Thursday, May 30, 2013

Wyre Rat (Part 10)

Instead I went back to my room to finish packing. The clock radio on the nightstand played softly, and I knew precisely what that meant. Leave as scheduled.

I carefully rolled a set of clothing as small as it could get, wrapped it with all my money and pulled a larger bag out of my suitcase.

I sat on the edge of the bed. One of the porters came to get my bags and I let them go. They'd be sent ahead--according to the schedule, the bags would arrive before me at the new hotel. I would travel tonight.

I hit the snooze button again.

With a flip of my hair I walked down the stairs again, saw the bags delivered to the car that would take them to the new hotel. It always seemed an odd arrangement to me, but the travel team insisted that I and my bags travel separately when possible.

Perhaps exactly for situations like this, where I would need to travel quiet and light. I moved through the lower levels, looking for the old woman, but aside from a few servant girls gossiping while they cleaned the parlor the place was empty.

A rat's instincts, perhaps. I swallowed as I stared out across the tiny back lawn and heard sirens.

I strolled away from the house, walked down into a little park.

Then I walked on. Sirens behind me made people turn and I turned with them, peering toward the commotion while I moved backward a step at a time. The flippy little dress made me stand out here, but I'd have to wait until I could find a good place to change.

Around the first corner I continued walking. This area was a market square, of a sort. One of the booths sold calf-high leather boots. I stopped to admire them, picked up two pair and tucked a brightly colored kerchief in my bag.

The floppy sandals went in the next trash-bin I passed.

Everywhere I looked, I saw cats. Big cats, little cats, dark cats and light cats. Dogs too, now that I was less focused on the mission. A furry mongrel followed me for several blocks before he got the idea that I wasn't going to feed him.

If even one of these animals was wyre, I was dead in the water.

I kept walking, making sure everyone saw me. I played tourist, taking pictures of everything, and acquired a big floppy hat like I saw the locals wearing.

Gradually I made my way deeper, toward the bay area. I found a small warehouse that appeared untenanted and changed clothes, stuffing the flippy dress into the bag with the rest of my supplies.

I walked away and disappeared.

Part 11

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Wyre-Rat (Part 9)

The little camera looked like the cheap kind that could be purchased anywhere in the civilized world. I strolled along the streets, collected admiring glances from people I didn't care about and took pictures of everything. Twice I ducked into tiny little stores set out like mazes, browsed and watched to see if anyone passed.

The same man, both times, strolled past the shop, glanced inside and continued strolling. It would have been simple enough to dump him, but that would ruin the fun.

Instead I browsed, laughed, talked to the clerks and bought expensive junk that I really didn't want. And had it shipped. Keep up the pretense.

Around noon I wandered back to the narrow three-story house that had been converted into a hotel. All the houses on this block had been converted to hotels, but this one had done a good job of advertising and getting their customers to come back. According to my cover, I'd been here as a child with my parents.

It might even have been true, but I doubt it.

I don't remember my parents.

The old woman met me at the door. "What did they want?" she asked immediately, and I stared at her in blank surprise. She shouldn't have to ask, and she knew we weren't supposed to communicate in any way regarding my missions.

"Excuse me?"

She lowered her voice, but I suspected not enough. "What did they want? They were from the Center!"

I blinked at her, confused. "So they said. They were looking for someone."

Her eyes widened. "Wyre?" Her voice wavered in panic. "Did someone escape?"

Someone, I mused. Not something. To most of the people in this country, the wyre were subhuman. "They said a cat."

Her breath came out in a long sigh, and her eyes saddened. "If someone has escaped, I need..." She turned away, and I caught her arm.

"Wait." I barely breathed the words. "They put a listening device in my room."

She smiled slightly. "No, that was me." She slipped away and into the dark recesses of the house. I stared after her. It hadn't been there before the men came into my room, I was certain of that.

Time to get out. Get out before everything exploded.

Part 10

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wyre-Rat (Pard 8)

I'd heard of the Center, but I'd never heard it called a Wyre Containment Facility before. This was something my team needed to know. Officially the Center was the headquarters of the team assigned to keep the streets safe from the dangerous wyre, an extension of the police force. In the last few years people had begun to wonder what it really was, since they hadn't found a live shapeshifter in close to fifteen years.

If its usefulness was done, it should have been disbanded by now.

I wandered back into my room and threw myself across my bed, sprawled out as if I was exhausted from the interview. Surreptitiously I pressed a button on the bedside clock, watched the little light in the corner blink at me.

They'd left some kind of monitor within 20 feet of the meter, and it was broadcasting.

I should now shoulder my bag and walk out to a well deserved vacation, but something they'd said bothered me. Escaped wyre.


Rolling over, I reached out and hit the snooze button. Extending the mission, that meant. They should have received the package last night so there should normally not be any reason for an extension. Some poor overworked secretary would be panicking, trying to decide how to get me home outside of the schedule.

I paced, trying to see it from every angle. It could very easily be a trap, if they suspected what I was. Or it could be the truth and my involvement was coincidental.

I don't trust coincidence.

I puttered around the room, packing up a few things as I would if I was ending my vacation. Most of my stuff could go home on the plane--I wouldn't miss it. A secondary route out had been prepared but with little thought that I'd ever need it.

Likely the escaped wyre would need it, if he or she was even real.

I hummed to myself, watched the blinking light that would tell me when the volume was the loudest.

End of the bed, in the fanciful carving of the bedpost. I identified the tiny thing, but pretended to ignore it. If someone wanted to listen to me, they could. I had nothing to hide now that my mission was done.

I pulled the toiletries from the bathroom, repacked them in the suitcase. According to the schedule I would be moving on to another hotel tonight, one far out in the country. I looked down to make sure the white dress hadn't wrinkled, and slipped out the door.

Part 9

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Wyre-Rat (Part 7)

The two traded a glance, totally opaque on the one side and worried on the other.

"We're looking for a wyre who escaped from the facility last night."

I wasn't ready for that, but I opened my eyes wide in response. "Escaped? Wyre can't be restrained..."

"They can," the grim one said. "And it's our job to make sure our citizens," he nodded to her, "and tourists are safe. Did you see a cat last night?"

It took me a moment to figure out that they'd said "cat" and not "rat." Their accents didn't help. "I saw several, but I wasn't really paying attention. Wouldn't a wyre cat look different?"

The two traded an amused glance. "If they looked different, they'd be easy to track down," Izates said. Was that a first name or last?

Something about this conversation was off. "I did see several cats, but I can't remember a specific one."

The two men rose. Izates nodded to me. "Thank you for your time."

The other said nothing, didn't even look at me.

They closed the door gently behind them.

Escaped wyre.

As if unconcerned I walked to the balcony and leaned over it until I saw them leave. The young one, Izates, looked up at me and waved.

I waved back, the stinking coat still draped over the faux stone. I made sure to smile until they were out of sight.

The solution was simple. My mission was done, I could leave this place as a tourist and they'd never know the difference.

Escaped wyre. The people here didn't trust us, and in the first few years every wyre identified had either escaped, died or...disappeared.

Part 8

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wyre-Rat (part 6)

At this point I wasn't too concerned about the interview. First of all if they'd been real cops--which I didn't think they were--and it had been something serious they would have dragged me to their place rather than coming into mine.

They weren't honestly concerned about gossip, or again they would have been more determined about the closed door--which, again, indicated to me that they weren't real cops. But at the same time, they didn't seem to be worried about being found out.

So some kind of hybrid, maybe.

"We represent the wyre Center," the younger and darker of the two stated.

I think that my face remained still. No simple tourist would know what the Center was. The word wyre, of course, was self explanatory. My instincts told me that both of these were just human.

I let them see my puzzlement. "What's that?"

He pulled out the traditional folder and handed it to me. I stared down at the words Wyre Containment Facility and somehow kept my face smooth. A tourist would not see those words, but only the official seal and the government logo. The name said Izates.

I flipped the folder open and closed. "I'm not sure I understand."

The young man called Izates reached out for the folder and I gave it to him. "You were out last night."


"Can you tell us where you went?"

"Of course." They would have all of this from the credit record for my cover identity. "There's a little dance club about half a mile from here called Muerto Paseo. I was there most of the night. Got back..." I squinted between them, as if trying to remember. "Some time after three, I think."

Part 7

If you want to start at the beginning: Wyre-Rat episode 1