Jeffrey ventured from the ladder of a manhole, into a parking lot with a broken-down mini-mall and Geoffery tailing behind. The other mini-mall businesses had names like Video-Tech Reseller, Italian's Food, Vehement Clinic, and Laughing Old Dude. Long, yellow blossoms were growing out of the edges of the cement towards the grass. Not too far ahead were some large, fermented fish lying in some weaved bowls on segmented, paved ground; their scales glimmering under high and twisted streetlights in the night.
The pavement of most of this parking lot, and the earthen composite underneath, were split up in crooked and more circular segments, with small gaps in between. The segments of ground moved in organized ripples whenever something touched one, as evident by a terrified dog that had bells tied to it which rung constantly as the animal barked loudly at the ground. This field of segments was growing as the ground cracked more and more. The segmented pavement slowly traveled to normal parking lot and a version of All-Mart now marked almost entirely with the neon splatter of nineties rainbows.
The two young men could hear a stranger's voice from inside one of the small stores beside them. "I've been trying too hard you know, and its definitely getting to me."
"Trwy wrotin in a Colwa." An abnormal high-pitched voice replied.
Geoffery ran up at a slow pace and tapped Jeffrey on the shoulder, "Hey man I think there's cola in there."
Jeffrey looked up at the sky in curiosity, seeing its scattered clouds and fluctuations as dangerous omens. Those victims who had been hit by building debris, conscious or not, and drifting upwards-- began falling back towards the ground-- though they were barely visible to Jeff. The steel door behind Jeffrey and his friend was shut and the only way was forward. And as Jeffrey looked nearer towards the ground, he saw someone who looked familiar on the fringe towards the road..
After spotting Ratty, Jeffrey turned to notice an oddly-shaped, truck-sized wagon covered in differently-sized theatrical masks. It rolled down the far-off road from behind the yellow blossoms, in a kind of half-silhouette. Towards the front of the misshapen wagon the masks grew larger in appearance. Hidden behind the masks were shifting, painted faces, and some of the masks had voices which rang out in garbles in an abnormal, creepy symphony.
From behind the wagon appeared two genetically-identical teenagers out on the horizon. They had grey clothes, white hair, and grey skin; sullen eyes, normal shadows, and expressionless faces. Each of the strangers had on a slightly layered, gray long coat with the ends sewn together orderly.
A mutual bad feeling came over Jeffrey and Geoffery upon seeing the children or young teens as they looked across the distance between the wagon and the mini-mall-- across garbage-covered grass wet with paint, riddled with large holes, and covered in pizza boxes and silly string, and of course, the dandelions.
The shorter of the grey twins peered around, "This is unacceptable."
The caravan of masks swerved to the side of the road by some unknown force. The makeshift vehicle collapsed with a raggedy crackling of timber and crafted faces, ceasing all movement. Neither of the grey-swathed individuals paid attention to the incident.
"Do you see those church windows?" His taller brother mimicked him with a slightly higher chin, spotting a walking church. One of the men holding a stained-glass window lost his footing, and the window on his side fell, shattering across the pavement.
"Colors are gay." The shorter, grey-faced brother said.
“Maybe next time he'll learn how to disassemble a window appropriately.” The older brother sneered.
Back across the long, littered gap, Jeffrey decided to attempt to cross the obstacles before him. Early in his footsteps, baskets of fish were lost to the earth. Jeffrey found that running was not applicable, the radical leans of each segment were constant and unnerving.
“Are you coming!?” Jeffrey yelled to his friend.
Geoffery stayed behind for fear of harming himself trying to cross the weird pavement.
On the other side of the segments, Ratty paced further away towards the mess of pink hats, her arms crossed to keep the unstable breeze from bugging her.
* * *
On the smoking moon, the man with a patchwork skin tone introduced the others rather than himself, "Hello, this is Lacie Tilde and Brian Greary."
Around the moon were masses of slow moving cloud in reds, blues, and violets with floating fragments of mirrors. The clouds domed around the moon only giving streaks and hints of the black and starry sky. The dome of cloud and star was somehow shifting underneath the dust and soil of the moon, quickly giving way to broad view of the city.
"How did you know our names?" Lacie asked, dumbfounded.
"Memory." The multi-racial man bellowed, unbeknownst to Brian and Ms. Tilde, speaking his name.
Lacie and Mr. Greary both noticed that Memory twiddled with something in his left pocket, and then took his hand out as though it was unimportant.
Lacie also glimpsed a brown, furry, long-limbed thing with half of its body hidden by red and indigo cloud; it talked into a cup attached to a string, which traveled off a great distance into N'Quevna.
Then Lacie looked down at the display of one of their jetpacks that was laying on the ground, it appeared to be electronically dead, and gave off a burnt smell.
"That's quite different." Mr. Greary added. "..from a formal introduction."
Behind Memory were painted, wooden stalls with crops for sale and crafters making “techno-country art”. The small shops were amongst gold and silver strands of grass or alchemical hay. Other than fruits and vegetables for sale, there was a mixed aroma of sweetness not limited to the smoke in the fields; the smells of fudge, bread, pies, fruits, and other unhealthy treasures. People eyed the products up close in analysis or unwelcome, unwarranted sampling, which led some to learn they could not eat crafts.
There was a lost-looking young man apart from the handful of shoppers and the vendors at their stations. He was a long-haired with a metal bucket over his head, glasses 'round the bucket, and a longsword leaned against his shoulder. Half the blade was covered in foam while the other half was extremely sharp; half of the sword's handle was metal, the other half was covered in cloth. He had baggy, handmade black pants, and a similar shirt with an emblem on the front underneath chain-mail.
The swordsman kept looking at Lacie like he was waiting for the right time to say something, though she had noticed only once in her preoccupation.
Lacie glimpsed up, and to her surprise, saw that she was looking down on the city. She zoomed in on a group of disgruntled out-of-work felines with picket signs. Mostly and moreso not female (just a part of the current times). These cats on strike rallied to the sound of a singing, dancing llama as the world made its radical rounds; Lacie was surprised that she could hear the crowd from so far away, like whatever they would say poured down into each ear.
Among the cats, Lacie noticed an eccentric fellow with crooked whiskers, his eyes bulging and his fur upright like it had been hit by voltage. One of his front legs was professionally bandaged, and both were guardedly around of a small pile of catnip. To a bystander who came near, he spoke enticingly with a fatalist-looking smile. "Won't you write your name on my caste?"
She zoomed out to see radical changes in the architecture over her head, modern apartment buildings had sprung up, rising out of the ground with asphalt or earth over top. What looked like a wide one-story mall had a taller, more contemporary mall ascend from its center in a show of brilliant steel. Smaller buildings that looked like Japanese storefronts popped up, built themselves, or switched places with other businesses.
Lacie returned her consciousness to the moon upon the sound of some vendor, “I also enjoy cutting onions. I'm going to have to do a thorough look-through of this band's discography.”
Someone in a suit that looked like a train-conductor ran out of sight across the fields shouting at Greary and Lacie. “Watch out, the end is just another beginning!”
“Its a bit high up here.” Mr. Greary said.
There was a vendor in his fifties with brown overalls and a snow white beard. He was whispering gently to a tomato, “Lack of acceptance for victimless change is lack of education; and all of which are the repeated thoughts and actions of people posing as vegetables.”
Over in a tilled field in a spot where the was no smoke, a smiling scarecrow with an antenna had left his post. He had a stand set up, and was unboxing and selling robotic farmers.
“You came here for that?” Memory pointed to a space suit laying in a field where there was no smoke and fire, while the sound of giddy, foreign music relayed under his voice. “Ms. Tilde?”
“I'm terribly sorry, I have to go buy eggs.” Mr. Greary interrupted.
Memory obliged with a friendly open hand, “Of course.”
Mr. Greary went off, not far, to a stout egg saleswoman. In the process Greary noticed a squash of a man next to the egg-seller. This man was surrounded by squashes and his body was proportioned in such a way that one side was frail, while the other he kept weighted. The squash man had covered himself in more layers of old clothes than ever necessary; worn hats on his head followed the same principle-- though his headgear also gradually spun, at snail's pace.
The squash man's somewhat nasally voice approached all who would hear him, "All people are insane and I'm one of the sane ones. I'm going to go glue carpet to my obese, naked body and walk backwards to Indiana.."
“No, I don't have any desire for a space suit.” Lacie said, the horrible feeling subsiding at a snail's pace in her stomach that Mr. Greary was not meant to buy eggs. On the subject of suits, she also wished that she could find different clothes, hers had dried off but were stained with black guck.
“I'll take a dozen eggs.” Mr. Greary said to an unenthused woman, forced to listen to the nearby squash vendor.
“In India Nana they sell bananas.” The squash man spake while holding a yellow squash.
“Then you don't remember?” Memory asked. “The tailor failure in Black Stock?”
Lacie rose an eyebrow over her ocular-metal protrusion, “The shouting naked guy? He was a tailor?”
Memory made an open gesture with both his hands, a smile fixated on a paper plate. “Well my memory isn't perfect, I'm just taking a guess.”
“Its not what it looks like, motor-squash.” The squash man said while holding a stainless-steel cyber-squash, with turning gears on either side.
Lacie paused. “I should probably take it back to him, if I'm ever going..”
“To get out of here. You feel guilty about it.” Memory completed. There was a buzzing sound, and Memory pulled a cell phone out of his pocket, walking away and answering the cell before Lacie could ask to use it. Having neglected the chance for communication when underneath All-Mart, Lacie was unsure if fate or bad memory was conspiring against her.
Mr. Greary put his eggs down. He gave a broad, inquisitive look at the plants for sale, followed by a broad, inquisitive look at the inside of his wallet. Then he picked his dairy products up and ventured over to Lacie with an idea in mind.
Lacie watched as the young swordsman approached her as Mr. Greary looked behind her like he expected something.
The train-conductor reappeared on the opposite side of the moon. He had stopped, squatting in sweat, and breathing heavily, “Like a maze!”
Near the train-conductor, there was a large wooden sign that read, “I am made of cheese, if you believe I am made of cheese.”
The bucket-headed swordsman now close, plead his case to Lacie and Greary despairingly, “Hello, I am a medieval futurist and I find myself stuck on the moon. I couldn't help but notice that you are not from here, can you help me get away from here?”
Mr. Greary nodded.
“We can help you Mr. Bucket-Head.” Lacie added, her scope-eyes zooming out.
“Where are you headed?” Dreary-Gravy asked.
“The Kingdom of Wanderers.” The swordsman said.