23 December 2009

Snippet time!

It's almost Christmas! And there's snow! And I won NaNo 09! It was ridiculously easy this year, I did realistic fantasy and it's got to be the easiest genre on the planet. Not that I got very far with the plot. The revolution has been postponed in favour of a tea party. And garden gnomes wielding shovels (yes, the Traveling Shovel of Death has once again made an appearance).

On the minus side, I got my swine flu shot today, which could leave me flu-y tomorrow (pretty much everyone I know became ill the day after the shot, bleh). I don't want to be ill during Christmas (I've made seven gingerbread houses - someone's got to eat them!).

But as an early Xmas present, have a snippet from The Snuffing of Jeeves! Superintendent Trenchcoat and Sergeant Plimsoll are still no closer to catching the murderer (who has killed four people so far - Jeeves, a mad old lady, Julius Caesar and another butler). To make things worse, Cicero has arrived at Butterbrayne Manor and he's boring everyone to death.

Oh, yeah, I'm betting this thing is filled with French spelling and grammar errors. This is because they're not speaking French. Jean-Pierre is actually from Baystonhill, so it's a Baystonhill accent.

Kirsten, I promised to, ahum, dispose of Cicero. So here goes!

At Butterbrayne’s request, they stayed for dinner. The butlers had their own separate and quite fancy dinner in the greater of the many dining halls, but Plimsoll, Trenchcoat and the newcomer Cicero joined Butterbrayne at a private table. Cicero had to join them because the butlers wouldn’t have him. Not that anyone else would, but Butterbrayne had a slight suspicion that the guy might be from some firm writing reviews of hotels. He needed all the positive publicity he could get (not that there had been any negative publicity, despite the four murders, because Butterbrayne Manor/Hotel was proving too difficult to find for most journalists, even the ones with navigation systems in their cars. The navigation systems mostly went on strike when someone requested directions to Butterbrayne Manor, and directed them to Bournemouth instead because the weather was nicer there).
Both Butterbrayne and Trenchcoat were very silent throughout dinner. Plimsoll made several unsuccessful attempts at conversation.
‘Nice weather for the time of year,’ he said, trying to sound cheerful. Butterbrayne nodded and smiled vaguely but Trenchcoat just grunted. Cicero, wearing a very stylish and bleached set of bed sheets and for some reason leaning on the armrest of his chair rather than just sitting up like normal people do, launched into a speech about the weather.
Plimsoll wished he had kept his mouth shut.
‘Well’, said Butterbrayne, interrupting Cicero’s monologue far too late for Plimsoll’s taste. ‘What would you gentlemen like to eat?’
‘Oysters?’ suggested Cicero. ‘Dormice? Snails? Olives? Wine?’
Plimsoll pulled a face. ‘Something simple. But not Yorkshire pudding or anything of that sort. Please.’
Trenchcoat grunted again and took a sip or six from his hipflask.
‘I’ll just order something, then, shall I?’ Butterbrayne asked. He called over a waiter, one of the chef’s assistants and said something in the obscure dialect of Baystonhill.
The waiter left with a bow and returned shortly after with wine and bread rolls. Trenchcoat took a sniff of the wine and drained it in one go. He made a face and stuck to his hipflask instead. Cicero didn’t seem overexcited about the wine either.
Butterbrayne stared vaguely into space. Plimsoll gave up his attempts at conversation and devoted his time instead to trying to block Cicero’s voice out. It was impossible. He droned on and on about some republic or other while Plimsoll stared at a painting on the wall, wishing he could set fire to it just by looking so he could get the hell out of here. It was a rather nice painting though, a Renoir actually. It would be a shame to see it go up in flames, but Plimsoll privately thought it was worth it. He had been staring at it for some while (Cicero was still jabbering on about the good old days when he was in charge of the republic, Plimsoll figured he must have threatened to bore people to death if they didn’t vote for him) when he noticed smoke curling around the painting’s frame.
‘Er,’ he said, ‘there’s-’
He was unable to finish his sentence because at that moment there was an explosion and one of the windows shattered. Cicero shrieked and shouted something about rebel troops. Trenchcoat wacked him. He must have been longing to do that all evening because he grinned and wacked him again.
‘What’s happened?’ Butterbrayne roared down the corridor.
Jean-Pierre, the chef from Baystonhill, came running up. He was waving a meat cleaver. ‘La cuisine! Elle a explosé! Oh non! Et les tomates!’
‘Calm down,’ Butterbrayne said, ducking to avoid the meat cleaver. ‘Et puttez-vouz down le cleaver du meat, s’il vous plait.’
‘Ah, oui, bien sure.’ Jean-Pierre dropped the meat cleaver, narrowly missing Cicero’s toes. Both Cicero and Trenchcoat cursed, but for very different reasons.
‘What’s this all about then?’ Butterbrayne asked sternly, not bothering with the Baystonhill accent anymore. ‘Why do you have a meat cleaver when I only ordered pancakes?’
‘Ah, monsieur, ce n’est pas ma faute! Je fait les crêpes et la cuisine a explosé! Et les tomates! Ils sont sauvages!’
Butterbrayne growled. ‘Idiot. Can’t even make pancakes.’
‘Excuse me,’ said Cicero. ‘Do I hear correctly? Have the tomatoes gone wild?’
‘Oui!’ shrieked the chef. Then he ran away.
Plimsoll ran out into the corridor and was just in time to see the chef be attacked by several very vicious tomatoes. However, Jean-Pierre still had a trick (or rather a kitchen knife) up his sleeve and made a nice tomato salad on the stairs. He had just added mozzarella cheese and some fresh basil when more tomatoes arrived and he was forced to flee.
‘They’re coming this way!’ Plimsoll yelled. He ran back into the room and slammed the door behind him.
‘Bar the door!’ Butterbrayne yelled, grabbing a battle axe from the wall.
‘No, we need to get out while we still can! There are too many of them!’
‘I’ll be damned if I flee!’ Trenchcoat growled. ‘They’re just tomatoes!’
Cicero strode forward with his jaw clenched in a way that was supposed to show determined bravery. It made him look like a coward with stomach ache. ‘I shall address them,’ he said, his voice level. ‘I shall speak to them and calm them, so that the rebellious fiends will back down. They will recognise me…’ He prattled on like this for a good while.
Plimsoll caught Trenchcoat’s eye.
‘Well, if you insist,’ said Butterbrayne, opening the door. Plimsoll and Trenchcoat shoved Cicero out into the corridor. They saw him striding towards the tomatoes, his head held aloft, drawing breath to start another of his speeches, and slammed the door shut to avoid hearing it.
‘Do you think he’ll make it?’ Plimsoll whispered.
‘I hope he dies.’
They caught snatches of the speech, then there was a piercing shriek and some fierce growls. Footsteps thundered down the stairs and a moment later the front doors burst open and Cicero ran out onto the driveway. His bed sheets were flapping absurdly behind him. Then the tomatoes came. They bounced after him. Cicero looked back, just in time to see the largest of the tomatoes pounce. He was knocked to the ground and immediately set upon by the rest of the horde. The shrieking figure disappeared under a mountain of squashy tomatoes. When they drew back barely a moment later all that was left was a set of torn sheets, no longer pristine white. The tomatoes growled and proceeded to bounce across the garden, towards the pond, where they were promptly set upon and eaten by the ducks.
‘That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,’ Plimsoll muttered.
‘Correct,’ Trenchcoat said. ‘And you know what? I’m not taking it anymore.’

Ah, heck, have the next chapter as well. See if ya can recognise the Head of Negotiations :D

‘So, we’re going on strike.’
‘For how long, sir?’
‘Until this novel goes back to normal,’ Trenchcoat said.
‘Fat chance.’
Butterbrayne sat down in Cicero’s abandoned chair. ‘I know what you mean. It started off quite nicely though.’
Plimsoll nodded. ‘New job… First assignment. Catch a poacher.’
‘Even the murder wasn’t too bad,’ Trenchcoat agreed. ‘An arrogant, high-placed man is murdered. It’s all quite realistic.’
‘Even the village festival could happen in real life,’ Plimsoll said. ‘Except that the committee members were really mad.’
‘Yes,’ Butterbrayne said. ‘And then that my gardener is a chemist who makes his own weed killer? What nonsense is that!’
‘Oh, now you’re being unfair!’ said Plimsoll. ‘There are chemists in real life, you know! My sister Carol, she’s a chemist!’
‘Plimsoll, you twit, would your sister take up a job as a gardener?’
‘No, I don’t think so, sir.’
‘Then shut up.’
‘Right, sir.’
At that moment, there was a knock on the door.
‘Enter,’ said Butterbrayne.
In came a very short guy wearing bed sheets. They all groaned.
‘Not another one!’ Plimsoll reached for a bottle of whisky that was standing on the side table.
‘Another what precisely?’ the bed-sheeted fellow said haughtily. He had a rather squeaky, breaking voice. He was also covered in pimples. No older than twenty, Plimsoll guessed. He looked around for a glass, couldn’t see one, shrugged, and drank straight from the bottle. Trenchcoat gave him an approving nod.
‘Another, er,’ Butterbrayne began. ‘Another…’
‘Another guy in bed sheets,’ Trenchcoat finished the sentence for him.
The kid stared at them angrily. ‘It’s a toga. I look good in it.’
Butterbrayne wrestled the bottle from Plimsoll. Plimsoll clobbered him over the head with his napkin and took the bottle back. Trenchcoat was fortunate enough to have his hipflask.
‘What do you want, anyway?’ Butterbrayne said. ‘The hotel’s full. You might want to try somewhere else.’
‘Bournemouth perhaps,’ Plimsoll suggested hopefully.
‘I’m not here to sleep,’ the guy said. ‘I have been appointed, with two other guys of course, we work in groups of three. As I said, I have been appointed Head of Negotiations.’
‘What negotiations?’
‘It’s Negotiations actually. Capital N.’
‘Go away.’
‘Really, I’m serious. Leave this room unless you want to suffer the same fate as that chick lit author. The Caesar chap.’ Butterbrayne looked hopefully at Trenchcoat, as though expecting him to pull out a gun and chase the newcomer away.
‘Caesar was here? He was murdered here? I shall avenge his death! The traitors, the scum, the-’
‘You said something about negotiations,’ Plimsoll said quickly, deliberately forgetting the capital N.
‘Capital N!’ shouted the Head of Negotiations.
‘Right, sorry. What sort of Negotiations? Who sent you?’
‘The Author.’
A crack of thunder followed this announcement.
‘Yes, now, about the Author-’ Another crack of thunder. Plimsoll glared. ‘This novel is getting out of hand. I mean, crazy old ladies with a trebuchet? People wearing bed sheets? Vicious ducks? Poisoning by trans fatty acids? And the thunderclaps!’
‘Yes,’ said the Head of Negotiations gravely. ‘The Author had informed me that there were some, ah, difficulties with you characters.’
‘Oy, we’re not the problem, she is!’ shouted Trenchcoat.
The Head of Negotiations glanced at his notebook. ‘That is not what it says here.’
‘Well, you’re wrong then, aren’t you?’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘Yes you are.’
‘SHUT UP!’ shouted Plimsoll.
‘Stay out of this,’ growled Trenchcoat. ‘I’m making a point here!’
‘No you’re not,’ said the Head of Negotiations.
Butterbrayne acted lightning fast. He clapped a hand over Trenchcoat’s mouth.
‘No you’re not!’
‘No you’re not!’
‘No you’re not!’
Plimsoll screamed out of sheer annoyance. Butterbrayne screamed as well, but that was because Trenchcoat had bitten him in the hand.
‘You are quite evidently mad,’ said the Head of Negotiations. He consulted his notebook. ‘Yes, indeed you are. It says so right here.’
‘Look kid,’ Plimsoll said with a growl to match Trenchcoat’s. ‘We’re giving you one last chance. Sod off, or be fed to the ducks.’
‘I don’t fear the ducks,’ said the Head of Negotiations. ‘I just don’t like them watching me.’
‘Ah,’ said Butterbrayne. ‘A classic case of Anatidaephobia. There are cures for that, you know. Like leaving now.’
‘I will not leave until my task is done.’ The Head of Negotiations pulled up an armchair and sat lopsided in it just as Cicero had done. He muttered something about ‘ridiculously small couches’.
Trenchcoat and Plimsoll exchanged a glance. They were not getting rid of the kid as easily as they had hoped. And Trenchcoat had left his biggest guns at the pub. They sighed, and turned to the Head of Negotiations.
‘What do you want?’ Plimsoll said.
‘I want nothing for myself,’ said the Head. ‘But the Author has Demands.’
‘Will you stop abusing capital letters?’
‘No. I am Emperor of the World. Well, with two other guys that is. I can use as many capital letters as I want. They give a wonderful emphasizing effect, don’t you think?’
‘Ah, well, anyway.’ He leafed through his notebook. ‘The Author has three major Complaints. First of all, the plot is getting ridiculous.’
‘Agreed,’ said Trenchcoat. ‘If she’d stop sending vicious ducks and bedsheeted people at us, it’d all be fine!’
The Head coughed slightly. ‘I think you misunderstand me. The Author means that it is ridiculous that you keep on making snide comments about perfectly normal events and objects. Like the ducks, the trans fatty acid poisoning and the trebuchet. She feels you are not taking the story seriously.’
‘Ridiculous,’ muttered Plimsoll.
‘Second, she feels that she has lost control of the plot, the storyline, the characters and all events.’
‘It might help if she went easy on the drink.’
For this Trenchcoat was wacked over the head with a spare bedsheet.
‘Third, she doesn’t have enough chocolate.’
Plimsoll opened his mouth to protest.
‘Now, the Author realizes this third problem is not really your fault,’ the Head said. ‘But she would like you to do something about the first two.’
‘Well you can tell her that we’ll take the novel seriously if she stops sending trebuchets and vicious ducks and other ridiculous and plain silly story elements our way!’ Plimsoll said more bravely than he felt.
The Head of Negotiations looked at him coldly. ‘You are in no position to make demands.’
‘Aren’t we? Without us there’s no story!’
‘Yes,’ Trenchcoat added. ‘No super smart detective to catch the killer.’
‘Oh, thank you very much sir.’
‘I meant me, you idiot.’
‘Right. Sorry sir.’
The Head of Negotiations smiled evilly. ‘Oh, so there’s no story without you? Is that what you think?’
‘Well, there was one bit,’ Plimsoll admitted. ‘About that guy in York being shot, but that’s not the point. This entire case about the butlers and the old lady and the chick lit novelist dying. If we’re not there nobody will solve the case! And there’d be no thickening of the plot!’
‘Oh really?’ The Head opened the door and three men entered. ‘Meet Superintendent Jacket, Sergeant Standard and Lord Margarineheade, your replacements.’
They all stared. Superintendent Jacket was a cheerful, middle-aged man wearing a tweed suit and smoking a pipe. Sergeant Standard was a slouching, unshaven youth with pimples and spiky red hair. Lord Margarineheade was worst of all. He looked like a bird of prey, thin, balding, with a crooked nose and beady black eyes. And a horrible sneer.
‘But but…’ Plimsoll stammered. ‘You can’t replace us with them! They’re absolutely awful!’
‘Watch it, cityboy,’ spat Sergeant Standard.
‘Cityboy I may be but at least I use my brains,’ Plimsoll said, drawing himself up to his full height.
‘Oh really,’ sneered Sergeant Standard. ‘Why not use this brain of yours to find the killer then? I know who killed the butler…’
‘Now now, Sergeant Standard, be nice,’ said Superintendent Jacket, patting the sergeant on the back. Trenchcoat stared at his replacement in horror.
‘The Author is not really serious about this, is she?’ he said weakly.
‘You have ten minutes to reconsider your strike,’ the Head of Negotiations said smoothly. He removed a speck of dust from his bedsheets. ‘If, after that time, you still wish to continue it, you will be escorted off the premises by my bodyguard-’
‘I’d like to see them try, the prats,’ Trenchcoat muttered.
‘Praetorians actually. Not Praets,’ the Head said. ‘Like I said, they will escort you off the premises and these three men will take your places and bring the novel to a successful end. You will then be taken to the Character Market to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.’
Trenchcoat, Plimsoll and Butterbrayne all stared at him in horror.
‘We need to consider this,’ Trenchcoat said. He grabbed Plimsoll and Butterbrayne by the elbow and dragged them into the corner. ‘There’s four of them. We can take them out, easily. I still have a few pistols on me.’
Plimsoll shook his head violently and pointed out of the window. ‘I think it’s his Prat bodyguard, sir.’ About a hundred men stood on the smooth lawns of Butterbrayne manor. They wore bits of metal and miniskirts and had feathers on their heads, but they also carried spears and swords.
‘Ah, that complicates things,’ Trenchcoat said. He swore. Then he thought for a while. ‘We have to agree to the Author’s demands.’
‘Just like that sir?’
‘We can’t let those numbskulls take over the novel!’ Trenchcoat said. ‘The readers wouldn’t like it. And besides, I have no wish to go to the Character Market to be auctioned off.’
Plimsoll had always suspected that Trenchcoat had had an unhappy childhood, but he’d never thought about him being auctioned off as a character multiple times. It made sense though.
‘Right, sir,’ he said. ‘Lord Butterbrayne?’
Butterbrayne took one look at the incredibly creepy Lord Margarineheade, shuddered, and nodded. ‘I agree.’
The Head of Negotiations inclined his head. ‘You have made a wise choice.’ He pushed the three replacements out of the door. ‘From the next chapter you must continue as if these negotiations have never happened. Just play out the novel. If there are anymore difficulties, the Author will send me back. And then you will be replaced.’
He left, his bed sheets swishing dramatically behind him.


The Dare Thread on the NaNo Forums made me do it.

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