We Mooses and our friends have only a brief cameo appearance in this story, but it is November and my Minion and I are going to be focused on writing our 50k word Novel for NaNoWriMo.org (where the minion goes by the name of Moosette rather than working for me directly). This short story served as the initial idea for her first NaNoWriMo novel, so it seems appropriate.
The noise in the room flowed deep enough for Peter Morland to drown in. People’s voices and the throb of techno music filled the place to overflowing, as any good dance club should on a Friday night during term time in a university town. Much of the two-story room’s population exuded youth and vibrancy drop by drop to swell the flood even higher.
In an odd corner, he sat calmly fighting back the tide, swathed in black from neck to fingertip and from fingertip to toes. His was not a trendy black or a Goth black, it was just the mixed black of a man whose entire wardrobe was dark, simple, and chosen primarily at random. He chose his position facing the room only to keep his back unassailable. Even in the smothering heat of the room he wore a high collar and thin gloves that left not a square inch of skin below the jaw exposed to view. The small, black, wire-tethered earphones battled the drowning tide of sound in the room with a steady stream of his own choosing. And his flat supercilious stare prevented the approach of inquisitive or even affable strangers, for a good forty minutes anyway.
As music momentarily faded to the shifting percussive bridge between one song and the next, a single figure detached itself from the churning mass of human flesh on the main dance floor. With bouncing steps it breached his small bubble of calm. A quick move and the chair opposite him spun so she could sit with arms crossed across the top and smile at him with an energy beyond just the zeal of youth. She chose to speak first, before his glaze could freeze her in place with its inhospitality and disdain.
“I give up. You win. You will not come find me, even though you are only drawn into this horrible den to meet with me, even though you live in Oxford all the year round, and could come during the vac when it is far less crowded if you chose. Now I have come to you. If the matter were to be left in your hands, you should most likely sit here until you decided I am not going to show, and leave having had no fun at all.” Her smile was bright and heavily colored. The face was as young as any other in the room as she congenially shouted at him in a conversational tone but something in the eyes did not match. The smell of alcohol on her breath carried surprisingly well in the haze of cigarette smoke did, however. He could taste it with every inhalation, and so the discrepancy did not manage to diminish his initial distaste for the ‘young’ person addressing him.
“You are mistaken, miss. You are not the individual for whom I wait. Your hair is cut mannishly short and even in this subdued and erratic lighting it is noticeably green. Your face is hardly beyond teen-age. Your demeanor is too frivolous. And, your figure both too curvy and too well exposed to be the one I expect. Now, please remove yourself from my table and return to your alcoholic flavored fornications.”
She sat straighter and her cheerful tone dropped into an older, lower, more cynical register, matching his disdain, though retaining the humor. “I do not doubt I am not the person you were expecting, but I am the person for whom you wait. I suggest you rethink your assumptions before you open your mouth again, Mr. Peter Morland. You have already shoved one foot ankle deep within its confines. If you insist on sending the other in after it the combined mass may choke you.” The amusement she manifested did nothing to diminish the threat carried within the final remark.
Peter’s mouth opened wide as if to accommodate the metaphorical appendage. He removed the defensive devices he wore hooked over his ears. When he responded, his words came slow and at such a low volume no normal person could possibly separate them from the steady flood of sound in the room, “Sir Julian Grey?”
“That honorific is so obviously improperly gendered there is no need for its denial or correction. You may address me as Grey. If you still want my help you may also promptly dismiss any further displays of surprise or disbelief. You may, however, decide you no longer desire my assistance in whatever enterprise you have in hand for reasons I do not care to speculate as to the nature of. I would suggest, if so, that you say so at once. I am certain you have other places to be and I, also, have much better things to do.”
Peter snapped his mouth shut with a scowl, “Can we discuss my proposal somewhere it is not necessary to shout?” Grey’s nod was archaically gracious. She was polite enough not to point out they had no need to shout there, and suddenly Morland recognized the discrepancy about her eyes. Those eyes were far older than her face and form had any right to be.