The wolf drone follows the trail of leaking potential through dead leaves, across a ravine and beyond ancient ritual grounds.
Sasha and Yoyo stand in a pile of old fortunes under the canopy of a dying fortune tree. A fortune drifts off a branch landing on a ruby gemstone on Sasha’s mask right between her golden pupils.
Sasha opens her future. “Your true calling is waiting just around the corner.”
Yoyo looks up, waiting. “Hello? This thing broke?” She kicks the tree sending shards of bark flying, causing the trunk to turn deep red in pain.
“Why couldn’t it just tell me what my true calling is?”
“This is your true calling, Sasha.” Yoyo’s face scrambles and turns into another featureless blur.
“I hope not. There’s gotta be more to life than forcefully borrowing money from strangers. Or maybe not.”
“This is what we’re good at. Don’t overthink it.”
“I just get the nagging feeling that I’m wasting my potential.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I don’t know. I guess this trail of potential that I’ve been leaking…” Sasha gestures to the trail behind her. The wolf drone sniffs at the trail then stares them down and howls a high-pitched dial tone.
Before Yoyo can grab her rifle Sasha short-circuits the drone with six bullets to the motherboard. She blows the smoke off both revolvers and holsters them on her chest.
“Who would hire a private investigator to follow us?”
“My mother,” says Sasha. “I’ve been ignoring her calls for months. She just wants an audience to feel bad for her while she complains about her blood pressure and her victory garden. It’s too exhausting. This is why I don’t have kids. For fear they’ll treat me the same way I treat her.”
Yoyo removes her hand from her rifle. “All I can tell you is before I had kids I would’ve beaten you to the draw on that drone.”
“So kids suck. Got it.”
“You might like them. Some people actually like their kids.”
“This is gonna sound like a hot take, but not really. They seem to be somewhat unevolved as far as I can tell.”
“Maybe that’s why I hate this job, because I don’t have kids to hate instead.”
“And there’s the real secret. Have kids so terrible that work feels like a damn vacation. It works. You don’t see me waxing all philosophical about the meaning of life and all that nonsense. I’m just happy to get away.”
“Get away from…”
“From being reminded that I’m a shitty parent.”
“Great. Now you’re complaining too? Not that I was complaining or anything. I don’t do that.”
“I’m just being real. Out here is where I belong. You too. Forget your potential. You don’t need that. This is who we are.”
A fortune lands on Yoyo’s shoulder.
“It’s about time,” she says opening it in a hurry. “A binary beast follows you through forests of fortune.” Yoyo gazes up the spine of the tree. “Really? Anyone can predict the future once it’s happened!”
They leave their fortunes in the swamp of other abandoned predictions and continue through the forest trails. Days and weeks vanish in the time it takes to hurl themselves over a fallen tree. The missing time serves as a reminder to Sasha. But a reminder for what, she wonders.
“I got this urge,” Sasha says. “And I don’t mean to like die all at once, but to like be done with this life and to be living another version of it. Or at least find a way to do something meaningful with this one. I feel like I’m stuck in a really boring tv series that won’t end. Now I’m not whining or complaining or anything, but sometimes like right now or when I’m alone at night or when I wake up or when I’m around people or when I’m shooting wolf drone investigators in their motherboards that my mom sent after me it sorta feels like I’m wasting this one opportunity at being here. I guess what I’m trying to say is, my body feels like a wasteland of gunk and terrifying thought bubbles. Like I don’t know how to live or…is this depression or something?”
“You’re probably just bored or whatever. But that’s about to change.”
Yoyo’s face scrambles again before switching to another indecipherable blur.
Sasha and Yoyo step out of the forest into a vast field.
“Come on, Yoyo,” Sasha says. She gazes across the lone empty road dividing the field at their next target. “Can’t tell me this shit’s not getting monotonous.”
“Are you kidding?” Yoyo looks at Sasha with blurry amazement. “What would you rather be a scientist and cure cancer or something?”
“I mean…I hadn’t thought about it—“
“You need to stop dreaming. Wake up! This is your life. We’re gonna go in and rob this shapeshifting factory blind. It’s going to be amazing. And you’re going to deal with it.”
Dark smoke and darker screams billow from the roof of the shapeshifting factory. On the side of the building a man rummages through the dumpster fishing out discarded spare parts belonging to animals and humans. Looking over both shoulders he rushes over and tosses them in the back of a van.
Somewhere around the corner and lightyears away a mother sits in defeat as a representative from an investigating firm informs her that their best wolf drone has suddenly gone offline.
*** ** *** ** ***
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