The chairs here are so, so comfortable… I could fall asleep sitting up like this. What kind of fabric does Amtrak use for these seats?
I guess falling asleep with my current “Ghost projection on Mystix trapped inside a mysterious cave” predicament would be unwise, perhaps even ill-advisable. But I have to fight that temptation since it is very, very easy to accidentally sleep when you are in such a world of comfort.
Delta hands me a plastic packaging. “Here’s your breakfast,” she says. “Sorry we had to leave so early. The 6:15 is the last one until noon today.”
“What is this?” I ask.
“A Little Debbie,” she says.
“Little Debbie sounds like a name, not a food,” I say. “And this brown stick does not seem like it will be the most tasty thing in the world. It looks rather plain…”
“I wasn’t expecting you to complain about free food,” Delta says, her eyes narrowing. “You always figure out how to sink to new lows.”
“C’mon, Eryk,” Francis says, stuffing his mouth with two of the pastries at once. “You’ve had a Little Debbie before, right? You ate that cosmic brownie.”
“Oh! Right! The almighty cosmic brownie!” I exclaim. I immediately open the packaging and examine the plain-lookig item. “If this is of the same pedigree, then there is no chance of it being anything other than excellent.”
“Exactly,” Francis says.
“My mother-in-law near in the town where they make Little Debbies,” Delta says. “Some small town in Tennessee. She always brings a bunch over when she comes to San Fransisco. And then Francis steals it all every time he comes to our house…”
“I will admit to exactly that,” Francis says. “I cannot deny the plain truth.”
“But this one is special. It is called a donut stick. It’s like a donut, but definitely not as tasty or anything so don’t get too excited. But its secret weapon? Coffee.”
“Yes. Have you ever had coffee?”
I shake my head. “What is that?”
“Hmm… it’s a dark, bitter liquid that changes lives forever.”
“You’re always so vague when it comes to explaining things, you know,” I say. “Perhaps a little transparency would benefit me…”
“I… Okay, sorry.” Francis puts his hand behind his neck. “I’ll go grab a couple cups real quick.”
In just a minute or two, Francis comes back carrying a tray with three small cups filled with, yes, a mysterious black liquid.
“It’s very hot,” Francis says. “Too hot to drink right now, but the perfect temperature for donut sticks.”
“I see, I see,” I say. “So what do I do, dip the stick in the drink?”
“You’re catching on,” Francis says like a grizzled mentor who’s taught a thousand students the same material. “Try it and see what happens.”
I take the coffee, then I take the donut stick, and I make the motion.
The bread-based confection immediately absorbs much of the liquid, which softens it immediately. I fear that it will soon break apart as bread often does when wet, but instead it remains just firm enough to hold itself together. I raise the donut stick and place it in my mouth…
It’s warm, but not hot.
It’s sweet, but also bitter.
It’s soft, but not mushy.
This is the power of a Little Debbie donut stick.
[Total: 43 DP.]
“I like it,” I say. “I like it… quite a lot.”
“Atta boy,” Francis says. “Embrace the power of snack foods for breakfast. Embrace the overwhelming authority of unhealthy sweets.”
“Yes!” I shout. “Unhealthy sweets!”
“Ssssshhh!” another train passenger responds.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
“Yeah, let’s keep it down,” Delta says. “Trains are like buses, but for really long trips. People hate loud talkers on trains.”
“I apologize to everyone I may have offended. Truly.”
“Tell that to them,” she says.
I start to stand up, but Francis grabs my arm. “She wasn’t being literal.”
I eat the rest of my donut stick and enjoy another scrumptious snack food. It is not a full substitute for a hearty breakfast of vegetables and grains, but in a quick situation, it can be consumed easily and likely includes most all the energy needed to survive the morning.
The coffee itself is… well, I can tell this is an acquired taste. It is certainly not as bitter as a haven root like the kind we grow on the rocks of North Spire, but in liquid form and heated as much as it is, it’s a bit hard to get down. It will certainly take time to get used to a drink like coffee.
However, about five minutes after drinking it, I am suddenly filled with a vigor unparalleled. It is as if I have triggered a [Kaio Mini,] and yet at no cost to my Life Points. I’m captivated by the effects this drink is bringing to my body. It is flat-out wonderful!
As Delta mentioned, this train is extremely quiet. There are people having conversations, but for the most part they fail to do more than cause a murmur throughout the train car. They are polite in a way I can hardly understand.
Back on Mystix, the only form of public transportation I know of is the ship. If you take a mighty vessel to sea and cross oceans to reach a new island, a new continent, you will be doing so in the company of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands in the case of the Mighty Slammer, the largest boat in the world. But even when you travel in a situation like that, you are not expected to remain calm and quiet. Ships are a place for jovial activity. They are a break from the normal everyday life, a pause from adventures and jobs and wars and the troubles of real life. Whether it is five days or five weeks, the time spent on a ship on Mystix are like a reprieve from all the stresses of the modern world.
Here, though, trains can cross nations in just hours. And for some reason, because of that, they are also not a site for socialization. People sit apart from one another, if there is room. They hardly chat, hardly speak. In fact, Delta and Francis both now have small bud-like devices inserted into their ears, devices that are attached by cord to their phones. From what I can gather, these devices knock out their hearing almost completely, because when I speak to them in a low voice, they do not seem to even notice I am talking, much less respond to me. I find it somewhat embarrassing, to be honest.
I am growing quite curious about these “ear buds,” by my own terminology. How do they work so effectively in canceling out the noise of the outside world, and how might I obtain one?
I tap Francis on his shoulder to gain his attention. He removes one of the buds from his ear. “Yeah, Eryk?” he asks.
“May I inquire as to the nature of the device currently lodged into your ear?”
“You mean my earbuds?”
“Yes, the bud-like objects in your ear.”
He giggles. “Oh, these are like… they trasmit sound directly into my ears. Normally my phone would make noise and play music and stuff, but these heaphones mean they are only going into my ears, and nobody else can hear it. It helps keep things quiet.”
“I… see. That sounds marvelous. Is this another miracle of elecricity?”
“Uh, kinda, yeah,” he says. “I was playing Royals of Foreign Legends Mobile, but, uh, do you want to listen to any music, maybe?”
“Portable music? Gladly.”
Francis grows a smile whose emotions I cannot quite interpret. He touches some buttons on his phone and presses a large triangle button. He hands me one of his earbuds. “Here. This is a kind of music called jazz fusion. I bet you’ve never heard anything like it.”
“I will be the judge of that.” I put the earbud in…
And a wave of sonic energy blasts into my ears.
This… this is the music of Earth? By The Goddess’s name, this is incredible.”
I sit back and relax to some of the most jamming grooves I have ever heard. Since the cords of the earbuds do not extend very far, Francis is forced to place his head on my shoulder so we can share the device, so that we can enjoy our music together. But in spite of that, I feel very happy.
So happy in fact, that…
[+ 1 DP. 44 DP Total.]
…That it turns out new music genres give me Destiny Points.
This will be a good adventure indeed.