18,049 / 50,000
Another easy section to do. I always thought I did good dialogue, if never-ending dialogue. Once I get people together and talking, I burn through words.
I could only nod. It did sound crazy, and since we had escaped from the crazy train person unscathed, and we were sitting down back in our room, Chris and I were becoming much calmer. As we thought about our encounter, it did seem increasingly laughable the more time passed. With the sun setting now, and darkness increasing outside the window, as lights sprang up like little dots down below, it was almost a distant memory. Not unlike waking up from a bad dream, or a being able to laugh with friends over something tragic, given enough time.
"So, what's with the fancy camera? You definitely take this it seriously. You've got the sucker double bagged, for Valen's sake, and took that creepy warning to heart, so you've got a bit of a love thing going on with the hardware, or what?" Andrea had taken to shifting from side to side in the office chair while she spoke.
"Oh, that's easy," said Chris. "He's a photographer for a newspaper up north."
He paused and looked off into space for a moment, his head tilted at an angle as if something caught his eye on the ceiling. A bemused smile tugged at his lips. "Ok, that feels weird to say, coming from a Canadian. But as I was saying, you're right. He doesn't go anywhere without his toys. Mostly due to his work, but Martin just loves taking pictures."
Andrea pulled on a small lever on the underside of the chair's cushion, and it lowered halfway down to the wheels with a hiss of air, as far as the adjustable seat's height would go.
"Oh, so you're here professionally, not for fun? Shame, you seemed like the type who comes here regularly."
I swung the camera down on its neck strap, and twirled it around for a moment, before letting it fall to the bed with a bounce. "This is my fifth or sixth year coming. I like to combine business with pleasure. But mostly here for pleasure. Where else am I going to find attractive girls squeezed into spandex looking like my favourite comic babes?"
"Yeah, good point. Be careful to watch out for the assorted ManFaye type people, though."
A collective shudder shook through the trio of us, and the conversation died for a brief moment as we tried to get the mental image of a hairy guy in a skimpy outfit including hot pants and a belly shirt out of our heads.
I pinched the bridge of my nose as I forced those images far from my thoughts, instead doing my best to think of all the Batgirls, and Ms. Marvels, and Phoenixes I would see that weekend. "Yes, thank you so much for reminding me, Andy. The risk is worth the rewards. I must add more redheads to my collection of photographs. Which reminds me, are you going to be showing of your body this weekend?"
She hopped off the shortened chair as best she could and got to her feet, wobbling a bit from getting there almost from the floor, and fixed her shirt as she stood straight. "Oh, absolutely. I will be wearing some nice, snug leather, that will drive all the boys wild. Which is also why my costume incorporates many guns."
"Not a bad plan. But some guys are turned on by gals with guns, don't forget."
"True, but those guys, I'll just kick their asses."
Chris spoke up, moving off his bed. "So, looking at you, leather, guns... Domino, from X-Force?"
With a hearty laugh, Andrea shook her head. "Good guess, and I have gone as her before, but this year I thought I'd skip the minor makeup required to go as Dom, so decided to keep it simple, and just grab some black leather without any fancy comicbook trimmings, and just go as Aeryn Sun from Farscape this year. But you have passed the test. Your geek fu is strong."
"That's nothing, you should see what Martin can do. He's a walking encyclopedia of comicbook knowledge."
I looked a little sheepish at the praise, but it was true. My thirst extended even into fictional worlds. I've read guidebooks for fictional universe I've never even read, just to satisfy the curiosity I felt every time I'd see a Harry Potter novel. That's right, I'm not a Potter fan. I have nothing against the books, and am glad to see so many people, old and young alike, to be reading them, but I just never found the time or enough interest to invest in reading them myself. So I went the shortcut route. Now that the series is completed, I may well go back and squeeze them in to my reading time.
"It's true," I said, and grabbed my backpack. I reached in and pulled out a thick handful of bagged and boarded comicbooks, and tossed them at the foot of the bed. Each and every one of them was an official handbook to characters, places, and events from Marvel Comics' universe. I had fallen quite a bit behind in my reading, thanks to work, and the fact they can take up a bit of time to go through and read all the text.
"In some ways, these are my favourite comics, although they don't exactly qualify, beyond size of the book. I'm behind, but I love reading them. I forget a lot of it, but most of it sticks. And I'll reread them eventually. If I ever catch up."
Andrea just shook her head and flipped through the stack of informational books. "You are one strange person, Marty. I think that's why I like you. Being a fellow caffeine fiend doesn't hurt either.
"I hope you don't mind that I'm going to cut and run, but I need to grab some food, and then go stand in line like I'm being herded to my own demise, so I can grab my badge for the weekend. I'll probably see you two there?"
I fought the urge to say anything about not needing any stinking badges, and the effort was truly Herculean, and I won out over my more basic nature. "Well, I just need to get it from the press room, but Chris has to stand in the rat maze of doom, and I'll keep him company. Us geeks have to stick together. I could just run past him, cackling madly with my easily aquired badge, and leave him to rot there, but I couldn't do that to him."
"You did, the first year we came here," Chris said with a bit of a pout in his voice.
Andrea just turned her back on the two of us and headed for the door, shooting us both a little wave over her shoulder as she left. "I'll see you two in the, what did you call it? Rat maze of doom? I like that."
The door slammed shut behind her with it's familiar thud-click, and I straighted out my comics and camera, while speaking.
"She's got a point though. It's 7pm, and we should probably get our badges. I may not have to wait in the little trail, but there's still a line in the press room, and forms to fill out."
He grabbed his jacket and pulled it back on. "Yeah, we should get over to the Hyatt, and get it over with. I'm not very hungry yet though, so what say we just do this thing, and eat afterwards?"
"Sounds like a plan." I grabbed my own trench, and spun it around in the air, pulling it on with a smooth motion. Unfortunately the edge of it caught my mouse sitting on top of my laptop and knocked it to the floor. "A moment of perfect coolness, ruined."
I crouched down and picked up the mouse with a sigh. I turned back to Chris who was standing tall and leaning against the wall, with the drab sepia landscape next to his head. "Ok, let's transform and roll out."
"Martin, do you ever think you may be too much of a geek," Chris asked as he grabbed the door handle and pulled it open.
I pondered it for the briefest of seconds, and answered while we moved, making my routine check of my pockets to make sure everything was where it was supposed to be. "No such thing. Nothing wrong with loving your fandoms."
I smiled and ducked around the corner and into the alcove to find the soda machine. Chris waited while I grabbed a Mountain Dew from the box, and we headed downstairs.
We exited the hotel, and while the days were warm, the nights were still cool, even with the heat that had been collecting during the day escaping from the pavement. With the sun gone, it had dropped considerably in temperature, and while it was still warm, the hot roads and the cold air caused the slightest bit of steam to creep into the air, forming an eerie sort of mist that was already disappearing when we saw it, blowing away from the steady stream of vehicles whizzing by.
If we had come along above ground, following the sidewalks, after our subway encounter, and saw that momentary fog, and if the streets were more empty, that would have merely heightened the nervousness we had felt. By now, the crazy train woman was already becoming a distant memory, our minds more focused upon the convention.
We crossed the road, ducking through a pause in the traffic. Fortunately most of these streets were one way, so it was easy enough to get through the lone direction of cars.
Almost directly across from the Herriott was a stairway leading up towards the Hyatt's main lobby, and while that was one way in, the registration and badge retrieval lines actually began around the corner, so we headed to the right, and as we rounded around the edge of the building and underneath a balcony leading towards a door about 50 feet away, we ran right into the line we were looking for, and got in our places at the rear. More people soon joined the crowd behind us, and we slowly moved towards the doorway.
It only took a minute or two as the steady stream of people continued to stream into the drab grey doorway, that looked like most every generic doorway in high schools across america. Large, solid, metallic, and with a push bar embedded on the inside.
Once inside the building, several lines of coloured tape split the group up through mazes of walled off sections, with hanging red curtains along them and brushing against the ground.
I looked over the sign next to the lines of tape, and deciphered that Chris needed to follow the yellow line for his preregistered badge, and pointed about halfway down the giant ballroom this entire event had been set up in.