This story is presented weekly in draft (unedited) form. Each installment is available for one week until the
next is posted. Miss one? Email me, and I’ll hook you up. Enjoy!
Under His Wing
At six forty-five Thursday morning, Katie stood at the door of the address Xavier had given her, coffee carrier and paper bag in hand. The pills were still in her pocket, because she wasn’t sure how long it would be before Xavier was ready to go. Katie planned to slip them in either his drink or a breakfast sandwich once she knew the plan.
She kicked the door with the toe of one slightly scuffed boot, hearing footsteps approach from the other side just a few seconds later. The door swung open, and the big man from the park stood on the other side, eyebrows raised and a smirk on his face.
“Right on time,” he said, backing up and motioning for her to come in. “One of those for me?” He gestured to the coffee carrier, and she nodded, but held it just out of reach.
“Not so fast, mister.” Giving him what she hoped was a coy look, she kept walking, headed toward a table in the middle of the big, industrial work room. The table was piled high with bits and pieces of electrical-looking thingys sitting on top of blueprints and graph paper covered with handwriting that matched the scrawl on her note.
Picking one of the least layered spots, she balanced the coffee carrier and sandwich bag on top. Picking up one of the coffee cups, she palmed the two pills in her pocket with the other hand and smiled.
“I’ll give you this when you tell me what the plan for today is. When do we leave, and what do we do when we find the manor?”
Xavier chuckled. “Spunky. I like that.” He pointed at something over her shoulder. “The machine is ready whenever you are. As for what happens when we get there, well, I need to go to the roof, and you need to find your friend and get him out of there. That’s all you need to know.”
Katie had slipped the pills into the cup while he was looking at the machine, and she nodded, handing it over before she turned to take a look.
A smallish metal sphere sat atop a square base, one panel at the bottom open to reveal a short flight of stairs that provided access to the interior. There were no windows, no markings, no color other than metal gray, and the whole thing was covered in a patchwork of rivets that seemed to have no recurring pattern whatsoever.
Turning back to Xavier, she crossed her arms.
“You can’t be serious. It’s too small for both of us. And it looks like it’s going to fall apart just sitting there!”
Xavier shook his head, mumbling something under his breath that may have been an insult to her gender. He moved around the table and walked toward the machine. Katie grabbed the second coffee and the sandwiches before following behind.
“She may not look like much,” he said, lovingly stroking a hand over the piecemeal exterior. “But she’ll get us there. I put two seats inside, so there’s room enough, and the trip should be quick and relatively painless.”
Katie shook her head, peering up in through the open hatch. “It looks pretty tight. And what do you mean by ‘relatively’ painless?”
Xavier grinned. “The landing might be a little jarring. I made it a sphere so it’ll roll on impact – less chance of us exploding or getting crushed if something happens to the skin. But it might get a little bumpy and crazy, depending on where we land.”
“Great.” Katie couldn’t quite keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “Sounds like a wild ride. I’m ready whenever you are.”
She wasn’t. She so wasn’t, and she knew without a doubt that once she stepped inside that machine, she was never coming out again.
Maybe drugging the only guy who knew how to drive it hadn’t been the smartest move.