Other Places 2: Road Blocks

BOOK: Other Places 2: Road Blocks
2.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other Places: Book Two






Road Blocks





P.S. Power








Chapter one







"Do you
think anyone is impressed with a minimum wage earning, thirty-odd year old candle jockey that works in a rundown Mall? Have some pride, and get a real job,
. Like
to me." The man that was speaking to Zack had been saying things like that for about five minutes. There was no one else in the store, but the fellow was clearly, and irrationally, upset. That meant he was trying to take his anger out on the only person there.

It wasn't a
thing, and the beefy, bald fellow, was trying to push him into admitting that he had drugs for sale. The problem there, Zack decided, was that, if he
have anything like that for sale, he wouldn't have sold it to the man in front of him at all. Ever. He was like every bad undercover cop from any eighties movie you wanted to name. It was so obvious that for a few minutes it was really hard to tell what he was actually trying to do at all.

The voice inside his head agreed, which was a rare thing. They normally argued a bit.

Mirror Him, his alternate personality, wasn't going to take this much longer either it was pretty clear.

'How's the arm feeling boyo? Cause I'm going to punch this dickhead in the nuts in about six seconds.'

The problem with Mirror Him was that about half the time when he said something like that, it was
about to happen. Zack cleared his throat and looked out into the Mall not seeing anyone at all. It was the dead side, so that wasn't a big surprise, this time of year. February wasn't a prime shopping season.

The fellow leaned in, which had Zack moving back, into the hole in space the movement made. It wasn't a real attack, but he was a bit shy about things like that right now. The last scuffle he'd gotten into had left him healing for six weeks nearly. His arm was better, and so were his ribs, but the strength hadn't come back yet. Given that he'd had to look up to ninety pound weaklings
that, it wasn't a good thing as far as his martial arts skills went. Or wouldn't be if he had them, he was sure.

"Sorry, you need to leave now. This is a candle shop. We
have drugs. We
sell hot women, and if there's anything else you might need officer, I suggest you look someplace that actually sells them. Now, if you don't leave this minute, I'll call the police and let them take you out, as you proclaim that you're innocent loudly for all to hear. It isn't much of a threat, but it's all I have for you at the moment. If you want my best material, you need to buy something. Just to clarify, in case you missed it, that would be candles or candle associated things. Incense, holders for that... what have you."

The man paused, just for a moment, the gap in his body language screaming at Zack that his words about being an officer had accurately hit home.

"What? Who said I was a cop? Do I
like a pig, I mean man, I'm just trying to score here... Dude, I can't believe you'd say that. What, so I need to bring a friend in to vouch for me?" He got a lot less aggressive then. It probably had to do with the fact that he was too busy trying to seem cool, rather than like an authority figure. It was a bit late for that.

"No, you don't look like a
. Just a police officer. It's in your bearing, around the edges. You also keep touching the spot your side arm would have been back when you wore a uniform, even though the one you
is on your back. I'd guess local police, but I don't know that. You're no one
know, clearly. So... You were asked to leave? We don't have that kind of thing here at all and if we did, trying to
me sell to you wouldn't work. Also, you have bad breath. Dental hygiene is a good habit to have. I get the idea, keeping things realistic, but there are limits." Zack wasn't trying to be mean to him, so shut his mouth then, before the rest came out. A part of who, and possibly
he was that forced him to tell the truth all the time. At least if his lips moved. If he didn't talk, he was normally fine.

At the moment he was feeling a bit upset, not being used to people trying to make him do illegal things like this. Not by being
to him at any rate. The very idea that an undercover cop would come to his store and think they sold drugs... Well, honestly,
made a lot of sense. The manager had just gotten back from a retreat, which for Mages was kind of like rehab. Only with chanting and spells, if Zack had been told about it correctly. She seemed better, but was actually working at taking it easier now. She left work at five now, every day. That meant he was there in the evening, so got to deal with jerks like this.

That was better than Lisa having to do it. For one thing, she might even know something that could get her in trouble. He just didn't. That would protect him a bit.

Zack pointed at the door, but smiled a bit.

"So, the next time you come in, please do so for your
needs and remember, the 'more' in the store name just means incense. Thanks." He actually sounded relaxed and like he was a bit amused, even though the man stormed out, calling out that he should go fuck himself with his candles.

." MH laughed as the man turned to glare at Zack. "You could have him killed, I bet. Lenore would get it done for you. Or you could take him into the back and push half of him through the Node, that works too. Hide the body in never land, or some shit."

Zack tried to let that suggestion pass. After all, Lenore
have the guy killed, but running his mouth a bit wasn't that big of a deal. The strange thing was that she wasn't in her store, as far as he could tell. It might be that she was on the phone in the back, since her job had her doing that a lot, but she almost never left the front space go unattended for more than fifteen minutes or so, and he was nearly certain that if the Vampire Ambassador had heard the man hassling him, she would have come over, or at least walked to the front carrying the hand held, to look at them through the window.

She was his girlfriend after all.

That part was sort of new, but he was planning to actually get her something for Valentine's Day, which would be a first, as far as women went. If, of course, they didn't break up a few days before the holiday. That was something that he'd seen people do a lot, and his self esteem was low enough to realize that she might just not be that in to him. The sex was great, since she was willing to
it with him, and couldn't get pregnant, so it took a lot of subconscious worry out of all of it. She was very skilled at it and he wasn't, but he was almost certain that she didn't enjoy having sex with him at

It wasn't a great thing to think, and he hoped he was wrong, but there wasn't really anyone to talk to about it in his life. Troy, his best friend, maybe. No one else really.

That didn't mean he wasn't going to worry about her, if there was a problem. The fact of the matter was that if anyone could just take her from Yoghurt World, Zack wasn't up to doing anything of note about it. Which also showed how little they had in common. If
saw a mugger, he'd try to run, and end up caught, losing his wallet. She ate them. The balance of power was just a bit off there, between them, wasn't it? Still, he was her boyfriend and that meant making sure she was doing all right, when he could.

Her store was open, which was always true, being that it was a twenty-four hour a day place. The candle store wasn't, but they did half days, seven days a week. Most of the time managing to bring in no more than a few hundred dollars in that time. They weren't a real store, so it was hard to get people into the place. It was an embassy for Mages. Who were also the ones that actually paid for the candles. They used them in rituals, and things like that. Probably while bathing or having romantic dinners.

'I know Zack, why not go across the way and find your hot chic and
her? The place is dead. Theirs is worse.' That was a Vampire joke. Mirror Him ran hot and cold that way. That it was that bad meant he thought it was weird too, Lenore being gone that long.

"I'll just pop over and see what's up? I'm probably going to catch her having sex in the back, but hey, that's cool, right?" The idea actually didn't bug him as much as it would most people. It was one of the rifts that people caused all the time. They wanted to have a lot of connections with people, and weren't allowed to, which made holes in their personalities. They didn't notice it, mainly, but Zack did.

He headed to the back for it though, since if she really was doing something like that, he could see it through the Node. As long as it was in the back room, and not the little office space, or the bathroom. Or the closet they kept the mops in. Or up in the ceiling, under the tiles. She could do that pretty easily, with her super strength and agility.

The Node was in a magical warding circle made of silver, which was inlaid in the tile floor. The arcane symbols along the outer rim were pretty meaningless to him, since that hadn't been part of his early education at all. He knew Mage law, since his grandparents had taught him that. He even knew a bit about herbs, or had once. His grandmother did that kind of thing, but he hadn't used it in years.

In the center of the mass of symbols was a floating distortion in space that was like a spotlight to him. It called to him the second he got close and tried to draw him inside. Really, it was a way to go almost anywhere, if you could use it. Most couldn't, and other than Demons, who didn't need them it turned out, being able to make their own, only one being could do it without great cost to himself or others.


Unfortunately it was the kind of thing that ran hot and cold, it seemed. People that needed his help to get someplace, or
something, normally traded with him, or occasionally paid a lot for it in cash, gems or precious metals. Generally trade though. The rest of the Universe just didn't need him at all. At first he'd had a few in every couple of days, asking for his help, or trying to get a free trip, since he'd given loads of those away for Christmas to people in the Mall. Lately it had dried up a lot. Maybe it was just the slow season, but it felt like people were avoiding him.

. I'm Zack and can't figure out how to make my cool super power do enough for me.
.' The voice in his head was back to normal now, as he approached the Node physically.

For a second he nearly didn't look at what Lenore was doing. She was an adult, and if she really was doing something she didn't want seen, then it was wrong of him to look, wasn't it?

It was simple to find her, since the Mall only really only
one Node. Most people didn't understand that, because there were nine stores with them, in physical space. He got it, feeling it easily, but most didn't. Not really.

Peeking into the back of another store here however was simple and happened instantly, which meant he was looking at his girlfriend, on her knees in front of a stately looking man, her head bobbing a bit. Zack blinked, but realized after a second that it looked wrong. She wasn't blowing the guy, but...


That didn't make a lot of sense, did it? She was the Ambassador there, and while the man seemed to be a Vampire, nothing else about him spoke of power. Which could happen if he were old enough. A long time ago Vampires were picked in their human forms for reasons other than great looks. Even now the pattern was to pick
looking people, rather than jaw droppingly hot. It made it easier to hide in most places.

 Finally, after a few moments, he tried to focus, working on something new. Light passed through the Node, so why not sound? It wasn't as easy to get, and they sounded very soft and far away.

"Please Vaughn, don't do this. It's wrong to get the Line Walker involved in our business. We can do it some other way. The council..." There were words after it, but he couldn't hear them.

Hearing her beg to protect him was worse than her doing what he'd been thinking she had at first. That would probably just be politics after all. She'd explained that part to him on their first date. Sex was used for domination more than pleasure among their kind. It was
too, but not the main reason for it. It was probably why she was on her knees like that anyway, to try and tempt the man into doing
, instead of whatever he wanted to do to Zack.

"I know. I ran it by them first, and half of them suggested we just cut our losses, but it would be... hundreds of people. We don't have a lot of time left, I don't think. The Node has been taken and no one else can do anything about it. We'll protect him as best we can. With our lives if need be, I promise you. This isn't just our problem, a dozen races are involved here. We
to ask."

The trouble with the whole thing is that Zack was nearly positive that the asshole making his girlfriend beg like that was
at the same time. They were clear tears, not the blood all the movies had promised. Lenore didn't get up until the man started to walk out anyway, apparently to come visit with him. She followed then, and Zack walked to the front.

BOOK: Other Places 2: Road Blocks
2.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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