Trees leaned inwards with their roots showing around the edges of a sprawling dirt crater. Strewn inside the crater were busted towers full of neon light bulbs which had fallen from disturbances; and occasional street lights left to glow no more with their faces in the ground. Somewhere, an empty honey container of abnormally large size laid half-buried. There were also sleeping, docile, or harmed Caravans, misfits amidst the edge of the collective canine barbarism, and destined to the group's scraps at the bottom of its collective hunger.
The land once filling the crater was floating in the sky, just above. The floating island had pitch-black, wooden pavilions whose foundations stabbed through their roofs like shabby giants' knives. Pieces of timber from crooked picnic tables that didn't make it were scattered across the floating land mass, the splinters sometimes floating in the air themselves.
Pressed deep into the hovering island was a vertical labyrinth of thick, metal-linked foundations leading into a monstrously-sized black cloud filled with a grid of platforms, as well as towering neon lights, and their smaller, sodium-vapor cousins; the lights gave visibility, separating and hollowing the cloud just so. The vindictive glow of small creatures' eyes hid where groups of lights were busted; the creatures, though not all small, made brief appearances in and out of the mysterious clouded-over outskirts.
A homeless man with an eyepatch who thought he was a tour guide stood in the crater talking to himself, "The crater we are standing in is commonly called 'Below.' While the floating island is often dubbed 'Above.' And these two landscapes constituted the rarely used, 'Crater Park..'"
The Black Cloud above twirled around a dark grey base of pollution that reached up with handless limbs into a blackish-turqoise before each limb's dissolution. White beams edged around the sometimes worn, shimmering blue platforms in the cloud and folded upwards or downwards at different intervals.
On a couple large blue squares of the gridlike platforms there were rows of computers old and new, alien and human, bolted upside-down with hardware hanging; the machines were running without being plugged in as if somehow taking power from the surrounding toxins.
Two basketball-sized men with dim eyes, heavy facial hair, and fitted peculiar clothes, waddled around in the gravitational difference of the poorly-placed technological laboratory. Oversized suit ties drooped off their shoulders and severely worn ribbons from their wastes.
"Mirk Mirk." One ball-sized man said. His black mustache twirling down into an orange as it trailed to the metal ground. He dodged the wingless, finned red bird which he had spotted. The Mirk Mirk's skeletal tail took off a few strands of his facial hair and ribbon in its magnetic-brained movement.
Jitters, the small man's long-bearded friend, tapped him on his tiny shoulder, "I believe we'll find it. Gold, Gald!"
Gald grinned at Jitters's twinkling eyes under his ridiculous whitish-pink beard. Gald jumped upwards (which was downwards) but did not return to the floor and began screaming.
Jitters grabbed Gald by one thick strand of his 'stache which caused his eyes to widen as he yelled, "Mirk! Mairk! Mackin!"
"I've gotcha fer the gold, Gald." Jitters swung Gald into the platform back into gravity's grasp. Then Jitters started gyrating his hips and jittered with excitement, "Gald, we gotta gald down to thart cretor. Pranto!"
Gald punched Jitters in the face, "Butter my knife, its a dead end from here. Mackin."
"Don't you worry so much, I land valiantly." Jitters explained in recovery, grabbing Gald's 'stache and throwing him into a frightening, terrific fall towards the ground, ties and ribbons covering his sight.
Jitters grabbed and waved a disgruntled Mirk Mirk at his descending companion, "Put some wings into it, chicken!"
Abbadon soared into sight with half his scales pried off revealing leathery, green and blue skin. There was anger written all over the beast's face, and "anger" written (or maybe imprinted) all over his face. Two or three black and blue specters, whom appeared like they came from the air in front of trees at early night, held on mercilessly. They tugged onto the creature's thick bony plates and used lose scales to stab at the similarly thick, underlying skin.
Gald fell onto Abbadon whom didn't notice as he was being violently attacked and any sense in him was already violated. Though Abbadon was of a massive size, his mass paled in comparison to the island before him. Abbadon hit a couple towering, impossible to read lights of mostly primary colors as the claws of the h'ragon's feet clanged against the platform with his landing. A great number of the bulbs on the lights were shattered and the towers fell out of the collective cloud rocketing downwards towards the massive crater below.
"See, I knew you could fly!" Jitters shouted.
Standing before Abbadon was a man with three large, white question marks in place of a head. The third question mark was reversed and leaning slightly to the back. The metal pipes connecting the question mark heads ran down into an oddly closed, forest-green leather longcoat with streaks of some other colors; and strips of black leather, which rose up from all over the coat. He had long, pointy leather shoes of a blackish-brown-- similar to his skin and fingers. And a dog tag hung around the stranger's neck inscribed, "???"
"Marthreek." Abbadon murmured with command. A couple hundred medieval weapons of endless design began raining down from the sky, metal blades meeting steel platforms or nothing at all.
"Tut, tut. Tisk, tisk." Marthreek said before vanishing. He seemed in a blur as he knocked the remaining specters off of Abbadon into a fall. Then '???' grabbed Gald. Marthreek resumed the place on the platform where he was originally standing, smoke rising from his shoes due to their friction. He dropped Gald in front of his smoking feet before the weaponry all had landed on or passed the seemingly endless gridwork.
Gald grabbed his black and orange 'stache and went sprinting away.
"And manilla folders." Marthreek pulled a singed, slightly-manilla paper-holder out of his coat, holding it up in the air.
"It wants to stop traditions. Says its in control." Marthreek commented, dropping the barely-manilla folder, its papers falling with it down into a gas-covered void.
There was a remote group of four people stumbling around. Two had on thin, shabby cloth of green, dark red and brown, with mixed, alien furs over top. Another was wearing a kind of futuristic helmet with a cut-up, shaggy ensemble. Three picked up one of the weapons lying on the ground-- the third picked up two. Each of the three placed them in hilts they already had. The fourth person was hard to see, traced behind the far-away four.
Abbadon raised his wings readying to take a flight in some equal measure of grace and force, despite his ugly head.
"Headed towards a mechanical conglomerate? You'll be fixed wrongly and longly." Marthreek said with a dry, cheeky chuckle-- his third question mark temporary turning the right way before spinning back.
It was only moments before Marthreek's paperwork returned, and in blowing back upwards, was lost to a higher darkness.
* * *
Diego was seated at the table of a restaurant which appeared to be predominantly serving Chinese dishes in a spanning, middle buffet. The bottom halves of his sunglasses have been diagonally cut from a prior meeting with his prey. A doppleganger of Diego was repeatedly walking through the double doors, vanishing, and re-emerging which caused one of the workers to swat at the ghostly pattern with a broom, to no avail. Under half of the room was awash in dim, golden lighting amidst close, shadowy tables while the larger portion of the restaurant was a bright white and much more spacious; with the corners of the restaurant all full of sand deposits.
The material of ceiling tiles ranged from extravagant to shoddy. One of the tables was attached from its top against the ceiling, stuck there in limbo between dinner and breakfast, with glass and gunk oozing from its sides. A patch of ceiling tiles that were glass had a poorly-dressed, gaunt man glaring down at Diego's table with wide eyes as if trapped in the ceiling, the soles of his feet most visible. The man in the ceiling was in a ball and without movement.
Between the difference in lights, some of the floor formed into downwards spiral staircases. These spiral ramps made out of the floor would vanish and appear upside-down from the ceiling or rarely sideways and coming off of a wall, like a material flicker, before re-establishing its exact circular descent in the floor-- sometimes just barely verging upon one of the tray-filled tables that held the buffet.
A Chinese lady with a menu came up to Diego.
"Seated or coming in?" She asked.
The high-pitched voice of a male rang out, "Seated!"
The word came from a pot-bellied Mexican man in his fifties dubbed by most as Jose Suervo-- it was on his shirt. He looked between a real-life man and an archaic, hand-drawn cartoon. A living rooster rotated around his upper torso, scrambling around as if the poor bird had no choice. The man grinned hugely and cheekily as he put a scoop of something on his plate from the buffet line.
Around the restaurant were two clusters of age-varied people missing faces, their entire bodies and slight surrounding space were blurs of color like moving watercolor paintings. Some of them exuded red around their heads like blunt trauma, or black spots around their eyes. Occasionally their bodily segments would slip into the detail of reality before returning to a blur. They went about getting food or eating, but their conversing was inaudible, like cut-up reverberations of intimately-sized crowds.
On one wall, where pots of boiling water lined the edges, Diego noticed a glossy portrait of a sunflower with a toy bulldozer next to it. The portrait had the emboldened words underneath, "Nature as a metaphor for life’s challenges."
Diego leaned over his food. He grasped a butter knife reflecting with a shine off of the lenses of his aviator glasses, "You said, this character, Malluso?"
"Why.. yes!" Jose nabbed a bite of some meat from one of the buffet trays before turning around with an over-emphasis of facial expression as the eye-bulging rooster struggled in orbit. "You two have a playdate?"
The blue and red haired hunter stuck the blade through his plate and into the table, "Something like that."
At once the heaviest of the glass ceiling tiles shattered, and the shoddily dressed, thin man broke out. He began running around the restaurant like a bouncy, frightened animal-- and would've played the part of a frightening man, had there been an audience for it.
Diego noticed a non-watercolor person, a kid, sitting at a dimly-lit table near a corner filled with sand. He had on a beret and a bushy fake mustache drenched from the glass mug of root beer he was sipping on. The boy had been watching the spiral ramp switch places with a sense of pseudo-drunken awe, but this emotion was soon to be replaced.
"No running inside, asshole!" The child scorned the desperate sprinting man.