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Chap 1.4 - Page 2frangles: Skip book 1: Writer's Bricks

Skip stepped off a stray train of thought whose misplaced tangential nature was so abysmal that it had even strayed away from the well established patterns of misplaced tangential natures Skip was just starting to get used to.  Perhaps in searching for patterns in the chaos--for anything that made the slightest bit of sense to him in the events he could barely remember even having--to write about, he'd underestimated the full complexity of Flutonia's uselessness to those seeking structure and theme.  Apparently the beginning thoughts on how to make sense of the world and its chaos didn't cover the issue of both of them self-updating as piss-annoying often as Java, Quicktime, iTunes, or AOL Instant Messenger.
             Because of the tangential stray thought he'd walked off of, he figured he was already late in doing something he probably should have done back on the train (strange, because the train itself was on time).  For instance, maybe he should have begun describing it in a more down to Earth and mundane manner: its metal, chairs, poles, velocity, rate of acceleration of velocity, and so on.  (This would have been an invaluable segwey to the vaguely Earth-related scenes approaching now being procrastinated even more.)  Further, this stray ride had unraveled the already itsy-bitsy inkling of a hope that anything around where he was had any underlying structure or theme.  Or at least one worth finding or writing about.  His "tangent of thought" (why travel a train of thought when you could be traveling a tangent train of thought, and, oh, are those peanut butter cookies, Mrs. Baker?) had already seemed to torch this hope quicker than he could remember having had it.  Therefore it wasn't much of a loss at all, since Skip seemed to have bigger problems than losing all sense of meaning and purpose in life.  (For instance, regaining it.)
             As far back as he could remember (which wouldn't have been far even if he could remember anything), things would have adhered to a particular vague pattern if the damn train tangent hadn't already rendered them null and void.  First, some random stuff, then a bunch of extra hectic phylical stuff, then a nice break from all the hectic stuff just before realizing the 7-min break had made things even worse.  It also seemed like there was some more stuff that came fourth, or at least would have, had he remembered what it was, why he'd forgotten it, why it didn't work out, or what he could now do about it if it had.
             The lost time unraveled the already-little structure he'd accumulated, and he was sure nothing could now fix that breech in the fabric of space-time.  On the bright side, the fact that the randomness of Flutonia had topped its own bafflingness did seem to adhere to some sort of established plot continuity.  In any case, Skip had no choice but to do what he'd been doing for as far back as he could remember: narrate around with his head cut off in hopes that Nat Geo might buy his evolving documentary on the Continuing Tragic Hell of Creative Writing In Flutonia.

    Skip looked around.  The train station seemed more real and present than Skip could remember remembering.  Perhaps Skip's concept of his setting and perception of his environment were returning as his writing skills and memory came back and his amnesia decreased, or perhaps he just wasn't remembering clearly.  As if to answer him, the train behind faded from thought to something that had already left, into a fully fleeting fallen pillar of air.  The overwhelming feeling that Skip now felt--just about his only one--was that the world needed some sort of character to keep him company.  Maybe a friend, a secretary, or someone pissed at him; at this point, a gorilla with a moderate SAT score would do.  He simply felt lonely.
             "What are you, a schizo?"  In dwelling on his crisis, Skip had barely noticed a faint swirl of air hovering bored above a bench.  Only a ruffling crumpled newspaper and a whirl of dust disturbed only in that spot suggested anything special about it, but it was definitely enough to reveal the presence of something more sentient than a regular gust of wind.  That and the fact that it had called him a schizo.
             It was the first living thing--or whatever--Skip could remember meeting in a long time, and he'd already seemed to piss it off.  Since he had no idea what he could have done and certainly did not want to provoke an argument (since he had no idea what a shaft of air was capable of in a fistfight), he simply shrugged, sat on another bench, and waited for someone more friendly to come along.  The annoyed air, in turn, continued to rudely stared at him as if he was still doing whatever he couldn't remember doing just to annoy him.
             "Would you shut up?  Why the hell are you doing that?  I know I'm annoyed, I don't need you to tell me I am."
             Skip hadn't a clue what the shaft was talking about, since Skip hadn't said anything at all as far as he could remember, but he decided agreeability would be the smartest course of action considering he still didn't know this shaft of air very well.  The fact that it seemed to be hearing voices already brought its sanity into question, so for all Skip knew it could be a psychotic serial killer, or the leader of a local kite biker gang ready to whip out a lightweight pocket knife or 7.62mm assault rifle.  Skip considered that maybe it was proper etiquette when introducing yourself to insult the other person with no good reason, and began the internal debate of whether doing so might buy him a little life insurance here.  He entertained the idea that a little hostility might go a long way with a stray gust of wind.
             "What the f@#$, dude?  Are you like insane or something?  Why are you doing that?"
             There seemed to be some sort of irony going on, since as far as Skip felt, a floating pillar of air wasn't even supposed to be talking, let alone hearing voices or being hostile toward a random stranger.  Since Skip couldn't remember having much experience with irony, he decided there should be three categories of it: verbal, situational, and giraffe.  It was a great trio, but for the life of him Skip still couldn't figure which one this was.  In any case, it was time to test out his counter-hostility theory.  Maybe it would buy him a little kite biker gang respect.
             "Alright, now, what do you mean?"
             "That thing you're doing.  You've been narrating your thoughts out loud since you got off the train.  What the hell is the point in that?  Are you a loony?  Just shut up, OK?  Thanks.  I'm trying to whirl here."
             Skip hadn't even noticed he'd been narrating since he decided he should start.  He'd figured he should live a little before finding something worth narrating about for his fantastic frwoa, but apparently he'd been unconsciously dictating his thoughts.  He must have had uncanny literary skills indeed if narration came like breathing, without even a--
             "What the hell's a frwoa?"
             The air swirl had either given up arguing with him, or sunk deeper into a less obvious ploy to get him to shut the hell up.  Either way, Skip simply played polite.  "I think it means some type of fractal work of art.  I really don't know what that is yet but I'll eventually find out."
             The air frowned, shrugged, and elevated a rubber ball out of its airbag that Skip had just noticed it'd had with him.  He had no idea what a shaft of air intended to do with a rubber ball, or how the air could be strong enough to violate gravity, but he supposed he didn't know much about such things, so he simply shrugged.  The air shaft just hovered the ball blandly in hesitation for a bit, perhaps preoccupied with Skip's last statement, or their encounter in general.  It thought about whatever it was thinking about for quite a lot longer than Skip would have imagined a floating shaft of air could.  The ruffling newspaper and specs of dust within it relayed the equivalent of quite a few permutating facial expressions.  They would have told Skip a lot if he'd had any decent experience reading facial expressions.
             The air finally sighed, either having shrugged the whole thing off, or thought everything there was to think on the matter.  (Or, of course, it could still be working on its ploy to get Skip to switch careers to mimewriting.)  It yawned by spinning a part of its upper body clockwise, then did something akin to leaning back on the wall, then began bouncing the rubber ball on the ground in boredom.  Gravity seemed to kick in each time it blew the ball down, and forget about itself when it went back up, as if someone had recently upheaved its basic mandate and the change was still confusing it. 
             The idea of bouncing a ball almost seemed normal, but what seemed odd was for a gust of wind to be doing it.  Finally, the air-thing missed an upward catch, and the ball simply floated up indefinitely.  Then, in an act of self-preservation, it vanished in a poof of air itself before it collided with the ceiling and had to figure out what do about that.
             "What the hell was that?  What the !@#--  What just happened?"  The air person looked genuinely freaked, as if it was infinitely normal for thin air to be bouncing a ball on the floor, but out of touch with reality for a ball to poof out of existence into thin air.  All Skip could do was empathically improvise.
             "Don't worry.  You're probably dreaming.  I'm sure your standard laws of tangible air gravity and matter will re-form as soon as you wake up in your air mattress to your favorite morning alarm radio station.  Or the morning weather, or whatever."
             "I'm... I'm dreaming?  Just my luck!  Though that would definitely explain quite a bit since the train dropped me off a short while ago.  Actually, I think I saw you come off earlier when I was only a couple specs of dust.  And come to think of it, another time or two while I got substantiated just enough to blow that candy bar wrapper over there a half inch.  You probably didn't even notice me.  Now I'm this, almost your size, and I really don't think I'll like the boring life of watching myself grow into a deadly hurricane."
             "Doesn't sound too bad, except for the part of becoming the mass serial killer I originally mistook you for."
             "...Then, of course I'm sure it'll just go down hill into old age, after which I guess I'll just poof out of existence entirely.  Or maybe when the hurricane gets so big that it vanishes into the vacuum of space once I get past the sky's upper atmosphere.  Yah, I definitely wish I wasn't a gust of air.  Why can't I be something more real.  More useful.  Or at least attractive or something.  How the hell can I get a date like this?"
             "I think I'm developing a similar sense of purpose.  While I can't remember all that much, my memory also just goes back to about when you whiffed into existence.  Since then, if memory serves at all, the only thing that's happened is a bunch of random nonsense.  I think I'm supposed to be finding some sort of pattern or theme in it all worthy of manifestation into a frwoa topic, but all I've come up with in the last minute is the situational irony of things having gotten much worse since they started making some sort of sense.  Not to mention then meeting you."
             "Well, I suppose we could hang for a bit or something.  Maybe you or me will think of a way to find something more real to do around here than talk philosophy or bitch at each other."
             " 'I wanna be a real boy, Geppetto!' "
             "Hey, you don't have any beer, do you?  Like a real beer?  I get the feeling this is a place where they only have that light watered down shit.  Hey!  We could start our own bar!  Like a real bar with real drinks, y'know?"
             "That's not a bad idea.  Yeah, we could actually start something genuine.  Some place where people can just sit down and have a nice, hard drink without worrying about having to think so much.  Just think what that could lead to.  A cumfy bookstore, or a whole national cafe franchise."
             "Or a whole busy square of all that!"
             By now, the whole station atmosphere did not like where this conversation was heading.  It had silently tolerated the its subtly dangerous direction, but now spoke up to express its full concrete loathing of a search for tangible meaning, in the most down to earth way possible.  Maybe it was Skip's imagination, but the surrounding station air seemed to sway its "IMAGINATION STATION" sign hanging above as a restaurant owner might to a "NO SMOKING" sign.  This seemed to tick off Skip's new acquaintance, which, in response, grabbed a discarded half-empty bottle of Powerade and splash-chugged it where its throat would be, mimicking the cliche image of every established, marketable sports drink advertisement in history, in the most unoriginal way fathomable.
             Clearly, it hadn't factored in its lack of a digestive system, because now a half-bottle of Powerade was struggling to maintain its distance above the ground.  It couldn't spill, because it knew that that would violate the idea of having been consumed, yet its mid-air floating where the ball had gone up and down seemed equally strange.  It seemed to comprise some strange nexus of the situation, being the current point of conflict in the area.  In addition to the external attention, it was clueless as to whether to drop to the ground and violate the suspended gravity, or just flush itself out of the air person's body somehow.  Not to mention the presence of a confused friter and the ghost of a ball that was unsure if it had some sort off unfinished business to haunt before it bounced off permanently to purgatory for judgment day.  To boot, the pressure on the drink's decision was increased by all of their own hovering frwoa writers, who were just as unsure where to go with the scene as the characters they were writing about.
             All of them waited.  None could imagine what was supposed to happen next between entities so intertwined with bizarre comedic potential that no jokes in particular could possibly be chosen.  Finally, the body of sentient air unwillingly gathered moisture from the sports drink.  It gathered liquid like water vapor into water how a cold soda can materialize condensation from nothingness.  The liquid expanded to whole liters, then finally aouooshed into a rebellious teenager composed entirely of a blue-clear mass of liquid.  The vifa airbag became a nonNike backpack and the empty Powerade bottle a skateboard made of generic brand Crystal Light.
             The kid frowned, as if it wasn't the desired effect at all.  He almost seemed to frown confused... one might even say "frused", Skip fused.
             "Great, I'm a licenseless, acne-prone teenager of water too young to drink.  Just great."
             " 'Kool-Aid, Kool-Aid everywhere but not a drop of beer.' "
             In response, a stronger gust of wind blonked the sign again like a satisfied teacher who had finally been able to send a rowdy student and a lousy TA to the principle's office now that they fell under the school's jurisdiction.  The kid would learn his lesson, because now he was stuck with the abundant imagination of youth, and Skip would have to deal with memories of the days he was open minded and less ambitious for publishable material.  Skip could only think of one thing to think, but somehow the newly formed teenager said it first.  He spoke as if using vocabulary word he'd learned in English last period and wasn't what quite sure what it meant.
             "Ain't nostalgia a bitch."

             As if to contrast the young duo's loss, an old blind lady approached, stabbing her cane in front of her in a manner Skip figured he and his new friend would be doing spiritually for quite awhile.  It looked like she had lost her seeing eye dog, and oddly, Skip wondered what the dog's name had been rather than that of the old lady.  It dawned on Skip that his new companion would need a name, and said as much as the youth was swirlshing toward a vending machine to grab a can of soda.
             "Oh, I don't know, I feel like I just gained a thousand pounds and now I'm the smart fat kid on Stargate Universe, so maybe something about my astronomical weight gain and my search for a good gym and math tutor.  Are people supposed to made of 100% water?  Or less?  At least I'm at 0% body fat.  That's not bad, right?"
             "How about 'Kilo'?"
             "I guess it'll do.  Though I think that's a random prefix or something, not just a word for weight.  That's one of the few things I remembered from science last year in summer school.  You're a writer, shouldn't you know that shit?"  Kilo was now standing at the vending machine which was proudly blinking its increased price per can at him, and Skip simply watched the old lady for lack of anything more inspiring.
             The old lday approached an upward staircase to some daylight above; it almost seemed like an exit from a dark cave of ignorance to the light of day stolen from an old phylical allegory.  Then she paused and turned backward.  She only got as far as the soda machine before heading back for the stairs, then halted again, as if it would be too horrible a shock to progress into a world beyond the station and find out she'd wasted her entire life away in darkness and ignorance.  Kilo mumbled something at the machine while she started walking 360s in a small circle, then gave her a quick look.
             "Oh come on.  That is so ripped from Donnie D--Dammit!"  Kilo turned back to the machine in frustration.  He tried to kick it for some reason Skip couldn't see, but only managed to splash his foot harmlessly on its "Surfbored Do" front logo over a can of bursting soda and a rebellious "DO THE DO" tagline.  The machine almost seemed to smile deceptively, as if the free Surfbored Do advertisement was its plan all along and it now it had a great marketing trick under its belt.  It must have worked, because the old lady broke out of her 360s, abandoned her quest for nirvana, and got in line for a can of soda.
             "Come on, Water Boy, let's see what light breaks beyond this mortal Plato's Cave."
             "I want my !@#$ing money back."
             He kicked the machine again but it just had the same effect, and the machine smiled as the old lady got more excited for her drink.
             "You can get your fix later.  I kind of have a crisis of some sort on my hands, and I get the gut feeling you'll be in just as much trouble if you don't get up there right now.  I think it involves us thinking up our bar or block or whatever."
             "No.  I'm not going out there like this."
             "Maybe you'll get used to it."
             "Nah; I'll just sit right here until I think myself into something more useful, like a bottle of Pepsi or a keg of tequila.
             "You're going outside, Kilo, no argument.  You can think up there.  And anyway, you're too young to drink."
             "You're not my father."
             "Well, someone has to deal with you.  What if you get drunk and are arrested for underaged thinking down here when you crash a train of thought?  I suppose you're a friend by now, and friends don't let friends think drunk.  Anyway, I feel a responsibility for you, since you wouldn't be here if I hadn't stepped off the train today.  For all I know I thought you up myself at the time just to be a little less lonely.  Anyway, whatever you are, you certainly can't sit around here unmotivated wasting your unproductive youth away.  It's one thing to think up a world you want to live in, and another thing to follow through with working for it.  If you don't get out of here and start doing something productive, I'll just go up and find a judge to think up some legal guardian or intelectual ownership papers, and you'll have to do the same damn thing anyway, except then I'll be the one annoyed.  And I doubt you want to see a brainwiped novelist with no topic for a book due at the end of the day, when he's mad!"
             "This isn't fair!  The other kids get to be cool elements.  Why can't I be a cool element?"
             "You are a cool element.  I think, anyway.  What's your normal body temperature?  You don't have a fever, do you?  I think the flu's going around."
             "Not cool like in temperatre, I mean, like you know, an awesome element."
             "Like God?  That's a little off the chart."
             "An element I want to be!  One worth being!  One that people will look and say, 'God man, cool, that's an awesome element!' "
             "Like what?"
             "I dunno, a dangerous shifting airy amount of heat and light so powerful that it has to be intensely controlled or it'll break free and cause havoc and death?  That'd be fun."
             "Guess that's a step up from a splurshy rebellious youth in coolness, but it also seems a backwards step back into something airy and formless.  Anyway, you'll have to figure it out yourself for awhile, I don't seem to be any better at thinking this place into reality than you are.  Or than the Powerade was that matter."
             "Dammit, I don't want to be a teenager.  This isn't fair."
             "Life isn't fair, Kilo.  But you're old enough to work your way towards a more dangerous and satisfying element if you want.  It's your life.  You're just going to have to work for it.  Now come on, let's find that bar, I have this intense feeling we're running out of time, but I'm still unclear what we're supposed to be doing and I have a strong feeling a good Coke and Rum will help me think better.  Or at least a glass of water or something, I'm really thirsty."
             Kilo stared statue-still at Skip like a pillar of implosively pissed lava.
             "Oh, well, you know what I mean."

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