(I apologise for the length of this story and poor formatting of the dialogue. There are some pretty long questions at /questions/tagged/story, so I figured they are not banned. If you feel it is too long, you can probably figure out the answer by reading the blockquotes and instructions alone)
My work environment had been exceptionally toxic today, so when I got home I just took a quick nap and went straight to the pub. I was sitting on a corner, drinking beer alone, when I noticed an old friend of mine from high school walking towards me.
This guy, a girl and I used to be really close, but we all went our separate ways after school. He went to college to study linguistics or something like that, the girl got a job at a software company and I took over my dad's business. He sat next to me and struck up a conversation.
Roamin' around and who do I find? You lookin' sharp, Bob. Did you come here straight from work?
Astray like a lost sheep, yet he returns! Good ole mr. Blake! Actually I did. How's college going, Joe?
Amazing. But there's something I need to talk with you about. Do you remember our friend Ana, kinda tall and pale?
Yeah. In the end, professional career choices put us at odds with one another, but of course I remember her. She was a real charm, that one. What about her?
Hell, lean back and get a cup of coffee, the absurd story I want to tell you will make more sense if you are sober.
Just report it, geezer. Is it a good one?
Thanks for lettin' me share it. Actually it's been creeping me out, I bet you'll be unnerved too...
... Nah, what'll scare you is what happened after she left her job at Loco Atlanta Corporation.
She was not exactly a patron of hard work, but it looked like she loved that job. She was always bragging about this "something-dot-net" she used.
Oh, and this "delphi" and "pylon" things they used at the office.
Or so I thought. Well, she reached the nadir of her mental health about a month ago.
Did you panic yet, Bob? Get this: she started talking about going on a trip to find the African Heavy
African Heavy? Is that some kind of slang?
What her goal was is beyond me. Anyway, she even bought khaki shorts and leather shoes for the trip.
Amanda, her in-law, didn't have a clue either. Was she too fed up with work?
A rabid work environment can make you go nuts. That had been a problem when she was a teen.
OK, I'll just spit it out. She ended up travelling to Mexico, brother, and she died there. Ana is dead.
Two days had already elapsed before I was able to get to the village where she was, and her name had already been added to the obituary.
I checked it myself. She HAD been declared dead. But yesterday I saw her outside my window at night. And this morning following me in the subway.
The cops are headed to my house right now. I can't illustrate how terrified I am Bobby. Am I going crazy Bobby? Bobby? Bobby? Bobby?
I woke up on my couch. I hadn't really gone to the pub, I was still napping. What the hell was that eerie nightmare?
Was that Ana calling my name? Maybe I hadn't fully woken up. As my vision cleared, I think I saw Ana standing in front of me. She was wearing something thick on her right arm.
There must have been something on my mind to explain my dream. Maybe it was something I was hearing as I slept. What could it be?
"You're one slippery chap, I'll give you that."
And then it struck me.
Hints and instructions
This story has 20 lines of dialogue. Each line has a pair of clues embodying a concept that is related to the "final" answer. In some lines, the first clue helps you interpret the second one, in other lines, the two clues have to be interpreted together.
Some lines are easier to figure out than others. In fact, finding the final answer is probably much easier than finding all 20 clues. For this reason, the "clues" are part of the answer, so your answer must get at least 16/20 clues right in addition to the "final" answer before it is accepted. I'll let you know if your final answer is right, though.
The backstory and metadata contain some clues too, but these do not count towards the 20. Good luck!
Extra hints Fun facts not related to the puzzle at all:
- An eastern company has launched this new perfume, Yod Cole Essence. You should try using it.
- It is often said that a certain people named themselves after a kidnapped princess, but that is not true.
- There are many dangerous creatures in the Empty Quarter. More than one, that's for sure.
- Autumn leaves have a rather cupreous appearance down south. Good for certain fans of Crypsis, I guess. If you plan on going there, I heard the natives can help you find adequate clothes and footwear.