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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:11 am 
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“Here’s good.”

The driver looked over at him and arched a bushy eyebrow. “Ya sure, man? I mean, I been to that diner and the food’s good, but there ain’t nothing else around here for miles ‘cept the fuel station.”

“Here’s good.” Jason Gideon repeated, fishing in his pocket. “Here.” He handed him a few bills. “For the gas.”

“Aw, man, don’t be like that.” The man protested, trying to push the money away. “Just a friendly lift,that’s all. Sides, I like you.”

“Take it as a gift, then,” insisted Gideon with a gentle smile. “It’s always a pleasure to meet new people.”

With a final shake of his head, the man took the bills. “You take care, man.”

“You too.” Gideon replied, pushing open the truck door. Grabbing hold of his satchel, he jumped out of the truck and onto the dusty pavement of the diner’s parking lot. As the truck drove away, he looked about with a sigh and nodded.

Nothing. For miles. Clear, barren, desert, marked with sagebrush and the occasional mountain jutting up against the horizon. And, of course, the diner and the fuel station just in front of him. There were a few cars in the parking lot, but they looked dusty and well-traveled… either travelers on their way elsewhere, or ranchers for who this desolate eatery was the nearest thing to a restaurant.

The door to the diner jingled merrily as he pushed it open, and a fat woman with a frowzy hairdo looked up as he entered. “Afternoon, mister!” she called cheerily. “What can I do ya for?”

“Burger, fries, and a coffee, please,” answered Gideon, taking a seat at the counter. He tried not to notice how the woman’s smile didn’t quite reach her eyes, how the wrinkles indicated how usual this was, how she clutched the rag fiercely with her left hand, and how her shoulders slumped so slightly as she turned to the stove.

He tried, but the observation was too deeply ingrained. It wasn’t analytical, like Reid’s, but after so many years, it was instinctive. He couldn’t help realizing the hollowness of the woman’s manner.

“Here ya are, hun.” The woman plunked a plate down in front of him, filled with a greasy burger and a pile of thick fries. Setting a mug beside it, she poured out some steaming black coffee. “Anything ya want with that?”

“Some ketchup, please.”

“You got it.” A bottle (A glass one, Gideon noted with approval) slid over on the smooth counter. “And for the coffee?”

“Oh, I take it black,” answered Gideon with a chuckle, already raising the mug to his lips.

“Whatever floats your boat,” said the hostess, leaning across the counter. “So. Where you headed?”

Still trying to repress his inner profiler (half-lidded eye, energetic manner of wiping the counter, tension—all implies lack of real interest), Gideon shrugged and offered the same answer as always. “Not sure.”

But he got a slightly different reply this time. The woman looked at him and arched an eyebrow. “Oh… so you’re one of THEM.”

Gideon looked at her, uncomprehending. But she just pushed off the counter and walked off, shaking her head.

For a while Gideon sat, eating, puzzling over the hostess’ strange response. There was no trace of irony or scorn to what she’d said. Her manner indicated familiarity, even boredom, with Gideon’s predicament. And perhaps just a touch of arrogance, too… like someone who knows more than another, and knows it.

Gideon had been eating and puzzling for all of five minutes when a scrawny, wrinkled man sat on the stool next to him. He was tan and lanky, with bristly grey hair cropped short, wearing a flannel shirt and baseball cap. “Hey.” He said, by way of greeting.

“Hello.” Gideon greeted the man. Polite, knowing smile. Predatory gleam. Arrogant air. Man knows something I don’t and wants something I have. Money, probably.

The man stuck out his hand. “John Travis.”

Gideon shook it. “Jason Gideon.”

“Pleasure,” nodded the man. “Hope you don’t mind me eavesdropping, but I happened to hear what you said to Maisie back there—about where you’re going.” He squinted and grinned. “For a few dollars, I can take you there.”

Jason tilted his head. “If you really heard me, you know that I don’t really have a destination.”

Shaking his head like someone who has heard it all before, Travis grinned again. “Lemme put it this way. You headin’ west?”

“I’m not…” but now that he thought about it, west did seem like a good direction. That strange cloud plume was off in the west. “I… suppose so.”

“Then how about I take you west, and when I drop you off, you can decide what to pay me.”

It was a strange deal, but Gideon could sense no deceit or subterfuge in the man’s demeanour. “Alright.” He nodded.

-------------------------

“One hunrred dollars,” said Travis.

“Here you go,” said Gideon, handing him his wallet without even turning around. His thoughts were flying. That ranch, that volcano, that… For some reason he felt he needed to be here. The melancholia that had driven him from place to place had lifted and for some reason, the world about him seemed to lift his spirits to something new. A sense, almost, of adventure.

“Oooh, thank you sir, very generous.” Travis said, thumbing through the wallet. “Got anything I should say to any family or friends what comes looking for ya?”

“What?” Gideon did turn at this remark. “Oh, no, nothing special, no family, friends aren’t… don’t worry about it.” He said. Something on the dashboard caught his eye. “What’s that camera for?”

John Travis grunted as he started up the truck. “It’s so, when the Missing Persons bureau comes looking for ya, I can prove you was alive and well when I left ya.”

“What?”

But Travis just shook his head and drove away, and Gideon was left in the bare desert, with a gravel road behind him and a small, extinct volcano just before him. The only things that could be seen were a wire fence around the volcano, a dusty old highway sign leaning up against the fence, and just at the foot of the volcano, an old white trailer home.

With an almost childlike sense of excitement, such as he had not felt in years, Gideon climbed over the fence and started walking toward the trailer. About halfway there he started running. Now he could see, beside the trailer, an odd sort of windmill and a dark crack in the ground, like a cleft of some sort.

Breathing a little hard, he came up short beside the trailer. A short, heavyset man in a hawaian t-shirt looked up at him and nodded amicably.

“Hey,” said the man. “Welcome. So, uh… I’m… Zandi. I probably know more about why you’re here than you do…”
--------------------

A/N: I wondered about what TV characters might have a reason to disappear into D'ni. And then I remembered Jason Gideon, the world-weary Analyst from Criminal Minds who disappeared to go on a road trip to an uncertain destination.

I also like thinking about the more practical parts of the Uruverse. What do the locals think of the strange patch of desert that travelers keep heading to and disappearing? Actually, I could probably do a fuller story where the rest of the BAU decides that clearly there's a serial killer running around making all these people vanish.


Last edited by Afalstein on Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 7:34 am 
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Great little short Afalstein! Criminal Minds is one of my favorite shows, so this was a nice little treat.

Afalstein wrote:
I also like thinking about the more practical parts of the Uruverse. What do the locals think of the strange patch of desert that travelers keep heading to and disappearing?


I've never really considered what the locals think of us disappearing into the desert. Mainly because, well we don't really disappear. I mean, we have Cleft linking books and can actually get back any time we want, and I think most do when they leave the game. Back to their lives outside of D'ni. I'm curious about what the locals think of so many just going off into the desert, all to the same spot. I imagine some strange local legends have popped up over the years about Zandi's property. Maybe they think it's just another UFO hotspot, or government run facility were all going too.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 1:25 pm 
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Wonderful writing, Afalstein! I was hooked right from the start. Although I'm a fan of Criminal Minds, I would have found it interesting even without one of the characters from it. I look forward to reading more of your work. :D

A bit of advice when posting here: preview your work closely. This forum has a heavy-handed censor and will replace words you wouldn't expect to be censored with the word "expletive."
Afalstein wrote:
Jason expletive his head.
I can guess what word you used here, but maybe "tilted" would work just as well. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:02 pm 
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That I think is one of the major plot holes: apparently the Riven telescope and skeleton didn’t attract any attention in military aerial surveys, not even during the Cold War. And still no attention after the DRC went public. It would seem that Linking Books are a rather valuable strategic asset, especially if the Art itself was decoded.
Also, with the Relto book it’s easy to get into the Cavern, but then either there’s a hidden Book in Relto back to home or we all have to take the long trip. Not that funny, if you come from another continent :D

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 4:29 pm 
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So glad you all like it! I might continue with the rest of the BAU team, this idea is more interesting than I expected.

Tai'lahr wrote:

A bit of advice when posting here: preview your work closely. This forum has a heavy-handed censor and will replace words you wouldn't expect to be censored with the word "expletive."


...huh. Would not have expected that. Okay, thanks for the heads up.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 5:39 pm 
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Great writing! I was immediately pulled into the story. I look forward to the next installment.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2014 8:52 pm 
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korovev wrote:
That I think is one of the major plot holes: apparently the Riven telescope and skeleton didn’t attract any attention in military aerial surveys, not even during the Cold War.

They'd been there for 150 years, though.

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