I filled up the enchanted beer horns and carried one out to the porch. The other one ran happily behind, and I held the door for it.
Lisa* paced back and forth across the porch and stared off into space.
“What’s with you?” I asked.
“Watching for company,’ she said. “I invited Dr. Pennington** to visit.”
“That’s cool, I suppose. Do we have room for both her and Perry?”
“She’s by herself.”
“But she never travels alone. Who’s going to keep an eye on her?”
“She can stay in my bedroom, I don’t really sleep anyway. I downloaded special software and I’m responsible for her.” She gazed into the sky again and pointed. “There she is.”
I couldn’t see anything. I shaded my eyes and looked harder.
“I can detect the tracking chip. It’s about the same as seeing, at least to me.”
I leaned against the rail and took a swig on my beer. The other horn rubbed on my legs like a cat. A bulbous blue sedan appeared in the sky. “I can’t believe they let her drive the skyway.”
“The car’s all pre-programed. She can’t drive anywhere else. I have to talk to the car and send it back.” She turned towards me and put a hand on my shoulder. “Did I screw up? What if she wants to test me and burns me up?”
“She’s with ATF, not CPSP. The fire sciences lab isn’t about product testing, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
The car descended and slowed. It touched down near the cabin and drove to the porch. The door opened and Lindsay Pennington stepped out. She wore a blue button up blouse and some khaki pants. Her hairstyle never changed, auburn, pulled up tight with curls pouring off the top to one side.
“They wouldn’t allow me a stop along the way,” she said. “Can I use your bathroom?”
I held the door open and led the way to the facilities. The beer horns followed us inside. Lindsay moved pretty fast and closed the door. Lisa hustled in behind us.
When Lindsay stepped out she said, “What’s with you two? Can’t a girl go in private?”
“I still have some things to sort out,” Lisa said. “We need to unload your bags and send the car back.”
Lindsay picked up the other beer horn and took a drink. “I’m pretty dangerous. You’d better keep an eye on me.”
“It, um it isn’t that–
Lindsay stomped her foot and lunged. Lisa and I both flinched backward. Lindsay laughed and headed for the car.
I unloaded several bags, including the rolling trunk with a pink fire helmet lashed across the top. A plush pink bunny head was secured to the shield area. Lisa connected her umbilical to the car’s dashboard and told it to go home.
Lindsay grabbed a bag and said, “Come on, Lisa. I’ll tell you all about my fire projection studio.”
“That sounds really interesting,” Lisa said. “I’d love to see it in person someday. Is it really just like standing inside a burning building?”
“Yes, and verified by many real firefighters.”
“I need you to look over my notes about the projection room. Make sure I’m describing it right,” I said. “That, and about a hundred other things.”
We stepped inside and headed for the upstairs room. I flicked the gauge on one of the fire extinguishers, pointed at my eyes and then at Lindsay. Lisa gave me a nod and a thumbs up.
“You guys are too nervous,” Lindsay said. “I know the sound of flicking a gauge. Besides, it’s hard to burn a log cabin. You need smaller sticks to get the logs to light. When you see me carrying brush inside, then you can panic.” She took another drink and clunked her horn against mine. “Let me get situated and we can get to work.”
*Lisa is the main character in Wild Concept. She’s a robot and helps around the writing cabin these days. Her story is available on Amazon right now.
** Dr. Lindsay Pennington is a supporting character in Arson. (Coming soon to a Kindle near you.) She runs the fire sciences lab for ATF, and may be the most fun supporting character I’ve ever written.