*FIRST AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THIS IS NOT CANON. THIS IS COMPLETELY UNSANCTIONED (okay, not completely. Larry said I could do this for you guys without his ripping my head off and beating me to death with it) MHI FANFIC.
Good, now that we got that out of the way, why am I doing this? Both Grant and Fado Negro (Portuguese Monster Hunters) have minuscule parts in Guardian, the MHI book I’m collaborating with Larry Correia on. However, obviously the Portugal of Monster Hunter is not the real Portugal (Really, no arcane creatures come stumbling out of the undergrowth there. If there were arcane creatures, the country would be chock-a-block in them, when you take in account the continuous human occupation since… well, forever.) And this story gives me more of an opportunity to firm the world building. (Yes, it would be MUCH easier to do this with a notebook and noting things down, but that’s not how my mind works, d*mn it.)
Okay, that’s the rational excuse. The real reason is that d*mn Grant Jefferson won’t leave me alone. (Always had a thing for men from Patrician New England families. Ask my husband.) So I’m torturing him. Also Guardian won’t come out until I do this more or less at same time (I’ve sent the first chapter to Larry, and after I clear a bunch of minor cr*p in my way, I’ll be sending him probably the first ten chapters by the end of the week. [Yay, Mr. Trashbags. Oops, did I say that?])
Will this ever be a book? Don’t know. First Guardian will get delivered. Then, this being finished, I throw it at Larry. And then it’s his SOLE DECISION. (Which means, don’t you monkeys hassle him.) It’s his world and his character. I’m just grateful he lets me play in it in Guardian and here for your amusement.*
I might someday be able to overcome my distaste of elevators, but that isn’t going to happen for the elevator I had to take at the back of that Portuguese deli.
Okay, imagine an iron cage, of the sort that was put in as an elevator in the nineteenth century of so; the kind that used to have a uniformed buy just to operate the controls. Then imagine that the uniformed man was done away with, and instead we had a bunch of obvious gears and stuff in a corner, all of it operated by a push button panel that I swear looked a hundred years old, though it certainly couldn’t be.
It was square. It had three black buttons on it. The buttons might at some time have had numbers on them, but they had long since been rubbed away.
Franks had said first floor, so I licked my lips, looked at the instructions, looked at the panel and pressed the middle button. The panel sparked.
For a while nothing happened, and I was reaching for the metal door to open it, when the whole structure gave a looooooong groan and hobbled.
By which I mean it shook side to side.
I looked up and could see what looked like a much too flimsy chain holding it up, threaded into a really large gear.
Right. There had to be stairs in this place. And for that matter, why wasn’t the elevator resting on the floor, here, on the ground floor. And also–
I reached for the door.
The groan deafened me and then, like an arthritic man, groaning and moaning, the elevator started lurching upstairs.
The sequence went something like this: groan; shudder from side to side; groan; shudder. Each groan took up about fifteen inches up, which means the first lurch made it impossible for me to get out of there easily.
In an iron cage, being pulled up, I realized I was the perfect target for shooters from the bottom floor, or the floor I was going to for that matter.
I resisted the impulse to lay flat on the floor of the elevator. For one, because I really do try not to look crazier than I am. For another, because the floor of the elevator was also metal, the kind of metal grates they put over manholes in Manhattan, you know, the kind smoke streams out of? And through the openings between metal slats, I could see another level, where it seemed to me like people — or perhaps things — were moving around in the darkness.
So instead of lying flat on the elevator floor, I tried to restrain my footprint to… well… my footprint.
I squeezed near the far wall of the elevator, against the bars there, because those at least backed to a solid — okay, plaster and crumbling — but without holes. And I put my hand in my pocket, where I kept the glock I’d rescued from my luggage. No, I’m not saying ow I got it into my luggage and through customs with no questions, even though I wasn’t using my official passport to travel. It’s none of your business. And besides, I might need to use it again.
But nothing blasting-worth made it into my field of vision. In fact, nothing happened beyond the creak and lurch, and it seemed like forever between floors, until suddenly it gave a creak-shudder, like a great beat dying and I realized we were level with the time-corroded floorboards of the first floor.
As I reached for the door, the elevator gave a great groan and lurched upward again. Oh, no way in hell was I going to go up at the mercy of some crazy, ancient contraption.
I grabbed the door — a sort of sliding gate really — shoved it to the side, and jumped out, which was scarier than it should be, because the elevator was too small for the hole, and there was this space I might have fallen down, into the endless darkness beyond.
I managed to land on my feet on floorboards that creaked and groaned as much as the elevator. But I was very glad I managed to land on my feet, because as I looked up, I was being coolly appraised by a young woman in a black-skirt-suit.
She was much shorter than I. Must have been all of five foot nothing. And it looked like she was wearing at least a one-inch heel too, on her impeccable black pumps.
Her hair was dark and curly, her face was olive and pointed, and her dark eyes were profoundly amused.
She looked me up and down, and said “Grant Jefferson?”
I wanted to say “if you’re Fado Negro, I don’t think much of your death elevator.” Or perhaps “Woman, surely you have stairs somewhere.”
But she looked so amused, as though the elevator were an elaborate prank — and it might very well be — that all I could say was “Yes, Ma’am.”
“Good,” she said. She extended her hand, and I shook it. A little, hard, cool hand. “We’re all waiting for you. I don’t mind saying we’re in a hell of a pickle, and it’s about time you Americans showed up.”