A new crop of potential recruits has shown up on what they call Umbrella Beach on the western edge of Nautilus’ Crisp Sea, chatting after the delicious, shrimp dominated buffet. Decision time coming up. Whether to step into the shade of the protecting umbrella or go back out into the glare of the harsh, unrelenting sun, all exposed and for everyone around to gawk at in their increasing redness. Red ironically protects against red, they said during the meal, standing up one by one, these past recruits, to give their testimonies of success and life fulfillment through the initiative, the collective. Already, one here was basically under the umbrella, decision made, shackles (of outside life) removed and legs to be retreated back in the shade with the rest, perhaps even before I write this sentence. The purple clad one in the background middle was also about to cave, being a bigger shrimp lover than Lois in white. Sitting down Darla was just ready to go home and be done with it, another one forced here by a prevert relative trying to seduce her to the dark side. “Okay, okay,” she said to her mother Tulipia in a call between meal and beach. “You win. We’ll move to Ohio.” Joy in the Conner household tonight. Uncle Albert would *not* be tagging along, thanks to a restraining order issued by Pinky, Darla’s father, just yesterday.
Speaking of which…
“Medium build, medium height, wearing a black bathing suit. Any idea?”
“Sir you just described about half the girls that walk on this beach.”
“Oh. Thought of something else. She wears a Venus cage necklace. Very distinctive. I don’t think (smile?) you’d be able to miss it.”
“Just a moment; hold on. I promise not to do anything stupid.” Beach cottage owner and secret “receiver” Claude briefly goes inside and retrieves a box, opens it for the stranger. “You mean like *these*?”
It was full of such. Claude gives them away to every girl lured in by the bosses. He doesn’t tell Albert they’re trackers as well. They know where you are.
“Whatever that picture you’re referring to, every one of those girls up there has sent back the same to their family.” He also doesn’t tell Albert they track even through photos. Powerful amulets indeed.
“Interesting information,” says Albert, the uncle of not one but several girls involved down through the years. He comes from a pretty big family. “Just for that, I’ve decided not to shoot you.”
“Just kidding! POW POW… POW.”
No wounds. Albert wasn’t kidding. Just a water gun… this time.
“You *fell* for it [delete name],” he said while walking away, already plotting Plan B.
Dripping Claude runs inside, calls the boss who would care the most and explains the hold up. “We have another situation,” he says, knowing the boss would understand. “Heading your way.”
“We’ll take care of it,” the boss says to him in a deep, level voice made for a crinimal. “We’ll send him to the Abyss. With the others.”
“Good deal.” [Delete name], *pheh*.