Chapter 7: Trespass
Abu weathered the tense atmosphere and cold shoulders from his ‘girls. He understood why they were upset, and they had continued following his orders. Well, they followed them, but Abu found out quickly that he needed to not leave much room for interpretation lest they express their discontent within the guidelines. The smelly man found ready to pass out under the staircase was now heaped in the corner of Abu’s rented room with a spare blanket tossed over him. The stranger had passed out soon after he was heaved inside by Abu and the ‘girls. It was quite fortunate indeed that pokegirls possessed brutish strength that equaled or surpassed that of a grown man’s.
He looked at them, paused, and decided not to push it. Frustration was building up in him as well. It was not natural to go this long without sex, and he’d been looking forward to it since he began this damnable trip home. Instead, he had to deal with this schmuck. Simeon was usually better at dealing with this sort of thing than he was, but Simeon was who knows where. So, Abu stood rigidly in the rented room while he thought hard on what to do.
Over on the bed, Dima and Tifawt sprawled themselves out. They were both put out from not getting laid and Abu’s strange preoccupation with the smelly man who was merely a vagrant to Dima and Tifawt. Even then, Tifawt had laid herself down in a position that while uncomfortable, exaggerate the dip of her waist and swell of her hips. She knew Abu had a taste for women endowed with wide hips and small waists from way he focused on her with such intensity, much more than the average pokegirl they came across unless they were blessed with similar proportions. Dima caught on to what Tifawt was doing, arched her back, and puffed out her chest to exaggerate her bloom powder enhanced bust. They both sat in wait for Abu to turn around and pay attention to them. It was only a matter of time, right?
Time ticked on. “What's so important about that man?” Dima whispered to Tifawt. There was a pout on her lip, and it was not affected.
“No idea, but I don't like him,” Tifawt replied acerbically though the venom was not not directed at Dima, “I've been waiting for Abu to bend me over all day, and that jackass had to dump his problems in front of us.” Dima shifted uncomfortably, mirroring her compatriot’s discomfort. “I mean really,” Tifawt continued, “Abu is way too concerned with safety to try the freaky stuff out in the bush, and I was looking forward to trying something new.” Their whispering had gotten a little heated at that but were yet to catch Abu’s attention.
Dima let an almost inaudible whine. “Do you think he'll be done soon?” she whispered back.
More time dragged on,slow as molasses, and Tifawt caught Dima touching herself. She gave Dima a mischievous smile and began nibbling on the Sidekick’s ear. “Want to get started until he comes around to his senses?” she breathed throatily into her ear.
Dima froze until the Saguara’s sudden advance. “I- uh,” she said, “That strange man is over in the corner though-”
Tifawt could not contain her snort. “He’s passed out,” she said incredulously, “and-” She placed her hand on top of the one Dima had resting over her own crotch. “-that wasn’t stopping you before.”
Reluctantly, Abu sat on the bed opposite his ‘girls and tuned his ‘dex to the local shortwave channel. Tifawt got up off the bed immediately, and shortly after, Dima followed. They walked into the attached bathroom and shut the door behind them; it was not long before they both began to make animal noises. It was probably played up, but it had the desired effect on Abu, real or not. Pokegirls may be relatively powerless in Jade League society, but they certainly knew how to twist the knife when given the means and motive to do so. Oh, that last squeal Dima let out did not sound played up. What did Tifawt do to her?
Abu rubbed his temples and resisted the urge to burst into the bathroom and join them. Instead, he did what he had to do and sent out his shortwave broadcast to Simeon. While it would have been clearer and likely to reach Simeon had he a proper ham radio, one had to make due. Perhaps he would invest in one once he had a pokepack to carry heavy equipment in. Worst case scenario, he could use it to signal boost his ‘dex.
“Simeon, if you're on, please respond,” Abu said with a hint of urgency in his voice. He could not go into more detail than that. The frequency he was broadcasting on was commonly used by tamers in the bush and rural areas to communicate with others nearby and seek each other out. Unfortunately, using shortwave in cities was punishable by hefty fines, even if it was the one in an average dex. Too many fiddly devices could get their signals scrambled.
So, he sat there and waited, trying to block out the sounds of fornication coming from the bathroom. The wino heaped in the corner groaned and shifted under the blanket. This grabbed Abu’s attention immediately, but he relaxed once he saw that he was still out cold. Fortunately, the wino was still mostly facedown. While him choking on his vomit in his sleep would solve the problem, Abu did not consider that worth the sin hanging around the neck.
Waiting was painful, and it grew excruciatingly dull as time stretched out. He radioed Simeon again to no avail. His friend was oblivious to Abu’s dilemma and probably sitting all too cozily with his cock buried in some ‘girl. Abu would all too happily switch places, obliviousness be damned, but that was never an option.
It was then that Abu’s train of thought realized he had to call his father just hours after that shameful and humiliating verbal scuffle. A scuffle that ended with him getting chased off by his father. The young man felt like a scolded boy again. Abu's hands clenched the corners of the bed, and his brow furrowed. A bead of sweet ran down the bridge of his nose and irritated his eye. He reluctantly picked up his ‘dex again and opened up the shortwave, changing the frequency to a civilian one.
“Dad?” Abu called, and he was answered.
Some time later, Abu waited tensely on the bed. Tifawt and Dima had since rejoined him, but they were considerably more relaxed. Afterglow radiated off of them as they snuggled, leaving Abu high and dry while he waited for his father to arrive. His ladies had no idea what was going on, so Abu could understand the chip on their shoulders and why they would attempt to get back at him for promising them sex and flaking.
It was not long before there was a knock on the inn door. Steeling himself, the young man stood and strode to the door. Abu concentrated on keeping himself straight-backed and his shoulders out. He stood before the door ruminating about how to approach the immediate future, not wanting to open the door just yet. The knock came again, shocking Abu back to the present. He opened the door immediately and saw Muhammad standing there with a neutral expression. Without saying anything, Abu stepped back and hit both Tifawt and Dima with their pokeballs’ recall beams. They looked quite startled by the suddenness, and Tifawt squawked as she saw the flash of red light.
Next, Abu withdrew his pokedex, turned the screen to face his father, and made a show of turning it off. Next, he removed the battery pack. Muhammad’s eyes narrowed at that, but he said nothing. Abu backed up, letting his father inside, and strode to the inn’s bathroom, setting his pokedex behind the toilet and turning on both the shower and the sink. He stepped out of the bathroom and shut the door behind him, and he took a breath, opening his mouth to speak only to be silenced by Muhammad raising his hand to halt his son. He looked at the unconscious drunkard in the corner with the blanket thrown over him with scrutiny, pulling the covering off of him. Taking note of the handcuff knot around the man’s hands, Muhammad withdrew from a hip pouch a larger, clunkier, and older pokedex, and with it he did much the same as Abu did. Once he was out, he brought his son to the middle of the room and asked with utmost seriousness and severity, “What is going on here?” His voice was quiet and harsh.
“The man-” Abu began haltingly and closed his eyes to center himself before continuing, “-is with Machismo.”
The top of Muhammad’s dark cheeks rose, turning his eyes to slits. “You’re sure?” he demanded. Under his father’s gaze, Abu shifted uncomfortably. He reached into his pocket and withdrew a cheap bauble the shape of a blue “M” on a chain. The second he saw it, Muhammad immediately slapped it out of his hand. “Stupid boy,” he hissed at him, “Do you know what would happen if someone found that on you?” His son’s scolded look took some of the wind out of his sails, and Muhammad forced himself to calm down. “You should have left it on him when you found it,” he told Abu.
Abu nodded. “Yes, Father,” he said, stepping away from the medallion.
Muhammad scowled at the blue “M” on the ground and stooped, reaching his hand out to touch it with all the trepidation of handling a desert serpent. He gingerly pinched the chain between the sides of his index and middle fingers, not touching it with either fingerpad, and lifted it up off the ground and back into the front pocket of the unconscious man on his side. He craned his neck to the side to get a look at the stranger. “I do not recogni-” Muhammad started before the unconscious lush let a soft belch reeking of alcohol into his face. Muhammad stumbled back, coughing and covering his face. “Ugh,” he said with nausea growing in the pit of his stomach, “Did you find him like this?”
“Yes, Father,” Abu said, “I first saw him in the bar, drinking heavily. Later, I exited and found him sleeping outside. When I went to… well, ask him if I needed to get him into the drunk tank at the police station, he started rambling about… well, I think it was about whistle blowing on Machismo. I wasn’t sure until I found the medallion on him after he passed out.”
Muhammad grimaced. “To the Scores of Hells with those sons of whores, but we do not, not, need that in our town,” he lamented, “Thanks for calling son. We need to figure out what to do with him.”
Slowly, Abu suggested, “Get him sobered up and sent off to render his confession in another town?”
“Blessed be us were it that simple,” Muhammad grumbled, “That’s assuming he doesn’t change his mind once he’s sober.” Abu shrunk a bit when he saw the look of disgust and vehemence leveled at the stranger, who surely would have cowered were he awake enough to see the way Muhammad was looking at him. “Or,” Muhammad continued, “that he doesn’t cause problems while he’s here. We’ll need to figure out why he’s here in our town before we get rid of him.”
Theodore awoke to a bucket of water being poured over his face. It soaked his black-brown hair and beard, pulling it slickly against his fair skin. His eyes shot open only, briefly revealing baby blues only for them to slam back shut at the assault of the bright desert sun searing his hypersensitive eyes. Dehydration and the bad grandma of all hangovers and sloshed his brain like a rolling pin through gelatin. He fought through the fog and went to block the sun from his eyes but found that he could not. His hands were stuck. No, they were bound behind him. He thrashed, finding his hands and feet bound together behind him, hogtied like some animal or pokegirl. The warm sand under him scratched his naked body.
Many men stood around him. In their hands were heavy, chopping blades glistening in the light. Theodore could not tell how many. His vision swam, and his vigor quickly drained from him. He felt weak, so very weak. He opened his mouth to plead with his captors, but all that came out was a scratchy, piteous whine.
“Teddy,” one of them said. Who was Teddy? No, no one called him that. No one but Mama. Theodore’s eyes were squeezed shut in a vain attempt to block out the sun’s rays, but they pierced his eyelids anyways and burned him no matter how far back his eyes rolled in their sockets. “Teddy, the sun is up,” the resonating, masculine voice said to him, “The sands, Teddy, they are going to get very hot. These sands can cook a man alive, Teddy.”
It was morning and the ground was already warm. Teddy grew up in Jade. He knew how hot it could get. On a good day, the sands might be as cool as eighty degrees Celsius, one hundred seventy-six degrees Farenheit. Although, those numbers eluded Teddy’s foggy mind. Distantly, he recalled in his youth when he hiked a dune only to sink knee-deep into the shifting sands. Even scrambling for freedom and gaining it seconds later, the sands had left second-degree burns on his body. He had run home, crying to his parents. Rings of blisters ballooned outwards and filled with lymph and pus. He had never gone out without high boots again.
Now, he was naked and lying in the morning sands. They would not stay this friendly temperature for long now that the sun was climbing up over the horizon. The sun did not care. It would burn anything it touched. “Teddy,” the man called to him again, “What’re you doing here, Teddy?” Here? The desert? “What are you doing in Seth, Teddy?” Seth was… it was a dirtball town in Wadjet. What business did he have in Seth?
His lips, chapped and cracked, parted and he made a, “Eeeeaaaah?” It was a clueless noise. One of inquiry or lack of understanding. What was going on?
“We can’t leave this place until you share what you were doing, Teddy,” the voice said again.
Teddy writhed in the sand and a sudden well of nausea pulled pile into his throat. It burned his esophagus and further aggravated his nausea until he spewed a short burst of vomit onto his chest and the sand in front of him.
“Give him another dose. He’s metabolizing it,” a stranger said. He was promptly hushed.
Teddy’s head perked up, and his eyes cracked open. Men surrounded him. Each was clad in different clothes. There was no real uniform about them, but they were a bit thrown together. Each wore shemaghs and other head coverings. Their eyes too were protected by thick goggle-like sunshades, and all of them were armed. Pokegirls? Teddy didn’t see any, but there were presumably there. Pokegirls? No! Where was Annette and Lulu? Theodore was naked and their pokeballs were gone. He managed a slurring inquiry, “Underground?” Were these guys with the Underground team?
“What were you doing in Seth, Teddy?” he was asked again by the man closest to him. He was standing up and tall above him. His weapon was not drawn, but a long blade hung prominently on his hip. How did they know his name?
“Pers...sonal,” he managed to slur.
“Personal how, Teddy?”
Geez, this guy was nosy. What did it matter? After all it- “Nothin’... to do with... nothin’,” Teddy managed.
“What were you doing in Seth, Teddy?” the voice asked again, this time harsher and more insistent.
“It was personal. Mach… Machismo had nothin’ to do wif it,” Teddy said. The more words he tried to find, the harder it was to enunciate, “I… di- know”
It was more of the same. The went back and forth for a while. Sheens of sweat wrung down Theodore’s fair skin. He could already feel himself beginning to sunburn. The sand… the sand was heating up too. He writhed, unable to relocate himself to someplace more habitable. The questions continued. He didn’t know for how long. It felt like hours. No one spoke but the man questioning him, but the rest were getting restless. Shifting and pacing. He could hear their footsteps trudging through the blistering sand, kicking up clouds of it that settled in the low air. The fine silica climbed up his nose as he breathed, putting a heavy feeling in his lungs. The fog was starting to lift, and it was being replaced by pain, pain from from the air, pain from the ground, pain from his splitting head. The list went on.
The beeping of a wristwatch’s alarm went off. The trudging footsteps got closer, and three sets of hands grabbed him by the head, shoulders, and the bindings keeping his hands and feet together. A sharp pain pierced his neck, and heat filled it. He attempted to struggle, but he found himself weak and inept. The fog settled back in.
The sand was hot, and through all that was being blocked out, one thought filtered through. He was going to die in the sun if he didn’t answer their question.