Our prompts were: rusty armor and mysteries of the night. This immediately made Kyros think of the Night at the Museum movies. But that’s been done before, several times. So Kyros came up with the idea of one guy saving another from a bunch of homophobic bullies. In talking our way through the outline, we realized that it would work perfectly in our Third War universe. Once we figured that out, we knew exactly where the story was going. Checking our (extensive!) spreadsheet of characters from our Third War universe, we found one of Alex’s friends from college who perfectly fit the bill….
Writing the story required several Google searches, the main one being using Google Maps to zero in on the location for the story. Once we had that, we used Street View to fill in the details of the setting, like the placement of the storm sewer and the bench. Another source that we use pretty much any time we write is thesaurus.com, a great place to find just the right words we need to tell the story. Also, we diagrammed the setting, just so we could get a feel for the street scene and where everyone was.
Whew, am I glad to be out of there, I thought, walking down Seventh toward Congress. It’s nice they still have live concerts, but the Iron Bear was standing-room-only tonight. I inhaled a deep lungful of the Austin night air. Ah, it tastes like fine champagne. God, Kevin, I giggled, when did you start to wax poetic?
A set of keys skidded into my view.
Sprinting, I captured them before they ended up in the gutter.
“Hey, you dropped your….”
I stopped short. Ten feet away, four teenagers hovered over a figure curled tightly into a ball. They were taking turns kicking the body.
Even from here, I could smell the blood and alcohol.
“We don’t want your faggot ass hanging around. Good people live around here and they don’t wanna see you prancing down the street like you own it.”
“Get away from him, you fucking punks,” I shouted.
The one holding the bottle of booze turned and glared at me. “Looky here, boys. Another fucking faggot wants to get his ass kicked.”
“Damn right I am,” I growled. “Except it’s gonna be all of you,” I aimed a finger at him. “limp-dicked asswipes who’re going to get an ass kicking, not me.”
The kid transferred the bottle to his left hand, and then reached into his jacket, pulling out a gun.
“Still think you’re gonna kick my ass, you old pedo?” he snarled, waving the weapon in my direction.
The pistol went off.
The bullet ricocheted off the ground, then grazed one of his companions.
“You shot me, mother fucker!” he screamed. “Why the hell did you shoot me, Johnny?”
“It was an accident. I didn’t even pull the trigger. I swear!” the bully shouted.
The figure on the ground tried to sit up.
“Stay down!” One of the other kids shoved the man’s face back into the pavement. “We ain’t done with you yet.”
“C’mon, kid.” I stepped forward, hands outstretched. “Just give me the gun. You already hurt your buddy, Johnny. So why don’t you stop this before anyone else gets hurt?”
Johnny took a swig from the bottle in his hand and again leveled the weapon at me.
“The only person gonna get hurt is you, faggot, if you don’t leave right now!”
I sucked in a breath.
“What the hell is wrong with your eyes, dude?” one of the punks yelled.
Johnny pulled the trigger.
“Dammit,” he cried, looking down at the weapon, “this thing just worked a second ago.”
He raised the pistol to point at me a third time, but it flew out of his hand, skipping across the sidewalk. It teetered on the curb before falling off. We all heard the unmistakable splash of it landing in the sewer.
“Oops. Looks like you lost your gun,” I sneered. “Better run along home now, before mommy gets worried.”
The kids started backing away. The one with blood staining the sleeve of his hoodie shouted, “Johnny, that dude is some kind of alien or something. Fuck this, I’m outta here.”
One by one, they turned and fled until I was left alone with the battered man on the ground.
Taking his arm, I helped him to his feet.
“Are you okay? How badly did they hurt you?”
The man looked up at me for the first time. I found myself falling into the most incredible ice-blue eyes I’d ever seen.
“Th…thanks. I’m fine.” He shivered. “But I wouldn’t have been if you hadn’t shown up when you did.”
I helped him over to the wrought-iron bench where he promptly collapsed.
Sitting down next to him, I gently touched his shoulder. “Well, you don’t look it. You’ve got a bloody nose and some nasty cuts, and….” I tilted his head up for a better look and drowned for a second time in his beautiful eyes.
A weak smile lit up his face. “And?”
Shaking my head to clear it, I continued, “And the beginning of a pretty serious black eye.”
“Oh, great! That’ll go over really well at my job interview tomorrow.” He shrugged. “But I guess I’m lucky to be alive. I don’t have a clue why they jumped me. I was just walking home from the gym.”
He pulled his hand away from his face and offered it to me. “Thanks for saving me. My name’s Zach.”
I took the proffered hand and shook it. “I’m Kevin, your knight in,” I gestured to indicate my t-shirt, jeans, and work boots. “not-so-shiny armor.”
The radiant look that spread across his face made my whole evening.
I feel so drawn to him. I wonder if he’s…?
“So, a knight in rusty armor then?” Zach countered, laughing.
“That’s funnier than you realize.” I ran a hand through my short-cropped red hair. “My nickname at work is Rusty.”
The laughs that followed broke the tension in the air. Several moments passed before we regained our composure.
“Weren’t you scared they were going to shoot you?”
“Nah.” I waved a hand. “They were just big kids playing with things they didn’t understand. That punk didn’t even know how to use his gun.” I snickered. “The idiot accidentally flipped the safety on after his misfire.”
“Still,” Zach asked as he levered himself to his feet. “He could have realized his mistake and then shot you.”
“Nah, I was never in any real danger. But how about I walk you home? Just to make sure you get there safe this time.”
Zach ducked his head. “Sure, but answer me one thing first.”
I put my arm around his shoulder and pulled him close. “What do you wanna know?”
“What scared those punks off? I heard them say something about your eyes….”
He’d never believe that I’m an alien, reincarnated into a human body. Or that I used telekinesis to deflect the bullet and to flip the safety on the gun.
A new thought occured to me. But I wonder. The pure hatred on that kid’s face. Was he a Klymurian? If Zach’s a Bylantian like me, that would explain why they jumped him in the first place. I mentally shook my head. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to spend more time with Zach to find out.
I shrugged. “It’s just one of those strange mysteries of the night.” Biting my lip, I shot him a sly grin. “Now, how do we get to your place?”