|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
What Do You Think
“So, I think I understand exactly what’s going on here and how this whole entire shit is going to play out,” says Chuck with a mouthful of freshly fabricated Japanese hibachi steak over fried rice with eggs (the only acceptable way for Chuck to eat eggs), paired with soy sauce enriched noodles and a couple choice pieces of fried shrimp (the only acceptable way for Chuck to eat shrimp).
Damn, that’s a big mouthful.
“Oh?” Tim says, attempting to peel a banana but having far more trouble with the task than both Chuck and Sigmund would think a being of his physical appearance would have doing so. “Well hit me with it.”
“Yes,” Sigmund clearly enunciates, his throat crammed so full of the hibachi fried vegetables that Chuck made with the fabricator but didn’t want that it’s a wonder how any air can reach his vocal chords at all, “I’m quite curious to hear what you’ve put together regarding this entire situation. Please, do tell.”
“Okay, y’all ready for this?” He looks around the room at the two eager faces joining him for dinner tonight, then, “Nah, you’re definitely not, but here we go anyway. So, remember the morning before the announcement of the contest winner? I was in some little Joisey cityplace with a buddy, we were infiltrating a random office building so he could get coproate revenge on his employer. I ha–”
“Don’t you mean corporate?” Sigmund asks, hoping so very much that Chuck did, in fact, mean corporate.
“I sure didn’t, and trust me, I had no knowledge of it until it was already going in. I mean, going on. I mean, coming out like the head of a dirty prairie dog. No, hah,” a sharp inhale, “I definitely meant going on. That was uh, that was kinda weird. Anyway, so remember how the Psycho-naut
Zerocs, you know, the pair of them? One of which I banged? By the way, Tim, I banged an alien, shit was tight. And I don’t even mean that as a pun, damn! I’m on fire right now, hah! Anyway, the psycho–”
“I think it was Psych-EEE-nauts Chuck, you should at least call them by their preferred proper noun,” Sigmund implores over a soundtrack of Tiny Tim slow clapping it out in the background.
“Fine. So, the Psych-fuckin’-EEE-fuckin’-nauts, they had zero memory or knowledge about your precious lil’ transmitter, right? Right. Well, I think that that’s because they don’t really roll with the rest of the more, so to speak, mainstream
Zerocy bois. Meaning, they’re a bunch of dirty hipsters and it’s a good thing they dipped off. Anyway, so the Zeroc guy we spoke to earlier today was talkin’ ‘bout a tragedy that went down when your transmitter originally came to Earth, and you were never able to find said ‘mitter, right?”
“I’m having some trouble seeing were you’re going with this, but, I haven’t taken off my glasses yet. Droll on,” Sigmund drolls.
“Well, my guess is that the guy who owned the company that I infiltrated at the beginning of the week is the same guy who nabbed the transmitter, okay? He’s probably been doing some crazy shit with it over the years, attracting just enough of the
Zeroc’s attention so that they know we exist, but not quite enough for them to come here, ya feel? So, what with this whole disappearing-ass mountain bullhockey that not just the hippie kid, but now also Tim-nah’tee, the one and only… wait, sorry bud. Didn’t mean for the joke to go there but we’re rollin’, we’re all friends here, all havin’ a good time, hey pass the ginger sauce would ya? Thank ya kindly.”
Chuck dips his chicken fingers in the honey mustard sauce that Tiny Tim just passed over to him.
“But this weird metaphysical mountain thing that everybody’s corroborated over, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And now they’re – the they part of that contraction being the
Zeroc of course – now they’re here and they’re queer and they’re ready for fuckin’ beer, the fuckin’ beer, of course, being the battle against the armed forces of the office guy who originally stole the transmitter, whoever that douchedick is. And before you ask, I’m almost positive that said douchedick has said armed forces because of the existence of not only the gunman dude hiding in the closet of the office on Monday morning that I didn’t tell anyone about, but also the invader that Jolon dirtied his blade with, the fuckin’ badass. I really hope we run into him again, although I completely doubt we will… at least, not until the final climactic battle, us and the Zeroc invaders against the invaders of the planet’s invading forces. Woo! This fuckin’ tea that we got with dinner is hot, fuckin’ loving it!”
“Hmmm… well, I hate to admit it, but that’s actually a pretty comprehensive theory you’ve formulated. It requires a small lot of dot connecting, sure, maybe some faithful leaps too, but it all makes sense,” Sigmund muses as he attempts to come up with an alternate theory, failing at his task. He eats the last bite of his soggy taco they picked up from the Taco Chime in the woods on the way back to Jack’s house, then, “What do you think, Mister Tim?”
Tim-nah’tee, a stoic expression upon his ancient face, darkened and weathered from the erosive sands of time and circumstance, says nothing. Then, after some lighthearted prodding from Chuck, he finally expresses his opinion.
“I think it is foolish to attempt to openly predict the outcome of what we know as reality. What I mean is, we don’t know that we’re not being observed right now. There could be passive onlookers who are watching all of this play out merely for the purpose of their own entertainment, and Chuck, you telling us your prophetic thoughts could have ruined the entire thing for them. Not only that, taking things for a bit of a more realistic spin here, maybe our opposing faction of humans is observing us right now. Maybe they now know we’ve caught up with them and they’re altering their plans to better overcome us. Perhaps they didn’t know about the
Zeroc’s plan to strike them – maybe the Zeroc don’t have that plan at all, and all this vocal brainstorming has given our enemies the one-up on our allies who, realistically speaking, are far more powerful than we are.”
“Speak for yourself, Tim. I could literally kill everybody off if I wanted to, ‘kay? I could kill off the fuckin’ planet. I, I could, just, fuckin’, I could wipe my hairy ass with the Milky Way Galaxy and nobody would be any the wiser, okay? Because everyone would be fuckin’ dead, okay?! Let’s get one thing perfectly strAIGHT AND HETEROSEXUAL HERE, OKAY?!?”
Chuck began yelling at some point, and nobody is sure why.
Nobody except for Tiny Tim of course, who says, “Chuck, I’m sure reuniting with me has unearthed a whole treasure trove of long-buried issues about your father, but please, let’s put our cocks away for five seconds. We’re eating dinner, plus, I’m speaking. You shouldn’t be rude to your friends.”
“You know what, Tim? Mister Tiny Tim, Mister Tim-nah’tee? You have an excellent point. I’m just gonna, I’mma sit right back down and let you finish speaking.”
“Quite. Now, on the contrary, you could be completely wrong about everything you’ve predicted. Perhaps the
Zeroc had lied to you about their lack of knowledge regarding the transmitter; perhaps the enemy faction of humans originated as a mutiny that’s brewed underneath the surface of the liquid you have bubbling in your Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated cauldron; perhaps you only think what an outside force wants you to think, and your thinking and acting on the wrong information is essential to things playing out exactly how this supposed outside force wants them to play out.”
Chuck and Sigmund both sit in silence, that nervous kind of silence where you just farted but you have extreme nerve damage in the majority of your ass so you have no idea if your fart was a fart, a shart, or a straight-up shit. This is a dangerous kind of nervous, a kind of nervous that makes angry little dictators exile themselves to South American haven countries so they don’t have to live up to the consequences of the heinous acts they’ve committed against the human race. Oh yeah, I’m lookin’ at you, Adolf. We all know buddy, with your candied-ass overcasted-ass lookin’ ass.
Sorry. Anyway, Chuck says, “So what’s your point, Tim? What do we do?”
“My point and what we should do are very different things. My point is, at any given moment in any of our lives, no matter how much information we think we have, and no matter how solid we think that information is, we may be forgetting something. And if this is the case, we wouldn’t know until we remembered the thing we’ve forgotten, if we ever re-remember it again. And I cannot speak on the human brain, but the Quatchfut brain has a disgracefully bad record of correctly perceiving and remembering events as they truly occurred, as far as I’ve come to understand. As for what we should do, well… I generally try to avoid overthinking. I find it’s better to look at things through an unbiased lens until our end comes.”
“But Tim, how will we know when it’s the end?” Sigmund asks, so mesmerized by the intelligence of this bipedal ape creature that he’s rethinking his entire opinion on human evolution, trying to somehow fit the Quatchfut species into the Darwinian narrative he’s spun for himself.
“There is no the end, Sigmund, merely our ends. We will each know it when we come to it, there is no escaping fate. Take it from me – I watched my entire civilization burn mere moments after coming out of a religious ceremony that was meant to celebrate the long history of the Quatchfut on this planet, and it all happened just to bring me to this small bunker to eat dinner with you two and bullshit over what might have happened and what might happen next. A meteor could strike the planet and kill us all in the next five minutes; some things are not meant for us to know until we know them. When the point in time in which we know what we previously weren’t meant to know comes, there will be more for us not to know, and at any point in the near future, more new information could be introduced that would utterly demolish our perceived paradigm into a state comparable to that of the demented rantings of a lunatic, or worse, the ineludible unawareness of a sufferer of brain damage.”
April 19th, 2020
Up in space, a meteor that doesn’t have a name punches through the junkosphere, slips through the hole in the ozone layer, and makes its approach towards Earth, specifically towards the ship hovering above Treering’s Skunksville dam. Luckily, the combined forces of atmospheric burnoff and
Zerocian vaporization waves eviscerates the meteor. It was never even picked up on American radar, mostly because with the dissolution of the US government and whatnot, there are no American organizations sacrificing their hard-earned dollars to constantly monitor space; aside from Cape, anyway, but Sigmund’s busy eating dinner right now. The rest of the world’s leaders may have known about the meteor, but frankly, they would love to see the Untied States completely fray out in their lifetime.
The worst part: this has happened on three separate occasions, albeit with much smaller meteors and a frightening lack of
Zerocian vaporization waves, since Sunday, April 19th, 2020, the day all this actually started.
A Remote Control
“Existence is… weird, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Without hesitation,” Chuck exclaims, rubbing his belly and looking at his half-eaten plate of food. “Well that was certainly a lot of dinner to pack down, it’s got me lookin’ forward to the dessert!”
“But Chuck,” Sigmund wails, the sight of the food on Chuck’s plate making his stomach gurgle, “you haven’t even renewed your membership with the Clean Plate Club…!”
“Ignoring that, I think the only thing I’ve forgotten to do in all this is burn some Cannabis before we feasted. Sheesh, no wonder I’m not hungry; I don’t even have the munchies.”
Then, one circle’s worth of joint rotations later, Chuck says, “Oh hey! Speaking of all this wordspeak bullshit about not only us being watched, but also bullshit in general, check this bullshit out.”
A remote control built from hemi-atomic nanobots materializes in Chuck’s hand. He clicks the big red button, the only button available for him to click. It’s a bit of a waste of real estate on the remote’s top surface, but that’s just fine; the large television screen in the common room of the Dirt Eater Mk I blinks to life regardless, showing a live feed of Jack, Sam, and their mother Daisy eating a dinner of what appears to be a homemade pizza.
“Oh yeah, you never did explain why you were spying on this random kid’s family. Like, I get that we drew his name the day before I announced him as the winner of the contest, but you said this, uh… you said this thing that you do here’s been going on for a while?”
“Yeah, it’s the whole Cape sponsorship program thing. You’re signed up with it too dude, same exact spiel. Except, yanno, I don’t monitor you because you live in my building and you already know who I am. Momma Monta, the one who gets the checks, she has no idea that I still play a role in her life, and I intend to keep it that way. She gets by, and I’m sure I give her enough dollars to support the children, too. Having met both of them and having spent all this time together, I’m pretty sure I’m right. And, I’m more than sure that Miss Daisy up there ain’t in need of the scientific facilities that I happily provide you with. I appreciate the cool toys you build for me, but like her, ninety-nine percent of the time, Sigmund, you have one hundred percent control over your time. I just want y’all to do what you love, that’s all; I just want all humans to spend their time the way I spend mine: doing whatever the fuck I want and loving it.”
A Rabbit Hole
“You guys know what I would just love?” Daisy sings through a mouthful of hardly-above-mediocre pizza. “Besides more of this great pizza?”
Sam and Jack, both choking down the plastery dough smothered with tomato sauce that has more sugar in it than all twenty-seven of the cans of Creature energy that Tyler has stashed away in various nooks and crannies of Sam’s bedroom, don’t say anything because their mouths are full.
A few chews later, whilst enjoying his now dry yet empty mouth and the newly found spot in the good graces of his mother, Sam says, “What’s that, Mah?”
“A fancy, high-technical wine distillery. Or brewery, whichever word fits there. I would love to be able to brew my own brand, you know? Get high off my own supply? You can relate to that, can’t you Sam?”
Sam pauses for a moment, not sure if his mother is being genuine or passive aggressive. She certainly looks passive – calm face, no horns sprouting out of her head, hair done up in a big brunette bun – but then again, that’s exactly how she would want to come off if she was being passive aggressive. The bitch, she’s just trying to start a fight. She always has to try to start a… wait a minute, why am I thinking like this? She’s my mom, she created me. Of course she’s just trying to be funny, I’m overthinking it.’
Yes, Sam is indeed overthinking it, his mind still trapped in that constant state of brain fog and confusion that results from smoking Cannabis every fucking day for the past two years of his life. There’s no other reason for it, don’t be silly. Just accept what I say.
Sam’s leg starts to twitch beyond his control and suddenly he drops the knife that he was using to chisel the pizza apart. ‘Oh my god… she’s been manipulating me this entire time.’
Jack, noticing his brother slipping into one of his pre-episode zone-outs, throws himself to the floor and picks up his knife for him. ‘Why does he have to do this? It’s because of that weed he smoked yesterday with Hayley or whatever her name is.’ See, this act of kindness is a win-win; Jack gets to dodge the disgusting excuse for pizza for a few seconds, and his mentally unstable brother might not explode for once!
“Here you go Sam, I think you dropped this.”
Sam, with trembling hands, takes the knife away from his little brother. ‘Do you even know what you could do with this? Do you know what I’ve done to myself with something like this? No, you don’t, because you’re about as sheltered as they come, kid. I think you dropped this, like, what the fuck? Did you not fucking see the shit happen? Did the knife fall into a rabbit hole and magically appear on the floor or something? Fuck you Jack.’ Then, verbally, “Oh, uh, thanks Jack. This pizza is delicious by the way mom, thank you.”
‘Yeah, fuck you Jack, this pizza is fucking disgusting, it’s not real food and it shouldn’t even be fed to animals. That’s how nasty it is, if only they could realize it themselves.
“Awh, well thanks honey, I’m so glad you like it,” Daisy says whilst, in the same moment, thinking to herself, ‘Why do they keep saying that? This pizza is the worst excuse for dog shit that I’ve ever made. It came out of a box, already frozen. Are they patronizing me? Do they not want to hurt my feelings? Am I a bad mom because I drink too much? Why are these fucking kids so difficult to control?!’
From Chuck’s monitor, the Monta clan appears to be having a wonderful family dinner over a pizza they heated up in their oven. Everyone is openly thanking one another and the compliments are slappin’. But beneath the surface, deep under the slowly peeling layers of their familial masquerade, a storm is brewing, a storm with clouds as black as night that forms within one’s skull cavity for one reason and one reason only: to bring down the vibe. “Can’t let the humans get too happy,” says the collective human consciousness after witnessing its many iterations consciously commit terrible acts of violence, hate, and genocide against themselves for no real reason over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Bunch of fuckheads, these humans are; or at the very least they can be, they’re more than capable of it. The right button just needs to be pressed, the right line crossed; the right misunderstanding of the subjective meaning of words exchanged between two humans of a shared history and boom, instant thunderclap.
Fortunately, Chuck and company get bored of watching The Life and Times of the Marvelous Montas, so he switches the channel and they start to play one of the video games where their consciousness gets sucked into the TV so they can really be a part of it.
Unfortunately, this tale is told from the perspective of the Universe it takes place in (if you haven’t figured that out by now) and the Universe gravitates towards wherever the energy is the most intense. It doesn’t matter if this energy is good or bad, negative or positive, holy or sinister, whatever the fuck, because such things don’t exist; it’s all subjective, all down to the perceiver to interpret. Sure, that flood you never heard about that decimated the small desert village you were never made aware of by creating hazardous mudslides that swallowed up every man, woman, and child can be seen as a terrible act of nature’s wrath upon the human organism, literally a cosmic act of vengeance to tip the scales in favor of balance with all things, or, it can be seen as a much-needed reset for those living in that desert.
You think it’s easy to live in a desert, you think it’s fun at all? The kids, and the parents too, and the elderly grandparents that often have trouble remembering who they are, they all have to walk miles upon miles over scorching hot sand every single day, burning the raw skin underneath the popped blisters on soles of their feet along the way, just to get a drink of contaminated, infected water. All that pain just to sustain their own famished existence in a place where fuckin’ plants hardly even grow.
Is that worth it? Who’s to say that, after the mudslide, all of those humans weren’t reborn as jungle birds or pampered purse puppies in pre-, or better yet, post-anarchic America, or something elsewhere that would theoretically lead a life of a higher quality? Who’s to say they weren’t reborn as the
Zerocians that would go on to become The Psychenauts? Sometimes the great transition can be cruel, sure, but most times it’s based on karma. That means, in life and in death, if some bad juju comes your way, then you unmistakably deserve it. Want proof? Well, it happened! There’s your proof – if you were the chosen one then you’d have been chosen by now, wouldn’t you? Don’t be a dickhead and you won’t get dicked down by Momma Creation, simple as that.
WOW did I get away from the story. Let’s just pretend I didn’t say any of that, cool? Karma’s not really real anyway, right? Just some hippie-dippie bullshit that was made up by the luckier humans that’ve always had everything handed to them… right? Oof, just forget about it, the entirety of these few paragraphs really have little to do with anything else in this book, and this time I mean that literally. Unless I don’t, considering how I don’t even exist as far as this narrative is concerned.’
“What did you just say to me, Samuel?” Momma Monta asks, looking at Jack for confirmation, the boy’s jaw hanging slack as if the hinges had broken under the sheer force of his brother’s obvious-in-this-moment mental illness.
“Huh?” Sam says in response, able to perceive the world outside of his own head again.
Sam had gotten stuck in a deep, dark thought hole, the kind that makes you doubt whether or not what’s going on around you is even real. The same flavor of thought hole he got stuck in just last night when he was running from the imaginary bigfoot that Jack met today. Jack never got around to telling his brother the bigfoot turned out to not only be real, but actually very intelligent and advanced, consciousness-wise, and he also forgot to mention that said bigfoot is currently hiding out in the bunker underneath their basement. The very same “bunker” that Sam, moments after he relinquished to his little brother his two jars of psychoactive herbs, one of which was emptier than the other because he took a few fat rips before handing them over, believes he met aliens inside of. Sam heard that voice and just kept on listening, he let it spin his ass out of control until he finally broke, literally cursing out loud to himself in the presence of his mother to make it shut up.
Hey, maybe he’s doing it again right now; there’s no real way to tell if the voice one thinks in, or rather, the voice with which one’s thoughts are expressed inside one’s head, is actually one’s own, self-generated thought voice, or if it all actually comes from an outside force peering in, inserting ideas and pointing out patterns that may or, realistically, probably don’t have any bearing on reality, all in hopes that something screwy conspires. It sure does sound like your own voice, but you can never truly know… now can you, Sam?’
“I SAID FUCK YOU! GET OUT OF MY HEAD! AAHHHH!!”
‘Oh boy… somebody should have smoked some Cannabis, spelt with a capital Cee. Because it’s special, because it’s the Moksha Medicine, it’s the cure to all the problems in your life, all your family drama that you’ve been bottling up throughout your entire childhood… until you started smoking Cannabis, that “holy” smoke boiling the waters of your psyche and bringing the nonsense up to the surface so you could deal with it by yelling and screaming and shoving your self-harm in your family’s face, isn’t that right, Sam? Smoking earlier on in your fucked up little life probably would have prevented all those problems… at the very least, smoking before dinner probably would have calmed you down a bit, wouldn’t it have? Oh that’s right, you did smoke, with Hayley, or whatever her name is… maybe every time you smoke, it just causes you more problems because… now that you’re thinking about it… shit never really hit the fan with the fam or lack of friends before you started smoking, now did it?
‘Let me rephrase it like this: your life was never so difficult until you started locking yourself away in your bedroom to smoke a drug for hours on end every day, randomly going out in the middle of the night on “night hikes” to your “campsites” that are obviously just “safe places” for you to do drugs away from your abusive family.’
‘That’s all quite possible, now isn’t it Sam?
Oh, Sam’s gone; he sprinted out of the house again, it seems. That’s just what one does when one’s mother assumes her firstborn problem child has slipped deep into a dangerously delusional state of psychosis and, high off fear, chases him out with a rolling pin.
That’s what we’re all afraid of, isn’t it? At the end of the day, as long as one’s brain is correctly perceiving the reality around them, nothing else really matters, right? Ghosts, ghouls, and goblins can go bump in the night all they want, at least until the others start telling you that the spooky creatures you can only see and hear when you’re by yourself in a dark room aren’t real. Well, I should say, until you start listening to the others telling you that what you perceive isn’t real. Maybe they’re just jealous that the angels and demons and aliens don’t talk to and abduct them too?
But how are you sure the others are even real? Maybe all those skeptical naysayers in your life are the real figments of your crazy, infinite imagination that science itself doesn’t quite understand.
Jack Monta, sat alone at his kitchen table which was described in detail as an island with a granite countertop in an earlier chapter of this book, is crying into his pizza. At least it won’t be so dry now.
Ahhh goodness, I better hope the characters in this novel never find a way out of their Universe. I’ll be in deeeeeep doodoo if they ever do, after fucking with them like this. Anyway, this has gotten a little too meta, even for me; the worst part? Never planned it to go this way; I just started typing and then, boom, the chapter was done. I’m not saying I blacked out and lost a considerable amount of time from my memory, and when I came to these words were on the page or anything like that, no way! Why would you even assume that? You know, Mister or Missus I Think I Know What’s Going On Here, if that even were the case, I could just go back and rewrite them, just like I could if I wrote them intently and didn’t black out during the process. But uh… that’s a whole lot of words to go back and rewrite, a whole lot of work to theoretically redo just so you, the hypothetical reader of this book that might never be read, doesn’t think I’m crazy. Sooooo… fuck it. It’s Wednesday, we’re only halfway through the week. Gotta keep it entertaining, gotta keep the hypothetical reader standing on their toes. And hey, if you’ve never thought about this stuff on your own, well… anyway, moving on. I think I can live with this being a short chapter; the Universe knows Sam’s family can.
Looks like we all had some dinner tonight.