Sunday Free Write [Link to post.] (8-12-18)
“Hey,” Dread called Dirge’s attention. The two girls were on their way out of the Schoolyard to Jelly-Jim’s place. “Glory seemed cool.” She wanted to console Dirge but did not know enough about her or Glory to do it effectively. The shorter girl with raven curls nodded silently as they walked through the public square. After they passed through the crowded hub Dirge turned right instead of the left turn Dread expected.
“Did you get lost or is it me? I thought Jelly_Jim’s was that way,” Dread pointed down a stone road to their left.
“Do you remember Glory promoting me to Quartermaster before she died?” Dirge asked. Dread nodded. “She asked me to do something for and I need to get something from her shop to do it.”
“Okay.” Dread nodded and let Dirge lead the way. They walked a few more steps in silence before either of them spoke again.
“She was the first Zero I thought I could be friends with,” Dirge said quietly. “Ballisea said your mom was a Zero, right?”
“Yeah,” Dread nodded. “After I found Ballisea’s orbs, I hoped I’d find my way back home again. Even if I did, it would be to see my dad. My mom wouldn’t have lived that long.” Dirge stopped walking in front of a shop and walked into it. Dread tried to follow her, but any time she tried to cross the threshold nanos formed a barrier to stop her.
“Hey,” she called Dirge. The curly haired girl turned around in the shop surprised to see Dread still outside.
“OH! Sorry, the shop’s still closed,” Dirge said. She brought up a translucent square in front of her and swiped through it a few times. “Okay, try it now,” she said. Dread reach a hand up and pushed it past the door, then the rest of her body stepped inside the shop.
“So she gave you the shop?” Dread asked. She glanced around at all the instruments hanging from the walls and decorating the display table.
“Nah. I don’t have time to run it anyway. But she did ask me to find someone to give it to.” Dirge walked around the sales counter and crouched out of sight to search the lower shelf.
“Whoa. How’re you going to pick?” Dread asked. Dirge rose from behind the counter with a Node in her hand.
“With this!” Dirge inserted the Node into a slot on the sales counter. The surface of the counter vibrated slightly and then changed from sturdy wood to near-invisible smooth glass. Small-print text appeared in rows on the glassy surface. The text stretched from one edge of the counter to the other, and top to bottom. Dread realized the text was a long list of names.
“Is that her friend’s list?” Dread asked, but Dirge smiled and shook her head. She placed a hand on the counter and swiped to her left. The display moved, all the rows of names disappeared to the left while more came in from the right. Dirge swiped it again several times.
“It’s her Zeroes. The Alternet lets Zeroes form a group chat with themselves and she kept their info on this Node.”
“You have to give the shop to one of them? That looks easy, there’re thousands to choose from. We can do that before we go back to Jelly_Jim if you want,” Dread offered, but Dirge shook her head again, still smiling brightly.
“No way, I’m gonna take my time and do it right for her.” Dirge sounded excited. “But, we do need to make a stop before we go back to Jelly_Jim.” Dread shrugged.
“Okay, where to?” Dread asked, but Dirge was already half-way through a pitch black portal. Realizing she wouldn’t get an answer Dread followed her into the dark. She recognized the quaint house waiting for her on the other side.
“UNCLE VEGAS!” Dirge cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled toward the house. After a few seconds a short man with a blue mohawk opened the front door, then the screen door.
“Hey shortcake, why all the fuss?” Dirge dashed from the yard to run up the steps, then she leaped towards Vegas to wrap her arms around him.
“I FOUND MY CARROT!” she yelled while squeezing him. The attack hug caught him by surprise, but he settled into it quickly and returned the hug. They danced back and forth in joy while Dread approached up the steps.
“No foolin’? That’s great!” Vegas smiled at the girl.
“When did you find a carrot?” Dread asked. She did not know what to make of the sudden joy, but she wanted to know why Dirge was so happy. Dirge shook her head.
“Not A carrot. MY carrot. It’s something Vegas taught me, and he made me promise I’d tell him when I found it,” Dirge explained. Dread shrugged and looked at Vegas. He held up a finger to get her to wait, then he stepped inside the house. He returned after several seconds holding a small wooden rod, string, and a carrot. He held the stick up horizontally and the carrot fell partway until it pulled the string taut.
“A carrot on a stick is used to keep animals moving forward.” He held the rod above his head to dangle the carrot in front of his face, then he walked forward trying to bite it. “They’ll never reach it, but they don’t know that. A carrot is something that gets you moving, without worrying about the outcome. My daddy told me that if I found my carrot I’d have a life goal to work towards,” Vegas explained, then he lowered the stick. Dread looked back at Dirge.
“I don’t get it.”
“Might be easier to explain it with an example,” Vegas said. He also turned his attention to Dirge. “You came all this way, what’s your carrot?” Dirge pulled Glory’s Node from her pocket. She held it up to show Dread and smiled at her.
“I want to meet Glory and be friends with her. As many as I can.”