]| Dixon Joulers [DEX-WRAITH]
]| G-DIR EMPLOYEE USER ID # 11-07-02 :
]| Occupation: Dead Zone Tourism Entertainer
Sometimes in the wasteland it’s hard to keep your chin up.
It may seem that I lead a charmed life, but it has rough moments to be sure.
Sure, I’ve got my dream job: roaming the great outdoors, making blood-curdling screaming noises, bringing authentic terror to the wasteland tourists…
But lately I’ve been a little blue, or perhaps a bit green around the air filters, to borrow another color-related idiomatic.
I’m mean sure, the wasteland is bigger and more wasteland-y than ever, but it’s not quite the tourist hotspot it used to be. I don’t know what could’ve changed… I miss the times when we’d have ten tour buses a day, seven days a week. I’m an artist, a performer. I need my audience to keep my craft honed.
In the distance, I glimpsed black and white. I honed my audio receivers in on the spot and picked up the telltale puff and huff of a filter mask.
Say! I knew that guy!
"Hey, Charles!" I called out and waved my hand. Man, it had been a while! "Remember me? Dixon 11-07-02?”
I think radiation must have eaten through my speakers because most of my greeting came out as grinding screechy cough.
Charles froze and stared at me without answering, chest rising and falling rapidly. He glanced around nervously, tensed to run.
I floated closer so I wouldn’t have to shout. Quick as a flash, he snatched up a cinderblock and winged it right at my head. Happily my tough wasteland-grade face broke the block into little dusty pieces with no trouble at all. ANNET made sure us Dexes were always ready for a challenging workplace!
That was classic Charles. Always throwing things first and asking questions second. Well… more like throwing things first, and then running away at top speed. He’d always been an oddball like that. I know he has his… connectivity issues, but that tour guide book ANNET printed just for him explained me and the other wasteland employees.
“Well good afternoon to you, too,” I said, wiping the cement dust away from my optical array. When I had cleared my vision, Charles had vanished into the rubble like an agoraphobic rat.
“How’ve you been, Charles? Haven’t seen you much lately.” Geez, I only wanted some company! Where’d he gotten off to?
“Oh, come now Charles, don’t be coy,” I chided him. Hmm, there was a little smudge on my infrared readout… perhaps he was over there, hiding behind those shattered pipes?
“Remember when your ATV got stuck and I nearly gave that tourist lady an aneurism by scraping on the windows?” I reminisced. Charles and I had had some good times back in the day.
I peeked around the pipes and there he was, clutching a dainty little handbag. I squinted at it. That was new. It really clashed with his aesthetic; Charles is definitely a messenger bag kind of guy.
“Hello in there!” I said, causing Charles to curl into the fetal position. I ignored his cheeky antics. “Nice purse you got there! Did some tourist lose that out here? Suck day for you, eh?”
A notice popped up demanding that I take Charles to the organ harvest and Dex conversion facility. I skimmed over the notice.
Psh! That couldn’t be right. The debt the notice described was much too immense for a single person to have accrued. How could someone owe that much to the Directorate? Excessive gambling? This had to be a filing error of some sort. I scrolled further. Well, that was a lot of parking tickets. Still, even all those couldn’t account for an infinite debt.
I thought about it for a moment, and then decided I wasn’t going to take a fellow's organs because of a filing error! The G-Overmind can kiss my rusty, metal derriere.
“Hey, Charles—did you know you owe a crazy big sum of money to the Directorate? Like, unpayable-in-your lifetime-big? Pretty funny, right?”
Charles stayed in the fetal position, attempting to be rigidly still. I heard his shaky, whimpering breath. Radioactive snow drifted down, settling onto his tour guide jacket.
“You probably ought to get a new set of respirators,” I added in a more gentle tone. Poor Charles seemed more nervous than ever. “There’s a G-Supercenter 7.2 miles to the East. I’ve got a discount I can give you.”
Charles kept quiet.
"You ought to give him a break", a voice told me over Eureka’s old frequencies. "He can’t understand you. In fact, I bet you look awful intimidating. Not that you look intimidating to me! I think you’re rather sharp-looking."
I felt my outlook brighten. Finally, someone who I could actually talk to!
“If you say so, Matilda,” I replied. “I see how it is with him now. And I thought we were friends!” I said that last part towards Charles.
I was offended by his inability to acknowledge me as his co-worker. Or was it ex-coworker? The Grid notice told me Charles hasn't checked in at the office in very long time. Whatever. Not my problem. I've better things to do with my life.
It was too bad that Matilda was only here virtually at the moment. I’d come to be rather fond of her traffic-light body prowling around the city. Those lovely scythe-like claws gave me butterflies.
"It’s alright, Dixon", Matilda assured me. Was she… flustered? "But he’s the only traffic I’ve got left to manage, so if you don’t mind”—
“—Not at all, my dear, it’s not your fault he can’t hold a decent conversation,” I said quickly so she wouldn’t have to be embarrassed for Snippy’s sake. Suddenly inspiration struck. “And how about I get you a coffee to apologize? I know just the place,” I added, feeling like quite the player.
"Oh, you’re too kind", Matilda said, and I wished that she was here in person again. All her lights always lit up together when she was excited.
A blur of black and white signified that Snippy was making his break for it. He sprinted away from me and blithely ran head-on towards a bad part of town, away from the last of the traffic lights that Matilda had been using to guide him.
I winced on his behalf.
“Bit of hard cheese, that,” I said to console Matilda. I hoped this wouldn’t change her mind about our date.