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“Want anything?” Taylor asked as he headed for the door of the bus.
“Nah I’m cool,” Isaac waved him off, a pillow over his eyes.
“Zac? You asleep yet?”
Taylor paused with his hand on the door, waiting for a response.
“He’s not,” Isaac assured, “just get him sugar. He’ll be gaming all night.”
“Right,” Taylor rolled his eyes, finally leaving the bus.
He gave the driver a nod as he fuelled up the tank, then headed around to the men’s room at the side of the building. As he went about his business he noticed a blue light moving across the wall – as if a car had pulled up beside the wall and paused with its headlights shining through the window, but he hadn’t heard any sound. Frowning as he finished up and went to wash his hands, he listened for the sound of tyres or maybe a car door, but there was nothing. Not entirely unsettled by it (the bathroom could have just had good soundproofing after all) he shrugged it off until an almighty boom of thunder seemed to crack right over the entire truck stop.
“What the?” he jumped.
The weather had been fine, and as far as he knew they weren’t expecting any rain let alone storms.
By the time he made for the door, the light had dissipated. If they were headed into a storm he wanted to grab the groceries and get back to the bus as soon as he could.
On the other side of the door, he paused. Instead of the car he expected stood a man – possibly a foot shorter than he – dressed in odd clothing. He spun in fright at the sound of the door closing, immediately looking Taylor up and down.
“Are you okay?” Taylor felt the need to ask, casting his eyes either side to see if he could tell where he’d come from.
Before the man could respond, Taylor spotted the sword attached at his hip and his eyebrows rose.
“You cosplaying or something?”
“What?” the man had scorn in his voice, “who are you? And where am I?!”
Taylor groaned internally. This was just what he needed.
“Look, guy, I’m kind’ve on a schedule here so… if you don’t need any help…” he began to walk back to the store.
“Wait!” the man called after him, somewhat reluctantly.
Taylor turned back, vaguely hoping he wouldn’t ask for money. He wasn’t sure how much he had on him and he really needed a drink.
“I do need help,” the man relented, “please, could you tell me where I am?”
“Just out of Seattle,” Taylor replied, “are you… lost?”
“In a manner of speaking,” he looked to the left, his left hand going to the hilt of his sword.
“How did you get here?” Taylor frowned.
“This… Seattle…” the stranger looked confused, “is it a large city?”
Taylor paused, his eyebrows going up.
“You’re not from around here, are you?” he realised.
He hadn’t picked up on an accent, but the man seemed very well spoken and deliberate.
“No,” he relented again, “but I will have friends looking for me I’m sure. I guess I’ll just wait here.”
Taylor frowned again, looking toward the light from the fuel pumps.
“That’s probably not the best idea,” he suggested, “it can be dangerous around places like these at night. Particularly close to the city.”
“I think I’ll be fine,” the man assured, lifting the hilt a little.
Taylor instinctively took a step back.
“That’s real,” he realised.
“Why wouldn’t it be?” the man frowned.
“Okay…” Taylor began backing off, “I guess I’ll leave you to it then.”
He kept his eye on the man – who simply stood there confused – as he continued back to the front of the store. He almost made it to the door when he heard another ‘wait!’ from behind him.
He looked back to see the man standing at the corner, staring across at the tour bus. Knowing it would only take a second to dart inside if the man became aggravated, he chose to wait. Now that he could see him in the light he could see that his clothes were mostly leather and hessian cloth.
“Do you need to use a phone or something?” Taylor’s voice seemed to snap him back to reality.
“A what?”
His head snapped to the right suddenly. Worried at the sudden movement Taylor kept his eye on him, wondering if he should just go inside and tell someone about him. The guy quite obviously needed help – and probably more than he realised.
Before he could think further, he saw the same blue light he’d seen from the bathroom suddenly emit from somewhere around the corner. The stranger shielded his eyes before ducking back around and out of sight.
Taylor darted a look back at the tour bus. He felt as if he should at least know where he was in order to tell someone what was going on.
“Dammit,” he cursed, making his way back toward the bathroom.
When he rounded the corner he froze in his tracks. The man stood before what looked like silent blue lightning, twisting and curling in mid-air. The man drew his sword and stepped closer.
“Look out!” Taylor warned, sure it must have been a fallen electrical wire of some sort snaking through the air.
The man turned back a moment before a similar thunder clap echoed through the empty car lot. A visible shockwave followed the sound, engulfing the stranger in the blue light and throwing Taylor back several feet.