“Sucked out by the vacuum of space”
-a short story
The door to the Burger bop banged open. Then it banged again. Ben2Times didn’t even look up from the fry machine. He had taken to making the salty fries, sifting them around in the hot bin, letting the stinging drips tinge his checkered skin and sut-grimed paws. He liked making the fries. The noise from the entryway and lobby to the Burger Bop registered in his mindport but he refused to look up, he had bigger fish to fry. These fries.
But he couldn’t ignore the static in his head. Some time ago, he wasn’t sure when, all of their new abilities had stopped. It was sudden, and now, back to the old ways. They could plop thoughts in his head at any moment. He could plop his in theirs. It was easy again, except for the static. That was new.
And Stephania. He was still trying to figure how she’d made real things happen, but, whatever, he had these fries. Best to think about fried techniques, and things of that sort.
“Ben!!” someone yelled in his head, he couldn’t tell who.
“Don’t ever call me that,” he finally responded.
“Er… Pardon my trivialities, Mr. Ben2Times, it’s Fritz!” the tinny voice reverbed in one ear, his left one, and the massive static on the right.
“What is it Fritz? I’m busy making fries.”
“Pardon the interruption my good man, I am… we are in trouble, again. My apologies, I am faltering here…”
“Where are you Fritz?” He picked up the handle to the bin and shuffled his friends around. One of them opened it’s eye. It had long eyelashes like a movie star, he thought, and the static started to sing an old-timey tune.
“Can you hear me Ben?!” Fritz’s small voice trailed away and Ben2Times sighed. He grabbed the prongers and clipped the beautiful fry from the pack. She winked at him and curled into the paper film. What a nap.
“What do you need? I’m busy here.”
“Help us! We are trapped— Smithann… Stephania, even Natalaniese.” A whistling roar sounded behind Fritz’s voice. “We cannot weather this climate! These conditions…”
“Hey,” Ben2Times slammed the bin back into the green grease, the neon rivulets splattering the domed ceiling above, “You guys were the ones who left. You left me here. I’m making fries.”
The static roared and Fritz fizzled out and Ben2Times spoke to his fry. “Hey there.”
“Ben!!” Stephania crackled loudly.
“For the love of- what?”
“You have to help us!”
“No, I don’t Stephania.” He winked at the yellow fry and mouthed the words “eat you” The static crackled louder, “I don’t have to help you at all.”
“What kind of a person… give me that…” he heard a strange struggle like an object was being pounded into the floor and rattled around and then Smithann was in his head.
“Oh, hey Smithann.”
“Now Ben,” she said sternly, “Ben2Times,” he heard the strange rattling again, “I know that you are better than this. You cannot still be mad at us for what happened. I told you we were sorry but it had to be done.” She sighed and the rattling grew louder, “We need you.”
“What is that noise, anyway?” he asked and sat down on the blue and white lined linoleum. It had small green splotches that shined transparent when you pressed them. He pressed one side of the linoleum and stared down into the black abyss. He saw a stick of dragon float by. He pressed it again and it closed. He leaned back against the hot machine and closed his eyes. What was it all for?
“It’s a black boxed-in type of object, Fritz said something about putting it in his stupid wheelbarrow when we get outta here so he can research it. It’s the only way we could reach you, we’re stuck.”
“I don’t know where!”
“Well, how’d you get there?”
“You know how we got here!”
Ben2Times sighed and opened his eyes. He switched off the fry machine and waved politely at the fry. She frowned. He tried to wipe the grease off of his shirt and managed to rub it in in the worse way. Yanking the cloth above his head, he reached up into the cabinet for a black Burger-Bop complementary t-shirt, being sure to flex a little for the fry while he did.
Once he changed his shirt he walked listlessly over to the walk-in freezer and paused. What was that sound? He looked around him, scanning the dimly lit lobby of the Burger Bop, he didn’t see anyone there. He rested his hand on the cold door and leaned his cheek against it, closing his eyes. The static died down and still nothing. That’s when he heard it.
He opened his eyes and slowly turned around.
He wasn’t sure, but he thought he saw a glimmer in the darkness. Something had giggled—deep and from the gut, and then he heard it again, a maniac sound inside his head.
He slammed his body into the freezer door. It held fast, but at the second time he fell through the door.
There was Fritz. In all his three inches and tuxedo, dragging his wheelbarrow behind him and stroking his beard. Its hairs swept the floor as he walked and muttered to himself. His head snapped up as the freezer slammed.
“It’s you!” His grey face lit up with joy.
“Yes, uh, I’ve come to save you…”
To be continued!