Mr Reaper: Coiled Fates

Chapter 4

“Come on, bushy man, this is it!” Reil shouted from the top of the spiral wooden steps that had been going around one of the tall trees that their destination had led them to. At least the surface under the tree wasn’t bathed in rain drops, otherwise it would’ve been pretty slippery and frustrating.

Reil had his best shoes on but in formality was where dexterity had its loss, when met with extreme conditions of artificial means, especially with this nagging pain in his foot that had been a repercussion of the leap of fares.

He had passed quite some doors and windows in the tree itself with lights hanging from above those frames of entrances and exits. At least the mosquitoes didn’t have enough time to take bites on his bright flesh.

Wait… ahhh, I’m coming!” came the distant shout from below the stairs he had climbed, which got Reil to chuckle and smooth his hair, while his feet traveled to the edge where the keeper of safety was in the tinges of viny green and hidden brown underneath. His hands grabbed the damp leaves and his head moved above the railing to a view that succeeded in taking away his composure.

It was a harbor that resembled the one at Larrylon but it was definitely way smaller in the form of a bay with surroundings with great contrast to the district of toxicity that was his homeplace altogether. Giant vines were hanging over the bay with the trees forming something like a wall with slits in between that were riddled with bridges, buildings and other modifications-undescribed.

There was that same hot air balloon that was climbing up from the lower levels and towards a platform where he was sure he and Tristan had to be if they hadn’t missed the wretched timetable, which meant that they were even early. The platform had another idle air balloon tho and that lowered his mind’s pace, while his eyes caught a mass of people there who were now climbing into the convenient baskets of this transport.

He looked up at the blue sky, which was visible from the hole the crowns of the healthy trees were allowing, trees that all resembled perfection, as if modified genetically to be possibly most attractive and stable in health and size.

Most of the time the sky couldn’t be seen as the thick green just seemed to want dominance and constant humidity. He was going to say that the region was incredible, yet this constant dripping and raining, it was just making his hands go underneath his armpits in dissatisfaction to most moments, even those shared with his friend.

He heard steps behind him but then his eyes caught a sight of several people exiting the housing from the tree, to which he sighed impatiently and mused.

Tristan surely lacked on endurance as he didn’t have to run around the streets like Reil, tho that was actually a good thing as Reil never wanted his friend to muddle into dangerous situations that could just erupt in the matter of seconds. Weak legs meant being caught. Being caught meant a bad day or a last one at that.

His obscurely rugged fingers drummed the green leaves, his eyes zeroing on a vessel which’s horn echoed around the bay. It was so loud his heart smacked into his ribs in viciousness, because it was the same boat and same horn of the boat they’d sailed just recently. It was a miracle for not getting caught…

Well, they had been caught when they had tried to exit through the dock, but with wits and luck they just slipped between the ignorant and tired crew.

After that it was a rather uneventful climb which was surely filled with interesting sights of how technology was keeping the place living, breathing and functioning. The machinery was so well-hidden, it was disguised into the trees, buildings, roads and sidewalks, practically everywhere.

Reil wouldn’t even have been surprised if technology was in the air. Maybe those insects were in fact small drones? Okay, that sounded insane…

On top of that, it was clean on this island that was part of the many, which were riddled around the Amazonia. Sure there were patches of leaves or dirt on the path but it was pretty normal, while the air actually felt blissful. It was fresh and rich and understanding to the lungs, unlike that of Larrylon where every breath served as a tickle that would result in a sneeze and yellow sputum of disgust… and rarely, solidity.

He— Excuse m— hey!” Tristan’s voice came from down the stairs, and what Reil’s gaze caught was his friend almost getting shoved by the incoming traffic of people.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Still, anyone unsuspecting could get in serious trouble, for the stairs were steep and many. People nowadays were mostly in their own heads, never moving around aimlessly as things just were way more streamlined, unless one would be talking about Reil’s homeplace, where unemployment would crawl around the streets.

The young man stumbled as quickly as possible away to the safety spot where Reil was waiting, and collapsed just before him with breaths exceeding the medium of normality.

Well, Tristan shouldn’t have ran, but could Reil blame him? It wasn’t hard to lose all self-confidence to the threat over one’s safety. Oh, didn’t Reil know that all too well, a bit too well for his well-being and mental cohesion.

Reil reached for the briefcase and umbrella that Tristan was holding pinned to the woody floor and moved them aside, after which he put both his hands around his friend’s arms and shook him into focus. At least the smell wasn’t foul, just disinteresting, unlike at the Larrylon harbor.

“Coat… off,” Tristan breathed through and tried to reach for his buttons, but Reil slapped his hand away.

“I know, buddy. Just endure,” Reil pestered and eyed his friend from bottom to top to which he realized that Tristan was looking exactly like when Reil had helped him at Larrylon, even after the interesting journey in the car. But then his ears flinched at the direction of the railing and his eyes glanced at… what the…

Noise of something like a drone buzzed ever so close to the railing, and the shape of a small person in a skin-tight outfit of dark green landed without hesitation to both men’s backsteps.

The blades above its head reduced their spins, while the goggles on its face reflected into Reil’s puzzlement, until they were lifted to the sight of hazel curiosity.

It was a gnome equipped with flying gear, and she appeared interested in both of them, judging by the scrutiny of her eyes. It was pretty rare to meet gnomes in this world, as there just were that… not many.

The gnome made a gesture with her hand and adjusted something on her wrist that looked like controls for her flight, until the buzzing finally died off, replaced by the ambiance of jungle.

“Hey?” Reil finally said as he was getting uncomfortable. Her goggles nestled on her neck and she moved away some of the longer hair that covered her eyes.

“Wh’ch’ya two looking for?” the gnome asked in a high-pitched tone, and Reil just played around a row of eyebrow expressions. Were they just neared by a unique person only to be asked if they needed something?

“Whatever comes and goes,” Reil answered with words meant to fend off those who’d pester him for pocket change or a light.

“What… are you?” asked Tristan and Reil just stared in a mindless frenzy to the awfully improper words, tho he was asking himself the same thing, yet not in the context his friend had put forth. Maybe the gnome would flip them off and… well, fly away, yet she reached for one of her pouches attached to her brighter belt and pulled out a fresh tangerine that she played around with in her fingers’ grip.

“Seriously, sweetheart?” she uttered, Reil flapping his backhand against Tristan’s shoulder and gesturing an excuse at the guest before them. She sighed and took a bite off the fruit, saying further in between her munches, “I’m Karla. This little thing is my wings.” Her short hands touched the frame of the skeleton of her flying apparatus. Before Tristan would get another idea of saying another accidental insult, Reil cut to the chase.

“Okay… Karla? Have a nice snack,” Reil grabbed the suitcase from Tristan and took steps away from the gnome as to try and spike her reduced curiosity. There was always this… persistence. The buzz of those propellers fired up, and as he and Tristan walked off, the side of his vision filled again with the small body.

“Sure. Wha’ch’ya two sweethearts up to?” she asked as she floated up and down in front of them, voice edging silently with irritation. If she wanted something from them she should say so and not play around as if they were some stupid kids.

“Not hanging from trees, that’s for sure,” Reil interjected to no one’s apparent dismay. Karla pulled her goggles up and scowled for a short moment. Then, with a spit to the side, came out the drained-from-juices flesh of the tangerine.

“Nah, love…” Karla countered finally and it seemed the chase was over. “Wanted to give’ya… something, else,” she finished and dug further into the nectar of orange.

“Let me get this straight,” Reil breathed amidst his head’s shake, “you saw us walk through here and decided that you’re going to just trust us with that something else? Sounds like BS to me… love,” he mocked to the gnome’s annoyance that spat more pulp.

“You know how it goes,” she returned coyly to Reil’s scoff, who glanced at Tristan’s evident lack of motivation to join in this random situation.

“Either it’s a setup, or you’re sloppy,” Reil mused aloud in an attempt to get the gnome speechless, which would be so if he had truly caught onto her plan.

Not that she wouldn’t be able to hide the truth, but it’d show up to his experienced eyes. Yet, her reaction was one of slight distress as her voice shot through the air a bit higher with her next of words.

“Neither! I need the help, and it’s going to be good’f all of us.”

“As if you don’t have any friends to help you out… Pft, come on, Tris,” Reil tried to shut the droning gnome off, turning around with Tristan by his side. But then rustling got his ears to flinch and the feeling of wind passing by him, as if followed by a swarm of angry bees.

Was there some despair in her expression? The closer he inspected her the more he could see how her entire outfit didn’t exactly blend in, as if different parts were added to it throughout time. It seemed as if this little woman had lived through environments not that different to his own.

“It can’t be with peeps I’know. I’ll fill ya in, y’just have t’accept, sweeties,” she tried again, nectar falling from her lip as she landed on the moist wood.

“Why do you even think that we’d even want to do any of it?”

“Hmm, if I’m not… yea, you’re from the south side of the city, aren’t you, love?” she smirked widely, “Ye, you’ve hid it well, but I can see your hands,” she buzzed up, getting slowly closer to his face. “Scars around your neck… your coats aren’t waterproof, your shoes slide around…”

Uncomfortableness shoved itself between his ribs from these close inspections which got him to step away and scowl. It was all he had to give for her to smile in smugness. “You’re perfect,” she finalized, as if hammering down the last nail.

The distant whisper was now a shout, as he realized the implications and the facts about him and the people of Larrylon. This didn’t mean they were all the same, yet what was the point of arguing something that was just… pointless…

“You’re wrong, we aren’t who you believe we are. Good luck in your… buzzing. Let’s go, R,” Tristan suddenly snapped out of nowhere even with the hints of wobbliness around his frame. Reil stared in shock to the sharp change, as if Tristan hated the sole idea that everyone from their home place was impure and corrupt.

This sudden defiance made Reil to realize that his naive friend was the shield which prevented those muddy waters of regress. It made Reil’s heart to crackle and his confidence bloomed anew.

But then the gnome suddenly dropped to the ground with a light thump that signaled that either she did it with great skill or just her body was very light.

Reil stood motionlessly, despite Tristan’s fierce attempts of pulling on the damp coat. Karla crossed her arms and statue-ed in thought, until she rose up again and looked around the silent green.

She reached for one of her pouches again and Reil’s instincts of living on the streets shouted at him to back off, yet his eyes saw an obscured surveillance camera close to the tree in the middle of the platform they were on.

So he remained in composure and calmness, at least from outside. Her short hand pulled out something in a fist and she reached out to him what looked to be thin piece of paper that was… ripped from a newspaper?

“If you change your mind, you can ca—” but as she extended her hand to pass on the small piece of information, Reil’s hand was smacked by Tristan, who was shaken with fury.

“We’re going to be late, c’mon,” he ordered and tried again to pull at Reil, but nothing changed. This was an opportunity his friend was blind to. It was keeping him firm and emotionless to the friendship next to him, so this behavior sparked a reluctant grunt. Tristan helplessly crossed his arms around himself and turned around as if to show his disapproval at the situation. He was actually trying to assert control. It was annoying but at the same time, it was making Reil smile internally.

“Ughh…” Karla sighed and reached for another pouch from where Reil’s eyes saw a familiar color of blue that made his mind to search for dopamine within his confines. She grabbed a handful of the tasty grapes and hesitantly reached her hand again at Reil.

He browed in uncertainty, and at that she rolled her eyes with a grating sigh and grabbed a grape that she plopped into her mouth as to show that no trickery was present, especially with poison or drugs. “For your time, darling. Ya can krinkle it’w fuzzy-puss there,” she sassed playfully.

Reil pondered if he should risk it and take the unsuspected heavenly gift but when she gulped and licked her lips without any visible contents of leftovers, he sighed in defeat and reached inside his coat.

From there he pulled a brown handkerchief that he opened and lowered close so Karla could fill it up with the offering of delight, but his quick eyes caught a piece out of place, that same piece of paper that went out of view as grapes buried it underneath.

Without any warning, with a strong gust of her mechanical propellers, she pulled herself off the ground and looked down at both soggy men with a sort of amusement.

“Cya’en, gorgeous,” she cooed while looking at Tristan in a seductive way. And just like that she flew away into the vastness of Amazonia.

Reil reached for the heaven-incarnate that laid in his brown cloth and quickly popped several in his salivating mouth, while his legs carried him to Tristan with slight pain again. He brushed it off with the feeling of joy that swam around his memories.

Tristan was still keeping his backside in view, thus Reil decided to be an asshole and just walked into him with his foot going between Tristan’s legs that drew an instant squeak.

“Gwapes?” Reil asked through a nasty munch but the only response was a hard shove and a grunt, “I widn’t agwee to notwhin’!” he tried to articulate but the tastiness had turned his brain to mush.

“She gave you food. When they give you something, it’s because they ready you for what they want. And you took it!” Those sentences made Reil freeze and just appear in timelessness in front of his edgy and expectant friend.

It was true, you were given something usually because either something was going to be asked of you or attention was sought, which of course would lead to the obscured agenda.

But he couldn’t fall into that manipulative trap, his mind would catch on the line of thread too easily, and taking some heaven into his belly wouldn’t hurt him anyhow.

“I know, just love grapes, pal… Want some?” Reil asked warmly but the scoff that came answered his question pretty well. Tristan just took off without notice, hands in pockets. Why couldn’t Reil be the angry one…

Reil wrapped the remaining blue in his cloth and stashed it in the inside pocket of his coat, while wondering about the gnome’s offer and the possible opportunity of some needed money. But then came Tristan’s words about them being more than that, being more than shifty lowlifes and actual clean citizens of the prosperous Government.

If he wasn’t doing this for society, he could do it for his closest friend and the rest of the people he cared for.

Yea, that belief tasted luscious.

That was… a fair deal.