It has been a long and quiet ride so far in this new car of ours.
I’m not quite sure why.
We were victorious; we vanquished Buddy, the car dealership mogul who destroyed Delta’s own vehicle. I gained enough Destiny Points that I can level up anytime I wish.
And yet we have been nearly silent since we began our trip.
It is a very nice interior that we are sitting in, though it is quite cramped. All three of us sit in the back, and the middle seat, occupied by Delta, has much less space than those by the windows. I have accidentally jabbed her side with my elbow about four times now, and seemingly no amount of apologies will lighten her mood afterwards.
Both Delta and Francis seem fixated on those black rectangular boxes of theirs. So tiny, so fragile, and yet they treat them as if they were a source of divinity.
Perhaps this world thrives on a source of magic that comes from small portable shrines that display moving images and provide energy through tactile interaction. I do not currently understand the magical ins and outs of Earth, though it is something I wish to explore deeply. What powers do the people on Earth have? It is a planet where humans are not only the dominant race, but the only one—surely they have magicks that go far beyond anything I can imagine from my experiences on a lowly world like Mystix.
The driver is much kinder to us than I would have expected from my friends’ reactions. After my fight with Buddy, Delta summoned this man with the power of her likely magical box, and he arrived not fifteen minutes later. Delta and Francis referred to him as an “Uber,” which in the tongue of the North Spirans means a super special individual, a powerful person who is at least a B-Rank Hero, if not higher. I know there are no stat-based systems on Earth, at least according to what my friends have told me, but even so, out of respect for a man as seemingly revered as him, I will refer to him as an [Uber] class hero.
In accordance with this, I decide to ask the [Uber] about himself. He has been very quiet as well so far, with only the faintest of music playing only at the front of the car. “Hello, my friend,” I greet. “I would like to inquire your name. Mine is Eryk Solbourne. What is yours?”
He doesn’t respond. Francis and Delta both look away from me, as well.
Hmm. I must have breached some sort of ettiquite issue that I was previously unaware of… Perhaps I did not practice enough humility for such a man as deserving as an [Uber.] “My apologies,” I say. “I have never met an [Uber] before. Your work is one of great valiance, I shall say. You have saved us lowly commoners time and time again, despite no need to do so.”
He finally responds. “Eh, I kinda do need it these days,” he says. “In this economy? A gig’s a gig, but Uber’s a real gig. Especially in San Fran.”
“San Fran…” Delta mutters.
“What is a ‘gig?’” I ask. “Some kind of dance?”
“A dance? Oh yeah, you know how it is,” the [Uber] replies. “Got you three in the back, but I got some SpeedyEats pizzas in the back too, gonna drop those off on the way if you don’t mind.”
“We mind,” says Delta.
He chuckles and plays it off as a joke. “Y’know, with that con at the convention center this weekend, I’ve been running around San Fran nonstop. I guess you three are coming from there, huh?”
“Yes we are, in fact,” I say. “How did you know? Do you possess psychic abilities?”
“Nah, fam,” the [Uber] says. “Just seeing your pink hair is all.”
“Oh! This hair is not part of a costume, or ‘cosplay’ as you may term it. In fact, it is my natural hair thanks to my heritage of North Spire. You don’t know it, though.”
“I hear you, I hear you,” he says.
“Are you sure?” Delta mutters.
“Mine’s a wig though,” Francis says. He takes the wig off, revealing his dark brown natural hair.
“Y’know,” the [Uber] continues, “I also tour around San Fran with my pop punk outfit on the weekends. I’m on guitar usually, but recently I’ve been doing keyboard more. Merch really helps make the ends meet.”
“I do not understand most of the words you said,” I reply.
“What’s the band called?” Francis asks.
“Good/Probably. We’re at Riff’s Cafe this Saturday night if you wanna come and check us—Wait a minute, you’re Francis Bacall, aren’t you?”
“Hehehe, yeah,” Francis says. He starts blushing.
“Bro, I loved your video on Genesis Crush 3! So friggin’ funny, yo.” While still driving the car, the [Uber] turns around and extends his hand back to Francis. “My name’s Kumar. Nice to meet you.”
Francis shakes it as fast as possible so Kumar can turn around. “Yeah, yeah, Genesis Crush was pretty, um… So, how close are we to the house?”
Kumar quickly turns back around and looks at the tiny moving map at the front. “About twenty minutes. Traffic’s a bitch. So, about my band. Do you have Spotify? Good/Probably is on there if you want to look.”
“Well, between gigs and gigs and gigs, it’s a real working life here in San Fran,” Kumar says. “But I got a lot of stuff going on and that makes me happy. I’m a lot like you, Francis.”
“Aw, please, I don’t work hard at all. I just like having fun.” Delta rolls her eyes.
“Streaming is serious business!” Kumar yells without a hint of humor. “Don’t denigrate yourself!”
“Oh… Uh, I was only being modest.”
“Modesty is for plebs.”
“I do not really understand what’s being discussed right now, but I would like to add that I was once part of a band myself,” I say. “My band of warriors known as Team Fanghook was hailed as one of the up and coming groups all across the continent.”
“Ah, Team Fanghook?” Kumar snickers. “I think I heard them in Reno once after a really long rideshare trip. I got a real big tip that day, if you know what I mean.” He snickers again.
“I don’t know what you—”
Delta pats me on the shoulder and mouths, “Leave it. Please.”
I decide to leave it.
From then on, once again our car ride is extremely quiet.
Earth certainly is a peculiar place.