©Ernest Hogan 2014
I caressed the velvet claw with my own hand.
It was Vampiko in her full-body anti-radiation suit. She had designed the esthetic features -- like the all black velvet shroud and veil. Doc Burnout and I helped with the insulation layer and the hat with the built-in fan to which we added a micro-misting system.
"Oh, mon cher," she said, her accent pure San Fernando Valley, "it is you." She turned me around and looked me over. "Mon deiu, is this an accident or some kind of fashion statement?"
"Accident," I said.
"Good! You've had some lapses in taste before, but this ..." She shook her not-quite transparent veil.
"Yeah," I stood up, let her hug me, gritted my teeth, let out a groan. "It hurts like hell."
"Oh, mon amour," she said, "we must get you home then. And we must be careful. The anti-vampire people are all over. I swear a car followed me all the way over here. And with those big lizards all around . . . And now, my beloved hurt! I don't feel safe. It's as if the world has gone mad."
Mad indeed. We must have looked like the son of the Mummy and Dracula's daughter making our way through the magnetic sensors, arm in arm, the ancient guard glaring at us, and me fighting the chip that wanted me to read everything in sight. This sure wasn't no Age of Reason going on here.
"Look," she pointed a velvet-shrouded finger, "those people! They're looking at my car!"
I didn't have the energy to say that maybe it was because it was an all-black Volkswagen Beetle with black-tinted windows and a vanity plate that read UNDEAD. Maybe it was better for our relationship that I kept my mouth shut.
"People have been trying to get in touch with you," she said, "those machines of yours have been going berserk . . ."
Something was ticking, the chip soon had me focusing on a package on the back seat.
"What's that?" I asked.
"Somebody put it on our welcome mat a day or so ago. It looked important, so I brought it along."
"Was it ticking before?"
"Why, no. I don't think so."
I carefully picked it up. It was a big, padded envelope with TO: FLASH GOMEZ -- IMPORTANT! scrawled on it in a thick purple marker. It wasn't very heavy.
Then it began to beep.
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