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Crankshaft Memory [Crankshaft Rafflesian Rework}
#1
[Image: iBYg8eL.png]


You’re Lex, trash rabbit extraordinaire.

Extraordinaire might be a strong word though...

You pick fights you shouldn’t…

You’re always in trouble for something..

And yet somehow? Things seem to work out.

Today’s one of those days. After months of being busy with a new job, your side job, FINALLY moving in with your girlfriend, getting a therapist, and paying back a number of fines from a few blunders on your adventure, you went on the first big full date with Dotty in a long time…

And it’s been nice.


Dotty: I’m so glad we wait til after the movie to eat, shit hurt my stomach to watch.

Lex: Same.

Dotty: Not in a bad way but more… how? Why?

Lex: It’s all fake but it’s hard to tell?

Dotty: Live film is a hell of a thing, we gotta see more of those when we can.

Lex: No like, that movie was actually nuts.

Dotty: The part where the mob guy walked out of the screen?

Lex: Then he dragged one of the staff back with him?

Dotty: Then that one part with the dressing room! I loved it but I hated it!

Lex: Scare me shitless. Like...

Dotty: The guy with the puppet!?

Lex: That ACTUALLY hurt to watch, poor thing…

Dotty: I felt so bad! When he started making dial-up screeches?!

Lex: That’s rad as hell though! The part that got me was the epilogue, got actual chills from that.

Dotty: What was his name?

Lex: Like.. Benny I think?

Dotty: Not sure that’s right but he has that energy?

Lex: I’m gonna be thinking about that performance for awhile..

Dotty: Actually deserves best actor for that, not even kidding.

Lex: Hair’s still standing! Shit dude…

Dotty: I have no idea how they’re going to make the VHS version anywhere as good….

Lex: I’m glad we saw that while it was running locally…

Dotty: Same! Like… I needed that. I think we all really needed that you know? Life’s been on hiatus for a bit but like… dang.

Lex: Really though. I just feel so… refreshed, Is that weird? Like…

Dotty: No I get it! I just wanna get home and yell about it 'til I’m tired.

Lex: Same.

Dotty: Thanks for taking me out today…. Surprised you managed to get tickets though. Limited screenings get sniped so hard in the city and they’re already pricey as is…

Lex: I have my ways..

Dotty: How’d you do it?

Lex: I had someone hook me up. Remember Kurt?

Dotty: Sorta? The high school friend?

Lex: Yep! He’s been around more, finally got the chance to sit down and talk to him. He’s married with a kid?!

Dotty: I mean he’d be 24 by now, right?

Lex: 25, he’s older by a year.

Dotty: That’s pretty normal stuff.

Lex: I guess? Still..  He asked me “Hey, you wanna see the new legend?” and whipped out pictures of him and the baby.

Dotty: That’s so nerdy! Like it’s sweet but..

Lex: No it super is! He’s cool though, gotta introduce him to you at some point.

Dotty: Maybe at our wedding?

Lex: Wedding?

Dotty: We’ve been doing this for a few years, finally moved in together… seems like the next step right? Some little birdie told me you’ve thought about it a few times.

You can feel her deep smirk melting you down. Your heart is racing. You’ve been snitched on.

Dotty: Course they also told me you wanted to be the one to pop the question yourself and I’d kinda love that so…

Her expression softened.

Dotty: When you’re ready I’m ready.

Lex: Honestly? I wanna be but like…. I wanna make sure we’ll be good for it too.

Dotty: Could get a small one to happen, no?

Lex: With my family? God no, we’d need to save and plan for a good year if we want to make it happen and I got so many folks who’ve all wanted to pitch in and help and well-

Dotty: Relax, I’m kidding! Mostly anyway?

Lex: Which part is the mostly?!

Dotty: I mean I’d be down when we’re better for it, right now we just barely moved in together and we’re both pretty busy with stuff. I got a promotion and a side job, you got that dueling career of yours starting to really catch some momentum AND you’re doing a lot of heavy lifting with the retail.

Lex: I mean, the retail is really Jam’s thing… I just tag in cause they get tired easily and I wanna pitch in too… It’s kinda nice that the regulars can tell us apart though. They really want a little more of a life of their own…

Dotty: Jam’s said as much.

Lex: Yeah. Like, we both share the same body and stuff and they don’t really wanted to be separated but at the same time it means they gotta work extra hard to be recognized as their own person. They’ve gotten pretty good at it though.

Dotty: Yeah?

Lex: I’ll go to the back room to change for my shift and some folks will ask “Hey, where’s the smug rabbit?”. It’s like some comic book stuff but it works? They’re hell proud of it.

Dotty: Should be, they work hard on their look.

Lex: I mean it’s more than just the look you know? The expressions, the voice shift, their entire body language…. Like… a lot of time went into figuring that out.

Dotty: Speaking of, any chance we’ll get a cameo from them later?

Lex: Maybe? Probably later, they had kind of a hard work day and need to rest. Napping right now I think, can’t hear them.

Dotty: Is everything okay?

Lex: Holiday shoppers. Tis the season.

Dotty: Sympathies… kinda surprised the shop’s getting that many folks?

Lex: Targe and Spice stocked up on more winter aesthetics lately. People who buy witchy stuff like any excuse to dress in more and the cold does that. Really just folks in general.

Dotty: I’m pretty guilty of that, shit gets freezing. Just want to get through the work day, take the bus home, and curl up on the couch with some soup or a hot drink….

Lex: That’s sweet though…

Dotty: If it’s raining? Bonus. Don’t like going through it but the sound of it from outside really makes the day for me…

Lex: Mm…

Dotty: I don’t know… maybe we can do some of that tonight? Kind of wind down from our big date like that?

Lex: Course.

Dotty: Put on some music too… I got a few tapes and discs I picked up recently that you might be into. Lots of local stuff, there’s a place nearby that stocks up on indies and students from the local colleges. Think some from the one you used to go to?

Lex: Uh… Secondgrover?

Dotty: Yeah! Got a couple of tapes from an artist called uh… Punch Card Lemon?

Lex: Oh my god….

Dotty: Guessing that rings a bell.

Lex: She was my partner a couple of times during a course on communications media. Carried her acoustic with her everywhere… Used to love to hog the recording equipment and reserved time with the studio like 3 days a week.

Dotty: Studio?

Lex: Yeah, campus had a pretty nutty studio setup. They put money into a lot of recreational stuff like that.. Was kinda rad honestly? A lot of kids who wanted to be musicians would fight for as much time as they could get for it. Some were desperate enough to buy other’s reservation tickets to get extra time. Became a big enough problem that they had to limit how much someone could cap off. 

Dotty: That’s pretty funny.

Lex: Yeah. School was a lot of stress and hard times but little things like that always made it worth it… gotta wonder if Lemony’s still going there. Didn’t know her all that well but she was fun. Like a manic theater kid without the ego. You know the type.

Dotty: Not really? Never went to school, didn’t ever have the chance for it… you make it sound pretty fun though. Missed out on so much honestly…

Lex: I’m sorry..

Dotty: For what? Before you I wasn’t doing jack. Just a cycle of work and sleep and maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get to talk to someone nice on the job… hell even before I got rebooted.

Dotty: The Specialist’s been helping me piece it all together but… it’s not that different. Don’t think I ever had a real life before I got restored.

Dotty: I guess just….

Dotty: The more I remember stuff, the more I realize I’m going to have to confront it all.

Dotty: Whoever I used to be made a lot of promises and a lot of enemies…

Dotty: You’ll have to be ready for that one day I guess.
 
[Image: 3hlVnlc.png]

You grab her by the hand, she blushes immediately.

Dotty: What are you doing?

Lex: Holding.

Dotty: Why?

Lex: It's nice…

Dotty: My hands are all nasty and scratched up…

Lex: Just like me.

Dotty: you’re not nasty..

Lex: I’m pretty rough around the edge though.

Dotty: It’s good on you.

Lex: Good on me?

Dotty: I mean...

Lex: You’re blushing.

Dotty: Shut up!

Lex: Look who’s red now…

Dotty: Fuck off! You got that look on your face….
[Image: ggxs68V.png]

Lex: Maybe…

Dotty: Fuck dude…

Lex: When we get back, you can look as long as you want and we can talk about everything yeah?

Dotty: Yeah… you sure you’ll be good for it?

Lex: Course, always...
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#2
Pharmacy Arc- Day One
CW: Unreality, Existentialism, Mental Heath, references to self harm.
[Image: Z9J4qLE.png]

 Last night went seemingly perfect for you. A date without a hitch, plenty of sappy exchanges, and you have today off from work to sleep off your hubris.

With that all said, a cruel reality sinks in on you.

Your medication ran out.

You can’t really blame the pharmacy too much, with recent events the climate around the island has drastically shifted some. Traffic from overseas is increasing toward the more tourist friendly locales, the increasing number of local pests, delays in delivery and production due to a heavy pushing of commercialized AI spaces, and this year being the coldest it’s been in a long time. You wouldn’t be surprised if it snowed at this point..

You managed to sneak in a few kisses and words before Dotty went out to handle her shift today, she managed to get a promotion so her hours are not quite as lined up with yours as much but you’ll manage.

Your mood may be a little volatile right now but you can hold out till you’re restocked.

Hopefully.

With that said it’s 12PM and you haven’t left your bed.

Your energy is shot and you feel a haze that blurs the line between reality and the unknown.

Am I real? Is anything real?

What happens when we die?

What happens before we exist?

Maybe I should go outside and get some fresh air…

But… I’m scared to?

Everything out there is going to feel fake.

You feel fake..

Is someone listening to your thoughts right now?

Maybe it’s best to sleep…
 
[Image: JubgBGQ.png]

But everytime you try to sleep in like this you wake up even more tired and your gut hurts.

You should eat something, that might ground you…

Do we have food stocked up? Maybe…

You’re not that hungry…

What if you are being watched?

What if someone is recording your thoughts for the world to know?

Everyone secretly thinks you’re weird and disgusting.

Everyone thinks you’re a piece of filth and they’re staying quiet to mock you…

But there’s nobody around right now?

Fuck…

This shitty thought loop keeps adding more and more into itself until it’s all the noise you can hear..

Normally you can keep it at bay a little but without your meds it makes quick work of dogpiling you fast and hard.

You’re not going to get much done right now..

Just close your eyes, don’t let it take you…

Get your rest…

I’ve got you, you’re going to be okay…

You doze off into a deep sleep.

You feel a comforting voice ease you in…

Comforting? Aww…

Jam?

The one and only.

Thank god you’re here..

Don’t think any god would’ve sent me. Kind of a devil that lives in your head.

I guess when you put it that way…

I’d be considered a bit of a blasphemy for some you know? Make a ghost out of your manic depression, become best friends with it… smooch them from time to time.

Look.

I’m not complaining. Anyway, sorry for leaving you hanging, whatever funk you got going on is hitting me too…

Sorry, I couldn’t get my meds…

It’s no biggie, happens. How are you holding up right now?

Managing. Barely.

Yeah, I can tell.

Just feeling weak right now… kinda lost. Where are you?

Somewhere? Let me just uh… poke around. Keep talking to me.

Hate this.

Can’t blame you.

Hate my brain, hate waiting on meds, hate that I can’t just… work like normal.

I’ve got you, I’m here.

I guess I just… I dunno. Everything feels wrong right now. Skin feels like a glove ready to peel off, feel like I’m watching through someone else’s eyes.. Gotta sometimes just bite myself to know I’m really here.

You should really stop doing that..

I know but like.. I just get so scared you know? I gotta claw and bite until I know I’m feeling something. I gotta know I’m actually here and now and I’m not going to just vanish…

Shh…I got you.

Jam?

Yeah, I’m here.

Can you just..

I’m coming…

I can hear your footsteps?

Yeah, come here…

I… I think I lost track of which of us is who..

Yeah.. thoughts get a little meldy when this happens.

Just one moment..

There we go.

You’re immediately embraced by your friend. You feel a little more clarity.
 
[Image: kHoCO4j.png]

Jam: There.. How do you feel now?

Lex: Little bit better.

Jam: I’ve got you. You know when that place is going to have our shit ready?

Lex: None, didn’t give me an estimate.

Jam: You know how that place works though yeah?

Lex: Mm… prepares stuff 3 times a day until it stops serving.

Jam: Exactly. Big points are 12, 3, and 6PM. Closes at 8.

Lex: Right.

Jam: You call in, press them a little bit about it and see if they can give you a time.

Lex: Mm..

Jam: Honestly if they got it later, you can call Dotty to pick it up on the way back.

Lex: I don’t wanna bug her like that..

Jam: Then I can go handle it.

Lex: You get slammed by symptoms worse.

Jam: It takes some time for me. Point is we get your meds one way or another.

Lex: Right..

Jam: For real, we kinda need that right now?

Lex: What if they don’t have it? I got work and a game tomorrow.

Jam: Then we figure something out. Dotty might be able to help too here.

Lex: Mm…

Jam: Thoughts?

Lex: Guess it does help having a bit more of a plan.

Jam: See? Bam, we got this. This help at all?

Lex: Honestly? A ton. Just having someone to ground me right now and having a plan… it means the world right now.

Jam: That’s what I’m here for.

Lex: I wanna sleep just a bit longer but.. Keep talking to me. That’s what I need the most right now.

Jam: Can do.

Lex: Thank you, really…

Jam: You can thank me properly when we get those meds.

Lex: The usual reward?

Jam: Gotta get me that pint of cookies and cream.

Lex: Don’t eat it all in one go this time.

Jam: Can’t promise that, but I’ll share if I do. Fair enough?

Lex: Fair.

  
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#3
Pharmacy Arc- Small Talk
CW: Unreality, Existentialism, Mental Heath, references to self harm., drug references.

 
[Image: 9Zbtfkt.png]
 You get dressed quick in your hoodie and make your way out to the old familiar streets just outside of the boardwalk area. You’ve spent a good bulk of your post-college adult life and at this point you feel right at home.

The chill breeze immediately tickles your nose with the scent of light snow around the corner and the sea salt’s whimsy. You get a warm and nostalgic feeling every time you come back to this.

You tread through with just a little caution and leisurely pace, there’s no reason to rush during the calm between rain and snow. Little snails have appeared from the earth, taking in all the moisture they can get. You watch your step to avoid stepping on any of them.

You make good time getting to the main path. As you reach an intersection, a puffy construct in full length raincoat seems to line up with you shoulder to shoulder. You’ve seen him plenty of times before in the area but you’ve never really spoken to him directly. You give him a little nod and a wave out of politeness.

He gives you a goofy shrug in return.

Lex: No?

???: I dunno. Seen you getting into trouble around here regularly for the past couple of years so…

Lex: So?

???: Figure something’s up if we’re suddenly talking like this. What’d you pull?

Lex: Nothing yet, might do something later.

???:  Don’t bring me into it if you can, I got work tomorrow.

Lex: Same.

???: Yeah? What you do?

Lex: Got a job at the local shopping center, witching shop.

???: Ah… you’re one of those cranberry goths.

Lex: Cranberry goth?

???: You know, like goths but with more reds and purples than black.

Lex: That a thing?

???: Nope, made it up just now and you passed.

Lex: What about you then? 

???: Cold storage.

Lex: Ah, warehouse work?

???: Yep, it’s not much but it’s honest work as some would say.

Lex: I can see it. What about after that?

???: I’ll go watch a film if I got the cash, maybe hang out at the local game shop, that sort of thing.

Lex: Game shop?

???: Yeah, tabletop and trading cards and that sort of thing. You been too one before?

Lex: Yeah when I was a kid but it’s been a good while..

???: Whatcha play?

Lex: Arcanist Complex, Black Knight Profile, a few of the short lived ones……

???: Like?

Lex: Dogfighter Opera.

???: Eyyyy, that show was legit though. You seen the new movies?

Lex: There were new movies?

???: Yeah, they’re pretty good. Less corny than the original, beautiful animation. You gotta give them a shot my dude. So what decks you play?

Lex: Oh god I’m probably out of rotation..

???: Then what did you used to play?

Lex: In Arcanist I played Red Stitchcraft turbo… in Black Knight I played Four Seasons and Crown Assassin… you? Dogfighter I played Viper Aggro.
???: Combo player?

Lex: Little.

???: Nice, nice.

Lex: You?

???: Ah me? I just go for the dirty stuff, the type of thing that reminds you how toxic the game is. Fun getting a look on the other person’s face you. Things like Sandbar Loop, Crabstep, Rootfoot. Things that get banned fast.

Lex: Nasty. Actual garbage.

???: I am what I am. So what do you do on your spare time besides? Never asked you.

Lex: Well I hang out with my partner, I’ve got a side job in dueling, and I like to write from time to time.

???: A warrior poet. That’s rad.

Lex: Nothing like that..

???: You fight, you write, and you’ve got a killer bite. Sounds like one to me. So what you write about?

Lex: Mostly just personal stuff. Feelings, thoughts, little moments I guess. Beauty of the mundane does a lot for me I guess. Like… capturing those moments and conversations you know? There’s something special about those.

???: And what about now? You getting any inspiration?

Lex: I mean… maybe a little.

???: If I show up in one of your stories I want an arm cannon and abs.

Lex: What? Why?

???: Because if you’re ever famous I wanna be able to say “Yeah that was me.”

Lex: That’s pretty far away…

???: I can wait.

Lex: Assuming it happens. Anyway..

???: Plenty of folks get famous decades after they die you know? Maybe you will.

Lex: I’d like it before that…

???: Heh..What’s your name anyway?

Lex: Lex Leon. You?

???: Micky Mellow.

Lex:... What’s your real name?

He flashed his ID.

Lex: Dang. Cape comic energies.

Mickey: No kidding. Likewise to you. If the world’s in trouble we could do a teamup. So where you heading?

Lex: Picking up my meds at the local pharmacy. You?

Mickey: Getting that good kush, you know how it is.

Lex: I know.

Mickey: I can tell you the spot if you need.

Lex: Good for now I think.

Mickey: Suit yourself. Gonna turn the corner here though in a sec.

Lex: Gotta go separate ways?

Mickey: For now, was nice talking though.

Lex: Likewise. Think we’ll bump into each other again?

Mickey: Pop by the Billie’s Game Shop on Sunday for some Black Knight and you might.

Lex: Game good lately?

Mickey: Never was. Just always fun in how bad it is.

Lex: Good answer… I might take you up on that.

Mickey: Seriously consider.

You considered.
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#4
Pharmacy Arc- A Rabbit Reunion.
CW: None
 

[Image: kz2CMh1.png]

 
You get to the pharmacy just fine. You greet the staff, get your meds, and treat yourself to a soda and chips that you’ll snack on as you make your way back.

It’s life in motion, even if it’s in the smallest of ways.

As you walk out, you notice someone familiar, another dopple much like yourself.

He looks back at you puzzled, the two of you taking a moment to make sure what each of you are witnessing is real.

It’s your cousin from back home,

Lex: Yo! Helado!

Helado: Ey, that really you kid? Been forever since any of us have seen you. Missed out on last holiday season and everything.

Lex: I’ve been busy..

Helado: Could’ve called! I’m not mad but you can afford to call every once in a while.

Lex: I know, sorry I’ve been bad about it…

Helado: No biggie, I understand. We just worry, you know? You update your family like once a month.

Lex: Ah.. yeah.

Helado: Call them tonight if you can, think they’d appreciate that.

Lex: Yeah.

Helado: Things haven’t been the same since you left and your grandmother passed you know? Hasn’t been all worse but.. Certainly gets a little empty.

Lex: Ah.. I…

He gives you a pat on the shoulder.

Helado: I’m not here to make you feel shame though, happy to see you’re looking good. Healthier.

Lex: Don’t feel like I am honestly, got some cavities nagging me.

Helado: You got a dentist?

Lex: Been slacking on it.. Plus my insurance is fiddly about who they can get me.

Helado: Mm. I can hook you up, I know a guy. Seems like you’ve been keeping the incisors good though at least.

Lex: Yeah, friends have been keeping on top of that.

Helado: You got a bunch around here?

Lex: Yeah! Met some through college.

Helado: Any special person in your life?

Lex: I mean… yeah. Maybe.

Helado: And you haven’t said shit about it? Damn dude, when your mom and pop find out you haven’t said anything they’re going to annihilate you. How long?

Lex: A few years…? We moved in together a few months ago…

Helado: Yoooo! You’re boned. They’re gonna show up and ask a million questions. You better tell them about that soon before someone else does.

Lex: You going to rat?

Helado: I’m no snitch! Back in the day we’d sneak our trading cards and BB guns in our school bags you know? Made us feel legit.

Lex: I remember that. Always wanted in but you never let me.

Helado: Course, we were up to some dumb shit and I couldn’t let you get hurt you know? Didn’t want you shooting an eye out… wait.

Lex: Hmm?

Helado: Lift your bangs, let me see.

Lex: Oh um…

Helado: I see something peeking out.

You show him your eyepatch.

Helado: Shit! What happened there?!

Lex: The frame got dented in a fight so I haven’t been able to get it repaired. Needs a new lens.

Helado: When did that happen?

Lex: A while ago… Like a year and a half.

Helado: Fuck dude.

Lex: I didn’t want people to worry you know? Like… I know my folks think I’m going to die so far away from home but…

Helado: You should say something honestly. Any way to fix it?

Lex: There’s stuff I can do but.. I’m kinda scared of doctors, so.

Helado: Ah, still?

Lex: Yeah…

Helado: I mean I can’t blame you after what you went through back home. Should get it fixed eventually. You’re still seeing someone about your meds at least yeah?

Lex: Mm.

Helado: Good, good. Same as usual?

Lex: Yeah.

Helado: Cool, you need to stay on top of those. I know you used to have a lot of hell without them.

Lex: Took awhile to find a cocktail that worked but.. I think what I got is good enough.

Helado: So tell me about this special person, who are they?

Lex: She’s a dueling official around these parts. Referee for the matches at the local stadium and handles rulings for street matches.

Helado: Dangerous work, people sometimes don’t take well to penalization.

Lex: She’s pretty big, most people wouldn’t start anything with her. She could bench press us easy.

Helado: Bigger than you?

Lex: Yeah.

Helado: That’s some terminator stuff. I mean we all knew you were into the tall and strong type so it’s not that surprising.

Lex: Mm.

Helado: You gotta introduce me to her, yeah?

Lex: I mean.. She’s going to get out of work in like 30 minutes. We could drop by and say hi.

Helado: Yeah! I wanna meet her in person, gotta tell her embarrassing stories.

Lex: No!

Helado: Remember the time with the gumball eye popsicle? That shit was nuts.

Lex: Oh my god!

Helado: I kid! But seriously we gotta know, I wanna know who’s been taking care of you out here.

Lex: I mean.. She wanted to meet my family eventually.

Helado: Hurry up then! If we make it there in good time I’ll treat you both. There’s a bomb dessert spot in the area.

Lex: I mean… yeah.  That sounds nice actually….

Helado: Perfect! You know the way?

Lex: Yeah, I’ll lead. Don’t fall behind, I know running’s gotta do a number on your old bones.

Helado: Damn, you talk shit now? Who taught you that?

Lex: Keep up and you’ll see for yourself.
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