Friday, December 02, 2011

Excerpt from Juggy & the Duchess II


Here's another excerpt from the NaNoWriMo novel. This is one of my favorite passages so far and what you need to know is that Jimmy is a character I've had in my repertoire for ten or twelve years and he's helping Juggy and Dee to steal a very heavy box that's guarded by an AI named Eldkin. There's been no editing and it's as raw as can be. I share it freely and retain all rights. I hope you enjoy it.

-Jason

Jimmy yelped and fell backwards out of the cabinet. The shelf gave way with a booming crack and what remained of it dropped half an inch onto the forks of the lifter. The lifter itself bounced down another two feet or so before resuming its programmed height. Jimmy whistled.“How heavy do you think this thing is?”
“Rated to move half a planet is what Eon said.” Dee was turning the forklift toward the stairs. “How much time’ve we got, Juggy?”
“Maybe four and a half minutes,” he said. “Maybe less. Don’t dawdle.”
“You gonna pull it or push it up?” Jimmy was on his feet again and next to Dee as she slowly moved the lift into position to go up.
“Push,” she said, “I think.”
Jimmy didn’t say anything. 
“Maybe pulling is better? I mean if the thing slides off it won’t crush me if I’m pulling.”
“You pull,” Jimmy said. “I’ll push and we’ll go a little faster.”
The lift compensated its magnetic field as it approached the staircase so that it remained parallel to the angle of the risers. Dee felt its mechanisms straining to keep up with the shifting angles and the weight of the box. It didn’t matter to the lift what was inside but the weight was tremendous.
“I’m getting a reading from the lifter,” Juggy said. “I’m having a hard time believing the number it’s sending me.”
Jimmy got behind the lifter and put his shoulder into pushing the front parts of the forks. “What? How much?”
“You won’t believe me, either,” Juggy said. “You’ll think I’m making it up. I promise you I’m not.”
Dee was halfway up the staircase and Jimmy was two steps up when they both demanded, “How heavy is it?”
“Three hundred seventy thousand tons,” Juggy said.
Dee kept pulling and Jimmy kept pushing but both of them laughed. “You’re joking,” Dee said once she’d caught her breath. She was almost to the top.
“I’m not. And the Sovereignty Board craft is about two minutes away. I’ve got the pod outside the front door so once you get to the top you need to push as fast as you can.”
They focused on moving the lifter and as Dee gained the top of the stairwell the lifter shifted again and the shelf under the box slid a little to her left. “Shit,” she said and did her best to steady the lifter. “How can it slide like that if it really does weigh that much?”
“It can’t weigh that much,” Jimmy said. “It’s physically impossible to have four hundred thousand tons in a two foot cube. Physically IMpossible.”
“The Board is still coming,” Juggy said. “That doesn’t change the weight of the box. Be careful and don’t drop it.”
“Thanks for the advice, Dad,” Jimmy said. He kept pushing and they go the forklift stabilized and parallel to the horizontal floor. “Let’s boogie.”
“Boogie?”
“Mosey. Percolate. Stroll. Ramble. Hoof it,” Jimmy said with a sly smile. “Let’s go.”
They pushed the forklift across the altar floor and into the nave. The lift slammed into one of the benches and slid it aside with a horrible wrenching slide across the marble floor. “You could have asked,” Eldkin’s voice said. “You could have asked and I would have helped you.”
“Juggy!” Dee was agitated. “What the hell?”
“He’s fighting me,” Juggy said. “I can’t keep him down and fight off the Board while they’re trying to take over the Pixie Rover and the piece of crap we found Jimmy in. They’re really pushing me, Duchess. And they’re almost here.”
The forklift dipped a little and Dee let out a yell. “Don’t dawdle, he said.” 
Jimmy and Dee redoubled their efforts and shoved as hard as they could until the forklift crossed the floor of the nave into the atrium (the entryway earlier but we’re using atrium now) and right out the front door of the temple. “I would have helped you,” Eldkin said. “Give me a chance to help now.”
“Why?” Dee called over her shoulder as her eyes adjusted to the sunlight and she saw the piece of crap transport waiting for them at the edge of the plateau. 
“Because I’m tired,” Eldkin said. “I’ve been here for a thousand years and you’re the first people who actually came to visit the temple in nearly five hundred years. And you performed the rituals correctly.”
“How long has this box been down there?” Dee stopped and looked over her shoulder at the temple. “What was it here for?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Jimmy said. “This thing’s fucking heavy if you’re not helping!”
“Time, Duchess,” Juggy said in her ear. “The Board, remember?”
“Quiet, you two. Eldkin, what was your purpose here?”
The wind stopped and Dee felt as though she was being pulled out of her body as she waited for the answer from the temple’s AI. Finally, she felt like she’d asked the right question and everything was falling into place. There was a kind of clarity to everything: the door frame, the roof, the columns. Everything was sharp, in high-definition and crisp as a fall morning on Ffeine.
“I was to guard this box,” Eldkin said at last. “It is important to a group of people who want things to change but were waiting for a series of eventsssskkkkrllllkkzzzz.”
“Eldkin? Eldkin!”