Friday, October 23, 2009

Blenz Pt 1

Decisions. Decisions. We fight throughout childhood to assert we’re adults and that means we get to make our own. When you’re the last child of a dying people, you fight that much harder for that much longer. Because once I’m widely accepted as an adult then it really is all over for us.

Dante hasn’t noticed Maria’s gone. Compass has him enthralled. His people are very big on how things work. Especially him. He’s got a need to fix things. Loves to take them apart and try to put them back together better. Gets it from his Dad. Yeah. The accountant. That Dante’s so thrilled by a new tool is a good sign. He might be balancing. Fading out the Hope. If he’s resyncing…

I slide my headphones on. Listen. I know. Maria doesn’t sound right. Finding her would be hard even if I was back to how I should be—and I’m not. Nope. But Vancouver is a city of songs. A city filled with people who do sound like they should. Finding discord among all that harmony is so much easier than finding it among the wilds of the dream fields. Just like it should be easier to find Avalon’s familiar rhythm of silence.

Oh. So that’s what Dante was getting at. Sometimes I wonder where his insights come from. One of these times I’ll ask him. Just not this one.

Maria’s incomplete scales are lost among all the complete ones. I think I hear her echoes, but it’s too faint and… Well, it’s sort of unnecessary. I can see her distinctly green dress through a window behind us. She may not have fled. Or maybe she did and she’s just really bad at it.

A cup with little wavy lines to indicate its contents are hot is in a circular emblem on the doors of the shop. I was wrong. Not everything is closed. Maria’s just found one of the few things that would have a reason to be open when it’s early.

“You want a coffee?” I ask Dante. Maria slips behind the part of the shop’s exterior that’s stacked blocks of grey something.

“Depends.” He takes a step toward crossing Bute. “Is it really coffee? Or is it one of those mostly milk and flavor things you drink?”

“I’m hungry. I need caffeine.” I jerk my thumb at the shop. “I’ll be inside.”

“Ethan.” He looks up from the compass. “Do you have any money?”

He has to be resyncing. Only Normal Dante would think to ask if I had a way to pay for coffee and not notice that Maria isn’t beside me.

“Find Avalon.” I roll my shoulders. My headphones knock against my collarbones. “Don’t worry about me.”

He nods. Goes back to frowning over the compass. Avalon shouldn’t be this hard to find. There must be a guardian nearby. They’d be the only thing that might throw Dante off. Confuse the signals. Or whatever it is he picks up on. Unless he’s having as much trouble as I am.

I hope Avalon knows how to get us back to normal. He is, after all, a wealth of obscure information. Sometimes obscure useless information.

I shove against the door. Pointlessly. Did Maria secure it behind her? Oh no. Wait. It just pulls open. Like it says on that little sign there. Stupid non-intuitive door.

Inside the shop smells of coffee. Warmth presses against my neck and face. Tries to seep in between my sleeves and gloves. I didn’t think it was “cold” outside, but interior temperatures must be how Vancouver tracks seasons.

Someone in a black polo shirt starts to call hello, but the word cuts off halfway. Brown eyes widened a little, as the blood drains from his face. Still, even faded he has more color than me. Leaving me to wonder if I’ve been to this coffee place before. Avalon has warned me that I make quite the impression. Apparently.

I pretend to study the menu as I scan the place. A guy in a hooded sweatshirt, his hood up, is bent over something at a table at the far end of the shop. Something sits in a cup beside him. A blazer-style jacket hangs off the back of his chair.

Maria is nowhere to be seen. But I hear the sound of flushing from the direction of the bathrooms. Ok. So she may not have been making an escape. She might have just had to pee.

“I’d like a Maple Latte Macchiato,” I tell the barista with Wide Brown Eyes. “Please.”

Avalon has expressed it’s important to say please and thank you. Like my being polite somehow makes me easier for people to handle. Oh noes, don’t let the purple hair worry you—I’m really gosh darn nice if you get to know me.

You know better. I’ve been honest with you. I’m rarely nice. It’s not a dominant trait of my genetics.

The barista nods and rings this up, as the door to the bathroom opens. Maria steps cautiously out.

“Is that everything?” The barista asks.

“No.” I point to the pastry case. “I’d like one of those scone thingies, too, and whatever she’s having.”

Maria freezes at the she. Like she thought I hadn’t noticed her and she could just slip out the door behind me. The barista looks at her then at me. Shrugs. Normally people with me get more of a WTF no really why? kind of look, but Maria is dressed like the kind of individual who belongs with someone like me.

“What are you doing, Ethan?” she hisses.

“Breakfast,” I reply. “Andy wasn’t hungry, remember?”

She gives me a suspicious look then glances at the menu. “A mocha. A big one. And one of those muffins.”

I disapprove of muffins. They’re tricksters. Make you think you’re going to get a cake, but you get something that isn’t cake instead. Mean mean muffins. No point telling Maria this. She obviously disagrees.

The barista puts my scone on a plate. Goes to get a muffin for Maria. To her credit, she hasn’t asked how I intend to pay for this. Doubt it’s faith in me holding her tongue. She probably hasn’t considered that I wouldn’t have money. Your people rarely go anywhere without it.

“Thanks,” she mumbles to me.

“You’re welcome,” I say. “We can talk shoes after I get caffeine in me.”

Creation is not a simple wiggle your nose, snap your fingers kind of task. It takes concentration. Focus. Visualization. Caffeine helps the process. Really. Matt swears by it. He also tends to swear at people before he’s gotten it. I completely understand why now. Creation is a total bitch.

Maria’s eyes widen. “Did you see that?”

No. I was looking at her. “See what?”

She points to the counter. “Your cake thingie moved.”

I sigh. Breakfast has been cursed. Again. Fan-freakin-tastic.

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