Here follows the sixth and final piece of the Vort Conspiracy saga I wrote back in the day. Unfortunately a bit on the short side compared to the previous pieces. In theory there would have been more, but from my recollection at this point I’d pretty much used up every scene, character, and detail I’d wanted to include when I originally started out writing the thing.
If one was supposing things that might have happened, then I might have thought up some additional details that seemed interesting enough to include eventually, had I thought about it long enough. But other thoughts came first and no related ideas seemed to be beating a path to my door as they had with these first chapters.
As the dirty pair moseyed unflinchingly toward the bulletproof and wire-impregnated-glass facade of the convenience store the electric eye over the door scanned their presence and transmitted it to a couple of destinations including the CPU operating the automatic doors three feet ahead. The doors slid haltingly open in their, “Hey, why haven’t the owners fixed us in five years!?” kind of way. The two split up almost immediately upon entering, Umika dawdling down the isles poking at the double sealed, off pink Feff brand twink-pastries with some curiosity, while Jerico continued on past the automatic hot dog rotisserie (which, thanks to preservatives, had been turning at least one of the same dogs for over a week) and slush cone and coffee machines, continuing on back to the wall of washers/driers that constituted the micro-laundry mat.
Back there wasn’t much: the smell of detergent and softener, five or six drier sheets kicking around the floor second or third hand, maybe a sock or stained shirt. But pretty centrally located among the stale remnants of clean laundry was an overturned milk-crate on which was seated a moderately anthropomorphic female raccoon gazing absently into the one running drier: third from the left, bottom row. As he approached Jerico swept the rag from his head with one hand, in deference to the lady’s advanced years, and grabbed one of the newer hot dogs, a sweet-sausage actually, off the rotating heater.
The she-coon didn’t really give any notice of his approach, maybe a twitch of the ears to let him know she acknowledged his presence. But she just stared into the drier much as her shamanic ancestors before her had stared into the glowing coals of a bonfire. Jerico kind of looked off to the side a little, glancing at her hesitantly, like a kid trying to be associated with a some adult, but at the same time not wanting to be seen as a tag-along. He picked up a paper tray, the kind that’s vaguely hot-dog shaped with the scalloped ends to give it shape, and put the hot dog in it with un-opened packets of ketchup, mustard, and relish, before handing the whole business to the lady on the milk-crate.
Her eyes looked glazed over, maybe with cataracts. But she nodded a fraction as she held out a hand-like paw to accept the gift.
“The choice is appreciated youngster,” her voice came with a slight rasp, but still a little on the high and sweet side that showed her former place of honor within the tribe.
“Not many would have thought to include the relish, what with the Pulp-Time being the cine of the day.”
Jerico nodded that she appreciated his efforts, but remained silent. The brashness of speech would have been presumptuous in the presence of such a prognosticator as she.
“You’ve come about the L5 point of course. 543 klicks up the Vort. Right where it’s always been, of course you’ll need some amulet of potent power to get at it. And I won’t insult your intelligence by pointing out the exact nature of the many heavily armed hoodlums out to stop you along the way. . . only, would it be too much trouble to leave most of the place intact? It’s tough to find a place that lets you run the drier long enough these days.”