"Ack." Sage slammed down her mug of beer and wiped her mouth. She leaned forward onto the bar table and showed a crooked smile.
Aberkerson was sitting across from her on one of the bar stools, his forearms rested on the table. He was expressionless.
"So?" Aberkerson said. "What are you going to do about it?"
"Y'know what, Aronai? You're really gonna get it next time. If I lay my hands on father's money, I'm gonna hire some special-trained fighter to kick your ass."
"You still owe me," Aberkerson replied, holding out his hand, curling and uncurling his fingers at her.
"Pay you? The already rich-as-hell, cold-hearted genius who got nothin' else to do but gain more money with your endless talent? You're shittin' me," Sage said, waving him off. "Don't get your hopes up. Geniuses like you die early."
"Is that so?" Aberkerson lowered his eyelids and smiled faintly. "And if I live? What if I'm poor by the end of my life and don't have enough money to live? Gonna let me starve?"
"You'll probably learn how to survive in the wild so quick. Probably don't even need training."
Sage scowled and rolled her eyes.
"Anyways, why are you even here?" she asked, turning around and organizing a few glasses onto the shelves. "Shouldn't you be working? Modeling or whatever?"
"I'm meeting with someone I've been consulting with online," Aberkerson said, tapping on a small rectangular a hologram that appeared in front of him. "Besides, I've quit modeling. Striking poses for a camera isn't my thing."
"Oh? I didn't know Aberkerson was a quitter."
"You said yesterday you weren't my friend, so why are you calling me by my first name?"
"Don't you get a joke?"
"I know when you joke. I'm messing with you."
"Damn. Should've known." Sage clicked her tongue.
Aberkerson widened the hologram with two fingers, then typed into it. After a few short seconds, he pressed a button on his wristwatch and the hologram disappeared. "Anyways, Riki should be here in a few minutes. Better keep a low profile. Don't want to give him the wrong impression."
"What? Is he that dangerous?" Sage asked. After that, she mumbled, "geez all these weird people you get involved with. And that name sounds familiar for some reason."
Aberkerson stood up and walked towards the open entrance of the bar without saying anything. Sage followed him with her eyes, squinting. She saw him lean against the door frame and fold his arms. He remained in that position for a while until another figure appeared at the entrance. Sage leaned over the counter to get a better view of the person. She saw that he was shorter than Aberkerson; maybe he was about her height. He had short brown hair, hazel eyes, and pale skin--probably mixed-ethnicity. He wore rectangular glasses, a grey sweater and faded green cargo pants. He did not smile even once. For some reason, she recognized him. But she could not quite place where or what situation she had been in when she had met him. She found it odd that she would recognize him because he seemed so plain.
Riki and Aberkerson walked into the bar and approached the counter. Both of them sat down on the stools. Sage eyed Riki multiple times. As Riki adjusted himself on the stool, he finally glanced up at Sage for a brief moment before looking at Aberkerson.
"Sage, this is Riki. Riki, this is Sage," Aberkerson introduced.
"Nice to meet you," Sage said politely, offering her hand.
Riki turned his eyes to her again. "Likewise," Riki returned quietly, still not smiling. His voice was quite deep. Sage was surprised.
When Riki reached out and grabbed her hand, she held her breath for a moment. A little flash of memory appeared in her mind. In the memory, she saw a little boy with brown hair, hazel eyes and rectangle glasses shaking her hand.
"We--we met before I think," Sage said.
"Oh," Riki said, the same tone as he used last time. He said nothing else.
They let go of each other. Sage tightened her lips into a straight line.
"So... Do you remember me? I think we met when I was six and we got lost in downtown Rokon," she said.
"Why would I remember?" Riki said in a monotone voice. He became distracted. He pressed a button on his pen-like device and a rectangular hologram appeared in front of him. He began to tap on it.
"Tsk, well you're sociable," Sage murmured. She placed her hands on her hips and turned to Aberkerson. "What kind of friends are you making Abbot-babbot? They're so antisocial."
"Did I not mention the 'low profile'?" he said. "And I would argue that my friends are fairly diverse in the social regard." He was smiling, which irritated Sage even more.
"As if I would ever dream of doing such a thing," she said. She turned back to Riki who was now looking at Aberkerson with a raised brow as if to ask the same kind of question Sage had asked. She slammed both her hands on the table, startling him. "Oy, look here gloomy boy. I remember you. Don't just wave me off. I'm surprised you have the gall to ignore a person who is talking to you."
"I'm surprised you would be so forward," Riki said. He did not smile.
"You serious, kid?"
"Remember, I'm three years older than you."
"So you do remember me?"
Riki stood up. "I'm going to the restroom."
"What the actual hell?" Sage blurted. She looked at Aberkerson with an expression of disbelief. "You hear that kid? Is he joking?"
"I'll leave you to determine that," Aberkerson said. "But you had the choice to keep a low profile. None of this would have happened if you had."
"Hey, well you're the one who introduced us."
"I was doing the 'polite' thing. It is your own fault you remembered him from before and therefore decided to pester him about it."
"So you're saying that trying to make simple conversation with him is not what I'm supposed to do?"
"You got what you got. I warned you."
Sage groaned and slapped her forehead. "You knew his personality, didn't you."
"I guess I could've warned you more," Aberkerson said and shrugged.
Riki returned to the table during an awkward silence a few minutes after their conversation concluded. He sat down on the stool. He was calm. He looked at his watch. Sage glanced at him and bit her lip. Aberkerson glanced at both of them.
"So you found the website. You hacked into it, right?" Riki asked.
"Didn't feel like it. I'll do it later," Aberkerson replied. "You understand it's high profile, right?"
"Apparently I'm being stalked. That's why I asked you to look into it."
Aberkerson lifted an eyebrow. Sage looked at him and tilted her head questioningly. Riki tightened his lips into a straight line and looked down at the table.
"Who could possibly be stalking you?" Aberkerson laughed.
"I know, huh," Riki replied, leaning onto his forearms rested on the table. "Literally all I do is draw. I'm not involved with the Rokon government in any way."
Aberkerson leaned back on the stool, folding his arms over his stomach and looking up at the ceiling. "I wonder," he said, then trailed off for some seconds. "How long have I been talking to you?"
"About a month?" Riki said in almost a questioning manner. He looked at Aberkerson and inclined his head slightly.
Aberkerson smiled. "I see. And how long was it since you first noticed someone was stalking you?"
"Probably about a month ago."
"Remember when you used my account for a video chat?"
"RGO probably traced my profile to that account. I'm surprised it took them that long, considering I infiltrated their security system two years ago."
"What do you mean?"
Aberkerson leaned forward with a small uneven smile on his face. "Whoever is 'stalking' you thinks you are me. They are probably now going by what your face looks like to track you."
"But couldn't they simply trace your account to your email account and so on, then find out that way?"
"I was able to hack the website and make an account separate from all other accounts except my fake email, which I used as a bait site when I infiltrated the security system. And then I never actually used that video chat account, so you're the first one who used it, hence they think you are me. That was my mistake."
"And now I am taking the punishment," Riki said and groaned.
"Who knew they were trying to track me."
"You probably knew in the back of your mind."
"Yup. You're right."
Aberkerson laughed a little bit, then patted Riki's shoulder. "Don't worry about too much. I'll make sure they can't trace you. I just need your computer and the names of all possible accounts you have created on the internet." He leaned back and pointed his index finger to the ceiling. "Oh, and also other electronics you may have since the RGO Intelligence has the ability to hack into basically anything these days. As for preventing them from tracking you using your facial profile, I'll probably tamper with your identity a bit."
"And who exactly is this 'RGO Intelligence'?" Sage inserted.
"Risenen Government Officials. "
In unison, Riki and Sage both perked up and blurted, "What?"
"Surprisingly," Aberkerson said. "It took me a long time to figure it out. They are rather liberal in their scrutinization of Rokon. Usually, you would think of Risenen people as all technology haters, but some of them got the bright idea to utilize Rokon technology to help their cause."
"What the--oh my god," Sage said shaking her head and lifting her hands. "That's really surprising. And no one in Rokon knows about this?"
"The Rokon government is aware, and they are also looking into it," Aberkerson replied.
"How about the Risenen government? Didn't it ban all use of technology?" Riki asked.
"It may seem so because the royals decreed that and it was all over Rokon news. But the other side of the government, the true decision makers, are going the other direction without the royals' knowledge."
Riki shook his head and tightened his lips. Sage folded her arms over her stomach and screwed her lips to one side of her face.
A few customers walked into the bar talking loudly.
Taking that as a queue to leave, Aberkerson stood up and patted down his pants and coat. "Anyways, we shouldn't have this conversation anymore." He looked at Riki. "I'll fulfill your wish to not be stalked. You don't actually need to give me all your account names. I'll figure it out. Sit back and relax."
"Uh huh," Riki said.
"Trust him," Sage said almost irritatedly. "Use his genius while he's still alive."
For the first time, Riki smiled. It was a very small smile, but it prompted Sage to bring her hands to her mouth and squeal. "Look, he smiled!" she exclaimed.
Riki rolled his eyes. "Wow, didn't know I could do that," he said.
Instead of letting his sarcasm offend her, Sage laughed. "Well, well. See you cats later. Maybe not the dull one, but definitely the eccentric one."
"Laters," Aberkerson said and waved back at Sage without facing her.
Riki slid down from the bench and followed Aberkerson. "Bye," he said.
The two of them disappeared through the bar exit, leaving Sage with a kinked smile. "I'd better see the dull one again and fix that attitude of his," she said, laughing to herself.
Monday, April 11, 2016
Saturday, April 2, 2016
The risk you take is looking back and
the pain in the core of the chest striking you
that it rips every vein apart.
Grasping at every image with a child’s hands,
every cell a small dimension that will live and die
And yet still managing to smile, you
pick yourself up,
the night managing to drag on
now seven years later,
all cells replaced, and
none remain that your past has touched
This is when the years become weeks,
and days turn to particles,
such a convenience for the human mind--
Compiling and organizing,
squashing everything together like the machines
crush piles and piles of trash into small boxes
Trying to remember that one moment and
the frustration wildly aflame,
and that question:
Then what was the point?