Sunday, May 1, 2016

Vestigial Surreality: 21: Dream Place

The Sunday SciFi Fantasy Serial, Free Online Fiction, Mystery, Ancestor Simulation, Digital World, Data is Data
episode TWENTY-ONE

Stacey sat on the edge of his bed in his apartment, and dimly, he registered that this was a repeat of a recent dream episode. He barely spared the time to look about at his apartment, the messy, unkempt clothes strewn about, the sagging, unmade bed—this was not real, a remote part of his mind told him. It was real, he was here, but it was not a fully made reality. He was in some kind of way station. And he remembered, this time, that he had been here many, many times before this...visit. Whenever he had one of these dreams (how he always thought of this place) he would distantly recall the dream, later in the day, or perhaps several days removed from the actual dream, as one of his Dream Place dreams. That’s what this was, the Dream Place. He had met other people here. Sometimes it was like a huge factory of old, sagging furniture, at other times it was vast restroom with thousands of horrible, leaking toilets, soggy toilet paper, and distant echoing voices.
He got off the bed and strode to the window. His body moved weirdly. His feet stayed upon the ground, but he felt weightless, and yet too heavy, as if his body increased in weight in direct proportion to how much gravity actually reduced. He moved the tattered drapes and put his face close to the glass of the window. The window was cracked, great shattering splinters tracked in jagged lines—if he pushed a finger against the glass, the whole puzzle-piece splintering would fall, exploding into sharp, glittering knives. Thick fog moved just on the other side of the glass.
He moved back from the window, his hands exploring himself, feeling his face, tugging at his hair. His jaw was stubbly as if he had missed shaving perhaps a week’s worth of gray days.
Everything seemed slightly gray here, the colors muted. The program was drawing only what Stacey was looking at directly, and he felt, spookily, that even now, with his back to the window, that there was no window there, but if he turned, quickly, the jagged, shattered glass panes of glass would come into being, as he required the elements of his existence. Even his body was poorly drawn, the details of his existence only there as he looked at his arm, or his fingers went through his hair—what was that, he had a dim recollection of fingers through his hair—what was he trying to remember? Fingers moving through this hair, lips whispering near his ear.
His grandma? He remembered his grandma. Vaguely. She would put her fingers through his hair, whispering roos choont, what was that? Why could he only vaguely grasp at her memory? She had loved him more than any other person in his life had ever loved him. She was the only one to push her fingers through his hair. He grasped at his hair, pushing his fingers into the great tangles of curls and waves—yes, this is my hair, it is here, quite the mess, right now, but only because I am thinking of my hair, only because I am touching it, feeling it, proving to myself that this is me, standing in some half-drawn world.
He moved from the room into the short hallway, but this wasn’t right, this was not his apartment, even though the seed of thought was buried in his mind to grow that this was his apartment, but he had never been in this particular layout before, and he wasn’t certain he could explain, at this moment, the concept of apartment. His thoughts were poorly drawn. A feeling of unreality swam over him, he felt dizzy, uncanny, his skin alighting with gooseflesh—the program is half-heartedly drawing all this, right now, he thought, noticing large cobwebs stretching from the ceiling to the wall, dead insects hanging old and husky, and fog, this place was full of fog. No, not exactly fog, but there was no clarity of vision, what was it? An absence of light? Not darkness, not exactly, and not light—this place was a place between darkness and light. The Dream Place was a way station poorly drawn, a waiting place—perhaps a weighing place?
He perceived a light switch. Without thinking, he touched it, and flicked it up. Nothing happened. There was no light in this place. Electricity did not work here, in the Dream Place.
Bad bones. Bad bones, what was that? Roos choont, bad bones, it’s what his grandma called him, her roos choont, a term of endearment. Like Lazy Bones, yes, he remembered that, wasn’t it a song? Sleep in the sun. Can’t even get your day’s work done? Something like that.
He heard rustling somewhere near, and again he felt all the skin of his body rise up in gooseflesh. If I was a wolf, it would be my hackles rising—if I was a wolf—Wolf, I am Wolf.
Stacey moved toward the sounds, it sounded like dishes jostling, silverware, the muffled but ringing tones of plates and coffee cups knocking together.
The sounds, close by, could be plates and cups and silverware, or it could be...bones. And he stopped, hands touching either side of him on the close walls, his fingertips sinking into the mushy, crumbling plaster. Bones, why bones, why bad bones?
The program is spinning at half speed, supplying only distantly, what I require, only as I need it.
He looked down at the floor, what was that? Movement, he peered, but his eyes could not pull together the details of what he was attempting to see, but a distant thought—scorpion—he did not wish to step on a scorpion, because his feet were bare, but why would there be a scorpion in here? His mind was playing tricks on him, but why in the world would he be thinking about scorpions, and cobwebs, spiders? Why was he so afraid?
He thought of smashing a scorpion with a black stick—a knobbed, black club—and the fingers of his left hand clasped, as if to hold a stick, but there was no stick in his hand. Where is my shillelagh? He didn’t feel whole, complete, without the walking stick in his hand. Where did I put my shillelagh? And the word shillelagh felt odd in his mind, a foreign word, he didn’t quite know what it meant, but for some reason, words like bones, like program, like apartment—these words floated in his mind, poorly drawn. Nothing in his head was anchored. Nothing was connected, nothing attached to anything else. The gravity in his head was gone, and everything floated about freely, thoughts, ideas—he was barely able to grasp at anything, and as soon as he did think of anything, the thoughts floated away from him even as he attempted to focus.
He moved down the hallway to a large opening on the right and as he moved near, he flooded with fear, and his breathing began to wheeze, because he did not wish to look into that open space, the room with a somewhat brighter illumination, where the sounds of dishes and bones originated.
He needed light. Yes, he knew that. Light. But there was no light here. He could see things, but not because light struck the things. The things were just there, and perhaps he was not even using his eyes to see the decrepit things about him.
He heard what he thought were voices, to his left, and he focused his eyes at the dark rectangle on the wall on his left. He touched it, a metal grate, and one of his fingers broke through the brittle metal, but he heard the voices again, and he cocked his head, leaning to the left, listening.
“He just needs to rest a bit,” a voice came, almost clearly, a familiar voice. Who was that, Stacey wondered, listening. The voice seemed to be coming through the metal grate, a vent cover, he was hearing her, the girl, it was a girl’s voice, from a long distance away.
Someone else replied, Stacey couldn’t make out the words, but it was a male voice, mumbling. He was about to move away from the vent, because now it was quiet, but then he heard her again, the girl.
“Oh boy, that one might take a bit more than an arrow,” she said, and Stacey almost remembered her, he could almost picture her face, but the program was fighting him, he could sense that, some force was clouding his mind, keeping him not fully drawn. An image of a fierce female warrior lifting a bow suffused him, momentarily. A Valkyrie? An Amazon?
Arrow, that word. It linked with scorpion. He didn’t know why they went together, arrow and scorpion, but the idea tickled his mind.
“I think if we don’t move, like Stacey said, maybe it will just keep going down the river,” and that was Jack, speaking, Stacey was clearly able to catch at that thought. He could hear Jack, the kid, somewhere up above, speaking softly, almost whispering. Jack, my son.
He closed his eyes and shook his head, no that wasn’t right. Jack is not my son, I’ve never had a son, I’ve never had children, but Jack, Jack, yes, that felt right, Jack is my son, the son I never had. We thought we were each other, you and me, the same person, us, didn’t we, or something else, what was it? Stacey, that’s me, and Jack, that’s my son. And then in a moment he did not know who was Stacey, or Jack, he remembered nothing.
“What are you doing in my hair?”
“Just smelling you.”
“Well stop it, it’s distracting.”
Stacey could not discern who was saying what, these were just disjointed whispers, without meaning, and the truth was, these voices and whispers were probably all in his head, like the window that might or might not be there, depending on whether or not he was looking at it.
A dish fell to the floor. Stacey heard ceramic shatter. Or China. China? What did China have to do with anything? What was...China?
He moved to the open space and dimly perceived someone, a small shape, swaying at a kitchen sink mounded with dirty dishes, a helter skelter pile of leaning cups and plates. The figure at the sink, with its back to Stacey, mumbled and swayed, and as he watched, the thing moved a plate into the dry sink, and mimed washing the plate. What in the world? He did not want this creature to turn around. He dimly perceived what the program was playing at. Program?
Stacey heard a door open and after a moment close, somewhere far away, in another part of the building, perhaps on another floor. He pictured a warren of doors, a beehive of doors with rooms in a vast, dark building, he could almost envision the piles of garbage in the corridors, stacks of junk, and were those sleeping figures, huddled against walls, dreamers dreaming, everyone linked in the Dream Place, vague, confused minds, detritus of hopes and fears rustling like plastic bags moved by the wind. Fear moving up and down the corridors. Confusion lurking in the shadows.
He was obviously meant to communicate with the small, lumpy figure at the dry sink, the confused figure washing the dishes, but he did not wish to interact, he was not going to give the...program, that satisfaction. Stop messing with me, he thought, backing out of the dilapidated kitchen and back into the hall, and he reached for the metal grating, but when he looked the rectangle of old, crumbling metal was no longer there.
Of course. It did not desire to taunt him with the voices, not any longer, no, it required him to move into the kitchen, like some video game—it had him in some stupid haunted house maze, and for whatever reason, it wanted him to move along, be a good boy, follow the program, follow the programming. Just play out the scenario. But he wouldn’t.
“I won’t,” Stacey said. “I am Wolf.

Fantasy, Mystery, Ancestor Simulation, Hologram Universe, Singularity, Matrix

Jack drew the bow with all his strength. This was what he was good at, he was an archer. He targeted the ugly face of the charging bull scorpion, and intended to place the arrow exactly in the same spot where Seven had placed hers, when she killed the smaller scorpion. He inhaled, filling his chest to maximum capacity, and he held, waiting, tracking the monster as it rushed forward.
Seven’s horse, Dancer, had now seen the approaching scorpion, and reared up, hoofing the air, and then whirled and bolted, kicking up soil as it thundered away, in the direction of the Great House.
“Jack, let it go after Dancer,” Seven murmured, close to Jack’s ear, “if you fire, you’ll only turn it toward us. Dancer can outrace it.”
“I don’t think so, that thing is faster than a horse,” Jack said, calmly, sighting down the length of the arrow, placing the tip on the target.
“You’re right, kill it,” she said, and she snatched up Stacey’s black shillelagh and twirled it experimentally between her hands.
“That’s weird,” Jack said, calmly, not looking at her, not taking his eyes from the scorpion that was now only twenty yards away and moving scarily fast, “that thing shocked me when I touched it.”
Jack loosed the arrow, and it flew true, snapping into the bull scorpion’s face. But the monster did not fall. It ploughed the ground with its six legs as it came to a grinding halt, and did a little dance, its chitinous body sounding like rattling platemail, and turned to face them, now about fifty feet away.
Jack did not hesitate but nocked another arrow and fired again. And another arrow protruded, on the other side of its face. The scorpion stood, clacketing its giant lobster claws. Both arrows were punched deeply, only half of the shafts showing.
It came at them, its initial pounce covering more than thirty feet, more than halving the distance between them. Seven screamed, placing herself between the scorpion and Stacey, twirling the shillelagh.
Coolly, calmly, Jack nocked another arrow and drew the bow as far as he could manage, and loosed, the arrow snapping directly between the two arrows he had already planted in the bull scorpion. At first, he thought he must have missed, but the fact that he brought it up short, yes, he had hit it, directly. Deeply.
The monster paused again, its tail up twenty feet in the air, a stinger the size of a baseball bat poised and dripping black venom.
The third arrow had literally disappeared inside the monster, not even showing fletching. These were three very good shots. Perfect shots. But the bull scorpion did not even seem fazed. Seven was right, it was going to take more than arrows to dispatch this thing.
“We’re in trouble, we’re in trouble, we’re in trouble,” Seven chanted, lifting the shillelagh, figuring she could make one powerful ax strike downward into its head before it got her in those claws—or at least just before the stinger took her through the chest. But she was going to take that swing, yes she was—it would have to kill her first before she would ever allow it near Stacey, or Jack.
And then Jack glanced away from the bull scorpion, which still stood waiting, ever clacketing its claws. He glanced to the trees where that sparkling thing moved in the foliage, now shining brighter, twinkling like an industrial strength spot light, and Jack winced, because the light was so bright it hurt his eyes, even in full daylight.
Whatever it was hurled itself from the trees as the light suddenly winked out and the thing soared through the air—Jack thought of a flying squirrel, that’s what it looked like, a small dark body expanded, the folds of its furry skin catching the air—and it streaked through the air toward the scorpion, leaving a trail of sparkles in its wake.
It landed on the scorpion’s back and did a little dance. It looked like a meerkat, only larger. The little creature was about the size of a Collie dog, or a Sheltie, and black and white, and furry, and it danced about chittering—it almost sounded like a child giggling!
The scorpion reacted, striking down with its stinger.
Seven screamed again.
But the little rodent creature danced nimbly out of each strike of the scorpion’s tail, and the brute struck, again and again, hitting itself in the carapace as it attacked in a frenzy. The little creature giggled and leapt neatly off the monster and did its little dance between the great claws, which seized at the meerkat, and Jack tracked them, the scorpion and the meerkat, aiming with another arrow, bow fully drawn, but he did not wish to hit the brave little meerkat as it danced with monstrous death.
Jack noticed that there were nasty holes ripped in the bull scorpion’s body, where it had struck itself.
The meerkat held what looked like drumsticks, and with these it beat out a little pattern on each claw as it danced between the pincers, giggling all the while.
The bull scorpion snapped at it, repeatedly, all the while striking down with its stinger, punching the ground. The meerkat giggled and beat a little staccato on the monster’s face with its little drumsticks. Then it darted away, leaving that trail of what looked like fireflies in its passage, and the bull scorpion pursued, stinging the dirt and pinching the air, scrambling after the meerkat. Striking, grabbing, stinging, pinching, the bull scorpion attacked..
Dancing, spinning cartwheels, backflips, the meerkat seemed to be having the time of its life as it danced its merry way among the vicious attacks.
“Be careful, oh! Please! Be careful,” Seven muttered, watching as the meerkat kept just out of range of the bull scorpion’s attack, dancing its adorably furry body, actually doing cartwheels before the monster, nimbly eluding each sting (even rapping out a little rhythm on the tail as it passed close by.
“Did you see? Did you see?” Jack chanted, half-laughing, “it got the scorpion to sting itself, several times!”
“I saw, I saw! Oh! Watch out!” she cried.
The meerkat danced and leaped, several times riding on either of the claws, tapping its drumsticks, throwing out sparkles like mini firework explosions. And gradually, the meerkat led the bull scorpion away from them, down toward the river, always eluding the monster, but it was close, with each clack of its great lobster claws the bull scorpion could cut the meerkat in half, if it caught it, only once. But time and again it snapped its claws. Time and again it stung down, but always missing, if only by inches.
And as Jack and Seven watched, the meerkat actually danced out on top of the waters of the river, moving so fast it seemed a blur, and the scorpion plunged into the waters, frenziedly, stinging and clacketing its claws. And the monster floundered in the waters, plunging and turning, until it half floated with the current, turning slowly about, and the little meerkat creature came dancing back across the waters, actually scrambling onto the scorpion’s back, and then it launched itself again, spreading its loose skin like a kite, and it sailed up and above the scorpion and river, and came sailing back to lightly touch down on the riverbank. It leaped and danced for a while, celebrating its victory, shaking its drumsticks at the sky, then came racing up the bank toward Seven and Jack.
“Look at the little guy!” Jack roared, laughing.
“It just saved us,” Seven breathed, hugging the shillelagh between her breasts. “That little cutie just saved our lives—there is no way we could have handled that monster!”
“I know, I know!” Jack laughed, tears blurring his eyes.
And the meerkat came scrambling up to dance between them, doing cartwheels, scrambling lithely between their legs, flashing about them, leaving a trail of winking sparkles.
“Hey!” Jack laughed, “hey little guy! Hey you!”
The meerkat rolled in the grass, chittering and giggling.
“Jack!” it chittered, scrambling to its feet, standing upright like a little man, all three feet of the little furry man. It clacked its drumsticks together, making a neat rhythm that sounded like music as it beat different parts of the wood together.
Up close, it still looked like a meerkat, but also like a little person—it was almost human. A very furry person, with an all-black coat, except for the front portion of its body, which was white, it had the markings of a penguin. Its face was more rounded than a meerkat, its head proportionately larger, the size of a child’s head, with big black circles around its bulbous little eyes—the markings leant it the appearance of wearing big round eyeglasses, and Jack noticed that the little guy looked familiar, and he got down on his knees in the grass, laying aside his bow, and even on his knees his head was taller than the level of the meerkat’s face.
The meerkat clapped its paws together. They were distinctly paws, and yet they were hands, as well. Another weird High Vale mixing of animal and human.
“Hey, I know you,” Jack breathed, in wonder. He looked closer, studying the creature’s happy little face. Yes. Yes, he did know this face. “Michael?”
The meerkat laughed in delight, clapping its paws faster, its drumsticks tucked up beneath its little arms.
“Yes!” it chittered. “I Michael! You Jack, and you Sandy!”
“It’s Michael!” Jack roared, seizing the furry creature in an embrace, falling to the grass, laughing and crying at the same time.
“From the truck,” Seven said, shaking her head, watching Jack and Michael tussle in the grass. He was the little man with canes, the guy who was sitting in front of her, in the big red pickup truck, the little man with the big round glasses.
“Oh! Oh!” Michael chittered, in a voice that sounded more animal than human. “Poor Stacey! Poor Stacey! Stacey bold! Stacey brave! Stacey...Pugilist!”
The meerkat struggled out of Jack’s embrace and flittered to the still body lying in the grass. He sat on the man’s chest and took the man’s hands between his little paws, and patted the cool cheeks. “Poor Stacey! In Dream Place! Come back, Stacey! Come back, Stacey!”
Jack and Seven came and knelt on either side of Stacey’s head. Seven moved her fingers through his mane of dark hair, smoothing back the odd white stripes at his temples.
“Poor Stacey!” Michael cried, and they saw that he was weeping, little tears that sparkled like rubies and sapphires in the sunlight.
“He’s okay, hey, Michael, Stacey’s okay, he’s just sleeping,” Jack crooned, smoothing his hand down the meerkat’s back—the fur was sleek and warm, like the hair on a Dachshund or Doberman Pinscher, only a little longer, a little shaggier. The fur glistened with little sparkles of winking light.
“The Dream Place?” Seven queried, her skin lifting in gooseflesh. Something about that—Dream Place—it was familiar, it tugged at her subconscious mind, and it filled her with dread.
“Between worlds, Dream Place,” Michael chittered. “Come back! Stacey!”
Jack placed a tentative hand on Stacey’s throat. Sorry, he thought, I mean Wolf, please, he thought, I’ll call you whatever you want me to call you, just don’t, whatever you do, please don’t be dead, Wolf. He looked into Seven’s eyes.
“What!” she cried.
“He has no pulse,” Jack breathed.
“Poison,” Michael chittered.
“What!” Seven cried. She experienced a moment of sheer panic, almost shattering to pieces like a dying crystal sandbox. She calmed herself. Then she took charge.
“Roll him over,” she commanded.
Jack easily lifted Michael up and away, setting him down near Stacey’s head, and then he heaved and applied his strength, rolling Wolf’s muscular body onto its side.
“Oh no,” Jack breathed, going extremely pale.
For in the center of Wolf’s back was a raised lump, angry red, with nasty looking veins of dark red striating away from the lump—invading scorpion poison. The lump was the size of a fat softball.
“No.” Seven said the word with finality. “No.”
She produced a dagger from a sheath at her hip and without hesitation, she stabbed the tip of the long blade into the lump, sinking the metal a good three inches, and then she drew the blade down, slicing open the lump, and black goo drained, and then a large tumor of something that seemed to writhe in the goo.
“Watch out!” Jack cried, as a scorpion the size of his thumb wriggled out of the dark goo. Without thought, he scrambled away a few feet in the grass.
“Oh please,” Seven said, and without hesitation, she snatched up the tiny scorpion between two fingers, by the tail, and tossed it back over her shoulder without a glance.
“It was in his back,” Jack moaned. “That thing was in his back.”
Seven placed her hands on either side of the sliced lump and pushed her hands together, hard, like squeezing a vast angry boil. The lump kept oozing. It bubbled, and drained, it just kept draining, seeming endless.
“Ball up handfuls of grass,” Seven said, and Jack immediately complied. She kept squeezing, and what appeared to be two or three cups of the black goo gushed out of the lump. Jack handed her a fist-sized compaction of grasses. She tucked the ball of grass into the lump and pressed it deep.
“Help me move him,” she commanded, and Jack and Michael seized him by the leg and arm and slid him through the grass, Seven holding Stacey’s head and pulling his arm, and they dragged his body away from the viscous puddle of black poison. As soon as they had him settled, she climbed upon his hips, straddling him, and began punching him in the chest, again and again, over the place where his still heart rested.
“Please God, please save him,” Jack murmured, holding the big man’s quiet hand, hugging the hand to his own heart, and weeping.
Seven began doing chest compressions with the palms of her hands, shoving down with all her weight and strength. “Wake up, Stacey, wake up,” she growled as she worked.
Michael skittered up to Stacey’s head and began rubbing the dead man’s temples, light growing between his paws.
“What are you doing?” Seven growled, never pausing in the compressions.
“Light,” the meerkat-man chittered, and they saw he was smiling, though winks of ruby tears yet leaked from his small eyes.
And as they watched he brought his paws together over Stacey’s face, working them together as the light grew, and it looked like he was fashioning an egg, like working clay, only it was light that was his material. The meerkat chittered beneath his breath, massaging his paws and the egg made of light grew so bright it was difficult to look at, a hot star in the meerkat’s little pad-fingers.
“Open mouth,” Michael chittered.
Jack did not question, but reached and pulled Wolf’s jaw down, and pried apart the teeth. The gums and the tongue in the mouth looked an unnatural blue.
Michael shoved the bright egg of light into Stacey’s mouth and pushed it down, reaching his little arm in, pushing deeper and deeper, until the meerkat had his arm sunk all the way to his shoulder. Then he abruptly withdrew his arm and for an instant light shone up out of Stacey’s gaping mouth until Michael pulled the jaw closed, and smoothed and closed the lips.
Light shone from beneath Stacey’s closed eyelids, illuminating each solitary eyelash. Then slight shone from his ears and nose and his body began to vibrate. Light grew beneath Seven’s compressing hands so that Stacey’s whole chest illuminated, like the brightest glow worm in the history of glow-in-the-dark bugs.
The meerkat was rubbing again at Stacey’s temples, light shining from his paws.
“No Dream Place, Stacey,” Michael chittered. “Wake up, Stacey!”
“He’s tightening his muscles,” Seven said, her hands over his pectoral muscles as he flexed beneath her.
Jack winced. “He’s squeezing my hand, hard!”
“Quick, roll him over again, Jack!” Seven snapped, climbing off Stacey.
They heaved his weight up so that he was on his side again, and Seven snatched her dagger again from her hip and wedged it into the lump, which amazingly was about half the size—now perhaps the size of a baseball—and she yanked out the grasses, which were smoking, and steaming. She flicked the ball of grass away with her dagger tip.
“Can you do that light thing again, Michael?” she said.
“Light, light, light,” the meerkat chittered, rubbing his paws together over the glaring wound, and within moments he again had an egg building, an egg composed of light, and again it was almost too much to look at, and this time he slammed the ball of light, with force, into the open wound, and then pushed the lump down upon the egg, but could not close it completely, and light shot up like a fountain between his paws, shimmering in all the hues of the rainbow, dazzling to see. It was as if someone had set off a box of Fourth of July sparklers in Stacey’s back.
Seven applied her strength and rolled Stacey back flat, Michael scampering back out of the way, and Jack stood up and started pacing, casting nervous glances about the clearing, ensuring no more monstrosities lurked in the vicinity.
“Come on, Stacey,” Seven growled, again mounting him, and again slamming her palms down upon his chest, and then suddenly she froze, staring into Stacey’s open eyes. She glanced down, and she nearly passed out, for he had his big hands cupped beneath her breasts, and she glowed with embarrassment, but she could tell he was not seeing her. He wasn’t quite here. She could feel beneath her that he was indeed awakening, his body responding to her body pressing down on him, but his eyes were looking at something else, in some other world.
She seized his hands and drew them together, kissed them, pressing his cold hands greedily against her face.
“Come back to me,” she breathed. “Please, Stacey, come back to me.”
“His eyes are open,” Jack said, leaning in close, not allowing himself to rejoice, not yet.
“Still Dream Place,” Michael said, watching.
“I won’t follow your program,” Stacey said, eyes distant, not quite focused on their world.
“He’s talking to someone,” Seven whispered, not breathing.
“I knew that from the beginning,” Stacey said, in a calm voice. “I am nothing. I know that. I will give everything, I think you know that. Okay, I will. Yes. Of course, Sandy. I do. But she hates me.”
“I don’t,” Seven whispered. “Don’t think that. I don’t hate you.”
Then his eyes widened and his body jerked, and shuddered, and his gaze met Seven’s, and he smiled.
“You,” he breathed.
“You’re here,” she breathed, and kissed his hands again, then held them tightly beneath her chin, against her throat.
“It’s trying to make me follow the program,” he croaked, and for just a moment, light shone from his mouth, and flashed from his eyes, and his back arched, and then he sighed wisps of smoke.
“I’m here too,” Jack said, wiping tears from his eyes, kneeling close.
“Jack,” the man breathed. “My little boy.”
“And somebody else is here, too, finally,” Jack said, coughing to cover his weeping.
Michael moved in close, his motions those of a too-quick meerkat.
Stacey focused on the new face with the bright, white face, the big black circles around the small beady eyes, circles like round eyeglasses, and he blinked, did a double-take, and finally smiled.
“Michael, you’re okay. We’ve been looking for you,” he said, recognizing the small man immediately. He saw right past the meerkat to the man.
The meerkat dug in close, throwing its short furry arms about Stacey’s neck, and began to make a loud rumbling noise that just had to be its own version of purring.
“And Joshua?” Stacey said, his voice a rumbling growl.
“Looking. Looking,” Michael chittered. “Know not.”
“Hey, we got Michael back,” Jack said, “Joshua’s bound to turn up.”
As if on cue they heard a loud snuffling noise.
Seven released Stacey’s hand and caught up the shillelagh, and twirled the club.
“Why can she pick it up, I can’t,” Jack whined, snatching up his bow and nocking an arrow with hardly a thought.
Coming from the grove of trees from which Michael had sprung, was an outlandish creature, huge and snuffling, like a monstrous hound dog. At first they thought it must be a ram, a giant sheep with great curling horns. But it was golden furred, great shaggy fur, sprinkled with huge dark brown spots over its great body. It looked like a dog, but its head was too big—and those absurd horns—and its great snout was down, a sensitive nose, sniffing and snuffling the ground. It seemed to be focused completely on its sense of smell, and had not seen the party as yet. It had a ridge of thorny protrusions sticking up from its back, giving it the appearance of a stegosaurus, and the horned spikes shone beautifully green in the light. From the preposterous combination of creatures, it was a ram-dog-dinosaur, and man, as well.
Then the creature reared up on two legs, standing at what had to be over eight feet of height, and its big hang-dog face split into a toothy smile.
“Joshua!” Jack cried, lowering his box, easing the arrow, recognizing the big man, because nobody smiled like that, only Joshua. And he had almost the exact beard as the man, Joshua, hanging from his face, only this was luxurious golden hair, tipped white, flowing in the breeze.
“Ahwhuff!” the big creature snorted, and came charging forward, all smiling mouth and slobber.
And then they were a mass of hugging bodies, Michael doing a fair impression of the Tasmanian Devil—only with lots of sparkles—as he climbed all over the big dog-ram-dino-man’s body, and Jack was up in the great arms, hugged, and even Seven got pulled into the embrace, and Joshua whuffed and whuffed, slinging drool every way he turned his head. And then Joshua was upon Stacey, licking his face and whining, sounding very much the delighted dog.
“The gang’s all here,” Wolf the man winced, his face slathered with slobber.

01 02 03 04 05 06 07
08 09 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31 32 33 34 35
36 37 38 39 40 41 42
43 44 45 46 47 48 49

Vestigial Surreality by Douglas Christian Larsen

Illustrations by Harrison Christian Larsen, story by Douglas Christian Larsen
© Copyright 2016 Douglas Christian Larsen. Vestigial Surreality. All Rights Reserved by the Author, Douglas Christian Larsen. No part of this serial fiction may be reproduced (except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher, Wolftales UNlimited, but please feel free to share the story with anyone, only not for sale or resale. This work is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental (wink, wink).

Douglas Christian Larsen FREE Short Fiction
Available on KindleNookiBook, and Kobo
Read FREE Sample Chapters of the Douglas Christian Larsen Novel:
Read FREE Sample Chapters of the Rodolphus Novels:

DCLWolf Links:

related terms, ideas, works:
ancestor simulation, digital ark, salvation of humanity,
vestigial surreality, manda project, rocket to saturn,
the singularity, the butterfly effect, simulated reality, matrix,
virtual reality, otherland, the matrix, 1q84, haruki murakami,
hard-boiled wonderland and the end of the world, dreaming,
the dream place, waking from a dream, ready player one,
hologram, holodeck, saturn, saturnalia, cycles of time,
simulacron-3, daniel f. galouye, counterfeit world,
tad williams, science fantasy, science fiction,
Victor Frankenstein, Nikola Tesla, genius
do we live in a computer simulation?
mystery, thriller, horror, techno thriller,
signs and wonders, vestigial surreality,
william gibson, neal stephenson, serial,
cyberpunk, dystopian future, apocalypse,
scifi, mmorpg, online video game world,
end times, apocalypse, armageddon,
digital universe, hologram universe,
sunday sci-fi fantasy serial fiction,
virtual reality, augmented reality
the unknown writer blog
are we living in a simulation?
puppets, puppetry, punch
Elon Musk, Tesla, VR

No comments:

Post a Comment