|The Story||The Authors|
|Sopocles - the name rang a bell like a distant memory. Oh well, never mind the guard thought, there's more important things to be done.|
|Like washing the dishes, cleaning the car, and finding out who won the World Championship toe-nail biting competition.|
|Norway's omniflexible, 435-pound Jens Lümpen had just taken the toe-biting title for the fifth consecutive year. Across the international sports pipeline ran cries of "cheater" and "steroids!" When interviewed, Jens seemed a likeable enough fellow, but displayed all the manic, paranoid signs of early-onset amphetamine psychosis.|
He spoke often and at great, rapid length of his childhood on the Norwegian fjords, and of how a diet rich in salt cod and liver oil uniquely qualified the men of rural Norway as toe-biters. But when Janice looked at him, his lips said: "12 o'clock, dearie. Don't forget. Don't be late. Who knows, maybe you can save one of them. The other we'll have to gut like a pig, but maybe we'll let you choose which one gets stuck and bled, eh? You always did have a head for crucial decisions in moments of crisis."|
With that, Janice could take no more. She turned the TV off, rolled sideways, and took the shocked but receptive Biff in her arms. "You've spent enough time on my wrists and hands, Mr. Physical Therapist. Now do some work on the important parts."
"Yes, ma'am!" he said, beginning to unbutton her blouse; and as she ran her glittering new digits through his chest-hair, she wondered if he (let's face it, if they: men) would find being touched by titanium fingers a turn-on or a turn-off.
She'd just have to dive in and find out. After all it was only 5:30. She still had six and a half hours to kill.
|But then she suddenly remembered that they, in fact, were not in New York. "Biff, I just remembered I have to catch a plane." Janice said as she pulled on her shoes. "What?" Biff asked, confused. "I'm sorry, my love, but I must go." she reached to gently stroke his cheek but having not mastered her new titanium fingers, she accidentally chopped his head in half. "Damn! I hate when that happens!" she exclaimed. "And he was the only person I could talk to her understood my morse code voice!" Janice sighed and shrugged and then left the apartment. Once on the street, she hailed a cab and got inside. She handed the driver a scribbled note that said 'take me to the airport'.|
|The Driver Slid Seamlessly Into Traffic, And Off They Went. After About Three Hours Of Driving, Janice Suddenly Realized They Were Nowhere Near The Airport. In Fact, They Seemed To Be In A Quaint Seaside Fishing Village. Thinking This Just The Slightest Bit Odd, She Leaned Forward To Inquire The Driver About Current Matters, But To Everybody's Surprise, There Was No One There!|
"Holy spumoni!" She exclaimed. This must be one of those new test driving systems where cars control and drive themselves by sensing information about road conditions from magnets burried within the road itself, and sensors to keep the cars spaced evenly apart. Perhaps she could modify her Palm Pilot to pick up the information in the road and find out where she was going. After all, the magnets in the road simply serve as a form of morse code to pass general information about the road to the car's onboard computer.|
She remembered from physics that passing a magnet over a piece of metal causes an electric field to be generated, just like in a generator. She took her palm pilot out of her purse and called up a little program she'd written as an exercise in a basic survival class. The program simply detected and recorded electrical changes on the input port of the Pilot between pins 3 and 7. She removed a bobby pin from her hair and scraped off the liitle bit of black paint to expose the bare metal. Hopefully she could find some part of the floor that wasn't covered by a metal plate, because that would shield the magnetic signals. She held the bobby pin to the pilot and carefully scanned different parts of the floor. Suddenly she saw a pattern of pulses appear on the screen of the Pilot. Jackpot!
|The pulses on the screen of Janice's Palm Pilot changed to a jumbled mass of green and black dots. But before she could get to discouraged the jumbled black dots began to take shape. They came together to form the face of Kurt Loder. The Palm Pilot began to beep in morse code. The message was something about a rapper being shot and a Spice Girl or two being pregnant. Janice stared hard at his moving lips and the true message came through. "Janice, you now have 3 and half hours to get here. For each minute after midnight that you are not here, we start chopping off limbs." "Could you start with Demetrius?" Janice beeped but it was too late. Kurt Loder's face dissolved into a mass of dots and then the mass of dots gave way to the pattern of electrical pulses that the Pilot had been detecting from the electromagnets in the street. How was she going to get this taxi to the airport? She didn't even know how to get to an airport from here. She didn't even know where here was. She stared at the pulses again and tried to figure out their meaning.|
|Was she halucinating, daydreaming, or had she really seen a message from Kurt Loder? Probably daydreaming, she thought. But she wondered if perhaps it was an intentional daydream. Perhaps Kurt was trying to communicate with her subliminally. She toyed with the suggestion, but not being one to dwell on the paranormal she focused her thoughts on the data she was collecting. She loved to collect data, though she usually did it under more enjoyable circumstances.|
While staring at the data, her thoughts wandered. She thought back to the moment when she entered the cab. She had thrown her note to the driver without even really looking to acknowledge his presence. She reminded herself to be less arrogant in the future. She detested arrogance in others, and now her own expression of it had put her in this mess.
She had collected a few minutes of data by now and decided to see if she could run another program to make sense of any of it. She hadn't been paying attention to where the car was going or where it had been. The car began to slow down. She looked up from the back seat and found herself approaching a moderately busy intersection. When the car stopped she tried the door and it was unlocked so she quickly jumped out. The car continued on and she tried to blend in to the people walking on the street. Getting to the airport was still on her mind.
|It was still on her mind when a uniformed police officer stopped her about two blocks from where she alighted from the cab. "Is this the woman? queried the cop. "Yes that is the one who ran from my cab, she owes me $29.00 I’d know her anywhere" whined the aging cabby. "All right what have you got to say lady, this guy says you jumped from his cab without paying and it looks like you were trying to get away, we’re lucky to stop you." accused the cop. Janice was speechless never mind cashless. "Ok I got no time for silent broads, turn around now." ordered the cop. Janice was cuffed and read her rights and within five minutes was on her way to jail.|
|"Listen, you've got me all wrong! I was alone in that cab, there was no driver! I'm telling you I had to jump out before it crashed at that intersection. You have to let me out of here, I have to save my friends before Kurt Loder chops off their limbs!" Janice begged. "What the hell is all that noise?" said the cop. "Are you making those beeping noises? You better knock it off!" he ordered as the car came to a halt at a stop light. Janice could she was getting nowhere with this neanderthal so she decided to take matters into her own hands. Her titanium fingered hands that is. Using her shiney metal fingers she broke free from the hand cuffs. When the cop turned to see what she was up to she gave him a Moe Howard style eye jab. The cop screamed in agony and blood poured from his eyesockets. She threw him out of the squad car, jumped into the drivers seat and sped away.|
|She looked at the clock on the dash. It read 11:49. Eleven minutes she had to get all the way across town. Eleven minutes.|
|A ringing sound came from the floor of the passenger seat. She looked down but all she saw was a shoe. She stared hard, searching for the source of the ringing, and finally had to admit that the ringing was in fact coming from the shoe. "Ah, a shoe-phone!" she realized. "I've heard of these in the funny papers!" She turned the heel on its hidden pivot, and there was a vid-screen. "Ah, even better," she exclaimed, suddenly happy for the first time that evening since Biff had gotten her off twice in a row with just the tip of his nose; "a shoe vid-phone!" She clicked the On button and the screen lit up.|
On the tiny shoe-vid-phone screen, Doc Smack stood, smiling sheepishly and wiping away a great black raccoon-circle from around each eye with a towel. He was bare-chested, a great many oriental and occult-looking tattoos in full display, and around his neck lay a half dozen heavy gold and silver chains from which hung pentacles, iron crosses, and stylized runes. As he drew back from the camera to hang the towel over the back of a chair, she noticed the baggy chain-mail surfer shorts he was wearing, and she suddenly experienced what the japanese refer to as satori -- "the kick in the eye" -- instant revelation. MTV earler that afternoon. The awful music. Doc Smack. Doc Smack was Ozzy.|
He looked at her, winked, and began to croon "Mr. Crowley," but as she read his lips she found a markedly different story emerging. "The house next door..." she read. "Abandoned. Go the the attic. Climb out the northwesternmost dormer window in the attic and it's an easy jump to the widow's-watch of the house where Tiki and Demetrius are being held. Tiki's the one they want, and they'll torture Demetrius to get her to talk. They'll torture you, too. Beware. Beware especially of the Iron Sausage."
The screen went blank. Janice sped through the night in the stolen police car. The clock on the dash read 11:56.
|She couldn't believe it! She was getting away! All of a sudden......|
|the sky opened up and poured torrents marbles, cold like hail.|
They bounced off the windshield. They clattered off the roof. "It was a dark and stormy night," thought Janice to herself, glancing once again at the LED numbers of the clock glowing green and ocular from dashboard. 11:55. Fuck, she cursed, knowing she pull over on account of the ever-harder hailstorm, but slamming her foot on the gas instead. Only four blocks to go. Only five minutes. Only her two best friends, one about to be butchered like a pig. Fear roiled in her stomach, souring it even further. Hail pounded on the windshield. Two blocks left. Half a block ahead of her, the light went from green to yellow; throwing caution to the wind, she turned the sirens on and floored the stolen police car through the lights.|
In a parking lot on the left side of Elm Avenue, Officer Karl Borgnine (DWM, 32) was furiously masturbating to a copy of Hungry Toothless Nympho Grannies Bearing New Hoover Vacuum Cleaners With Curious Attachments magazine in his squad car when he heard Janice's sirens come on and saw her fly past, recognizing, even through the hail, the telltale dents along the passenger side of his buddy's cruiser. Instantly he had crammed the dogeared magazine under the seat, started up the car, and was off. "Jake," he said over the crackling radio, "Mad Dog [crackle] here. I'm backin' you [crackle] up, over."
|She couldn't believe it! She was getting away! All of a sudden...... any hopes she had of escape were dashed. Mabel Feppywetter knew she'd reach this point in her life when she'd have to face her worst fear. Had she not fallen on hard times and been able to send her clothes out to be cleaned and had the super of the building not installed the new dryer, then perhaps she could have avoided this wretched moment. But the insistent beeping that signaled that the dryer lint must be removed before another load could be dried was forcing her to face her worst nightmare. Her deepseated fear was instilled in her when she was a child. Her father, a struggling sculptor who couldn't afford to put food on the table let alone buy the clay that his art required had opted to use dryer lint to make his statues. Since buyers were scarce for pieces done in such an unusual medium he decided to promote his work by populating the yard with his grotesqueries. Dozens of the creatures, most of them over seven feet tall inhabited the front and back of their property. Malformed and gray, their deformed shapes only bearing the most rudimentary resemblance to human form. They seemed to her a village of evil. And when she looked down into the garden at night from her bedroom window, the breeze made them appear to be moving, looking up at her, beckoning her to join their discoloured midst and be as one with them. ....Quiggley, the small, rabid monkey who perched upon Mabel's shoulder was of little comfort to her. Even though he had been her close companion and confidante for a number of years he was still anthropoidial in his approach to life. Sensing his mistress's fear he took it upon himself to reach into his diaper, pulling forth the contents and flinging poop at the square white beast that was causing her upset. Cursing the tenant before her who had failed to clean the lint trap after their last load, Mabel, with perspiration dampening her armpits and trepidation in her heart, approached the dryer...|
|She was suddenly distracted by the sound of screeching tires out in the front of the house. She looked up to see a cop car parked hastily. The driver was getting out and running up towards the front door.|
Halfway around the globe, renown Armenian Phrenologist, Macer Yagnogian gently massaged the head of his client Grumminy Aswagian.|
"You will be experiencing a strong Greek desire for a certain sheep in the oncoming week, but you must not, I repeat must not wear a lamb skin prophylactic for this engagement. It will not protect you from the mad ewe's virus and will only serve to depress and infuriate the sheep," Macer stated.
|Mabel knew of such worldy things, but she didn't dwell on them too much. Men were an odd lot that she could never quite understand.|
|Mabel watched as Janice approached the house. Janice thought to herself perhaps she could use the cop that was chasing her to save her friends. Instead of going in the front door of the house, she simply opened the door, and then ran around to the side of the house, just in time to have Officer Karl come screeching up to the house in his squad car. Janice was in luck, so far.|
|Mabel enjoyed watching A&E and especially things like Unsolved Armenian Adrenaline Mysteries but found her attention focusing on the figure racing up the walk from the police car. It was a woman and not a uniformed police officer . Janice reached the door and in her haste snapped off the door handle with her right titanium hand. "Damn I’ve got to stop doing that," she mused as Mabel opened the door from the inside. "What you want? queried Mabel as she attempted to restrain Quiggley the monkey. "I, uh need your help, uh please let me in, I uh, …oh what interesting sculptures…. Yes my name is Janice and I’m with the Art Police and we’re in the neighbourhood checking for errant art" Janice had a amazingly quick and inventive mind. Janice had almost closed the door behind her when Officer Karl Borgnine burst into the room. "Jeez will ya look at the hunk’n dust bunnies, what kind of shit is this crap? breezed the porcine constable. Mabel grabbed her 12 gauge from behind the couch.|
|Silence covered the room like a fresh snowfall broken only by an unapologetic burst of wind from Officer Borgnine's pants. He hadn't notice the shotgun. He was much too busy observing the onanistic antics of Quiggley atop a particularly hideous green plasticene sculpture that resembled the result of squeezing a thousand tubes of toothpaste onto a Medieval coffee table and then shellacing those results. Janice merely sighed. This had not been the sort of day she had planned on having, but she knew she had to do something. She wasn't about to let herself get blasted away now, and draw her final breath staring at a conceptual artwork consisting of two dead flies floating in a thirty gallon tank of blue formaldahyde entitled "Summer Siesta Series # 83. It just wouldn't do. Her Aesthetic sense just couldn't allow it.|
|"Is this 8417 Broadway?" Janice beeped. Mabel stared at her blankly. Janice's morse code voice box was really getting on her nerves now and she made a mental note to have the damn thing removed as soon as Bitzy and Demetrius were rescued. Janice quickly found a pen and paper, wrote down her question and handed it to Mabel. Mabel read the note and said "No, that's a block over." The clock on the wall struck 12. "BEEP!" Janice cursed. She ran out of the house, past the lint sculpture, jumped into the stolen squad car and drove around the block. After making a few passes, Janice finally found the building she was looking for. She parked the black and white in front of a fire hydrant and ran into the building.|
|Meanwhile Mable and Officer Karl Borgnine had locked eyes. It was the kind of electric moment that you only read about in really bad stories. "How long you been collecting lint?" swooned Borgnine. "It was my husband… he ah.. he collected it starting back in ’69 during the moon landing," sighed Mable, "he was kinda obsessed but he put food on the table." Officer Borgnine had never experienced anything like this except for magazines. At this moment in time all he wanted was to make love in a cloud of lint. Mabel felt the same way, her thoughts diffused by lint and hormones… she dropped her 12 guage as she moved towards Officer Borgnine. With an enormous concussion the weapon discharged itself mixing the smell of gunpowder with the enveloping cloud of fuzz…ending officer Bornines hopes and dreams but not his life. Janice barely heard the sound let alone Borgnine’s plaintive bellow.|
brownWhen the smoke had cleared and the clouds of dust and lint, stirred by the blast, had settled, Mable -- standing motionless, lint and plaster-dust in her hair and across her shoulders like a freshly fallen field of dandruff -- afraid to move, afraid to look -- redI've killed him,brown she sobbed to herself -- the gently descending dust swirled before her eyes in nebulae, curlicues, and and antic paramecium, falling, falling, tearing away the veil between her lonely past and her lonelier future one fleck at a time, with only silence in response fromt he former bellowing howling figure which slowly began to emerge from the shifting grey ambiguity of the dust-and-lint-cloud, redthe very Cloud of Unknowing,brown she thought, not wanting to know, either, that on the night she had at last met the man who not only allowed her her so-called "perversions" (as her husband had called them, wrinkling his prunelike mouth in disgust), but actually complimented them, responded to them, squared and perhaps over time even cubed them -- on the very night she met her match she had to go and shoot him in the crotch.|
So she was completely unprepared for the specter which the finally settling lint revealed to her, none other than the broadly grinning, hog-jowled countenance of Officer Karl Borgnine, cupping his package with one hand and reaching out for her with the other.
"Common household accidents like that, my dear, are why every police officer in this town is required to wear one of these," he informed her (in a schoolmarmish tone of voice which she somehow, from a place deep down inside of her, knew would ultimately come to irritate the shit out of her at the end of their long, happy life together), unbuckling his police belt and letting it drop to the floor and unbuttoning his pants and unzipping his fly to reveal the handsome black face of a standard police-issue bulletproof jockstrap. For Mable, the joy, the relief, and the desire were as a single feeling which seemed to gently but insistently strip her clothes from her heavily tattooed body with the steady intent of a bath in paint thinner. "Oh, Karl," she moaned, falling into his arms and wrapping herself around him, and together, as one, they fell to the soft lintcovered floor and set upon each other with the unquenchable appetites of rodents.
...Outside the scope of these occurences, red and brown fought it out in true memetic deadlock, each seeking to dominate the other and so be able to spread its colorful message of dread and uncertainty throughout the world. Unfortunately, they were too evenly matched, and cancelled each other out.|
Likewise for the lusts of Mabel and Officer Borgnine; simultaneous, the plugging of a void, the cancelling out of an heretofore uuncancelled Need mewling its lamblike helplessness out across the cold glittering universe.
What remaining were slowing breaths, bodies at rest, and in the aftermath of so many explosions, a resounding calm. Outside the hail had turned to a gentle, warming rain of Tide detergent. The world was getting a much-needed bath. Officer Borgnine closed his eyes, and instead of their usual black, the insides of his eyelids glowed the most beautiful shade of blue.