very post-apocalyptic and romantic

66 10 6

[now]

I LOVE YOU AND WE'RE GOING TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER, Qannen had screamed, directly into Xannika's ear. She was clearly mostly happy about Qynka starting a huge fight, and was caught up in the megadrama of the impending collapse of the club.

Xannika thought: OK yeah sure whatever, but dove into the moment, pulling Qannen's hair back to expose her neck, licking all the way up from her clavicle to her chin and then hungrily pressing her lips to Qannen's while the club destroyed itself around them. It was all very post-apocalyptic and romantic. But also: this was Qannen, a girl who'd literally never made out with the same person twice, so Xannika didn't put a lot of weight on it.

Anyways that was last night. She makes it home? Somehow? and crashes for a few hours. Until her screen wakes her up with a series of frantic messages.

-I really want to be with you!!

(It's Qannen.)

-I need to see you!

-More please!

Xannika stares curiously at the messages, then checks the TL before responding. She's up to almost 50k followers. The cusp of something real. A combination of her time with Qannen plus being in the club last night when sh*t blew up. A quick scan shows people are very alive about Qynka taking on Conspirasan last night. Mostly negative, but not totally. So OK yes if Qannen wants more she's happy to give it to her. Her wrists aren't even tired.

-OK hang out tonight? Xannika says.

-NO

-NOW

-Meet me now

-It's like....morning, Xannika says. The idea of leaving bed is...distasteful.

Qannen sends her an address. Sort of between the Arena Mall and the Tower.

-I'll be coming here in 30 minutes which means you'll be coming here in 28

OK. Fine. She'll do it for the followers.

There's no time to do anything major about her hair but she at least changes her clothes, tugging on a ragged Xen0_blame tunic in ash that looks like it's been hanging from a pole for 50 years.

She makes her way through the city as the day slaps itself conscious. The sky slowly pitches up from charcoal to raincloud. It's too early and she's too exhausted for an enthusiastic brand interaction but she tries to do something with her face while she walks, a Bonometh lip in vanilla that she scrounges from her bag.

Mornings in Wood2 are usually pretty quiet. The streets barren except for roving packs of exercise enthusiasts, the screams of occasional hikers in the Forest District. The brands that haven't been awake all night are just opening their gates. The workforce of people with <10k followers preparing for another long day of facilitating thoughtful brand engagements.

The address Qannen gave is on Makenna Street. There's a SendNoods and a Potato Juice across the street, but it's not really a shopping or residential zone. Looks like mostly offices. She can see the Tower looming over the top of a nearby building. There's like barely anyone around, and definitely no Qannen. It's exactly the time.

-OK? I'm here? Xannika says.

There's a pause while she waits for the return text. If this Qannen jerking her around, she will....go immediately back to bed. But the response arrives.

-Yay

And: -Do you see the alley across the street

Xannika looks and does not see it. She steps out across the street and tilts her head and there it is, just to the left of the noodle shop. It's narrow, and the way the building on either side are the same color make it easy to miss. She definitely wouldn't have seen it if it hadn't been pointed at her.

-Yes, Xannika says

-Come thru

...., Xannika thinks. But crosses the street and slips into the alley and disappears from the street. The alley winds around the back of the building, where it opens up into a wider space. There are back entrances into the various shops that line the street. But no Qannen. Xannika keeps walking and it takes another turn, opening up even wider. There's no doors or windows back here, it's like a hidden courtyard, an open space, surrounded by buildings on all sides but open to the sky.

And still no Qannen.

-Ummm hello?

-Hang on, is the reply.

Xannika looks around, facing back the way she came, the way Qannen will arrive. It's freaky quiet. There's something odd that she can't place her finger on. She checks the TL again, waiting. There's a new episode of ServiTude. A gallery from this week's Fear+Weekend drop, of which she Likes about half the pics. Chili's announces they'll release a new aminodust topping for their nutrino-spoons if the post gets 20k Likes in the next hour. Xannika feels a sudden desperation for this to happen.

She doesn't hear the door that slides silently open in the wall behind her, and she doesn't see the two figures in white hoods and masks that emerge from it.

Wait, Xannika thinks, putting down her screen and staring up at the sky, suddenly putting words to the weird thing she's been feeling.

There's no zonnys here.

She looks up, scanning the tops of the buildings, the sky above. Surely this can't be. But it is. There's nothing watching her.

There's something immediately chilling about this realization, but it's too late. One of the figures grabs her and covers her mouth while the other injects something into her neck. She doesn't feel anything as everything goes black, and anyways who would even hear her if she screamed.

The figures drag her body into the building and the door seals behind them, leaving a blank wall. The zonnys crawl back over the tops of the buildings, seeing and filming whatever there is to see, which is nothing.

///

[end of episode 02]

[end of episode 02]

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