The Dealey Five
Chapter 3 (or, "What The Colemak Button Actually Does")
Last Week: Matsumoto and Amiga, two kids from another dimension with amnesia, must find three other kids like them in our New York City. After searching all day, they find what may be a clue.
“So who are you anyway?”
“So who are you anyway?”
“I already told you, man. I don’t know.”
“Well, do you remember where you were before this?”
“Why are you asking me so many questions? I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“That’s it precisely.” Amiga crossed her arms. “I just want to know who you are.”
The mysterious dancing boy leaned his head on his stereo one more time. “I don’t know,” he said. “But I figured if I stayed on the move, I’d figure it out.” He ran a hand through his dark hair. “It’s no problem.”
“No problem? It’ll be a problem if you have to sleep out on the street! Furthermore, it will be a problem if all of us have to do that! We need some basic information so we can proceed.” Amiga turned to Matsumoto. “Right?”
Matsumoto wasn’t paying any attention. He removed his lips from the bright red Saint Arbucks straw and made a loud slurping noise. “Sorry,” he said, “I couldn’t hear you over the sound of all this awesomeness.”
Now it was Amiga’s turn to sigh. “You should have never bought that thing.”
“Yes, I should have. It’s amazing. If I am going to live in a world where this exists, then it’s not so bad that my old world got destroyed.” He sipped some more of the drink.
“Woah, woah, wait.” The dark haired boy had his head up. “What are you talking about?”
Matsumoto smiled with a ridiculous caffeine induced grin. “We’re from another world that got destroyed,” he said with a lilt, his normal demeanor thrown out the window. “And our memories disappeared in the process. We’re looking for others like us, and my friend here thought you might be one of them.”
“Can you speak any other languages?” Amiga asked.
The boy shook his head. “Just this one, man.”
“Whatever language Mick set us up with, he must know naturally,” Matsumoto said. “Maybe all of us know different languages.”
“So you’re all saying you’re from a different world or something?” the boy said.
Matsumoto nodded as he drank the rest of the frapp and tossed the cup in the nearest trash can. “That world disappeared, though. It no longer exists.”
“Oh.” The boy was silent. “Well, if I really am one of the people you’re looking for, then how are you going to know that, since I don’t have any memories?”
“The knowledge of our past world seems to be something inherent,” Matsumoto remarked. He suddenly jumped, then stood up and pointed at the boy. “We’re in New York City, right?”
“What building collapsed on September 11th?”
The boy raised an eyebrow. “You mean the Empire State Building?”
Matsumoto snapped his fingers, a smile on his face. “Got it. And you are correct -- in our old world. In THIS New York City, the Empire State Building is still here.”
“What?” The boy stood up, blue eyes wide, holding on to the chair. “You’re telling me the Empire State Building is here?!?”
Matsumoto and Amiga both nodded. “Yep.”
“Good going,” Amiga whispered to Matsumoto.
Matsumoto grinned back. “It’s that drink, I swear.”
“Oy. Bebe pobre.”
“Excuse me?” A man in a long coat had walked over to their table at Saint Arbucks. “Do you mind explaining what’s going on here?”
“We --” Matsumoto tried to do damage control, but it was too late. Before he could do so, the new kid got up into the man’s face.
“I’ll tell you what’s up,” he said. “I don’t remember who I am or where I came from, but the Empire State Building is still standing! This is the most trippy place I’ve ever been to. You guys are all drinking way too much coffee.”
“Actually, this is an iced drink with no coffee in it,” Matsumoto noted, drinking another frapp.
“Regardless, man.” The boy looked Matsumoto in the eyes. “Regardless.”
“Okay,” Amiga said, “guys, everybody’s looking at us. I think it may be time to leave...”
“My thought process exactly,” the man in the coat said, and he motioned with them. “This way, please.”
“What about the bags?” Amiga asked.
“We will be back shortly,” the man said. “Leave them.”
“But I want another drink,” Matsumoto said as he chucked empty drink number two into the trash. He, Amiga, and the other boy followed the man outside, but Matsumoto kept his distance. If anything were to happen to them at any moment, he needed to be ready.
Despite the fact that the Colemak button was still broken.
The four of them filed outside, and Matsumoto put some distance between Amiga and the strange man. He was pretty sure the new kid could at least keep standing in a fight, and while he wasn’t a fighter by any stretch of the means, Amiga definitely wasn’t.
“Before we go anywhere with you,” Matsumoto said, “what’s the story? Who are you?”
“Follow me,” the man said, and he turned and walked down the street.
“That’s not an answer,” Matsumoto grumbled, but he walked ahead. The boy and Amiga were still behind him, the boy carrying the stereo boombox like it was nothing. He sighed. Was this night going to ever end?
They walked down a street they didn’t know the name of, away from the coffee shop they had been hiding out in (since it was open twenty four hours a day), and down an alleyway. “Stay here,” the man said, and he progressed farther into the alley.
Matsumoto turned to the boy and Amiga. “I don’t know about either of you, but he is creeeee-py.”
“I’ll agree,” Amiga said.
The boy shrugged. “He hasn’t hurt us yet,” he said as he sat on his boombox, which immediately started playing the music again. Amiga jumped as the boombox sprang to life.
“I know who that is now!” she said. “That’s that guy who did all of that controversial music in America. He’s the one who remixed that song you were playing.”
The boy paused, looked at the boombox, then nodded. “I guess you could say that.”
“I remember because it was on the news. It was banned in my country, but it still made headlines. Would make sense as to why it was being played in America, though.”
“And why is that?”
“Because America is the only truly free country in the world.” Amiga crossed her arms. “What was his name? Something like...something that ended with an X.”
“You mean Squirrlax?” Matsumoto remarked. “His music was all over Doki Doki Egao.” Then he paused. “I have no clue what Doki Doki Egao is, but it was in my country.” He pulled out his phone and was surprised to find the screen on again, tapped more notes into the phone, then pushed the Colemak button again for good measure. Again, the phone turned off.
“I seriously think this thing is broken,” he said.
“It’s not broken,” a voice said, and Matsumoto looked up to see the man standing there again. This time, he stood in the light, so Matsumoto could see he looked American, with spiky red hair and green eyes. His coat was still on, but a bicycle was by his side now.
“I was never able to get one of those little jacket things,” he said, motioning to Matsumoto, “so I figured it was close enough.”
“Close by a mile,” the nameless American boy said as Matsumoto looked at his jacket. “Wait -- you know what this is from?”
“Of course I do. I’m one of the overflow representatives for QWERTY. I know Mick.”
Matsumoto almost dropped his phone. “You do?” he asked.
The boy in the back turned to Amiga. “Who’s Mick?”
“The guy who got us into this mess in the first place,” Amiga noted. She pushed the boy aside and went up to the man in the coat. “Listen, Mister...”
“You may call me Mac.”
“Mac. Mick. Whatever. The point is, Matsumoto and Squirrel-X and I have been through quite enough, and we’d like to know what’s going on.”
“That’s why I’m here.” Mac motioned to Matsumoto’s phone. “You pressed the Colemak button, didn’t you?”
Matsumoto looked down at his still off phone. “I thought it didn’t work.”
“There’s a bug that causes the phone to shut off, but I still get the signal. As I mentioned before, you can trust me. We best get going.”
“Where?” Amiga asked. “Who said we were going anywhere with you?”
Mac shrugged. “I’m the one with the apartment and beds and food.”
Amiga turned to Matsumoto, her face completely different. “Where do we sign up?”
It was a long train ride from 72nd and Broadway down to Coney Island, the place Mac was taking the kids. Matsumoto and “Squirrel,” as he had been dubbed by Mac, were fine with the train. Amiga spent the entire ride complaining about how disgusting it was, while Matsumoto and Squirrel talked in a corner.
“The language you are speaking is called Japanese,” Squirrel explained to Matsumoto. “It’s a country called Japan, and Tokyo is the capital.”
“That’s where I used to live!” Matsumoto said. “But I don’t remember the name Japan.”
“The country may have been called something else in your language,” Squirrel said.
Matsumoto nodded. “That’s true. How do you know all of this stuff?”
Squirrel shrugged. “I don’t know. My head just feels like an encyclopedia. I don’t remember everything, but I remembered what the music was in the boombox. It was some of my favorite.” He trailed off. “Do you think it’s real?”
“That our world was destroyed. That we are all that is left.”
Matsumoto sat for a second as they went over the bridge. Yes, this world was different, and other than that, he couldn’t remember a thing about his past world. “I don’t know --”
Matsumoto and Squirrel jumped, Squirrel knocking over his boombox. “What?” Matsumoto asked Amiga.
She got up from where she had been sitting and ran over to the window near Matsumoto. “Where’s the World Trade twin towers?”
Mac sighed from where he was sitting. “Seriously, guys, if you would just sit still and chill, I could explain all of this to you --” but his words fell on deaf ears. All three kids were looking and talking about the new building standing where the Twin Towers once stood.
“Maybe they were hit instead of the Empire State Building!”
“There has to be a link portal where we can find all of this information out.”
“Link portal, Matsumoto? Sheesh. Just watch the tele.”
“I wonder if they got the terrorists in this dimension.”
“I’m sure they did. Otherwise, the terrorists would have won and this world would be annihilated.”
“But we got them, didn’t we?” Squirrel started to hum something, a tune Matsumoto recognized.
“I don’t know the words,” he said as he started humming, then Amiga joined in, three kids from the same world knowing the same song.
Mac relaxed on the bench across from them, watching them. He had thought that he would be done with all of this madness when his world was saved by his now-girlfriend. But he, of course, had been wrong.
“What is that song, anyway?” he asked.
Squirrel stopped humming. “I don’t know the words,” he said. “But I know it’s a military song.”
“Hmm.” Three kids, one from Japan, one from the U.S., and one from some Spanish country, all knowing the same military song? It begged for questioning, but Mac was halfway certain that nobody would have answers this early in the game. He instead turned to Amiga as they went back underground. “Tú hables Español, ¿no?”
Amiga jumped. “¿Entiendas mi lengua?” she asked.
Mac laughed. “I have no clue what you just said,” he said. “But my girlfriend would. She’s Puerto Rican and is fluent for the most part. We won’t meet her tonight, but she’s the reason I’m here. I’ll get into more details when we get to our destination.” He held on tight as the train roared on, through the tunnels of Brooklyn and out into the night sky.
Mac had been anticipating one person to rescue, not three, so his plans needed changing a bit.
His game room hadn’t changed a bit, the same couch in the middle, the same television and gaming systems against the wall, the same window that overlooked Coney Island. He pulled out the couch to make room for Matsumoto and Squirrel, then pondered on what to do with Amiga. “If I put you on the couch in the living room, my mother will come home and think you’re a new girlfriend,” he said. His mother didn’t work at the bar anymore, and she drank less, but old perceptions die hard. “Do you mind if I make you a bed on the floor?”
Amiga shrugged. “I guess beggars can’t be choosers,” she said.
“We’ll talk with my girlfriend in the morning and see if you can stay with her,” Mac said. “She’s at a school event tonight, so it’s hard to ask her. I will be down the hall, so knock if you need anything.” And with that, he left for a moment, then returned with three pairs of lounge pants, three t-shirts, and blankets and pillows for everybody.
“I will sort this all out for you in the morning,” Mac said. “It’s too late for my brain to function like this. Even on a Friday night. Go to sleep, and we’ll regroup in the morning.” With that, he shut the door for good.
“He seems to trust us the same way Mick did,” Matsumoto noticed out loud.
“That’s true,” Squirrel said as he grabbed a t-shirt and pants. “I half wonder if there is some conspiracy going on. Like somebody is trying to manipulate us.”
“If that’s the case,” Amiga said, “then the three of us have to stick together. It’s clear we are the outsiders here. Sound like a plan?”
Both Matsumoto and Squirrel nodded. “We will ask Mac for more information first thing in the morning,” Matsumoto said.
They prepared themselves for bed. Amiga found the bathroom down the hall and changed into some of the lounge pants, which were actually a girl’s pair of sweatpants. They were a bit short on her, but she was glad for the fit. She replaced her jacket and dress with a white t-shirt and met up with the boys, who had changed as well. Matsumoto was already dozing on the pull out couch when Amiga walked in, goggles sitting by his folded clothes, sleeping on his back.
“Carrying a bunch of bags will do that to you,” Squirrel said as Amiga walked in. He turned to Amiga. “You must be tired as well.”
“I am. I just don’t know what to make of all of this. My brain is going at a hundred kilometers a minute, and I can’t make it stop.” Amiga sighed and sat on the edge of the pull out couch. “I don’t know how I’m going to sleep.”
“Me neither. I guess I did sleep in the park before I woke up, so that’s the only thing keeping me sane right now.”
“You’re just like us. You don’t remember where you were before the park.”
Squirrel was silent for a moment. “When I woke up,” he said, “it felt as if I was in a dream. Like I was still in my old reality. But then I realized that the dream wouldn’t end. It still feels like it’s just one big hoax. Like I’m going to wake up and everything will be normal again. You and Matsumoto are proof that this dream is real. I thought later that maybe I had hit my head or something, but that’s clearly not true now.”
“You just woke up with this stereo,” Amiga said.
Squirrel nodded. “I don’t even know what my real name is. I think I’m from out west, Los Angeles maybe. Do you know where that is?”
“I do,” Amiga said. “I don’t even know what country I’m from. Mac sounds like he may have some clues. I want to talk to his girlfriend, see if she would know, maybe by the way I speak.” She caught Squirrel looking at Matsumoto. “What are you looking at?”
“Just noticing.” Squirrel paused. “Is it me, or do you think he’ll be a good leader?”
“Think about it. We still need to find two more of us, and Matsumoto’s been the one who has looked out for our small group. I could just tell that from looking at the two of you. He was carrying your bags, and he was the one who pushed the button to get Mac to us.” Squirrel grinned at Amiga. “He’s got good charisma. I can see why you like him.”
“Like him?” Amiga blushed, though she wasn’t sure why. “I don’t even know if I like him. But he’s the only person I’ve got.”
“Well, not anymore.” Squirrel climbed onto the pull out couch, sitting down next to Matsumoto. “I’m here.”
He fell asleep shortly after that, and Amiga was alone with her thoughts. She found herself standing in front of the window, looking out over Coney Island, wondering what this new world held. And it wasn’t even as if they could stay here. They worked for Mick now, and she didn’t know what that meant. The world seemed to her a bright spinning vortex that might just grab her and not let her go, if she wasn’t careful.
For a split second, she felt as if there was somebody behind her, that if she just reached back, she would feel the other person’s hand there. But the wisp betrayed her mind, and when she looked, she couldn’t even remember what she had been looking for.