We were all packed and ready by the day we left for the California State Library. Boston Black pulled up in a minibus in the late morning. "All aboard the party bus," he said, banging on the side.
We piled into the bus. It was kind of a weird mode of transportation, but I guess when you're transporting this many people over so far of a distance, you need something fairly roomy. I glanced over at Maggie, who ended up in the seat across from mine. "Hey, Maggie? Um...I guess this is kind of an awkward question, but...are you not in some sort of relationship with Crimson? I mean, I guess I kind of had assumed you were and I shouldn't have, but you guys kind of laughed when I mentioned it on my blog. Why exactly was it so funny?"
She gave me a look. "You're serious?" She started to laugh. "Oh my god, I thought that you were mostly just joking before. I had no idea you were really that dense." She shook her head. "I really don't know whether to laugh or smack you. I mean, can I smack you? Because you're seriously that infuriatingly dense."
"How am--ow!" She leaned across the aisle and slugged my shoulder.
Her rolled her eyes in exasperation. "Oh, madre de dios...Kenny, Crimson's gay. I have no clue how you haven't picked up on that. He's been flirting with you enough. I mean, I'm pretty sure everyone reading your blog's picked up on it, meaning that you're not even catching what it is you're writing down."
"Wait, what? He has? You mean he...?"
"He's probably not serious about it. I mean, he knows that there's no chance of it happening, considering you're asexual."
"Huh? But...I'm straight."
She scoffed. "Coulda fooled me. So he seriously never told you his story?"
"I guess not, no."
"Eh, he'll let you know eventually. But let's address again how incredibly boneheaded and dense you are, shall we?"
Last came up to us at that moment, interrupting her and sparing me a tongue-lashing. "Hey, Kenny, how'd you sleep?"
"Good. No dreams. Not that kind, anyway."
"What's he talking about?" Maggie asked him.
"Oh, that? Yeah, sorry, forgot to bring it up to you guys. Um...the Cold Boy and Wooden Girl are kind of working with the Grotesque now. Trying to kill Kenny in his sleep."
"And you kept this from the rest of us because...?"
Last looked indignant. "Hey, I was busy planning for this trip, okay? I didn't have time to come up with a quick solution. On top of that, I'm not sure there even is a quick solution. It's not like we can monitor his dreams or anything."
"What about rooming with someone?" Maggie suggested.
"Good question. You a light sleeper, Mags?"
"I am, though don't you think Kenny would be a bit more comfortable with you or Crimson?"
"I guess he might, but I've got a really weird sleep schedule and I don't know how heavy or light a sleeper Crimson is."
"Guys? I'm right here; you could just ask me."
"We'll get it figured out later," Last said. "Kenny, get some rest. You've got those bag things under your eyes. You gonna be awake, Mags?"
"I'll keep an eye on him, yeah."
I managed to get some sleep on the trip. I've gotten used to sleeping in moving vehicles. I've done a lot of it in my time on the road. It's uncomfortable, sure, but lots of places to sleep are.
I'm not going to mention when we arrived, since I don't want anyone trying to calculate the distance to the safehouse, but we eventually arrived at the California State Library. Everyone left most of their things on the bus. A few people packed a hidden knife or two, but we went in largely unarmed and out of "character."
"We can't draw attention," Last explained. "A group of LARPers is pretty conspicuous, and we need to be as inconspicuous as possible. We don't want anyone following us."
"Where are we going?" I asked him.
"Libraries are institutions of knowledge," he said. "Even when all the information is digital, there's still something about the term 'library' that's synonymous with learning and information. Because of that, you can technically get to where we need to go from any library if you know how to look, but bigger libraries make it easier."
"And where's that?"
He hushed me and just motioned for me to follow along with the rest of the Masks. "There it is," he said, finally stopping and pointing to a set of shelves labeled "restricted section." He picked up the pace, walking through the shelves without glancing at any of the books. He stopped at an old-looking wooden door at the far wall and opened it. A spiraling stone staircase was behind it, curving down and out of sight. He pulled a flashlight out and turned it on.
"Are you ready to enter the Catacombs, Kenny?" he asked me. "There's a very special someone we need to pay a visit."