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Uno and Fog: An Unexpected Visitor

April 21, 2019

We stepped out of Lisa William’s apartment with the unfortunate timing of running into one of the tenants in the hall.   Thermos in one hand, lunch pail in the other, obviously heading off to work. His mouth gaped open and before he could say anything I took that moment to act and put him to sleep.

There is a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and within that structure there’s a part that controls sleep.  There’s a technical name for it, the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus.  I learned that when I was trying to figure out how to use my abilities.  Basically, I blocked the electrical impulses that would tell him to be alarmed, and sent out other impulses that tell the brain to shut off.

Its a handy, nonlethal trick.  Took a lot of practice to be able to pull it off.  He started to drop the floor.  A quick burst through my neurons let me catch him before he hit the floor.  He was heavier than he looked.  With a quick half spin I caught the thermos and pail.  I eased him, and his belongings, to the floor making sure he landed with little sound.  Then made a small bow toward The Fog.

The Fog gave me a nod before he headed downstairs.  Some people are hard to impress.

I didn’t particularly like leaving the man exposed like that, but the building had controlled access.  I knock out the cameras and the alarm again as we stepped into the early morning.  The world always seemed older at that time of night.

My partner gets on his bike and heads out.  I fuzzed out the cameras in both directions as he headed  off to disappear into the traffic before I turned in the other direction and heading toward the subway several blocks away.  I could run home.  I’m fast.

There are others faster, but I could catch a car on the freeway if I needed to, but I’m not so fast that I’m invisible and people tend to notice a man running the speed of a cheetah.  Discretion is the key to not getting caught.  Stick to the shadows, don’t draw attention to yourself.

Besides its exhausting.  People don’t really think about the fact that you are still, in fact, running that distance and from my perspective it feels like I’m running like a normal when I’m doing it.  I’m overclocking my entire nervous system to do it.  It feels more like the world has slowed down, not that I’ve sped up.  Late at night sometimes I worry that I might age myself prematurely or burn out.

Now if I could fly like Luminary, Southern Belle or countless others I probably would, but I haven’t figured out how to do that and believe me I’ve tried.

The Fog once suggested I jump off the edge of my penthouse under the assumption that I would figure out a way to fly in order to survive.  I think he was joking.

I hope he was joking.

I made my way back without incident.  I have a penthouse in a building that sits at the edge of Greensward Park in the center of the city.  The building soars upward, but there’s nothing special about it in comparison to countless others in the city.  There’s parking below street level, and below that in a hidden area is our lair, which might be unusual, but then I’ve never really searched the entire housing of New Amsterdam, so who knows?

The Fog lives down below, he long ago abandoned any semblance of a normal life.  He burned through several jobs before finally deciding a normal life was too restrictive.  Which is kind of weird from a guy living beneath a parking garage, but who am I to judge?  He has, on occasion, implied that my lifestyle was making me soft and sentimental.

I mentioned he was single-minded, didn’t I?

I placed my key in the elevator lock and headed up, not down.  I was looking forward to a few hours of sleep before work.  The elevator opened upon the dark and quiet entry of the penthouse.  I felt the circuits of the air circulation moving, the slow leak of power into the fridge, the clock and . . .

Someone was in the living room, facing my approach.  With that came the faint scent of cigarette smoke which I found more annoying than the fact that whoever it was broke into my place.

I don’t have anything against smokers, but the scent lingers and it doesn’t take much to accidentally burn a hole in one of my leather couches and you pretty much have to replace the entire covering, which often doesn’t match the rest of the set.

I checked careful for anyone else before moving.  My uninvited guest just waits for me.  I thought about signaling The Fog, but decided against it.  Having him show up would raise questions and I don’t know why my guest was here.

For all I know they were an overzealous process server, a nosy reporter, an ex or somebody my father sent for one reason or another.

I hesitated for a moment before I stepped into the living area and turned on the light, keeping my eyes focused on my visitor.

The woman was dressed in a black three piece suit that would have been fashionable about a hundred years ago, starched white shirt and necktie (also black).  She was sitting on a black cape that reminded me of the type stage magicians use sometimes.  A black fedora rested on her short cropped hair, I wondered briefly if she and The Fog got their hats from the same place.  It amused me to think of them both passing each other unnoticed grey and unremarked.

The hair looked like it had been colored a dark red with one of those washable hair coloring kits.  Black and white face paint formed an asymmetrical pattern that would confuse facial recognition in both software and people.  She had a narrow face and her chin line was sharply defined and I suspected her face was pretty in a severe way.

“Mr. Norte.” She smiled slightly, but her dark eyes watched me like a predator.  Cigarette smoke circled around her, I half expected to see phantoms, or maybe the damned, dancing in the blue curls.

I recognized her immediately, even though I had never met her.  She was one of the magical heavy hitters out there.  Even Luminary had called on her for help on occasion.

“Ms. Teri.”  I don’t move, I don’t know why she’s here or what she wants.

“Call me Teri.” I tried not to wince when she stubbed the cigarette out on the glass surface of the table in front of her and stood up,  “We need to talk.”

 

 

 

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