Universe W-78: Beautiful Minds 1
Chase Your Dreams
Koncho’s keys rattle like the head of a staff wielded by an African medicine man as he gets home and penetrates his front door’s lock.
“What a day, what a motherlovin’ day,” as he steps inside and attempts to remove the water-logged flippers from his callused feet. The life of a deep-sea welder is not an easy one, but it sure does pay the heck out of those bills.
Something is amiss though, a certain smell is aloft in the air. It’s familiar, too familiar, it almost smells like… his wife’s… no, can’t be. Just like that couldn’t be his brother’s car parked in the driveway.
As he ventures further into the boxcave that is his house, Koncho hears a muffled banging, almost like a headboard bashing against a wall with a blanket shoved in between, but the blanket got dislodged a while ago. As Koncho delves nearer and nearer to the center of his cave, the noise grows closer and closer to cacophony; he stops at the door. Someone, or someones, rather, are in his bedroom. Making noise. Sweating. Moaning. He slowly opens the door to find his wife Megaladochious furiously going at it with his brother Jognatathan.
“Koncho!!” Megaladochious screams, not bothering to cover herself with a blanket because the blanket is under the bed.
“Heeyyy honey, I’m home. Hey bro.”
“Sup Konch’, you wanna get in on this? Literally?”
“Hard pass Joggney, that’s gross. You’re gross. I’m gonna go to the sanctum and get some sleep. Long day. You guys have fun.”
He turns to leave. The two continue to have fun.
Koncho closes the door slowly and lets his wife and brother resume the mutual realignment of each other’s spines. Directly across the glossy wood flooring from the bedroom is a heavy cast iron door that creaks when it opens and shakes the entire house when it closes – this is the entrance to the sanctum. There is no staircase behind the heavy door, simply a fat rope hanging from the ceiling; Koncho dons his rope gloves and slides down into the darkness, feeling the rope tremble as the door shuts automatically. The first time he made his descent, he burned the majority of the skin off his hands, which was just slightly less than pleasant.
The sanctum is a bottomless cavern that was discovered under the house about thirteen years after construction was completed. A single rock reaches out from the abyssal depths, flat topped with a decorative staircase running down it in a spiral, that serves as both a landing pad and a private bedroom. Megaladochious can get pretty insatiable at night and she rarely accepts no for an answer, which is great in a way that’s indescribable with mere words, but sometimes, Koncho needs his sleep, and sometimes is sometimes now; Koncho is out cold within seconds of hitting the sheets, flippers and all.
Koncho’s slumber is short lived, just like the life of a butterfly. One minute you’re flapping your wings in North America, the next a hurricane is destroying the Mongolian caterpillar factory farm where you were originally born. Groggy and feeling partially braindead, Koncho struggles his way out of the cocoon that is his seeping arrangement and falls to the rocky floor. The jolt from the impact is exactly what the right side of his brain needs to wake up! It beats a cup of coffee clear out of the mug.
Koncho finally stops attempting and goes about actually peeling the TimberSea flipperboots off his feet. He then walks towards the rope to begin his ascent when, again, something seems off.
The air is buzzing with the feisty aroma of spices and seasonings sizzling in a pan mixed with the uncanny aroma of chicken. He walks to the edge of his rock and gets down on all fours, and what does he find? A massive, hairy, black spider sitting on a log, pan in one of its eight grotesque hands, frying an orange substance over a campfire that, gravitationally speaking, should not exist.
The spider notices Koncho and shrieks like a little girl, dropping the pan on the campfire and squabbling away. With the haste of a bullet train, Koncho runs down the side of the rock, jumping over the rotting oak log to grab the wooden handle of the frying pan. Just in time too, the food almost burned. He takes a little slice of the orange stuff and pops it in his mouth – ah, sulfer shelf, the chicken of the woods. He eats the rest of the mushrooms and chucks the frying pan down into the bottomless pit before turning around and walking back up the wall.
Koncho notices that his bed seems softer now, and like a candle in the wind, he’s out.
When he wakes, Koncho finds himself laying on a memory foam mattress in an unfamiliar bedroom. He looks around and studies the unfamiliar setting, tan carpet covering the plywood floor and archaic redwood furniture towering over the baseboard heating. Something is scratching at the door, trying to dig its way through the splintery wood. Koncho gets up, his bare feet sinking ever so slightly into the carpet. He opens the door slowly until the cat speeds things along, barging through the entry and running straight towards the wall. After executing a sick backflip maneuver, the cat jumps up on the bed and curls up into a little ball, purring itself deeper into the dream dimension. Koncho smiles, not an extravagant, toothy smile, but a gentle, content grin. What is this wonderful place?
He walks out the door to find a young man draped in purple and black blanket-looking things sitting on a couch and playing a video game. There’s a pair of arms holding an assault rifle on the screen, charging forward towards a virtual WWII-style airplane hangar with a small group of virtual soldiers. The man looks over and grunts at Koncho before reverting his attention back to his game. As Koncho walks down the stairs, the sound of gunfire erupts behind him, followed by an angry “God damnit!” and the crash of a plastic controller hitting a sheetrock wall.
An older man and woman are sitting together on a pink couch downstairs. A news program is playing on the television, this screen much smaller than the humongous rig upstairs. The older man says, “Goes it howin’,” without looking away from the news, and the woman smiles at Koncho, then continues to read her book. On the counter behind them, there’s a plate of freshly prepared scrambled eggs and bacon, the aroma nearly knocking Koncho over with sheer delight. He sits and digs in, the bacon crispy and the eggs loaded with cheese and spices as if it was prepared by a world class chef.
“Are you working today, honey?” the woman asks, looking over the back of the couch at Koncho.
Koncho hears himself say, “Yep, nine to three. Then I’m doing some volunteer work at the ecology center.”
The woman gives him another smile as warm as his breakfast, telling him how nice it is that he’s giving back to the place that he went to summer camp as a child. Koncho has no memory of this house, of the humans inside it, or of the summer camp; Koncho has no idea how he got here, but he’s happy. It’s all so simple, so serene.
Shortly after breakfast, the old man gets up and leaves for The Void, the younger man from upstairs leaving with him, blankets and all. The old woman goes for a stroll and Koncho finds himself alone in the house with the tuxedo cat, since woken and now rummaging through the pantry.
What could it be looking for?
Koncho pokes his head in and the cat freezes, slowly turning to face our man. They look at each other for a while, locked into a staring contest the likes of which Koncho has never participated.
He freezes; did the cat just speak?
Koncho wakes up on his stone bed, the large spider standing over him with all eight of its hairy, arthropodic legs.
“You owe me thirty dollars for those ‘shrooms, bucko.”