towering alan

Caffeine Challenge #13

Alane stares at the mildew on the cold stone and doesn’t think she’d do anything differently. That doesn’t mean she’s happy here–she’s not. She’s cold and miserable and numb, the last being the worst thing of them all. The heavy iron shackles drain all the heat from her body and it’s just like her to take the one secret Alane gave to her in trust and abuse it.

The Queen comes for her as the day breaks. Alane can tell in the way people like her know these things. There are no windows in her cell.

The guards clatter to attention as the Queen descends the stairs, abandoning half-eaten breakfasts of day old bread and cold chicken. At the Queen’s side is Lord Poole, a man Alane doesn’t think the Queen trusts.

She is, apparently, wrong.

“Go,” the Queen says to her guards. “She can do no harm as she is.” The guards, to their credit, don’t argue. They probably think the Queen can take care of herself, especially since she’s only been Queen for a few weeks. Before, she was like them, among them, a resistance fighter.

And, hey, would you look at that, Alane used to be a resistance fighter too.

“My Queen,” Lord Poole says, a hint of a whine in his words. He’s as fair as Alane, but where she carries pink under her skin, he carries yellow. Lord Poole was not a resistance fighter. “I don’t think this is advisable–”

“Go,” the Queen says. Her cool, brown eyes flick to Lord Poole. “Do not make me repeat myself.”

Lord Poole’s face sours, but he knows his Queen. He stomps back up the stairs, muttering under his breath like her majesty is deaf.

The Queen stares after the Lord for a long moment, round face harsh. Alane would once have said that she could tell what the Queen was thinking, she would have once been right, but now? Now Alane is just as in the dark as everyone else.

“You knew the consequences,” the Queen says finally. When she looks at Alane, there’s weight in her eyes, on her shoulders, in the bow of her neck. It doesn’t make things better.

“I did what you asked,” Alane says. Nothing more, she doesn’t say. They both know anyway and it hangs in the air between them. A fact. An accusation.

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Life is always surprising. I just discovered tonight that my semi pro band’s manager 1966-’67 (Bob Levine) also co-managed Jimi Hendrix in the USA in 1968. Bob got my band our first pro gig in Glen Burnie Maryland, replacing another one of his acts, Group Therapy. Bob sold us The Animals rehearsal Vox PA system. Bob also did Mickie Most’s acts fan club and merchandising business in the USA out of his Manhattan office . I recall Bob saying in an excited nervous voice, “you boys have to leave the office, Mickie Most is coming for a meeting!” Seven years later Mickie Most would be my record producer. It’s a small world!
Photos: l-r : Bob Levine, drummer Steve Angel and Jimi Hendrix, 1968. / my band managed by Bob, The Water Tower West l-r : me, Jake Hooker, Bucky Hall, Carl Peachman, 1967.

This city looks like it was built by a wizard long ago, but the foreground building has new windows and lamps above the steps down to the pier, where partiers wear black tie and evening gowns.  (Alan Howcroft, “’The Waydreland Mermaid’ – a scene from his story ‘Lady Icicle’”, White Dwarf 31, June/July 1982)