The Dealey Five
Chapter 4 (or, "Parkour 101")
Last Episode: Matsumoto, Amiga, and their new friend Squirrel met up with Mac Taggart, who gave them a place to stay for the night in Coney Island.
In the morning, Mac took Matsumoto, Squirrel, and Amiga back to Manhattan. They sat at the same Saint Arbucks, where Mac started talking.
In the morning, Mac took Matsumoto, Squirrel, and Amiga back to Manhattan. They sat at the same Saint Arbucks, where Mac started talking.
“Your old world collided with ours,” he said, “and this world is the one that resulted. It’s mostly like my old world, as you can see by some clear facts, but a few things have changed for the better. The person in charge of all of this was Carissa Lopez, my girlfriend. She’s in class right now, but when she gets out, I’m sure she’ll want to talk to all of you. Until then, I’d be more than happy to answer all of your questions.”
“Where did the Twin Towers go?” Amiga asked as she sipped on a mocha.
Matsumoto rolled his eyes. “Seriously, that’s what you want to ask?” He sipped his drink. “You say our world collided with yours, and yours came out okay while ours didn’t. We are all that is left of our world.”
“And Carissa was in charge of all of this.”
“Mostly. The people at QWERTY helped her as much as they could, but they could only do so much.”
“Did Carissa know that the worlds were colliding? Couldn’t she have just chosen to combine them somehow? Why pick one world over another?”
Mac sighed. “I have a theory about this,” he said. “Carissa was the designated savior for my world. QWERTY picks these keys, people from the worlds that are colliding, one from each world. Ideally the two representatives from each world are supposed to meet and decide what the new world is supposed to be like. The problem is, for whatever reason, QWERTY did not pick a key for your world.”
Amiga dropped her drink. “What do you mean, they didn’t pick someone to represent us?! That’s not fair!”
Matsumoto steadied Amiga’s drink before it fell. “Woah, there, steady.”
“I don’t know why QWERTY did not pick a representative for your world,” Mac said. “They did send one of their own representatives to act as your representative, but without going into details, it didn’t go well.”
“I want details,” Squirrel said.
Mac was silent for a minute, then said, “He basically tried to destroy both worlds. There had been some corruption in QWERTY for a while that nobody had been aware of. He was supposed to go to the negotiation with Carissa and let her decide everything, but instead tried to destroy both worlds. Everybody is lucky that Carissa figured out how to fix it by herself, and she went into negotiation on her own and rewrote this world. It was save this world, or have both worlds be destroyed.”
“That still doesn’t explain why we didn’t get a real representative,” Amiga said, crossing her legs.
“The fake representative, Dvorak, was just supposed to be a stand-in,” Mac said. “Sarah Dealey, the leader of our faction of QWERTY, had every intention of not picking somebody from your world. I ultimately do not know why, and that is something you will have to ask her, if you ever get to meet her. You should. She’s rough, though, and doesn’t always like talking to new people. She’s a hard boss. You’ll most likely talk to Mick, her fiance, instead.”
“He was the one who woke us up and gave us our jackets and phones,” Matsumoto said with another slurp. “But Squirrel and two others woke up here instead.”
Mac tapped his finger on the table. “I’ve never heard of that,” he said. “But I’m from this world. I’m not a full time member of QWERTY. Mick would know more about that than I would. For now, your goal is to find the other two, try to remember something about your past world and who you are, and to get back to QWERTY headquarters.”
“That’s one question I’ve wanted answered,” Matsumoto said. “How are we supposed to get back to headquarters?”
Mac opened his mouth, then bit his lip. “That’s a really good question,” he said. “But if I have learned anything about QWERTY, it’s that they only tell you what you absolutely have to know. They often don’t go into details. If you trust them...well, actually, even if you trust them, you may be screwed. But you didn’t hear that from me. We only made it out of that mess because of Carissa. And Ariana. Who got reinstated, by the way. If she ever helps with you guys, I think the ride might be a bit smoother.”
Amiga raised an eyebrow. “Dude...más despacio. Who’s this Ariana chica?”
Mac rubbed his temples. “Dios mio. You seriously have to meet Carissa. Anyway, Ariana was the only member of QWERTY who knew something was going on, and she tried to stop us several times during our adventure. If it wasn’t for her getting Carissa into the limbo to rewrite the world, none of this would have happened. When you get back to QWERTY headquarters, ask for Ariana. I have a feeling she’ll give you more answers than Sarah.”
“So find the other two and get back to headquarters,” Squirrel said. “Is there any sort of time limit on this thing?”
“Not that I know of, but seeing as how this is QWERTY, they probably want it done as soon as possible,” Mac said with a smile. “They didn’t even let us know when the deadline was until the day of.”
“Mick said we had a week,” Matsumoto said, a sudden glint in his eye. “I remember now. He said that right before I left headquarters. Amiga, you left before he could tell you that.” “Well, that would have been nice to know before,” Amiga said.
Matsumoto sipped his drink. “Chill out. We’re doing good. It’s only been one day, and we already found Squirrel. If we continue at this rate, we’ll be home in no time.”
“Except we don’t actually know how to get home,” Amiga commented.
“Why don’t the three of you spend the day investigating the city,” Mac said as he motioned for Matsumoto’s phone. “I’ll put my number in here, so you don’t have to keep pushing that same button. Learn how this city works. None of you have been here before, although you remember the New York City from your world.”
“The one with the Twin Towers still standing,” Squirrel said.
“Squirrel, you’ll be able to learn the quickest, since you are already from the United States,” Mac said, “just a different part of it. Once you learn what the city is like, you’ll be able to think of areas where outsiders would go, places that would seem either natural or unnatural for you. For example, someone from your world may investigate the Empire State Building because it’s supposed to be gone, and the 9/11 memorial where the Twin Towers once stood for the same reason.”
“Could we go see that?” Matsumoto asked. “I can’t remember if they ever made a memorial for the Empire State Building, but if September 11th still happened, I’d like to learn the true story.”
“Plus maybe we’ll run into someone,” Amiga said.
“They did make a memorial,” Squirrel said. “For the Empire State Building, I mean. I think they expanded a park and made it bigger, including the space where the building once stood. American Allied forces watch over it all the time...well, used to watch over it.”
“Allied.” Matsumoto chewed on his straw. “That sounds really familiar.”
“Sounds like World War II to me,” Mac said. “If you want to go to the memorial, I’ll show you how to get there. Later on, come back up here and you can meet Carissa. Then, we can try to figure more of this out.”
The 9/11 memorial was more powerful than Matsumoto had thought it would be.
There were small pamphlets in his language, and he picked one up, surprised that he could still read all of the characters. The “お母さんはどこ?” went through his head again, and instead of pushing it away, he thought about it. What did that mean? Every time he tried to translate it into his new language, it didn’t work. There must be a disconnect somewhere.
For a split second, he thought he had it. But then, he didn’t.
He read about the day, events eerily similar to his world, but landmarks, names, faces were different. In this world, the plane bound for the United States Capitol had failed, so there were less fatalities. And Squirrel was right: while there had been a memorial set up in their world, somewhere, this one came off as more majestic and peaceful.
He had never been to the United States in his old world. He didn’t know what to compare this to. Nobody from the old world did, not even Squirrel. But once upon a time, two towers had stood here, and while they had remained standing in his world, they had fallen here. These reflecting pools, these trees, this peace that remained was proof of that.
He still felt like there was something he should be remembering about this place, about these artifacts. But the more he pressed it, the more it eluded him.
Squirrel was in one corner of the area, looking at a tree, still holding on to his boombox, totally silent. Matsumoto figured that this somehow meant something more to Squirrel, as even though it was a different world, this was still his country. Amiga was looking at a computer in a corner -- or had been, for she was now bawling her eyes out on a bench. Mac kept giving her tissues, trying to help as much as he could.
Matsumoto smiled and went over to where Amiga was. “What’s up?”
Amiga turned to Matsumoto, tears in her dark eyes. “This little girl died on one of the planes,” she said. “She was just two. Nobody should have to suffer like these people did.”
“There you go again, trying to save the world,” Matsumoto remarked. “Why do you think it’s cool to put yourself in charge all the time?”
“I’m not in charge,” Amiga said. “ I just want to see great justice come to this world!”
“That’s not practical,” Matsumoto said as his eyes went back to Squirrel. “That’s just you sounding like -- wait, who are those guys?”
Amiga and Mac looked over at where Squirrel was standing. There were three guys dressed in black shirts and jeans around him. “Dude, their fashion sense is so off,” Amiga commented.
“Maybe we should focus less on those we can’t save and more on those we can,” Mac said as he stood up. “I don’t like the way those guys look.”
Squirrel was trying to hold his own against the guys. “Seriously,” he said, “this is the wrong place to be showing up looking all creepy.”
“We don’t care about you,” the man in the middle, clearly the leader, said. “We just want your boombox.”
Squirrel raised an eyebrow. “See, that’s where I have a problem. It’s my boombox.”
One of the men lunged forward, reaching for the boombox. In response, Squirrel jumped back, out of his reach, but not before the other men reached forward as well. Squirrel jumped on top of a bench, still holding the boombox, flipped over it, and zigzagged out of the memorial area.
“We better follow him,” Mac said.
Matsumoto nodded. “We have no way of keeping track of him except to do so. But how?” They all got up from where Amiga had been sitting and started running. The exit was clearly marked, dumping them out onto the street, but upon exiting there was no sign of Squirrel, or any of the other black dressed men.
“Only one of you can fit on the bike with me if we’re gonna go fast,” Mac said. “Who should it be?”
Amiga looked at Matsumoto. “You take it,” Matsumoto said. “Get up there and get going. I’ll figure something out. I’ve got my phone.”
“Okay,” Amiga said, the resolve she had previously shown long gone as Mac walked over with his bike. He straddled it, she jumped onto it, and they were off.
Matsumoto waited outside the memorial for a moment. He thought he might be able to get back in until he saw the “no re-entry” sign, then debated on what he should do. This area of town wasn’t familiar to him, although his card still had money on it, so he could buy a ticket to travel somewhere, or maybe a cab. But he didn’t know where Amiga and Mac had been headed --
A bicycle pulled up behind him and rang its bell. Matsumoto turned and saw the pink bike outlined with penguins, and the rider, a girl with a penguin helmet. She had a messenger bag strapped to the front of the bike, and was wearing a jean skirt and a green tank top.
“Are you from QWERTY?” she yelled.
“Where did Mac go?” she asked.
“Dios mio.” She motioned to the back of her bike. “Get on.”
Squirrel didn’t know why these people were after his boombox. He preferred not to think about that.
He only thought about how to get as far away from them, as quickly as possible.
He jumped across 42nd Street, landing on another bench and tucking and rolling. Being near Times Square meant that it was hard for him to try and scale these buildings, but he had still tried to move as quickly as he could. Besides, he had made it across Lower Manhattan in record time. There were a lot of smaller buildings he could jump off of, and the High Line had been made for people like him.
Now, if he could only remember who he was properly, then everything would be fixed.
He hoisted himself over a scaffold and onto its main level, running across it (and right past the builders). There was a ledge at the end that he jumped on, and then he swung off the ledge (one handed) onto a lower one, then onto a business sign, then straight into an alcove off of Sixth Avenue. He slid down the railing into the station, under the turnstile, and down another railing and onto a “B” train -- all while still holding on to the boombox.
He allowed himself to sit for a minute. Who knew who those guys in black were? And why did they want his boombox? Judging from the music stored on the boombox, the machine was his, and nobody else should either know or care about it. Were those people from his dimension? But Matsumoto had said there were only five people from their old world left, themselves included. They shouldn’t even know.
He got off the train in a couple of stops and jumped over the express tracks to a hidden staircase. Running up it, he jumped over the barrier and through the station itself, up the stairs and into a crowded uptown area. This place looked familiar...it all finally hit him, where all of the people were, the statue in the middle, the huge towers and swarm of cars circling around.
This was where he had woken up.
He clutched the boombox and ran to the left, repealed off a statue and rolled across the grass. There was a playground nearby, one he remembered now. It was strange to remember things since he had woken up with no memory. He didn’t even know what this park was called, but it was a starting point for him. Maybe if he stayed here, Matsumoto and Amiga could catch up. He was fairly certain he had lost the men at this point.
It was a short walk before he found the tree he had woken up under. It was just a normal tree, no clues as to where he had come from or where he had been. At that moment there was a group sitting under that same tree, on a blanket, having a picnic.
He sighed. This was all moot. The entire chase felt worthless now, although he did still have his boombox. Where had Matsumoto and Amiga gone to?
For a minute, he closed his eyes, and the wind whipping through his hair seemed to sing a lullaby, a tune just on the tip of his tongue, but gone and as invisible as the wind. When he opened his eyes again, the black clad men were in the park and running after him.
Well dang, Squirrel thought to himself and started to run again. But there was no way out. More black clad men came in from the other entrances in the park, and no matter where Squirrel ran, they were there.
Finally cornered on all sides, the man from before stepped out. Every eye in the park was on them and Squirrel. “This isn’t a game,” he said. “You’ll be arrested if you don’t give us the stereo. What do you want to do?”
“What do I want to do?” Then Squirrel smiled. “I’m gonna strut. That’s what I’ll do.”
He kicked the boombox, starting it up on the song that had gotten Amiga’s attention before. Then, he spun around, kicking his heels, and danced. Every pop and lock wasn’t him giving up, but instead, he hoped the dance would startle them.
And it did. Most of the men just watched, and an additional crowd of spectators joined in to watch as well. Squirrel stayed by his boombox, spinning and twirling, intent on keeping the one clue he had to his identity.
Everybody was so perplexed that they didn’t even see Mac fly through the air on his e-bike. He landed on a nearby path, inside the circle, and Squirrel saw him coming. He grabbed the boombox and jumped on as it was moving, speeding through the crowd, out of Central Park, Columbus Circle, and up to Washington Heights.