Truth. Justice. Minesweeper.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Back to the old salt mine.

My pager went off at three-thirty this morning. The embarrassing thing is that it woke Ron up before it woke me, and he had to jam it between my ear and the couch before I came around.

So I called in to the number on the display, heard a few clicks, and a recorded female voice told me that the next bus for Kitica was leaving at 5 a.m. from Third Street Station. That was it.

"Just tell me!" I whispershouted at the phone. Don't leave me cryptic messages. Don't leave hints I'm supposed to figure out. If you want me to get on the damn bus and do something, tell me to do that. But oh no.

"Freaking superheroes," I mumbled as I dressed. An hour later I was at the bus station buying a ticket for Kitica. Needless to say, there was hardly anyone around at this time of night. I assumed the people who were here were, you know, vagrants and prostitutes and stuff. Ignoring them, I headed out for bus bay number four with my ticket.

There were four other passengers. A couple of college kids with giant Adam's apples and a lot of blond hair--they sacked out on the back bench. An old ratty looking guy, who sat right behind the driver. A woman with a black eye and a couple of shopping bags, in the middle of the bus, looking out the window. And a jittery guy in a cheap suit, who kept getting up to change seats and ask the driver stuff. I sat about three-quarters of the way back.

The bus left on time, and we didn't run into traffic on the way out of Empire City. We crossed the Mackenzie Bridge and hung a right onto I-181. One of the college guys was snoring his head off and the other one was drooling onto his chest. Sleep seemed like a pretty good deal to me, but I figured I should stay awake and alert in case anything happened.

Still, I slipped into a light doze and only snapped out of it when the nervous guy said to me, "Do you think we'll make it on time? It's six-thirty! I have to meet Laszlo at the Bluebird at seven-forty-five! We're only in East Fuerstenberg!" Before I could tell him I didn't know, he had bounded up to bug the driver some more.

When the interesting thing happened, about twenty minutes later, I almost missed it. The highway split in two and we took the right fork, I-195 East. But Kitica was west, not east. I crinkled up my eyebrows in puzzlement. The only other person to notice was the anxious guy, who yelled out, "Hey, you snotpot! You're going the wrong way!" and flung himself up the aisle to shout some more.

The driver stiff-armed him into the nearest seat, and he was so freaked out by this he shut up and stayed where he was. The old guy didn't seem to notice and the college guys were still sleeping, but the woman and I exchanged a what-the-hell-is-this glance.

We drove along a while longer and turned off onto some little county road, and from there deep into farmland. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere, the bus slowed to a halt. "Now what the hell is this?" the driver said, and opened the door.

I craned my neck. There was a car parked crossways on the road. A familiar car.

I went to follow the driver as he got out to see what was going on, and he said, "Get back in your seat, shithead." I ignored him.

The driver, on his way to check out the roadblock, stepped too close to an early-morning shadow that turned into Greyghost, who swirled him to the ground in one motion and left him there.

I poked my head out the door. "I suppose you want me to drive this thing?"

He held up one finger to me, just-a-second, and opened the luggage compartment on the side of the bus. A man in a long coat rolled out and attacked Greyghost.

I had never seen Greyghost in a fight before. Not clearly, anyway; the tussle he had on the roof of that mansion was farther away and at night. He was fast and brutal, and seemed impossible to hit when he was in the shadows.

The guy in the coat had some kind of metal things attached to his forearms, spitting blue sparks as he swung his fists at Greyghost. He had Greyghost by the neck with one hand and was shoving the spark machine on his other wrist towards his eyes.

Then a bus window opened and a voice yelled out, "Wrap it up, you buttpickers! I gotta be at the Bluebird for quarter to eight!" The guy in the coat turned involuntarily to look at him, giving Greyghost an opening, and that was basically that.

Greyghost loaded the guy in the coat and the bus driver into his trunk and drove off. Fortunately, I really do know how to drive a bus. I don't have a license for it or anything, but a guy showed me how it works once and I still sort of had the hang of it. We made it into Kitica at 7:40.

If I ever have to get another job I don't know how I'm going to get all this stuff on my resume.
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