|Xangles > Frangles > Kyle Kirby > Chapter 5||read note before reading|
|Frangles: Kyle Kirby, Book #?|
Chapter 5: PsychoticDeviantReject8
Kyle knew it was absurd for all hell to be blanketed in eternal frost--the demons screaming and scattering in vain in an ice-cube apocalypse, Satan himself crumbling from a fiery demon capable of melting Frosty the Snowman himself, into a horned-flamingo ice-sculpture at a New Years event in Boston--every time something absurd or at least moderately unlikely happened. Dramatic planetary climate shifts were rare enough; sudden ice ages and so forth. Never mind a frosty genesis of the whole underworld. What really happened was something of appropriate magnitude. If an opera singer hit an off note, someone turned down the house-fire thermostat two degrees. If a cartoon from Adult Swim were nominated for an Emmy, a whole everburning skyscraper of elderly women would fall dead of first-snow-breast-cancer ten years early. So this morning, since Kyle woke up three minutes early, an unfortunate demon-poodle got run over by an ice cream truck two years before he would have suffered a fatal concussion by a stray 190 MPH snowball from a nearby baseball game anyway.
It was raining Friskies and Alpo, which was expected to go on all day. Within a few minutes of rising, Pico clicked on to his mental AIM. He seemed a bit more serious than usual. "I want you to clear up a few extra hours today."
"There are some things I want to show you."
Pico just cut out with the door-closing sound, leaving Kyle frusing. He jumped in the shower, and as he occasionally did, stared at his mother's herbal tropical shampoo, and brought to mind the commercials of hot girls using similar products, who were practically having an orgasm in the shower. He sniffed it as he occasionally did, made a face at the girly scent, and snatched the Pert Plus. His unusually curly hair was a bit tangled this morning. He lathered with one hand and with the other pressed and held an intercom button on a shower tile, and a friendly female voice came on.
"Yes, Mr. Kirby?"
"Darlene, what do I have scheduled for today?"
There was the sound of typing. "You have mall time scheduled with Aaron, Sam, and Sam's younger brother Tim this afternoon. Tommy's gone skiing with his father. You told your parents you'd rent a movie or two with them this evening, and there's a new episode of Starship Florbb on at ten on Sci-Fi."
"Cancel the mall, and keep the others."
Kyle released the intercom button. He finished and dried off, then called Aaron and Sam himself to cancel, which he often noted defeated the purpose of having an imaginary secretary. "Well, I suppose galactic technologies demand more time than your friends," Aaron half-joked, without knowing Kyle was actually cancelling just to appease the whim of a Plutonian mathematician. A half hour later Kyle flumped on his unmade bed, and folded his hands behind his head. "Okay, I'm free, now what the hell did I ditch my friends for?" Pico approached and Kyle almost got a vague sense that there was a few other people with him, watching. He shrugged it off as paranoia. It was probably Pico's pet dog or parrot Piko.
"I wanted to give you a tour."
"University of Irritating Dead Ghost Philosophers?"
"Your mind wanders here and there, yet you haven't been out of your fish tank much."
"I'm surrounded by cameras, documentary narrations, game commands, talk endlessly to an imaginary professor and an inanimate toothbrush, have recently attracted a Satanist supervillian, and attained a fetish for a realm of deformed farm animals on my raised medication. Oh, and I'm constructing a nuclear transport device that will probably blow them all to hell. Did I miss anything?"
"You sense things, talk to people, and watch lands from afar. But you've never actually taken a trip anywhere." This had never previously dawned on Kyle.
"A field trip? This is so exciting that I'm wetting my huggies."
"It's difficult to build bridges across rivers if you've never really been to the other side."
"Are we gonna wait around for the school bus to fill up while you bore me with cliche landscape metaphors, or hit the gas?"
"Alright, smartass. Close your eyes."
Kyle squeezed his eyes hard in mock obedience. "I'm at Starbucks... a beatnik's dropping a vanilla chai... he's screaming as he realized he just wasted his thirty-seven dollars..."
Pico started, and immediately Kyle relaxed his closed eyes as a strange seriousness overcame him. He was suddenly walking down the foggy, seemingly unending stone hallways that were often in his dreams. The same ones he had chased Tommy and Sam down. He felt like an apprentice magician being led around an eerie castle by a master wizard, except he never saw Pico; he was always a few turns ahead of him. It was minutes of walking before Pico somehow vanished and he was led to a wooden door about to fall off its hinges. He paused, stepped through, and the door vanished behind him.
He was outside, in some barren wasteland that stretched as far as he could see. The sky was blood-red, black clouds mocking the void of Earth's sky of bright blue and poufy, snuggly-soft white. The sun was a black hole where the sun should have been, but somehow he could see. The horizon seemed the border between the earth and some great tupperwear lid over the whole realm, kept on eons too long, the stuff inside the container--everything all around--long turned to a red-moldyish nightmare. The air reeked of permanent second-hand smoke. He walked forward as a soldier seeing a warzone or poverty-stricken country for the first time. There was almost nothing around him and he walked for many minutes, and soon passed some sort of playground. Bent jungle bars and broken swing sets almost seemed to burn with an eerie everfire. One child sat on a rusty swing, thin and fragile, her depressed, worn, plush unicorn with a third of the stuffing torn out her only playmate. Kyle thought of his father. The girl dragged her friend through the fumy air and walked toward him. She seemed to recognize Kyle. "Hey Mister, are you Kyre?" Kyle wasn't expecting this.
"The prophecy says Kyre. Maybe one of the trolls made a mistake, they're not too sharp and hence poor at interpreting ancient prophecy. Anyway, it's said you can build a daisyhole."
"Giraffahole. And it's just a dumb idea."
"We call it a daisyhole, after a flower described in the texts. See, there are no flowers here. No spring blossoms. No fruit baskets, no blue jays, no sunsets. No sandy beaches stinking of too much sun block, no ice cream trucks; no yippy cloud-white curly poodles named Snowflake, or--"
"I'm getting the point... where is here, anyway?"
"We call this land the Eternal Junkyard of Forsaken, Clinically Depressed Nomads, or EJOFCDN for short. The acronym really isn't pronounceable, but it was the trolls that came up with the name, and they're especially bad at acronyms. Never mind alliteration. A troll once tried to write a poem called "All About Alliteration," but only got as far as the first line: "Alliteration always admires admonishment," before going mad and driving the pen through his left eyeball. Another Troll once..." Kyle thought about lending this girl some of his Zyggobam and wondered if the warning on the CVS med printout of sharing medication applied to nonexistent junkyards.
The girl took Kyle's hand and led him through the moldy wasteland. They began to pass a few broken down houses with walls missing; weakly-constructed and now ruined. Stale gingerbread houses wrecked by some hurricane. In one--with the front wall gone--there was a strange orc-creature--gray-skinned with slightly pointed ears--sitting in a corner, staring up at a crooked, torn poster of a painted triangular fractal. The houses became more dense as they walked, more of them occupied. They became two-story, and then a couple large buildings appeared that looked about to tumble over like a house of cards. They finally entered a city, a junky ghost town. A few people stopped and whispered. Kyle was led to what seemed the center of town. There was an open radius with a structure in the center that almost looked like a massive stargate made of boulders and rocks somehow held together, hence the edges weren't a smooth semicircle but rather a crooked rock border. Another orc-creature was etching a small symbol into the thing. Kyle wasn't sure but he thought it was a symbol he'd drawn at some point last night.
"You're giraffahole," she announced. There was a distant crash of thunder. Kyle frused. "It took a dozen generations to build. Each boulder is taken from a far away beach, then brought to the paladin-priests to bless, then the troll mechanics, which infuse it with some unknown herbal extract. It is taken to every known town, where it is raised and dropped on a terribly unlucky toddler as sacrifice. Then it is rolled into the Very-dark-gray-but-not-quite-deathly-black Swamps, and a boulder from the rocky hills is brought here instead. The rocks are held together by industrial-strength glue the orcs make. It is thought when it is activated properly, the ring will fill with a swirling half-frozen jello-like liquid, and whoever steps in will travel elsewhere. Away."
Kyle considered the egotism of his unconscious forging this land to quench his lust for adventure and subtle yearning to be needed and revered, maybe worshiped. "It's just a doodle I scribble on a napkin when half-drunk. It isn't real, it's just a daydream."
"If that's so, then we are truly doomed." Another crash of lightning. Kyle sighed, this was too much, it was absurd, his mind had gone overboard. Then a giant troll approached them. He seemed slightly bent over because of his massiveness, or maybe he just had a spinal problem. His face was pasty and a little wrinkled. Kyle wasn't sure if he was old or young.
"Peace released, far away. Not today, not today. Faint hopes for a land distressed. Silly rabbit, hopes are for the blessed." He gave a slight frown, knowing the last line broke the meter. "I'm working on it, what do you think, Lord Kyre?" It was too much.
"Kyle; just Kyle! I'm a B-minus student in some boring Springfield suburbs. You're all nuts. Go worship one of your holy rocks." He turned to leave but realized he had no idea how to leave.
"You'll come around," he said, and walked away. "The others did." The girl hugged her unicorn and stared thoughtfully at the gate.
"Other freak, psychotic dreamers, like you. They all failed. Each went crazy in a different way. One drowned himself in the swamps, one lay down under a trash compactor. Another simply died of hopelessness. You're the very last, the one who will save us all." She paused. Maybe you've seen enough for today."
"But how do I get home?"
"The portal has passed a quick test run by QA. We think it can transport you somewhere, but there are still a few bugs. But don't worry, there's only a very small chance it could implode your brain and internal organs, or warp you into a vacuum, where about the same thing would happen. Step in." Kyle shrugged and obeyed, stood in the strange rock ring-shape. "Now say something magical."
His eyeballs rolled. "There's no place like--" There was a sudden liquidy strawberry-jello surge; he was in the stone hallways for a moment, red walls as seen through the eyes of some red-sighted creature, then a small futuristic room materialized around him. There were two uniformed people in black with patches of navy blue and gold by some type of controls. The younger one looked up and gasped. The older one quickly reached over, as if he'd been training a new molecular-transport intern, and hit a few buttons. The liquid jello enveloped him again, then he jolted up in his messy bed. It was evening already. How long was he there? Did time work differently in other places? "Pico?" he wasn't there. There was knock on his door, and Kyle thought it seemed timed, as to create flow for the show or game. It was his father.
"Kyle? Do you want to rent that movie?"
The video store was packed. Even more than Electri-city Kyle felt the DVDs were portals. The store was one giant wormhole DVD menu; a collection dreams, nightmares, and suburban malls. His mother always wanted something light and cartoony. He and his dad wanted the inverse. The three compromised on Finding Nemo and 28 Days Later.
Nemo woke up Pico on his first day of meta-school. Pico groggily rose and soon the two swam off. There were other fish ready to learn. Pico swam over to a blackboard for effect that was a painting of some colorful, fractal-esque sea sponges and starfish. The kid fish swam in circles near it, only half-listening. His tone was of telling a fable. "The sea is unending, like a vast dry desert saturated in water instead. The farther you swim, the more strange things and creatures you'll encounter. Starfish, quadrofish, octofish, quadro-octofish... Great zebra-whales, darting arrow-squid, and nasty, disgruntled sharks." There was a half-awe and half laughter.
"It's packed full of bizarre life, more than you see; even the mossy rocks are alive in a way, and the water. It watches, cares, takes notes if you're good or bad, and will tug you through currents here and there like a distracted, brain-cracked telephone operator with alzheimers..."
During recess, Nemo and two fish sneaked off and approached the great drop-off. It was like peering into a massive, bottomless cave of murky engine oil.
"I beat it's not so tough," said a larger blue-yellow one.
"It's like the edge of the universe," said the other in awe.
Far-off shadows seemed to swirl and whisper to Nemo. "Fish are food. The whole sea is a doomed waiting room. You swim and swim, until the secretary calls your name. Men and sharks are just outside the room, and then you're life's purpose is fulfilled: brunch." Nemo frused, then daringly swam out fifteen feet.
"Nemo, don't!" He darted another ten. "Come on, come back."
"You go Nemo." Nemo turned and swam further, then panic shot through him as a shark approached. It was heading for the gap between Nemo and his new buddies. The two fish swam back toward safety and Nemo had nothing to do but swim further outward. A fleeing school of fish rushed toward him and he was caught in the momentum, and dragged toward a small current. He swam against it but was taken. The shadows chuckled.
While lost, the first place Nemo came to was a munchkin land, a sea-city of tiny rhyming fish. They laughed and mocked and circled him. "Kiddy fishy uberlost. Swim at ocean's whim to toss--him here or there, dumb fish beware; netted, served with tarter sauce; or maybe net to make a pet, glass fish bowl to keep him wet; alone, no female fish to touch, then die alone when toilet flushed." Their scribbly laughter steeled the teasing.
He met a robotic, waterproof cyberfish whose tiny brain kept crashing; each time it did she'd lose most of her local memory and the data she'd accumulated. They swam together the rest of the movie, and indeed did end up in a fish tank, and somehow by a plot twist Kyle considered dumb, ended back up in the ocean. Pico had traveled the same distance himself, and found his troublesome apprentice and led him home, except they were finally eaten by a starved shark for brunch just before making it back.
Like the sharks, the flesh-eating zombies fed on the innocent. Unlikely the lively ocean, the cities were more like the junkyard, abandoned and wrecked. Life was a run from inexorable doom, like a cartoony cat and mouse chase. There was little rest and scant mirth. Near the end, the DVD started skipping and they never finished the movie.
Kyle skipped his show and aimlessly turned the cube near bedtime. The sides were mostly the major places he'd been recently; the junkyard, the plains, the mall; then an expensive pet store with teenage hamsters. Pico clicked on AIM and announced he was bringing him one more place today. Kyle sighed, followed Pico through the hallways--again never seeing him--and finally walked a square hallway, with circuit board walls and floor. The room he came to was nothing like he'd ever seen. The walls were laced with sparky energy zipping through zig-zaggy and Aztec-like patterns. The floor was disco lights, the ceiling was a tapestry of egg cartons and bubble wrap. A glowing, soccer-ball shaped orb floated down to him. It's voice was an electronic monotone, just slightly human. "KyleTurbo9?"
"Would you like a free fax machine wash?"
"How about a free 30-day membership to the xnet?" It wavered and hummed a little.
"Uh, sounds fun."
"Enter desired username."
"Taken. The xnet's pretty big. I can give you Kirby627, HomeStarRubix421, PsychoticDeviantReject8..." This thing definitely knew him.
"627 sounds fine."
"You really want eight stars? That's pretty hackable."
"Just get to the end."
"Do you accept the terms of agreement?"
"What are they?"
"No one usually reads them."
"Uhh... The xnet claims no responsibility for data lost or accidentally mangled ytml code or java scripts... The xnet is for external use only. Do not insert into bodily orifices or give birth to pregnant machinery until you know how it affects you... Um..." Was it making this up? "The xnet may occasionally lead to blurred vision, claustrophobia, vomiting, dependence, mild to moderate sexual attraction to certain breeds of cyber poodles; no purchase necessary, some assembly required... Do not drink before fully brewed..."
"Do you wish to receive the bi-monthly newsletter?"
"Is it twice a month or every other month?"
"Both. Twice a month, every other month. Some wanted to call it the bi-bi-news letter if it weren't for the N'Sync reference, who are even more popular on the xnet than they were on your planet." Kyle didn't usually check the box for such things, but was vaguely curious.
"Federal electronic food stamps?"
"Identity theft insurance?"
"Please just skip to the end."
"A verification email has been sent to your Earth hotmail account. Click it next time you log in to finish." There was the feeling of Firefox crashing, and he jerked out of his nap at his desk. He checked his hotmail, and remembered he'd signed up for a multi-topic chat board the other night which must have affected his nap dream. He clicked the activation and deleted the email.
On impulse he brewed some coffee and spent a few hours on the blueprints. He was irritated at how a brainstorming mess of theoretical maps and flow charts could possibly yield the slightest tangibility. His mind wandered and began to sense--or imagine--a few things going on related to it. Darlene was in her doorless cube office with a single barred window looking out at her infinite brick wall just outside. She was scheduling appointments with ghost physicists, businessmen interested in the project, and plumbers ready to help with the plumbing. Somewhere in hell, a small cult of Kirbians continued their preparations to fulfill an upcoming prophecy that they would rise to inherit his hometown and turn it into a Springfield apocalypse. The school would become a slave mine, the mall a pseudo-concentration camp. Inversely, the junkyard inhabitants prepared to leave their hell and find their fluffy paradise through the junky stargate. A few scientists worked on a cure for the inevitable backfire of Kyle's efforts, which they believed would turn almost everyone within a fifty mile radius into a retarded zombie with an appetite for canned Nemo. Somewhere Sselefru poured through the Tedious Texts of Scant Wonder in a shadowy cave in search of a would-be savior.
It was paradoxical that his brain was creating it all from one point of view, but also thought it vaguely unreal and figmented. Not too much though; where Kyle went was always pretty real. Yet real or not, they would all be disappointed. It was an impossible goal, like free health care or cheap fat-free chips that didn't cause cancer. And yet again he turned to the notebook, frusing over how any of it could ever be the slightest bit applicable to real imaginary life.
Something that Spider said came to mind, and against his will he let himself wonder what lay beyond death. If everything was connected, if like Pico said you could traverse paths infinite paths to get from one set of attributes to another, then wasn't death a highway exit to something beyond the earthly hamster cage? A hole in the glass in the great ant farm of some Sam who's favorite bug he was? A Hamlet quote he'd memorized in last year's English class came to mind: "To die, to sleep, perchance to dream." Birth itself could be seen as a transport into this realm, and death an exit. Perhaps the perception that life terminates was flawed. One could easily just wake up somewhere else. An elderly lady dying of cancer might wake up a quarterback knocked out by a hard collision. Death itself could be a giraffahole. This seemed a great epiphany, maybe not an E=mc^2, or a Cogito Ergo Sum, but maybe a tickle-me-elmo, or Bill Gates' idea to start Microsoft. That brought him to programs; the death of a process leading to another. If you could figure out or manipulate the destination, maybe you could go anywhere, with the moderately unfortunate downside of having to die.
These endpoints gave Kyle a vision of everything lying inbetween them and all around them, and he hyperfocused on involved maps and diagrams of interrelated lives; sketching some kind of machine to help connect them all and navigate through the possibilities like his connector-engine and helpful paperclip buddy. People were huge files of settings and DNA on the universe-computer; those settings always changing, files edited, unconscious id and superego processes being constantly re-written. Dentists and plumbers were code-fixers. Doctors and shrinks were overly expensive tech help. AIM intelligence bots were dogs stuck the tragic kennels of AOL, visited by humans not much smarter than them. And the whole thing speckled with way too many lame MySpace pages and Star Wars blogs.
He noted the less drastic ways of leaving or wandering off; daydreaming, or being taken away through a movie to another place for awhile. Narcolepsy was a way the fractal randomly shifted you around, straying you from an Earthly sidewalk to a bar or nearby playground. "Hey kid, want some Earth candy? No? Look, just take the freaking candy! Stop crying you wimp! Oh, go cry to your mother, that's great. Shit, I better bounce." That got Kyle hungry, and he went and splurshed some milk on his usual bowl of Lucky Charms. Where did they go when he munched them to death? Marshmallow oblivion? He thought marshmallowoblivion would be a good website, though it was too long. Then he wondered if Death Charms cereal would sell.
While drifting to sleep, he got a strange feeling of redundancy, like the chapters of his life had followed him into sleep too many times since whenever they jumped into his story, or maybe it was a soap opera with the bad writers on strike and the redundancy of the even worse temp writers was getting tiring. He asked Pico if there was some sort of block for the readers, and there was; it was an option inside his new xnet account. Maybe this xnet would be useful. He clicked it, hit yes to an "Are you sure?" window and a second "Are you sure you're sure?" window, then faded to sleep to dreams that anyone reading some sort of book about Kyle was now blocked from knowing about. But we can tell you there were no non-sequiter blinking squirrels. >>
|Xangles > Frangles > Kyle Kirby > Chapter 5||read note before reading|