“My Dad isn’t here,” the boy says. “He’s in town doing business.”
“He’ll be back soon,” the boy adds. “He always gets back before seven. Every night.”
“What time is it now?”
That isn’t exactly soon.
“And um… who are you?”
“Oh, are you a new one?” he asks. “I’m Kobi Gibson. My Dad isn’t here yet.”
A new one…
What does he mean?
I’m suddenly worried I found the wrong place.
“Well, hi, Kobi. I guess I’ll just have to wait–”
“I’ll show you around.” He beckons me to follow him. Does he realize that I broke into his house via the bathroom? Apparently not.
We enter the living room, just an average everyday Atlanta apartment, with a slightly-messy kitchenette and a fairly clutter-covered carpet. The Lone Ranger is playing on the TV, with a masked man holding out a revolver and shooting some evil guys in masks. There’s a half-finished bowl of chips and a grilled cheese sandwich on the coffee table.
“This is my living room. This is where meetings usually happen. They don’t clean up here very often but my Dad says I shouldn’t clean up myself. Sometimes they forget their things and it’s dangerous if I find them.”
“The Cybermancer ones.”
“Oh, of course, those.”
I guess that confirms that I’m in the right place.
Oh my. I can’t believe I actually broke into Moonslash’s home.
And that the Cybermancers still have enough of an official organization that they have meetings. When Moonslash attacked me at the Data Farm he talked about some uppity code of honor he had to follow, but I was thinking it was some lone wolf thing. Apparently there’s still meetings of some sort?
But this kid here thinks I’m one of them… Kobi. Kind of an odd name. Cute though.
“Here’s the kitchen,” Kobi says. “We make food from here.”
“Oh, do you have anything to eat? I’m starving.” I say this facetiously but I am a bit hungry after all that running. Huh, I wonder if the fact I’m covered in sweat is anything suspicious to Kobi?
“No. My Dad says not to give out our food because it costs a lot for groceries these days. Not like the old days.”
“That’s… fine, then.”
“Let me show you to my room. It’s really cool. Cybermancers give me gifts a lot so I started a collection.”
That sounds vaguely ominous.
We walk into Kobi’s bedroom, which is–
There’s massive shelves on all four corners of the room, displaying row after row of VHS tapes, video game cartridges, CDs, comic books, and more. This would be like a retro media fan’s dream.
It’s safe to say I’m intrigued.
“I like stories from before the war,” Kobi says. “There’s lots of good stories. They don’t make movies like they used to.”
On that I have to agree. “Oh yeah. Before we were born they had stuff like Silent Running and Logan’s Run, even Running Man. Now all we have is Mega Busters, and Mega Busters 2: Reloaded, and Mega Busters 3: The Search for Drippy.”
“I don’t know what those are.”
“Don’t worry, they aren’t out yet. Fortunately.”
“My Dad doesn’t take me to the movies much. He just buys me movies to watch on the TV.”
“You don’t go to the movies with your friends after school?” It’s been tough doing it with Karina (going to the movies I mean), but I remember that it was a big pastime of mine when I was old enough to go out on my own without getting in trouble. It was not, fortunately for paranoid parents, a period where I immediately fell into drugs and alcohol and sex because I was without my parents’ supervision. That part came later.
“I don’t go to school. Dad teaches me everything.”
Didn’t think Moonslash was a homeschool kind of parent. I doubt he’s teaching him too well, what with the being busy being a techno-criminal and all. But… it kind of makes sense not to risk your child getting put in danger by having him out and about where foes could kidnap him, or worse.
Poor kid. He seems like he’s pretty lonely, the way he’s touring me around the house without a second thought as to whether or not I am a trustworthy individual. Having a Cybermancer as a parent probably isn’t very fun. Buying a bunch of movies doesn’t make up for missing out on childhood, I don’t think.
Even so, this really is an impressive collection of prewar media. My teenage self would be extremely proud to see it all. There’s the Star Wars trilogy there in three separate releases, as well as that gigantic Robot Jox collector’s edition laserdisc release they put out a couple years ago in commemoration of director Stuart Gordon. Karina would absolutely adore this, though I don’t recognize more than maybe half the titles here.
I’m still looking for any sign of my childhood favorite Does Freedom Ring a Bell?, but it’s hard to find American History-related media these days because few companies in Atlanta are willing to release them and demand is pretty low. Hell, there doesn’t seem to be much of ANYTHING here produced past like, 1990 at best.
“I’m going to put in Point Break,” Kobi says as he takes a VHS tape off the shelves. “That was the last movie directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the final movie for Patrick Swayze. It features lots of stunts and robbers who wear masks like the Presidents.”
“Point Break… that’s a fantastic movie,” I say. “You’ve seen it?”
“Twenty-seven times,” he says. “It’s one of my newer movies but I try to watch it sometimes too.” One of his newer movies… Has this kid been raised exclusively on the classics? “Let’s watch it together.”
“Uh, together?” I absolutely do not feel comfortable sitting down and watching the movie with the son of the guy trying to kill me.
My knowledge base here is absolute zero. What was I planning to do, break in and find some vital info to use to blackmail him into calling off the robots? Kidnap his kid and demand a ransom? I really didn’t think this one through.
Seeing as that false-pretenses meeting with Chuck was supposed to be like, two hours ago, I wonder if Moonslash might be returning here sometime soon… I had better hurry and figure something out.
I take one last look at this wall of really cool stuff and go back into the living room, where Kobi is setting up the movie without a second thought.
Why does he just assume I’m a Cybermancer like this? It’s making me feel really bad because when he finds out he let some random asshole into his house he’s going to get in huge trouble.
“So your father isn’t home, but your mother…?”
Without any change in expression or action he says, “My Dad says my Mom went to the West to go figure herself out and then never came back because she is a deadbeat loser.”
“Oh, I’m sorry… I didn’t know.”
“Usually my Dad tells new Cybermancers about this before he sends them here. He thinks I’m sensitive about stuff like that. But I’m fine.”
Oh man, I feel like I’m going to die here.
“Listen, I, uh…”
Kobi turns around. “Wait. You came out of the bathroom but I never opened the front door for you. Are you really a new Cybermancer?”
“You’re not, are you?”