Monday, April 19, 2010

Chapter 22: A Story Complete

Sven knelt down beside Violet.

“Vi, you know that was one brave cat. She…” Violet glared at him through the tears. Sven looked down and picked at the sleeve of his filthy lab coat.

“Sven, how could you? Junior Mint meant the world to me…” Violet began crying again.
“Whoa! Hold on there a minute Vi, throwing your overweight fuzball over the collider wasn’t my idea! You seem to be forgetting that I have spent my entire career fine tuning this,” Sven gestured toward the collider “and that I have not only lost my job, but I have inhibited the progress of science!” Violet jerked her head up again. He was turning rather red in the face.

“What did you say?” her eyes were growing wider.

Sven thought it touching that she was so upset about his unemployment. “Did you really think I could keep my job after causing a billion dollars worth of damage?”
“Not that! What were you saying about Junior Mint?” Violet had locked eyes with her brother and wasn’t even blinking.

“Seriously Vi?” Sven looked incredulous. “After all we’ve been through do you think I’d do something like that to you on my own?” He sighed “she told Billy that she wanted to be the ‘monkey wrench’” Violet gasped. “I told Him you’d hate me if I hurt her, but he said you’d understand…”

“Oh Sven, did she really say that?” Violet looked more like a proud mother than a broken hearted cat owner. Sven nodded. She threw her arms around Sven again
“She was so brave!” Violet murmured. Sven patted her back, hoping she would finish with all this emotion soon. After all, they had already hugged once that day. Finally he worked up his nerve, “How about we go look for her? She might be waiting inside.”

“Do you really think so?” Violet looked hopeful again. “I don’t see any reason why she wouldn’t be, it’s not like there were any portals left,” Sven winked at Violet “and if there were, we could always send Billy after her.” Violet laughed, “Why didn’t I think of that sooner?”

Sven and Violet began walking around the collider to the main entrance. Sven was muttering about the collider and Violet’s eyes darted everywhere looking for traces of her beloved feline. Both siblings had forgotten their friends.

Dr. Vanderslice was frantically writing on the back of his Red Lobster receipt as Junior Mint looked on and Sylvia sat smoking next to Billy. Of the four friends, the casual observer would have only seen two; Billy and Junior Mint had nearly faded away.
“Okay,” Dr. Vanderslice stuck his pen behind his ear and twirled his moustache. “I think I’ve got this. Now you two run on into that Collider.”
Sylvia looked up at Dr. Vanderslice, slowly exhaling a cloud of smoke. “Do you really think you can do this Dr.?” Dr. Vanderslice glanced at the hazy figures flitting across the grass and into the collider then rose to follow them. “I don’t have a choice.” Sylvia sat alone on the curb. She pinched the filter off her cigarette and took a long drag, “Well, it looks like I don’t have one either. I was so hoping to find a rich man.”

“Hey Violet, guess what I just did?” Sylvia rested her elbows on the checkout counter and grinned.

Violet barely looked up from the book she was rebinding, “What now?”
Sylvia put her hands on her hips and her chin held high, “I see how it’s going to be ‘Miss My-Cat-Saved-the-World- and- I-Helped’ now that you’ve seen the future you think you can just ignore me.” Sylvia pretended to walk away.

“Come on now Sylvia, you know I didn’t mean it that way. That blasted doppelganger screwed so much up. This is the fifth book I’ve had to rebind because she decided just to give patrons only the chapters they needed.” Violet shook her head in frustration.

Sylvia stifled a laugh when she thought of the patron’s faces when they thought Violet Mahoney had just cut a book. Violet looked suspiciously at Sylvia, “You know I’m still not convinced you tried to stop her!”

Sylvia put her hands on her chest and looked horrified, “who, me?” Violet rolled her eyes and Sylvia continued, “So do you want to hear my good news or not?”

“Of course, what is it?” Violet hoped Sylvia wasn’t about to tell her something about one of the workers that she didn’t want to know.

Sylvia straightened her back like a contestant for Miss America, “I have now shifted every damn book in this library.” Violet dropped the book. “Seriously?”

“Every last book.” Sylvia glowed with pride.

“Sylvia, that is amazing! How did you- well I mean, thank you.” Violet hadn’t thought Sylvia would’ve worked while she was away, but the world is full of surprises.

A man in dusty coveralls came up to the desk. “Excuse me, Miss Mahoney?”Sylvia shot a glance at Violet and mouthed “too dirty.”

Violet stood “yes?”

“I just wanted to let you know we are finished with the renovations and you can start moving your books back in the morning.”

“Thank you!” Violet’s eyes light up as the man walked away. She turned to Sylvia, “Do you know what this means?”

“Yes,” Sylvia was visibly depressed, “That I have to shift ALL those again. I think I need a smoke break.”

“No!” Violet grabbed Sylvia’s arm so she couldn’t walk away.

“What the –” Sylvia looked at Violet like she was crazy.

“I mean this means we are going to Red Lobster tonight to celebrate! And in the morning I will move that Young Adult fiction section again.” Sylvia gaped at Violet for a minute. “I’ll go call Sven and Dr. Vanderslice so they can meet us there.” Violet walked back to the phone and Sylvia walked in a daze to the door.

Sylvia and Violet arrived at Red Lobster before the two men. Sylvia had found a lawyer who was serious about her. She tried not to look at the waiters. Their waiter came and Sylvia asked for something fruity and alcoholic.
The waiter fixed his steely eyes on Violet, “and what can I get for you?”

Violet could hardly tear her eyes away from his. “A margarita. That is unless you can suggest something better…” She glanced at his name tag and gasped, “Billy?”
The waiter laughed, “It’s a common name you know.” Violet laughed but felt her ears turning red.
“Hey, what about me? I’m here too” Sven had come in while Violet was ogling the waiter. “Forgive my foolish sister, she doesn’t get out much. Ah, I want a glass of wine.” Violet kicked his shin, “it’s good to see you too, Vi!”

“Sven, Violet, Sylvia it’s so good to see you all!” A young woman came in with Dr. Vanderslice. She was leaning on his arm and had an engagement ring on her hand. They sat down with Sylvia and the Mahoney’s and began perusing the menu.

“Ah, Sven I nearly forgot to tell you, they have decided to call the boson ‘the Mahoney-Boson’ in honor of your discovery.”

Sven smiled, “really? Why that’s amazing, especially since all my time is spent keeping them from restarting that collider!”

“I’m so proud of you Sven, you’ve really made you mark for science,” Violet grinned. “I knew you’d find a way to keep that job!”

A different waiter came with their cheesy biscuits. Violet knew she’d been too forward. Billy returned to take their order though and Violet chose the Admiral’s Feast.
“Very daring of you Vi” Sven laughed when the waiter left.

In the parking lot Violet found a number scribbled on the back of her receipt. Sylvia peered over her shoulder “Oh la la! Violet got a number!”

“Violet, I think for your safety’s sake you should let me have that telephone number” Sven said with mock concern. When Violet shook her head he reached to snatch it from her hand.

Violet stopped laughing, “I think I hear something.” She looked across the lot and saw movement in one of the shrubs. She ran forward and Sven followed close behind. When they were a few feet away Violet screamed. An animal had emerged from the bushes. It was ragged and rather thin but Violet knew at once, “Junior Mint!”

The young woman on Dr. Vanderslice’s arm looked up inquisitively, “But I’ve been here all along.” Dr.Vanderslice smiled and began explaining.

Violet had taken the frazzled and dirty cat into her arms and was crying again.
“I told you there was no reason for her to go through a portal,” Sven said. But Violet didn’t hear him over her kitty’s roaring purr.

They walked back to their cars, Sylvia blowing streams of smoke, Dr. Vanderslice with his fiancé, Sven laughing at his sister, and Violet with Junior Mint on her shoulder.

From the window of Red Lobster Billy was the only one who noticed the faint purple glow around the cat.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chapter 21: Junior Mint Shows Her Worth

Violet looked around herself in disbelief. Here she was, back on her Earth, in front of her library. Hey, Sylvia's bench is back. That's odd. Violet took a step towards the library, eager to tell Sylvia all that had happened the past few days, but paused when she noticed a post-it stuck to the door.

"Gone to Red Lobster, back in two hours."

"Great. How do we know when they left?" Violet addressed her question to her brother, but couldn't seem to find him. "Sven? Billy?"
"I'm right here, Violet, but I'm not sure where your brother is hiding," Billy joined Violet in her search.
"Sven! Where are you?" Violet was starting to worry that she might have to destroy the collider on her own, and just when she and Sven had started working as a team. As Violet walked around the library, she noticed that the mailbox was back in its original spot. This is too weird. How did it get back here? “Oh!” Violet jumped back in surprise as the mailbox rocked slightly from side to side.
“Vi! Help! I’m stuck in a tiny box. Are you there? Violet?” Sven’s voice was muffled from inside the mailbox, but still audible.
“I’m here, Sven. I’ll get Billy to help you get out. Billy! Come get Sven out of this damned mailbox.”
Billy gazed at the mailbox for a moment, and then the familiar scent of burnt cookies filled the air, and Sven emerged from a cloud of purple fog.
“Ahhh.” Sven stretched his arms wide and smiled at Violet. “Now we can get to work. Who are your new friends, Billy?”
“That’d be Dr. Vanderslice and Junior Mint, Violet’s doppelgaenger. But she’s not on Octopi’s side, so don’t worry. There’s just one problem: when I left them to come retrieve you guys they were in the library, and now they’re at Red Lobster.”
“Probably trying to pick up rich men,” gibed Violet. She still couldn’t understand Sylvia’s obsession with that chain restaurant. Besides, shouldn’t she be in the library? It was still supposed to be open–it was late morning.
“Good thing my car was still in the lot,” Violet said as she parked next to Sylvia’s car outside Red Lobster.
“So explain this restaurant to me...aren’t all lobsters red?” Billy was clearly from a different time and country.
“Nevermind that,” Sven clipped, “and why are turning purple, Billy?”
“Oh dear. I was afraid this might happen. Ever since Nickel pressed the initiate button on the collider in the future, I have felt myself...slipping away. The part of me that Dr. Octopi converted into anti-matter is dissolving due to the influence of the collider on time and space. I may very well disappear altogether, so perhaps we should form a plan.”
“But Billy, we need you! Without you, how will we know how to destroy the collider?” Violet was about to question him further, but they had reached the booth in the restaurant that housed Dr. Vanderslice, Sylvia and Junior Mint. “Junior Mint??” Violet thrust her arms towards her feline friend and scooped her up in a loving embrace.
“Hi! That’s me! Er–I guess you meant your cat. Sorry. Here I am!” Junior Mint the doppelgaenger turned red with embarrassment and turned back to her cheesy biscuit, enjoying the delicious texture for as long as possible, as she had noticed that she was beginning to emit a purple glow.
“W-well nice to meet you, I’m the first Violet Mahoney.” Violet could barely stammer out a reply, so excited she was to hold her cat in her arms again. “I missed you shnookums, oh you’re a sweet kitty yes you are...”
“Billy, my lad! Great to have you back. Would you prefer the endless shrimp or some surf n’ turf? Whatever you choose is on me.” Dr. Vanderslice patted the booth next to him and scooted over to make room for Billy.
“Actually, doctor, we need to get moving. I may not have much time left to help you save Earth. The anti-matter part of me is rebelling against the human part, and I have only so much time. We need to get to the collider before Dr. Octopi’s plan is realized.”
“Let us away, then!” Dr. Vanderslice motioned grandly towards the exit of the restaurant, making a commotion among the rest of the customers, who then watched as an unlikely group quickly walked to the parking lot.
Upon arriving in the parking lot, the group noticed a change. There were no cars. Instead of cars, there were various items, all lined up in parking spots, ranging from a burning leather sofa to half a jacuzzi tub.
“Okay...first things were coming back, now things are being replaced? This doesn’t make any sense.” Violet cling more tightly to Junior Mint with this sentiment. “I guess we have to walk. How far is it, Sven?”
“Actually not far. Dr. Vanderslice and I often walk over here on our lunch breaks. It’s just down this way..”

As the group travelled the few short blocks to the collider, they continued to encounter anomalies of all sorts. While passing a shoe repair shop, Violet noticed that all the shoes’ laces were tying and un-tying themselves in rhythm to each song that played over the speakers in the little shop. She also managed to hear the disc jockey on the radio announce the next song by the “Hee-Bees,” and was confused. Sven also heard the “Hee-Bees” song and began to unconsciously disco down the street.
“Alright,” said Billy, “we’ve got to have a plan. The only way I know of to stop the collider is to physically interact with it. Now, I can’t do that since I’m part anti-matter, but one of you can try to throw a metaphorical monkey wrench into the machine.”
“Junior Mint! Where are you going?” Violet looked down at her cat with champagne eyes. The cat sashayed over to Billy, where she jumped up into his arms, as if that had been her reason for leaving Violet. Billy stroked Junior Mint’s ears and pressed her head to his cheek.
“What’s that? Mmmmrrrrow. Meow. Mow mow..mrrrrrow. Alright everyone. Let’s continue!” Billy handed Junior Mint back to Violet and started scheming with Dr. Vanderslice about how to begin their plan.
Sven. Did you just see what happened? Billy just talked to my cat. Did you know he could do that? Violet thought towards Sven, concerned she had just hallucinated the entire sequence.
“Violet, I’m sure there are a lot of things that Billy can do as half-mirrorling that we could never imagine. Also, he did speak in a language foreign to me when he finished Dr. Octopi off, so perhaps he comes from a place where speaking to animals is commonplace?”
“Actually Sven, I was in line to be the next shaman in my community. For a shaman, speaking to animals is requisite, but never commonplace. It is a skill that must be honed. Violet, your cat was just letting me know that she wanted to be a part of our plan to save earth.” Billy’s voice grew fainter with each word he uttered, but he continued to walk alongside the group, now leaving a hazy purple trail behind every step. Junior Mint was having similar problems, but she didn’t know what was happening, and cared very little, to be honest.
Violet looked down at her feline friend in awe, but the cat was merely nibbling on a cheesy biscuit it had pulled from Violet’s purse. Violet wondered how her cat could do anything to help them.
“Here we are. The Large Hadron Collider. Or for us particle physicists, home number two,” Dr. Vanderslice said with a grin. “Let’s destroy her!”
Sven took in the sight of the collider and wondered if it would be the last time he saw it. He hoped it would be the last time he saw it as it was now: awash with purple fog. As he pondered his fate and that of the collider, he was joined by Billy.
“Sven,” Billy whispered, unable to raise his voice much louder due to his deteriorating vocal cords, “I know your relationship with your sister is strained, but her cat just asked to be the monkey wrench thrown into the machine. Literally. You have to throw Junior Mint into the collider in order to save Earth. I know this sound risky, but this is the best way to disrupt the event put in motion by your colleague in the future. Violet will forgive you.” With these last words, Billy sat down on the curb outside the building and purple fog began to rise from his back.
The world around them also began to look a lot more purple than before, the sewers emitted a hazy, vaguely purple steam instead of the usual gray, and the exhaust from the few cars that still drove by had a hint of purple. Objects were still appearing and disappearing around them, but they changed at a fixed ratio.
For the second time that day, Junior Mint jumped from Violet’s arms to climb into those of another. As she ascended into Sven’s arms, she kept the biscuit clenched tightly in her jaw and raised one paw to wave at Violet and purred as loudly as possible to let Violet hear her love.
“I wish you had a pet bird!” shouted Sven as he tossed the cat high into the air, sending her on a path over the collider.
"Mewww!" Meowed Junior Mint. (This is commonly translated as "for science!")
“SVEN! How dare you! Junior Mint!” Violet collapsed on the ground in a pile of tears and cursed her brother. Just when I thought I could trust him, he throws the only being in the world who loves me into a dangerous machine! Violet sobbed herself into exhaustion and laid back on the grass outside the building, staring up into the sky where her cat had so recently been.
While she laid weeping on the ground, the others rejoiced at the loss of purple in the
landscape. Where there was purple exhaust before, now there was gray. As soon as Junior Mint
dropped her cheesy biscuit from high above the machine, the purple began to recede. Once the
biscuit dropped onto the machinery, all the purple in the area concentrated above the machine
and was sucked down into the remaining vortex.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chapter 20: In which some die, some don't, and some come back from the dead.

Something wasn't quite right.

"I think we should do it, Vi," said Sven.

"What are you talking about? He's crazy!" said Violet, glancing at Dr. Octopi, who was standing in the doorway still, a smug smile on his face. "Sven, he's trying to destroy our world!"

"Well," said Sven, "Maybe it's for the best. I mean, we can make a new life here, together! Wouldn't you like that? We could start over!"

"Sven, what is wrong with you? I don't want to start over! I want our old life back. I want the brother that's still down in there somewhere beneath your lab coat."

Sven brushed the folds out of his lapel, looking at his sister with a strange glance.

"That boy is gone Violet," he said. "I'm all that's left now."

Dr. Octopi chuckled. "Would you look at that. Sven has finally become the man I need. Maybe you should listen to him 'Vi,'" he said mockingly.

Violet frowned. It all seemed so wrong. Her brother had been much better to her since they had begun ESP-ing back and forth. That is, until he was captured, and then...

"Hang on a tic," said Violet. "How did you get here?" She pointed to Dr. Octopi. "He locked you up!" Sven looked down, his mouth moving as if to say something, but nothing came out.

"Oh," said Dr. Octopi quickly, "I let him out, of course. I need his help to fix the machine."

"Yes, that's it!" said Sven, raising a finger in overdone realization. "HE let me out. Of course." He grinned. Violet frowned.

"You see, I myself am part mirrorling," said Dr. Octopi, "as are all the beings here--this is why we can screech the way we do, you see--and as such, my anti-matter cannot react with the matter of the Collider. I tried originally to fix it myself, but I caused even more damage by simply touching the parts. Thus the purple glow." He smiled mischievously. "This is why I brought you both here in the first place, remember? Though I didn't mean to bring you--"

Violet heard a noise in the corner. She glanced over to investigate. Dr. Gerstein was stirring. She turned quickly back to Dr. Octopi, who hadn't broken stride.

"--so now your own brother is begging you to fix it, Violet. Please, help us. We cannot do it without you."

"He says I'm not allowed to touch the machine, Vi, so you'll have to do it." Sven looked down like a dejected kid.

"Why can't--" began Violet.

"That's not important now," said Dr. Octopi. I need you to walk toward the Collider now and do exactly what I tell you."

Sven nodded encouragement. Violet stood still for a moment.


"It's ok," he said.

Violet felt tears well up in her eyes as she turned toward the machine. She was about to destroy everything she had ever known and loved, at the urging of this person that used to be her brother. She took a step forward...

...and jumped backward to avoid the blast that came from the gun in the prostrated Dr. Gerstein's hand. The shot hit Sven squarely in the face, and his head exploded in a geyser of red. Violet rushed to Sven's headless body as it fell to the floor.

"No!" she cried. She knelt by the body's side, shocked. She heard a cry from the corner.

"Violet! I'm so sorry, I did the best I could!" yelled Dr. Gerstein in a weak voice. "Don't help him!" He slouched. "Don't help him..."

Dr. Octopi silenced him with a powerful blast that would have destroyed a brick wall, and Dr. Gerstein was no more. Violet looked down at the body and saw an almost imperceivable shimmer. A mirrorling.

"You lied!" she said, glaring at Dr. Octopi.

"Did you expect anything else?" He shrugged. "'Mad scientist,' Violet."

"But it didn't work! I will never help you."

"Well maybe I won't get you to help me that way," he said, "but you WILL help me nonetheless. To the Collider!" Violet whimpered.

Just then a ripping sound rent the air, followed by the acrid smell of sugar cookies and a cloud of thick purple smoke. From the cloud, Violet saw two figures emerging.

The first was Sven. The real Sven. He smiled at Violet, and she looked at him quizzically.

"Billy broke me out," he said. He winked at her.

"It's alright, Vi. I'm here now," she heard in her head. "And I'm sorry." His expression softened. "I've been an ass."

She smiled through her tears and thought back. "Apology accepted."

Then the second person stepped out of the fog. It was Billy. His eyes were blazing like a furnace, his fists clenched by his sides and glowing the same purple glow as the Collider.

"Hello doctor," he said in a calm voice that chilled Violet to the core.

"Billy! I didn't expect you so soon, I have to confess," said the doctor.

"Well, expect me or not, here I am Octopi. And it's time you payed for what you did to me. What you did to my family." Billy's hands began to glow brighter. The light began to take shape, and Violet gasped.

"Are those..."

"Katanas?" said Sven (the real one). "Yeah, probably."

Dr. Octopi grinned, his own hands beginning to glow in a similar fashion. The light in his hands soon took shape as a gatling gun.

"Never bring a knives to a gun fight, Billy," said Dr. Octopi, chuckling, but for the first time, Violet saw real fear in his eyes. "I have been looking forward to this fight a long time. The creator versus the creation, kind of poetic don't you--"

But Billy didn't let him finish. He sprinted to the left and ran up the wall into a double backflip, chased by millions of blasts of energy from Octopi's gun.


He was near the Collider, spinning through a double B-twist. Octopi's bullets whizzed through the air. Violet and Sven dropped to the ground.


Billy was by Dr. Gerstein's body.


He was by Shawty, who began to stir.


He was behind Dr. Octopi, who was firing wildly at nothing.

With one swift motion, Billy rammed the katanas into Octopi's chest from behind, who gasped and stopped firing. Violet looked away as Billy ripped the swords upward through his enemy's shoulders. Octopi's body thudded to the ground.

"зовлонт үхэл," said Billy. "May death linger here, and not return what has been given it." He raised his head and closed his eyes. "My family is avenged."

Violet looked up at Sven. He ran to her and pulled her into a bear hug.

"I'm so sorry for treating you like I did Sven, I was just angry at you for being so distant and insensitive all the time."

"It's alright, I was angry at you for being a selfish hag."

Violet pulled away and looked up at Sven, who was grinning.

"Joking," he said. "I'm sorry too, Vi."

"Maybe we could hang out more?" she said.

Sven stared into the distance for a moment before responding with a smile. "Yes, I think I'd like that."

"Don't get your hopes up too soon," said Shawty as he sat up and held his head. "Look!"

The cloud of smoke had cleared. Hiding in its folds had been Robert Nickel putting the finishing touches on the Collider. He typed in a last string of code and shut the hatch. The machine hummed to life.

"No!" cried Violet.

"For science!" cried Robert Nickel. Billy threw a katana like a bolt of lightning, but he wasn't fast enough. Before the blade buried itself in his face, Nickel had just enough time to press the "initiate" switch. The machine began humming.

"Oh my..." said Sven. "There goes our world. It was all for nothing!"

"Don't worry, Sven," Violet said, "we can live here with Billy and Shawty. Right?"

"I'm afraid not," said Billy. "This world is tied to yours by time. This 'dimension' is your world in the future. If the Collider destroys Earth then, Earth now will cease to exist. All will be lost."

"Well, can we stop it?" said Shawty.

"Hmmm," said Billy, scratching his chin. "Wait, I have an idea. We have to stop it in your time. I have some new friends that might be willing to help us."

He walked forward toward the ever-more-loudly humming machinery and a vortex opened, spilling purple smoke and the same burning smell.

"Shawty, see if you can clean up here. Sven and Violet, follow me. I'll explain everything when we get there."

Sven grabbed Violet's hand and the two of them followed Billy into the purple fog.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chapter 19: Bok Bolor and Olgoi-Khorkhoi

As the morning sun rose over the vast dunes and weather-beaten steppes of the western Gobi, Bok Bolor peered through slitted eyelids as his mother, Bok Bayarmaa, shook him violently. "Bolor! Wake up! Sleeping only makes the visions worse.”

Bolor twisted around on his mat and peered out the small fold in his family’s yurt. Purple smoke, as thick as fog, hung about their small desert settlement and crept across the floor of their tent.

Bolor’s father had been the tribe’s shaman, and his visions of a man with a deviously illustrious moustache had anticipated the discovery of the brilliant metallic probe that emitted the inescapable purple fog. Soon, the entire tribe was haunted by the man’s face. At first, the men tried to ride their horses out of the smoke’s circumference, but as they strayed too far from the probe, their ears were besieged by an unbearable screeching. Bolor’s father rode as far from the probe as he could bear, feverishly seeking to escape its dominion. As the weeks went by, the father’s visions of the devilish man became stronger, and the father began to show signs of madness. Recently, he had been confined to a makeshift shelter outside of the family’s tent. The members of the clan had begun to visit him to compare their nightmares, despite his increasing incoherence.

“Seventy-seven suns have set since your father’s visions began. I feel that the moustached devil will come for him soon. Bolor, remain vigilant! Do not let him take you too!” Bolor was disturbed by his mother’s unease, but he did share her fear. The face of the strange man had begun to beckon to him in his dreams—the man seemed to offer an escape.

“Bolor, get out of bed and bring your father his yak’s milk. And listen carefully to what he says—His visions have been much stronger lately.” Bolor nodded wearily.

“I can barely understand a word he says anymore,” whispered Bolor as he waded through the fog to the plot where the yaks awaited him.

“Doctor, you said Billy was part human, right? What happened, did you toss some fingernails in the formula or something?”

“That’s very funny, Nickel, but no. Billy’s creation was much like my own, only much more… Severe.” Dr. Gerstein sighed and shook his head. “There isn’t much time to explain, but what you should know is that every human that enters this universe is extraordinarily privileged. The power that is at your fingertips here… It can be intoxicating.”

Sven thought of his own desire as Dr. Gerstein spoke. “But… I’m sorry, but I just do not understand. We’ve been taking a lot of what’s been happening in stride so far, and if you’re one of the men in charge, perhaps you could be a little more forthcoming! I understand that it was theorized that the LHC might open vortexes to other dimensions, but shouldn’t these dimensions have existed beforehand? Did you really create an entirely new universe?”

“For all intents and purposes, this place is as ‘new’ as they come!” Dr. Octopi stood in a metal-framed doorway with an unnervingly confident smile on his face, like an overeager real estate agent. “After all, my former colleague and I provided all of the furnishings!”

Bolor’s father refused the yak’s milk, his face stretched gaunt and his limbs contorted like an acrobat’s. “Father, what is it? Is he coming?” The old shaman stared ashen at his son. His lips trembled.

Olgoi-khorkhoi!The shaman lunged at his son. Bolor flinched, suddenly quite terrified. “Olgoi-khorkhoi!” The ground began to tremble, and then there were loud screams. The sound of lightning ripped through the air, punctuated by a strange liquid sizzling. Bolor could see the shadow of the olgoi-khorkhoi, the Mongolian Death Worm, through the skin of the yurt. His father released him from his grip and emitted a guffaw choked by a sob. The smell of burning leather filled the air, and Bolor looked up to see the hides of the tent melting away. And then the worm came into view. Its size far exceeded even the more outlandish stories, and Bolor could barely make out two riders perched on the worm’s red back. Then Bolor’s stomach became tight. With the tent torn away, he could see the full scope of the decimation, although he could only bear to glance furtively. Charred bodies were strewn across the landscape, frozen in their panicked attempts of escape and still veiled by the purple smoke. Bolor’s father glanced upwards, tears of a crazed laughter rolling down his face. He gibbered through the litany of the tribe’s prayers and curses. As wisps of purple smoke cleared, Bolor knew that the man atop the worm was the man from their nightmares.

“Chip. Chip,” the man spoke. The horrendous, razor-toothed creature roared and belched a bilious projectile liquid that coated Bolor’s father’s skin. The man screamed, and the young boy covered his face. “Sorry about that, my dear fellow, but your people are not very receptive to what I have to offer… Strange, I felt I was being quite generous. But the impression I’ve gotten from you was much more positive. I hope all this mess didn’t change your mind!” Bolor opened his eyes and saw the man’s yellow, madly grinning mouth underneath his wispy moustache. Bolor noticed that the man’s mouth did not move as he spoke. “I apologize for not speaking aloud, but my Mongolian’s quite rusty.” Dr. Octopi smirked. “You only have two choices. You can join the devil, or you can die. So how about it, Bok Bolor? Mind if I call you Billy?”

“Hans, I thought we had a deal. You bring me the girl, I clear up your little monkey problem. You seem to have all of the worst characteristics of a pillowbeak—always jabbering on when you should just keep quiet,” Shawty threw a stare of outraged disbelief at Dr. Gerstein. But his sonic screams he directed at Dr. Octopi. The evil doctor did not wince, but suddenly seemed covered in a protective shield of light. “What do we have here, a traitor in our midst? Oh Shawty, and you were one of my favorites…” Dr. Octopi returned Shawty’s attack with one of much higher frequency, and the pillowbeak crumpled against the wall like a sock puppet.

“Shawty!” Violet screamed. She turned to Dr. Gerstein. “You tricked me! But Billy sent me to you!”

“I’m sorry Violet, but Octopi is too powerful to be stopped. I couldn’t have stopped him—I was only able to contain the damage he was able to cause. And after all, as I said before… Being half-man half-monkey is no way to live.”

“When did you become such a wet blanket, Gerstein?” Dr. O jeered. “You certainly didn’t have these oppositions out on the Gobi. I’d say we caused quite a bit of damage after we sent that time probe… And you were by my side, then, just as responsible as I. ‘As long as the progress is the bottom line,’ you said. The power that we have at our fingertips now… That power… Is progress, is it not?”

“You’re a mad scientist, Octopi. Your plan is far too convoluted to ever succeed. As long as Billy remains outside of your grasp, you have nothing!”
“Gerstein, I do not need Billy, and I do not need you.”

“You lie, Octopi. You never intended Billy to become so powerful… More powerful than you. What happens to you when Billy comes back? What happens to you when he realizes just how much of a useless coward you are? What happens--”

With another well-aimed blast, Octopi silenced his former colleague. “Oh, I think that might have killed him! Sorry about that, my friends!” Octopi turned now to Sven and Violet. “Now I have a serious proposition for you. I want both of you to help me, or I’ll kill you both. How about it?”

Bolor was mortified, but something made him motivate his limbs and grab the hand of the moustached man, who hoisted him onto the back of the olgoi-khorkhoi. The creature hurdled across the desert, splitting a clear path through the purple smoke. Something glimmered on the horizon—the metallic probe. “Destroy it,” said Octopi. “We’re done here.”

The moustached man’s companion began to speak. “You think we’re done with these time probes now, Octopi? Now that you’ve gotten a new subject for the experiments? You know, the manufacture of those probes isn’t a simple process. What if this boy doesn’t survive the antimatter treatments, just like the others? What makes you so confident now?”

“I’ve learned from my mistakes, Gerstein. Trust me. Let’s get home now, Billy’s got a long road ahead of him!”

Dr. Vanderslice could barely contain his wonderment. “It’s uncanny! It’s bizarre!”

“What is, Dr. V?” said Junior Mint, fawning over the addled scientist.

“Well, the LHC is only designed to create the Higg’s Boson… It’s a particle scientists have been trying to isolate for years… But the readings the computers have been producing suggest that the machine is capable of doing something far more… substantial!”

Suddenly, a thick purple smoke filled the room, and Junior Mint shrieked. Suddenly, a tall Mongolian boy in ripped pants stepped into view. “Hi Dr. Vanderslice, my name’s Billy. I need your assistance with a relative of yours… He’s been causing me a lot of trouble, a million years into the future…”

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chapter 18: Revealed Identities

Violet yanked the knot around the pillowbeak’s hands, sweat beading up around her temples and on her upper lip. She looked up to see Shawty staring at her, one eyebrow raised.

“Very impressive. For a “meek” librarian, I surely didn’t expect to see moves like that. I was worried that I would have to take over for you, but obviously you had things handled over here.”

Violet felt her cheeks grow hot. “I took some jiu-jitsu classes in college… it’s nothing.”

“No, no… credit is given where credit is due. Bay Bay may be shorter, but he’s no joke either. I challenged him one time when we were younger—nothing serious, just a playful contest —and he almost beat me then. Almost,” he said, grinning and shaking his head. “You definitely held your own against him.”

“Well thank you, it’s…” Violet began without thinking and then paused.

“Wait… You… you know him? ‘Bay Bay’ I mean?”

Shawty glanced at the pillowbeak laying on the floor. The muscles around his mouth twitched for a moment before he answered, “Well, yes of course. I mean, I do spend part of my time acting like my allegiances lie here.” He spread his long arms, indicating the expanse of the laboratory.

Violet bit her lip, still thinking. “Well, it sounds like you are… were… friends with him.”
Shawty’s eyes darkened, his mouth drawing into a fine line. “Yes, well, certain things have changed since…”

Shawty was interrupted as Robert Nickel nearly collided with him and Violet.

“Quick, you tie his hands and I’ll get his foot!” Robert bellowed at Violet. She stood unmoving for a second, unsure of who he was talking about until he stooped to grab Shawty’s ankle with his good arm.

“Excuse me, but what exactly do you think you’re…” Shawty began.

“Make sure you cover his mouth too! These things can emit one God-awful screech!” Robert added, wrestling with Shawty’s legs.

“Hold it… would you… Robert stop!” Violet said, finally grabbing Robert and yanking him into a full nelson.

“What… hey! I thought you were attacking the monkeys! I’m on your side!” Robert spluttered from her grasp.

“Well we were attacking the ‘monkeys,’ but if you were paying attention, you would have seen that this monkey,” Shawty said, pointing to himself, “was fighting alongside Violet, not the other way around.”

“Wait… you’re Violet? Violet Mahoney? Sven’s sister?” Robert hacked. Violet released her hold on him so that he could turn to face her. Maybe she shouldn’t have held him so tightly—his neck and face looked a little red.

“Yes, that’s me.”

Robert rubbed his neck. “Sven never told me that you doubled as a ninja after your daytime job.”

The corners of Violet’s mouth twitched upwards. “Yes, well, I’ve never had to act like one before now. Must be something about being in an alternate universe,” Violet said, heat rising in her cheeks again.

“As much as I’m enjoying listening to this heartwarming introduction, may I remind you, Violet, that we have work to do?” Shawty said from behind her.

Violet’s mind shot back to the task at hand. “Oh yes, the large hadron collider!”

Robert raised an eyebrow, “You know about the LHC? Well, well… Sven has been keeping you informed, I see. In that case,” he said, running back over to the keypad he had been typing on, “perhaps you can give me your opinion on this formula right here.”

“No, Robert… we’re not here to fix the collider. We’re here to destroy it,” Violet said.

“Destroy it? Why would you want to do that?” Robert spun around, jerking his head back in surprise.

“Because if not, your home is going to be demolished into oblivion,” Shawty snapped back. “It’s either collider or planet Earth, you take your pick.”

“Oh, come on now… I don’t think that Dr. O would go along with such a scheme. Sure, he’s a little…” Robert paused to find the right word, “Eccentric. But just because he’s so passionate about science doesn’t mean he’s out to destroy the world. That’s a bit cliché, don’t you think? Who fed you this idea, anyways?”

“The man in the clearing,” Violet said.

“Oh… very trustworthy,” Robert chided. “Some random man in a clearing. Does this man even have a name?”

“Why, yes, I do. It’s Dr. Gerstein, but you can call me Hans,” said the clearing man, striding through the same entrance where Violet and Shawty had just come in.


Sven laid his head against the cool white of the wall behind him. His headache had left him feeling fuzzy and exhausted. He still tried to make contact with Violet, but only a few words would come through to him every minute or so. He sighed. Nothing upset Sven more than sitting idle when there was a job to be done. Always advancing—that was the motto his office had set up back at home, and he followed it religiously.

Always advancing. Sven’s mind flashed to the large hadron collider sitting somewhere below him in the building. Even though he knew it was meant for a terrible use, Sven couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of destroying it. There was something beautiful about it—the soft whirring of the energy boosters, the coolness of the metal keypad beneath his fingers, that faint purple light that emanated from every crevice…

Sven snapped himself back to reality. No, Violet was right. It had to be destroyed… it had to. But his own reluctance caused Sven’s stomach to coil in on itself. What if Violet wasn’t right? What if she was wrong—wrong about the collider, about Dr. O?

Or worse, Sven thought, what if she was wrong about me? What if I am just like him?

Sven shuddered.


Violet stared, mouth hanging open slightly in astonishment.

“What… what are you doing here?” Violet asked Hans as he advanced towards her. “What happened to Billy and his army of pillowbeaks?” she said, turning towards Shawty.

“They’re on their way, don’t worry,” Hans said, unperturbed.

Robert tore his eyes from the odd bodily contradiction standing before him. “Billy? Another one of these…” he lost his wording as his gaze again wavered on the pillowbeak-man.

“No, no. I am the only one of my kind fortunately. I would have hated anyone to go through the same transformation I endured. Ah well… all in the name of science, I suppose.”

Violet could not believe her ears.

“You? You’re a scientist too? Like this Dr. Octopi?”

“I would hope I’m not exactly like him,” he said. “That would make my efforts seem rather futile. But yes, I am a scientist. A particle physicist, to be exact. Though I have to admit,” he said, looking down at his lower half, “I haven’t always been the best one.”

Violet held her head in her hands. She tried to catalog the facts that were barraging her into separate files in her brain. She thought she had had Clearing Man—or Hans, she guessed—in the category of people she could trust, but now she could feel everything slowly slipping away.

She looked up in time to see Shawty peering at her, his head cocked to one side, eyes squinted. He then turned towards Hans, eyebrows drawn, and nodded.

“Shawty seems to think I should reveal to you a little more information, though I’m not quite sure. I withheld in the first place to avoid this kind of suspicion when you met Octopi, but I guess we owe you an explanation,” Hans conceded.

He drew in a breath, Violet doing the same, preparing herself for what she was about to hear. The stale air filled up her lungs, closed in on her, just like the surrounding dim room.

“You see, Octopi and I once had the same goal. Together, we created this alternate world. We established this domain for the advancement of science,” he said, puffing out his chest above his stocky pillowbeak legs.

Suddenly, it all clicked. Violet’s mind reeled backwards then slingshot forwards again.

“You were partners! The password… ‘Do you have one in blue!’ I knew I had heard that before!”

“Ah yes, is Octopi still using that as his password? We both liked the ring of that for a code phrase back in the day, and apparently it stuck.”

“But… if you and Dr. Octopi were partners… you obviously aren’t any more.”

“No, that is for certain,” said Hans. “He’s done one too many experiments on the collider’s effect on radioactive material, if you ask me. One day we’re creating pillowbeaks and the next day he’s decided that he needs to expand the dimensional boundaries of our world. As if one universe isn’t enough,” he said, shaking his head.

“So… so you were in on these experiments? This expanding of dimensional boundaries?” Robert spoke up.

“Of course not! I was quite content with our own world we had created, thank you very much. Not that I could go back to Earth looking like this,” he added. “Now, O. didn’t appreciate that very much, but I managed to separate myself and persuade a good amount of our pillowbeaks to go with me. This one included,” he said, nodding towards Shawty. “Others were a bit more... loyal to Octopi," he added, glancing at where Bay Bay and the other pillowbeak were tied up on the floor. "And Billy of course. I managed to persuade Billy, which was my ultimate triumph.”

“Will somebody tell me, who is this Billy character?” Robert interrupted again.

“He was one of our very finest… creations. You see, O. had discovered this other form of matter—this anti-matter if you will—and had begun creating creatures called mirrorlings from it.” Robert’s eyes widened in understanding. “And we had always wondered what would happen if you mixed some of this anti-matter with human matter, and well… we created our Billy. Part human, part mirrorling. He can travel through the space of this universe with unparallel ease, but he’s also quite volatile like the mirrolings he was created from. But trust me, he’s worth having on our side.”

“Why’s that?” Robert asked, arms folded across his chest.

Hans paused, exchanging a glance with Shawty. “You’ll see.”

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Chapter 17: Alright, Shawty, Let's Do This.

Junior Mint leaned over the capable shoulders of Dr. Lars Vanderslice as he attempted to successfully activate the inner workings of the earth’s Large Hadron Collider.

“I usually have an entire team of scientist helping with this particular portion of the calibration, but I thought it best we not alert any more people to the impending end of the world than absolutely necessary.” Dr. Vanderslice looked over his shoulder offering this statement as a comfort, but Junior Mint still nervously fidgeted with the ends of her hair.

The laboratory was empty other than the two people leaning over the beeping machines. They had arrived at the lab shortly after Junior Mint and Dr. Vanderslice had had their revealing conversation at the library, and Dr. Vanderslice had ordered all the workers to leave. He needed the lab empty, ‘for science,’ he had told them, and they all instantly understood, packed up, and left.

Dr. Vanderslice continued to press buttons and pull levers. Every once in a while, he’d stop his work and turn to observe a small screen. After a few minutes, he’d turn back to the panels and begin pressing more buttons and muttering under his breath.

Junior Mint wanted desperately to help Dr. Vanderslice, but she hadn’t had much time to observe Dr. Octopi before she was transported to earth.

“Dr. Octo- I mean- Vanderslice, can I help? I could flip a switch or something.”

“Thank you, Junior Mint, but I’m simply trying to recreate the same conditions that allowed the first inklings of the vortexes to appear a few weeks ago. I think I’m close. Perhaps if we can create these vortexes we can reach Violet and Sven and this Dr. Octopi. There is really nothing you can do for me at this point.”

Junior Mint sat back in her chair and watched Dr. Vanderslice continue his work.

Robert Nickel stood in disbelief at what he’d just seen. He never expected to be in a situation like this. He always wanted to live a life of informational excitement, not one that was actually dangerous.

“Alright, Nickel, get to work. We don’t have time enough for yours and Mahoney’s little games.” Dr. Octopi used the hand resting on Robert’s shoulder to shove him toward the three, purple hazed machines and control panel.

“Yes, sir.”

Dr. Octopi left the room, but his minion pillowbeaks stayed behind.

Robert turned to the machines and sank down to the floor. He thought about Sven being dragged away by monkeys. Why couldn’t he just lie a little longer? Robert hadn’t been paying attention to Sven when he was communicating with Violet, but what could she have said to cause Sven’s reaction? Surely he and Sven could’ve come up with a plan, but now Robert was left alone, and Sven was off who knows where. He placed his head in his hand and grabbed his hair.

One pillowbeak, a tall muscular one guarding one of the doors, watched Robert’s every move. “Hey, human, you need to get to work. You heard Dr. Octopi, get on it.”

But Robert wanted to think things through. He glared at the pillowbeak and then let his head drop into his open hands once again. This is where Robert made his mistake. The pillowbeak let out an earth shattering shriek, and Robert jumped to his feet holding his ears. He began clawing at any and everything around him searching for something to heave in the creature’s direction, but he found nothing. He fell to his knees and begged the pillowbeak to stop. After only a few seconds more, the pillowbeak walked over to Robert and stooped to look in his face.

“Now,” he said through clenched monkey teeth, “get to work.”

Nickel turned to the machine and began working.

“Ok, listen Violet.” Sven was concentrating to explain the basics of the Large Hadron Collieder to her, but the new distance was causing that excruciating migraine to return. “My head hurts, so we might have to take a break. If you can get into the control room and access the panel, that’ll be a great start. Get Nickel to help you.”

“Sven, I’m just not sure. What if I can’t do it? What if the pillowbeaks do something? Wouldn’t it be easier to try to free you?” The information that Sven had been imparting over the past fifteen minutes had boggled her mind and shaken her confidence. She was used to reading literature and categorizing books, not analyzing particle physics.

Shawty broke in on their thoughts, apparently Shawty had learned telepathy from the Clearing Man, but hadn’t been using it until now, “Violet, I can handle the pillowbeaks. I have talked to Billy. He and our army of loyal pillowbeaks will be here soon, but we have to start the fire. Sven’s right, if you and I can just get in there, maybe we can reverse any progress Sven made before.”

Violet looked at Shawty, the monkey pleaded with her in his mind. “Please Violet, we need your help.”

“I guess I can help. Sven, how do I log onto the system and where do I go from there?”

“There will be screen that flashes when you enter the password is “doyouhaveoneinblue.”

The password rang a bell with Violet, but she couldn’t quite remember.

“It’s the same thing you were supposed to tell The Clearing Man. Apparently there are a lot of things connected.” Sven clarified, “Anyway, can you remember that?”

“I hope so,” thought Violet, “if not surely Shawty can remember.”

Shawty shot her a skeptical look, “It’s not that I won’t remember, I just may be a little distracted fighting off that real big fellow over there.” He indicated the pillowbeak who had assaulted Robert earlier.

“Should we wait for the others?” Violet asked Shawty, who immediately responded.

“No, there’s no time. Dr. Octopi could be back at any moment and it’s possible that he may be able to properly calibrate the machine himself just from the small amount of progress that Sven has made. And who knows what Robert’s been doing.”

“Do you think Robert’s really willing to carry on Dr. Octopi’s work?” Violet asked Sven.

“I’m sure he’s conflicted, we’ve been working together for ten years, and he’s followed me to each new place,” Sven voice started to sound starined, “but…” Sven didn’t finish.

“Oh shit, Sven’s migraine. Well, we can just see about Dr. Robert Nickel when we get there. We’ve got to do this. Let’s go, Shawty, no time like the present.”

“Wait, wait. We need a plan, Violet. Right now, there are two pillowbeaks guarding Robert. Do you think you can handle one on your own?”

Violet looked back through the window and sized up the pillow beaks. They were both smallish. The “tall” one who had attacked Robert was her height, but the other was shorter. They were both super stocky, though. Violet sighed, honestly, she thought she could hold her own against the smaller one at least long enough for Shawty to take out the big one and come help her. But how long would it take for them to call for help. Violet didn’t know.

She knew Shawty had heard her thought process, there was no way he wasn’t listening to her thoughts now, so she looked to him for his opinion.

He shrugged, “At this point, we have to do something…”

The pair looked at each other. Violet glanced at Robert working furiously on the computer.

“Here’s the plan, you take the small one for as long as you can, and when I get finished with the big one, I’ll come finish him off. Whatever you do, do not let him leave the room. That’s how he’ll signal for help.”

“Alright, Shawty, Let’s do this.”

Shawty led the way down the hallway. He turned right onto another hallway. He was crouching and moving quickly, Violet struggled to keep up.

“Listen, Violet, we have to go for the element of surprise. We’re going to have to ignore Nickel for the time being. If necessary, I’ll keep him at bay with my super sonic screech.” He motioned for her to come stand on the opposite side of a door they had come to. “Om the count of three. One…two…three!”

Shawty let out a tremendous shriek as he leapt into the room and grabbed the tall pillowbeak. Violet stood stunned at the animosity of Shawty. He ripped at the pillowbeak’s neck and scratched at his eyes. The tall pillowbeak was no match for Shawty, and Violet was mesmerized.

Luckily for her, the other guard was also shocked, but he recovered more quickly than Violet. He charged on Shawty and the tall one clearly meaning to save his friend. But Violet reacted. All those years of Jui-jitsu came to use all in one flash of movement. She grabbed the pillowbeak’s arm and spun her body around using her body weight to fling the stout monkey body over her head and onto the ground. He landed with a hefty thud on the concrete floor of the laboratory.

He was stunned, and he didn’t move, but he wasn’t out of the game, yet. In a few minutes he would have regained his composure, and Violet was absolutely certain he would be pissed. She gathered all her strength and dropped all of her weight onto him jabbing a strategically aimed elbow into his ribcage. The pillowbeak let out a sharp cry, and rolled onto his side. This last move was not something they taught you in Jui-Jitsu, it being more of a defensive art, but Sven’s childhood obsession with “professional” wrestling had actually come in handy for the time being. Violet observed her work as the pillowbeak continued to writhe in pain.

Violet gasped as someone grabbed her from behind. “Here,” Shawty said breathless handing her a wad of rope and cloth, “Tie him up and gag him with this.”