Chapter 11: Donut Conversation
After wrestling various doughnuts away from the security guard, 426 rejoined the gang, who were grouped around a particularly tall palm tree.
“OK, is everyone here?” enquired Pleakley as he preformed a head count.
“Yes, Pleakley,” muttered Nani impatiently.
“Good, ‘cause it’s nearly time for our train!”
“We have to move,” said Pleakley, “or we’ll miss it! And that’s not very good, it’s the opposite of very good, it’s very…”
“Where’s the platforms?” asked Nani anxiously.
“Er… according to the guide book, the railway runs directly through the middle of the station, so we need to go west to get to the trains.”
“Are you sure?” enquired Nani.
“Well, if we go back, we’ll hit Koshu Kaido No. 20…”
“Eh?” quizzed 426.
“The street we had to cross to get here.”
Stitch looked at the timetable. Then he looked at the map.
“Maka maka, sasa!” he yelled, rushing off.
Everyone looked to Jumba for an explanation.
“Er… Stitch is wanting us to follow, I believe he has found shortcut.”
“So, what are we waiting for?” asked Lilo enthusiastically.
They arrived at the terminal just in time; due to a complication with the train tickets they had only just stepped onto the cho-tokku before the doors clamped shut.
Jumba spotted the young lad he was chatting to earlier and sat down beside him. Lilo and the experiments found two seats facing each other. Pleakley was seated behind them, watching the scenery that was now passing them at high speed. Nani sighed and sat beside him.
“So… Pleakley, why do they call this a bullet train?”
Pleakley turned around and opened his mouth to talk. Nani already regretted asking him.
“Because of the incredible speed. I think… normal cruising velocity is one-hundred and twenty-five miles an hour!”
“Isn’t that a bit… unsafe?” asked Nani uncertainly. “What if one derailed?”
“Pish posh!” replied Pleakley, waving a hand nonchalantly. “In the history of the bullet train, only one has ever derailed… during an earthquake, I think it was, and no-one was hurt beyond being bruised a bit.”
Hearing this, Jumba excused himself and leaned over the aisle.
“Ah, yes, but… what if I were to, how you say… play around with the gyroscopic stabilisers?”
“Nothing short of, oh, I dunno, utter chaos!”
Pleakley gave Jumba a suspicious look.
“What, me? No!” said Jumba unconvincingly.
A few minutes into the trip and everything was going more or less smoothly. Lilo was in animated conversation with 419, 426 was misinterpreting almost everything Stitch said, Jumba was arguing with his friend about whether Fedora Core Stenz will be better than Heidelburg and whether Berry Linux had any merit, Pleakley was taking notes, and Nani was sitting beside him, terribly bored and wondering why she didn’t invite David.
Moments like this called for a good book, so Nani retrieved a copy of The Ersatz Elevator, flipped to where she had placed a bookmark, and began to read.
No-one noticed the door had opened; only a few looked up when it closed. Those who did quickly went back to what they were doing; it was just another person heading off to work.
This person, a young woman in her mid-twenties, silently glanced around the cabin, presumably to find a free seat; having spotted one, she sat down, pulled out a newspaper and started browsing through the Letters to the Editor.
“So… how’re you and 426 doing?” asked Lilo.
“Oh, OK,” replied 419, “we’re doing a fair job with the whole ‘fitting in…’”
Here, 419 paused; 426 and 626’s conversation filled the void.
“For the last time, I do not want a banana!”
“Er… well, at least, I am,” corrected 419. “Some of the experiments seem to remember me from days of old – I sometimes helped Jumba out with various things - and most remember 426, for… er, an assortment of reasons; so we’ve got along well with those friendly faces.”
“What about Jumba’s little project?”
“He’s still working on it, but he’s saying he’ll finish it… I think he said 22 May 2005.”
“Two months, huh?” Lilo rested her head on her hand. “I suppose… er, never mind.”
“’Sokay, doesn’t matter,” replied Lilo, sitting back in her chair. “Say… why do you always put the year at the end of dates?”
“Aren’t you supposed to?” asked 419, perturbed.
“Well, yeah… for schoolwork and projects and diaries and stuff… and there’s if you’re not talking about this year… but if it is this year, you don’t have to.”
“I… suppose that makes sense… so, how’s your life been?”
“The usual,” sighed Lilo. “School, homework, chores, hula practice, Mertle…”
“I thought Mertle was being nicer towards you.”
“In her own special way… but she hasn’t shed her shell yet. Yuki and Teresa have been better, but still…”
“What about that kid with the hyphenated name? Jay-Stone or something…”
“Victoria? Didn’t you know, she was already my friend.”
“Ah, the girl with freckles, red hair and experiment 277!”
419 leaned back in her chair. “Y’know, I never get to talk about girl things. 426’s always animé this and football that, and Jumba’s always blowing stuff up! Not that I mind an explosion or two,” she added, “but once in a while, I’d just like to…”
“I’m having a sleepover when we get back,” Lilo told her. “You can join in if you’d like.”
“That’d be nice.”