew that sanderson would lose and there would be a point where it all seemed hopeless (isnt there always?) and i had Blue’s last line to him (“you were never going to win…”) but other than that it all fell out of my head in one go. A bit of tidying next day and there it was. That’s all thanks to the Relayers for setting up the characters so well. Espec Blue of course, she writes herself. Literally. I just write down what she does and says. Extra double helping of chocolate covered thanks to KC for Blue :):)

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