Midnight Jolt Run

Caffeine tastes better when the city's asleep

Schematics – Part 3

Posted by Fiss on December 31, 2009

plug1>part 1
>part 2

Scraping together what he could afford and borrowing what he couldn’t, Thomas bought a warehouse in the middle of what was laughingly called the rough-side of the tracks area of the city.  There were no tracks here.  Hell, most of the roads should have been condemned.  But there was plenty of poverty.  Plenty of crime.  Plenty of angry.  Plenty of tears.

He was working three days a week.  Just enough to pay the bills, eat, drive and have an active pay-as-you-go cell phone.  The rest of his cash went into his project.

Week one was painting.  Repairing.  Reconnecting ancient circuits in the walls to make it all work.  The building he bought never had been up to code, but it had been wired with thick, heavy cables that had survived decades of decay.   Where floors would rot, at least he could be certain of heavy wire underneith.   He knocked down walls, laid tarps and did emergency surgery on a top floor that was one good thunderstorm away from falling down anyway.  All the runes in the world would account for nothing if what they were burnt on fell apart.  And he needed space.  Lots of space.

Week two was preparing the solder.  He rummaged around for dozens of old cookie sheets and wax paper.  He got mugged twice that week, thankfully not while carrying supplies.  He took it all in stride.  “It’s not their fault,” he told himself as he limped back to his warehouse.  “It’s the city.  The city’s gone rotten.  Blown out fuses.  Bad circuits.  Faulty blueprints.  That’s all.  Nothing I can’t fix.”

He worked from the ground up.

Mapping it all out from his makeshift apartment in the corner of the office floor, he built seven copies of a dispersion circuit to bring the power in and out from the ground.  From the heart of the city itself.  He connected it to the pipes and the drains and the power grid feeding the block.  He still had his old city utilities overalls, and nobody asked to see his ID as he walked past checkpoints and security stations.  It was terrifyingly easy.

Maybe this is why it was so easy.  So he could fix it.  So he could repair that circuit.  Maybe the city knew it was sick, and was letting him try to heal it.  He liked that image and held onto it during those dark times in the tunnels.  It helped him cope with the screeching machines, the rats and the smell of human filth wherever he went.

Thomas remembered his first apartment.  Moving away from home and into his own place for the first time had been amazing.  Terrifying.  Wonderful.  He could still taste the air of his first dusty little bedroom, and the mould growing in the shower stalls.  His time at university had been terrifyingly beautiful.  He studied.  He worked.  And he did well.  He did amazingly well.  And he learned how wonderful it was to be surrounded by people doing the same thing.

This city could be amazing when people came together.  To work together.  To seek out their lives and fortunes.  And even the crime, the expense, and all the worry in the world wouldn’t take that away.  Not if people respected each other.  Saw each other as citizens instead of opponents.  Karma be damned, he wanted people to have bad luck…but help themselves and each other out of it.

He saw his first murder that weekend.  At the grocery store, he had just finished paying for his rice and Kraft-dinner supper (starving student experiences came in handy) when an argument nobody had even been listening to in the back of the store turned violent.  An old lady screamed, part of a shelf fell over, and Thomas watched a man in a hooded sweatshirt pull out a pistol and fire three shots into the young woman he had been fighting with.  It was frightening, not in the threat of danger, but rather in the fact that nobody seemed able to comprehend what had just happened.  The killer ran out of the back loading doors unchallenged without ever checking to see if he was being chased.  Maybe he didn’t have to.

Tom cried himself to sleep in his shaky bedroom as the building sighed gently in the storm outside.  He woke up at five in the morning and didn’t stop drawing the spell until three p.m. the next day.  His hands bled from the constant scribbling.  Eyes that had seen many long nights finally became foggy from the combined lack of sleep and fumes from the solder.  He had barely even realized his stomach had been so empty until he passed out for an hour and woke up painfully hungry.  Suddenly, there seemed to be a deadline to fix everything.

The police came to his door.  They asked him if he saw anything.  He told them all he could remember, they thanked him and left.  Apparently they had no suspects in custody.

He ate.  He slept.  He ate.  Then he worked on his runes.  He forced himself to stop at a reasonable time, but during the night, he went up on top of the roof and looked up at the hazy sky.  If this worked, maybe that would be the last murder in the area for a very long time.  Maybe forever.  Maybe there was enough energy out there to stop the murders.  Stop the hate.  Stop the frustration.  He knew what he wanted to do.  He knew exactly how to stop it all.  What idea…what thought…what feeling to give everyone.

He would simply make the link between feeling useful and respecting others.   That perfect, rock-solid euphoria of being needed in the world, using your skills, your ideas and talents…and move to share it with others.  That was his spell.  Simple.  Painless.  No changing the odds, no changing life and death.  It would simply make things a little better.  Make everyone feel hope, and that maybe, they could rely on each other to find their purpose.

Thomas was driving up to his parking spot at the beginning of week three when he saw someone waiting for him at his front door.  Maria.

He sighed and stepped out of his truck.  “Hello.”

She said nothing, but followed him into the warehouse, watching where he stepped so as not to trigger any of the protective runes he had laid down.  While he hadn’t really been worried about trespassers, if someone were to trip and trigger a rune before it was ready the results could be disastrous.

“I was reading the news,” she explained as he poured her a cup of water from one of the few luxuries he kept from his apartment: a filtered water jug.  “The cops named you as a witness to that murder last week.  Once I knew which area of the city you had gone it was easy to toss a few runes for you.”

“How’s the karma converter?” Tom asked, sitting down across the table from her.  “Josh smartening up?”

“He’s better,” Maria sighed.  “Calmer.  We’re working on a layered sheet-metal condenser now.  Eric was inspired by the Commercial Wiring for Dummies you lent him.  But it’s not the same.”

“Change is good,” Tom offered.

She nodded absentmindedly, sipping from her cup.  “What are you doing here, Tom?”

He glanced at her.  She seemed far too grown up now.  He felt disproportionately guilty all of a sudden, as if he could have kept her as that smiling, nervous student from just a few months ago.

“Tell me about how you joined Josh and the others,” he asked.

She blinked, then turned beat red.  “I’d rather not if you don’t mind.”

Tom couldn’t help but laugh at the sudden change of colour.  “Oh, come on, it’s a simple enough question, now you have to tell me or I’ll be up all week wondering.”

Maria sighed, leaning forward.  “You can’t tell the others.”

Raising his hand over his heart, Tom nodded.

“I thought Josh was cute.”

He laughed, but it wasn’t spiteful.  “Let me guess, by the time he started noticing you, you had figured out his personality wasn’t exactly your cup of tea?”

“Something like that,” she muttered, sipping her water some more to hide her blush.  “My grandmother was always into the Wicca lifestyle, and kinda passed some of that down on me and my sister.  The magic Josh and the others do is more exacting.  Less to do with nature, but they needed someone to help balance out the brains with intuition.  In case you didn’t notice, those three boys aren’t exactly the most intuitive.  Brilliant, hard working, but they couldn’t follow a gut feeling if it handed them a GPS.”

Tom smiled.  “I used to think the same about the people in my old job.”

She smiled back and placed her cup down.  “That’s what I mean, Tom.  You have both.  You can do the hard math.  You can draw the exact patterns and you can follow the research, but you also can follow your gut.  I know people who would kill for that.  Talent and experience.  You have both.”

“Is this where you ask me to come back?” Tom asked, leaning back in his rickety old chair.

Her smile faded, and she shook her head.  “No.  I think what you’re doing is right.  Josh and the others are more interested in pleasing the old man by doing his grunt work and getting into the network of mages.  You’re doing something amazing here.”

“And what do you want to do?” Tom asked.

She regarded him for a moment.  “You asked me if I was happy last month.  I was up until the moment I realized I was the safety net for a bunch of ambitious kids.”

“There’s nothing wrong with being safe,” Tom said, rubbing the scruff that he had been letting grow on his chin.

Maria shook her head.  “But I’m not happy now.  So stand up.”

Tom raised an eyebrow, still leaned back in his seat.

“Get up, old man.  Your arthritis acting up or something?” she said with a wink, standing herself and walking over to him, hand outstretched.

Reluctantly, he tipped his chair forward and stood up, exaggerating the stiffness in his joints with a loud, old-man worthy groan.  “Damn kids.”

Maria took his hands in hers and looked up at him.  He felt embarrassingly tall.  “I am going to help you instead,” she said.

“No, you’re not,” Tom shook his head.  “If something goes wrong-”

“Then something will go wrong,” she said firmly.  “The moment I heard you were messing around with the power grid I knew this would be big.”

Against his better judgement, Tom looked around his shabby, broken down little office.  He saw the beginnings of the spell, he saw so much more work to do, and he could still see the image of the murdered woman when he closed his eyelids.  If he had help, he could finish the drawing a lot faster.  Finish the retracing a lot faster.  Having an extra set of eyes and a mind keyed to notice mistakes was even better, though.

And when he looked at Maria, holding his hands, looking at him with such loving trust, he knew he couldn’t say no.  No wonder Josh had been up on his pecks about him being in the group.  He could see it now.  Thomas had the uncanny ability to complete circuits.

“Fine,” he muttered.  “You can help.”

With a laugh she leapt up and wrapped her arms around him in a warm hug.  He tried not to sneeze when her hair tickled his nose.  “Now,” she said firmly, “I am happy again.  Thank you.”

He sighed, realizing she wasn’t going to let go until he said something.  “You brought your car?”

“Yes.   It’s out back,” she smiled.  “I didn’t want to scare you away, and I figured by the time you saw me waiting it would be too rude to turn around and drive off.”

“Park it here next time, in the gate.  We can lock it up more or less.  But tonight, I need you to get supplies.”

She stepped away, rushing to her purse to grab a pen and paper.  “What do we need?”

“A sleeping bag, a few water filters, and as much Kraft Dinner and rice as you think you’ll eat over the next week.  You’ll have to ruff it here with me if you want to work with me.”

Instead of the sudden reluctance in her eyes that he was hoping for, she nodded, jotted everything down, and went to the kitchen, taking notes as she opened and closed cupboards and shelves.  “We’ll need some fruit in there too.  Unless you want to spend the first month after completing your spell in the hospital with scurvy, that is.”

“I never thought of that,” he admitted.

Maria had already been packed, ready to move in, so it took less than an hour.  Two with a quick trip to the nearest mega-mart to get supplies.  As part of the ground rules he found he had to make up on the fly, she was not allowed to complain when he took the sleeping bag and told her to take the bed.  It was only slightly more comfortable, but it would still be slightly more comfortable.

“We work three nights a week on the spell,” he said as they drove back with their load of loot.  “Three nights for me is regular work, which I need to maintain access to some of the city grid, and also to pay the bills.  What you do on those three nights is your call, but during the day, please check things over.”

“I could help add to the drawing,” she said hopefully.

“No.  All new additions we go over together,” he said quickly.  “We need to keep mistakes at a zero.  Even if we don’t generate any Lash with a mistake, the amount of power going through the mundane circuits could fry the building.  You and I will double check.  Then, when I’m away, you triple check.”

“Got it,” she nodded, a thin but happy smile on her lips.  “And the seventh day?”

“We rest.  If it’s good enough for God, then we’ll need it too,” he smirked.  “Also, I don’t know about you, but I need a day to catch up on all my TV.”

They settled into the routine quickly enough.  Monday was City work, then Tuesday was the Spell.  It alternated every day.  Sunday they spent trying to relax, but more often than not they had to burn most of just fixing up the place.  The bathroom was a disaster that had been barely good enough for one person to use semi-frequently, so with both of them there they had to renovate the shower, the sink, and reinforce the floor under it all so they didn’t one day step into the bath and find themselves falling two stories.

Maria could cook well enough, and they would trade making meals.  Though his stubborn inner bachelor cried out in anguish every time he saw a plate with more than one identifiable mass on it, he had to admit it was nice living with a like-minded person.  They worked.  They worked hard.  And they had just enough respect for each other to shut up once in a while and let the other listen to music, study, plan or just have some alone time.

The spell itself grew quickly.  The bottom floor was now nearly covered in runes up to nine feet off the ground thanks to a ladder.  A metal support pillar was spiral-covered and linked the first stage of the spells up to the second floor, and would branch out eventually to the office floor, which hung in mid air over the second story like a satellite dish’s receiver.

Every morning, they completed their rituals of waking up and met in the kitchen for coffee and news.  All the bad news on the TV turned from a dull, frustrated parade of illness, crime and violence into something encouraging.  A reminder, and an incentive.

“We can fix that,” Maria said as the newscaster reported a triple homicide not a block away from the campus they had met in the basement one night months ago.

He smiled and nodded.  As the report moved to a car crash, he put down his coffee.  “We can fix that.”

Homeless population was on the rise.  “Definitely fixable,” Maria said with a wink.

“That was easy,” Tom intoned an old (and annoying) Staples commercial as the news went to report the trend in family doctors leaving the city.

It was a day they should have been working on the spell, and they both knew it, but they both knew they needed this.  This encouragement.  A bit of time away from the solder and stains and wires and grease.

“Parking violations on the rise,” Maria laughed.  “Done and done.”

“Bullies at the schools,” Tom said, kicking his feet up with his fuzzy bunny slippers onto the kitchen table.  “Decreased by ninety nine percent.”

“Corporate charity giving, increased by thirty…” he looked at her funny.  “Okay,” she laughed.  “Maybe only five percent.”

Suddenly, all the bad news in the world became simple problems they could fix.  If not fix, maybe they could reduce.  It would blow out every fuse from here to the docks, but if they did it right, the effect would blanket the whole area.

Still in their night clothes, they turned up the TV’s volume so it filled the warehouse and began working.  What had been such a tedious, exacting chore, laying the pencil, then the sharpie, then the solder and checking it a thousand times now became a game.  Every glyph was laid down as the news reported some other horrible tragedy, and each one became some magic fix.  They took lunch and dinner brakes when the news switched to happier humanitarian or good-news pieces.  They didn’t break for long.

After lunch, Tom began letting Maria work on the patterns herself, and they would switch and check over each other’s work on occasion instead of constantly. Soon, their spell spiralled up to the second floor and nearly covered the walls up to the fifteen foot windows thanks to a handy ladder they found and repaired.

Thomas couldn’t remember a time he had laughed so much in one day.  His sides hurt and his eyes watered away the fumes.  Exhaustion and his older body finally took their toll, however, and after nearly burning a hole into his pyjama-bottoms, he blinked and found Maria leading him carefully to bed.

“This way, watch the suitcase, there, that’s it,” she cooed, guiding him through the maze and plopping him down.

He was too tired to protest that he should be in the sleeping bag, nor protest when she kissed him timidly on the cheek before standing and leaving to let him rest.

“Why are you helping me?” Thomas asked with a yawn.  “This can’t be that interesting.”

Maria smiled at him, looking tired herself, but still with that extra reserve of energy he had remembered having in his youth.  “I already told you, Tom,” she said simply.  “Because I’m happy when I’m working with you.  Goodnight.”

He dreamt that night.  Vivid colours and beautiful patterns.  He knew he was seeing the completion of his spell, but there was something more to it.  In all his life, whenever he remembered dreams or thought of the images he imagined, they had always been washed out, or in unidentifiable colour.

Tom could remember the shape of the boogieman, or the kind of car he was driving, even the texture of the ground he was just about to hit in one of those annoying ‘wake up just before you hit bottom’ falling dreams…but never did he remember the colour of the ground, other than it was probably brown.  Never did he remember the colour of the car, unless he had owned the car and simply assumed it was fireball-red, or charcoal-grey.  The boogieman had always been black and white, and he only assumed there was yellow evil in the eyes, or green scum on the claws and red blood on the fangs.

No.  This night, he dreamt as if he had taken a lot of drugs (or always assumed that’s what it would be like if he ever had.)

He could see the blue of the sky and the fluffy silver clouds letting a pleasant sun shine through.  The city looked bright, clean, and almost over-exposed with colour.  The grass around the warehouse was so green, it almost hurt to look at.  His old pickup truck looked rusty, beat up, but undeniably rustic and beautiful to behold in its strength and dependability.

There was only one bit of drab in the entire world, as looked around and found himself walking around the warehouse: A man in shabby clothes, who was walking away from him in a depressed shuffle.

Thomas ran up to the man.  “Hey!  Hey you!  What’s wrong?  Maybe I can help fix it.  I fixed all of this,” he said, opening his arms wide to illustrate the world around them.

“No, I don’t think you can,” the man sighed.  He had the news-caster announcer’s voice.  “I’m all out of bad news to report.”

When he turned around, though, it was Josh.  His voice turned back to the self-important wine the boy had on occasion.  “How will I get anyone to listen to me if there’s no bad news to report?”

Tom woke to the smell of rain.  It was storming again outside.  An early morning storm that the news had warned (depressingly) that would occur and turn everything cold and soggy for the next few days.

After a moment to collect himself, he remembered he was in what had become Maria’s room.  Pictures and a few posters were on the walls and he found himself unable to stave off curiosity long enough to leave.

Most of the pictures were of her with a nice looking family.  A young woman with reddish hair was her mother, while a nice looking, chubby brown-haired father stood proudly next to his wife and two daughters.  One daughter was the sandy-brown haired girl he could see aged into Maria, the other was a cute little girl with a gap-toothed smile.

After the photos moved on a few years, it looked like the father had passed away, and a slightly more haunted group photo with just the three ladies continued on until what had to have been just before Maria reached college.  He promised himself to ask about her sister some time when it didn’t seem like prying.

Once college hit, the photos were all of her and her cabal, a few other friends, and a lot of her and Tom.  He always assumed they had taken photos to record their progress, and never had paid much attention to the old 35mm camera that was always floating around their meetings.

He could see a compressed slide-show of the group’s progression.  It seemed years ago and miles away.  True to her word, Maria’s biggest smiles seemed to be in the pictures when she was helping Tom.

With slow deliberation, he got to the bathroom, showered, dressed in a sweater and undershirt (the weather was getting chilly) and shuffled his way to the kitchen.  Maria would usually spend the mornings doing class work – some kind of study-at-home business major, but she wasn’t in the kitchen though her car was still parked outside when he looked.

He finally found her sleeping in the corner of the second floor, surrounded by hours worth of pre-script.  She had a roll of solder still in her hand, and three ready-to-lay power collector glyphs next to her cheek.  Before he could try and slide a blanket over her, her eyes jumped open and she slowly turned over, puffy eyed.  “Oh, no, what time is it?”

“Ten,” Thomas said, reaching over to help her up.  She put down her half-finished work and winced as she stretched.  “What time did you finish last night?”

“I don’t know,” she said, then grabbed the solder gun and walked over to the far wall.  “I had a dream, though.  Figured out a way to fix the third protective circle without having to dig a trench in the ground outside.”

He laughed and handed her his coffee.  “You need this more than I do.  I’ll go make some more.”

She smiled sweetly and accepted the cup.  Then, as he was turned away, she did a quick smell check of her shirt.  A shower would definitely be needed.  “Thank you,” she said between sips of coffee.

“For what?” he called back from the kitchen.

“Last time I pulled an all nighter like that, I had my mom and friends freaking out, telling me to slow down and to take better care of myself.  I hate being told stuff like that.”

“Well, it is good advice, but you’re young,” Tom said with a smile, peeking around the door jam.  “I’m sure you can survive a night or two.”

“Did you sleep well?”

“I did, thank you.”

She began drinking coffee in one hand and sketching ideas on a blank part of the wall with a pencil.  “I always have vivid dreams when a spell is about to be completed.  The Herald says it’s because our dreams are rooted in magic, and when we start to gather so much of it, they start feeding off of the ambient energy.”

“Huh,” Tom nodded to himself, walking out of the kitchen with a fresh pair of cups just as Maria finished her first.  “Guess that means we’re on the right track.”

They sat down at the kitchen table for breakfast.  Oatmeal and a few oranges with the coffee.  “Eric said to me one time that when he was researching magic, having the dreams and all that, he could stay awake for days.  That he wasn’t even hungry or sore or tired.  The spell almost feeds you, cares for you.  Opens your mind up and dusts off all the cobwebs.”  Maria smiled at him.  “I bet you’re feeling pretty good lately, even with all the late nights.”

Tom nodded, though he wondered if it was the magic, or the look she was giving him that made him feel fifteen years younger.  Maybe it was both.

With a long, luxurious yawn and stretch, Maria finally stood, cleared the table and sighed.  “Well, I’d better get changed.  You heading out today?  It is our day off.”

“Nah, just going to putter around here, I think,” he said, nursing the last half of his third coffee.  “Maybe watch a movie.”

“Sounds good.  I’ll join you after I clean up.”

He sighed to himself as she left, and a moment later the shower turned on.  His mind was becoming a switch.  When she was here, he thought that it would be silly to send her away.  When she was out of the room, he began lamenting that she should go before this feeling spread.  He liked feeling useful.  He liked feeling smart.  He liked feeling wise and interesting and attractive to someone.  It was getting harder and harder to remind himself that Maria was just a kid, and that crusty old electrician/magicians shouldn’t be thinking inappropriate thoughts about young magicians who probably had half of the university lined up outside their door, ready to woo and court.

Ultimately, though, the hardest thing to resist hadn’t been the sweet smiles or kind words, it had been the fact that Thomas Markham had a habit of completing those pesky circuits.  While Maria hadn’t been as good at first, she was learning quickly, proving herself accidentally, and best of all, had a work-ethic that rivalled Tom’s.  That was the true attraction.  The true danger.  She knew exactly what it felt like to be needed.  To be useful.  To be good at something and to exercise that talent.  They both felt it, they both needed it, and they were both very good at working together.  He had to tread very carefully in the next few days, or it would be that feeling and sense of purpose that would steer him into doing something very foolish and falling for the girl.

Of course, foolishness rarely happens on schedule.  She screamed from the bathroom, and suddenly his arms and legs turned to spring-iron as he bolted towards the bathroom, coffee cup smashing behind him.

A thousand terrible things crossed through his imagination, from poisonous spiders to some error in the magical pathways they had drawn around the pipes to keep them together during the storms, and they all ended with him needing to be there.  To help.  So, without a second thought, he kicked down the door in a burst of rotted timber, rushed to the shower-stall, where she was frantically waving around her arms, and pulled curtain aside, ready to save the day.

Maria gasped, covering herself as she tried in vain to turn off the water.  “Tom!  What are you doing?”  He blinked, dumfounded as she hid herself behind the rest of the curtains, only to let out another shriek.  “It’s cold!  Turn it off!  Aaah!  Turn it off!”

He grabbed the faucet and yanked it to its closed position.  Despite the icy water splattering around him, he was boiling red.  “I’m sorry!  You were screaming and…”

“I-it’s o-o-kay,” she shivered, gasping as the freezing cold and wet shower curtain touched her skin.  “C-c-can y-ou-to-owel?”

Tom quickly grabbed the biggest towel next to the sink and held it up for her, looking away in shame.  “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to-I mean, it must have been all that coffee I made-”

Still shivering, she finally managed to crack a smile as she tried to put the towel around herself.  “T-tom, it’s o-okay, just-”

The crack was terribly loud, and both of them gasped as the floor shifted under them.  Plaster and ceramic began to shake, and somewhere behind the wall, water began a vicious spray when a pipe fitting came loose.  All the weight in the little apartment floor was in the bathroom at that moment, and it was enough to finally rip the shower fittings free of their housing.

A chain reaction occurred, starting as the pipes tore free, their support removed, and the full weight of the early-fifties bathtub settled harshly on the worn, rotted floor.  It was only by sheer luck that Maria didn’t get tangled in the shower curtains as she leapt out of the tub and into Tom’s arms for safety, and not a heartbeat later, as they ran to less rotten floorboards outside of the bathroom, that the shower, bathtub, toilet and sink fell through the floor and exploded on the ground below.

Soaking wet, naked and shivering, Maria’s only response was:  “The runes!  The power-runes!”

They ran down the stairs as fast as they could.  Tom grabbed a wrench and some tools, and Maria grabbed her solder kit.  Water was spraying everywhere from the main pipe, and the puddle was slowly but surely creeping to where Tom had wired in the city’s electrical grid.  A short circuit would simultaneously complete three hundred half-finished circuits of both magic and regular wire, and likely cause so much Lash as to erase them from existence, or turn them into newts if you followed the Python school of Lash-theory.

As Tom began cranking on the rusted pipe shut-off valve, he wondered if Magic would take requests. If he was to be turned into something harmless, he always wondered what it would be like to be a bowl of Jell-O.  Okay…maybe not, but it was the first and most terrifying thing his panicked mind could think of.

Even after they stopped the water, they had to drain it and repair the damage.  Then they had to move the chunks of toilet and shower pipe and repair those parts as well.  By the time it was five o’clock, they were both shaking from exhaustion, soaking wet, and freezing.

But when she looked up at him with that satisfied smile that he knew he must have been wearing as well, he wondered who had turned up the heat.  He was too tired to protest, and his mind had become largely a blank from all the work they had been rushing to complete, so it couldn’t even warn him that he shouldn’t be staring.

Even with matted hair, dark rings under her eyes, and a collection of scrapes, burns and cuts on her arms and legs, she looked like the best thing that had ever been placed in front of him.

“Tom,” she said quietly.  “Are you okay?”

He nodded foolishly, suddenly feeling like a kid again, seeing his first Playboy, or sneaking a peek at the next-door college girl changing from his tree-house.  “I-uhm…” he quickly looked around for the towel, but it was still upstairs, so he instead pulled off his sweater (it was almost a sponge at this point anyway) and gently draped it over her shoulders to try and assist with some semblance of modesty.

She laughed softly, caught his hands in hers, and took a deep breath.  Then, she guided his hands around her waist, knelt forward, and caught his mouth with a very warm, very deep kiss.

The last bit of worry in his mind melted away as Maria wrapped herself around him, and the surge of delicious, content joy that went through his body made all the cold evaporate in a heartbeat.

Apparently, Maria had a habit of completing circuits too.


To be concluded

Posted under Short Stories
  1. Matt Said,

    I’m not in the publishing business, but have you considered submitting this to a short story magazine? It’s a good way to get your name out there, and a good way to start a writing career.
    I love the stories you have written, both fanfics and the independatn stories, and I hope you write many more.
    Good luck,

  2. Fiss Said,

    Actually, that’s part of the reason I started posting it here for critiquing/opinions. 🙂 I’m planning on sending the finalized “polished” product out into the woods to see what will happen. The only thing holding me back from actually having the document ready to send is I want to make sure the ending doesn’t let the rest of the story down.

    Schematics 4 will be out soon. We’ll see if it’s ready then.

Add A Comment

WP-SpamFree by Pole Position Marketing