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Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 16: Anew

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sina wile pali tawa pona.
Toki Ponist Pu

Julian and Joakim jumped into the vernacular and felt safe. They shared the cabin with only two other people. The old woman wore a ridiculous flowery dress, but the man topped it by dressing up in more ceremonial than traditional lederhosen. He must have been an alcoholic because the first thing he did when the car started moving was whisking a tremendous tug from a concealed flask of Schnapps. He proposed a toast to Joakim, while mumbling something incoherent. Julian, in the meantime, was entertaining the woman by inspecting all the dirty windows.

The trip took its time, but the rhythmic swelling and lulling of the sound of cables and pulleys eased the wait whenever they passed one of the support towers. Joakim grew uneasy and started fidgeting with his fingers. He wanted to get out. He would complete his task when he brought Julian down, but something about entering the base station was threatening. If only there was a sign to tell him what to do. Joakim checked how far they were off the ground. At that moment, the ground rose near the cable car. Someone had written a word on the filthy window. It said tawaselo, tawa selo, jump!

Joakim did not hesitate. He flipped the emergency door lock switch, pulled open the door and fell out. After hitting the soft grass hard, he rolled over multiple times. Joakim ended up on his back just in time to see Julian aghast in the door opening. Then the alcoholic pulled him back in and the door closed.

The base station was a mere hundred meter below. There was also a steep precipice between where he stood and the foot of the mountain. Down below, he saw three police vehicles arrive at the base station. Joakim assumed Julian would find his way home, but he hated to think what would have happened if he had stayed. Until now, most people had not given him the benefit of the doubt in situations he could not quite explain himself. His original plan of going to the authorities and getting back his identity did not seem to be the best strategy for now. He was no longer welcome at the hotel, and he did not want to go back up to Georg either. His former hideout did not appeal to him one bit, and Georg knew him as an eccentric vagabond. Going there would not take him one step closer to a normal life. Next to that, the crow people were also still snooping around there.

And Kalisa? Is she, or wasn’t she? A woman appears in his dreams, walks out of a cave, then disappears to pop up at the perfect moment to find the secret cellar where she fights off another set of vague characters. And let’s not forget that it was Kalisa who talked him into entering a book shop disguised as a painting. It was quite clear what was going on. Joakim was going Baba Yaga crazy. He was going to leave the mountain and all its follies behind.

The motives were identical to those for going into the mountains: to get the hell away from people and their demands on him. Although, he did not get the chance to flee to the mountain on his own before getting drugged and dragged here. Now Joakim felt free, though. He had relieved himself of the burden of taking care of the child. His his secret hideout did not contain any information worth following up on. The crow people and whoever placed that mind-controlling toe-chip had found what they wanted and could leave Joakim the hell alone.

The first days as a vagabond were difficult. He lifted on a lorry to a nearby town. There he found a youth hostel offering him board for cleaning services and giving meditation classes to the traveling youths. As the resident zweefteef, he found some dignity again. That was a good first step, but he was going to leap a lot further before reintegrating into society again. He had to save up money somehow. The situation he was in at the hostel was a disguised form of slavery. Nobody held him there, but he had to work for sustenance and there was no surplus so he could go nowhere else. Except that he could, of course. It was his own choice to stay in this slavery.

In one of his meditation classes, there was a young woman who had traveled from Italy to start a grand tour around Europe. Once outside of her home country, the motivation to go much further had left her. But what she lost in miles, she gained in experience, which she loved to share with Joakim over wine. She told him of a nearby organic farm that welcomed people from all walks of life to help with the farming. The work itself did not pay, but they would get a cut from sales of the produce. They took Joakim in without a fuss and day by day he made a living.

Life on the farm and in the hostel was satisfying and meaningful in the sense that he seemed to stir the brain cells of the traveling youngsters and helped produce sustainable vegetables. But there was a limit to how much he could grow himself, without knowing the soil of his origin.

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