Home > BZRK (BZRK #1)(3)

BZRK (BZRK #1)(3)
Michael Grant

They were sitting just a couple of feet apart in the back of a Cessna Citation X, Grey facing aft, Stone facing forward. It was a private jet, yes, but no more ostentatious than was absolutely necessary in a private jet. There was no hot flight attendant in a teasing uniform. No flowing Champagne. None of that. Grey’s jet was about business. And his son was learning that business.

Grey was drinking coffee from a mug that said FAIRLY DECENT DAD. See, a mug that said WORLD’S BEST DAD would have violated the Grey family’s style, which was self-deprecating, wry, and utterly devoted.

Grey was tapping away at his pad and sipping and tapping and frowning a bit from time to time.

Stone was reading a book on his own pad, not maybe paying as much attention as he should, because in his ears were the buds and through them came the raw, hoarse voice of Tony Kovacs.

Being here with my surroundings,

Seeing all I’m looking at,

Evolution winking at me,

My face forms a smile.

Earbuds out.

“So this would be a flight measured more in days than in mere hours,” Stone said, and stretched his legs.

“Long flight,” his father acknowledged. “You could have spent the time with your grandmother in Maryland.”

Stone held up mock-surrender hands. “Did I sound like I was complaining?”

“Your grandmother loves you.”

“My grandmother loves painting ceramic figurines of First Ladies.”

“Historically accurate figurines,” Grey said, and grinned. “You could have helped her decorate Abigail Fillmore’s bonnet.”

Stone pretended to weigh the alternatives. “Abigail’s bonnet … Singapore girls in formfitting saris. Hmm. Tough one.”

Earbuds back in.

Here am I living in it

Here am I in everything.

His sister, Sadie, had gotten him started on punk, probably thinking he needed something less, well, insipid than what he came up with by following his usual pattern: downloading whatever his friends were listening to. Sadie was like that, one of those people untouched by trend or fashion, comfortable building her own world out of what she liked, from tunes and styles and reads that could be so ancient they were cobwebbed, up through to things so new they barely existed yet. Sometimes it was like she imagined something and conjured it into reality.

Sadie could be a prickly little witch, but at sixteen she was who she was in a way that Stone could not quite equal. Didn’t bother him, not really. Stone had a defined role to play. He was the heir, the scion, the eldest. There’d been lots of times he envied Sadie’s freedom—man, who wouldn’t?—but he was okay with his destiny. Someone had to do it. Might as well be him.

Spent so much of my time thinking

Feeling like I’m under attack.

Overlooking the reality in front of me

Wandering down so many paths.

And for his mother, whose ashes had settled into the Atlantic at the midpoint between her native London and her adopted New York.

He looked out of the window, veering his thoughts away from that last image. Not right now, not right now, not that memory.

Stone and his father had taken off from Teterboro and now were flying over the Meadowlands. Down below, a game. Football, American style.

Stone’s life had been split more or less evenly between New York and London, so he could appreciate both sets of sport obsession: football and baseball in the States, soccer and cricket in the U.K. Still couldn’t imagine what anyone saw in hockey, because …

Then he remembered.

Earbuds out.

“Hey, isn’t Sadie at that game?”

Grey looked up and smiled, a conspiratorial look. “And I’m sure she’s loving every minute of it.”

Stone laughed. “Yeah. Nothing Sadie likes better than being outside in the cold and part of some big, cheering crowd.” He shook his head. “I hope the dude is worth it. Is it that Tony guy I met?”

Grey nodded. “I think highly of his father. Tony himself … well, I suppose I could offer Sadie some fatherly advice on that kid.”

They both burst out laughing. The idea of Sadie listening to advice from anyone. On any topic. Let alone her love life.

“You’re not that brave,” Stone teased.

“I’m not that stupid,” Grey countered with a look of mock fear. Then, in a softer tone, turning his eyes away, looking out and down, “She’s got your mother in her.”

Which just veered Stone back to a place he didn’t want to go. He nodded and didn’t trust his voice to answer. Not even a “Yeah.” Even one syllable could break his voice.

Earbuds in.

Shot Baker was done. Someone else was singing, another song Sadie had put on his playlist. Come to think of it, was there anything on it that Sadie hadn’t chosen for him?

Down below, the stadium was a huge, oblong cereal bowl filled with eighty thousand Jets fans. The Jets actually had eighty thousand fans this year, because it was early December and damned if they weren’t still in contention.

The fans were taking advantage of the clear, weak, low-slung sun of fall. The sleet and the cold wind would come soon enough; a last sunny Sunday, even a chilly one, was not to be wasted.

A blimp turned lazily above the stadium. It looked like some leisurely version of sperm and egg from up here. The image brought a smile to Stone’s lips. He totally had to work that into his next English comp paper. Freak out his teacher with a sudden display of analogy. Or was it simile?

Earbuds out, reluctantly.

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