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Go Ask Alice

Chapter Text



It was a tranquil power-down in the apartment complex on Baudway. On this evening, a young woman primped for her date. Humming “Alphanumeric,” she lined her lips in ruby lipstick. With a skilled hand, she applied the finishing touches – mascara, hair wax, blush and a spritz of lilac. Beaming, the primped woman exited the bathroom and slipped on an ivory blazer. It complimented her knee-length, black halter-dress and matching pumps. She paused; her gaze lingered on her organizer on the nightstand. Exhaling; she retrieved her lipstick and purse, then she exited her bedroom.

Dot’s polished fingers imputed the code into the control panel; her heels clicked against the tilted floor in the hallway lobby. Marching to the parking garage, she then approached an ivory convertible. She entered the vehicle and then flicked on the ignition. The top-down convertible steered out of the garage and descended into a lower level on Baudway. Switching off the ignition, she inspected her appearance and exited the vehicle. Rows of cars lined the restaurant parking lot. Her watch displayed the digits 24:50.

Straightening her shoulders, the primped woman entered the upscale restaurant. A young man, dressed in a pressed white and black uniform, greeted her. The jade-skinned sprite led her to a circular table and offered a data-pad. Fellow foodies sat at the finely draped, round tables. The electric candles on the tables provided the perfect ambience. Melodies from Johnny O’ Binome’s piano playing, filled the backdrop.

“I’ll have the 95 white, thank you.” The grinned at the waiter. As he left, she scanned the data pad menu. The waiter returned and filled her glass. She then removed her ivory blazer, neatly draping it across the back of her chair. While waiting patiently, she ruminated on the past few cycles. Since Bob had agreed to fine-dining, she had agreed to a power down off; therefore, a fair trade. That’s just like him. We ‘ll catch up – when he gets here.

One glass, one cheesecake slice and a (user) half-hour later, Dot still waited. Content couples chuckled and chatted at the other tables. Her polished finger tapped impatiently against the empty wine glass. The waiter approached her table with a bottle and another wine glass. Carefully, he poured red wine in the new glass. “I didn’t order this.”

“It’s compliments of the owner, Miss Matrix.” The young man smiled.

“How thoughtful.” The relaxed. Another prospective business partner, maybe?

“Please enjoy the house wine.” The waiter, with navy hair tied back, placed the bottle at the center.

“Thank you.” She nodded in appreciation. He also nodded and then departed. Reclining in her chair, she then reviewed the three-course menu. Her gaze wandered to the crimson liquid in the wine glass. It beckoned her with two words: DRINK ME.

Two glasses, another cheesecake slice and another (user) half-hour later; Dot fumed. Frowning, she placed her hands on the table. Where is he?  Opening her purse, she left her credit card next to the wine glasses. I guess Mouse or AndrAIA will have to give me a lift.

Approaching the cocktail bar, the primped woman laid her hand on the counter. The jade-skinned waiter glanced up from his polishing. “A friend of mine was supposed to meet me here, did he leave a message?”

“I’m sorry.” The waiter flashed an apologetic smile. “We’ve only had vid-windows calls for reservations.”

“Well, he’s just running late.” The placed a hand on her right hip and tilted her left.

“He must be busy – being the system’s guardian.” The waiter reasoned, “especially with all the ports open to the net.”

“Bob is always like that, living life on the edge and all,” she explained to the new resident. "I have to check my schedule, excuse me."

“Of course, Miss Matrix.” He nodded.

The primped woman stepped through the glass doors. Fewer cars lined the parking lot, yet Bob’s convertible remained missing. In the early (user) hours of power-down, the system temperature had dropped. Her watch displayed the digits 25:50. She strolled a few paces away from the restaurant, her heels clicked on the concrete. Rubbing her bare biceps, she then wandered into a darkened alleyway. Her arms crossed and eyes narrowed at the ground.

Maybe it’s too soon to mend things, right after his deletion … Suddenly, Dot’s vision blurred, and her core-com raced. Her body swayed to the left and her eyelids fluttered. Shutting her eyes, she gripped the brick wall. She heard steady footsteps behind her.

“Excuse me Miss Matrix, we just received a vid-window message.” The waiter calmly approached her. “The guardian mentioned something about mending multiple tears?”

“Finally,” Dot exhaled. Under the assault of another wave of vertigo, she leaned against the wall. “I think I been working too hard,” she muttered, “or I have gone random.”

“We are all random here, my dear.” His voice dropped an octave.

“How do you know I’m random?” Closing her eyes, she lowered her head. She felt soft hands grasp her bare shoulders.

"You must be,” the waiter whispered in her ear. "Or you wouldn’t have come here, Dot.”

“What?” Blinking, Dot rubbed her forehead.

“I asked if you needed a diagnostic program,” the young man simply stated as he supported her.

“No but thank you.” With a slight grin, Dot distanced herself from the waiter and turned around. Her wide, violet eyes stared into his crimson and teal eyes. A name escaped her lips. Her eyelids drooped, and her legs trembled. Feeling faint, she fell forward against the sprite’s shoulder.

Everything faded to black.