This scene takes place in the second act of my second novel I am currently writing. GoSpeed has arrived in the reconstituted Bay City. While out exploring her new city she encounters a “refugee” from Angel City. Angel City was derived from an old MMO game similar in concept to the city that L.A. Noire takes place in.

The Pen was a very quaint establishment. The building was made of brick and glass with the roof trimmed in cyan colored neon lights. Wooden tables and chairs filled most of the floor with one corner featuring cushioned furniture. Tucked away in the opposite corner was a small stage with a microphone. A sign on the counter said the wait staff was off duty until 3 pm and that the shop was in the self-service mode. She found the ordering kiosk and selected the green tea. The drink was dispensed from a small unit sitting next to it on the counter top.

She sat on a comfortable chair near a bookshelf packed full of hardback books. Sipping her tea, she observed the few patrons seated around her. Two men wearing berets and sporting goatees, a woman wearing what looked like pajamas, a pair of nondescript couples wearing normal street clothes, and someone very unusual. It wasn’t like she was unusual as in weird, but she was definitely out of place. She was a dark skinned woman who looked to be nearly 50 years old, if not a bit older. Her clothing was primarily black and white and her jewelry was silver. The last time GoSpeed saw clothing like that was at a mock funeral back home on Altis. This lady wasn’t sorrowful or teary eyed though. She smiled kindly at GoSpeed but there was a trace of weariness in her eyes.

GoSpeed sipped her tea while her eyes drifted over the books on the wall. She fancied standing up to grab a book to skim over when she felt a presence next to her.

“Do you mind if I sit next to you?”, spoke the kindly black woman.

“Please, have a seat!”, said GoSpeed who motioned to the chair next to her.

“Thank you, thank you.”, the woman said as she seated herself in the chair. “My name is Orpha Washington. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”, she said as she offered her gloved hand.

GoSpeed shook the offered hand and replied, “My name is GoSpeed Rasere.”

“What an interesting name. The last name sounds French, but I have no clue where GoSpeed is from.”

“It’s a complicated story.”

“Everything seems so complicated now. The past few years have been nothing but change and confusion. I know not to question everything I see and hear because I am not likely to understand it anyways.”, she said with a laugh as she reached out to pat GoSpeed’s hand.

“I know what you mean. It’s like my life has been upended and I am trying to refill my glass.”

“Such an interesting way to express it.” Leaning closer she added softly, “It’s nice to see another person of color in Bay City. So few of us have made our way here.”

“Color? What do you mean?”

Orpha pulled back the sleeve on her blouse and put her bare arm next to GoSpeed’s.

“The same color of skin dear. You ain’t the first person confused by that term in this city. Where I come from, colored people don’t get the respect they deserve. Hon, where are you from?”

“I am from Altis. It is an island to the southeast of here. Maybe 3 or 4 days by sail.”

“That’s one of those holiday islands where fancy people go to vacation.”

“That’s a fair description of my home. Where are you from Orpha?”

“I was born in Corinth, Mississippi on April 2nd, 1899. I moved to Angel City in 1922 with my husband. We had one son who died in the war and my husband passed away in 1946. I’ve been on my own since.”

GoSpeed’s heart skipped a beat when Angel City was mentioned. Clearing her throat to hide her discomfort she asked,”What brought you to Bay City?”

“The promise of freedom I reckon.”, she chuckled. “Well, my city used to be part of a free country, but now it’s not. I am sure you don’t understand what I mean. No one here cares where you’re from or what you look like.”

“I had an, um, experience with some Angel City sailors recently that left a bad taste in my mouth.”

“Them sailors are the worst. Especially the ones who work for the big merchant ships. You know then.”, she said while patting GoSpeed’s hand again. A distant look came to her eyes as she continued speaking, “One Sunday morning 6 years ago we all woke up in this place and everyone was so lost and afraid. It was like God picked up the city and placed us in a faraway land. The nearby towns were gone, the roads leaving the city ended in hillsides, open fields or ran into the water. We even lost the rest of the world on the radio. No more radio shows from New York City. Not even shortwave from Europe or South America.”

“I can’t imagine how that felt.”

“It was frightful the first few days, but then everyone calmed down. A small voice in our heads told us who we were and to not worry. You know what it told us?”

GoSpeed shook her head no.

“It said we were a work of fiction. That we came from a story book or some kind of movie. After that, we stopped worrying, but many of us had questions. To this very day I still question why I am here.”

“I’ve always known who I am and what my purpose was.”, lied GoSpeed. She omitted the fact that she only recently learned about her true origins because it would have been too difficult for her to explain to Orpha.

“It’s harder for me. I have over 50 years of memories from my life in Mississippi and California. My husband and son are gone, but what of my family back in the South? It’s like they never existed.”, she said while casting her eyes downward.

“So why are you now in Bay City? Don’t you have friends back in Angel City?”

“I do child, I do, but it’s not the same place anymore. Some very bad people are now in charge. Our city was a shining example for America where liberty and the rule of law prevailed. Old hatreds and prejudices have now come out of their dark hiding places and are now living on the streets. Colored people and Latinos began feeling unwelcome as the city struggled to find it’s way. Many of them left for the farmlands to the east and began farming. A few set sail for distant lands by boat and a very small number have come here.”

“Why didn’t more come here? It’s the closest city.”

“Some folks feel this place is sinful. No offense to you but our sensibilities are different. The clothing, the lifestyles, the music, it’s just so… decadent and contrary to our morals.”

“No offense taken.”, said GoSpeed who suddenly felt self-conscious of her outfit. “I take it you’re not offended by our culture?”

“At first I was, but when I saw how kind and free spirited everyone was I learned to overlook it. I see it all as a test of my faith.”

“A test? How so?”

“I was raised a Southern Baptist and I fervently believed in God and Jesus. Some of us believe this is all a test by God. I think we are in Purgatory and the Lord is seeing how we behave. He’s ripped us up by the roots and then he set us free into the wilderness. Maybe it’s our chance to start over again and prove we are worthy.”

GoSpeed wasn’t sure what to think of this so she humored Orpha by saying, “Perhaps it is. Maybe we all have a destiny to fulfill.”

Orpha nodded and added, “I see there are no churches here and nobody believes in the God of Abraham. Maybe the Lord wants me to spread his word. But, I have my doubts. What if we really are all works of fiction? Would we still be God’s Children?”

GoSpeed remembered Joshua’s pre-battle speech from 2 years ago where he mentioned God and Citizens. The subject still left her confused so she decided to not mention it.

“I’m not sure what to tell you. I think we all have to find our own way in life, no matter our origins.”

“That’s very wise advice from such a pretty young woman.”, admitted Orpha. “How old are you anyways my dear?”

“I’m 42 years old.”

“Oh get out of town! Really? You look all of 26 dear! My, you wear your age well. I am 56 years, but it feels like I haven’t aged since arriving here 6 years ago.”

“No one really ages much here you’ll discover.”

“I’d love to lose a few years if I could!”, laughed Orpha.

“The right clothing and makeup can do wonders. Hey! Maybe you can help me out. Do you know where I can find some basic makeup? All I have found is weird and exotic stuff while shopping this morning.”

“You want to go to Waltons in Shermerville. They got most anything you need. The blue bus line will take you right there. The schedules are right on your glass phone.”

“Oh, you mean my datapad?”

“I call them phones since some people talk into them. I can’t stand them at all. That’s why I use this.” Orpha held out a handheld device featuring a small screen and full set of small, lettered keys. “It’s called a Blackbean phone. I like it because it has keys I can push. I never got used to typing on a flat surface.”

“I have my own car. I am sure it can find the way.”

“Cars are now smart too. Such a wondrous world I live in now.”, said Orpha as she shook her head. “Sounds like you have some plans then. Don’t let me hold you back with my small talk.”

“It’s been a pleasure meeting you. I would love to talk again. Can we exchange contact information?”

Orpha furrowed her brow a moment and then smiled. “You mean telephone numbers? Yes! I would love to!” She held her phone out to GoSpeed.

GoSpeed touched Orpha’s “Blackbean” with her datapad and the contact details were exchanged. She then took a quick swig of her warm tea to finish it off. She looked for a place to leave her cup.

“Don’t worry, I’ll put it away for you.”, offered Orpha.

“Oh, thank you very much.”, she stood up and then saw the return chute where dirty cups were put into but decided to let Orpha take care of it so as to not refuse her hospitality. She offered Orpha a hand but was surprised when Orpha hugged her.

“God be with you Ms. Rasere. I will be in touch. I hope you find what you are looking for.”

“I hope so too. Take care Ms. Washington.”

GoSpeed left The Pen and with the help of her datapad, found her way back to her car….

 

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