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5. Van

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The woman’s name was Consuela.

“Oh, most people call me Consuela, but you two can call me Connie,” she told them as they left the restaurant. She led the way down the street while Davy and Steve followed behind.

Davy was still not on board with this. “All I’m saying is that this woman comes into our restaurant and just happens to have the exact mythical artifact of unspecified power that we’re looking for,” Davy whispered to Steve. “I mean, you don’t think any of that is suspicious? Like, at all?”

“But that’s exactly why I’m following her,” Steve replied. “It’s like, great forces of magic and junk sent her to aid in our quest.”

“But that kind of unrealistic coincidence is exactly the kind of cliché you were complaining about when I first saw you,” Davy countered.

Steve attempted to backpedal. “Yeah, I totally called that. But, you know, I’m just going with the flow is all.” Steve pulled out his phone and began browsing the web. It was clear that he was done talking.

Davy felt like shifting the conversation to their huckster friend in front of them. She had long black hair, tied up in a single braid. This was the best description Davy could think of due to an unimpressive knowledge of different hairstyles. She also wore a brown leather jacket and boots. “So, Connie,” he asked. Where are you from?”

Connie grinned, while continuing to look forward. “That’s not important.”

Davy wasn’t willing to let the conversation die just yet. “Oh, okay. So, Connie. What do you do for a living?”

“Oh, I work here in the city.” She continued to smile.

“That’s nice,” Davy replied. “Where do you work?”

“Oh, just over there.” Connie pointed behind her and to the side without averting her forward gaze.

Davy looked in the direction Connie pointed. “Hey, Connie. That’s a tree. You pointed at a big oak tree.”

Connie continued to smile and look ahead, though doing so required a little more effort. “Yes, that’s where I work.”

“You work at a tree?”

Connie’s pace quickened very slightly. “Yes, that is where I work.”

“You work at a tree?”

Connie paused. “Yes.”

Davy was starting to enjoy himself. “So, what do you do at this tree? The tree that you work at?”

“I, I clean it,” Connie replied.

“You clean the tree? The tree that is also your place of work?”


“So you work at a tree. And your job is to clean it? Not to prune it or water it or do any other things people are usually paid to do with trees. Is this right?”

“…Yes. That is my job—oh, look at that, we’re at my van.” Connie hurried them over to a decrepit, blue van parked alongside the street.

Steve put his phone away. “Great, let’s get this artifact!”

“Hold on,” Connie said. “First, I’m going to need the money. You know how it is.”

Davy was about to ask exactly how ‘it’ was when Steve eagerly reached pulled out his wallet and took out a wad of cash.

“Why do you have two hundred dollars in your pocket?” Davy asked?

“Um, how else do you expect me to buy stuff?” Steve scoffed.

Connie grabbed the two hundred dollars from Steve’s hand, counted the bills and put them in her pocket. She then opened the back door of the van, which was full of all sorts of junk. Old furniture, stacks of newspapers, a wooden doghouse, and more dusty objects that neither Davy nor Steve could readily identify. Connie climbed into the van and disappeared into the pile. After a few minutes, she came back, holding a golf club.

She held it out to Davy. “This is it.”

Davy took the golf club. It was covered in a thick layer of indeterminate grime. It was also slightly bent near the head. “This is an old golf club,” he said.

“What!?” Connie shouted apparently to show Davy’s comment was offensive. “No, this is the, uh, Sacred Staff of Mazzainolus Rex. Whomever, um, possesses this staff is endowed with great strength and stuff.”

Davy looked at Steve, whose gaze towards the golf club exhibited untold fascination. Davy looked at the club, then back to Connie.

“Mazzainolus Rex?” he asked.

Connie looked at him squarely. “…Yes.”

“Who is Mazzainolus Rex?”

“Oh, I wish I could tell you, but oh my goodness, would you look at the time, it was great meeting you, but I’ve gotta go, thanks, bye!” In one fluid motion, Connie had made her way into the driver’s seat of the van and drove off. Davy was left holding an old golf club on the side of the street. Steve looked at the golf club again.

“Hey, hold on. I think that’s just an ordinary gold club. Did we get scammed?”

Davy didn’t have time to answer, because as soon as Steve asked the question, they were both ambushed by mutants.


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