Friday, July 4, 2008

Chpt VI - A Car Ride

Without a word, Tom got out of bed, dressed, and pored himself a bowl of cereal. As he ate, Nina spoke to him. “I image you’re wondering just where we’re going.”

“Yeah.” The reply was less than enthusiastic.

“Well, actually, it’s a place you probably know. I’m sure you’ve seen it--the Hancock Tower? I mean, it is the tallest building in this city. Anyways, that’s where we’ll be headed.”

“Why there?” There wasn’t much curiosity in Tom’s voice. He felt too drained by last night’s events to care about much of anything, and wanted most of all to go back to sleep.

“Because that’s where your trainer is, obviously!” Nina spoke like it was the most natural thing in the world that the city’s largest building housed someone who could prepare someone else to save the entire planet. “We’ll have to drive, I suppose, unless you’ve learned to fly as well.” She looked at him briefly, a faint smile on her face. “No, I suppose driving will have to do.”

Without any more talking, Tom finished breakfast and he and Nina, whose strange glow was just barely visible in the brilliance of the morning’s light, got into an inconspicuous-looking car that had apparently appeared out of thin air in Tom’s driveway. Nina drove as Tom stared out the window, neither one making an effort towards conversation. Somehow, their car never hit much traffic, unheard of on a day that hundreds of thousands of people would be rushing off to work. Without incident, the two pulled up to the front of the Hancock building, where miraculously there was one open parking spot across the street from the skyscraper, with a parking meter that had been given enough quarters to pay for a full day’s parking. This was more than Tom could handle.

“Alright,” he said, turning towards Nina. “Maybe the traffic, or the space, or the meter alone could’ve been some great coincidence. But would you be so kind as to share with me just why the hell we’ve had so much damn good luck? It’s creeping me out. Don’t you know the world is supposed to suck?”

Nina’s enigmatic smile flashed in the morning sun’s light. She gestured towards the colossal building towering in front of them, and starting walking towards it, as Tom hurried to catch up. For a moment, Nina seemed like she was going to ignore the question. Tom was about to ask again when she spoke. “Well, I’m not really sure how they arrange it, but the people that sent me are the ones that made all those coincidences happen.”

“And who,” asked Tom, who was rapidly losing his patience with all the mysteries, “just who was that?”

“Again, I’m not really sure,” Nina said. “I get my jobs from someone, who gets their jobs from someone else, and since I’m apparently pretty low in the chain, I really don’t know who’s holding the strings. My co-worker, Leslie, has this hunch that our orders actually come from The Big Guy himself. You know, The Man Upstairs? You’d like Leslie, by the way. Nice gal. Asks a lot of questions, though. Kind of like you.”

Like all of her responses, Nina’s latest only put more questions into Tom’s mind. He thought about asking a few of them, but they had reached the Hancock’s front entrance, and he didn’t feel like drawing any more attention to himself than his still-faintly-glowing companion would already garner. Strangely enough, though, few people seemed to even notice them as they strolled briskly towards the elevator. It wasn’t like they were completely invisible, but to Tom it looked like everyone there felt they were unimportant, or ordinary.

Guarded by their apparent cloak of normality, Tom and Nina boarded the elevator. Nina looked at the dozens of buttons on the wall, and then hit the one labeled 47. The elevator began climbing smoothly. For a few minutes they stood still in the metal box, as it climbed higher and higher. The numbers above the buttons slowly rolled away, and Tom found himself getting nervous. 36, 37, 38… His fists had clenched and unclenched twice when he felt a hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t worry,” spoke Nina’s reassuring voice from behind him. “Just be yourself.”

A smile found its way on to Tom’s face. “What are you, my mom?” he asked. The numbers hit 47, a ping reverberated through the elevator, and the doors slowly opened.

“Hello, Thomas,” said the gruff, burly, man in his mid 40s smiling at Tom and Nina from in front of the elevator. “The name’s Jack. I’ll be your trainer.”

1 comment:

Cajek said...

The 47th floor? NO WAY! That's where I keep my nick-nacks! I keep my trainers of the universe on the first floor in the bathroom cabinet for easy reach. (Great story, Led!)