I let out a sigh as I returned home from work, happy to be away from the diner. Today had been particularly messy, though I got off far easier than Danielle did.
Right in the middle of the breakfast rush, some kids were running around without their parents watching them. That had been obnoxious and annoying, but it wouldn’t have been anything too unusual, except that one of the kids had run right into Danielle, causing her to spill a tray full of food, right on top of him. The parents had freaked out and yelled at all of us who worked there, especially Danielle, completely ignoring that it was their son who caused the mess in the first place.
“I need a better job,” I said, carefully hanging up my jacket, then removing my gun from the inside pocket and clearing it.
Of course, I was still grateful to Astrid for giving me the job, but there was no way I wanted to keep making a living this way. I didn’t mind the work, but some of the customers…
Dave was sitting in the living room, currently playing some first person shooter game that I didn’t recognize. He gave me a brief wave of acknowledgement, but didn’t take his eyes off the screen.
“How’s the gaming going?” I asked.
“Pretty good,” Dave responded, still not looking at me. However, he had a grin plastered on his face. “Some asshole called me a noob, so I’ve been hunting him down and pwning him every time he rezes… So far, I’ve got the punk three times, and I’m about to make it four…”
“Awesome,” I said with a chuckle. “I might have to try that one…”
“You should,” Dave said, finally looking at me. “But Jake just got off early, and I think he’s waiting for you…”
I nodded to Dave. “Thanks. And good luck with the pwning…”
Dave burst out laughing, bragging, “Hell, I’ve got so much pwn, I’m thinking of owning my own pwn shop…”
With a chuckle, I went down to the basement where I found Jake, sitting down on the couch with a disassembled gun spread out before him. He was cleaning and reassembling the parts, though he gave me a nod of acknowledgement and a faint smile as he did so. My eyes went to the magic mirror, but I didn’t go near it until after Jake was finished. As it was, I still felt the urge to put it into the box, so I was avoiding it unless Jake was right there. After all, I wasn’t about to risk losing the mirror until after we’d found Theressa.
“And to think,” I mused to myself. “The other Pandoras told me that I might not be able to hear the box yet…” I shook my head, wishing that I knew how to shut it up.
“How was work?” Jake asked me, still assembling the gun.
“About the same as usual,” I responded wryly. “I took orders, poured coffee, and delivered food. A couple guys hit on me, a couple customers complained for no real reason, other than because they seemed to be bored and thought that this was a great way to entertain themselves, and Danielle spilled food on some kid, then got yelled at by his parents, because they couldn’t bothered to make him behave.”
“Damn,” Jake said, giving me a sympathetic look. “Did you at least get any good tips.”
“Yes,” I responded with a sigh. “One old lady spent a good fifteen minutes, giving me a tip on how to clean stains out of clothes…”
This time, Jake chuckled. “Sorry,” he apologized, though he still grinned.
“Let’s try the mirror again,” I told him with a sigh. “Hopefully, this time we’ll get something useful.”
“I hope so,” Jake agreed, finishing up with the gun.
Unfortunately, as Jake and I had discovered over the last few days, the mirror only worked once a day, and then for only a minute or two. The first two times we’d used the mirror, I’d been the one to activate it, but yesterday, Jake had taken a turn. However, instead of focusing on Theressa like we’d expected, the mirror had shown me instead. It had been strange, seeing me reflected from behind, though that hadn’t been what we were aiming for. And as we found out, Jake had been able to zoom out and change the angle of the image, but hadn’t been able to change the location or focus on Theressa, so we’d wasted the opportunity.
“My turn again,” I said, insisting that I do it since I’d been the only one with any luck finding Theressa.
“Go ahead,” Jake told me.
I went to the mirror and carefully touched the frame, saying, “Please show me Theressa…”
A moment later, the reflection shimmered and blurred, and I once again saw Theressa, who was still locked up in that same room. Instead of focusing on her, I immediately ordered the mirror to zoom out, far enough so that I could see the outside of the house. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I zoomed out further, trying to find anything that would tell me where this house was located. Then, a mere second or two before the image faded away and returned to being a normal reflection, I saw another clue.
“Nothing,” Jake said in frustration.
“I saw a street sign,” I said with a grin. “Crenshaw Lane…”
“Crenshaw Lane,” Jake repeated with a look of surprise, which quickly turned into a smile. “Now, if we can find out which city… Maybe tomorrow, the mirror will show us…”
“Or we can check Google,” I pointed out rather smugly.
After this, Jake and I raced back upstairs, and Jake called out to Dave, “We need to use your computer for a couple minutes…”
“No problem,” Dave called back.
“We know the street and the state,” I said as I went to the Google search page. “Now, how many Crenshaw Lanes can there be…?”
As it turned out, there were Crenshaw Lanes located in two different cities, which might have been problematic, if not for Google Earth. From the satellite view above, the first Crenshaw Lane looked like it housed some apartment buildings or condos, and a number of small houses. However, when I looked at the second Crenshaw Lane, it was a bit further out, and had a few large houses, or even mansions, scattered along its length.
“Bingo,” I announced triumphantly, only to realize that Dave was standing there as well.
“So, what are you two looking for?” Dave asked, looking at the computer monitor. “Is that where they’re holding your friend?”
“Yes,” Jake answered with a scowl. “One of those houses, but we don’t know which one…”
“We know what the house looks like,” I pointed out, thinking that all we’d need to do was drive down the street, and we’d be guaranteed to find it.
“Google Street View,” Dave suggested.
“Damn,” Jake said, impressed when we pulled up a picture from the front of the small mansion. “You can find anything online these days…”
Dave just chuckled at that. “You know it, man. You can get damn near anything, if you just know where to go.”
I nodded agreement, though my attention was focused on the monitor, and the picture from the front of the house. “We know where they are,” I said, feeling a sense of relief and satisfaction, which went along with the worry I already felt. “We know where they have Theressa.”
“We went through a lot of trouble to keep hidden from Kraesse,” Jake reminded me with a grim expression. “It would be stupid to walk right up to his front door.”
“I’m not going to leave Theressa,” I reminded him. “Who knows when he’ll decide she isn’t useful anymore. He could kill her at any time.”
“I know,” Jake said with a sigh. “But the two of us against all of them…”
“The three of us,” Dave corrected.
Jake and I both turned and gave him a look of surprise. “You’ve already helped us more than enough,” Jake started.
“Maybe,” Dave responded, looking him in the eyes. “But what the hell kind of friend would I be, if I walked away just because the shit is about to hit the fan?” He tapped his leg, continuing, “My marching days may be done, but I can still shoot just fine.”
“You don’t know how dangerous these people are,” Jake started to protest.
“Dangerous enough to kill people in front of you, and to make you both go into hiding,” Dave responded. “I’m not stupid, and I’ve dealt with dangerous people before…” He held up his cane as a reminder. “You two can’t do this on your own, and I know how to handle a weapon. Face it, Jake, you need my help…”
“Yeah, we do,” Jake grudgingly admitted. “But you don’t know what you’re really getting into…”
Dave made a show of rolling his eyes. “So, tell me already…”
I watched this exchange, knowing that Dave was right. Jake and I couldn’t do this on our own, and even one more person helping could make all the difference. Especially if it was an experienced soldier, who knew how to fight.
“Dave,” I said, deciding that it was time for me to step into the conversation. When he turned to me, I looked him right in the eyes and asked, “Do you believe in magic?”
“Magic?” Dave asked, looking a little confused.
“Pan,” Jake warned me.
“Magic,” I repeated.
Dave hesitated for a moment, before carefully answering, “I’m not sure, but I try to keep an open mind. I’d be pretty damn arrogant to think that I knew everything.”
“That’s good enough for me,” I said.
“Good enough for what?” Dave asked, giving me a curious look. I merely smiled at Dave and held my hands out, letting the box suddenly appear in them. Dave jumped back with a look of surprise, or at least, he jumped back as much as his bum leg would let him. “What the hell?”
“My name is Pandora,” I said, remembering when Dora had said these same words to me. “And this is my box.”
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