Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Sine Animus" -- Installment Five

Ami rematerialized in what seemed like an otherworld compared to where she had been. The clouds overhead shed their rain on the desolate land. A single road stretched in either direction as far as the eye could see. Looking around at the nothingness, Ami felt unbearable alone. This was definitely nother city; it seemed to be more of an alternate dimension. But she couldn't say for sure. She vowed never to push all the tele-pad buttons simultaneously again, no matter who was chasing her.

She wished Laia were with her; she'd know what to do, or would she? Wait until she hears about this,Ami thought. I bet she'll never say the boogeyman isn't real again.

As thunder rocked the earth, Ami frantically scanned the horizon; the rain still came down in fat drops on her uncovered head. Seeing that the coast was clear and no cars were coming, she quickly crossed the street, scrupulously avoiding puddles as she ran.

Walking about a quarter mile, Ami spotted a small diner on the side of the road. At first glance, she thought the place looked greasy and deserted, but a clap of imposing thunder shattered her nerves and urged her inside it anyway.

Wringing out her hair and wiping her feet on the threadbare welcome mat, Ami sat at a stool, noticing that she and a man viewing a compu-cast in the corner of the diner were the only patrons in the place. She tried to settle down, ordering coffee.

As Ami sipped the coffee gingerly, the owner of the diner wiped his hands on his oily apron. "You okay, missy?"

Ami shook her head as she explained her predicament. No, she wasn't okay. She'd been running in the oppressive rain for what seemed like an eternity. When the owner asked her why she'd been running, she shuddered noisily.

"Mister...have you ever had the feeling that you're being...followed?" At this, the man in the corner looked up from his compu-cast as if intrigued.

The owner guffawed loudly. "No'm, can't say that I have." Ami, however, barely heard this response. She was brooding over her coffee, wishing the day were over, that she was back at home, at work, or at least not in the middle of nowhere.

As she paid for the coffee, the diner owner tried to cheer her up to no avail. He looked at the change she had given him. "You're short a nickel. And why such a long face? You can't be walking around mopin' all the time, even if ya do feel like someone's watching." He looked pointedly at her as she fished a nickel out of her purse. "It's that daggum govinment that's doing it to you. They find out so much about ever'thin' and they makes ya feel paranoid. Don't worry; whatever ya goin' through's just a bad dream. It'll all go away."

"Sure," she retorted. She drained the last of her coffee. "If only I had been at work today. My boss made me take a day off; he said I was working too hard."

He scratched his grisly hair, pondering her statement. "Maybe ya were. You're much too young ta be worried about workin'. Ya need to enjoy life a tad, wake up and smell the coffee. Leave workin' for da old folk like me. Life's too short ta let the govinment getcha all messed up. What can I do for ya, sir?"

Ami, surprised at the owner's abrupt change in subject, turned around to see to whom he'd been speaking. It was the person from the corner. "Excuse me," she said as she walked past him and to the door. She turned to thank the man for the coffee and the good advice. It was then that his blood red eyes locked on to hers. With a gasp, Ami bolted out of the diner. She heard the owner yell, "Daggum govinment got you all uptight, yessir."

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