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Leaping Puma

Monday night weirdness, Episode 9

links to past episodes 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8
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episode 9

still sitting, mayim lifts her eyes. she and crane pass a stare back and forth that is visibly new and unpleasant for both of them. each time the stare jumps from one to the other, it gathers like a lightning storm: disbelief, disappointment, defiance.

'crane,' mayim whispers as if just remembering his name. 'you gotta be kidding me.' he shakes his head, stare-lightning stabbing her. she closes her eyes, bites her upper lip, bows her head.

not one of the robbers in the circle around you and mayim so much as blinks.

when mayim speaks again her voice is so bitter the forest bristles, a cold wind rattling the coloured leaves. 'since when do you care about what the majority thinks is best?' crane's stare wavers. 'what did the majority at home think about us and molecule paper?'

'they misunderstood us and hated it,' crane says. 'and we solved that by leaving. if we ruin this dimension for ourselves, that unsolves the problem again, doesn't it? it's not about majority.'

'no, it isn't about majority, is it?' mayim snaps, getting up. leaves rustle under her feet as she stumbles towards crane. 'in fact, i'd be willing to bet it's a pretty small minority. like, maybe, one of us in particular.' she takes all the lightning she absorbed from crane's stare and beams it onto fez, who's standing a few feet away. 'go ahead, tell me he isn't the spokesbastard for this whole -- " her breath catches in a shudder -- 'fucking thing.'

crane unfreezes, steps out towards her, palms outward. 'mayim. just stop. don't make this personal, okay?'

'right, because he sure hasn't made it personal. singled me out or anything just because he's jealous -- '

'what?' fez's chin jerks forward, and his fez falls off. he dives after it.

'crane, don't you see? fez is bullshitting you!' mayim spits. 'he wouldn't give two shits what "entities" i talked to as long as i let him slip me the -- '

'mayim!' face red, fez gets up, jamming the leaf-plastered hat back over his thinning hair. 'you're reading things into our conversation that i never said.'

'you said them loud and clear, you big liar!' she throws her hands in the air. 'the only way you wouldn't mind me and crane together is if i gave you a piece here and there!"

'oh, grow up.' fez gives a dry laugh. 'we're not in high school.' you flinch. high school! fez fixes crane with a sly upside-down smile of sympathy. you can just hear him beaming the thought: girls! a little squeak of sympathetic outrage escapes you. mayim glances back at you, shakes her head frantically.

'crane,' she says. 'how long have you known me? sure, i'm younger. but i'm not some teen drama queen. this afternoon fez as good as called me a slut. so much for free love, huh?'

the robbers pass a look around the circle with slitty uncertain eyes, stamping and jingling, ending at crane. crane clears his throat, equally uncertain.

fez, arms folded: 'i said nothing of the kind. my motivation is purely to -- '

the words burst out of you. 'you did actually call her easy.'

mayim hides a smile, eyes giving her away.

'of course her pet hallucination is going to back her up,' snarls fez. 'ignore him. she's really fed him with her sexual energy.'

'not even a complete breakfast,' you mutter. scattered laughter from the circle.

'stop laughing.' fez balls his fists. 'don't even acknowledge him. you're giving him power. crane, look at them -- ! this is what i'm talking about.'

crane rubs a weary palm against his forehead. 'fez, i hear you. but you're getting really worked up. okay?' fez scowls, backs off. 'now. mayim,' crane continues, the lightning storm no longer in his eyes. he wades through the rainbow leaves, touches her hand. takes it in both his. 'you know that i love you and the last thing that i want is for you to leave.' her eyes are still fixed on the ground. 'you are such a vital force in this collective i'm not even sure it could survive your going -- i might need a break myself, from this, molecule paper, everything if you go.' the circle murmurs and shifts in alarm. 'but nobody wants that. i think this isn't too far gone yet; you still can recover your balance. it is important to know the day-glo forest is not in fact consensus reality at all, but a projection of our collective mind. to believe anything different will destroy your sanity. and because i love you, i won't let that happen to you.'

'crane, i'm not nuts. i know what real is. and -- ' she twists to look at you -- 'he is real. why is it not ok to let him be real?'

fez sighs. crane shoots him a daggered glance, then turns back to mayim. 'because he's taking on a will of his own. achieving consciousness. it's like when artificial intelligence discovers itself, becomes conscious. it's... a separate being reshaping reality, drawing life energy like a tumour, out of -- '

a tumour?

'i live here!' you shout. 'i found this place before you ever showed up.'

'that's not true -- ' crane counters as a reflex, then cuts himself short, looking conned.

you keep at him: 'this isn't the inside of your skull! it's a real world.' tight-lipped, crane motions to the robbers with his head: inside the house. the circle collapses into a line, filing slowly back. fez has disappeared. mayim stays rooted to her spot, her hand falling out of crane's as he moves off. he stops.

'i can prove it!' you yell. 'if it matters who thinks i'm real, and most of you don't believe i am -- except for mayim -- '

'leave her alone,' says crane through clenched teeth. 'you are driving her insane.'

'crane, please -- ' mayim starts.

'listen to me, crane.' you can't help it now, though you're babbling and pretty sure you're only pissing him off at this point. 'if i'm only a collective mind projection, i'd be practically transparent with only one believer. but i am real and i'll be here even if you send her away, which you shouldn't -- '

rattle

and something cracks as it hits the top of your head. 'no! you bastard!' mayim screams. you stumble forward, fall to your hands and knees. shake your head, panting. roll to see fez lifting a thick magenta branch above his head for a second go at you.

you scramble clumsily up, tackle him.

fez falls backwards, branch flying. he grabs your shoulders, then your arms, grappling with you. you writhe an arm free and punch him in the face. he lets go, nose a red fountain.

blood and confusion. mayim and crane are yelling at each other. you waver, head burning. crisp footsteps and outraged voices gather...

you are grabbed from behind, wrestled to the ground. struggling, you can't tell if the crackling and hissing you hear is the leaves they're drowning you in, or the hot buzzing head wound soaking into your brain.

they hold your wrists together and tie them tight, then your ankles, nothing playful about it now. yanking you off the ground, then off your feet, they carry you away. black spots dance between you and the shifting day-glo colours of the forest path.

fez's voice behind you: 'if he's going to get violent when we try to leave him behind...'

'hitting him over the head doesn't qualify as "leaving him behind"!' comes mayim's voice. she runs after them. 'what are you doing with him?'

'he has to go.' crane's voice.

'it's his dimension!'

'it very well might be, if we don't get him out of here.' the bouncing march of the robbers carrying you splits your head open. mayim follows, her arguments an angry sonic blur.

'...cool out in there, nobody wants anything to do with him...' you jolt back to consciousness. you are back in the hollow tree, sitting on the ground still tied up. yellow sunshine floods your vision, so bright you want to barf. you bow your head.

'look, he's hurt, okay? i'll be right in.' you look up. mayim is at the open door. crane looks at her, shakes his head. 'i promise. jesus christ.' before you can stop her, she swings the door shut.

'that door doesn't open from the inside!' you pant, mouth dry.

'not unless you know how.' mayim kneels at your side, takes a penknife, and cuts the yellow plastic tape off your wrists and ankles: Police Line: Do Not Cross. 'i'll show you later. but you should lie low for as long as you can. everyone's mad. i'll bring you food and stuff, don't worry. how is your head?'

'not so good,' you croak. the magenta in mayim's hair looks rose-pale, her skin transparent in the overpowering sunshine.

'i'll see what i can dig up around the house,' she says. 'some of the housedwellers are on this whole anti-aspirin trip -- '

'so at least aspirin is still aspirin,' you murmur. mayim is puzzled. 'not seven percent or molecule paper or -- '

'oh, fuck.' mayim's eyes widen in horror. 'oh, no no no no wait -- this tab wasn't supposed to run out for hours yet -- '

with a pop, mayim disappears, leaving you alone with a slight nature-abhorrent vacuum in the sun-drowned tree.

+

episode 10

Comments

(Anonymous)

Loving this!

seriously enjoying this series.

Love,
The Tenant ;)

Re: Loving this!

thank you thank you! can't wait to see ya :)