The four-eyed nose-picker with her normal glasses back, ran out of the Men's room, its blockade wracked. The snow trenches had melted off their benches with new signs that were quaint. Further behind though, the store felt blank, with ceiling bereft and shivering walls, nothing was left untouched from storeroom to bathroom, not even the stalls! As Lacie exited in or out from the cold, from out of the restroom hovered a technacle.. of gold.
Lacie saw the house on springs. She tried to get inside but she saw no entry. The brunette was jolted by the force of the home as it left the ground, spewing out a shockwave from its curved metal springs.
She turned around at the sound of cement cracking and a bold set of orchestral strings further off. All-Mart's structure deteriorated all at once into grounded up tobacco, covering the sprawl of cement rather than falling further-- as though the Technacle's underground dominion did not exist or was now suddenly closed to the public.
In the distance were murky floating lights around an hours-old Shadow Orchestra. This time Lacie saw their faces and did not while the conductor waved and weaved his melody of madness. They were masked and masquerading like strange animals; and their dress lied half-tattered like some forgotten socialite club from the 1940's possessed with and poorly hiding the evil spirits of some mysterious tribal culture.
A man in gauntlets let the tobacco sift through his fingers and then with tears in his eyes, banged his hands on the ground, "Now I'm stuck here forever.. why, why, why.. why, why? Why couldn't it be menthol!?"
The gargoyle came running across the tobacco, towards the man crying out with gauntlets. In the background, the orchestra disappeared into the woodlands, as though on a giant conveyor belt. In the middle of the mass piles of tobacco, a plump Japanese man with a Western accent was running a food booth.
Through a multi-colored drizzle, the gargoyle ran past the Asian merchant who held his spatula with pride, "Haut dogs! Get ya' haut dogs here!"
Lacie thought maybe she could talk to the sprinting statue, to ride it towards She. So she got towards the distressed man; the gargoyle was coming straight for them from the other side.
"Please, stop." Lacie pleaded. But the statue did not hear, and was going to hit her.
The man in gauntlets with his crusty hair, did hear. He charged at Lacie with a toothbrush, "You'll taste minty!"
Lacie bolted. The gargoyle's arm clipped the man with gauntlets, forcing him into the ground of dried brown.
After making some distance between her assailant, the college student recalled she had the blue cape. She tried wearing it.. jumped up and down, even raising her arms, but nothing happened.
It seemed like the young woman would have no way to get to Elizabeth in time.
Then Lacie heard an engine. It came from a spacious, colorful bus with Japanese lettering, large windows, and an excess of out-of-place mirrors. There were also seven street lights on the top of the bus, and a defunct technacle base rested at the top between mirrors and a couple of the street lights. When the bus pulled up next to Lacie it stopped and the door contracted with a squeak.
A Japanese man with adequate hair and an unnecessary comb-over was driving and seemed wired, "We! WE should find Mizaki in time.. You! Can replace the tobacco in his cigarettes.. with dried tea!"
"O..kay." Lacie replied.
Lacie got on the bus and sat down near the front. The driver handed her a tiny ticket and a large quarter. She skipped the seat directly behind the driver because their was a hole above it where the metal had rusted off.
The bus passed on through the All-Mart parking-lot. The man in gauntlets looked angry and chased the bus with his toothbrush till he ran out of breath.
As the bus neared the intersection between some main road and You Is Twenty-Three, something dropped in front of it, the driver swerved violently but found time to put his hat on. Lacie clutched the seat in front of her as the bus driver pulled out an electronic apparatus with a cloud on the screen and different colored rectangles coming out of it.
"What does that mean?" Lacie asked, while the traffic lights in back flashed black and white like inappropriate strobe-lights.
A red blur plummeted through the rusty cavity in the ceiling. Lacie moved to the right a little where she couldn't get touched by anything that might come through from the gap, and looked over the seat. She saw a crimson cinderblock, now laying in the bus, painted on it in another shade of red were the words.. "Throw at blue people."
"I drive through walls!" The bus driver madly exclaimed.
Scattered cinderblocks rained in trails of colors, some of which thudded on the bulky Asian bus. Lacie looked through the windshield to see a tall brick wall that had only been in its infancy when she was on the smoking moon. The most notable of graffiti on the wall was a word that was too hard to read.
"Please stop!" Lacie asked the driver, and somewhere in the frantic pace of things, found herself able to read the painted word on the brick blockade which spelled out, 'FEAR'.
The bus came to a screeching halt with rubber smoking from the back wheels and mirrors busting off as the vehicle's side came inches to the brick. Lacie made her way out of the luxury vehicle a little shaken up, leaving her little ticket and giant quarter behind.
Lacie looked behind her and saw a fierce black dragon soaring into view, though it had giant skeletal hands like that of a human. There was a brown, leathery, and seemingly headless man, being chased by the monster, hopping from the tops of street lights across the otherwise dark road.
The brunette looked left and right but the wall stretched on too far, too high, and impossible to climb with hand and foot.
A frosted sweet-roll with eyeballs and a mouth passed by Lacie with its tongue hanging out. The pastry hopped along the edge of wall, dodged a cinderblock from the last of them coming down, and was hit by an arrow from the sky.
"Wahoowa!" The edible critter flapped sporadically before its eyes closed and it rolled to a stop.
The h'ragon was close now and grabbed Marthreek with its giant black and green bone-hand. The leathery figure's question-mark heads were all bent far back from fear or wind, or one force or another.
"I taste horrible." Marthreek pleaded, holding his hands out. "I really do. Ask the last monster that ate me.. I've got its address."
Abbadon leaned forward and clasped Marthreek in his jaws, and tasting something horrid, spit him out into the through the wall. There was a second thud as Marthreek hit the ground, bricks around.
Lacie took out the more-blue-than-red cape hanging out of her pocket. She walked slowly towards the black-scaled dragon, with toxic swirls of green in its eyes; and past the hole Marthreek had made in the wall, until she was standing in front of the monstrous Abbadon.
The Japanese hot-dog vendor had reappeared, and held the limp sweet-roll with his spatula. The merchant had a broad scooter at his side with a truck engine awkwardly attached to it, the smell said that he had just turned it off.
"We'll always remember him as hard worker, a go-getter, and to be honest.. a bit of ladies man." The vendor put the sweet-roll into a sweet-roll-sized earth box.. he had to use some finesse with the spatula to get its tongue off the container's edge and inside. Lacie would've laughed at the scene if circumstances were different, but was too preoccupied with the giant, evil-looking thing staring at her like she was a mozzarella stick.
"This is your cape. I think." Lacie said, holding the blue fabric out.
There was a pause before the boom and breeze, "My cape was red!"
Lacie spoke assertively, trying to push her fear away, "It was painted.. probably just by kids."
"Hmmm.." The massive dragon paused again, and then with bony fore-finger and thumb, picked up his old cape. "This makes me feel like saying something poetic."
Marthreek was scared. He sprung up with his heads on straight, save the inverted one; he hopped onto the nearest streetlight, and left in a rush.
The h'ragon held out one of its skeletal hands theatrically.
"She, the 'She,' is like a scooter engine."
Lacie looked to her right through the blocky finality of fear, less than a hockey-ring in length from her was a single apartment building in the road, with its lights flickering on and off. Sections of the apartment door would open, but there was just blackness and strange flashes of color inside. A black clad stranger, followed by cactus-headed cats and helicopter spotlights, and possibly in a dress, was walking towards the doorway.
“She..” Lacie thought.
The four-eyed girl started running as fast as she could. The wind seemed more noticeable, its game of direction growing blunt.
"Only She moves on random gears,"
"Elizabeth!" Lacie yelled. There was no response. 'She' continued walking towards the shifting doorway.
"..towards An Abandoned Apartment,
a historical compartment!"
There was a great gust of air with Abbadon's last line. He looked around. By this time the hot-dog merchant and bus-driver were gone. He stared at the tiny red, and mostly blue cape; something seemed more and more different, like he was shrinking and changing, becoming more sane.
Lacie remembered the words of Herbert and Verga. She zig-zagged around plant-head picketers, avoided the spot-lights of mechanical searchers, and ran past h'ragon hunters who were high-tailing it in the opposite direction with their weapons.
The girl in the trenchcoat-dress went through the ever-changing doorway, and Lacie followed after her-- not knowing what would happen if she got on the other side of it. Or if the building would begin talking and describe her clothes in unnecessary detail, as though it was the narrator..
* * *
Technacles don't need televisions, they are capable of receiving visual data directly through their butts.
~ * ~
Lacie woke up in her bed, groggy from oversleeping. Her dorm room was only lighted by small, glowing LED's like '12:00.' She opened the blinds to the darkness outside and sat up with memories that seemed too long and vivid to be from normal dreams.
Instinctively, the college student held back her surge of emotions. She feared that a gargoyle would blindly charge through the halls and her room-- and maybe this time run her over.
When Lacie realized the absurdity of her thought she sat there and laughed there in the dark. Then she pulled the dusty blinds open and got up. Something smelled iffy.
The calendar near Lacie's bed said June, the student picked up a permanent marker and put a final 'X' on Tuesday. She picked up the prescription bottle on top of her papers and books, ripping the sticker off with her fingernails, and throwing it all away.
Lacie turned the lights on, and noticed the awful smell was emanating at its worse from the bathroom. She went in, searched, and found it coming off of a bottle of strawberry shampoo.. the hair ooze smelled rotten. She threw the bottle away, not knowing what to think of it. Then the girl turned the sink handle to wash the smell from her hair, and found herself half-disappointed that hot chocolate didn't pour from the faucet.
Lacie pulled out some week-old leftovers she had in her mini-fridge and threw the plastic container at the light, but it simply fell on the floor. The room felt cluttered, gloomy, and inanimate. And it seemed like it might be a good idea to get outside, get some fresh air, and see if the breeze had returned to normal.
Lacie opened the door.
Elizabeth appeared in front of her, in the doorway. She was still dressed like “She”, but no tape on her eyes or turtle biting the back of her hair, and no images on her strange dress. The English girl had a plain, white bag of donuts in her hand and a bunch of luggage behind her in a white laundry bin on wheels with donuts painted on it.
Both of the young women were stunned at first, didn't move, and had comical expressions of shock on their faces.
But then the girls smiled at each other, both of them too nervous to say hi. Their smiles said that they were friends and not strangers. But their eyes said something different, that they were friends who were meeting for the first time in this universe.
They hugged. And through the dusty window blinds, intense light emanated from the road outside.