[I’m sorry about skipping the last two or three weeks. Had a bunch of school shit to attend to. Over now, though.]
[Refresher: Cirno is trapped in a room with the ghost of Purple Steve at the demons’ stronghold. A voice from an intercom prepares to ask Cirno some questions. The intercom’s dialog is written in black, and Purple Steve’s dialog is in purple.]
3 hours later.
“I talk to him more than anyone about what I’m feeling, you know? It’s like… no one really knows how to take shit seriously.”
“Or rather, they don’t want to.”
“Right. They can’t handle it. Like it’ll make the world so much harder if they admit they can think.”
“That’s deep shit. I like that.”
“Thanks. That can be my, like, life quote or whatever.”
“Naw, don’t settle too easily, I’m sure you’ve got an even better one in you.”
“So that Mark guy, what’s he do?”
“Like, for a living.”
“He works part-time, but he’s only thirty. In our race it takes thirty-five years to fully reach adulthood, so he’s still living with his parents.”
“Okay, so you’re both basically teenagers.”
“See, that’s sort of the issue here. It’s not a problem to have a peer as a mentor, but having an older, more learned mentor can make you evolve faster—mentally, or as a person. Not that I think you’re mistaken in learning from him, but it’s always worthwhile to learn from multiple people. And part of it’s also that Mark himself doesn’t have an older mentor. He’s got a lot of knowledge, clearly, but once you catch up to him, you’ll both need to learn on your own.”
“Yeah, that’s true. I think he gets a lot of what he knows from researching people he admires and just the way he looks at life.”
“Mhm. I mean, again, it’s nothing wrong—that’s how you’ll do most of your learning anyway; but just having someone to reconcile your ideas is great. And it doesn’t need to be one guy—people who know their shit can come in all forms. Growing up, my brother was mostly the one who taught me everything, but after he died I had a more diverse group of people I came to for advice.”
“Seems like you have a lot of interesting friends.”
“Yeah. I owe some of that to my brother—well, really, a lot of that to my brother—because I knew older people through him—like Claire. There were also some cool older guys in my D&D group from high school.”
“I really wish I had some friends like that.”
“Well see, what’s great about cool older guys is that a lot of them really like helping younger people, especially if they see a lot of potential in them. If you don’t act like a dumb kid around them and get serious with them, then they’ll see that in you.”
“But how do I even run into someone like that? Like… in my everyday life, I don’t run into anyone like that.”
“But that’s the point; you want to change your everyday life, right? If you remain stagnant in your lifestyle, then you can’t expect to change your mindset either.”
“Steve’s right, you gotta get out there, and it’s not even really that hard. For one thing, you ran into me just in your daily life, right?”
“And see, when you’re young, something like this seems like a once-in-a-lifetime meeting, but as you start talking to more smart people and put yourself out there, you’ll end up having those encounters all the time and really meet some amazing people.”
“My suggestion is, just be adventurous, and don’t be afraid of awkwardness. Strike up conversations with that guy who you’ll be sitting next to for the next fifty minutes before work or something, especially if he seems friendly. Or go to places where you can meet people who share your interests, so you can connect over that and then strike up a friendship from there. Claire’s always talking about how the internet is a great place to meet people, but she always seems pissed off at the ones she talks to—but that’s just her, and it’s always worth a shot if you’ve got access to a computer. Do you?”
“Yeah, I’ve got a Windows ’98. My dad’s pretty up-and-up on things like that.”
“Awesome! See, that’s the kind of opportunity you can exploit and take some chances. I mean, even if it doesn’t work, you won’t lose anything.”
“Right. Man, you’ve got me excited now, I already wanna try it!”
“Haha, I’m glad to hear that. Hey man, I should give you my phone number or something; we can talk about this further, maybe help you through the steps once you get started.”
“That sounds amazing—yeah, I’d love it if you’d do that for me!”
“Cool. Bring me a paper and a pen and I’ll write it down for ya.”
The intercom went silent.
Cirno motioned with his head, signaling to Purple Steve.
About a minute later, the door opened and a big red demon stepped through the frame. Before he had time to open his mouth, there was a loud crackle and pop as electricity shot through his body, paralyzing his nerves and causing him to fall to the ground.
“I just stunned him. Let’s get out of here.”
On his way out, Cirno took the pen and paper from the demon’s hand, wrote down his name and phone number, then stuffed them into the demon’s pocket before hurrying down the hall.
“There’s an elevator that barely gets used which can take you to where I am. Make a left at the corner, then straight shot ahead.”
“Cool fuckin’ shit.”