Simon stretched back in the car. He yawned, and then rolled his neck once, twice, and stopped, going back the other way.
Outside, the car took a sharp left that even its marvelous engineering couldn't disguise. This new road was occasionally lit by sparse streetlamps. Pairs of dipping power lines showed up above. They shone down to Yeung-Sung like the hems of metal gowns. As he followed the lines, propping his head up with the palm of his hand, he heard a distinct clicking sound. Immediately after, the car accelerated to almost double its speed. The force of it finally knocked Yeung-Sung's mouth painfully shut.
Simon sat in perfect posture, smiling. Looking ahead, he began to explain,
"Yes, so you see we are doing trials of an economic system unlike any other. Well, that's not true, we do borrow many of the fundamental aspects-," and he droned off again for a few moments.
Yeung-Sung was unfamiliar with many of the terms he was using and was finding it hard to follow along. It didn't help that Simon, now that he had started, was rushing out his words until onsets of self-consciousness slowed him down. When he finally paused Yeung-Sung was about to ask him to repeat when he shook his head and said,
"But that's all irrelevant to you, really. For participants in the colony, -ehh, for you I have pre-made a tutorial. That should get you acquainted".
Looking more intently at the lights ahead (which flickered past quicker), Simon grimaced. "However, I forgot to save it locally. My bad. And so I was stalling 'til we got close enough for the colony's wi-fi to kick in". He pursed his lips in thought, then looked at his phone. Yeung Sung saw that he was checking the time. "Soon," Simon mouthed.
"-But we're talking now...so I'll see what I can do." He turned back a little. "Also, I'm not one for orating live and I haven't prepared. Don't expect much. Really, I wasn't expecting this, so excuse me."
Without waiting for assent, Simon took a big breath and launched into another barrage of topics without a strand of thought connecting them together;
"Why did the banks fail? No, that's not right…"
Simon stopped and started, "What is money? What is it, really? Define it…"
He also answered himself: "Well, those are both good questions so just answering one would be enough. But I'll answer both! You see….".
Yeung Sung didn't think that even the first sentence of each rant was any use deciphering. He had had just about enough and tried to interrupt,
"Do you want me to answer anything or are you just going to talk over-"
"Webster's defines money as…well, no one would really care how it used to be defined, I suppose."
"-And that phrase was cliché even back in the day. Anyway..."
The conversation wasn't going anywhere. Yeung-Sung leaned forward. Viciously, he snapped his fingers underneath Simon's left ear. "Hey!"
It was working. He continued to snap faster until each beat accented a word,
"I-don't-know-what-you-are-talking-about. Slow down and tell me, in basic English what this 'economy' is, and why I need to be in a secret colony in North Korea to test it." He snapped once more. "Please"
Simon glared at him like he had just dug up the bones of his childhood dog. Yeung-Sung heard some irritated rumblings and hoped that what he had said earlier about not wanting to hurt him was true.
The Brit was back in his pockets. Yeung-Sung saw that same darkness he experienced before. But he didn't notice what Simon was doing until he heard a clink of metal (one he could have sworn was made by a gun). Immediately, he felt an itch under his hairline.
"Okay. I am sorry for snapping." He kept his hands raised in the universal peace-making position.
Simon's arm was tensed. It shook. Whether with anger or restraint, Yeung-Sung could not tell. Since he had stopped his rant, Simon hadn't said another word. Yeung-Sung fought himself from teasing him about that. If he survived this encounter, he told himself, he would always keep a bolded mental note on Simon's short temper.
Behind Simon, the dashboard monitor flared up. It bathed his back with a glowing blue. He turned, letting the light fill in the dark crevasses of his face. "Ahh, finally."
Yeung Sung rapidly blinked twice.
"We're close now," Simon explained, looking back with a grin. He shifted over to the right and motioned for Yeung-Sung to have a look. On it, a band of dots pendulumed around in a circle as if they were hanging from the 'Loading...' text above. In Simon's hand, his phone displayed the same image, only with the dots moving slightly out of phase.
"What did you do, Yeung-Sung," Simon then asked him, "before the depression?". He seemed different now. Relaxed, natural, even reserved. Yeung-Sung wondered whether this was his normal state.
Tucking his legs under, he leaned in closer and replied, "I was studying English and Business part-time. And I was, I was… a greengrocer. Is that the right word?" Simon nodded. "I was a greengrocer until yesterday."
Upon saying that, he had a realisation about exactly what kind of life he had lived, and that he would probably never be able to go back to it. Simon, though, didn't pick up on the solemnity of the statement that was just confessed to him, and just nodded again, muttering,
"A grocer. Huh, might be useful. I can probably arrange that."
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