The Apartment

From the Story Arc: Sometimes the Mask Comes Off

Next Story in the Arc: Jubilation by October Star II (Monday, June 06, 2005)

(posted Thursday, June 02, 2005)

Alexei landed on the fire escape after circling the building several times. He let himself into the bedroom window quickly and drew the blinds immediately. Perhaps maintaining a secret identity in Paragon City wasn’t as important as it was in Kiev, but old habits were hard to break.

Stripping out of his suit, Alexei placed it in the chamber Petrograd had designed for it. The unit came to life with a low hum. By morning it would be cleaned, disinfected, recharged and any problems found by diagnostics would be serviced. With the closet door closed, nobody would see or hear the unit in service.

“[I]Bozshe moi![/I] I did not realize how late it was.” The watch beeped as it struck three o’clock. Alexei lifted an arm and took a sniff. “And I am still smelling of the sewers.” Groggily he padded his way into the bathroom.

The hot water beat the ache from his shoulders, and rinsed the stink that clung to him. The one good thing about keeping his odd hours, he never ran out of hot water in the shower.

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[I]Mrow?[/I] Alexei woke, his cat nose to nose with him. “Leave me alone, Misha. I am still tired.” A low purr rumbled from the old Abyssinian, and it rubbed hard against the stubble on October Star’s chin. “Alright, alright. [I]Hlyavshchik[/I] cat. If I did not feed you, you would not know who I am.”

Entering the kitchen, Alexei was met by loud purrs and playful mews. He made a mental note to take out the garbage. It was only half full, but the apples in the bottom of the bag were beginning to smell. Little wonder. Most of his garbage for the last few weeks had been cat food cans and a few things he hadn’t eaten before they went bad. All the testing he had been doing on the new suit meant he was eating either at headquarters or at one of the fast food places around Steel Canyon.

As he tied the bag shut, Alexei began to appraise his apartment. “I am an idiot!” His TV and stereo sat on milk crates the former tenants had left behind. A crooked lawn chair sat in the middle of his living room as the only seat in the house. Unopened packing crates littered the dining room. One that sat close to the kitchen had been roughly opened, allowing him access to the few kitchen utensils he used, most importantly, his coffee maker. A stack of Styrofoam cups and plates along with a few handfuls of plastic cutlery he had nicked from the CCCP commissary were the only dishes in the kitchen.

Alexei turned and looked at his cat, as if it were to blame for his predicament. “Tell me Misha, why did I invite Althea over?”

To be continued