An excerpt from the first chapter of Iron Thirst. Felicity, Mike, and Christian arrive at DragonCon in Atlanta, GA.
To get our ID badges, we wait in a line that looks like a mighty rainbow-colored python coiling around the large building. Well, a rainbow with lots of black in it. It slithers along as each person gives their name to the gatekeeper to get their pass. After nearly three hours of shifting from foot to foot, we finally gain entrance into this magical land.
We find a corner to sit and begin taking in the thirty-seven page program that lists the events, exhibits, parties, and other things that there are to do at DragonCon. Each of us flips through our copy searching for things of interest to us. There is so much to take in, and I must admit I am overwhelmed and out of my element.
“They have a class on how to survive a zombie attack,” Mike says sarcastically.
“Really, when?” Christian asks.
Mike turns to me. “I was kidding.”
I toss my head back and laugh. Poor Mike has no idea what he has gotten himself into. After continuing to look through the program, I find something of interest to me. “Hey, Nancy Leigh Johnston will be doing a lecture on how she came up with the premise for her latest book. That will be awesome.”
“Guys, they have real live wrestling,” Mike says.
“Isn’t that an oxymoron?” I laugh and a snort slips through my nose.
“You’re the moron,” Mike retorts, making a snorting noise back at me.
“Why don’t we walk around for a bit and get our bearings?” Christian suggests.
We all agree. Tossing the programs into Christian’s backpack, we head off to explore.
Con takes place in four hotels over four days. Two of the hotels are attached to a large mall by a cylindrical glass tunnel that stretches over the streets below. People move between the buildings like hamsters through the tubes. The other two hotels are within walking distance. It is so simple to get confused between them. Even easier to get completely turned around, which only adds to the adventure and mystery.
After much walking and exploring, Christian pulls the program from his backpack. He walks over to a bench to sit down. My feet thank him, and I follow. Mike looks back at me with a grin and then struts towards a woman wearing a bikini made of chainmail. The tiny chinks of metal barely cover her, but no critical flesh is exposed.
“So what’s next, party leader?” I ask, sitting down next to Christian.
“I’m not sure. I don’t really have anything planned until later this afternoon. Did you see something you wanted to check out?” he asks, passing me the booklet.
“I want to go back to the art room, but I think we will need to leave that one somewhere first.” I point to Mike.
Christian laughs. His stomach growls loud enough that I can hear it. “I’m getting hungry,” he says, grabbing his tummy to quiet it down.
“Me too. What is Mike doing?” I lean to the side to get a better look.
Mike is fiddling with the pieces of metal on the woman’s outfit while talking to her. She is smiling uncomfortably, then suddenly, is smiling no longer.
Christian stands to see what I’m looking at right when a large man with hair down to his waist approaches Mike. He is carrying a golden shield and wearing leather armor. We could divide him in half and make two people; he is that big. But judging by the expression on his face, Mike is the one in danger of being torn in half.
“Uh oh,” says Christian, walking towards them.
“Is there a reason you are touching my wife?” asks the voice equally as large as the man.
“I was admiring the craftsmanship,” says Mike, “Did you make this?”
“Hands off, or you will be one with the pavement.”
“Look, there’s no reason to be a jerk,” he says, retrieving the offending hand from the silver armor.
“Your chick is hot, but I was just looking at how the damn thing was made.” His feet aren’t moving, but he is beginning to tap dance. A poor attempt to save his hide.
The man’s chest gets wider. I didn’t think that was possible. Christian steps in front of our friend, the moron, and pushes him the other direction, adding, “We were leaving. Sorry for the trouble.”
The man turns his back, leaving Mike upright and in one piece.
“Dammit, dude. I’m telling you right here and now, that was it. That’s your get out of jail free card.
The next time you are on your own. You will just have to get pounded into the ground,” Christian says, his face a splotchy red.
“What? His woman’s running around wearing that, and he’s mad at me?”
“Dude, you were sticking your fingers through the chains.”
Mike laughs. “Yeah, she let me. This place is awesome.”
I let out a heavy sigh. “Let’s go eat.”
We take one of the glass walkways over to the mall.
The food court at Peachtree Center is so surreal during DragonCon. We pass two women dressed as leaders of an empire getting their shoes shined, and we giggle like children.
We split up, and each of us picks a place to grab our choice of food. My taste buds decide that I’ll be having stir-fry on a bed of white rice. I’m on my way back to the table with my red tray, when I feel a crunch under my boot.
A young man with a pipe says in a faint English accent, “Love, I’m the only one that stands on my feet. Off.”
His hair is but a shadow on his head, like he is waiting for it to sprout. He’s tall, slender, cute, but obviously obnoxious.
I blush and stammer, “I’m…I’m terribly sorry.”
“It’s alright, love. We can’t all watch where we are going.”
I can’t help but laugh. At this rate, either clumsiness or stupidity is going to get us in a world of trouble.