Lacie and Mr. Greary found themselves in different, but similar pod-like machines located in what appeared to be the Null-Mart Electronics Department. The contraptions' glass fronts unfolded to better reveal displays on the brink of emptiness and virtually ignored by those within their contours. What looked like the corner of a house was popping out of the high paint-splattered ceiling. In the center of a rectangular counter scrapped of its registers was a human skeleton, sitting deep in thought with shifting gummy eye-balls.
The skeleton talked to himself blissfully, no, miserably unaware of his surroundings, "The intellectual man meets his odds at the bearing of his applied belief. Where his peers praise him, sing along with him in a choir. Or criticize him with zestful lenience on their own worldview.. with a reflective verbosity of the respective rival's lifetime in the word. The criticality more likely, the need to change amidst the pain of change more pertinent.. to maintain that intellectual viscocity, which, still to me, lends itself to greater pain and uncertainty."
"Damnit." The skeletal philosopher formed a fist and banged it upon the counter.
Lacie felt much lighter, she leaned forward with her hands on entry-way ends of the futuristic apparatus. The first thing she noticed was that she had the hands of a mannequin along with her glasses-- instead of scope-eyes. She was angry and frightened at having yet another new form-- and thought she might want to close the lid and press the button to make her go back to being a heavier version of herself.
Lacie's thoughts to retreat were cut short as Mr. Greary leaned forward and stepped out to the right. He was now in the form of a shirtless mannequin that looked like a male model in faded blue jeans; his glasses also curiously remained.
"Imagine if I took the left machine." Mr. Greary jested.
The skeletal philosopher turned his head towards the newcomers in an awkward stare which only lasted for thirty seconds before he went back to his logician's mumble. Lacie noticed the desk in front of him had a mounted, crooked, white metal sign that read, "Skeletons, in moderation!"
Lacie got out of her machine and the mannequin duo left the lids opened. Lacie looked down and saw she was in a brown three-piece bikini, the kind with a skirt. Mr. Greary looked at her and then returned his gaze to his chiseled abs, "I think we came out of a different store."
There was a man around his thirties with devil horns rising from his head. He played fervently with a custom-made guitar hanging at his waistline where black jeans and a macabre, black t-shirt met. Drops of sweat ran down his weathered face along dangling dreads and sunglasses. He stood on an endless stretch of upturned tiles with a backdrop of busted televisions lining the wall to the right. A few electronic boxes weren't broken but displayed common and not-so-common static buzzing with white noise.
One old television with antennas had a show on, showing a television increasing in size, with a narrator speaking. "The allusion of the broken television, the tv that is never used, refers to the active, intellectual lifestyle in response to a passive, ignorant counterpart. Those edged hearts continue hoping, a judgment on the media of the past."
When the speech on the old television was completed the electronic box immediately went into loud static and started smoking from its top.
"No, it must be a bias on my part. To loan pain to uncertainty-- yes a loan is just as valid as ownership, or even less than that. Who is to say what I possess? But I don't necessarily want to possess any less than I might currently have at the pronouncement of my selfless statement. What is the point or purpose of possession to one such as myself, when my own bones have been stolen from me?" Mycroft looked down to the five ribs which had been taken from him.
The metalhead halted a solo and swiveled his horned head to the skeleton, "Man, Mycroft, I'm telling you, you've gotta do an intro with all that intellectual shit on my new album. Just as soon as I get this solo down.."
Lacie and Mr. Greary peered around in their new forms. Lacie felt drawn to one TV screen in particular that seemed to film a large dark theater from the second floor, though mostly all that could be seen were red curtains stained with blues.
Among the upturned tiles of the department was a large measuring device placed in the floor. The device started as chaos star like a compass, with a clock around and above it, then around and above was an actual compass-- then temperature, nuclear, and so on and so forth. The highest arrow pointed far from the device to big letters written in cursive and Greek dressing, "Nobody Was Here."
"I have been here for exactly thirty days since my ribs were picked from me by that old buzzard of a woman. Its been a trial. I'm sorry James, but I won't do anything other than ponder my existence until I get them back." Mycroft replied, revealing his multi-colored gummy tongue.
James continued his metal solo from the beginning, distortion just soft enough that the noise around the room could still be heard.
Just outside the Technology Department was a walking church with massive windows which required at least four men to hold them upright rather than two like with the last church. Here a priest was in the stead of a preacher; his crooked eyes were green, and he had short white hair, while covered in a long black robe with a rock pendant.
The priest tried to lead his congregation into the Technology Department but kept running into an invisible barrier. He stopped and spoke to those within, with a voice nearing squeakiness, "There are no rocks here and so much light, what age is it supposed to be?"
A fifteen-year-old boy in makeshift threads of Midnight blue was scratching short hair that was the same color. He wore layers of clothes just slightly too short or too long, but no skin apart from his hands and face ever showed. He was peering down at the salad dressing which was starting to dry.
"Cursive she have to do it in?" Midnight moaned, "I guess would work in theory.. still."
"Lacie." Mr. Greary inquired.
"There's a golden wall clock lodged in the back of your plastic head."
Seeing his congregation looking at old, secular movies on sale, and having no way of entering the more advanced section of the store, the priest withdrew by leading his group in a march to the right.
Midnight ventured over to Lacie without warning and yanked the clock out of her head. He inspected it carefully before speaking, "Has my this name all over it."
Midnight folded like two 2D doors closing in on themselves and he disappeared with the clock in hand.
Lacie felt the fissure in the back of her head, unaffected by it. Mr. Greary peered at the Lacie's cranial gap and checked the back of his head. He was both worried and relieved, "You, are, okay?"
Lacie shut her eyes (though nothing happened to the mannequin). She found her lack of sight back to normalcy, the golden clock no longer appearing in the darkness. She nodded at Mr. Greary, but secretly felt concern.
As Lacie got past the desk she saw a teenage girl sitting on the mysteriously upturned floor and leaning against the glass display behind Mycroft and the counter. Her arms were wrapped around her legs which were close together and sprawled outward in tight jeans. She had on a vintage shirt with some long, red cloth tied around her neck. Her hair covered half of her face with various brightly-colored reds. Her only showing eye was steel with a glowing, greyish-blue iris surrounding a luminescent, white pupil.
The eyelashes of her one showing eye were the teeth of an open zipper with an oversized pull tab that came off the side like a giant metal tear. The teeth of zippers covered her arms, the few 'zip fasteners' which were opened revealed muscle fibers under translucent plastic sheets signed in marker with the Latin names of insects.
As Lacie and Greary saw her a long store light fell from behind them and shattered on the convulsed floor. They both reacted with a startle.
"Oh." The girl whined. "The lights always fall when people look at me."
"Don't worry about it Lenore." James said in the midst of experimenting with guitar chords.
"I like your eye." Lacie said. "I have weird eyes too."
"You don't have eyes. Are you making fun of me?"
Lacie remembered her lens-eyes were on her actual body in Black Stock, "No. I mean--"
"Everyone new makes fun of me." Lenore said.
Mr. Greary was consoling, "We're not here to make fun of you. Wait.."
"Oh no.. you changed your mind?"
"No." Something took over Mr. Greary, "That red cloth, is that a cape?"
"Maybe possession can't be anything more than an idea willed by society. After all, my own bones were stolen from me without my consent." Mycroft moved his bony fingers and wrist in unplanned formations like his left hand had a mind of its own. "Or maybe I am possessed by emptiness. Who am I now that a part of me is missing? What constitutes that I exist? I could act, go out and search for my missing parts, dead as they are. But others would rather bury their dead counterparts; so why should one as scientifically inclined as myself do the opposite?"
Lenore lifted her head up out of her palms, "Yes. This cape belonged to a boy who thought he could fly, but something happened."
"I'm sorry.." Mr. Greary said.
"It was terrible." Lenore's voice broke.
"Was it from trying to fly?" Lacie asked.
"What do you think?" Lenore sunk her head into her hands, while three-inch zipper tags drooped from the outer corners of her metal eyes.
James messed with his tuning, "Don't mind her.. she just got that haircut."
Lacie gawked at the skeleton, "Excuse me."
James started playing a guitar a solo.
Mycroft turned to her with an uncontrollably cold stare.
"What is wrong with your hand?" Lacie asked.
Mycroft's multi-colored tongue flapped with a reciting jawbone, "Intentional calibrations refocusing the mind through subconscious bodily movement."
Lacie didn't quite know how to reply, "Ah.."
James messed up on his solo and stopped with a sternness directed towards the mannequins, "Look, I don't care if you guys chill around here, but you need to stop talking to me while I'm practicing."
James ran his hand through the top of his long hair, counted without 'four' to five, and continued from the beginning.
"Do you know where I can find a cape?" Mr. Greary asked Lenore, brushing off the agitated guitarist.
Lenore raised her head up at the plastic clothes model, the big zipper tags dangling from a rounded face. Her iris shifted to warmer colors before she looked back down at the floor and touched the dusty upturned tiles around the good ones she sat on.
Lenore untied the cape, took it off, and handed it to Mr. Greary. As she did this, each upturned tile on the floor on the department flipped over and returned to a brand new state like the origination of its placement; apart from the salad sigil.
Lenore felt the back of her neck, "You can keep it in case you find the owner."
"The owner..?" Lacie said mostly to herself.
"Thank you! Thank you!" Mr. Greary knelt down and hugged Lenore; the oversized zipper tags fell off her face and clanged against the floor. Mycroft had stopped talking to himself and stared at the spectacle with enormous intellectual interest.
James opened his mouth under a brow of agitation but was stopped by a bony hand up in a 'stop' motion. Mycroft spoke, "Stop talking and focus on playing. I understand the intensity of your query.. and if you focus, I shall be on your album."
A great caravan with a strapped-down camera came swooping overhead with a trail of black ash and pointy, slow flapping wings. There were arrows in the beast's head and something bloody in its mouth.
"Oh dear." Mr. Greary said. "Well we best be going."
"Okay." Lacie replied, looking at the caravan and then down at her plastic limbs.
They ventured towards the mechanical exits and waved to Mycroft, James, and Lenore who returned the favor-- James only waved because he had screwed up again on his solo.
"I hope this cape will materialize on the other side." Mr. Greary gawked at the machine.
Lacie however, was quick to get in the podlike apparatus she had came in without thinking about it.
"Tuck it into your glasses." Lacie suggested with her hands on the lid, "Are you coming?"
Mr. Greary had hesitated while looking at his mannequin body. He snapped out of it, and tucked the red cape around his glasses which blocked most of his vision. Then, he sat down on the black, cozy chair in the sleek machine and closed the lid in unison with Lacie.