Sunday, April 23, 2006

Chapter 11

[Author's note: this is really getting rough as I attempt to crank out the rest of the first pass in the next 5 weeks.]

CHAPTER 11
It was Jess who’d figured out that they each had eaten the sesame noodles from the SuperQ the day before, but that this was the only connection discovered didn’t make it any more plausible as an explanation for their strange superpower-like abilities.

“Don’t they make that shit everyday over there?” said Tad. “See, and I would never buy it because that whole store is so overpriced. Five bucks for Ghirardelli chocolate chips? Give me a break.”

“Yes, Tad, the whole city knows you hate SuperQ,” responded Adrian. “But obviously something was up with that batch, dude. Unless you have another explanation.”

“The question is, why that batch.” There was obviously a linkage Jess was missing here.

Adrian wrinkled his forehead as she thought. “We may never know. I think what we need to figure out why we got what we got and where we go from here.”

“Agreed,” said Jess.

“Whatever,” said Tad. “Someone tell me why I don’t get a special power. No proof of purchase?”

* * *

Dan actually enjoyed pissing all over the dog run on 17th Street in DuPont. It was such a “fuck you” to all of the heterosexuals and their baby strollers, something he never could do as a human being. In fact, being in the body of a shakey, adorable Chiuaua had its advantages. There was clearly a downside, however, specifically that Miss Haughty had no idea how to pick up dog poop, and this cleanup was mandatory in the District.

“Hey, mister, clean up your dog’s poop!” Miss H. looked on at Dan and smiled, drooling a little. This was not the same location as the increasingly irate man, who now was pissed off at being ignored.

“Hey, I’m talking to you,” he said, walking over to Dan and his new master, and pointing at the steaming pile of shit. Miss Haughty looked up at the commotion, not registering that this man was any danger to her. “You! What is your motherfucking problem?”

Miss Haughty looked at the man in his cargo pants, Michael Korn wool sweater, Kenneth Cole black leather shoes, and emo glasses, and thought nothing other than maybe he wants to pet my head. “Hello!” And she stood back and smiled.

“Yeah, Hello. You can’t just walk away without cleaning that up,” he said as he pointed more strenuously at the excrement.

“Hello! Hi,” said Miss Haughty.

“Jesus, do you speak English?” This was not going well, Dan tried to tug on the leash to lead her away, knowing it would be unhelpful.

“Hi! You so cute, Miss H!” Oh good grief, his dog was a parrot. She felt the tug on the leash and instinctively started walking away, following Dan the dog. The angry man started to go after her and then his anger started to fade. Fucking foreigners, he thought. We took back DuPont from the goddamn queers and now there’s a whole new wave of assholes to defend against.

Dan realized he’d have to teach Miss H. a few things before they ventured outside again.

* * *

Sandra assumed it was the blow to the head the day earlier that had given her this precognition thing and that was now responsible for the pounding headache she felt. She’d checked the pulse of the girl, which was fine. More than fine, given the circumstances. Strong and even and not the pulse of someone who should have been in shock.

She leaned back out of the car, oblivious to Richter who was sitting somewhere in the middle of the car between the front and back seats, and dialed 911. “Where are you guys,” she hollered, “I called you about this accident 6 minutes ago!”

“Um, we just hung up, Officer,” said a rather surprised-sounding dispatcher.

“What?”

“We just hung up. They’re scrambling to get to your location. North side of Lincoln Park, correct?”

“Um, yes. That’s it. Thanks. I’ll call back if I need anything.”

“Sure, ma’am.” The line clicked, and she could hear her own breathing. She pushed at the phone buttons to get to the main menu.

OUTGOING CALLS

911 TODAY 2:41p.m.
911 TODAY 2:40p.m.
Cece YESTERDAY 3:19p.m.

Holy, holy shit. The whole world was coming apart at the seams. Or perhaps it was just her.

* * *

Pendacles transported himself nearly instantly to the observation deck in Richter’s lab. Maybe someday this would be his. Well, not while Richter was still around—which he would be, would always continue to exist, since that was the set he was from, now wasn’t it. Pendacle’s rambling thoughts were interrupted by Richter himself, screaming at him because he hadn’t yet contacted the Ringmaker to say he was ready for his orders. Orders, now that’s a laugh, Pendacles thought bitterly. One of these days . . .

“Yes, sir? I’m here, indeed.”

“Well? Look out the damn deck and tell me what you see!”

“See, sir?” Richter was being obscure again.

“The streams, you ratty shit for brains! What is happening with the streams?”

Pendacles was not very good at reading these. For one, they were faint and wispy, and tended to move quickly, like a heavy rain of small droplets. To him they looked mostly like a fog or mist. “What do you want me to look at exactly, sir? There are lots of streams.”

“Oh, to the bowels of Zoltar with you, you’re completely useless! Are there clusters? What colors do you see where?” If only the screen would work from the planet’s surface, then he wouldn’t need the little sycophant.

“Um, colors, clusters, yeah, let’s see . . . “

“Out with it!” Richter was beginning to register that he was inordinately angry at Pendacles. He was angry that Helfigar had assigned the worst thinker and practitioner to this very important task, he was frustrated that Pendacles’ suckiness was everything he’d heard it was, and he was outright beside himself that things were getting out of control because of the little shit. If he’d been allowed to bind him into a ring, he would have done it by now. But that was a rule that came with a very painful punishment, and even Richter wouldn’t chance that kind of outcome.

“It’s just all a mess, Ringmaker. Some orangey streams in Western Africa, a lot of gray in southern Chile, several what do you call it – teal – streams on the east coast of North America.”

“That’s it—North America, tell me about those. What are they doing?”

“Doing, sir?”

“Yes, ‘doing’ you dumb ass! Describe how they’re moving!” He was going straight to Helfigar’s after this was all resolved, and telling him that Pendacles should be put on electron duty, cleaning up the xanosphere of junk. For eternity.

“Um, they’re . . . converging, I guess you’d call it. Yes, converging. Together.”

Oh, dear. That’s bad, very bad, thought Richter. It meant that the Chain Reaction of Unraveling had begun.

* * *

Juliet was lost. She was lost and trying to find her way out, but given that she was lost, she didn’t exactly have a good inkling for how to get out or where she was going, or how she would even identify or plan a way to move from being entirely confused to being her old self again. Whoever that was. She could barely remember her name at this point, but she’d felt acutely a hand on her wrist. It was like a sudden rush of pain and pleasure and knowledge and joy and color and energy. She wanted more of that. She just had no idea how to receive it, or where to go to find it.

Outside of these thoughts, the woman behind the wheel suddenly regained consciousness. She sat up, rather slowly, straightened the head on her neck, and opened her mouth.

“You. Are. All mine.”

* * *

“Well, maybe we can figure that out if we figure out why Adrian and I are so affected.” Jess wondered if there was maybe no reason whatsoever for the why or what of who had been affected in what way.

“Well, santorum is kind of a strange power to have, don’t you think,” asked Adrian.

“This is true.” Tad nodded his head as if he thought he were a sage old man, but to everyone else, he looked more like a tired and smaller Jabba the Hut.

“Good point, Adrian.”

“I call him ‘A,’” said Tad.

“Um, yes, but I’d rather other people not do that.” Adrian had said this quietly.

“What, you don’t like it when I call you A? God damn, you never told me! You’re keeping secrets from me!”

“Hey, keep it down over there,” muttered the waitress.

“Oh shut up,” said Adrian, as he moved his right hand, bestowing another orgasm on her.

“Not . . . fair,” mumbled the waitress, who went into the kitchen, leaving the counter unsupported.

“Okay, I didn’t even know what santorum was before yesterday.”

“Oh, so you looked it up once this came over you,” Tad asked.

“No, that’s just my point,” said Jess. “This happened today. It’s like I got the idea of santorum stuck in my head and then I had this power.”

“Okay, now that’s weird,” said Adrian. “My last thought last night—I’m just remembering—was wishing I could bestow orgasms on people.”

“Well, there’s bestowing, and then there’s giving everyone the sex whammyknocker, dude. Don’t you think you’re a little past the line of ‘here’s a small token of my esteem?’”

“Unless,” Jess began, “he just didn’t know how to control it. The santorum was pouring out of me, initially, until I learned how to make it flow and stop.”

“That makes sense,” said Adrian, his brow still furrowed in thought. “Wow, so it’s about thoughts we had last night.”

“Last thoughts,” said Jess. “Santorum was the last thing I consciously remember thinking about, because it grossed me out so much when I read about it.”

Adrian turned to Tad, who was quietly but sloppily stirring his coffee. “So what was your last thought, hon?”

Tad was shuddering inside, remembering the previous evening. “I can’t remember,” he said, staring at the saucer.

He didn’t want to think about causing people nightmares. It was fine as a plot device, but it was not meant for this, or hopefully, any reality. And he didn’t want to be that evil.