After touring all the booths, the Dark Amazon retreated to the far end of the "midway" to ponder her destiny. Her very short-term destiny. The voice in her ear startled then irritated her.|
"Decided how ya want to go yet?" asked an over-eager, anonymous red shirted Deb.
With what could only be described as a Herculean effort, Aquillea managed to stifle the impulse to roll her eyes. They didn't hand those shirts out to just anyone.
"Not hardly," she responded almost wearily. "I won't bore you with all the reasons why this isn't an easy decision. But I have to admit, it doesn't help that I have a tendency to analyze things to... well..."
"To death," the annoying stranger filled in, nodding and leaning forward slightly with a rather creepy smile.
"Uh... exactly." And with that Aquillea began making her way back towards the various attractions again. Maybe she could shake this guy in the crowd. Maybe she could shake her shadow while she was at it.
"Now that's surprising. I thought this would be a no-brainer for you."
So much for the walking. With arms crossed and eyes glaring Aquillea challenged, "Oh? You don't say." She had no idea how she was going to die yet, but she was beginning to get a few ideas about this guy. Not surprisingly the red shirt seemed oblivious to the fact that he was treading on dangerous ground. He merely shrugged and tilted his head toward the race track 'amusement'.
"Motorsports aren't exactly wildly popular with the masses. There's you," the fellow noted counting off on one finger. He ticked off another two fingers as he continued, "and Heraclid ...oh, and Shiva I believe. Why it seems like it was tailor-made."
The alt-universe "Racestaffer" grinned a little and shook her head. "If I took a car onto that track I'd die all right, but not the way the Harbinger intended. After all the times I've turned down offers to take my friends' race cars through Drivers School... race drivers school... I'd die of embarrassment if any of my alt-uni friends caught wind I'd decided to run a "roundy-round". They're a bit snobbish about their racing. Believe it or not, several of them are way more opinionated than me."
The red shirt's coughing jag left no doubt about his belief system. When he caught his breath again his enthusiasm had faded perceptibly.
"I meant no offense," the sometimes abrasive brunette apologized.
"Oh, I have no interest in racing one way or the other. It bores me... silly." Red's obvious self-satisfaction didn't sit right with the Dark Amazon. She flashed a quick smile to show she was glad there were no ill feelings then continued her circuit of the various options once again.
Her bosom buddy hadn't left her side. "You can't say there aren't plenty of diverse options. Surely something appeals to you."
The look Aquillea gave the red shirt defied description. "It's a lot like hoolies," she revealed rather cryptically.
"Death is like a hoolie? OoooKay. Oh, oh... this is gonna have one heck of a punchline, huh!"
"No," the Amazon corrected vigorously. "Ya know, I come to New Greeceland to be able to do things I couldn't or wouldn't be able to do in the alt -universe."
Aquillea's companion gave her a "Yeah... And???" look.
"Yeah, see... you don't get it. I mean things I would actually like to do. I really have no burning desire to get into a food fight, virtual or otherwise.
Red's prior enthusiasm had now completely transformed into something akin to dejection. "And no burning desire to be ...burning either I take it."
"Oddly, I've never really considered that an essential ingredient in a rich fantasy life, no. So the new twist this year of having to manufacture my own demise... it's..."
This time it wasn't Aquillea experiencing the impulse for an eye roll. And this time it wasn't suppressed either.
"Go on. Say it."
"You pull bandages off slowly too, don't you?"
"It's killing me. So I tried taking that quiz to see if that would help."
"Does it look like it helped? It told me my best mode of death would be getting lost."
Anyone looking real close might have noticed a flicker of animation returning to the red shirt's eye But Aquillea wasn't finished. And she continued with an almost despondant intensity that would have led her to walk straight into the guillotine scaffold had her companion not gently guided her around it. "I can't argue with the quiz result. The problem is, "lost" is not one of the available options."
"I wouldn't worry about it," Red offered putting a comforting hand on the Dark Amazon's arm. "I'm sure something will come to you."
"I don't know," Aquillea confided, her head shaking in doubt. She was too introspective now to maneuver efficiently through the collected student body so the red shirt took the lead. "I'm hesitant to begin with. Reluctant. Throw in the crowd and the noise. I'm not sure I'll ever sort this out."
"Mmmm. Definitely hard to concentrate in the middle of all this craziness. What you need is a few moments of peace and quiet. Hey, I know... In here," the Amazon's companion urged, pulling her to their left.
There were 3 metal walls. A floor. A ceiling.
As the pair turned around a metal door whooshed closed.
The elevator was a temporary haven from the madness outside. No more pushing and bumping. No more pulsating chatter and laughter and no more shouts and screams bouncing in the confines of Aquillea's cranium. She smiled at Red with newfound appreciation.
"Perfect! This was a great idea. Thank-you."
Aquillea's companion sensed her need for silence and spoke not a word while the woman closed her eyes to think. The slowly passing floors produced a soft rhythmic sound in the background while the Dark Amazon revisited each "amusement" in her mind. But for every "pro" she came up with, at least 2 "cons" sprang to mind. When the elevator began to slow and the bell rang, the woman appeared no closer to finding her answer.
"If nothing else, it should be a nice view," Red offered.
The Dark Amazon mustered a smile as she turned around to look at him. "Ya gotta love the fall," she proclaimed.
"I was hoping you'd say that," replied her companion as he took half a step forward to exit the elevator. In turn, Aquillea took half a step backward. That equated to half a foot suspended in mid air. Twenty stories of air.
"Hey!" she exclaimed. Then as it became clear she'd never regain her footing and balance, she added, "Thanks... Iiiii couldn't ha..."
"have done this..."
In a shower of ashes that defied gravity, the red shirt transformed into the Harbinger of Death. He took a moment to admire his handiwork before pressing the "close door" button.
"Pity," he mused aloud to himself. "I think she really had what it takes to be a crash test dummy."