Thursday, 1 June 2017
Chapter 10 part 1
A bit late this week, but there were a few things that needed to be ironed out.
As always, this is a first draft, so expect some errors. Adult language ahead, and thanks for reading!
Dimitri screamed back at the panhandler through the glass of his window, brown stained teeth and yellowed beard mere inches from his face. The ragged man reared back to punch at the window and Stirling had a sudden flashback to the woman smashing Dimitri’s window out in the parking lot of Greys and raking his face. Maybe Dimitri did too because he cranked the wheel over and bounced the SUV up and over the concrete divider, knocking their would-be assailant on his ass. Dimitri laid on the horn and gunned it up the oncoming lane and into the intersection, barely avoiding a city bus as he did.
“Okay, James!” Dimitri shouted, “I hate doing this to you, but clear the way!”
“On it,” came a slightly nasal male voice over the SUV’s speakers.”
Ahead of them, the lights which had been turning from amber to red went a solid flashing green. So did the ones in the intersection after that, and the one after that. They flew past the confused expressions of motorists wondering what happened to their turn to go.
After a few blocks, Dimitri took his foot off the gas and they blended back into the regular nightmare of evening traffic. The lights continued to be in their favour though.
“James?” asked Stirling, lifting an eyebrow.
“He’s my plastic pal who’s fun to be with,” said Dimitri.
When Stirling only looked blankly at him, Dimitri just shook his head in disgust. “This is what happens when nobody reads the classics anymore,” he grumbled.
“So you said you were a technomancer,” Stirling tried again. “That includes talking cars and making stoplights turn green when you want?”
“I don’t remember that being in your list of knacks. There’s no ‘T’ for technomancer in ‘demean.’”
“Technically, I’m an enchanter,” Dimitri said shortly. “I infuse objects with different kinds of magic. Specifically, though, I’m good at enchanting tech. In the business, it’s called being a technomancer.”
“Technomancer,” Stirling said, tasting the word. “Holy balls! That has got to be the best goddamn professional title ever!”
“I know, right?” Dimitri flashed a grin at him.
“That name on your business card must be like a free pass to an all-you-can-eat woman buffet!” Stirling said, gazing in admiration.
Dimitri’s grin faded, “I get by.”
Stirling noticed the look, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not gay myself, but even I might look twice if I met someone who called themselves a technomancer!” He struck an action pose and hissed, “Technomancer!”
“Dude, No! it’s not like that!” Dimitri sighed and collected himself before saying, “Yeah, being a technomancer sounds pretty cool, but in the end, you’re just a computer geek who uses magic. How many computer geeks you know are drowning in a sea of female attention?”
“Does online porn count?”
“No,” he said emphatically. “No, it doesn’t”
“Yeah, alright then, you may have a point,” Stirling conceded.
“Besides, the only people who call us technomancers are other technomancers,” Dimitri admitted glumly.
“What do other people call you?”
“Webmages,” Dimitri muttered, barely audibly.
“Webmages?!” Stirling let out a snort. “Sorry, you’re right, it’s not funny at all.”
They whooshed through another green-lit intersection.
“Hey don’t feel too bad,” said Stirling, feeling he should say something. He took out his phone and poked at it for a time before the picture of a middle-aged woman glowed into existence on the screen. He showed it to Dimitri.
“Who’s that?” Dimitri asked.
“This sexy beast right here is Melinda fucking Gates,” said Stirling. “She is a sultry maven of tech whose looks are only surpassed by her smarts and philanthropy. She’s married to Bill Gates, the nerd-king of computer geeks.”
“So? What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, if Bill can find someone, you might too.” Stirling chucked him gently on the shoulder in what he imagined was a fatherly, chin-up, sort of way.
“Bill Gates is a multi, multi-billionaire, and she’s old enough to be my mom.”
“Three kids,” Stirling continued, reading from her Wikipedia page. “That’s only one less than Hugh Hefner.” He inhaled in a faux-orgasmic way and gave his eyebrows a suggestive waggle. “She and Bill are probably in Seattle right now going at it like a pair of pre-lubricated weasels.”
“What the fuck, dude!?” Dimitri sounded outraged, but there was a hint of a wry smile there too.
“Anywhoo, I noticed that this isn’t the way to Richmond,” said Stirling, looking out the window.
“Quick side-trip,” said Dimitri with an amused note in his voice. “I have a bad feeling that bum was looking for us, and I want some answers.”
“I prefer, Gentleman of the Road,” said Stirling.
“There were months after I got out of school when I was a paycheque away from being him.”
“He tried to break my fucking window! I’m not worried about offending his sensibilities.”
“Weird thing about him though,” Stirling continued, unruffled, “he was wearing his ghost on the outside.”
“What?! How does that work?”
“I know, right? I thought it was weird too. He’s like the second person I’ve seen doing that today. That woman who broke your window in Grey’s parking lot was rocking the same look. Her ghost looked like it had been in an industrial accident though.”
“And this was something you couldn’t have mentioned earlier?”
“I’ve been distracted,” said Stirling.
“What does that even mean, ‘their ghost was on the outside?’”
“I don’t know.”
“But you’re the necromancer.”
“Maybe, but I’m not a very good one. An hour ago I didn’t even know what a knack was. Anyway, it’s not like ghosts go out of their way to talk to me. Mostly they tell me to go suck a dick. Mostly.”
“So is there anything else you need to tell me.”
“No, but I have another question.”
“How could I guess.”
“What’s with your face?”
“My face? What do you mean?” Dimitri lifted his butt off his seat to look at his face in the rearview mirror.
“Well, that woman in the Greys parking lot raked you with her nails pretty good, but I don’t see a mark. Also, that shoulder doesn’t seem to be bothering you all that much. What are you, some kind of Desi Wolverine?”
Dimitri looked at him consideringly. “Sometimes I forget how much you don’t know. Most sponsored have barely hit puberty when they get tagged into the arcane ring. Someone your age should know this shit already.”
He took a deep breath. “Alright, you know what the Philosopher’s Stone is?”
“Well, the alchemists never found it.”
“Oh. Okay. That’s good. I guess.”
“What they did find instead was almost as good though. It’s stuff called Panacea, and it makes you temporarily immortal.”
“Temporarily immortal? Isn’t immortal the opposite of temporary?”
Dimitri took a hand off the wheel and waggled it at him. “It works out that a drop of this stuff is roughly equivalent to a year’s worth of wear and tear on the body. It’ll grow back limbs, cure most diseases, and next to printer ink, it’s about the most expensive stuff in existence. I got a ten-year dose of it two months ago.”
“Holy balls! You’re like Connor McLeod, immortal swashbuckling highlander for the next ten years!”
“Dude, your geek is showing.”