“Today is going by so slowly… too slowly…”
Tired of conversing with Sentinel, Taryn shut him down and lay back on her bed for a few hours. Finally, she decided that she needed to get off campus and try to sort out these feelings. She needed to piece everything together, and staring at four walls wasn’t going to do it.
She stood and grabbed her thin leather jacket off of the hanger behind the door. She was going to take a ride and clear her head. Cruising through the city always worked in the past, she’d hoped it would be the same way now.
Taryn was about to leave when she saw the old framed photo on the table next to her bed. The glass was cracked, but the picture inside was still in nearly perfect shape. She picked it up and studied the familiar faces.
It was a beautiful picture of a human boy with an elf girl on his back at Revere Beach. They appeared to be her age. The blond elf looked extremely happy. The boy had a smile on his face, but he also gave off a feeling of worry.
Taryn was familiar with her family history and could have thought of any number of reasons why he would be worried. She smiled, “I know what you two went through to be together. No government cover-up will ever convince me otherwise. You two were heroes.”
As she slipped her jacket on, she thought back to her childhood. She had met Lia’na a few times when she was young. Elves lived much longer than humans, so she had the opportunity to meet her ancestor, albeit briefly.
Even in her advanced age, Lia’na was very beautiful, but she seemed lonely. Even at her happiest moments, there was always a hit of longing on her face, as though a piece of her was missing that could not be recovered. Her face hid a deep void that had been missing for many years before Taryn was born.
After so many years, Taryn understood why. She missed Toby more than anything. Her heart had been severed from her chest for the rest of her days when he died. For reasons that were still a mystery, her death came well before its time, but it held no fear over her. Death was simply her final passage to be with the one she loved again and she welcomed it. Taryn remembered seeing her in the hospital. She had a smile on her face as the light faded from her eyes.
Taryn put the picture back on the table, “Toby must have absolutely worshipped you… we should all be so lucky.”
She closed the door behind her and exhaled deeply. She lowered looked down at her armband and wiped a warm tear from her eye. What am I doing?
Without another thought, she headed down to the main level and out the front door. She was determined to get off campus. The air around her had become so heavily that it was barely breathable.
Leslie House had a small shed next to the building. Taryn had befriended the groundskeeper, so he let her park her bike in there for protection against the elements. She opened the door and quickly looked around to make sure that no one was nearby.
Confident that the coast was clear, she stepped inside the shed where she was greated with a low rumbling noise. She smiled, “Hello Glide, ready for some fun?”
The 1960 Harley Davidson duo Glide that waited for her, revved its engine in response. Taryn chuckled, “Good, glad to hear it.”
“I know… I’m sorry, exams have me on edge, but hey we’ll have the summer to have fun.”
“Yup, let’s hit downtown.”
At that moment, Sentinel appeared out of her armband, “Do you actually understand this antiquated contraption?”
The bike roared, indicating that it didn’t appreciate being called a contraption. Taryn ran her hand over the seat, like she would a dog’s back. She had spent years upgrading her family’s old bike.
Fossil fuel reserves were slowly drying up and becoming too expensive, so she upgraded the engine to be able to process a synthetic fuel that was used to power older cars and bikes. The internal combustion engine was now almost completely a thing of the past and all modern cars were built with a new hydromolecular engine. Though more efficient, Taryn knew the secret of her bike and wasn’t going to risk destroying its life force, so she only updated what she needed to.
Taryn chuckled, “Ignore him, I’m thinking of tweaking his personality engrams anyway.”
“Fine.” Sentinel replied. “Excuse me for asking a question.”
Taryn sat down on the bike and looked at Sentinel, “Well to answer your question, I don’t really know. I hear the engine and am able to determine emotions from the bike. I can’t really explain how I understand it.”
“Perhaps it’s something to do with you lineage?”
Taryn shrugged, “Maybe…”
“I agree,” Taryn replied, “thoughts for another day, let’s go!”
She threw on a pair of goggles and a helment and rode out of the shed. She turned the bike behind the building and then turned onto Main Street. The bike roared as she hit the accelerator.
“You want to take over?” She yelled.
Taryn released the accelerator and lightened her grip on the handlebars, “All right, show me the sights!”
The bike, Glide, picked up speed as it hit the I-93 South ramp and headed for Boston. Taryn sat back slightly as she viewed everything going on around her. There was thankfully no traffic on the way into Boston. Everyone who needed to be in the city was mostly already there.
Taryn’s eyes lit up as she reached the Zakim Bridge. She looked over the side to see the Paul Revere Park Memorial to the soldiers who had lost their lives defending the city. Now even the government wouldn’t acknowledge what truly happened.
Glide neared the guard rail as it passed under the old suspension cables. To her left, an old ’08 Ford Hovercharge passed her by. The car was white with a silver trim and wheels folded up underneith for emergencies. The driver eyed the old bike suspiciously as it passed through his window.
Taryn didn’t care for hovercars. Too much could go wrong with the magnetic system. Tires were more expensive, harder to get, and not enviornmentally friendly, but they were tried and true.
The moment that the car was out of sight, Taryn noticed that the weight of the bike was being distributed to the back and the front tire was no longer touching the pavement, “Glide, what are you doing?”
Glide didn’t respond.
Taryn was about to panic when suddenly the tires began to glow white and the bike lifted off the road completely. She watched in awe as Glide continued to climb higher and higher, “Okay, next time give me some warning. I don’t like surprises!”
The chill of thin air passed over her skin as she flew high enough into the air to see the tops of most of the buildings. As Glide circled the Hancock tower a few times, Taryn could see the work being done on the building. Its old glass windows were being replaced with transparent foil solar-energy conducting ones.
Taryn flew even higher until she could see the atmospheric purifier that was installed atop several Boston skyscrapers to cut down on emissions and repair past damage. Though cold, when Taryn breathed in, she felt as though the cool air was cleaning out her lungs.
She hugged Glide’s chasis with her hips and spread her arms, “Keep me steady, Glide.”
She closed her eyes as the wind passed over her face and began mouthing the lyrics of one of her favorite songs as the tune passed through her mind,
“And so they danced with their hands clasped,
Around the room of Ancients past,
And so the tales of old repeat again.
When all the time has come and gone,
Another way will we bring you,
On great wings of hope,
A seed soon to sprout,
Will conquer all darkness.”
Taryn released the air from her lungs and looked down on the city. It was at that moment that she realized how much she wanted to share all of this with Bobby. She had told him some of her family’s history when she had downed a few drinks, but she doubted that he believed her.
Despite her desires, Taryn knew that it was too soon. She decided to give Bobby a chance, and if she got close enough to him, she’d start letting him in on a few of these secrets. It was only fair.
A chill down her spine told Taryn that it was time to stop, “Glide, let’s head down, I’m getting cold.”
Glide turned around and headed back to the bridge. Within a matter of minutes, the bike touched down on the highway, heading north this time. As the wheels hit the pavement, the bike roared.
Taryn looked down at it with worry, “You overdid it again, didn’t you?”
Glide made a timid clicking noise in response. Taryn sighed, “Look, you can’t do that. This isn’t like how it was when you were with your previous owners. You know you don’t have unlimited power. Don’t push youself.”
“I know you were just having fun and I appreciate you showing me the city from up there, but I don’t want you overdoing it. You’ve survived 4 generations of my family. You’re not dying on my watch.”
“Yes, I love you too.” Taryn replied. “Why don’t you let me take the reigns again while you rest?”
Taryn placed her hands on the handlebars again and held on as Glide gave her control. The wind blowing in her face was heavier now. It also came with the odor of industry from the city around her.
Taryn was used to the city, she’d grown up there, but part of her always yearned for the trees of the forest. She chalked that up to her elven heritage. Her great great grandmother had always experienced difficulties in dealing with the city, but she managed to get by without any issues.
She turned off the nearest exit and got back on I-93 going south. Vroom vroom?
“I know this isn’t the way back. I just need to go… somewhere first.”
“Don’t worry, I know where I’m going.”
The bike roared onto Exit 20A/B and headed for the Pike. The sensors scanned her as she passed and charged her account for the fare as she pressed on by. She eventually arrived at Exit 17 and pulled off, heading south towards Chestnut Hill.
After a few minutes of passing by various shops, she arrived at the intersection of Hammond St. and Heath St. She turned right and within moments, a small cemetary came into view. The old iron gate way still open, granting her entry to the Holyhood Cemetary.
Taryn slowed down to quiet her bike in the hopes of not disturbing anyone else that might be there. The association had worked hard to keep the cemetary as welcoming as possible and she didn’t want to ruin that.
The grave she was looking for was unmistakable. It was a black marble stone with gold lettering. In large print, the name ‘Arrigan’ was easy to identify. The bike stopped in front of the grave and revved its engine in excitement.
Taryn hopped off and placed her hand on the seat, “Shh! Easy, I know you’re excited, but you have to keep it down.”
A softer sound came from the engine as the bike slowly powered down.
Taryn stepped away from the bike and looked at the grave. She didn’t usually visit, given that she’d never known Toby and Lia’na was considered a distant relative, but she still admired them. She smiled as she looked at the beautifully cared for grave, “Um… hi.”
She paused for a moment, feeling silly for talking to a stone tablet. Could they even hear her or were they off doing their own thing in some celestial realm? She had no way of knowing, so she continued, “Toby, I wish I’d gotten to know you too, but I’m actually here to talk to Lia’na.”
Taryn closed her eyes, “I know you’d probably tell me I’m being a prissy little princess, and you’re probably right. I’ve been very picky about the guys I date… very picky. I don’t know, Mom and Dad have always hammered it into my head that I deserve nothing but the best. That… and I look at my family history and I know… you guys saved the world. That’s a huge legacy. I guess that’s why I’ve been so picky. Dating can turn into something more, especially since I’m getting close to finishing college and… well…”
Taryn rubbed her brow, trying hard not to sound like a snob, “I don’t want to be with someone who won’t appreciate that. I guess I want what you guys had and I’ve been afraid to let anyone in who doesn’t look like they’re going to measure up.”
Her eyes open and she looked down at the stone, “Help me… give me some sign that he’s at least okay. Please.”
This is crazy. Taryn told herself. You’re talking to a grave stone. What do you think is going to happen? Is it going to talk back? Is Lia’na going to jump dig her way out to offer you sage advice as a zombie?
At that moment, Taryn paused, remembering the story. Given what had happened so long ago, her suspension of disbelief shouldn’t be so forbidding. Still, she wasn’t recieving a response and there was a slight chill in the air. She turned and headed for the bike when a sudden breeze picked up.
Taryn suddenly felt like there were hands on her shoulders. She breathed in deeply and closed her eyes. The wind swirled gently around her. To a normal human, this would have been nothing more than a random gust of wind that had just suddenly picked up. However, Taryn was more attuned to the life force of nature, thanks to her elven heritage. She smiled and nodded as the wind whispered in her ears.
After a few moments, she opened her eyes and smiled, “Thank you.”
She walked over to the bike and tapped on the seat, “Ready to go?”
“Yeah, I got the answers I needed.”
“Yeah I miss her too.”
“Sorry, I should have said both, but I never met Toby. I know he was your owner first and all, but he died long before I was even born.”
“Yeah I’m ready to go. Let’s head back to Arcanus.”
It wasn’t long before she began to see trees ahead of her as the bike carried her back to college.
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