“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” Read my story!

Really Stephania,” Glenn sat down on the gray lounge chaise, “a spy?”

“What?”

He kept looking at her and started to unlace his sturdy black shoes. “That’s all you got… a spy? What in the world does that have to do with anything and what are we gonna say when he wakes up now?”

“I don’t know,” Stephania shrugged and sat up on the bed, “We’ll tell him about a mission, a special 007 one, you know, you’ve watched those stories…” She spun a blanket down over Ben2Times and watched him paw at the air dreamily. “He’s probably dreaming of one now lol…”

“Lol? Hmmm… sounds like someone’s been reading too many fantasy novels. Okay. First things first, I’m taking a nap next to 007 here and then we’re gonna come up with a better story… a real story.”

Glenn looked warily around the worn down motel room.  Bright sunlight was shining through the thin curtains now and it made the streaks on the walls and dents and knicks in the doors more noticeable.  “We gotta figure a way to get outta this dump Stephania…”

“I know Glen, I’m working on it.  Anyway, what was I supposed to tell him? We don’t even know-”

“You could try the truth.”

“The truth?!” Stephania jerked her head up and glared at him, “Are you crazy? Oh Ben, sorry, but it seems you keep popping up on our planet and we can’t figure it out and every time you leave there’s another copy or maybe it was already there… we’re really unsure about that part at this time and oh yeah.. we don’t even know what you are…”

“Hey Guys, whady’a doin?” Ben2Times popped his head in the door and looked around the room with a smile.

Glen slumped down on the edge of the bed and started rubbing his feet.

“Oh. just looking for my bag…” Stephania said and walked toward the bathroom door.

“Who’s that on the bed?”

“I don’t know, we just walked in… probably Jenny#7… hey where’s the sodas?” Stephania asked.

“What sodas?”

“I thought you were going down the hall to get some from the vending machine.  I’m super thirsty.” Stephania said and caressed her throat.

“No I was just taking a walk like I said.  You don’t remember? I said I was taking a walk to clear my head for awhile.” Ben2Times looked at her strangely.

“Oh yeah.”

He walked to the chaise and sat down. “Hey Glenn, listen man, we gotta talk about that money.”

“No, man, don’t worry about it.” Glenn said wearily as he stared out the window.

“No. It’s important.  It’s important to me.  It was your money and we took it and I want to make it right. It’s the right-“

“Ben!”

Stephania leapt from her stance by the bathroom door and grabbed his hands.  “Your hands!”

She turned them all around. “They’re hands!”

“Wha? What’s wrong with you?” Ben2Times jerked his hands back, “What else would they be?”

“Um…”

“Listen Stephania,” Ben2Times cleared his throat, “I saw a lot of other Stephanias out there on my walk last night, and it got me to thinking.” He looked at her gravely, “I’m starting to feel that we need a code word or something so I can be sure I’m dealing with the right Stephania when I am…. This planet… this planet is so fucked. I never know who is who and there’s about a thousand Stephanias, Smithanns, and now it’s even some Fitz’s rolling around out there saying “Very pleased to meet you and…”

“Wait,” Glenn interrupted as he pulled the blanket up over his shoulders, “Have you seen any Ben2Times out there with them?”

“Well, no.  If I did I would have a lot of questions, like, One-“

All of a sudden, Ben2Times shot up from the bed and stood in the middle of the room glancing wildly between Ben2Times and the others.

“Like why do you have hands?!” he screamed and ran screeching out the door.

starburn- and still sucked out of the bathroom of space

“I don’t know… I feel like something’s off.” Smithann scratched her head and looked down at the floor.

“I don’t know…I feel like something’s off.” Ben2Times said to Stephania and looked down at the motel room floor.

“What do you mean?” Fitz asked.

“What do you mean?” Stephania asked.

“Well, if I listen to him talking in my head it sounds like him but not really, it sounds like someone took over his voice, or maybe I’m talking to two people and… and I know… it sounds crazy.” Smithann said.

“You’re not crazy,” Stephania said.

“You’re crazy,” Fitz looked up at Smithann.  “Why in the world would someone try to intercept Ben2Times soul and if they did then why even bother with the mystery?  Why not just tell you?”

“I don’t know,” Ben2Times glanced around the room suspiciously, “It’s like they’re all here, all the time… saying different things.”

Stephania listened to the drips from the bathroom faucet.  She vaguely heard Glen’s breath rasping in and out from outside the door but choose to just ignore that. He had stopped tapping on the window for now… so at least they had that.

“Listen Ben,”

“..uh…”

“Oh I’m sorry I mean Ben2Times, I’m just gonna start okay? I’m gonna tell you what I know.” Stephania said.

She cleared her throat.  “First of all, your name’s not Ben2Times, it’s Ed-“

“Wait, what!?”

Stephania rolled her eyes and fell back on the thin brown comforter.  She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to imagine something more fun to do.  Oh, that was nice.

“Stephania!” Ben2Times yelled, “Stop ignoring me… you…you…..you’ve been lying there for 3 millenia blinking your eyes and making up stories, tell me what you were going to say!” Ben2Times pleaded.

“Oh,” she sat up and adjusted her buckle, “you’re still here.”

“Wha- you’re goddamn right I’m still here,” Ben2Times looked at her in astonishment, “I’ve been listening to you mumble on and on about sprites and ugly princesses and oars and far-away lands and I’m sick of it.”  He stared at her dark green lips and thought of kissing her even though he was super pissed.

Just then he remembered the other Stephania, the real Stephania. He had to get back to his friend but he couldn’t help but wonder…were her lips as plump as this? Were they exactly the same or slightly different….Could he forget that she was just a replica? Or version? (he still couldn’t figure out what). He looked back from her lips to her pretty red eyes.  “Snap out of it and just tell me.” he said.

“Fine.” she said.

“Okay, fine.” he said.

“Well?” he heard in his head.

“Oh shut up Glen!” Ben2Times roared.

“Whoa, whoa…” Glen said, “I’m just tryin’ tah figure out this mystery business going on…”  Glen pressed his huge eye against the window and started tapping again.

“Ahhhhhhh!”

Ben2Times leapt from the bed and charged toward the bathroom door head first.

“Wait!” Stephania yelled and as he came within two inches of the door.

And just like that, he was gone.

“Oh.  Well I knew that was gonna happen.” Stephania said to the empty room.

“I didn’t.” Glen said.

“Ah… just get in here Glen,” she said and started to move the furniture away from the door.

“Good, it was getting cold out here.” Glen said as he saw the last wisp of Ben2Times dissolve in the air.

“You can take it.” Stephania said.

“You’re one to talk you get to be inside the room every time,” Glen said and removed his mask. “I gotta be out here in the cold groaning and tapping… it get’s old Stephania.”

Oooohhhh…. it gets old Stephania… I’m so weak from the cold… I’m so aloooone…”

“Oh shut up you crazy bitch…” Glen strode through the door and plucked his eyeballs back into his head. “Whew… good to see again…  ahhh you’re a sight, awfully green today I see..”

“Save it you old eye bag,” Stephania shot back.

Glen smirked. “You’re coming up with new ones, I see…”

“You’re eye stint gets cornier every time.  And where’d you get that awful hand?” she plopped down on the bed and started unbuttoning her blouse.

“Can you take that in the bathroom? I think we’ve all had enough of your green tits… and you know Jenny#7 don’t like me seeing that, c’mon.”

“Ah, she likes to watch too.”

“No, no she doesn’t.” Glen massaged his eyeballs and walked toward the bathroom door. “And what’s with stripping down and all that hopping business? You’re taking it a little too far, I think.  One of these days he’s gonna catch wise and figure out how ridiculous this is.”

“No… he’s not.” Stephania laughed.  “I mean, every single time. He’s the same every single time.” She curled her body like a cat and took her shirt between her teeth. “It doesn’t matter what I do.”

“Well, I think it does,” Glen replied.  He bent over and picked up a few silver hairs from the carpet. “Look, he’s shedding hairs now? That’s never happened before…. I think something’s changing.”

Stephania smirked and bounced around on the bed.  Glen stared.

“Oh put your eyeballs back in your head…” she said, “He can’t catch wise, how could he?” She stopped bopping and jumped up suddenly. “Oh shit.”

“What? What? I knew it was something.” Glen dropped the silver hairs from his fingers and watched as Stephania ransacked the dresser drawer.

“The movie…” she muttered as she fumbled things around in the drawer. “There was a movie here and we didn’t watch it, didn’t even talk about it.”

“Oh yeah…. I forgot.”

Stephania kept searching.  “Even if we don’t watch it, he usually pulls it out and we talk about it.  Or we just watch the beginning before Tomboy barges in.”

“Wait, which movie?”

Stephania groaned. “Hmm…. I’m not sure.  I don’t know if it was the one about the guy who starts investigating a writer and falls for her or the one where the waiter turns out to be the stalker or… oh yeah there’s one with a dead fairy.  It’s usually one of those three except for that one time…”

Glen walked over to the dresser and then looked under the bed. “Maybe it fell down somewhere.  Is this the only time you guys didn’t do that?”

“FUCK IF I KNOW GLEN-“

“Hey don’t get mad at me because you screwed up the-“

“Hey what are you guys doing in here?” Ben2Times stuck his head through the door.

“Oh hey Ben, we’re looking uh…  looking for Glen’s money. Have you seen a blue duffle bag with a cross on it anywhere?”

Ben2Times shook his head slowly and his eyes got slightly bigger.  “No… can’t say I have… was it a lot of money Glen?”

Glen looked at Stephania and then back to Ben2Times. “Hey, Ben umm… how’d you get here so fast?”

“What do you mean? And it’s uh… Ben2Times remember?”

“Oh yeah, um sorry Ben… 2Times um… where’d you go?” Glen asked.

“Oh I just went down to the vending machine to get some sodas and talked to Stacy for a bit, she’s-“

“Where’s the sodas?” Stephania asked.

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Where’s the sodas Ben?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Grab him!”

Ben2Times ducked and dove underneath Glen as he catapulted him toward him in the doorway.  Glen’s head slammed into the wall and he passed out while Stephania tried to make her way to the bathroom sink.  She knew if she could just reach behind the pipes and get the package she could fix this.

“Not this time you crazy bitch…” Ben2Times pulled a fisher’s net out from under his shirt and trapped and tied her. She tried to dissolve or morph or spin but nothing worked.  What kind of material was this?

“Wait Ben, I’m your friend! Remember?” she pleaded with him.

“Oh really, Stephania. So what was all that I hear about me not catching wise? Hmm?”

“No, Ben, you have to understand.  We have to do this.  It’s to protect you!” her eyes started to well and drop huge puddle tears, “If we don’t you die, not dematerialize, not just jumping planets, but really die, it happened once and you almost didn’t come back…” she sputtered.

“Is this your real tearjerker drama or you got an onion in your cheek?” he hissed as he tightened the net.

“I’m telling you the truth.  This is what we have to do so you’ll get to the Burger Bop on time.  You have to be there on time.  The 1st.  …and Emclog already ate the egg.  So that means you only have three options left.”

“For the last time, tell me who’s Emclog.”

“I don’t know… he just signed the note…” Stephania stuttered.

Ben2Times tightened the net even smaller.

Ahhh!  Ow that really hurts.  Okay, okay… he’s your partner okay?”

Ben2Times clinched the final space out of the ropes.

Ahhh! He really is! You’re… you’re…”

“I’m what, Stephania, hurting you?” Ben2Times hissed and he noted real tears coming from her pores.

“You’re a spy! An interplanetary spy!” she sobbed. “There’s eleven of you….now… that we know of.  Something happened… something keeps happening… and we don’t know how to fix it!”

Ben2Times dropped the net and sat down heavily on the bed.

Stephania blinked up at him through the net and reformed herself.

“Well, don’t just sit there… come on out.” he said.

She slid out of the net and crawled toward him.  Then she curled up next to him on the bed.

“Let’s just take it easy for a while.” she said and patted his hand.

His eyes felt drowsy and he couldn’t stop himself from rubbing them.

“Look, there in your paw, let’s watch that movie and take a little nap or something….” Stephania whispered.

“Alright, well, wait… why do I have paws?” he mumbled sleepily, “…they’re so furry…” he chuckled softly “And how’s this movie in a box and not up in the air and where’s Glen…” he mumbled and leaned back on the bed.

“Shhhh… shhhh…” Stephania murmured and caressed his head.  “Shhhh, let mommy kiss you there….” she crooned and put her lips against his warm and pulsing neck.

“Stephania.” Glen said firmly.  He was raising himself shakily from the spot by the door.  “Stop that.  You know you can’t screw him.”

“Oh… Glen. You’re up.” she said and rubbed her body closer to Ben2Times.

“Maybe this time I can?  He’ll wake up and let me, right?  Just this once?”

“No.”

“Crap.”

“Exactly.  You know the rules.” 

“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” a short story

“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.  scare.gif

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.

“H…hel…help me…”

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…hand2.gif

“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.

“Uh oh.”

“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.

“Good.”

“Wait.”

“Huh?”

“How’d you get in here?”

“Oh… well.”

“Wait, what’s that?”

“I don’t hear anything?”

“Listen”

“……”

“….an eye for an eye is all I can buy…”

Ah fuck.”

 

The End. )For now)o jason-x-janessa

“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” short story

“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.

“H…hel…help me…”

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 on a table…

“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.

“Uh oh.”

“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.

“Good.”

“Wait.”

“Huh?”

“How’d you get in here?”

“Oh… well.”

“Wait, what’s that?”

“I don’t hear anything?”

“Listen”

“……”

“….an eye for an eye is all I can buy…”

Ah fuck.”

 

THE END.  of this part)

“Sucked out by the vacuum of space” -a short story -part 14

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,
  • or becauSE
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.  
Sincerely yours,
EmClog
 
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.”

 

“Sucked out by the vacuum of space”

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

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

Both are correct, it just depends on who/what is doing the action (sucking/blowing).

 “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.

Nothing.

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!

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.