Quinny lunges her bedraggled sister over to the Grand Oak. Binny is contemplating getting on her knees, her skirt is torn, her face is full of puss, her forehead is crackling open. steam can't escape her ears but there is steam everywhere from the general malaise of the person crush at the site. the poor Tree's branches are squeezed thin, suckling mouths the world over. the intense heat radiates in zigzag lines across the plain to form a video screen of crooked bursts which interferes with the drones' signal.
Binny: what is comes down to is the image. you have an image of what a particular grouping of letters looks like but what if it's not a word? what if it's a new word, a foreign word, or just a word that escapes your limited knowledge? there are so many things out there, people who've never heard of who have a million youtube followers, foods you'll never taste, places on islands who'll always pass on your tiny raft. for instance, what does a red shack look like? see? you do see, you have an image of this red shack in your mind, but you google it and see what the computer's image is to make sure. that's beginners', but it gets intermediate and immediate. what does big c, winsome, collapsed integrity, dusty fireplace, broken poker, laundrosat, bytology, impossible infrastructure, carrion cartridge, poley, wuwu, ewkfehf, slide step, marijuana pan, egg time, clean dirt, happenin' robot, supercat, disco diamond, watching watch, turncoat turbine, mowerer, road to nowhere, state reserve note, small globalization, jumbo shrimp, matterhood, pink leaf, the color of binary, forced friendship, difficult and/or tough conversation, slook, chariter, sad cabin, rat germs, fair markup, tiny hiney, honourable mention, specific permission, scientific permission, bothy, either or or, everything, and nothing
look like? google it. the pic or it never happens.
Binny is bleeding from the gash on her forehead so pristine it looks like another furrow, her blood turns gray like motor fuel.
Binny: errors 101, can compute too much. o sun please let me not look upon thee anymore, i can't look anywhere anymore for fear of happening to glance at another unknown word. i shut my eyes forever and let my black imagination sort out all the noise within my thinning brain stem.
through all the commotion and crowds, Quinny spies one little niggle of a small twig coming from Mother Grand Oak in the back that no one out front notices giving it all it's got, spraying a steady stream of milk in jagged squirts.
Quinny: what a waste. come, hun.
Quinny attaches Binny's mouth to the twig connected to the stem. the healing milk cools Binny's inner controls, putting her red eyes in sleep mode and preventing a catastrophic cascade.
Quinny: you rest, dear. she needs a little time before the reboot.
Uvula comes to to find herself underwater. her cave home is completely flooded, what valuable gold or stones or whatever have all been hollowed out. all that remains are hollows. the place is a watery graveyard but still the beauty of the deep blue ocean shines through the black.
Uvula: have i drowned? is this the one step beyond? no, i think i'm still alive, i peer down and see my gorgeous five-fingered hand, not a spirit with no form.
Atalan swims up to nudge her belly with his nose and squeaks joyously. he's glowing. he rubs his fins and tail on her bellybutton.
Uvula: proud pet, i see my reflection in your eyes. beast of the deep, i am not worthy to witness all of earth's miracles, i can only say i am happy. yes i can only know myself, i can only guess at your thoughts, i am still here and my flesh is wet.
sensing Uvula's weakness, Atalan summons up nearby seaweed and brush which turn alive into sea serpents and cucumbers and carry their queen from her wrists and ankles up.
Bump: are they ready, my lord and savior?
Codrus: yes, they have pickled properly. away.
Bump: where to?
Codrus: no, go away. don't you have a debate or something? not before you finish your homework. be sure to mention Larry David's bright white hair, keep hammering home to the kitchen table that he's too old for the job. that's a kitchen-table issue.
Bump: i probably shouldn't be talking about hair, boss. thank you for your priceless advice.
Kenyatta has found herself lost on the battlefield, in a dense wood setting of naked trees and howls. the drones are firing red and green lasers haphazardly, aiming for her, trying to hit her at least, setting bottom brown and orange autumn leaf piles alight into an unwelcome winter fire.
Kenyatta: if i were a little girl i'd be screaming like a little girl right now. i'm an adult but i feel like a scared little girl right now so what's the difference? it's easy to look at tv and books and blogs and see characters crying for their lives and laugh but when it's actually happening to you in real life it's a different story. there is nothing more real than death.
a mountain lion approaches Kenyatta.
Kenyatta: i know you. i think. friend. you must be with Uvula. thanks. even i can rarely admit when i'm in over my head. my pride is stubborn.
mountain lion: maybe next time don't pick such a cold place for base camp. got separated from your party?
Kenyatta: what's more isolated than an island paradise? i asked myself in my head. the drones got to us there, apparently they have a repair facility on a nearby uncharted island. dumb luck. you can't hide on this planet forever, the elements will get to you. i'm a scouting party of one. not supposed to do that i know but i've never been one for manuals. everyone else is either too incompetent or too loved. it's always better to do things yourself.
the mountain lion attacks Kenyatta's neck with a quickness.
Kenyatta: i was just about to say shouldn't you be a snow leopard?
the mountain lion fits and starts and gets rubbery and malleable and all its DNA helices whip around and transform into Codrus.
Codrus: thanks for the note. always more notes. yeah, probably, still working out the kinks, still reading the manual, new tech for me, i've only just absorbed all of Uvula's power in her cave. btw you've just been injected with two of my tardigrades brimming with my orders, nature's nanomachines. the saber tooth is such a great natural hypodermic needle, too. nature really is the best.
Kenyatta (faltering): damn you. does this replace the one you forced down my throat? i tried everything to get it out, Cotard prayed over my body, i used a kitchen knife.
Codrus: my dear, i fear you can never escape me. you can't get rid of tardigrades, those little guys can survive a nuclear explosion in space! took awhile to develop the new ones that could penetrate you, you are very thick-skinned, you're a tough mama, i admire you for that, you don't get knocked down easily, i made your skin that way in the lab. everyone else in the world is easy. you really thought you could betray me and i wouldn't find out? you gotta read more books. or at least watch more tv.
Kenyatta: my equilibrium is balancing.
Codrus: they're a family of three tards, the perfect union, they're swimming the three of them in a circle, you can't see it but it's so cute. they just needed a family. now your orders and your response will be crystal clear, no more bugs in you. from the start, you were doomed. your life was not your own. i controlled you from jump when that little guy jumped into your ear. you thought you were the daily double agent, betraying the betrayer, pulling one over on the ol' boss. but the new boss is the same as the old boss, there are no bosses, just me for eternity in my Hugo Boss.
Kenyatta: you made me hate myself. i didn't know who i was ever. who was i working for? did it matter if it wasn't working for me? which deaths are the good ones? what is life? i was so smart, i could have done something that mattered. i could have been the mother of an invention. but you snuffed me out for your insane dream.
Codrus: all we are are our dreams.
Kenyatta: what are your plans for me, you sick freak? you won't win in the ending.
Codrus (chewing gum to keep his circulation up): simple. the most destructive ideas are simple. you are to be my gun *evil laugh which icicly reverberates through the white, turning the snow to hale*
from a distance on a snowy hill, Imzhan is lasering in on the site of Kenyatta's capture by Codrus. it's like he's using binoculars but he doesn't need binoculars, his eyes zoom in and binocularize on their own. he takes a banana out of his pocket and bites down on it gently with the peel still on. it's still warm and soft and moist.
Wolf: Mr. Bump, how do you feel about? well yourself?
Bump (on the phone): excuse me, Bear, gotta take this. why are you calling me now? we're in front of live tv! 30 million sets of eyes! oh it's you, boss. yes, i know, i remember, i did exactly what you asked, i didn't use the drones for my own personal amusement, i didn't use their screens to play Ms. Pac-Man, i used them to
SCAN ANTARCTICA, CLICK HERE, RIGHT HERE AT THIS LINK.
nothing but pengwings in frozen blocks of ice.
Codrus: they WERE here, numbskull! i did that scan. but Imzhan's with them so they aren't anymore. where are they going next?! don't answer the phone on your podium, it's too close to the mic, the world will hear, you idiot. didn't everyone agree to no cell-phones? debates need rules or a free exchange of ideas will break out.
Bump: Bump Tower.
Codrus: that's your home page.
Bump: oh, okay.........um........then i don't know........wait, Hoth! Hoth! be careful out there, boss, be careful of the lumbering elephants over there.
Cardozo: i demand equal time!
Bump: gotta go, boss, just ask Anderson if you don't know, he does my twitter.
Wolf: Mr. Bump, fuck you. and by you i mean the system. and you, pipe down, you featherfucker.
Cardozo: you say that as if it's a bad thing. a little birdy told me, my stepmother, that i'm now leading in the polls. i'm the people's parrot.
the in-studio audience and mediaheads and cable-news squawkers all cheer and applaud and howl. Cardozo lifts his wings and shakes his left one with his right one in triumph.
Codrus (on the drone screens): this is CNN Breaking News...
Wolf: fuck you.
Codrus:...ladies and gentlecitizens of the world, be afraid, be very afraid! all this time, who knew? all this time. folks, it's just come to my attention that the numbers in the center of those recycling symbols on the plastics all of you dutifully toss in the blue bin (red bin for some) each week, me and Mother Earth thank you for that, they're not designating types of plastics, they're the number of mind-altering tardigrades inside the plastic product that seeped into your skin and entered your skull upon touch with said plastic product. i know, i know, sorry, it's irreversible, take a moment with your loved ones before you all lose your last moment of coherency and become zombies. if you're looking to blame, Bump wanted to keep out all nasty foreign agents, they're the ones who polluted our rivers and streams, the water used to make water bottles, with their existing too much. too many cooks spoil the broth. they worked in our factories so they worked in our factories. blame Larry David! always blame Larry David for all the world's ills!
Kenyatta is chained to a sterling silver neckshackle on Codrus's neck inscribed with a hollow recycling symbol.
Kenyatta: the fuck? how'd you come up with such an outrageous plan? the whole world? the world is too complicated for this convoluted idea to work.
Codrus: the world is complicated but it could be simple. suckers + sucking = success. the better part of my life actually, 33 years. while you and your ilk were away at your hoitytoity fancyschmancy leftie loony luxurious liberal colleges, i worked for a living. i started out reading religion but Cosmos happened and i turned to science. then some Degrassi mass media arts classes, some Whedon screenwriting, some McLuhan, and you know what? i think i've got religion again. *evil laugh* i'm writing the perfect bible...
Kiss the cat is at the steering wheel of the vw bug that drove our two ladies to the Oak.
Binny's eyes roll up like slot-machine tickers until they settle on her.
Binny: oh my head, so much stuff up there. when did this development happen?
Quinny: remember? Cotard gave away his precious Kiss the kitten to us after Yayray died as someone else to love. to heal.
Binny: i didn't notice, didn't want to notice, refused to notice. all this time. no but i mean with the talking and the driver's license.
Kiss: it's been about two weeks. you seem to be off two weeks.
Binny: this is my second chance. i vow to be a nicer person, more considerate of others. i've always wanted to tell the pleasantly plump greasy man who tends the bakery at the Store just how warm and fluffy his churros are, and how warm and fluffy he is. i love those churros. his apron is greasy cos he works so hard to make them so long and ridged and cinnamony. there's always a problem, though, he's talking with someone like that tatted-up bitch that's always there or he's not there or i'm not there as in i'm not fully focused on the task at hand with my game face on ready to commit like a seasoned actress who's memorized her lines and not busy making excuses to run and not do it.
Quinny: that bitch is his boss. all the world's a stage and everyone its stagefrightened players.
Kiss: sure, i can take you anywhere you want to go now. don't worry, i've made all the arrangements, i've taken care of it. i put the house up for auction. it was a good thing i was able to transform into a mouse and hide in the mousehole.
Binny: our unique one-room house? why would you do such a ratfinked thing? that room was our home.
the heat from the moon is bubbling the pavement off the one road out of there.
Kiss: you seem to be two weeks off.