Xenofreak Nation

Xenofreak Nation by Melissa Conway

Book: Xenofreak Nation by Melissa Conway Read Free Book Online
Authors: Melissa Conway
them to attempt countermeasures. Dr. Fournier, however, is the most paranoid person I’ve ever met.”
    Scott looked at the capsules in his hand suspiciously. “So the antacid will disable the transmitters?”
    “No, just weaken them enough so the radio pulses can only be picked up when we’re close to a receiver. Mostly, they’re located on cell towers, so easily avoided.”
    “Wow,” he said. Unbidden, the memory of Bryn being subdued by Nurses Vonda and Nancy came to mind. They’d given her a shot of something that calmed her significantly and then coaxed her to swallow some pills. They’d initiated Dr. Fournier’s ‘countermeasures’ right in front of Scott and he’d been none the wiser.
    When they got on the bus, the driver didn’t so much as glance their way. There weren’t very many passengers this time of day, and the few that were on the bus were either snoozing or had their heads buried in holoreaders. They rode that bus, took the subway and then got on a few other buses until debarking on Coney Island.
    After Poppy, a powerful category four hurricane that dealt Long Island a direct blow in 2020, the already seedy Coney Island underwent a drastic change for the worse. Poppy didn’t discriminate. She wiped out public housing and rich communities alike. Tourist attractions that had been there for more than a century were flattened. Many businesses were destroyed, and others moved elsewhere as the neighborhoods failed to regenerate. The stadium that housed the popular Brooklyn Cyclones had collapsed from the flooding, and the city, beleaguered with the cost of reinstating basic services everywhere, had temporarily condemned it. Temporary had become permanent, at least until funding sources manifested, and in this economy, that wasn’t likely any time soon. The XBestia gang moved in.
    “They will look for us here,” Padme said. They were standing on an intact section of the boardwalk south of the stadium, looking out at the ocean.
    Scott made a scoffing sound. “Probably won’t have to. As soon as they offer a reward, we’re done.”
    “I know a place we can stay. For now.”
    He gave her a thoughtful look. “We?”
    She shrugged. “You can accompany me or not.”
    “Why don’t you stay with Lupus?”
    “He would not allow me to endanger him. When he deems it safe, he will find me.”
    It was cooler along the shore, so their hoods weren’t so out of place. Despite the island’s deservedly bad reputation, people were safe enough in broad daylight and still came to the beach. Four teenagers were playing volleyball and a family of six was building a sand castle nearby. Scott walked with Padme quite a ways before she turned toward an unprepossessing burger joint. The words ‘Bluto’s Last Stand’ were spray-painted in graffiti urban-art on the weatherworn exterior. A wooden sign with a grimacing, bearded cartoon character holding a blackboard stood near the door. The special of the day, a Bluto Burger and fries, was printed on the blackboard in white chalk.
    Despite the laws prohibiting smoking in public establishments, the dark interior reeked of tobacco. The place was nearly empty; the only customers sat at the bar drinking even though it was just past mid-day. He suspected the two rough-looking men were xeno and probably XBestia, but didn’t spot any obvious alterations. The only waitress hollered out to them to take a seat. Padme chose a booth along the west wall. Scott expected the table to be sticky and wasn’t disappointed.
    The waitress scurried over and wiped the table down with a rag that looked and smelled like she’d found it wrapped around a garbage truck axle. She was a tiny thing with streaked blonde hair and a pointy nose. Her nametag read, ‘Mouse.’
    “Sorry ‘bout that,” she said, pulling two menus out from under her arm. Before she set them down, she took a closer look at their faces and said quietly, “You folks look a little out of place. There’s a café a

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