11.1

He was stuck in Juneau. There was no helping it. Why his parents took a winter cruise to Alaska was beyond him. Most normal people took this trip during the summertime, when everything was green, and lush, and warm. When planes wouldn’t be grounded in the tiny podunk of a state capital. He could barely get wifi, let alone a plane out to Anchorage. He was sure his parents had already gotten to Haines, and were well on their way over land to Anchorage, on the bus. he hoped their heater had broken, and that they were as miserable as he.

He sat in the hotel room, having just gotten off the phone with the airline, fuming at their incompetence, at the way the weather conspired to keep him from going further in his life. He just wanted to get to Anchorage, see his folks through a handful of tourist activities and get home. He had some planning to do. Some stalking. Some Glory to transmit. Some GodHead to attain. Why the hell was he stuck in Juneau?

Mr. Gray read the papers. All of them. Everything local he could find. That stupid MIB movie had it half right. If it was happening, it was in the papers. but not the lame ass tabloids. They got things right once in a great while, but a coin would land on your preferred side 50% of the time, too. No, the truth was out there, but it was in the local rags that passed as print in these small towns.

Now, Anchorage looked like a big town, he had to admit. It had a Walmart, TWO Costcos, several movie theaters, and even an opera company, though he assumed they drew from the rest of the country for their singing talent. There were roads, and Taco Bells and freeways (even if they stopped and started as regular city streets). Anchorage was a metropolitan city, with a whopping 350,000 people in it. Shit, small towns in the rest of the U.S. could gain and lose that many people without stopping to wipe their ass. Anchorage was the largest small town he’d ever seen.

The Press was more likely than not to have something in their police blotter pages, and the daily news at least had a searchable website. That made looking for the out of ordinary a bit easier. The little throway papers for each tiny community up the Glenn and down the Seward highways made for quick, but informative reading.

Mr. Brown wanted reports.

“So? What the hell is going on? Why is this taking so long?” he demanded.

Mr. Gray sighed, taking comfort from a mental image of his supervisor being brutally beaten by midget sex nazis. “Well, big picture: no extra crime, except a tiny spike in rapes and homicides this month. A rash of burglaries with uncommon circumstances. Lots of car crashes, though that seems to be on par with historical data. Sex crimes are up, but that’s consistent with current national rates. Drugs, arson, parking tickets: all similar to other months and recent annual data.”

Mr. Brown finished his shot of Tequila and put the glass down hard. “So, what you’re saying is, we ain’t got shit.” He motioned the bartender over for another round. For himself.

“Well, we have some shit, but not as much as I’d hoped for.” Mr. Gray remained professionally cool. “The weird burglaries are worth checking out. The homicides and rape, maybe. We may have to resort to,” and at this he shuddered, “local color fieldwork.”

“YOU might, old man. I’m going to keep crunching numbers and finding hookers.” The alcohol seemed to have taken the lid off of Mr. Brown’s brain, and revealed the cockroach reptile horny-monkey inner child. “So, get on with it. Find me some out of control nanotech.”

Mr. Gray stared at his boss, deadpan, eyes boring silent holes into the younger man’s skull. “Yes, sir.”

He walked out of the Buckaroo Club (stupid name for a bar, he thought), and aimed himself further into Spenard, the local magnetic north for freaks and geeks of all stripe in this tiny little big city.

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