Arnold had, admittedly, never been in Gerald's car before. He just knew that his friend had one. As they began their odyssey, Arnold became suddenly more aware of just how boring the landscape was. The freeway was lined with desert that seemed to be a muted brown color, probably because of how hot it was. That was at least one advantage to this place. Unless it was night, it was never cold. Still, there were aspects of the cold that Arnold missed. There was snow. There was Christmas. Arnold didn't even know if there was Christmas in this hell. He imagined that there were some who didn't care about Christmas, but Arnold did. He found himself wishing it was Christmas. True, suicide rates were known to fly off the charts during the holidays, but that didn't mean he couldn't miss it. Everyone at least acted more cheery. There were bright lights and cherry decorations. Arnold missed bright colors. He missed the ocean. He couldn't believe how much he had taken for granted while he was alive. Still, Lila was here now. Once he found her everything would be okay.
"I can't believe we're just...driving." Gerald sighed after they'd been on the freeway for about half an hour.
"I told you that you didn't need to come." Arnold countered.
Gerald shrugged, "It's better than doing nothing, I guess."
Arnold smirked. "Do you have any music?"
Gerald maneuvered his shoulder around the back of his seat and seized a case of CDs. "Pick something you like."
Arnold picked out a Pop Daddy CD, simply for the sake of nostalgia. When he gave the CDs back to Gerald, the car went over a bump just as Gerald reached back to put the binder of CDs back. When Gerald looked back at Arnold, his face was horror struck and the CD's were gone.
They turned around and searched the road for more than an hour. Gerald had explained to Arnold that it was useless. Once something fell out of a moving car and onto the highway it was gone forever. No one really knew what happened to the things lost on the road.
They got another few hours between them and home. Or at least their starting point. Arnold wasn't sure if he could ever willingly call that hellhole his home. Arnold had wanted to keep going, but Gerald briefly explained to him that his headlights were broken and they were impossible to fix. Arnold failed to see how that made any sense. All that the headlights were were glorified lightbulbs. Gerald had been ready to pull over on the side of the road so they could just sleep in the car, but Arnold had seen a car repair shop less than a mile before and had insisted that they turn around to get the lights fixed.
Gerald had been right, however. The mechanic had said he didn't know what was wrong with his lights and insisted that they stay the night.
Gerald hadn't been happy about them wasting their money on staying in the hotel across the road. Still, they couldn't sleep in the car while it was getting repaired and sleeping on the road wasn't an option.
Rather than going straight up to their room, Gerald and Arnold wandered into the hotel's bar. Gerald and Arnold each got a beer and started playing the morbid game that had ignited their friendship in the first place. They assumed that the bartender had driven his car in the path of a train. The man by the door had obviously hanged himself.
Two girls walked through the door of the bar. Arnold didn't notice them at first, but he did notice how Gerald reacted to them. Slack jawed and shocked. He turned to look at them and found his own jaw dropping. Everything in this world, this branch of Limbo, whathaveyou, was grey and muted. Even the colors were more grey. Hs hair, even his skin had become a shade of grey. Not these two though. One was an Asian girl who wore thick rimmed black glasses. Her skin was a pale ivory color and she wore levis and a blue tank top. Nothing about her was muted or grey. The same went for her companion. Her eyes were blue, a vibrant and clear blue, her tee shirt was pink and red, and her hair was blonde. Arnold's own hair was blonde, but the hue had faded from it since his suicide. They didn't...look like everyone else. And everyone else seemed to notice. The blonde examined the bar and its occupants before turning to her friend and sighing. She hoisted her oversized backpack up on her shoulder before she and her friend approached the bar. Despite how Gerald and Arnold were staring at the girls, they took a spot on at the bar next to them.
"I'll have a grasshopper, if you have them." the asian girl told the bartender.
"Vodka rocks." The blonde stated bluntly.
The bartender gave the girls a final odd look before rushing off to get their drinks. Arnold didn't realise that he had been staring at the blonde until she glared at him and snapped, "What the hell are you looking at?"
Gerald had been ready to hit on the asian girl, but he quickly withdrew when the girl snapped. He pulled Arnold down to an area of the bar farther away from the girls. Once they were out of earshot Gerald whispered to Arnold, "They're Brights."
"They're what?" Arnold asked.
"Man, you've been here for months and you haven't heard of Brights?" Gerald asked in disbelief. When Arnold shrugged, Gerald began to explain, "Brights are different from the rest of us. They're exactly the same as they were when they died."
"Aren't we all the same way we were when we died?" Arnold asked.
Gerald shook his head, "We all melt into this place. Brights...don't."
"Why not?" Arnold questioned.
With a shrug Gerald admitted, "No one knows. I mean, I've never even seen one, let alone two."
"We could just ask them." Arnold suggested.
"Does it look like they want people asking them questions right now?" Gerald asked, nodding in the direction of the blond girl, who had already thrown back her glass of vodka and was now glaring at everyone else in the bar who was bold enough to still be staring at her and her friend.
Arnold frowned, "Good point. Is there anything else anyone knows about them?"
"It's rumored that some of them can smile." Gerald said under his breath.
Arnold risked another glance at the girls Despite his curiosity, Arnold accepted the fact that despite how much he wanted to know more about the Bright girls, he wouldn't learn anymore than he already had. Besides, if Gerald hadn't seen any in all of his time here then Arnold's chances of seeing others seemed bleak.
Morning came and the mechanic told Arnold and Gerald exactly what Gerald had said. There was nothing to be done about the lights. They'd have to drive by day and stop when the sun went down. They'd resolved to stop and get a tent when they found a place that sold them. They'd hardly been driving for fifteen minutes when Arnold motioned for Gerald to stop.
The Bright girls from the night before looked at each other before continuing forward.
"Hey." Arnold called out the window before they could pass the car, "Do you two need a ride?"
"No we don't." The blonde snapped, keeping her eyes forward.
Her friend reached out and grabbed her arm, "Helga. A ride could be nice."
The blonde looked back at her friend before glancing back at Arnold and Gerald, who both smiled back at her. "Where are you going?"
"We have no fucking idea." Gerald deadpanned.
The Asian girl chuckled, "That's ironic. Neither do we." The girl looked up at her friend, "Driving would be a lot better than walking."
The girl called Helga looked at her friend and then back to Arnold and Gerald, "Fine, we'll ride with you, but if you try anything funny I'll kick both your asses."
Gerald chuckled as he and Arnold got out of the car to help the girls into the backseat, "Sure you will."
"Helga is actually a very accomplished martial artist." the Asian girl stated as she gave Gerald her backpack when Gerald offered to take it, "I wouldn't want to run into her in a dark alley."
For the first time, Helga chuckled. It wasn't a dry chuckle, but a genuine laugh. Still, she couldn't manage a smile. Not that Arnold was an exception to the rule.
The girls introduced themselves once they'd entered the backseat. The blonde was Helga Pataki and the Asian girl was Phoebe Heyerdahl. They had found each other and been traveling for a few weeks together. Aside from that, the girls told them nothing else of their background. When Arnold and Gerald turned on the radio, playing Pop Daddy, the only CD they had left in their possession, Helga and Phoebe both grimaced and made loud noises of protest.
"Pop Daddy?" Phoebe asked, disgusted. "Really?"
"It's the only CD we have." Arnold explained sheepishly.
Helga's mouth pulled back in horror, "I'd rather chop off my own ears than listen to this crap."
"Hey now!" Gerald spoke up, "Pop Daddy was a legend."
"Tupac was a legend." Helga retorted. "Pop Daddy was a cookie-cutter rip off for kids."
Gerald blinked slowly before glancing at Helga through his rear view mirror, "The white girl knows Tupac?"
Rather than giving a simple yes or no answer Helga, to all of their surprise, started rapping, "Code 3. Attack formation. Pull out your an eye out for the devils cuz they itchin to get you. Mercy to this madman screamin kamikaze in tongue. Automatic gunfire makin all my enemies run."
Gerald almost slammed on the breaks and Arnold stared at her slackjawed. Finally, Gerald said, "Ya know, I had a feeling you were going to be a total bitch, but I think there's hope for us getting along."
They'd driven for nearly two hours and the girls spent most of that time sleeping. Phoebe had dug through her backpack and given Arnold and Gerald a CD, lying and informing them that it was one of Tupac's albums. In the end, the CD had been music by Chopin. Gerald had tried getting the Pop Daddy CD back, but before he could, Helga had thrown it out the window. At first the classical music had been dull, but Arnold was beginning to like it.
"Hey, do you think we could get a tent here?" Gerald asked as they approached some junk vendor on the side of the road.
Arnold looked up from where he'd been staring out the window. The vendor looked like they had a fair amount of things. Them having a tent was very probable.
When they pulled off to the side of the road, Phoebe shot up, "Where are we?" she exclaimed.
"We're just seeing about buying a tent." Arnold answered, looking back at them. He was surprised to find Helga was still asleep. "Is she...okay?"
Phoebe glanced at Helga before shrugging, "Yeah, she sleeps like a brick." Phoebe started shaking Helga's shoulders, "Hey, Helga! We're getting out for a bit, do you wanna come?"
Helga blinked lazily before peeking up at Phoebe and Arnold. "Five more minutes." she muttered under her breath.
With that Phoebe and Arnold left her. It was hard to not get distracted by everything that was being sold. Phoebe found a splintering bookcase full of old books and started browsing the titles. Arnold and Gerald didn't mind and they set off to find a tent. They had found one that would be big enough for them and the girls and were just about to go pay for it when they both stopped dead in their tracks at the sound of music. At first it was just a piano, but a set of drums soon joined in. Driven by curiosity, they followed the sound. They weren't the only ones. Not that there were many people there, but the ones who were followed the noise. They hadn't even noticed that Phoebe wasn't looking through the books anymore.
Arnold and Gerald couldn't hide their surprise when they found Helga and Phoebe were the source of the music. Phoebe was on a worn out drumset, and, to both Arnold and Gerald's surprise, she was far from bad. Helga wasn't bad either. She also supplied the vocals for the song. Arnold and Gerald didn't care much about how they knew how to play, where they had learned, how long they'd been musical together or anything of the like. The thing that really stopped Arnold and Gerald in their tracks was the fact that Helga and Phoebe were smiling.
Well that was fun. I think this story currently only has one follower (Hi Sandra!) so not a lot of people are going to be excited about this update. I think this'll be my first unpopular fic, but I don't care. I DO WHAT I WANT! The song Helga and Phoebe did (in my head at least) is Sex Changes by The Dresden Dolls. If you are not Sandra and you're reading this then HI! Gimme a review and I'll love you for always.