Uncontrolled Substances: Part 10

“Um… Yeah?”

Knowing that Daniel had a hard time reading my mind when I thought about technical problems, I thought about some ideas I had about redesigning Night Wolf’s car for more speed. Once I got going with that, I felt around mentally for a connection of some kind, especially inexpert mental touches.

I knew what they felt like. Growing up with Daniel as a best friend, I’d spent a lot of time in his head as well as mine, and knew as much about telepathy as any non-telepath could. Even beyond working with Daniel, I’d had his younger brother and sister attempting to poke around in my head nearly every time I came over.

Melanie barely touched my mind at all.

Given that Daniel had set up a shield in my head that would shut off conscious access to everything but my martial arts training if someone deep probed me, this was probably a good thing. In theory, I’d be able to let my unconscious urges guide me through the situation, but the last time I’d let them do that, I’d punched the mayor in the face.

Knowing that, I let myself loose on ways to redesign an engine for maximum power and fuel efficiency until I felt the touch withdraw.

When I started paying attention again, I heard Logan saying, “Well, at least you got dinner. It took ages to get the two of us up here, and we skipped it. Hope they’ve got food.”

“What happened?” Haley asked.

Logan shrugged. “I had to visit a couple people on the way. We came in just after you, I think. I thought it might be you, but you weren’t with Sean, so I didn’t know. Were you in the old Corvette?”

I nodded.

“That’s a cool car. Where’d you get that?”

“I borrowed it.” I said.

Logan nodded. “I’d thought it might be Haley’s dad’s.”

“Why?”

“My dad collects cars,” Haley said.

Should I have known that? I supposed that I should have guessed when I found out that he’d bought Haley’s mom a 70’s Trans Am.

Melanie put her hand around Logan’s shoulders and leaned against him.

I moved closer to Haley, made like I was looking at the people behind us and muttered, “She’s a telepath. We should get out of range.”

Then I turned my head back to them.

Haley didn’t miss a beat. “There’s Vaughn. We should catch him before the dancing. Come on, Nick. Nice to see you again, Logan. Nice to meet you, Melanie!”

We cut across some of the fake grass alongside the path.

Vaughn stood next to a lamppost in front of a building labeled 221B Baker Street, uncharacteristically alone. His tuxedo looked a little lumpy around the pockets.

As we walked up to him, he said, “Brittany’s in the bathroom with Cassie. I think they’re talking about me.”

“Why?” I asked.

“My guess? She was curious if I was still using, and thought Cassie would be the best person to ask.”

He didn’t say anything for a second and then asked, “So how’s Logan?”

Haley gave a bleak look. “Reeking of power juice and alcohol. Melanie smells the same, but with perfume. And more deodorant. Also, she’s got a cat.”

“Here?” I looked over there. No cat in evidence, and really Melanie’s dress couldn’t hide anything.

“Not here, silly,” Haley said. “At home.”

I shrugged. “It’s not like we didn’t expect that he’d be drunk or high.”

“No, but I’d been hoping Logan might be doing better. Not all of Sean’s friends are jerks, Nick.”

I was still formulating a reply when Cassie and Brittany showed up.

Cassie wore a blue dress that was less revealing than most. Her shoulders were covered, and the dress went straight down to her ankles though there were slits in the side that went fairly far up her legs. She’d had her hair cut short, around the jawline, which was better than the beginning of the year when she’d had a brush cut and wore a wig over it.

Brittany walked directly to Vaughn and they left for the dance floor.

According to school rumor, Brittany was far from a virgin and secretly had an abortion last year. Of course, according to school rumor, Cassie was a lesbian, and we had a thing for each other.

So, yeah. School rumor clearly smoked crack. It also needed some education about the definition of “lesbian.”

“Where’s your date?” Haley asked.

Cassie pointed at a cluster of people talking. “Paul’s over there. I should go find him before people start dancing, but are you guys prepared?”

“For what?” Haley turned her head back to Cassie.

“Alien invasions? Insane robots? Giant ants? I’ve got my costume on under the dress. Well, except for the legs and arms. See?”

She pulled up the dress a little and I could see the blue of her costume through a slit. Then I looked away, hoping that no one was looking.

“God, Nick, I’m not flashing you. Anyway, I couldn’t fit the utility belt under the dress, but I’ve taped my staff and a couple grenades to my legs.”

Music, and the sound of the DJ’s voice began to carry across the room.

“Hey, gotta go.” She left.

As we followed everyone to the dance floor, Haley said, “I think she must have chosen that whole outfit to hide her costume. You weren’t expecting me to do that, were you?”

“Would it matter if I did?”

“No.”

Many people have written that you can’t tell a story about people having a good time. That’s true, because for the most part we had a good time dancing and there’s not much to say about it. I didn’t step on Haley’s feet very often, and if she did have to tell me how to dance sometimes, well, that wasn’t bad.

Chaperones did have to tell a few people to stop dancing in ways that were a zipper short of sex, but that was par for the course at a dance.

Problems didn’t start until we stopped dancing.

I grabbed some punch from the table for the two of us, and noticed Logan grabbing a lot of food — cake, and hors d’oeuvres, frantically — in amounts that I’d seen Cassie use. Melanie watched him, giggling.

“Wow,” I muttered.

“I think we might need to do something,” Haley said.

One of the two chaperones serving the drinks began walking down the table toward him as he knocked a few plates off the table.

A big guy, the chaperone put his hand on Logan’s arm and said, “I think you need to relax.”

Logan snarled at him.

Then Logan changed, grew about two feet taller, adding fangs, fur, and claws. The tuxedo, needless to say, ripped in a lot of different places.

Part of my mind ran through our options for stopping him before he did anything. Another part came up with an inappropriate song request for the DJ — inappropriate in part because he was more giant man-ape than any kind of canine, but still…

“Werewolves of London. Ahhwooooo…”

14 thoughts on “Uncontrolled Substances: Part 10”

  1. Yeah, I got a chuckle out of the grenades taped to her thighs too. I can only assume they’re not the standard pineapple shape….

    And I called it on the martial arts response! Whoo!

    Two other things (typos, in fact):

    1. The first sentence, “Daniel had a hard time reading my mind when thought about technical problems”, is missing an “I”.

    2. It’s “hors d’oeuvres”.

    And hey, is anyone else wondering what Vaughn has in his pockets?

    Hg

  2. Hg: I did less copyediting on this one and it shows… Thanks.

    Grenades: They’re smaller than normal and not pineapple shaped, and also not on the upper thigh. Don’t want to have them constantly rubbing against stuff. That would hurt.

    That being said, the thought of ripping tape off one’s legs makes me cringe. I suppose Cassie shaved hers though, so that’s better…

  3. Funny I was more along the lines of Thriller, but Monster Mash works good to.

    Looks like things are going to get heated up pretty quick now. Maybe Nick should fit some of his roach bots with smoke bombs. That way they can give cover when needed.

  4. Daymon/Thomas: Both of those are good.

    Pockets: I’ve heard pretty much all of those questions about Vaughn’s pockets more or less in Gollum’s voice. “What has he gots in his pocketses, precious?”

  5. Is there anyone here who DOESN’T reach into a pocket every once in a while, discover something unexpected, think “What have I got in my pocket?”, and then immediately imagine themselves in a dank underground cave?

    Hg

  6. Jim,

    Can you comment a little more on your process when it comes to plotting the story?

    I’ve noticed, that you the story doesn’t jerk from chapter to chapter. But rather, you’ll give us scenes that are highly important in their own right, yet there’re not “thrilling” or “action-packed”. But it all leads up to scenes where suddenly the action breaks wide-open.

    I’d like to know more about how you do that effectively.

  7. Bill: I can try. My general approach is easy to describe. The specifics get murky.

    I have a general plot outlined and know what the overall and personal consequences of the action are for the major characters.

    Knowing that, I start writing and go as close to that plot as the characters’ personalities will allow. When I’m doing things right, the incidents that lead up to the climax reveal information that raises tension about what will happen, but also makes it possible to understand why things are happening.

    Sometimes incidents do double duty, giving information about the present situation, but setting things up for the future. For example, one of these days everyone will know what’s up with Lee (to a degree).

    How precisely I arrange incidents is a little harder to explain. Partly its just logically what a character would do next. Partly it’s an intuitive thing — what I feel fits best, makes me most excited about the story, whatever…

    The reasons for the exact order depend on the story going on.

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