The Bad Part of Town
After a few more rejections of the local ladies, they made it to the promise land: the main slums of Baggs. The houses were close together and broken down; some more like shacks then anything, and some weren’t even houses. There were tents, camping trailers, and even some “home”-made shelters. The ground was damp for reasons that preferred to stay unknown, and there was the odd civilian passed out in the street.
“Migelle? There are ghosts here.”
“From the lab?”
She shook her head. “They were killed here.”
“Well...creation can be cruel.”
She nodded. “So I’ve heard.”
Con kept a close eye on Evie as they walked through the makeshift streets. Migelle wanted him to go forward and see if he could hear anything about Rick, but he refused.
"Nice try, kid, by these streets ain’t safe."
“I can handle it, Mister.”
She sighed. “Mister says no.”
They walked to the edge of the slums until they could see the mill in the distance. Once there, it wasn’t long until they ran into somebody.
“Hey kids. Aren’t we young?”
“That depends on your definition of ‘young’.” Evie said, thinking about it. Migelle decided to do the talking from here on out, as the man who asked the question chuckled.
“We’re a bit young.”
“Well then, there’s only one reason for you two to be here. Would you like to step into my office?”
He gestured behind him and laughed. Migelle rolled his eyes.
“We’re looking for Rick.”
The man stopped laughing. “Rick? Why should you be lookin’ for him? And what’s more, why should I tell you where he is?”
“Bitz sent us. Said he could help with something.”
“Bitz? How well do you know her?”
“Well enough to know her name is Alyssa.”
The man raised his eyebrow. “Wow. Okay. I’ll take to him.”
The man walked in a circle around Evie and Migelle, and then stood in front of them, holding out his hand. “Then name’s Rick.”
Migelle rolled his eyes and the man laughed.
“So what can I do you for?”
“We’re looking for a girl.”
“I thought you said you met Bitz.”
“A different girl. Blond hair, red lips, red eyes-”
“And looking for ‘daddy’.”
“Yeah, I saw her. Name’s Ireane, I think. Said she had some business.”
“She ask you for help?”
“Uh-huh. She said she knew who I was, and that I knew everybody; everybody but her.”
“Did you help her out?”
“Yeah. She said that I wanted to help her and, for some reason, I did.”
“I need you to tell us what you told her.”
“Pfft. Just because I wanted to help her, doesn’t mean I want to help you.”
Migelle pulled out the pancake money that he had neglected to put in his wallet. “You sure about that?”
The man looked it over and smirked. “I make more than that on one hit.”
Migelle looked that man over; his clothes were torn and he was a bit twitchy; it seemed that Rick had been on a bit of a cold streak lately. “You mean you did. Not for a while though, right?”
His smirk faded and he snatched the money. “Cocky little bastard...”
Con covered Evie’s ears; it didn’t help much.
“She didn’t give me a name, just a description; though it didn’t matter. She wanted to know where this old German guy lived. Said she checked his house, but it was abandoned. I laughed at her.”
“Well obviously she’d missed the big move. That guy struck it rich somehow; said he ‘sold his troubles away’. He moved to the actually city part of the city.”
“You mean to an apartment or something?”
“Not to a apartment; to the apartments. Right at the end of the shopping district by City Hall on the East side. Real snazzy place, too. ’Course he won’t let any of us go anywhere near him...”
Migelle raised his eyebrow. “He go straight?”
“Straight?” The man laughed “No, just high-rise. He doesn’t have a job or anything; just drinks. Don’t know how he does it.”
“What’s his name?”
“Shurbet. Anton Shurbet.”
“Hey, tell Bitz I helped you two out, okay? I could use some brownie points.”
“I’ll tell her if I see her.”
Evie thanked the man and they walked off towards the mill, which was connected to a main road.
“Do you think that Mr. Shurbet is Ireane’s dad?”
“Well she is calling him ‘daddy’.”
“That doesn’t mean he is. I called my doctors ‘Doctor Father’.”
“...I think he’s her father.”
Evie thought about it as the sun loomed overhead. It was afternoon in the city, but it hadn’t been for long. By the time they made it to the main road, most of the people had left the streets for more secluded locations. One of the reasons for that could’ve been because of the police station that was right by “drug central”.
“Maybe they picked up Ireane.”
“I dunno. Seems like she’d be a bit smarter than that.”
Evie sent Con to go check it out and, true to form, Ireane wasn’t there.
"Snagged a confiscate liquid though." Con said, smiling as he held up a new six-pack.
“Very nice.” Migelle rolled his eyes and put it in the bag. “Did anyone see you?”
"How could anyone see ME?" Con laughed as they passed the station. Migelle wasn’t so sure, especially when a woman in uniform ran up to them with a worried look on her face.
“Hey, you kids!”
“Yes, officer?” Migelle asked, his voice smooth.
The woman ran up, a bit out of breath; as she was chubby and seemed a bit excited. “Did you two see a floating sixer around here?”
Migelle raised an eyebrow. “A what?”
“A floating... Oh never mind. What are you doing out here anyway. The park’s back there.” The woman pointed, noticing Evie’s age.
“We were headed for the road, Miss.” Evie said, smiling innocently. She didn’t want her friends in trouble.
“Oh? Goin’ home?”
“Uh-huh.” She smiled again.
“Well you don’t wanna be walkin’ around here, okay? It’s not safe for kids like you.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll get her home safe.” It was Migelle’s turn to smile. The woman smiled back.
“Well, as long as you’re taking good care of your sis there, it should be fine.”
Migelle rubbed Evie’s head. “Oh, I will. Don’t worry.”
The woman bent over and looked at Evie. She smiled, but then her smile faded.
“What’s that on her face, by the way?”
“It’s just a cloth.” Evie pointed.
“She’s blind.” Migelle offered.
The woman lifted it slowly; Evie resisted but Migelle stopped her.
“Evie, the police are here to help us.”
Evie nodded and let the woman look at her ‘eyes’, or lack thereof. She gasped a bit and put the cloth down. “Did you say...‘Evie’?”