Phil Phorce: Smoke

The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing.  It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so.  To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce.  Please enjoy and critique if possible.

Quirk stood at the edge of Morgannen Cemetery, watching the smoke curl up into the sky from the crypt.  He flipped open the cell phone Percival had given him and hit the speed dial.  It went to the answering machine.

“The only reason you’re hearing this is because I don’t want to talk to you.  Please leave a message to appease your irrational need to tell me something.  Don’t delude yourself—I won’t respond to it.  Beep!”

“Hello, Mr. Tospockingtonham,” said Quirk in a deep voice.  “This is the IRS.  We’re calling to tell you that all your possessions have been repossessed.  Thank you!”

Percival picked up just before he hung up.  “Wait!”  He sounded frantic.  “Don’t do that!  Maybe we can work this out!”

“No, we can’t,” said Quirk.  “Let me give you over to Quirk.  He’s here and he wants to talk.”

“Okay,” said Percival.

“Hello, Percy,” said Quirk in a normal voice.  “I wanted to tell you that the spiting thing really isn’t working for me.”

“What do you mean?”

Quirk decided to get to the point.  “Why did you run off with the Phils and leave me drooling on the bed?”

“Oh, were you drooling?  I’m so sorry, I meant to take a picture.”

“Yes, but why?”

“Because it would be funny.”

Quirk almost shouted.  “Why did you escape without me?”

“I… didn’t,” said Percival.  “He let us go.”


“The cloaked guy from the murals or whatever.  You were the ransom they talked about in the commercial.”

“You could have at least left a note.”

“I didn’t have any note pads in colors I liked.”  Percival’s sigh rattled through the speaker.  “To tell the truth, I forgot.  I hated being in there so much, I couldn’t wait to get out.  Really, we tried to bring you along, but the shady guy wouldn’t let us.”

Quirk sighed.

“I assume you’ve escaped, though?” asked Percival.

“Yep.  Set some pretty awesome fires, too.”

“So that’s what the smoke was.”

“You saw it?”  He felt strangely pleased.

Quirk heard the sound of the speaker rubbing against Percival’s face as he nodded.

“Guess what,” said Quirk.  “I promised someone something.”

“Oh.  That’s exciting.”

“It is,” agreed Quirk.  “As Vice-Phil, you can handle it.”

“Oh.”  Percival paused.  “Who?”

“The Blanks.  They left the cloaked guy’s service at my request, in exchange for something yet to be demanded.  Have fun.”  Quirk hung up.

He smiled at the column of smoke.  “No one makes a shrine to me without my say-so,” he whispered.

The torch seller was looking at the smoke too, but he anxiously glanced at Quirk every few seconds.  When he saw Quirk pocket the phone, he walked over.  “I just remembered something,” he said.

“Oh, congratulations!” said Quirk.  “May you remember many more things in the future.”

The torch seller pointed at the column of smoke.  “You left your story in there.”

Quirk looked at the crypt, imagining the pages curling and blackening beneath the flames, losing every word Liam had written.  He bit his lip.  “You know,” he said eventually, “that dude with the glasses was right.”

The torch seller frowned.

“It was boring.”  Quirk turned away and whistled.  Gologer appeared on the horizon.  Quirk was glad Percival had sent the dragon—if nothing had happened when he whistled, he would have looked stupid.

Gologer crushed several tombstones as he landed and offered the platform on his back for Quirk to climb.  Once he was secure at the center, Quirk looked back down at the torch seller.  “Aren’t you coming?”

The torch seller shook his head.  “I’m going home to tell my stories,” he said.  “It was great to meet you.  May you outlive several more of my descendants.”

Gologer lifted his wings and took to the skies.

“This lifespan is so awkward,” Quirk muttered into the wind as they turned toward New York City.


13 thoughts on “Phil Phorce: Smoke

  1. I liked it.

    But I’m disappointed in this ending. We still don’t know much about Quirk. We have no idea who the cloaked guy is. And while he was “defeated”, where is he? Surely, he is not still underground with all that smoke. That was a very easy victory for Quirk. This isn’t a “oh-my-goodness-you-ended-it-with-a-cliffhanger” disappointment. This is I’m not satisfied with this ending. It seems like there ought to be more.
    Then again, perhaps it works with the fact that Quirk doesn’t know his whole story, either.

    Percival seemed out of character. He seems a bit “Quirk-ish” in this. I always thought of Percival as the level-headed leader who really didn’t joke or make smart-aleck remarks. And I don’t think Percival would’ve just said “Okay” to having the phone handed over to Quirk… unless Quirk works for the IRS and you have forgotten to mention that.

    “So that’s what the smoke was.”– I think there’s supposed to be a comma after “so”.
    “May you outlive several more of my descendants.”– Descendant is the wrong word. You’re implying that the torch guy has dead children. (That’s sad). I think the word you want is probably “relatives” or “kindred”.

    That’s it. I did like it. It is a good thing that Percival sent Gologer. 🙂

      1. It’s not the fact that it was a peaceful ending. I think it just ended too soon.

      2. Maybe I would have taken it better if I had realized that this was the tenth chapter and therefore, the end.

      3. Don’t worry about it. It’s partially my fault, anyway. You’d think I’d be able to keep in mind that these are approximately ten chapters each, having read all of them since February… and I should’ve realized that we were nearing the end when you were talking about typing up the outline.
        I’m going to reread the whole thing and see if it’s better knowing that’s the end (its should be). Like I said, I did like it. I read it Sunday night and loved it. But it came as a shock when I found out on Monday that it was the last chapter.

      4. Here’s how you do it: put “The End” at the end of the last chapter. It will still be a shock, but not as bad as finding out somewhere else that it was the end. What if I hadn’t seen Quirk’s Google+ post? I’d still be waiting for the next chapter to be posted this Saturday unless I found out by different means that this was the end.

  2. I like it!

    I do agree, though, with Robyn’s second and third paragraphs, regarding the ending and Percival’s character. I would have thought Percival would be more surprised to hear that Quirk was alive.

    But, having read your above conversation with Robyn, and knowing that you wanted to write a peaceful ending, I can see what you were going for.

    Other thoughts:

    I love Percival’s answering machine! And Quirk’s way of getting Percival’s attention.

    When did Percival send the dragon?

    I was actually biting my lip when I read the line “He bit his lip” when Quirk is thinking about the story burning.

    And one random notice: in the last chapter, the torch seller was called “the torch guy” and in this one he was “the torch seller.”

    And that is all. Looking forward to the next one!

    1. Percival probably sent the dragon when he heard Quirk had made the smoke. He could see it, so Gologer could use it as a beacon.

      Yes, there are a lot of inconsistencies about the torch guy’s actual name. In order to keep it short on my whiteboard, I called him the torch guy. In order to make things make sense in the story, I called him the torch seller. Sorry about that.

      I’m glad you liked it, though!

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