Universe W-2020: Holidaze 4
December 31st, 2016
Dropping The Ball
Why must human beings be cruel to one another? Since the dawn of time and probably before it, humanity has looked into the eyes of its oblique refection in the grand cosmic mirror, furrowed its brow, and punched, hoping to break the glass but breaking their hands instead.
At first the shattered appendage warded off humanity, kept it away from the mirror, but it always came back. Every time a tribe with a new way of life was discovered by the first tribe, humanity came back and punched its reflection in the mirror. Every time a child went hungry, the mirror went punched. Every time prey got away, every time the crops didn’t grow to their full potential, every time a war erupted, an outsider or tribesman was taken as a slave, any time a human was thrown into the dirt, held down, and treated like it – humanity always returned to the mirror and took a swing at its reflection, and its hand was always broken by the blow. And it went on like that for a long, long time, endlessly, the consciousness propagating a self-fulfilling cycle of self-degradation and retaliative self-harm to deal with its being degraded; the hands were shattered, the feet were broken, the plates of its skull were cracked more than once – eventually humanity began throwing its entire body at the smooth surface, and eventually its ribs began to splinter.
One day humanity will stop its self-destruction, but that day is very far out on the horizon… or perhaps it purposely hovers above the horizon like a dream, always looming there, giving its dreamers a daily dose of hope paired with weeks of withdrawal that makes you want to turn around and forget about it all, forget about sleep in general. The kind of kickback that makes you crave a retreat back into the darkness of your dismal cave so you can wait until the great white enlightenment illuminates Existence for you, burning it to ash in the process.
Yeah, every cycle has a beginning and an end, those are the two easiest parts to remember. When it starts you’re alert to its ways, you remember everything like it’s never happened before because it hasn’t and it’s still novel and incredible to you, it still matters; when it ends, you sense it coming from afar and your brain turns back on and you remember all the toil and turmoil that you fought and bested at the beginning of the cycle and you smile because you’ve made it, you’ve finally reached the end and now that the end’s here, you’re going to ingrain every moment of it into your brain because you earned it, because you climbed the mountain and the view’s been waiting for you ever since you laid a toe on its lowest foothill.
Then there’s the middle. That strange, enigmatic stretch between a solid mirror with a being standing in its reflection and a shattered mirror with a bloodied, shredded corpse laying at its frame. Nobody remembers the middle – the human brain isn’t really designed to do so unless you force it, according to this sentence – and often, when you’re standing at the apex of that grand mountain you spent so much time and effort climbing, enamored with the view, captured by the landscape, locked in wait for night to fall so the majesty of it all can be momentarily swept from your sun-spoiled eyesight, you forget how you even got up there in the first place.
You must have climbed; that’s how one goes about summitting a peak, so you generate some lifelike memories inside the ol’ noggin and accept them as fact. They’re close enough to the truth, aren’t they? You had to get up somehow, and there is an objective truth out there somewhere, but that’s not really important when you’re the only one concerned with said truth, the only one affected by it. So, you simply fabricate it, word to Sig Durham.
That’s what humanity’s really best at, after all – the left brain is called the interpreter by neuropsychologists because it makes shit up, it creates a story to logically match up with whatever it may be perceiving; this is especially observable in humans whose brains had to be split in half at the corpus collosum so they would no longer be so voraciously taken by their neuroelectric seizures. One experiment comes to mind: a guy was sat at a table with a divider placed in front of his face in such a way that his left brain was able to see a picture of a chicken and the right side bore witness to a picture of a snowstorm. Then, the dude was given a snow shovel to hold in both hands and he was asked what the shovel was for. He answered the researchers, dutifully, To clean up chicken shit in the coop, because the left side of the brain is the side that does language, it talks, it figures out its surroundings and generates some nonsense to make the given reality around it make sense.
The left brain saw the chicken, gripped the shovel, and assumed it was time for scoopin’ poo. It interprets, and it does so damn well.
Then again, the left side of my skull caved in and punctured my brain two years before I did all this writing and I was still able to pull these books out of my ass and fling ‘em at you, so maybe the field of psychology doesn’t understand the human brain as well as it thinks it does – anyway, the point is, just like how fish all swim, monkeys all fling shit straight from their asses, and elephants never forget the trauma they went through as children, humans make up stories; even when they’re laying sticky, covered in their own blood that’s still flowing from the many lacerations coated in dusted glass that decorates its body like ornaments decorate a tree, even though the vast majority of it’s dried on its skin, humanity still makes up a story to figure out how it got to where it is.
In this case, humanity, as it fades into the great transition a’stare at the empty frame of a broken mirror from atop a pile of reflective shards, can come to only one conclusion: the mirror finally broke. Humanity finally pulled the plug. How did it happen, you ask?
Well, one day, the mirror must have cracked.
The Unibrow Bomber
A broad orange hand presses the button with a big C on it and the doors slide shut. It rests at his side; held in the other is a ball, small, roughly the size of a clementine if a clementine was the size of a honey crisp apple.
The ride up is short, but the journey to get here wasn’t. It’s been sixteen and a half years in the making – sixteen and a half long, dreadful revolutions around the sun, time spent getting lied to, pushed down, threatened by everyone around him – and it all started on that one fateful night. When those two sociopaths befriended him with promises of vacation and splendor and then jumped him in the parking lot, riddling his poor defenseless scarf with holes like it was some kind of cheese that escaped the genocide in Switzerland.
Holy shit, Memorial Day Weekend actually had a purpose.
The elevator doors open and teenage steps onto the carpet in the lobby. It’s a small room, doesn’t seem to serve much use other than providing feet a place to get caught in traffic, and it leads right to the translucent pair of glass doors of Cape Enterprises, Unc’s main office, where, tonight, the first-ever Chuck Leary New Year’s Bash-travaganza is going down. He doesn’t know how many attendees will be gyrating their hips and busting their grooves behind that door, but he doesn’t care – there’s just one he needs to see. One he needs to meet face-to-face before it all goes up in flames.
Teenage pushes the doors in and the office booms a pulse of bass into the lobby. The lights are on, laser beams are cutting through the fog like it was nothing more than compressed haze, and the music rings his ears before having the courtesy to knock. The scarf grips the ball tight – they cannot falter.
“CHUCK!” teenage screams out, cuing the music off. “CHUCK LEARY! YOU SENT ME YOUR REGARDS; NOW I’M HERE!”
When the molecules in the air stop vibrating so quickly that his vision is blurry, teenage realizes that he’s likely a bit early – there’s nobody here.
Chuck, annoyed, walks around the corner and says, “What?”
Teenage ducks below the front desk, as to remain mysterious. “Am I… early? Where is everyone?”
“You aren’t early, you just weren’t fuckin’ invited, guy. There’s supposed to be a whole busload of fun, loose women who don’t care what they think of themselves, they were hired specifically for this party. If you scared them off, you little shithead…”
The hands of teenage’s scarf grab hold of the lip of the desk and the dastardly pair vaults themselves over, landing five feet in front of a mid-step pissed off Chuck. When he’s just a pissed off Chuck, they stand four and a half feet apart.
Just then, an interdimensional oval a’swirl with all the colors of the human and
Zeroc visible spectrum rifts open between them and another Chuck steps out, this one much more well-traveled, and then dashes towards teenage faster than light can even dream of traveling, his right arm extended and his hand ready for a karate chop.
The tip of ChuckTwo’s middle finger touches teenage’s Adam’s apple. Then, his entire arm javelins through teenage’s throat so that his shoulder can touch teenage’s Adam’s apple too, as to not get left out. Neither likes how this little arrangement feels, especially our teenage, so he drops the ball figuratively and dies as peacefully as he can, just like that.
Rest in peace, teenage.
“What’s going on?” Karen calls out from around the corner. The sound of a bubbling bong tries to talk over her, but if Sigmund thinks he even has a chance of outshining Karen, he needs to hit that bong.
“Uhhhhh,” says Chuck, more annoyed than confused. “Nothing, I’m just never throwing a fucking party again.”
“Good call!” ChuckTwo says as the ball drops from the hand of the limp orange scarf.
ChuckTwo catches the ball in his left hand, and that’s when the scarf attacks. Unraveling from teenage’s gaping neck, the scarf flies for ChuckTwo and constricts him, holding the suited man’s right wrist flat against his bottom jaw so the point of the Df
ZT ring digs into his ear. Teenage’s body slides off ChuckTwo’s bloody arm like a tight ring slides off a fat, soapy finger and thuds – Chuck wonders if the kid was ever actually alive or if it was the scarf controlling his corpse like a puppet this entire time. The scarf goes for the ball but ChuckTwo’s arm extends out into the lobby, just slightly out of the scarf’s reach.
“Okay, what the fuck?” Chuck asks politely. “What’s, what’s with the scarf and the ball, what’s even…” He takes off his fedora and rubs the back of his head. “Do I even want to know what’s going on here? Like…”
Through gargly chokes, ChuckTwo mentally transfers the DfZT ring to his left hand. He cuts a small circle into the lobby’s fabric of reality, severing only the applicable strings without even looking at what he’s doing goddamn, and shatters the sphereoid, sticking his left hand in. When he pulls it out, the ball is gone and the scarf goes limp as a ragdoll without the stuffing.
Chuck waits expectantly.
Whilst ChuckTwo catches his breath, “Look at his face.”
Chuck looks down at teenage’s face. He didn’t notice until now because the scarf was wrapped around him like a chadaree, but the kid’s boasting a unibrow thicc enough to twitterpate all who require cushion for the pushin’.
“Holy shit, he only has one eyebrow?!” Chuck shouts as his two, distinct and SEPARATE eyebrows rise over the flat curvature of the tops of his sunglasses to see for themselves the deformed, mutant ‘brow of fortune lesser than theirs.
“That’s not all,” ChuckTwo says, surprised he’s even still here. “That ball that he almost dropped? That was a bomb, like, a massive fuckin’ moon-incidenting bomb, dude. This is the Unibrow Bomber, he’s a domestic terrorist, Chuck. He almost killed all of you. And your city”
ChuckTwo makes a face that only a Chuck can make. “Does it look like I fucking know, dude? I don’t know where I came from, why I came here, I don’t even know where that ball went!”
“What? Whaddya mean?” Chuck asks, making his employees assume he’s having a tirade with himself. Again.
“I mean ever since this fucking Universe pissed me off enough to make me leave her for good, I’ve been randomly fuckin’ popping in and out with zero fucking idea of why it keeps happening! It feels like I’m not even in control of my actions, it’s maddening! I’m not a fucking tool, you selfish bitch! I’m not an object,Uni! You can’t just keep conjuring me to clean up all your little messes or el–”
ChuckTwo vanishes, no portal necessary. Chuck stands there, in his own office, confused, feeling like some higher being somewhere who may or may not be in control of the inner workings of his daily life really dropped the ball on this party.
Then, the elevators in the lobby all simultaneously ding and no less than forty-two beautiful, naked women with bodies to collapse a global system of totalitarian governance step into the Cape main office.
Chuck forgets that he met the second Chuck by the time the first joint is sparked.