Shiny Happy People

Chapter 5

12:40 PM, MARCH 13 XXXX

“What's a Black Box?” Behemo asked after eating his lunch.

The bartender smiled over at him and placed a shopping bag containing the clothes given to him by Levia, all folded and dried. He'll have to iron them later, he noted, after he deals with the current clothes he's wearing.

“It's somewhat like a recording device. Why?” the bartender asked. “Everyone has one. It's surprising that you don't know about it, no matter how rural you seem to be.”

“Read a bit about it in the paper. Medel Laboratories recently manufactured their latest model?” the blond said, trying not to make a smart quip at the bartender's remarks.

“Black Box Type...” the bartender trailed off, then sighed, “type 'something'. The question marks aren't exactly pronounceable...”

“...I can see that,” Behemo dryly said.

“Yes, but you can't say that,” the raven-haired bartender pointed out.

“Oh, yes I can,” Behemo challenged.

It's generally pointless to make such a big deal of it, but Behemo was rather ticked off no matter how good-natured the bartender seemed to be. All those little quips and remarks served to make him prove a small point, even though it's a point that most people could get if they only thought hard enough.

“Well, don't we have a challenging young gentleman today?” the bartender smiled.

Black Box Type…..?” Behemo said, trailing his voice off for at least five seconds before plastering a smug smile on his face in return. The bartender looked quite impressed and put the glass that he was wiping down onto the counter.

“Alright, alright, you win. Apparently, the question marks are supposed to host the first initial of your name,” he shrugged, throwing the cloth behind as it landed right into the sink. “So it's like Black Box Type A, or Black Box Type C, or B and so on. It's very expensive though-- Medel doesn't like to go cheap with their inventions.”

“Try me. How much?” Behemo asked, forgetting that he's flat broke.

“Retail costs, plus tax, would be 14,000 Tarils.”

The handsome heir to his family whistled.

“The other Black Boxes were much cheaper. You can get a second hand one for 70 Tarils, but the more advanced, obviously the more expensive. I have a Black Box 4.0-- back then I got it for about...7,000 Tarils?” the bartender sighed. “Left a huge hole in my pocket.”

“Why spend so much for a recording device?” Behemo asked, perplexed. He poured himself some iced water and drank a gulp while absentmindedly looking around for any signs of Levia.

“Beats me. It's something you have to tinker with. All I use is for is to record things, and suddenly some guy finds that he can hide in it, and some lady finds that she can put her things in it...I don't know how they can find out such things, really.”

“I'd like to have your name, by the way,” Behemo said, pressing the cold glass to his forehead. “I mean, you're the most decent and irritating chap I've ever met in this here place.”

The bartender couldn't help but laugh. “Parma. And you?”

“Behemo,” he smiled.

“Modern name, old-fashioned guy,” Parma smiled back. “Your sister's right over there, by the way.”

Behemo feels Levia's hand on his shoulder before he could even turn around, and he feels her face close to his as she bends a bit to rest her chin on that same shoulder. He could tell that she was smiling, so he smiled too, turning his head a bit to at least acknowledge her.

“So she is,” the blond male agreed.

“Haze'll clear up at 12:30 midnight,” Levia whistled. “Making friends already, Behemo?”

“Something like that,” he sighed. “Parma here's being a good sport.”

“12:30?” Parma sounded surprised. “Isn't that pretty early?”

“Quite,” Levia nodded, choosing to sit beside Behemo at the bar counter. “Really early, considering the rest of the three days. Then we'll leave in the morning and I'll drop the three-day payment for whatever we had here. Is that alright, Parma?”

Parma nodded. “I'd suggest you two leave earlier though. Need to tidy up, after all. And if you're having trouble, I'll help out.”

“That's acceptable,” Behemo nodded. “I've been wanting to find a place to crash in anyways,” he said, twirling his cane. “I need a good bed, even if it's a gurney.”

“You'd need something else, friend,” Parma smiled, slowly sliding a revolver on the counter towards Behemo. Levia's and Behemo's eyes both widened, but upon seeing Parma's perpetual smile, they ended up staring at the revolver instead wordlessly.

Nothing.

“...I'd suggest this for the lady,” Parma nudged gently. “You've got a cane-- a gentleman can do wonders with it instead of simply looking dapper.”

Levia wordlessly took it and kept it in her lab coat. “Who were you sent by?”

“Professor Held,” Parma genially smiled.

It was far more information for Levia than Behemo, to which the former actually knew and worked with the scientist rather than the latter, who knew nothing about him at all. Behemo looked at Levia as if he deserved a few answers, but Parma shook his head and took out some bills from the cash register.

“Everyone here in this bar will be your enemy tonight,” he hummed. “Now, would you like some milk?”


11:12 PM

“Now everybody, let's sleep off for a better tomorrow! Good night, and sleep tight! Well, for us, that is, thank you so much for listening to today's broadcast of Honily FM! I can't wait to go home...so for the time being, have the latest song from Yomi Hayori, 'Love My Stars'!”

The radio remained on as Parma locked the doors of the bar, observing Levia's and Behemo's movements. They didn't discuss anything that afternoon-- Parma somehow refused to say any more on the matter, so it left the lady with the revolver and the gentleman with a cane.

Behemo really wished that he'd slit everybody's throats that night.

Levia noticed that the customers' actions were far more erratic that night-- she didn't notice so much when they entered the bar days earlier. They started talking about very out-of-context topics, glanced at the two every now and then, and one even winked at Behemo way too excessively. She might as well have blinked excessively so as to not be that obnoxious.

She could feel the weight of the gun in her coat pocket, and she held onto Behemo's hand tightly.

It wasn't just him who had sudden murder impulses, and this was a time when people were out for their blood. And she was the one with the gun.

Behemo observed the situation as well, not daring to say anything as he twirled his cane continuously, seemingly out of leisure. A customer whispered to Parma, and Parma nodded with his signature smile before beckoning him towards the men's.

It's so hard to trust people nowadays.

“I'll be back,” Behemo whispered to Levia, to which Levia looked instantly panicked.

“We're separating?” she asked in a horrified whisper.

“For the time being,” he nodded. “I need to lead half of the customers away. You'll have to take care of the other half. I'll be with you soon.”

“Behemo…!”

He squeezed her hand, let go and walked upstairs. She could see that a few followed, and she looked around her with the straightest face she could manage. She's left with seven people, herself, her alternate with nine people at the second floor, and a gun.

The only logical thing you'd do with a gun and people is to shoot them, right?

Right. Yes. Positive.

So she did.

Levia dragged one man by his collar and shot the back of his neck, and the rest pulled out guns as well, all ready to shoot Professor Barisol as ordered. The blonde got down and aimed to shoot at their legs, causing them to howl and scream in surprised pain, and she got up to shoot as many people in the head as possible. Parma was right-- things were much easier and quicker with a gun, and much less bloody.

“Behemo!” Levia cried out, running up the steps.

Behemo was handling his job rather fine-- he was experienced, to say the least. He didn't even need the revolver, because the cane, his fists and his feet were good enough for him. He strangled a few with the cane hook, drove the long stick down others' throats, got a letter-opener laying around while stabbing most-- generally, he was quite fine. It was harder for him because guns weren't so frequent, or rather, not so many people thought of being violent back home, but he disarmed them and killed them and that was that.

There's too much blood though, and his cane was dirtied with the fluids of innards.

“...I'm fine,” Behemo frowned, looking at his cane. “I might need to wash this.”

They both looked at the ticking clock. 11:39 PM.

“Where's Parma?” Behemo asked, slowly entering the gents to rinse his cane. Levia walked in as well-- what's the point being decent when no one's around?

“Downstairs. He brought one person in. I don't know why.”

“Should we check?”

“We should.”

“You trust him because he knows someone you know?”

“Professor Held's my superior.”

“For all we know, he may be using Professor Held's name.”

“Glad that you're suspicious. You'll need it,” Parma's voice came from behind them, and the twins turned around. The iconic bartender shrugged and patted their shoulders, to which the both of them obviously didn't take very well. One of the things that they had in common was the fact that they didn't like to be patronized.

Professor Barisol asked the practical question as she heard her counterpart turn off the tap. “So what do we do now? These people...they're all dead. We killed them,” she said, with a hint of horror in her voice.

“Nothing,” Parma whistled.

“Nothing?” Behemo raised an eyebrow, sounding surprised.

“Nothing. We go out, have a nice time, and you two run along home,” the bartender said, walking out of the restroom. “If I were you two, I'd knock myself out.”

“Now why would we--” Behemo started, moving in front to defend Levia, but a sudden blow to his head--

...

...

..............


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