The Joys of Being Lost

[DISCLAIMER: Character's, and world are credited to Hitoshi Ashinano and his manga series Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. Full explanation here.]

Headed north, her sights on Route 16, a not so sudden realization came to Alpha. She was lost. Ever since leaving the shore, there’s only one thing she’s been certain of. She was accustomed to locating herself by the position of the mountains and the ocean. The twisting forest roads completely confounded her senses.

Standing in front of a small bridge that crossed a now over grown canal, a nagging feeling began to creep through her body. She crossed the bridge to the other road. I think I already came this way… I’d probably be better off if I’d taken the road following the water. It seemed traveling by foot wasn’t as easy as she’d expected. A whole day’s travel would have only taken an hour on her bike.

Alpha sat down on one of the concrete slabs that lined the dirt road near her. She wasn’t tired so much as needing a moment to figure out her next step. The high growing grass, like the kind that filled the canal, jutted out of the ground behind her in patches. This far from the cities, things were always like that. The remnants of civilization, the signs of nature’s growing dominance, it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. At least to Alpha.

Noticing an old phone pole behind her, Alpha had an idea. Now above the tree line, she had a good view of her surroundings. As she already knew quite well, the forest stretched on, the roads cutting thin lines. In the far distance, she could see signs of a city. Not her destination, maybe, but it gave her a general position.

The day was still early and she had no sense in giving up her search for Route 16. The path she took continued on twisting, winding, full of uneven ground and over grown roads, reminding her again why she didn’t bring her bike. Old street lamps and the occasional posting board tell of what once was. How this place used to be full of commerce and prosperity. All that now far removed, displaced by the doming trees, the over grown shrubs, the marsh like waters that break up roads.

Still no more aware of where she was, Alpha forged onward. The sunlight of the day spotted the ground through the dense trees. The path began to rise and an opening could be seen ahead. Bright light flooded her field of vision as she exited the forest into a vast open area. Suddenly feeling light headed, Alpha flopped down to the ground. Short grass spread in all directions, the dirt was dry and hard.

As her eyes adjusted to the light, something quite welcoming came to her attention. Not to far off from where she sat was a small building. Since leaving the eel restaurant, Alpha had seen no other person save her own reflection and shadow. Collecting up her hat, which had fallen off when she fell, she headed towards the building. As she got closer, an old road like path greeted her. It seemed to curve around to the larger, longer of the two buildings that could now be discerned.

Cutting across the grass, Alpha headed to the smaller, shack like building. A sign flowed in the wind next to the shack clearly labeling it as ‘Reception.’ Seated at a large window at the front, the middle aged woman seemed half asleep. But upon noticing Alpha’s hesitant approach, she spoke up, “Hello,” her voice was clear, and did indeed sound sleepish, “can I help you?”
Alpha nodded her head enthusiastically, stopping as she reached the window. She felt slightly embarrassed and whether it was about how she thought she looked to the woman or in anticipation of her question, no one would know, “Um, eh… Where am I?”
“Huh?” The receptionist was quite confused, “Where? Come on,” she grumbled, “The is Atsugi Airport.”
“Atsugi, huh,” Alpha pulled out her map book, “There’s no way I could be there…” She couldn’t help getting flustered a little. She knew she was lost, but that far off course…
“Calm down,” the receptionist said calmly as she made a hand gesture that said much the same, “It’s just the name. The town of Atsugi is way off to the west.”
Relief filled Alpha, “Oh, I see.” A bit of embarrassment followed. Which was then followed by something more. The receptionist had said something, something major, and it was just now dawning on Alpha what it meant, “Wait a minute. Airport… You mean an airport with airplanes?” Her excitement built.
“Yes,” the receptionist answered, “airports usually do have airplanes.” There was only a slight tinge of sarcasm in her words because she was beginning to understand that the green haired woman who stood there with the look of an innocent child, was a bit different.
Alpha’s face lit up, “So airplanes come here!?” She animatedly asked, tightly gripping her bag straps.
“Well, let’s see…” As the receptionist thought for a few seconds, Alpha waited with bated breath, “There should be one coming later today.”
Alpha barely heard the whole answer, staring out at nothing but her imagination.
“What’s with you?” The receptionist continued, still trying to figure out the strange woman before her, “Haven’t you ever seen an airplane before?”
At the question, Alpha broke out of her thoughts and looked at the receptionist with a deep red, blissful expression, “Never up close.”
“Huh,” the receptionist sighed lightly. She smiled, “Say, you’re a robot, aren’t you?”
Alpha’s embarrassed face peeked over her shoulder, “Yes.”
Her actions made the receptionist smile more, “Today’s pilot is my kid. A robot.”
Alpha turned sharply back to the receptionist, gasping in excitement, “T…Today’s!?”
The receptionist wanted to laugh, “Yep.”
Alpha was like a young child at an amusement park; her whole body almost shaking in exhilaration. “W, w, w, when is it coming?”
“Hmm…” The receptionist laid her head against her arms on the counter, “It isn’t due for another hour. Are you going to wait for it?”
Alpha’s eyes were shinning as she answered, “Oh yes! I’d wait hours.”

Time ticked on by, at the speed it always does for someone as eager as Alpha. A light breeze blew through the air as she sat on a small stool in front of the shack, staring out at the afternoon sky. Wavering in and out of her imagination, she was very unaware of how much time had actually passed. And like a punctuation the this such line of thought, the receptionist spoke up, “It’s pretty late. Maybe it isn’t coming today.”
“WHAT!?” Alpha’s loud voice accompanied a quite disappointed face, “No way!!”
“Ah,” the receptionist answered Alpha’s excitement with a casual expression, “it happens pretty often.” She shrugged, “Want some tea?”

Even with the potential bad news, Alpha continued to wait. For her, this was a once in a lifetime event. She may be a robot, but there is no telling when and if she’ll ever be able to go on a journey like this again. And it was for that reason she never kept any kind of time table. Things would take as long as needed and she’d be relatively okay with it, with the only thing impeding it being her childish impatience. Luckily, this time around, Alpha got what she wanted.

At first sight, the airplane looked like a morning star, growing larger and darker as it approached. Soon it began to take shape, almost stopping the beat of Alpha’s heart. The air trembled as the plane drew nearer. It was like a dream. Passing right in front of Alpha, the plane circled around. The rush of air whipped in her hair. Passing a second time, the plane circled for its landing. It skirted the slightly over grown concrete and slowly carted to a stop near the shack.

Alpha, beyond speechless, timidly approached the plane. It was smaller than she thought it would be and the pale yellow of its body was worn. The movement in the cockpit drew her attention; the pilot was getting out. The man wore a white hat and jacket and a light brown pair of work pants. He looked at Alpha, “A customer?” his voice seemed to lack something.
“Ah, no!” Startled, and even a bit embarrassed, Alpha answered, “I’m just looking. It’s amazing!”
The man didn’t seem to share that thought, “You think so?”
“Oh yes! It’s…” Again, as was always the case, Alpha began to remember something very important that was said earlier by the receptionist. With it just on the tip of her tongue, she just stared at the man, half in embarrassment.
The man stared questioningly at her, “What?”
“Um,” why she always hesitated to ask such things, no one really knew, “Are you a robot?”
“I guess,” the man really did lack something in his voice, “You look like you are too.”
The flat answer confused Alpha just a bit, “I guess.” And then she realized something even more important than the man being a robot, he was a he. “Um, are you a man?”
“Huh?” Even at that question, the man’s expression didn’t change, “Yeah, I seem to be. You’re a woman, aren’t you?”
Alpha’s face flushed a deep red, “Y…yeah, I seem to be.”