|The Story||The Authors|
|Dr. Phibes gently cradled the late Stumpy's head in her arms, blood dripping from the nose and ears staining her white lab coat. She'd only let him off for a moment to chase tennis balls and next thing he took off after some Setter in heat. Oh the humanity! And now the rotten bastard who killed him had left him dead in the street and run off. Dr. Phibes vowed revenge. She would track this filthy murderer and makethem pay for their crimes. Hastily she scrawled the license plate number of the offending car onto her lab coat with Stumpy's blood ( no other writing source being available) and scooping up the poor dog's corpse took off at a run to back to her laboratory and her work. Perhaps, perhaps|
...perhaps I'll persuade Monty out of that costume yet, thought Barbara. Sitting in the passenger seat with the Darth Vader helmet in his lap and his face ashen white form the gory sight of the dea dog, he looked very small: a sad child being driven to a Halloween party. Barbara felt a sudden rush of maternalin from her maternal glands. She reached over and placed her non-driving hand upon Monty's where it gripped the glittering black helmet. "It'll all be okay, Monty. I promise you."
"It will?" He looked at her, bloodshot eyes squeezing the reluctant upper halves of tears all along their pink perimeters. "You really mean that?"
"Cross my heart and hope to die. Say, whattaya say we get a drink, hey? You look like you could use a good stiff one. It has to still be Happy Hour somewhere..."
"Yes... Yes, Barbara, I'd like that." He stared at her with renewed interest, even a shade of disbelief. This your goddamn boss, he told himself. The boss who supposedly doesn't drink... The only person in the world it's harder to hide a hangover from than your own conscience... What the fuck am I doing? But look at her: all woman.
She gave him a wink and a reassuring smile as they swung a right off Haight onto narrow, snakelike Gumberton Terrace. "Where are we going?" Monty asked her.
"A bar called Easter Island. It's an authentic tiki lounge... Martin Denny's led the house band for over fifty years, and I want to share a scorpion bowl with you... Several of them, in fact. I've been wanting to do this for a long time, Monty."
Meanwhile, back in Dr. Phibes' laboratory, a strange thing was occurring...
|Joselito looked around his new (he had just been promoted) control room. He couldn't figure out what was happening. The Weirdness Monitors were going wild, this puppy had a high motion rating but no heartbeat, Barbara's alcohol level was starting to grow, Monty was wearing a Darth Vader suit and scaring people, and several hundred other unexplainable things were happening. Maybe there's a virus in the system, he thought. But even as he thought it he knew it wasn't true. These computers were virus proof. So what was going on???|
"If you think everyone is here for altruistic reasons you're fooling
and your showing an amount of stupidity I thought was beneath you.", said a
smuggly self satisfied William.
"yeah right, those people who are just in the purgatory zone as self made
martyrs knowing full well what lies ahead of them. Knowing that if they just
get the right training and put their time in they'll soon graduate to a company
where they can command a bloated salary, and reminiss about how much they had
to suffer when they were students, paid only by the fact that they were
contributing to the greater body of knowledge used to advance mankind. If
so, then why come graduation do they vanish like lemmings over a cliff, dump
their old habits, wardrobes, and friends, cast off any semblence of ideals they
once pretended to have, and step on the escalator of clones in suits all for
the green paper compensation?" William asked retorically, and then
"I'll tell you why. They key word here is pretend. These people know where they come from. They come from good educated families. Families with the undercurrent of expectations that runs like an underground stream, forever present but never heard or noticed. Not like those other well educated, well to do families where the expecations are blurted out at every questionable opportunity. Those people become lawyers and doctors. But that's another issue. No, these people are only pretending to be like you. I'm surprised they could fool you so easily. Trust me they know from where they come, and they know where they're going. You've been listening to fish stories all these years. You know when someone says they caught a fish this big....", and William spread his arms as if to gesture as to the size of the fish but he accidently bumped over a paper coffee cup.
"Merde!" he shouted as he tried to catch it before it fell over, but in so
he hit the toggle lever on the magnet stabilizer and the coffee spilled anyway.
Terry and William were in the magnet control room of the NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) facility which contained an 80,000 Gauss magnet used to probe the structure of proteins, peptides, and other small molecules. The Gaussmeter shot from 10,000 Guass to 87,000 Gauss and then began to fluctuate back and forth between 50,000 and 70,000 Gauss. They had been careful, according to protocol, not to bring any large metal objects into the room, but the unexpected surge had all the paper clips flying from the desk where they were sitting (and arguing) to the window behind which sat the magnet. In addition, Terry's glasses flew off his face and went sailing through the air, sticking to the window.
Joselito had begun to wonder where he'd heard that higher powers generally
didn't let animals into heaven, and wondered what sort of God would want such
an arrangement. In fact, he thought, maybe God was a virus! Dare he
such a thing? What would that make him? An opportunistic infection? Nonetheless
he wondered if Muffy's body flying about the room was the little dog's last
dance of rebellion, knocking frantically on heaven's door trying to get in
decree of the higher power.
Dr. Phibes' laboratory was directly underneath the magnet. As Joselito tried frantically to access the client database of sentient beings present and past, he hadn't yet figured out that this wasn't Muffy's first time being hit by a car.
|In fact muffy's leg had been broken a few years back early in his professional career as the first Taco Bell poodle. During one of the shoots muffy was placed atop a taxi cab chasing after a woman who had just pulled out of a Taco Bell drive through. The Taxi was supposed to catch up to the woman at a stop light where he would utter "Quiero tu Taco caliente!" (I want your hot taco). However as the Taxi rounded a turn the little dog slid off the car, and was hit by the truck carrying the camera crew. Fortunately only Muffy's leg was broken and could be fixed by the insertion of a stainless steel pin in his leg.|
The real dammage was to Muffy's career as the Taco Bell Poodle. The commercial
was never to air and the dog mascot/ad campaign was shelved.
Another thing Joselito didn't realize, nor did Barbara, was the greater symbolism involved in Muffy's death. As Barbara was driving down the street she had been unconsciously pestered by the persistent needling of Joselito and was subconsciously looking for a way to lose her higher power. It could be argued that little Muffy running into the street and being hit by Barbara was actually Barbara's Freudian attempt to snuff out Joselito, or at least pawn him off on another creature. Nonetheless after hitting Muffy Barbara felt free from the subconscious naggings. Though she felt devastated at hitting the small animal, and hadn't done anything consciously intentional.
Muffy had been wearing his usual leather collar with steel spikes that day. That combined with the metal pin in his leg was enough such that when William inadvertenly flipped the huge helium cooled magnet into fluctuation, the dog began to fly wildly about the room. Joselito, higher power that he was, never payed attention to any of that physics stuff, and was thus terribly confused.
Dr Phibes took the last slug of her manhattan with a grimace. In the corner of
the bar a cocktail trio was doing its best to strangle what little breath
remained in the already much battered corpse of "Body and Soul". The alto
player gulping notes like a dying fish. Tepid applause spilled from the
scattered drinkers absentmindedly by reflex.|
Dr Evelyn Phibes was having a difficult time reconciling herself to the passing of her beloved dog. How could he be gone? So quickly and mercilessly gone. Another drink and she'd return to the laboratory. She still had the body to dispose of, perhaps a plot in the back garden, under the camelias. And then there was her work. She decided that the only course of action for her grief was to plunge herself deeper into her study of electro-magnetic energy fields and haitian voodoo. She was close to a breakthrough. It seemed that the latter involved the ritual manipulation of the former. A few more months of controlled study and she'd have a paper to introduce at the Symposium on Metaphysical mechanics in Aberdeen next July.
So it was after another bracer of Manhattan's and with a heavy heart and a shovel that she at last opened the door to the lab. (Under the camelia's being decided upon as the final destination.) There was a whoosh and a flash of movement past her and with a muffled Marrrroooooo Stumpy was out the door and flying down the corridor. "Bad Dog!" yelled Dr Phibes after him
...It is situations reflecting this degree of complexity — where perfectly
rational explanations overlap each other and pass like ships in the night of
our ignorance, each representing only two of a necesaary three (if not more)
dimensions — it is situations like this in which (wo)men's faiths are tested...
For one is either obliged to open one's eyes to the wonder and grotesquery of
something entirely out of the normal, or one shuts one's eyes and sees only
what one wants to see.
Monty (who did not at all like being misnamed and confused with another
character who is supposed to be fighting the Bagel Gnomes in a whole different
story (which I might add is being run by people without passwords, which is OK
but should not be confused with a story run by people with passwords) and also
did not like being the subject of the longest thing in brackets he had ever
seen outside of a political speech) and Barbara were enjoying their scorpion
bowl when the dead dog flew in.
Barbara. She screamed much louder then she had screamed at Monty's Darth Vader
suit. Then she fainted.
All this sent Monty into a fit of speculation. He seemed to remember a dream he had had after falling asleep last Beer Hour. A terrible dream. A nightmare. Actually, it had started out as a good dream. Barbara had completely changed. She had become a love woman. Like he was a love man. He remembered that, in his dream, he had thought it would be the best evening of their lives. Then the pain had begun. Horrible pain. And Barbara had been standing over it, controlling his agony, standing over him, laughing, as he had watched himself being cut to peices, and screaming, and then, mercifully, he had woken up.
Monty shook his head. You're going crazy, man, he told himself. All this thinking about a silly dream when you have the best woman in the world you have to take care of, and this ghost flying around the room.
But somehow he had this feeling it had not been a dream.
Unlike now,where he finds himself dressed as Lord Vader in a Tiki lounge with
his boss, the uptight recovering addict, lounging and talking small talk which
looks to be leading to pillowtalk when an apparently dead dog, which said Boss
had run down earlier in the evening, comes flying into the bar yipping and
dripping blood and bits of mail. Monty took another long drag on the Scorpion
bowl through the ridiculously long straw and watched the animated corpse of
Muffy pull the toupee off of an elderly gentleman and shake it like a rag,
All in all, the strangest aspect of it was how little anyone seemed to care. Albeit city life in general tends to numb one's sense of outrage and innure you many things that might alarm you in other circumstances. Thus things like rats as big as Sunday hams, the family of four living in the dumpster behind your apartment ala Oscar the Grouch, the quiet guy down the hall with the closet full of human heads, and new special at the Korean restaraunt down the block that coincides with a rash of cat-nappings in your neighborhood become just another part of the backdrop of your life. An amusing anecdote to drop into the casual banter in the break room at work.
So the band played on. (A marimba laden version of "Over The Rainbow" with exotic birdcalls thrown in for atmosphere) Drinks were poured and consumed over idle chatter. Heavy Pu-Pu Platters of Satay and fried shrimp came to and fro from the kitchen and no one gave a second look as a short middle aged woman squeezed into a too tight oriental style gown (presumably the Hostess of the esablishment) ran after the flying dog trying to shoo it out the door by waving a red cloth napkin at it.
Stunned by the specter of a thing not heard of or mentioned since the
very-different-from-now circumstances of her upbringing, Pata, the Tiki
Lounge's manager, reverted to the Maori of her girlhood. "Kuri!" she shouted.
"Kuri maniheko! [filthy dog!] Tupapaku maiheko e kuri paruparu! [Filthy corpse
of a filthier dog!] Whanatu! Rewera e kuri! Whanatu! [Go away! Demon dog!
Begone!] Whanatu!" |
Hearing these words spoken in the precise, thin-lipped diction passed on down to Pata by the sorceror [ruanuku] grandfather who had raised her, the dead dog cocked its head grotesquely on its broken neck and emitted a low questioning whine which soon, unanswered, rose to a full-fledged growl. Moving slowly towards Pata, who kept backing up unthinkingly until she felt her back pressed against the cool glass of the great salt-water tank where the restaurant's lobsters were kept.
And now the dead dog did a thing which Pata had not been expecting.
"Whakatika," it growled — in Maori, no less, in a voice that was almost the
voice of her dearly departed koropapa [grandfather], give or take the few
octaves inaccessible to doggy vocal chords, enough to send a crablike chill
skittering up her spine, because as the dog intoned the word a second time,
"Whakatika!" [Rise!] she understood that itt was not directed to her,
rather behind her. And in the lobster-tank, a strange thing began to
occur. "Kaimona whakatika! Whakatika kaimona!" [Lobsters arise! Arise
lobsters!] growled the dog, and from the bottom of the tank, one by one the
lobsters began to levitate to the water's surface, past the bubbling air-jets
from the filter, snapping the heavy rubber bands immobilizing their heavy
crusher-claws, their razorsharp pincer-claws... The first batch floating on the
surface of the water and then began to rise further, hovering over the tank,
their claws snick-snick-snicking in rhythm with the dead dog's throaty
insistent "Kaimona whakatika! Whakatika kaimona!" — the levitating
lobsters fanned out as new lobsters arose from the tank... and soon they were
all aloft, spread out in formation over the hushed restaurant and lounge, where
even Martin Denny and combo had ceased to play (except for the vibe player, who
was blind, and so continued, blissfully unawares of the danger confronting them
all, he played a haunting solo alongside the clacking snicker-snack of the
lobsters claws, the ghostly notes of the vibraphone imbuing the whole scene
with an air of unworldliness, of a vista inside a vintage glass sno-globe...)
And then (Pata had fainted by that point) the dead dog growled that fateful command — "Huakina!" [Attack!] and the air force of lobsters, in perfect military formation, fanned out over the lovers, the winers and diners and Happy Hour celebrants, and, looking for all the world like an invasion of giant Martian bees, commenced attacking the terrifed patrons...
Instictively Monty reached under the table and grabbed his Darth Vader Helmet
and snapped it into place. Throughout formerly sedate Tse Tse lounge chaos
reigned supreme. Everywhere hapless patrons stumbled about as if trapped in
some "Three Stooges" nether region with angry crustaceans clinging to exposed
noses and fingers. A Malaysian busboy waged a desperate battle with a drink
tray, all the while pleading with the cooks in broken english to let him into
the relative safety of the kitchen. From the porthole, the jaded and
misanthropic cooks just smiled.|
Kitea te Kaikohuru![find the murderer!] barked Muffy menacingly.
Monty shoved Barbara under the table for protection as a swarm of lobsters regrouped for an all out assault. Pulling a decorative canoe paddle from the wall he prepared to make a stand.
A scream shattered the restaurant as the first of their airborne lobsters
attacked, swooping down the separate an unfortunate woman from the loftily
piled ziggurat of her beehive hairdo... Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee she
howled, Mah hay-yuh, mah hay-yuh... The dead dog levitated up into the
candle-laden rafters of the lounge-room, and there, among the stern frowning
countenances of teakwood Maori and Polynesian gods and goddesses, barking
orders in Maori, he seemed the very avatar of all the wounded and pillaged
Edens of the past coming forwards to take the present to task... |
Flying lobsters, swift as gadflies, buzzed down on the patrons, divebombing their useless hideouts underneath tables and behind rattan furniture in the Ti-Ki room... A jet of blood spurts across the room as a man is separated from his left ear, another jet of blood as a woman loses her cosmetically-altered nose... Screams... A counter-offensive from the brave patrons: Monty, an avid softball player, deftly bats flying lobsters out the air with the great oar, sending them spinning into the giant cauldron of boiling water which two of the busboys bravely brought out from the kitchens... On the floor, beneath the tank, Pata remains unconciousness... "Te wahine!" [the woman!] barks the dead dog, and instantly a quintet of aerial lobsters clacks and buzzes in the air around her, crusher-claws going crump-crump, sharp claws going snicker-snack... They are joined by five more, and yet five more... And lifting her by the edges of her clothing each only with their crusher-claws, they bear her aloft... The dead dog descends to nose-level and as if by magic the great dark teak door of the restaurant opens, flooding the terror-stricken patrons with the unreality of the day's last rays of sunlight, and the traffic on the freeway... And then, led by the dead dog, this unearthly procession takes its leave of the restaurant...
Adam has been so focused on batting the lobsters into boiling red oblivion, though that he has neglected to notice the sudden absence of Barb's terrified grip, clutching his thigh like a cave-girl... So that it is only at the very last minute that he looks carefully enough out the restaurant's front door (this as the first ambulances are arriving) and notices that the dead dog's entourage, rising lazily into the eveing's clouds, bears not one female hostage, but two...
"BARBARAAAAAAAAA!" he screams, running to the door, and out it, and down the street in the evening shadow of his unobtainable quarry where it is cast upon the ground from its height of forty, now fifty, now sixty feet in the air, headed eastward, inland, toward the mountains...