Today we have an excerpt for you from Alex Hughes, SHARP! Enjoy :)
Breakfast with Kara
An excerpt from Sharp by Alex Hughes. All rights reserved.
Just then Kara arrived, and greeted me with a small, polite smile. She was all dolled up in a flowy pantsuit of some kind, a long powder blue trench coat keeping her warm in the morning chill. The streetlight behind her flickered.
She joined me in my place in line, now nearly in front of the door.
Next to us, a small crane on wheels had moved next to the streetlight, the crane extending up over the roof of the crystalline building next door. A man in the crane basket adjusted his hard hat and brought out a loudspeaker.
“People on the street!” he said. “We will be measuring the structural integrity of this building for approximately ten seconds. Please maintain silence during this time!”
A low rumble came from the crowd, and then, quietly, with a shrug, silence fell.
The man brought out a pipette and dropped a stream of water onto the crystalline roof, a woman at street level with a dish-shaped sound collector pointing it carefully. After a moment, the water stopped, and a tone came from the collector. “A pass,” the woman said.
“Thank you!” The man projected through the loudspeaker. “We’re done!”
“Two?” someone said.
“What?” I turned.
Four feet away, right inside the open restaurant door, the hostess smiled. “Table for two?”
We moved forward, quickly, into the restaurant.
The hostess was a pretty blond college student with a huge bar pierced through the skin of her forehead. I stared; it looked painful.
“Yes, please.” Kara frowned at me. We’d been engaged, years ago, and for all everything had changed since—for all she’d betrayed me to the Guild after I had burned out those students—sometimes I could still see her, I could still understand her, without the need for telepathy, or words. “Could we get a table in the corner please?”
“You’re in luck. There’s one available.” The hostess walked across the room like there was something stuck in her shoe. The shoe in question had large spikes coming out of it on several sides. Admittedly, I did not understand fashion at all; Kara’s quieter flowy thing made sense, but this . . . ?
We sat, Kara setting her coat over a hook on the wall, and we ordered fresh real coffee, fancy omelets, and biscuits from the waitress. This place made the best biscuits and gravy in the city, and they could do things with cheap meal-replacement pellets you had to taste to believe. Pellet omelet? You’d better believe it. With spinach and soy feta and smoked habanero, it was exactly what I needed this morning.
“Why am I here?” Kara asked me, once the waitress had left. With us being in a concrete-reinforced corner of the room, behind a life-sized movie replica character, the low rumble of conversation around us would cover anything we said.
I took a breath. Surrounded by normal things, here, the vision didn’t seem as overwhelming as it had last night, but it was a vision all the same. And my accuracy was unfortunately high, especially when it came to my personal safety. I had to believe what I’d been shown. “I need to ask for a favor,” I said.
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