The Eighth Guest

Chapter Five

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)
The Night Light Restaurant hovered like a second moon in the starry sky, sending out beacons of light from the large glass windows. Inside people could be plainly seen as they laughed, danced and generally enjoyed themselves. Tennyson stared out of the car window in awe, his young blue eyes sparkling as if they soaked up the very light of the stars themselves. Beside him sat Tessa, her eyes covered by the one way glasses that protected her pale fragile sight from glare.
Miss Fayre turned in her seat at the front of the car to stare at the building. "How do they make something so big just hang there?"
Peter watched for the garage doors as they flew round the building. "Much like a hoverboard, really, only on a bigger scale; it's all a matter of propulsion."
Tessa grinned in the back. "Who cares as long as it stays up -- and as long as they hold the patents for the mechanism, they can charge high prices for good food and a great view, I just hope it comes quicker this time than it did last time."
Peter turned the car. "It should do; we've got a private room for our party. The plan is dinner there, then move out into the main room for the nightly entertainment; it should be good."
Tessa looked out at the blurred lights in a sea of darkness. "What I'd give to board up there and knock on the windows just once...just once."
Silence hit the car, Tennyson turned and saw the expression of pain flicker across the scarred face, then disappear as quickly as it had come. Taking one of the gloved hands in his, he squeezed it,
Tessa jumped. "Carefully, Tenny, remember my sensors. I've just been told I walked into a wall." Laughing she gave him a hug and turned away from the light.
Holmes and the others had indeed arrived early even after picking up Deidre and Wiggins (thanks to a bit of driving which would have made racing drivers hide in terror), and were waiting by the doors when the sleek green skycar that carried the other half of their party slid in through the airlock and parked. Watson got the chair out of the boot while Holmes and Peter helped Tennyson and Miss Fayre out of the car, Deidre and Wiggins hovered around their friend as they lowered him into his chair. Tessa was the last out, feeling the air about her with her fingers and sliding her feet along the ground so as not to hit herself on the car next to them.
As Peter was busy, Lestrade went to help her, and the smile on her face froze. They had both done something Lestrade thought only happened on TV -- their dresses were nearly exactly the same. Sure, Tessa's dress wasn't as revealing, but it was the same colour with exactly the same glittering pattern.
Tessa started as she felt a hand on her arm. Red filled at least some of her vision; she peered closely and saw the brown hair. "Lestrade, right?"
The hand squeezed her shoulder. "Right, listen."
The ex-skyboarder caught the edge on the voice. "We're twins, aren't we?"
The hand squeezed her shoulder again. "That'll teach me for not phoning round to exchange gossip beforehand. Mind you, I'd rather play snap with you than Holmes, or Watson or Peter for that matter." At the thought of the tight red dress on either of the two men or the droid both woman burst into fits of giggles, Tessa had to cover her mouth to stifle the laughter and Lestrade ended up in a coughing fit. Eventually they regained enough composure to look up. Lestrade met Holmes's steely gaze and collapsed into giggles again, soon followed by Tessa.
As the laughter died away, Tessa dabbed her eyes under the glasses and looked around at the blurs and colours. "Right," she said, moving away from the cars. "Let's see...That must be Deidre." She laid a hand on the girl's shoulder. "Which means you are Wiggins." She laid the other hand on Wiggin's shoulder "Am I right?"
Wiggins nodded. "Yep. Man, how can you tell...I mean!"
Deidre elbowed him in the ribs, Wiggins closed his mouth and blushed with embarrassment, Tessa grinned. "Only nearly blind and not stupid, Wiggins, remember. I've never seen a girl Deidre's age wear black, and men don't normally wear green suits. You have short black hair and she has longer brown hair...the smell of aftershave is also coming from your direction and perfume from hers."
Holmes clapped. "Bravo, Miss Moriarty, a good bit of deduction."
Tessa grinned wider. "That's got to be Holmes, which would be this dark blob here." She laid a hand on Ling's shoulder, and her face immediately fell. Sighing, she stepped closer. "That's you, isn't it, Peter? Holmes doesn't have racer's shoulders."
Ling pulled her into a brief hug and slid his arm round her waist. "Holmes is to my left, Tess."
She sighed again. "Next time I'll have to assign colours like cluedo; black is not a good colour to distinguish between." She sniffed the air. "Restaurant must be this way; I smell food."
"Whurrrr."
Tessa laughed. "Oh, well, two outta three ain't bad. Come on, let's go."
The inside of the restaurant was packed. People swarmed over every table, jammed in like sardines, talking loudly. Tennyson turned down the volume on his hearing aids and Tessa winced at the confusing barrage of noise coming from all directions. Lestrade and Holmes turned the room over with a critical eye while the rest of the party stared. The ceiling and most of the walls were glass, showing the night sky outside, while the floor was lit up with tiny little lights resembling the stars. Each table was bone-coloured cream and illuminated from underneath. The effect was beautiful but disconcerting.
Soon a woman in a dark blue suit bustled over and smiled; the smile flickered on and off of her face as she surveyed the group. "Good evening. My name is Fiona, chief greeter at the Night Light. Can I have your name and reservations, please."
Ling nodded. "Of course. Peter Ling, room four."
She seemed to flinch at the mention of Peter's name but glanced at the electronic notepad cradled in the crook of her arm. Lestrade thought it might just be the strange lighting but the woman seemed to turn pale as she gave a flicker of a smile again. "Ah, yes, the skyboarder. If you would just follow me, please."
Someone in the centre of the room was playing a light keyboard. Breaking the light beams and producing sounds, he seemed to be dancing in a cage of light beams. Holmes stared for a second and then concentrated on the walls. "I have never seen anything like this, Lestrade. The glass must be inches thick to keep out the cold at this altitude."
Fiona seemed to hear him. "Five inches, including the airspaces, sir; the temperature is a constant 24 Celsius inside no matter the weather outside."
"Fascinating!" Holmes watched as a pigeon landed on the ledge outside.
Miss Fayre smiled at the bird. "I'm surprised the birds don't make this their home on the ledges!"
Fiona laughed. "Keep watching, madame."
Slowly a small disc shape made its way level with the bird. For a few seconds it hovered before...snap. A few feathers littered the ledge and the disc slowly descended again. Miss Fayre went pale,
Deidre made a face. "That's horrible. That poor bird."
The greeter shrugged. "It will be put in a holding pen and released in a display at the end of the evening. They would soon become a pest if we let them stay there."
Holmes moved closer to Lestrade. "I wouldn't be surprised if a few of those 'pests' make their way to the kitchens. If I were you, I'd avoid the 'chicken' tonight."
Behind them, Tessa laughed, then stopped and shuddered, Ling leaned in closer. "Tess?"
She shook her head and blinked, before smiling again. "Nothing, just being silly." She frowned and clasped her hands. For a second her fiancÚ could have sworn he heard her mutter, "Oh, God, not tonight, please."

On to Chapter 6!
Back to part 4.
Back to the fanfic index