Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 07 - "Away From Home"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

show and tell

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy,Horror,Sci-fi - Published: 2008-12-11 - Updated: 2008-12-11 - 1484 words - Complete

“…And that was when I woke up in a room that, if I’m not mistaken, was just down the hall from here,” Shades said, concluding a tale he had come to wryly nickname the Flathead Experiment.

On the way to Shades’ hotel room, he had explained about the Card, the one from the First Municipal Bank of New Cali, that he had found that one eerie day. Any place that did credit, he could buy whatever he wanted, or draw hard cash to buy it elsewhere. Told him about hiding under beds, scrounging for change, and transforming into a vagrant before his very eyes before he discovered it.

Though they talked about all sorts of things on the way, there had also been moments of silence, as Shades had to take them “the long way around” the sector where they had fought the guards, and occasionally had to go even farther out of their way to avoid a few more. Often saying casual things like Don’t forget, we need to pick up that stuff we ordered, then detouring them in another direction.

Shades told his story while they situated themselves in the new room, this time a double. While they talked, Bandit caught some z’s on Max’s bed. It had been a trick getting the big cat through unnoticed, but Shades had managed to keep the desk clerk occupied with room accommodations while Max and Bandit slipped past. He still hadn’t figured out how they would continue to hide his new friend’s pet, but he was sure they would think of something.

“Whoa…” There were parts of Shades’ account that Max would have a few questions about later, but mostly he was lost in his description of a world he could hardly imagine. His parents had spoken of such places, but the concept of a continent was still hard to wrap his head around, a reversal of everything he knew. This Flathead Lake may well be bigger than the entire Isle of Paradise, yet completely enclosed by dry land.

An ocean of land, dotted with islands of water.

Now that they had spent an hour or so settling in, Shades was fairly confident that the guards were unaware of their presence here, and the time had come for show-and-tell. Max had spoken of, and was even wearing, a few souvenirs from Tranz-D, and he had accumulated more than a few items here that he was sure Max would find of interest. The first thing he wanted to know about though was, “Say Max. Earlier, when we were fighting those guards, I saw you had a gun hidden in your jacket.” When they were out earlier, he had been curious, but didn’t dare risk letting anyone out there see them with a weapon. “Mind if I take a look at it?”

“My power pistol?” Max had seen Shades in action against the guards earlier, could tell that Shades knew how to fight, and wondered what weapons his new friend possessed. “Sure. I guess.”

Shades reached into his backpack, coming up with Max’s Tranz-D jacket, which he had stuffed in there earlier.

“So, this is a laser gun…” Shades commented as he removed it from Max’s jacket. It looked like a cross between a firearm in his own world, and some movie studio’s vision of the future. His finger hovered near the trigger, but he decided that it wouldn’t be the brightest idea to actually pull it. It sort of reminded him of when Master Al showed him the pride of his sword collection.

“Wanna see my laser sword?”

Shades instantly perked up at that phrase, his imagination running on overdrive as Max removed the weapon from its concealment and handed it to him. Hesitantly, he switched it on, jumping in spite of himself when the radiant green energy blade shone forth. Years ago, Master Al had handed him the most prized blade from his sword collection, a katana that had once belonged to a prominent samurai from the Tokugawa Period. Hardly needed sensei to tell him the history of it. A real samurai blade, not a replica from some catalog. He could feel it. Had been at least half a century since the last time it was drawn in battle. Tokugawa, Meiji, Taishô, then a long dormant Shôwa and beyond, gathering dust in some retired World War II vet’s Hawai’ian home before Al bought it at an estate auction… no wonder it had grown so restless; unlike those cookie-cutter catalog blades, this one had tasted blood. A real sword that belonged to real warriors. Sounded cheesy, but it had felt like he was holding a lightning bolt in his hand. Back then, it was all he could do not to slice Al’s table in half, and this time he could not restrain himself.

He set down Max’s power pistol and tossed a complimentary bar of soap into the air, slicing it cleanly in two.

“Dude! That thing’s real!” Shades could see the shimmering blade. Could feel the pulsing power in his hands. And the two soap pieces on the carpet gave silent witness to the fact that these were no mere special effects.

“It’s got two different modes,” Max informed him. “That narrow blade is the cutting blade. Be careful. As you can see, that blade can cut through just about anything. If you flip that other switch, you get the stun blade.”

“Stun blade?” When Shades switched it, the blade shifted, becoming thicker and more radiant, due to the expansion of its energy field.

“There are two power settings,” Max continued, remembering everything his father had taught him about energy weapons years ago. “One will knock you out with just a touch, the other will sting, and make it feel like whatever part of you got hit went to sleep.”

Shades simply stared at the beam of energy, mesmerized in near-disbelief at what he held.

“Don’t worry, it’s safe,” Max assured him. “I’ve hit myself with a few times while training. Justin has a laser staff, and we used to train together.”

Haltingly at first, Shades reached out and lightly touched the blade. The closer he got to the center, the more the blade seemed to repel his hand, a tingling sensation that intensified the deeper his fingers reached into that shimmering green light.

“Just give it a moment, and you’ll be able to feel your hand again,” said Max.

“I see…” Shades said, shaking his hand as he gave the incredible weapon back to him. “I wish I had one.” Having seen this, he now felt that his own contribution to this exchange would be less than spectacular. Still, he reached into his own jacket pocket, fetching out his Cam-Jam. “This thing can hold five thousand songs on it…” He again reached into his pockets and came up with fold-up headphones. “And thanks to the Card, and DJ’s tracks, I’ve got over a thousand so far… and I got ’em for a song!”

He handed the device to Max. It was indeed pocket-size, light-years ahead of anything he had ever seen in his own world. And, in this case, waterproof to a depth of 50 meters, having paid extra (sort of, given the Card’s seemingly bottomless line of credit) for the “sports” model. After showing Max how to operate the controls, he let his friend flip through, sampling songs.

And was surprised to discover that Max was at least as thrilled with this musical wonder as he had been at seeing a weapon he thought only existed in sci-fi films, the way his eyes lit up and he appeared half his age.

Listening to it, Max realized that he had never asked Justin the customary question of if he knew any good songs.

After listening for a couple minutes, Max showed Shades the cards he had used to unlock the doors back in Tranz-D, and Shades compared them to the keycards to their hotel room. After showing Max the Card, explaining about how he used it, Shades shuffled through Max’s wad of bills, telling him, “Throw that Canadian crap out. It’s worthless in here.” Whoever this money had belonged to had been very well traveled, even before ending up in another dimension, for there were also pesos, yen, and something mysterious called “euros” in the mix.

Though Max was tired after such a long and harrowing adventure, his mind was still racing, and it was quite a while before he could sleep. For the rest of the night, Shades and Max spoke of many things. Of the mall and how each of them got there. Of Paradise and Tranz-D. Of Earth. Of the Centralict Library. John. Justin.

And that strange music Shades was dancing to earlier.
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