Neo Discadia: Rise of the Sewer Rats
“You two are absolutely disgusting.” Erika said
Neo and Johnny both looked at Erika dismayed
Johnny said with his mouth still full “what do you mean?”
“you know what I mean! Why are you dipping your french fries in ice cream?!”
Johnny and Neo looked at their food then back at Erika
“why wouldn't you dip your french fries in ice cream? It’s all going to the same place.” Neo said
“Ewww french fries and ice cream just don't go together. The dry crispy fries juxtaposed with the cold drippy ice cream, I just wasn't meant to be.”
“first of all, where are you going that your fries are dry and crispy? These things are soggy as hell”
“that's even worse!” Erika says
“look, French fries are dry salty, and starchy. Ice cream is wet, sweet, and creamy. French fries and ice cream are the perfect compliments to each other. Sweet and savory all in one.” Neo said
“Hmmmm I wanna try” Wendy said
“Wendy noooooo!” Erika tried to reach for the fry to stop her but it was too late. She had already eaten it. “Mmmmm that IS good”
“and just like that, another covert, am I the only one with taste around here?” Erika said lamenting her suffering.
too far away from the residential buffet, and too hungry to wait until they got home, the gang decided to eat out at one of the chain restaurants in the shopping district.
“So what do you say? You ready to go back” Neo said
“go back? we've barely gotten started!” Johnny said “we've gotta see what this town has to offer”
“I don't know, I'm worried” Neo said
“worried about what?” Johnny said
“you know what” Neo said
“don't you think if they were gonna show up, they would have shown up by now?” Johnny said
“he’s got a point” Erika said “our faces are in the airways, if they were gonna find out, then they probably already have. Which is to say, why haven’t they done anything yet.”
“it’s not like them to do things out in the open. they operate in the shadows. When no one’s looking, when you least expect it, that's when they strike.”
“that, oooooor, they gave up on hunting us down.” Erika said
“Yeah I like that one better” Johnny said
“yeah of course you would” Neo said
“relaaaax Neo, you know what they say, the bigger the party, the less eyes on you.” Johnny said gesturing towards the crowded streets “who’s gonna find us in this ocean?”
Neo let out a sigh. “well… I guess you’re right”
“yay! No more fighting!” Wendy said
“We weren’t fighting! We were merely arguing” Johnny said
“isn’t that just a different form of fighting?” Wendy said
Johnny tried to think of a counter but couldn't find any…
“she’s got you there Johnny boy” Erika said
“whatever! Let’s just go already my butts numb” Johnny said
“yeah, these chairs are not great” Neo said
the gang walked out of the fast food joint into the flowing river that was the city's consumer populace. it was so many people the ambient temperature around them felt like it went up 10o. but it wasn't so dense that they couldn't get around. They just had to squeeze on through every so often. They went from shop to shop looking at all the different styles of clothes and fabrics coming from the Hodge podge of cultural exchange the city went through during the great congregation after the war. When the world ended, governmental infrastructure fell apart. It was chaos. No restriction, regulation, laws nor punishments. The ones remaining no longer held the power and were quickly taken over by bandits outlaws and power-hungry tycoons like Marcus. It was the wild west back then. but as the wide expanse of land was left mostly vacant and civilization spread thin across a massive continent. People started to crowd around the biggest cities as the last beacons of civilization left. And word began to spread of those last bastions of order. Which led to more and more people appearing from the woodworks and making the track to those cities hoping to return to some level of normality. Whatever that means. it was in one of those shops that the sewer rats got recognized…
they burst in breaking away from the ever-growing crowd. With A bell ringing as the door opened, the owner greeted them but the gang didn't hear “it's getting crazy out there. maybe we should start making our way back” Erika said
“what? you too? but there’s so much left to do!” Johnny said
“says you! look at all these bags! I’ve done my shopping! You’re the one that can’t decide on anything!” Erika said
“because I can’t find anything that speaks to me” Johnny said waving his arms around like an Avant guard poet
“I wasn't aware you had Objectum clairvoyance.” Neo said
“that's a made-up word and you know it” Johnny said
“all words are made up” Neo said
“they are?!” Wendy said
“ahem” the store clerk said to get their customer's attention “Welcome! Welcome to my store! I see you’re having difficulties finding something to your liking my good sir. May I be of some assistance?”
“uhhhh yeah sure” Johnny said
“excellent! Come! come right this way” the clerk ushered Johnny away from the group to show him all the different clothes “did you have something particular in mind or just browsing?”
“ummm not sure, nothing specific, but I’ll know when I see it. I want something that screams me, you know?” Johnny said
“I know exactly what you mean sir. I have just the thing” the store clerks said trying to act like what he said wasn't the most unhelpful thing ever. But no problem, He would just have to rely on the intuitive people reading skills he’s honed for years to bring him the perfect outfit.
“how about something like this?” he picked up a rough looking jacket to gauge his reaction like a sort of litmus test
“hmmmmm not quite but I like where your heads at. Maybe a little more colour?” Johnny said
“right away sir!” the clerk diligently ran to find something that would fit that description.
Meanwhile, Erika Neo and Wendy were perusing around looking at all the different clothes on display. Picking them out and making faces to each other to communicate their thoughts. Neo would grab a shirt look at Erika make a face and Erika would do the same right back to say she agreed with his assessment. Some would be faces of approval, some would be faces of disaproval, and others would be plain bewilderment as to how a particular garment came to existence. Wendy looked back and forth between them watching how they interacted and joked around with each other. Once Neo noticed her gaze, he looked onto her to gauge her reaction
“what do you think? pretty badass huh?” Neo said hovering over his chest a brown rugged leather jacket with black patches around the elbows and shoulders with a red stripe along the zipper.
Wendy took one look and couldn't help but smile “I love it! it suits you”
Neo didn't expect such a positive reaction
“Yeah, I think so too” Erika said
Neo looked at the jacket again. trying to see what quality the jacket had that made it suit him. but he couldn't quite point it out
“you think I should get it?” Neo said
“I mean, it’s not like we can’t afford it” Erika said “at the very least you can give it to her when you’re done with it”
Neo looked at Wendy as she was looking through the clothes as well. then down at the jacket in his hands.
“yeah, I think I will.”
Looking at Wendy innocently looking at clothes in public, he couldn't stop thinking about how far they've come... and where they came from... If he had his way, they’d all still be slumming it in the sewers. He’s glad he’s let them take the lead on this. After all they've been through, and all they had to do. seeing Wendy smile without a care in the world, almost made it all worth it. no matter what, he thought, he would make sure Wendy didn't have to go through what they went through.
“where are you at?” Erika said
“what?” Neo said
“your body is here by your mind is a thousand miles away” she said
“oh nothing, I was just thinking”
“you know, I worry about her too.” she said “it’s not like you’re in this alone, we’re a team for a reason. You can rely on us too. you don't have to go at it alone.”
“yeah… I know.” Neo said
“Sometimes it feels like you don't” Erika said. one thing should be made clear. They were not talking about fighting.
“ta-dada-daaaaaaaa” Johnny said coming from around the corner dawning his new threads.
“what… are you wearing?” Erika said
“I know, I know, Amazing isn’t it? Rasheem showed me a tun of pieces but none of them stood out like this one.” he said wearing something that looked like it came straight out of a hip hop music video from the 90’s
all three of the onlookers looked at each other with the same exact face of disproval
“WHAAAAAAAAT???? Well it's fine, you’re not the one that has to wear it”
“yeah you’re right, I have it much worse because I’m the one that has to look at it.” Erika said
“what- ever. I don't need your approval to express myself.” Johnny said
“very well sir, well said. in any case the cost will be this much” Rasheem the clerk showed Johnny to total. Johnny looked at the total… and kept looking. Counting the zeros over and over again to make sure he wasn't mistaken.
“Is this for real? I think you might have two or three too many zeros there”
“nope that's the bill” he said
“WHAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!? BUT WHY SO MUCH?!”
“This is a pre-war item, they’re exceedingly rare and are extremely expensive.” the clerk said
“c’mon Rasheem, pal, can’t you bring the price down just by a little?”
“no way! I have a business to run. A family to feed. I can’t be giving away merchandise for less than they are worth”
“c’mon Johnny just pay the man already, stop haggling.” Neo said
“you wouldn't be saying that if you saw how expensive this was…” Johnny said as he took the cash out of his pocket. He took out 6 bills and then handed over the rest of the stack. Basically cost him his entire earnings.
“Jesus Johnny! Way to save some for later!” Erika said
“you said to pay him!” Johnny said
“I thought you were just being stingy!” Neo said
“ugh, hey I misunderstood, can I-” Johnny began to say but the clerk cut him off
“all transactions are final no take backsies” the clerk said before gleefully making his way to the back to store his months’ worth of profits in his safe.
“oh by the way, how much for this one?” Neo said
“oh that? ehhhh I give it to you for 200.” The clerk said
“200!?!?! Is this some kind of joke?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!” Johnny said
“what? it suits him, and besides, I’m feeling generous!” the clerk said
“was it too much to ask to feel generous with me?” Johnny said to himself on the verge of tears.”
“Think it’s about time we head back…” Neo said placing a hand on Johnny's shoulder
the gang left the store all set and ready to call it a day. they were clasped hand and hand as they tried to make their way out of the shopping district. It was too many people it felt like they couldn't breathe but Wendy more so than everyone else.
“Neo, I cant see anything”
“don't worry Wendy, we're almost out just don't let go of my hand.”
“I’ll try” she said squeezing through the crowd with the rest of them. they were all tired of the crowd and exhausted from the heat. All They wanted to do was get home. The yearning for peace and quiet grew ever stronger. That was… until Neo could no longer feel Wendy’s hands…
"not funny wendy.... wendy?" neo said turning around to see she was no longer there...