Paper Run

3rd Cycle/242nd Hour/112 Hybrid-Era

I sat with my back to the wall, legs crossed beneath me, on my bed staring down at my datapad. I slowly scrolled through section upon section of convoluted notes detailing the debatably mad doctor’s latest undertaking: passing notes to the alter-plane. My peer, resting on the bunk above, was supposed to be doing the same.

“Listen to this: ‘a thorough investigation following the vein eruption in Middle City Three5 reveals evidence of fowl play and leads to two recently escaped nomad pit fighters. The fighters’ handler reported that the two had gone missing shortly before the eruption. CDF Units are searching for these men and are rewarding any information in regards to their whereabouts.’ They’ve even got a generated rendition of the guys. Look.”

Gebblen shifted in his bunk, his shabby head lowered from the edge and he dropped his datapad on my bed. On the screen, side by side images of computer modeled men based on the descriptions provided. One of the men – the name provided was Warmworm – appeared invariably ill with heavy dark eyes and ashen skin and his scarred shaven head made him look like death warmed over. The other looked much more alive though no less strange: his faintly scaled skin and unruly bush of hair were almost identical in color, a ruddy crimson brown, and for a moment I thought the render had glitched out his eyes but I could see the reflection of light on his otherwise ebon orbs – they were calling him Jackal, he was detailed as having a severely scarred right hand.

The door on the far end of the room swished open and the mad doctor himself stood just on the other side, though he hardly seemed to be paying attention. A mechanized exoskeleton carried a profuse array of different books, papers, and utensils as well, as the Doctor, as he examined and scribbled with archaic quill and paper, “I need more sheets.” He demanded without turning his head.

I lurched out of bed, almost knocking heads with Gebblen, “I can make a run for you, Doctor.”

“Brown-noser.” Gebblen mumbled and I only grinned. Considering the Doctor’s relative negligence, it paid to apple-polish from time to time – or as much as possible – as to avoid being the test dummy; the experiments usually weren’t life threatening but feeling like you were going to die was just as bad, if not worse.

“The usual size and amount,” the Doctor stopped scribbling, another arm from the exoskeleton reached up and took a hold of the quill, and he fished out a small chit from his stained jacket and quickly assigned an amount to it. “Use the extra to buy as many of the largest paper you can find.” I crossed the room and took the chit from his outstretched hand, “and tell that rock-knocking slug if he shorts me again I’ll be sending Gebblen to have a talk with him.”

“Sir, I don’t think I’ll be that intimidating — ”

“You will be when I send ya.” With that the exoskeleton carried the doctor away, it’s many metallic legs tapping against the worked stone floor.

“Or he could just go himself.”

I shrugged and smiled, pulling a hat and coat on and fastening my boots. “A doctor can’t be punchin’ dudes.”

“Yeah, well a doctor shouldn’t be shooting people up with Psycho serum to turn them into freaks to intimidate merchants either. Speaking of, have fun out there. Don’t get snatched up by escaped mutants.”

Shit, I completely forgot! “That’s not funny. Come with me~” I pleaded. Gebblen simply chuckled and laid back on his bed with his hands folded behind his head. I pleaded and prodded, shaking the bunk, until finally: “what do you think’ll happen to you if I don’t come back at all?” That got his attention and he grumbled, pulling on his shoes and coat.

The walk to Pawnimportium was uneventful – or as uneventful as things were in the layered and twisted cacophony that was Middle City Eleven2.  Gebblen and I weaved through the mess of people and carts and neon signs, through the thick haze of frozen air created by vents both living and machine. We followed our usual route which avoided the most cluttered streets. When we entered the jumbled mess of a shop the keeper greeted us distractedly while barking at a worker and sealing the deal with another customer. He knew what we wanted and saw to us personally, disappearing into a backroom only to reappear from a trap door on the opposite wall moments after.

“So whats’it all for?” He questioned, stacking the sheets and bundling them into a tight package. We both shrugged our shoulders in feigned ignorance to which the stout man clicked his teeth. When it was done I handed him the chit and he nodded, grinning, pocketing it. “Oh, and one more thing,” I relayed the Doctor’s message and the shop keeper roared in unabashed laughter feeling none-too-intimidated by Gebblen’s scrawny girth. Still, he pulled out another chit and refunded a fraction of the original amount.

Back on the streets, we made a detour and stopped at a food cart to appease Gebblen’s ‘growing’ physique. “The doc’ll never miss such a small amount,” he assured and I shrugged, “probably not,” and we sat on a dingy wall chomping on Gebblen’s favorite: caramelized trenchworm and cavern beets.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Paper

Word of the Day: apple-polish

 

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