I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.
“I think we should check out Titan Software,” Marion told Drake as they walked down the street. “It’s got to be a software problem, and with their problems starting right after this new OS was installed… That sounds suspicious to me.”
“I never thought of that!” exclaimed Drake, surprised. “How could some new software do something like that?” He pointed to a stoplight blacked out on the next corner.
“I don’t know,” Marion admitted, “But I’m betting somebody at Titan Software would be able to speculate on that for us. Let’s get back to the office and make some phone calls.”
“Wait a second,” Drake said. “Look at those kids in the Starbucks across the street. They’ve got a laptop.”
“So? Plenty of people with laptops in Starbucks all over the world. Even Moscow, or so I hear.” Marion kept walking firmly towards their office, but Drake grabbed her arm and slowed her, turning back towards the Starbucks.
“They have a big EarthFirst! Sticker on their laptop. And look, they’re pointing and laughing at the light as it goes wacky.” Sure enough, one of the young men did something on the computer, and then both looked up expectantly at the streetlight. It flickered rapidly from red to green to yellow to red, then turned off entirely.
Continue reading.A thoughtful look crossed Marion’s face, but Drake was already moving towards the coffee shop entrance. “Hey, you!” he called to the kids. They looked up, anger and guilt stamped across their faces. One of them, sporting dreadlocks to his shoulders and rather baggy, patched brown and green clothes, stood up, blocking Drake’s view of the computer’s screen. “What’re you doing with that computer?” Drake asked, putting as much authority into his voice as possible.
“What’s it to you, jackoff?” Dreadlocks boy shoved Drake in the chest as the second boy, dressed in bright red shirt that said “Love Your Mother” with a picture of the earth in the background, slapped the computer closed and started wrestling it into a backpack.
“I’m going to have to detain you—” Drake began, but Dreadlock boy slugged him in the stomach. Then he and the computer user dodged around the doubled over Drake, leaving the computer, and took to their heels down the street. Recovering his air, Drake immediately began chasing after them, feeling better and better as he ran along. He flashed by Marion in the first moment, then settled into his groove as he followed the dreadlocks and red shirt down the street.
They ran. But Drake was fit, and he never doubted his ability to catch these two kids who seemed to hold the key to the mysterious stoplight shenanigans. So he chased them, down 6th Avenue, around a sharp turn onto Pike—Drake narrowly missed slamming into a woman jogging with her child in a stroller—under the Convention Center arch and into the main entrance. In dismay, Drake saw that there was a Culinary Arts convention taking place, and it seemed like half the population was wearing free red T-shirts reading “Eat Right.” His phone rang with his mother’s jingling ringtone, and he flipped it open. “Now’s not great, Mom—”
“But honey, my hemorrhoids—”
“They’re acting up again, and my doctor—”
“Mom, I’ve really got to go.” Drake, feeling guilty, clapped closed his phone on his still-talking mother. He shook his head as he ran. This was getting a little out of control. She should know not to call him on the job. Now where were those kids? He started through the convention center doors, but was stopped again.
“Hold on,” called an official voice. “What’s your name?” A security guard with a clipboard approached Drake. Drake kept scanning the tops of the crowd’s heads, keeping his eye on the dreadlocks bobbing among them.
“Drake,” he said. “Phoenix Drake. I’m after those two guys who just came in here.” He pointed in the direction of the wave of disturbance following his quarry.
“Sure,” the guard said. “And I’m Santa Claus. You probably just want to try some of the free food. Prove you’re after those kids.” So Drake had to fish out his N.U.N.S. identification, which not only passed him into the convention center, but earned him a contingent of security guards moving to block as many of the exits as they could.
Drake carefully maneuvered through the crowd, following the cries of indignation as the two young men shoved so rudely through the security guards and convening cooks. They dashed into the vast exhibition hall, and for a moment Drake feared he’d lost his prey among the vast array of head-high or taller displays. Then he caught sight of two figures hurrying past a display of Cutco Knives, above which hung a brightly lit EXIT sign. Putting on a spurt of speed, Drake accidentally knocked over a small Asian woman wearing a tall white hat.
“Hey!” she cried in indignation, and Drake came to a panting pause.
“Sorry—” he gasped, “gotta—stop—them—” and he resumed running. The young men had almost reached the exit, but Drake was right on top of them, when suddenly a flurry of knives seemed to appear in the air around him. Grabbing a vast wooden cutting board from a nearby display, Drake fended off the knives, looking in horror at the enormous butcher knife that embedded itself into the wood. Then he was through the exit out onto the street again, but the young men had opened up quite a gap ahead of him. The knife incident had unnerved Drake, who had thought these young men not quite so vicious.
Up ahead, Drake could see the young men illuminated by the neon lights of the metro bus tunnel entrance. They were heading in the direction of the Space Needle, it looked like. Drake, slowing still more, called the Seattle Police for backup. That took some convincing, but eventually—reduced to a steady trot with all the talking—the police agreed to converge on the Space Needle.
When he arrived at the Seattle Center, Drake didn’t see any sign of the Seattle Police backup he’d hoped for, and the two kids seemed to have disappeared as well. Panting and cursing under his breath, Drake glanced up at the Space Needle. There was the red T-shirt and dreadlocks, accompanied by two more friends, all carrying an enormous rolled of what looked to Drake like carpet.
Urging his legs into action, Drake hurried along the line snaking its way into the Space Needle. “Stop those people!” he called, but people in the line only stirred restlessly and looked at him slightly jealously. “No cutting in line,” someone called, sounding angry. Drake ignored them and ran up to the gates.
“Let me in,” he told the guards, “I need to catch those—” he indicated the four people just entering the elevator with their gigantic rolled-up tube.
“You’ll have to wait your turn,” the guard told him placidly. “Go get in line.”
“No, you don’t understand, I’m Drake—Phoenix Drake—with N.U.N.S., and I need to catch those kids!” He watched as the elevator ascended, feeling a little better. Resting after his mad dash revived some of Drake’s natural optimism, and he began to regain confidence that he’d apprehend these villains.
A glance at his ID convinced the guards that he should be allowed up on the next elevator. At the top, crowds of tourists wearing Seattle hats, carrying Seattle mugs, and snapping pictures from all angles of the bubble-gum-shaped wad of the Experience Music Project building obscured Drake’s view. But he knew the kids had come up here, and there was nowhere else for them to go. They were at cornered here, and whenever the police arrived, he would have no trouble capturing them. Then they’d get at the bottom of this stoplight fiasco.
“Come down from there,” the guard coaxed. “It’s dangerous out there. You could fall. Come back inside, where it’s safer.” Walking by among the crowds, Drake followed the sound of worried but excited murmuring. There was a security guard, safely inside the protective barrier, reaching out for the dreadlocks boy and his companions, all of whom had crawled out to the edge of the Space Needle with their rolled-up burden.
“Stay back!” one of them called. “We’ll sue if we fall!”
“Maybe his family will sue,” an onlooker muttered to his wife, “but he won’t. This book says the Space Needle is 605 feet tall at the top. We’re at 520 feet.”
“They won’t fall,” Drake told him. “I’ll get them down.” Moving through the tourists, Drake stepped up to the security guard. “Let me handle this. I’ve been after these guys for a while now.” The guard took one look at his face and stepped back.
“Go for it. But don’t blame me if they fall.” Then he crossed his arms, as if to say he had washed his hands of the whole thing.
But at the sound of Drake’s voice, Dreadlocks boy looked up and saw Drake. He shouted something to his companions, who hurried with unrolling what turned out to be a hundred-foot-long banner proclaiming EARTHFIRST! They attached the two ends to the edges of the Space Needle and, as Drake was crawling out to the edge, three of the ones farther from Drake jumped off the edge. Looking down for a moment, Drake saw them gliding serenely down on parachutes; and, with a surge of satisfaction, saw the flashing police lights converging as well.
Though they’d managed to jump, Drake had managed to grab hold of Dreadlock boy’s baggy shirt. For a moment they struggled on the sloped edge, teetering. The young man, with a look of fury contorting his face, shoved at Drake, sending them both off balance. The shirt ripped, and both men slipped apart, falling backwards, sliding off the edge into thin air.
The vast banner slipped by Drake as he fell; all he could think of was the tourist’s voice saying, “This book says the Space Needle is 605 feet tall at the top. We’re at 520 feet.” He thought of Janine, who he hadn’t called yet; of his mother, and how she’d feel; of Marion… He didn’t want to die like a bug flattened on a windshield. The banner’s end was coming into view now, and without thinking, Drake reached out and grabbed.
His hand caught the end of the banner, heavily wrenching his arm, but it held and he held. With a great struggle, Drake pulled himself up enough to grab with both hands. He hung from the banner’s end, swinging in the wind, seeing the police cars down below and the parachutes on the ground now. An elevator passed him, its occupants gawping. In his pocket, Drake’s phone started ringing with his mother’s ringtone. “Sorry, Mom,” he gasped to nobody. “I’m a little busy right now.”
That’s when the banner, with a terrible groan, succumbed to a gust of wind and came free of the top attachments. Drake was falling again. This time, he knew he had to act quickly. Glancing around, Drake saw that the other end of the banner was falling more rapidly, having some sort of heavier attachments on it. He reached for the fluttering other end of the long banner and captured it. A gust of wind blew harder, thrusting Drake and his improvised parachute up again. His hands and arms ached, but Drake knew that to let go would be to instantly die. Grasping the two far corners in a viselike grip, he rode the wind down, down, down, and finally crashed—that was the only word for the disaster of hitting the ground that Drake experienced—in a parking lot. His head hit the ground with a resounding crack, and everything went black.
When he woke up, Drake looked up into an unsympathetic, angry face hovering above a neon-bright safety vest that made his head throb even worse. The mouth said, “That parking spot is $12 a day if you want it. Otherwise you’ll have to get out.” Drake sighed, closed his eyes, and remembered no more for quite a while.
Or: My NaNoWriMo profile.