Monday, September 22, 2008

045: Menace of the Manakeet

Should he eat before he leaves?
Yes - 5 votes
No - 1 vote
Charleston entered the waffle house, the sweet aroma of his favorite food wafting through the air. How long had it been since he had delicious waffles? Drenched in syrup, covered in butter, the occasional berry bringing itself to the forefront of his taste buds to let him know that yes, despite all of life's ups and downs, there would always eventually be waffles. Nearly lifted off his feet by the heavenly smell of fresh waffles and real maple syrup, he sat down at a counter and ordered the waffle house's signature Waffle Family Buffet: his choice of any four varieties of waffles, brought to him as he finished each four-waffle portion, and an amount of toppings bordering on the obscene.
How should Charleston get to Detroit?
Plane - 0 votes
Train - 4 votes
Automobile - 1 vote
Bus - 1 vote
Several hours later, Charleston emerged from the Waffle Family Buffet, filled with waffle-y goodness and slightly sticky. Now, he had to turn his mind to other matters. Namely, how to get to Detroit? As far as he knew, the planes were still delayed. Besides, he was reasonably certain one of the security guards had seen him. He could always use his money to rent a car, or even buy a car, but there was the slight snag that Charleston had never gotten his driver's license. While this was usually not a problem, as he was a careful if somewhat nervous driver, he thought that a man who had so recently been arrested and tried in the Supreme Court should not be driving without a license. He could also take a bus, but he had heard stories from Edolie and Player One about the sort of crazy people who drive those buses. He was sure it was an isolated incident, but he really didn't want to take any chances. That left the train. Charleston marched through the streets of town, right to a traffic cop, and only paused a moment when he heard him holler stop. A moment was all the traffic cop needed, and he tackled Charleston before he was hit by a semi-truck.

"Are you mad?" said the traffic cop, helping Charleston up, "You have to pay attention. This is a serious city, and I am a serious cop."

"All right," said the mildly-confused Charleston, going to brush some dirt off his hobo-clothes and deciding the effort would be futile. He continued through the streets of town, paying close attention to traffic signals and on-coming traffic. As he got closer to the train station, he toyed with the idea of resuming his march, but decided against it. They may think he was some sort of terrorist. He walked up to the ticket booth, only to be greeted with a door being slammed in his face. A smaller door opened in the center of the larger door, and a long nose poked out. It was shaking with either anger or fear, and really looked quite comical.

"What do you think you're doing, hobo?" said the nose.

Charleston began to think that, perhaps, he should have bought new clothes. He would keep a note of it in his... he had no notebook, or little tape recorder. They had been taken from him. He was hit with a wave of remorse, a biting sense of longing for his former life. Things had not been simple then, of course, but he did not want simplicity. If he did, he would remain a hobo. No, he wanted problems to solve. Adventures to choose. A little tape recorder he could say things into. A fedora-like hat, like the one which had just been stolen off his head by some punk kid while Charleston was thinking of how good things used to be. Well, he would get them in Detroit, and by hook or by crook, he would get there. No nose was going to stand in his way! He turned to face his nasal nemesis, and was taken slightly aback by the nose's disappearance. He tapped lightly on the tiny door, and the nose once again poked out.

"Why did you do that?" asked Charleston, hurt.

"I don't got time to stand around while you daydream. Now, what do you think you're doing, hobo?"

"I'm no hobo. I'm a man who's down on his luck and freshly innocent, filled to my non-existent gills with waffle-y goodness. I, sir, am a paying customer who wishes to purchase a ticket to Detroit!" A little old lady applauded him politely.

"You look like a hobo, and everyone knows hobos don't ride in with all the non-hobos. The whole system would break down if we let you do that."

"I'm paying for a ticket, you aural antagonist!"

"Aural's ears, dim-bulb, and I don't care if you're buying the whole damn train, as long as you look like that you ain't riding with the decent folk! Good day!" The tiny door slammed, leaving Charleston brimming with rage and feeling wounded. He hoped the nose suffered heavily this allergy season, and he stomped off to try and think of what to do.

What did hobos do? Why, they rode the rails, of course. Except as far as Charleston was aware, they never really had a destination in mind. Then again, he knew very little about the traditions of hobos. No doubt he would have eventually learned them, but now he was merely a transitory hobo/non-hobo hybrid. What he did know was how to break into a train station and find out when the next train to Detroit was coming. He did so, Charleston stood by the tracks and waited for his train. In the wee hours of the night, it came, and he leapt onto it. Holding himself up with one hand, he opened the door of what he hoped was a nice, dry car and swung himself in.

He was not alone.

Motley Shakespeare had set up a desk in the car, with a candle burning in an old tin can. He was writing on a piece of old washed-out newspaper with a pigeon's feather as a quill. He looked up from his writings.

"Who, pray tell, are you?" said Motley Shakespeare.

Charleston wondered what he would do in the presence of the actual Shakespeare, and applied this knowledge to his current situation: "Charleston Charge, at your service."

"Oh, what foolish youth, to think that one such as him could provide a service to one such as I. What laughter is to be had. A-ha. Ah, but perhaps he can be of some assistance, at that. A man comes, he who guards the train, and it is beyond the prowess of even my words to stop him from creating trouble for me. Perhaps if this Charleston Charge could use his strength where my wits have proved lacking, then he may ride this train to his destination with my blessing."

"I guess I could do that."

"You bring me great cheer. Go wait atop by mobile domicile, for he arrives shortly."

With a shrug, Charleston climbed on top of the car. A few cars down, silhouetted in the moonlight, he saw a man checking the cars and prepared himself. Nothing could prepare himself for when the man looked directly at him, and charged bellowing a bird-like squawk. As the man drew closer, Charleston saw that he was no man at all, but rather a man/parakeet hybrid with a face full of feathers and a beak, and wings for arms. His feet were bare, and taloned. So perplexed was Charleston that he barely had a chance to dodge the man-parakeet, this manakeet.

The manakeet chortled at the moon, turned to face Charleston, and began warily circling him. Charleston poked his head back into Motley Shakespeare's car.

"You didn't tell me he was some sort of man-bird!" shouted Charleston.

Motley Shakespeare shrugged, "Having known no other guards, I simply assumed all of them had his characteristics. I shall take care in the future not to make such rash assumptions."

Charleston quickly pulled his head out of the hole as the man-bird pecked. The wind made Charleston's coat flutter and he struck a pose. The manakeet got into a defensive position and chortled. Knowing absolutely nothing about this manakeet save the fact that he had somehow been employed as a guard, Charleston decided to trust his instincts. They told him to hit it. As the manakeet crouched down, Charleston kicked it in the face with his bionic leg and it flipped itself into the air. It flapped its wing-arms madly, and other than slowing its descent, nothing happened.

Charleston loved his coat. It had been with him through thick and thin, and while it was showing its age now, it was still a very good coat. He may have lost his hat, his tape recorder, and all sorts of dignity, but he still had his coat. However, if he wanted to get to Detroit and possibly get a new coat, sacrifices had to be made. After all, it wasn't like he could sacrifice his hat. He pulled off his coat and sprang at the manakeet, who leapt backwards. Reflexively, it went at him with its talons raised, but Charleston was too quick and too lucky for it. He grabbed its ankle and threw his coat over the creature's head, and while it struggled madly against its make-shift trap, Charleston wrapped his arms around it and walked to the edge of the car. In one swift movement, he launched the manakeet off the train. It flapped its wings madly and landed safely, but a bit dazed, and Charleston watched it disappear into the distance. He fired off a quick salute, and went back to Motley Shakespeare.

"Is he dealt with?" asked Motley Shakespeare.

"I threw him off the train."

"Well done."

Motley Shakespeare continued writing, occasionally dipping his quill in an inkpot. It was the only thing in the boxcar that was new.

"How long until we get to Detroit?" he asked, lying down in the hay.

"Less than a fortnight, more than a night."


It took three days to get to Detroit, most of which Charleston spent wishing that Motley Shakespeare was much less haughty. He had no idea what Motley Shakespeare thought of him, but a quick look at one of Motley Shakespeare's manuscripts hinted at a character of great strength but little intelligence that guarded a genius playwright. When they reached Detroit, Charleston simply left the boxcar without a word to or from Motley Shakespeare.

The first thing he had to do was set up a base of operations from which he could re-equip himself and ponder his next action. Ah, and shower several times. Life as a hobo was a dirty one. He found his base in a moderately nice hotel which asked no questions when he paid in cash. He had them bring up a new outfit to his room, as well as some other necessities. As he emerged from his seventh shower, there was a knock on the door and the bellboy dropped off some fresh laundry and a package. Charleston tipped him, and laid the clothes out on the bed. Other than the undergarments and shirt, everything was tan. He put his new especially long coat and fedora-like hat in the closet, just for a little while, and put on the rest of the clothes. The shoes were a sort of hard-wearing dress shoe, almost a boot. The tie had red stripes with dark green spots on it, and it made Charleston's eyes water if he looked at it for too long.

Charleston stared at the closet, and stepped towards it, each step a step towards destiny. He reached in and pulled out his especially long coat, relishing the act of putting it on. Then, with breath held, he reached up and pulled out the fedora-like hat. With a certain amount of reverence he placed it on his head. Only one thing was missing, but he had not yet opened the package. He did this quickly, and pulled out an MP3 player.

This was not what he wanted. Who the heck gave him an MP3 player when all he wanted was a tape recorder? He angrily cycled through its options, and came upon once called "voice". Cautiously, he selected it, and it brought up a menu, one of which was "record voice". He selected it, and brought the MP3 player up to his mouth.

"Hello hello hello, this is Charleston Charge," he said. He stopped the MP3 player, and selected the recording. He could hear nothing, and then realized he should put the tiny headphones into the MP3 player. He did so, and tried listening again. This time, he heard his own voice playing back to him. He nodded, and put the MP3 player in his coat's interior pocket. Watch out world, Charleston Charge was on the case!

Er... the only question was what that case was. Despite all his downtime, he was still no further along with deciding which path he wanted to go down. Once again, he pondered his options. He decided that being a super-hero was sort of like being a private investigator, and so he rolled those two options into one. So he had three options: trying to join CAST, trying to become a Paci Custodis, or trying to become a superhero. Each one was fraught with excitement and danger, and this suited Charleston just fine.
Which path should Charleston take?
-Paci Custodis (Supernatural hunting)
-CAST (Espionage)

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