Chapter 125 – the rant

3 07 2009

Woah, it’s a while since I’ve posted one of these.  But then, if you’re reading this, you probably noticed.  I can’t apologise enough for that.  Sorry.

Leaver’s Day, Revenge of the Fallen, and a meme from a muse

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little odd.  I’ve isolated myself, both online and offline.  But, this is neither the time nor the place for me to angst, especially when I’ve very little to angst about.  Besides, this is only my third post in a while, so I probably shouldn’t push my luck by trying everyone’s patience.

I meant to post this chapter yesterday, but what with one thing and another, I’m afraid I failed to find the time.  You see, yesterday was leaver’s day at school, which meant we all had to go in, sit around feeling boiling, bored and depressed, eat lunch, listen to a short assembly, and go home again.  They mispelled my name in the yearbook, but that’s OK, because I didn’t order one.  I did order a commemorative hoodie, but apparently I didn’t pay for it, so they’re going to hold onto it until I do so.

After that, I went home, made dinner, and then went off to the cinema.  I’d gotten a text that morning from a few friends who were back from uni, who were going to see the new Transformers movie.  Unfortunately, one guy was late, so we changed times to a later showing.  He didn’t show up, so I volunteered to wait outside with his ticket while the others found seats.  Fifteen minutes into the film, he still hadn’t arrived, so I gave up and went in, and was informed that I’d “missed loads of explosions already”.

I can’t honestly say I enjoyed the movie very much.  I’d hesitate to say I enjoyed it less than Twilight, but I wasn’t expecting to enjoy that, and I think it was possibly the better movie (please don’t hurt me!).  It probably didn’t help that I haven’t seen the original, so I didn’t know the characters, but I arrived in time to see bland Optimus Prime deliver a boring speech, and see Sam, his parents and his goofy roommate get up to moronic hijinks at college (note to Michael Bay, if by some minute chance you ever read this – people on pot do not act like that).

When we did get an action scene, involving a Decepticon named (spoiler) Alice, it was an enjoyable spectacle, and the later ones were even better.  I particularly liked the fight scene in which Optimus Prime dual-wielded a couple of glowy sword things.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to form any attachment to the characters or take an interest in the plot, because the characters are so ridiculous.  When stuff isn’t blowing up on screen, we’re subjected to rather boring comedy, usually involving some combination of slapstick, innuendo and testicles.  Particularly crass are a couple of Autobots named Skid and Mudflap, two annoying ethnic stereotypes who make Jar-Jar Binks seem positively endearing by comparison.

Still, if you cut out those Autobot twins, with their ghetto slang, their illiteracy and their failure to do anything useful in terms of moving the story forward, and if you cut out the “hilarious” comedy scenes involving tasers and pot brownies, it could have been an enjoyable action flick.  As it was, it was far too long.  I did phone home beforehand to let my parents know it was a long movie, but the phone was engaged and they didn’t check their messages, so when I emerged from the cinema at midnight, it was to discover a concerned text message, which seemed to assume I’d been out drinking.

If I hadn’t forgotten about my email account lately, I’d have discovered that Museditions emailed me a while back with a meme to complete.  So, very belatedly, here it is:

1. When you looked at yourself in the mirror today, what was the first thing you thought?

“My hair looks terrible!”

2. How much cash do you have in your wallet right now?

£1.50.  That’s not all the money I have in the world, but you see why I’m getting slightly desperate on the job hunting thing.

3. Do you label yourself?

Yes, although I’m not sure it’s a good idea, especially since I think I’m neither sufficiently normal to be mainstream, nor suffiently computer literate or aware of anime and video games to be a proper nerd.

4. What does your watch look like?

Small, black, electronic.  It’s very cheap.  I do own a better one, but I’m scared of scratching it, so I don’t wear it!  Plus it’s in analogue time, which always takes me a moment to read, since I’m so used to my digital watch.

5. What were you doing at midnight last night?

Just leaving the cinema having seen Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

6. What’s a word that you say a lot?

“Actually”.  I say it all the time offline.  I correct myself, I correct other people, I use it for emphasis or even just as filler.  I really ought to stop using that word!

7. Who told you he/she loved you last?

A really creepy old guy I met down the pub the other day, disturbingly enough.  He told me that repeatedly.  I made an excuse and ran away at the first opportunity.

8. Last furry thing you touched?

No idea.  Probably the neighbour’s dog.

9. What was the last thing you said to someone?

“Goodnight, dad.”

10. The last song you listened to?

“The Masses against the Classes”, by Manic Street Preachers.

11. Where did you live five years ago?

Same place I live now.

12. Are you jealous of anyone?

People who are totally content with who they are, I suppose.

13. Is anyone jealous of you?

Hah!  Not that I know of.

14. Name three things that you have on you at all times?

My watch, and – that’s about it.  I don’t keep anything on my person at all times.  I have a tendancy to go out of the house with nothing but the clothes I’m wearing, forgetting my keys, phone, ID…

15. What’s your favourite town/city?

I don’t know.  I’m not a city person.  Probably Cheltenham, although I wouldn’t want to live there (also, it’s kinda snobby).

16. When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper and mailed it?

Probably January, sending relatives “thank you” letters.

17. Can you change the oil on a car?


18. What is your current desktop picture?

Roy Mustang from Fullmetal Alchemist.  It used to be the TARDIS until quite recently when I decided it was time for a change.

19. When did you start your blog?

March 2007, as part of a school project.  Hence the title.

20. What country would you like to live in other than your own?

I’d rather stay here, but since that’s not allowed, somewhere in Europe.  I wouldn’t mind anywhere in the British Isles, or France, Spain, Germany, Italy, or anywhere in Scandinavia.  That last sentence has gone off the page, so I hope I didn’t just break WordPress.

Thank you for that, Muse.  I enjoyed that. 🙂  I hope you enjoyed it too.

So… back!


Chapter 124 – In the Dungeon of Death

13 04 2009

(Tom Hogg blogs)

Well, hello there, Internet.

I don’t plan to make a habit of blogging, but after Kard posted all those “Dungeon of Death” logs online, I thought I’d clear a few things up.

The posts that you saw were assembled from a number of remarks that I’d made over the course of each day. The remarks were meant to let Iaru, Bradley, Megan and Johnny know I was OK. The computer I was given displayed a black screen, and when I typed, text would appear. I’d hit enter to send it to kard, who then edited it and censored out anything that suggested that I was talking directly to anyone in particular, as well as anything that suggested I had any notion of how to get out of the dungeon, and anything that contradicted her story about me betraying the others.

I think it’s only fair that I tell you what happened after my last set of remarks was posted. Renard – that’s the guy we met who was dressed as a guard, but I’m pretty sure that’s not his real name – was able to reprogram the computer’s transmitter and use it to contact Research Team Seven. Turns out he was a spy for Research Team Seven all along.

After that, it was just a matter of hanging about until Research Team Seven got there. They let us out, and we ran for it. Most of the Network people had fled with everything of value, including the clef, but we were grateful for that because that meant nobody was attacking us. After that, we got into a helicopter, and we got taken here, to Research Team Seven’s hideout.

Anyway, it turns out the Dungeon of Death was nothing more than an entertainment for kard, and a deterrent to anyone who felt like challenging the Network of Arms. Those people I took to be guards were actually a group who didn’t like kard’s leadership and tried to force her to step down.

Most of the prisoners from the dungeon have been rounded up and were anonymously delivered to the police last Thursday. Unfortunately, several of them escaped in the confusion.

We’re all of us unsure where we go from here. Research Team Seven offered to look after us, and we accepted their offer, but I’m not sure whether that was the right decision. I wonder how the farmhands are getting on without us.

Ilona’s been very quiet since we got out of the dungeon. I think she’s still in shock. As far as I can tell, she hasn’t talked much to anybody. I’m a little worried for her, I have to admit.

Chapter 122 – Sorry

10 04 2009


hi guys. as reported by johnny, we’re with the real research team 7 now. so, yay? i guess. i mean they’re nicer to us than kard was.

sakura’s been in contact with us. she and her family have had a hell of an adventure themselves, running from the network of allies in america. sakura’s dad was the one who stole the clef from footgood shoes, and the people at the network weren’t happy about that. i think i trust research team 7 now. well, trust isn’t the word. but they aren’t evil. they’ve been looking after sakura’s family, and they’ve been looking after mark and caitlin.

i’m still not happy about the kidnapping. it was kidnapping. and they haven’t been able to justify that. but you can tell they feel remorse for that, and looking back, they still treated us a hell of a lot better than the network of arms did.

i figure i owe you guys an apology. that last post, as you probably guessed, was a complete lie. sorry for lying to you guys.

i didn’t have any choice. kard would have killed me if i didn’t write it. i tried to put a hidden message in there so you’d know the truth.

kard is insane. tom is innocent. and i can’t imagine what it must have been like for him. since we got back, he’s been even less talkative than usual. i’m a little worried about him.

oh, and i seem to be coming down with a bit of a cold. bleh. don’t think it’s anything to worry about though.

Chapter 120 – Saturday

4 04 2009


The following account was written by the traitor, Tom Hogg, during his sixth day of punishment.


Concrete floors are not comfortable, but I think that’s probably the most sleep either of us has had since we got here.

You know, I’ve been wondering about this back wall. It’s made of metal, while all the others are concrete. I think it might be some kind of door. Examined the floor by that wall, and found there’s a tiny gap next to the “wall”, where it slots into the floor. I can’t hear anything on the other side, though. Tried hammering on it but nothing happened. Didn’t expect it to, really.

We were just leaving the cell through the regular door when we ran into a guy in the same uniform as the security guards coming out of one of the other cells. He held up some kind of gun – a laser gun, by the look of it, god knows what one of those was doing here – and he demanded that we tell him who we were and what we were doing there. Well, you don’t argue with someone who’s pointing a gun at you, so we told him our names and how we got there. He lowered the gun, and said that we seemed like OK people. He offered us some food pills, which he’d been collecting and storing in one of the cells. He told us he’d been stuck here for weeks.

We thought this seemed pretty strange action for a guard, and he explained that the people in uniforms aren’t guards; they’re just Research Team Seven workers who managed to piss off kard. This whole place is a glorified prison. The point isn’t to escape, it’s that we kill ourselves trying. He warned us that a bunch of the uniformed people have banded together to try and find a way out of here, and that they are indiscriminately killing anyone who they come across who isn’t in uniform, since most of those are serial killers and terrorists who kard abducted.

He wants to borrow this computer. He seems an OK person himself, so I see no reason not to lend it to him.

Chapter 119 – Friday

3 04 2009


The following account was written by the traitor, Tom Hogg, during his fifth day of punishment.


I’m beginning to wonder if we’ll ever get out of here. Is there even such thing as an exit in this place? It’s depressing to think that I might be eating flavourless food pills for the rest of my life.

Apart from anything else, it’s not healthy. No dietary fibre.

That’s right, there’s lunatics running around with guns and knives, and I’m worrying about nutrition.

You know, this place is so weird. There are cameras everywhere, but they plainly aren’t used, because all the security guards we’ve seen have just been wandering around aimlessly.

Also, the place is huge, but there doesn’t seem to be anything here. I mean, there’s endless maze-like corridors, and whole rooms full of nothing but empty boxes, but what possible reason could you have for building such a thing? And there are food pills here and there, and weapons, which are presumably for the guards’ benefit, but they’re the weirdest things. I mean, we found a frat paddle in a box back there. What possible use could a security guard have for a frat paddle? Actually, no, I don’t want to know.

And why the leopard? And the crocodile? And what was that shadow thing? None of this makes any sense!

The guard with the Winchester ’94 is dead. Stabbed, by the looks of it. Someone’s drawn an “m” on her forehead, just like that other guy.

Ilona went over to the body and said a short prayer asking God to guide the unfortunate guard’s soul. Then she closed both the corpse’s eyes and laid its arms by its sides. It was a very solemn moment. I’m not really religious myself, but I must confess I found that quite moving.

We found a row of cells similar to the one I woke up in a few days back. The key was in the lock, so we locked ourselves in. Maybe tonight we can both get some proper sleep.

Chapter 115 – the rant

1 04 2009

Tom is pretty hardcore.

Anyone who throws a sai and keeps a dagger in hand clearly doesn’t have much common sense, but the crazy guy is fond of that dagger.  He’s also a nasty piece of work, but I suspect that was obvious.

I think it’s important that Tom has found an ally, at least for now.  This week he’s been subjected to far too much trauma for one person.


I’ve been reading a lot of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries of late.  I think I’m addicted.

I’m hopeless at figuring out who the culprit was, but then Sherlock Holmes stories aren’t really that kind of mystery, anyway.  And I did manage to work out three of them correctly: The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Empty House and The Norwood Builder.  Also, I guessed which organisation was responsible for The Five Orange Pips long before Holmes (an evil organisation from the southern United States with the initials K.K.K.  Hmm, I wonder who that could be…), although I think I had the advantage of historical hindsight.

I really admire mystery authors.  I think there’s a specific type of intelligence that’s required to write a good mystery story.  You need to not only plan everything out beforehand, but also provide enough clues that the reader can work it out, and present them in such a way that it won’t be too obvious.

I was also glad to note that the original Dr. Watson is a lot cooler and more believable than the bumbling incompetant that is so often depicted in popular culture.  I’m guessing that image is the result of derivative authors failing to make Holmes sufficiently smart, and compromising by making Watson stupid.  Poor Watson.

Chapter 115 – Wednesday

1 04 2009


The following account was written by the traitor, Tom Hogg, during his third day of punishment.


Slept in an oversized air vent. I thought there might be a way out through here, but now I’m suspecting it was just set up as a trap. It’s conveniently large enough to crawl around in, there are cameras focussed on portions of the air vent, with strategically placed windows (hmm) and – here’s the clincher – IT’S NOT EVEN CONNECTED to the main ventilation system, which is up in the freaking ceiling.


I hope the laptop still works. That was me hitting it against the side of the vent in frustration.

OK, finally got out of there. Back in the corridors. Problem is, they’ve got no more distinguishing features than the air vents. I could have passed that camera there half a dozen times, for all I know.

This is different. There’s light up ahead. Going to check it out.

Damn. There’s a hall through there, with more crates, and there’s a guard carrying a shillelagh, pacing back and forth.

I can’t believe I just did that. Crept up behind the boxes, snatched the shillelagh out of the guard’s hands and cracked him over the head with it. He’s not moving, but he’s still breathing. I hope he’s not too badly hurt. He was only doing his job, after all.

Dam’t. Two corridors further, and I’ve found another dead body. Looks like he’s been stabbed. There’s a welding torch by his side. At least he looks peaceful. His eyes are closed.

Hours later. That was hectic.

After I left the dead guy, I heard the sound of a woman screaming, coming from a room nearby, so I ran to help. I arrived in time to see the lunatic – the one who killed a guy with a string trimmer the other day – advancing on a young woman who was crouching in the corner, clearly terrified. The man had a sai in one hand and a large dagger in the other, and he looked like he was having the time of his life.

I didn’t pause to catch my breath. I ran into the room, and the guy spun around, said, “Wait your turn,” and threw the sai at me. He just barely missed. I charged at him, and swung the shillelagh at him. He dodged backwards in surprise. Without stopping to think, I reached into my bag and pulled out the nail driver, and I pointed it at the guy’s head. I told him to get out of there. He hesitated for a second, then turned and ran.

I put the nail driver away and helped the woman to her feet. I told her my name was Tom, and she introduced herself as Ilona. I get the impression she’s quite wary of me, but she was obviously grateful that I helped her. I can’t help noticing that she’s been hurt; there’s a nasty burn on her left arm. She speaks with a Southern US accent, and she doesn’t look like she can be much older than Iaru and his friends.

We’re camping out in another box room. We’ve decided to stick together for now. I’m keeping watch at the moment. You never know when another madman will turn up. Tomorrow, we’re going to look for a way out of here together.