Connie stood waiting at the bus station. She had considered bringing a sign with Davy’s name on it, but figured that the Steward would probably recognize her. She was also fairly certain that the Steward still probably believed that she hustled him with the golf club, which might lead to some trust issues. Lady Gut Possum’s bizarre instructions didn’t exactly do wonders for her credibility.
Connie wasn’t worried, though. She had a reliable knack for being able to talk her way out of tough situations.
Davy breathed a sigh of relief as the bus pulled into the station. Nothing had happened on the journey to Sangre Dios. It was strange to be back here, but he was also a little excited to see the city again. As he stepped off the bus, he could honestly say that he was not expecting to see Consuela van der Hupt waiting for him.
She approached the group wide a wide smile. “Well if it isn’t my favorite prophesied savior of the world,” she beamed, vigorously shaking Davy’s hand. She turned to Steve and patted him in the back. “And Steve. My man. How are you doing?”
She turned her sights on Olivia. “And I see you’ve made a new friend.” She extended her hand. “The name’s Consuela van der Hupt. But you can call me Connie.”
Olivia shook Connie’s hand enthusiastically. “Nice to meet you. I’m Olivia St. Bartholomew,” she said. “How do you know Davy?” she asked.
“She gave me my golf club,” Davy interjected, still on the fence about Connie’s reappearance.
“More like sold it to us,” Steve chimed in. “Cost me two hundred dollars. She said it was an artifact.”
“It certainly is,” Connie replied confidently. “And you have to admit, two hundred dollars is a steal. Even a non-magical five-iron of acceptable quality would run you into the upper digits. This golf club is both imbued with ancient power but is just as suited towards a relaxing day on the green.”
Davy nodded. On the one hand, he still wasn’t convinced that Connie was being totally honest about the golf club. On the other hand, this golf club actually had been helpful on his quest so far. Also, on that same hand, Steve paid for the golf club, not him. Davy figured he may as well just continue to roll with it.
“It’s good to see you, Connie,” he said. “What are you doing here in Sangre Dios?”
Connie held up her hand, casually inspecting her fingernails. “Didn’t Lady Gut Possum tell you?” she said. I’m here to join you. I’m your third and final companion, bro.”
Davy nodded. This made about as much sense as anything else he had dealt with so far. He wasn’t sure who else he was expecting to join him. “That’s cool,” he said. “Welcome to the team,” he added. “Or whatever it is that we are.”
Steve wasn’t as sold as Davy. “Hang on a second,” he chimed. “No offense, but we don’t know anything about you. How do we know we can trust you?”
Steve felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and read the notification screen.
Consuela van der Hupt has invited you to join her professional network on WorkLyfe.
“May I just say how impressed I am that a fully-fledged astronaut such as yourself is still so committed to expanding his professional network.”
Steve put his phone back into his pocket. “Well Davy, I’m sold.”
Olivia’s eyes were wide. “Another new friend,” she beamed. “This is gonna be so cool.”
“Oh please,” Connie chuckled. “I’ve heard all about you. “You’re a bona dude superhero. I’m flattered that I get to work with someone as esteemed as you.”
Olivia grinned and turned to Davy. “I like her,” she said. “We’ve got a full team now.”
“So what do we do now?” Davy asked. “We’ve got to track down the next artifact.”
“I completely agree,” Connie replied. “But first come with me.” She signaled the rest of them to follow her as she walked out of the bus station.
As they stepped out of the bus station, Davy looked up at all the lights in the night sky. They were in the middle of downtown Sangre Dios. Connie stopped to let a family taking pictures walk past. Festive music was playing all around them. Davy looked at the colonial Spanish-style architecture all around him and felt warm inside. It was good to be back. Sangre Dios always had a nice, cheerful atmosphere that was a pleasant contrast to the business-oriented tedium of Bayou City.
“Down here,” Connie signaled. She descended a stone staircase across the street.
Davy turned to Steve who didn’t seem quite as enthused to be back here as Davy. “Of course, she would take us there,” he grumbled slightly.
“Where are we going?” Olivia asked.
“You’ll see in a second,” Davy answered. “I like it.” He thought to himself for a second. “Have you been to this city before?”
Olivia shook her head. “I haven’t been outside of Heaven’s Head for, um…” She was silent for a second. “One or two centuries.”
“Oh, okay,” Davy said. He figured now was not the time to follow up on this.
They had reached the bottom of the staircase and we’re now facing the Sangre Dios Historic River Plaza. Connie was standing on the concrete bank in front of a tour boat. “Come on,” she said. “Who wants a tour?”
“Yeah!” Olivia shouted. She leapt onto the boat and planted herself on a red leather seat next to a large older woman clutching a camera.
Davy planted himself next to Olivia. Steve followed suit and sat next to Davy. “Come on, you got to be a little excited to be back,” Davy said. “It’s like we’re back in college.”
“I guess,” Steve said. “It’s just kind of schlocky, you know? The music, the parties, and stuff?”
Connie sat down next to Steve. She looked down at the other three and grinned. “Sangre Dios is the tourist capitol of the state,” she said. “We gotta take part in at least some of the attractions while we’re here.”
The tour boat blew a horn as it chugged away from the edge of the river. “Welcome to the Sangre Dios Historic River Tour,” a large man standing on the front of the boat announced through his microphone. “Today we will take you on a tour of our city’s river plaza. We’ll see some sights and learn about the history of Sangre Dios.”
The tour guide gestured to his side. “On the left, you will see a statue of Marcos Villanueva, who according to legend, founded the city in the 16th Century after killing a giant who lived in the area, as well as the giant’s family. To the right is a Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory. With one hundred and twenty-two available flavors, no trip to Sangre Dios is complete without a trip to Very Dairy.”
Connie leaned over and whispered to Davy. “This city is full of amusement parks,” she said. “Imagine the opportunities once you’re done with this quest. You could have an entire theme park based on your adventures.”
Steve perked up at the possible business opportunity. “I can see it now,” he said. “In the middle of the park is a centerpiece attraction. A ride that takes guests through scenes of your exploits. It will be called ‘Davy’s Endocrine Adventures. Presented by Steve.'”
“That sounds really stupid,” Davy said. “I don’t think I deserve an entire theme park. Besides, wouldn’t that be schlocky?”
“It can be as schlocky as it needs to be as long as we’re the ones profiting off of it,” Steve stated.
“I like the way you think, Steve,” Connie chimed. “I think we’re going to get along just fine.”
“I would go to a theme park based on us,” Olivia chirped. “I’d get a picture with the employee in the ill-fitting full body Night Retcher costume.” Olivia gasped in excitement as a thought came to her mind. “Or maybe I could BE the employee in the ill-fitting full body Night Retcher costume!”
“You would wear a full body costume of yourself?” Davy asked.
“Obviously,” Olivia laughed. “That’s like, double the justice of the regular Night Retcher.”
The boat proceeded towards a mock recreation of what looked like a Mayan pyramid. The river went into a dark space at the base of the pyramid.
The tour guide continued his lecture as the boat entered into the darkness. “Though the Mayan Civilization did not extend anywhere near the city of Sangre Dios, archaeological findings have suggested a separate, scarcely understood civilization may have resided in this area thousands of years ago. To your left, you can see a replica of an ancient tablet thought to have been created by this civilization. The tablet possesses an art style similar to that of the Mayans, but studies suggest this tablet predates the Mayans by centuries.”
Davy looked to the side. Torches illuminated a fake stone wall and highlighted similarly fake stone carvings. Davy had been on this tour before and had seen the carvings but this time there was an unsettling new significance to the scene depicted.
In the tablet, Davy noticed an alligator or crocodile facing off against what he thought looked like a rat. Looking closer, Davy realized this may actually be a possum. Above these two animals was a star-shaped creature. In the center of the star creature was a single eyeball, staring directly at the viewer. Below the alligator and possum were four small people, essentially stick figures.
Davy nudged Steve and pointed at the tablet. “This is weird,” he whispered.
It took a second, but Steve caught on as well. “That’s a little on the nose, wouldn’t you say?”
“Huh?” Davy asked.
“Like it’s completely and very obviously meant to apply to us. There’s Lady Gut Possum. And the Grumblegator. And then there’s the four of us. It’s not subtle at all.”
“So what’s the weird star thing with the eyeball?” Davy asked.
“Who knows,” Steve retorted. “But we’re clearly going to find out at some point.”
Davy knew Steve was right. “Way to take the mysticism out of our quest,” he mumbled.
“It’s what I do,” Steve replied.
The boat exited the pyramid and approached a docking station. “Thank you for joining us on our Sangre Dios Historic River Tour,” he said as the boat pulled up to the concrete. “We hope you enjoyed the tour, and remember, no trip to Sangre Dios is complete without a visit to the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory.”
The four of them gathered next to a bench after they got off the boat. “So you know why I had us go on that tour now?” Connie began. “Let me tell you, I had seen that replica tablet hundreds of times, but then Lady Gut Possum told me to take the tour a few days ago, and what do you know? You could say it was like ‘mind, equals sign, blown.'”
“Well, we still need to come up with plan,” Steve said. “What do we do next?”
“Make a visit to the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory?” Olivia chirped.
“Well, obviously. No trip to Sangre Dios is complete without a visit to the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory,” Steve retorted. “I meant after that.”
“We probably need to learn more about these carvings,” Davy replied. Maybe they will point us to the next artifact.
The group was interrupted by the distant sound of gunshot. They ran up the nearest staircase back up to street level. In front of them was a building; above the door were the words S.D. First National Bank. People were scrambling to get out of the bank.
“What’s going on in there?” Davy asked.
Olivia made circles with her hands and held them in front of her eye like they were a telescope. Her eye extended from her face through her hands as she peered inside.
“It looks like we’ve got a bank robbery on our hands,” she said.