In Time: Modern Day
I’ve been sharing excerpts from my old WIP, In Time, with you over the past few weeks. I’m taking a break (as it is in the story too) with the airship pirates and their vampyric prisoner to bring Roderick back. For those of you who are following along, Roderick was last escaping down the escalator at a train station. I have deleted most of the excerpts I’ve added to the official work so I can’t link, but this picks up where that left off.
He emerged from the underground subway squinting. The sudden brightness of daylight blinded him, even with the cloud coverage. He dipped between two buildings and waited for his eyes to adjust. Though it only took a moment, he was unprepared for what awaited him. He stood between two of the tallest buildings he’d ever seen. A sea of noisy, steamless machines on four wheels waited on the street in front of him. Rotting garbage wafted up his nose as a playful breeze sent newspaper flying around the alley. He pulled his hat down further and stepped out, joining the influx of people bustling about the walkway.
“So, this is what the future looks like,” Roderick said. A man dressed in rags peeked out from under a crude contraption made of cardboard and newspaper.
“You talkin’ tah me?” Filth covered the man’s face and gaps appeared where teeth belonged. Roderick’s nose curled in disgust.
“Did I look like I was talking to you?” He took a few steps and closed the gap between them. He squatted down allowing the man to take in the full effects of his appearance. He stood up satisfied when fear wrapped its claw around the beggar. There might be use of the man after all.
“Please, suh.” The man quickly retreated further inside the box. Roderick reached out and grabbed him. The man shrieked in fright, then pain, as Roderick pulled him out.
“You…” he winced. The stains all over the man’s yellow trench coat and his unmatched shoes told enough of his story. “Oh, your stench is foul! You need a bath and a change of clothes. First, find us a brothel where we can clean up and get a pinch of ale. Where is the closest brothel?”
Confusion crossed the man’s face. “Brothel? What is a brothel?”
Roderick sighed and shook his head. “You really don’t know what a brothel is? It used to be in saloon’s but obviously the whole parlor bit isn’t faring well. A brothel, my dear, stinky man, is a place where one might wet his whistle and take a load off.”
“Oh! You mean like a hotel? There’s one down the street. Follow me. M’ name’s Jeffrey, by the way.” Jeffrey shuffled his feet tightly together and with a limp. “Don’t know as they have food there, but you’ll see for y’self.”
Roderick lowered his hat to cover the metal of his face and followed Jeffrey down the alley and back to the street again. Jeffrey’s awkward gait made it easy for Roderick to keep up with him, even on the crowded city street. People walked everywhere. The streets choked with cars to the point where they almost stood still. A light on every corner seemed to keep the cars under control, but the walk was not far. Jeffrey turned around and pointed to a run-down building with a tattered open sign stuck to the front door. His eyes reminded Roderick of a puppy dog meeting a new person, always eager for someone to play with. Jeffrey suited his purpose for now, but before too long, he would have to dispose of him. He knew too much already.
Roderick stepped through the door onto a thread bare red carpet that ran the length of the hall. Two steps beyond the door, just far enough away for guests to walk through, a large counter stood, a small, wiry man with goggles on his face pretending to be busy behind it. The clerk took a quick look at his visitors and cringed.
“How can I h…help you, to…today?” He sputtered. His eyes looked extra large within his glasses.
“We need a room,” Roderick said peacefully. “And a hot bath, and something to eat.”
“Room and bath I gotcha, but yer on yer own for food. A room for two then?” A large spicy brown curl plopped down into the middle of the clerk’s forehead making him look much younger than he probably was.
Roderick nodded. He placed coins on the counter for payment. The clerk shook his head in confusion. “I…I’m so…sorry, sir, but…but we don’t accept…” he swallowed his Adam’s apple “those coins. Do you have another form of payment by any chance?”
“No. I come from a land far away and that is all I have.”
The clerk shook his head again. “Then I’m sorry. I can’t accept this.”
“Just give me a key and I’ll be out of your way,” Roderick insisted.
“It doesn’t work that way, sir. Ya gotta pay for yer room before you can stay in it.”
“Rubbish!” Roderick slammed his fists down on the counter so hard everything on top of it leaped into the air. He grabbed the clerk by his collar and pulled him so close they were nose to nose. He paused for good effect so the clerk had a chance to do the right thing. “I need a room, and I need it now.” He released the clerk and turned to Jeffrey. “How do I get the proper money for the hotel?”
Jeffrey shrugged his shoulders. The clerk answered instead. “Ya have to go to a bank. Show them yer coins and they’ll exchange it into real dollars for you.”
Roderick released him. “Where can I find a bank?” He looked out the large storefront window. Nothing but a sea of multi colored heads filled his vision. “I require a good cleanup before I can go to the bank. You’ll give me the room and I’ll pay you later.”
The clerk cowered under his stare. He shrieked when he finally saw that half of Roderick’s face was steel. A trembling arm shot up and pointed to the wall behind him. Keys hung there individually. “Take one. We’ll sort it out later.”
To be continued…
Roderick is a formidable character and I am enjoying delving more into him and his past and discovering exactly who he is. I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I am enjoying writing it.
I’d really appreciate your feedback on this story. Won’t you share your thoughts in a comment?
Thanks for stopping in!