My old friend smiled warmly, his words twisting around my icy heart.
Did he intentionally bring me here? I wondered, listening as the motorcycle drove off. I stared at the darkened screen of the frozen laptop, wondering how I got this much wrong about my peers.
How could the two I knew so long be at such odds with each other? Dolus poured two glasses of whiskey and offered one to me.
“You don’t need a drink,” he said. The glass was warm to my touch, and I realized I was still frosted over. Shaking my head, I looked around his frosted apartment and the crazy couple of days I’d had.
I’d ditched the girls after my mountain blizzard explosion and traveled to the USA to see Mayor… l racked my brain trying to recall Dolus’s current alias. Dunlop? Durian? Darnell!
He’d given me a brief of what was going on; his win, his trials, his desperate need to return to good graces with the townspeople. He’d asked me to make a blizzard in this town so he could show his skills in dealing with a crisis. But the Prime of Trickery had been tricked. We’d both been played by the one other entity we’d considered a friend in ancient times.
I wanted to throw icicles at Seth, pin him down and punch him until my hands were seared by the warmth of his blood. I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt him as he’d hurt me.
But Dolus just sat on the couch where Seth had been sitting and quietly sipped his whiskey, He had to have something. He’d have a whole thirteen-step plan just waiting to be enacted. I glanced again at the laptop and then looked at his face, surprised to see that he wasn’t smiling. He was not relaxed.
“So what’s next?” I asked, waiting for him to ask me the questions that would lead me to the plot. The anticipation was coursing through me, and I nearly bounced with excitement as I wanted to see the real Trickster show me his magic. He was always steps ahead, and I had always looked forward to his plots. I picked up the whiskey and smelled it, scrunching my nose. It was a warm liquor. If I drank it, it would burn.
“Everything,” he said simply. I blinked at him twice, trying to reconcile the words, the obvious lie, but also the implication.
“What do you mean we do nothing?” I asked him, the already frosty room dropping a few degrees.
“What would you do?” he asked, sipping the liquor in his glass. “I don’t have to clean up this town, still. It’s not my job.”
“But you, you always have a plan and a scheme ready to go. Seth just blindsided and threatened to out us, and you’re going to do nothing?!”
“Was he wrong, though?” he asked. “I did hurt him, didn’t I? Was this his way to get back at me?” He shrugged and refilled his empty glass. I flicked my hand, freezing his whiskey in the glass. He sighed and placed the heavy glass on the table. I wasn’t waiting for him to make up his mind. I turned on my heel and marched out of his apartment. The door slammed behind me, leaving him to face his own inner monologue. I knew it was childish behaviour, but that was what he brought out in me. I was just so frustrated because he didn’t seem to want to do anything,
I stomped into the blizzard-ravaged city. He really has grown up, hasn’t he? I thought, calming down and struggling to lock away my inner petulant child. I strolled down the main street of the city Dolus currently called home. The snow plows had begun their work clearing the snow I had created. I looked in the shops and cafes, wondering what had drawn him here. Why had he stayed? What had made him change?
A flash of blue and red lights came from behind, and I stopped and turned around. A police vehicle slowly crept along the snow-covered road. I was itching to play now that I had just seen Autolycus and Dolus standoff. I was ready to return to my own mischievous roots and play games with whoever was going to bother me tonight. The vehicle stopped, and the passenger’s side window rolled down.
“Excuse me, Ms Moroz? I’m Detective Foley. Can I ask you a few questions?” The detective from the warehouse fire. He looked me up and down, trying to profile me. I was a twenty-something woman who had just rolled into town a couple of days before a weather crisis and a scandal that still needed to be investigated. Was I his prime suspect?
“Sure! Why not?” I smiled, watching his eyebrows raise. I’d already caught him off guard. I gestured to the cafe across the street. “Is it okay if we chat in there with a cup of coffee?” I asked. He looked over and nodded, quickly parking the car on the mostly empty street.
The cafe was modern, cold, and impersonal, with hard metal chairs, but the coffee smelled delicious. We each got one, and then I followed the detective to a simple two-person table in the corner by the window.
“So what can I do for you, detective?” I asked directly, catching him off guard again.
“Not afraid of being questioned by the police?” he asked back, regaining his composure quickly.
“Should I be afraid of a civil servant? You want something from me, do you not?” I frosted a little but reined it in, smiling as he swallowed hard. It seems he wasn’t used to a lot of questions being asked of him. I supposed he might be tired from dealing with the king of questions.
“First off, I looked you up. Ms Kia Moroz. Meteorologist and climatologist. Works for Divine Weather, a company in Greece that does weather analysis. As a consultant?”
I nodded. “That’s correct.”
“Why are you here?” he asked directly. I stared at him for three seconds, then slowly turned my head and looked out the cafe’s front window.
“It seems like you were quite unprepared for this sudden snowfall. The mayor requested a consult to get updated weather equipment installed to better predict extreme low-pressure systems developing suddenly. I think you call them bomb cyclones. That is probably why I am here.”
His brows furrowed as he tried to piece the information together. I could see the questions burning in his mind as he tried to insert the information given into his logical matrix.
“If you would like to investigate my intentions, I did a quick tour of the local news station yesterday. I signed in as a visitor there and chatted for a while with the local weather forecasters as they showed me the extremely outdated forecasting tools.” I figured if he had looked into who I was, he would have already figured out what I was doing here.
“How do you know the mayor?” he spat out instead. I sipped my coffee and smiled warmly. I let the time pass, watching the gears spin in his head. He tapped his fingers on his cup impatiently but remained quiet.
“Our families are friends that go back forever, and well, he reached out soon after he became mayor.” The lies of omission had me fighting to stop the frost, but what I said was mostly true. I watched as the man’s eyes lit up. His right side twitched upwards, and a tiny smirk appeared on his face.
“That’s favouritism!” he exclaimed. “Reaching out to friends and family to bid on work in the city is illegal!” He clasped his hands as if he had trapped his new mayor in a fresh scandal.
I laughed and saw the goosebumps race up his arms as the temperature dropped a little around us.
“He asked me to come here to consult, not as a contractor. And I am not being paid for this. I came here to see an old family friend and offer my expert opinion as a meteorologist about the type of equipment needed. He would still have to submit my report to the council and get approval… And considering my meeting is scheduled for tomorrow—it’s on the books—I don’t believe there is anything amiss here.” I pulled my business card from my coat pocket. The flash of the silver circle around the snowflake made his eye twinkle when I handed it to him. “My phone number and email if you’d like to talk more or follow up tomorrow.”
“Divine Weather. Weather Prediction from the Gods.” He read it out loud and then laughed.
“This is a Greek company, where—if the tabloids are to be believed—the gods have returned and are supposed to be among humans again. Do you actually believe in the Greek Gods?” he asked, losing all composure. For a strict logical detective, he sure had a hard time keeping a straight face.
I stared at him, waiting for him to stop laughing. “Do you not believe in the gods?” I whispered, doing my best to open my eyes and look scared. “I think my bosses would strike me down if I said I didn’t believe. Truth be told, sir, I’m pretty sure today’s events resulted from a couple of gods fighting in your little town. Poor Mayor Darnell must have said something or done something to anger them. I mean, this blizzard could have been the snow god being angry. If you’re going to blame him for tonight, you might as well blame him for the snowstorm, too.”
He stopped and looked at me, eyebrows raised, trying to discern if I was serious or crazy. Either way, he was having a hard time reconciling it. He wanted not to believe me, but there was nothing to persuade him either way nor could he pursue the investigation of whether his mayor had made a god angry. He was a man of logic, and this was a big test of his everything has an explanation attitude. A little bobcat went by the window, plowing the sidewalk, the flashing lights returning his mind to the present.
“Why would two gods pick a fight in our town?” he asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
“That…is an excellent question.” We sat in silence a little while longer, waiting for one another to break the silence.
“I think you should return home, Ms Moroz.”
“I think I will take you up on that suggestion. Have a great night, detective.” As I passed by the cafe window, the man was turning his cup over, a puzzled look on his face as he tried to figure out how his coffee was now a block of ice.