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Leaping Puma

Monday night weirdness, part one

everyone back home had you figured for a total acidhead. you were always from another less-deadly-serious planet, slinking around hooded and breaking into inappropriate giggles. but your dread secret was that you'd never even smoked pot, forget dropping acid. nobody ever got close enough to ask if you wanted drugs.

plus, it seemed you didn't really need drugs.

you came to the day-glo forest because you forgot where you lived. it is instantly Home, this colourful place at the end of greyhound days and gravel-road nights. white noise and green sunlight sing through the lurid trees. prismatic raindrops drip off the tips of branches, tickling your face. you sit on a mossy orange log. take off a boot to shake out a pebble.

in the middle of the forest is a rotary-dial telephone, plugged into nothing. you give it an uncertain smile.

it rings.

you jump, dive behind the mossy log. painted birds flap mechanically and screech. woodland alarm system, winged panic robots...

the phone rings again. you put your hood and your hands over your ears, shake your head no. no!

ring

and suddenly a circle of people, most holding hands, surround you and the mossy orange log. you shriek and curl into a ball, hugging your knees to your chest. they stare at you in bewilderment, nudging each other.

they look like a costume shop exploded on them, all billowy shirts and paper crowns, silken robes and furry blue vests with epaulets and plastic bangles, squirt guns in leather holsters, robbers and orphaned shepherd-kings and cookie monsters and ruined turkish millionaires. they look at you like a policeman who's interrupted them enjoying a joint and a huge laugh.

gap in the circle. a girl pops into existence there, a finger under her tongue, frozen in surprise at the sight of you.

the tallest guy in the group stands, towering over you. he has on a sort of school-crossing-guard belt tied sloppily across his t-shirt, made out of yellow tape: police line. do not cross. 'i'm inviting it in,' he tells the others finally, as if you're under glass.

the others murmur. you hear doubt. '...unleashing forces...' 'don't ask it if it's hungry...' are they talking about you? what the hell?

the girl pulls her finger out of her mouth, shakes long dark hair streaked with mud and magenta dye away from her face. she looks a lot prettier without a finger in her mouth. 'it's not an it. don't call him that, it's mean. it's a he, right, crane?'

'can't really tell.' crane peers at you, then his fellow robbers. 'don't be afraid. open yourselves to the experience. it's really happening now... let's take it further.' breaking into a warm, hazy smile he asks you, 'want to come back with us?'

no one has ever asked you this before.

you are, as crane says, open to the experience. you unlock arms from around your knees, pull yourself up from behind the mossy log. the rest of them get up too, keeping their distance. except for the girl, who stoops and hands you the boot you dropped, with a smile that promises nothing but mischief.

+

their house is as warm and hazy as crane's smile. they burn wood in a hearth in the kitchen. no one touches you or asks you if you are hungry. 'what to feed the entity -- if anything.' guy in a fez.

'purina freak chow,' says the girl who picked up your boot for you, folding her arms. 'he can eat what we have. i'm making chili.' fez guy snorts. 'no, not venison. we're good for at least another ten hours on what we ate earlier.' you smile at her, big, which you belatedly remember used to make people at home run away. she mirrors it back. her eyes smile orange sunshine from a higher solar system.

'this is really weirding me out,' says fez guy, and turns on a heel, out of the kitchen, knocking a chinese lantern off the low ceiling.

'sorry he's being such a republican about this,' says the girl. 'i'm mayim, by the way.' she touches your hand.

neither of you explodes.

+

it is weird being part of something. the robbers stop being afraid, though fez man never touches you or looks you in the eye, which puts you oddly at ease, since you're used to having great powers of unnerving people. you can't get anyone in the house to pretend you're invisible, no matter how you grimace and cringe, hands up under your chin like a hamster and constant hee hee hee. everyone just laughs, nobody runs away. they play with you, poke you with their fingers to see if you're ticklish. so funny! they seem to find you both adorable and disgusting, like a yucky little pet. if they tie you up and leave you in a corner to squirm and make churring noises of distress, it's even more fun for everybody, even you. especially you.

it's fun to be a creature, but at the same time it's less than human, sort of. so it's okay to experiment on you a bit. your pout-rage at being poked is amusing. everyone knows you don't mind. in fact you kind of like it, because it's better than Outside.

people appear and disappear at odd times. sometimes you wake up to an empty house. it bothers you more than you think it should. mayim reappears once in the middle of a keening howl you can't help, and lets you put your head in her lap.

so one day the others pick you up because you're a bit of a runt, and it's fun for everyone to feel big and strong picking up a whole person flailing and squealing. though you hardly count as a person. your vocabulary is all physical, in pointed toes and spineflex and witchy hand gestures nobody understands but you.

they are going to put you somewhere. nobody is saying where. they must have all agreed on it sometime while you were tied up in the corner.

it is scary and delicious at the same time. the big hand around your bony ankle that you can't kick free is comforting. you struggle and squeak some more, and the hands tighten, lift you higher. you feel very powerless and secure.

where are they taking you? the front door opens. not Outside! you don't like it there anymore... suddenly you realise they are bored with you, no... they hate you! they've always hated you, it was just an experiment, a lie. they're kicking you out. you stop struggling. their laughter quiets.

'did we hurt him?' someone asks. they hand you gently down. you glare at them out of saucer eyes.

'it's all right,' mayim tells you. 'you'll like it. i promise.' it is fall in the day-glo forest. autumn mixes torchlight colours into the inorganic pigment stew.

not far away is a gnarled mass of wood, newly painted green and yellow. you squint. it looks like several trees melted together, and in it is a doorway.

episode 2

Comments

Another compelling read! Keep up the great work!

M
it's a massive homage to electric kool-aid acid test...

with some science-fiction cuz that's how i rolllll ~~

more coming! :)

(Anonymous)

Nice Work!

Looking forward to how it all turns out.

~~~~ Ren =)