Beware the Ides of March
Trixie Belden lay on her back on the ground, staring up at twinkling stars above. All alone in the still of the night, she contemplated her life to that point.
Growing up on her family’s farm, on the outskirts of a small town, her life had been easy. She’d been surrounded by love, taught manners and good values, and had enjoyed simple pleasures. Even though her parents had tried to instill femininity in her by their selection of her chores – she was responsible for dusting, canning, dishwashing and babysitting, while her brothers had been tasked with the heavier farm duties – she had been a committed tomboy. She’d eschewed sewing and knitting in favor of chasing her brothers when they went camping and hunting.
She’d felt that girly stuff was boring. More than anything, she’d craved adventure.
Then had come the summer when the Wheelers had moved in next door. It was as if the magical ingredients had been added to her life. Boy, had they found adventure!
From the very first day, Trixie and Honey had made fascinating discoveries, starting with Jim Frayne. The thought of the handsome redhead, the love of her life, the man she intended to marry, diverted Trixie’s thoughts down another path altogether. Instead of continuing to reminisce about the mysteries they’d solved together and the criminals they’d caught, Trixie instead daydreamed about the feel of Jim’s lips on hers.
Her blue eyes drifted closed, and when she imagined those talented fingers dancing beneath her shirt, she nearly moaned. Shaking herself out of those memories, she forced herself to focus on something more mundane. It was imperative she remain quiet.
Focus, Belden, focus! she thought harshly.
That summer had been the start of so many adventures. But had she been satisfied? No. She’d merely craved more. Had the danger ever bothered her? No. Instead, she’d become an adrenaline junky. It hadn’t been enough to stop counterfeiters and gunrunners. Getting kidnapped over and over again hadn’t put her off. No, she’d wanted to make a career of it.
Had enough adventure yet, genius? Trixie asked herself in disgust.
She stared up at the sky, attempting to gauge the passage of time. How long had she been lying there, the cold seeping into her bones? Focusing her attention on the situation, she listened to every sound around her. Using skills Jim had taught her long ago, she sorted them into birds, insects, rustling leaves, and the pitter-patter of the creatures of the night. Thankfully, there were no sounds of the human variety.
Her thoughts began to wander again, and she contemplated the bizarre chain of events that had led her to this place and time.
Beware the Ides of March.
Trixie remembered the first time she’d ever heard that expression. Her sophomore year of high school she’d been forced to suffer through a study of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It had been agonizing. The teacher tried to interest the students, but it hadn’t worked. About the only things she’d come away from that class with were the Ides quote, and the line “Et tu, Brute?”
Every year in high school, she’d had to study one of Shakespeare’s plays. Freshman year it had been Romeo and Juliet, sophomore year Julius Caesar, junior year had been Macbeth, and finally Hamlet for senior year. And she’d hated them all. Even her trip to England, to Stratford-Upon-Avon itself, hadn’t made those classes more palatable.
When she’d gone to college, she’d harbored the illusion that she would no longer have to study subjects that didn’t interest her. She was quickly stripped of that silly notion when she was presented with the standard schedule for core courses. She didn’t even get to study her own major until her fourth semester. And the first course through which she’d have to suffer would be English 101.
Oh, how she’d dreaded that class! But by the end of the first week, she’d become completely enamored. The professor had started with a review of several short stories. He’d told the students that he was sure they’d all studied at least one of the selections in high school, but they’d probably not done them all before. Trixie had groaned at the thought of re-studying a piece of literature. But Dr. Paull had made it seem new and exciting. And when he’d gotten to Shakespeare, she’d fallen in love.
Dr. Paull had injected every word with enthusiasm. He’d brought to light the incredible wisdom hidden in Shakespeare’s verses. With a well-trained voice, he spoke the words of the plays in a cadence that turned the rhymes into actual conversations. Trixie had become utterly fascinated. She’d been thrilled to be in Dr. Paull’s class again for English 102. By the end of the year, she’d been so enthralled that she registered to take his Shakespeare Seminar in the fall.
By then, she was hooked forever. She read Shakespeare for pleasure. She voluntarily went to see the plays performed onstage. She even talked Honey into visiting her cousins in England again, so that Trixie could view Stratford with new eyes. During her first visit, she’d enjoyed the plays she’d seen in the Bard’s hometown because of the novelty, the encounter with history. The second time around, she had been worse than kid with a crush. But Honey’s cousin, Gregory Hart, had been delighted with her new enthusiasm. He’d spent the entire week discussing the Bard and his work with her.
Trixie had become so obsessed with Shakespeare that she’d used him as a source for several essays in other classes, including Military History. Her NROTC instructor had been impressed. She’d even started studying Star Trek when she’d realized the extent of the Shakespearean overtones throughout the many series and movies.
Thinking of the Trekkie in her, she nearly laughed out loud. She caught herself with a start and again ordered herself to focus.
Beware the Ides of March. Beware!
Turning her head, Trixie focused on a point to the east of her position. If salvation were to come, it would come from that direction. Not if, she reminded herself. When.
Forcing back a shiver, she had to remind herself that she had entered this situation with a team of Navy Seals. Someone would come for her, because Seals never leave a man behind. They’d find her. Or they’ll retrieve my rotting corpse.
Needing to shake off such negative thoughts, she instead focused on Jim. She’d been in love with him since the moment she met him. At first, it had been a childish crush. Over time, as they’d become best friends and both had matured, her feelings for him had only deepened. She’d realized she was in love with him long before he’d identified his own feelings for her. It had been easy to cope with unrequited love from a distance. She’d been away at college, then out having professional adventures.
Then one year she’d gone home for Christmas. Jim had finally realized that he loved her. From the first kiss, she’d known they would be together forever. And in less than 48 hours, he’d proposed to her. They’d spent three glorious weeks together before she’d had to report back to duty. Since then, the only time she’d gotten to see him had been the brief few days she’d been able to get home for her brother’s wedding to Jim’s sister.
Her thoughts were once again derailed, this time by the crack of a twig to her left. Holding her breath, she struggled to identify the source of the sound. She found she was having trouble focusing. The cold and loss of blood were starting to dull her senses.
Earlier in her journey, she’d had the opportunity to observe a Kobayashi bat flying low at dusk. Before her injury, she’d watched a leopard chase a red deer. Not wanting to see any more leopards, she was relieved to identify the current sound as an Ussuri shrew. If she'd had Jim’s appreciation for rare species in the wild, the sighting might have excited her. Instead, she merely felt gratitude that it was a relatively innocuous creature.
Beware the Ides of March.
Her thoughts returned to how she'd gotten herself into this mess. When she'd first seen this code phrase associated with this mission, she’d been optimistic. How could Shakespeare ruin her? And the mission had started out fairly well. But then everything had gone to hell in a hand basket.
Had enough adventure yet, Belden?
Suddenly, an image of small town cops sitting in a donut shop flashed in her mind. She’d always thought it must be so boring to be a cop in a dinky little town like Sleepyside-on-Hudson. At this moment, however, it sounded like a little slice of heaven. If she got out of this mess, she might chuck it all, go home, and beg Molinson for a job.
Not if. When. Not if. When. Not if. When.
She kept the mantra going in her head. She had to keep positive, because she had to get out of here. She had to. There was no way in hell she’d let Jim lose her, too. She’d promised him. She had sworn to him that she would never get herself killed, that she’d never hurt him like that, that she’d do whatever it took to come home to him.
Training her eyes on the ridge to the east from whence she expected to be rescued, she strained to see anything. Anything at all. She was seeking stealth operatives, dressed in head-to-toe black, in the dark. Just when she thought she might have seen a movement in the shadows, she heard the distinct cock of a gun in the opposite direction. Dread filling her belly, she slowly turned to face the danger.
Trixie Belden found herself staring down the barrel of a gun being held by a distinctly North Korean officer. The stress of the long night and her injuries had weakened her, and this sight pushed her over the edge. She welcomed the unconsciousness that swept over her.
Beware the Ides of March, indeed.
Last year, I chose to post my Jixanny contribution on March 15th, just because I like the connection between the date and Shakespeare. This year, I had nothing prepared for the anniversary at all. When I realized it was the day before the Ides, I panicked. And then I became inspired by a story comment from way back when I posted Love and Joy Come to You. Someone (*cough* Dana *cough*) said they hoped I was starting a new uni.
It's short, it's not sweet, and yes, I've left it in a terrible place. But it's perfect for the Ides of March, and it's a contribution to the JiXanny.
I couldn't imagine not participating in the celebration of ten years of the greatest place on the web!
I offer the following thanks: To CathyP, for Jix itself. To AprilW, for your friendship, and for being the inspiration for Love and Joy. And to Dana, for wanting Trixie to have more adventures in the Navy.
Lastly, my apologies for any typos or grammatical errors. It was a last minute idea, and there was no time for editing.