// ZHOU HOUSE //
It’s a fine late spring evening. A warm haze is forcing the recognition of summer – naked limbs and bellies wander the streets looking for trouble.
One light-haired man doesn’t mind the heat. He wears a dark Mandarin jacket patterned in scarlet and bronzed gold. His blue eyes scan the city bus, eavesdropping beyond Mortal understanding. They do not know who, or what, he is, nor are they able to intrude on his operation. He is a Wasn’t, an Isn’t – an invisible man.
Cedric has ridden this bus before, bound for the limits of Queens. His young charges live beyond the reaches of the subway in the true suburbs of the borough.
Once descended from the vehicle, it is just a short walk to their house. It’s a vibrant green house of three stories located on a wide and bright street. Ahead of Cedric sinks an orange sun, its rays stretching fingers through the row of houses. It is here the Zhou family has found respite.
The door is answered by Seven, a young blonde vampire.
ARE YOU ON DRACULA DAILY?
They step inside the shaded porch.
IT’S AN EMAIL LIST. THEY READ YOU DRACULA IN REAL TIME.
WELL, NOT READ EXACTLY. IT’S A TEXT EMAIL.
I’VE READ THE BOOK.
WELL, IT’S OKAY IF YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED.
I’M JUST HAVING FUN WITH IT.
I JUST READ THE PART WHERE HARKER SEES THE COUNT SCALING THE SIDE OF THE CASTLE LIKE A LIZARD.
PROBABLY LIKE A BAT.
…IS HE DEAD?
Cedric presses his fingertips to his forehead.
THAT’S NOT WHAT I CAME OVER HERE TO TALK ABOUT.
I’LL SHUT UP NOW.
STRAUD HAS A SERVER WITH SOME RESOURCES AND CHAT ROOMS.
IT’S A PRIVATE SORT OF THING. FRIENDS ONLY.
WE CALL IT THE WINTRANET.
WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN JOINING?
WOULD I EVER!
I’M GLAD YOU’RE INTERESTED.
I SPEND SOME TIME AS MODERATOR THERE.
I BROUGHT OVER A SPARE FLASHDRIVE I CONFIGURED FOR YOU.
SHALL WE GO DOWNSTAIRS?
IT’S A FAIRLY SIMPLE SET-UP, YOU JUST DUAL-BOOT OFF THE FLASHDRIVE.
FROM THERE YOU ENTER YOUR CREDENTIALS AND LOG IN.
IT REQUIRES AN INTERNET CONNECTION TO USE ALL BUT THE MOST BASIC FUNCTIONS – A WORD EDITOR FOR EXAMPLE.
BUT YOU’LL HAVE ACCESS TO MILLIONS OF FILES RANGING FROM FINE ART, TO BOOKS AND MOVIES…
DO I HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT SPYWARE?
BY JOINING, YOU’RE EXPRESSING A TRUST IN THE WINTRANET.
DON’T DO ANYTHING I WOULDN’T DO. IT’S STRAUD’S SERVER.
BUT YOU SHOULD NEVER FIND YOURSELF BORED EVER AGAIN.
A STEEP PROMISE, I KNOW, BUT…
THANK YOU, CEDRIC.