Saturday, March 17th, 2029
My shoes slosh against the hard pavement as we step off of the sand. Everything about me is heavier because of the excess water, but I feel like I can lift ten times my weight with Iris at my side. She joins me as we look once more out to the city. Hundreds of people pass by, preoccupied with their own thoughts and lives. Some brush by us, whispering to themselves about the “two absolutely drenched teenagers”. I’m not even a teen anymore, but I don’t argue it. The buildings stand higher than I’d originally believed, they’re like towers all puncturing the sky with their tips.
“I think I know a place of someone who can help us,” I say.
“Really? That’s awesome!”
“Eh, we’ll see,” I say. “It’s a few blocks down.”
We find the apartment easy enough. I’m mostly dry by the time we get there. I walk up to the old brick building, pressing the buzzer and then waiting, the silence going to kill me. I’ll admit, I wouldn’t come unless I believed we had a chance for help. The door opens, standing behind the door is a face I hadn’t intended to see again. Kate Radica, daughter of one of the scientists who worked with Radical-9, and someone who unfortunately caught some feelings for me back when I was investigating the scientists in their time. “What the hell are you doing here?” She asks. Okay, maybe the fact that I left without a word helped bring that down, but to be fair it wasn’t my intention to leave so quick.
“Kate, however you feel about me now isn’t important-”
“Not important? I’d like to think it’s very important. And who’s...” She stops when she sees Iris. She looks from her and back to me.
“We need someplace to stay, and there isn’t anyone else I know in San Diego,” I say.
She waits another moment, “Tough shit. Go away.” Then she pulls in real close, “I hope you two are very happy for however long you have left.” She slams the door shut.
“Well, that was pleasant.” Iris says.
“I expected her to be mad,” I say, stepping down the stairs back onto the sidewalk.
“Who is she?”
“One of the scientist’s daughters. Actually, her father is the one who exploded all over D.C.”
“The one who killed the president?”
“Yeah, he was going to get some help about Jack, but apparently Avery was in on the whole thing, saying that the Queen of all people knew that this would happen to Jack. He was then shot and then boom he went.”
“Why’s she mad at you?”
“Long story involving time travel and bad dreams,” I say.
“Well, okay, in a more peaceful time I expect to hear this long story of time travel and bad dreams,” she pokes me. “But for now we can go see if we can find somewhere to get changed, and then we can see if we can find anything on where John is.”
“Sounds like a plan,” I say. “We can also find something to eat.”
“Good, I haven’t eaten all day,” she asks.
“Do you have any money with you?”
“I…I don’t, no.”
I look towards her, and she’s looking at me. “Come on, we’ll figure something out,” I say taking her hand in mine, instantly my worries melt away, and we begin walking down the street. The sky is a bright blue with nary a cloud in the sky, the sun continues to shine down, and I’m so entranced with it I don’t hear Iris calling me until the last second.
“-for a moment, will you? Hey!”
I stop and look back at her, she’s standing next to a gray minivan that pulled itself aside. I walk back and inside the car I see a young man in the car. He’s wearing a skin-tight muscle shirt with what I can guess are swim shorts accompanied by thick sunglasses. One can only guess he’s coming from the same beach we were. He’s got a grin plastered on his face as he bobs his head up and down.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
“This man is offering to give us a ride,” Iris asks. I look back into the car.
“Hey, I just saw you were all soaked and walking, was wonderin’ if you two needed a ride anywhere?” He asks. Iris looks up to me.
“We don’t have any real place in mind. We’re tourists,” I say.
“Aw, that makes it even better! Listen, my wife’s already going to be mad at me for skippin’ out on dinner plans to go to the beach without her. If you’re not too busy could you come help deflect some of the heat I’ll be getting?”
“Alright, it’s very much appreciated.” I say.
“Yeah, we’d be happy to help.”
It’d certainly be nice to have some sort of friend here, and they certainly do come from the weirdest of places.
“It isn’t any problem, man. Just watch out for the air conditioner in the back, damn thing is a little big.”
“Okay, thank you,” Iris asks.
I open the back door and motion for Iris to get in first. She smiles and climbs into the car.
“If you all need to dry off, I have a spare towel in the back, I mean, it’s used somewhat, but it’s better than nothing,” he says.
“What’s your name?” I ask, sliding in beside Iris in the car, making sure to watch out for the air conditioner poking out from the backside of the minivan.
“Kevin, if you want to be all formal and whatnot, it’s Kevin DeLerange. I know this seems odd as all hell, but I really appreciate the help.”
“It’s no problem. My idiot boyfriend here forgot to schedule us at the hotel I thought we we’re going to be in anyway,” Iris says. I see her looking my way and shifting her eyebrows up and down.
“Aw, that’s a bummer and a half. I’ve had my fair share of mishaps like that.”
“Yeah, uh, it slipped my mind,” I say.
“Well, if you two want to bum the night we have some room you could stay the night in until you get a room together,” he says.
“That’s really nice, you don’t have to do that,” Iris says, mainly out of habit. I can hear the uncertainty in her voice.
“Nah, it’s the least I could do for you two offering to help me out when you don’t even know me. By the way, who do I have the pleasure of meeting?”
“Iris McCallum, sir.”
“Aw, there isn’t any sir business here. It’s just Kevin, little missy,” He says laughing.
“Well, if you aren’t a sir, then I’m not a little missy,” Iris replies.
“Fair enough. And what about you?” He asks, looking towards me.
“Gavin Daniels,” I say.
“Gavin, is that medieval? Like Gawain?” He asks.
“I…I don’t think so, it’s just Gavin,” I say.
“Okay then,” Kevin laughs in response and turns back around. We’re driving down Adaski Drive until we turn a sharp right, right into the heart of the city. “So, would it be too much of a burden to know where you two are from?”
“You said you were tourists, where from?”
“New York,” Iris blurts out, immediately realizing it.
“That far? What brings you to San Diego, then?”
“It’s a really long story,” I say.
“Fair enough, man. Fair enough,” he replies, facing front once more.
“So, what about your wife? What’s her name?” Iris asks.
“Tammy, she’s really sweet when I don’t mess up,” he says, laughing.
“That seems to be how things go,” Iris says.
“Yeah, half the time it’s not me forgetting or making mistakes,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“Sometimes you gotta add a little spice in a relationship. If everything’s happy all the time then you don’t really feel that, it gets samey and people get bored. Sprinkle in some stupid husband antics once in a while and it makes the better times, well, better. You get what I’m saying?”
“Yeah, I hear you. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I understand where you’re coming from,” Iris says.
“And Tammy, she’ll be fine with us staying?” I ask.
“Well, I sure hope so,” he laughs.
“That doesn’t sound too certain,” I say.
“Don’t worry, she’ll be fine,” he says. Kevin pulls past a newsstand as he slows for a red light. I turn to look at the articles on display, and the first one that catches my glance reads “Honorable Oliver Avery continues to plan for eastward expansion!”
“How long has he been trying to take over the east?” I ask.
“Huh? The honorable leader? Well, I mean, the last year he started focusing on reconnecting with the other territories…wait a second. You’re from New York, was the reason you’re here now because you saw it fit to rejoin us?” He asks.
“Honorable leader?” Iris asks.
“Uh…yeah, that’s it,” I say.
If somehow we can learn more about what’s going on here, it might lead to some clues on where John is. The light turns green and Kevin continues driving. “Well, we’re almost there, it’s right down the street here,” he says, slowing as he reaches the entrance to a parking garage.
“How far is the walk?” Iris asks.
“Oh, yeah, forgot you’re from the east. Yeah, it’s not too long, everyone’s required to put their cars and whatnot here when they’re done. What with it being a city and all we don’t want any of them packing the streets down. There’s also a curfew, but I have a secret way in so if I ever need to sneak a joy ride I can,” Kevin says, chuckling.
“Secret way in?”
“Well, I guess you’ll just have to tell us now, you can’t tease something like that,” I say with a smile.
Kevin smirks as he pulls into the parking garage. He drives up the inclines up to the third floor and parks between a white Prius and a blue Tahoe. He unbuckles himself and climbs out of the car, we do the same and follow him out. He walks over to the side of the railing and places his arms over the side, looking out and below. “Come on, if you want to know so bad,” he says.
I look to Iris, and she looks as confused as I do. We both walk over to the side of the railing and peer over. I see a recoilable ladder hanging off of the side of the building, it’s gripped tightly to the edge.
“Has anybody else ever noticed this?” I ask.
“Who would? Nobody hangs around here longer than they have to, it’s just a parking garage. I set this up a few years back and it still holds strong to this day.”
“That’s impressive,” Iris says.
“Ain’t it? Now, come on. Let’s start walking, my place is just down the street from here, it ain’t too bad,” he explains.
We begin walking down the way until we’re exiting the parking garage. The sun seems to shine even brighter as we walk onto the street. Kevin walks in between us with his hand outstretched. “Right over there on the corner, that’s where we’re going, the red-brick apartment complex.”
“Alright, that isn’t far at all,” I say. Kevin bobs his head once more and we continue on our way. Iris walks closer to me and links my hand in hers. I smile.