“Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”
Two Outies she didn’t recognize ascended the stairway behind him. Charming raised her hand to shade her eyes to see them better. The first was a slender woman with a blonde ponytail, an earlink, and a bloodless complexion. The second was a man she couldn’t—
—”Miss Venda? Miss Charming Abigail Venda?” the Outie woman asked.
Feeling both crowded and alone on her small rooftop, Charming turned her attention back to Young Johnny. A thought came to mind: all of Song called him Young Johnny because of his dad of course, but his official epithet was Deputy John Boonliang.
Charming folded her arms across her chest and took small step back. Thinking it might give everyone space, dispel her unease and start the whole thing over, she meekly repeated her original greeting, “Hoy, Johnny. What’s up?”
“—Miss Venda, can you tell us where your parents are?”
“What’s going on, Charma?” Nadia called out from her spot on the roof reminding Charming of the expansive rippling tin and aluminum rooftops behind her. She wanted to run; she wanted to dash away from Young Johnny, the man, and especially that woman. Charming swung her free hand palm back to Nadia to halt her question.
“Why’re you asking ’bout my parents, Johnny. You know they went Out past week.” They hadn’t pinged her in two or three days, but gaps like that weren’t odd until the constable’s man showed up on your roof deck with two strange Outies. Charming stepped forward and used the same crisp voice she used with unruly children. “What happened, Johnny? What happened to my parents?”
Johnny raised his arms outward like he was casting a net. Charming realized she’d rocked back. She felt like a fish about to take a hook. “Nothing. I don’t know. They’re fine I suppose.” Johnny grimaced at his stumbling. “The point is they aren’t here.”
Charming thought he might be asking a question or might be leading her. “They’re not here.” If not for the Outie’s she may have told him she expected them back later tonight. “I don’t expect them back for several.”
“Several days? Several weeks?” The white-faced woman lilted her tone and raised her eyebrows, “Months maybe?”
“Days. Several days, Ma’am. We don’t really do weeks here. Months don’t much matter either.”
“It seems not much—” She slapped the handrail, “—matters on this rag-tag barge.”
“Charming, these Outies want to arrest you. But they—”
“Arrest me? What?”
“What did you say, Young Johnny?”
“Nadia! Please?” Young Johnny called out before she could interupt more. “Charming, these Outies want to arrest you.” He enunciated each word like it was it’s own single word sentence. “But,” His eyes jerked the line to set the hook, “since you’re still seventeen they can’t do that without your parents’ consent.”
“—not getting arrested. Since. You’re. Just. Seventeen. We can only detain you. Here on Song. Till your parents return. Until they get back,” Young Johnny gestured to the Outies, “these nice folks can’t take you off Song.”
Charming nodded understanding.
The white woman spoke again. “Mr. Tanjun Peeters is dead.”
Charming turned to Young Johnny. Peeters was an Outie name, but it sounded very familiar. Charming turned to Young Johnny for help.
“Yes, that Peeters. Tanjun Peeters it seems is Jun-Kata’s real name. Was his real name.”
560 words on day 721