Authors Notes: - Ok, I give ya'll permission to yell at me for this. I know, I know. I've started way too many stories to start YET another one. I should at least finish one before I move onto another. But, inspiration struck and I might as well post what I write when I get a chance to write.
You'll love/hate me for this story. It's got John, our favorite nerdly vampire, and Richard, our favorite PI mage. They'll be cameos from all sides so let the fun begin!
Having said that, you'll hate me for this. This story takes place long after The Last Harvest (which, evil me, isn't even close to done yet). Hopefully I'll get TLH and some of the in between stories done long before this one gets really going. Anyway, enjoy this teaser first chapter. Laters!
The plane touched down with startling lightness, there was a little more than a small lurch as all the wheels made contact with the tarmac. Now that we were back on solid ground I released my death grip from the armrest. I wasn't one of those people deathly afraid of flying, I just understood physics and knew how much of a leap of faith it was to fly.
It was a bit of a comfort to be the only person on a private jet that just flew across country. No screaming children, no people kicking my seat and no sitting next to people with questionable hygienic practices. The major drawback though was the fact I just spent and eight hour flight by myself. I wasn't a stranger to being alone for long periods of time but, with only my laptop and a sporadic satellite internet connection to keep me company I'd gotten pretty lonely pretty fast. The only other person on the flight was my pilot, Gazit. She was up in the cockpit though and her usual conversations rotated around her babies, one of which she was currently landing.
When we left New York the sun was just raising, which was my usual bedtime, when I remembered to sleep that is. Now at our destination the sun was just setting. Not that I could actually see it, thanks to the rather stereotypical heavy blanket of clouds. Even though I couldn't see the floating orb of death, I could still feel it. It was just a side effect of being what I am: nocturnal. Oh, and a vampire. That helped too.
While Gazit taxied the plane to its designated parking spot, or whatever they called the spot private jets parked, I changed the time on my watch. I didn't want to be perpetually behind time my entire trip and it only took me a few seconds to get the accurate time. Thanks to a mini GPS uplink stored in the watch it simply calculated the current time according to my position on the planet. Sure, it's a bit of overkill but it saves me the effort of calculating the time difference. Yeah, I know, I'm a lazy bum.
The plane finally stopped and I quickly stuffed my laptop back into its steel sided carrying case. It looked almost like one of those metal briefcases you see handcuffed to some random FBI or CIA agent in bad spy movies. Before I'd left for the airport I'd almost brought along a pair of handcuffs, just to confuse the other people in the airport. I don't think airport security would have thought my joke was very funny, besides, the only pair of handcuffs I had were furry. Not that I'd ever had the occasion to use them or anything.
By the time I'd locked up my precious laptop Gazit had already left the cockpit and was coming back to check on me. Gazit was one of those people who loved what they did for a living just a little too much. From what I know she came from a long line of pilots; which is an impressive feat considering how long mankind has been capable of flight. Her great-grandfather had flown one of the first planes into combat during WWI and his son had followed suit in WWII and then her father in Vietnam. She would have liked to have followed in their footsteps but for one fact.
It wasn't because she was a woman. With her flying skills the military would have fallen all over themselves to get her as a fighter pilot. No, it was something a little more straightforward. She was short, very, very short. I'm not the tallest guy around, I'm just the wrong side of six feet and when I'm talking to her I feel like I'm talking to a child. Drawn to her full height she was barely four foot ten. Granted her dandelion like whitish blond hair added a few inches.
What she lacked in height she more than made up with pure enthusiasm and kindness. I'd easily rank Gazit as one of the sweetest people I've ever met. She'd be number one if she wasn't so absentminded and naïve. Even asking her to do something within perfect reason I felt like I was taking advantage of her. I don't know how my boss managed to employed her without feeling like some kind of cur. Then again, he was made of much tougher stuff than I was. But that's an understatement. Five year old girls are made of tougher stuff than me.
Gazit came down the wide isle and came to an abrupt stop before me, as if she'd forgotten why she'd come back there and hadn't noticed me until the last second. For a brief moment she looked confused then a smile lit her face and wide blue eyes. She gave me a half salute-half way.
"Hi John, did you enjoy the flight?" She asked in a cheerful pixyish voice.
"I've never been much for flying," I admitted somewhat sheepishly. "But it was a lot better than flying economy."
For a moment she regarded me with absolute confusion and I almost thought she'd entirely forgotten who I was and was wondering why this strange muffin-headed young man was in her plane. Then she shook her head slowly, even more puzzlement registering in her eyes. "You don't like flying?"
"Uh, not really, but you're the best pilot I've ever seen." I answered quickly, afraid I was treading dangerously close to hurting her feelings.
All the confusion vanished the instant I uttered my compliment. She smiled broadly again and nodded. "Good."
I smiled as well and walked with her into the back of the plane where all my luggage was. When I saw everything was just as I left it I breathed a sigh of relief. Amid the boxes and duct tape was Marilyn 2; the portable version of my PC. Granted calling it portable implied that it was easy to travel with, more so it was just easier to travel with than my main computer was. Instead of a nightmarish collection of cables, cases, LED lights and various other components too numerous to name all coming together in a Frankenstein inspired, overclocked amalgamation, it was just a single clear acrylic case with all the standard innards. Not too many bells and whistles, just enough to make it neat looking and effective.
Tucked behind the pair of boxes that contained my PC and LCD monitor was my much less important baggage that contained everything I could think to pack for the trip. I knew it wouldn't be enough. One of my major faults was my inability to foresee just how many pairs of shirts and underwear I would need for the trip. I usually ended up with several dozen pairs of boxers to my three pairs of pants.
Then I noticed their was an extra suitcase behind mine. It was unfamiliar but judging by its fine leather exterior and high quality build, I'd guess it belonged to my master, Donovan. True to form, he'd packed me some extra clothes. All of his picking of course and I'd bet each article came meticulously labeled with instructions on which tie should be worn with which shoes and even which pair of boxers would be most suitable for whichever pair of pants I chose to wear. Once long it ago it bothered me that he knew me in such detail that he could pick out my underwear with unfailing success, but by now I knew that he wasn't one the who kept up on these kind of details. It was our collective tailor. I'd have to say the best benefit of having a gay tailor who thought you were hot was having an inseam that always fit perfectly.
Gazit untangled the boxes and suitcases from the netting that had been laid over them to keep them from shifting in mid-flight. I quickly moved to grab the boxes while she picked up the suitcases. She grunted in surprise but didn't complain about their weight. I felt a little guilty about making her carry the heavier suitcases but I wasn't going to trust her with my PC, even if it was just my backup. She waddled past my and I carefully followed, keeping an eye out for any obstacles in my path that could possibly bring me down. The last thing I wanted to do was take a spill and have to spend all of my first day in town searching for replacement parts.
We got off the plane successfully with out any misshapes. It was parked in the far corner of the airport near tall razor wire fences surrounded by a few other private jets. They were all empty though, merely waiting for their owners to return and jet them off to some other more exotic local. Sitting only a few yards away from Gazit's plane was a limo. Its driver was standing impatiently beside the open passenger door, leaning slightly against the side of the sleek black car. I was happy that it wasn't a stretch limo, that would be a touch too conspicuous for my tastes. Besides, I think spectators would be more than a little disappointed if they got a peek inside and saw me.
When he saw that we had an armload of luggage he reluctantly stood upright and moved around to the back of the limo and opened up the trunk. Gazit struggled to heft the pair of suitcases that probably collectively weight more than her into the trunk. The driver didn't lift a finger to help her and merely stared off into space. I quickly sat the two boxes and my laptop on the backseat of the limo and came around to help her. She gave me a quick silent smile of thanks and backed away while I stuffed the two suitcases into the trunk.
"I guess I'll see you again in a few days." Gazit remarked, backing away from the limo.
"Are you headed back to New York, or are you going to stay in town?" I asked her.
"I'm going to head back tomorrow morning, after I get some sleep." She said with a little shrug.
"That sounds rough, why don't you just stay in town while I'm here? You're going to have to come back and get me anyway." I suggested, and motioned towards the limo. "You can stay with me at the hotel." I realized how that sounded and quickly corrected myself. "I mean, at the hotel, where I'm staying… in another room… not mine…"
She either was too busy thinking about other things or just too polite to acknowledge my pathetic recovery attempt. "Nah, thanks for the offer though. I don't really like staying away from home for too long. I worry about my babies."
I chuckled and nodded, unsurprised by her answer. "Ok, I'll see you later then."
"Bye." Gazit waved cheerfully and climbed back aboard her plane.
It wouldn't surprise me in the least if she ended up staying the night in her plane. The nearest hotel would probably still be too far away for her to stand. I didn't judge her though, I felt the same way about my computers. Being away from Marilyn for a good two weeks just sounded unbearable every time I thought about it; not having my girlfriend around wasn't going to be too much fun either but due to her being just as undead as myself, she didn't travel very well.
I got into the limo as the automatic steps to the plane retracted and seamlessly became one with the jet again. The limo driver leisurely walked to the driver's side door and climbed in. Glancing back at me he stared at my boxes for a few seconds longer than necessary to register that they were in fact there.
"Don't you want to put those in the trunk?" He asked, his voice just as lazy as his demeanor.
"No thank you, I rather keep these near me." I responded, patting the top of the nearest box. Before I'd left I'd scrawled "fragile" and "this side up" all over the boxes in various different colored permanent markers. I wasn't going to let anyone else touch them so it was a slightly moot point, but it still made me feel better to have such dialog written on them.
"Alright." He grunted, his tone suggesting he thought I was mad. I'm sure many people thought much worse things about me so I ignored his judgmental glances. Instead I turned my head and looked out the window. At first there wasn't anything worth looking at since it took us a good half an hour just to navigate the maze that was the airport and escape. Soon enough we left behind the congested warren and moved into the city proper.
On the surface most big cities are all the same. They have the same crowded in feel brought on my the tall buildings, but each city strove, in its own way, to have a unique skyline. To me, the giant silhouette of Mt. Rainier visible occasionally between all the human structures as the more remarkable "skyline" but to the rest of the more traditional visitors the Space Needle was probably the drawing point. I'd never been too terribly interested in the feats mankind performed with steel and mortar. Even as a child the Empire State Building failed to inspire me. The only thing that stayed in my mind, during and after, my visit to the historical skyscraper was the fact there were so many damned stairs. I was more impressed by the elevator and the all important task it performed. Of course my thoughts then followed that train all the way to the inevitable stop most of my thoughts invariably went to: I bet I could make it work better.
It isn't like I'm the arrogant type. It's just that I've always been fascinated by mechanical doodads and what I could mange to coax them into doing. In my mind it was just more infinitely monumental that we'd managed to create such intricate and complicated things such as the computer chip. Even termites could build termite sized skyscrapers, but could they make a processor chip that can fit on the tip of your little finger? If they can, I'd be interested in seeing how, but until that point I'd continue to be more moved by the bits and pieces that made my beloved Marilyn work than the cold sentinels that served as prisons to the white-collared workers of the world.
Unfortunately my hotel was located in the heart of the city. Far removed from anything even resembling suburbia. At heart I was a small town guy. I was born and raised in Mineola New York. Sure it's just a hop, skip and a jump away from New York City, but it still felt like a small town to me. We weren't walled in my imposing monoliths, but by verdant trees and pleasant clean air. I got the same feeling being in the epicenter of Seattle that I got in Time Square. A suffocating sense of oppression.
I suddenly missed all the little comforts that home had. There'd be no Korean convenience store just a short walk away from my hotel room. I couldn't walk outside and sit on my old swing that hung from the tree in my backyard if I felt nostalgic. If I felt like leaving my fortress of solitude I couldn't rely on a quick call to my best friend to summon him to my side with various wild ideas about how to spend the night. Rave, my girlfriend wouldn't be around to tease and tantalize me, then pout when I didn't immediately turn my attention away from the computer.
By the time I'd gone down my list of all the little and big differences between New York and Seattle, I even found myself missing my most eccentric of companions. There'd be no elvish hit-men to run and hide behind if danger reared its ugly head. No big friendly demons to offer a comforting and crushing bear hug when things got really tough and most certainly, no encounters with inhibitionly challenged wererats who liked to flirt with me. Though, admittedly I didn't miss the last part. I would enjoy a brief time away from Seth, the promiscuous bi-sexual wererat who doesn't believe anyone is truly straight or gay. He seemed dead set to prove that there was a little bit of gay or straight, depending on the case, in everyone.
At that point I leaned back in my seat and stared up at the roof of the limo and allowed myself to muse over all the things I wouldn't miss. It would at least entertain and more importantly cheer me up on my way to the hotel.
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