Thursday, May 17, 2007

We'll Need Coffee

1: Beating the Timer
2: Learning to Walk
3: Flores para los muertos

4: We'll Need Coffee

Nica lit a Camel, took two drags, and threw it on the decomposing body, already losing its glammer. It flashed like gunpowder, reflecting in her eyes. Light green eyes, almost yellow, Kemp thought. Then she turned away from him and marched toward the front of the alley.

"We'll need coffee," she says.

Right into Shoney's. As though that wasn't the first place they'd come. But the fugitives would be gone by then. Nica'd bought some time.

Time. Don't trust that word.

But of course they're delaying the inevitable. You can't become immortal.

"All-day breakfast buffet. Don't you love it?"

They didn't love it. But they were hungry. So all three filled plates.

And got a table by the window. Just in case.

Nica lifted a heaping fork of dirty rice into her mouth and glared at Alan. "Hacky wha na fuh oo cotton uh inu?"

"That's gross, Nica, swallow your food before you start swearing at me."

The bacon is burnt just the way he likes it. But the salt shaker makes him think of slugs. Albert dissolving like a slug.

"Seriously, Alan, you've got us in some deep shit here."

"Well," says Kemp, sarcasm dripping down his chin, "please tell me all about it, dollface, because I just helped you kill something out there. And you're fucking welcome, Alan."

"And who the hell else would I have called?" Alan spat back. "What exactly was I supposed to do?"

"Shut up, boys, everyone's staring at us."

The waitress finally filled their coffee cups, eyeing them suspiciously. They smiled and waited.

"You were supposed to die," Said Nica. "But I guess if I believed that, I wouldn't have come running in like fucking double-O-seven, eh?"

"And now," said Kemp, "I'd like to know why we went running in there like fucking double-O-seven."

"Kemp." Quietly. Nica'd been robotic efficiency. Which was scary as hell. But the desperation, the pity in Nica right now? Kemp thought that was scarier.

"How can I explain? It's a gift which, if you'd never watched someone die, you'd never know you had. I've known about the Timers a long time. I've known death a long time."

"Alan, not until he was 20. And you, Kemp, that's what you've seen. Seen. But you still don't know shit. And thanks to Alan, you've gotta learn quick."

the windows we haven't been watching the windows

"Everyone done with their coffee? Because I think we'll need something stronger."

She slammed enough cash on the table to pay for everyone and apologize to the waitress. Maybe bribe the waitress, in case she'd recognized the crimson flowers on their hands and shirts and shoes. Slammed it down hard enough to rattle a vase of wilted roses and baby's breath pushed behind the napkins and salt and ketchup.

"Wilted," said Alan.

"Yes, flowers wilt, things die, how poetic and observant of you, Alan," said Kemp.

"No. No they wilted when the Timer came near. Or maybe they wilted for us."

He held out his hand. Held out his mark. His hourglass, his timer.

Nica wasn't quite ignoring them. But her only response was, "flores para los muertos."

"Nica!" Kemp was close to panic. And it didn't help that no one else seemed to be. "Does this mean we're Timers? Are we Timers now?"

"No. I figure it means we've got pickups scheduled."

She lifted the dead flowers from their vase and walked out of the restaurant, not even waiting for Alan and Kemp to finish eating.

Outside the door she... stopped... walked back into the alley. Laid her flores on ashy residue that called itself Albert.

"Red Room Lounge okay?"

"Aren't we on a schedule?"

"We're on their schedule. May as well work with that."



Katie said...

Excellent as always!

Lisa said...

wow, this is really great.