Murkland: The Pufferfish Dome

You may have been following along with my past journal entries before this one. My name is Rusty Sprocket, I’m hoping that all my journal entries have survived to make it to the future for whoever lives in it to learn from the past. Which is my present of course. Normally I would give a huge update to what life is like here in Murkland so that you don’t get confused with the names I use. This time I just want to let you know specifically about the Mad Mudder faction and their restaurant the Pufferfish Dome.

Pufferfish is some poisonous fish when it’s not cooked right, but it is a delicacy here in Murkland because it’s one of the few fish that hasn’t been contaminated by the toxins from the nuclear bomb twenty years ago. It is hugely popular with a certain crowd, though it has a bad reputation because of the number of people that have died as a result of a poorly cooked fish sneaking through the cooking lines. 

I’ve been here once before when I was invited by my vampire friend Vlad. I didn’t know he was a vampire until he caught on fire from the sun. I felt so terrible, so when I got another invite to go to the Pufferfish Dome I accepted just out of memory of him. He’d been a pretty decent friend while he was alive, even if he was a little weird.

One of my former customers when I was selling from my table instead of to the Vardo brothers stopped by my lot to ask me to go to the Pufferfish Dome. She isn’t really a friend of mine, I don’t know her that well. But I was excited to go back out, so off we went, trekking all the way there. 

Part of me was kind of hoping to run into Gash again. he’s one of the mad mudders and he has a crush on me according to my friends Jeep and Lavender. I’m not sure if I have a crush on him as well, but I figure that I should at least try to find out if it’s true. 

As we waited for our meal I had confessed my stress about love to the near stranger that had invited me out to eat. I needed advice from someone on the outside who didn’t really know either of us. Guiltily I also explained about some of the other guys that I have encountered, especially the Vardo brothers. 

“Well, who do you like best?” 

Her question made me stop and think. Isn’t that kind of the problem. But I guess… Rain. I shouldn’t because he’s so much older than me, but my stomach kind of flutters when I see him. I mumbled it for the most part when I actually told her. I couldn’t believe I actually had an answer for this. I guess I really have been thinking about it constantly, even when I’m sleeping. I’ve been trying to come to a decision, even though it’s been really hard to. I’m afraid to hurt Gash.

“I guess it’s a good thing that he’s not actually here!” I laughed and tried to pretend I hadn’t noticed my dinner partner’s annoyed look. I guess she hasn’t been able to date anyone, and hasn’t even gotten any looks from anyone, so she was frustrated that I was getting so many. 

She stormed off before paying for the meal even though she had taken me out and I went up to the waitress and paid for both meals with an awkward laugh, “Sorry about that. I accidentally talked her ears off.”

“Hey it’s fine. Sometimes we don’t even get paid because people never leave.” The waitress laughed awkwardly. I didn’t realize right away what she meant, but I feel a bit dumb for not realizing quite how many people must die in the Dome. 

When I trekked back home I got a surprise. My friend Vlad’s ashes are on my plot of land because I couldn’t just leave him at the Dome, when I got back I could see him standing at his grave. 

At first i thought it was a trick of my imagination so I just twirled my fire wands as I tried to enjoy myself and clear my mind. I thought I was feeling guilty for everything that has been going on lately. But when I heard the sobs I realized it was not a survivor’s guilt reaction. 

“Hey Vlad.” How exactly do you talk to a ghost? That’s what was going through my head when I walked up to him. I guess it’s like talking to anyone else though, so I tried to pat his shoulder comfortingly. My hand passed right through of course and I quickly pulled it back to myself. It was like being up at the campgrounds and rolling around in the snow, but all that cold concentrated just on my hand. 

He wiped his eyes, “Oh hello Rusty my delicious mortal. . . I didn’t see you standing there. I seem to have died.”

“Yes, you did. So I brought your ashes home with me.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Well, I don’t know. I didn’t think you should just stay at the restaurant all by yourself, and I’ve never seen you talking to someone else so I didn’t know who else to give your ashes to, so I took them myself so you wouldn’t be alone.” I rushed through the explanation stumbling and repeating myself. I don’t know why I did it really, I just did it. It seemed like the right thing to do. 

“No one has done anything nice for me… willingly. That’s… nice.” It looked like it hurt him to say the word. We didn’t talk long after that. but it was nice to know that he was content. I needed to sleep though, so I said good night and climbed into my tent. It didn’t feel like it was a good idea to write in my journal that night with him watching my plot of land. 

In the morning, he was nowhere to be seen so I went for a jog, Had I really made my decision on who I wanted to approach? Did I really like Rain that much?

Did I really want to date? I sat in the hot springs for hours getting off the grime of the last few days. I didn’t think the radioactive toxins that had affected the land was really that much of a danger anymore. I feel like maybe enough time has passed that things are starting to recover. 

To my surprise that resulted in me jumping and slipping back into the hot springs, a hand touched my shoulder. When I emerged dripping and broken out of my thoughts I saw Lyndon scowling at me. “Geez, I didn’t mean to scare you. I was wondering if you wanted to go out to eat with me…”

It’s not like I was going to say no. Lyndon has a bit of a scowl on at all times, but I think he just doesn’t like the bad reputation that he gets just because he’s been infected. 

I think he’s actually pretty nice. Maybe a bit shy and socially awkward, but that’s all. 

“Thanks for inviting me out Lyndon, I love it here!” Lyndon looked nervous, like he had something on his mind, but before I could ask him what was going on Gash walked up to our table. He’d heard my voice and had to come say hello.

“What are the two of you doing here anyway?” Gash asked with happy curiosity as our food arrived after some idle chatter a few minutes later.

“We’re trying to eat our dinner.” Lyndon growled angrily, “Which you should be serving other tables shouldn’t you?”

“I can stop and chat if I want to. It’s not a big deal what I do here. The Great Mad Mud owns it, that doesn’t mean I actually work here. I just kind of hang out.” Gash glared at Lyndon and then turned to Rusty, “If there’s any problems just call me over okay Rusty. I’ll leave you and this infected to eat your meal in peace.” 

“You know he is my friend too right?”

Lyndon sighed and looked down at his plate, “You shouldn’t need him. We’re friends aren’t we?”

I looked at him confused, “You’re my friend, and he’s my friend. I can be friends with both of you.” I patted his hand gently, “I promise I’m not going anywhere okay?” 

“I wanted to eat with just you…” He mumbled. I almost didn’t hear what he said, and I don’t think he had intended me to. He’s told me once in the past that I’m the first person that doesn’t judge him right away just because he’s an infected member of our society. I don’t think he quite knows how to handle being with other people and not just by himself. I hope he can find a way out of his shell. 

I’m back at my plot of land now and I’m just jotting this quick journal update down. I’ll see you again soon. 

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