“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” Part 5
“Well, how did we get here in the first [place]?” Ben2Times yelled down at Fitz.
“My good sir, please do not begin yelling assaults at me…. You were the one who opened the door, you were the one that walked into the Bubble, and you were the one who bid us all kin. Do you not remember?” Fitz shot back at him as he hopped between buttons on the raised control panel of The Bubble and shot worried glances at Smithann.
“Guys, guys, don’t fight. We’re all in this together,” Smithann muttered as she reached for the knobs and levers near Fitz, expertly dodging him while she experimented with the knobs.
“Smithann, you gotta slow down,” yelled Stephania. She was standing over a bin in the most extreme right corner of The Bubble, washing her lingerie in a sink.
“Why aren’t you helping and how did you get your dirty lingerie here anyway?” Smithann yelled over her shoulder at Stephania as she pulled down on one big red lever that said “Do Not Pull Here!” and shuddered.
“Oh save it Smithann…” Stephania mumbled. The kneaded fabric in her hand dripped liquid dots up her shoulders and over her head until they coalesced onto the interior curve of the transparent bubble right in front of her. Some of the liquid drops hung suspended in the air all around her and some climbed up the curve. A few sparkling pearly ones floated over near Ben2Times and he swatted them out of the air.
He was adept.
“Anywho…” Fitz half whistled, “Let us all continue to focus on the maintenance of this bubble while we are here and not get distracted as some are want to do in these days of our age and such trivia.”
They were all inside of a 60 diameter bubble, it was kind of like a hamster ball, except they didn’t have to run to make it roll, it just hovered about five feet off the ground and whished and wooshed to places silently in that manner.
No one knew how to work the control panel and meanwhile they could see all the people that looked exactly like them walking about on the green hills outside of the bubble. It was weird.
And Ben2Times didn’t like it.
“Why is he, I mean, am I, singing like that??? And what is he doing?” Ben2Times cringed, “Oh my god, look away… look away.” The goth him did a little sad head roll and grabbed a microphone from thin air. Ben2Times banged on the wall of the bubble trying to get him to stop that lackluster head bang thing but all of them inside the bubble seemed to be invisible to those on the outside, or maybe these object things outside just didn’t care. Ben2Times gave up and slid down the wall. He put his head in his hands.
“Don’t worry, it’s not a big deal… I’m not looking,” Smithann said without looking up at him. She pulled down a black handle and grimaced. “Besides, it’s not like it’s really you anyway… it’s just someone that looks like you, well… a lot of someones who look like you. And look, there’s me. And me. And me again. And look there’s Stephania, except she’s purple. Oh and there’s Fitz. Hello Fitz.”
“That is not me,” Fitz interrupted, “My dear, if you are going to label anything, you should consider beginning with…”
“Watch out!” Stephania screamed as all of the water shot up out of the sink, twirled in the air like a water hurricane, hovered over the control panel for a few seconds, and then splashed down on top of it like someone had pulled away an imaginary wall or something.
“Look what you’ve done!” Smithann cried. Sparks and fizzes erupted from the control board and then fizzled out with a boring nothingness.
“Who said that?” Ben2Times yelled.
“Said what?” Smithann asked and they all turned to look at him.
“Where’s Natalianese?” he gasped.
They all looked at him in a strange way. “Don’t you remember? We left her tied down at the Burger Bop…” Stephania said, “Are you okay?”
“No. I am not… okay.” He said and put his head back in his hands. He peered down through the bottom of the bubble and stared at the blades of green strips that fluttered as they whished by. “I’m not okay at all.”
“It’s ok Ben2Times, cheer up!” Fitz chimed in and hopped down off the control board to pat him on the leg.
“No… go away Fitz.”
“I will not. I’m your friend now and I demand that you cheer up my good sir. Things are not so bad as they seem. They are looking up!” he said cheerily and did a little hop.
“Ohhhhh god. Kill me. Kill me now.” Ben2Times muttered into his hands.
“Ahh my dear chap… you do not mean it, I’m sure of it, c’mon, let’s all..”
Ben2Times leaped up from his depressive spot on the floor and ran full charge toward the nearest wall of the bubble.
“Nooooooo…” he heard from all around him but he didn’t slow down. The next thing he knew, he was flat on the ground of the bubble, still on the inside, with blood dripping down from his forehead. He got up and charged for the other side, elbowing Stephania out of the way as she tried to slow his roll.
This time though, something different happened. He looked up expecting to find more blood but instead he was standing outside of the bubble! He reached down and felt the green blades and they were soft and pleasing. He looked up into the distant ball of fire that seemed so dangerous when he was inside the bubble but now didn’t seem so dangerous after all. It felt good. He reached up and wiped the blood from his forehead and ran his paw through his short silver hair. His checkered skin glistened. He felt good.
“Hey guys!” he yelled as he looked over to the bubble. But then he stopped short. 2 Things. First of all, his voice. That was weird. He had never heard it like that before. It was heavy and seemed to catch into everything around him. He could smell it. He reached out in front him to see if he could touch it too but was distracted by the distance of the bubble. Somehow, he was about 40 to 50 unts away from the bubble. How could that be?
He started running toward his friends and he could see them small like the small bugs not the big ones and he saw their faces worried, and Smithann was banging her head against the bubble, but nothing was happening.
“Shit.” Ben2Times said and tried to speed up.
“Shit” Ben2times said and looked over at himself.
“What? Who are– never mind, listen man, don’t bother me right now… I gotta go get my friends.” Ben2Times said as he picked up the pace… but his breathing felt weird, different.
“I have to go get my friends too, man…” Ben2Times said and peered over at himself.
“Oh… fuck… it… all I… do not have… time for… this” he gasped as the bubble seemed to get nearer.
“Nobody….asked…you…about…the ..t ime” he gasped as the bubble got way closer than he imagined.
Ben2Times reached over and stiff-armed the guy right near the jaw. He saw him veer off to the left but still keep a steady pace.
“Ah shit…” he muttered.
“Ah crap…” he muttered.
They both got there at the same time, but nobody noticed.
Ben2Times saw that they had somehow made a new hole but had covered it with a torn off section plate from the control panel. They were speaking to another guy that looked like him through an empty buttonhole.
He banged on the outer wall.
Stephania and Fitz turned around and saw him there along with the other and Fitz tapped Smithann on the shoulder. She took her lips out of the buttonhole and turned around to face him and the other. He saw her mouth move but couldn’t make out the words. He pointed to his chest in the universal symbol he thought was to say hey guys it’s me, you know me.
Smithann turned her back to him. So did Fitz and Stephania.
“Oh. My. God.” he thought and watched incredusly as his friends talked to this other guy on the other side that looked exactly like him. They must think it’s him. And what was he saying?
He trotted over to the other side of the bubble and immediately tried to stiff-arm this one but he seemed ready for it. His body felt like steel.
“Not a good sign” he thought.
“Not a good sign, he thought…” the other one said to him as it turned its head away from the speak hole with a crazed but determined look in its eye. It was scary. Unnerving.
“ohhh…. Extremely unnerving….” the fiend said as he kicked his leg out and slammed Ben2Times in the shin. It was all a blur. Smithann didn’t see it. No one saw it.
The imposter’s face instantly changed from pure hatred to some kind of puppy-dog desperate look while still staring at Ben2times. Then it snapped it back toward the hole.
“You know it’s me Smithann,” the thing said, “…come on, remember back at the Burger Bop, when me and Stephania burst threw the door and started helping you with all the letter ‘d’s and then…” the imposter said.
“Hey how do you know all that stuff?” Ben2Times yelled as he shoved it away from the hole. He put his mouth up to the empty space.
“Listen, Smithann. It’s me. I know. I know how these things go in the movies when the person has to convince the other person and there this whole big deal but listen to…”
“I can’t listen to this,” Ben2Times said and shoved him out the way.
“Listen. Stephania. Hey Stephania back there! It’s me. Ben2Times. You know what’s up. What color are my te…”
The third one ran around to the other side and started banging his head against the bubble.
“Ohhhh that’s a good one… shit…” Ben2Times thought, “that looks like something I would do… fuck” and he ran around to the other side to start doing the same thing. Only better.
“Dear god! What do we do?” Fitz said as he removed a few of his filthy rags to reveal a black topcoat and caveat underneath.
“Fitz!” Smithann said “Why are you so shiny?”
“It’s…it’s who I am, my dear,” he replied and he whipped off his throwaway rag pants to reveal crisp creased black tuxedo pants underneath, “It’s who I’ve always been.”
Smithann ogled him and thought of fancy parties and top hats with dances by a bubbling fountain at moonlight and long rustling dresses and witty jokes and blushes and demure eyes and long handholding events and kind of got lost a little bit in the daydream.
So did Stephania.
So did all the other Stephanias and Smithanns outside of the bubble and they all stood stock still for exactly four minutes staring off into the distance.
At about three minutes thirty-nine seconds Ben2Times and the others were able to start banging on the bubble and yelling at the main Smithann and Stephania to snap out of it while Fitz just brushed imaginary lint off of his pants. What was wrong with them?
Then the Smithanns and Stephanias snapped out of it but started to faux dance with partners, all of them moving through the rolling green hills and…. ewww creeeepy… dipping themselves with flirting eyelashes. But then the ball of yellowy fire flipped around into a flat white disc. The sky darkened.
A cow trundled down from the top of the white disc with the help very shaky stepladder. It waddled up to the outside of the bubble.
It stuck its cow mouth up to the speak hole as they stared at it in amazement.
“Hi there. I’m here to help you get stuff done. But I need more info to help.” It said and then sat back on its haunches. It was chewing something in its mouth in a bored or distracted way. Was it gum?
Ben2Times yelled down into the bubble and banged on the outside, “Fuck that cow! Stephania… help me…let me back in. DO NOT leave me out here…. please…” He felt real actual tears well up in his eyes and he couldn’t imagine being left in this place like this with all of these Ben2Times.
Smithann seemed to snap out of it. “Why…why is this cow here?” she asked Fitz and bent over to shake Stephania’s shoulders. Stephania’s eyes rolled back to the forefront of her head and she looked down at Fitz. She thumped him across the bubble.
After he trundled back from the other side of the bubble Fitz steamed and glared at her. “Just look at my suit,” he demanded as Stephania readied her hand to thump again but Smithann grabbed her.
“Stop it, Stephania. Just stop it. We don’t need this right now we have to figure out what this cow wants and how to find the right Ben2Times and get the hell outta here.” she said.
“Ok…ok… let’s see. Let me talk to the cow… I’m good at this kind of thing.” Stephania said.
She walked over to the hole and stuck her finger through it, pointing to the cow who was actually standing right in front of it so that was weird, why’d she do that?
“You. Cow. Listen to me… WHAT THE FUCK do you want here?” she said and leaned back with a look of accomplishment on her face, nodding at them with smug eyebrows.
Smithann shook her head. “That was ridicu…”
“I can learn to understand you much better if I can get familiar with the way you talk…” the cow interrupted, “I need your permission to help.” It said and then sat up from its haunches to get closer.
“Tell it we need to find the right Ben2Times!” Fitz yelled a safe distance from Stephania but not near enough to the hole.
“It needs our permission!” Smithann shot back over her shoulder to Fitz. She was starting to get a little annoyed with his high and mighty ways.
“Well give it to him Smithann,” Fitz replied and squinted his eyes at the eyes of his love.
“Who said that!?” Ben2Times yelled by the bubble but no one answered.
“Who said that!?” Ben2Times yelled.
“Shut up!” he yelled and the cow looked over at him and spat a crumpled Fitz out onto the green soft shards.
That Fitz was still covered in filthy rags and Ben2Times noticed that the Fitz in the bubble now had on a shiny suit. Was he an imposter too?
The bored cow continued, “I need your permission to help. I can help keep you on time and help you to remember what’s important, but I will need more info. Let me help you.”
“Just give it permission.” Stephania said to Smithann.
Smithann leaned back over into the speak hole and said loudly, “I give you permission cow.” She looked back over to them, “I’m not sure if it worked…”
“Hey there.” The cow continued, “Can I be of assistance? I can learn to understand you much better if I can get familiar with the way you talk. Ask me anything. Need something?” the cow said.
“Maybe it can’t hear us…” Stephania said.
“What’s up? What would you like me to do?” the cow asked, “Anything I can get started? Hello there. Oh hey!”
“Oh wait… did you see that?” Smithann yelled as the cow started to foam at the mouth and turn in small baby step circles, “And look at the little sparks shooting out of its ears….”
“What are cow’s ears called? Ears?” Stephania asked as Fitz walked back over to the controls. A dim spark lit up near one button but he couldn’t quite decipher what the word next to it said.
“Yes, Stephania, ears…” he muttered as he walked closer to the dials.
“Hey guys we need to get outta here… and fast,” Smithann said as she eyed the now fast spinning cow. Steam poured out of the top of its head and from a widening seam in its neck. A high squealed shriek overwhelmed them and they all instinctively covered their ears, but it didn’t help.
“Is it in our brains?!” Fitz screamed, “It must be inside our brains!” he yelled and bear crawled slowly through the squeal toward the unknown button.
“Quick, Smithann, grab both of Ben2Times and pull them in the bubble!” Stephania yelled as the pain filled her head. “We’ll take them both with us!”
Smithann removed the broken board from the hole and both Ben2Times leapt inside the bubble. She put the board back and secured it as best as possible.
Fitz fought through the sound and the pain and finally reached the button. Now he could see the words.
“Hit Me Hard!” he yelled as he stamped the palm of his hand down on the button.
“It says HIT ME!” he yelled back to Stephania, Fitz, Ben2Times, and Ben2Times. “I pressed it!” he yelled and the bubble started to vibrate uncontrollably and lift higher into the air.
Ben2Times fell down off the side of the vibrating bubble and landed in the green blades right next to the electrical smelling cow. He couldn’t believe his eyes as he looked up into the air. “They’re leaving me!” They’re actually leaving me…” he cried as the bubble picked up speed, whooshed from his eyesight and vanished into the horizon.
“Hey there.” the cow continued, “I can learn to understand you much better if I can get familiar with the way you talk. What’s on your mind?” the cow asked him.
Ben2Times put his head in his hands and wept softly.
The cow suddenly stopped spinning and looked over interestingly in his direction, “Hey man… don’t feel bad. It’s just life man, get used to it.” it said and chomped up another Fitz who happened to be walking by. Then the cow stood up and walked slowly back toward the stepladder.
Ben2Times lifted up his head just in time to watch it climb up into the dark and starless night.