Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
1084 Cleveland Ave, Columbus, OH 43201
Popeye's Chicken & Biscuits
Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken
Cuisines: Chicken, Take Out, Fast Food
When Gregor's heart started up again, it beat so hard, he thought it might break through his chest. His hand reached out on its own, his fingers grasping for the key chain. "Where'd you get that?"
"I told you other Overlanders have fallen. Some years ago we rescued one very like you in face and feature. I cannot recall the exact date," said Vikus, placing the key chain in Gregor's hand.
"Two years, seven months, and thirteen days ago," thought Gregor. Aloud, he said, "It belongs to my dad."
Waves of happiness washed over him as he ran his fingers over the worn leather braid and the metal snap that allowed you to attach it to your belt loop. Memories flashed through his mind. His dad fanning out the keys to find the one to open the front door. His dad jingling the keys in front of Lizzie in her stroller. His dad on a picnic blanket in Central Park, using a key to pry open a container of potato salad.
"Your father?" Luxa's eyes widened, and a strange expression crossed her face. "Vikus, you do not think he -- "
"I do not know, Luxa. But the signs are strong," said Vikus. "My mind has been on little else since he arrived."
Luxa turned to Gregor, her violet eyes quizzical.
What? What was her problem now?
"Your father, like you, was desperate to return home. With much difficulty we persuaded him to stay some weeks, but the strain proved too great and one night, also like you, he slipped away," said Vikus. "The rats reached him before we did."
Gregor smashed into reality, and the joy drained out of him. Of course, there were no other living Overlanders in Regalia. Vikus had told him that in the stadium. His dad had tried to get home and had met up with the same fate Gregor had. Only the Underlanders hadn't been there to save him. He swallowed the lump in his throat. "He's dead then."
"So we assumed. But then came rumor the rats had kept him living," said Vikus. "Our spies confirm this regularly."
"He's alive?" asked Gregor, feeling hope rush back through him, "But why? Why didn't they kill him?"
"We know not why with certainty, but I have suspicions. Your father was a man of science, was he not?" asked Vikus.
"Yeah, he teaches science," said Gregor. He couldn't make sense of what Vikus was saying. Did the rats want his dad to teach chemistry?
"In our conversations, it was clear he understood the workings of nature," said Vikus. "Of trapped lightning, of fire, of powders that explode."
Gregor was beginning to catch his drift. "Look, if you think my dad's making guns or bombs for the rats, you can forget it. He would never do that."
"It is hard to imagine what any of us would do in the caves of the rats," said Vikus gently. "To keep sanity must be a struggle, to keep honor a Herculean feat. I am not judging your father, only seeking to explain why he survives so long."
"The rats fight well in close range. But if we attack from afar, they have no recourse but to run. Of all things, they wish a way to kill us at a distance," said Luxa. She didn't seem to be accusing his father, either. And she didn't seem mad at him anymore. Gregor wished she'd stop staring at him.
"My wife, Solovet, has a different theory," said Vikus, brightening a little. "She believes the rats want your father to make them a thumb!"
"A thumb?" asked Gregor. Boots held up her thumb to show him. "Yeah, little girl, I know what a thumb is," he said, smiling down at her.
"Rats have no thumbs and therefore cannot do many things that we can. They cannot make tools or weapons. They are masters of destruction, but creation evades them," said Vikus.