“Are your fingers crossed?” Stephania asked Ben2Times. They were sitting on the bed of the dirty motel room at the Kand’s End Glen Inn #2. Nobody knew where Glen was.
The girl down the hall said he had retired to Glen Ken Meadows, down the way, but no one saw him travel there. Only thing they knew is that they took his money three weeks ago when they checked in on this row. They being Stephania and Ben2Times in Room 11. Then Jenny #7 in room 10 (she liked to play Texas Hold’em and kept a slew of Jacks tucked under her dirty blouse sleeve), TomBoy in room 9 (no one knew about him) (yet), and Stacy in room 8 (she was very cool and gave them all gum when she passed by) (but it was weird, the only time they ever saw her was when she was passing by, never in a spot or one place or actually somewhere, just walking by) Oh and Stacy liked to mumble. Something close to “An eye for an eye was all he could buy” was all Stephania could make out.
Ben2Times disagreed, he said she was saying “A buy for an eye was all she could spy…” but that didn’t make sense to Stephania. They tried to piece it all together. Stacy was short, that was for sure. Very short lady!!, as Stephania’s great-great uncle Gadget would say. He was dead now. 98. When he died she listened to her aunt moan and moan in the night, it was creepy because she always crept up slowly to the edge of Stephania’s bed when she was sleeping and moaned from down there.
She would wait though. Aunt San would wait until it was dark or Stephania had just fallen asleep or until she had crept all the way to the bottom of the bed where you couldn’t hear her coming and then start to moan. Low.
And almost couldn’t hear. It was not a nice thing and Stephania just lay in the bed with her covers pulled tight to her throat because she didn’t know what to do. Then the groaning would get a little louder but she was too scared to roll to the bottom or look over the edge and the wall was on the other side of the bed. Then the hand. Well, the fingers. The fingers pale, cold would slide up and grip the very edge of the comforter and start to pull gently. Then they went under. She could feel the cold fingers tapping her ribs and-
“What the fuck Stephania!” Ben2Times yelled. “Who the fuck are you talking to?!” he yelled and shook her shoulders.
“Oh, was I talking?” she asked.
“Wha- fuck yes you were going on really fast about some super scary shining lady shit… crawling up your bed I don’t wanna hear that shit right now… ughhhh.. jeez…” Ben2Times said.
Stephania looked down at the dingy comforter and gathered her thoughts. “Was I talking out loud?”
“Yes!” Ben2Times said. “And you were starting to tap me in my chest with your fingers. More like jab.”
“Oh… my bad.”
She looked over at him, “Am I talking out loud now?”
“No,” Ben2Times replied, “You’re talking normal, in our heads. …damn, that was scary.”
She stretched her legs out and craned her neck. “Well get over it. It’s over now, let’s not make a federal case about it.” she said.
Ben2Times got up and walked to the window of the room. He made a little cup in the blinds with his fingers and jumped back when he saw the eye.
“Stephania,” he whispered loudly, “Come here.” He motioned to her and bent down to the carpet.
“What? Why are you whispering?”
Ben2Times put his finger to his lips for her to be quiet and looked around the room wildly. He found the switch and crawled over to it to turn out the light, then he crawled back toward Stephania.
“There’s someone at the window!” he hissed in her ear, “and they’re watching us.”
“No, it’s not.” she hissed back, “you’re probably being paranoid again… ever since that leech…”
“No!” Ben2Times hissed louder, “I saw its eye. It’s there… watching us.”
“Ok, ok.” Stephania stood up and started to strip off her clothes. “You think a groppy little eyeball is going to scare me after that scary-ass shit I just told you about my auntie…” She laughed and kicked away her pants.
Ben2Times stopped being scared for a moment while she crossed her arms in front of her and then lifted up her shirt. She tossed it over the back of a chair.
“Well,” she said and looked over pointedly at Ben2Times, “Only one thing left…” she smiled and hooked her thumbs under the sides of her g-string and pulled it to the floor.
When she bent over Ben2Times completely forgot the eyeball and had a hard time understanding where they were or why they were there or what constellation they were on exactly.
Stephania cleared her throat and headed toward the door.
“Wait!” he yelled, “Stephania no!”
But it was too late and she did a full out Bruce Lee spin and kicked open their own door.
“Hellllllooo EYEBALL MAN!!” she screeched and started to bunny hop out the door.
“Why is she bunny hopping?” Ben2Times thought.
“Because it’s funny!” she yelled back and continued to hop nakedly down the hallway.
Ben2Times snapped out of it and ran into the yellow lit hall. It was night out and the 2nd floor balcony hallway gave a pretty good view out into the night. He looked left and right and down below the railing… but they were alone.
“See!” Stephania yelled back over her green shining shoulder, “Just you and me Ben!” and she hopped a little further down the hallway.
He couldn’t help himself but grin as he watched her green butt bounce up and down the aisle. “What an idiot..” he thought.
“Hey I heard that…” he heard.
Just then the door to Room #1 flew open. Stephania stopped hopping and turned to walk quickly to their room. She ducked in the door just as someone emerged from Room 1.
It was Glen!
“Glen!” Ben2Times yelled. “Hey man, we need to talk to you-“
Ben2Times stopped short as he saw the look in Glen’s eyes. Glen was terrified.
“Glen? What happened? Are you ok?” Ben2Times asked.
Stephania ran back out of the room while pulling on her pants leg and grabbed Ben2Times.
“Do not touch him… don’t even get near…” she said.
“Why?” Ben2Times asked, “He needs help. We need to help him-“
“No!” she replied, “He has the touch.”
“The touch? What touch?”
Before she could answer a hand slowly emerged from the bottom of Room 1’s doorway. It finger walked its way into the light and stopped short right at the wrist. It was half in the dark and half in the light, a weird disembodied hand doing that finger crawl thing you do when you finger walk toward something…
“Whose hand is that?” Ben2Times whispered to Stephania.
“I don’t know. How should I know something like that?” she replied.
Glen turned his head slowly in their direction and looked at them with those pleading eyes. Then his eyes turned from pleading to angry and then to pure hate.
“Let’s get outta here…”
Glen’s eyes went from brown to a metallic-looking black and started to stream a black shiny liquid. The black tears dripped onto his sweat-stained white shirt as his forehead and skin started to concave in. His upper face and eyes melted into his head and then a big gaping hole was there. Almost immediately, one huge white and yellow-lined eye as big as a dinner plate popped out into the place where his two eyes had been.
Stephania shrieked and Ben2Times grabbed her hand as they ran back into their room and locked the door. Before they could drag the bed over to block the doorway they heard his heavy shoes clomping down the hall. As they were pushing the dresser up to fortify the bed they heard a small tapping at the window.
“Do not look out that window.” Ben2Times said.
“I know,” said Stephania, “But what do we do now?”
“Well, let’s just calm down first.” Ben2Times said. “Since you kicked out the lock we’re gonna have to figure out a way to fix that, but while Glen’s out there just tapping we’re gonna try to ignore it and you’re gonna finish telling me the story I asked for.” He picked up her shirt and then laid it back on the chair. “From the beginning.”
“Ok, well, first take out the note, I’m going to explain the first part.” she said.
They stopped and listened for the tapping.
It wasn’t there anymore.
Then they heard it. A drip.
Oh good, the faucet still works, Ben2Times thought.
“Yes, it does.” He heard in his head. But it wasn’t Stephania, it was Glen.
“Crap.” Ben2Times thought, “Now he wants to talk.”
“Well, just ignore him,” Stephania said, “Go under your dome.”
“Okay, good idea.” Ben2Times said and pictured himself crawling under his dome. He secured the heavy opaque glass and didn’t hear a thing.
“Can you hear me?” Stephania called.
“Yep, clear as ice.” he replied.
“How’d you get in here?”
“Wait, what’s that?”
“I don’t hear anything?”
“….an eye for an eye is all I can buy…”
The End. )For now)o
Ben2Times stared down at the letter and then back up into the bathroom mirror. He looked at himself. Then he looked at himself again. It’s me, he thought to himself, it’s definitely me. He looked at his eyes, nose, mouth… the way his hair touched the top of his fuzzy ears and sparkled silver in the bare light of the bulb, the way his checkered skin gleamed matte in the mirror, he chuckled.
Definitely me, he laughed and shook his head. But the note. But what about the note? He read it again,
Dear Mr. Times,
All is lost. sorry to report all is lost.
Bl . k got ty, and last Tuesday I fo . rgot g.
I’m afraid we have disappointed you.
The i HUMAN, as of now. I therefore void the dog,
escape potential ,
thermore, I have been ignored. Bluntly put, I am probably notxx xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxd let me dry overnight, x
xxxxxxxxxxxe. Seven dollars. So easy.
She will keep asking you x
but it is not. Sincerely yours,
p.s. We need all seven.
What Ben2Times couldn’t understand was how the letter got under his pillow in the first place. He would have woken up at the slight.
What kind of face was this?
A 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 spoke in his head.
“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 leech. The black slimy started to scoot across the grimy basin. It sipped up a drip of rusty faucet water.
“Sucks.” the leech said.
He tried to ignore it and not get sucked into a long super-depressing conversation. He needed time to himself to think.
“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 in order to look busy.
“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 said.
It struggled sadly in it’s crawl but finally made it to the top of the basin and squished there with a sort of sploosh sound.
“Ahhh. That’s better,” it said and looked up at Ben2Times, “say… what is your name?”
Ben2Times ignored it and opened the medicine cabinet. He rifled through the pills and band-aids. The leech started to make a low whaling sound. He ignored it. A band-aid fluttered down slowly from the ledge and landed on its noisy head.
“I like my hat,” the leech said sadly, pausing his pitched whaling.
It 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.
“….what?” Ben2Times woke with a start. 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? Ben2Times crouched down eye level to the basin while the leech readjusted his position and sighed.
After a time, he felt a cold slime 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 dirty 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.
The smell of old eggs on a motel room hotplate 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.
“I’m going to eat you…” Ben2Times muttered half asleep and reached up his paw to swipe the leech into his mouth, but missed and only swatted the empty air.
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.
“Ben!!!!” Stephania yelled as she pounded on the bathroom door. Ben2Times eyes fluttered 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. Stephania 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, she reached behind the pipes.
“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. “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 muttered 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 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 into the room.
“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
“Sucked out by the vacuum of space”
-a short story
Smithann took her fries out of the bin. She twiddled with the greasy phalange-type crustables and let her mind daydream about Ben2Times. The long spatula probe caught on a lone fry and its collapsible eye bulged open and wearily blinked, then closed. “Come on, sweet sleepy guy…” she muttered distractedly in a sing song voice and the fry fell all the way to sleep while she slid it gently into the sack.
“Order up!” Smithann yelled into her collar which she knew she didn’t even have to say or yell but liked the idea of it anyway. Usually, whenever she just thought a thought it would project out into the air around her, so she didn’t have to worry about using words or things like that. But she liked to practice using sounds with her throat at home when no one was around and it felt nice when she could make it happen. Ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd
Wow, that was weird, Smithann thought when she noticed all the letter “d”s floating around her in the air. “Where did those come from?”
It was another crap day in another crap bed with another crap shitty pod jumper he had picked up last week. Ben2Times stared at the beige fold of a bedsheet that probably used to be white. He hated this bed. He stared at the helix of crust residue gathering momentum into a weird trail on the sheets and decided today was the day he would make so many changes. He hated this life. He would make more changes than anyone would believe. Starting now!
He grabbed a hefty corner of grungy sheets and yanked with all his might. The pod jumper sprang awake and bounced halfway into the air, her huge green breasts bouncing and awesome, he had to admit. “Get up you cranky green pheromone affair!” Ben2Times yelled playfully into the air. Well really he thought the concept of yelling it playfully into the air and so it happened like that in her brain, so he hoped. But for now he just stared at her creepily and intense until she received the message. She stared back deep into his eyes with rage until the irony receptors on her left skin fluttered and she laughed heartily, bouncing and green and all. God, she is bountiful, Ben2Times thought, but then he shook his head vigorously and cleared his throat in his head. But nothing happened.
He did it again.
Seeing that there was some kind of malfunction or maybe he was having a weird dream or something he tried to figure out what to do in order to fix this problem. He had planned to say, “When are you gonna wash these sheets around here?” or something like that, but none of the words were going in her head and they seemed to be stuck in his, but not really, he couldn’t figure it out.
Ben2Times didn’t know what to do so he walked over to Stephania and shook her shoulders a bit. She continued to stare angrily into his eyes as was par the course but something was off. Usually, when they stared at each other it was easy. They both knew what the other was saying or wanted to say and only very rarely it would sometimes get disengaged, but he knew that that was when she knew she had had an Article 4563 thought and enacted the common drill of erasure which no one had yet figured to encroach or filhack, or so they were told. He shook Stephania’s shoulders a little harder but still nothing happened. Finally, he let his hands fall slack, and they just stared.
After ten minutes, Stephania bent her knee a little and started this weird little stretch dance type thing with her left leg from the knee down. She kept staring deep into his eyes but the rest of her body didn’t really move and the wind from the pod vent curled the bits of hair flying about her intense face.
After her leg stretch she stopped staring at him, which was strange. No one usually does that, at least not in real life. Her head bent down and she let her feet curl into the heavily padded floor. He looked down too and then noticed a pizza crust from the night before bent inside one of the creases of the plush folds so he picked it up, plopped it in his mouth, and continued to stare at the floor. The pizza was good.
He felt a soft tap on his shoulder and looked up. Stephania was staring down at him longingly, or so he thought. Now he couldn’t tell, everything seemed off-kilter. He heard a strange sound and realized that she was clearing her throat. In real life.
It sounded beautiful.
With all the ddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddds floating in the air, Smithann had a hard time with the lunch rush. The fries kept waking up and arguing with each other and she was so distracted that she didn’t lull them back to obey and they fought tooth and nail not to go in the sack. It was tiring. “Come on little babies…” she’d coo but the dddddddddddds would bump and bounce off the sides of her cheeks and sometimes fall down into the fry bin and crush a poor fry flat. It was sad.
One time, a “d” actually flew straight up into the air like a rocket and broke through the pod roof and now she was going to have to explain the hole, the probe, and the pack of buns that blew out before she could get to the second hatch and pressurize. What an awful day. She had to get some help before more d’s were sucked or blown or whatever the fuck was going on. She tried Ben2Times like five times and there was no answer which had absolutely never happened to her before.
Everyone always answers unless they have Moved On and at that point there is a memorial enactment and the Big Like. Maybe she would try her mom, but she knew at that point it would get weird because her mom was always coming up with new theories of why we exist in the world and finding new theorists to meet with her and recondition her vials and so she might save that head of ache and call her aunt. At least she didn’t pod with the doctors like her mom sometimes did (and think she didn’t know). Where was Ben2Times? Why was he unavailable? Who does that?
Stephania cleared her throat again. It felt good. Real good. She thought she just might do this forever. Clearing the throat and being super sexy and green. Guys would like that.
She could tell Ben2Times did. He was feeling it. She cleared her throat again and stared angrily, deeply into his eyes.
Stephania cleared her throat.
She did it again.
The lights died.
When the lights went off suddenly, Ben2Times figured he’d had enough. He cleared his throat. He heard Stephania do the same. Enough of this crap, he thought and nothing happened. He heard Stepahnia clear her throat again and he decided to do something, anything to get something done. He felt his way through the darkness and picked up a Light/Tunes/Cooking rod and threw it into the opposite wall. The crash was loud, but not what he hoped for, not like the movies.
“That was weird.” He heard a booming voice yell.
“Stephania…. was that you?” He heard the words gurgle up from his throat and they sounded tinny, far away. Why was Stephania’s voice so awesome and his so crappy, wtf. He wanted the awesome voice.
“I AM THE VERY MODEL OF A MODERN MAJOR-GENERAL…” her voiced boomed in a sing-song way and he could hear her feet doing a little shuffle in the dark. Well, he hoped that was her feet.
“I’VE INFORMATION VEGETABLE, ANIMA-
“Stephania, stop.” His voice came out even tinnier than before and now he could smell a slight burning in the room and it seemed electrical. He wasn’t sure if it was from the warming rod crash or what was happening. They had to get out of here and start to figure this thing out. Maybe Smithann could help. Fuck. He couldn’t tap her and now he would have to find her. She was probably at work and he’d have to take Stephania with him.
“MINERAL!” Stephania yelled and he found her body in the dark and placed his finger forcefully against her lips. She tried to bite and he grabbed her hip with his other hand to discourage it, and so she licked instead. God, she was sexy. Crazy, but fun and sexy (and maddening), the perfect kind of jumper.
He fished around in the dark and grabbed her black g-string and flip flops, thrust them in her hands, and decided right then that they were going to stop and the Clothe and Go for a proper Citizen 7 shirt and maybe trousers. He couldn’t traipse her to the Burger Bop like this, especially not with Smithann there. True, they were just friends, but it was just not the way things were done. His Papa taught him that 3000 fjoids ago. He had never forgot it.
To be continued!