Author's Preface: Dave Mack, annoyed that I twisted a froup plot in a different direction than he intended it to go, decided to kill me off. So he did. Naturally, this being in t.b, I responded in kind. Notcherwolly, as Albert would say, he wasn't the only one to be gigged...
Then did the rogue Miles of the bunny-eared jet
Intervene with another plot twist, yet,
A schism in the fabric of the universe was felt,
When, uninvited, Stormwind's forces dealt
He a sudden blow, from quarters unexpected,
And then Dave Mack, the Beenie Weenie, suddenly projected
A horrid, drug delirium upon the interloper.
Who responded, though yet dead, to that fetid doper,
by luring him to suicide, thence banished to a Sun
to pester the Carasso, the sorely hated one.
It was a dark and stormwind night, he thought to himself as the gale-force winds seemd to shake his house. Funny, he thought to himself, this house is triple-brick; it never shook before, even when San Andreas talked to us. Oh well, it's tired, I'm late, and...and I'm not thinking quite up to Paar, he thought that he thought, but wasn't quite sure.
Turning towards the one window with open curtains, Dave heard some of the most controlled, yet insane guitar music mortal ears had ever heard. Walking to the window, which was open despite the general alert, Dave heard a distant voice above the beautiful, yet chaotic (an involuntary shudder) and somehow horrid music. He could barely make out the words, "come on, take me away..." In the distance, to the north, he could make out the Aurora Borealis. Not quite Charmin, he noted, and wondered again why his brain was not quite as together as he liked.
An incredibly cold mist that smelled vaguely of guts and urine wafted in on the warm SoCal air. Dave involuntarily shuddered and drew back. He closed the window, pulled the blackout shades, and lit the sole lamp allowed during general alert. He turned back towards the tunnel entrance that led to his lab, and nearly dropped the lamp.
"There are no such things!", he mused aloud, and his own voice startled him.
"Then why are you so nervous?", the shape in front of him intoned.
"Too much 'New Coke'...what am i saying???!!!", Dave screamed. "Just who or what the *&%^$#$%@ are you, anyway?"
"Ah, Dave. I am the ghost of literary hypocrisy and cheap shots past... the ghost of performance levels below those of communication..."
"There are no such things as ghosts!", Dave spat triumphantly and turned away toward the john again. He was getting a distinctly queasy feeling somewhere north of his electrophonic liver replacement.
But the apparition was sitting on his toilet, his toilet, on his toilet! Grinning at him. Dave no longer needed to use it. Mouth agape, spittle running in tiny rivulets down from his lower lip to form a miniature, disgusting Niagra that fell, splashing in the feeble glow of the darklamp, phosphorescing beautifully in the thin band of colors available, a sure sign that the isotopes he had been putting on his Wheaties (tm) were integrating into his body as planned, cascading down to form a dark spot on his belly where it overhung his jeans, a sure sign that he was losing it bigtime, Dave wondered why he was stuck in such a run-on sentence.
Faintly, the merest ghost of a plop came from where the thing sat.
"It's a metaphor," the thing on the toilet thought back at him, grinning from ear to ear now (I didn't think that was really possible, Dav'e subsubconscious signalled to no avail). "A metaphor of wasted time, of MIPS gone by, of costly bandwidth spent on pure dribble, like that on your bellybutton."
Goaded a little too much, Dave began to regain control. He turned away and staggered for the communication subsystem. Nothing stood in his way. But as he slapped at the power switch, the thinnest, merest hint of a hand with a knife darted out of the handset, and cut Dave's hand off. Dave suddenly realized that the (ghost?) had worn bunny ears.
Blood spurted onto the console. Dave's mind, focused by the pain, grabbed the hand & stuck it in a pocket. Grabbing a MagiSeal, he slapped it on the stump of his gun hand, and cursed quietly to humself, all the while refusing to admit this could be happening.
"Dave...can you feel your circuits going, Dave? Sing me a song, Dave."
"DAMN YOU!" With a speed that even a cheetah would have admired, Dave whirled and unleashed a torrent of heavily concentrated sulfuric acid and bat tears at the form, but before the liquid hit the space where the apparition (ghost, his subsubsubconscious screamed, but was ignored), floated, the (ghost?) disappeared. But before Dave could respond, he realized it was floating outside the (open!) window, beckoning, and crooning, "come on, baby take my hand, don't fear the reaper..."
Against his will, against all that made sense, against all that he cared about, Dave felt himself being pulled, as if by some damned tractor beam he didn't believe in (maybe Seth was right, his id kicked him in the butt), towards the (open!) window.
<Brrrzzttt! GZZzoackk!> The sensitive, final inch of his tongue disappeared in a shower of sparks that would have been more fitting coming from a substation being stamped by Godzilla than flying from his nose. In the smell of burnt flesh, Dave recognized that maybe, just maybe, the end was getting near at much more than the rate of 1 year per year that he had counted on for so long.
"Wha happa?", he heard float from his mouth, as his lips refused to touch the still glowing ember that had been his tongue. He knew he ought to be feeling some pain there, but was somewhat grateful that he didn't, until he noticed the faint odor of burnt insulation that signalled burnthru into his secondary medulla oblongotta mr x had implanted in his tongue.
Everything went black for a few seconds until the backup stabilizers in his accessory spleen kicked in.
"Didn't know you smoked?", deadpanned the vile thing. And, after a long pause, "looks like you shorted the fusion batteries there. But don't blame mr x; I may have helped it along a little", the ghost explained in a voice so chilling that icicles began to form in the pool on Dave's navel.
Unable to resist anymore (helped along by the fact that the ghost was looking more each minute like Gilligan from Ginger's Island (blood losses getting severe! his prenapthalic self cried in frsutration)), Dave fairly leaped through the window, grabbing longingly for his lifetime idol, only to hear a vain, "Ginnnnnnjjjjjaaaaa!!!!!!" tear from his lips (his tongue having finally burned itself down to the filter and gone on strike), as he fell towards the imported Georgia clay walkway below, neither the lust of his life nor his recent tormentor being any more visible.
He became aware that he was moving rapidly through a wind, in a generally upward direction. Then he became aware that the wind was trying to kill him. It wanted to rip him from his perch. It was a malevolent, giant, evil force, crushing him, trying to rend his last grasp on reality away, not to mention his as yet unfathomed hold on whatever surface he was currently attached to. As he cautiosly opened a few more select inputs, he heard the mighty roar, worse even than a typical rock concert where he usually crawled into the PA's bass cabinets and crashed before things were half over. Screaming lights, colors, vague shapes, all tore past his eyes at incredible speed. Fortunately he was wearing his eyeshields, or eyes were just one more of the sensors that would be lacking in the present moment.
Dave was finally aware of the dawn, or rather of the dawning revelation that was working its way in - that he was astride an aircraft very near the sound barrier. Lunatic laughter echoed around in the caverns of his mind, crescendoing and then fading, slapping back on each other, first reinforcing, than killing each other like some insane battleground, until the last laugh finally faded away, and he wondered whose it really was, anyway. Somehow, after the recent turn of events, he had the vague feeling it wasn't his.
At any rate, from what little he could tell of the plane's shape, it was an F-14, which meant he was probably in good hands. Leave it to Stormy (familiarity? queried a section of his mind he really didn't care to pay attention to right now, so he didn't) to show up when things got tight. He realized he was held onto the fuselage of the plane by his magnetic belt buckle he had made in Boy Scouts. Carefully, he inched his way towards the cockpit, and the egress he was sure awaited him there. Painfully, he dragged himself with his 1 good hand, pushing forwards with his feet, despite what the effort was probably doing to his best pair of Arnie (tm) argyle socks (the only pair that matches the icicles on your belly right now, some all-too-near-the-edge pysche-section spoke).
After what seemed like weeks of painful, careful, agonized dragging of what was left of his former glory towards the cockpit, he attained the egress he had irrationally expected to find. He quickly slithered through the hatch, and looked forward. There was nobody there. The heads-up displays were functional; the guages all active, the stick moving slightly; all the lights were on, but there was nobody home.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood up for a second, then collapsed again in a stupor, amazingly like that Dave himself was fighting even at this moment. He turned, opened the rear hatch, and finally noticed what he had missed since he had awakened (and amazed to be alive, he suddenly realized). Bunny ears. Not vertical stabilizers. BUNNY EARS..
"AAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!", Dave screamed and collapsed in a heap. After a few minutes, noticing that he no longer needed to use the bathroom, Dave slowly turned and opened his eyes. Sure enough, there was now a faintly glowing outline of a pilot in the front seat.
"Ever flown in a Hornet before?"
Dave vaguely noticed sobbing sounds near his ears.
"Yeah, they moult the ears after a few flights, and grow regular tails later on...", the voice faded in and out. Dave noticed that things were getting dark and stars were appearing. Then he noticed that his chest was not moving. The air was very thin here, but he wasn't breathing!
"No, your cardiac pump malfunctioned on the way to the tarmac, Dave. So, I got the job of shuttling you on to the next stop. Of course, you don't believe in all this (no, i dont), Dave. But you'll see soon enough (right)."
The F-18 went vertical and accelerated faster and faster. Soon they reached a point where the stars started changing colors. Sometime later (this can't be happening), the stars ceased to exist. The cockpit showed infinite speed, but there was a sense of motionlessness, probably due to the fact that there seemed to be nothing around them.
"Well, Dave, that's it. My part's done. Sorry, old chap, but I'm afraid you brought it on yourself!"
The apparition (I don't believe in ghosts. So why I am I still here?) grabbed a handle marked in huge, red letters OCCUPANT EJECT, and pulled. Dave braced for an impact on his butt, but instead the plane simply disappeared around him.
Heeere am i sitting without a tin can, far above the world, Dave thought, and regretted it, as no world was visible. Suddenly, he was blinded by a light brighter than the time he carelessly looked at a test nuclear explosion (three sets of eyeballs back).
"You don't exist either. I don't believe in you go aWAY!!!", Dave screamed, torn between the urges to cry, run away, fight, and soil his clothes, which, he noticed suddenly, were burning away (albeit painlessly) from the ultimate flame in front of him.
"No, Dave. I am. And so are you. For now. You have been weighed and even after allowing for the settling of contents, you are just so much air, coloring, and artificial flavoring. All packaging and hype. No nutritional value, Dave. Sorry, Dave. You had your chance and blew it. Yet I still have a use for you. Take him away."
Something Dave could not really sense, but which was nevertheless there, urged Dave off to his right. Dave was afraid it would touch him. "Don't pity me, you fiend! I don't even belie... er, that is,... well, just don't pity me!" Overwhelming waves of something that was not pity tore at his very being. Suddenly, Dave was, at last, alone. A sense of dizzying speed and of going in circles was upon him violently. Massive streams of holes in space and non-holes in space flew past him in spurts, sometimes from the plane (2-D???!!!, he thought thoughtlessly) of his existence, sometimes to it, and sometimes from one part of it to another. There was a sense of order to it all, but Dave could not comprehend it. Entire populations sprang into existence around him, others disappeared, and others mutated at incredible speeds, growing, shrinking, or simply changing. Others were static.
I almost could believe this is hell, he thought. No control. No communication. no comprehension.
This went on for what seemed like eons, with occasional holes in his existence, usually preceeded by a sense of time dilation, and succeeded by a sense of time contraction.
After two or three forevers, suddenly Dave found himself picked up, and thrown purposefully towards a hub of much activity. He was stuck in line with many of his neighbors, and after a mere year or two, the whole batch of them, with a few tagalongs, was picked up and slung through a series of space-time warps (as near as he could figure), to come to rest in an entirely different universe. Here, all was still. They each stayed exactly where they had been put, for a long time. Then, he was split in two, and one of himself was ferried off to another place, this time being transmogrophied along the way into a new entity, yet still somehow himself. This new self was still 2-d, but larger, and seemd to mean something more than his self of late. He was surrounded by bright lights, and others like himself changed and hung up in space. The radiation was fierce, and the huge electronic forces that struck him should have destroyed him, but did not.
There were sound waves of incredibly low frequency hitting around him. His ears never really adjusted, but his eyes finally made out 2 faces larger than Mt. Rushmore staring at him. They seemded to be talking, although not at him. Far, far below him, there was some motion, and he felt himself jerked upwards spontaneously, by a little more than his current height. He noticed that one of the faces looked vaguely like a velvet picture of Elvis Presley he had seen on a street corner near a van selling lots of such items. He screamed, he hollered, but neither of the giant entities (if they were really there) paid any attention.
Have I lost it, he wondered. Am I even now laying in a stupor, or a mental ward somewhere, hooked to a (shudder) biofeedback system, and on (ugh) drugs? Why do those thoughts bother me so much? Why can't I move? What is going ON?
Suddenly, his new existence faded, and he was back in the circular universe. This happened off and on for a long, long time, but was little better than the terrible nothingness he felt when it was not happening.
"Rog, we really have tried. We can't find anything to explain it. We swapped Suns for you. We gave you a new userid. For a while, we even thought you had to be doing it..."
Roger interrupted the student assistant. "What? Why would I be doing this?"
"We were desperate. We are monitoring your entire system. We are monitoring the network. That icon just sort of appears in your memory, and after some random time it apears in your vidoe RAM. It only goes away when you log off, and it doesn't happen to anyone else. No idea what disk it's on."
"Well, I could live with the stupid thing, except that every time it appears, I start losing files and stuff."
"Well, one of the sysadmins suggested that it was the talk.bizarre.cabal attacking you, but we can't find anything to support that. We can't even find where it comes from! One of the net gurus over in Support suggested maybe you are doing pennance or something", the SA grinned.
Roger cringed. "I really am sorry about all that stuff. I'm trying to do better. Doesn't anybody ever just forgive and forget?"
"Hey, be cool, dude. She was only kidding, and we all knew it. It's just one of those things, you know? Well, we're still at it. Admin's pretty freaked over this thing, afraid it's another Internet virus. Hey, they name viruses and stuff like that after their discoverers, don't they? Far freakin out! The RDC Internet-Sun Virus? Or maybe just...the Carasso...hey, just kidding!"
The SA trucked off, and Roger turned his attention back to Cory. He thought glumly, at least when old Mack dove out that window on drugs, they didn't try to blame me for that. <sigh> Well, logout and start over again...
Last updated: 29 Mar 1994
Copyright 1989, 1994 Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.
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This copyright may be freely used, distributed and modified subject to the conditions noted above in the preceeding paragraph. Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514