True Slayers: The Right Track, Part Eighteen

Once the girls cleared out, I got on the phone to Crystal.

“Tell me about Kagome’s cousin.”

“What about her? She is an exchange student and stays with Kimberly’s folks.”

“Have you met her?” I asked.

“Um…” Crystal had to think about it, “Um, no – I was going to but I cancelled. Some bozo asked me out and I felt sorry for him.”

“Very funny. What’s her name?”

“Fujiyama.” Crystal answered.

“Her first name?”

“That’s it. Fujiyama … er something. I stink with names, you know that. I haven’t met her – Kagome told me her name at one point but I don’t remember the last part.”

For two years, until Kevin managed to convince Poppa that cable was a good idea because it had ESPN, my brothers Kevin, Marty and Mike had all plopped on my couch every Saturday night to watch anime. I joined them more often than not. It wasn’t so much my thing as theirs but there were some good shows, I had to admit that. It’s also the only reason I knew Japanese names don’t occur in the same order as ours.

I got control of my voice. I did not want my girlfriend ticked off at me – especially while I still owed her a date since we had to postpone Saturday’s outing for my fake convalescence. “Did you know that with Japanese names, the given name is the last part?”

Silence. Ten, nine, eight…

“Oh crud – Fujiyama is her surname?” Crystal caught on. “Kagome must think I’m an idiot.” More silence as wheels turned, “It couldn’t be – is her first name Ayami?”

“That’s what Monica and Jessica were calling her, yes. And she’s a tech school exchange student.”

“Shoot, that I did know but it didn’t cross my mind. I mean, I don’t know a lot of folks from Japan but New York must have a few hundred thousand, right?”

“Probably not quite that many, but yeah, a lot. I never even thought about your friend Kagome for the same reason – what are the odds?”

“Jack, are they following me around?”

I paused. It was a good question. Ayami being a creature and in Crystal’s circle of friends was a big coincidence in and of itself – but that kind of thing happens to slayers, at least according to my better read sister Lisa. That Vinnie latched on to Ayami, that was much too big of a coincidence. Which got my wheels turning finally – where the heck was he coming up with all these things to throw at us, anyway? He’d gotten Thompkins from Canada, my two new pet werewolves from New Jersey and Ohio (the talkative one was from Jersey) and now a Japanese exchange student who happened to be a werecat.

“I don’t think so – but I need to work on it. Let me call you back later.”

“Okay, bye, Jack.”

“Bye, Pretty Girl.”

I was hollering for Thompkins before it shut off. He came running, probably thinking I was about to die or something.

Once I calmed him down, we got to work. I admit, this is what we should have done to begin with – yes, it’s blinking obvious and yes, I’m an idiot. In my defense, I have eight siblings, a work crew that might as well be siblings and an entire building of honorary relatives – social life is one thing I never need go hunt – so while I own a computer and have internet, I don’t have or need a ‘social media presence’.

That’s what Thompkins calls it. I use the computer to look up stuff I’m curious about and email people I already know. I tried that bird thing once and it annoyed the heck out of me – I moved out of my parent’s apartment so I didn’t have to have people chatter at me all the time! I type the occasional letter on it nowadays and my homework when I’m in school. Other than that, it’s a large paperweight with delusions of adequacy. Thompkins had been messing with it ever since he found out I was four OS’s out of date – you’d have to ask him what that means.

I will grant it works better now that he’s improved it and the new internet access isn’t half bad. But I still don’t get the ‘social media presence’ or the need.

But I do know enough to know millions of people do what I don’t – and that has to include both creatures and slayers, right? Both, according to the Chronicles (I don’t ask Lisa everything and Nyota is still here, after all), existed in pre-history – although the Chronicles record some pretty odd early stuff, it’s basically copied from notches on sticks and paintings in caves. Which means somehow, this stuff can update to new technology. Or be updated, whatever.

I called Lisa – she had class that morning but was on her way home thanks to her last class being cancelled for the day. She promised to come by as soon as she ditched her books.

The wait was long. Okay, it wasn’t so much long as I was impatient. Thompkins had plenty to do on the research front but I needed Lisa to check something for us before we did anything more. Little sisters are always underfoot when you don’t need them and no where to be found when you do. Yeah, I know that isn’t true – I was getting really impatient.

Which had far more to do with being cooped up than my sister’s college schedule. I hadn’t been home all day this much since sixth grade when I had the measles. I had plenty of leave time accrued since I almost never take it so taking off wasn’t a problem, although I also had to be in bed every evening since that’s when my coworkers, boss and even a few customers were likely to drop by. That made matters worse – I wasn’t lying – I told everyone I was okay, it was just a precaution – which was absolutely true. But  they assumed the precaution was to protect my health – not to keep a rogue slayer from figuring out that he hadn’t succeeded as well as he thought. I felt like a heel.

I went to my computer and played some card games. I knew full well my bad humor was my own fault but it was beginning to get to me and I needed to get it back under control. I wondered if Lisa would settle for Scrabble this evening – something not likely to get us started fussing.

She finally got there. She actually knocked – some of my siblings have manners – and of course, spent a few minutes with Thompkins before settling down. By then, I was in a better mood – and had new high scores in three different games.

“So, what’s up, Big Brother?” She actually smiled.

“I need you to look at some websites. This will sound funny but I’m looking for sites where slayers or creatures or both can talk without anyone else being able to read it.” I explained.

“Like Momma’s cookbooks?” she asked.

“Exactly.” I nodded.

She gave me a big grin, “You do do your homework sometimes, don’t you? But you’re way behind – how about I email you a list instead?”

Thompkins laughed, “That’s my Li-li!”

“Smart alec.” I tried not to grin.

“Slow poke.” She was still smiling.

Thompkins was already up. He handed her a laptop he wasn’t using and went back to his work.

Lisa logged in and did her thing. Less than two minutes later, she had provided a list of what she called ‘dual sites’ – websites she found to be legible both in normal English and in whatever the language of slayers is called. I made a note to look that one up myself.

Thompkins now went to work in earnest. Four interconnected machines and two of them showing nothing but computer code. His hands flew over the keyboards and his poor mouse got a heavy duty work out, too.

I had no idea what he was doing. Lisa realized pretty quickly. She looked over his shoulder long enough to confirm her suspicion then explained it to her computer challenged brother.

“He’s writing a program to do the searching for him.” She began, “It will go through the sites and probably their archives…”

Thompkins gave a quick nod without looking around.

“… to find what he’s looking for, then alert him and, if I know James, go ahead and organize all the data.”

Thompkins actually blushed at the compliment as he nodded again.

“So, basically, we’re in the way.” I concluded as I got up, “Let’s go to Momma’s – if you don’t have homework, we can get a game of Scrabble. Otherwise, I am going to do those upper cabinets while I can.”

“You’ll have time for both, Sir.” Thompkins responded, never looking up. “The writing will take a while – I’ve got to do some security work as well – and then the search will also take time. Give me five hours or so.”

“Will do.” I answered.

“You get started on the cabinets. Anatomy shouldn’t take me too long and I can help. Why Scrabble?” Lisa asked as we left the apartment.

“Well, I thought we should try something where you don’t already know the outcome, Ms Smarty-pants…”  I told her as I closed the door.