Over the years, I had been to every noteworthy place on the face of the earth. I mean, with a few millennia to waste and the ability to travel literally anywhere, why wouldn’t I? Some places I liked, some places I despised. Some places I used to like before the wretched humans found them, commercialized them, and turned them into cesspits of tourism and filth. Regardless, there was one place in particular which I think would have to be considered my favorite.
“Scotland?” Damian asked in surprise.
“Scotland,” I confirmed.
Damian looked around at the gloomy, rainy city street. The few people who passed by had their umbrellas up and heads down. No one paid any attention to us, which was good for many reasons. I flipped my collar up to hide as much of my skin as possible and hefted the umbrella a little higher. Damian was still in shock. “We’re in… Scotland.”
“Yes. Glasgow to be specific. What don’t you get about this?” I asked.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact that a minute and a half ago we were sitting at your kitchen table and now we’re in Scotland.”
I shrugged. “Better get used to it. I consider myself cultured. If you thought I’d hang around Wisconsin of all places, then you’re sadly mistaken.”
Heading in a random direction, I started to walk. We needed to find a nice apartment to… borrow. Damian followed behind me, still a little in shock. “What time is it here?”
“Oh, I don’t know… a little after three in the morning probably?” I guessed.
That seemed to satisfy him. “Why didn’t the Nether hurt me passing through?” Damian asked.
“You were only in there for a second or two. It works fast, but not that fast.” I stepped in a puddle and scowled as the cold water seeped through the seams in my stylish dress shoes and down into my socks. “So if you do manage to learn how to travel through the Nether, you better be pretty quick on deciding where you want to go and getting out of there. Just a pro tip.”
We walked a few blocks until we came to an apartment building that seemed nice. Of course, I had no idea whether it was or not, but I decided to take a chance. “We’re staying here for the duration of your training.”
Damian turned to me in surprise. “What? I don’t have clothes or anything.”
“Go buy them,” I said.
“I don’t have money.”
I rolled my eyes. “Do I have to do everything for you?” I asked before sighing. “Fine, I’ll give you money.”
Looking a bit smug, Damian pushed open the door and walked into he lobby. “So do you have a place here or something?”
The smile I gave was half patronizing and half sinister. “I have places everywhere. Wait here.”
It didn’t take long for me to find “my” apartment. Top floor, corner spot, gorgeous wrap around wall of windows? The business man inside didn’t know how lucky he was. But oh well, he should have enjoyed it while he had the time.
“Can I help you?” the pudgy, balding man said as he opened the door.
I smiled. “Yes, you know, I think you can.”
I told you - he was a lucky man. What greater luck is there than to be privileged to have my charming smile as the last thing you see on this earth? None, I tell you. None.
The place was, indeed, nice. The man was either extraordinarily clean or rarely in his apartment; if it was the latter, then he picked a poor day to stop home. The wall of windows provided a nice view over the city, and the hardwood floors and leather furniture made the place seem classy and stylish. I rather liked it. It would be a nice bachelor pad.
There was only one bedroom, but that was fine. Damian could take the couch. I’d probably hear some complaints over that one, but I honestly couldn’t care less.
I didn’t like to drop dead bodies in the Nether for the sole reason that, if I ever returned to that spot, I didn’t want to be stepping over bones and decaying flesh. I kept a clean alternate plane. Therefore, I had my shadows spirit the man up to the roof as I headed back down to the lobby.
“Do you happen to have hand sanitizer on you?” I asked as I approached Damian.
“Shame,” I replied, then pulled a credit card out of my pocket and handed it to Damian. “Here, go crazy, but be back in an hour.”
Damian accepted the thin piece of plastic and squinted at the name on it. “Mr. Higgins?”
“Don’t question it,” I replied. “Now go. When you get back, we’re on the top floor, room 809.”
“Cool,” Damian said, then turned around and walked out. No goodbyes. Perfect.
Before I went upstairs, I slipped through the Nether back to the house in Wisconsin to gather a few very important things. Namely, my kick-ass wardrobe and Mr. Skullcrusher. Nothing else in that house was important, so I burned it down. The Traverses wouldn’t be needing it anymore, after all.
Mr. Skullcrusher and I watched it burn for a bit, and by the time we returned to the apartment in Glasgow, Damian was back. “You left the door unlocked,” he said from the armchair across the room.
“And look what wandered in,” I grumbled. “Good shopping spree?”
“Sure. The only place open was some rip-off of Walmart, though,” Damian said. “Where’d you go?”
I replied casually, “Just had to tie up a loose end.”
“That sounds ominous,” Damian commented.
“So why Scotland?” Damian asked.
I shrugged taking a seat in one of the dining chairs with my back to the window. “Scotland itself isn’t the important part. Glasgow in particular, though, has one major selling feature.”
“The weather,” I answered, gesturing to the window. Rain hit the glass in a steady patter, and the clouds outside were gray and heavy.
Damian rolled his eyes. “Ha ha, very funny. Really, though.”
“Really,” I insisted. “The weather.”
Snapping his fingers, Damian said, “That’s right! I forgot, you like things that are dark and cold and gross like you.”
“Yes, exa- Gross?”
Damian looked pleased with himself.
“Wipe that smirk off your face,” I commanded. “It’s time for me to watch you fail.”