Aphelion Issue 274, Volume 26
July 2022
 
Editorial    
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Poetry
Features
Series
Archives
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Forum
Flash Writing Challenge
Forum
Dan's Promo Page
   

The Battle for Greystone Castle:

Beanie and the Cops

by Michael J. Flanagan


Prologue:

By 2032, rising ocean levels had left the streets of many coastal cities underwater. Dikes and levees and massive pumping systems had been installed too late to protect any land less than 10 meters above old sea level. Into these flooded streets and abandoned buildings drifted the derelicts, the homeless, and the street kids. Finding a building was easy. Keeping it was a little more difficult.

Three whistles meant the cops were coming, those inimitable purveyors of justice, paid by society to keep order in an otherwise troubled world. Beanie was up and running. He broke from his reading to Kathy and bolted for the open window, one story higher up.

"Take over, Satch. I'll be right back Kathy, I'm just checking on Tylow," he hollered as he pounded up the stairs, leaving a wide eyed Kathy in mid sentence. It wasn't that the cops wished the three of them ill. Quite the opposite was true, but doing the "right thing" wasn't always the "best thing" for someone. Kathy, who Beanie found hiding in an abandoned train station, was just getting over an abusive past and beginning to talk again, and he couldn't handle the idea of the police whisking her off to some far away and possibly abusive foster home. Satch, on the other hand, would be quietly closeted in some state run old-fogies house. Something Satch really, really didn't want. And Beanie, well Beanie had seen enough hard times by ten years old to be happy right where he was.

Sprinting across to the open window, Beanie saw Tylow standing back from the edge of his own building, frantically waving and pointing down toward the water. Beanie knew better than to poke his head out the window. He could hear the Patrol Boat idling along the flooded street. When the motor shut off, Beanie knew he had problems. He saw Tylow peek over the side and quickly back up again, pointing at Beanie with a look of alarm.

Beanie bolted. The bottom floors were not defensible, but they were mostly underwater anyway. The elevators, of course, had quit working when the power was shut off. That left the fire stairs as the only way up, but he and Satch had jammed them full of doors. One by one they had removed the office doors, stripped off the door handles, and slid them down the stairway. The only exception to this interlaced barrier of doors, on that level, was the eight inch plastic pipe that hugged the wall where the hand rail was. Along with electricity, the rising ocean also cut off the tap water and sanitary facilities. Seeing as the sanitary facilities were cut off, this particular pipe served as their only "sanitary facility "so Beanie could imagine what the police would be standing in as they surveyed the barrier. This was not good. The "droppings" as Beanie frequently referred to them, would give the police the impression that someone was actually living here. And that's what Beanie didn't want. But right now that couldn't be helped. Their other stairway had only the door barrier to stop invaders, unless you counted the overhead sprinkler pipe. The tiny glass part that lets out the water was broken off and replaced with a piece of tape attached to a string. The string, when pulled, would release what was in that sprinkler pipe. Beanie had filled it himself, and had to drink a lot of water to do it. Beanie also knew that if he soaked the police patrol, in what was in the pipe, they wouldn't give up until all three of them were apprehended. Not a good thing. The officers would never fully appreciate the humor.

Racing up two more flights and around to the elevators, Beanie had to get the doors open before the cops got close enough to hear him. After pulling out the u-bolts he and Satch had place in the bottom of the doors, he muscled three sets of them open. Peeking in, he could see the cops hadn't gotten that far yet. Back into a run, he headed for the fire stairs.

Satch said Floaters could sometimes be confronted, but cops needed to be discouraged. Everyone called the usual invaders "floaters" because they'd come floating down the flooded streets on all kinds of different things, searching for a place to set up house. Beanie's wasn't about to play host. Both types of invaders were unwanted because both, in their own way, sought to remove he and Kathy and Satch from Greystone Castle, if they could. Floaters needed to know they were there and were prepared to defend Greystone. The Police however, needed to believe there was no one home.

After an invasion by "Floaters"; that less than ideal segment of society, Beanie had meticulously removed anything that could be used to climb the inside of the elevator shafts, including some cross-members.

Hammering up two more flights he came to their "stuff" floor, where the old owners had started to dismantle the office cubicles and then just walked off leaving stuff behind. He and Satch, with help from short-stuff, had moved the cubicle partitions against the windows, throwing the floor into darkness in preparation for just this sort of occasion. Satch always thought ahead.

Cautiously prying one of the elevator doors open, just a little, Beanie again peeked into the shaft. Seeing no one there, and with no light coming into the shaft from his floor, Beanie dragged the fire hose over and started a small stream of water going into the shaft, splashing it off one of the few remaining cross beams. Then running back down one floor he grabbed the two makeshift cages and what Satch called the pigeon palette.

Pounding back up the stairs while juggling everything, he could hear one of the "officers" calling out "Is there anyone in here?" As if Beanie was going to answer. He felt like hollering back "Yeah, your momma is in here." But he didn't do that.

Quietly setting everything down, Beanie peeked into the shaft. Satch said that if the doors below were letting in light, and he was up above in the darkness, the cops couldn't see him. Beanie was staring right at the cops and they didn't even know. Satch was really smart.

"Where's all the water coming from?" asked one of the cops.

"Probably from that storm the other day. We're going to get soaked if we don't hurry and get out of this shaft." replied the other.

"You think anybody's in here?"

"Somebody piled those doors up. And that shit in the stairway didn't get there by itself. See if you can get the elevator doors open."

Beanie, with his head out just far enough to see, watched one of them try to slide the doors apart.

"They're stuck. They don't open. Probably rusted shut. I don't think there's anyone here."

"Maybe not, but we're supposed to check them out anyway. Here, use the crow bar."

Beanie watched and listened as the officer repeatedly tried to pry the doors apart. Beanie was praying the bolts would hold, but maybe it was time to discourage them a little. Pulling the pigeon palette over next to him, Beanie carefully metered out a heaping spoonful and flicked it into the shaft.

"Aww Jeez!" yelled one of the officers. "What the hell is that?"

The second officer was roaring with laughter. "It's pigeon shit! They probably nest in these buildings. He got you good, too!"

Beanie was grinning from ear to ear. Satch was a genius.

"Look at my uniform! It's all down my back! Wipe it off, will you."

"I ain't touching it." laughed the second one. "It ain't my pigeon."

"I'm soaking wet. I've got pigeon shit all down my uniform and these damn doors ain't never going to open." said the first one, having gone back to banging on the doors with the crow bar.

"Alright, alright, stop banging." said the second one, "I'll try to climb up to the open doors. If we can get in that way, maybe we can find another way out. "

Beanie slowly pulled his head back and found Kathy standing next to him. She was visibly scared, as she always was when they had invaders, but Beanie winked at her and pointed to Annabel. It was Kathy that named her Annabel, but Beanie didn't know why. He tried very hard not to pry into her past or how she came to be hiding in the train station that day. By not prying, she was slowly opening up and he was learning more about her. For one thing, he now knew she was six years old, and that was something he didn't know a few days ago.

A little nod from Kathy said she also thought it was time for Annabel. Carefully sliding the cage to the opening, Beanie peered out over the edge to accurately locate the officer as he attempted to climb up the remaining cross members. Sticking one finger in his mouth, he held the finger up as if judging the wind direction. Kathy grinned when she saw him and Beanie winked again as he dropped Annabel over the side.

Beanie was not a mathematician, but considering the height, and the rate of acceleration, he figured the giant spider was doing thirty miles an hour when it landed on that cop's shoulder. And the blood-curdling cry that resulted would have been heard in the next state.

"Get it off me!" screamed the cop, amidst the sound of him crashing back to the elevator car holding his head so far from his shoulder it looked like it wasn't even connected. Kathy had both hands clasped across her mouth trying to stifle the laughter while Beanie rolled around on the floor holding his stomach. Satch was a double genius.

"It's only a spider." laughed the first cop as he brushed it off.

"I can't help it! I hate spiders! I've always hated spiders. It's not my fault. I can't stand them. And that one jumped on me. The place is probably full of them. There might be hundreds of them up there."

Kathy was still grinning as she pointed to Horacio, but Beanie was loath to go as far as sending in Horacio. Difficult to catch and now grown fat, Horacio was their last line of defense. Their final act of discouragement.

The first cop was still laughing as he started to climb the shaft himself. Beanie poked Horacio and Horacio squeaked. The cop froze.

"That's a rat. There's rats up there! I ain't going up there if there's rats up there. You hate spiders, but I really do hate rats."

"You're afraid of a mouse? "

"That ain't no mouse. I ain't afraid of no mouse. That's a rat! There is a difference. Rats are bigger and they bite. Some of them are the size of a house cat and they got big teeth. I ain't going up there if there's rats up there. Besides, rats don't hang around where there's people. If there's rats up there then there's no people. So we don't need to go up at all."

"Oh shit. Get out of the way. I'll go up."

As the cop reached, Beanie pushed. Horacio did a double back flip in the pike position and landed right on the cops head.

Beanie never heard screaming like that before.

When the cop crashed back to the elevator car, Horacio jumped and ran. Scrambling to get away from one cop he ran right at the other. Seeing number two cop trying to shimmy up the wall on his back caused Horacio to run straight back at number one who now had his head halfway through an opening above the elevator car and was fighting to get out. When Horacio ran between his legs the cop raised up so fast he damn near knocked himself out on the concrete. All Tylow saw from his building across the street was bird shit, cops, and a swimming Horacio, all in one hell of a hurry to leave. Satch was immediately elevated to god status.

When Beanie and Kathy finally got back up to the open window, the patrol boat was only an echo in a high-rise canyon and neighbor Tylow was doing his Boogaloo victory dance. Pumping his fists and rocking his hips, this dance was better known to castle holders as the "Castle Roof Shuffle".

"We won again, short stuff," commented Beanie.

"Tylow's funny," replied Kathy.

####

The Castle Roof Shuffle
(to the tune of "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" by Jim Croce)

Well the South side of this city
Is the deepest part of town
And if you're floatin' down there
You just better beware
Of a boy named "Beanie" Brown
Now Beanie, he's a holder
He's got a Castle of his own
He's got Kathy and Satch
They're gonna teach you a lesson
If you're messin' with their home
Now, a hush fell over his building
When cops came boppin' in off their boat
But when the battle was done
The only thing that was empty
Was the Greystone Castle moat.
Yeah, It's Kathy, Satch and "Beanie" Brown
In a Greystone Castle in a flooded town
Scratching what living they can.
Fightin Floaters and avoiding the "man".
Yeah, It's Kathy, Satch and "Beanie" Brown
In a Greystone Castle in a flooded town
Scratching what living they can.
Fightin Floaters and avoiding the "man".

THE END


© 2008 Michael J. Flanagan

Bio: Michael J. Flanagan is another member of Aphelion's Down Under brigade (residing in Queensland, Oz). An earlier chapter in the ongoing defense of Greystone Castle, The Battle for Greystone Castle: Beanie and the Floaters, appeared in the May 2008 Aphelion.

E-mail: Michael J. Flanagan

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.