I would do anything for Rose, she just has to ask. This includes looking for a niece of hers named Virginia that Rose really likes. The niece isn’t even very far from my stop in Austin, she is located in some place called Mason Texas, home of Fort Mason. So when she asked me upon my Arrival in Austin, I said yes of course.
Fort Mason itself is a small town, even smaller decades after the start of the Concolation. Originally a fort that was established to hold off some Native American tribes, it is now a small town of 250 or so people, with a single theater that is the only one of its kind within a hundred plus miles. Evidently this means they are always hopping for shows.
I woke up that morning and I said goodbye to the hotel that was prepaid for me. I went to a local small car dealership.The guy there was actually very nice, although alarmed about me traveling out into the desert. He gave me the rundown on the “Red Road”. Great, a bunch of monks who extort you for money to drive on their road, doesn’t sound very appealing.
He set me up with a cross country vehicle for a decent price. Even with the price it did take a chunk of my “retirement” money, along with purchasing a rifle and an extra pistol. Everyone was very concerned about my travel, the gun store guy even set me up with a survival pack, which is appreciated. However, all that being said I think I will be fine.
I traveled the direct route, up State Road 29, known as Austin street. Went several hours and then came to an area where the land just had gone up 10 feet. I don’t mean gradually, I mean as in a 10 foot sheer cliff. I could have probably climbed it, but no way the car would go, so I backtracked a couple of hours and hooked up with 87 which was San Antonio street for the Mason people.
I arrived in Mason, and it is actually a cute little town, falling apart as the world goes all Mad Max. I circled around the town center and the first thing I was struck with was how quiet it was. So much different then Detroit, New York, or Los Angeles, even after things are falling apart. Not sure what I find so cute about it, maybe I am just tired and it has to do with what I can’t remember.
The town itself has a single bed and breakfast. The proprietress is a cute woman who has long, almost floppy ears. She is obviously a fey, but not an elf. She is incredibly kind and welcomed me in to a room. They don’t even lock the door here, but my door has one if I want to use it.
She offered dinner later this evening if I was interested as she talked to me about Virginia.
Virginia seems to be a young lady with cats. She is a theater nerd who runs the Odeon Theater. A focal point for all acts going to Austin or San Antonio, or who are just local in the area. It acts as a movie theater, a place for gigs/standup/whatever else you want. Seems like a nice building actually.
She disappeared about a week ago, walking home from work to her house. She only lives two blocks away. It was also mentioned that people sometimes disappear, but not usually locals, and not usually in town.
She arranged that I meet the Sheriff Hunter. There isn’t a 24/7 active police in the town, but he is on call. I met the Sheriff at Virginia’s house. He is an older man in his fifties who is a full time farmer/rancher and the Sheriff gig is part time. Yes, I thought that was weird too, but maybe that is a good sign for the people that lived here.
We spent the evening investigating Virginia’s house, and her job. I walked through the Odeon and found nothing of significance, same with the house. The house had been empty for a week, as if she just didn’t go home one day. The theater is in normal working condition, with no signs of foul play. There was also no signs of problems on the walk between the two places.
Sheriff Hunter also seems like a nice man. I am almost feeling paranoid about how nice everyone has been. I wonder if they are hiding some deep dark secret and in their spare times are cannibals or something. Probably not…
The Sheriff told me he would see me in the morning while I sat down to use Virginia’s internet since wireless is sketchy here. I called Rose and told her. It was pretty hard to do, but I also reassured her I wasn’t done looking. I will find Virginia, either to make sure she is safe, or to bring her back to Rose for a proper burial.
That was my first day as an independent operator. Spent a lot of money, in the middle of nowhere with no support, not getting paid. Future is so bright I have to wear shades.