“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” -a short story. (Part 2, Chapter 1)

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The door to the Burger Bop burst open.  The doorstop shrieked and scuttled into the nearest corner, stifling a whimper, a little bloody.  Nobody cared.

“Smithann!” Her mom yelled through thought-transference. But Smithann could hardly hear it in her head because of all the letter ‘d’s suspended in the air.  She didn’t think that actual physical objects (especially huge, black, and shiny letter ‘d’s) would really be able to interfere with the way they talked. Or would they?

She had seen some weird stuff before- one time her friend Benitha was telling her a story about a guy at school and all of a sudden her eyes stopped peering deep into Smithann’s and her mouth opened wide and gross and the corners of her lips expanded and MOVED up on her face toward her cheeks and these strange guttural shrieks came out of her tube.  It was so crazy.  Smithann had heard the laughing track in her mind before but she had never seen a display as gross as this.  Afterward, Benitha picked up all of her books in a hurry and ran out of the room. They never talked about it again.

The ‘d’s were starting to accumulate and press up against the windows of the Burger Bop.  Some were small and very, very tiny.  They were getting stuck in the crevices of the Slurpee machine and she wondered how long it would take to coax them all out later.  Some were big and teetered on the edges of the counter and near the sack chute.  This was bad.

Her mom waded in through the ‘d’s, elbowing some of them, and finally stopped in front of Smithann, glaring at her angrily.  “What have you done?!” Smithann heard thinly in her head.

“Come on, Mom, you don’t see all these fucking ‘d’s in the air?  How would I know-“

Her mom’s eyes snapped closed suddenly and Smithann wasn’t sure if her mom had heard what she said but she really hoped so.  She really did.  Her mom’s eyes snapped back open and Smithann thought everything was okay but then they snapped back closed again.  It started going faster.  “Uh-oh,” she thought, “This isn’t helping.”

“Sit down Mom,” she thought, “over there.”  But she wasn’t sure if she heard her or not.  A lone ‘d’ suddenly popped up by her mom’s head but she didn’t even try to shoo it away with her hand.  Her eyes kept doing that weird closing thing while the ‘d’ bounced gently against her temple. Smithann decided it was time to try what she’d been practicing at home, thank God.  She opened her mouth but the door to the Burger Bop burst open again.

 

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“What the fuck?” Ben2Times grimaced in his mind and immediately started knocking the ‘d’s out of his way and even stomped one into the linoleum.  Stephania stared at him angrily in amazement he hoped and he grabbed her hand and walked toward the counter.  He saw Smithann staring at her mom (of all people, damn!) while she opened and closed her eyes…  he had seen this before, too.  There was so much they didn’t know about him, no one did. Good.  He liked it that way, but for now, he didn’t care if they knew or not and the objective was to make Stephania stop clearing her throat and singing that song AND to fix his voice, etcetera.

Now this. Her mom, of all people.  Ben2Times let his mind wander back to the freight train that was three years ago.  He pictured Smithann’s mom in the backyard in that white bikini, him showing up drunk in the middle of the day and hoping to lean on Smithann’s shoulder… she was so good at being a friend and listening and not putting any demands on him.  He remembered Mrs. Filler’s sultry voice… “Call me Natalianese Ben.  I don’t mind…”

The way she glared at him when he walked into the backyard, put the lotion in his hands, put his hands on her tits.  He… he just… oh well, that was a long time ago and now was not the time to picture it especially with all this interference he might not know what was going through, or capable of going through into their heads.

All of this poured through his head while the ‘d’s bounced gently and ricocheted off their shoulders, floating through the air.

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“I feel like you’re doing this to embarrass me.” Stephania heard in her head.

The problem was she wasn’t sure who said it.  It sounded so far away.  It could have ben Ben2Times but why would she try to embarrass him?  She would never do that, not in a million years.  Never.  For reals, never.

She couldn’t help it that the ‘d’s were doing whatever popped into her head.  The four of them had been here for like three years now standing at the counter of the Burger Bop and every time a thought or idea (or memory or wish or just fleeting things) or anything popped into her head the ‘d’s had evolved to start performing it.  But were they performing?  Now she wasn’t so sure.  Maybe they believed it.  Could they see her?  Could they see Ben?

Stephania cleared her throat.  She wasn’t sure but she could almost feel Ben2Times grimace. She looked at him but he was just looking at her in the usual, normal way.

It started 2 years ago.  They were all standing at the counter and she happened to think of a leather-studded flamingo gyrating and dancing awesomely to AC/DC’s classic tune “Thunderstruck.”  She didn’t know where it came from but she thought of it.

All of a sudden, one of the more hefty ‘d’s started gyrating and moving its bottom and she could swear that she heard the song playing just a little bit in the back of her head.  The ‘d’ picked up speed, moving it’s circular bottom and it almost seemed to turn a little pink hue but no one was quite sure, they never had fully agreed on that.  It was a moot point now though because since then they had witnessed the ‘d’s doing some pretty weird things.

The thunderstruck flamingo never stopped dancing and eventually started picking up other ‘d’s and tossing them on the wall or seeming to kiss them deeply, swooning to the ground. And at one point most of the other ‘d’s in the Burger Bop started encircling the walls while these connected steel cages glimmered thinly into view and then all the ‘d’ flamingos were inside the connected steel cages gyrating and rocking out while the initial rock ‘d’ continued his gyrations and pure awesomeness. He periodically pulled random ‘d’s from the auditorium-like cages that were now glamoured in the walls and seemed to kiss them deeply, and naturally the swoon.  The four of them had about four weeks of hard work sweeping up ‘d’s and it was getting very distracting.

“Stephania!” Ben yelled, “STOP THINKING OF FLAMINGOS!”

“I’m not! I’m trying so hard.  I’m literally not thinking of flamingos.” She said as she softly hummed “…thuuuunderstuck..”

“Stop it.  Just stop it.”

“I’m not.” She whined as Smithann’s mom’s eyes kept closing and opening, which was still really weird and hard for her to look at.

“I feel like you’re trying to embarrass me.” Ben said, but all she heard from far away was “…..emb…rrs…. eeeee.”

She could barely hear him but she knew what he was saying.  She decided to just glare at him anyway.  He didn’t know.  The one thing she did know was that she wasn’t trying to embarrass him.  She wouldn’t do that until a million years. Well, at least not intentionally.

You have to be careful.” She heard from somewhere.

“Duly noted,” she thought, as a leather-studded flamingo drifted by, sniffing coke above her head.

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PART 1 “Sucked out by the vacuum of space”

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Sucked out by the vacuum of space A SHORT STORY

Ben2Times eyelids fluttered furiously in his sleep. Stephania perched on the edge of the cot.  They were in the storeroom closet of the Burger Bop.

Ever since they’d gotten back from that Duplicate Planet, Ben’d been nodding off, off and on, throughout the endless night.

It wouldn’t even day anymore.  The letter “d”s had left the building, drifting, floating through the air at a laconic droopy pace and nobody even swatted at them or said goodbye.

When the last one left, he had snapped close his briefcase (how’d he even get that in here, Stephania had thought, but then she thought of the pink flamingo rocker dance and the cage rock fury and thought yeah, well, why not). He’d drifted breezily but curtly by her through the door.  His look of disdain was almost audible so Stephania was sure to slam the door right behind him as he had tried to compress it ever so gently.

“Fucking asshole “D”s…” Stephania mumbled as Ben2Times eyelids fluttered even faster and his paws swiped sleepily in the air.

Since the endless night and the departure of the “d”s, things had taken a turn. Smithann and Fitz had been spending ever-increasing lapses of time in the walk-in freezer and she knew they were up to something in there.  Everybody knew.  Even Natalianese, who could be a lot of things, but unobservant was not one of them, Stephania could tell.  She was watching her.  Close.

All was quiet in the Burger Bop, she could hear the swipe of the soapy towel that Natalianese was using the wipe the door-paneled windows in the lobby.  The whole place was see-thru in the lobby area and they had used this to their advantage before, able to notice if any weird entities were creeping up even though none had ever tried it.  All that time and not a visitor.  Well, except Fitz, and that one little girl that no one will talk about yet, and the bug.  And the meat.

But now the night and Ben2Times spent most of his time sleeping and Natalianese wouldn’t stop washing the windows in the dark.  It was creepy.  You could hear the dead silence of nothing and then the creak or whine of some type of pulley or contraption from the freezer and the hum of its engine kicking in ever so often.  Then the squeaks from the glass as Natalianese made her dumb-ass karate kid circles. Stephania could see her stupid red eyeballs pinpointing down on them when she was suspended and floating, washing from the outside.

Stephania decided to see what she was up to.  She waited until she seemed to not be looking and eased through the door.  Then she crept around and kicked over her wash bucket, but something strange fell out.

It wasn’t water.

Suddenly Natalianese shrieked soundlessly and air-glided toward her lightning fast at a horizontal angle of quickened oatmeal.  Quite impressive, Stephania thought, and mentally saved that move into her repertoire.

“You   don’t   touch   that  bucket   bitch.” Natalianese spat.

“Whoa whoa whoa?  What bucket?” Stephania smiled and looked at her with as much doe eye as she could muster.

“I was just out for a stroll…  oh, you mean this bucket?” She picked up the bucket and tossed it over her shoulder.  It fell quickly toward the polyurethane sidewalk panel but stopped mid-air right before it could crash.

Stephania eyed it floating there, pursed her lips in a half grin and looked back up at Natalianese.

They glared at each other in a deathlock of fury.

“You mean this magic bucket?” Stephania said into Natalianese’s brain.

“I can still talk like this too you green cow.” Natalianese thought back at her.

Neither of their lips moved but their eyes shone into the night, Natalianese with more of a red hue that Stephania noticed was starting to jump vision on the glass and project little red dots everywhere.

“Uh oh.”

“Damn right, you green menace!” Natalianese blared into her brain and Stephania felt her eyes began to wobble as the high-pitched warble reverberated between her ears.  She ripped two tufts of the sidewalk panel up, balled it up in little bits and shoved them in her ears like two earplugs.

That didn’t help.

She had forgotten the old ways.  They had gotten used to using the new organ voices and now this crazy loon was inside of her and she even had the magic bucket.  She had forgotten all about these devices.

She ripped the plugs out of her ears and yanked the bucket from the air.  Some more of the strange substance fell out but Stephania ignored it and slammed the bucket down over Natalianese’s big stupid head.

She withdrew her pointing stick and unsheathed it from its ultra sound-absorbent scabbard.

“Aaaayyyyyyyyeeeeeeeee!” she screeched and reigned down a series of furious thumps on top of the bucket covering Natalianese’s head.

With each thump Natalianese kinda sunk down through the polyurethane ground board until finally she was drilled waist deep.  The shrilling stopped echoing in Stephania’s head and was replaced by a sad sad sobbing.

“Wha?  Wait, stop that.  Stop that crying.” Stephania said and Natalianese whimpered even more sadly in her head.

“C’mon, it’s not that serious.  I was just… I was just trying to get you to stop.  You know how we are, I… uh…”

“Don’t worry about it,” Natalianese said and used the soppy towel to wipe the front of the bucket. “It doesn’t even matter anymore.  Just help me with my feet, it tickles.”

“Okay.” Stephania said and punched a hole through the sidewalk panel next to the Natalianese-shaped screw hole.

She punched again until the hole was wide enough to peek her head in and peer down there.

“Oh.  Hey guys. Sorry about that,” she said. “Didn’t know you were next to us down there… it’s complicated…”

“Just fix it.  Fix it now.” One of the blue creatures wrote on a card and held up to her head so she could read it.

Stephania figured these were the guys she had heard of before, but she thought they were located on the other side of town, through a sky ceiling at least, not the sidewalk.

It was magnificent down there.  Brilliantly blue with shimmering hints of pink, orange… any color you could think of really.

And the things looked like furry seahorses but with huge wide soccer ball eyes perched on long tendrils sticking out from their shoulder pockets.

They would have been scary, with the huge eyes and no mouths and all except for the funny looking cards that they wrote on with big sparkly glitter pencils.  Everywhere stickers.  Bright neon colors and dancing, happy stickers and bright pencils with fuzzy things attached and sparkly streamers.

The creatures bumped about and greeted with tails but Stephania noticed a few of the placards floating in the air had really, really disturbing messages.  She looked around at the huge eyeballs of some of them and wondered which ones had written them.  Sad, sad disjointed writing with glitter mounded on top but the stickers were awesome, very bright.

“Well how do I fix it?” Stephania asked one of them who happened to be floating by.

“You don’t,” it wrote and pulled out a small vial filled with red, blue, and green confetti and tossed the contents into its eyes.

It sighed and stared at her with most of its whites now sparkling and twinkling in the night.

“You just throw a bunch of this shit on it.” it wrote, and tossed her a bottle.