Sprinting while naked is not an easy thing. I’ve seen streakers before, and while I’ve admired their desire for mischief, I’ve never thought of it as a painful undertaking.
I was running for my life down the hall, and despite the motivation to maintain top speed, Captain Winky and his two first mates were voicing a loud, painful protest of their mistreatment.
The human body is a wonderful thing, and normally it would have responded to a fight-or-flight situation by compacting all members. A tight package makes for minimal jostling, and I think I could have even enjoyed the feeling of air flowing over my nether regions. However, I had been interrupted in the middle of some fine nookie, and nothing about my rather upbeat member was compacted.
Two men in black suits pounded down the hotel hallway behind me. They were built like ass-kickers, and as such they would surely give me a hurting if they caught me. However, I’m lean and nimble and I was able to put some distance between us.
I wasn’t sure why they were after me—neither one was acting like a jilted lover. But right now, getting away seemed a good use of my mental powers. I’d leave figuring out why for later.
It’s hard to create an escape plan when you’re starting from, “Oh baby, that feels good!” but I had the beginnings of one. I figured I’d get to the stairway and either take it to the bottom floor and out an emergency exit, or maybe duck onto one of the other floors and hide. It wasn’t much of a plan, but a chase is fluid and quick. Hopefully it would be enough.
I made it to the end of the hall with a good lead on my pursuers, burst through the door to the stairway, and right into the arms of another big, suited ass-kicker.
It startled the heck out of me, and I think it startled him too. He was expecting to catch me, but he wasn’t expecting me to be naked. He must have been a straight guy because he did what all straight men do when suddenly holding a piece of man ass: He backed off.
That gave me enough room to maneuver, and I hit him with everything I had. I had about six seconds, ten tops, before Thing One and Thing Two came through the door after me.
I went into hyper mode, punching him three, maybe four times at full speed, which ended up being a mistake. His training kicked in and I went from, “naked dude, back off,” to, “hostile dude, maim and destroy.”
I weigh about 150, and although I’m mostly lean, hard muscle, I still lack the power of a more massive frame.
Mass wasn’t a problem for my opponent; he must have weighed in at a good 250 pounds, and he shrugged off my punches. I’d fought bullies as a kid, so I knew to aim for his chin or nose. A chin shot might stun him, and a nose shot would hurt like hell, making his eyes water. Either one would let me slip past him. He had good training though, ducking his head and raising his shoulder.
He was close, really close, and I knew I wouldn’t have time to sprint up the stairs before he grabbed me. Wrestling with this guy would be a bad idea. Instead, I did the unexpected and slightly insane move of jumping toward him, grabbing him around the head and neck, and throwing myself over the railing.
My 150 pounds might not have been enough mass to knock him out, but with a gravity assist, it was plenty of mass to whip his head around—and where the head goes, the body goes. He toppled over the railing after me.
The stairs were like most flights you would find in hotels: They went back and forth between floors, so he didn’t have that far to fall. However, they were made of concrete and that is a rough landing. It also didn’t help him that we continued to rotate in the air, and I landed on top. He hit the concrete with a crunch, and I rode his body like a toboggan as it thumped down the steps to the landing.
For a second, I thought he might be dead—I didn’t want to be a killer—but then I saw him breathe.
I hopped off of him and flew down the next flight of stairs. I had just reached the next floor when I heard Thing One and Two burst through the stairwell door a few floors above. I checked out which floor I was on—eleven—and made a quick decision that I was still too high to make a mad dash for the ground floor.
I was sure they would hear me if I stayed on the stairs, so I took the door onto the eleventh floor. Nobody was in the long hallway, so I started jogging to the other end. I figured there should be another stairwell at that end; hopefully I could use that to escape. I really needed some clothes, though. I couldn’t move around the city and blend in the way I was.
At that moment, two thugs appeared at the end of the hall.
My God! How many guys are after me?
One or two meant I just ticked someone off. Five bruisers meant this was a full-on hunt by someone with resources. My smart mouth and easy loving were always getting me into trouble, so this wasn’t the first time I’d had to run to save my hide. This was my first manhunt, though, and it was starting to scare me.
At least the two guys on this floor weren’t as big or professional as the others. Things One and Two had looked like professional hit men or mob enforcers. These two looked like smaller sidekicks that were trying way too hard to look tough. One had a shaggy mop of hair that was supposed to be casually cool, but instead just looked unwashed and greasy. The other had a tiny goatee—classic villain style—that he probably stroked while saying, “I will keel you aaand your leetle friend!”
I couldn’t go back to the stairwell behind me and I didn’t want to try getting through Shaggy and The Villain ahead, so I cast out my senses looking for another way.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been able to do things that were special. Not short-bus special—magical special. Maybe magical isn’t the right word. I don’t mutter incantations or call on gods or anything like that. Rather, I have talents and insights most people don’t.
Anyway, I needed a way out, and I could see what looked like another hallway branching off to the right. My extra senses told me it wasn’t another hallway; it was a small area containing a vending machine and two elevators.
Escape by elevator works great in the movies, but in real life the timing usually sucks, and it ends up being a trap. I didn’t have much choice in this case. I needed to call an elevator to this floor now. Delicate magic was beyond my concentration at this point, but I’d used my little Punch Rocket many times before and the image came to me easily.
I pictured the base first—four fins sitting against my chest, ready to use it as a launching pad. The body was fire-engine red in the traditional rocket shape topped off by a white fist. It was more cartoon than NASA, but the magic didn’t care, and it was fun to visualize.
I fed it power and my little rocket blasted off, trailing perfect puffs of white smoke. It flew down the hallway, turned right with a cartoon skreeeeee, and wooshed off again. The little white fist smacked into the elevator call button for “up,” then the Punch Rocket backed up and smacked into the “down” button. Both call lights lit up as the feisty little spell gave a toot and was gone.
Now I just needed an elevator to stop. I didn’t care if it was going up or down; I just needed to get off this floor.
The two thugs at the other end of the hall were walking toward me. I guess they figured they didn’t need to hurry; I was running toward them after all, and they couldn’t see my magic. I slowed down a bit. I could see with my magic sight that an elevator hadn’t arrived yet. The closer I got the more nervous I felt. If an elevator didn’t show, I was going to be trapped in a small space with two guys that were a lot bigger than me.
Okay, make that four guys. The stairwell door slammed open behind me and Thing One and Thing Two barreled through. I was screwed!
I sprinted toward the little hallway, arriving just as the elevator dinged and the door slid open. The arrow said it was going up, so I slipped inside, punched a button for one of the top floors, and held down the “close door” button.
I heard shouts out in the hallway and the sound of running feet. The Things and their sidekicks were coming to get me.
The elevator stayed open for what seemed like forever, but it finally slid closed and I slumped back against the wall in relief. That’s when I realized I wasn’t alone.
A tall, older lady in a blue dress was enjoying the heck out of my naked show. She kind of reminded me of Blanche Devereaux from The Golden Girls.
“Is that what all the kids are wearing these days?” she asked with a twinkle in her eye.
“Umm, no,” I said intelligently, as I tried to cover up with both hands. I found out very quickly that two hands don’t cover up much.
“Oh, don’t bother trying to hide the naughty bits. It isn’t anything I haven’t seen before.” She smiled, then cocked her head to the side. “Although, you are definitely the nicest looking man I have seen in a long time!” She gestured at my abs. “Those are especially nice.”
I started blushing. Then I tried not to blush, which only made me blush even more. I had always thought blushing just happened in your face, but I was managing to do it all over.
“Oh dear! Now I’ve gone and made you all nervous. How on earth did you end up like this?”
For a moment I almost opened my mouth and told her everything. I’d met this cute guy in an exclusive game of poker, and afterward we had gotten a room. I was discovering he was way better at shagging than he was at poker—what he could do with his real hands was divine. His poker hands? Not so much—when the door flew open and two guys jumped me. Now I’m here, running for my life, and doing a one-man stripper act.
“I’m being pranked by my roommates, ma’am. They think it’s hysterical that I’m running the halls naked.”
“Well, you tell them that is not nice! It is kind of funny, but you could get into trouble running around like this.” She thought for a moment. “Do you want to wait in my room while I call housekeeping and get all this straightened out?"
I was tempted, but I didn’t think the presence of an older lady was going to stop these guys. They would just deal with me and then deal with her too.
“Thank you very much, but I think we can work it out.” I gave her a smile as the elevator slowed down.
“Oh, I need a picture!” She was quick. She had her cell phone out and clicked away before I could tell her not to. “Bridge club would never believe me without this!” The doors slid open and she gave my butt a friendly pat on the way out.
“You be careful!”
She cheerfully waved as she disappeared down the hall and the doors slid closed.
The elevator started ascending to its next stop, floor 23, and I only had a few moments to figure out what I was going to do. They knew I was on the elevator, so I couldn’t ride it down to the first floor. They also had both stairwells covered, so going down that way wasn’t an option. What I needed to do was hide out for a while. Hopefully they would get tired of the chase and just leave.
The elevator arrived at floor 23. I pressed a bunch of the buttons for the other floors—might as well confuse the trail a bit more—then stepped out and just listened. Everything was quiet—no sound of running feet—so I peeked down the hallway. It was empty.
What I needed was a vacant room that would stay unrented for the rest of the night. Rooms with a view were given out first, so I picked a room at random that faced the back of the building.
I put my hand on the door and let my awareness seep into the room. Using my talent to look through things is really difficult. It took a few moments before the room started to form in my mind. Since I wanted to make sure the room was empty, I just needed to scan for large human-sized forms. It would have been really challenging to see anything smaller than that.
Nobody was inside, so I switched my attention to the latch. No matter how you lock a door—and this hotel had those fancy card readers—the actual part that keeps the door shut is the latch. It’s the spring-loaded piece of metal that fits into the door frame, and it’s impossible for most people to mess with without tearing it apart.
However, I can do things most people can’t. I gathered my energy and flicked the latch. I could hear it bounce back, but it wasn’t enough to open the door. The hotel had good locks with strong springs. I gathered my energy and flicked it again. I did better, but it still wasn’t enough.
I put both hands over the lock. Sometimes it seemed to help if I was as close as possible to whatever I manipulated. I gathered all my energy, held it, took a deep breath, gathered some more energy, and FLICKED.
This time the door opened. I stepped inside just as I heard the ding of the elevator. I closed the door quickly, softly, and stood in the dark with my heart racing.
How in the hell were they finding me so quickly? It just didn’t seem fair. I’d been chased before, and contrary to what the movies show, it’s actually pretty easy to lose someone if they aren’t right on your tail.
Of course, the elevator could have been bringing anyone to this floor, not just my hunters.
The room had a deadbolt, which I set, as well as one of those metal catches you use to keep everyone out, even the maid. I set that as well. Then I put my hands on the door and looked into the hallway.
It felt empty, but I stayed there, letting my awareness expand to include a sizable chunk of the hallway. I was about to let it go, when a being of pure power stepped off the elevator.
I say it was a being because the power was so bright that I couldn’t tell anything about it. I didn’t know if it was a guy, a girl, or even human.
I do know I’d never seen or felt anything like it before. I wanted to squeak and cower in fear. I jumped away from the door, hoping that whatever it was hadn’t sensed me.
I was suddenly aware I was shaking. All that adrenaline and emotion was starting to catch up to me.
What the hell had I gotten myself into? How did I end up being chased by five guys who looked like bouncers and now there was this being with god-like power out there? I didn’t know this God Dude was after me, but I didn’t know he wasn’t either. (I decided to call him God Dude as that is a lot less scary than Giant Powerful God Thing That Can Squish You Like A Bug. It’s also much shorter.)
The smart-ass voice in my head was still making jokes, but I was starting to get scared—really scared.
I took a deep breath and started walking up and down the room, swinging my arms, letting the fear out. Runaway emotions were not going to change the situation I was in. Instead they might make me do something stupid.
After a few minutes, I felt better and began to think through the situation. The only thing I could think of that could have caused any of this was the poker game. Maybe one of the players was a sore loser and connected to the mob or something like that. I’m a good judge of people, though—you have to be, to be a good poker player—and the game had finished without anyone getting fighting mad. Sure, some of the men were upset, but I don’t think anyone lost more than they could afford.
I’d pocketed thirty-five thousand from the night, and I wasn’t even the biggest winner. Fortunately, I’d learned to secure my winnings immediately; I’d already mailed the cash to myself.
Maybe my lover from tonight had a jealous partner? That didn’t seem to fit either. He was just as surprised as I was at the interruption, and none of the suits had been ranting or raving about vengeance and hurt feelings.
Instead the whole thing felt very professional, even clinical. The thugs didn’t hate me. They were just doing their job. Well, they might hate me now that I’d dropped one of their own down a stairwell, but it was still a job for them.
If I was reading this right, then getting out of here was going to be more difficult than I hoped. If this had started in anger, then there was the chance that they would cool down and just leave. They might be cursing my name, but they would tire of this and go home. If it was a job, however, they would stick around and do their damnedest to get me.
Their payment and reputation would be on the line.
I had no idea how God Dude figured into this. Maybe he was here for some other reason that had nothing to do with me. This was a hotel, after all. Maybe God Dude just wanted a good night’s sleep. I could only hope.