Archive for: May, 2015

The Means Whereby I Live By Liam O’Neill

May 24 2015 Published by under The WiFiles

Of the recent recession I will not propose anything new, nor already written down. Only this: all the good jobs have been taken.

However, this has never stopped my wife, Buddleia, from forcing me to go on her lousy trips. Once a month she insists we pack and take a shuttle somewhere ‘new’. Presently, we were home from one such a trip. It took Buddleia no longer than a day to commence her infernal nagging. She came to me in my solar just as I sat down to sculpt. I was going to recreate a piece from the Ross Tobain Fall Collection, you know the one, the one with the pipe.

This is our monthly routine, like re-runs of over watched cartoons. Hand on hips, she whines about money, demands I go acquire her more credits. “For the family,” she insisted. “Our children will think their father is a bum.”

To be sure, it is alright that she is a stay-at-home. Gods forbid if I am.

Part of me believes she just likes to drag me to random planets at the ass-end of the galaxy. To gloat at all those poor sods trapped on their barren rocks. Show them how well-to-do we are.

“I’m a sculptor, damn it,” I told her. “I need time to create.” She was having none of it. ‘The arts don’t pay,’ after all.

“You’re wasting your life,” she said. “I would like to plan a trip to New Saturn next month.”

“We just came home from a trip.”

“We need another,” she said. “The Ebonwoods have been on two since we left. Do you want to fall behind?”

I sighed. “No.” I shoved my severed lion’s paw back into its drawer. The statue can wait, I guess. As I walked passed her she gave a triumphant smile. I tried not to let it bother me as I left for the clinic.

It’s not the idea of working I don’t like, it’s that damned clinic. Our People’s Clinic, it’s called. For those of you unfamiliar with the OPC it’s an educational examination facility. That’s their prissy way of saying they do legal trial runs of new age drugs and science equipment. My problem, however, is not that I am an amateur guinea pig. My problem is that I can never find the damn building before it closes.

Listen:

About a year ago the OPC allowed the testing of a new teleportation module created by Oba Corp. Ideally the contraption would encompass a single being within a two meter sphere and send them to any desired location within a one kilometer radius. Consequently what happened was the machine created a one kilometer sphere, which was enough to cover the whole facility and a local pizza parlour, lastly, the sphere teleports randomly every five and a half minutes. Luckily, it does so in a two kilometer radius around its original location. At least it’s narrowed down.

As you can imagine, this caused chaos for morning traffic. Hundreds of employees constantly flying in circles through the city trying to find the bloody thing. It’s a nightmare. This wouldn’t have been so bad, but the OPC has a zero tolerance policy for being late. What was worse still was six months ago when the OPC began testing a new combat stimulant for the military, which the media dubbed ‘Berzerkoid’, fifty testies, as we like to call ourselves, broke loose while on Berzerkoid just as the sphere materialized in front of Dave’s Pet Emporium. Needless to say Dave went out of business that day. Bloody shame too, Dave was such a nice guy.

After three hours of flying and thanks to the social media page #whereistheOPC I found the clinic.

I sat down in my usual corner in the waiting room, on one of those hovering chairs. You know, the kind with no back and sort of teeters to the side when you lean. They are the same kind that did that mass recall about year ago because too many citizens were becoming seasick while sitting on them. Give me one of those antique legged chairs any day. Those are reliable.

The room itself was excessively cool, and everything in it was that awful white only colour scheme. It made me regret not bringing sunglasses. I think institutions such as these use that scheme to either make the room appear sterile and well maintained or to periodically blind patients to ensure repeat business.

Of the dozen or so occupants in the room only three were worth mentioning. The first: a yeti, by the looks of him, who blended too well against the white wall. On first glace I had mistaken him for one of those purple floating head creatures form the Gzestri galaxy. The second of note was a slug-being from the swamps of New Toronto. Its blubbery torso sagged off the sides of its chair. The natural sludge it produces formed a ringed puddle on the floor around it. The third being was Ukjit.

Ukjit and I share little in common save for the OPC. He’s an Ionian. Ionian as in ion, not Attica. Trust me, it matters. Like any third grade teaching slave will tell you, the Ionian’s rose to power in the early 80`s during the Jupiter wars. It was then that they began the art of augmentation. At birth the Ionians graft metals to their gelatinous worm babies in place of their organic parts. Originally this was to produce the galaxy’s most elite warriors. However, that was aeons ago and before their inevitable fall. Today they continue to augment themselves, but only to make their lives more viable.

For example, Ukjit had an iron rebreather in place of his mouth, to better breathe exotic atmospheres, a copper arm above the organic one on his left side to do the majority of tasks. Lastly, like all Ionians, he has no feet. In their place is a hover unit that uses three points of articulation to suspend him little more than a foot off the ground. Needless to say this made all Ionians quite plump. Picture, if you will, a marshmallow the size of a donkey, wrinkled and twice as chalky.

I have never actually spoken to Ukjit, nor any Ionian for that matter, but I have heard they sound like a wheezing dog in heat. I’m not sure what a dog is or why it’s so hot, but one can wonder.

I nodded to Ukjit, he nodded back.

To kill time, I picked up one of the many magazine chips that were massed on the coffee table before me, loaded it into the media slot in my arm. It turned out to be one of those ‘beauty’ magazines. I emphasize beauty because everything in it is far from glamorous. Take this spread on page nine. It’s by our good friends at Oba Corp. It reads: “No longer feeling intimate with your loved one? Sick of being the same old species and/or subspecies? Release your inner beauty. Try milk!” Then there is a picture of a like-potato with a sombrero and a pair of those ancient x-ray glasses. You know, the kind that are nothing like our x-ray glasses, ours work. At the bottom of the page is something about harvesting eternal souls. I dare not read on, I only have a limited time in this universe, after all. Besides, you get the picture.

At this juncture in time an Earthling female entered the room, introduced herself as the nurse. She wore the height of modern fashion; a pink dress with a thick purple brim, around her neck was an eggshell collar so large that the lip rested at her eye level. You know, the kind of collar that makes one’s neck look long and their shoulders thin. Her hair was held back by a small latex cap, a large red plus sign at its center.

I turned to Ukjit, rolled my eyes. He gave me what was either a smile or a scowl. I decided it was a smile.

The nurse cleared her throat, fed us the usual instructions off the data slate she held. She said: “Good day. You will each be prescribed an unknown dose of experimental medicinal by-product. Upon completing the testing phase you will learn what you were prescribed. This is to rule out the placebo effect. The testing phase will be completed after three pings are sounded. A single ping means food, two pings means food food.” She paused for a moment and wiped something out. “Sorry, about that. Two pings means something has gone awry and emergency personal have been dispatched. Emergency procedures can be found on page one-thirty-seven of your pamphlets. We thank you for your time and for choosing the OPC as your number one testing facility. Enjoy.”

The nurse bowed, walked to the back room, then wheeled around the Dotchfalo orb. This is what they used to decide which new age drug to prescribe us as well as which doctor.

Listen:

The orb itself was about the size of a mango, the pentahedrons that covered its surface were colour coded. The nurse touched a button on her data slate. A magnifying plate descended from the ceiling, hung in front of the orb. The lights went out and the sphere lit up. The nurse spun it on her palm and it flashed its brilliant colours over our faces.

All the testies cheered.

When the lights stopped flashing at random whoever cheered the loudest for that colour won that colour. You see, the colours corresponded with matching doors in the main hall. Behind said doors waited the doctors. However, this way takes an awful long time. You see, you are able to rebid on colours if you find one that better suits your aura. It also doesn’t help when two beings really want a certain colour. They always scream until one passes out. Thus allowing the one with the larger lung capacity to prevail.

I will keep this part short: No one cheered for blue. I got mauve.

Next we were herded en masse down a narrow hall, separated into offices to see which doctor we won. For the third time in a row I got Von-Spritzer. A curious fellow to be sure. You see, Von-Spritzer was a little Grey. Forgive my derogatory language, I know the A-word is taboo, but his people were aliens. You know, the kind that abducted Earthlings in those adorable flying disks of theirs. Only they did not abduct Earthlings for sport or experiments. As we all know today, they did it for the Earthling’s hair. The Greys cannot grow hair, so they must shave the heads, or bodies, of other species. Some species want enlarged reproductive organs, others want neon spandex, the Greys want a luscious head of hair. Von-Spritzer was very proud of his all natural Earthling hair. He told me once: “It’s passed down from father to son for many generations.”

As always, Von-Spritzer was strictly business. His hair bounced as he handed me a single yellow pill and a glass of chilled milk to wash it down. While I drank the smooth liquid, his immense opal eyes watched my hairy head, a thin pool of saliva flooded at the edges of his slit-like mouth. I decided it was time for a trim.

I swallowed the pill and was forced to hall once more with the other testies. The nurse herded us down it, via cattle prods and the like, until we reached the ‘Observation Lounge’. The room was roughly the size of a standard Earthling garage. Its contents were at the height of modern fashion. The walls were azure laminate, the floor was checkered noire and ivory. At the back, on a straw carpet, was an oval lemon teletube and two couches. Even the guard on the other side of the candy cane barrier rope was fitted with a pink latex suit and an opaque rounded helmet to match his dapper surroundings. He resembled, dare I say, an Earthling member.

Ukjit and I took our usual places on the tartan couch, the one situated directly in front of the teletube. The other testies, the new ones at least, began to mingle amongst themselves. On the second couch sat the slug-being, the one from New Toronto. It watched me very intently. Too intently. My eyes met its eyestalks. I smiled nervously. It farted back a hello.

“Hello,” I stammered. It began to speak in long sentences. You know, the way slugs-beings do, in that half fart half dying feline sound. The Earthling throat cannot pronounce slug-speak properly, but one can learn to understand it. The reverse is same for slugs-beings and Earthish. Try it for yourself. See, you sound foolish.

“I’m well, thank you, yourself?” I replied.

It farted and wheezed in response.

“Well it’s nice to meet you, Eggers. Is this your first time?… Yes, I’ve been there.. Oh you don’t say… You were the one with Ephrum… I see… Oh that, that was the old ball and chain… Haha, yes you did have quite the stellar moves… A what?… Mating ritual?… No, no I’m sorry, I didn’t know that’s what you were… I’m a what?… I am married, good sir… No, I don’t need ‘time’ to think about it… No, I’m not coming onto you… We’re not compatible… Says who? Says science… Your species asexually reproduces, you don’t even have the proper parts… That just makes me more worried… NO! I am not putting that there… A what? I don’t know that word… Oh, that’s just not right Eggers, not right at all… No, no, no don’t start…”

My newfound ‘friend’ began singing its rendition of Bach’s Little Fugue in G minor. It didn’t sound half bad, if truth be told, once you got past the gaseous noises and moldy foot smell. Having two vocal cavities truly works wonders.

Before it finished, however, the yeti stomped towards us. It towered over little Eggers, barked threats to stop singing. The next words exchanged, of which I dare not repeat, were like a sudden stamp of silence that ushered in a new era of malevolence. The whole room watched on, even the penis guard was curious now.

There was brief moment of silence. Eggers wriggled closer to the yeti. Comfortingly it placed an eyestalk on the yeti’s leg. Farted: “Are you coming onto me?”

The yeti howled an inconceivable racial slur, which only made Eggers all the more randy. Immediately two pings sounded over the PA, but they were lost in the chaotic uproar. Everyone in the room, save Ukjit and myself who resumed watching the teletube, tried to pry apart the yeti and little Eggers. The latter had made its way onto the former’s face and began thrusting, continuing its rendition of Bach’s masterpiece.

In the ensuing brouhaha a Floundorian lost its composure, reached for my arm. I immediately grabbed a discarded food tray, and with a thwack, I sent him reeling away, grasping his scaly head. Later, I would learn the poor fellow was concussed. Not that I’m proud or anything.

With a lack of carbon dioxide the yeti fell over, unconscious, and began to snow at the mouth. The scene had reached its climax, as did Eggers. Who then shuffled to the cigarette dispenser and acquired a pack of slims. From there, ittied up the wall and wormed into a corner. Triumphantly it had a smoke, then began to cocoon. Eggers would nest there until the self-impregnated egglings would hatch two months from now.

The fighting raged on for several minute until a squad phallic guards marched in, tasered several testies, then herded them out. Ukjit and I were amongst the few that remained.

We spent the rest of our time watching re-runs of Hanny of Barbaria cartoons and ads selected from Oba Corp. Product placement, after all, is predominant when the majority of your shares are owned by a corporation. Nothing else eventful happened after that ordeal, oh my dears. Well, maybe one. We had a fairly decent mutton for supper that night. There was even enough for seconds.

The OPC stayed on lockdown, as it normally does over the weekend, until the testing phase was finished. After we heard the three pings that signified it was safe to leave the Observation Lounge, we were herded out for our post-test phase. Poor little Eggers remained cocooned in his corner. The penis guard said it was best to leave its nest alone, that they would keep an eye on the cocoon until the egglings hatched and devoured little Eggers’s empty husk.

Von-Spritzer watched my unwashed hair as he filled me in on what happened. He told me Eggers was given a hormone stimulant, and the yeti a derivative of Berzerkoid. He asked me if I suffered any side effects from the trial. I told my chest felt tight. He deduced I may need a higher dosage, asked me to come back next week. I agreed.

What did they give me? Why milk of course. The pill was sugar and the milk, as stated before, was to release one’s inner beauty.

The following Thursday I awoke next to my Buddleia with three five inch long antlers growing out of my chest. I have no idea what that means. When I showed Von-Spritzer he became so excited that he hyperventilated into his hairpiece. He asked me to remain within the OPC for the next four weeks.

It’s been alright, so far. My wife wasn’t as distressed as I thought she’d be about postponing her trip. I think she’s just happy I’m getting steady work.

I am an apprentice electrician by day and a literary student by night. I live in Canada. My facebook page is: www.facebook.com/liamwritesthings.

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Doopli Cat and the Trials of Marriage by Andrew Nellis

May 17 2015 Published by under The WiFiles

Mallory stared at the floor of the upstairs study where a carton of peach ice cream was melting, the fruity milk soaking into the carpet. Next to that sat a bottle of Beefeater gin and ten feet away stood Bob staring into a corner of the room, wearing his tired bathrobe and holding a fistful of kitchen knives.

“Bob?” Mallory said.

He waved his free hand to quiet her.

“Don’t move,” Bob said, “It wants something.”

Mallory looked around the room. There were three small dents in the corner wall but everything else seemed normal: the desk heaped with construction paper, the floor trashed with cuttings, a half-empty gin glass stashed behind the pencil sharpener. There was the smell of something sharp, bleach maybe? Or peppermint?

“Bob, what the hell are you doing?” Mallory said. “We’re supposed to meet with the financial advisor in 45 minutes.”

“Just go without me,” Bob said. “You shouldn’t be in here anyway; you know I need this space for my art.”

“It’s our meeting, Bob. We both have to be there.”

Mallory walked over to the gin bottle and picked it up. The label was nearly scrapped off so she could only make out the word ‘eater’. Bob’s eyes flickered to her then back to the corner.

“Don’t come in here!”

“Oh, calm down,” Mallory said. “I’m not gonna mess up your vibe or whatever.”

Bob had blocked off the study six months earlier, claiming it was his “new process”. Mallory knew it was just another way of hiding after the DUI. He hadn’t sold any art since getting off probation and every week since then he’d come up with some new fangled solution for his slump. Of course, none of them had to do with sobriety.

All his misguided attempts to bounce back reminded Mallory of the times before all this, back to the day they met: sixteen years ago in Upper Division Painting at the university. It was the first day of class and she watched him that entire hour, hardly getting any work done herself. He was so careful, each stroke planted in just the right spot, like he knew where they belonged as if someone was guiding him. After class she asked him out and two days later they had sex in the back of the paint supply closet and again every night for the following three months.

The baby came in the middle of that year. Bob volunteered to dropout but Mallory refused. You can’t waste your talent, she remembered saying.

Now she watched him glare at the empty corner and wondered if he still knew how to mix paint.

“Seriously, we need to go. I don’t care how much you’ve had to drink, you’re coming. I’m texting the advisor to let him know we’ll be late.” Mallory set the bottle down, wincing as she did; her stomach still ached from her shift at the hospital. The new alzheimer’s patient punched her in the gut as his a way of saying hello. Half a second later he threw another jab but Mallory caught his wrist, gritting her teeth into a smile.

Bob crept towards the corner. Mallory looked up.

“What the hell are you doing?”

“There,” he said. “It’s right there and if I look away I’ll lose it and if I lose it then… well, it won’t be good.” Bob flung a knife at the wall but it hit handle-first and fell to the floor.

“Ugh, Bob.” Mallory rolled her head back and sighed.

“It moved,” Bob whispered. “It’s quick.”

She marched over to Bob, standing straight, looming two inches above his eye level.

“Give me the knives,” she said, her palm out.

Bob’s gaze shifted to her then back to the wall.

“I-no. I can’t. Mal, it’s not safe.”

“Bob, I’m not playing around here. Give them to me or I’m leaving again.”

Bob’s shoulders tightened.

“Mallory, I know what this looks like but I’m telling you, it’s not safe.”

“Fine, then you can explain to your daughter why I’m not here in the morning because I am not dealing with this nonsense tonight.”

A familiar thumping came from the stairs behind them. Rebecca appeared, wearing a tattered black t-shirt that revealed half of her left bra cup. She wreaked of pot and cheap body spray. At least she quit wearing those pants with chains on them, Mallory thought.

Rebecca had been transitioning through the various dress codes of teen angst: hiding in long sweaters, then wearing pajamas 24 hours a day, then black everything, and now something between punk rock girl and stripper… renegade groupie?

“What the shit’s going on up in here? Dad, what are you doing?” Rebecca said.

“Watch your language, Becky,” Bob said, still facing the corner. “Honey, you’re mother and I need to talk. Why don’t you go out for the night, see a movie or something?”

“A movie? What is this the 50’s?” Rebecca said, looking around the study, frowning when she saw the gin bottle. “What’re you two talking about? Is dad drunk again?”

“Yeah,” Mallory said, walking back to the doorway and leaning against a bookshelf.

“No, I am not,” Bob said. “We just need to talk.”

“Becky.” Mallory sighed. “Your father’s right, this might be a while. Is there anyone who can pick you up?”

Rebecca rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, I guess Chad could.”

“Chad?” Bob said. “That kids a jerk. I don’t like you seeing him.”

“Why,” Rebecca said, “cause he can still drive?”

“Young lady!” Bob yelled, still without turning.

“Oh, Jesus. Becky, here’s sixty dollars. Just give us some time please.”

Rebecca took the money, thumped down the stairs and out the front door, letting it slam behind her. The sound gave Mallory a measure of comfort. She wrinkled her forehead, wondering why she couldn’t have found a nice quiet boy to settle down with, like an accountant or, hell, even a garbage man; his wife wouldn’t have to deal with this sort of crap. She turned back to the study.

“Get away!” Bob yelled at the corner and hurled another knife which dented the drywall and fell.

“Stop, Bob! You’re gonna fuck up the house. What the hell are you on?”

“I’m not on anything. Stop insinuating… whatever. I was working,” Bob said, “on something new: a children’s book.” He edged towards the desk, snatched up a stack of papers and held them out for Mallory. She took the stack and looked down at what appeared to be a drawing of a cat…thing.

“His name is Doopli Cat,” Bob said, gin fumes coating his words. “He’s the messenger of imagination. I mean, I think that’s who he is. Or maybe he’s the messenger of inspiration?” Bob’s fist tightened around the remaining knives. “I just—I can’t figure him out. I mean, I know what he looks like, I’ve known that for years… since I was a kid, but… His story just isn’t coming. Nothing I’ve made feels right, it’s just too big or something. I had to clear my head so I got the gin, and then…”

Mallory looked at the drawing. Doopli Cat looked more like a furry person than anything: standing on two legs, wearing a red cape, and smiling with big square teeth.

“God damnit, Bob. I mean, I get that you’re working on something, which is great but…” Mallory shook her head and dropped her hands. “What the hell does this cat have to do with throwing knives at the wall?”

Bob crept back to the corner, accidently stepping in the growing puddle of melted ice cream but ignored it, letting his sock soak up the peachy milk.

“I just know how big this could be, you know?” Bob said. “Finally, a break. Can you imagine? A whole series of Doopli Cat books? But then this,” Bob sneered, pointing his chin at the corner.

Mallory stared with him, narrowing her eyes, searching for any explanation, a bug maybe? Or dirt? Anything other than more stalling and nonsense. And why couldn’t there be a reasonable explanation for all this? Don’t I deserve that? Just a little speck of hope?

“There’s nothing there, Bob. Your daughter already can’t stand us and now she sees you like this; all strung out on whatever, yelling at nothing. Look, I don’t know what you’ve taken this time but it’s not okay.”

“I-” Bob sighed through his nose. “I did drink, yes, but I didn’t take anything else. Listen-”

“No, Bob. Drinking? In the middle of the day? Haven’t you learned anything in the past two years? All those classes we had to pay for, I had to pay for, the hospital bills, the attorney fees, the court fees?”

“Just listen-”

“No.”

“Rah!” Bob erupted, shouting at the corner. “Leave me alone!”

“Whatever.” Mallory turned and walked down the stairs and out the front door.

Outside the air was bitter, instantly freezing Mallory’s nostrils. She walked to the end of the driveway and got in her pickup truck, sealing herself inside while it warmed up.

She thought of all the other nights spent like this, leaving her home in the dark, fried from work but driving anywhere that allowed smoking indoors. She’d spend the night there, burning through one cigarette after another.

The third or fourth time she’d found a downtown hotel that was nicer than the other places, clean at least, and run by some Chinese businessmen who smoked everywhere. It was expensive but ever since the first night she’d been putting money away, a little each month into her own bank account. She’d even bought a small water-color set. She would smoke and paint in her room, making little landscapes in runny blues and reds. She smiled and thought of the warm bed, the hotel shower, the fresh towels.

The morning after she would come home in need of fresh clothes and her blood pressure medication. Bob would be there, curled up on the floor. Last time she found him asleep with one of her shirts clung to his chest. She couldn’t fight much more after that.

Mallory lit a cigarette and sat in the warming truck, looking into the window of the upstairs study. She could see Bob’s shadow cast against the corner. How long are we going to keep this up, she thought, pulling out her phone to call the hotel.

She dialed the number and was about to hit send when a noise came from the house that made her stop.

Breaking glass?

She looked up as something smashed into the windshield.

Mallory jumped, nearly dropping her phone. The truck’s glass spiderwebbed from the impact.

She flung open her door and looked at the damage: pieces of gin bottle were scattered across the windshield but the label was still intact, reading ‘eater’. The study window was broken, the curtains sucked through the opening and waving in the wind.

Mallory slammed the door and marched inside. Bob was still facing the corner, unmoved, his foot still soaking in the ice cream puddle. His body was shaking and the smell of bleachy peppermint was strong.

Mallory looked at the corner.

There, just above eye level, appeared to be the shapes of two white eyes, a triangle nose, and a furry feline smile. It was the same color and texture of the wall. A… Cat? She thought. So this is it huh? This is his move, some shitty statue.

“Bob,” Mallory said.

Bob turned, his jaw slack, his eyes full of white panic.

“Mal, leave. It’s not safe,” Bob said, his voice was a broken whisper. She’d never seen him so scared, not even when he crashed the car two years ago and turned in his seat to see Becky’s unconscious body in the back seat, both her arms broken.

His fear was real and it clawed at Mallory’s guts, trying to pry its way in but she ignored it and walked closer. I’m just overtired, she thought. This is stupid.

The face stared at them. Then it moved: its eyes scanning left, then right, then settling on Mallory. Slowly, its mouth curled into a smile; a smile with large square teeth. The eyes blinked.

Terror bit deep, sinking into Mallory’s stomach. She felt its eyes on her, wanting.

“H-He’s come,” Bob whispered. He tried to throw a knife but it slipped from his hand and fell a foot in front of him.

A cracking sound burst through the room, like glaciers breaking apart. Mallory looked up to see the ceiling rolling like ocean waves, as if the plaster and paint had turned into liquid. It moved down through the walls until the entire room was a pale roiling sea.

Mallory’s brain screamed for answers but there were none. Fear pulsated through her, threatening to take over. Bob hunched down, his body shaking so hard that his teeth chattered.

She was alone again, like always. Ever since she could remember life had dropped her into the dark places to fight barehanded: the girls locker room, behind the bar that late October night, the hospital emergency room on her first day. All those years spent pretending not to be scared, keeping what focus she could, learning to hold on no matter what. Mallory gritted her teeth. Hold on, she thought.

The cracking noise faded as the waves began to settle and shapes formed in their place: hundreds of matte white eyes, triangle noses, and thick smiling mouths. Every surface of the room was covered in grinning opaque faces.

Their mouths opened and together they howled.

The noise shook the room but Mallory held fast, her jaw clenched.

Papers shot through the air, books curled backwards over their spines, pens erupted into inky tendrils. Bob, broken, screamed into the floor but no noise could penetrate the howling. It grew until Mallory’s lung vibrated so badly she couldn’t breathe. She fell to her knees and tried to inhale, her eye shut. Hold on, HOLD ON, she thought.

Then it stopped.

A soft breeze moved past them, carrying the scent of peppermint and bleach. She looked up and before her stood Doopli Cat.

He towered; his head nearly touching the ceiling. His body was a singular white tint, the same as the walls, and in his hands he held out a flat, blue rectangle, offering it to Mallory. She stared at it and, reaching out with shaking hands, took the rectangle. Doopli Cat smiled and knelt down in front of her; the smell of bleach and peppermint pouring from his smiling mouth.

Bob whined but stopped when Doopli Cat turned and frowned. Bob vomited gin onto the floor. The Cat turned back to Mallory and smiled. He lowered his head and spoke but no words left his throat. He made no noises but his lips moved, mouthing unheard things. Mallory watched his thick tongue snap out silent letters as puffs of eye-stinging chemical breath hit her face. Doopli Cat lifted his massive hand and pressed one long furry finger against Mallory’s forehead. It was soft and a warmness flowed through Mallory; she felt calm. The warmth reminded her of playing on her grandparent’s tire swing in the July heat.

Her jaw relaxed and she smiled. Doopli Cat stood and backed away. He stretched his arms wide and his body began to hiss. His skin evaporated into puffs of putrid steam that filled the room. The sting of bleach and peppermint threatened to burn exposed skin, forcing Bob to curl away, clamping his eyes and mouth shut but Mallory sat peacefully, still smiling. A second later it was gone.

Mallory stood and looked around the room. The books were destroyed, the desk looked somehow age worn, and the ice cream still sat on the floor. Bob stood, staring down at the blue rectangle in Mallory’s hands.

She realized for the first time that it was a book and on the cover was a picture of Doopli Cat drawn in wispy ink. The title read: Doopli Cat and the New Friend. Written by Mallory Kline.

She opened it and on the first page was a picture of the study, this study, the one in her house. It was clean and someone was sitting at the desk, a woman.

She turned the page and the woman was smiling, staring down at the desk and behind her stood Doopli Cat, looking over her shoulder, admiring her work. Mallory could still feel the cat’s finger pressed against her forehead, his warmth still running through her.

The third page was blank but something inside Mallory yearned for it, longing to touch it, to fill it. She could hear the empty paper crying out—it needed her.

Mallory walked to the desk, grabbed a pencil and started to draw. Bob crept towards her, trying to look over her shoulder.

“You’re going to be late,” She said without turning.

“I-”

“The financial advisor. You’ll have to go without me.”

Bob cleared his throat.

“Uh, sure. Yeah,” he said and slunk out of the room. A moment later the front door slammed as he left.

Mallory smiled and reached past the pencil sharpener where the gin glass was still hidden, half-full of melted ice and liquor. She lifted it and drank.

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The Aker Device By Stephen Reynolds

May 10 2015 Published by under The WiFiles

Richard collapses to the floor, his knees slamming hard onto the wood panels. The unwieldy device in his arms hovers a mere inch from collision as Richard’s stubby fingers tremble from the weight of the thing, turning white in the process. He ignores the radiating blasts of pain firing off in his lower limbs and delicately places the machine down. The two-story trek proved more difficult than his rotund body was prepared for, and he’s perspiring wildly as he removes his father David’s journal from his back pocket and cracks it open.

“Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds,” Richard reads aloud. He rolls his eyes. “That’s a bit much.”

He begins combing through the tome, skipping past months of detailed entries about the conception of David’s invention and the implications of its’ potential, stopping only when he sees a schematic of the machine. The sketch fills the entire page, with illegible notes scribbled next to a series of arrows. Richard flips to the following page, finding an elaborate illustration of four puzzle pieces coalescing into a sound wave. An envelope slips from the pages and falls to Richard’s lap. He hurriedly tears it open and reads the line preceding an extended list of details instructions.

“To my son,” Richard wheezes. “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”

He places the list next to the device and sets about completing the assembly of the machine, labelled only as “Aker” in the paperwork. He unfolds the large hose attached to the back housing, pointing the nozzle into the center of his father’s former home office. He turns Aker’s mechanical dial to the coordinates listed in David’s notes, unsure of what the compression and rarefaction rates refer to. He simply completes each step, as was instructed in David’s will. Finally, he takes a second, smaller hose from the side panel and attaches it to the two valves on top of the machine.

Once all of Aker’s pieces are connected, Richard compares the machine to the schematic and rereads all of the steps to ensure no detail was missed. Satisfied, he closes the journal and eyes the five switches lining the back panel of Aker. These five switches are the last step required before his task is complete. Before, if all goes according to plan, Richard sees his father again.

“Love you, Dad,” he whispers. He stares out into what now feels like the cavernous expanse of his father’s favorite room. The small cabinet of scotch bottles and packed bookcases lining the far wall seem a mile away. Richard sniffs softly and quickly flips the first switch.

Aker viciously belches out an awful sound from the hose, and Richard can feel the apparatus begin to vibrate through the floor panels. It’s a low rumble, but hearty. Steady and full, like a powerful engine. Richard’s confidence soars, and he flips the second switch.

Aker’s vibrations instantly increase in intensity, and the rumble’s pitch climbs to a higher frequency. Aker is now shaking more violently, and the bottom of the machine is slapping against the wood in a rhythmically off kilter pattern. In front of the machine, the hose slowly snakes back and forth like an agitated copperhead. Richard scrambles to his feet and searches the surrounding area for a restraint. Finding nothing, he scrambles to his father’s desk and rifles through the drawers. He grabs a roll of packing tape and hustles back to the hose, refocusing the nozzle into the center of the room and taping it down. Behind him, Aker’s vibrations settle into a less unnerving pattern.

“Just needed to warm up,” Richard tells himself as he places the roll’s final piece of tape across the hose. It wasn’t the most secure it could be, but Richard hoped it was strong enough to hold for now. He tosses the empty tape roll across the room and flips the third switch.

Aker screeches, and Richard crumbles to the ground in agony. A wave of piercing tones shoots from the hose in front of him. As he writhes, he sees the hose pushing upward with the cadence of the sound blasts, threatening to tear away from the floor and rise to the ceiling. He tries to remove his right hand and reach for the fourth switch, but the piercing sound and its residual echo are too painful to bear. He squirms around, maneuvering his foot to the fourth switch in between each piercing blast and each body wince, and closes his eyes as he flips it on with his heel.

The frequency changes again, this time dropping several octaves. The new frequency is constant, and Richard feels his core rumble. It’s unsettling, like an unending earthquake, but certainly not painful. Richard drops his hands from his ears in relief, and cautiously opens in eyes.

He stares in wonder at what appears to be millions of small specks, originating from the taped-down hose and expanding to the furthest points in the room. The hose is stationary again, and the guttural rumbling from the machine has decreased in intensity. He approaches the stream, and delicately stretches out an arm. It moves through the specks freely, as if they don’t exist.

Emboldened, he creeps into the stream entirely. It’s cold, and he shivers as pins and needles tickle his bare feet. He notices the specks intermittently bouncing all around him. It looks like unstructured dancing, in a way. He stares into the blackened entrance of the nozzle, slinking forward as he attempts to decipher exactly what he is standing in. And what he is looking at. But it’s simply darkness, until it spreads out into the room and isn’t anymore.

Richard steps out from the stream and returns to the back panel of Aker. He looks down at the final switch in anticipation, thinking about the implications of this device were it successful. And what those implications meant to what kind of man his father was. He exhales loudly.

“Here we go,” he whispers as he flips the final switch. The low rumblings of the machine immediately dissipate. In fact, all noise does. It terrifies Richard, this vacuum, and he attempts to fill it.

“Dad?” he asks quietly, but the moment the word escapes his lips it seems to evaporate. Richard calls out again, louder this time.

“Dad?”

Again, the word disintegrates, and Richard feels his heart race. He calls out again, this time a constant string of words, one connecting with the next until he runs out of breath.

“David, where are you? I need to talk to you right now or I will be forced to turn this machine off. Can you hear me? I’m going to keep talking until someone decides to show their f-“

He inhales.

“-ace around here. I went through all this trouble and the least you could do is hold up your end of the bargain, Dad. This wasn’t easy, lugging this thing up two flights of st-“

Inhale.

“-airs and you’ve got this detailed list of instructions. You know I don’t know science, I’m an art major, I don’t understand half the words in your journal-“

Richard stops when he sees the man materialize before him. Balding. Bearded. Same height and size. Same blue eyes. His father. Standing in the speck stream.

“Hello, Ricky,” David says flatly, before offering a devilish grin. “Good to see you again. I knew you could do it.”

“It worked,” Richard laughs in exhausted disbelief.

“It worked.”

Richard rushes to embrace David, disregarding the discomforting chill from David’s touch. The two quietly hold each other.

“Listen,” David says as he pulls away. Between them, the specks pop and dance away with each breath. “I don’t know how long I have before the machine will need to recharge, so I need you to do exactly as I say.”

“Of course,” Richard says, clearing his throat. “Whatever you need, Dad.”

“Go to my office at Loyola. Contact Jenny Steadman, my old research assistant. She won’t understand the totality of what I’ve accomplished until she reads my notes. She will help you find a bigger power source for Aker. Because we need more. Much more.”

“Power source?” Richard asks, confused.

“Yes, Aker is powered by a very specific combination of energies. My calculations must have been off, because I can already feel it draining. To keep it open and do the work we are going to do, it needs to be a much larger timeframe. In fact, we may have to rebuild the whole thing from scratch, and take everything up three scales.”

“Dad, I don’t understand. Work? I thought you just-“

“It’s more than removing the fabric between your living world and this one, son,” David exclaims, his solid form becoming increasingly translucent. He smiles softly and offers a gentle wave as Richard begins to sobs in confusion. “Find Jenny Steadman, and bring her to Aker. And hurry.”

“Dad!” Richard calls out a last time, as David’s body is close to disappearing completely. “Dad!”

“Ricky, this is only a beginning.”

Stephen Reynolds is a former Journalism student currently pursuing his love of fiction. His writing has appeared at What Culture, Just 100 Words, and in January will appear at Saturday Night Reader.

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