Inside the store, she strolled around, tossing package after package of donuts crème-filled buns, mini-cakes, cookies, sweet rolls and more into two baskets. All of these treats had been designed to make a person long for insulin or a dentist, whichever came first. “It all looks pretty good,” she murmured.
“Is this what you eat every day?”
Her reply came without a trace of sarcasm. “This is breakfast.”
At the cash register, the bill came to around two hundred dollars… and searching my pockets, I had about a tenth of that. Dana observed my battle with the buck and chuckled as she reached into a slit in her suit to withdraw a few foldedup bills. “I’ve got this. Nice of you to offer, though.”
Outside, me holding one bag and her the other, she asked, “Did you really see through my disguise?”
“It wasn’t much of one.”
A rueful chuckle came from her. “Maybe I’ll have to wear a hat next time. I usually don’t go out in public. My brother doesn’t, either.”
“Are you worried about the paparazzi or something?”
“The paparazzi,” she began, running the word over her tongue. “No, I’m not worried about them.”
It would have been nice for her to elaborate, but she didn’t. Instead, she began walking in a slow and purposeful manner past the station toward the corner of Fitch and Masters Street where the abandoned building area lay. Anyway, the location wasn’t the uppermost topic in my mind. Curiosity was. We walked in silence for a few seconds and then the question of, “Which episode did you like best?”
No mention of whether she liked me or not. Right now, it didn’t seem to be the most opportune moment to question her about the pearl bumps and three-pointed innies thing. Those two anomalies aside, I couldn’t believe my good luck, that being she hadn’t mashed my head against a pole or told me to get stuffed. “Which episode,” she prompted.
Oh right, the show. They’d all been more than decent, but number sixteen was the bomb for me. It involved The Metas battling a seemingly invincible opponent. He was stronger and more experienced, but Van had split into his multiple forms and surrounded him, while Dana had used her superior speed to pound him into the ground. “It was a pretty cool show, that one.”
A nod came from her. “We enjoyed making it.”
In a quick motion, she grabbed a candy bar from her bag and tore off the wrapper with her teeth. Stuffing it in her mouth, she offered up a satisfied sigh and licked the chocolate off her fingers with a delicate pink tongue. Cleaning job over, she proceeded to unleash her appetite on the other goodies, tearing the wrappers off and shoving them in her mouth. After feasting on an unsuspecting chocolate bar, a guilty expression crossed her face and she said apologetically, “Sorry, I need the sugar in my system.”
Okay, this is supremely weird. I wondered if she’d ever experienced a major crash after the sugar rush had worn off. I did not want to find out. While she continued to gorge, I debated whether to ask her about what I’d seen. Dither, dither, answer come hither… and then a sense of now or never overtook me.
Glancing at her, she seemed nervous, as she kept licking her lips and casting furtive looks up and down the street. What was there to be worried about? Out of the few people who’d made their appearance, not one of them bothered to look in our direction. Maybe she was afraid of the paparazzi after all. Dana flicked her eyes in the direction of the television station. “I have to go back now. Sorry.”
As for my next question, that of her planetary origins, it went with the wind. She didn’t say another word, but stuck close to me as we walked down the street. Her body gave off a lot of heat, almost like a blast furnace. Odd, but okay, I’d take it. While wondering what pithy phrase would lead to more conversation, we passed by a particularly dirty alleyway with me in the lead. Something hit me in the back and sent me sprawling. The bag flew out of my hand and the treats scattered all over the sidewalk, but that was the least of my concerns.
When I looked up, Dana was gone. However, the sounds of people struggling and the yell from inside the alley of, “Hands off!” alerted me to her location. Getting to my feet, I crept to the corner and saw a very large man wearing what looked to be a toga holding Dana in a hammerlock. Although she struggled, she couldn’t break free. For a moment, every function in my body froze. God, what do I do?
Option one, call a cop, but after taking a good look around, no cops in sight, so scratch that. Option two meant taking on this guy alone, but then the concept of self-preservation hit. This dude was not from here. People didn’t wear togas, not in this weather or ever. Even from the side, the thickness in his torso stood out and made me think of a pro wrestler on mega doses of steroids. And he was twice my size, so…
Go to option number three—do something crazy. Adrenalin flowed, and my pulse raced to stratospheric proportions. Uttering a cry of semi-insane rage—and what I was about to do definitely constituted insanity—I ran toward him, arms up in a football blocker’s position. He let go of her and began to turn around at the sound of my scream. Just before impact with his midsection, I tucked my head down. The collision hurled him into the wall. His head met brick and he slid down to the concrete. When he rolled over, a dazed and confused expression was on his very ugly, lumpy face. A mutated potato would have been better looking. “Yeah, that’s how we do it,” I began.
My victory dance stopped when he shook off the impact and got to his feet with a look of pure murder in his eyes. Oh, holy crap. “You,” he growled. “You will die!”
Said threat dissipated, however, when Dana spun around with a leg kick that nearly decapitated him. He sagged once more to the concrete. “Tell your master you lost. You know what will happen,” she stated. “You know what you have to do.”
“Yes, I know,” he intoned, sounding like a cement mixer turned to high. “For Rekeer’s glory, this is what I do.”
Reaching inside his toga, he pulled something out. The size of a tennis ball, it looked pretty innocuous, but with aliens, who knew? He then pushed the side of the ball and a high, sharp-pitched whine instantly began. Aw hell, is that a bomb? Dana’s eyes widened.
“Move!” she yelled as she pushed me out of the alleyway. We ran, and across the street two young women had their cellphones out, recording all of this for posterity. Fabulous, my face was going to be on every social site in less than ten minutes. Keeping my head down, I ran for my life. A second later, a blast came from behind me. The shop windows in the vicinity shattered and the whole world turned red…