Snapshot, chapter 1
In the middle of a typical New York City day, street performers play a dangerous alternative rock song with a tango influence, filled with missed notes and attitude. The sounds drifted along, bringing a suitable backdrop amidst the clang of cars and construction for a slender, petite figure hunched in the shadows of an historic building. Passing close on a bus, Drenan failed to notice the figure. He gazed up at the tall city buildings, overwhelmed by the feeling of greatness, somewhat alienated by their total lack of anything natural. Drenan hopped off the bus at the next stop, fighting the crowd to get off. The bright pop of green from a nearby park only stood to emphasis the very strangeness of the city – the mocking way the bus let out a cloud of fumes as it left the nearby bus stop, the smells, the claustrophobia, the lights, the pigeons, the cars and construction, the people.
Meanwhile, the figure hunched in the shadows of the building took note of the tall man who just got off the bus. She had a feeling today was going to be… different. Her life lately had been very different indeed, so the feeling of premonition was doubly important to pay attention to. She took a cracked mirror out of a garbage bag at her feet, and checked to make sure she was unrecognizable. Her own appearance caused her to drop her wary manner for a moment. She knew she had been changing a lot lately, but… The slender figure was no thing of beauty at the moment, nothing to be proud of, no symbolic image of her transformation. Her hair was an indistinguishable color under a dirty knit hat, an old pair of cracked sunglasses hid most of her face. Although it was a warm fall day, she pulled the collar of her dirty Mets jacket higher up around her hunched figure. She knew that it was unlikely for the tall man to notice her (if it was who she thought it was, the “man’s” heightened senses were overwhelmed in the city, thereby negating that particular threat), but she wanted to take no unnecessary risks. She hadn’t survived this long by being foolish. She took a moment to center her thoughts, mumbling under breadth, and then stared at the man, recording his appearance and movements in her mind. As the man passed out of vision, she let go of the shadows around her and stumbled off in the other direction, ignoring the businessmen and tourists who scrambled to get out of the dirty, lurching figure’s way.
After a long walk, she stopped behind a trash bin in a dirty alleyway and knocked a beat on the slimy brick wall. A door appeared and opened, and she stepped inside a dark room, shrugging off dirty clothing and throwing her bags into the corner. A voice stopped her busy activities. “This had better be good, for you to leave your post Jenna.” After an initial surprised jump, Jenna didn’t even bother turning around, recognizing the voice and not caring too much for it. “What, not feeling too good today? Break a nail or something? No, wait, I know – you found another frog prince!”
At that last jibe, Jenna straightened indignantly, “That’s low Garrett! It was a frog prince! I didn’t know he’d deserved to be a frog when I found him, I just thought he needed help!” Garrett sniggered and Jenna turned her attention back to cleaning off the filth at a small tub in the corner, irritated at letting Garrett get to her. She scrambled past Garrett, who was leaning against the doorway (or more accurately, taking up most of the doorway – He’s a big bear of a man, Jenna mused) and dashed up the stairs to where the wizards were meeting. They’d want to know about the tall man in the park as soon as possible…