Friday, December 15, 2006

Before 1st Half Conclusion

The state of TIAH

December 15th, 2006

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Alternate Historian's Note: Stephen Payne gives us some great alternate history as we conclude the first half of our NaNoWriMo novel – the second half of the novel will begin tomorrow. We hope you are enjoying this change in format – let us know how you feel about it in comments or by emailing us. This will be the format of TIAH throughout the holiday season, unless we receive a great outcry about it. Speaking of the Holiday Season, keep in mind those who need help year-round and keep yourselves safe and happy, as well. And, should you feel generous inclinations towards our guest historians, you can visit the sites of those who have separate ones from TIAH; generosity towards us here at the Academy is always appreciated, too, and you can find ways to help us out all over the site. Right now, we'd appreciate a lead on a good day job, but my lovely Co-Historian could also use some more memory on her PC, if anyone feels generously inclined. (It's PC133-style – yes, it's an old machine). Any good wishes you have towards us can be emailed here.

in 1947, in a traditional Fulani ceremony at the Shehu Mosque in West Africa, the Sultan of Sokoto marries Princess Elizabeth of England. -entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!-

in 1993, the Downing Street Declaration is issued by Prime Minister John Major and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds, who agree that the Irish will increase their participation in the cross-border governance of north and south England. -entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!-

in 2004, President-elect John Forbes Kerry embarks on a national tour. America could "do better" in the 21st century, he says as the defeated nation seeks to climb out of the ashes of defeat in the Cold War. -entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!-

Before(1st half conclusion)
The jeep pulled up to the motel and Janice hopped out of the back and ran up to the room she had paid for. She was followed by Morris and Bradley, whom she told, “Try not to look menacing, OK?” She stuck her key in the room's lock and opened the door, calling out to Miss Raintree, “Linda? I've got a couple of soldiers with me, but they're cool, all right?” She looked around the room, but no one was in it. “Damn. Let me check the bathroom.” She ran over to the bathroom door and looked inside. “Nope.” She frowned and kicked the door. “Oh, well. I knew she'd probably run.”
Bradley asked, “Any idea where she'd go?”
“Someplace far away from Crawford,” Janice muttered, shaking her head. “Let me go check the front desk to see if she turned in her key or anything.”
They went and sat in their jeep while she talked to the clerk. It was still the same kid, and he obviously needed a break. “No, lady, nobody's turned in a key for that room.” He closed the registry and sat down on the stool behind the desk. “I saw her eating at the diner earlier, though.”
Janice perked up. “How much earlier?”
“I dunno,” he said, irritably. “Maybe an hour or two.”
“Great. Thanks.” She put her key down on the counter and walked outside to the jeep. “She was still here a couple of hours ago,” she told them. “I'm gonna go talk to the people at the diner and see if they said anything to her.”
Sergeant Morris asked, “Want us to come with you? Might loosen a few lips.”
“Yeah, but try not to get in my way, OK?” Morris hopped down from the jeep, but Bradley stayed in his seat.
“I'll just stay here and watch for her.”
Morris shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He and Janice walked over to the diner together, looking down the road for signs of Miss Raintree as they did. “I don't think Bradley's accepted the way things really are,” he said to Janice.
“Have you?”
“I started off not trustin' the government. I didn't have as far to go.”
“Yeah, he is a big boy scout, isn't he?”
“Big, rich boy scout.”
“Right. He's not married, is he?” She nudged Morris with her shoulder, and he laughed. The sergeant was very cute, Janice thought. Divorced, though, so there were obviously problems there somewhere. Still, he had a lot of the factors she liked in somebody she was on the lam with – tall, dark, handsome; and trained with a gun.
They walked into the small diner, and it looked like the walking dead had taken the place over. Janice guessed that these people had probably been there for 2 days and were not in the best of moods. Sergeant Morris was immediately surrounded by the patrons and one of them asked, “Can we leave yet?”
“That's not for me to say,” he replied.
Good, noncommittal answer, she thought. She walked over to the waitress and asked, “Have you seen a young, kinda mousey chick in the last couple of hours, name of Linda?”
The waitress took her eyes from Sergeant Morris and turned to Janice. “Brown hair, kinda quiet?”
“That's probably her.”
“Yeah. She came in, had a salad, stiffed me on the tip, then left with some guy.”
Janice's heart sunk. “Left the motel?”
“No, she went back to the motel.” She pursed her lips in disapproval. “With him.”
“Oh.” Great. Now she was somewhere unknown in the motel. She looked back at Morris, who was still trying to get the diner crowd to leave him alone. That gave her an idea. She cut through the people to his side and said, “Sorry, Sergeant Morris, we need to get back to headquarters, now.”
Morris played along. “All right, then. You people just stay calm. Everything's under control.” They walked out of the diner and back across the parking lot to the motel. “You found something out?”
“Yeah, she went back to the motel with some guy. I figure, there can't be that many people checked into the motel right now, so using you as an intimidator, we get the registry and find out how many single guys are checked in and what rooms they're in.”
“Good plan.”
“Thanks. Now, try to be intimidating, OK?”
“No prob.” His face hardened, and he narrowed his eyes menacingly.
“That's good,” she said, approvingly. They walked up to the motel's front desk and the surly clerk looked at Morris with shock all over his face. Janice leaned across the desk and said, “The sergeant here needs a look at who's checked in the last couple of days.”
“Of course, of course,” he stammered, pulling out a book and handing it over. Janice took it from his hands and flipped it open, holding it in front of Morris and scanning the pages. Just as she had hoped, there weren't that many people who'd booked rooms in the last couple of days; there were only three single men.
She noted all three of their rooms, and looked up at Morris. Pretty eyes, she thought, but said “OK, Sergeant, shall we check out these people?”
He nodded curtly, and barked at the clerk, “Thank you for your cooperation.” Just for effect, he gave a salute as he whipped around and strode from the desk.
Hurrying up to catch him, she could barely contain her laughter. “That was very good.”
“You said you wanted intimidating.”
“You sure got that down.” She led him up to the first room with a single man and knocked.
After a moment, an older man opened the door. “What is it?” He caught sight of Morris, and said, “What's happening now?”
“Nothing, sir,” the sergeant said. “We just needed to know if you've seen a young lady.”
“No, I've been here since day before yesterday. Damn terrorists.”
They left him and walked to the second room. When Janice knocked on the door, it swung open. Morris pulled his pistol out and walked slowly into the room. Janice pulled her weapon out and did likewise.
It was a grisly scene inside. There were streaks of blood across the bed and walls, and a small pool in front of the bathroom door. Morris looked back at her, was somewhat surprised by the gun in her hand, but then pointed her over to the side of the door. Once she was in position, he pushed the door open quickly and scanned the small chamber.
“I don't think she's gonna be much help to you, now,” he said, straightening up.
Miss Raintree was lying in the tub, her flesh torn open, her life gone.

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