From Jon “Malcolm King”:
Dr. Derrick Larsson was nervous. He always made pretentious observations when he was nervous. He shouldn’t be nervous, he told himself. He was prepared, he told himself. He had documents, photographs, charts and even a prototype arm but it could all fall apart if Mr. Johansson asked one simple question…he took a deep breath.
Reynard Johansson, the CEO of Textron, Inc., did not like mysteries. He tapped his chin at the report that was on the screen.
Derrick Larsson was a genius, at least according to his school records. He had worked a few odd jobs in tech, nothing spectacular, mostly R&D. But then he slipped off the radar a few months ago and started picking up odd things. He picked up a decommissioned cowboy bot from Snake Gulch. A young man was seen recently in his company.
Reynard did his own digging not in the report and found that the young man embezzled money from many different accounts. Not enough to be noticed, and not often enough to send up flags, but enough to make him rich. Reynard was impressed. He had used magic and technology seamlessly to do this.
He could use such a man on his team.
He wondered why the young man wanted to see him. He closed the internal report and pondered.
God, he hated mysteries.
Guest Post by Jon “Malcolm King”:
Derrick Larsson adjusted his tie in the mirror and took stock. He’d be admitted to Mr. Reynard’s office at 14:30 hours, with ten minutes to share his achievements. Fine blonde hair was pomaded back into a neat, slick wave. Thick black eyeglasses with clear lenses framed his blue eyes. His face was bland, he knew, features that were best described as average were nonetheless well-maintained with perfect regimens of moisturizing and cleaning.
Jamie let the hot water cascade over him as he stayed under the spray in the empty gym locker room. He religiously followed Fold’s instructions for his personalized training, and pushed himself a little more this time on the rowing machine. His shoulders and arms hurt.
He heard someone come into the room, and saw that it was Mike. Mike was shirtless, something now not unusual. Jamie assumed that his husband Scott’s fashion had finally gotten to the man, and he was showing off his own body like Scott showed off his. Except Mike had tattoos of symbols, lines, circles, mysterious letters and sigils. Jamie wondered whether he should get tattoos as well.
Jamie returned his attention to the hot water. He closed his eyes as the hot water beat his shoulders. Then he felt someone slide their hands over his shoulders.
He jerked up, turned around and came face to face with a naked Mike. “Oh,” he said.
“Hurt your shoulders?”
“How – how do you know?”
“You’ve been under this for a good half hour. Turn around.”
Jamie did so, turning to face the wall. Mike’s hands rubbed his shoulders, thumbs kneading deep, fingertips smoothing out the muscles beneath the skin. Jamie caught a moan before it escaped him.
“Relax,” said Mike, his voice almost a purr.
Jamie let his shoulders drop, as Mike continued to massage them. It felt good, the hot water, the deep, smooth massage. He felt Mike get closer.
“I heard about you and Teddy,” he said, and Jamie’s eyes flashed open.
“Uh, were we not supposed to?”
“You can fuck whoever you want,” said Mike. “Wherever you want.” His hands came around to Jamie’s chest, and started to squeeze his pectorals. “That just means that you’re fair enough game.”
Mike pressed his body against Jamie. Jamie felt Mike’s erection at the small of his back. Mike pushed Jamie out of the spray and against the wall.
“Hey, Mike, I–”
“Let me show you how a man fucks,” he said, and one hand dropped down to Jamie’s member. “I’ll show you how it’s done.”
By the time Mike was finished, Jamie was drained and confused, not sure what Mike had done to him. He could barely stand. Mike walked away without even a thank you or a cuddle or a hug.
The water suddenly turned cold.
Knight sat in the dark, trying to use his feline hearing to listen to what was going on upstairs. All he could hear was voices, but not what they were saying. Then he heard the phone ring. The main door opened, and a chime went off.
The phone rang again a short time later. The main door opened again. There was no noise except footfalls, and then the light went on.
He looked down the corridor. The dispatcher from upstairs came down, carrying a key on a ring and a large ziplock bag. She stopped at his cell, while he stood up near the bunk on the opposite side of the door.
“If I let you out, you have to get out of here.”
“If you let me out, you’ll be in a shitload o’ trouble.”
“You didn’t do anything,” she said, and unlocked the cell.
He walked over to the unlocked door, and stood in the doorway for a long moment. She handed him the ziplock bag, containing his wallet, cell and keys. “Quick, before they come back.”
They both heard the door chime upstairs. The dispatcher froze, and Knight stepped out. He said, “Get in there, make it look like I’m breaking out – ”
“No,” she said. “If it’s Kyle, I’ll be blamed no matter what.”
“Diane?” called a voice that Knight didn’t recognize.
Diane relaxed. “Judge? Down here.”
“What’re you doing down there?” he called, coming down the stairs. He rounded the stairs and stopped seeing Knight. “Oh, hello.”
Knight inclined his head. “Sir.”
“He’s all right, Judge. They put him in there because he’s gay.”
The man called Judge was an easy six-four, large and rotund even in his wool coat that came to his knees, He had wide blue eyes and wore a flat, soft cap with melting snow. “You don’t look gay,” said Judge.
Knight bristled. “Whaddya want, feather boas an’ fuckin’ rainbows?”
Judge laughed. “I guess that’s what I expect from around here. I’m sorry, my apologies. You can set him free, Diane, but where’s he going to go? There’s three feet of snow out there.”
Knight took the ziplock bag. “Leave’t to me.”
“He’s got a bike out there. One of those new-fangled gravity bikes.”
“Fuck tha’,” Knight said. “I’m goin’ home.” He stepped back from the two people. He’d shifted in front of people before, so it didn’t bother him when he shifted to his leopard form. The two stood staring, as he picked up the ziplock bag in his teeth.
The chime at the door opened again. “Diane, there’s nothing going on at Miller’s.”
“Kyle!” Diane gasped.
Knight ran toward the stairs. He stood at the foot of them, and started up them as Kyle called, “Diane?”
Knight ran to the top step and saw Kyle. “What the hell–”
Kyle fumbled for his gun but Knight tackled him, knocking him down. He ran for the door. The door chimed when he hit the carpet, and he stood on hind legs to push the door open. There was a loud bang behind him, as Knight got the door open and a bullet whizzed by him into the glass door, shattering it.
He dove out the door, into the snow, sinking to his haunches. He didn’t have the same snow-paws as his husband the snow-leopard, but at least he had agility and speed once he got out of the parking lot.
He ran north, into the teeth of the storm.