The Translocation of Dr Pepper

Many residents of a small Oregon town have their lives uprooted when the soda fountain in a local diner begins to teleport, threatening the very existence of the planet at large.

This is meant to be a lighthearted, fun, and somewhat humorous story.

First draft.

Work in progress.

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5. Conversations About the End of the World

.             There was an electric blue Volkswagen Beetle parked outside of the Baffle House. Inside the Baffle House, two men in tuxedos sat opposite one another in a booth. Each man held a newspaper and an orange highlighter. They were highlighting headlines of interest. They found that few things pertinent to their investigation were ever written about in The Pinebill Gazette. A young waitress brought the men a set of menus. Her name tag said her name was Leela. Agent Flexbert thought it might be misspelled but wasn't sure so he kept his mouth shut.

.             Leela asked if the two men wanted anything to drink, making sure to inform them that the establishment no longer served soft drinks. Both men ordered black coffee even though they would have preferred it with sugar and cream. Agent Bentley watched Leela fill up two mugs at the coffee maker and his eyes fell upon an empty space on the counter next to it. He suddenly made a realization. The Baffle House didn't serve soft drinks because their soda fountain wasn't there. He pointed this out to Agent Flexbert who suggested that, if the soda fountain’s path began in the restaurant, it would have to return by the end of the day. The men decided to stay until it arrived. The time was 10:53 AM.

.            Having no idea how long they would be staying, the two government agents looked over their menus. Leela brought them their coffee and they sipped it, pretending it wasn't too hot or too bitter. They ordered hash browns even though they wanted chocolate chip waffles and sat in silence until it became unbearable.

.            “Will you stop stressing out, man? We still have five months,” Agent Flexbert blurted out.

.            “Five months isn't as long as you think it is,” sighed Agent Bentley.

.             Both men were here for the same reason. Twelve years ago they were in the military and caught wind of a position they could take that would pay well with little to no work. The black hole eradication specialists who worked for NASA had never been called into action before. Their only responsibility was to be on call for a theoretical event with no precedent. The two men who had previously done the job retired with no successors and the classification level of their job descriptions was too high for NASA to find a suitable replacement. Every person with the necessary clearance level to qualify for, or even know about, the job was already employed. But Flexbert and Bentley heard about it from a friend of a friend of a friend and got the job for the sole qualification of being the only applicants.

.            Now, those same two men sat across from each other in a diner in Oregon with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. It was five months until the end of the world and they had no idea how to stop it. The bitter taste this feeling left in Agent Bentley’s mouth did not mix well with his black coffee so, in what he deemed a moment of weakness, he opened three of the sugar packets from the condiment tray and dumped their contents into his mug. After he had stirred it up, Agent Bentley took a gulp of his coffee instead of a sip.

.          “Whoa, man, you okay?” asked a concerned Agent Flexbert.

.          “Yeah, I'm cool,” his partner replied.

.         Agent Bentley was not, in fact, cool or okay. He was deeply unsettled by the situation in which he found himself. Agent Flexbert was too but neither man wanted to let that show.

.         “Do you think we would even notice?” said Agent Flexbert.

.         “Notice what?”

.         “If we failed. I mean, everything would be normal right up until it wasn't. And by then, everyone would be dead, right?”

.         “Yeah, I guess.”

.         “So, either we fix this or we don't. Either way, nothing changes.”

.         “You mean, other than everyone including us being dead?”

.         “Yeah, forget it I thought I was going somewhere with that but I didn't really make any sense. Sorry.”

.         In the second hour of waiting for the soda fountain, Agent Flexbert spotted a jukebox by the window. He took out his wallet and saw that he had exactly three dollars cash and his credit card. He stood up and told Agent Bentley to follow him. He did and the two men stood in front of the jukebox, being careful to stand at least three fourths of a foot apart from on another, and took off their sunglasses so they could se the names of the available songs.

.          They were immediately overcome by the sort of anxiety that so often accompanies a person on a long car ride forced to pick music from their own personal library to play for their friends. By themselves in the electric blue Volkswagen Beetle, the agents could play whatever they wanted because of their shared music taste. But here, in a crowded diner, it had to be something everybody would like but not so popular that they would be perceived as uncultured. The older the song the better, they decided, as long as was from after 1930.

.          After a while, it was observed that taking too long to choose a song was just as exposing as choosing the song but it was also noted that after thinking about it for so long, it would be equally as embarrassing not to choose a song as to choose the wrong one. So, the men decided to close their eyes and pick on at random. AC-DC’s Highway to Hell began playing over the sounds system. Both men agreed that it was a good song choice even though it wasn't really their kind of music. They walked back to their booth.

.         The thought of being on a highway to hell symbolized something to the men in tuxedos that none of the other patrons knew about. The agents put their sunglasses back on so that the other would not see the growing sense of urgency in their eyes. They were certainly on the fast track to something big. Hell or otherwise.

.          After another hour passed, Leela told the men that, of the didn't order something soon, they would be asked to leave. So Agent Bentley ordered steak and egg and, much to his surprise, Agent Flexbert ordered a chocolate chip waffle.

.         “Five months is a long time,” remarked Agent Bentley.

.         “Not that long.”

.         “One hundred and fifty years is a long time too.”

.         “Yeah, I guess.”

.         “If the world doesn't end in five months, then it will be around fifty years before the ice caps melt and the ocean fills with plastic.

.         “What's your point?”

.         “Well, we keep saying that's a long ways off but, someday, it will be one hundred and forty-nine years and eight months from now and we'll spend our last five moths complaining about how we wish someone had done something sooner.”

.        “You wanna pick now to start recycling?”

.        “Only when it's convenient.”

.        After four hours of waiting for the soda fountain, somebody played It’s the End of the World as We Know It by REM on the jukebox and both of the men in tuxedos had to step outside for a smoke. They made sure they looked cool when they smoked by putting their free hands in their pockets and leaning against walls even when it wasn't comfortable. Agent Flexbert checked his watch.

.        “We've been here for four hours, dude. What if they don't have a soda fountain because it's broken and they're getting it fixed or something?” he said.

.        “What could be possibly be doing that is more productive than this?”

.        “I hate this job.”

.        “You can say that again.”

.        “I hate this job.”

.        Another hour passed. Agent Flexbert stood up and announced that he needed to relieve himself and made his way to the men's room to do so. The Baffle House had only single toilet bathrooms so there was a short line. Agent Flexbert noticed, however that every man ahead of him had come out of the bathroom with a smirk on his face. Agent Flexbert entertained the idea that there might be something amusing graffitied on the mirror. Once it was his turn to go inside, however, he found something even better. Taking up a quarter of the wall in the men's restroom was an enormous brightly colored painting of Lady Marina Pinebill herself that appeared to stare at its observer no matter where they stood. It wasn't until his bladder was empty that Agent Flexbert was stricken with the realization of what this could mean.

.         He practically ran back to his seat to tell Agent Bentley what he had seen. When he got there, however, Agent Bentley was holding a map that had brought him to the same realization. Both men spoke at the same time:

.          “They robbed the mansion!”

.          “How did you figure it out?” asked Agent Bentley.

.          “There's an original portrait of Marina Pinebill in the bathroom. What about you?” said Agent Flexbert.

.          “This is a map with the path of the soda fountain marked out in its entirety. The part from the pond to the manor is highlighted and it says ‘Heist Plan’ at the top,” Agent Bentley explained.

.          Agent Flexbert ask where Agent Bentley had gotten such a convenient map and he explained that the waitress who served them had dropped it on her way out after her shift ended. They decided to call it a day and keep the map. Now they knew what was teleporting and where but still had no idea how to stop it. Or even if they could.

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