I think it’s fairly safe to say that the Mobian and I don’t get along. He didn’t take kindly to the story from Fortune Cookie that will fail and she brought me along to keep that from happening. When he tried to ask if she was absolutely sure, she pointed out that she had foreseen where to find him. I have to admit, that did a lot to help her credibility with me.
I still don’t necessarily like being manipulated into all this, but Fortune Cookie had some good points. It wouldn’t destroy the world, but being stuck in time isn’t something I want either. I imagine it has something to do with being frozen in place, in one moment. I don’t even know if I’d be conscious and frozen there. As I believe we’ve established by now, there’s only so much stuff I can make up in my own head to keep myself entertained.
So there I was, recruited to be the one person capable of stopping time from ending. I’d begun having the thought every now and then that perhaps the Soviet rocket fuel vodka gave me permanent brain damage, because that’s fucked up. It all seems so far-fetched. Really, Cookie’s answer that I was basically the best she could get on such short notice is the most satisfactory answer I could come up with to why I got pulled in on this one.
I mean, I do have a penchant for killing people and widespread destruction, two things the Mobian just doesn’t do.
But enough about all that, y’all are probably interested in what we actually did. Not much. It was late and I’d been drinking, so Cookie figured I should sleep. Also, was damn glad to have my crate back. I had to get it stowed away, and that led to more drinking with the people I had move it. That led to a brief car chase and a night in the local police station. They released me, so I showed them I had no hard feelings with a night out at the local bar.
I may be developing a problem. However, given he body count it’s racking up among the civilian populace, I wouldn’t say it’s my problem.
After all that, Cookie woke me up with a big backpack dropped on my head. Surprisingly, she hit my actual head. As in, the one with the brain. The one with the brain organ, not the metaphor. I’ve been assaulted by woman waking me up before, and never before had I ever met someone so sick and depraved as to not hit me in the crotch. Something’s seriously wrong with this woman. How dare she treat me that way!
I tossed the backpack to the side and stood up in bed, pointing a finger down at her accusingly while wearing only boxers. “That’s it! I demand you punch me in the crotch like a normal person.”
She ignored my gyrating crotch, tempting target though it was. “Get down, please. We need to find the person or thing that we’re here to stop.” She picked up the backpack and held it out to me. “I bought some things you can use.”
I took the pack and opened it. Laptops, radios, cell phones, that sort of thing. “You just expect me to throw all this stuff together somehow and just magically detect disturbances in time.”
She crossed her arms. “I’m having trouble seeing where we need to go.”
I dropped to my butt and grabbed the alarm clock off the motel night stand. “Here, if anything happens to time, this should tell you.”
“Wakey wakey in there!” A British voice called out, then the Mobian slammed the door open and walked in, holding some doohickey in his hand. The blocky device had a rotating satellite dish up top near a spiraling antenna and a cord that led to earphones on his head. When he saw me in bed with Cookie there, he pushed a button that stopped the dish and pulled off the headset. “Oh, am I interrupting?”
“A gentleman wouldn’t tell,” I said, taking Cookie’s hand and kissing the back of it.
She pulled it away, bright red spreading across her face. She turned toward the Mobian. “I am trying to convince him to build something to find any disturbances in time.”
Mobian pointed down at the gizmo in his hands. “I’ve got that. I’m tied in with my ship. This should tell me if any large timeshifts occur. If you want something to warn you, get a watch.” He pointed to the alarm clock in my hand.
Cookie put her face in her hand and turned to stomp out past Mobian. He turned to look at her, then looked back at me. “What got into her?”
I raised an eyebrow. “You want me to answer that honestly?”
His face deflated. “Not at all. One of us better go after her, she’s so sure we’re all needed to fix this. You two are so close, maybe it ought to be you.” He stepped to the side to give me a clear path through the door.
“Moai, clothes!” I called out. Moai shot up from his mattress on the floor, spooking Mobian who flinched back a step.
As I rushed out the door, I heard Mobian telling Moai, “You remind me of these angel statues I’ve met.”
Still in boxers, I ran out and then headed for the stairwell, wondering if how necessary this was the entire way. Then again, I figured it didn’t matter because it gave me a chance to run outside nearly nude. In fact, I stopped halfway down the stairs to throw off my boxers and continued shouting, “Free at last, free at last, good balls almighty, they’re free at- oh, there you are.”
I found Cookie just outside the building, looking things up on her phone. “I think I should call your enemy Venus. Maybe she will take this seriously.”
“I stayed to help, didn’t I? Wait a moment.” I held out my hand to the side. On time, my clothes tumbled through the air to land nowhere near where I anticipated. I began picking them up off the concrete and putting them on. “I’m here. I’ll save the world, I guess. Yeah, you probably didn’t pick the best person for that, but I’ll do the job.”
“I thought you would take it more serious than you’re known for.”
I shrugged. “Bad shit’s going to happen whether I’m frowning or laughing. I might as well try to have fun. Who knows, maybe that’ll throw whoever’s doing this off even more. Like if the Allies at Normandy had charged up the banks dressed as clowns. They’d have had a lot more fun, and lots of people are scared of clowns. You’re asking me for a tall order, though. Mobian’s looking, and I bet he knows how to contact us.”
She scoffed. “He’s not happy I brought you along. He doesn’t like serial killers.”
I nodded. “Most people don’t. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s a sad fact that serial killers are a persecuted bunch. They try to lock all of us up.”
Cookie glanced down at the ground, tapping her foot for a few seconds. Then she looked back at me. “Fine. How would you like to start your search?”
I realized she also stood on uncertain ground. Whatever she’d been doing in relation to the Japanese Underworld, it hadn’t involved something as major as a worldwide event of disastrous proportions. She was outside her comfort zone as well. “Ok, here’s what we should do. Mobian came here for some unknown reason. Something must be up around here. We should ask around in a place where tourists asking questions won’t seem that strange. I think that means we head back to the pub, where I happen to have gotten in good with a few people thanks to keeping them drunk.”
I normally wouldn’t explain it so well to someone. I intended to flippantly suggest we head to a bar and figure things out from there. When Cookie nodded, I added, “This is new for me too, ya know. Last time I did anything like this, it’s more because Spinetingler wanted to kill me. Now you have me here to try and save the day.”
She made a big show of exhaling. “That sounded serious.”
I held out my arm to invite her along. She took it and we headed out to find that pub again “Just giving you a break. The arm is perfectly safe, no need to pull away. It won’t bite you.”
They welcomed us at the bar thanks to my efforts building rapport. I stepped up with Cookie in tow, greeting the excited patrons who hoped for another day of drinking on someone else’s tab. “Hello there, fellow drunks and alcoholics. What’s the news of the day? Anything unusual going on?”
It didn’t take too many drinks to loosen tongues enough that I got a bit of news not normally passed on to tourists, though it helped that I’d been seen in the company of a strigoi. That’s a type of vampire, for those who don’t know. Every place has a different type of vampire, it seems like, and some of them seem so different that it seems stupid to categorize them all as part of the same sort of being. Even the blood-drinking thing isn’t a good indicator, since Romanian werewolves are known to drink blood too.
Speaking of which, there had been a lot more werewolf attacks than usual up in the mountains to the north. That hushed the formerly-jovial attitude. A man with a bushy beard leaned over and tried to explain. “We get werewolf attacks here. Not often, but we get them. They are the big wolves. They eat dead bodies and kill people to drink blood. Something has them riled up.”
Someone else joined us. He looked like a teenager except for his bushy beard. “It may be those men who came through. They went that direction with a lot of trucks.”
“Do you know what they had in the trucks?” Cookie asked.
A woman joined us as well. I had my doubts at first, with the bushy beard hanging off her face, but the boobs gave it away. “My brother talked to his uncle’s cousin who knows a girl who works a truck stop for johns and she told her told him told him told me that she gave one of the drivers a Portuguese Breakfast in the back of the truck and it had a bunch of brass in it.”
I bought some extra drinks for the bearded people who were so helpful to me. “Just brass? Just a bunch of ingots or something?”
The bearded lady shook her head. “Different shapes and sizes.”
Cookie looked at me. “Would that be used in anything?”
An old man with a bushy beard, bushy sideburns, and bushy ear hair joined us, shaking his empty mug for us. I glanced at the barkeep and cocked my head toward the old guy. One refill later and he told us. “It could have something to do with the giant clock tower in the mountains.”
Cookie and I both asked the same question.“Giant clock tower?”
The beareded teen nodded. “Oh, that old thing. That could be it.”
So I guess everyone knew where there was a giant clock tower in the Carpathian mountains this whole time. And now a bunch of werewolves are running wild in the same direction as the tower. I wanted to run out and punch them, but Cookie insisted we go back to Mobian and tell him. Except he was missing. According to Moai, Mobian’s device pointed north and dinged, so then he ran out and disappeared into his ship.
After transmitting the tale using the beeping of a cell phone, I paid him off in a glass of mineral water and turned toward Cookie. “That Mobian guy’s a bit of a dick. Just for that, I’m not bringing him anything to drink. Now, do we have any rockets or artillery around here?”
Cookie grabbed the backpack she brought earlier and dumped out all the electronics she bought. “I’m not doing that. We better get hiking.”
Oh fuck me. Now I’ve got to go on a camping trip? I hate camping. I hate it so much, I don’t even do it when I’m drunk. Hell, I hate camping so much, I don’t even do it when I’m trying to hurt myself. Fuck, I just hate all of it. Nature can go eat a dick.
Well, look out Nature. It looks like it’s finally time for the dick to bite back.
Damn, just how much of my brain has all this alcohol killed?