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Frangles: Kyle Kirby, Book #?
Chapter 1: Home Star Rubix

There is a theory that only the freaks, rejects, and nutjobs have any clue what life is about. This idea stems from the dawn of time, when a drunk, dyslexic secretary named Darlene accidentily created the universe. She had a desk job by the giant blue button floating in the dead middle of oblivion, and the low paying job of filling and filing the paperwork to fund the thing, as it was built purely as a tourist attraction for the same classroom of flutophons that would wander by it once a year. But one day she misread a memo to the only landscaper in nonexistence that began "Tony, put the blue bush..." as "Push the Blue Button."
             This had the effect of ripping apart nothingness into a very large fish tank of bored beings swimming around in 100-proof Smirnoff, like a toddler's imaginary hallucinogen-addicted physics grad student whose theories--by a rare role of a four billion sided die--had suddenly become real. Among other things, it was soon observed that among the googles of fish among this bizarre liquidy fractal of life, only a minority could truly wander everywhere. To these fish, the whole Great Tank was their sandbox. They took paid weekend vacations to every corner, and could tell the local claustrophobic fish of a whole world outside their small caves. They saw life from many different fractal angles, coined "frangles" by a young English major with a minor in mathematics. In some places, these "fish" were revered. In others, they were diseased, whacko deviants. This is a story of one of the latter.

              Somewhere in the dead middle of the fractals of eternity, a boy awoke from a long night's slumber, his curly, chocolate-butterscotch hair matted to his head with a tiny touch of dandruff like the last airy puff of an empty whip cream can.  The night had been a sine wave of nightmares of unending hallways of echoing, mocking voices--some known, some alien--and liquid mirthful dreams of friendly faces and favorite places in a strange white fog.  He ruffled the bit of white out, rubbed his eyes, and shuffled to the bathroom.  He relieved himself and then glanced at his orange and white toothbrush.
              "Morning, Kyle," the toothbrush said, a little groggily, because he had also just woken up from shifting nightmares of being used on elderly, plaque-infested dentures, and dreams of surfing oceans of pure liquid aquafresh toothpaste.  It was strange like that; them waking together, often having similar dreams, but what else would be expected from such a tight bond that an undiagnosed schizophrenic kid and his talking toothbrush shared.  Kyle picked Todd up and smudged some mint Colgate on him and stuck him in his mouth.  This process was slightly uncomfortable to Todd, but somehow he could still speak, like talking with one's mouth full.
              "Soh Kyre, how was yeberday's appomment?"  Kyle's speech was also a little muffled since his mouth was full.
              "Wewll, Dr. Virusso is thimping morf and morf that I might have atteshen depicit disorber.  Whish is juss crazy because, hey--" Kyle yanked the toothbrush out of his mouth.  "--what the hell's that smudge on the corner of the sink?  That wasn't there yesterday--"
              Todd sort of raised his eyebrows, or would have if he had had eyebrows.  Kyle resumed brushing.
              "Okay, maybe I'm A.B.B., but whateber I am, I juss don't thimp it's some kind of sickness.  I mean," Kyle pulled Todd out and gave him his quick morning shower under the tap.  He placed him flat on the sink, and Todd shook the water off himself like a drenched dog, then lay down--paws forward, if he had them--and plomped his head down like a bored pet.  Kyle rinsed and gargled then continued while shaving with a razor that never said much except to remind him when it was time for his replacement.  Whenever his bathroom toiletries were replaced, it was like the seven years when all the atoms in the human body are replaced by different atoms, retaining the same consciousness.  Each Todd was like an identical brain cell of the same guy.  He repeated himself as Todd plomped his head down again.  He'd heard all this many times.
              "I said, is it diseased to be creative and write the funny books and films and bumper stickers and bathroom stall scribbles?  Is it sick to be Einstein or Plato or Michael Ja--well, Einstein or Plato?    Or--who was that Greek guy Susan mentioned that I told you about?
              "Yah him.  Sure, I'm distracted, unorganized, chronically late, directionally impaired, perhaps very slightly delusional--"
              "I get the point."
              Kyle's mind wandered from his razor to his messy hair in which he often tried to pick out patterns like in clouds or inkblots.  "If we were 95% of the population, they'd be the sick people with minds stuck in a rut instead of seeing life from cool new fractal angles."  Kyle had gotten to like fractals in the past year.
              "Frangles?" Todd suggested.
              "I like that.  Frangles."     He rinsed the razor, cutting short its lethargic reminder that he only had two uses left by shoving him in the medicine cabinet.
              "I'd like to see one of those fractal things some day."
              "Too bad you can't see anything.  Oh yeah, and he raised my Zyggobam."  Zyggobam wasn't the stimulant's real name, but Kyle hated real names.  Kyle gave the floss his usual fleeting glance, then moved to leave.
              "Hey, moth-brain!"
              "Oh sorry."  Kyle snatched Todd and slid him back in his holder.
              "Later, Todd."
              He skipped a shower as he sometimes did and ziffed on some Axe body spray instead.  He like the Phoenix scent; he always imagined he was a magnificent red-orange fiery bird getting sneezed on by a gust of scented wind.  He threw on some Levis and a red shirt with a white star in the middle, from an online cartoon character called Home Star Runner, slid on a cap at a random angle to cover his messy hair, and kissed his mother goodbye after a breakfast of Lucky Charms and leftover mushroom-pepper pizza.

              Outside, Kyle bounced onto his bright red bike and started the few miles to school.  He sometimes felt his bike had a narrated GPS system built into it, but it had to be broken or at least severely damaged, because the computer never knew where the hell it was going--which was unfortunate because no matter how well Kyle knew the route to school, he occasionally got distracted and missed a turn.  The thing would just tell him to turn left or right randomly, or inform him that a historical aquarium was coming up on his right, where there was just a slightly leaking fire hydrant and an empty can of tuna tossed on the side of the road.
              Occasionally it suggested he bump off an old lady, and estimated the chances that he could take her out if he hit her at maximum speed.  He was told this kind of hit was worth twenty-six points.  Always twenty-six.  He thought perhaps he was in a video game of moderately frustrated players because he only rarely followed any of their keyboard commands, and because they weren't getting any dead old lady bonus points.  Or maybe the GPS was his interpretation of some alien scientists trying to guide him through a maze, toward some cheese at the end of Main St.  It was just as well he never got there; Kyle detested cheese.
              Sometimes he felt like he was in a game with controls that actually worked, as if someone was holding a playstation controller and that his decision to bike or walk forward or take action was being guided by one of the two analog sticks.  This sometimes took the form of a command in the back of his head that said “touch her breasts” or "you could cheat on this test," or "flap your arms around manically like a distressed, life-threatened turkey."  He figured there was a task assigned to each button, because there wasn't much variety to them.  Occasionally some signals got crossed, and he was told to put on his night-goggles, or detonate his nuclear device.
              Sometimes it was more advanced; he could sense an array of computer settings for his physical and mental attributes and environment.  Occasionally a system operator would tell him "Okay Kyle, we're gonna change a few settings, nothing important," and then he felt the sudden need to urinate, or would feel as if his ethics had doubled and suddenly felt terribly guilty for listening to the voice that had told him to cheat on the test.  These changes always scared him; what if they ever hit the wrong button and deleted him, or teleported him directly into the thirty-seventh floor of a burning skyscraper?
              He suddenly felt a little tired, which could have been the occasional paradoxical effect of the two caffeine pills he had popped that morning.  Or it could have been the lack of sleep from playing online role playing games until four a.m.  In any case it was a little dangerous because he was still biking.  Finally the school approached--without a wrong turn he noted--and he locked up his bike and headed for homeroom.  He was almost late, and the rules were so strict that he could just imagine what would happen this time.

              The bell rung; Kyle was inside the door.  He paused for a moment to sigh his relief, but Mr. Grimm was staring up at him from the desk, smiling.
              "What is it?  I'm on time for once." 
              Mr. Grimm simply kept smiling.  The faces of the class looked slightly troubled.  The girl in the corner most desk nearest Kyle was shaking her head, beginning to weep.
              "Come on, what is it?"
              The girl spoke up.  "Kyle... your shoelace..."
              Kyle gave a yell as he saw his loose converse all-star shoelace was hanging out of the room.  The classroom was starting to whisper to each other, as they always did whenever this happened to someone.  "Quiet!" Mr. Grimm yelled.  He paused only a moment in thought, and his tone was a strange mix of cruelty and sympathy.  "Kyle," he paused, "this is your fifth time this year," and paused again.  "You're to go to room four-twenty-three."
              The entire class broke out in objection, with comments such as "You can't send him there, no one ever goes there!" and "I thought that was a rumor!"  Someone yelled "Kyle!  Run away!  Get out!" and Kyle started to run down the hallway, but tripped on the loose shoelace thirty feet down the hall, and fell right at the feet of a teacher.  He was dragged away to room four-twenty-three, kicking and screaming.  Kids in the other classrooms they dragged him past shook their heads at their desks, knowing what his pleas meant.  Occasionally a teacher would pause in silence.
              A board of twelve teachers, secretaries, and a skinny school nurse, were somehow already waiting, sitting rigidly behind a long, formal desk.  The school logo was etched into a large bronze plague inside a red and black pentagram behind them.  A couple skeletons hung on the walls, their faces seemed in horror despite the entire lack of flesh on bone.  A few candles were lit.
              "Kyle Kirby, seventeen, senior at the Springfield Memorial High School, you have been convicted of five offenses of homeroom tardiness in the first degree.  How do you plead?"
              "Innocent!  I--"
              "You are hereby expelled and sentenced to thirteen years in the high school catacombs, beginning immediately.  Your parents and family will be notified.  You better hurry up, you're already late."  Kyle just stared.  A candle flickered.  "Take him away," said the school nurse, who's only job was to say this line, since these trials rarely involved health issues.  Kyle screamed as he was dragged away, until he reminded himself he was daydreaming.

              The scene vanished in a ploof and Kyle entered his homeroom as the bell was ringing; everyone else was in their seats.  Mr. Mogard looked up at him and gave him a slight frown.  He took attendance, and they listened to the announcements over the speakerphone.  Kyle was always annoyed there was never any news about alien activity or illegal experiments on baby dolphins in Area 51.  The bell rung, and for some reason it was around this time that Kyle thought of people tuning in late to a condensed reality show about his life for the week.

              "Hey Joe."
              "You better get over here.  It's already started."
              "I'll be right there."
              "Bring the beer."
              "Got it."
              "And the Captain Krunch."
              "Hey guys, I'm here, now what the hell did you invite me over for?"
              "Over here, Brett.  By the floating octagon."
              "We wanted you to see this show we've gotten into.  New season, you know."
              Brett looked at the floating living room octagon, a strange piece of technology.  It was just a floating piece of cardboard with eight sides, but when plugged in became a hyperplasma television.  On it now was a short opening patchwork of Kyle's life playing; his birth, his first steps, his first rubix cube, and finally the logo came on; they were bright, orange, slightly bubbly letters on a yellow background.  The letters started to bleed and turn blood red, and the whole screen inverted to night blue letters on a dark, nightmarish screen.  There was a non-sequitur crow of a rooster.
              "Life of Kyle Kirby?"
              "Yeah.  He's this bright kid on an information-aged planet called Earth; he could turn out to be a genius, or a psychotic killer, you never know.  That’s the suspense of it."  The opening was over and there was a commercial for six dimensional 3x3x3x3x3x3 rubix cubes."
              "I guess I'll stay."

              Kyle slept through his first class, and by second period--calculus--had forgotten what class it even was.  He finally swallowed another caffeine pill dry from his bag that he often used after staying up late, or when he needed to focus more.  Kyle sank his head on his folded arms, which was mostly unnoticed since he was in the back row, and dazed off.  The pills kicked in about a third of the way through the class, and he sat up, got his math notebook out in a hurry, and started taking notes.  A girl to his left grinned at this.     
              Their seats were assigned and so he sat next to Susan the whole semester.  She was slightly up a notch from Kyle on the dork/popular chart--Kyle estimated she was a 6.2, and thought himself a 4.1.  She was more normal than Kyle, but still a little bit more odd than an average student.  She was a mild narcoleptic, which Kyle found interesting.  His dreams were so strange, haunted, and yet often mirthful, that he wondered at the notion of falling into these worlds randomly.  That actually made more sense to him.  The universe didn't seem to be a show always on the same channel, but of some god flicking randomly from station to station.
              For some reason this tendency made him think of a butterfly.  Maybe because a butterfly flew in unpredictable patterns, like Susan's sleeping.  Though that didn't seem quite right.  Perhaps it was that he subconsciously thought Susan some rare, colorful creature, despite Kyle knowing so little about her.  A little of her hair was died orange and blue, maybe it was just that.
              The teacher was going on reviewing sine and cosine equations for a student who wasn't fully clear on them.  Kyle thought of the sine waves of his dreams, and of the constant flowing back and forth between this world and all the others.  The student eventually nodded, and the class went back to the day's lesson.  Kyle was quickly bored and flipped to the end of their textbook--a chapter they would never get to--since it was basically a college textbook that was ordered by mistake by the secretary Alice who occasionally got high on pot and lost files, but that was close enough as to cause too many parental complaints or flunk out more than the number of students it was worth to return them.
              The last thing in the book was the beginning of equations for points, lines, and planes; how to calculate whether a line will intersect with another line, and at what coordinates, or whether two planes will collide at some point to form a line.  A voice poked into his head, like someone logging onto instant messenger.  "Hey Kyle.  Want a lesson?"  His name was Pico, he was a brilliant mathematician and philosopher born on Pluto, who had eventually ascended to a higher plane of existence.  He had explained how he had found Kyle on the vast web of meshed and tangled brain waves of life forms in his galaxy, and found him a little brighter than most.
              "I should be paying attention."
              "I have a much higher degree than this guy."
              Pico described that a point in the chapter was like a single spec of consciousness, a complex feeling for a single moment, and a line segment was a stretch of a single attribute of that feeling.  If the feeling were an object, such as a dead yellow chicken, this would be a stretch of chickens between this and perhaps a healthy, living, orangish chicken, through an infinite plethora of half-dead, yellow-orange chickens.
              But a point could also be an infinitely complex thought, and the stretch of it to a line its path along time, or, a stretch of different feelings.  A set of Kyle’s with one different attribute, such as a differently lengthed penis, or more or less schizo, with another axis--another line--needed to extend that stretch of Kyle’s through time.  If you kept adding attributes: age, intelligence, color of your pillow, favorite lucky charms marshmallow, you eventually stretch into all possible feelings, all objects, all life, and all realms and environments, each being some corner of a single, infinitely-dimensioned object, with one final axis of time to give all being an infinite lifeline or timeline, or at least until things started dying.
              At the utter end of these extensions was infinitely-dimensioned space, something Earth philosophers and mathematicians had not sufficiently explored.  Pico told him that what could be done with adding attributes like he had shown could be done starting with the other end–everything there is–and begin subtracting attributes; everything there is that's yellowish-green.  Everything there is that's moderately to very happy and also yellowish-green, and so on, until you end up with a single, absolutely unique and infinitely-attributed point: Kyle Kirby, in a classroom, being taught futuristic math by a crazy voice in his head, looking occasionally left at Susan who was infinitely further down the attentive/diligent axis than himself.

              Two more classes passed.  At lunch, Kyle grabbed a tray, got his meal, and found a couple of his friends already sitting down who shared his lunch block today.  Kyle could never get away from his underlying feeling he had come to realize in high school that some of his friends, or maybe all, were some sort of actors, occasionally coached on how to act and joke with him, their comments as scripted as possible, or improvised when it involved Kyle's input.
              Sometimes a few of them seemed alien-like, people with front row seats visiting Earth, taking various notes about all the students' high school life.  All of these views were like an underlying engine hum, rarely brought straight to conscious thought.  Mostly things just felt like normal high school drama.  What did it matter exactly what was going on?  Even an actor had to have pretty regular feelings, even an alien had to like his pet frog.
              Kyle sat down at the table.  Kyle's friends were in the 3-5 popular range on the 1-10 scale.  His friend Aaron was nibbling at a fluffernutter from his bagged lunch; his mannerisms were a bit lethargic.  "Hey, Homestar."  Kyle glanced down quickly at the starred T-shirt he'd put on that morning.
              "Hey Aaron.  Hey Tommy."  Tommy had his mouth full of mushroom pizza and stuck up his thumb at him.
              "How's Homestar doing today?"  Aaron often milked that joke.  Homestar was a stupid but happy and carefree character--who had adventures on a flash website who most of all the other characters loved--as if running through his whole life in a daze high on weed.  Aaron was excellent at flash cartoons and html code even at sixteen (hence Kyle marked him a tad more down on the dork scale than himself, which he would never admit to Aaron, but he probably knew it anyway), and hence liked Homestar a lot.  And Aaron had never smoked weed, so he was jealous of him too, and hence jealous of Kyle, whom he often compared to homestar, despite his 4.1 rating.
              "How's homestar," Kyle parroted, "Well, on the way to school I managed not to kill any old ladies on my bike, I almost got executed for lateness in homeroom, I slept through Physics, and then Susan smiled at me in calculus, even though she was just amused I had fallen asleep in class.  Then Pico gave me a math lesson."
              "Quite an episode so far," Tommy said, then stuffed his face full of more school pizza, and Kyle wondered if it was.
              "How about Kumar?" Aaron asked.
              "The autistic lawnmower?" Tommy asked, faced half-stuffed.  "He got junked last week, don't you pay attention?"
              "Oh hey, Kyle, I'm sorry, I forgot."  Aaron had finished his sandwich.  Kyle gave a confused frown.  He could never figure exactly when his friends were being understanding, sarcastic, or a mix of both.  Kyle started into his meat loaf and potatoes, then thought to glance two tables backward to where Susan often sat.  She was there, and was now asleep.  Kyle considered sharing his stimulants, but then realized she must have plenty of her own.
              "Aaron, how's the civil war paper coming?
              "Do you think you'll marry Susan?" Tommy asked.
              "Sure he will," Aaron followed.  "He looks at her about eleven times a lunch session."  Aaron and Tommy always talked more about Kyle than about themselves.  They thought his life was more interesting than theirs; his dork/cool rating, which was just a little higher than theirs, seemed to make him the popular guy at the table, and they sometimes lived vicariously through him.
              "Can we change the subject?"
              "Why don't you ask her out?"
              "The paper's all done, and a day early at that.  Took me six or seven hours total though," Aaron mumbled, while struggling to tear open the bagged spork he needed to dive into the three puddings his mother had put in his lunch.  Kyle had never gotten anything done early in his life, and Aaron's paper would have taken him a whole school vacation to finish.
              "Why don't you ask her out?" Tommy repeated.
              "I think he's depressed about Kumar."  The confused frown crossed Kyle's face again.  His friends saw this often enough to coin a special name for it.  They called it frusing.
              "No, it’s not that.  He never asks her.  He should have three months ago when she transferred in."
              "I bet she's a terminator, sent through time to protect him.  Or maybe a keystone alien actress in the great Kyle Kirby show trying to seduce him to become his wife in a few seasons when we all go to college."  Kyle frowned yet again and re-angled his hat a tad.
              "I'm not going to college," Tommy said.  Tom wasn't the brightest student, but he was tougher than most; a couple people had suggested in passing that he might make a good soldier or marine.
              "You'll just get killed in the army.  Or they'll execute you for being bisexual."
              "I'm not bisexual."
              "We have to all go to the same college, where we'll become popular, or at least join the lowest level fraternity house."  Aaron was on his second pudding.  Kyle was looking at Susan again.  Someone must have poked her because she was awake and talking with her friends.  She never looked at him across the cafeteria, or never that he noticed.
              "Alien, huh?"
              "Oh God."
              The rest of the lunch passed mostly in silence, mostly for lack of anything better to talk about than Kyle’s oddities.  The bell rung and Kyle waved bye to his friends.  Tommy replied by sticking his thumb up again at him as he was leaving.

              The next block Kyle had free.  He wandered outside into the courtyard, found his favorite tree, sat down, and leaned against it.  He had to spin his cap forward to do this but still left it about seven degrees askew.  He had become just slightly proud of this position, as it seemed a little introspective.  Other people passed by or played frisbee on the grass, little ants involved in their daily activities.  No one else just sat back and watched, pondering, like the hero on his perch looking over a city of innocents at a dull moment in the movie.
              A drugged freshman missed an easy toss of a yellow frisbee.  Kyle still felt a little tired, so he shut his eyes and things faded to the lazy half-dream of catnaps.  For a couple minutes Kyle tuned in to some frequency of people giving directions to some of the kids around him, in some kind of human experiment with many actors, or disguised humanoid aliens maintaining the peace in a human zoo.  The frisbeers were told when to catch and drop the frisbee.  A girl walking late to her next class was told to run instead.  A teacher somewhere was being told how to grade Kyle's physics paper. 
              Then the dream shifted.  The frisbee kids turned into young lion cubs chasing each other.  Kyle's tree became part of a small forest bordering a golden plain.  There was a massive, noble lion-thing watching over the cubs, with two red tails, and the body of a mutant cockroach.  Kyle assumed the lion cubs' bodies didn't turn to cockroach bodies until they were fully grown.  A strange, fat, off-red canary whose whole body was almost bottle-like, flittered down to the lion-thing.  Kyle decided to call him Ketchup.
              "Greetings, Grornoff."  The great beast nodded slightly.  "Meeting with the palm tree today?"
              "What?  Oh, I almost forgot.  Yes.  He's the last of his kind you know, he's been around so long I'm hoping he can give us some advice on how to proceed."  Ketchup whistled a deep, hopeless note, then spoke.
              "Peace deceased; always fall.  Death for all, death for all."
              "Stop it.  It's just a sick rumor.  The plague will never come.  It never does.  Our realm will last forever."
              Ketchup didn't look so sure.  "All that is, ticks and twirls.  Nothing lasts, now or past.  Broken sticks, shattered pearls.  Fleeting dreams, bleeding fast.  Souls are soup in toilet bowls: soiled toilet paper roles.  Flush and flow below the floor; Sewer-dwelling evermore."
              Grornoff sighed.  For all his flare, his favorite bird could be crudely depressing, especially when quoting scripture.  One of the cubs began tumbling with another one, half-playing, half-fighting.  As they tumbled, Kyle jerked awake, and remembered the wrestling cubs were two of the frisbee tossers, who had gotten into an argument about something.  Kyle looked to his left and realized the shape of Grornoff was actually a pale yellow car parked running on a nearby street with its emergency lights blinking that must have been there when he closed his eyes.  Ketchup was a fire hydrant.  The jocks started tossing the frisbee again, and Kyle spent the rest of the period doing History homework he'd put off for this block.
              The last few classes passed normally; Kyle managed to pay attention to most of the material; he was more interested in English and psychology and history than math and science.  Equations couldn't party or snack on cheez-its.

              Kyle biked home, passing no old ladies, but did run over a crushed, empty pack of black salems worth a measly two points, despite the brand being almost out of production.  Neither of his parents were home.  He stuffed down some lime tostitos, and then went to his room to start his homework.  His distractive nature caused homework to take three times as long, so he always started immediately, which he would have done today had the living room television not been inconveniently placed between the kitchen and the stairs up to his bedroom.
              Kyle kooshed back on the couch, sighed at an exhausting day, and closed his eyes for about twenty seconds.  Then he reached for the remote, but when sitting down he had failed to realize it was on the other end of the couch.  He decided he would invent the auto rolling remote that would slide out its tiny electric wheels and drive itself across the magazine table, couch, or floor, to the user, on a single voice command.  The command didn't have to be relevant.  It could be any fun word like "turkey" or "prostate."
              After a half minute of speedflicking, he found a rerun of the science fiction show Stargate SG-1, a show where a glowing disc of water flushed the main characters around to new planets to explore, visiting aliens who oddly enough looked exactly human and spoke perfect English, though given they had stranger looking clothes.  The team was exploring a desert-like planet.  Kyle lowered his eyebrows at the mundaneness, narrowed his eyes, and suddenly a monstrous killer cactus sprung out of the ground and gobbled down Major Carter, and the alien Teelk wet visibly himself while the team ran back for their glowing vertical toilet.
              He flicked to CNN, which was reporting standard Earth events, but which was also encoded with news of galactic affairs and various updates; interplanetary conflict and small things like the progress of the construction of AI antacid tablets, or the tragedy of a lucky panda that had been saved last minute from a nuclear explosion who it was later discovered reproduced by this process and had lost her litter.  He tuned in to the frequency.  A war was raging somewhere over the spelling of "derogatory."  There was debate about whether to interfere with a primitive planet that was about to be destroyed by a comet.  A woman had died in Alpha-Centauri by a freak forest fire.
              He clicked off the TV, which had the added effect of changing the channel to his own reality show.  The camera followed him from the living room up to his bedroom, and some narration kicked in which he never paid any attention to.  He figured it was needless commentary on his life at home, or maybe an explanation of human domestic life, like a human version of a gorilla documentary on animal planet for aliens.  He had learned to ignore the constant cameras and narrations, and simply pulled his books out of his bag, which had a few rock bands stitched on and a couple witty buttons, one of which he'd thought of and custom ordered himself that said "mirthfully crazy."
              Calculus was an assignment of notation for function derivative corn starch, which they needed to study the tangents within graphs of cornflake data.  Coincidentally his physics class was covering instantaneous velocity of a distance / time graph of family-sized cereal boxes dropped from high buildings.  He found it interesting that objects fell at the same rate in a vacuum, and imagined dropping an unfortunate cow next to the cereal box.  He then wondered if the calculus notation could be applied to the boring habits and patterns of high school physics and math teachers.
              "I could do all that for you, you know."
              "I'd never learn anything."
              "Calculus is overrated on your planet."
              "I need it to pass school, so I can get a job and earn money to buy a highly-rated mental firewall to shut out nonexistent philosophers who harass me when I'm doing homework."
              "Suit yourself."
              The afternoon and evening passed on and he managed to finish all the homework that he didn't put off, by about nine o'clock.  Kyle had heard his mother enter the house a little earlier, home late today, and he headed downstairs.  His mother was re-reading Freud's Interpretation of Dreams at the kitchen table.  She helped run a school for disabled and autistic children.  She often described what it was like to work with them; she had an uncommon appreciation for them; she learned from them; she marveled at an autistic child's abilities that others didn't have--being able to do math and solve logical puzzles that would take others hours.
              His dad was middle management in a toy company that made plush jungle animals.
              Kyle's mother asked him if he'd made himself dinner.  Kyle shook his head and nuked some microwave raviolis.  He sat down across from his mother who was eating a frozen dinner while reading.  "How was your day?"  Kyle was mostly down to earth with his parents, he rarely spoke of other planets or talking toiletries.
              "Usual."  He paused.  "Susan smirked at me in calculus when I woke up from dozing off."
              "She sounds sweet."
              "She doesn't like me.  And I'm sure she doesn't talk to her mother about the cute kid in her calc-one class.  Anyway I'm a freak."
              "You're unique.  Maybe you were made for a unique reason."  His mother had the habit of saying something brief but thoughtful that lingered in Kyle's mind for the rest of the night.
              "Anyway, she doesn't know you."  She paused again, as she turned a page.  Her attention was only a little on her book when she conversed with her son.  "Have you given any thought lately to what college you might apply to?"
              "I've been thinking about applying directly into Harvard graduate school."
              His mother turned silent and resumed reading.  A joke to a serious question often indicated Kyle didn't want to bother talking about the subject.  There was plenty of time for him to think about it.
              Not much else was said; each was tired.  They finished their meals, and Kyle's mom started putting the handful of dishes in the dishwasher.  Kyle went back to his room, flicked the light off, turned on the desk lamp, and flopped onto the messy bed like a flipped pancake.
              He reached over and grabbed a rubix cube on the stand next to his bed and turned it, slowly, frusing.  He knew there were black market YouTube videos that taught you how to solve it, but he wanted to figure it out himself.  Providentially, and for the third time today, Pico logged into whatever metaphysical messaging system their internal operating systems were currently running.
              "Want a hint?"
              "Why are you talking to me so much lately?  A'ight, sure."
              "What do you have so far?"
              "Basically nothing, just what everyone else does; randomly turn while improvising with the useless hope it'll all solve itself based on useless human gut instincts."
              "Maybe it takes intimate knowledge of derivative corn starch."
              "Maybe you should tell me."
              Pico's tone was that of putting on glasses and mocking a nasal college professor.  "The cube's a simple mathematical object; three cubed squares; which turns based on a simple, logical mini-architecture.  So whatever solution there is will probably also be mathematical, and perhaps as simple.  Maybe you have to figure out some kind of repeated pattern, a system that will move around a few squares to specific places and not disturb others."
              "Easier said, but I guess that helps."  Kyle turned as Pico went on, who soon segweyed from a rubix cube into metaphysics, using the metaphor of the cube to explain the structure of the universe.  Realities could turn like one of the cube's sides, re-arranging the relative positions of one frangle of reality to another.
              As Pico kept lecturing, Kyle observed as he had a few times before that the only way Pico could teach him anything was to use Kyle's own thoughts as springboards, explaining ideas to Kyle that had begun at some point in the back of his mind anyway, whether or not he really realized it or ever brought it straight to conscious thought.  He reminded himself that a voice could never tell him what 19 times 91 was if the he didn't already know it himself, or only at the rate Kyle could calculate it.  That was a drawback; Kyle could only visit places his petty brain could fathom; Pico could never stick a tube in his head and implant a billion star charts directly into his brain.  It didn't mean he was any less real, it was just two guys stuck with the same graphing calculator, one who'd read the manual a little more thoroughly than the other.
              Pico's speech faded as Kyle drifted to sleep, sinking into a bizarre kaleidoscope of narcoleptic butterflies, quantum glowing frisbee blueprints, and teams of lawyers puzzling over how to defend a highly media-covered murder trial of an elderly woman, by a seventeen year old kid on a neon red bike. >>
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