by Bill Keiffer
part 5
 2 3

  I turned right onto Broadway and headed downtown... the traffic was thick here as people headed for the Lincoln tunnel. Very stop and go, no one looked into me, and the only one that had seen me in all my horse faced glory was the Cabriolet in front of me. I waved and she glanced only occasionally over the next few blocks. I loved New Yorkers.
  Soon I stopped at a light the VW had run. I had just been wondering if the Village Voice really was the best venue for me, and thought maybe I should head to Black Rock, instead. No, CBS was in the other direction, as was FOX. I didn't know where ABC was, except on Avenue of the Americas. I didn't know where NBC was, but I did know where Letterman and Ricki Lake taped. Letterman was in the other direction and I just wasn't sure if Ricki was still in business.
  Where I went now could possibly affect me for the rest of my life. I had to get my face on the air. I was a damn handsome devil now and certainly a friendlier face than some lizard. Besides, if Bluenight started talking about how the universe is a story god is writing, we, the transformed, were screwed. I was the best choice for spokesperson: I was well rounded and I knew people in the business. I was still basically human and now the ultimate minority.
  Not a lot of white guys turned black, although I guess we could have done it anytime we really wanted to. I was the reverse Michael Jackson. "Ebony and Ivory, sitting together in perfect harmony..." I sang before realizing that I was perfectly in pitch. That I was singing.
  My jaw dropped as the light turned green. I couldn't sing... I could not even speak intelligibly without effort. Not a great effort, but it was an effort all the same.
  This was very, very cool.
  I idled into the intersection but the sidewalk was bubbling over with girls. I crept up to them and saw there were wooden horses and NYPD corralling a crowd of milling people, almost all of them females. The average girl was 15 or 16.
  They weren't protesting. In fact, they seemed rather happy and excited, they all looked up expectantly, looking up because they had seen others look up. I stopped and looked up, wondering if I'd see Spiderman or a Pegasus... one of the subscribers. It had to be something special because, quite frankly, New Yorkers never look up, not even bubbly Tiger Beat New Yorkers.
  My eyes went wide as I put the car into park. I put on the flashers and grabbed at my hat and sleeveless duster.
  "The plan," I said, "is that there is no plan."
  I stepped out of the car, watching the litter that passed as carpeting in my fade from view. I was still changing, still gathering mass. The vanishing items were all organic and I belatedly realized that my car's tires could have vanished out from under me at any time during the trip. A part of me probably knew that was a possiblity the whole time; that might explain my worries about the Passing fad universe.
  I sighed.
  I had to trust whatever was changing me; it was being way too selective for me to think it really wanted to hurt anyone. It only seemed interested in making sure I got what I wanted, I just hoped it understood that there was a limit to what I wanted.
  I had to trust my mystery sponsor, because I simply had no other choice.
  I put on my hat and look at the crowd on the sidewalk. Most of them looked back and the silence was spreading outwardly from those girls closest to me. A heavy set cop looked at me and his jaw dropped about two inches, but his arm waved maniacally that I should move on. Obviously, a trained observer like a cop couldn't deny his eyes, but I could tell he was trying very hard to deny me. A part of him was probably thinking that if I would only move on, I would be someone else's dilemma and that part was falling back on his training.
  Sheep, a voice said in the back of my head, but I didn't recognize the voice at first. Ah, it was the same voice I used in paintball to order the opposing team not to fire at the man with the big stick. I was the man without the stick and it was the first time I had gone a paintball game without getting shot.
  "Officer," I called out with the assurance of command I did not feel. "I need you to move those sawhorses around this vehicle, now please!" That made all the cops on crowd control look at me, not to mention the passer-bys. "Officier! I need to keep people away from this car!"
  Girls began to back away from the car and immediately two younger cops were talking into their shoulder mounted radios. I nodded towards them, and started pointing fingers at the two cops closest to the fat cop. The plan was there is no plan. "Officiers, please, I've no idea how much longer before IT starts turning other people into horses! Get that car quarantined! NOW!"
  "Get that car out of here!" The first officier shouted out me, but a younger and smarter cop snagged his shoulder as tubby stepped off the sidewalk towards me, "Is there something in the car that causes the transformations?"
  I wasn't expecting a question. Real people are so damn complicated. I held my palms out before him and I gestured up to my face, I rolled my eyes and hoped these guys had friends in the mounted divisions. What could I say? I could lie, but it would come back to haunt me.
  I didn't have to worry about lying, it turns out, as my sponsor decided to make his presence felt.
  My rear passenger wheel exploded, sending rubber bullets bouncing off the street and the fat cop. I fell back against a black Outback that had been moving by at five miles an hour and the cops crouched down, shielding their faces. We were more startled than hurt, but the girls screamed in terror..
  Then before we could catch our breathes, the front passenger exploded, this time and one of the saw horses fell over as the girls waiting to put their requests on MTV were suddenly stampeding. Suddenly, things happened quickly after that.
  The fat cop upholstered his weapon and fired at my car.
  Hearing gunfire, a second officer, apparently partially blinded by burnt rubber in his eyes, discharged his weapon into my car's grill.
  I regained my balance and felt myself grow an inch taller, just as my windshield became marbled with crystalline stripes.
  Four shots were fired in my general direction before it occurred to me to leap out of the way. I leapt straight up, about 16 feet straight into the air, landing behind the sawhorses on the sidewalk with my hand clutching my hat.
  Three cops continued to pump lead into my poor car as a cop came running up to me and grabbed me about the shoulder. I forgot for the moment that I was strong enough to bench press him, and ran with him rather than allow myself to be dragged across the sidewalk.
  16 shots fired in the space of 15 seconds as I am pushed against the wall behind a wall of blue. The car fought back, bouncing bullets off it's engine and the rims of the exploded tires. I heard cop curse cop, as one of the cops shielding me, took a stray bullet in his thigh.
  A thin cloud of smoke rose off the sidewalk as cop disarmed cop.
  My bladder felt particularly thrilled as the patrolmen peeled themselves off of me. The no plan thing was going to be the death of me, I decided. At least this time I wasn't trapped in the cargo hull of a People Express shuttle with my shorts soiled and my ears bleeding.
  The city was quiet for a second, and then the sirens began to sound.
  It was 6pm and I think it was safe to say I had made the news.
  Step One, I thought inanely and turned my mind around inside my own head.
  And then I was standing in front of the younger and smarter cop, with my palms up and open. I was leaning against the wall I had slammed into after my leap and I was crying.
  The sirens were gone and the officers were beginning to approach my car casual, but cautious. I gasped as he touched my shoulder, but he squeezed it reassuringly all the same. "We're calling in the bomb squad and closing off the street. Don't worry."
  Don't worry?
  I looked at my car. There was four perfectly good tires on the car. The windshield was clear, if not clean. There was no slowly expanding cloud of smoke. No smell of sulfur. The tires had never exploded, weapons had not been fired. The cops were calmly closing off Broadway without a care to the traffic disruption.
  I started sobbing uncontrollably and nodded speechless as suddenly a glove of black hairs sprouted on my wrists and my forearm. The young cop's eyes went wide as my fetters sprouted into existence. Our eyes locked and I was in love before I even realized what had happened.
  Reality had been edited before my eyes and I was the only one who knew it. I took the cops hand and put it on my nose. I didn't want to be a man anymore. He looked confused as I stroked his hand across my pretty new nose, trying to show him with I needed. Gingerly, he began to comply. "Someone's fucked you up badly, didn't they?"
  I could only nod and hope he would take good care of me.
  He turned his head at someone's call. It was one of the fat white cops that all tended to blend together in my head as the same big, blue man. He stopped stroking my nose but he didn't blush. "You have the keys, Chief?"
  I fished the keys out of my pocket and handed them to him. He nodded thanks and he trotted away, leaving me to watch his ass as he went, I noticed he held onto his radio as he ran, but not his gun or nightstick and that struck me as odd.
  Then I laughed. The cop stuck me as odd. Heh.
  I looked at my wrists, actually. The black gloves of hair had finished growing in, leaving me with naked fingers. I touched my eyebrows and discovered they were naked, too. I felt a movement under my chin and discovered I had gotten something of my goatee back.
  I looked at my car and the officers inspecting it.
  It hadn't attacked them. They hadn't fired upon it. Did my sponsor actually rewrite the recent past, or did I somehow get shunted into another universe? I know I didn't just imagine shots being fired.
  The same way you aren't just imagining the tug of the halter every once in awhile?
  I frowned. I had no idea what he was talking about.
  I wiped the last of Charger's tears from my face and stood up unsteadily on my feet. My legs hurt. My hands hurt from slamming into the building. I watched the cops open my trunk. I wondered what they would make of my red Razor scooter. Or the metal saw horse I kept in there. Thankfully, none of my other bondage toys were in there.
  I looked down on the ground and found that I could aim my ears to pick-up the cops talking. They were confused and upset that this had happened on their watch, but also archly pragmatic about it. I couldn't make out what they were saying exactly, but they all agreed something had thrown me over the car... nobody could jump that high. They had all also seen me grow fetters and a goatee after being attacked like that.
  They saw me as the victim and that bothered me, although I knew that's how they were going to see us. That's how they needed to see us. That's how I needed them to see us, but pride is an odd thing.
  If my sponsor could change me, why not my immediate past? Had I written myself into a corner by trying to order the cops around? How many "get out of Jail free" cards did I get? Was I supposed to push the limits of reality? Or do I make my sponsor annoyed by forcing him to step in?
  I had no answers.
  Hmmm, this must be why Denny wants Batman to avoid all the cosmic events. It's hard to deduce things when the world starts changing its own rules. Well, logic and I have got along fine without each other, so...
  Step Two?
  STEP TWO. The street is barricaded.
  Step 2. How long does it take to snag a camera man and run down a flight of steps?
  "Depends on how hungry they are." I answered and turned as a steel door burst open from the sidewalk not two feet from me. A camera came first, a body mounted steady-camera, jogging up the stairs. He stepped four feet forward and froze, confident in the invisibility afforded by his camera. Then a skinny kid in pimples and gender-free clothing jumped out and hauled up a woman who could have passed for Downtown Judy Brown, but was too young. The two both stared up at me as they ascended. They hadn't expected to be this close to me and I could see they were wondering if this was their lucky break or the epitaph their parents would clip out of the New York Times.
  Ah, the real door must be covered in blue.
  I gave them the Vulcan hand salute as I noticed the camera had no transmitter. It was strictly tape.
  No, dammit, it's got to be live.
  The intern closed the steel door before I could jump down into it and he stood on it. Afraid of being followed, was he? Well, these guys were hungry enough. I put on my best face, although I had no idea what they were going to make of it.
  "Did you know the Snickers candy bar was named after a horse?" I said, quite clearly and their eyes went wide. "I mention this as I am quite clearly chocolate covered, packed with nuts and have a gooey center."
  Amazing how good the Australian accent makes everything sound, isn't it?
  I frowned as several expressions ran across the girl's face. Damn me and my need to make people feel uncomfortable. "I'm sorry," I said softly, "but, well... I'm not exactly myself today."
  She smiled, professionally. "I can see that." She hadn't expected me to say anything, to be able to even speak. Did I look so inhuman? Didn't matter. "When did this happen to you?"
  "At 2, today. I was working..."
  "Where was this?"
  I glared at her? She wasn't a professional, I suddenly realized. I was about to say more when I heard the good looking cop shout, "HEY!"
  He was striding towards me and the camera crew. Oddly, I felt like I had betrayed him, seeing his jaw thrust forward and his lower lip almost pouting. Charger wanted to cry and get on his knees, but I shoved him out of the way. It was me the cop was interested in anyway. "Get back behind the line! We've got a potential bomb threat."
  "There is no bomb," I said, knowing I had wanted them all to think of something along the lines. But my mind was clear now and I could think again. "It was a thing, an entity in my car."
  The cop stopped and I watched the gears turn in his head. He'd heard it all before; aliens; black ops, demons and he'd trained himself to try to hear the reality within the twisted version being spewed. But, before, those stories had come from junkies, the mentally reduced, and possibly a few soused relatives.
  Now, of course, he was hearing it from the horse's mouth.
  "Look, it's either another Lister or random chaos ghoul, but it got into my car and it forced me here." The cop blinked. "It told me to do things, like I was compelled... look, I know it sounds odds, but considered what happened. I got turned into a horse, there's a two story tall skunk running up and down the freeway in California, and right now, there's a four foot tall fox morph hiding in a book store somewhere wondering what drugs his friends slipped into his latte."
  The cop sighed and looked around, the cop then shooed the three back behind the rapidly filling barricades. "What's a Lister?" he asked, meeting my eye.
  I touched my chest. "I'm a Lister. I'm on The Transformation List. That's how it picked its victims... I think. Everyone on the list has been transformed... or will be before long."
  He called into his dispatcher, struggling with himself. "We may have a suspect in the transformational attacks." He looked about as uncomfortable as a swimsuit salesman selling a two piece bikini to his grandmother. He looked at me, his head tilted sideways. "You're feeling better?"
  I nodded. "Now that it's gone, yes." Charger wanted to kick and bite me when the cop glared at us. Any other day of the week and he would have assumed I was lying or crazy. I was taking him into uncharted territory and cops really hated that; it went against their training. But the simple truth was, I didn't know that I was lying. For sure.
  If there had been an invisible creature in the car with me, messing with my head, how would even truly know it? I probably wouldn't, would I? And if I choose to believe the unlikely? Well, I was turning into a horse slowly but surely. My definition of the unlikely was going to need to be rewritten.
  He nodded back and then shook his head. "Suspect... has fled scene and no longer appears to be in the immediate area." Then he looked at me, again. "Please tell me, you've never be diagnosed with any mental defects."
  I shrugged, "I'm a long term depressive." I smiled. "I'm not manic and I'm not unstable. Or at least no more than can be expected considering I was white this morning."
  The officer looked at me again, as if for the first time. I have no idea went through his mind. In my mind, I distinctly heard Charger kicking his stall walls. The poor thing really hated me at the moment. The cop sighed, again. "Subject appears inhumanly strong like he's strung out on PCP. Subject is described as invisible." The poor guy looked like he'd been kicked.
  The cops in the street looked at him, their walkies repeating what he had just told dispatch. The fat cop who'd been routing around in my trunk, dropped the can of Delacre cookies and stormed over to us. "What the fuck are you doing?" he yelled.
  There was a bit of yelling back and forth but I glanced back at the MTV camera crew and waved. They were still filming and... suddenly... my mind...
  like a deck of cards
  That story I never wrote that got me into this mess? There was 100's of Bill Kieffers. Some were Chargers, some were Greyflanks, some were characters I had written that I was surprised to find more than a bit of myself. And then to give myself some distance between MoM Bill and the real Bill, I invented a few. Some included just to add a variety of forms, like Java Claudette, my sexy Star Fleet assassin that I had played in email games for over two years, or Raff the Ferengi, who was one of my more popular LARP characters.
  All my selves turned and I was unable to move as they sorted something that I had just seen but didn't register in my conscious mind. Lucky me, I had many, many more ids than were probably healthy and they caught what I had fumbled.
  Time froze as Raff the Ferengi saw a glitter of gold falling to the ground and he cried, MINE!
  Claudette, who was really good at spotting erroneous data and behavior, was annoyed that someone wasn't paying attention to her. She was a bit of a slut.
  The Twilight Plains Drifter watched from a distance as the skinny young cipher bent down to reach for something off the ground.
  Wicked watched as the human went a hundred miles away without going anywhere. He was vulnerable, the tiger knew, and he drooled. The production assistant was fresh meat and Wicker was going to pounce and leap.
  Charger felt bad for the poor boy. Girl?
  And then suddenly, I was back in my own head as the young production assistant tried to keep an oversized ring on her... his? finger. I had to talk to that person, I knew. I just didn't know why.
  Then the fat cop was asking for my license and I pulled out a wad of two dollar bills from my back pocket. I didn't even blink as I realized that my sponsor had eaten my wallet but not my money. I just found the plastic sleeve that held my driver's license, voter card, ATM card, and five almost useless credit cards.
  My photo raised the cops eye brows and he made a big deal about holding up to my face. I folded my arms across my chest and posed, letting Charger pick the pose. I was vulnerable and I figured I might as well let it show. "It's an improvement," the cop said harshly.
  "Sal!" The cute cop said in a warning voice, but I just shrugged. Frankly, I agreed with the fat cop. I had never liked my face and I was certain I wasn't the only fur that felt that way. I'm sure a few TSA listers would like my new body as much as I did.
  "Look," the fat cop pushed my license back into my chest, "accidentally" shoving me. "Take ya' fuckin' cock an' bull story an' get dat fuckin' car of yaws da fuck out of here. Ya want ta file a complaint against dis invisible man of yaws for car jacking, ya do it in da morning."
  "Sal!" The cute cop actually stepped between us and I could see the fat cop was actually just starting to work up a good head of steam. "He's a victim."
  "They're all fuckin' vics! I ain't gonna sit still for dis kinda shit on my watch. I ain't gonna sit thru the fuckin' F-B-paininmyass-I telling me how to look for a fuckin' invincible man, ya stoopid ass pansy."
  "Hey!" the cute cop roared back in the face of the fat cop. Something told me they had been partners too long. Do traffic cops get partners?
  The fat cop worked his jaw for a second and shifted his weight from one foot to another and then back again. He looked like he wanted to take back what he said, but wasn't willing to lose face in front of the public. "Ya like da horse headed freak so much, keep him here for da FBI, why don'cha?"
  The cute cop blanched as the fat cop glared at me. I looked at the sidewalk. I had been so close... one flight up, was the voice of the youth of America. If Pauly Shore could find fans while on MTV, I was sure I could, too.
  "Move the car, Mr. Kieffer," the cute cop said to me. "Park the car and come back here. We'll straighten it all out then. Can you do that?"
  His eyes were looking into mine, sadly. His eyes were saying good-bye.
  I nodded and just barely kept Charger from hugging him. Luckily, Charger understood it would ruin the whole handsome young authority figure thing the kid had going for him. Where the hell was Greyflank to control the pony boy, anyway?
  I was about to rush off and then I noticed the PA staring at me. I looked back at the cute cop and read his name badge for the first time. "Officer Madison... is it ok to ask a friend to drive me?"
  He glanced at the film crew and I knew I was pushing my luck, but he nodded.
  I ran over to the MTV team and I could see another film crew running up the street. Several flashes went off from tourists getting a free freak show. The woman reporter would have stepped back if the crowd hadn't been pressing against her. Then, almost belatedly, the crowd did fall back. There was some nervous giggling as some New Yorkers barely kept themselves from running.
  Weird how mobs work, isn't it?
  I looked right at the skinny PA. "You want to come with me and show me where I can park?"
  His... her? jaw dropped. The news reporter tried to ask me something, but I shooed her away. "Come on, we're not getting younger are we?"
  The PA blinked and, with moist eyes, nodded yes.
  I yanked the kid over the wooded saw horse, noting that I almost lost her... his... Nikes. I dragged the kid to my car and the cops let me through. I turned right and looked at my passenger. My passenger looked at me.
  Had I been going any faster, the car would have come to a screeching halt. As it was, we bounced to a stop as my foot slipped off the brake, onto the gas peddle, and then back onto the brake. I think a part of me wanted to speed up just to have the dynamic sound of screeching brakes in there.
  I looked at my passenger looking back at me hopefully. "Bob?" S/he said with eyes wide, worried but hopeful. "You're Bob Stein, aren't you?"
  I looked around me quickly, but my head moved slowly. I was in New York. Just off of Times Square by the look of it. There was something covering my face, I can see it blocking my view of my gut... I'm in New York, with my pony boy leather mask on with a strange teen. I tried desperately to recall what I was doing here, but all I grasped was mental air. My jaw dropped and it felt wrong.
  My whole mouth felt wrong.
  "You're Posti," my passenger said trying to work this out, "Or you know Posti."
  I touched my swollen face as I looked into the mirror. My own face stared back at me, but the whole shape of my face felt wrong. I broke out in a cold sweat and hoped I hadn't tried any drugs recently. Someone answered my passenger and I was surprised to realize it was me.
  "Posti's my father," I said with understated awe, which confused me. That was a line for Clay for a story I hadn't written yet for the Metamor Keep story I had on the back burner. Poppy reveals to Clay his father is actually the-thought-to-be-dead Prime Minister and not Henrik Potter. To me, it was a secret dream... I had spent many years hoping someone would tell me the skirt-chasing satyr, William Kieffer, was not my father. The story had stalled simply because I wanted that moment of relieved awe to last forever. I had practiced that line a 1000 times, enjoying Clay's relief vicariously.
  I could see her confused... his confused... who the hell was this?
  HERD, Charger said with surprising force.
  Pack, Flock, family, Wicked supplied.
  Zie is one of us, Greyflank looked up from his tasks. Zie is on the list.
  "The list...?" I said under my breathe. "You're on the TSA List?"
  The eyes of my passenger went wide. "I just lurk..." Hir hand went to hir chest and hir eyes bulged. "I haven't checked my hot mail account in months."
  "Wow," I said, trying to figure out why my mouth felt so wrong. My lips felt thick as I talked. I knew there was something wrong with my face, but I... just couldn't put my finger on it. "You're lucky you weren't unsubscribed." The software Dragon used to spit out the TSA postings was notoriously trigger happy.
  "LUCKY?" The passenger nearly screamed. "I'd forgotten all about the list until... I saw Bluenight on TV! I was so happy the email I used was untraceable... I..." Hir hands had strayed to hir crotch and hir jaw opened and hir lips trembled silently.
  I double parked the car and touched hir shapeless sweatshirt, gently pressing down until a shape revealed itself. Tiny breasts, but she was just a child. She would get younger or older, but all I cared about was the now. The wolf-rider now. Her breath started. She needed comforting. I could comfort her. In a bit. But first she had to accept what she was. What I wanted her to be.
  She struggled and I shushed her. "You've become a Herm, haven't you?"
  "Yes, I...think so..."
  I moved my hand down her flat stomach to her crotch. "Everything's more sensitive...? More urgent...?" I could feel a tiny tube of flesh that bulged at the base into a split. Not a Doug Wheeler fan, apparently.
  "I... who are you?"
  "I'm Grey Van Maulkin."
  Her eyes met mine and pleaded silently as I moved across the front seat to pull myself on top of her. Faces from the street began to press against the windows of my Ford Escort, watching, to witness the start of a new breed of man. Her acne cleared as I watched, smothering her with my mass. Squirming, squirming to escape. Squirming to undress. Squirming delightfully, fearfully, fully enjoying the now, the moment fully.
  Her lips parted. "I'm Jerry Willoughby. We can park here."
  Suddenly, the car bumped up a curb and I was driving the Grand Am through the tight white ramp of the parking garage Jerry had pointed me to. The world had changed again. I was on my own side of the car. The revision quickly overwrote hir memories, but I was again spared. I took Grey by his scruff and shoved him firmly into the back of my mind.
  I didn't have time for games. I had one Lister, but that wasn't enough. Even if I found one Lister a day, I was looking at two years of work. The longer I let the emulations distract me, the harder it would be to find the poor Listers trapped in purely animal bodies. How many Listers did I need before my powers would start kicking in? For those trapped as animals, I needed telepathy... or something. Or shape-shifting.
  I had to collect them all.
  Yes, that sounded right.
  Well, it sounded familiar, at least.
  I found a parking space easily enough. It was time for people to go home, after all.
  I could make some of them come to me. There would be those willing to fight. They would even be those like me, compelled to fight. "When did you notice the change, Jerry?"
  Jerry snorted. "I'm pre-operative... a transie... taking hormone pills..." She/he waved his/her hand nonchalantly. "I just thought they were beginning to work, or a new side effect. Until my wedding ring fell off, that is."
  I raised my eyebrows. Jerry was married and about to have a sex change. Was about to. In either case, I suspected there was heck of a story there. Jerry misread my expression, understandable since I looked more like a horse with wings glued onto my head than a man. "The hormones make your joints swell."
  "How long have you been a P.A. for Mtv?"
  Jerry corrected me, distracted by his changing body, "I'm not a PA, I'm a producer."
  I smiled. "You look awfully young to be a producer."
  "Everyone says that," Jerry said as zie looked at me. His/her eyes wide, staring at every inch of my face using the excuse of carrying on a conversation with me to look at my handsome new face. "I'm 37."
  "Not anymore," I said.
  She/he grabbed the rear view mirror and twisted it quickly and cruelly. Thank god it wasn't so cold that it was ready to snap off. She/he stared agape at the reflection there. She'd lost another year since getting into my car. I had no idea if she'd ever get to control her chrono-sliding, but she definitely has the woman's mirror twist and torque action down like she'd been born to it. "16, 17 maybe."
  She/he nodded numbly. "My wife is going to kill me."
  "We've got bigger problems. There's over 600 people out there... some of which are going to be cute little things like you. Some of which will be monsters like me."
  We both got out of the car. "You're not a monster," the producer said.
  "You don't know me," I said sadly. "That's ok, there's all sorts of monsters out there... now."
  She/he shrugged. "I lived in New York all my life. Monsters, I can live with."
  I walked to the edge of the parking garage where we can see a bit of Tenth Avenue and the twilight skyline. The indigo curtain that hugged the east side set the street lights a flicker. Like dominoes, circuits tripped and fell, preceding the darkness in a vain attempt. The clouds transformed into swirls as the gods stirred a pot they had left on the back burner for a thousand years.
  I called Jerry over and pointed up to the sky as the clouds spread their wings, filling the sky with cold orange fire. "The sky is thick with dragons."
  Jerry looked for them, I'll give hir that. "There are no dragons."
  I smiled, gently. "People say the sun wasn't out today. But the truth of the matter is, the sun was there... we just couldn't see it." I turned to the puzzled producer. "The sky is thick with dragons and I bet dollars to donuts that the demographics of those who want to believe that line up quite nicely with your target audience, White males 16 to 25. Our existence is going to make quite a splash in the status quo and you're going to want to ride the wave."
  Jerry looked up at the night sky. "The sky is full of dragons," the producer said, rolling the phrase across her tongue.
  "The sky is thick with dragons, Jerry. You can get industrial strength umbrellas or you can fly with them."
  Jerry looked at me, and I could see the savvy producer behind the young eyes. He knew a pitch when he heard one. "What do you have in mind?"

part 5
 2 3