Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 5, Part 2.5

Posted by harmony0stars on January 6, 2010

Gritting her teeth, Glory walked the three blocks to the campus, determined not to let her eagerness to test out the cloak infringe upon her goal. There were very few people on the streets, but she still avoided them and streetlights like the plague, even going so far as to cross the street whenever she saw someone approaching. Despite her apparent invisibility, she’d had no time to test the extent of the tarnkappe’s abilities. A streetlight could give her a revealing shadow or an aura from the bouncing light which she might not even notice from her own perspective. Even if she did not end up bumping into someone if she got too close, the last thing she needed was someone to go screaming down the street because they’d had a ghostly encounter.

Reaching the campus mall however, she realized that she hadn’t told Ehecatl where to meet her. She’d promised to help, but they hadn’t planned things out very well. Even the fact that he would have been waiting all of last night on a campus filled with people who’d like nothing better than to capture and dissect him was an unnecessary risk. She should have told him to meet her somewhere else.

Rolling her eyes disgustedly at her own lack of forethought, Glory entered the narrow alley between the buildings where he’d accosted her the last time. It was as good a place as any to expect him to be waiting, though she felt he was probably smarter than that. Still, desperate people were prone to do things a bit carelessly…

A tiny squeak of surprise escaped her, when seconds after stepping into the darkness between the buildings, a heavy hand came down on her shoulder. “I was beginning to wonder if you would show,” Ehecatl hissed into her ear. Though it was hard to read any inflection into his whispered words, she imagined he sounded irritable.

“You can see me?” she sputtered, a little disappointed.

Ehecatl snorted derisively. “You humans, you just automatically assume everyone’s senses are as limited as your own.”

“Oh, um… you can see my body heat?”

Ehecatl didn’t bother answering as he released her. She could see his vague outline in the darkness now,. Considering he could camouflage himself, was he only being his version of polite by giving her that much or was his invisibility imperfect, only effective when he was motionless?

“Do you suppose the doors to the administration building will be unlocked?” she asked anxiously, striding back to the beginning of the passageway.

“It doesn’t matter,” he growled, close on her heels.

“Well it does if we want to get down there before we’re noticed. If we have to break in the door, someone might raise an alarm before we even get to the elevators. Even if I can get the door open without breaking it, I don’t know about stopping any alarms from going off.”

Ehecatl hissed something sibilant and short tempered. Grabbing her by the elbow, he towed her away from the admin building and towards another instead. She almost asked about the tunnels she’d only guessed at on her last trip to Miskatonic but bit her tongue. It was already apparent he thought she was an idiot. She didn’t need to confirm it with an inane question. Besides, she didn’t blame him for being querulous. There was no telling how long the Miskatonic scholars had had his daughter or what she’d been through. At a guess, they’d had her at least since Tacita Ruggles had kept Ehecatl bound as her slave, so over a year of torture and emotional neglect.

It was clear that Ehecatl had had ample time to explore the campus as he led her to an access door which was apparently never locked. Partially hidden by gnarled, half dead juniper bushes which had probably been part of the scenery since the university was first accredited, someone had been using the door for illicit smoke breaks for a long time. Ragged cigarette butts littered the sidewalk and had occasionally been swept aside to form fibrous gray masses like dusty tumors under the bushes when they reached a critical mass that even their slobbish originator could not ignore.

The door opened on an anonymous dim hallway, and he quickly led her to the right and down a flight of stairs. Immediately they entered a warren of tunnels, some of them closed off by gates and others seeming to go on forever until they were lost to the darkness of dead bulbs and hissing pipes. It was like something out of a cheesy horror movie, which she had to admit her life resembled more and more each day. By the graffiti, the tunnels were obviously used by the student body as a shortcut between classes, though it was equally clear that they did not have the approval of the faculty. Little notes had been scribbled on the walls in marker or pencil by students giving directions to their classmates on how to navigate the tunnels. As many or more of these directions had been painted over by the maintenance staff over the years to judge by the patches of paint, enough to indicate it was an unofficial war between the students and staff as to who deserved access to the tunnels. “Scott can get bent!” declared one such note written over a fresh patch of paint, and Glory couldn’t help but grin at the thought that it was probably not directed at a fellow student.

There were a lot of questions she wanted to ask Ehecatl about himself, his race, but she bit her lip on every one as he dragged her through the tunnels. Sneaking into a place that would probably have no moral dilemma dissecting both of them was not exactly the best place to quench her curiosity, not that she thought he’d cooperate either way. Glory suspected he just had a prickly personality and no matter how she helped tonight or in the future, they’d probably never be buddy-buddy. At least, she hoped he’d be able to approach her in the future without threatening or manhandling her. She wondered if Officer Hart knew anything about the serpent people. Nagas, she corrected herself. She knew a bit about them from folktales out of India, but how much of that was sensationalized like the mythology surrounding the other shapeshifters she’d already met? Or was he even a shapeshifter at all? His human guise could just as easily be a result of his ability to camouflage himself as actual transformation.

to Book 5, Part 2, page 6


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