A Fistfull of Fontaines
A string of men walk on from central processing. Amongst them an average sized male in a black t-shirt for a local rock band and black sweatpants. A cop sits at a screen transcribing paper lists of charges onto the files, whilst another takes the mug shots of each man in turn.
The man walked in front of the camera.
“Ryan Alford! Eyes front!”
The cop casually tapped through a few criminal misdemeanours.
“Turn! Side on!”
Ryan turned for the profile shot and the officers were done with him, moving him on to the line to the cells.
The man in the black rock shirt and pants approached the camera.
“Isaac Fontaine! Eyes front!”
The man shot a final glare at the cop for thinking he could tell him what to do. As if he were making a mental note to add him to a list of those who wronged him.
He turned a dead eyed glare to the camera and held a weighty posture. Rage seemed to exude from every pore. The cop at the keyboard was working considerably harder now. Isaac could only imagine the dozens of charges he was hard at work transcribing. Assault with deadly weapon, numerous counts of resist/fight police, and the job where he’d left a witness. The hit which would send him away for decades…
“Turn! Side on!”
For a few seconds he considered his situation. The two cops in front of him. The Corrections Officers awaiting him. The officers out front working reception. How many sidearms would be involved. The time it would take him. The one-way magnetic-locked doors with key card access only. The likely time for reinforceme--
“TURN! SIDE ON!”
With only a second’s more thought he conceded. He turned and the blank expression returned.
The typing continued to clack as the photographs were completed. Minutes later his black clothes would be replaced with an orange set with white undergarments.
- - - - -
His cellmate was named Mark. He recognised him from a rival gang. Isaac had long been a member of the Jesters, and amongst gang leader Russ Williams’ strongest muscles to flex, whether for intimidation or actual hits - Mark was a two-bit street level dealer, mostly weed. If Mark wanted to survive this situation he would bend. Isaac figured a $10 weekly bonus stipend to commissary and a line on any information Mark stumbled across would be a solid agreement for Mark to stay unharmed week-to-week.
So far Isaac had been in 3 weeks and had mostly got the lay of the land - The major prison bosses in each cell block, the people who could get shit done, who you could turn your back on and who you couldn’t... - when it happened.
Isaac and Mark had been confined to cells after a small fight escalated between factions in Cell block D and COs returned inmates to their cells until the situation could be safely resolved. Mark took the opportunity to sleep in his top bunk, he was the type who could sleep through anything and everything. Which is why he didn’t notice when it tore...
The fabric of time and space. With a rip and a vibrating buzz, the portal hovered in the middle of the cell. Isaac stared. He found himself drawn to it. First intellectually and eventually physically. He took a step towards it, seeing an escape from his own predicament, and something within demanded more, pulling at his core. The portal dragged him into itself, he rode through cosmic lines, past lights of all frequencies both within and beyond the visible spectrum. He felt like he could taste something deeply green, before he found himself spat out of another portal downwards at a 45 degree angle. He fell what must have been over a dozen feet before his fall was broken by ferns.
Isaac got to his feet, rubbing the small of his back. Freedom. Sweet freedom. Of course he’d need a change of clothes if he was going to keep it that way. An orange jumpsuit was a bit of a giveaway whenever he’d have to deal with some actual people. For now though, just being out was enough.
Then he heard it. The screeching. He felt the ground shake beneath his feet, before hearing loud pounding that he could feel in his own chest. He barely had time to dive clear when the horned head burst through the undergrowth to get a mouthful of the shrubbery he was laying in.
A triceratops. An ancient creature that wouldn’t have been born more than 5 years earlier. But the colours were all wrong.
...then Isaac realized there was no reason he should believe the colours he associated with dinosaurs would be right in the first place.
Less freedom than a jail of a different kind...
* * * * *
Fine British leather on cobblestones, as the pair made haste. Another case closed just before dinner and Isaac and Dr Morris were hurrying home for an awaiting Sunday roast that Ms Stevens would had been good enough to prepare in anticipation of their timely return.
The gaslights were beginning to be lit as London’s streets began their rapid descent into darkness.
It was Fontaine who first made it to the door of his home at 112A Butcher Street, his wiry figure being much easier to carry than his companion Tony’s. He held the door open in anticipation and the panting Doctor Morris rushed up the stairs.
“Good evening, Mizz Renee. I trust we were timely enough as to not let the stuffing go cold?” Morris addressed Ms Stevens as he removed his hat and coat once he reached the interior.
“In fact, the pair of you are early, Dr Morris. I don’t know how Mr Fontaine does it, but he always seems to resolve your mysteries and have you home before the bird’s cooked. It shouldn’t be too long a wait though.”
Isaac reached the top of the stairs, removed his deerstalker hat, donning it atop the stand and produced his black clay pipe from an inner pocket, expertly layering tobacco strips before lighting it with a singularly struck match, his head cocked at a jaunty angle and puffing for it to light.
Then it happened.
With a sound very much like the tearing of paper it appeared.
“My word!” Dr Morris exclaimed.
“Ah! A most peculiar quandary, perhaps even worthy of my mettle…”
The portal hovered in the middle of the room, it seemed to offer an otherworldly buzz that would not have been out of place in a Jules Verne or H.G. Wells tale.
Dr Morris circled around the object, looking perturbed. “Do you hear that, Fontaine?”
“Indeed, Morris. It buzzes not unlike a South American wasp of the Synoeca genus…”
Then Morris stumbled, as could occasionally be his way, fell into the great Isaac Fontaine’s latest problem to solve, and the mystery’s sense of urgency heightened to fever pitch. He extinguished his pipe, donned his deerstalker hat, and quickly snatching the good doctor’s own hat and coat, he too leapt through the cosmic maw in search of the pair’s next great adventure…
The alternate end of Doctor Morris’ door appeared to come out at a 45 degree angle downwards, from some height and the pair dropped back to the firmament at such great speed that they crashed through a roof and ceiling, and landed not without some calamity on the floor of some great shop, the likes of which neither Fontaine, nor Dr Morris had ever seen before.
The pair slowly and grudgingly got to their feet. Dr Morris taking the hat and coat that Fontaine had retrieved for him.
“Wherever do you suppose we are, Isaac?”
Fontaine pointed his nose to the sky and raised a single finger.
“If I am not mistaken, and judging by the scent. I believe this is some kind of paint and/or resin store. Although the likes of one such as this, of such a magnitude I assuredly have never seen before…”
“Hey! Can we help you with anything? Or did you just plan on coming in, wrecking up the store and never buying any actual paint?!” A floor worker barked at the pair.
“Astounding, Fontaine! You’ve truly done it again! Now how do you suppose we ever wound up here, in our present predicament?”
Isaac looked around the floor, and saw numbers of paint stirrers and mixers. One display had an egg timer which would periodically turn and allow a rich, deep blue paint to empty from one chamber to the next repeatedly, dropping in a single poured thread.
“If you’re not unwilling to entertain just any notion, Morris, I have heard tell of an Indian fakir on my travels. One such man who laid claim to the entire world and the heavens beyond which comprise the universe, being just one of a myriad of existing worlds and heavens beyond even further. Held together by threads of cosmic gossimer, interweaving and creating a greater…”
Isaac drew his pipe and bit down on it as he answered.
“Mm-hmm…” He removed the pipe to speak clearer. “Or something like that…”
“Look… somebody here, I don’t care which one of you, is going to be paying for that. Look at the size of that hole!”
“Ah! That, good proprietor, would be the purview of my companion here Dr Tony Morris. With a doctorate in economics, he’s more than qualified to be the executor and manager of my financial concerns. I’m sure he’d be able to more adequately negotiate recompense than myself.”
“Certainly, I assume five or ten shillings should suffic--”
“That’s going to cost over a thousand dollars...” The paintshop manager countered.
“My word! The cheek on this man! Fontaine, I do believe he wishes to exploit our good nature--”
Suddenly a second ripping occurred and another portal appeared. It pulled Dr Tony Morris from this new world and disappeared before Isaac Fontaine had a chance to move.
“What the--?!? What happened there?! Where the Hell did he go?” The manager queried, stunned.
“Ah! Finally, a task worthy of my own unique set of skills! I shall get you an answer to this question at once! I ask for only two things.”
“And what, pray tell, would they be?”
“First, I will require that you forgive me my debt.”
“And the second..?”
“I must have my violin or one of a similar timbre! A mystery is afoot!”
* * * * *
The woods had turned dark, matching his ebony armour, and so had the knight’s mood. Sir Isaac, the Black Knight of Bristol had pursued the changeling for four days and nights. He checked the hilt of his sword, Vyracite the Blade of Truth, and the blue glow of its pommel - a shard of the Philosopher’s Stone - a glow which sensed magic, and could divine truth. The Changeling would be beyond the horizon somewhere… but he was still tracking it in the right direction. He wouldn’t catch it on this day though, so it was time to dismount and set up camp before it would be too dark to do so.
He swung his leg over his faithful steed Reeve, slowing to a trot as the pair found a suitably lush patch of grass before the knight tied a hobble into the reins, leaving Reeve to her own devices. Sir Isaac piled sticks and kindling for a fire, then drew Vyracite from its scabbard. The long length of the blade bursting into flame in the grip of its worthy chosen wielder. He used his enchanted sword to light his campfire and then re-sheathed the sword.
Reeve brayed happily, Sir Isaac walked to his horse and took bags of food and mead and his heater shield, which bore his familiar crest - a red cockerel, surrounded by wheat sheaves on a black field, with a red side and bottom. The Black Knight of Bristol planted the shield upside down into the soil to give himself something to lean on as he cooked his meat and downed the mead in the same style that earned him the gusset sanguine sinister on his shield in the first place.
Besides him his sword began to shake and whine at a high frequency, the glow of the pommelstone turned green. It had never done that before.
“Neither magical element, nor falsehood be…”
Sir Isaac got to his feet as fast as a man in a full suit of armour could, Reeve was no longer content. The Black Knight reattached his scabbard and picked up his shield. He remounted Reeve and attempted to settle her, when it happened.
Like fine linens being rended asunder, there was a tear and a hole revealing a space between places.
This may not be the Changeling that has been tormenting the townsfolk, but something that called to him deeply. He turned his mount and stared down the unknown cosmic abyss. Sir Isaac urged on faithful Reeve, and the pair galloped forth through the hovering portal into an unknowable world beyond even the finest sorcerer’s ken.
Upon the completion of Reeve’s cosmic steeplechase the pair found with horror that the portal’s other end would have knight and rider spat out at a 45 degree angle downwards, from a great height.
Reeve let out a terrified neigh. The Black Knight tried desperately to brace himself. The horse crashed through a high-density polymer roof. The metallic clatter of black armour crashing against a holo-tiled floor. The disgusting sound of horse flesh and bone tearing and breaking.
Sir Isaac looked to scramble to his feet and was stunned at what he saw. Many strange knights wearing helmets with glowing eyes, stood agasp looking down at the fallen pair. Suddenly the cell was filled with greater lighting, as if a second sun had been captured and enslaved to bring its light to bear for these very people.
“What manner of magic is this?!” He exclaimed, dropping his hand to Vyracite’s hilt.
“Whoa-- whoa-- No need to jabber off the jim-jam, ma man.” One of the glowing eye’d knights said… or something to that effect.
“It’s just Vee aRrr, man. You crushed out in an IDS Hub, tin guy.”
“Aye Dee Ess?”
“Interior Decorating Studio Hub. We wear these Vee aRrr helmets, and can change the holodeck’s appearances. Then we just pre-program the Smart Homes to take the new style template for credits, ma man.”
Sir Isaac had little use for this man’s babble. The important thing was, he didn’t seem to be any kind of direct threat. He looked across the floor to see his oldest companion, Reeve, broken and wounded beyond any repair. With a sniff, he drew his sword and prepared himself to do what was necessary to end Reeve’s suffering.
“Whoa-- what’re you doing?! Hold up! You don’t need to do that!”
The Black Knight looked over at the jabbering man, whilst holding true to his form, sword overhead prepared to end her suffering with a single solid stroke.
“Hey! Yo! Anyone got about a 3 pack of elixir?!” The jabbering man called to the other glowing knights.
One reluctantly brought forth some kind of substance in pre-packaged bottled syrettes.
“You got credits, ma man? Lookat what I’m talking. Course you don’t ken.”
The man bent down to the horse and pumped three syrettes full of the substance into the horses veins.
“This one’s on me, ma man.” He held his wrist out, bumped it with the woman who gave the substance, and then pressed some buttons until there was an audible beep and the woman seemed satisfied.
Sir Isaac looked stunned as the horse seemed to heal itself, from this remarkable equine panacea that the jabbering druid knight had given Reeve. Finally his steed’s legs reformed their proper shape and she got back to her feet as if nothing had ever happened.
“It seems I owe you a great debt, wizard. I have only my services with the blade to offer.” He drew Vyracite with a flourish and was stunned to find that the blade did not light.
He looked to the hilt and saw the pommelstone remain dull.
“What has happened?” He threw his sword down in shock.
“Whoa-- whoa-- let’s not be throwing sharp stabby around, eh, ma man. Besides, it’s quite a fine antiquity you’ve got there.” The jabbering man picked up the sword and the Black Knight noticed the pommelstone glow once more.
“I-- I’m no longer worthy!”
In a fraction of a second a portal opened up and dragged Reeve back to her own world, before anyone could utter a word or move so much as an inch.
"Well... never seen elixir do dat before. Must work different on horses, eh ma man?"
In an instant Sir Isaac became a stranger in a strange land. Stranded in this world without his faithful steed and impotent to his blade.
"I was going to take Reeve's life with such a holy blade..." Sir Isaac took back his sword, drove it into the ground and began to pray over it. "God is telling me, for this fault I must prove my worth for both!"
* * * * *
Cooktown, Terraria - This Universe
Isaac stood over the graves of strangers and wondered “What if?”
Here Lies Helen and John Fontaine
Reunited To Each Other’s Love After 17 Years
And Missed Deeply By Their Son, Isaac
Reunited To Each Other’s Love After 17 Years
And Missed Deeply By Their Son, Isaac
He began to wonder why he kept coming here. It certainly wasn’t for appearances, there was nobody around at all.
The Isaac wasn’t him, the John Fontaine wasn’t his father - and by all accounts had a very different relationship with this Isaac than he had with his own father - and not only was this Helen not “his Helen”, but he’d never known his own mother at all to even really consider himself as having a Helen at all.
Another year had passed and whilst this foreign world became less cold, it really was no more his than when he first got here. He was just making the most of an impossible situation.
He dropped flowers from a strange world on their graves and stepped back.
No room on a tombstone, and no vacant plot nearby made him feel better about things though. Even if he had as little in common with this world’s Isaac he liked he thought that his father here wanted the son to forge his own path. Find his own destination, wherever that may be.
Down the hill from their plot he could hear arguing taking place. He heard the word “coke”, and then the staccato of gunfire.
Muscles tensed, fists tightened, teeth clenched. He pulled a black balaklava from his pocket and started to run in the direction of the fire-fight.
Another year and whilst so little changes here, there’s still so much to do.
Death is static, but life... ever-changing.