City Intersection, Chapter Three – Ten Dollars

Yeah, yeah, I know, I haven’t made an episode in a while. Well, I have all the pieces ready and have been… well, procrastinating a bit. I should be finishing it… tonight? (It’s a bit more complicated editing-wise, so that’s at least part of why it has taken longer.)

But yeah. It’ll be out soon. I should be writing a good deal more of City Intersection this weekend, as well as a short story I’ve been thinking about for a few days. Good and depressing stuff.

~

The van careened through the hotel parking lot and toward Hannah and I. I’ve seen so much crazy shit throughout the years – years? maybe – of ketamine that seeing a van heading straight toward me didn’t really even strike me as a problem or something I should avoid. Hannah tried to pull me out of the way, but the van changed its path to keep heading towards us.
Then something bizarre happened. A man appeared directly in front of the van and put out his hands. The van collided into them, but didn’t move him; the front end crumpled slightly where he touched the van, then the entire vehicle disappeared without a trace.
It reappeared parked in the lot, front end still with two bent-in sections. A trace of smoke streamed up from the hood.
The man turned to us. His eyes were wet and the area around them slightly red, he said “thank you” and vanished.
“Was that the guy from at Panera?” Hannah asked.
“What guy from Panera?” I said.
She sighed. “The one who was all teary-eyed.”
I shook my head. “No idea who you’re talking about. You’re probably right, though, I just have a… a bad memory.”
“Kind of besides the point anyway.” She squinted her eyes and shook her head. “What the fuck just happened?” she yelled.
“I dunno. You saw that too?”
“Of course I saw it! We would’ve died if it hadn’t happened.”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“How are you playing this off so coolly?” she said, starting to hyperventilate. “He just appeared and stopped a van and teleported it and vanished!”
“Yeah, I guess that was kind of weird.”
I realize that I forgot to say, I had taken another bump of ketamine in the bathroom right before we left the hospital. This could possibly explain my ambivalence to what had just happened. Or, as I said earlier, it could just be that I’ve become accustomed to much stranger stuff.
Smoke or steam was still rolling up from under the hood of the van. The driver and passenger doors opened and the side doors rolled back. Three people stumbled out. They talked for a moment, though I couldn’t make out their words, and the driver looked around until he saw Hannah and I.
He shouted something to the others and started running towards us. Hannah grabbed my arm and started pulling me back towards the entrance of the hospital. “They’re trying to kill us,” she yelled.
I held my ground and watched them. “Nah, I don’t think so.”
The driver had a look of shock on his face, rather than one of anger or malice. Hannah kept pulling on my arm until she saw I wasn’t going to move, then let go and stood next to me, braced for whatever she expected to happen.
The driver arrived first, stopping with his hands on his knees, catching his breath. The other two caught up a moment later and did the same. After a moment, the driver stood up and extended his right hand.
He wore a beanie, a short beard, and a mixed expression of horror and exhaustion. Across the palm of the hand he had put out was a long jagged scar. I took his hand hesitantly and shook it.
“So sorry about that,” he said. “Completely lost control, the steering system seems to have broken.”
“Not surprising,” said one of the others, the one who had been in the passenger seat. “You’ve refused to get the car checked up on for way too long.”
“Anyway,” he said, dragging the word out for emphasis with a look towards the person who just spoke, “I apologize to you both. But, uh…”
“What happened?” Hannah said.
“Yeah. Who was that? What did he do?”
“No clue,” said Hannah, “except that I think he likes tea.”

There is a creature that lives at the Earth’s core. It has been called many things throughout the years but is best known as Ouroboros. It is typically envisioned as a snake eating its own tail, often symbolizing cyclicality or infinity. Few people view it as anything more than legend.
Throughout the millenia, six groups of people – or, five groups and one single person – have made the journey to Ouroboros’ domain, thirty-one people in total.
Meeting with Ouroboros will grant you immortality. Its motivation for giving immortality has never been discerned, but he does it anyway.
It used to, anyway. The last person who saw Ouroboros – that single person who traveled to the center of the Earth – killed it.
It is not a simple thing, to kill a legendary creature. Somehow, though, this man did it, after being granted immortality. It is not known, among the thirty other immortals, who did this or why they did. As soon as Ouroboros died, though, all of them knew of it, a sudden pulling at their souls. Some thought this would have removed their immortality, but after a few decades they knew this wasn’t the case.
That person left with something other than immortality, though.

“Uh, want to… go to a coffeeshop or something?” the driver said. “By the way, my name is Nathan, this here,” he said, gesturing to the person who had been in the passenger seat, “is Jason, and this,” gesturing to the third person, “is Alexis. She’s our bassist, I’m the guitar player and singer, and Jason is our drummer. We’re a band.”
Hannah and I shook everyone’s hand, introduced ourselves, and agreed to go to a coffeeshop. They offered to take the van, still billowing steam, but Hannah said she’d prefer to walk.
We wandered around the city for a while until we found someone else on the street and asked them where we could find a cafe. She pointed us in a direction and we headed out. Two blocks later, we walked through the doors and ordered our drinks. I got an Americano and the others ordered lattes and stuff. I didn’t usually drink coffee, but enjoyed it. Pretty good, although I guess it should’ve been, given that it cost four dollars. Hannah’s cost six, but I covered it because I figured I owed it to her after how much she helped me, for a total of ten dollars.
We hung out at the coffeeshop for about half an hour, then parted ways. Nathan remained profusely apologetic throughout the entire time, offering to cover the bill, but I told him it wasn’t necessary, not a problem. They told Hannah and I that they were a pretty new band from a nearby city that was hoping to play a show here and gain some notoriety. Nathan wrote out two tickets for us to get into the show for free, if they managed to schedule one. Hannah and I thanked them, then walked back to the hospital parking lot, and she drove me back to the hotel.
By then it was about three in the afternoon, and I still hadn’t contacted anyone about selling some of my product. Ah well. With the amount I had with me, once I started selling, I wouldn’t need to worry about how long it took, I’d be made.
Oddly enough, though, I didn’t feel like redosing once I was back at the hotel. It was time to, but I… didn’t really have much motivation to. I decided to head out again and see if I could find a pub. I hadn’t had a drink in… Well, a long time, at the very least. Thought it might be worth trying out again.
Thirty minutes later, I was sitting on a stool at the bar, ordering a double IPA from one of the many bartenders working there who all looked strangely… the same. It had been the same thing at the coffeeshop, all workers were dressed identically, all about the same age, size, and build. They even shared some facial characteristics.
Of course, I had also seen a bat flying around the room at the coffeeshop, so I’m not sure how much of that was actually true. It was unnerving, though, not being sure if I was talking to the same bartender or a different one. Maybe they were all siblings? Maybe it was family-owned. Sure, that was probably it.
But how would they all be about the same age…? I decided to not bother to think about it and just drink my IPA. It was pretty good. I asked the bartender – or, at least, one of them – where it was from. He said it was brewed in-house. I ordered another.
Being unable to drive is a bit of a gift in and of itself. You have an excuse to never drive, especially when you’re intoxicated enough that you wouldn’t be able to anyway. Not that that would’ve been necessary, the bar was pretty close to the hotel.
Four time-warped hours later, I made my way back to the hotel. Still silent, still unnerving. The bartender told me that the drinks were on the house with a smile I’m not entirely sure if I liked or not. The smile kinda slackened and melted off of his face, which I think would be enough to make anyone dislike it.
I was disliking that hotel more and more. Just too quiet, too dead. I suddenly wondered where Hannah and the band members were staying in the city. It was the only hotel I had seen here. Were they staying there as well, and I just had somehow missed them coming in?
I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I was sure I’d find out at some point. It was still pretty early, but it turned out I had more to drink than I had intended and was rather tired. I only had four – five? six? – beers. How many? Hmm. More than I intended, anyway. It was good beer. Brewed in-house in the one brewery in the city. Hmm. They had a bit of a monopoly on beer. Damn good beer.
Somewhere in the midst of this train of thought, I fell asleep.

Frederick Simmons walked through the early dirt main street of Desmond, MA. He was dressed smartly in trousers, shirt, coat, and cravat. His tricorn shielded his eyes from the midday sun.
He held something in his left hand, and a shovel in his right. He was counting his footsteps and keeping an eye on the sun. He had to get it in just the right place. It was important.
He stopped. There was a line in the dirt a distance away. He closed one eye and made sure he was in line with it, then made a circle in the dirt below him and began digging.
He was digging for almost two hours before he finally stopped, the hole about four feet deep. He dropped the thing that he had kept clenched in his left hand up until then into the bottom of the hole, then began piling the dirt back on top. Once that was finished he brushed away at the area around it to make it blend in some and returned the way he had come. The pieces were falling, literally, into place.

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