“That billboard up there, you see that?” Francis asks.
“I indeed see it,” I say, somewhat absentmindedly. My thoughts are still geared towards the very dramatic events that occurred during my short dream on the train. What has happened there? What will happen there? Why did Queen Mestopholees... do that? I fully intend to sleep once again as soon as I am able so that I can return to Mystix, but I do not know if I will be happy with what I find when I do.
Francis does not deserve to hear about the horrors I have faced. I know well that he was extremely upset by the secrets I kept, and the secrets Delta kept, but I will refrain from detailing it just for now. It’s not a good time when we are in a new city.
As for the billboard, Francis already begins to rant about it.
“Like, I just cannot believe they made such a bad billboard poster for such a big movie,” he says. “Blade is supposed to be one of the highest-grossing movies of the year, and THIS is what they came up with? A dorky superhero pose and then a dumb villain on the other side?”
“Looks fine to me,” Delta says.
“And my word, his outfit looks so much worse than the 90s version. The villain is this Lucas Cross guy, who is secretly Blade’s father, spoiler alert, but he’s also just the exact same thing as every other Marvel movie. They always do this with first movies: The villain is a mirror version of the hero. Like, similar powers, similar origins, so the villain is just a version of the hero if they go a different path or something.”
“They don’t ALL do that, right?” Delta asks.
“Pretty much! The only one that doesn’t is Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
“Huh. I guess that one was pretty good.”
“I know nothing of any of this,” I say.
“Well, just know that Marvel movies are all unoriginal and reuse the exact same “mirrored hero” villain template every single time,” Francis huffs. “I didn’t think friggin’ Blade would do it too, but here we are looking at the dumb billboard.”
“Do you care for this Mr. Blade that much that you will go to such lengths to criticize his film?”
“No, not really. I just wanted to rant.”
We have exited Amtrak’s Los Angeles Station and are now right in the heart of the biggest city in all of California, and one of the biggest on all of Earth. For all its faults, what with its lack of a system or a consistent magic or many easy opportunities for exploration-focused Destiny Points, Earth also has an absolutely gigantic number of people living on it. Over eight billion! I don’t know how many live on Mystix, but I can’t imagine it is even half this number.
However, perhaps large populations are not actually optimal... Los Angeles is brown, dirty, and dry. I can feel the smog entering my lungs every time I take a breath.
This desert metropolis, besides the large buildings and copious people all around, does not have an inviting feel. In fact, I am quite repelled by its very existence. And yet, because this is one of the biggest cities around, it is also a great final destination for our long tour to give me Destiny Points.
Ding! [+1 DP.] [Total: 61 DP.]
Or, I assume it is the final destination. Shall we go further on out to other parts of this magnificently large nation known as the United States? I have heard great things about the Grand Canyon, for example. And the world’s largest ball of twine would certainly be a way to give me a new Destiny Point. So much to explore across the country. However, I don’t know if Francis and Delta actually want to continue the journey past now, based on the things they have said offhandedly these past few days.
Perhaps I should actually ask instead of simply silently wondering it and waiting for a while for the big reveal.
“Is Los Angeles the climax of our journey?” I ask. “Or shall we continue on from here?”
Francis glances at Delta and hesitates before saying, “Yeah, this is probably the end. I mean, maybe we can keep going, get all the way to Disney World or something, but I don’t know. I have a stream to worry about, and Delta’s got the kid. What are you going to name him, by the way?”
“I’m going to name her Esther, after my mother,” she says. “Well, her name is Setareh, but I’m anglicizing it out of spite, because I hate her for kicking me out. She hasn’t even apologized, you know that? Ten years and not a word of remorse.”
“...What is Disney World?” I ask.
They don’t answer. It remains, to me, a mystery.
“So, yeah, this is the finale, then,” Francis says. “It all culminates here. Our big TV series climax is here in Los Angeles.”
“It certainly does not feel like the ultimate section of a movie, I will admit. It feels perfectly normal.”
“That’s only for now,” Delta says. “All three of us know what’s going to happen the moment we start exploring this godforsaken place. Some militia group is going to attack, or we’ll be accosted by killer clowns. Maybe we’ll stumble upon a mutant society or something.”
“Is that a likelihood?” I ask.
“Well, no, but obviously it’s going to happen. SOMETHING is going to happen. Every time we visit a city, everything just keeps ramping up. Just think of it: In San Francisco, we got chased around by the Persian Mob and you had to fight a bear. In Paso Robles, we got captured by a cult of overeager citizens and their enforcer. In Santa Barbara, you fought the king and then we did battle with a bunch of pirates. In Simi Valley, we stumbled upon a terrorist attack and had to save a bunch of children. Whatever happens here, it’s going to be even dumber. The only question is how long it will take.”
“Which is why we should start exploring soon!” Francis exclaims. “This city is massive, and I’m certain that we’ll have a ton of places to visit. I can’t wait for—“
“Are you quite fine?”
“Hey guys, I think we’re... Expected...”
Ahead of the station in the pick-up area is a large white limousine, with a large suited man standing in front of it. “I have a ride for Mr. Bacall and company.”