My sight dimmed as the loud thud filled my head. That brief sound was replaced by a mechanical whirring noise reminiscent of a bee’s nest I’d knocked out of a tree once run through a distortion pedal.
“Flee, interlopers.” The voice was made from that same distorted bee sound. It came from somewhere far above.
Whining sounds filled the air followed by dull thuds and the girlish screaming of a few of the young toughs.
“That means run, you ignorant ruffians.”
That was how Mr. Looper always talked. The boys must have gotten the message if the scuffling noises were any indication. I kept my eyes screwed shut, praying for the pain in my head to end. Warm wind, too strong to be called a breeze, blew grit against my face. The gravel embedded into the tar of the roof crunched under something incredibly heavy just a few feet away.
“Ms. Perez, are you able to stand?”
The only person to ever call me that was Mr. Looper. A harsh light shone on me. I slid my eyes open and saw three toed feet formed from scrap metal. They looked for all the world like a robot chicken. I wouldn’t find that funny until later.
“My apologies, Ms. Perez.” The light dimmed and the wind died down.
I slowly got to my feet, still a little dizzy from everything that was going on. When I got the full view of what I faced I nearly fainted. I’d never been a fan of science fiction, but even I had seen the Terminator movies. This thing looked like one of the T1 with its skin scraped off, if they had been modeled on an owl instead of a person. The eyes where huge and its ears were pointed. I could see wings folded against it’s back and huge turbines sticking up over its shoulders. The light came from a chest mounted lens the size of a hubcap.
I didn’t realize I was backing up until the heels of my shoes touched the roof access. “Mr… Looper?”
The construction lowered itself so that its eyes, that looked for all the world like headlights, were even with mine. “Yes, my dear. Or at least an extension of me. If you will return to the store, we can talk about this.” He paused for a moment. “You will find that the ruffians are suitably frightened for now. Or if you prefer I will ensure that you return home safely and we can discuss this tomorrow.”
I didn’t have it in me to walk home, even under the protection of Mr. Looper’s creation. The idea of getting home this far past dark and paying that penalty warred with my hurt shoulder and possible concussion. They won. “I’ll come with you, but I don’t think I can climb down. I’m still a little diz…” My head wound, the adrenaline, and the notion that I was talking with a giant robot all came crashing down around me. My vision blurred for the second time that night, but I didn’t feel myself hit the roof.
A rushing noise covered the city’s night sounds. This time the breeze was cool on my face. When I fully came to, I was swaddled in an ancient afghan and cradled a mug of hot, fragrant tea in my hands. My hands were in turn held by that of my boss, Mr. Looper.
He was a funny looking little man. I was a good foot taller than him and his head was ringed by a fringe of fine white hair.
Continue to Pt. 4
Here There Be Dragons by Scott Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at www.scottroche.com.