"Did you hear what he called me?"
"Try not to think about it. You know that people can get carried away when they're soliloquizing. They say things they don't really mean because it sounds good. Besides... everybody knows the prince hasn't been himself lately."
"You don't know what it's like... He wasn't talking about you!"
"Look, that's just the way things are. Sometimes people monologue, and sometimes in those monologues people are going to say things that you aren't going to like, but you just have to ignore it and move on. It's just the way things are..."
"Oh, don't do that while I'm driving! Besides, sitting in traffic on the 401 lacks a certain dramatic framing, don't you think?"
She started sobbing softly.
"Ophelia, please try and keep it together... We're almost home. You're exit is literally, right around the corner."
"I'm trying..." she sniffed, "I just can't believe I had to sit there and listen to him. It was humiliating."
"I know it feels that way now, but it will be alright. No one is going to bring it up. You just have to forget about it."
"That doesn't really make me feel any better."
"Ugh, I hate The Allen. Why do you have to live down here? The traffic is always horrible... and there's ads for the Subway mocking me."
"It's really convenient. Besides, I love the neighbourhood."
"Yeah, convenient... except when you want to go anywhere that's more than a block and a half-from the University line."
"It's not my fault the TTC doesn't service Muskoka." She crossed her arms. "... and you're changing the subject."
"Sorry, I just think you're getting too worked up about it."
"Too worked up about it? Did you hear what he said?"
"Yes." He sighed "I heard what he said, but we weren't supposed to hear it."
"Weren't supposed to hear it. He stood up at the dinner table and started ranting. How exactly were we not supposed to hear it?"
"It's a convention. When someone starts soliloquizing, sure, you might hear it, but you don't hear it."
"That's just stupid."
"Yeah, but that's the way things are. Look you don't read people's journals, you don't listen in on their soliloquies, and you just get on with your life."
"... but the things he said, and I just had to sit there and take it. It's unfair."
He pulled the car up to the curb. "I still can't believe you live here. Your house is pink, and it doesn't even have a drive way."
"Yeah, but it's close to everything." She shrugged and then opened the passenger door. "... and you're changing the subject again."
He sighed. "Try not to think about it too much, okay? We've got to go back up there next weekend... something about a play, and you don't want to spend the entire day fuming." He undid his seatbelt, leaned over and hugged her. "I'll call you tomorrow."
"Good night." She said, got out of the car, closed the door, and was gone.
"Have you ever met somebody who wasn't from Toronto?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course I have."
"Okay who? Specifically?"
"Uh... lots of people. What about Kate? She's Chinese."
"As Torontonian as you or I. Toronto General, just like you actually."
"You asked her where she was born?"
"Yes, this is important."
"Okay... what about her parents?"
"Princess Margrat and Mt. Saiani."
"What about her grandparents. I mean somebody in her family has to be from China..."
"They were really noncommittal about that."
"Fine, what about Tom? He's from Calgary."
"His dad is. He just says he's from Calgary so he can get away with wearing a cowboy hat."
"Well there you go. His dad is from Calgary."
"Have you ever met his dad?"
"No. I mean... After what he did at Amanda's place, Tom and I have barely ever even spoken to each other..."
"Well I haven't met him either so his dad doesn't count."
"Look, this is ridiculous. Of course, there are people who aren't from Toronto."
"Have you met any of them? How do we even know they exist?"
"This is insane. What about all of the people on TV... They can't all be fake."
"Notwithstanding the fact that everybody on TV is fake in one way or another, have you met anyone from a TV show or someone who works on them and is really sure about where they come from?"
"Have you ever even been outside of the city?"
"My parents don't have a car..."
"Mine don't either. I've never even been west of Jane. As far as I know, it could be a wasteland out there."
"Well, it kind of is, but that's beside the point. What about the planes? You've seen them flying over. They have to be going some where. They couldn't possibly be just for show."
"Do you know anybody who's been on one?"
"Andrea went to Disney World last March. There you go, Florida is clearly not in Toronto..."
"No she didn't."
"She didn't what?"
"Go to Disney World. Her parents were going through a divorce and she lost her shit and stopped coming to school for a while. When she got it back together she said she went to Disney World so people wouldn't find out."
"How do you know that?"
"People found out. Besides, doesn't Disney World seem kind of lame, I mean..."
"Look, the GO Train goes to Barrie and Barrie is clearly not Toronto."
"Have you ever been to Barrie?"
"No. Why would I go to Barrie? It's like four hours away."
"Exactly. Have you ever met anyone who's been? I mean... I've heard of people who commute from Barrie."
"No. I haven't met anyone who commutes from Barrie."
"Okay... What about Markham? Do you know anybody from Markham?"
"No. I don't know anybody from Markham."
"Fine, let's go. Grab your jacket."
"We'll take the TTC to Finch and walk to Steeles."
"I don't want to go to Finch, it's far away."
"I don't want to either, but we have to. Neither of us know a single person who isn't from the city, so we have to go to Steeles. That's all there is to it."
"It's like an hour away..."
"I know, let's go."
"Last stop Finch. Connection to York Region Transit and go fuck yourself this is the middle of fucking nowhere."
"Wow, those subway announcements are mean."
"Yeah, but they're not wrong. Let's go find Steees."
"Are you sure you want don't want to take a bus, it looks like it's kind of far."
"No, I don't want to wait for a fucking bus... It couldn't possibly be that far."
"Okay, turns out it actually was kind of far, but that big intersection up ahead should be Steeles..."
"Alright, take a look: giant intersection, Markham, Vaugh. They exist. You dragged me all the way out here for nothing. Are you satisfied?
"Then, again something's not quite right. Take a look at this. Holy. Fucking. Shit. It's a painting! Markham is a backdrop.
"I can't believe it. You were right."
It's been a while since we've been out hunting. The practise is appreciated, unexpected though it may be. Erik is doing the actual fighting - he's the hero after all. I'm more of a lookout or support type. I try to make sure that he doesn't get caught off guard or get mobbed. Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Erik is beating on a pair of amorphous critters with tentacles and too many teeth. A kick here, a punch there. Maybe some slicing with the boot dagger that he takes with him everywhere. I'm hanging back, close enough to intervene if the critters get the upper hand, but far enough away that I'm mostly out of harm's way and can keep an eye out for any additional trouble. I'm not prepared for a fight tonight, and I'm not exactly keen to go hand-to-tentacle.
Things are going pretty well: he's keeping them at a distance, getting a quick attack in when he can, and making sure they don't flank him, until... He thinks that he sees an opening and starts wailing on the critter on the left. Probably trying to put it down. Unfortunately, this leaves him wide open for attack from the critter on the right. Despite their penchant for eating brains, amorphous, tentacled, blob monsters from Beyond the Stars are not particularly bright. Even still, it can recognize an opportunity when it sees – errr... senses - one.
That's my cue. While I might not be the hero of the piece, I've got to keep the hero alive so that he can keep on heroing. I run forward, towards the critter on his six, and land one hell of a heel kick into the centre of its mass. Ichor sprays from the impact and a piercing shriek echoes from one of its many mouths. It rounds on me, or at least its tentacles start waggling at me rather than him. I give it a solid kick as its tentacles grasp at my jacket, searching for purchase. The creature slides towards the wall, trailing a thick layer of goo. Erik, finally finished with the first critter, rounds on the second and rams his boot dagger into the quivering mass of tentacles. He slices through the bundle and it begins to haemorrhage ichor. The two critters are flailing madly and spraying green goo across the walls.
After a couple of minutes, when my pulse has settled down and there's nothing left but two puddles of green goo, we take the stairs down to the platform to wait for a 95. It's time to head home.
We ride the bus in silence up to Laurier. I'm kind of pissed. I've got ichor on my jacket and boots, and it's going to be hell to get off; as I said, I wasn't looking for a fight tonight. We walk a couple of blocks east and stop at the coffee shop that's on the way home; I need something to drink and I've got to have a talk with my hero. We each get our usual and pay the barrista for the overpriced coffee. The music is pretty horrible and the chairs are designed more for looks than for comfort but it's on the way home and it's still open and right now, that's really what counts. We sit down in one of the poorly lit corners, as far away from any of the people in the place as we can manage. Not surprisingly, most people are uncomfortable with the kind of conversations I'm used to having.
"You know kid, you left yourself open to that beast back there. The damn thing could of had your frontal lobe for lunch," I say in hushed tones.
"No problem," Erik replies, casually taking a sip of his latte. Or is it a moccaccino? "That's why I've got you watching my back."
His lack of concern is really starting to bother me. "Except for the fact that I don't exactly excel in combat - particularly when unarmed. You need to be careful! Those things were a piece of cake, you really shouldn't have needed any help at all."
"Don't worry Kat! You said it yourself: those things were a piece of cake. Both of us knew that. We fight something serious and I'll take it seriously. But tonight was just a little bit of fun to get our blood pumping." He's smiling at me as though I'm an over-concerned parent who needs to be placated.
"Speak for yourself, this is a new coat and it's going to be a bitch to clean. Anyway, I've got to open at the diner tomorrow, so I'll see you later. Just remember: this isn't a game, and those grease spots with tentacles will seriously eat your brain if you give them half a chance."
"G'night Kat. You worry too much."
It's been a couple days since I ruined my boots stomping the life out of a tentacled horror beneath St. Laurent Centre. Apparently, the little buggers have the gall to have leather destroying ichor instead of blood. As I bus my last table I'm a little apprehensive. Tonight, Erik and I are heading out to Confederation park with the hope of taking down a monster or two. The Citizen has been reporting random violence in the area, which in my experience, is good indication that something with tentacles has taken up residence.
After sundown, we meet atop the McKenzie King Bridge. I set up in a shadowy area about half way across the bridge on the south side so that I can see the entire park. My binoculars are around my neck and my rifle is in my right hand, concealed beneath my long, black, only-a-little-bit-ichor-stained jacket. The rifle's loaded and my index is on the trigger - it's no use being here if I'm not prepared for the worst. The rifle would be out and aimed already if I wasn't standing less than fifty feet from the Department of National Defence. The Forces get pretty pissy about people, other than them, walking around with guns right outside of their headquarters.
Erik's gone down the stairs, and he's patrolling the park. I've already done a quick sweep with my binoculars and I haven't seen anything, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything here. I keep sweeping the park while keeping an eye on Erik, but he soon finishes his search empty handed.
There's a vibration coming from my left pocket, so I reach in and grab my cell.
"Kat here," I say softly but clearly.
"There's nothing in the park proper," I hear Erik say, "so I'm going to check under the bridge. It's pretty dark under there - I'd say it's a pretty good hiding spot for a gooey non-human."
"Alright, sounds like a plan. Wait 5 minutes so I can reposition though - I'm no help to you on top of the bridge. I won't be able to see you, let alone cover your ass."
"Sure, come on down Kat. I'm sure I'll have killed them all by the time you get down here though."
I can here the grin in his voice. He's going to go in alone before I'm in any position to help him. It's this type of cheeky behaviour that gets a hero killed.
"Erik, stay right where you are and wait until I get down there!"
The idiot's going in alone. I pocket the cell, rip the binoculars off my neck, and start running. With any luck, I'll make it down and the cocky bastard really will have killed them all. Unfortunately, the universe isn't generally that accommodating.
I'm in the park proper now and running toward where Erik should be. I can hear the sounds of a fight, but it's night out and there are far too many shadows for me to be able to see anything. I keep running and hope for the best. I start to hear screaming, the normal boring, single-mouthed, human kind. I round the corner and see a much larger tentacled mass that either Erik or I are used to fighting. I freeze, hoping I'm out of range of it's long grasping tentacles and raise the rifle to my shoulder. I put three rounds into the centre of the mass of writhing appendages. I'm using the concrete ceiling of the bridge to provide a backstop, I just hope that it hasn't picked up Erik and is holding him in my line of fire. Jets of thick black ichor spray from the centre of the beast. It tosses Erik aside like a rag doll and turns towards me. I let loose three more rounds and then swap the empty magazine for a fresh one. The beast looks... stunned as buckets of ichor, spray, ooze and drip from the central bundle. In my experience, regardless of how far beyond the stars a creature may hail, nothing quite puts it in its place like hot lead.
I stand my ground and unload two more magazines into the beast as it sits transfixed, quivering. Slowly, the life fades from the tentacled monstrosity and I feel confident enough to approach and investigate my downed hero. Once I get there, I know I'm too late. The creature's done so much damage, not even a team of the best surgeons could undo what's been done, and that's provided they could get his head back from the gullet of the beast. Just then I hear shouting coming from above me on the bridge. It would seem that the MPs have taken issue with my firing of a high-powered rifle spitting distance from DND. I guess it's time to haul-ass, that's another hero down and it's down to me find the next one.