Off Campus: Part 3

Camille smiled at the group. “Someone talked about going dancing.”

Hunter raised his hand. “That’d be me. My mom has friends who own a club in Denver. It’s called Club 32. It used to be an old factory. We can walk right past the line if we want to. Vincent Sucks is playing, but they’ve got a DJ after that.”

Keon rolled to a stop next to the van. “I’m in. I love dancing.”

I’d been thinking Keon would be my best potential ally for going to a movie instead.

Evidently, I made too many assumptions about paralyzed people.

Gifford grinned at Hunter. “Works for me. If no one’s got a problem with that, let’s consider it done.”

Given a choice, I wouldn’t be going dancing, but given a choice, I wouldn’t be here with a group. I didn’t have a right to complain, so I didn’t.

With no one saying anything, Gifford turned to Hunter. “Do you need to make any calls to set this up?”

Hunter narrowed his eyes, and tightened his mouth, not saying anything for a second. Then he looked up. “I don’t think I have to, but maybe I should. I bring friends there all the time when we’re at the Castle Rock house, but this’ll be the most friends I’ve brought.”

He pulled his phone out. “How many more?”

Gifford shook his head. “Dunno. Might be three. Might be six.” Gifford pulled his own phone out of his pocket. “Tell you what, the other people I invited have their own cars. You ride with me, and call ahead if someone calls back while we’re driving. Everyone else can fit in the van, right?”

I glanced back toward the van. “Five people? That’ll work. We’ll have room for the wheelchair too.”

“Excellent. Then I’ll start leaving some messages.”

Haley frowned. “Couldn’t we wait for the other people, and then go?”

Gifford raised an eyebrow. “Nah. They’re late. Don’t worry about them.”

“Ok,” Haley said, and then turned toward me, scowling.

As we turned toward the van, Haley muttered, “Do you think it would have killed him to wait ten minutes? If you know people are coming, you don’t just take off.”

“I would have waited,” I said. “We could still wait.”

Haley waved her hand as if swatting the suggestion away. “No. Gifford’s calling them. It’ll all work out, but it doesn’t seem very nice.”

A few minutes later we were on the road, leaving me with one more project for my list–add a chair lift to my van. It didn’t have one.

Keon sat behind Haley. Camille sat behind me, and Courtney sat alone in the third row.

Traffic wasn’t bad, and even when it slowed down, it was never bad enough that I was tempted to put the van into catmecha mode and fly over the highway.

Keon leaned forward in his seat. “So what are you using? I heard it was gravitics and rockets, but were you using alien gravity tech or your own?”

“Alien tech, but I modified it a little–not in a big way. I just needed to get the mech in the air.”

Keon nodded. “I came up with my own stuff. The alien gravitic tech can’t touch it. They don’t do much with movement. Half their stuff only goes up and down. If they do get it to move, it usually takes separate panels, doubling the size. I can control speed and direction with one panel.”

We drove down the highway in twilight, the sun low in the sky off to our left. I thought about my own experiments. “Doesn’t that use a lot of power?”

“Depends how you do it.”

Trying to keep one eye on the road, I asked, “Have you solved the problem where the gravity generator gets too small to do much more than slow somebody’s fall?”

He shook his head. “No, and you don’t know how many hours I wasted on that one. I got my panels smaller, but not as small as I want.”

As we descended into tech talk, Haley and Camille talked through us. I didn’t catch much of it.

Courtney interjected into both conversations unpredictably.

By the time we rolled into Club 32, we’d stopped talking. In the middle of a parking lot that wasn’t much more than dirt and stones. A factory surrounded by factories, it was a beige concrete building with a nearly flat metal roof.

The crazy thing was that we weren’t the only ones there.

Half the parking lot had already filled. Unlike the concrete buildings around it, Club 32 had a big, red, glowing sign, and spotlights all around the building.

A line of people stood around the side.

We happened to spot Gifford’s Porsche. Neither he nor Hunter were inside. I guessed that they must have gone into the club.

As I set up Keon’s chair, Haley’s phone rang. She talked for a moment, and then put it back in her small, black purse.

“Gifford says he’s inside with Hunter. They’ve left directions to the bouncers to let us in.” Haley frowned for a second, and then turned to help Courtney get Keon out of the van and into his wheelchair.

It didn’t take long.

As Keon strapped himself in (“Don’t worry about it. I can do it better and faster.”), Haley said, “I forgot to tell you that Gifford told me that the other people were almost here.”

“Cool,” I said.

In a low voice, she continued talking, “You might not be as happy when I tell you who it is.”

“Sean?” I asked.

Haley gave a brief smile. “No. It’s Keith and his new girlfriend Zoey.”

13 thoughts on “Off Campus: Part 3”

  1. Foreign politics and worldbuilding is all well and good, but teenagers (tweenagers?) being teenagers is nicer. I’m looking forward to meeting Zoey; as a compound kid, I’m expecting her to be a bit of a douche, but she may yet surprise us. Courtney and Keith awkwardness and drama has been long in coming as well.

  2. Hunter’s reaction is… interesting. He is being prompted by (potential) friends to think about other people. And, deciding it might be a good idea. Gifford seems to have a bit of a casual attitude to doing things in a group. Haley obviously doesn’t think much of this. You can see reasons why both of them might have their viewpoint.

    I like that Nick is getting to talk tech to someone in his own age group – apart, possibly, from Chris (latest Man-Machine) I don’t recall him doing this before. I like that Courtney’s prepared to get involved in the discussion. Nick thinking about a chair lift for his van is good.

    It’d being interesting, some time, to know more about how the original Rocket suit came to be built…


    “In the middle of a parking that wasn’t much”, missing ‘lot’?

  3. I kind of wonder why Keon’s chair doesn’t have more mods on it – there’s a lot you can hide in a wheelchair.

  4. @Michael: Who says it doesn’t? There might be all sorts of bells and whistles we just can’t see because he hasn’t needed them.

  5. Type or I could be grammatically wrong, but I thought it was more standard to write:

    Neither he or Hunter were inside.


    Neither he nor Hunter were inside.


  6. @Notto Mention: Well, if you’re grammatically wrong, I’d be too. The way I’ve learned it, it’s either-or and neither-nor.

  7. Mazzon,
    hm. as i recall, most people in wheelchairs love to do what they can while they’re in them (as self-sufficient as possible). Now, that would mean not letting other people lift him into the van, if at all possible (otoh, rereading, he wasn’t in the wheelchair in the van. and with the muscles someone in a wheelchair has, pulling himself up and in is very doable).

  8. I bet he has a lot stored away in his wheely but prefers to not show it off, kinda like the rocket not using his stealth suit not casual to keep it well.. stealthy.

  9. Club 32’s parking is missing a “lot”. (that was almost clever… )

    “and then put in back in her small”

    Minor stuff. I noticed errors way back were mentioned and didn’t get fixed so maybe these late comments are fairly pointless. You’ve moved on or are planning to fix them in a book version made later or something.

    Perhaps I should restrict myself to only mentioning the most glaring ones. (thinking to myself I guess probably won’t come back to these comments… )

    1. I do usually make changes even on older posts, but there are exceptions. If someone sends me multiple correction emails on a day where I’m busy, I might forget to do one as I easily get 100+ emails a day.

  10. Continuity issue: When he was introduced, you said Keon had no legs. Here, you refer to him as a paralyzed person. I suppose it’s possible that both conditions apply, but this would be the first we’re hearing about any paralysis, so it’s pretty confusing.

  11. “In the middle of a parking lot that wasn’t much more than dirt and stones.” – not technically a sentence on it’s own, unless it’s modifying something prior, but that was only about them having stopped talking previously (not in the parking lot). Also, GOOD GRIEF, 100+ emails?! I would go nuts. Understandable how you miss a few things here and there. Also partly why I try not to do these floods on your update days.

    By the way, finding Keon and the wheelchair stuff kind of fascinating. I know my own writing lacks diversity, mostly out of a fear that I won’t do it properly. Love how he shattered Nick’s assumptions about dancing. I would not have thought to go there.

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