Ben2Times stared down at the letter and then back up into the bathroom mirror. He looked at himself. He looked at himself hard. It’s me, he thought to himself, it’s definitely me. He looked at his eyes, nose, mouth… the way his silver hair touched the top of his ears and sparkled in the bare light of the bulb, the way his checkered skin gleamed matte in the mirror like some sort of expensive makeup palette, he soaked it all in and chuckled.
Definitely me, he laughed and shook the weird ideas out his head. But the note. What about the note? He read the note again,
Dear Mr. Times,
When I noticed you there, standing in the crowd, I wallowed in the misery at knowledge that S. will never be the same again. All is lost.
I am sorry to report all is lost. The mission. S.
And Benny lost his top.
Black got dirty, and last Tuesday I forgot to eat the egg.
I’m afraid we have disappointed you.
The implications of the setbacks are implied in this nervous system, and we are keen to report that YOU ARE STILL FULLY HUMAN, as of now.
I therefore cannot, or could not
avoid the dog,
escape potential hallucinates,
refrain from the dreaming,
Furthermore, I have been ignored and possibly contested. Bluntly put, I am probably not the baking soda or the memory cup, and if you put me in the mold, and let me dry overnight, the teaspoon measuring is really easy to make and costs less than a buck apiece. Seven dollars. So easy.
She will keep asking you and they had all the food coloring in them, DO NOT go to the store next Sunday, the stockboys will be piling in with the citric acid, or whatever you need: even glitter. Orginally, it will be cheaper,
but it is not. A specialty, to be sure. Milk classes.
p.s. Where is the image of the swimming pool, the library, and three summers ago? We need all seven.
What Ben2Times couldn’t understand was how the letter got under his pillow in the first place. Naturally a light sleeper, and with Stephania here (well, this Stephania) he or at least she would have woken up at the slight.
What kind of sleuth master tooth fairy was this? Who put the note there, a friend? Why didn’t they steal his stealth blasterCrumb and most importantly, who would leave a note under a pillow with a heart-drinking leech? Who does that?
The leech looked up from the dirty basin under the faucet and gave him a hurt look. It had taken him forever to crawl.
Can he hear me? Ben2Times thought.
“Yes, yes I can.” the leech replied.
Ben2Times didn’t have the heart to answer him. What a life. He didn’t know what was worse, his situation or this little leech. To be a heart-drinking leech with no living hearts around to suck and die, well, that was a little too much. Too sad for his bones.
The black, slimy leech started to scoot across the grimy basin. It sipped up a drip of rusty faucet water.
“Sucks.” the leech said.
“Well, yeah… I get it,” Ben2Times replied.
He tried to ignore the leech and not get sucked into a long super-depressing conversation. He needed time to himself to think and to figure out at least half of this note.. It could have been meant for him but it also could have been meant for some other Ben2Times. Gad knows there was enough of him running around.
“It’s just hard, you know?” the leech said and scooted up toward the slope of the basin.
Ben2Times moved his hand away from the edge of the counter and looked around the bathroom for something to stare at and look busy. Deep in thought.
“I know you’re not deep in thought,” sighed the leech, “you’re trying to find ways to ignore me. It’s okay, I am used to it…” the leech carried on.
It struggled sadly in it’s crawl but finally made it to the top of the basin and splattered there with a sort of sploosh sound.
“Ahhh. That’s better,” it said looking back at its brown and grey trail and then up again to Ben2Times, “say… what is your name?”
Ben2Times ignored it and opened the medicine cabinet. He rifled through the pills and band-aids. What was he even looking for? He kept looking for something that he knew would come to him when the leech started to make a low whaling sound.
Ben2Times ignored it. A band-aid fluttered down slowly from the ledge and landed on its head.
“I like my hat,” the leech said sadly, pausing his pitched whaling.
Then it resumed the whaling and stared up at Ben2Times with two big saucer-like eyes. They were blue, extremely light blue like very, very blue. They were like a vast Atlantis ocean, clean. They felt so clean.
“For the love of- what?” Ben2Times finally said to it. He had been staring directly into its big beautiful eyes for he didn’t know how long. “What is it that you want from me, exactly? You want a new friend?” Ben2Times shook his head while the leech just stared up sadly at him.
“Listen man, I’ve been through a lot of shit these past… what is it two?” Ben2Times said and looked up into the ceiling, “Two years or weeks I’m not sure. But I know I gotta find my friends… and figure out a way to get outta here… and now you show up under my pillow and with this long creepy note and I’m supposed to just be your friend? Come on man…” Ben2Times put his paws on the edge of the counter to brace himself and hung his head.
After a time, he felt the cold slime of the leech begin to spread over the back of his hand. Ben2Times didn’t move. Didn’t even open his eyes. Why bother?
After a while he felt two sharp pierces in to the inner fold of his elbow but he didn’t move then either. His legs buckled slowly down onto the floor and he leaned his back onto the wall of the dingy bathroom. He listened to the staccato drip of the faucet and felt the cold crawl up his arm and now to this neck. It sat there for a moment.
Ben2Times could smell the old eggs frying from the hotplate of the motel room. This Stephania must like hard station3 eggs. Ugh. The smell wafted from under the flimsy bathroom door and mixed in with the stale but not altogether unpleasant smell of the leech as it slid up and around his body. Was it growing bigger?
“I’m going to eat you…” Ben2Times muttered half asleep and reached up his paw to swipe the leech into his mouth.
It was weird, in his head, he could envision his paw swiping the leech up fast and plopping it into his mouth and bursting through the leathery soft skin with his teeth and feeling the liquid explode around his cheeks but when he tried to move his arm it just twitched slowly up into the air and fell back down.
Why would he want to eat a leech anyway? he thought and he felt the cold slick trail of it make a turn towards his heart. Wait, did he still have one or was it replaced, he wondered. What year was this? Had there even been an accident or was this a dream? More like nightmare.
“Yessssss…. W… would you….” the leech whistled and Ben2Times eyelids fluttered as he finally fell completely asleep.
“Ben!!!!” Stephania yelled as she pounded on the bathroom door. Ben2Times eyes eased open and closed. He tried to wake all the way up but couldn’t seem to do it on his own. “Help…” he muttered weakly but he doubt she barely heard him. Stephania finally heaved the door open with her shoulder and burst into the bathroom.
“What in the-“
The leech slowly turned his head in her direction. It was 15 times its actual size and was now sitting on his chest, throbbing and wet and super, super gross.
“oh…Hello there.” the leech said wetly.
Stephania pursed her lips and marched toward both of them. She stepped right over them and reached under the basin of the sink. Grimacing and making annoyed little grunts, her hand reached and searched behind the piping for whatever was taped back there.
“I know there’s something taped back here…” she muttered to herself, “there’s always something taped back here…”
“Er, excuse me miss,” the leech said, “I was just helping this lad here wake up but I need soooo much assistance as well,” his bright blue eyes grew even larger, “Can you help me-“
“Ah snap! Found it.” Stephania said and ripped the package out from behind the pipes.
“Is that for me?” the leech asked, “no one ever gets anything for me, I am very sad and I-“
Stephania punched her fist directly into the leech’s big mouth while she used her knee to balance the package and open it with her other hand. She ripped it with her teeth.
“Yes!” she yelled when the package finally fell open and she saw the glory of what was inside.
“Ye…es?” asked the leech and looked down at the wiggling substance on the floor.
“A beauty!” Stephania said and backed slowly out of the bathroom door.
The small wiggling beige putty slowly pulled itself together on the floor and started to move around and form itself on its own. It looked like what a kid would do to a mound of play-doh if a kid was there but there were no kids and the putty was forming itself.
It was also getting bigger.
How it came to grow or even form Stephania didn’t want to know and didn’t care. As she eased the door shut she could see the final stages of the putty form into a life-sized hybrid Toad Dog type thing and it barked and then croaked and then smoothed out its cowlick in the back. Steam rolled off of it in waves.
“Ewww….” Stephania said and locked the door. The last thing she heard was a slurp and a burp, a swoosh and then someone furiously taping up the back of the pipes. Then there was nothing for a while.
She waited to see what would happen but nothing did.
Eventually she ordered a pizza and watched some T.V. but finally clicked it off and dozed for an hour or so in the chair by the bed. Still nothing.
Finally, she heard Ben2Times wake up and shuffle to get his feet under him. She put the remote down as he walked out the door.
“What happened?” he demanded. Ben2Times looked around the battered motel room, “Why’d you leave me in there?”
Stephania folded her arms and rolled her eyes at him. “Because I always leave you in there.”
Ben2Times looked at her and then sat down on the bed.
“Stephania,” he said, “You have to tell me everything. Start at the beginning.”
coming in your television boxesPlanet BlinkA happy and you know this“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” -a short story, Part 7, section 2 What’s wrong with Ben2Timeshey you asked me and I gave it to you