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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