Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day Eighty

Day 80: 20 Oct 2010

The meet was set for eight this morning, and Cassie and I made it to the hotel in East L.A. by seven. It was a run-down place on City Terrace, all horrible stucco and Spanish tile. Cassie already had the key to a room on the 3rd floor.

The room was Spartan, at best -- a twin bed, a small table, and an old tube TV. It wasn't clean so much as it was mostly empty. Cassie sat on the bed and checked her watch.

"Less than an hour," she said. "If we're lucky, meth-heads won't kill us before then."

"Doubt they could," I said.

I'd been feeling better since we got to Los Angeles yesterday. The sea breeze was doing wonders. The slug seemed sharper, too, but still quiet. I felt like I was the one in control, which was both great and a little worrisome.

I had no idea what to expect as the clock rolled on to eight. Travis seemed amenable to talking, Cassie had told me. That tracked. It seemed he was looking for me, not on a mission to wipe out the West Coast Syndicate. Would we just have a nice, calm sit-down? Chat about whatever was on Travis' mind?

As it turned out, no. Not at all.

* * *

Travis didn't even bother to knock. At 7:58, he burst through the door, crossing the room in less than a second, heading dead-on at me.

I wasn't ready for an attack. But the slug was. Instantly, I dodged left, and his fist sailed harmlessly by. The slug was fully in control now -- no doubt of that. I was back to the familiar sensation of watching things happen, unable to control my own body.

I kicked at Travis' kneecap, hard. His leg snapped back, but instantly righted itself. He shrieked, a short, wordless cry, and threw the TV with a flick of his wrist. I felt the crappy Zenith explode against the side of my skull, but I barely stumbled.

The TV to the head was enough, though. I was off balance for just a second; Travis dove at me, catching me around the midsection with his shoulder. My feet left the ground. We both crashed through the wall, and suddenly, we were on the street, Travis' knee in my chest. He raised one fist and wailed.

Before I knew what happened, Travis was off me, slammed into a parked car about 25 feet away. Cassie was standing over me, smirking. She reached out a hand and helped me up as Travis pulled himself out from the mangled BMW she'd knocked him into.

"How did --"

"Flew. Cool, eh?" Cassie said as I got to my feet. I realized it was me talking, not the slug. He'd let me have some control back. As Travis charged at me, I raised one hand, palm out -- though I don't know if it was me or the slug who did it. Travis stopped dead.

I opened my mouth, and the loudest, most horrible shriek I've ever heard came out. Travis replied with a howl of his own.

The two of us stood there in the street, communicating (I think) for almost a full minute. Then, Travis nodded and walked away.

I could hear police sirens not far off, and I knew they were headed my way.

"OK. What the fuck was that? What did you guys say?" Cassie asked as we double-timed it back to the car.

"I have no idea," I told her, and it was the truth. But I knew one thing. My slug wasn't sick at all. It had been playing me.

I just wish I knew why. Or what the hell had just happened.

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