Saturday, August 15, 2009

A break for lunch

Maybe it's just me, but waking up on an alien beach and then findin a white suit wearin Charles Lindbergh monitorin a tikki hut leads to one unavoidable question. Is it safe to breathe? After answerin that question with empirical evidence (that I am breathing and haven't, to the best of my knowledge, passed out), another question is likely to occur. Am I dead? You know, you always see in the movies how someone is dead or dyin and there's a guy with a white suit that shows up. Sometimes, of course, there's that black robed fellow that looks, from the back, like a judge that's tryin to keep his head warm and, from the front, like a guy who needs a sandwich somethin fierce. You know the guy I'm talkin about, he's all thin and gaunt lookin. He carries that big staff and everything. Oh, what is that guy's name? Oh, right, Palpatine; Emperor Palpatine. When I thought of him, I got pretty scared, cause I know he can shoot the lightnin outta his hands and, even worse, he's a politician. I didn't see him nowhere, though, so I relaxed some and worked on the whole "am I dead" thing.

It's a funny thing about death; you may be dead and not even know you're dead. I tried to come up with some experiments to test whether I was still alive or not. First thing, I took a deep breath. That was successful, cept I think some smoke from one of the tikki torches in front of the bar got into my mouth and I started coughin somethin awful. It was one of them coughs where you expect to blow somethin out at any minute and think that you're prolly gonna have to reswallow at least one lung when it's all over. Course, that didn't happen, which is good. I mean, maybe I'd try breathin my lung in and it'd go down the wrong pipe and then what would I do? I couldn't cough, because my lung wouldn't really be workin, and I couldn't finish swallowin in because then my lung would be in my stomach and both would probably be wrecked. The worst thing would be if I really were dead and I had to walk around the underworld with all my organs in the wrong place because I stood a little too close to the torch. I spose I get a bit morbid when I think about death. I blame too many action films, myself. That and all those stories Uncle Rudy told me about the time he spent as an organ courier when he was tryin to get work as a juggler. That sorta stuff stick with you when you're six.

That first experiment leadin to no conclusion, I decided to just throw it all on the table. Ask the man in the white suit. That usually works in the movies and books, doesn't it. Well, except that "Heart of Darkness" book. In that, Kurtz prolly shouldn't be trusted, and I'm pretty sure he's wearin a white suit.

It was Lindbergh that broke my spell. "What can I get you to drink?"

"Am I dead?" I blurted.

"Let me see," he said slowly, "I don't know how to make that one. Is it a rum drink? Something like a zombie, but with a little extra?" He walked towards the bar.

"Wait, wait," I grabbed his shoulder. It felt real enough. "That was a question, not a request. Have I passed on? Am I crossed over? If I was a dog, would some parents right now be tellin their kid that I'd gone to live on a farm where I could play and be happy?"

He waved the question away like it was a fly trying to get into his drink, "Nah, nah, it's nothing like like. Have a seat."

So I did. He brought me a plate of smoke pork, which he said was cooked in the sand, and a beer, which he said I would need.

"Eat up," he told me, "we'll talk better on a full stomach."

I ate it all up. I hadn't had nothin to eat since my morning donut just before I went to help Dale move that box, and that seemed like an eternity ago. I must have eaten an entire pig myself. I devoured everything but the oink, and I was plannin on makin a sandwich out of that the next day. There really ain't nothin like a good fried oink sandwich with some brown mustard and swiss cheese. If you want it at its best, you gotta get a fresh oink and double batter it. That's a little somethin I learned from Uncle Rudy.

After I was stuff to the gills, Lindbergh asked me, "Are you ready for a chat?"

"I ain't movin outta this here chair, if that's what you mean," I told him, leanin back and unbucklin my overalls.

"That's close enough to what I mean," he leaned back, too. "First of all, Pat, I want to apologize to you. We didn't tell you everything that was going on, and that wasn't really fair. You see, what we told you about Clan Platypus was only partly true."

I was skeptical, "You mean they ain't a bunch of ninjas tryin to take over the Earth usin meth?"

"Oh, no, they're most certainly that," he confirmed. "But they're much more than that as well."
He leaned in and told me the most incredible things. I don't remember his exact words, so I'll just kind of sum up for you.

It seems that we live in a pretty big universe. It's sorta like this. Take the Mississippi river and count all the grains of sand along its banks, then, make each one of them grains its own Mississippi river and say that each of those grains of sand is as far as we could possibly see with the most powerful telescope (Lindbergh called this our 'light cone'), the result is about a billionth the size of the known universe, apparently. He told me that the universe itself is actually infinite, but the known universe is all we're concerned with. I nodded as if I understood this, much as you may be doin right now. If you're not a physicist or whatever, I'd say don't worry too much about this here technical stuff, just know that we're talkin big like my Aunt Sally's beach ball booty.

Lindbergh told me he'd discovered this about 1953, just after he got the formula for the sea monkey and sweet potato burritos he's gotta eat. He worked out that there were a staggering number of planets that could hold life within that big of a universe and he started workin on how to get there. It took him two years, but he did it. By this time, the pork had made me all sleepy, so I didn't exactly catch how he did it, but it was a combination of machines and drawin lines with chalk on the floor. He showed me a couple diagrams and everything, but I ain't got a head for them things and it all ends up feeling like lookin at other people's vacation photos. You wanna act interested, but you equally just wanna go home and watch whatever game's on until you fall asleep in your recliner.

Problem was, he told me, that everywhere he went, Clan Platypus had already been there and messed the whole place up. The Clan had been working for near on a century to not only subjugate Earth, but to take over the whole universe with their crazy drug schemes. Well, Charles wasn't havin that. He'd been workin for the last 50 years to push them back on every planet he could reach. He learned how to fight ninjas, how to cure meth addiction, and how to get out of tight spots. He also said he recruited people to help him in his fight. There was about a hundred currently working.

Then he went on to tell me McClawenstein was not actually my neighbor Dale. He'd actually gotten Dale hooked on meth and sent him off to the Clan Platypus labor camps to dig up rocks and clean tile and other stuff that needed doin. I sure felt bad for Dale. He was a pretty nice guy. I gotta admit that I felt some relief, though. I'd been feelin guilty all this time that I'd never noticed my neighbor was a half man, half lobster thing. I felt less bad about that, but more bad about Dale himself. Win a little, lose a little, I guess. McClawenstein was really a distributor for Clan Platypus, that much was true, but he wasn't just a middle manager. McClawenstein had worked his way up to be worldwide distributor for the entire Earth. When I heard that, I realized I'd been in quite a deal of danger in that living room, and not just from bad coffee.

"Thank goodness the danger's past, huh?" I asked Charles.

"About that," he was tryin to measure his words carefully, "you're still in danger. You see, in my research I have found that McClawenstein has gained the ability to send people to different Earths with his flatulence. Every time he went to the kitchen during your discussion, he took another ingredient he needed to send you off. But, the squimonk and I have been working on a way to interrupt the journey and we tried it for the first time on you. The system isn't perfected yet, though, and we can only hold you here temporarily before you go to where he was trying to send you in the first place."

"I'm guessin that's nowhere nice," I sighed.

"Too true," he nodded.

"So, what do I do when I get wherever it is I'm bein sent?"

"Take this," he slid a button across the table. I picked it up and saw it had a picture of a big furry crab on it.

"What is it?" I asked.

"This is the official button of Clan Coconut Crab, Douggie's clan. They also are trying to stop Clan Platypus' universal domination. Wherever you go, you can seek them out. It also has an FTL transmitter in it so we can find out where you are, but it may take awhile."


"Faster Than Light," he explained, "it's the only way to communicated across the vast distances."

"Oh," I sighed. "One more question."


"Why is everything gettin all see through all of a sudden?" It was like the whole world was a fresh water color that'd been dropped in the tub. It was all bleedin out.

"You're moving on," he told me. "Good luck, Pat. Be safe."

And with that, everything went black again.


kaploy9 said...

No one did the Vulcan Salute? Eh, I guess not every half-dimensional Earth or whatever's heard of Star Trek.

Niffiwan said...

"I'd say don't worry too much about this here technical stuff, just know that we're talkin big like my Aunt Sally's beach ball booty."

-the ridiculousness of that line just about killed me.

P.S. For "Are you ready for a chat.", there should be a question mark on the end.

Pat O'Neil said...

Indeed it does.