DeepSeaElkFish

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59. Bench

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Davy, Connie, Steve, and Olivia sat next to each other on a bench in front of the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory. Their excitement for ice cream earlier had been suppressed the moment they remembered that Consecration Tony owned the ice cream shop and was likely feeding them undisclosed neural agents. None of them felt like eating ice cream, but they hadn’t reached the point where they felt like getting something that wasn’t ice cream. So they sat on the bench indecisively.

Davy could see the river from the bench. He watched as one of the tour boats floated by. The tour guide’s voice was faintly audible from this distance.

“…and no trip to Sangre Dios is complete without a visit to the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory.”

Davy felt like the world has certainly become a lot stranger in the last few weeks. He wouldn’t argue if someone told him that he found law school boring and that maybe he was looking for a way out. But he never would have predicted that this way out would have taken the form of a magic door leading to a possum lady. Or that the aforementioned possum lady would send him on a quest to save the world from an evil corporate alligator.

Or that his journey would take him through an underwhelming, yet still somewhat endearing Hideous House of Horrors; a city currently under siege by a cabal of outrageous super villains, including a librarian, a narwhal man, and a crazy lady who believed nuns to be the epitome of high fashion; and into an odyssey through his own mind as part of a plan to thwart a gang of deluded reference humor fanatics.

He also never would have expected to be joined in his quest by his oldest friend who was still insisting to everyone that he was actually an astronaut, a multi-million-year-old superhero who could generate and manipulate her own biological structure, and whoever Connie was. Davy realized he still didn’t know much about her, but he did recently learn she could use a sword, which was pretty cool.

He also hadn’t expected that he would live in a world where a city he once knew well was now apparently being brainwashed by an ice cream parlor owned by an anthropomorphic lizard who somehow was also one of the good guys.

Davy smiled to himself. This was more interesting than law school, that was for sure.

He felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out and saw a text message from an unknown number.

LAdy guT piossun heRe

Comeinside ICE crewam pRlor

Davy shrugged. “Guys,” he said to the others. “Lady Gut Possum wants us to go inside.”

“You got it, buddy,” Olivia replied, jumping to her feet. The four of them got up and entered the Very Dairy Ice Cream factory.

The parlor was empty once again, except for Lady Gut Possum who stood behind the counter. She didn’t waste any time as she saw the group arrive.

“Do you know your city called Bowie?” she asked Davy.

“The state capital?” Davy replied. “Yeah, it’s not far from here. Maybe about an hour’s drive to the north.”

Lady Gut Possum nodded. “We believe your next artifact is there,” she said. “I have learned that there is some kind of exposition that will be taking place there.”

“You mean Cloud Connection 20XX?” Steve interrupted excitedly. “That’s one of the biggest tech expos of the year! All the tech companies will be there! And I guess they do movie and music stuff too. But most importantly, I did read that WorkLyfe will be there!”

Lady Gut Possum didn’t seem to understand or necessarily care about any of what Steve said. “Your friend is likely correct,” she said. “But please exercise caution. The next artifact is apparently there, but it’s nature eludes us. We are not familiar with this artifact, nor with the form it takes or what powers if bestows to its holder. We do have reason to believe, however, that it is currently in the hands of an agent of the Grumblegator. We also believe that Grumble Industries Incorporated itself may have a presence at this exposition.”

Connie appeared to think this over. “So just so we’re clear, you’re basically asking us to attend one of the premiere tech/media events in the country and to keep our eyes open for an artifact and probably the Grumblegator?”

Lady Gut Possum nodded. “Yes,” she answered.

Connie laughed. “Lady Gut Possum, you can count on us,” she replied.

“This sounds exciting,” Olivia chirped. “I don’t think I’ll have been around so many people before.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Steve confidently responded. “These are my people. I can lead you all to the next artifact, no problem.”

“I hope your confidence does not waver,” Lady Gut Possum stated. “Your task will only become more challenging. But I believe the four of you have what it takes to persevere.”

And with that, Lady Gut Possum seemed to disappear in thin air.

The door behind the counter opened and Consecration Tony poke his head out. “You look like you require sustenance,” he stated. “Enjoy some ice cream for your delight!”

Lady Gut Possum promptly reappeared and shoved Consecration Tony back through the door and locked it. She looked at the four. “I am afraid I must ask you to refrain from eating any more ice cream on your journey,” she said. “Consecration Tony may be aiding our efforts, but frankly, well, I don’t like the bastard.”

And in another moment, she was gone again.

Davy turned to his friends. “Okay,” he said. “That was a lot of information. But I guess we know where we’re going.”

Olivia seemed excited. “We’re going to the big city!” she exclaimed.

“Olivia, you are going to have the time of your life,” Connie added. “I cannot wait to see what kind of antics we get into next.”

“And I can’t wait to meet the geniuses behind WorkLyfe,” Steve said. “I know for a fact that this is going to be awesome.”

The three of them looked to Davy. “So what do you think,” Steve said. “You ready to go?”

“Yeah boss,” Connie added. “We’re right behind you.”

Davy was caught a little off guard. His friends were looking to him for guidance. Had he really grown into a leader? Davy didn’t feel like a leader, but they were still in the early stages of their quest, maybe if he pretended he knew what he was doing, he would eventually learn how to actually be a leader.

“Sure,” he answered. “I’m ready to go.” It was difficult, but Davy also tried to speak from the heart for a second. “And I can’t think of a group of people I’d rather have travel with me than you guys.”

Olivia smiled as her eyes went wide. “Aww Davy,” she said. “That’s so cheesy.” She gave him a hug. “But that’s why we love you, buddy.”

Davy was feeling weirdly optimistic about whatever experiences stood ahead of him. He had accomplished a lot already, and was feeling good about himself. He had friends who had his back and together, they could achieve anything.

The group’s feel-good moment was interrupted by pounding on the door behind the counter. The door shook as Consecration Tony began hitting it from the other side. Davy could hear Consecration Tony shouting through the door in his unnervingly loud and friendly voice.

“ICE CREAM! YOU ALL APPRECIATE THE ICE CREAM!”

Davy didn’t want to be in this building anymore. “Let’s get out of here, guys,” he whispered.

“Yeah, this just got really creepy,” Connie replied.

The four of them snuck out of the Very Dairy Ice Cream Factory as the reptilian owner of the establishment continued to pound away at the door.

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