Touma Shimizu

by Luca

Chapter 3

Things did not pan out in this reality following the order vaguely or otherwise that Zachary expected. So they had to consider what to do next, because a meeting with Violetta Cantagalli seemed key to Zachary and Lowerstoff agreed. Touma was still for going to Tokyo with the usb key.

The telephone rang when they were still in bed. It had been a kind of wild night which was evident when the ringing woke up Zachary. Blinking and looking around he grabbed the phone from the wall holder next to the bed. It was at precisely that moment he realised he was not alone in bed. That was okay, but he didn't realise all three of them had slept together. Lowerstoff and Touma were apparently undisturbed by the phone and still sleeping.

"This is the desk clerk at reception," a fresh sounding young male voice announced, "I have a package for you, it's marked urgent. Would you like me to send it up to your room?"

Zachary was slow in replying, distracted by the two bodies lying under the sheets next to him.

"Sir?" the voice asked when there was no answer.

He snapped out of his fuddled head and told the clerk to send it up. Then he got out of bed and found one of the hotel fluffy white dressing gowns to put on. When there was a knock at the door a minute later he had a moment of panic thinking about the package. Was it the drone Lowerstoff had released last time? Only Hamilton would be sending him packages. The thought it might be exactly that almost made him not open the door, but that would be ridiculous having requested it be sent up.

The bell boy smiled as Zachary opened the door and handed him a small package. Relief. It was way to small to be a drone, even a tiny one, it was a flat envelope. Closing the door he took a seat by the dressing table and tore open the envelope. Inside were three tickets to Tangiers.

Touma stirred in the bed across the room and he too looked a little surprised to find himself in in bed next to Lowerstoff.

As he woke up, he sat up and seeing Zachary he whispered, "Did we all sleep together?"

Zachary laughed, quietly, it was just so funny when he thought about it. "I guess we must have," he whispered back.

Leaving the envelope and tickets on the table Zachary stood up and moved to switch on the coffee machine. "Want a coffee," he said, "holding up the jug."

"Please," came the softly spoken reply.

He poured some ground coffee into the filter, shoved the jug in place and switched the machine on. Touma slid out of bed, still half asleep and not realising he was naked. A state of undress that Zachary couldn't help but notice. He tried not to laugh again as Touma scrambled, obviously embarrassed, to find something to put on. Zachary returned his attention to the coffee machine. Still the thought crossed his mind that Touma had nothing he needed to cover up, he was pretty fit, and pretty smooth. All in all a nice eyeful to wake up to any morning.

As he retrieved some coffee cups from the cupboard and started pouring them each a coffee, Lowerstoff finally woke.

"Morning, Low!" Zachary called across the room.

"Not so loud," Lowerstoff replied, rubbing his eyes and his head.

"Coffee?" Zachary added, and poured another cup without waiting for a reply.

He walked over to the bed and handed it to him. Lowerstoff it seemed was the only one of the three who took sharing a bed in his stride, at least he made no comment about them all being together in various states of undress.

Zachary sat down on the edge of the bed and sipped his coffee, a welcome hit of caffeine percolating through his body.

"Hamilton gave us tickets for Morocco," he told them.

"Morocco?" Touma questioned the destination.

Zachary explained that Baragsen was there and reminded him that was who Hamilton wanted them to see and give the usb key to. "Besides," he said, "there is an art festival each year in Asilah, a small town just down the coast from Tangiers. It's where we first went to find Emile. You remember him?"

"Sure," Touma said, "the third guy we escaped the institute with."

"He's an artist, a graffiti artist, which is why we were in Asilah for the festival. As it happens we found him later, or he found us, somewhere else. But he took us to see Sheikh Baragsen."

"Sheikh Baragsen," Touma rolled the name off his tongue.

"Yeah, but that's not important. I kind of think we ought to go there. To Asilah, again. It's a step on the route, and we might find Emile."

"And if we find Emile, we could find Violetta Cantagalli," Lowerstoff interjected.


"How does that work?" Touma asked, a little puzzled.

"Violetta Cantagalli is Emile's mother," Zachary explained the logic.

"I still think we should go to Tokyo," Touma said.

"Later. For now, tomorrow actually, we have a flight to Tangiers."

Zachary had decided.

Hamilton, for whatever reason, had not only provided tickets, but money. When they landed in Tangiers it was 7PM or just after, Zachary made haste for the bureau d'exchange and handed over a wad of notes. As they left the terminal building Lowerstoff went over to negotiate with a taxi driver. Luggage in the trunk, the three boys bundled into the large rear leather bench seat of the old Mercedes. Zachary wound down the window a little and felt the warm evening air on his face.

They didn't bother looking for a better hotel, but went straight along the main street by the kasbah to the one they knew from before. Zachary expected it would be there and it was. The little counter inside the front door had that same surly teenager sitting behind it. If he recognised Zachary and Lowerstoff, he said nothing. He took their passports and handed over the key. The room was on the roof, up two flights of stairs. Zachary didn't remember there being a bedroom there, but there was. One with two double beds accessed off the roof terrace. After they'd dumped there luggage, Lowerstoff and Touma followed Zachary out onto the roof.

"Here we are," Zachary announced, spreading his arms wide.

"I'm hungry," was Lowerstoff's reply, "let's go eat."

The restaurant just outside the kasbah, overlooking the little harbour, was exactly the same. They took a table outside and as they seated themselves the street lights, such as they were, flickered alight. It wasn't dark yet, but it would be soon. The sea was calm the only movement the little waves rolling in towards the beach, the air still without any noticeable breeze.

As they ate their tagine, which was hot and spicy, Zachary reflected on what they should do next.

"That boy at the hotel said we took the last room and he wasn't lying. There was only one key hanging up behind him. The festival starts at the weekend and that will be our best chance to find Emile."

"Zack, Lowerstoff said, "he might not be here."

Zachary smiled. "Always look on the bright side. If he isn't, or we don't find him, we can go to Tokyo, like Touma wanted.

They had finished eating when Zachary noticed, at least he thought he noticed, someone observing them. But when he moved to get a better look the figure had gone.

"Let's not bother with desert," Zachary said, and stood up.

"I was just thinking I'd like something sweet," Lowerstoff told him.

"Shut up, Low!"

Zachary paid the waiter and stepped out into the street. Together they crossed the road and wandered onto the little sandy beach next to the harbour. Small boats, painted blue with red and green bands, fishing nets piled up inside, bobbed up and down gently. The lights from the street reflected off the water. The buzz of the town was behind them, becoming fainter the further they walked towards the sea.

And then a voice called out from next to one of the boats. The voice was soft, but loud enough to be heard. "Zack!"

Zachary turned to face the direction of the boat. Lowerstoff and Touma stopped with him.

"Zack." The voice repeated and a boy revealed himself.

"Oh, wow!" Zachary couldn't believe it.

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