Peridot is sitting with his posterior on one of the working desks, joggling his feet in the air, being too short to touch the ground. He watches Homar arranging in perfect order the scattered remaining parts. Usually, after everything is put in place, Homar has the habit of wiping his forehead with his right palm and standing tall, with his hands placed on his hips, gazing at the new clean space.
“Good, now that you’re done, can we get to the mission?” asks Peridot, with a big smile and wide eyes.
“The lady on the bus…she left us the address. I have it in the database.”
“Ah yes, sure, sure. Let’s see. Where does this lady live?”
“Quadrant 4G, 6A building, room 2B.”
“Quadrant 4G? Are you sure?”
“Yes, that’s what it says.”
“That’s impossible. Maybe it’s a scanning error? I can swear there are only 6 quadrants in this city, from 4A to 4F. “
With a puzzled face, Homar pulls out a small device from his pocket and starts addressing it: “City Map 2g7k2.”
Immediately, the device begins to project the map of the city, which Homar can manipulate using verbal commands.
“Hmm … that’s strange. It seem that quadrant 4G exists on the map but it is not populated with streets or landmarks. It’s like there’s nothing there.”
“Nothing or not, the lady lives there, so we must go anyway. How can we get to this place?”
“According to the map, we have to change three buses, but the closest bus station to 4G quadrant is hundreds of steps away. So after we arrive there we will have to go on foot until we find 6A building.”
“Perfect! Let’s go then.”
“But Peridot, don’t you find a bit strange what’s going on?”
“Yes I do Homar. It’s very strange. That’s why I can’t wait to get there. It’s also very exciting!”
Homar looked at Peridot with a troubled and angry look, but deep down he agreed with him.
“Alright, alright. Let’s go and see.”
After changing the 3 buses, the landscape observed through the window was getting darker and darker, with fewer sources of illumination. With each passing station, the bus emptied more and more, until only the two of them remained inside.
“Peridot , let’s be honest here. Aren’t you a bit afraid?”
“Ah, yes, of course I am. Recently I polished my shoes, and I’m afraid I’ll step into some nasty stuff left by the burgundians. My nocturnal eyes are not as they used to be.”
Homar feels a sudden tremble in his stomach, and then starts laughing hysterically. He was not even sure whether the laughter was caused by his partner’s cute naivety, or whether it was a defense mechanism against the worry and fear of the unknown. Peridot, a little confused, begins to laugh as loudly, being incredibly amused by the noise of his partner’s laughter, which he heard for the first time. The fun is suddenly interrupted by a feminine robotic voice: “This is the final stop. Please leave the vehicle. Please leave the vehicle”. The two of them get a bit shaken in their chair, take their bags on their shoulders, and exit the bus. The only nearby light sources were some public illumination at thousands of steps away, the orange moon in the sky, and the windows of the bus that was making a turn back to the city. Homar pulls out the device attached to his belt, presses some buttons, then a strong blue light is projected in front of them. Peridot follows him, making the same maneuver. After scanning the surrounded area he points out:
“Haha, you laughed at me, Homar, but as you can see, it’s full of excrement on the ground.”
“Oh I see Peridot,” said Homar a little worried, “but they seem a bit too big to be produced by burgundians.”
“Well who knows, maybe through these places they eat a lot better than in the city. I may be mistaken but it looks like there are some agricultural fields in the distance”
“Maybe. In any case, let’s not waste time. We should be heading in the opposite direction of the city, and in order not to get lost, please save in the database the location and the path we’re following. I will emit the light, and I will constantly consult with the map.”
“Very well partner,” said Peridot as he pushed some buttons on his device, “Let’s go!”
The path was well defined, being covered with small stones, in between some crops of wild plants. The energy emitted by the orange moon favored the pollination of the nocturnal plants, which scattered luminescent pollen into the air, creating a mystical atmosphere with millions of floating radiant dots. When the light emitted by Homar’s device touched the pollen, it scattered rapidly, acting like a clever defense mechanism.
The deep tranquility of the place, away from the noise of the city, gave them a state of comfort and inner peace, occasionally interrupted by the fear of the unknown. At one point, Homar dropped the device from his hand, startled by a loud, animal-like scream. Peridot stops for a few moments, then puts his hand on Homar’s shoulder.
“Are you alright partner? Please, stay calm. It’s just my stomach growling. Did you bring any resources? I’m starving!”
Startled and a little nervous, Homar searches the tool bag, and pulls out a sealed transparent bag full of some white cubes.
“Here you go ! please do not eat them all. We don’t know what hungry creatures are waiting for us in these places. It’s good to have something to offer them in case we are attacked.”
Peridot nods approvingly, opens quickly the bag and shoves into his mouth half the cubes . As he was preparing to chew, he notices a faint light flashing in two tones, blue and green.
“Homar, look! I think we’re approaching the lady’s home! “
Homar turns off the light emitted by his device to see clearer, and confirms:
“Yes, it’s true. We finally have a reaching point.”
With a calm smile and a tired face, he stares at the sky full of stars, closes his eyes and says out loud , “Thank you Universe!”
The new landmark discovered encourages them to accelerate the pace, having now a clear target. Peridot even skipped chewing his food, swallowing almost all the cubes, in order to breathe properly at the new speed.
As they approached more the flashing lights, they began to realize that they were a lot more far away than anticipated, and at the same time, they started to notice thousands of other identical and synchronized lights coming out of the horizon. After about 1,000 steps, equivalent to 3 bus stops, Homar could finally turn out the light emitted by his own device, the trail being more and more visible without its help.
“What a lousy administration this city has Peridot. Why would they deny access to bus transportation to this wonderful neighborhood, where certainly thousands of fellow citizens live.”
“Surely! although I would not mind walking daily this route , surrounded by so many beautiful lights. It kind of reminds me of my home planet.”
“Really? How was your planet Peridot?”
“Hmm…how should I explain this? It was basically alive! And full of love. She treated us like her children, not like some parasites that consume her resources. It was mutual respect.”
“But what happened? How did you end up here?”
“They needed volunteers and I offered. It was my decision, trusting I was going to learn new things, but it does not pass on a day without thinking about my planet. I miss her so much…”
Homar did not know how to react to these new emotional affirmations. He was not accustomed seeing his partner sad or melancholic ,since he always had a big smile on his face. He preferred to ignore the situation, and to focus on the path. The lights were getting closer, and it was easy to distinguish their source. The scenery they were seeing in front of their eyes was so confusing that they preferred not to speak until they fully reached it.
“Peridot, do you see what I see? Is this real?”
“I hope so! “
The light source began to be distinguished.
“Yes.. huge woody plants … They resemble trees, but they have a weird color and more branches than usual.”
The two watched the wonderful scene in front of them. The air was fresh and fragrant, driving away all the fatigue accumulated on the road. There was a sound of flowing water, vibrating with melodic lines. Along the trail, on one side and the other, there were thousands of gray plants, with rigorous, woody bark, with branches holding bright globes that flashed synchronously in two colors. Their trunk was very tall, and very thick, requiring at least 20 persons to embrace it in their arms. Peridot felt a warm feeling inside his heart like a loving embrace , as the surrounding atmosphere reminded him of his mother planet. All of a sudden he gets excited and curious like a child and rushes towards one of the trees to touch it. As he reaches half a step away from one of them, the floor lights up, and a bright light comes out of the bark indicating a code: 2A.
“Homar! Look, look ! These are not ordinary trees.”
“No,” said Homar, with his eyes wide-eyed, “these are homes.”
To be continued