a good run



This is the first written of the pieces in the Strangeways set. Even though everyone's looks have changed (see Eric's wig), I decided to let these stand.

Simon, Talon and Erling are having their conversation in a rented house in Menlo Park.

Tseng and Emberley are having theirs in a hotel room in San Francisco.



Let's call this...a legibility experiment. The story--both stories--would not exist without Kiyakotari, who co-wrote, co-photographed, beta'd, and generally midwifed the project into being.

Read both stories, and see what happens when you put them together.


TD/STW 060619 03:04:49 commenc//RM04
motionsensor3 ::

[the hum of a PC fan activating]


[toneless whistling, the click of a keyboard]

TD/STW logout 060619 03:14:50



TD/STW 060619 03:37:07 commenc//RM04
motionsensor3 ::

[door opening, catching on carpet]

Voice 1 [male]: [shocked gasp] Ah--?

Voice 2 [male]: Simon, purely out of curiosity, are you aware that you have a...problem?

[clicking stops, creak of wood - a chair moving]



Voice 2 [male]: Or are you, like the rest of your little household, happily oblivious? Really, I expected you to have picked up on the fact that something was wrong...after all, you've been around long enough to have developed a knack for it.

[another creak - chair shifting]

Voice 2 [male]: Whether or not you've noticed it, other people have. And that's where your problem begins. If something isn't done, it might be where it ends, as well.


Voice 1 [male]: Oh God, it’s you. I thought... [inaudible] ...bloody gun cases stacked in here...

[clattering noises, possibly cup and saucer]

Voice 1 [male]: Dear God. I won't ask how you got in. Do you know where Tseng is? He isn't answering his cell...


Voice 1 [male]: I--


Voice 1 [male]: Just...what problem are you talking about, Talon?

[small chuckle]



Voice 2 [male]: You're no longer hidden, Simon - or should I say Tseng is no longer hidden? The Zelins are very close to finding him, and to Ira. Tseng, I think, they would simply kill - and probably everyone else in the house, just for the fun of it. But Ira...there is something much worse in store for him, if they can catch him. At this rate, they're going to.

[shaky, unstable breathing]

Voice 1 [male]: I thought it was them. I've been waiting--waiting for the--not sleeping much--damn it--blind--



[tape hiss]


Voice 1 [male]: I've been blind. I know we've been tracked. Could feel it, you know? I've been tailing IP addresses--running line tracebacks and quadrant checks--it all turns up nothing...bloody cat-and-mouse...every quadrant is empty. They're like ghosts.

Listen. Martin...Martin sleeps...lord, I'm not sure he sleeps...he's in the room next to Ira. And he's armed...not that it matters, he could probably kill a man with a peanut butter sandwich. But Talon...

[sudden intake of breath]

Voice 1 [male]: Oh, god. Martin has no magical aptitude.


Voice 2 [male]: You don't have to have magical apitude to be dangerous, Simon - you've met Darryl. Would you really want to go up against him? Or even see Martin do it?

Voice 1 [male]: [quietly] I have not underestimated the nonmagical danger we are in, Talon, far from it. Martin [inaudible] prepared for it, to be sure. But it's what Martin, and I, are not prepared for that worries me. What we've missed.

Voice 2 [male]: [amused] Indeed.

Voice 1 [male]: Right. If I understand your bloody riddling, then, it's not a hack. Not a clever programme that infects the computer's camera eye. And there's none of the flavor of wrong magic about it either, just that blasted geas wrapped around Ira. What, then? Where...

[suddenly furious] Where is Tseng? Where is he? Is he taken? Dead? Your bloodhound's nose led you here, Talon; what the devil is happening to my house?

Voice 2 [male]: Where is Tseng? No idea. I'm sure Emberley knows, though.

Voice 1 [male]: ... Emberley? He hasn't seen Emberley in... years, I think. Talon, you must be mistaken.


[quiet chuckle]

Voice 2 [male]: Well. Putting that aside...for the moment. You have been tracked - your household has, anyway. But none of your hacking would show it. Because that isn't how they found Strangeways. They found it because every life is full of fingerprints, and I'm not talking about the ones on hands. They found it because there is one thing Tseng didn't think of when he went into hiding, a thing which, at first glance, contains no possible danger. Unless someone knew him very well - well enough to recognize the pattern.

Voice 1 [male]: What are you--

Voice 2 [male]: There's someone in the hallway, Simon.

[shuffling sounds]

Voice 3 [male]: Daayyym, Talon--dude, you want a beer?--

[popping sound]

[hiss of carbonation]

Voice 2 [male]: I'll pass, thanks.

Voice 3 [male]: You jacked my awesome eavesdropping in the hallway gig, dude. I was getting my spy on.

[slurping sounds]

Voice 3 [male]: Talon, don't let me, I dunno, stop you or anything. Let's hear it, man. The unbearable lightness of Eric Tseng's being. Spell it out for Mister Wizard, okay?

Love, Simon: Love has destroyed the Black Knight.


Voice 1 [male]: [faintly] The what?

Voice 3 [male]: The Black Knight, dude. That's what they used to call him, back in Zelin Nation. He was fucking Darth Vader, man, no one crossed him. And weird. Really weird.


[low laughter]

[the sound of a can being crushed]

Voice 3 [male]: That's it, isn't it? Just a little too weird to live, isn't he? A little too...exciteable about his sick little inner life?


Voice 2 [male]: Black Knight, hmm? That particular monicker is news to me...though now that I know it references him, some things make more sense.

[scrape of chair, then brush of feet on carpet]

Voice 2 [male]: You say that love brought him down, Erling? Close enough, though maybe not the kind you mean. Then again, it seems the two are closely connected, anyway. I doubt there's truly delineation between them.

Voice 3 [male]: Dude, I am pretty fucking sure HE doesn't delineate between them.


Voice 2 [male]: Simon, when you think of Tseng - of what he does in his free time, of his...obsessions...


...what is it that comes to mind? Aside from paranoia, of course.

Voice 1 [male]: God...I never think of the man as having free time. He holes himself up here, in this bloody office, works all hours, makes [raises voice] crucial decisions without telling anyone, and no, he doesn't seem to have anything resembling an inner life. I...ah...


Voice 1 [male]: Yesterday I decided to--damn it, my back was against the wall...[inaudible] ...the lock...[inaudible]...and I went into his bedroom, just...it's dead empty, like a hotel room.

Voice 3 [male]: AW, HELL YEAH, Simon, breaking and entering!

Voice 1 [male]: Oh god, Erling, would you please... [inaudible]

Voice 2 [male]: [chuckling]


Voice 1 [male]: I suppose...order would be what he loves.

Voice 3 [male]: Then you would suppose so very, very wrong, Gandalf.



Voice 1 [male]: Erling--everything was in order. His music...

Voice 2 [male] Precisely.

Voice 3 [male]: Yeah, Simon. His music.

Voice 1 [male]: [awed] Dear god. His CD collection. It was vast. It was absolutely pristinely organized...and it was vast.

Voice 3 [male]: Dude. Not just vast. Didn't you even look? It's WEIRD. It screams "I am Eric Tseng, and I fell in love with a genius pianist who turned me onto Bedouin trance, Japanese noise composers, and bluegrass." Jesus.


Voice 3 [male]: Jesus. It's fucking ingenious. Holy shit.

Voice 3 [male]: The poor, poor bastard.

Voice 2 [male]: Poor bastard, indeed. His taste in music is a fingerprint, and one that's much more easily noticed than the smudge left on a champagne flute. Especially if you have the knowledge of him which the Zelins would undoubtedly have of anyone who worked that closely with them.

Especially if you have their resources, can easily afford to hire several people to do nothing, all day long, except track and sort through the financial records of individuals who purchase CDs by, oh, say, a select group of composers...people who do not have scruples that would keep them from acquiring some of those records in a less-than-legal manner. People whose sole job is to locate one purchasing pattern.

Voice 3 [male]: Holy shit, we're being tracked by Uncle Arved.

Voice 1 [male]: Who?

Voice 3 [male]: Me and Ira, our dad died fuckyears ago...but there was our uncle, Arved. Who would have loved our heads on a fucking spike, I assure you. And Arved had Tseng on a kind of leash, you know? Knew him. Kind of...owned him. That's the guy. That's who's coming for us.

Dude's on the Board of Directors. Big-assed coverup on like a daily basis. You know, Tseng used to have to get rid of the bodies of chicks he killed? That was part of his...[incomprehensible]...Aw, hell, Arved would know all about Tseng and his thing for music. Yeah. He'd enjoy knowing that.

[pause, creak of wood]

Voice 3 [male]: Man, Tseng had a good run. He tried really hard, you know?

Voice 1 [male]: My god...he's been so secretive...so careful...I think he stripped everything out of his life...everything but this...this music.

Voice 3 [male]: True love will fuck you every time, Simon Magus.


Voice 2 [male]: You see, Simon, they've already found Tseng. They've found Strangeways. They're only a step or two behind me. They have a far greater number of feet, and their intentions regarding this household are far less benign than mine are.

[shuffle of feet on carpet]

Voice 2 [male]: I have Darryl looking for Emberley and Tseng now. I have no doubt he'll find them - and that they'll be far from pleased with his appearance. Tact is not one of his stronger qualities. It is not so much that he lacks it, as that he rarely chooses to bother with it. However, he will inform Tseng of the situation. Probably bluntly.

Voice 1 [male]: Emberley...all I know is they were friends in college.

Voice 3 [male]: So you didn't register the name, when you looked at his collection.

Voice 1 [male]: [choking] That Emberley? The--the one at St Martin-in-the-Fields, last summer?

Voice 3 [male]: Yeah. That Emberley. The one whose name is on all the recordings in the heart of his music collection? You didn't notice?

Voice 2 [male]: I think Simon's beginning to get the picture now, Erling. And we're getting a bit short on time. Your...uncle Arved...is probably only a few hours behind me. Certainly not more than a day. Hopefully Darryl is close to locating Tseng and Emberley. We need to gather up Ira - and Martin - and get them out of here. Soon.

Voice 3 [male]: Well...I hope the poor fucking ... [incomprehensible] ... having a good time. It’s not gonna last much longer.


Voice 3 [male]: OK, then. Uh, better get my little brother and his big bodyguard, Simon. Time to make tracks, man.

[shuffle of papers]

[latches clicking]

Voice 1 [male]: I had better...bring these.

Voice 2 [male]: Yes, unless you'd like them used on you.

[rustle, sound of feet against carpet, doors opening and closing]

Voice 3 [male]: Here's to Tseng, then. You poor bastard.



TD/STW logout 060619 04:24:49