The Soap Bubble - Episode 10. The Storm Clouds Gather

Blackness… I opened my eyes and found myself sitting in the old man’s library, sat across from him. His face was weathered and creased, but it was the brilliance of his eyes that captured me, “Two muses contacted already. Well done my brave ‘Voice’.”
There was so much I wanted to ask him, but where do I start? And why did he call me… what was it? ‘Voice’?
“It will be harder from now on, you must be faster and smarter than those that conspire against us. I will help you when and where I can, but at the moment my power across the old kingdom is still weak. As you contact the muses and apostles my strength will increase, but for now you will remain as my emissary and pass on my words.”
What did he mean forces conspiring against us? Was he talking about the Bubblettes ? No hold on he said Forces. That means more than one group. What the hell have I gotten myself into? Nobody said anything about forces earlier, if they had, I would have stayed at home and continued with my job at the Red Bubble Journal . I am sure that with a little negotiation (okay grovelling) and the purchase of a T-Shirt or Two for a couple of years that Melissa Vowell would have called her goons off. It most definitely would not have resulted in me having ‘forces conspiring against me!’ I was just about to blurt all this out to the old man when he threw a glass of ice cold water in my face! The blackness swallowed me whole…
Two of ‘The Order’ dressed in the regulation heavy black cloaks that identified them as Blackfriars hurried through the catacombs of the gallery . Something odd was happening across the Bubble^tm^. The sensors had gone off the scale first thing this morning and they had yet to settle back to normal levels. They were scared, they knew Peter would want to know what was going on but so far they could not identify the cause of the disturbance (if he thought it was a mistake on their part then…well, it didn’t bear thinking about). They had started by following the Emergency Operating Protocol (EOP), triangulation logarithms were being run, and the moderators had been placed on high alert across the entire Bubble tm. The protocol had demanded that they inform Brother Pilgrim who would advise them on the next steps to take, they just couldn’t find him. This had resulted in a level of panic previously unseen in the control room. The watch leader had nominated Brother Justin and Sister Bridget to inform Peter of the situation which was why they now stood deep within the Gallery at a solid wooden door, with a cheery sign stating ‘I am the Bus Driver, jump on board’.
They hesitated outside the door to the office, unsure of what to say or how to say it, afraid that they might not survive the consequences. Sister Bridget raised her hand to knock on the door but before she could, a voice from inside was heard “Ah Bridget . Do come in but, please, Justin if you wouldn’t mind waiting there for a moment, while Bridget briefs me on the hullabaloo that is going on.”
Justin visibly sagged with relief whilst Bridget started to shake. She stepped into his office, shadows formed where no shadows should be. In the centre of the room stood a vast obsidian desk, Peter sat at the far side, his face hidden by the folds and shadows of his heavy cowl. How did they manage to get such a huge desk into this tiny room? Thought Bridget .
“Now then Bridget if you would be so good as to start your brief, you have already taken up far too much of my time.” Peter leant on the table and made a steeple from his slender white fingers.
Bridget felt her legs turn to jelly and tongue thicken, “S- s- sir, the sensors h- have been triggered across a wide area of the Bubble, i- initial analysis have isolated the anomaly, the i- initial s- spike has since dissipated but a reciprocal spike has also been identified.” Her voice trembled and ice cold sweat ran down her back as she fought the urge to run screaming from the CEO’s office. “Sir, the EOP calls for us to inform Brother Pilgrim , but we cannot find him within the Gallery or its grounds. I took it upon myself to triangulate the reciprocal spike, it has been difficult to get a central fix because its power levels keep dissipating, we have managed to narrow down the anomaly to a sector sir but within that area we cannot localise it further.”
Peter sat there motionless, “I see, and which sector of the Bubble tm have you localised the anomaly too?” Bridget urged the meeting to be over, being in Peter’s presence was terrifying “R- R- Red Bubble Africa tm ! Sir!” she blurted, “w- what do you wish us to do now?”
Peter sat there for what seemed to Bridget to be an eternity, slowly flexing his fingers against themselves, eventually his cowl lifted and he spoke quietly “Well done Bridget , you have exceeded my expectations. Regarding Brother Pilgrim he is, ah, indisposed at the moment, running an errand of utmost importance.”
His voice remained calm and silken as he explained what he wanted Bridget to do. “For now, I want you to go back to the control room and get the Moderators in that area to be on the lookout for any unusual occurrences. You may go now, and I will be informing your line manager of your excellent eye for detail.”
“That went well”, thought Bridget , “What was I thinking? He’s not a bad boss at all. The stories must have been wrong!”
As she started to close the door she noticed the outline of 3 tall and lithe figures motionless in the shadows near where she had been standing. She hesitated as she saw a slight red glow appear in one of the figures. “THAT WILL BE ALL !”
The voice remained Peter’s but there was a dangerous and powerful edge to it, an edge that scared Bridget and made her immediately review her initial impression of her boss. His voice made her skin crawl. She hurriedly closed the door, in the corridor she took a deep breath. Justin stood there, looking at her with admiration. In his eyes she had just walked into the jaws of death and survived.
Melissa Vowell sat in her office. She had been planning a heist with Jared ‘Babyface’ Poole . That was until the unusual visitor had appeared. Appeared being the right word too. Usually the crazies were stopped by one of the boys on the door. However, this crazy in the black robes had emerged from the shadows in her office. He must know some amazing kung fu or something because she was certain he hadn’t moved and now Jared was lying on the floor in the foetal position gasping for air and gurgling. It was rare for anyone to get the jump on Babyface but this guy was something else. She sat there, unsure of her next move when the visitor spoke, “ Melissa Vowell , Leader of the Bubblettes ? Supplier of Scarlet Washing Up Liquid and planner and instigator of several major art crimes in the Bubble tm over the last month…?” The voice oozed charm yet the figure oozed power like she had never felt before.
She knew that the local Moderator Faizan had been bribed and that none of the Bubblettes Group would blab for fear of the consequences. So how the hell did this guy know what was going on?
“You’re gonna have to do better than that. There’s nothing linking me to any of those jobs. I’m just an honest businesswoman trying to make a buck.” She knew it was a long shot but she lived by the edict that fortune favours the brave.
The black figure laughed. Well, it might have been a laugh or a crypt opening, she wasn’t sure “I assure you Ms Vowell , we have all the information we need to link you to these crimes. However, if you require further proof please feel free”
A heavy manilla envelope landed on the desk… He hadn’t had that in his hand! “This is getting creepy.” thought Melissa as she gingerly picked up the folder. The contents spilled out onto her desk. They documented her and the Bubblettes every crime and misdemeanour .
Melissa knew trouble when she saw it, and this trouble was trying to out-stare her. Melissa blinked first. Part of her didn’t want anything to do with this. But her she prided herself on her power hungriness and recognised that this black robed figure had more power than she had ever seen before. Power that she wanted.
“Now, now Melissa , with great power comes great responsibility, and my order do not share their power with everybody. However, we are prepared to invite a select few into our group from time to time. If you and your organisation provide us with a little ‘support’ I may be able to arrange an opening for you.”
This interested Melissa , greed flashed in her eyes, “What do I have to do?” she asked eager for power.
“You will find a second folder for your eyes only within the larger envelope. It explains our initial requirements. When we require more from you we will send you further instructions.”
Melissa saw the thin black file on her desk under the scattered contents of the manila envelope. She opened it and read the single white sheet, her eyes widening as she went. “And if I refuse?”
“I am quite sure that you wouldn’t want to pass up the opportunity for extra power” sneered the Blackfriar , “But should you decide that the risks are too high then your further activity within The Bubble^tm^ will be terminated.”
With that the Blackfriar vanished, no smoke, no shimmer, no noise, he simply wasn’t there any more. Melissa ran through what had just happened in her head. She wanted that power, more than anything she wanted that power. With it she could rule The Bubbletm. Jared groaned and staggered to his feet. Melissa handed him the black file.
“Read that Jared, tell me what you think!”. Jared stared at the paper, turned it over and handed it back to Melissa.
“It’s blank, boss.” he stammered. Melissa laughed, ahhh, of course it was, the visitor had said it was for her eyes only! Oh boy did she want that power. “ Jared, you have 10 minutes. I want “all of our group together we have a little job to do….”


The Soap Bubble - Episode 10. The Storm Clouds Gather

Drew Walker

Joined July 2007

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