If you’d care to start our story at the beginning:
Part One: Desert Stray
Part Two: Fragile Hosts
* * * * *
Blake & Summers Building
Street Side Bus Stop
Heikes took another pull from his pocket flask, humming a clip from the chorus of Alan Jackson’s It’s Five O’clock Somewhere before continuing.
“Look, I’m not saying that Rob Zombie’s Halloween is horrible –”
“It sure the hell sounds like you are,” the mechanic with James stenciled on his shirt said, taking the flask back from Heikes.
“Well, okay, yeah, I am,” Heikes admitted. “But it’s as though Zombie saw that Carpenter made a chocolate meringue pie. He could taste the excellent custard. See the egg whites whipped into a fantastic foamy top, all built into this delectable homemade crust. And it’s like Zombie’s takeaway was ‘Pour cream in bowl. Apply heat.’ It’s ridiculous!”
“If you say so,” James said. “Hey, I gotta go. I’m already late getting back, but thanks for the breakfast.” He gestured with the flask as he handed it back now emptied of its contents.
“De nada,” Heikes said, putting his flask back in his inside coat pocket hiding place.
“Pop your car by sometime; I’ll give you a free oil change,” James added as he walked away, a small stagger in his step. “I’m just over there.”
“Sometime.” Heikes’ eyes were unfocused as he stared into the street. “Sure.”
A dirty SUV pulled to a stop in front of him, and still, Heikes didn’t blink. The driver honked to snap him out of his mental time-out.
“Hey, Heikes!” Sarah yelled from the driver’s seat.
“Holy shit!” Heikes stood up, exiting his fugue state. He began blinking rapidly and took in a deep sigh as he looked at Bobby sleeping in the passenger seat of the SUV. “Jesus, Sarah, you guys made excellent time. Our boy’s out, eh?”
Sarah popped the Unlock button so Heikes could climb in the back seat.
“Yeah, the jerk was supposed to drive the last leg so that I could get some shuteye, but –”
“Jesus!” Heikes yelped, staring through the open car door at what appeared to be an exploded fuzzy orange and white sock. Various chunks of viscera and other miscellaneous gore accompanied the shredded fur contained inside the kennel.
“What?” Sarah opened her car door and jumped out without checking for traffic. She ran around the SUV until she was stopped short by the scene of the once fluffy Joe Pesci.
In the screaming, neither Sarah nor Heikes saw Bobby get out of the SUV and head into the building behind them.
Blake & Summers Building
“So what we’re saying,” the out-of-town exec with the power suit began her closing sales pitch, standing before Ayasha from across the table, “is that Ayasha After Dark needn’t stay an overnight show.”
“Not that we’re suggesting that it’s not performing spectacularly–” chimed in a station lackey.
“Nobody’s saying that at all.” The out-of-town exec interrupted, taking her eyes off of Ayasha for the first time that meeting to give the lackey an icy stare down. She leaned over the table looking back to Ayasha as though they were co-conspirators. “Numbers don’t lie. But widen your gaze. Take in the bigger picture. We think you’d kill in Atlanta.”
Ayasha took in a deep breath then let it out. She did it again. The paperwork that they’d given her before the meeting had a lot of numbers on it. Pretty big numbers, if she was honest. Life-changing figures.
“Well,” she began. “You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about. Can I take a few days and –”
The door to the conference room swung open, banging into and leaving a crack in the glass wall. Tiffany came stomping in with Eric close behind her.
“What the hell?” the exec straightened up, fuming at the interruption.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Tiffany said the first to Ayasha, the second to the exec. “This will just be a minute. Look,” back to Ayasha, “I know you’ve got this meeting, and it’s all important, but we’ve got a show to do tomorrow. Hemmingford, in case you forgot. And this is a big deal for us, which you used to care about but now it doesn’t seem like you do so much. First, we lost this year’s Podkin Pie Award to Pop-Culture Bombcast – they don’t even do horror-related material! – and now”
Tiffany’s next words were drowned out in the sound of the room exploding around them. Fiery remnants of the floor hit the out-of-town lackey, shredding his body into a lung-diseased sneeze, while the concussive blast blew his boss through the window with such force that a week later they’d find her left leg below the knee on a rooftop across the street.