We waited for our drinks. I was excited! Pepsi! Sugar! Yes! I looked over at the little guy. "You need to close your mouth and quit gawking kid."
"I can't help it." He lowered his voice "She was clean!"
I smiled "Yep."
"Plus they got electricity Gardener! Do you think its all over!"
He was a little loud with the last sentence. Enough so that one of the men sitting at the bar looked over at us. I stared at him and he looked away. "Inside voices kid." Damn, I hadn't heard that said in awhile. I sure as hell never expected to say it in my lifetime.
I told him "I don't know. I doubt it."
For a second I saw myself going to back to work as an IT guy. My most dangerous weapon a tiny screwdriver. My worst enemy anyone with "Manager" in their title. Going home to Night and showing her my latest injury. Another paper cut. Not good. Not good at all. Fortunately the waitress came back with our drinks and interrupted my nightmare.
"Before I can serve you I must inform you of our policy."
"Okay. Go ahead." I knew this was about the payment part. It had to be.
"First of all do you have a valid ID for this Zone?"
She smiled. She had a nice smile despite it being as tired as the rest of her looked.
"I thought so. Do you have any new, new as in the last three months Zone script?"
The smile again.
"Okay men. We can feed you but your going to have to pay the out of Zone fee. That's paid in silver and three times the price on the menu."
I sighed. I was going to pay it. Hell, I would have paid four times the menu price for pancakes. "So how far does the Zone run around here? Are the roads working?" I was doing mental calculations based on where I thought we were and were we had to go. We had 21 days left to cover 300 plus miles. Every day that distance increased by at least 30 miles. If I could chew off a big chunk by moving down a clear road like an Interstate I could be in a sleeping bag with Night in a couple of days. Add two more days for the usual stuff to go wrong and we were looking good. * Not bad at all.
"Okay. That's fine." I started digging out my silver and.and counting it into her hand. "Two plates of pancakes and lots of syrup." I wanted some info from her so as I did that I asked her "How far does this Zone go? How's the roads? Do we need a Zone ID?"
The last silver coin was in her palm about the time I asked "How's the roads?" Her hand closed over them. She waited until I was done talking and said "Honey I'm to busy for this. You need to go to the information center." Then she was gone.
Zane watched her go and then told me "I don't think she likes you."
"Yeah. I get that a lot" I replied.
* Bobn inspired.