[Big Maul] Channel Flipper (H 2.2, P 2.3)

edited May 2014 in Big Maul
At some point, I realize I'm heading to Sears, to check in with the Cabal. Fucken weirdos, but they somehow get good jingle to pay for some strange stuff. Should be amusing, at least, and I could use some of that.
As you're walking to SEARS, this is playing over the Maul's speakers:

It's late morning, and The Breeze has died down, so the Dillards are out raiding. The No kids see you both, but they just wave. They're harassing Aveda for something.

The hallways to SEARS are wide, but there's trash piled up along the walls, from shopping carts to cardboard boxes and old machine parts that were just thrown down once they stopped working. It's a junkpile with a pathway now, like the folks of the Maul are hoarders and "in front of SEARS" is the dumping ground.


  • I hold my words as we walk the Maul, my only sounds coming from my various garments. As we start to pick our way through the dump that folks call Discover (because of the big black and orange sign on the wall), I finally address Hottopic. "I need to know about Muzak. Why does he sound different now? Since the other day, I mean. It's not OK for you to be the only one who knows what's going on."
  • ::sigh:: "You're right. I wish I could explain it better, but trust me that I won't hide anything. It's just a new thing to try and put words to and it's been an intense few days. Muzak is..."

    A long pause with just the creak and stomp and jingle of our walking.

    "It's like Muzak has always been around, even since the Before time, but somehow when shit went down it changed like everything else. Like how they say in books and stuff that the Breeze used to be just wind and now it's more? Muzak used to be just these harmless little tunes the Maul was humming to itself I think, but After, it started protecting us without even knowing we were here. It was alone and asleep and dreaming of being alone."

    I look at Playboy. "I know this must be frustrating, all these words to answer one short question and none of them quite... right. Best I can do."

    "Anyway, when I tried to figure out what had gone wrong with Muzak, it occurred to me to just, why not, ask. I've always had a sense of things, been able to understand things that I shouldn't be able to just figure out. That time, I just sort of did it on purpose. And Muzak woke up and in the same second realized it wasn't alone and it just pounced on me out of instinct. You saw that."

    "It wanted to communicate, wanted words and a way to interact with the world, so I put some shit together that seemed right and invited Muzak in. She answered the invitation, and I think now she's people in some sense. Songs've changed because she's exploring the options."

    Sheepishly, I look to Playboy again, wondering if I'll ever really be able to explain this to anyone.
  • "Are we safe? Is he going to keep keeping The Breeze off us?" I cock my head a second, "Where does Muzak live?"
  • "I think we here are mostly safe still. I think Muzak sees the Breeze as - interference, static - and the protection we get is mostly Muzak keeping the Breeze off herself, somehow. Now that it can distinguish between people, though, it seems like some opinions are forming about individuals. As to where Muzak lives... I don't know anymore. Some part of it is up in the offices, some part is in my lab. I don't know yet."
  • "OK, so if you gave it a voice and made it a person, how does he talk to us? Or, what I mean is, how do I talk to him?"
  • "What did the monster that talked to you in my lab look like? If it was sorta furry and a little burned, that was probably her. I'll introduce you later, once I'm done here."
  • "Yes, a thing on the shelf with one ear. I wonder if he'd be happier as a person."
  • Totally changing topics. "Why did Muzak think that you were in danger with Cache?"
  • edited May 2014
    "Cache had zir back up because I called zir out for hurting Esco. Looked like ze was gonna try some of zir brainfuck shit on me, and I guess Muzak realized it. Maybe? I'm not an expert on how Muzak looks at things, though. It coulda been anything."
  • "Hm. Okay." I'm just thinking about stuff for a while. Long enough that maybe Hottopic goes back to moving toward the Cabal. "I'm just going to wait with you then...until we can talk to Muzak."
  • Heading towards the main Sears entrance. Which one of the crazies is on Welcoming Committee duty today?
  • The entrance to SEARS, which is only known as "Sears" because some folks remember that's what it used to say now that both S's are gone as well as half of the R, sits squat among the trash and debris.

    Willowy Banana Republic is standing around outside Sears. He's got his traditional yellow bandanna wrapped around his forehead and leans on his makeshift spear, which is a pair of sturdy kitchen knives lashed to an oar that's been whittled down a bit. He's a bit older than both of you, either of you, whatever. Scraggly beard, and hand-me-down-down jackets over his catcher's chestplate armor. He's smoking a hand-rolled cig that droops out of the side of his mouth, "Good day, lovelies. What brings you to Sears? Bidness or pleasure? Trade or work?" He winks at you, Hottopic, "Hotness, the gennies are good, much thanks."

    Behind him there are a few folks at the entrance, sitting on old, worn canvas chairs picking through crates of stuff gathered from around places, looking for good things to use. They casually toss away that which they don't see as useful, small piles of new junk forming at their feet. They're unwashed, wearing garish colors of a mish-mash of various clothing, baubles and glitteries hanging off them, around their necks.
  • With a smile, "Yo, 'Nana. Just making the rounds. You folks got anything needs fixing, or anything interesting to trade for? Glad the gennies are still up and running."
  • Banana Republic looks at you, Hottopic, then Playboy, cocking his head to the side in a questioning manner, "Got your self some pro-tekshun after the Am-see troubles?" He's indicating Playboy like she's your thug or something.

    Nana shrugs, "Auntie's bitching about her miker-wave. A little screw loosen or somesuch. Bet you can get some slop trade for fixing what's ailing there."

    He looks to you, Playboy, "Peace here, yeah? None o' ours will trouble you for words that you're peaceable. Give em and enter. Otherwise, stay out, big 'un. Capeesh?" He's not lowering a spear at you, Playboy, but there are maybe a dozen folks around with whatever passes for a hand weapon here, would be rough to kill them all. Plus, there's that juice they put on their blades.

    "Wastes of flesh, PB. Don't give them words they don't deserve."

    What do you do?
  • "We're just walking and talking, 'Nana, Playboy's a free agent." I'll wait for Playboy's response to the request... don't want to just walk away.
  • "Oh hush. Peace, yeah, always!"
  • I think I'm much more cagey than I am. The relieved smile I think I'm hiding is totally obvious to everyone else looking on. I'll nod at Banana Republic and head on in to see Auntie. I've never been 100% sure that she should even be using some of the shit she cooks with, but she always comes through with the goods.
  • Banana waves the pair of you through, and you head into the concrete forest that is Sears.

    There are tents strewn about in haphazard fashion, shanties built into the concrete pillars and walls, a little ramshackle town here. All the people here are covered with trinkets and baubles, prizes from dumpster diving or "finds" they've taken or traded. And to a one, they're filthy.

    Near the escalators is where Auntie Anne stays, in her big yurt, made up of a latticework of quilts and electric blankets and coats. There are no guards, nothing like that. Everyone knows you don't fuck with Auntie Anne.

    As you both walk up to the yurt, there are dozens of eyes on you. The few children playing with the head of some doll like it's a soccer ball, they stop and stare. A couple men see you and follow you, "just in case".

    From outside the yurt you smell soup. There's always some kind of food cooking at Auntie Anne's. It's permeated the fabric of the yurt, and it always smells like something in the Food Court, but fresher.

    The main flap is thrown back, and inside you see Auntie Anne.

    Right now, you see a woman lying on rugs in the center of the yurt, a worried older woman standing nearby while Auntie Anne is watching. The woman lying down is giving birth, and Auntie Anne is coaching the midwife through the process. As you both step inside, you catch the profile of the head crowning, and the mother is covered in sweat, crying and snotting on herself, gripping at the rug and pushing for all she's worth.

    Auntie Anne sees you enter, and with a flick of her eyes, indicates a small booth to the side. It's more of a picnic table, really, but sanded down and polished, stained with a hundred different colors. This is where honored guests are served when Auntie Anne wants to feed them.

    What do you do?
  • I'm watching the birth. It's an always amazing process and we came in at just the right moment.
  • I'll take a seat at the picnic table and wait patiently, watching the birth from where I am, as well.
  • The midwife brings forth a blood and placenta-covered boy. With a look back to Auntie Anne for assurance, she clips the cord, wipes the babe, which is still. She takes a little rubber sucker and sucks out fluid from it, but the boy doesn't move.

    Auntie Anne moves forward to reach out and touch the small one, her finger across his lips, right under the nose. It's eyes pop open and it begins to squawl and cry, sputtering and moving in spasmic jerks, unused to this new world. The midwife brings the baby up to it's worn mother, and she works to quickly get the babe to latch onto her plump breast. Then, there is calm. The mother, her name is Trinket, her face slides from weariness to an incredible contentment as she gently touches the wet hair of her boy.

    For a moment, Auntie Anne and the midwife chat, and then the older woman comes over to the table. She has her stick, Auntie Anne does, and she peers at each of you. "Hot. Play. Ow you two doin?" She flashes a genuine smile and ambles over to sit beside you, Playboy, resting lightly on the bench.
  • "Doin great, Auntie. Heard you might need some help with the hotbox. How's yourself?"
  • Auntie Anne grins and puts a clammy hand on your thigh, Playboy. It's friendly-like, but yeah, she's pretty comfy around you, not scared. She looks over at you, Hottopic, "Yea, da fuckin ting's all sparkly. Bet choo can take a look an fixit, yea?"

    She pauses for a moment, looking over at the mother and babe. "Dat's some good shit dere, yea?" She looks up at both of you, "Ever wan kids?"
  • I smile. "Good shit, yeah."

    No one has ever asked me if I want kids before. I mean, I like kids, even the obnoxious ones like No Smoking, but... making one? Not answering, I wander over to the microwave, take a look.
  • edited May 2014
    "Want?" I'm uncharacteristically washed with memories. "When I was a wee-one, sure -- everyone wants a baby."

    And uncharacteristically verbose. "Not here; not in this fallen world though. It wouldn't be a kindness. We've got to live these lives we find ourselves in, but making new ones? That seems not quite just. But, even so, it's sorta nice to see this happening. It could almost give a person hope if they didn't know better."
  • edited May 2014
    The microwave fried some internals, Hottopic. Not so much different from what happened to Kay-Bee, really. It came from a short. You'll need to bring it back to the shop.

    Playboy, Auntie Anne doesn't move her hand off your thigh, and she smiles, "Play, I can see yer point, but choo got enough brains to make tings bettah, yea? Mebbe you raise a strong girl like yaself, an next genration be in bettah straights. If we all stop 'avin babes, den the world's sure done."
  • edited May 2014
    "Auntie, this is gonna take some time back at the shop, right? Need some parts, too. What do you have special for me to do this?"

    Looking at Playboy, interested in her reaction.
  • "I don't know, Auntie, It doesn't seem right to have those babies just on the faint hope we can get things back. I think we need something new. Something the Breeze doesn't hate."
  • Auntie looks over at you, Hottopic, "You wan some food, extra chockies fer ya No friends, some pick of our next haul? Dat's fair, yea?"

    The new mother is singing a soft little song to her baby. Playboy, it sounds familiar, like really familiar. Something a woman sang to you as a child. What's the song?

    Auntie Anne looks back over at you, Playboy, "Sometin new? Dat's souns fresh. Choo got an idea wot? An if dere's no ope, den wot is dere, yea?"

    The mid-wife is busy arranging the viscera left from the birth, places it into a bowl. She brings a small amount to the mother, but she shakes her head no, refusing it while singing to her boy. The mid-wife brings the bowl to set it on the table by Auntie Anne.

    Anne looks to both of you, "Dis good eatin. Don taste so great, but make you strong, give ya some sight inta da other." She gestures to the bowl, the placenta, "Choo wan some?"

    What do you do?
  • I'm staring at the new mother, humming along for a bit before I start to mumble. "...It's not the things you do that tease and hurt me bad, but it's the way you do the things you do to me...I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that, Oh noooOo! The tide is high, but I'm holding on. I'm going to be your number one..." It's an old song. Old-old. I sometimes hear it from Muzak but without the words, of course. I think about it and wonder if The Tide is like The Breeze.

    I reach into the dented steel bowl almost absently, finger the placenta between thumb and forefinger before I look at it. "Looks like a sack of liver." And then I pull it up to my face and take a bite, chewing it slowly and noticing the texture.

    "Be better cooked. Maybe kebobs."

  • edited May 2014
    Auntie Anne chuckles, "Troo dat, Play. Troo dat." She pulls up a piece and chews on it roughly. Then, in a thoughtful tone, she asks you, Playboy, "Play, why ya wearin da hood? Choo pretty enough, no scars an all. No need to hide yo bad self."
  • edited May 2014
    "This...is my...face..."
  • I'll help myself to a bit and chew slowly. Strength is good. Auntie's deal is fine. I know I'll get my own back. I'm kind of enjoying the interaction between Auntie and Playboy, not in any big hurry.
  • Auntie Anne shakes her head, "Nuh uh, Play. Dat's ya mask. Ya face is ya face. So tell me now, why you wearin it? Don't nobody talk no sheet to ya, nobody ta hide from. Is dere? Or... is dere?"
  • It's crazy and I don't have the words. I've heard tell from the old-timers that back when they were building things, if a person had a dick, they were a man. If they had tits, they were a woman. But now, we just do whatever and everyone's good. Why can't Auntie see this is the same damn thing? "This is my face."

    I'm imagining everyone here broken and bleeding out now. It's a thing and it makes me uncomfortable. So I turn to Hottopic, "you owe me an introduction, yeah?"
  • "Yeah, I do." I pick up the microwave and give Auntie a kiss on the cheek. "Auntie, I'll see what I can do with this. Should be a day or so unless it's more broke than I think."

    Wave of the hand, and I'm back out in the rubbish-strewn sprawl of the store.
  • edited May 2014
    I look down at the bowl again before leaving. "Maybe jerky -- cooking could damage its special."
  • Didn't say so before, but the placenta is as you said, tough and bloody. Not so unlike liver.

    Auntie Anne gives a casual nod when you take the microwave, then she chuckles at you, Playboy, as you're leaving. "Ave yer own kids, Play, an you can fricasee da shit." She cackles some laughter and takes a piece from the bowl for herself.

    Headed back to the shop? Anywhere else to stop on the way?
  • Straight to the shop, far as I'm concerned. Told Playboy I'd make an intro, that's what I'll do.
  • Sure, you two head back to the shop. Please go here.
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