Saturday, January 10, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 10 of 365

My head hurts.  Not like a headache, just that overwhelmed feeling I get when studying, cramming knowledge into nooks and crannies as quickly as I can.  But it is done, this list—at last—is done, and now I can commence with reading.  My biggest surprise was that I actually have everything.  Well, with three exceptions, but I'll get to that in a bit.  Though if you were to ask M'Colleague, I don't think he'd be terribly surprised.  The list is at the end of this post.

I was able to find it all in just ten books, plus one e-book, which means I won't have to constantly be jumping amongst a huge number of volumes.  I actually could have gotten away with it in seven (that Complete Works volume is actually quite true to its name) but I wanted to be able to take Dorian Gray, the short stories, and De Profundis with me in a more purse-friendly manner, as they're the more long form offerings.

Here are the ten books which will be my companions for the next year, also with that absurdly pink version of Complete Works I'd mentioned last week, for good measure:
It will now return to my car.
There have been a small number of letters that have been uncovered in the handful of years since the Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde and A Life In Letters were published, but those shouldn't be difficult to find online.  There are, however, three obscure works which are not included in any published collection, and are either stupidly expensive or nigh-impossible to find online.  I'm looking at you, The Oscar Wilde Society.  I just cannot justify £40 annually to get your periodic publications sent to me stateside and (presumably) access to That One Damn Essay.  Perhaps some day this will seem an insignificant expense, but sadly not right now.

The three in question are below, and are marked by an * on the list:
The Women of Homer, an essay written in 1876, during Oscar's Oxford days.  Held fast in the clutches of The Oscar Wilde Society, and seemingly unavailable anywhere else, unless one has hundreds of pounds/dollars for an out of print version.
An article on the painter Henry O'Neill, which Oscar published anonymously in "Saunders News-Letter" in Dublin, in 1877.  I will still try to look for this online, but so far no luck.
Fire at Sea, a translation of a French short story, ca. 1886.  From everything I can find, it was printed on a 25-page quarto folio, not sure how many copies, and that's about it.  Again, I'll continue to look for this one as well.

So here we have it, the master list of works by Oscar Wilde, not including individual letters, which I intend to read in groups by year.  Two works, a play fragment and a poem, were published posthumously by Robert Ross, and those dates are used.  The final count is:  67 essays and reviews, 6 lectures, 9 plays, 14 short stories, 95 poems, 1 Dorian Gray, and 1 De Profundis for a total of 193 unique pieces.  And the trial transcript.  And all those letters...

I'm beyond excited to have completed this list and be able to get on with the reading.  Wish me luck!

Year of Publication Title Category
1875 San Miniato Poem
1875 Chorus of Cloud Maidens Poem
1876 From Spring Days to Winter Poem
1876 La Bella Donna della mia Mente Poem
1876 The Dole of the King’s Daughter Poem
1876 Rome Unvisited Poem
1876 The Rise of Historical Criticism Essay
1876 *The Women of Homer Essay
1877 Sonnet on approaching Italy Poem
1877 Sonnet written in Holy Week at Genoa Poem
1877 Urbs Sacra Æterna Poem
1877 The Grave of Keats Poem
1877 The Tomb of Keats Essay
1877 *Article on Henry O'Neill, Saunders' Newsletter Essay
1877 Vita Nuova Poem
1877 A Fragment from the Agamemnon of Aeschylos Poem
1877 A Vision Poem
1877 Madonna Mia Poem
1877 Wasted Days Poem
1878 Ravenna Poem
1878 Ave Maria Gratia plena Poem
1878 ΘΡΗΝΩΔΙΑ (A Song of Lamentation) (exact date unknown, assuming college) Poem
1879 Athanasia Poem
1879 Easter Day Poem
1879 Phêdre (A Sonnet to Sarah Bernhardt) Poem
1879 Queen Henrietta Maria Essay
1879 The New Helen/ Poem
1879 Ballade de Marguerite Poem
1880 Vera; or, The Nihilists Play
1880 Impression de Voyage Poem
1880 Ave Imperatrix Poem
1880 Pan, A Villanelle Essay
1880 Libertatis Sacra Fames Poem
1880 The Artist's Dream or Sen Artysty Poem
1881 Serenade Poem
1881 Impression du Matin Poem
1881 La Fuite de la Lune Poem
1881 Les Silhouettes Poem
1881 Amor Intellectualis Poem
1881 Apologia Poem
1881 At Verona Poem
1881 Camma/ Poem
1881 Chanson Poem
1881 Charmides  Poem
1881 E Tenebris Poem
1881 Endymion Poem
1881 Fabien dei Franchi, Camma Poem
1881 Helas  Poem
1881 Her Voice Poem
1881 Humanitad Poem
1881 Impression: Le Reveillon Poem
1881 Impressions du Théatre: Poem
1881 In the Gold Room: a Harmony Poem
1881 Italia Poem
1881 Louis Napoleon Poem
1881 Magdalen Walks Poem
1881 My Voice Poem
1881 Panthea Poem
1881 Portia Poem
1881 Quantum Mutata Poem
1881 Quia Multum amavi Poem
1881 Requiescat Poem
1881 Santa Decca Poem
1881 Silentium Amoris Poem
1881 Sonnet on hearing the Dies Iræ sung in the Sistine Chapel Poem
1881 Sonnet on the Massacre of the Christians in Bulgaria Poem
1881 Sonnet to Liberty Poem
1881 Tædium Vitæ Poem
1881 The Burden of Itys Poem
1881 The Garden of Eros  Poem
1881 The Grave of Shelley Poem
1881 Theocritus: a Villanelle Poem
1881 Theoretikos/ Poem
1881 To Milton Poem
1881 ΓΛΥΚΥΠΙΚΡΟΕ ΕΡΩΣ (Flower of Love) Poem
1881 Impressions: Poem
1881 By the Arno/ Poem
1881 La Mer Poem
1881 Lotus Leaves Poem
1881 On the Sale by Auction of Keats' Love Letters Poem
1881 The True Knowledge Poem
1881 Under The Balcony Poem
1881 With A Copy of "A House of Pomegranates" Poem
1881 Le Jardin des Tuileries Poem
1882 L'Envoi Essay
1882 The Irish Poets of '48 Lecture
1882 House Decoration Lecture
1882 Mrs. Langtry as Hester Grazebrook Essay
1882 Art and the Handicraftsman Lecture
1882 The English Renaissance of Art Lecture
1883 The Duchess of Padua Play
1883 Lecture to Art Students Lecture
1883 Personal Impressions of America Lecture
1884 Woman's Dress Essay
1885 Mr. Whistler's Ten o'clock Essay
1885 The Relation of Dress to Art Essay
1885 Dinners and Dishes Essay
1885 Shakespeare on Scenery Essay
1885 The Harlot's House Poem
1885 Hamlet at the Lyceum Essay
1885 Henry IV at Oxford Essay
1885 The Truth of Masks Essay
1885 Roses and Rue (to L.L.) Poem
1885 A Handbook to Marriage Essay
1885 Aristotle at Afternoon Tea Essay
1885 The Philosophy of Dress Essay
1886 *A Fire at Sea, translation Story
1886 Keats's Sonnet on Blue Essay
1886 Balzac in English Essay
1886 Ben Johnson Essay
1886 A "Jolly" Art Critic Essay
1886 [George Saintsbury] "Half Hours with the Worst Authors Essay
1886 To Read or Not to Read Essay
1886 Two Biographies of Sir Philip Sidney Essay
1887 The Canterville Ghost Story
1887 Great Writers by Little Men Essay
1887 The American Invasion Essay
1887 A Cheap Edition of a Great Man Essay
1887 Injury & Insult Essay
1887 The Sphinx Without a Secret Story
1887 Mr. Pater's Imaginary Portraits Essay
1887 The Model Millionaire Story
1887 Two Biographies of Keats Essay
1887 Lord Arthur Saville's Crime Story
1887 Fantaisies Décoratives Poem
1887 [Dostoevsky's The Insulted and Injured] Essay
1887 A New Book on Dickens Essay
1887 Mr. Mahaffy's New Book [Greek Life and Thought] Essay
1887 The American Man Essay
1887 The Butterfly's Boswel Essay
1887 The Poets and the People Essay
1887 The Rout of the R[oyal] A[cademy] Essay
1887 William Morris's Odyssey Essay
1888 Canzonet Poem
1888 From the Poets' Corner Essay
1888 The Devoted Friend Story
1888 The Happy Prince Story
1888 The Nightingale and the Rose Story
1888 The Remarkable Rocket Story
1888 The Selfish Giant Story
1888 English Poetesses Essay
1888 Sir Edwin Arnold's Last Volume Essay
1888 The Young King Story
1888 [Poems by Henley and Sharpe] Essay
1888 M, Caro on George Sand Essay
1889 London Models Essay
1889 Pen, Pencil and Poison Essay
1889 The Decay of Lying Essay
1889 The New President [of the Royal Society of British Artists] Essay
1889 Some Literary Notes Essay
1889 Symphony in Yellow Poem
1889 Further Literary Notes Essay
1889 The Birthday of the Infanta Story
1889 The Portrait of Mr. W. H.  Story
1889 In The Forest Poem
1889 [Yeats's Fairy and Folk Tales] Essay
1889 [Yeats's The Wanderings of Oisin] Essay
1889 Mr. Froude's Blue Book [on Ireland] Essay
1889 Mr. Swinburne's Last Volume Essay
1889 Ouida's New Novel [Guilderoy] Essay
1889 Poetry and Prison Essay
1889 The Gospel According to Walt Whitman Essay
1890 The Soul of Man Under Socialism Essay
1890 A Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray Essay
1890 The Critic As Artist Essay
1890 The Picture of Dorian Gray Novel
1890 [Defense of Dorian Gray] (letters to the press) Essay
1890 A Chinese Sage [Confucius] Essay
1890 Mr. Pater's Last Volume [Appreciations] Essay
1891 The Fisherman and his Soul Story
1891 The Star-Child Story
1891 Salome Play
1891 The New Remorse Poem
1892 Lady Windermere's Fan Play
1893 The House of Judgement Poem
1893 A Woman of No Importance Play
1893 The Disciple Poem
1893 To My Wife Poem
1894 The Sphinx Poem
1894 The Artist Poem
1894 The Doer of Good Poem
1894 The Master Poem
1894 The Teacher of Wisdom Poem
1894 A Few Maxims For the Instruction of the Over-Educated Essay
1894 Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young Essay
1894 La Sainte Courtisane Play
1895 An Ideal Husband Play
1895 The Importance of Being Earnest Play
1897 De Profundis Letter
1898 The Ballad of Reading Gaol Poem
1908 A Florentine Tragedy Play
1909 Desespoir Poem

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 3 of 365

I am in the process of going back through my collection with the purpose of double-checking what I do and do not have, and discovering some missing pieces along the way.  I thought I'd be getting up my master list today, but I'm starting to think that won't happen.

In the meantime, I have been long itching to show off my Oscar collection.  I started with just one book when I was a teenager (the big purple one, you'll see it) and over the past 15-ish years, it has expanded.  They can't all fit nicely into one photo, so I've broken them into smaller groups, plus one of those that are older than 75 years.  Well, one is 74, but I gave it a pass.

Also, this turned into a MUCH longer post than I'd originally intended, so read at your own risk.

These are the biographies, some better than others.  Frank Harris (second in from the right) got there first, but as a contemporary of Wilde's, still caught up in the salacious scandal, he gets a lot of things wrong and/or sensationalises them.  Richard Ellmann's (4th from left) is probably the best known, though also gets things wrong and as such is responsible for some nasty misconceptions.  H. Montgomery Hyde has written three Oscariana biographies in my collection:  One general biography (the creased paperback in the middle), one focusing on the time of his sentencing to his release from Reading Gaol (The Aftermath) and one of Lord Alfred Douglas, which I have yet to read because I still don't want to have sympathy for him.  The big one on the left is a "pictorial biography" with lots of really fantastic pictures; the bitty one in the middle is an exploration of Wilde's friends and family by the actor and Wilde fanatic Simon Callow.  I've not yet read the Pearson one, and so can't speak to it.  The two best ones, though are (1) Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde by Franny Moyle, which I'm in the midst of reading right now and am really enjoying, and (2) Built of Books by Thomas Wright, which is one of the best biographies I've ever read, period.

These are my Vyvyan and Merlin Holland* books.  Vyvyan Holland was Oscar's only surviving child, Cyril having died in WWI.  He published a pictorial biography of his own (centre) and an autobiography, Son of Oscar Wilde.  The rest of them are by Merlin Holland, Vyvyan's son, who is not only a national treasure, but really a gift to the world.  He's done so much for Oscar's legacy, I can't even begin to express it, and will try very hard now not to verbally flail on about how incredible he really is.  I think—think—these are all of his books, though I may well be wrong.  The two on the left are collections of Oscar's correspondence over his life.  The Wilde Album is another collection of pictures.  Third in from the right, in yellow and red, is The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde, which are uncensored transcripts of his libel case against Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, and are quite a powerful read.  The red damask-print book next to Real Trial is called Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess, which is the exact same thing all over again, only with the title it originally had when published in the UK.  I guess American readers just couldn't do a book with that flamboyant a title?  Anyway.  Because they contain some of Oscar's most supreme wit, I'm going to include the transcripts in my Project, even though it isn't material that Oscar penned; it is important enough to me.  The last one is Coffee With Oscar Wilde, part of a series of books with similar titles, all of which offer insight into their respective subjects under the guise of meeting for coffee and chatting.  It captures the essence of Wilde using actual quotes where appropriate, but mostly just a very keen insight.  The first time I read it, I cried at the end, it seemed that real.

*Following the scandal, Oscar's wife Constance moved to the European continent with their two children and changed their surname to Holland, which is a family name from her side, to keep a low profile.

 These are all* of the anthology/"Complete Works" books I have, none of which are, actually, complete.  The big purple one is my first, the one that's been with me longest, and which stayed with me during my teens, through Uni, and now on to my adult life.  Other than that, there's not much else to say.  Oh, the pink one on the end is turned cover-up because the spine is too faded to read properly.

*Not actually.  I've one more, a neon pink (no, really) hard cover tome which lives in my car so that I always have something guaranteed to be good if I'm stuck in a place and need to read.  I'd have included it here, only it is very cold outside today, and I'm quite lazy.

These are the books I have which, the Complete Works collections aside, are specifically Oscar's fiction.  The four in the middle are short(er) stories, and my two copies of The Picture of Dorian Gray are on either side.  I'm actually quite proud of myself that (again, Complete Works not withstanding) I only own two copies of Dorian, because there are so many pretty versions of it out there.  I've seen a couple that I may try to collect some day, which are beautifully illustrated inside and out.  The big one is one of my antique books, and so doesn't get much handling, whereas the paperback is my standby, and has been with me for more than ten years - by the spine you can tell it's well loved.

These are my poetry, prose, and other non-fiction anthologies which aren't from Merlin Holland.  The two of note are  (1) The Artist as Critic, from biographer Richard Ellmann, is a collection of his essays, literary criticism, and other such writings, and (2) The Uncollected Oscar Wilde, compiled by John Wyse Jackson, another collection of essays, lectures, and critical writings.  It is primarily thanks to these two that I'm now revising and expanding my master list.

 These are a hodgepodge of analysis, Oscariana fiction, and other such offerings.  From left to right:

  • Wilde - the script of the movie starring Stephen Fry as Wilde and Jude Law as Bosie.  It is beautifully and lovingly crafted, the soundtrack is impeccable, and if you've never seen it, please very much do so.
  • Oscar Wilde and A Death of No Importance by Gyles Brandreth - This is a truly silly thing, fiction, casting Oscar as a Holmesian detective when he's not dandying about writing plays or bumming rentboys.  It can only be described as bizarre, and contains an honest to god "What's in the box?!" moment.  Better yet, it is part of a series, which I think I need to get, against my better judgement.  Also, the author was a Conservative MP.
  • Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties by Frances Winwar - Originally published in the '40s, this is an exploration of the Gay Nineties/Belle Epoque, as centred around Oscar and his circle, as well as other outliers.
  • Oscar Wilde: A Long and Lovely Suicide by Melissa Knox - a psychoanalysis of the man and his works.  I've yet to read this, and am saving it for when I've finished this grand escapade.
  • Oscar Wilde: A Study, From the French of Andre Gide - From the French author and Nobel laureate, this book is a reprint of a translation from the Cornell University library collection, dating back to 1905.  "M. Gide's Study of Mr. Oscar Wilde (perhaps the best account yet written of the poet's latter days) appeared first in L'Ermitage, a monthly literary review, in June, 1902.  It was afterwards reprinted with some few slight alterations in a volume of critical essays... by M. Gide.  It is now published in English for the first time, by special arrangement with the author."
  • Oscar Wilde by Katherine Worth - An analysis of his plays, both well known and obscure.
  • Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moises Kaufman - This is a fantastic play, originally starring the brilliant Michael Emerson (Ben Linus from LOST, among others) as Oscar.
  • I Give You Oscar Wilde by Desmond Hall - a "biographical novel".  I've also not read this yet.
  • Oskar Wilde sein drama von Carl Sternheim - Look, I don't speak or read German.  But I know it is a dramatic play about Oscar and his trials, similar to Gross Indecency.  It is old as hell and falling apart, but some day, I swear it, I shall teach myself German by reading this.

And these are the antiques*, dating from a Collected Works volume from 1941 (far left) to another Works Of volume from 1909.  The books are not in order, but are dated as follows (left to right): 1941, 1931 (#361 of 1500 copies), 1930, 1925 (the German play), 1935, 1927, 1909 (#396 of 1000).  Some pictures of the interior pages of each follow, with the exception of the actual antique, which will eventually get its own post, as it is Very Special.

*I'm using this term liberally, I know.  Common practice is that only books over 100 years old are proper antiques, of which I have the one.  However, as they're all at least pushing that mark, they count to me, damn it.  

From 1941

From 1931
Dorian #361/1500

From 1930

From 1925

"What is needed is individualism!" from The Soul of Man Under Socialism

The play came originally from a bookseller in Oxford

From 1935

From 1927

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Oscar Project: Day 1 of 365

I'll do a larger post on this over the weekend with lists and such, but here it is—my new year's resolution, life enrichment activity, whatever.  I am simply calling it: The Oscar Project.

In 2015, it is my intention to read every available writing of Oscar Wilde, in as much of a chronological order as I can manage.  Though I have ready many of his more major works over the years, I've never done an undertaking like this before.  By reading everything I can find, in roughly the order which he wrote it, I hope to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the figure I have admired and adored for roughly half of my life.

He was quite prolific, not just the one novel and nine plays (yes, nine, there are four that are less popular).  He wrote upwards of 75 known poems—I'm convinced my list is lacking—14 short stories, hundreds of letters ("De Profundis" being The One Everyone Knows), as well as at least 44 essays and notable reviews, and four popular lectures that were given repeatedly in the UK and the US.

I've got... a lot.  A lot of books, a lot of saved articles and online archives I've gathered over the past 15 years or so.  But I know I don't have everything.  So that will be part of the fun throughout the year, sleuthing and researching to find the more obscure bits that have been lost to all but academia.

Today I will start with "San Miniato", a poem he wrote, depending on whom you ask, between 1875 (the earliest attribution I can find) and 1881, when it was included in his first book of collected poetry.  Roughly 20 years after this was penned, at the end of his life, Oscar converted to Catholicism and was known to be quite fond of Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Though my guess is that this was inspired by one of his many collegiate trips to Italy, where the town of San Miniato is home to a well known cathedral, it is frankly a little chilling that what is arguably his earliest known work brings his life full circle.  Note also the themes of a journey's end and repentance.

San Miniato, ca. 1875-1881

SEE, I have climbed the mountain side
  Up to this holy house of God,
  Where once that Angel-Painter trod
Who saw the heavens opened wide,

  And throned upon the crescent moon
  The Virginal white Queen of Grace,—
  Mary! could I but see thy face
Death could not come at all too soon.

  O crowned by God with thorns and pain!
  Mother of Christ! O mystic wife!
  My heart is weary of this life
And over-sad to sing again.

  O crowned by God with love and flame!
  O crowned by Christ the Holy One!
  O listen ere the searching sun
Show to the world my sin and shame.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This Is The End

Well, we're about T-20 minutes to the start of our final Changeling session.  The gaming group (also of Deadlands fame) will be staying together, although we'll be going on some sort of hiatus due to some GM family stuff.  All positive, just not conducive to gaming.

The game session will be up, as always, a million years after the last session, although I'll make some effort—I swear, guys!—to get it up a bit speedier this time, perhaps.

I've really enjoyed myself, and it is going to be really hard to leave behind this poor little tortured artist boy.  This character had been kicking around in my head for years.  I almost played him in another, though less moody, Changeling game when I was either just out of college or about to be at that point.  And that was approximately 7 years ago, so yeah...  He's had such a head canon life of his own, that M'Colleague and I have a nickname for him, Tennant Fae, because, well, he's always been "played by" David Tennant.

I'm a huge nerd.

So there you go.  This is the end.  Play us out, Jim...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Changeling: Session 20 - The Beginning of The End

When we last left our heroes, their worlds continue to fall apart as the Vanishers begin to make their move against them…

Drake barely has time to press his panic button before the flash grenade blows, shattering the windows, and mayhem ensues.  He is immediately knocked out, blind and deafened by the explosion.  Morgan, similarly addled, is able to register a hood being thrown over her head before she is able to call upon her Glamour, using the wind from the broken window to create a protective barrier of air around her.  As her hearing returns, she swears she can hear the choppy whir of propellers.  Her attackers shock her with something, and as she passes out, she swears the propeller sounds change to machine gun fire.

Down in Central Park, Goom lurks in the shadows, watching the pandemonium at the building Morgan had entered, unaware that Drake lives there.  A helicopter hovers outside, rappelling ropes dangling, and flashes of machine gun fire erupt from within it as the window shatters, showering the street below with debris.  Goom begins running toward the building.  The ropes have been swung into the building, and two body bags are being hauled into the chopper as more men rappel in and out.  There is a SWAT van in front of the building, and the street and park have been blocked off on all sides by police cars; police officers shout into phones giving the indication that this is not something that was planned.  Goom goes under ground.

Wally is still in Jimmy’s squalid apartment, watching TV while Jimmy fries eggs on the stove.  Local news breaks in to the broadcast:  In the penthouse of Charles Drake, a firefight has broken out among NYPD SWAT, Drake’s private security, and an unknown group of mercenaries with a helicopter.  Jimmy recognises the building, and yells, “God damn it!  There goes my paycheck!”  The story continues that the SWAT team was there to serve an arrest warrant to Drake for the death and dismemberment of a young woman, a possible prostitute.  Wally shouts, “What the even fuck?” as a picture of Meagan appears on screen.  It is unconfirmed if the mercenaries in the chopper are on Drake’s payroll, or if he has been abducted along with new billionaire celebrity Morgan Jones.  Another shout of “The ever-loving FUCK?!” from Wally, who rounds on Jimmy, getting him to explain what he knows, learning that Jimmy’s boss was contracted by Drake to snoop on Wally and others.  After a while, the news breaks regarding Meagan St. Paul, whose body parts started showing up months ago, but was apparently spotted recently in upstate New York going by the name Melody, and was declared missing earlier that day by her parents.  There is an interview with someone working for Drake’s company who swears that about four months back, Drake changed, almost a different person.

Alia and Gareth, who is riding high, return to their bar of choice just in time to see the Meagan/Melody story break.  Gareth is with it enough to comment to Alia that this is their friend from the support group who had gone missing.  They continue to drink.

Morgan and Drake awaken in pain, in the Chrysler Building office of Madame Butterfly.  They are in her safe room, sitting between two grates of iron bars, cage-like.  M. Butterfly and her tattooed attendant are also there, on one side of the bars near a large picture window, watching the drama unfold on a television.  On the opposite side of the room from Drake and Morgan are twelve armed men standing guard, and on either side of the doorway are the two chained tigers.  Yuri-ko explains that she had prior knowledge of Drake’s impending arrest, and so sent in her team via helicopter to bring them to the safety of her office.  Something is coming for Drake, whatever it was spoke to their “friend in the sewer”, Goom.  She assumes that the dismembered Meagan is the double they knew, but can’t say for certain.  She coughs, and there is blood on her hand.  M. Butterfly continues that she has a series of cages in this room and hopes to capture their pursuer, using Drake and Morgan as bait.  It would be helpful if the rest of their friends would come, too, to help fight, and Drake asks permission to use his phone.

Jimmy’s phone rings, causing Wally to jump.  It is Charles Drake, panicked and hyperventilating, imploring him to contact the others he had been watching and tell them to get the hell out of Dodge.  The line goes dead.  Jimmy passes the message along to Wally, who nods and leaves. 

Still at the bar, Gareth’s phone rings, an unknown number.  Despite Alia shaking her head at him not to answer, he picks up.  A man’s voice tells him that Mr. Drake says to get the hell out of Dodge, and the call ends.  As he tries to wrap his addled brain around it, Gareth’s phone buzzes again, this time with a text message from Goom, who tells them to meet at the Ramble.  Gareth and Alia both know the Ramble to be a spot in Central Park, and head out. 

His high starting to abate as they enter Central Park, Gareth is jittery, rambling on about a dealer he used to buy from who would do business around the Ramble.  Alia admonishes him to be quiet, since they don’t know if they’re going to actually meet Goom, whom they hadn’t seen in weeks, or if it is a trap.  Hiding in the shadows, Goom sees his friends approach, but before he can hail them, he notices movement in the trees.  Alia sees it as well:  vines creep out along the ground and around tree trunks, forming a gateway.  Alia grabs Gareth, pulling him along, as she shouts, “Goom!  The church!”

Goom stays and watches a figure emerge from the hedge, a twelve foot tall butcher, wearing antebellum style clothing and an apron, covered in blood.  He wields an oversized knife that drags on the ground behind him, leaving a trench in his wake.
I will festoon my bedchamber with his guts!
As he passes Goom, he makes eye contact, addressing him as “Private”.  Goom returns the nod, acknowledging the giant butcher as “Totenkopf”.  The thing ambles up the path, though clearly not following Alia and Gareth, who slow their retreat once they realise they are apparently in no danger.  Goom catches up to them and leads them to what he refers to as Goom Lair Alpha.  As they walk, they can hear shouts and gunfire in the direction the Butcher went.  Alia wonders if they should help.  “When,” Gareth asks, “have you ever known us to actually save anybody?”  They continue on.

Wally wanders until he locates one of the few remaining phone booths in the city with an intact phone book.  He flips through it, looking for his parents, to see if they still live in Queens.  He finds a name and address that match, and hails a cab.

Back in the Chrysler, Drake and Morgan watch on television as the giant Butcher comes out of the park and annihilates a cop with a swing of his knife.  Gunfire erupts and he swings at more officers before the picture cuts to a very ashen news anchor.  Madame Butterfly comments “Either tonight we will have our answers, or that is the face of your killer.”

Elsewhere in the city, Alex and his daughter Debbie are recovering from the trauma of their two Fae visitors earlier that night.  Amidst the sirens wailing throughout the city, they both go to bed, Alex never thinking of turning on the television.

Goom is about to start explaining what he’s been up to recently, when a white van rolls up along side them, side door opening to reveal black-clad men inside.  With Gareth spouting a litany of “No, no, no”, they rabbit, with the van pursuing them, though they swear the guys inside are gesturing for them to come in.  Goom manages to smash through a storefront door with the butt of his gun, and they make their way to a restroom with a sewer opening.  Goom leads them to a sub-level, an old tunnel made of old wood planks, and he explains that these are old cow tunnels that were used to bring cattle into Manhattan at the turn of the century.  They arrive at a heady wooden door, the entry to Goom Lair Alpha.  Inside, they can hear a girl sobbing.  When Goom obviously doesn’t know what’s going on, Alia pops her claws, and they enter with caution.

Sitting in an arm chair is Meagan, but different.  Her hair is short and blond, her face streaked with tears.  Goom and Gareth both notice that the neck tattoo their friend Meagan had worn is still present, but on the opposite side – this is not their Meagan.  When the girl sees Goom and his large gun, she screams, toppling out of the chair.  Gareth cautiously approaches her, saying that they are friends of Meagan’s, and the girl relaxes.  She introduces herself as Melody, saying that Meagan is dead.  Before she died, however, she’d given Melody a dream-catcher necklace which would help her find friends that could help her.  Knowing that Meagan thought Madame Butterfly was after her, Melody panicked when she saw an unmarked van outside of her dance studio earlier that day, and she ran, somehow making it all the way to Manhattan without the police noticing, even though they were looking for her as well.  She says that the necklace just sort of let her know where to go, and that’s how she ended up down here; the necklace seems satisfied now that they’re with her.

Gareth comforts her, offering a cigarette, and they both light up.  As the group tries to decide what to do next, they notice a sudden influx of roaches into the lair, and the insects gather together to spell out “PRIVATE”, a picture of a butterfly, and “NOW”.  Their decision made for them, Goom provides Melody with a Kevlar vest and hands both Alia and Gareth each a gun.  They return to the street and proceed to the Chrysler.

As they approach the building, they hear gunfire and helicopters.  About 500 yards down the road, they see the Butcher, slowly ambling towards them, his knife dragging and sparking along the road.  He is flanked by helicopters with search lights turned on him, and although he’s being peppered with automatic gunfire, he doesn’t react.  In a panic, Gareth, Alia, and Melody follow Goom into the building.  The lobby is full of Madame Butterfly’s heavies, but since the group is familiar, they are let through to the elevator without incident.

Press play before reading on...

When the elevator starts rising, Alia demands that Goom explain himself, and why didn’t that thing out there attack them.  He stops the elevator and starts talking.  He asks if they remember the pacts that they’d made with Madame Butterfly and with each other previously.  Alia and Gareth nod.  Goom continues on that M. Butterfly has transgressed against the Fae, what she calls the Vanishers, and that they are coming for her.  There will have to be a sacrifice, and we are that sacrifice.  He has made a pact with the Butcher, although before he can go into detail, the elevator doors open to reveal the Butcher. 

He has shrunk himself to about seven feet, still formidable, but able to fit in the lift.  Gareth and Melody cower in a corner.  The Butcher acknowledges them each by name, but he raises his knife when he sees Melody, saying that he does not know her.  They all defend her, confirming to him that she has value to them, and he lets it go.  He stays standing in front of them, right at the doors, with the four standing behind. 

As they ride up, the Butcher says, “Remember, Private, on pain of death.”  Goom nods.  The Butcher then advises them that they’d do well to get to the side, which the four do, ducking and covering as the elevator doors open on Yuri-ko’s office suite.  The elevator car is bombarded with bullets, but the Butcher just wades into it, blade swinging.

Eventually the hail of bullets stops, the area quiet except for the occasional low moan, and the group in the elevator cautiously step out.  The hall is awash with blood and dismembered bodies.  Alia and Gareth instruct Melody to keep herself hidden behind the receptionists’ desk while they do what they need to do.  The Butcher is coming back down the hall, knife dragging and sparking, and gestures to Madame Butterfly’s safe room, instructing, “Private, you first.”  Goom takes the lead, entering the room alone, Alia and Gareth just on the other side of the doorway, and the Butcher behind them just out of sight.

Goom is greeted with twelve muzzles pointed in his direction, the tigers growl.  Madame Butterfly asks if he is with them, and Goom noncommittally replies, asking if he is the sacrifice, or the whole group perhaps.  Yuri-ko wants to know if she should kill Goom or not, and Drake informs her that he’s the only idealist among the group, and that he’s clearly made pacts.  M. Butterfly asks Goom if he’s made pacts with the fae, but he won’t give her a definitive answer.  Meanwhile in the hall, Alia grabs Gareth’s arm and, with no resistance from the Butcher, begins backing them away from the door.

Drake and Madame Butterfly’s heavies open fire upon Goom.  As his body hits the floor, the primed flash grenade he’d been concealing rolls out of his hand, and detonates in the middle of the group of soldiers.  While they’re distracted, Alia steps in and pulls Goom’s body out of the room, and she and Gareth prepare to give him what aid they can.  As he’s about to enter the room, the Butcher asks if either of them would care to make a pact.  They adamantly deny him, and he shrugs, saying it was worth a try; he enters the room.

He greets Yuri-ko by name, and the tattooed man asks for his, which the Butcher gives as Totenkopf.  Totenkopf the Butcher asks for the Oathbreaker, chiding, “Yuri-ko, you expect me to step into your silly cage?  We have been merciful with you, but we can turn our attention back to you.”  He turns to one of the tigers, which is straining at its collar and chain.  He raises his knife, swings, and the chain is severed.  The tiger sits docile at his side.  Drake tries taunting the Butcher, hoping to entice him closer, but Totenkopf only grins at him, and releases the other tiger.  Still grinning, the Butcher steps forward to engage the twelve soldiers, and that’s when the other set of iron bars drops down from the ceiling, blocking the doorway.  The guards, now trapped in a cage with the Butcher, look back at M. Butterfly nervously.

The Butcher addresses Drake, saying, “You have chosen your allies poorly.  Are you aware that she is the one who invited me?  She framed you for the murder of your friend.”  Drake asks why Morgan is here then, but the Butcher doesn’t know, saying that she is merely collateral.  He does offer her a deal, presumably for her safe passage, but Morgan won’t take the bait.  He asks her that since they’ve got plenty of time, and since they’re not going anywhere, can’t they negotiate?  Drake steps in saying that if she deals, she dies.  Totenkopf offers to change the odds, and he swings his knife, beheading six of the guards.  The remaining six open fire, filling him with bullets, but he doesn’t react.  Drake and Morgan share a look of understanding, and Drake aims his gun at her.  Totenkopf kills the remaining guards.  “This box of yours is imperfect, Yuri-ko.  What is your intent?”

Madame Butterfly says that she will give him Drake, but in exchange he must send her back, back to before all of this happens, back to when she was beautiful.  As her tirade rises, the massive window behind her bursts open, the wind at the high elevation sucking and whistling.  The vine creature, which had previously appeared in Alex’s apartment, climbs into the room, casually tossing the tattooed man outside.  It grabs Madame Butterfly, and without hesitation, twists her head right off.  It breaks off several of its branches and drops them to the floor along with her head.  It then makes like a tree and leaves.

Ain't nobody fucks with tree man.  Ain't nobody.
Drake is able to reach through the bars, pressing a button that will release the first set of bars, allowing the Butcher to leave, but keeping himself and Morgan out of harm’s way.  He waits until he knows the building is cleared before releasing the rest of the cage.

Out in the corridor, Alia and Gareth have managed to tend to the worst of Goom’s wounds, and Gareth calls upon his glamour to revive his friend.  Goom is in pain, but no longer hemorrhaging blood.   The Butcher approaches them, telling Goom, “Consider your deal honoured, Private.  If you want to help your friends further, I recommend you partake of the Death’s Head blossom.”  Goom nods weakly, and the Butcher leaves, entering the elevator and riding down.

Wally’s taxi pulls up in front of his childhood home, and he asks the driver to wait.  He knocks on the door and is greeted by his mother; it looks as though she’s been crying.  “I was told to expect you,” she says, letting him in.  Wally says he isn’t surprised, but asks who told her in the first place?  She merely says, “He’s waiting inside.”  As they walk through the hallway, Wally sees evidence of a life that isn’t his – framed pictures and documents line the wall, giving a glimpse of all the things the other Wally has done—shaking hands with President Obama, awards, ceremonies.  After 2008, his mother no longer appears in the pictures, and around the same time the family pictures just change to press releases clipped from the paper.  The last item is a letter accepting him as a professor at Perdue.  Wally notices that his girlfriend from his old life, Allison, never appears in any of the pictures.

Before they go into the sitting room, his mother comments that he’s very different from her boy, which he acknowledges.  “Are you a good man?”  “Maybe,” he replies.  “I don’t know any more."  His mother replies, "I don't think my son is," and they walk in.  Sitting on the couch is the blue boy with compound eyes and gossamer wings.  It buzzes at Wally, “Ah, welcome.  The time has come to answer the question…”

At some point in the night, Alex awakens with the sense that something isn’t right.  He goes into the hallway to Debbie’s room, noting that the street sounds are loud, as though a window had been left open.  Her bed is empty, but there is a large lacquer box with a red door inlaid.  Alex calls for his daughter, but there is no answer.  Inside the box is a letter, which says “The time has come to answer the question,” and a map of Central Park with a location indicated.

One.  Session.  Left.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Changeling: Session 19

When we last left our heroes, the group had gone their separate ways following the debacle with the Hand Made Man, and had a trulyexplosive start to 2014…

Gareth has been staying with Alia for weeks.  One afternoon, Alia’s pimp, Smokey, knocks on their door, and after chatting with her for a second, he asks to see “her fag”, motioning to Gareth.  Out in the hall, Gareth speaks with Smokey and a short, fat, balding man in a nice suit.  They let him know that the mayor wishes to meet with Gareth regarding the tragedy at his apartment.  They let Alia accompany Gareth as he’s led to the street level where a television crew is setting up outside; Mayor DiBlasio and Luthor Grant are visible through the doorway.  A woman starts doing Gareth’s makeup, donning ear buds when he and Alia wish to speak privately.  Alia tries to get Gareth to bow out, telling him it isn’t good to be visible and public.  Before he can process it, though, he’s dragged out to the blinding lights of the press conference.  DiBlasio grandstands, makes big promises, and informs Gareth that the city is going to give him a new place to live.  Gareth just stares.  At one point, he hears someone coughing.  It is Luthor, Drake’s old pal, and when he wipes at his nose and mouth, there is blood.

Alia texts everyone, “Holy shit Gareth’s on TV”.

Since the news broke about her new-found wealth, Morgan has been staying in a Holiday Inn.  The same evening as Gareth’s press conference, she hears the sound of helicopters, very near, outside her window.  There are two of them, hovering in the space between buildings, both of them with news channel logos; when she opens the curtains, she is blinded by flood lights.  There’s a knock at her door, and through the peep hole she can see a crowd of people, all press, clamoring at her door to get a snippet, a soundbite, anything.  She ignores them, turns the television on loud.  A note sips under the door of the room adjoining hers, “I can get you out of here”, which she also ignores.  After nearly half an hour, the deadbolt on the adjoining door starts twitching.  Morgan shoves a chair under the handle; there is more press on the other side.  She calls the front desk, asking them to please do something.  They inform her she has over 800 messages waiting for her.  In another half an hour there is more shouting in the hallway, but this time it is clear that some security detail has taken charge and removed the press.

One man remains in the hall with a couple of police, and he introduces himself as Josh Goldman, and he works for her now.  She cracks the door to take his card.  He’s nebbish and fumbling, the CFO of Oracle Group, one of the hedge funds created by her double.  Once in her hotel room, he starts talking at her, running through all the things she needs to do now that she’s insanely wealthy.  So much of it goes over Morgan’s head, overwhelming her.  Josh offers to take her to her Bentley, which will take her to her helicopter, which can take her to her house in the Hamptons if she wants to leave the city for a while.  She says she’d rather stay in the city, and after some coordinating and gladhanding, he says he can get her the presidential suite at the Waldorf, but they’ll have to kick Prince out, but it’s okay since The Artist owes them some favours anyway.

Josh presents her with three separate cell phones, all pre-set to only dial certain numbers, for separate purposes.  They’re about as secure as can be, and she can’t use any others.  He of course freaks out when Morgan starts to use her own cell phone to contact the rest of the group, saying that they’ll have to get her a “family” phone for personal numbers.  He is utterly at a loss when she shows him her Goom-radio, but excuses it as just another eccentricity of the wealthy and connected, although he won’t let her use it until they can figure out how to secure it.  He leads her through the hotel lobby, where they are utterly mobbed by press.  They climb into a swank Bentley and head to the Waldorf.

Wally hasn’t been doing much the past few weeks.  He and Alexis are still together, although she isn’t living with him.  He spends most of his time working in his lab.  That same evening, he hears paper slide under his front door.  Grabbing his gun, left over from the raid on the apartment building, he finds that there is an envelope from an unknown source.  Donning gloves, he brings it to his lab and scans it for contaminates.  Nothing.  He opens it and finds a notice that his rent is four days past due, which is funny, as he’s lived in this new apartment for four months and never had to pay a dime.  The bill comes to over $7,000.  Knowing something is wrong, Wally runs to a corner store, buys a burner, and calls Hank.  It rings and rings, never going to voice mail.  He checks on line, to see if Hank is dead or in jail.  Nothing.  It then occurs to him that he hasn’t heard from Alexis in a couple of days – she’s usually good for at least a daily text message.  He heads back out to try to find her. 

As he passes through the lobby and onto the street, he notices people watching him, spying, pulling the old advance-and-follow.  It seems there is a whole conspiracy of people monitoring him.  He also notices a man who has been tailing him, but seems separate from the conspiracy, an old school PI by the looks of him.  Not caring any more, Wally walks right up to the guy, calls him out, demands to know who hired him.  The guy won’t say and starts making threats right back, but says it would really be easier if Wally just lets him go along to… wherever Wally’s headed.  They come to somewhat of an accord, and Wally agrees, although he really needs to shake the other group.  They dip into a subway station and, just before boarding the train, the PI tosses something into a trash bin and shouts, “ANTHRAX!  NINE ELEVEN!”  Mayhem, of course ensues, allowing them to get away cleanly.  The guy convinces Wally to detour to a titty bar he knows, which has great steak, and where “They let you touch everything.”  Wally sees an opportunity to get this guy drunk and talkative, so they make their way to the Joie de Beave.  The PI is greeted by name (Jimmy), and they are given a booth, and set up with steaks and beer.

Alex arrives home from his new job, knowing immediately that something is wrong—there is heavy condensation on the door handle of his apartment, and it is freezing to the touch.  Seeing nothing in the hallway, he goes in.  He immediately notices the 12-year-old boy with electric blue skin, a leather loincloth, compound eyes, and gossamer wings – his were the hands that reached through the portal in Alex’s closet some weeks before.  His daughter, Debbie, is there, too, lying naked on the dining table, her chest and ribs folded open.  She’s alive, though, breathing, and frightened.  There is another figure, tall and limby, looking to be made of sticks and pieces of wood, sporting rams horns, and with black eyes, no nose, and a lipless mouth.  It is standing over Debbie, arms elbow deep in her chest cavity.  The boy speaks, saying that Alex’s daughter is valuable, and if she is so valuable to him, why did he not want the substitute they made and left for him in the underground tunnel with the red door?  The stick man pulls out her still-beating heart, considers it, and puts it back in.  The boy tells Alex that he is not the original Alex, that the original is dead.  It won’t let Alex reply.  They are pulling her apart to understand why she is more valuable than the replica he rejected.  Both creatures speak without moving their lips.  Eventually, the stick thing pushes Debbie’s chest back together and begins sewing her up with vines.  As the creatures back away, the boy says, “We will speak again, Shadow”, before leaving through Alex’s bedroom.  Alex rushes to Debbie as the room grows warm again, brushing the vines from her chest.  She comes to, gasping, and Alex holds her as she sobs.

Drake is summoned by Yuri-ko, when he arrives to her office atop the Chrysler, her tattooed right-hand man is there as well, seemingly recovered.  Madame Butterfly comments to Drake that he doesn’t have many friends left as she turns on the TV.  The  news is covering DiBlasio’s news conference regarding the apartment explosions – a tweaked out, nervous Gareth is visible behind the mayor.  Drake sees Luthor standing behind them, notices the coughing and the blood.  M. Butterfly makes a comment about Luthor being ill due to some broken Pledge he made with Drake, wondering what he did to bring illness upon himself.  The channel changes, showing coverage of Morgan being rushed out of her hotel.  M. Butterfly tells Drake that she can feel the Vanishers, and knows he can feel them too, and that they’re angry about what he did.  She calls out Alia, saying that it is interesting that “the whore did not support your artist friend.”  She leads them into a room lined with little geisha dolls.  As she passes through, their heads all turn and slowly follow her.  When it is Drake’s turn, their heads all whip around, on alert.  M. Butterfly says it is because they hate him, because he “didn’t kill him”, presumably referencing the Hand Made Man.  She tells him that the police are ready to arrest him, for what she does not specify, and that now is the time to mend fences with his old friends.  The Vanishers are now more interested in Drake than in her.  She hands him a phone that he can use to contact Morgan; their companies have dealings with each other.  As he leaves, she lets him know that if he ever needs to hide from Them, her safe room is open.

Alia waits just inside as Gareth finishes his little photo op.  She overhears the mayor telling Gareth that they’ll be in contact within 48 hours regarding his new apartment.  Once the circus is gone, Alia and Gareth decide to go out somewhere to get several drinks.  They hail a cab, although it soon becomes obvious that the driver is not going in the right direction, putting them both on alert.  They turn into an alley so narrow that they can’t open their doors.  Alia pops her claws as the cabbie turns around, revealing himself to have the same blue countenance and compound eyes as the boy in Alex’s apartment.  Alia tries slashing at the window separating the driver from his passengers, but is ineffective, and so starts kicking at the back windshield.  Gareth huddles out of her way as the thing begins talking at them, without moving its mouth.  It tells Gareth that he also turned down their offer, and that Gareth saved “its” life, and why.  Gareth mutters something about there being too many questions.  Before the creature can continue, Alia finally shatters the back window and, grabbing Gareth by the collar, pulls him out with her.  They book it back to the street, and stumble in to the first bar they find, proceeding to get good and drunk.

Back in the Bentley, one of Morgan’s phones ring, the caller ID showing the call coming from Yuri-ko.  It is Drake.  While they talk, Josh hands Morgan a dossier on Yuri-ko and the dealings they have together, to the tune of $1.4 billion.  The one thing missing is a photo of the woman herself, as she is very private and elusive.  Drake is asking if Morgan would like to meet for dinner, privately.  Josh is beside himself at the chance to get a sighting of Yuri-ko, as her picture could be worth, well, lots to the right people.  Drake gives Morgan the address to his private penthouse and says to have her people contact his people.  When the call ends, Josh informs her that she was speaking with the one and only Charles Winston Drake.  Morgan argues that it wasn’t really C.W. Drake, just someone who is an awful lot like him.  Josh argues it a bit, but brushes it off as just another weird quirk of the rich.

Once Debbie has calmed down, Alex sends a mass text to the group about his blue intruder.  Alia and Gareth reply that they’ve seen something similar that same night, and do they want to do another group meeting.  Back in the car, Josh asks Morgan if she’s got some issues he should know about, regarding this support group, and she brushes him off.  Wally replies back asking them to “Cut me out of your loop.  And get new phones.”

Morgan is shown up to the penthouse of the Waldorf, and she and Josh are greeted by a massive body guard who opens a set of double doors.  Inside, they find The Artist Formerly Known As “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince”, roller-skating aroundthe suite on a pair of skates emitting purple sparks.  He rolls up to her, taking both her hands, and asks her if she believes in love.  She replies that she does, he kisses her hands and rolls away, calling for “The Revolution!”  A bunch of people, also on skates, follow him out, carrying bags and other personal effects.  Once they’re alone, Josh scours the suite, saying that Prince is notorious for leaving behind odd gifts for people.  Sure enough, in the large bathroom, a bubble bath has been set up, with candles and flower petals all around, and a stack of warm pancakes is sitting to the side.  A note reads “Indulge yourself & make love to your tummy”.

Make love to it
 Alia and Gareth finish drinking, and she accompanies him while he purchases another bump, staying with him while he shoots up to be sure he is as safe as can be, and just in case more faerie people show up.

Wally continues drinking with Jimmy, but the guy is iron clad and doesn’t let anything slip no matter how inebriated he gets.  The guy is nice enough, though, offering to let Wally stay with him since he’s being watched by some other unknown group.  Wally concedes and at the end of the night they both return to the fleabag motel Jimmy calls home.  There’s a threadbare couch in the room, and Wally sleeps there for the night.

Morgan prepares for her dinner with Drake, her people outfitting her with beautiful evening wear, complete with a brooch that doubles as a camera and microphone – Josh wants any information he can get on Yuri-ko, and assures Morgan that this sort of thing happens often.  When Morgan gets out of her car at Drake’s building, right across from Central Park, she is hit by a wave of cold malice washing out of the park and into the building.  She heads inside, turning back just once to notice a man driving a horse carriage around the park, and she notes that he bears goblinoid features.  Once she’s ridden the elevator up, she is shown into Drake’s penthouse, where he greets her with an obviously forced “So lovely to meet you!”  Both are aware that they technically don’t know each other in their new lives.  Drake has cleaned up, is clean shaven, different but not.  Morgan excuses herself to the powder room where she removes the brooch, leaving it and her handbag behind when she returns.  Drake notices the change, cottoning on, and relaxes immensely once they determine that they are alone – he’s even dismissed his staff for the evening.  He wanted to check with her, now that she’s come into this bizarre new life, to make sure she is doing well and to genuinely offer any assistance he can, being well acquainted with the world of the madly wealthy.

There’s a problem, he tells Morgan, related to their last endeavour related to the Hand Made Man.  Drake has pissed off something powerful—Morgan comments about the wave of malice she felt outside.

They continue talking for just a while longer when they both notice Drake’s front door creak open.  Two objects resembling hockey pucks slide in on the floor.  There’s just enough time for Drake to hit his panic button before ———