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Two Years and Centuries Later

 
Ytte Skovlund's picture
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Two Years and centuries later.

 

It was not long after noon when Ytte finally reached the outskirt of Hope Springs. She paused, the streets were quiet, pretty much everyone had been beaten indoors by the savage Arizona summer sun.

She leaned forward on the saddle pommel and surveyed the street before her, much had changed. A tiny dust devil kicked up a small spiral of sand nearby and the gust flicked the long strands of Ytte’s hair and blew them across her face. She paused to clear them away from her face. She no longer kept or cared for the twin plaits which were fashionable for the officer classes in her regiment. That was so long ago. A far different life.

 

In all reality, Ytte had changed an awful lot in the last two years on the road in The Province. She had had to learn so much and quickly. In her early days here she found herself catapulted through the cloning pods too many times. She hated appearing, stark naked in grimy Life-Net facility. It was no place for a lady of her breeding. So she learned to stay alive.

 

The uniform had gone too. Ytte smiled at the memory. She had had some tailor make her a facsimile of her Prussian Royal Guard uniform, but this place was too hot for something designed for Northern European winters. She dressed in much lighter clothes these days, But she did keep the regimental crest on her shirt, It was HER history after all.

 

Ytte pressed her heels into the flanks of Siegfried. Siegfried was the best thing she had found. A good strong horse of damn near eighteen hands. Fearless. Any Hussar would turn green with envy should they see Siegfried. Of course, Hussars were a thing of the distant past. Along with a lot of what she used to know. But not for her one of these damned noisy contraptions called cars. Whatever she had become, she was a Prussian Officer still.

 

Siegfried carried Ytte through Hope Springs at a slow walk. Ytte took in every detail of what she saw. On they went until The Waffelhus came into view. Ytte decided she could use a small meal, They stopped and Ytte tied Siegfried to a post outside and went in.

 

The well dressed young man smiled as Ytte entered, he bade her sit as the counter.

 

“I am Theis. What can I get you?” He asked as she sat.

 

“Is the coffee as disgusting as it was the last time I was here? “Ytte asked as Theis baulked momentarily as the cold self assured imperial gaze caught him unaware. After a brief pause Theis gathered his wits and continued”

 

“Well, these days it's much better, ever since I got here. For sure, I make the best!” Theis beamed back “How about some food also? Rødpølse maybe?”

 

Ytte glanced at him as some of his words jingled at her memory, She nodded. She dipped into her bag and took out some chips, alongside the money in the purse was her photograph, the one she had carried with her since she arrived. The one which reminded her who she was. She took out the photo and gazed at it and the memories which were tied up there.

 

Theis served the coffee and Theis being Theis peered over at the photo Ytte was looking at.

 

“That looks old !” he quipped offhandedly. Then he looked at the face in the photo and then at Ytte’s face. Then he wished maybe he should not have quipped so quickly. Again.

  

“Its older than you can even imagine” Ytte’s interrogative stare suddenly made Theis feel rather uneasy.

 

 

photo

 

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

((Oh and she's armed. This could get interesting if Hyle were to walk in.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

GAHHH !!

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Ytte sat mostly in silence sipping her coffee which was in fact far superior to the dark brown filth she had endured last time. That cup reminded her of the stuff the cookhouse would have served up while on campaign, far from home, and supply lines stretched like banjo strings.

 

“Is everything OK with your meal?” Theis dutifully asked, Ytte replied with a gracious nod.

 

She was sitting quietly considering whether to order a refill when two things happened. Firstly, Siegfried whinnied. Secondly, Theis looked up, Ytte saw a smirk on his face which grew into a smile. She turned around to see what was causing the distractions.

 

The blonde woman was hauling a stroller up the Waffelhus steps with non-to-much grace. When finally she reached the top, by this time Theis had almost reached her to assist, but due to his late departure from behind the counter he arrived to late, which solicited a sarcastic “Tak så meget” from the woman.

 

The woman turned and pushed the stroller into the cafe. Ytte recognised her at once, but she clearly didn’t recognise Ytte, most likely because Ytte had changed so much and was also just another face on a conveyor belt of customers. Ytte turned slightly on her stool so she could watch proceedings while still sipping her drink. The blonde woman merely nodded with a smile in Ytte’s direction, politely acknowledging her presence. Ytte nodded back.

 

The blonde unbuckled straps and lifted a not-very-old baby out of the stroller, the baby itself was starting to grizzle a little. The ‘mother’ as Ytte deduced, cuddled it close and smiled into it’s face, warbling there-there’s and shushing, and by the momentary look if disgust that crossed her face, Ytte guessed the child was in need of a nappy change.

 

After giving Theis an instruction, The blonde took the baby into the back room, followed closely by Theis who by now was carrying a large bag, presumably the baby’s changing equipment.

 

Ytte returned to her coffee, sipping through a smirk. It was her for sure. And now she had a baby!

 

Ytte wondered if the father was the oaf with the blue mohawk, but from what she had seen of the woman, it could have been anybody’s. How things change. Ytte laughed a little into her mug. She thought back to the last time she saw … Hyle? Yes Mayor Hyle Troy. That was it! She wondered how such a drunken slut of a woman could ever be elevated to such a high office, It certainly would never happen in Größer Deutschland.

 

Ytte had never forgotten the disrespectful way the blue haired oaf and this ‘Mayor’ had treated her the last time she passed through Hope Springs. For starters they were both clearly very drunk. Ytte had approached then with her full teutonic bearing and respect which ‘they’ seemed to find comical. She had asked them if they had seen or heard of her regiment, which they found very amusing, but the worst was when Ytte asked them where The King was. The blue haired oaf told her she would find The King at a place called Gracelands. Which Mayor Troy found totally hilarious.

 

Ytte railed at the disrespect she was showing to His Imperial Majesty. Which then they both found highly amusing. What did she expect. The woman was a Dane. Ytte was furious and left. She never did find this Gracelands, or The King. Only now she realised her search was futile, but it had taken her six months to realise she had been the butt of a cruel joke.

 

Anyway, perhaps there was some justice, it seems this woman with poor morals had now fallen pregnant and was now caring alone for this poor child. The Blue Oaf clearly nowhere to be seen.

 

 

Ytte set down her coffee cup, laid some chips on the counter, picked up her photo, and left. But she would be back. A Prussian must uphold her honour.

 

 

 

Engel's picture

Thread title is so good. Made me read most of the stuff posted here.


- this comment was brought to you by Oilville Primo™ -

Joe Spivey's picture

((So, Hyle... how are you with a sword, hmmm? You could always ask Tuki for pointers. She was taught the katana at Haven. Well, they tried to... Many of the telegraph poles at Hope bear witness to her, er, 'proficiency'.

(Enjoying this. Why is Ytte here? What is she after?

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

(( As far as Ytte's backstory goes you can follow the 'An Old Photograph' link from storyline above. As fas as why Ytte is here..  dunno,, I'm making this up as I go along.. no change there I guess :)

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Ytte went to untie Siegfried, she stroked his neck and whispered greetings into his ear, apologising for being so long. It was just as she was pulling the girth strap back to the correct tightness, and being a consummate horsewoman, she noticed Siegfried was not putting the correct amount of his balance onto his left forefoot.

 

She untied him and walked him up and down a few times, her suspicion was well founded, he seemed slightly lame. Ytte sighed, Her plan was to spend the night in New Flagstaff but not it was too late in the afternoon to walk there with Siegfried, his lame leg prevented her riding there. To be out on the road after dark, she judged, was far too dangerous for herself and of course for Siegfried. She would have to spend the night, maybe even a few days in Hope Springs.

 

The horse needed box-rest so Ytte walked Siegfried out to the stable-cum-garage just outside of the town. After inspecting the stalls carefully and speaking to the stable staff thoroughly, telling them exactly what she expected them to do in regards to care for her horse, Ytte found the owner and deposited reasonable amount of chips, promising a much more generous sum of chips providing her horse got precisely the best treatment available.

 

Convinced she she had done all she could for Siegfried. She figured she had better find somewhere too sleep herself.

 

“Err, you can probably get a bed in the woman’s hostel, Miss.” One of the stable hands helpfully suggested. “Mind you, it gets a bit full sometimes. Miss Troy seems to stuff as many girls in there as she can. But you should be okay for a day or two I suppose. Poor girls, Some of thems has had a hard time y’know. Anyways, middle of town, just left after the Town Hall, yer can’t miss it”

 

Ytte thanked the man and tipped him a few chips. She shouldered her bag and set off back into Hope on foot.

 

It was dark by the time she approached the hostel. Ytte was feeling tired by now. Perhaps the beds in this hostel were at least reasonable and she could get a good night sleep. It looked like she was going to be here for a day or two, in all fairness she figured she owed herself a rest, she had been on the road too long.

 

Ytte turned the last corner before the hostel. And stopped. Stunned.

 

At one of the upper windows a girl was shouting into the street. Behind her some oriental was trying to pull the girl back inside away from the window. The girl was certainly bare breasted, probably fully naked. Beside the girl, the shadow of another person, too dark to see who, but Ytte was sure she saw the person holding a syringe. A number of other girls in various stages of undress were in the street, some shouting up at the window, some others crying. Across the street a number of men stood behind a low fence watching the events opposite. In the gloom Ytte could not make out what the men were doing but she could see a tall woman clad in black leather maintaining order with a rifle in her hands.

 

“What in God’s glory is this place. A brothel?” Ytte gasped under her breath. The stable hand’s words came back to her ‘Miss Troy stuffs them in. Theys has had a hard time..’ It all added up. The Troy woman was keeping a whorehouse and Ytte had almost spent the night there. This was a disgrace!

 

 

Ytte turned and trudged her way back to the stable on tired legs. Appalled at what she had seen, her disdain for that Danish ….. trollop.. slut.. madam even... grew with each step. Something must be done. But what?

Joe Spivey's picture

((Omg! I want to lol, but the situation is quite tragic when you know more than Ytte does. "Something must be done. But what?" can't wait to find out.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Hello Miss.” The night watchman at the stable, was a little surprised to see Yttte arrive, she looked all in. “No room at the Inn?”

 

Ytte yawned “Erm no, they were full up. I’ll be OK sleeping in beside Siegfried.”

 

The watchman nodded as Ytte opened the stall where Siegfried was and went inside. Siegfried looked up and knickered a welcome. Ytte put down her bag and not for the first time made herself comfortable alongside the resting horse.

 

Her sleep was fitful, images of battle, images of the inhumanity war brings. In and out swam recollections of the day just passed. Eventually deep sleep came.

 

In the pre-awakening, Ytte’s thoughts formed around what she should do about so-called ‘Mayor’ Hyle Troy. Every experience of that damned woman had jarred against Ytte, Ytte was an aristocrat, an officer, her breeding was impeccable, her sense of duty fully formed to guide her, her sense of right drilled into her by her father, the Feldmarschall who fought Napolelon alongside Blücher.

 

Ytte felt she could not move on without finding some way to mend the injustices. Secondly her own honour had been insulted by Troy. Her heart demanded satisfaction.

 

Good Morning Ma’am.” The stable girl peeked into the stall bringing Ytte into wakedness.

 

 

Later, with Siegfried munching hay, Ytte was passing the stiff brush methodically along his flanks, she always enjoyed grooming Siegfried, it was therapeutic for them both. The beauty of horses, so graceful, fleet. Designed to use their speed to evade predators, domesticated by man to serve as swift transport. A horse can move fast, evolved to use speed to stay alive.

 

In short. Easily spooked.

 

So when the claw of a creeper poked through the hole in the back wall, and the creeper chirped loudly, seven hundred kilo’s of horse moved very quickly indeed. And far too quickly for Ytte to get out of the way. She almost made it but the horse connected with Ytte’s hip and sent her spinning. That was when Ytte’s head connected with the water trough and suddenly the stable filled with bright stars.

 

Through the fog, Ytte was aware of the commotion, she felt herself being lifted into a pickup truck, being bounced around while the stable girl fretted above her. She felt being unloaded and lifted bodily into a place where the smell of disinfectant seemed overpowering. Another young woman peered into her eyes, pulled up a mask. Light shone in her eyes.

 

He fog cleared some time later, and thankfully came clarity of mind. A young woman, was she even twenty, studied a clipboard, then smiled as she realised Ytte was awake.

 

Hello !” The voice was girlish too, full of enthusiasm. “You had a bit of a bump, but I’ve had a good old rummage and I am sure there’s no lasting damage.”

 

Rummage?” Ytte blinked, the dull pain in her head instructed Ytte not to sit up so fast, as did the gentle hand of the girl at her bedside.

 

I’m a Doctor. Tukiko.” Tukiko gave Ytte a couple of pills. ”Take it easy, these will help you sleep and after a bit of rest you should be jumping around like a Cree… umm... a puppy!”

 

Ytte acquiesced.

 

Much later, Ytte was sitting up in bed, she fingered the cricket ball of a bump on her head through the bandage. She was impressed by the young doctor. Like herself, a woman pushing into the male dominated world, a professional. Perhaps they would have a lot in common. At last, someone like her, one of her kind. Ytte found herself actually looking forward to the next time Doctor Tukiko would look in on her.

 

When Doctor Tukiko did revisit, Ytte was pleased she had time to stay and talk. Ytte complimented Tukiko on her achievement of being a doctor and so young. They talked a little about war, field hospitals. Ytte enjoyed something she had missed for so long, intelligent, enlightening conversation. Ytte felt on the mend and relaxed, in fact she over-relaxed.

 

Your clinic is very well appointed, but tell me how do you manage in a town where the Mayor is such a charlatan?”

 

Hmm?” Tukiko’s demeanour had changed but Ytte was so in the flow she didn’t notice. She went on.

 

She seems a self-absorbed alcoholic with morals of a guttersnipe from what I have seen.”

 

Tukiko bit her tongue. “How do you mean?” Her face now set.

 

Well she’s rude. Typical Dane. She runs a brothel, always drunk, she is an unmarried mother, how on earth she became so-called ‘Mayor’ astounds me! I tell you, such a wanton .. floozie.. would certainly never given such high rank where I come from….. “

 

ENOUGH !”

 

Doctor Tukiko banged her fist on the bed-side table, stopping Ytte’s tirade in it’s boots.

 

 

Tuki's picture

Doctor and patient, each as shocked as the other at Tukiko’s little outburst, stared at each other.

Tukiko folded her hands onto her lap and watched as Ytte’s left eyebrow curved slowly upwards into an arch that somehow managed to convey surprise, a question and reproach all at the same time. Suddenly Tuki was back at Haven, suffering the same silent disapproval of her Sensei for her latest misdemeanour.

She shooed the image away with an irritable shake of her head. She was tired, that’s all. Between 4am feeds and dealing with last night’s incident she had managed to get a whole two hours sleep. Even so, shouting at a patient… She took a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. That was…” Tuki was about to say ‘uncalled for’ but the words smacked of untruth. Instead, it came out as “Unprofessional.”

The eyebrow remained unmoved, and unmoving. Ytte needlessly smoothed the ubiquitous hospital blanket.

“Indeed.”

Hot temper flared again but this time the flaring was confined to Tuki’s nostrils while, in her lap, her fingers curled into tight fists, though fortunately hidden below the edge of the high bed.

Even a cursory check on her patient’s equipment as she had been brought into the clinic was evidence Ytte was a typical example of those clones her mother despised. Military. Their conversation since Ytte’s admission only confirmed the suspicion.

Was that why Tuki had let her temper get the better of her? The thought was analysed, dissected, approached from alternate angles and finally dismissed. No. Then was it the vehement slanderous remarks made about Hyle, combined with Tukiko’s fierce loyalty to the woman who had adopted her, and then both of these submerged in the still unbalanced hormonal soup of emotional maternal protectiveness? Oh hell yes.

Tukiko forced her best bedside smile.

“It’s just that I had difficulty, you see, in recognising the woman I know in your description of…” My Mom? Hyle? “…The Mayor.”

Ytte’s other eyebrow joined the first.

“Really? I thought my description was entirely accurate, based on my observations.”

“Your, ‘observations’?”

“I was here once before.” At last the eyebrows dropped to their normal position. “I remember fräulein Troy being,” A smirk appeared on the finely chiselled features. “I believe the term is ‘falling down drunk’. In fact, if it wasn’t for the oaf groping her, she probably would have.”

Tuki bristled, but recognised the scene her patient was describing. Oh, not the actual scene which Ytte had witnessed, but there had been so many.

“Hy… the Mayor likes to party… um, occasionally.”

Again the eyebrow.

“Natürlich.” At last Ytte seemed to notice that her new found doctor friend was, perhaps, less than happy with her portrayal of the mayor. She softened her expression into a smile and tried really hard to keep the condescension out of it. “Maybe I was unfortunate enough to catch her on one of these ‘occasions’. Yes?”

Tukiko bit her tongue. It wasn’t so much her oath that kept her from wiping that fake smile off the b… her patient’s face, as it was the likelihood that she would definitely come off worse in the attempt.

“You mentioned a brothel?”

“This I saw with my own eyes. Last night.” Ytte described the events of the previous night. “Naked women, drugged no doubt because I saw the, the…” Ytte searched for the word. “Spritze? The… Sprøjte. No. The... Syringe! Yes, the syringe. I saw a woman being drugged with a syringe!” Ytte sat back with her arms folded and a look of teutonic certainty on her face.

Tuki stared at her. She was so angry right now. But, she fought the hormones she knew were behind most of the emotion she was feeling. Tuki closed her eyes and imagined the earth beneath her bare feet. When she opened them again she felt calmer, well, a bit. She glanced down at the clipboard and the admission form Maisie had filled in on the patient’s arrival, saw the name and decided not to even try to pronounce it. Instead she turned on her smile again.

”That... was the hostel. Not a brothel.”

A flicker of doubt cast a barest shadow over Ytte’s face.

”And the naked women? The shouting men? The poor girl being drugged by...”

”By me, actually.”

Ytte stopped mid flow, then remembered to shut her mouth. Doctor Tukiko’s glare was sufficient to give further pause to her words.

Tukiko waited. If her patient continued with what was in danger of becoming a tirade then Tuki would leave before something unfortunate happened. Ytte said nothing so Tuki carried on.

”We have two hostels. One for men and one for women. Mostly they are used for people just passing through. But they were originally set up specifically to take in refugees from the south, especially women and girls.”

Ytte remainded silent. Not convinced but ready to consider the possibility that her observations may not have been totally accurate.

Tukiko continued.

”Yesterday we had an influx of refugees. All was well, we welcomed them, and set them up in the hostels. Hyle... the mayor, sent over food and I tended to any medical concerns.” Tuki shifted position and cleared her throat.

”That night there was a small party on the street betweeen the two hostels and some of the towns people attended. All perfectly normal, part of the routine to make the refugees feel they have arrived somewhere safe. The party went well. The mayor attended and did the official welcome thing and then things wound down and the refugees went back to their respective hostels for the night.”

On her bed, Ytte was wondering if her doctor was making up some elaborate story or other. She had seen what she had seen. How would Doctor Tukiko explain that?

”About 1am I was woken by one of the refugees hammering on the door of the clinic, we live next door. When I got to the hostel everyone was up and it was just a scene of total confusion all around. The refugees were armed and jumpy. They were under the impression that the towns people were attacking them or some such nonsense. Hyle and Reavy, that’s the woman in black you saw, were just arriving. Hyle was trying to calm everyone down while Reavy was, erm, ’persuading’ people to put their guns away.

”Tai and I...”

”Tai?”

”Taioko. My soulmate.”

”Ah, the oriental.”

”Yes. Anyway, Tai and I went into the women’s hostel to take care of one of the refugee woman who had become hysterical...”

”Excuse me Fräu...lein Doktor.” Tukiko stopped. Ytte looked at her suspiciously. ”All of this spektakel for a hysterical woman? Armed men?”

”The woman had night terrors...”

”Even so.”

Tukiko felt her anger returning.

”How many refugees have you met, may I ask?” She snapped.

Ytte looked at Tukiko steadily. If only the young doctor knew. The refugees in The Province were nothing compared to the kilometres long lines of displaced humanity winding their way along the roads in the war she had left behind.

”I have seen many such in...”

”I never said seen, I said met.”

Ytte had to think. The only times she could remember having anything to do with refugees was in having them cleared off the road so that her soldiers could pass. For the life of her she couldn’t actually remembering talking to any of them. She was an officer, after all.

Her patient’s stiffening posture of told Tuki all she needed to know.

”I thought not.” Control the anger. Control the anger. Tuki thought of the calming earth again. ”The journey to here from the south kills about half of all the people who set out on it. It’s the poorly armed and untrained refugees who make up the vast majority of those killed. Besides the wild animals and mutants that use the roads as just one big feeding ground, there are whole camps of bandit gangs waiting for the next group of refugees to try their luck.” Tuki locked eyes with Ytte. ”Do you have any idea what happens to the women and girls who fall into their hands?”

Ytte swallowed, her throat suddenly dry. It was very easy, in the officer’s mess, to talk of collateral damage and to dismiss lists of civilian casualties as simply the fortunes of war. But you never dwelled on it. Never linked the numbers on the page to the horse-trampled corpses of children you turned your eyes away from on the march. Defiantly, she met the doctor’s eyes.

”In war there...”

Tukiko aborted the excuse before it was born.

”They end up here.” Then Tuki’s shoulders slumped. ”Well, the survivors do. And we try to help them.”

For Ytte, the memories of last night started to take on a new shape and new meaning. Frightened women, spooked by the hysterical screaming of the woman with the night terrors. Confused men, just as frightened, but determined to fight off whatever had come for them this time.

”I... see...”

”In the hostels set up by another such victim. The mayor of Hope Springs. Hyle Troy. My Mother.”

Ytte’s mouth opened, but no words came.

Erm................ Oops?

Hyle Troy's picture

(( These collaborations are most enjoayble. Your writng is so deep, incisive ..

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

((... soooooo long, lol. But ty.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Tuki's picture

The silence was in danger of becoming awkward so Tuki ended it by standing up.

”I’d like to keep you here overnight if that’s ok? I’d hate to send you out with a concussion.” She smiled. Tuki briefly enjoyed the guilty pleasure of feeling she had put this arrogant woman in her place. Now she could get on with the business of doctoring her.

Tukiko made it as far as the door before Ytte’s response stopped her.

”May I offer my apologies, Fräulein Doktor? I allowed my preconception of your mother to lend bias to my observations.”

Tukiko stopped with her hand on the door frame and turned her head to face the woman on the bed.

”It’s not me you should really be apologising to.”

Ytte acknowledged the mild reproach with a short nod.

”Quite so.”

Tukiko moved to leave but was stopped again.

”Doctor Tukiko?”

Tukiko turned back.

”It’s Troy. Tukiko is my given name.”

”Again, my apologies. May I ask, though, how did it happen? With your mother?”

The question took Tuki by surprise. It was not a question she would have expected from someone she had come close to striking for her haughty conceit. But this, apparently, was who she was. Perhaps her manner was as unconscious as the automatic vitreolic distrust shown by some of her patients in the local gangs. So she answered, albeit cautiously.

”It was many hears ago. In the tunnel at Pass Chris. She was taken by the gang that occupied it. Over the days that they held her she was repeatedly raped, abused and beaten almost to death.”

”I see. Thank you Doctor Troy.”

Tuki detected no sign of proudfulness in the other woman’s words. She acknowledged her thanks with a nod and then left the room.

Doctor Troy left to do house calls and Ytte found herself left in the no nonsense care of Maisie, the clinic’s only permanant nurse. Ytte wasn’t quite sure how to take Maisie. Nurses from her own time obeyed orders, fetched and carried for the officer/patient and were generally treated as just another servant. None of that worked on the solidly built Nurse Maisie and it was only when it was explained to Ytte, with meaningful enthusiasm, what colonic irrigation entailed that the young Prussian stopped ringing the little bell every few minutes.

After a passable lunch, Maisie returned and carried out the routine observations. Then, taking the clipboard from where it hung on the end of the bed, she sat down on the chair previously occupied by Doctor Troy. Flicking through the pages, she found what she was looking for and began firing questions at Ytte, ticking off the responses the bemused patient gave back. Eventually, Ytte felt she had to stop the interrogation.

”Why is it neccessary for you to know if I have ever had ’bleeding from the ears’, or ’weakness in the extremities’?

Maisie rotated her eyeballs upwards but never lifted her head and the pencil remained poised over the next checkbox.

”Doctor Troy wants to know if you have ever had any symtoms of concussion previous to your current bang on the head.”

Ytte sighed.

”Gott im Himmel, du bist genau wie meine Kinderpflegerin.”

Maise’s eyes narrowed.

”That better not be anything rude because we’re fresh out of lubricating gel... if you catch my drift.”

A muscle Ytte rarely thought about clenched tightly and Ytte’s eyes became veritable saucers.

”No! Nothing rude. Please, continue.”

Maisie lowered her eyes to the clipboard and the questions continued.

It was late afternoon when Maisie returned to carry out the next set of observations. In the intervening time Ytte had been doing a lot of thinking.

”Nurse Maisie? May I ask you a question?”

Maisie didn’t pause from remaking the bed and even Ytte was impressed by her hospital corners.

”Sure. I’ve got a minute to waste.”

Ytte wasn’t sure if the nurse was being sarcastic or not but pressed ahead anyway.

”Doctor Troy was telling be about her mother, the mayor, before she left this morning. I was wondering if you could elucidate further.”

Maisie flicked a piece of lint from the masterpiece in bed making and stood up straight, hands on hips.

”Say whatnow?”

”Can you tell me about the mayor?”

Maisie checked her watch, sighed and sat down on the little chair.

”Sure. What do you need?”

Ytte smiled and sat up straight in the bed, her hands one atop the other in her lap.

”How did she come to be mayor of Hope Springs?”

Maisie shrugged.

”Damned if I know... But it’s good that she did. Ask anyone in town.”

”How so?”

Maisie stopped and took stock of her thoughts before answering.

”Well, you have to understand what Hope was like afore she was mayor. Now I’m just a newcomer here, Doc. Troy brought me back home with her after she finished with the free clinics down south.”

Ytte listened patiently. She vaguly recalled being told about the free clinics that moved from town to town, even camp to camp. So, it was the little doctor who did that, interesting.

Maisie made herself more comfortable on the hard chair.

”Anyway. Hope was a lawless place back in the day. Chota raids, faction skirmishes and in between all that the gangs that surround the place causing general havoc.”

Ytte could picture the scene very easily, it was the blueprint for most of the small towns she had ridden through in the last couple of years.

”Then one day,” Maisie continued. ”It seems Hyle, you know, the mayor?” Ytte nodded enthusiastically and gestured Maisie to continue. ”Ok, well, seems like she got fed up of the whole thing and one day she stood up to some Chota leader guy and just... well, went out into the middle of the street and talked him out of it. Stopped the attack that was actually going on at the time and came to some kind of truce or somesuch.”

Ytte tried to imagine what Maisie was telling her. It wasn’t easy. Ytte had had run ins with the Chota before. They weren’t people you ‘talked to’, unless it was pleading for your life and the lives of your family. Picturing Hyle, in the middle of an attack by these barbarians, walking up to one of them and just… talking? She looked at Maisie with more than a little disbelief.

“Really? Just, went out and talked? This is just legend right?”

Maisie positively glowered.

“Legend my ass! I’ve seen it happen! Okay, maybe not Chota, they don’t come around too often these days ‘cause of the treaty or whatever but I’ve seen that woman myself walk out of the wafflehouse and face off rowdies and yahoos bent on shooting the place up.”

Ytte blinked at the intensity and passion of the nurse’s testimony. But Maisie wasn’t finished yet.

“Over the years she’s turned this place from a literal version of hell into a place where it’s pretty much safe to bring up a family without most of ‘em ending up in the ground. And don’t even think about going into the wafflehouse with a weapon when she’s there.”

Maisie shuffled in her seat, unruffling her feathers. “Sure there’s some pretty rough parties go on sometimes in the Black Beer, but she has a street party outside the wafflehouse most weeks and folks who are mortal enemies outside of Hope will come along and dance together. You have to see it to believe it.”

Maisie leaned forward and whispered. “You know she adopted Doc Tuki right, ‘cause she can’t have kids of her own? Seems like the doc was just another guttersnipe, stealing food and such, but Hyle an’ her sister took her in. Give her an education and ended up paying some shyster a fortune so they could adopt her all legal like.”

Ytte was still absorbing what Maisie was telling her when something she had said struck her.

“Wait. You said she couldn’t have children, but I saw the mayor with a baby just yesterday.”

Maisie gave Ytte a look that cast doubt on the Prussian’s intelligence.

“Of course you did. Hyle Troy dotes on her grandson. Why she…”

But Maisie never got the chance to finish that thought because at that moment Doctor Troy arrived back from her rounds with urgency.

“Maisie! Bluntforce trauma! Get in here and give me a hand!”

Ytte found herself looking at an overturned chair and thinking she should meet this Hyle Troy.

Erm................ Oops?

Ytte Skovlund's picture

It was the little girl in the red dress.

 

Ytte’s sleep had been intermittent, fragments of memory cut her like shrapnel. Doctor Tukiko and Nurse Maisie’s testimonies formed a soundtrack as cinematic scenes flashed past Ytte’s subconscious eyes. She saw some things she had seen but disregarded, her mind to occupied with soldiering to take them in. Things which passed by as she marched, rode or was driven by. Things which meant nothing at the time except as a delay to her army timetables.

 

But it was the little girl in the red dress standing just off the road north of Vejle, oblivious to the cannon, horses and men thundering by not a meter away. The child stood hands at her side, head bowed, her grubby face expressionless, looking at the body in the ditch.

 

This vision kept recurring in Ytte’s fitful sleep.

 

The body in the ditch. Splattered with mud sprayed from cartwheels. The dress pulled up past the waist. A discarded marionette, legs akimbo, Thighs blackened with bruising. The child, looking, numbed, stared down.

 

The random images congealed into a more accurate memory. March 1864. The Austrians had taken Vejle. Ytte’s regiment was following on, heading for Dybbøl. They were marching, Ytte at the head of her squad, head fixed forward.

 

A kilometre on, the woman with the shawl, face battered, her lip swollen, eyes blackened, She was holding a baby as one would hold a rolled towel. She approached Leutnant Ecker in the section just ahead, hand forward, palm up. Ecker pushed her firmly in the chest and into the ditch. As Ytte passed, the baby was lying about a meter from the distraught woman, clearly it had been dead for some time.

 

All these things, seen and yet unseen by a highly disciplined young Leutnant. Blinded by her training, her duty, her arrogance even. Blind to the innocents ground by the military machine. Those ordinary folk who’s lives and ambitions were disregarded by those who moved markers around maps. And she had been part of that machine.

 

Ytte slipped out of the hospital bed. She looked out of the window. Night and the still darkness, quiet. Yes, quiet, no sound except maybe crickets. No shooting, no shouting. No yahoo’s riding moto’s up and down. It was quite unlike any other town she had seen since she arrived in The Province.

 

Tukiko’s words. ‘How many refugees have you met? Not just seen.”

 

Not just seen.

 

None.

 

But she was going to.

 

 

Joe Spivey's picture

((Powerful and thought provoking stuff. At the risk of sounding like a mutual admiration society let me just say that when you write you create a deeply emotional reaction in the reader, certainly in this reader.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Early the next morning Ytte was woken by the clatter of dishes on a trolley being pushed into her room by the oriental man.

Haa, Brekafass?” He smiled wide and bowed from the waist in the fashion of the Japanese. Ytte pulled her drowsy head from the pillow. On realising there was a man in her room she quickly checked to make sure her modesty was not compromised. All was well so she sat up on bed while he poured her tea into a cup, all the while respectfully looking anywhere except in her direction.

Taiyoko, yes?”

Hai” He again bowed stiffly. Ytte nodded back, smiling, noting the tired eyes.

Restless night with the baby?”

Hai. Ahh.. Baby not ahh sreeping well. But ahh Tukiko, She ah sreeping so I lookatta baby inna-sted” Another bow, then he continued serving out toast with a little cheese, then presented the tray with yet another bow.

Vielen Dank.” Ytte thanked Taiyoko as he placed the tray on Ytte’s lap then expertly reversed himself and the trolley out if the room, departing with one more final bow.

 

Ytte ate her breakfast, her mind still full of thoughts of what she had learned the previous day about Hope Springs, the hostels and more importantly, Hyle Troy. The images of her her dream still played in her mind. She sat straight up in bed, slicing cheese, sipping the tea, listening to the quiet hubub of the clinic, the footfalls in the corridor, the murmured voices as the days business got into its orderly stride.

 

The morning wore on, Ytte was restless, she felt fine, she was more concerned about Siegfried than herself. She was eager to get back to the stable to check onto his leg, but when Nurse Maisie had come in to take more observations, she had told her in certain terms that Doctor Troy would be doing her round shortly. Ytte had glance at the little bell on the side-table more than once but had thought better of ringing it. Nurse Maisie was formidable. Ytte realised why they were called patients, they had to be.

The door swung open and Maisie appeared once more. She took her observations then began to unwind the bandages from Ytte’s head. Ytte obediently sat upright as Maisie inspected the bruising. Then Doctor Troy finally breezed in and joined Maisie at the bedside, she conferred with Maisie while looking at the clipboard of Ytte’s notes. Tukiko then inspected the wound, shone a light into Ytte’s eyes, took pulses, temperatures. Through all this Ytte sat bolt upright, stoic, silent, and compliant.

All good! You can go.” Tukiko announced brightly with a smile. “Only, if you get any headache or feel dizzy, you come right back and see us. Is that clear? Nurse will help you get ready” Tuki patted Ytte’s knee though the bedsheets and stood up, gathering her stethoscope and a pie of files, she paused and looked at Ytte for what seemed like a while. Nothing was said but much was understood between them. Tuki broke the exchange with a smirk and a wink, then breezed out to her next patient. This was Doctor Troy in full professional mode.

 

Right!” Nurse Maisie’s No-nonsense tone brought Ytte back into the here and now. “Let’s get you organised.”

The Nurse unwound the rest of the dressings, and cleaned Ytte’s face a soft cloth. She then untied the back of the surgical gown Ytte was wearing and untangled the strands of Ytte’s long hair from the gown and it’s ties. Then, for some time, Maisie brushed out all the tangles and knots until Ytte’s hair felt perfect. Ytte was quite surprised at the patience, care and gentleness of the otherwise brusque nurse, it was quite a contrast.

Finally, Nurse Maisie stood Ytte up and removed the hospital gown, then helped her dress. She stood back, looked up and down.

Right, off you go, bed’s needed !”

Ytte smirked, Nurse Maisie had reverted.

Ermm, how much do I owe you?”

Nowt”

Hmm?”

Nothing.”

But… “

We don’t charge. The clinic’s funding comes donations. Another of Mayor Troy’s ideas. Medical care should be available as and when needed, not when affordable. ‘Course if you want to throw a handful of chips our way, we won’t complain.”

Ah, natürlich.” Ytte realised her bag was probably still at the stables. “Um, I’ll come back. And thank you! Give my wishes to Fräulein Doktor Troy please.”

 

Sure.” Nurse Maisie grinned as she held the door open for Ytte. “Now get lost. I’m sure your horse owes you an apology.”

Joe Spivey's picture

((I wonder what Ytte will make of Hyle. I also wonder what Ytte would make of Reavy. But most of all I wonder what Ytte would make of Hyle & Reavy. Laughing Sorry, i'm in a mischievous mood lol.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Ytte made her way back to the stables. The first to see her was the young stable girl who ran up smiling with relief.

Oh Miss, I am so glad to see you. How are you?”

Ytte smiled back at the welcome. “Oh I feel like I have been knocked through a wall by a horse, but, here I am. How is Siegfried?”

Wondering where you are I should think. I walked him a little this morning but he still seems lame to me. Come and see.”

Ytte followed the girl to Siegfried’s box. Siegfried was munching on a hay net, He knickered by way of welcome but returned his attention to his lunch just as quickly.

No apology, you big lump?” Ytte went inside and hugged the huge horse, then ran her hand down his left fetlock, it was still warmer than the surrounding area. She turned to the girl.

Looks like we are going to be here a few more days.” It was a more than obvious statement. Despite Siegfried’s injury, Ytte still had a number of loose ends to tie. She slapped Siegfried’s neck and wiggled an ear. “You be a good boy, I’ll be back soon.”

 

She changed her shirt, folding it carefully before pushing it into her bag, The Imperial Eagle uppermost, then slung the bag it over her shoulder and headed back into Hope Springs.

 

First call was back to the clinic where she left a donation. The next place should have been perhaps the tavern or Waffelhus for something to eat, but she felt herself being drawn instead to the hostel.

 

Ytte paused, she stood on pretty much the same spot as she had the other night, but now in broad daylight and to her more enlightened eyes, things looked so much different. She walked on toward the hostel, feeling a little nervous.

A group of nine or ten men and women mingled in the road between the two hostels, the group was loose but more clustered around a red and pink car. As she got closer she realised that in the centre of the group was indeed Mayor Hyle Troy, speaking to a small number of people, addressing them individually and scribbling notes onto a clipboard she was resting on the car roof. Ytte paused and watched. The not-very-tall Hyle Troy contrasted very much with the others in the group. The others clothing seemed tattered and worn, presumably because of weeks on the road from the south. Ytte recognised the basic Life-net issue jackets on a couple of individuals. Meanwhile Miss Troy, in contrast, wore an expensive looking black padded leather jacket and skin tight jeans. But what really made her stand out was the bright blonde hair, and more so, the pale blue eyes. Her face was smiling and good natured, but those eyes. The eyes commanded respect, they had authority. Even Ytte felt herself being drawn in. Not these the eyes of the drunken Hyle Troy of her memory. But here was Mayor Hyle Troy, laughing with the people, smiling, talking, engaging them, organising them.

 

Ytte crossed to the women’s hostel and entered. Three small groups of three or four women and girls of varying age sat around the floor, some were mending clothes others eating. Items of clothing hung on lines. The smell was of fresh laundry, the women chatted and occasionally there was laughter. But Ytte sensed another emotion, Relief. It was palpable.

In the far corner of the room was a flight of stairs, again Ytte felt compelled to investigate. She smiled and nodded politely as she stepped past the seated women, some nodded back, Ytte particularly noticed the beaming bread filled mouth of a tiny three year old grinning up happily at her.

Ytte gained the stairway and climbed up. Again the room was well appointed, and airy, but there was something. Something else that made Ytte feel a little apprehensive, but she went on.

Against each wall and down the middle of the room were rows of bunk-beds. Not grubby and foreboding like she had seen once before in a workhouse. These were painted bright colours, here and there on pegs were draped hats, bags and coats. Still something bothered Ytte, she went further.

 

The first girl she saw reminded her of the shawled woman of her dream. The battered face held the eyes she had seen before only in shell-shocked recruits, She lay on her back, awake but unaware of Ytte’s presence.

In the next bunk, a girl of maybe sixteen, her knees drawn up to her chin, arms wrapped around her knees, the child-almost-woman rocked back and forth, and more so the closer Ytte came. The eyes showed fear. Ytte backed off.

Ytte walked up and down the row of bunks. Most were empty of course, The occupants downstairs or outside. But here and there, shattered women. Ytte found herself back at the first bunk, transfixed by the dark empty eyes in bruised sockets.

We do what we can.”

Ytte jumped, inhaling a huge gulp of air, her heart missed a respectable number of beats before resuming, this time with a more noticeable pounding

Sorry!” came the whisper.

Ytte turned and found herself looking at a wry half smile, and those ice blue eyes.

 

 

Hyle tilted her head, indicating direction.and headed downstairs, Ytte followed,

Joe Spivey's picture

Good luck Ytte... watch out for that right hook.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Ytte Skovlund's picture

Ytte took a couple of moments to gather her emotions back together. The fright had had an unsettling effect, Hyle’s ice blue eye had felt for a short moment even intimidating. She followed Hyle back down the stairs, noting how easily Hyle descended in what looked like impossibly high heeled boots. Hyle moved through the room exuding authority, pausing occasionally to ask one refugee or other if there was anything they needed, answering their questions with a smiling efficiency that impressed Ytte.

Ytte obediently followed Hyle outside and into the street to her car. Again Hyle paused when another refugee had a request, which Hyle answered again with a air of good natured efficiency.

 

Have you eaten?” Hyle turned to Ytte. Ytte shook her head. Because of all the events in her day, Ytte realised that all she had eaten all day was the toast and cheese breakfast that Taiyoko had brought her that morning, Ytte realised she was famished,

Good.” Hyle indicated the passenger door of her car. “I’m starving also. Jump in!”

 

Hyle started the car and they rumbled off. Not towards The Waffelhus as Ytte expected, but left past the town hall. Ytte found herself gripping the armrest. She was not used at all to travelling in one of these things, and certainly not at the rate Hyle was driving.

But it was only for a minute or so. Hyle parked the car outside of a reasonable but not overly sized house which seemed in very good repair. Ytte watched the tight jeans and boots extract themselves with ease from the car.

Kommer nu!” Hyle called and unlocked the door to her house. Ytte followed, she felt she was following in the wake of some unstoppable force, she fought inwardly to try and re-establish some control over her destiny. But no. the was intrigued by this woman, she wanted to know more, to try and connect this model of civic efficiency to the drunken trollop she had met two years earlier. It was a paradox too fascinating to resist.

 

Once inside, Hyle bade her sit at a small table in the kitchen. Ytte sat and watched as Hyle unzipped the boots and kicked them off, placing them in the under-stair cupboard. Hyle unzipped her leather jacket and hung it on a hook, much to Ytte’s embarrassment. Hyle wore nothing under the jacket. Hyle took a clean t-shirt from the pile on a shelf and pulled it on, seemingly quite unashamed of her actions. Ytte blinked. Hyle padded through on bare feet to the fridge and took out two bottles of beer, taking a long draught from one and placing the other in front of Ytte.

So, did my ‘brothel’ impress you?” Hyle opened the fridge again and took out a few bowls and put them beside the cooker.

Umm,..” Ytte was still struggling to keep up with the whirlwind.

Hyle laughed and threw some handfulls of ingredients into a fry pan in the stove. “Tuki was telling me about you this morning. Oh! how is the head by the way?”

My head is fine, the Fräulein Doktor is very good, in fact.” Ytte watched Hyle stirring the contents of the pan, which sizzled and filled the room with an appetising aroma which only made Ytte;s hunger pang worse and dizzied her head. She left the beer on the table for now.

I am so proud of her.”

Quite correctly. Myself I am impressed she enters the mens’ domain and succeeds.” Ytte was beginning to catch up with Hyle.

Hyle served up the stir-fry whateveritwas and plonked a full plate of it in front of Ytte. Ytte didn’t even ask what it was, it smelled good and she was starving. It could have been deep fried roadkill for all she cared. She tucked in. Hyle sat down opposite, and they ate in silence for some time. Both too hungry for polite chit-chat.

During the meal, Ytte considered Hyle across the table. She had changed. What she saw now was a far more relaxed version, as if the civic organiser and social servant had been removed and was hanging in the cupboard alongside the leather jacket. Now Hyle seemed much more relaxed. Hyle glanced up and saw Ytte watching.

Miss Skovlund, Ytte. Right?”

Ytte nodded and noted the almost correct pronunciation of her name, IF she was Danish, which she wasn’t, but Ytte let it pass.

Please, call me Hyle.” Hyle smiled.

And Ytte.” Ytte smiled politely. She dabbed her mouth with a napkin, then sat up, back straight, and in stiff Prussian style, faced Hyle.

Fräulein Troy.. Hyle. I surely owe you an apology which I hope you will graciously accept.”

Conversely Hyle slouched back in her seat and put her bare feet up in the third chair

Why?”

Ytte coughed and sat even stiffer in the chair. “For my preconceived opinions that I had of you which I related to your daughter, which were then proven to be incorrect by both Fräulein Doktor Troy’s defence and by my own observations today.” Ytte sat straight with her palms flat on her knees and waited.

Hyle took a long drink from her bottle, the turned her head towards Ytte. A wry smile formed first on one side of her mouth then spread slowly to the other.

apology

Again, why?”

Ytte was inwardly confounded, She had slandered and insulted Hyle, and Hyle was now asking why Ytte felt the need to apologise. Ytte still sat bolt upright, but now her back was starting to ache, because of the damned horse yesterday.

Because I was insulting and unladylike..” The statement was in danger of sounding like a question.

Hyle leaned forward across the table and looked into Ytte deeply. Ytte felt the ice blue eyes piercing through her Prussian resolve.

You were not wrong, I am all of those things, well maybe not a brothel keeper.”

Ytte’s left eyebrow raised.

I drink a lot, I smoke a lot, I like sex, a lot! So to some people’s sensibilities I am a slut and a whore, But it’s just who I am. But, at the same time I am the other things, Mayor of Hope, Social Servant. Mother, Grandmother now” Hyle smiled and Ytte felt herself relaxing from her stiff posture. Hyle pushed the still full bottle in front of Ytte. Ytte closed her eyes and sighed, deflating as she did so. Clearly she had a lot more to learn about Hyle Troy. She reached forward and picked the bottle up, raising it to Hyle.

Prost…. “

 

Skål !”

Joe Spivey's picture

Joe stopped writing, slowly lifting the pen from the ledger and sitting bolt upright in his chair. The tiny hairs on the back of his neck stiffened to attention. He listened. Where, a few seconds before, there had been the happy noise of Silja playing with Annnie, now there was silence. Not even the ticking of the clock... Joe's eyes flicked to the ornate clock on the opposite wall and opened wide. The long brass pendulum hung motionless beneath the silent face. Something was terribly wrong. Something had happened... Somewhere the laws of nature were being mangled as titanic forces edged closer to critical mass. Unknown to Joe, the fate of life as he knew it hung in the balance, to be forever settled over a distant and slightly wonky breakfast table.

Just then Kirsten's voice, barely affected by the thick study door, echoed through the house.

"What have you done! Oh my God! That was an original...! Right, you two, go and play elsewhere!"

Joe grinned. Poor Silja, he thought. He got up and closed the window and then returned to his ledger. Tomorrow he would get that clock fixed, again.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Ytte Skovlund's picture

A pair of headlights illuminated the kitchen window. The low rumble of a powerful motor cut just outside. Hyle was clearing the dishes away and stood by the sink either unaware or unconcerned as a car door slammed shut outside. Ytte’ senses perked.

The sound of the door being opened and heavy boots in the hall made Ytte automatically put her hand to her hip where usually her gun hung in it’s holder. For a moment her heart sank, she had left the gun at the stable, thinking at the time that to visit a hostel full of nervous refugees while toting a gun was not the correct thing to do. Hyle was piling dishes, still not purturbed.

The black armoured mass of person came into view carrying a huge rifle the size Ytte had never seen before. In fact she was sure if the gun was any bigger it should really be on a carriage pulled by a team of horses. The armoured hulk stopped and looked at Ytte for what seemed like eternity, the rifle raised. Hyle finally turned around.

Hej skat !”

Hej skat?’ Ytte was lost. Her mouth hung open.

The dark forbidding figure dropped the magazine out of the rifle and then checked the breech was clear, then placed the rifle in the hall cupboard next to Hyles boots.

Here is Ytte,” Hyle indicated Ytte to the figure and the helmet upnodded. Ytte found herself nodding in return. The figure turned and the heavy boots climbed the stairs. Ytte turned to Hyle, the question clear on her face.

Reavy, She is my Head of Security.” Hyle explained almost offhandedly.

Ytte’s mouth formed an ‘Oh.’ but no sound came out.

Hyle continued the light conversation they had been having but Ytte could not concentrate, the sound of boots and other objects being moved around upstairs stole her curiosity. Hyle could see this but left Ytte to it, Ytte’s puzzlement was amusing to see.

“…..And that was when we found the entire human skin behind the counter!”

Oh.. .. Oh! What !?!”

The shed skin,, from Maija? She shed her skin them gave it to Tuki. Tuki loved it!”

Oh.” Ytte realised she had missed some important details. She reprimanded herself for letting herself become distracted. However the thumping noises upstairs had changed to the sound of a running shower. “So you knew from early that Tuki was interested in medical matters?” She smiled and focussed more on Hyle.

So when Reavy appeared at the bottom of the stairs and came into the kitchen Ytte was taken completely by surprise. And it showed, her jaw dropped and stayed dropped.

The tall woman, solidly built, opened the fridge. Ytte saw the well sculpted musculature of her thighs, back, arms, well all of her. The short black hair contrasted with the pale white skin. Here and there were various scars, some larger some smaller. An impressive looking woman. And quite naked, apart from the military issue undershorts.

Reavy took a jar of orange juice from the fridge. She leaned against the counter and took a long drink. She looked back at the open mouthed Ytte for a few moments then tilted her head.

The tilt brought Ytte back out of her catatonia. Her mouth snapped shut. She looked at Hyle, who had that damned lop sided smirk again. The she looked back at Reavy, who was simply taking some more juice. Ytte started to inspect the tabletop in great detail.

Reavy pushed herself away from the counter and put the jar back into the fridge. She closed the door and leaned to whisper into Hyle’s ear. Hyle listened then made a tiny giggle.

Ok.”

Reavy headed to go back upstairs, pausing to call back. ”Don’t be too long.”

 

Hyle turned back to Ytte. “Oh.And now I realise how late it is.”

Ytte made a long cough to clear her throat before speaking “I should be getting on my way, Yes.”

Did you find somewhere to stay?” Hyle asked.

Umm, no. Yes!. Err no, just the stable.” Ytte mumbled, cursing herself. She must seem like a shy preparatory schoolgirl to Hyle.

Then you can stay with us the tonight.”Hyle announced. Ytte looked both surprised, confused at the same time. Was it a statement or an invitation.

You can use Tuki’s old room, I still keep the bed made in there.”

Ytte felt slightly relieved. “Um,, well,, thank you.”

It’s this way.” Hyle lead the way, Ytte followed.

 

Much later, Ytte lay awake. The bed was soft and comfortable, probably too much so, and would be why Ytte couldn’t sleep. Nor was it the faint rhythmic sounds coming from upstairs that kept her awake.

Ytte turned on her side and stared at the opposite wall, in the gloom the medical wall poster depicting the heart and blood circulation system stared back. She glanced at the chair wedging the door shut, just in case.

It was thoughts of Hyle Troy which were in turmoil and keeping sleep at bay. She felt like understanding Hyle was like a jigsaw, just when you were about to complete the picture, another box full of pieces were dumped on the table. Ytte felt like brushing the whole thing on the floor like a petulant child.

 

But no. Perplexed or not. She was determined to understand.

Joe Spivey's picture

((Loving it. Though it seems that Hyle is deliberately teasing Ytte I think she is just being honest and waiting to see what Ytte will do with the information... of course, who can resist just a little bit of teasing hmmm?

(Tuki found the bed too soft too at the start and usually slept on the floor.)

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

When sleep did come it was deep, dreamless. Ytte slept much later than was her habit.

When she did awake the morning sun shone brightly, Ytte could hear two female voices outside engaged in relaxed conversation interspersed with laughter. She rolled out of the bed and pulled on her pants and a t-shirt. She yawned, her hair felt like a bird’s nest but she elected to go outside rather than spend some time on her appearance, she was too curious of the women she had met last night.

 

In the sunlit garden to the rear of the house. Hyle and Reavy were sitting at a small table upon which there was a coffee pot, a rack of toast, a plate of sliced cheese and what looked like a jar marmalade. The two women were seated either side, lightly dressed both in shorts and t-shirts.

Hyle was the first to see Ytte.

Ah g’morgen!” Hyle said, brightly. She indicated a third chair and Ytte took the offered seat.

Hi!” Reavy smiled. It was the first time Ytte had seen her smile. Reavy seemed a whole lot more relaxed than the dour serious faced woman Ytte recalled from their first meeting. “Help yourself.”

Thank you, and Good morning also.” Ytte blinked in the bright sunshine and proceeded to serve herself breakfast.

Did you sleep well?” Hyle enquired. Hyle was a complete contrast to Reavy, Hyle’s well tanned skin and petite build was opposed to Reavy’s tall, powerful, but almost milk white complexion.

Yes, eventually.” Ytte admitted. She noticed a slightly embarrassed look fly across Hyle’s face.

We didn’t…… “

No it was not … umm that,” Ytte interjected quickly. “It was more that I had a lot to think about, digest.”

Oh, such as?”

Ytte sipped coffee before continuing.

Nurse Maisie told me yesterday that you once, no, several times, have confronted dangerous groups. Unarmed! You must have nerves of steel.”

Hyle almost laughed the compliment off. “Noo.. I’m a clone! If it all went awry I will just reappear, right?”

Ytte looked puzzled by the self deprocating remark so Hyle went on.

Look. Imagine two boys arguing, one finally punches the other. The other, pride hurt, goes and gets a big stick and hits the first with it. In return the second boy gets a big stick, this time with a nail in it. So the other gets a friend to help him, so the other gets two friends. And so on and so forth. You see the cycle?”

Ytte nodded.

So , all that was needed was someone to stop the boys arguing in the first place and no one would have been hurt, Yes?”

Ytte nodded, following the logic. Hyle went on.

So scale things up. A bunch of rowdies turn up in Hope bent on playing Mr Billy Big Bollocks. Opposed to them are some heavily armed self-righteous people who say they come to protect the town but are really there because of the prospect of a fight. The shooting starts and things escalate. Pretty soon the whole town is a smoking ruin and we, the ordinary people have to start again. Rebuilding.”

Hyle paused, Ytte could see the passion creeping into those cool Scandinavian eyes. She glanced at Reavy, Reavy seemed quiet and aloof, watching the over the fields obviously very familiar with Hyle’s theorising. Hyle continued.

I saw this cycle time and again. Finally I figured someone had to stop the cycle, no one else seemed ready to do so. My patience ran out, I suppose.”

But that would not work with everyone, surely.” Ytte countered. “Not everyone would just put there gun down after a few calm words, It does not make sense.”

Hyle smiled and put her cup down, refilling it with fresh coffee”

You are quite correct. It took a long long time.” Hyle’s face took on a soft look. “For instance you would get some well meaning Flatfoot… “

Ytte saw Reavy raise an eyebrow.

“… Enforcer... “Hyle smirked at Reavy. “...Coming to help. I would ask how. Then they would start on about walls, machine gun nests, fields of fire, all that shite.”

Reavy coughed but the smirk remained. Ytte thought that what Hyle had described would be the way she would have defended the town also. But she kept her own council. Hyle continued, now fully in her stride but aware that Ytte was a soldier too and was probably thinking in military terms also.

Hope is a town, not a fort. Do you think people want their kids growing up around barbed wire and minefields? Hemmed in behind walls with searchlights and squads of flatfoots marching up and down?”

Ytte saw Hyle’s nostrils flare, she was impressed with which the passion the diminutive blonde was putting her point across.

Violence breeds violence. Ordinary people like the refugees you saw yesterday get killed, the women get raped, kids get orphaned.”

Hyle paused, breathing out.

It had to stop.”

Ytte sat up in her chair, The soldier in her coming to the fore, Hyle had been very convincing but Ytte still had one point to make.

I agree that diplomacy is the most effective doctrine in most cases, and I am very impressed with the passion by which you have explained your theory. But, there will always be an adversary that will not listen and force would be the only remedy. That is reality, Yes?”

Ytte saw once again the tiny smile creep from one side of Hyles face to the other.

Agreed. One day I met one enforcer who shared my aims. Perhaps not my methods, but certainly my aims. When we do get the occasional stubborn problem. She takes care of it for me. Quietly, discreetly. Usually the townsfolk never notice a thing. The peace is not broken.”

Ytte saw Hyle’s eyes flick to Reavy. Reavy winked back at Hyle. Ytte understood.

Reavy stood up and moved behind Hyle. Putting her hands gently on her shoulders, Reavy leaned down and kissed Hyle softly.

I’m off to work, my love.”

Hyle slowly let Reavy’s hand go. “Take care, min elsker.”

 

Ytte realised she was smiling. She understood a little bit more.

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

Excellent new post. It explains very clearly Hyle's vision for Hope and sets out a consistent backdrop for potential roleplay there

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

((umm...and that's  the end of the thread :)  Hope you all enjoyed. No doubt Ytte's adventures will continue soon

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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