A Lingerer Lingers

A Lingerer Lingers

…because the world is flat, again.

[This is a portion of a completed first draft of a sci-fi manuscript titled Bromides and is the sequel to a self-published work titled Red & Blue Make Green, and it is the next installment of that sci-fi manuscript, which is uploaded as an ongoing work of serial fiction here on medium &elsewhere whenever the author feels compelled that you are about to begin reading now…begin, alternatively, at the beginning, or read in whatever order you find suits you best…✌]  

The world is flat, remember?, and everything within it lacks depth. I have never been here before, but I have read of its description. One would think that all of this seems strange, but really, it’s not strange at all. I see the person for whom I have been searching. Here? In this place, at this time? The location seems odd but not too odd when considering how she operates. She must have been here not too long ago, I assume. “Mox,” I gently whisper, disguised as a windstorm. “Not only can you not stay here forever, but also, you cannot stay here much longer,” through the wind I continue. Sprawled among the prickly points of the flat, slices of grass, watching as fluffy clouds in the distance retreat, transform into thin sheaths as they fly overhead, “Yes, yes,” Mox speaks aloud in a tone that would suggest his accepted acknowledgement. Awe, look at him; he looks so happy rolling around in this seemingly safe timescape. “Obviously,” Mox continues; “I shouldn’t have been able to be here at all.” He rolls around a bit on the grass, winces at the sting of the pointy grass. “This place is unreal,” Mox thinks aloud to himself in sheer enjoyment of the oddity that is this flat world. Of course, the world is not flat in the sense that the world is not a sphere, instead, everything within this world lacks depth, meaning that, despite the three-dimensional planes of existence, each independent object lacks a third dimension, like a pop-up picture book for those relegated to references from the days of yore, but all of this has already been explained. The idea of a thing, most oftentimes, proves itself to be difficult to relate to for those who exist within, for the lack of a better term, linear time. Nevertheless, to understand the world within which our dear Mox survives, requires little to no imagination. Here, within this flat world, however, Mox relaxes, feels indestructible. The question, of course, soon becomes, “How did he get here?”

According to some, Mox holds the ability to hide here within himself. To a privileged few, the matter is more or less annoying and rather banal; although the irritation of the reality weighs heavy on the privileged few. For those completely unaware of this reality altogether, the matter presumably deems itself quite curious, fascinating, perhaps even exotic to some extent. I, of course, am of the privileged few, but despite this privilege, I cannot know everything, no matter how hard I wish that the truth were not true. The matter of Mox’s arrival seems trivial, when considering the basis of all that is being said and developed through page after page of sheer nonsense. For if I were to tell of the specifics, this chance encounter would deem itself … what’s the word?, … irrelevant?, … meaningless?, … frivolous. Yes, to tell of the specifics would deem this encounter frivolous. A small frustration or perhaps the reality of the worthlessness of this entire endeavor precipitates and drizzles itself upon the minds of the unknowing.

The problem, first and foremost, is that you do not know who I am. Therefore, whether or not I can be trusted diminishes any truth I may or may not tell. Hmmm. Perhaps I could divulge that I am a liar, and so, my lies are true because I have forthrightly told that I am a liar, which means that when I lie, I am telling the truth, supporting my admittance of being a liar. Thus, if I, a liar, lie, then I tell the truth, and then the truth becomes that there is no truth, only lies. But then, when the mind of the receiver of the lies and/or truth believes the lies and accepts the deceit, then the mind builds its response(s) under the false pretense of the knowledge given as truth. And then the real question arises, What is truth? Well, it [truth] cannot philosophically be fact … because … people lie, to themselves and to others. But I’m telling you that I lie, and so you can be freed from the burden of trying to figure out what is the truth.

Okay, I’ll put it this way. If I tell you something [it will be a lie] and you accept that thing as truth, then your mind reacts to the said thing as truth. Your mind then builds upon that acceptance of the truth to form its responses. Then, you respond accordingly. What happens, though, when, say, the truth is made known to you. What you believed was true was actually false. This newfound realization/revelation does not now simply deem your original response as a lie. You responded in truth, according to the information/knowledge that was shared with you as truth. So then what? The onus just ends up being upon each person as an individual to determine what is true and what is false?, that each person must seek and search for the infallible truth before responding to or creating any new thoughts? That seems, what’s the word?, … daunting?, … arbitrary?, … cruel? Ah, yes, that’s it; that seems cruel, at best. But remember?, I am a liar. So do you still want to know the truth about Mox and what he’s doing here in this timescape? I mean, your guess is as good as my lies. I will say this, nevertheless, you can always believe the words of a liar, since they [liars] will undoubtedly lie, and that’s the truth.

“Mox,” I whisper through an even gentler wind, again in an attempt to get Mox to stop rolling around all lax and comfortable, but my attempt to grab his attention so that I may explain to him the truth of his situation is foiled by the implosion of the flat world. As the flat world shrinks into itself, everything within it begins to funnel around and through a point the size of the tip of a pen. To the Circle’s Corner, then. And Mox seems unbothered. Everything collapses, and then with the faintest popping sound, all is lost. Slingshot through space and time, Mox traverses the infinite. Someone has traveled again.

Shivering upon the slick, shiny black floors of the orbital, a stranger approaches, kneels down to check on the incapacitated person, “Sir? Sir? Are you alright?” Nervous, I feel a bit frozen. “Sir?” the stranger continues. Sure enough, Mox begins to stir a bit. Looking disoriented, Mox hurls and spews vomit all over the stranger. “Uh,” Mox coughs; “Sorry.” Oh, gross. The stranger looks disgusted, “Uh, ah, it’s alright. Is there somewhere I can take you? I think I should take you to the hospital.” “Uh, I,” Mox starts as he tries to sit himself upright. The stranger, all too generously removes an outer layer of shirt and begins wiping himself off a bit. “Maybe some water?” Mox asks, looking a little pale. Honestly, this is the first time Mox has looked this bad after a bit of … uh … say … bad dreams. The stranger enthusiastically accommodates him, “Oh, yea, sure, I’ll be right back.” Mox looks as if he’s spinning a bit. It’s a little strange. Obviously, I could just ask him how he’s doing or feeling, but that’s not really my job. The stranger quickly returns, “Here you are. Maybe just a small sip to start off.” “Wow,” Mox genuinely states in surprise; “Thanks a lot, man.” “It’s Hauberk,” the stranger offers. Mox looks at the stranger as if confused. To my surprise, the stranger picks up on this, “My name. My name’s Hauberk.” “Oh, thanks, Hauberk,” Mox corrects. “It’s no problem, uh,” the stranger states while dangling encouragement for Mox to state his name. Mox sips some water and then notices the implication of the stranger’s pause, “Oh, I, I’m … It doesn’t matter,” Mox responds casually with a dismissive wave of his hand. And then Mox suddenly, violently spills water all over the unfortunate stranger. “Fuck! I’m … I … I’m … Shit!” Mox yells suddenly knowing better than to share his name with this Hauberk stranger, and then he furiously asks the stranger, “Where am I?” “We’re quite near the central fountain of Coax Six,” the stranger so kindly answers. “On the Orbital?” Mox further begs. “Yea, on one of the orbitals,” the stranger confirms. “No, THE ORBITAL!” Mox demands. The stranger looks a bit confused, “Uh, I’m not sure which The Orbital you’re thinking of.” “Shit,” Mox spits as he comes to a stand. “Hey, look man, I think you should take it easy,” the stranger suggests as he also stands to balance Mox by the shoulders. “No, I’m good,” Mox mutters; “I just need to know which orbital I’m on.” “It’s Orbital mmphsk [something I can’t make out from this distance],” the stranger softly states as if scared of Mox’s next reaction.

“Fuck,” Mox whispers, and then he sort of looks around as if looking for me, but of course, he cannot be. Nevertheless, Mox tries and speaks to me by simply speaking aloud while looking around as if speaking to a ghost, “I didn’t mean to come out of hiding.” The stranger takes a small step back as the tell-tale signs of fear cast a shadow over his face. “Uh, you look like you’re doing a lot better now,” the stranger observes as calmly as he can; “I guess I’ll just be on my way now.” Mox turns now to look directly at the stranger, “Who are you again?” The stranger contemplates whether or not this stroke of fortune that this man has forgotten his name already is good or bad, “Uh, I. It doesn’t matter. Just a good samaritan trying to help a guy out, ya know?” Hauberk starts to inch away slowly. “Hauberk,” Mox remembers; “It’s Hauberk, right?” Hauberk hangs his head low, disappointed, “Uh, yea, that’s me, but I should just be on my way now.” “No way, man! Please, you gotta help me,” Mox pleads; “If we are where you say we are, I’m in big trouble.” His turn to now turn pale, Hauberk attempts to excuse himself, “You know, I’d really love to help you out, but I’m already late for something. You’re looking a lot better, so really, I gotta go.” Mox looks reinvigorated, intent, “Look, Hauberk, I’ll either follow you around and force you to help me, or you can help me willingly.” “Shit man,” Hauberk responds; “That’s not fair, man.” “Suck it, asswipe,” Mox asserts; “What the fuck kind of name is Hauberk anyway? You’re coming with me. Now!” Mox whisper-shouts. Hauberk, unaware of the fact that the two of them exist within similar circumstances, arriving here at Orbital Didn’t-Catch-The-Name due to forces beyond them, begrudgingly follows.Mox and Hauberk silently make their way through Coax Six of the Orbital. They pass this and that and travel through here and there. Honestly, I am so freakin’ tempted at this point to abandon them and find Ladybug. But wait. What’s this? Hauberk begins to lag behind a bit. With Mox slightly unaware of Hauberk’s presumed attempt, I feel obligated to help the poor guy out. “Mox,” from a position behind him, I whisper. Mox turns just as Hauberk takes off in a full sprint in the opposite direction. “Motherfucker,” Mox spits aloud as he too takes off after him. With a spoke tunnel in the not-so-distant distance, Hauberk’s objective becomes clear. “Goddammit, Hauberk!” Mox screams in a desperate attempt to catch his man; “There’s nowhere to hide! They’ll find you! They’ve seen you!” Hauberk reaches the doors to the spoke tunnel that enables the transport of people and things, I guess, that can figure out how to use the spoke, in and around the Orbital. Quickly, Hauberk waves a call signal. Only a few steps behind, however, Mox reaches Hauberk just as the doors swing open and pummels Hauberk onto the floor of the capsule. Wrestling on top of each other within the capsule preparing to launch them to some other location within the Orbital, Mox screams, “You fucking fool!” The doors to the capsule seal shut. The pull of the vacuum blocks the information I need, and I can no longer see nor hear them. It looks like the capsule will transport them to … let’s see … Coax Three. Okay, then.

The He

The He

[New Chapter Sketch for the manuscript, Book II: Bromides]

“It smells like bread proofing,” I state in a soft whisper. “Shhh,” Ladybug shushes gently with a smile that could melt the heart of any cat lover. Looking around, I realize what it means. Of course, we could not have found ourselves in such a place of luck so as to be in the presence of freshly baked bread. Dreams need to be dreamt, nevertheless. We press on, slowly, through the immense downtown library, among the shoals of homeless who, forgotten or left behind by the system, are left to the only institutions within that same system that allows their presence. “It’s not so bad, though,” I attempt to clarify, relating back to the comment about the smell. “But to comment on the smell at all admits that a smell exists, which ultimately, at least here among those who hold this particular sentiment, means that the smell is bad, unless of course, among the company of those hunting for the perfect scene, eatery, with the same intention of being thusly able to consume the delicious thing smelled,” Ladybug explains. “That was deep,” I express, in genuine awe as Ladybug often finds itself within the throws of … cynicism. “You don’t need to understand everything to understand what is good, what is right,” Ladybug states, this time with a pointed finger directed at me, just below the brow between the eyes. I feel a bit cross-eyed. “Now, where is this damn kid?” Ladybug asks aloud to no one in particular. “I am asking you,” Ladybug rectifies. “Oh, well, how am I supposed to know?” I ask. “Cause you are why we are here. Je-sus, fuck-ing, christ, man!” Ladybug whisper yells. “If the Librarian sees you, you will die,” Ladybug warns. “Then we need to get up somewhere high so that if I am seen, the Librarian won’t be able to get me,” I offer. “Yea, sure that might work. Outside,” Ladybug instructs. We head back out into the cold.

Carefully, we find a series of trellises and steps up and around the backdoor, service entrance, and atop the HVAC system, we easily maneuver the totally mod, unfinished, exposed urban interior of the mid twenty-first century post-modern aesthetic. Ladybug stands atop the tip of my nose looking down, fluttering from side to side from time to time to reach a view from an angle I cannot supply. “There he is,” Ladybug whisper-shouts with a point toward a window on the far wall from where we are. “There, in the window, sitting with his manny,” Ladybug laughs; “Manny. Ha!” “I’m not sure if I can make it over there,” I admit. “No problem. I can easily fly,” Ladybug shrugs. “Just head on back toward the front door. I’m sure I’ll manage once I’ve convinced him. Or maybe just hang out here and watch out. And come a little closer. If I don’t come back up here to get you, then he’s made a run for it, so meet me at the front doors. If I come back to get you, then obviously, I’ll be here, and I’ll tell you what’s up. Okay?” Ladybug suggests. “Yea, sure. It’s no problem, except that your plan leaves me completely out of it, which means,” I begin. “Yea, they won’t know, but they don’t need to know everything,” Ladybug points in the vague direction of “everywhere.” “Fine, well then you’re going to have to tell Attila, or I will,” I counter. Ladybug feigns suffering, “Fine.” Just as it begins to flutter away, it looks back at me and says, “If he makes green, run toward him.” “What?” I ask but Ladybug either doesn’t hear me or pretends not to.

Carefully, I make my way atop the silvery, metal air vents toward the far wall where the windows ensconce comfortable, bench-like seating. I can easily see the boy in the window, and he seems upset for some reason. And he storms off. I try to follow from above, but there seems to be little to no way to make it all the way across to where the restrooms are. I hear the flutter of Ladybug, “He’s real mad about something. I wasn’t close enough to hear, but he’s gone.” “He’ll be back,” I state. “How do you know?” “He just went over to the bathroom.” “Oh,” Ladybug nods, standing upright in front of me now. “This is just me standing,” Ladybug clarifies. I nod. “Go back,” Ladybug demands. “Oh,” Ladybug nods, standing in front of me now. Ladybug gives me a stiff look. “There,” I point, seeing the boy emerge from the doorway into the bathrooms. “Excellent,” Ladybug jumps as it flutters away, back to the window where the boy will inevitably sit himself back down.

I feel like I have been sitting and waiting for quite some time now, and I cannot hope to see Ladybug from this distance, and the boy just sits there in the window, reading. Perhaps, Ladybug sits atop the book’s pages. I cannot know for sure. There really is little to nothing left to say about the situation at the moment, and I cannot know how much time will pass until something does, so I will sit here and wait, and as soon as something happens, I will let it be known, I say/think to no one and everyone.

The boy makes green. Made green. Is making green! I jump from the top of the air vent onto the top of the book shelves, and run along the top until I can jump straight at the boy as he attempts to vanish. Just as I fling my body onto the boy, grabbing him around his torso as tight as I can, I hear the shouts of Ladybug as it flutters into a safe tuft of fur between my front arms, “You’re a Lingerer, now!” As quick as we turn to light, the boy appears, as an adolescent or young man, in some … garb … of the kind you would find a person in while in a hospital. “It’s a psych-ward for the mentally ill, and I am a young man,” the boy-man clarifies. “Don’t mind her,” Ladybug interjects. “She is why we are all here,” the boy-man clarifies. “And where is it that we are?” Ladybug asks. “When,” the boy-man clarifies. “Right, of course. Are we on Earth?” Ladybug asks, in utter excitement. “Yes,” the boy-man answers. “Oh. My. God!” Ladybug exhales with a strong squat and simultaneous flexing of its upper legs upwards, while its middle legs flex inward, and its head screams upward through both blessed and cursed excitement. “Yes, both blessed and cursed. Did you hear that?” the boy-man asks. “Of course I heard. I hear everything,” Ladybug warns. But we still do not know when we are.

“Yes, right. So, when is it that we are?” Ladybug asks. “The Numerical Years, which roughly translate to the hundred years between 2020 and 2120,” the boy-man defines. “The now,” I accidentally whisper aloud. “Yes,” the boy-man supports. “How is it that you came by this Lingerer?” the boy-man asks. “It’s a long story, but it is why we are here. You, of course, know why we are here, yes? Please. Please know,” Ladybug pleads. “How would I know. I didn’t send for you, and if you weren’t sent here, then how did you get here?” the boy-man clarifies. “Is our arrival a signal?” Ladybug inquires. “Good question,” the boy-man thinks for a moment. “When were you before now?” the boy-man asks. “The middle-most peak where the three peaks meet,” Ladybug answers. “Oh, that’s impossibly far away,” the boy-man states with little to no actual tone of being impressed; “How did you get here?” “Through the corridor,” Ladybug answers incorrectly. “How then?” Ladybug asks. “We traversed through the corridor to find ourselves atop the middle-most peak where the three peaks meet,” I answer. “There’s a gap,” the boy-man offers; “You must be in the past or the future from whenever you were, but not yet at the moment right after when you were occurred.” “Why does this keep happening?” Ladybug laments, full diva, atop the surprisingly soft linens of the boy-man’s private sleeping quarters. “What has been happening?” the boy-man asks. “What hasn’t happened? I was late in delivering Dei,” Ladybug begins. “What?” the boy-man nearly whisper-shouts. “It was fine, but then immediately after that, the lorikeet, oh shit, where is that bird? Dammit! Well, first we were trapped in the circle’s corner, but now, it seems I’ve lost it all together,” Ladybug explains. “What else?” the boy-man asks. “Uh, well, then we’re here now, and we don’t know why!” Ladybug sighs as it rolls over onto its shell, distraught, burdened. “The why of a thing rarely matters,” the boy-man consoles.

Sniffling, teary-eyed, Ladybug rolls itself over, “What?” “What?” the boy-man asks, and then he turns to me, “He is fine. Just use he or him.” Frozen in the beauty of his IS-NESS, my heart races. He smiles, and rubs me behind the ears. I want to die in this moment right now. He chuckles. I will die now. He returns his attention to Ladybug, and I’m jolted alive. “What did you just say?” Ladybug reiterates. “The why never matters,” he states, when really he stated that “The why of a thing rarely matters.” Ladybug sits on its haunches. “So then what do we do?” Ladybug asks. “We wait,” he answers, with odd swiftness. “For what?” Ladybug asks, desperate again. “Who knows,” the he shrugs as he lies back on his bed, arms poetically crossed behind his head, feet crossed at the ankles, looking upward at the cloud-printed wallpaper that lines the five sides of the cube that is his personal living quarters. “Are you going to sleep?” Ladybug asks. “No,” he states. “What should we do?” Ladybug asks, again. “There’s no way of knowing for sure,” he states; “For now, you can familiarize yourself with this spacetime, or whatever, just chill.” “Ugh,” Ladybug exhales, exasperated, falling back onto its shell. “It’s not a shell,” Ladybug insists, palm atop its forehead, anguished.

“You wanna rest?” Ladybug finally asks. “Yes, please,” I lie. “Fine, just go be whatever. I’ll stay here with him, and if anything bad happens, I don’t know. Just, I don’t know,” Ladybug dismisses, on all sixes now, heading toward his (the boy-man’s) head, hoping it will get a chance to really talk to him. “Shut up,” Ladybug suggests with a wave of its hand. I curl up at his feet, although they smell an awful lot like another set of feet I’ve smelled, but that seems irrelevant. He’s warm, and he snugs me deeper into his knee pits.

Picking Fruit

Picking Fruit

The place embodies or brings to life the definition of boredom. He spots a small statue. Reaching up, he gently palms the tiny genitalia as the entire piece, testis and all, crack and gently land in his hand. “What in all hell?” some southern lady in an over-sized hat exclaims with as much dignity as possible. “I …” he stammers as he whispers barely-audible expletives. Read more