Percy, the Space Chimp, leaped off the couch at the writing cabin as I entered. He regaled me with a recap of his visit to the warehouse and Ray Dongas who rules the place. He paused at the entrance to the paranormal office.
Lisa Burton, my robot PA waited inside. She wore a rain slicker and a sou’wester hat, but insisted on heels to go with them. Not so much the strawberry-blonde bombshell today as just cute.
“Wait a minute. What’s happening here?” Percy asked.
The hat atop Lisa’s head spoke. “Not your turn today, slick.”
I put a hand on Percy’s shoulder. “That’s how it works around here. Sometimes I need to give a story some time. You guys are gallivanting around the secret space city, but I need to figure out how much exploration is entertaining, and when to send you on the next leg of your adventure. Science fiction needs a bit of world building, but there’s a limit to it. This city will come back around in your tale, so I could get away with a bit more.”
“Come on, dude. I got a new shuttle I need to try out.”
“And, you will. Today isn’t the day. I need to ponder your next moves. Today is all about The Midnight Rambler.”
The hat said, “Take a break, kid. I’ve been through this a lot of times. You get used to it eventually. The Olympics are on somewhere. Maybe you can check those out.”
Lisa found a place on the couch, then crossed her legs. “What’s with all the rain in this story?”
“Couple of reasons. It’s big enough to be an obstacle to Lizzie’s success, and I have a secret plot to ruin her car.”
“She loves that car. Why would you do that to her?”
“Maybe she’s in line for a different car someday. Besides, it’s true to life. Lizzie struggles with her meaningless jobs, bills that never end, and trying to perform with her band. A paranormal tale needs some level of reality so people can relate. Then there’s the fact that some cool rain type songs have been made. Those can make it into her playlist.”
The hat spoke up. “She’s my partner, so I’m telling her. What are you going to do about her boyfriend?”
“I’m not telling you anything after that last comment. I’m still trying to make this a series of stand-alone noveloids. Anything that drifts across the titles has to be something the next book doesn’t have to explain.”
“Come on, you can tell me. I’m the hat.”
“No. I don’t think so. Success has been sparse on this caper. She can’t count on Kevin the vampire, and the Rambler is dug in to make her crazy. We’re going to initiate a few clues today that will nudge the end game forward.”
“It’s about time. She’s already crazy enough. This monster has to have an army at his disposal by now, and we’re going to have to slug our way through them to get to him. Maybe we can figure out a way to draw him out.”
“Maybe, but I don’t see it working that way. In fact, you’re going to have a little talk with her about how that last second victory only happens in the movies. Sometimes things don’t work out in the real world.”
“Well, I don’t like the sound of it. Is this going to be the Greek tragedy you’re always talking about?”
“That would be cool. Maybe I’ll give that some thought.”
The hat groaned.
Lisa took him off and placed him on the end table. “Relax. He’s already told you about his plan for a new car. If everyone dies, there’s no need for that.”
“Maybe, just the boyfriend dies. That could work.” The hat wobbled to look at my reaction.
“What do you think of this song?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“That reminds me. I need to see what kind of help disaster areas really offer. Lizzie can’t work anywhere except where her band plays. The diner’s flooded and landscaping is at a standstill. Even her basement apartment has water inside.”
“Does this mean the Research Sirens are coming back here?” Lisa asked.