We’re not this stupid. I swear. Someone had to stay behind to help the millers run away in case the Invincible showed up. After some discussion we decided that Martialla would stay with Lucien and Shwyrm and I would head to Alpha-Cheyenne with Paul. But Paul didn’t want to leave Martialla so then we decided that I would stay and Martialla would go with Paul. But Martialla didn’t want to leave me. And then somehow we decided on a configuration where Lucien and I would go which makes no sense because Paul is the one with the directions.
We ended up going with that anyway because the directions consisted of little more than “head south and you’ll know it when you see it”. I was shocked and disgusted by how much I felt like a little kid being left at daycare for the first time driving away from Martialla after the apocalypse. I mean I love her and all, in the way a gorilla loves a kitten I mean not romantically, but what is this crybaby shit? I used to have some dignity. I guess the end of the world strips that away from you.
“You get short shrift in my journal Lou” I said attractively as we pulled away from the sawmill town “you’re so soft spoken and Canadian that you end up fading into the background. Future generations will know that Mar is my sidekick and that Paul is a crazed psycho killer but they aren’t going to know how much you helped me create a new world that they live in and enjoy so much.”
“You keep a journal?” he joked unfunnily. I guess it’s a pretty good joke for a Canadian.
I gave him a sidelong glance “So how ya doing? You know, with being gutshot and all?”
He grimaced slightly “I’m alive. As they say in Regina whatever doesn’t kill you leaves you feeling weak and lightheaded all the time.”
“So what’s your deal Big Blue? Are you like a superhero now? Did the Canadian drugs they pumped into you to make you sleep through the nuclear war that never happened also make you able to survive getting shot and almost dying?”
He gave himself a measured Canadian minute to think “That could be. I would have died without Martialla being right there when it happened, but I reckon that surviving a gunshot without medical attention is a very mediocre superpower any way you look at it. It’s a step in the right direction if nothing else. Technology is iterative; you can’t make bulletproof serum all at once. Maybe if Canada hadn’t been destroyed they would have gotten it right nine or ten elixirs down the line.”
I raised an eyebrow “You think Canada is destroyed? I bet it’s fine. It was just eight hockey players and a moose right? In a country that big they probably avoided the worse of it.”
“Don’t forget the beavers.”
“I never would” I said solemnly “Does that mean the same thing up there? Never mind, you wouldn’t know anyway. I’m glad we have this time together, you’re my most loyal and competent follower and yet I feel like I barely know you.”
“That’s strange” he said in an odd tone that I couldn’t decipher “I feel like I’ve known you many times.”
Many times? He said many times, not for a long time. What the hell does that mean? The words he said had the cadence of a joke, like “gees, I feel like we’ve been at this forever” but the way he said it was not a joke, it was . . . something else. Not deadly serious, but something. It was just weird.
“So, how gay are you?” I asked, not wanting to think about it “Growing up in rural Canada you probably had to pretend a lot. Did you date girls? What’s the farthest you ever got with any of them?”
He gave me a sidelong glance “Why is it that whenever we’re alone you want to talk about me being gay? Do they not have gay people in the year two thousand?”
I snorted at him “I lived in LA man, I was in showbiz, the place was crawling with gay dudes, although not gay ladies, strange that. I always bring it up because it’s the only interesting thing I know about you. Give me something else to work with and I’ll leave that one alone Papa Smurf.”
And so he did. On the surface you might think Lucien and I have a lot in common, both growing up on farm, not getting on so great with our parents from a young age, but shockingly that turns out not to be the case. Who would have ever expected that that a shy boy with certain tendencies in Bowmanton, Alberta and the prettiest, most talented, most popular, most interesting girl who’s also a great singer and wonderful actress very near to Saint Louis don’t exactly have the same life experiences?
Like everyone I joke about Canada being a nice and forgettable place full of polite whitebread nothing people who are polite to a fault but I know it’s not true. If there’s one constant in life it’s that there are assholes wherever you go. It’s some kind of universal truth that in every nation or city or tribe or whatever there are people who think the bad shit they do is just fine and anything anyone else does is a horrible personal affront that requires them to “stand up for themselves”.
You someone had a rough time when the best part of their teenage years was being sent to a cousin’s in North Carolina to help bring in tobacco.