Lacie gazed in wonder and horror at her environment with Elizabeth trailing close behind. The sky was a midnight blue with streaks of black, pink, red, indigo, and violet under glowing, white stars. In a center streak of jet black there was a full moon with smoke rising around it from its bottom half over its top. Worn-down franchises and businesses mostly one floor high littered the sides of the road with light. On Lacie's second glimpse of a burger joint, it rocketed up into the air until out of vision.
A few other buildings seemed to change completely as though they were unaware of their existential state. There was a far-off cluster of people venturing around in the distance with one muffled man's voice booming out from them. Pairs of men on the exterior of the distant crowd carried stained-glass windows. Skeletons, mostly human, were scattered around various places.
Lacie found herself in shock of these wondrous and terrifying surroundings and attempted to retain her sense of sanity with one of many questions, "Okay, why is the moon smoking?"
Though it was warm outside, the moving air freely gave up its comfort. However, the breeze of the night did not have its direction decided upon, and would rock back and forth in various intervals of minutes from different directions. Elizabeth's hair shifted with the different directions of the confused wind, "The moon has a smoking problem."
Elizabeth spotted a skeleton grinning at her, its arm outstretched towards the manic hues parading against the smoky pallor of the moon. She attempted to hide inconspicuously behind Lacie.
"What are you doing?" Lacie sporadically turned, hair in her face.
"Don't stop walking." Elizabeth pleaded.
An adult black and red cat darted from the parking lot of one of the businesses, where lights flickered and cars were parked upside down. The feline lingered between the girls and followed inconspicuously, its greenish-yellow eyes in a dim stare forward, a small cactus atop its head.
“Why are you hiding behind me?” Lacie asked with tension forming in her voice. “You're scaring me.”
"I'm afraid of the dark." The black-clad girl stated timidly.
"You're dressed in all black and you're afraid of the dark?"
Elizabeth furrowed her eyebrows, "I try not to ever leave the donut shop."
The girls both passed the low, mumbling voice of a male for a product of their imaginations, "I know, I've seen her. She doesn't."
Lacie noticed a shadowy stranger in a black trenchcoat, sitting on a bench from a few businesses down. She guessed that it was a guy, though the face was too dark to be visible. The figure and his surroundings were outlined with blue light from the restaurant behind him. He had a lighted, metal sign next him that pointed to him and explained, "This person is eating chicken at a sea-food restaurant."
"So I just keep going down this road to that four-way up there?" Lacie adjusted her glasses trying to ignore the creepy, dark figure, and the sign about creepy, dark, sea-food restaurant chicken.
"Yeah." Elizabeth had noticed the stranger by now. "I'll be right behind you."
As the girls made some distance from the stranger, Lacie began prying Elizabeth's knowledge. "So where are you from? Your not originally from here are you? Is anyone?"
Elizabeth looked down, "I don't know, I don't remember."
"Is, is it always night here?"
"Yes, and it is quite unpredictable in certain places." Elizabeth twirled the red and black tips of her hair around her finger and bit her lower lip.
Lacie adjusted her glasses nervously, "Like where we're going?"
"Yes," Elizabeth replied softly as though the world was eavesdropping. "And right now out here."
Lacie got a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, and kept walking at a brisk pace along the sidewalk.
Upon arrival at the intersection a new car barreled forward from the abyss into a traffic pole which caused both of the girls to jump.
The sound of the collision was made to be so eccentrically loud that an orchestra appeared from the shadows of a nearby driveway, increasing the volume of the event with a single orchestral hit of sound-- which triggered a small, overhead explosion in the sky; afterwards the orchestra faded, returning to the dark. And this alerted the nearby religious crowd.
The driver who emerged from the wreckage was a husky black man in formal dress with glasses over large brown eyes. The man boomed with his hands on his head, "This can't be happening. I had everything worked out for her, she was paid off!"
There was a huge puff of white smoke making a loud poof. When the smoke started to clear, fence appeared all around the wreckage of the car. Lacie did not know how to respond and stood in shock which led Elizabeth to shyly chime into the driver's predicament. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." He scratched his head in a pause, then formally held out his hand towards Elizabeth. "I'm Mr. Dreary-Gravy, but most call me Mr. Greary."
The girls introduced themselves and shook Mr. Greary's hand.
Lacie was amused fairly, "You uh.. You smell like beef gravy."
Mr. Greary chuckled drearily, "Hence the name, young lady."
"But why dreary, Mr. Greary?" Elizabeth tried not to seem shady.
Mr. Greary sighed wearily, "Such is the dreariness of beef gravy."
The nearby religious group was in the vicinity of the four-way now. Outer pairs lugged around heavy stained-glass windows full of multi-colored pictures of rocks. A grey-suited preacher in his fifties made way through the crowd holding onto a large book with a collective of rocks on the cover; the preacher had an exuberant demeanor and grey hair pointing out diagonally at the sides in the back of his head.
The preacher introduced himself, "Hello, my name is Thomas Limestone. By The Rocks, I believe we were destined to meet!"
Lacie and Elizabeth just looked at each other as though they didn't want to converse with the man. There was something odd about him and he was covered in gravel dust.
"I really must be going, I have to go buy eggs." Mr. Greary hastily impressed.
The preacher cried out almost squeaking at Mr. Greary, "You sir, who smells precociously of Thanksgiving, who admits to idolatry of eggs-- have you yet discovered the profound beauty of the rocks all around you?"
"What are you talking about sir?" Mr. Greary seemed intrigued.
There were people from the group of all ages looking over the rocks in the road and their patterns. They were completely enchanted with the rocks around them. A little girl in a pink dress fell into the rocks and began crying; she had skinned her knees and they were bleeding. The sky began sprinkling with rain.
The daughter's father came to her aid, picked her up and with a calm voice, "Shhh. That's just part of the rocks' plan hunny."
The preacher held out his open hand out at the little girl in a pointing manner, "Why can you not see?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't think I want anything to do with that." Mr. Greary stated calmly.
Lacie motioned Elizabeth, "We should probably go too."
"I'm all for it." Elizabeth half-whispered.
Mr. Greary overheard the two young women, "Are you headed off to All-Mart?"
There was much commotion in the environment. Far-off trees came to a sort of consciousness, uprooted themselves, and flew around like out-of-control airplanes. Some trees however, felt more like individuals in refusing to leave their places, even to the point of moving their branches like crossed arms. Two of the buildings broke apart into pieces, forming themselves together into a kind of arch across the road ahead: from here, hanging light bulbs were in constant swing on their electrical cords. Strangely colored creatures scurried about all over the place like little shapes squiggling across the cement.
"Excuse me to have bothered you all." The preacher steamed, his joy dissipating. In a fit of disgust the preacher led his congregation backwards, literally speaking. Pairs of men huffed as they heaved, back-tracing with the stained-glass windows.
"Ye- Yes. We are heading to All-Mart." Elizabeth half-turned her head at Mr. Greary, both her and Lacie were breaking from the spell of the curiosities going on around them-- as much as one could.
There was a nearby pounding on the ground. A menacing, six-foot-tall statue with wings and horns came barreling through the intersection, stepping on Mr. Greary's car, further damaging the vehicle and knocking over some of the surrounding fence. The middle-aged man put his hands on his head again in shock.
As the gargoyle ventured further away the rainfall subdued.
On Lacie's face, behind her spectacles, there was an expression of both fear and general confusion, "We should get inside a building as soon as we can."
And so without further hesitation, the unlikely trio made their way down the road "You Is Twenty Three," towards the enigmatic fortress called All-Mart.