Victoria Station wasn't much better. The cab sidled to the front of the gothic exterior and got in line behind a long row of identical looking taxis, all driven by similarly complexioned men. Todd and Katrina wrestled their bags from the trunk of the cab into the cavernous and sickly lit main hall of the station.
While Heathrow was crowded, it was at least orderly. People of every nationality rushed this way and that, but always to get in line—for the Tube Station or airport security or to sample the new cinnamon pretzels. Here, it was complete madness.
Throngs of people criss-crossed the hall in dozens of directions. Police officers moved calmly in between; large boulders moving slowly in a rushing stream. Occasional homeless people with wide, blue eyes got an even larger berth. Londoners, and they were easy to spot as they were the only ones not actually moving, loitered in front of the only pub, or leered over the nude models in the daily newspaper and the occasional tourist. Todd moved a little closer to Katrina.
The whole place gave him the impression of a living organism. A terrible, mysterious creature whose inner-workings had not yet been understood. And he had just been swallowed whole. It was hard to believe that a country as crowded, as bustling, and hectic as this could house anything spectral or nightmarish as a werewolf. If even the idea of a lonely moonlit moor was a complete fantasy, too.
"Uh," was all he could manage.
"What time is it?" Katrina asked. She didn't wear a watch. Todd speculated that being beautiful meant never having to own a timepiece or a cigarette lighter or, and he said this without resentment, money. Certainly, there was no shortage of people just dying to give Katrina the time of day, but it was Todd who'd she chosen to rely on. That had to mean something.
"Our train's in twenty minutes. Better ask for help. If we miss it, we shan't get out of London. The next one's not until tomorrow."
That might not be the worst thing. London probably had nice hotels. And didn't his uncle say something about a Ritz and a wonderful place to eat pancakes with whipped cream near the British museum? Certainly a walk along the Strand lent itself more to an impromptu kiss than picking burrs out of your ass in a glorified meadow. But Katrina's pleading look told him that wasn't an option.
Todd searched the room. "There's a policeman over there." He gestured past a Norwegian tour group wearing plastic Viking helmets. He reached out to take her hand.
"I'll wait here," she said.
"But…" was all Todd managed. Claude once explained that you couldn't leave a pretty girl alone in a public place for longer than two seconds before some other guy would start chatting her up. The prettier the girl, the less time you could leave her by herself. Katrina, he figured, was about a one second kind of girl. So whenever she consented to being seen anywhere in public with Todd, he always swore off liquids for at least four hours beforehand. And, if for any reason, she had to go potty, he escorted her all the way to the door and back again. Better to date an uggo, Claude told him. You can go to the bathroom, comb your hair, and have time to pick up a pack of gum before you have to get back. But you do have to get back. Because eventually, someone's gonna be desperate enough to want to nail her, too.
"Come with," he said, trying to make hurdling a bunch of drunken Norwegians acting exactly like a bunch of drunken Vikings sound appealing.
"I'm feeling a little flush," she said and fanned her perfectly white cheeks.
All that walking to and from the cab, Todd thought sourly. Or watching me carry your luggage. But he could see she wasn't budging. "All right. Stay here." He pointed to the ground for emphasis. "Watch the bags," he added, and gave his black Samsonite a look that said 'don't let anyone fuck her while I'm gone.'
To get past the Norwegians, he had to agree to downing two shots of a strange liquor that tasted exactly like dead fish and to give a sample of his best roar. By that time, the cop had moved on to sit sternly near the bathroom door and there wasn't anyone else helpful looking in sight. But from this new spot on the concourse, he spotted the train schedule, found the track they were supposed to be on, and even spied the exit that would take them to their train.
He sprinted back to Katrina who was, of course, talking to someone taller and much better looking than Todd and who was somehow successfully dressed in a pair of black of leather pants. Todd tried on a pair once. He looked and felt like a cow who'd suddenly lost 100 pounds and whose skin hadn't quite caught up yet. He hated this man instantly.
"That's so funny!" Katrina said and twirled a strand of honey-gold hair.
"I found the train," Todd said, ignoring the guy. "We better hurry." He put a huge emphasis on the We.
"Oh Todd, this is Colin. He's from London," she said, like it was some place magical. Like you couldn't swing a dead cat and hit twenty other douchebags with faux hawks from London right now.
"Oi," the man said and gave Todd the universal douchebag acknowledgement—a head nod.
"Oi," Todd said back and then took Katrina's arm. "C'mon. We've only got ten minutes."
"Good news. Colin's heading up North, too. He said he could drive us."
"Don't know if we're all going to fit, love. My Beamer is just a two-seater."
Of course it is, Todd thought and he realized something about Katrina. She didn't just seek danger. She attracted it. A trip to the English moors, sure. A ride with a stranger in a foreign country, why not!
"Is it convertible?" she asked.
"Whatever you like, pigeon." Colin winked. When Todd tried winking once, the girl asked if he was having a stroke.
"Would you mind if I went with him?" she asked Todd.
"What?" He couldn't even believe she was asking that. Not that he'd ever hold it over her, but he paid for the whole damn trip. He wasn't expecting a lap dance or anything in return, but it would've been nice, he thought, if she actually stayed with him.
"It's just, public transportation, you know. It's so gauche."
Todd gnashed his teeth together. No, he didn't know what gauche meant and he suspected that Katrina didn't either. If Katrina was incapable of protecting herself, well then he'd just have to be that much more vigilant. He tried another tactic. "You don't even know this guy. I'm not going to let you just wander off with some stranger." He dropped his voice to a whisper, but loud enough that Colin could still hear. "He could be a serial killer or something."
"All the serial killers are from America, mate." And in that last word, Todd heard a distinct warning. "Maybe," Colin said turning to Katrina, "I should be worried about you." And he poked her playfully in the stomach. "You wouldn't try to be luring a poor bloke out to the middle of nowhere to have his way with him, would ya?"
Katrina squealed and playfully hit his arm. Todd held back the urge to be sick. That little poke to Katrina's belly was farther than Todd had gotten in almost eight months of pursuit.
"Please," Katrina said then looked imploringly at him and he knew he had already lost. At least she asked, he thought softening. He snuck a glance at Colin. There was triumph on his face.
"Fine," Todd said.
"Yay, thank you!" Katrina threw his arms around his neck. "I'll meet you in Chatterton. At the pub."
"Chatterton? What the hell are you going there for?"
Katrina and Todd turned to look at Colin. He had stopped midway in the process of picking up Katrina's bag. His pasty British face looked a few shades pastier. "Is this a fucking joke?"
"No," Katrina said and she exchanged a look with Todd. "We're going to find Peter—"
"There's fuck all in Chatterton," he said. "Go somewhere else." And the way he said it, it wasn't a suggestion.
"That's where we're going," Katrina said and she turned the full effect of her green eyes and crossed arms at him. Todd almost felt sorry for the poor bastard. In a minute, he was going to be licking her shoes and begging to carry her there on his back.
But 'the look' had no effect on him. He threw the bag back down. "Forget it. No bird is worth going there." He looked at Todd. "Do yourself a favor, mate," and this time he said it as a plea, "Go to Newcastle. There's plenty of slags up there who'll give you the time of day and they won't go dragging you off to fucking Chatterton."
He left muttering to himself about listening to his mom more and finding a nice, boring English girl.
Todd and Katrina exchanged a look then he glanced at his watch. The train would be leaving in five minutes. He could see indecision on her face. If ever there was a time to get out of this trip, it was right now. They could be at the Ritz in less than an hour.
But just then one of the Norwegians threw back his head and let out a long howl. It echoed across the main hall and for just a few seconds seemed to silence the entire station.
Todd and Katrina exchanged a nervous laugh. "We better get going," he said and he reached down to pick up Katrina's bag.
"I got it," she said and smiled weakly at him. And he led her towards the platform, the faint echo of the wolf howl, soon giving way to the high pitch scream of the train's mournful whistle.