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After Memory (part 2)
There was a lot of damage thanks to the Aralax invasion, but it seemed to Evester that most citizens were ignoring it completely. He hoped that most people were safe. Unlike many Towers, the Aralax went straight for the CloudCity instead of the Tower itself. While the damage was minimal, they had gotten smarter in their attack. Evester knew that the defenses were far more active than before the attack. No one had been expecting the monsters. Now that there was the risk, getting out was all the more difficult.
The Tower was filled with people, all X’s with their marks shown and their lives in constant motion. With deep breaths, Evester moved through the Tower. He had to get down, then out, and away. Do the mission for his father. It could not be that difficult. He’d raced through the Tower multiple times without being seen. He boarded a bus and tried to keep his head down. Sleeves drawn tight against his arms, he sat in the back, trying to go without notice.
“You’re Evester Igilistal right? From EverDanger?” A girl asked him as he sat trying to cover his head.
He blinked twice at her. How? So quickly? Not once in all of his training had it ever happened before. Yet the girl looked at him and saw him despite his disguise.
“I follow EverDanger and you’re really hard to miss.”
“Yes. Can I help you?”
“Are you doing another heist?”
He hoped that she would not expose him and set him back even further than he already was. If he could work her as a fan, there was a chance she’d keep it a secret. He had to woo her first. He flashed her a smile. “I am. And you know how it is.”
With a wink he held up his pointer finger to signal that it needed to remain a secret.
She giggled. Nodded. And sat next to him. “Where are you going?”
“Further down the Tower.”
“Taking the busses is going to take forever.”
“Do you know a faster way?”
“My brother has a truck.”
The invitation was as clear as any Evester had heard in his life. He glanced to her, looking her up once again. She was pretty.
“He’ll take me down?”
“Maybe if you ask nicely,” she said, leaning in.
He felt her hand graze over his and he sighed. Leaning closer to her, he whispered against her ear. “That can be arranged.”
Besides, when would be the next time he’d get laid? His father was missing. The Tower had not yet discovered he was missing. If it would keep her from talking that was one thing, but it would be unreasonable to suggest that he would not get many things out of it. Evester also considered himself a commodity worthy of trade.
Evester hopped out of the truck and waved at the man, before heading towards the next location. With his stubble growing in, and his hair unmanaged, he looked like the shadow of his former self. It would help with his disguise going forward. The less he looked like himself, the easier it would be to disappear. Backpack in hand, Evester went over the details he had memorized. He had not gotten through them all but he—
“Evester Igilistal is still missing.”
Evester glanced to where a television was showing his face, along with the images of his father’s face. Gruesome images of the wreckage of the lab, reappeared in Evester’s memory. Hand close to his chest, he continued walking, pulling his hood over his head. Don’t think of those. Get to his father. Find Heipillia.
He recited the date. Recited the date. Recited the date and the names. He looked again at his map and went to find another person to hitchhike with down and out of the Tower. Then he recited the date again, like a mantra.
It hurt to breathe. It was like drowning. Evester had lived his entire life in the Cloud City never having stepped upon the LowerLands in his life. He had expected it to be difficult, but the fact was that he felt as if at any moment he’d collapse under both the pressure and the fact that his body felt heavy. He had never felt as if the air would swallow him whole before, but in those moments he felt as if he were surrounded by water: gasping.
The sun bore down on him, making his skin itch and his body ache. It was not the controlled light of the CLoudCities, but a hostile open ray of heat. Taking slow steps, Evester collapsed back on to the ground.
“Not doing so hot are you?” the man asked.
“No.” Evester sighed, gulping down water when offered.
“What has you out here?”
“I need to get to LakeLost,” Evester answered.
“You won’t be able to get far like this.”
“I’ll adapt.” Evester looked back to the man. “Thank you for getting me this far.”
“I can get you to the city and then that is as far as I can go.”
“There is not much I can do to repay you.”
“Think of it as a thing that a friend does.” The man smiled.
Evester nodded and once more looked up to the sun. He’d adapt. He’d get stronger. He’d find his father. Standing, Evester looked back at the man and smiled, ready to continue on the journey whether he wanted to or not.
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