Saturday, May 21, 2011

even now there is hope

           When I finally get inside, I'm hugged by a gothy Polaris missile in a black lace-edged dress who asks me what the fuck took me so long and hits me in the shoulder.
            "I got sidetracked. You know how hard to find some of our friends are?"
            "Not as hard as you always make it out to be, you fucking baby. God, I know how to look for them and I can't even bring myself to give a shit."
            I smirk. "That's only two. You losing touch, Naoms?"
            She hits me again. "Stop being such a smartass or I'll bend you backwards and make you blow yourself." But she's smiling when she says it, which is a good sign. "What do you think of the house?"
            "A little creepy, but thankfully we won't have to deal with anything too stupid?"
            "Save your celebrations. I think something's been creeping around a little here and there."
             She smirks. "Big, yes. Shadows, mainly. And some banging noises." She stops and breaks into a grin. "Hey, remember--"
            "You better hope I don't before you finish that sentence." She slugs me again and God help me I think she means it this time.
            "Let's get down to work." I say finally after a long silence. "Where's Colin?"
            "Outside running off one of those creepy people who follow us around." Naomi tells me. "I think he got him in the leg from the window, but you know how thorough Colin has to be."
            Colin is a very quiet man who does very quiet work. Out of all the people I know, Colin is the scariest person I have ever encountered. You will never see him get angry, you will never see him get upset, all you will see is a small sigh. I pity you if you get him mad enough to actually do something. He's not the kind to pull off halfway through.
            Naomi, on the other hand, is the opposite. She loves to talk. Whenever she stops talking is when you know it's time to back away slowly. " something's been scratching outside and we see these weird lights, but there's nothing other than that..." she's saying as I shift uncomfortably. There's a sound from the woods, something I know but don't want to.
            "Right, right, but have there been any real sightings of him?"
            "Who? The high-stepping idiot with the waggly arms?"
            I burst out laughing. "If you really want to call him that, then yes, him."
            "Ehh. Not really." She shrugs. "Is that who we're after?"
            "All things in good time. Anything weird?"
            "The meadow across the way is filled with fireflies every night. They look a little...smarter than average."
            "So nothing hairspray and a zippo couldn't fix. Dammit, do we have anything real?"
            "I told you when I found the place. Disappearances happen and then creepy whackjobs who taunt us show up. How much realer do you want?"
            "Okay, okay, fine." I hug her again and she squirms uncomfortably. She may be friends with me, but she isn't mine. None of them are, really.
            "Oh, one other order of business. If we're hunting that thin freak, you're probably going to need this." She turns around and gets something off of the mantle. It's old, battered, and scratched up in places. The handle is triangular rubber, then that leads into a long thin metal tube and ends in a dense, curved head. No way, I think. I lost that ages ago. "I found it when I cleaned out the wreckage of the old place. Did you have to throw an entire liquor cabinet into there?"
           "It tried to eat us. There are two things I hate, plants and getting eaten. Yes. It was necessary."
           "Shit..." Naomi looks uneasy. "And when you stripped naked and ran screaming at the shadow thing?"
           " That wasn't necessary. I was just drunk. And I might have been high." I think back to the incident and suddenly remember that I'd been caught with Adam and my-- "YES. Definitely high."
           "Oh, wait, was it that time?" Naomi asked. "Sorry."
           "Anyway." I glare at her, getting back on topic. "You found it."
           "Your weapon of choice. The others were all charred beyond recognition, but this baby..." she tosses it to me and I catch it one-handed. Along the side of the five-iron someone scratched the word "Stormbringer" in with a key. A bad joke from someone who knows their fantasy literature, but it was like a piece of me coming back, making me whole.
            I smile. "You remembered."
            "You're my oldest friend. Why the fuck would I forget something like this?" she laughed. "It's the stupidest fucking weapon I've ever seen, but if you like it, I'll keep it handy for you when we run off into danger like this."
            I give it a few practice swings, holding it like a samurai. "And running off we are." I look out the window into the creepy wooded back yards. "Let's hope something takes the bait."


Friday, May 20, 2011

I love the sound of breaking glass

                  The problem with finding her isn't so much knowing where to look as knowing where she'll show up. It's a science only Adam's really adept at, and that's because the cheeky bastard already knows where she is exactly. He still makes me look for her. I do have one edge, though. I look for an apartment, an old one with brightly-colored lights and what could be a loft, but I don't find one, so I start hitting the bars. She likes bars as much as she likes squatting in archetypical lofts, or hitting up those freaky weapon shops you sometimes find near Chinatown or something.
                Six beers later and two slants in progress and I finally find her in the usual place a few blocks off of Redactedth Street and of course that big street, Undisclosed, with all the pedestrian traffic. I hear those tiny hints of Southern accent and the sound of wood on skull and my pace quickens a little. And then there's something that makes my blood run cold. Show tunes.
                I suppose some background is necessary, considering that you're all new to our operations here. Many people have their little rituals and coping mechanisms. Many do things unconsciously when they're in a good mood. For example, I find myself singing to myself at many parts of the day, or reciting onomatopoeias. But out of all of us, only one of us sings when she's working working, and happy about it. Li picked up the habit god-knows where, and now whenever I hear Sondheim, my hands start to shake and my breath gets short.
               Li hums show tunes when someone's shit is ending.  It's when she's bored of the fight and the person's already on the floor but she feels like she's been cheated and keeps going. Because if there's one thing she hates the most, one thing that makes her go above and beyond, it's boredom. Leave her alone with nothing to do, and someone winds up in an ambulance. Give her a fight she can definitely win, same thing happens. I bolt towards the bar, throw open the doors, and find the patrons standing around in stunned silence while a little slip of a brunette hipster with ice-blue eyes whacks a guy with a pool cue.
               "LILA!" I snap. "Stop. Now."
               Her entire face breaks into possibly the most choreographed smile I've ever seen. "Tao! Heeeey, darlin'! Wanna few cracks?"
               "Put the pool cue down, sweetie." I hate using the Dad Voice on her, but I might as well.
               "Stop." She says it now, but a little sweeter. "Don't do that to me. We're almost the same age, for Christ's sake."
              I look around at the concussed douchebags. I'm suddenly aware that there's an entire group of them and she was finishing up. That scares me worse, but at least she's nonlethal. "So which one spat in your beer?"
              "Oh...this one told me to stop rejecting him, and he was kind of rough about it." She replied. "So I saved him for last. They're all so's not like in the old days, where you had a gang of guys with character. It's not even like the days when a bunch of guys would charge into a fray for you for money. I miss the eighties."
              "You were a baby in the eighties, so you can't miss them. Now come on. Bigger things. I'd have sent Adam, but then I'd be pulling you both out of a bar full of concussed people and we'd still be having this conversation. Time to go home."
              "I miss the movies, darlin'. Reagan always sucked." She pouts.
              "Yeah, yeah, I'm a buzzkill. Now let's shift it. I don't want to be here when the cops show up. Oh, hey, that reminds me." I turn to the bar. "She's a tall brown-eyed redhead, I'm a twat with floppy hair and a bowtie." I fix them with a hard stare. No one wants us to come back, so I'm sure they'll pick up the story.
              "So, where to now?" she asks, "Not that I'm partial long as there's things to hit and no one asks questions."
            "Sweetie," I tell her, "you'll have more idiots than you can shake a stick at, and all of them will be itching to take a shot at us."
             "Don't call me sweetie, Tao. You know I don't see you like that."
              I'm not about to say anything on that score. "Fine."
             "And tell me where we're going."
             "We're visiting some family. It's secluded, and Naoms picked it out. Everyone you know is probably already there."
             We're heading towards the train station. You know the one, but I'm not saying it here. That'd just be stupid. Then you'd know where we were, and chances are you'd only bore us.
            "Oh, ick. Everyone?"
            "Yeah, her too. We need her." I roll my eyes. "Besides, I thought we were past that."
            "We were. That doesn't mean we are now."
            "We need them. All of them. I've been getting a hunch right away, and then Naomi went and bought some single-story house and just confirmed it."
            "This house won't be like the last house, will it?"
            "Single-story with a tower. We can see everything and there's no baking cookies smell." I assure her. "Don't remind me of our old house. Now let's go."
             We disappear on the train, heading like a bullet to the small town of None Of Your Damn Business, located in the isolated high-income part of central Jersey. I read a book I stole from the huge comic book store at the intersection of Undisclosed and Deletedth, she looks out the window and taps her foot in time to music only she can hear. When I get back to NOYDB (pronounce it "Noid", with a silent B), there's a car waiting for us and Adam passes me a laptop.
              "Hello, Lila. It's always nice to see you in person. Tao, do what I ask you to. I don't ask for a lot in this arrangement, so drop him a line. He's running a blog! A blog of all things!" He chuckles, already aware that I'm writing this entry in another tab as we head up the winding roads to the house up in the woods.
              So I do. I toss off a few comments, playing the coy little bugger with Sage while we drive, and when we get there, I let everyone else get out and stretch. Time for us to earn our keep.