The trio starts their hike strong. The relatively flat urbanized landscape makes it a fairly easy trek. The route they will take is far from being a rural 'No Man's Land' as the city dwellers like to call the outlying green land that sits between the city and the walls.
No Man’s Land is an apt, but perhaps ancient name. The term 'No Man's Land' has roots ingrained in an ancient civilization, the true etymology of the word is lost to the temporal waves of historical inaccuracies.
Large metal structures jut out of the ground in a grid like pattern around Hector’s apartment. They are contained to plots, divided up by long flat stretches of land composed of a sturdy synthetic HIPER-grade material. Green life cannot be found in this synthetic urban jungle, and would in fact look quite out of place, for plant life is a symbol of the world beyond the walls. Plants are only found in pots or plots within the walls, and can never be seen growing naturally.
‘Why can’t we go outside the walls? This race that Hector and Wei are competing in would be much more interesting if we were allowed outside the walls.’
Nani ponders this for a moment, as her two adolescent male companions lag behind her.
“Male younglings, following behind a dominant female!” An elderly lady points to the three youths in front of her while tugging on her male counterpart’s oversized suit jacket. Dragging. A second glance of the elderly couple would reveal that the word dragging should replace tugging. Dragging her male counterpart’s oversized suit jacket.
“Err…” The elderly man growls. “What are you trying to say woman!?” The elderly gentleman asks with an air of contempt.
“What did you say? How rude you old geezer! Keep up with me, we’re almost at the Preserva-”
“Hey! Shut your trap, woman!” The elderly man’s eyebrows furl angrily, his voice loud and stern, interrupting the old woman.
Hector and his two companions notice the elderly people behind them at this moment.
“Old man!” Nani shouts. “Don’t talk to your wife that way!” Nani erupts in an overly furious march toward the couple.
The old man sees Nani from afar marching toward him and his wife. He glances at his wife and whispers, “see what happens, this may turn into a messy scene.” The elderly woman angrily stares back, but ultimately keeps her lips pressed firmly together.
“I’ll do the talking, alright sweetie.” The old man declares, in a soft quiet voice.
The old woman nods.
“Just what do you think you are doing old man? Talking to another person in such a rude manner? It’s barbaric! What are you? From the Free Cities?” Nani emotionally explodes.
Hector, comparably very weakly to the ferocity of Nani’s voice, says, “Nani, shouldn’t you act a little calmer? You are almost being hypocriti-“
Nani viciously whips her head back to glare at Hector’s naïve face. “Are you going to finish that word?” Nani grimly asks.
“No…” Hector squeaks in an almost whimpering voice.
Nani turns back to glare at her accusee, “So what do you have to say for yourself old man? You a barbaric Free Citizen?”
“Young lady, please. I beg of you. Please lower your voice.” The old man innocently pleads.
“Well now, it seems you have the ability to act civilly. Why on Terra were you berating your wife like that?” Nani’s angry voice wavers.
“I do not know what you heard, but I was telling my wife to shut the trap on her back sack.” A single drop of sweat forms on the old man’s forehead. “You see, her short term memory is fading, so I must forcefully, and quite often I might add, remind her the simple things she forgets. I apologize that you found this display offensive, and I admit, I am not proud to have to talk to my wife like this, but tis the hand fate so cruelly dealt me.” He pauses to wipe the sweat that is now rolling down his forehead before it gets into his eyes. He clears his throat and promptly continues, “You may be asking yourselves, ‘why hasn’t she gotten neural surgery?’. Well she is adamant about not wanting surgeons to cut her head open like a watermelon-“
“I like watermelons!” The old woman interjects in a playful voice, her eyes seemingly devoid of actual consciousness.
“That’s very nice honey. Please I’d like you to meet these three young people. Their names are…” the old man turns to Nani, “this is rude but, what were your names?”
At this time, Nani is whimpering, her eyes are full of tears, ready to burst from their ducts, her mouth forms a jagged, and trembling, upside down U.
“My- My name is Nani” she manages to say, without bursting into tears.
“Hi I’m Hector” Hector waves.
“Hello, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Lennon.” Lennon holds out a hand to the old lady, she places her hand in his, and Lennon gracefully kisses the top of her aging hand. Lennon immediately stands taut, and very shyly turns to the old man.
The old man smiles, and holds up his right hand, slowly waves a gesture of good faith.
Lennon sighs, and relaxes his stance.
“You kids may call me Mr. Vitalis.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Mr. Vitalis. I’m very sorry very my friend’s rude interruption of the conversation you were having with your wife.” Hector apologizes. He bows down in a ninety degree angle to show a sincere apology and declares, “Please excuse her rudeness”
Nani and Lennon see this display, and instinctually mimics Hector.
Mr. Vitalis scratches his head, and waves his hands. He pleads, “Please, please, it’s alright. Stand up straight,” the three youngsters comply, “It would rather have been unsavory if you didn’t say anything. I must thank you kids for showing me that my display may cause others to react the way you have. You have my gratitude.”
“Again, we are sincerely sorry to have disturbed you. But we must take our leave. We will get out of your way now.” Hector and his companions wave to Mr. and Mrs. Vitalis, and they run off in the direction they were walking.
“Phew. That was a close one.”
Mrs. Vitalis glares at her husband’s aging face. “That was quite impressive dear,” she says in a modest voice, “you almost convinced me that I have short term memory loss.”
“And your watermelon remark was very contextual!” Mr. Vitalis compliments his wife.
They clap hands and then slowly continue walking onward.
“I’m going to miss this old place,” the old man says, as they watch Hector and his two friends run toward their objective, disappearing into the horizon.