|Xangles > Frangles > Kyle Kirby > Chapter 2||read note before reading|
|Frangles: Kyle Kirby, Book #?|
Chapter 2: Squirrels & Death
A cheery Wednesday morning sunlight woke Kyle through a bedroom window whose shade he forgot to pull down from falling accidentally asleep the previous night. To boot, he could actually hear a couple morning birds chirping too mirthfully outside the window. Kyle groggily threw his pillow toward the birds and looked at the time. His alarm--which sounded much like a distant beeping truck backing up, as so many alarms do--had gone off for a whole hour before turning off, leaving a vague memory of a dream of a highway of Pepsi trucks trying in vain to back down the crowded length of Route 57 South and recede from the lava of a nearby volcano eruption up ahead. The loss of time wasn't detrimental, because Kyle always had it set over an hour early in case of this occasional event.
Since he was late, Kyle quickly relayed yesterday's events to Todd and hurried to the kitchen to see if there was still any leftover pizza, and found his father munching on cheerios. He had obviously flown in early in the middle of the night and taken a taxi home. "Kyle! How's my star plush toy." This was about his dad's best attempt at fatherly humor.
"Star?" Kyle thought, and suddenly realized he hadn't changed his clothes, and still had the homestar shirt on. It was too late to change though. Kyle found there was no pizza and scarfed down a half bowl of Lucky Charms.
"Shining like a florescent bulb," Kyle said, and thought that was probably a lot worse. "Sorry I can't talk, I'm late."
"Unusual," said his father, and attempted a humorous smile, which ended looking genuine, but just a tad clownish. Kyle hurried to his room, sprayed some more Axe on while frowning at the repeated necessity, grabbed his bag, and headed out the door. On his way to school Kyle saw a squirrel hopping from branch to branch above him, and felt a tad jealous at a life devoid of responsibility, with only the task to gather acorns for the winter. If Kyle were a squirrel, he would gather pez for the winter.
He was forty seconds early to homeroom. There was sad news on the announcements today; a cat that unofficially hung around the main office had got run over by a brightly-colored minivan. A whole scene popped in Kyle's mind in a quick flash.
A third of the school body had come for the funeral; all were dressed in some sort of black, even if some were simply wearing black jeans and Slipknot T-shirts who had just come for the reception food. There was a small casket and the dead cat looked like it hadn't been brushed in years, which made him look like an old, gray-orange, tangled feather duster. The priest began.
"Hazel was close to us all. We always wonder why those dear to us--even pets--are unexpectedly torn away. It takes a certain amount of faith to accept that these happen for some greater purpose. We can be sure Hazel is licking the purest milk in-- what is it, son?" By this time a bold student had reached the podium and was whispering something in the priest's ear. "Are you sure?" The student nodded, annoyed.
"I'm, so sorry. Tiger was dear to us all..." he continued with a narcoleptically generic speech. Kyle later learned that he wasn't a priest at all, but a student's father who had been an alter boy for six months in his teens, who was eventually involved in a two-year molestation lawsuit. When he finished, the petite casket was lowered into the ground. Exactly three students audibly wept; two blew their noses with colorful handkerchiefs. Most everyone else just looked bored.
The bell rang. Kyle stayed awake in Physics this morning, having gotten almost a full night's sleep. He had mostly finished his homework, and his efforts were collected. Calculus was the same, and this time he temporarily hit the equivalent of a chat "block" button for Pico, which was a little risky he might forget to unblock him again for awhile.
At lunch, Tommy had his lunch block again, along with another friend of theirs, Sam, who was so heavy, everyone usually called him names. Most of his friends avoided this, but Tommy wasn't quite so tactful.
"Hey doughboy, Kyle decided he's gonna marry Susan."
Sam was used to the abuse, or maybe he just didn't care because Tommy and Sam were really good buddies outside of the Kyle Kirby show and it was just a scripted line. "Congratulations, Kyle, who's the best man?"
"She's just a girl I sit next to in math, Jesus." As for Susan, she wasn't around; Kyle wasn't sure if it because she didn't have this lunch, or might have been sitting somewhere else. Kyle's thoughts drifted to yesterday's Stargate rerun, and for some reason his ideas recently seemed more prominent and ambitious than usual. He had a sudden thought. "I want to construct a wormhole." Tommy sighed, Kyle's oddities sometimes became a little excessive. Kyle was interesting but hearing him go on every day was like eating too many peanuts. Peanuts were okay, but they get old when eating for brunch, lunch, and dinner. Sam on the other hand looked up from his sandwich; he hadn't dealt with Kyle for a couple days, and could use something a little salty.
"You're gonna need a good physics degree for something like that." Kyle imagined Sam an alien looking over Earth studying primitive Earth disciplines, like the exact way some gorillas slammed sticks on rocks.
"Maybe I'll major in theoretical physics."
"You hate math and physics," added Tommy, food pushed to the side of his mouth so he could comment without sounding overly rude.
"But I love wormholes."
"A tragic mix."
The three spent the rest of lunch in talk of classes, television, and girls.
Kyle wandered to his tree at free block again. This time a few nerds a little under Kyle's cool level were poorly hacking with a hacky sack, who all did so for the sole reason that they enjoyed the pun. He watched until everyone got a kick without letting the sack fall, a net hack. He wasn't tired but closed his eyes anyway; it was appropriate to do this under a Buddha-like thinking tree, though of course he wasn't a Buddhist either. He brought to mind a sequel to yesterday's drama, a scene mostly imagined but which played it self out somewhat by itself by the slight daze of the mild nap.
The noble cockroach-lion--whose bug-like body Kyle now noted seemed a little like a black Mandelbrot set--was crossing a length of field to where the very last palm tree stood. There was a long deep river to the side with a few yellow squid-carp swimming down the stream. The tree somehow seemed young and healthy, with its gray unwilted bark and bright green-yellow hair that mimicked a feathery canopy. Three coconuts hung from it, which almost seemed alive. Kyle wondered how the tree spoke, and then heard him. It was a slow, booming voice seeming to emanate from all around it.
"Grornoff, great cat-bug leader of the free people of the golden realm, why have you come?" The question was simply a formality. It was common knowledge that the tree had a sixth vision with which he watched over much of the realm, usually most often the bathing, female gorilla-platypi.
"There is a fear of a terrible disease approaching from the western mountains. Many are concerned. I've dismissed this as paranoia but I am no longer so sure. I seek any advice you would have to offer."
The tree's tone was slow and thoughtful, as an older, retired Shakespearian actor. "Peace deceased; always fall. Death for all, death for all. All that is, ticks and twirls. Nothing lasts, now or--"
"Yes, yes," Grornoff interrupted, immediately annoyed with himself that he had done so. "I apologize, Zeferamber"--the tree's real name was rarely used--"it's just that I've heard that often lately."
"Of that I'm sure. Let me ask, what will you do if the disease comes?"
"I suppose I would find some way to fight it. The armies are forming."
"And if there is no such way?"
Grornoff looked troubled at this line of reasoning. "Then I suppose we all die, the clouds blackened, the hazelnut wind poisoned, and the golden fields will turn to ash."
"How about fleeing?"
"Where would we go?"
"Perhaps you should put more thought into that."
"Tree, you speak of hopelessness, what of war against evil, what of fighting for our survival and land?"
"A few whirlwinds of hope linger, subject to the slightest whim of the shifting musky air. They may stay or flee, stay or flee."
"Tree..." but the beast sensed the tree was finished talking. He sighed, turned, face sagging as he begun the long walk back home.
Kyle opened his eyes to find another squirrel almost right in front of him. Kyle supposed he been still enough in his half-nap to appear no threat, and so he remained still and watched. "Hey fellah." The squirrel looked up, blinked, and to Kyle's surprise, spoke.
"Acorns," he said. Kyle frused, and the squirrel bounced off. Kyle got out his copy of Catcher in the Rye that they were studying in English, but then paused, as an odd, uneasy feeling that had been in the back of his mind today worsened. Something in general was different. Wrong. It was then he heard the voice for the first time. Even in its greeting it was dark, sarcastic, almost mocking.
"Hello Kyle. What are you doing?"
"Who the hell are you?" It was usually best to be blunt with strangers you didn’t know. And you never, ever accepted any candy, free pornography, or religious pamphlets. Kyle noted the frequency of people in his head had almost doubled this week.
The voice ignored the inquiry. "I'm looking through your record here, and--"
"Oh, no one around here's told you about that I suppose. It's pretty detailed; all the horrible things you've ever done--"
"I stole a few CDs once..."
"--In your head."
"I've never done anything in my head."
"Sure you have. I know you've wondered at some point what happens to the really sick crazies like you. The ones who go bad. The ones that eventually get jailed or electrocuted. What goes through someone's mind that makes him do terrible things. You know, the ones who see the really tragic frangles." Kyle was bothered that Todd's coined term was already noted in his chart.
"It never crossed my mind. Society has some pretty decent rules. They take care of that crap."
The dark tone decreased a little, with a hint of a friend having a debate. "Really, Kyle, you know a lot better than that. In all of vast existence, every planet, isn't there some bunch of aliens who have a very significant purpose for asking you to break someone's neck or push an old lady down a spiral staircase? Perhaps they can see that their whole race will be threatened by some dangerous twit if he's allowed to live on and engineer a biovirus to much them into crud. Maybe this is all experimental research of how people deal with death to help avoid it in the future on a bigger scale in some pointless war. Or maybe drowning yourself in a tub of prune juice will take you outside to a realm of friends who've been wanting to meet you, and have spent much time designing their liquid-prune-portal to summon you. Surely there are plenty of noble purposes for violence. Your race does it in war all the time arguing whether to worship a paraplegic or a golden donkey. Which side is right?”
Kyle was silent. He knew every word was true.
"You're so young; there's a whole war out there of people like you. A whole planet filled with telepath-mutants and vampire-highlanders, all on different ethical grounds, all warring over what exactly to do and who to be. Some heroes who protect, some bad guys who nuke soddam-and-gammorah cities by the order of their God. Deep down you know the truth of these things; one feeds off--and can't exist without--the other. Someone has to be dark and cruel."
"Get out of my head."
"Oh, and we've just met. Alright, I'll leave, just because you asked, and because I happen to like you. But I'll be back. I'm assigned to you, you know." Kyle didn't like that either.
“Wait, what do I call you?” Kyle regretted the question. It hinted that he was at all curious--even morbidly--about some kind of future with this person, and it always hurt to gift trouble with a designation.
“You can call me Dandelion if it makes you happy.”
“What is your name,” and doubly cursed his persistence.
The presence shrugged. “Call me Spider.”
Spider closed up his file and left. For some reason he thought of Ketchup and Grornoff. He didn't like this at all, for several reasons, but mostly just because he happened to have severe arachnophobia.
He was bothered the rest of the day, often frusing during class and while walking down the school halls watching the floor flow beneath him; occasionally a tile would notice him and wave. After school, he met up with Tommy and Sam; Kyle and Sam had a free period at the end of the day, and Tommy sometimes asked a friend to sign the attendance sheet for him. The three walked--Kyle and Tommy walking their bikes--down to an open field near the center of town. They placed their bags by one, and Kyle swung up on the first branch as he often did. Tommy sat down; Sam stood, looking around the field.
"So what kind of wormhole are you looking to build, Kyle?"
Tommy fuffed another sigh.
Kyle mocked a child's wondrous tone when talking becoming an astronaught or president some day, and started climbing to a second branch. "A big, important one. Not just one to shuttle you across the galaxy; one to cross over to bizarre realms and realities, causing lots of traffic, people traveling to discovered hyperdimensional grocery stores to pick up some six-dimensional kiwi and carrots."
"I can do it."
"You probably can," he agreed. Tommy had pulled out a large red delicious and was only half paying attention; there were a few girls sitting cross-legged on a blanket nearby.
"Except not 'wormhole.' Worms are so slow and ugly."
Tommy started singing a "They Might be Giants" song. "They call me Dr. Worm. I'm not a real doctor, but I am a real worm; I am an actual worm..." he kept humming to himself between--and sometimes during--mouthfuls of the apple.
"So what would you call it?"
Kyle entertained that maybe Sam was an alien encouraging an earthling to explore or even develop strange new sciences. It even crossed his mind that maybe they lacked human creativity, were even searching for a human to come up with ideas they couldn't, but couldn't do any more than guide them a little, or risk interfering with the development of human culture. Or maybe it was just watching a human ant farm in boredom.
Kyle's toned changed to an enlightened vet-priest. "Maybe some great, noble animal instead. Some explorative creature, worthy of breaking the chains of a mundane existence and visiting the wonders of other planets and realms."
"Giraffahole?" suggested Tommy, still looking away.
"Perfect!" Kyle said. "I'm going to construct a giraffahole."
"I was kidding."
Kyle sighed, and his mind wandered back to what Spider said, and his tone was suddenly dark. "I just hope it can be done without killing anyone." This was unexpected, and Kyle swung down from the tree, sat down, and frused at what he heard himself say. Sam remained standing--and Kyle got the odd feeling the position symbolized more than that, as if he was standing above, looking down on him. "What makes you say that?" Kyle couldn't read Sam's expression, as he was staring at the ground, and flipped back and forth between two possibilities.
In one, Sam was a vast transdimensional being who enjoyed interacting with a more interesting bug in his bug farm than the others, who had a thousand bug farms and had watched whole societies go this way and that--seen both sides of every war--every Christ, every Hitler, and smiled down on every one of them as Glinda over munchkin land while the munchkins go into hysteria over a woman in a flimsy black costume with bad makeup and a hat like half of Madonna's bra. He would accept Kyle as an alcoholic wife-beater or a transsexual nun, and was always curious as to which exactly it would be.
In the other frangle, Sam was the hobbit Sam (as Kyle often likened him too, if only because of his similar weight and name) who had found a forgotten twenty-first ring of power in a pile of dung somewhere that allowed him the art of illusion to change his appearance, the ability to time travel, and an unlimited casting limit of the spell "materialize junior quarter pounders from thin air," which was a little limited since Sam had to use it four times to get a full pound of burger. This Sam had been corrupted by the ring, scoping out Kyle in this particular dimension, whom he thought special in any time period, and so young; he could be a great wizard or warrior, and it was always best to be cautious before you discovered which it was, since someone like this often developed giraffadimensional transportaion. "What makes you say that?" he repeated.
"Catapult, automatic weapons, atomic and nuclear bombs..."
"Mace," added Tommy.
"But those inventions are weapons, Kyle, not transportation devices."
"Well okay, how about a jet or a submarine? Something made to get around quickly is perfect to strap warheads to blow the enemy to slaughtered cattle chunks during war or terrorism."
"And people will do the same with your giraffahole?" Tommy huffed and shook his head, although he was actually a little interested by now. Kyle's randomness had oddly spawned a mildly interesting discussion. He ignored the girls and turned his head toward them, and looked at Kyle, who--feeling two sets of eyes on him--just climbed the tree again instead of answering the question. Sam sat down and thought. Tommy was also a bit baffled; Kyle was rarely dark or serious, except whenever there were no more lime tostitos and no 24-hour drugstore within range. It almost seemed something was different, and he noted for the first time that Kyle had seemed a tad more Kylish this week. He sat for awhile more, Sam got out a comic book. Kyle spent the rest of their time together attempting to climb higher than he ever had on the tree. A third squirrel blinked at him before hurrying down the trunk.
As he biked home, ignoring the bike's GPS, school fell to the back of his mind, his thoughts a blend of giraffaholes and his brief encounter with Spider, whose words spun through his ruffled mind. His mother looked up from the same book to greet him. His father was upstairs in his office. Kyle was too frused to attempt homework, so he kooshed back again on the couch, cursing because he once again forgot to grab the remote. He concentrated, focused, and spoke a whispered command as if to summon a fireball. "Prostate!" The remote didn't move.
"What?" his mother called. He didn't think he'd spoken loudly enough for her to hear.
"Nothing," he yelled back, and sat up and grabbed the remote. Sci-Fi channel was playing a cheap-budget, hashed up horror movie starring some monstrous killer beast-thing from another planet. Characters mostly doomed to die were running away screaming or planning the abomination's inevitable destruction in a broken down laboratory. He flicked up to Animal Planet. They were talking about tropical hummingbirds. His attention didn't hang on the television long, and he felt Pico sort of walking up to him. He seemed to grab something invisible to Kyle lying on the magazine table, and Kyle felt he was looking over blueprints that he had unconsciously generated that afternoon.
"Building a wormhole, I see. Very difficult. Very tricky. Never been done by your race before, you know." Kyle vaguely noted he'd never hit his unblock button for Pico.
"So why don't you teach me something that will help," not turning from the TV, and remembering this was just his own subconscious working out the ideas anyway.
Pico's tone wasn't that of a mock lecture this time, but that of giving honest scientific advice to another colleague. "Well, In theorizing about a wormhole, your physicists guess at the existence of something that is actually intuitively obvious."
"Knowing there are other places in the known universe or in other dimensions is just like living in a city on earth before long-range transportation, looking at the horizon, and deducing there must be much more than the immediate known area. After knowing that, it's simply a matter of inventing a way to travel outward to see what's out there.
"So I just have to build a shiny new train track."
"Just stock up on some hyperdimensional metal at a nearby store. Not too hard." Pico left it at that, leaving Kyle to soak in his suggestion. The documentary was going over the tropical hummingbird migration patterns.
Kyle was a little silent during dinner, shrugging off his father's questions who hadn't seen him since he'd gotten back, his thoughts focusing on Spider's dark words, or maybe darkroom words, him having a better idea of the image that would fade in on the undeveloped next film frame of Kyle's life, prophecy spoken to him under the hell-red light illuminating the small darkroom. When he shut off his own light, his transition to his bed was more the removal of a burnt pancake to the trash than a fluffy flip of a soon-to-be-edible-by-a-kid-who-was-getting-a-free-birthday-meal one.
His experiences with others fishing around in his head had usually been positive, and only rarely anyone he met would touch the topic of causing harm to anyone. He'd never met a strong, permanent, harmful presence. Was it the raised Zyggobam? Kyle lowered his eyebrows in confusion. He was scared, and he was rarely scared. He unwillingly brought to mind horrific news stories of psychotic crazies knocking off family members, co-workers, or their three annoying pet yippy poodles that probably deserved it. Could he really be living his life in an ignorant, bubbalicious bubble-gum bubble?
He knew all the places he visited were as real as any Earth, but that meant Earth was real too. And it was only on Earth that news of those deaths reached him; it was only on Earth that he would be locked up in a psychiatric ward or state mental hospital if his giraffahole ever malfunctioned and dumped him too close to a city of mouth-foaming republican serial killers (Kyle was a democrat). Earth was his home, and it was on Earth he was terrified.
He closed his eyes, faded to sleep. He had nightmares tonight in the form of terrified strangers or friends in the horror movies; Susan and Tommy and Aaron, except he was the evil alien beast with mangled limbs chasing them down foggy endless hallways. Sam was the slowest runner, and the others struggled with the ethics of leaving him behind. The nightmares eventually fled and were replaced by scenes of the development of the Kyle Kirby Playstation 47 game, and visits to Todd's homeworld of talking toothbrushes. >>
|Xangles > Frangles > Kyle Kirby > Chapter 2||read note before reading|