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Neon Hearts: Chapter Two, Escape
I read over my letter one last time before I sat it in the warp pod. “Hurry it up.” Tox whispered to me. “I’m ready.” I replied quietly and gently slid the pod door shut. There were tons of blinking buttons on the control pad. “Do you even know how to work this thing?” I asked him, moving in closer to him. Tox looked at me. The broken glass patterns in his green eyes were twitching and moving like crazy. I hated knowing I was making him so nervous. Yet the way the lights on the Warper glowed in his pupils made my heart flutter. “Yeah. I think.” He whispered. He stared down at the control pad in frustration.
The yellow and red lights on the Warper, and the blue glow from the elevator pod were the only things lighting up the dark basement. If I wasn’t so nervous, it would have been romantic. Tox began pushing buttons. He started out slow and then sped up as if he were a Warper expert. I glanced back at the empty elevator pod. That had to be my twenty second time. It stared back at me as if to ask what my problem was.
I turned back to the control pad. Tox’s fingers danced around the buttons and lights, swift and agile. He suddenly pulled a lever. The warper made a sound, like an olden time Dell computer starting up. It shuttered and shook and a light came on above the pod door. Tox gently pushed me back behind him. “Get back.” He whispered. I nodded and looked back at the elevator. The pod was gone and the screen above the door was showing decreasing numbers. “Tox!” I shook his arm, “Someone’s coming!”
Tox looked to the elevator. At that moment a red light probed from above and sirens blared through the halls. “Intruder Alert! Intruder Alert!” a female drone voice echoed through the dark halls. Tox grabbed my hand. “Follow me!” he said. We ran down on a dark hallway. I couldn’t see anything until the blinking lights above drenched the dark halls in a ghoulish red light. But Tox was from Exavior and had the ability to see in the dark. So I gripped his hand even tighter and let him lead me through the madness. Suddenly he stopped. I rammed into his chest. He wrapped an arm around me. “Ssshhhh.” He whispered. I sighed as my heart hammered in my chest. You see, I’ve always loved Tox a little more than a best friend. And as awesome and smart Tox was, he never could see it.
And at that moment in the musty basement of the WGT building, while Tox was panicking and worried about how he’d lose his job and we’d get thrown in Solitary Confinement for the next hundred years, I was just enjoying being that close to him. But the moment didn’t last. Without warning, Tox let go of me and pushed me into a small room. “I’ll be back in a bit. Just be quiet.” he whispered, so fast I almost didn’t catch what he said.
“Okay.” I whispered. “I mean it Rahli. Not a sound. Security bots can pick up everything.” I nodded, knowing he could see, and with that he shut the door. I heard him run down the hall. I tried to calm my breathing. Get your mind off it I told myself. I gently felt around to see where I really was. I could feel something hard and cold. It was smooth and curved. Drone parts. I was surrounded by parts of drones and security bots, spare hover plates, and broken alert lights. “They went that way! Up the stair well!” I heard Tox shout. “That way! Down the hall. I was wondering why they were running so fast.” I heard a Security bot answer in it’s blank, high pitched voice. “Why-didn’t-you-go-after-them-?” Tox replied quickly, “I was headed to the alarm to warn everyone but it seems you beat me to it.” There was a pause. “Indeed…. Call-for-reinforcements-I-will-check-the-stair-well.” The bot replied. “Yes sir. So sorry sir.” Tox piped.
I could hear the Security bot’s hover plate quietly burring closer. The alarms had stopped going off, but I could see the bot’s probing security light from under the door. I held my breath. The Security bot stopped and hovered there for a second. The closet seemed to shrink. I could feel the pounding of my heart in my ears. Sweat ran down the back of my neck. After a few long moments, and the burring of the Security bot’s hover plates had passed, I heard the door open.
I exhaled and my head got a sharp stab of pain. “Rahli? You okay?” I heard Tox’s voice. I sighed a few relieved breaths before I could reply. “Fine.” I breathed. Tox took my hand and hurried down the dark hall. We didn’t say a word until we were back at the elevator pod. “Wow… that was a close one.” Tox whispered as the blue glow of the pod came into view. “I hope you know I’m never ever going to do something like that for you ever again Rahli Jenn Dahlia! I get paid poorly enough as it is. If I loose this job I‘m broke. No more lunch breaks at Voxiez. This was one of the stupidest things you‘ve made me do Rahli. Don’t ever ask me to do something like this again!” I sighed as he towed me onward. “I’m sorry…” I muttered.
Inside I felt horrible. What had I done to poor Tox? My only friend. Only Tox would have done something so stupid for me. There’s no way in the world he’d ever like me now. Sure nothing in the universe would stop him from being my friend. If I got us both thrown in Solitary Confinement for all eternity, he’d still be by my side. But I mean more as a friend. I had to tell him. Tell him now while we were alone. I stopped just before he stepped into the elevator pod. His hand was still locked around mine. I guess he was so worried about getting out of the building he forgot to let go.
“Tox?” I said, looking down at our entwined hands. Tox turned back to me. His glassy green eyes still pulsing like crazy. “Yes?” I took a deep breath. My stomach trembled and the back of my throat felt fuzzy. “I-I have to tell you something.” I whispered. An Earth human wouldn’t have heard me, but I knew he could. Tox took a step closer to me. “What is it, Rahli?” he asked. I took a deep breath and tried to swallow the rock in my throat. “Uhm…. I just wanted to say….. Thanks. For what you did for me.” I replied and smiled nervously. Tox stared at me for a moment. “Uhm…. No problem, Rahli.”
He let go of my hand and I followed him into the elevator pod. I couldn’t tell Tox of what I really thought about him. If he didn’t think the same way about me, it would ruin our friendship, and I had known him all my life. If I lost Tox, I lost everything. We didn’t say anything as we rode up to the ground floor. I glanced up at him from behind my long blonde hair. Only then did I realize how much he meant to me.
“Tox? Really, I am really, really sorry.” I said. “It’s okay, Rahli. Something does need to be done about Pallin Jay and his Deam-ons. There was something about that mutant dog that didn’t look right.” He said, he seemed to be talking to himself now.
We headed out into the parking garage. Tox punched in the password on his hover bike. The bike burred to life as the hover plates kicked on. He jumped on and handed me his Dense Metalloid helmet. I slid it on my head and jumped on the back of the bike. It sank slightly under our combined weight, but hovered smoothly out onto the Speedway. There wasn’t many hovercrafts in the Speedway. That told me it must have been late. I almost fell asleep on Tox’s shoulder as the Hover bike’s hover plates purred under us. Finally we made it to the ghetto, or Deam’s Home for Orphaned Youth. Yes, Tox and I were orphans. It never really bothered us though. We looked out for each other since we were kids, and since I was 18 I was legally an adult.
Tox stopped in front of my dorm house. I climbed off the back of the hover bike and handed him the helmet. “Thanks Tox. I owe you big time buddy.” I said. He shrugged, “Ah, don’t worry about it Rahli. We didn’t get caught did we?” Tox was smiling now. I couldn’t help but smile too. “Yeah…. Goodnight.” I said, tempted to tell him again. Tox winked at me and slid his helmet on, “Night. Sleep good. You got a big day tomorrow!”
Suddenly it hit me. I had completely forgot. Tomorrow was the last day of Education Classes. Graduation. My stomach lurched. I was going to be exhausted for the ceremony. But Tox had already rode away. I sighed as he turned the corner and out of sight. I headed up the walkway to the dorm house. I punched in the password on the door keypad. The light turned green and the door slid open. I walked in as the lights flickered on. As usual, the ScreenFeed walls flickered on as well, showing images of the latest news and the time. 3:18am. I groaned. “Evening, Rahli. Where have you been it’s late! Have you forgotten tomorrow is your graduation date!?” My house drone, Retta 6000, hovered over to take my shoes. “Not now Retta. I’m tired.” I sighed and plopped down on my hover bed. It sank slightly under my weight. Retta put away my shoes and tossed me some pajamas. “Oh now, I think something else is bothering you sweetie.” she said and hovered over to me.
I threw her my clothes as I began to change. “What do you mean? I’m perfectly fine!” I said pulling on my silky pink pajama pants. Retta dropped my dirty clothes down the laundry chute. “Don’t hand me that! It’s Tox isn’t it? You still haven’t told him have you?” she scolded. “Told him? Pfft! Told him what?” I laughed nervously. “You know what I’m talking about little missy! You and I both know you love that boy to death!” It was true. Nothing got past Retta. “What!? Me? And Tox? That’s ridiculous! We’re best friends!” I laughed again, though it was totally fake.
“Well, whatever you say! But have you seen his house drone!? Remi. Oooh that bot can vacuum faster than any bot I’ve seen! What a hunk!” I couldn’t help but laugh. It wasn’t fake this time either. Retta laughed too. Suddenly the ScreenFeed seemed to get louder. “…..And what a success it was! President of the Global Tech Experimental Labs, Professor Pallin Jay Deams has created yet another Deam-on!” I scooted up to the end of my hover bed and focused on the main ScreeenFeed. Pallin’s shameless grin was all over the place. “Computer, turn up the ScreenFeed volume.” I demanded. The Feeds got louder and the broadcast went on, “Earlier today, Professor Deams finished his second Deam-on project, compiling his diabolical formula with an exotic Fox Bat, creating a new species of Deam-on!”
The ScreenFeed then showed an image of a bat-like creature. It looked completely normal, except the fact it was huge. It’s wing span must have been as long as a hover bus. Long, sharp talons hooked in curves at the ends of its three toes and held it upside down on its perch. His eyes were big and round like grape fruits, and the color of the sky on a clear day. The reporters kept going on about how Pallin Jay Deams was a genius, I didn’t hear a word. I was simply mesmerized with the bat.
It spread its huge black wings and opened its jaws in a great yawn. Its sharp teeth were small white blades. Finally it closed its mouth and wrapped its wings around its tan, furry body and hid its face in its wings. the screen went back to Pallin’s face. “That idiot! How does creating monsters help the Earth at all?” Retta snapped. “That freaky winged beast could destroy the whole metropolis of Deams if it wanted to!” I was horrified.
“That bat wasn’t a beast!” I growled. I’m not sure why I said it. Logically it was just as beast as the dog Deam-on. But there was something about the bat that seemed… different. Suddenly the ScreenFeeds went black and the lights dimmed. “You’ve had enough action for one night, young lady.” Retta said. “Get some rest. You have a big day tomorrow.” I yawned. She was right. The night was half over and I only had a few hours to rest. “Okay. Night Retta.” I said and pulled the fresh sheets up to my neck. “Goodnight, Rahli.” Retta said as she hovered over to her charging pad in the corner. Her hover plates switched off as she went into sleep mode. I turned over and was asleep in seconds.