Excerpt from Book 2. Big excerpt. Comparatively, anyway.

She was gone for a long time, and the wait nearly drove him mad. More humans filed in as the train’s hour of departure rolled around. The sensation of eyes upon his back grew nerve-wracking. His façade of calm was becoming harder and harder to maintain.
At one point, a woman with three toddlers in tow sat nearby. In the innocent way of children, all gaped openly at him. The youngest, apparently also the boldest, dared to stand right in front of him.
A quick glance sideways showed that the mother wasn’t watching. He bared his fangs in a vicious snarl.
The girl gave a comical gasp and scampered away. It wasn’t enough to stop the stares; if anything, they were even more intrigued than before. Still, they had the good sense not to stare when they thought he was looking, nor did they come near again.
Ronni returned with a single small bag.
“One friggin’ shop open, can ya stand it? You’d think this close to Christmas they’d be like twenty-four hours or something, but no. Most of the stuff was souvenir shit, and your size has to be special-ordered anyway. I did find these.”
From the bag she pulled out two pairs of thick wool socks. Each was embroidered with a tiny Statue of Liberty.
“Cheesy and expensive, but who’s gonna look at your feet? They’re warm, that’s more important.” She seated herself cross-legged on the floor, unwrapped the scarf, and carefully massaged his toes. “Jesus, these are like chunks of ice. Feel anything?”
Azzie flinched slightly. “Pain. No, not pain. It burns.”
“Good sign. Maybe it ain’t so bad ‘cause you kept walking. One symptom of frostbite is grayish skin. No offense, but with your color skin, I can’t tell. Burning means the circulation is kicking in. Does it tingle?”
“Yeah. Y’know, pins and needles.”
Azzie pulled one foot free of her grasp and flexed his toes. “I do not understand ‘pins and needles’. What do you mean?”
“Jeez, what planet you from? Pins and needles, like when your hand goes to sleep.” She dropped his other foot in exasperation. “When the nerve endings get prickly…like someone’s sticking you with pins and needles. I can’t explain it.”
“Nerve endings. I see.” His toes responded slowly, stiffly. “It is an unpleasant sensation. Yes, they tingle.”
“Cripes, don’t you trim your toenails, either? You need a pedicure. You’ll tear right through these, wool or not.” She set about working the new socks over his feet, chattering like a deranged magpie. “I thought about grabbing something to eat, and then I figured we’d get coffee in the dining car. Maybe a Danish. It’ll be ten or so when we hit Schenectady. It’s like a buck cheaper to get off there instead of Rensselaer and bein’ Christmas the malls will be open early. There didn’t used to be malls in Schenectady. Doesn’t matter. There’s like ten malls in a twenty-mile radius. We can grab you decent winter duds and a hot meal in one shot.”
“Oh, man, tell me you know what a mall is!”
“Oh. Yes, I think so.” From behind the sunglasses, he glanced furtively around the waiting area. Six-forty, and it was packed with holiday travelers. The majority of them were paying him far more attention than he wanted. “I don’t know if I care for such a public place as a mall,” he explained. “I’m keeping a low profile.”
“Ain’t gonna happen. You’ll have a better chance in a crowd, ‘specially once you’re bundled into decent clothes. Can’t hide your height, but we’ll deal. Maybe we can pass you off as a basketball player; they go over seven feet sometimes. And don’t give me shit about eating. I’ve heard Reyneart. Says you don’t touch a thing. I know you’re hungry. Your stomach’s rumbling right now. Let’s see…we don’t have to eat in the mall; there are plenty of restaurants around. You look like a meat and potatoes guy. A steakhouse, maybe. Those were croppin’ up like weeds when I left. Or if you’re worried about money, there are some of those all-you-can-eat buffet places, too.”
She finished with the socks, threw out the bad, and took the seat beside him. She continued talking, but Azzie tuned it out.
Now he was inside, thawing, with a concrete destination. The seeds of a plan of action were laid.
It made him groggy to be almost warm again.
He gave an audible sigh of relief when the announcement came for them to board.

Published by azbaelus

Local artist, author, slacker, gamer!

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