3:29pm, Las Vegas Convention Center
The expansive, new convention center swarms with people in Star Wars, Star Trek, super-hero, and other costumes too numerous to count. Some created with painstaking detail, others are just a T-shirt and a mask, while many girls and women dress to shock and awe. Booths and displays spread out throughout the cavernous interior. Theme music from various shows or movies intermingle into a sonic mish-mash that rises just above the chatter and voice of excited fan boys and girls alike.
Dane walks among them, barely noticed. He wears clothes that look like he steps out of a western, with cowboy boots, a belt with a holster and pistol, and the leather pants from his previous costume. His T-shirt says ‘Blue Sun’. A large, impressive, shiny chrome-plated rifle is slung over his shoulder, with the name ‘Vera’ engraved on the stock and filled in with black ink. On his head, an ugly yellow and orange, woolen cap with ear flaps and strings to tie under the chin.
“Hurry up, woman!” Dane says half-heartedly.
Pry makes her way through the throng, getting just as many looks as Dane, probably more. Her long, shimmering blue dress clings to her in all the right places. Exquisite lace-work frames the plunging neckline. Her hair, the make-up, gives her the look of an angel, but the temperament of an uncomfortable bounty hunter.
“Goram dress.” Pry curses.
“That’s the spirit!” Dane comments.
“If I knew more Chinese words…” Pry mutters under her breath.
“I don’t know why you’re complaining. The dress you wore to nab that Shelton guy was just as sexy. In fact it made your–”
Pry holds up her fist. “– your eye black if you finish that sentence!” she growls, cutting off Dane’s words. “Let’s just find our rabbit and get out of here.”
They make their way through the moving mass of people. Many stop and want to take pictures. At one point, Dane participates in a sing-along about the characters he’s dressed-up as, the hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne. Meanwhile, a few guys ask Pry if she’ll be their companion, referring to the character from Firefly that she resembles, Inarra.
They eventually find a quiet space to breathe, beside a set of closed doors.
Dane looks up at the number above the door and double checks the info via smartphone. “From what I was able to hack from this guy’s Playbook, this is the place. He should be inside.”
“Good!” Pry sighs as she leans against the wall. “If one more Klingon requests my company as a companion, I’ll stick his Bat’leth up his Klingon word for ass!” She shakes her head, looking tired and pissed. “And who thought Hobbits were so pervy! Hobbits! Least now I know why their feet are furry.”
“You didn’t seem to mind when you bumped into Kristen Bell.” Dane comments.
Pry’s exhaustion and anger vanish as she almost seems to explode from excitement at the memory. “Oh my God! Veronica Mars! VMars! Oh my God! That was so awesome!” she reaches down her top and pulls out a torn piece of a comic book with an autograph on it. “I’m so framing this! I so love her! Veronica Mars was the best! And the movie! When I saw the trailers, I thought it was gonna be crap.” she turns to Dane and points at her face, which suddenly looks disappointed. “See this, this is my disappointed face.” Her faux-disappointment face quickly switches to happy as she continues to blather. “But then the movie came out, and it was so awesome! And Enrico Colantoni! Best. Dad. Ever!”
“Is that what I look like when I geek out?” Dane interrupts.
Pry’s excitement deflates like a balloon. She quietly tucks the torn piece of comic book with the autograph back down her top. “Shut up.”
The doors near them open and people begin to file out.
“Here we go.” Pry says, switching back to bounty hunter mode.
They watch the people walking out as they talk and laugh like gleeful children about meeting their favorite stars.
Dane double checks the picture of their rabbit on his smartphone. “There he is.” he confirms.
“Let’s get him.” Pry replies.
They both casually push through the crowd of people until they approach a slightly overweight man, carrying a bag with convention loot, wearing a T-shirt and kilt.
Dane drops his hand on the guy’s shoulder. “Alvin MacIlhone.”
Alvin jerks in surprise and stops walking. He slowly turns to Dane and Pry. He looks like an average guy, thinning hair in the front, and glasses. His T-shirt has a large photograph of the face of Joss Whedon on it. When he sees Dane and Pry, his eyes grow wide.
“My name is Andreas Pry, this is my associate Dane. We work for Pry Investigations. We have a–”
“Jayne!” Alvin shouts excitedly, interrupting Pry. He looks over at Pry. “You must be Inarra! You are lovely.” he offers his hand to each of them to shake. “It’s a pleasure to meet fellow followers of Joss Whedon. He is my master now.”
“Yes, we know.” Pry grumbles, seeing how this is already become a geek-fest.
“He’s my master as well.” Dane replies matter-of-factly.
“But,” Pry interjects, trying to reassert a little authority, “we still have to take you into custody. You have an outstanding warrant in Utah after not appearing for your court hearing regarding allegations of hacking. When you crossed the state line, you were declared a fugitive.”
“I know.” Alvin replies calmly. “After a quick look around, I was going to turn myself in at the local police station once I left here.”
“Sure.” Pry replies, not believing him.
Alvin looks at Pry with sad eyes, his feeling genuinely hurt. “Do I look like a harden criminal? The kind of person that would hurt someone? All the hacking I’ve done was against large corporations who had cheated hard-working people through insurance fraud.”
“Save it, Alvin.” Pry cuts him off, she looks up at Dane, “Can you believe this?”
“Actually…” Dane replies, sheepishly, implying Alvin may be speaking the truth. He shows her an article from the web on his smartphone.
Pry skims the article. “Oh.” she murmurs.
“After I brought attention to that insurance company, and helped some families get what was owed to them, I turned myself in.” Alvin finishes, sounding almost noble. His geekiness quickly returns. “The only reason I left is because I won passes to the Las Vegas Comic Con, the Mardi Gras of–”
“Wait.” Pry interrupts. “You jumped bail for a comic con?”
Alvin holds up a plastic pass around his neck. “V.I.P. passes! It’s like the golden ticket and my precious all rolled into one!”
“Ya know, I can understand that.” Dane comments.
Pry back-hands Dane’s arm. “You’re not helping!” she grabs Alvin’s arm and pulls him aside. Dane follows. “Listen to me,” Pry continues, “When you skipped out of Utah, a large bounty was put on your head! People like Cain Nine wouldn’t be as polite as us.”
Alvin’s eyes brighten. “Cain Nine? Really? I love his show!” he looks down at Pry’s outfit. “That’s a really great dress.”
Pry grabs his chin and lifts his head. “Eyes topside, Bilbo.” she puts her hand on his shoulder and glares at him. “What you see Cain Nine do on TV is rated PG. What he does when the cameras aren’t rolling is more R-rated. And there are others who make him look down-right pleasant.”
Alvin’s naive, good nature seems to fade. Then quickly returns like an explosion. “O. M. G! Pry Investigations! I saw the beat-down you gave Cain Nine on YouTube! That was priceless!”
Pry looks around in frustration, trying to find a metaphor that will make him understand. When one comes to her, she looks back at him. “Think of the other bounty hunters as Reavers.”
Alvin’s giddiness fades, quickly turning fear. “Jung chi duh go-se dway.” he replies quietly, using a curse from the TV show Firefly.
“Big goram jung chi duh go-se dway.” Dane adds, in Firefly-style cursing.
“What do you want me to do?” Alvin asks.
“Come with us, and don’t give us any grief. Deal?” Pry asks.
Alvin nods. “Deal. So, umm, how are we getting out without being seen?”
Dane steps in, regarding Alvin’s kilt. “We’re walking out the front door. We just need a few accessories.”
Minutes later, Cain Nine, his family and their camera crew stand at the front doors, talking to the convention center’s head of security. They are too involved to notice Dane, his woolen cap pulled down tight, Pry and Alvin making their way through the crowds of people. Alvin stumbles, unable to see with the long, ragged wig on his head, and hastily-applied blue paint covering his face, as if he were an extra from ‘Braveheart’.
Pry and Dane help Alvin keep his balance as they make their way to the parking structure across the street. Once out of sight, they have a collective sigh of relief.
“That was awesome!” Alvin says excitedly. He hugs both of them. “You guys are awesome. Thanks so much.”
Dane and Pry react awkwardly, neither having dealt with a bounty this appreciative.
“No problem.” Pry replies, squirming slightly in Alvin’s arms, trying to avoid his blue face paint.
“Well, I’m just sorry you couldn’t stick around the convention. I could spend a whole day there!” Dane comments
“Me too! But I got to see what I really wanted.” Alvin comments as he takes out is smartphone. He opens a video file. “They had a Farscape panel, with Ben Browder as the moderator!”
Dane looks from Alvin to Pry. “Oh really?”
Pry turns to Alvin, a look of longing on her face. “Ben Browder?”
“Yeah! He was so funny. I even got to chat with him afterwards. Great guy.” Alvin replies, his enthusiasm fading at Pry’s longing. He turns to Dane, “Does she like Ben Browder?”
“Only a lot.” Dane answers with a smile. He looks over at Pry, “You know, we don’t have to take him in until tomorrow. Maybe…” he trails off.
“Excellent idea Dane!” Pry interjects. “Better to keep him off the radar. He can crash at the office until tomorrow morning.”
Dane raises both hands in the air. “Sleep over!”
“Can I see that–” Pry begins to ask, leaning in close to Alvin.
Alvin recoils a bit. “I can make a copy for you, if you like?”
“Ok. Cool. Sorry. I just like–” Pry starts to say.
“Ben Browder.” Dane and Alvin reply in unison.”
Pry look at both of them, slightly embarrassed by her fan-girl crush. “Ah frell.” she mutters, using a curse from the Farscape TV series.
9:23am, Virgin River Recreation Area, East of Las Vegas
Alvin tries to lift his head from the dirt, but a sharp pain courses down his neck, forcing him to remain still. He tries to open his eyes, but they are covered in a dark, thick, dirty liquid. He brings his hand to his face. The tips of his fingers dig into the corner of his closed eye and pull back the wet, grittiness. He opens his other eye and looks at his hand.
The blood covering his fingers is filled with sand darkened by the wetness of the blood.
A panic raises in his chest. He tries to move again, but pain like electricity courses down his neck and back. He lets out a yalp, like a small dog that just licked a light socket.
“Do not move. I am almost ready” a voice quietly orders.
Alvin tries to remember what happened, how he ended up here. The last things he can recall is being dropped off at the Las Vegas police station by Pry and Dane. He waited in a cell until two federal agents came to drive him back to Utah. He remembers one of the agents was a woman and really hot. The other wasn’t. He ran his mouth as he always tends to do, then…
Alvin hears someone approaching. He tries to move enough to get a better look at his location. But all he sees is a flat, rocky surface. Far away, a thick line of trees.
A pair of bare feet step into Alvin’s view. He looks up to see a man standing over him, naked. His skin is dark, from tanning and heritage. His build is that of a Greek God. His face looks as if it were chiseled out of marble, especially his dominant chin. His dark eyes glare down like gun barrels beneath a furrowed brow, with thick, black curls of hair dangling down.
“Agent Benson?” Alvin mutters, trying to look at the imposing man standing over him, trying to avoid looking at his impressive manhood.
“I am ready.” the naked man says. He reaches down and hauls Alvin to his feet.
The movement of Alvin’s neck and back stab new levels of agony throughout his body. He screams and yells. “Help! Help me!”
The naked man carries Alvin effortlessly over to a large rock, despite Alvin’s excessive weight. He turns Alvin and tosses him onto his back, across the large rock.
Alvin screams again, and begins to plead. “Why? Why are you doing this? What are you going to do to me? I have money I can–”
The naked man drives his fist into Alvin’s stomach, cutting off his words. The snack foods he ate with Pry and Dane jet up his throat and spray out of his mouth, along with a few splatters of blood.
“No one wants to hear your squeals, you bloated swine, least of all me.” The naked man grumbles like a Shakespearian bodybuilder. He walks around the rock, so he can stand beside Alvin. “Be grateful for the air you now breathe, and the death I bring. Better to die a useful death, than to live the existence you now embrace.”
“Wha?” Alvin mutters, confused and swimming in pain.
The naked man leans on the rock with both hands, bringing his face close to Alvin’s. “Look at yourself! There was a time when men were bloated from the excess of wealth. Pathetic, but understandable. Today, the world is obese and weak.”
The naked man straightens up and slams his fist down onto Alvin open hand.
Alvin screams again as his hand feels as if it were crushed between two stones. When the naked man lifts his fist, a flattened, flesh-colored stain is all that remains of Alvin’s hand. Broken bones tear through his skin, leaving a blood-shaped hand print on the rock.
The naked man holds his blood-stained fist over Alvin’s face. In his agony, he doesn’t notice how the man’s fist looks the same color of the rock he’s laying upon. But it’s not just the color, his fist shares the same texture, as if it were carved from the rock itself.
Before Alvin’s tear-filled eyes, the naked man’s fist darkens, returning to its normal color.
The naked man leans in close to Alvin. “Hear me, swine, and answer my questions. Do so, and you will feel no more pain. Do you understand?”
“Yes.” Alvin whispers, tears streaming down his dirt-stained face.
“Tell me of your time with the woman known as Andreas Pry.”
Pry: 24 Hour Geek Copyrighted © 2013 Mark James MacKinnon. Any use of these characters, without permission, is strictly prohibited. Any similarities to individuals, living or dead, is purely coincidental.