Dahlia, your friend and fellow mechanic

You step outside and are met by the smell of dust and metal, left by the machines that just recently passed.  The comforting breeze of the cool night air brushes against your face.  The sky is a dark golden brown now, a colour that you rarely see, it passes in minutes, but you enjoy it while it lasts.

You look over to Big Ben, the Nightmare looming over the city, partially illuminated by the refracted light from the sun now set.

You put it out of your mind and try not to look at is as you take out a rudimentary map from your pocket.  You must take a different route each time you leave, you cannot take the risk of someone attempting to ambush you.  You smile briefly when you realise you have not taken the shortest route in a while.  You set off to your right, around the corner of where you're staying for now.  You climb over rubble and broken items, who's uses are long forgotten.  Anything of use has already been scavenged out here in the open.

You pass the "Book Shop".  You deter from your path, just for a few minutes to  explore it, to see if you can find a book, unlikely, as you've checked dozens of times in this shop, but you never give up hope that there is one lying hidden in some dark crevice.  You only have 2 books.  You do not really know what they mean, but are trying to figure it out, you can remember some of the words, your mother used to read them to you when you were very young.

The book shop is full of a stuffy smell.  The glass window is miraculously not broken, however, the floor is covered in fallen shelves and tiny pieces of ripped paper.  You rummage about, moving empty boxes and broken pieces of wood until you give up for today.

You leave the book shop, the colour of the sky has darkened completely now to a dark musky blue.

You turn left and continue down the street.  You make a right when you see a gate turning into a narrow alley.  The gate creeks as you pull it and you run through as quickly as you can, it would not be a good idea to be ambushed here.  You are out the other side in a few seconds.  You continue down this street to a building on the left at a corner with no outer walls.

Dahlia is standing on top of a pile of broken material, a mound about 1 and a half metres high, staring out into the night.  She's wearing her usual dark brown suspenders, vertically striped white shirt with the sleeves rolled up to her elbows and a brown bowler hat with a black strip around it.  Her dark blonde hair is done up in a pony tail with some pale string.

Dahlia holds up a shiny golden spyglass to her eye and extends it, you cannot tell what she is looking at.

"Hey Day!" you shout across to her.  Dahlia turns around, sees you and pulls a big pointy smile.  She retracts the spyglass, slides it into a hoop on her belt, then runs down and gives you a big hug.  She then places you at arms length with her hands on your shoulders, smiles again.

"Hey cracker" she says.  You roll your eyes and walk passed her up the mound of trash to see what she was looking at.

"What's so interesting?" you ask.  She jumps up behind you and leans her head on your shoulder, then points across the buildings to a rooftop in the distance.
"I don't see anything..." you say.

"Ahh," Dahlia replies, "you might need this" she says, pulling out her spyglass and handing it over to you.  You feel a slight pang of envy as you take the spyglass from her.

You hold the smaller end up to your eye as you extend the other end with your hand.  You look to where Dahlia was pointing.  Across the night you can see a small fire burning.  In the light cast by the flames you can make out the outline of a man covered head to toe in hats and scarves.

"What's so interesting about him?" you ask.

"Look through the flames, just behind the fire." Dahlia replies.

Through the flames you can just about see what looks like a chessboard, chess pieces laid out in starting position.

"It looks like your chess set." you say.

"EXACTLY like my chess set!" Dahlia excitedly replies.  "The pieces are made of the same type of metal, the same exact shapes, even the chessboard has the same markings around the edge!".

"So, he stole your chess set?"

"NO!" exclaims Dahlia.  "I used to have 2, well, my dad had one and I had one, exactly the same."

"So you think it's him?!" you reply.

"It must be."

There is a brief pause in which you just stand thinking about what Dahlia has said.

"I'm going to go to him." Dahlia says, breaking the silence.

"Isn't that a little dangerous?  What if it's just a co-incidence, he doesn't look like the safe type really, anything could happen!" you exclaim.

"I know.  That's why I wanted you to come with me..."

"I'm not sure..."

"Come on cracker, this is really important, if it is my dad, well, it would be the best thing that's ever happened to me."

You keep thinking about the risks involved, could it really be Dahlia's dad?  You know that if it were your mum you thought you might have seen, you would want to go after her.

"Listen," Dahlia says, "I can go on my own, I'll be fine, I need someone to stay here and make sure no one comes scavenging all my things."

After thinking for a while, you decide the best decision would be to...

The End

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