Here is the story "Getting into Adventures" from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales from the writings of Lorenzo Samuel (me). A character in a novel has an adventurous life outside the book being written until the book is done. Then she is erased and becomes nothing but a vague yearning. I present to you the tale "Getting into Adventures." Enjoy.
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GETTING INTO ADVENTURES
That’s enough of the delete thing. The Great Author in the sky must have it in for me. First my feet faded out, then the rest of me followed. Dimension became unavailable, so I had no part in the play. Have you ever traveled lost at sea? Did you flash a beacon? Zero results, I bet. Did you seek substance when you vanished? Well, I did not. I wonder if Stephan has anything to do with this.
Stephan might call me a picture alien, for I love images, the flatter the more acceptable. When he deletes me at the office, I hasten to my Lake Tarpon pad and my room full of depictions on the walls.
Pictures mean home to an alien like me. They smell of where they took form. They enliven. Succulent papayas hold no sway over them. Once settled among my room full of images, I decide in which one to spend the night. Then, I swim like a manta ray in the sky and paste myself into a picture. In the morning, my solidity returns, slinging me into the 3rd dimension to begin a new day.
2 days ago, in the 3rd dimension, I became Greta, however, origin and past change for me as often as dreams. I do not remember what happens when I flatten in an image. Do I dream adventure? No, I sense that I float, and that feels like, well, wonderful. You could write a novel about my time in pictures, although if I wrote one, it would come out blank, for my memory recomposes itself when I wake.
This morning, without decorum, not of my own free will, I fell out of a picture before the sun shone through the east window. I know because tears streamed down my cheeks, and my mind had erased. I did not slide out as I usually do though. Shit! I bounced like a balloon ‒ 3D to the limit ‒ no gradient to smooth the transition.
I do remember my life outside of pictures. As 1 of 2 female partners in Alien Consolidated, LLC, Tarpon Springs, Florida, USA, I live a full 3-dimensional life working for the company. I know I said I’m Greta. I have changed my mind. Give me a high-five on that feat. Today, why don’t you call me Amber? That will get me through this day at the office.
Before I came here, Tarpon Springs already styled itself a tourist spot. The early settlers comprised Greek fishermen, mostly sponge men and their families. Today, their descendants scour the sponge beds to supply souvenirs to tourists.
Sponges come in various sizes. You can order them over the World Wide Marketplace, so you do not have to come here anymore to get one. Nevertheless, if you want a genuine Tarpon Springs sponge, come vacation in this quaint town. Some have stayed ‒ enough rich ones to slake the thirst of Alien Consolidated, LLC, where I advise them how to make me and my company rich.
Alien Consolidated sucks in clients like a huge mooch. To us, water equals money, and we always thirst. Once, people had to turn mentally or emotionally unstable (flying-saucer abductees and the like) to even consider engaging us. Nowadays, they only need find their places in the cosmos, so they say. Most everybody wants to locate themselves, you know.
We give thanks to all the gurus and pop-culturists who set the stage for our arrival. And most of all, we bow the knee to those burdened with affluence and ennui, for they never cease seeking for some relief and some small portion of enlightenment to give their fleshy lives meaning. Even I flail in such muck when I fall out of a picture and enter the 3rd dimension.
But to me, simply, these bored people resemble molecules bumping into each other. If I had had the misfortune to turn out human, I too would cruise their sea of pretentious emotions. However, having an alien mind gives me enough objectivity to treat these shipwrecked earthlings with the latest realization techniques. Coming to face reality contains my offering; cutting back aspirations forges my tool; bringing a dull peace to those who seek me out embraces my gift.
But, enough of this reflection. When the last of my clients leaves, I close the door to my office softly so as not to wake my secretary Stephan; however, his eyes snap open like they always do when my workday finishes. “Waiting for Gloria?” I say. Gloria names the alien partner three doors down, a family type with a penchant for the extracurricular, hence, Stephan.
Stephan smiles sleepily and begins working on his compositor. Whenever he types, I get this urge to flatten into one of my pictures. I know that until I arrive home I will have no rest and will have to put up with my flesh slamming into another adventure. Adventures in 3D suck, yet when over, they lead to a glorious 2D.
I wave good night to Gloria. She floats above her desk under the sexual energizer she bought with her last week’s salary. Stephan could enjoy an interesting time tonight, I see. Something more to put into his typing. I could scourge myself for thinking this, but I wonder if he uses Gloria for just that purpose.
Stephan watches my ass all the way to the discorporation tube as if he guides it with his mind. I have tried to catch him at it, but no matter how fast or slyly I turn my head, I never see him looking at me. I stop at the water siphon and punch out a grape-sized globule of concentrated crystalline water. Tilting my head just so, I can see Stephan out of the corner of my left eye. He types, his eyes straight ahead, looking at his composition screen. Still, I know what I know ‒ he looks at me.
I feel Stephan’s attention even as the tube spews me onto the people mover at street level. That feeling segues into memories forgotten when I see my Ferrari hovering just around the corner. I jump in and roar off east toward Lake Tarpon. The farther from Alien Consolidated I get the flatter I yearn to be, but, as if some task remains, my 3rd dimension does not cooperate. I am still 2 meters 20 centimeters, 70 kilograms. For the clients, I keep myself pert in a human sort of way. I freshen my lip gloss and smooth the creases in my blue sari while hurtling along at 150 kilometers per hour past the palm trees that line East Tarpon Avenue.
The light turns yellow up at US 19; I push the gas pedal to the floor. The speedometer hits two hundred kilometers per hour as I blow through the red light and by an old man gliding over the crosswalk in an air-cushion walker. In my rear-view, I see him flipped upside down by the compression wave of my car. He has collapsed under his walker and, in the same instant, shouts into his wrist phone. Oh, crud. He calls for a road vigilante. Screw it. I should get out of here fast.
My Ferrari streaks past the cemetery on the left and into the broad arch of Keystone Road. As I make the dip at Savannah Pointe, laser beams slice through the back window, missing me by millimeters. The next set buzzes by singing my hair. Another burst rebounds off the rear-view, and zings into my right eye.
Like molten lava, the eyeball turns red, hot and gooey. Wildly, I try to gouge out the mass with a finger. I lose the feel of the road, and the Ferrari caroms off an oncoming car. I grit my teeth, force my right hand back to the steering wheel, and edge over to my side of the road. I manage to employ the force shield and kick in the auxiliaries, and with my good eye, focus on the East Lake Road intersection a few seconds ahead.
Behind me, the vigilante’s supercharged black Camaro closes the distance. Its laser bank must sequence at 30 bursts a second. The beams glance off the Ferrari’s force field into the verge. Alongside, shrubbery and trees ignite and surround me in a lengthening tunnel of flame.
I cannot see past the smoke that clogs the end of the tunnel. I skid through the cloud and burst out into dazzling light. Cleared land surrounds the intersection. I cut right, but the Ferrari zooms too fast to make the turn. The underlying cushion of air destabilizes, and the car spins into a tree.
Instantly, styro-pellets flood the car. I fumble for my remote, flick a button and blow the doors. I fall out in an explosion of pellets. Pieces of scenery whirl around me like flotsam in a tornado. The sun vanishes, and the wicked witch of the west rides by cackling. The day has turned indigo, and out of it a voice splits the dark, “Got you, bitch.” I try to flatten the 3rd dimension but cannot. An electric whip stings me into the black of a torrential storm..
I wake in returned sun, even though bound with cord like Cordon Bleu. I hug the tree and smooth out its lacerations. Does its reality excite me? The road vigilante grins the negative through his yellow teeth. Completely black, a 3-meter-tall hirsute beast of a man, he shuffles his belly like some demonic Santa Claus. His beard, thick, frazzled and dirty, squashes into his face. He says, “Ha, trying to break out from our story, eh cunt?”
An electric cannon materializes in his right hand. He points it at my breasts. His finger begins to close on the switch. Boom. The cannon misses to the left. The vigilante acts confused. He examines the cannon and eyeballs the distance and direction to my body. Once more, he aims the weapon at my tits. His finger slides toward the switch.
Before he can fire, he begins to disappear as if he never had hurtled the roads. His cannon, whip and car fade out in the same fashion. Finally, the vigilante has disappeared, and my former fused eye focuses fine once again.
I find myself 2-eyes strong, 3 dimensional, and free from the rope that had fastened me to the tree. My Ferrari, which had upended with its top crushed in, glistens like it had when I bought it in St. Pete last May. It invites me inside, humming “Bells of Hope” and lazing on its cushion of air. I kiss its perfect coat and climb in. It smells new. I start the engine and hear it purr as if tuned by an expert factory mechanic.
Back heading south on East Lake Road, I turn on automatic pilot, set the destination for my house off of Lakeview Drive and, even though usually I forbid myself sleep before I arrive home, recline for a snooze. Seems like the thing to do after getting fucked over by that vigilante.
I come alert just as the garage door comes down to shut off a fabulous view of 2500-acre Lake Tarpon. Local wildlife has a bit of a problem around the 16-mile shoreline. Feasting on them, a 15-foot unidentified reptilian monster that lives in the lake gobbles up little critters. Residents call it "Tarpie." I would like to meet it as I believe it a fellow alien.
Before I flatten for the night, I step out past the enclosed, open-air, temperature-controlled rec area, through the security door and into the au natural of bygone Florida. The lake’s waves hang in mid-motion rivaling those on matte-finish picture postcards. I lay buff in my hammock and suck in the sunset like a human might do. The gnats, mosquitoes and midges leave me alone, bloodless creature that I am.
However, Tarpie interrupts his sojourn around the lake to strut through my personal space, craning his neck, looking for small critters to munch. I expand until I sit on the hammock 3 times his size. He takes one look at me and slashes out the other side of my space and slithers toward the shore.
After that, I cannot linger for long. Tonight, I rush upstairs to my picture room, sit in my rotating chair and scan the thousand pictures covering the walls. Perhaps, I might go to Java tonight. I could join with the villagers to mollify the beasts. I flatten, fly like tissue-paper in the wind and stick next to a wild-eyed Javanese villager with a spear.
My digital bits settle into a step-down peace. Everything after smooths to a silver screen. The next thing I know I drop out of the picture. The process of unflattening just happens. By the time I smack the floor in 3 dimensions, I find myself not only round but dressed for the day. Actually, given a choice, I would have worn the red dress.
The drive to Alien Consolidated, LLC, seems pleasant despite my roundness. This morning, as usual, I stop at Grindy’s for coffee, OJ and a bagel with cream cheese. I might eat breakfast in my office before the first client arrives.
I say “good morning” to Stephan as I swing by his desk. He smiles and stops typing. He studies the compositor screen briefly, then nods as if expressing approval. Then, his eyes close, for his sleep period starts as my workday begins. Somehow, my notes get typed, appointments set, payments collected, and so forth. I do not understand how he does it. I suspect him of working the magician’s trade as well as that of secretary.
At my desk, I compose for only a few minutes before Mr. Jones, my first client of the day, arrives. I find it disconcerting that he remains here only an instant. He leaves, then the others show up for their appointments in rapid succession. I have seen five clients, two in the morning and three this afternoon, and my food sits uneaten in front of me. Mrs. Blaumblatz, my last client, left a few minutes ago, or maybe a couple of hours has gone by since she walked out the door. Like a knot on a petrified log, I wait for the end on my work day.
My case notes float from my desk ready for Stephan to feed into the auto-scriber. I do not remember dictating them, although the disk lies in my hand. Perhaps, I made the disk when the universe conveyed a stutter. I set the disk’s chip array by Stephan‘s drowsy figure, then return to my desk to straighten up. I have an urge to leave now in spite of the need to stay and get some more work done though, perhaps, my thoughts do not allow for an extension of time. As I depart, Stephan starts typing whatever occupies him. “Good night, Stephan,” I say. “You and Gloria going out?”
As if he has just spit out some unsavory morsel, he says, “I’m done with her.” Then without a glance at me, he looks vacantly at the ceiling and says, “Want to be a heroine? Want to be in my dreams?” Stephan dreams stuff up, but I have never thought his dreams would include me even though he sleeps when I am around.
Stephan comports oddly in other ways, too. For instance, I do not recall the time before I hired him. He just showed up one day working for me and typing on his compositor. Witchery or love follows him, giving me presence but a past unknown. “Please do dream something up for me,” I say.
Like up against a deadline, he types, and I feel I should develop somewhere else. Usually, I go home and flatten in a picture, the high sky of my day, but on occasion as I leave work, Stephan acts the mad man, and I go off on another adventure.
Like now. Stephan, my god of luck, gives me another adventure to gnaw on: My friend and I swing from vines out across a torrential stream deep in a cool lush jungle. The man Pearly ‒ I believe he mimics an alien who works at the pier ‒ laughs in the mist of morning. His hair glistens when he moves on his swing into a sun patch. The moist wind ruffles my dress, jaguar-skin panties and fluff border of my bra.
I know ease, so why do I look up into the leaves as if beckoned? Could the canopy speak to me? When I swing under it and keep my eyes fixed, the leaves become the stable point with me the moving particle.
A thirty-foot snake with fangs as long as wart-hog tusks, swings by its tail above Pearly’s head. Milky venom drips from those prongs. Its eyes appear mesmerized by the back of Pearly’s neck. With its swaying head, the snake matches the period of Pearly’s swing. I open my mouth to warn him, but, as if someone has denied me speech, only a slight hiss streams from my constricted throat. Pearly turns his head and smiles at me. On the backswing his left cheek reaches for a kiss. A whir of electricity courses through my body, and I kiss his cool skin with the tip of my tongue. When I fall back to observe his reaction, the snake’s head blurs, and its fangs tear Pearly's neck from nape to throat.
Blood rushes from a ruptured carotid and splatters over my body. My friend's eyes turn glassy, a plea for help frozen in them. Like a drawn spring released, the snake yanks him from the swing and recoils into the canopy. Pearly disappears into the leaves, although blood continues to drip down on my Jupiter dress. Even though nothing impels it now, Pearly’s swing continues through its same period. The residue of his silent scream hangs around me. Ordinarily I would flatten to get out of a mess like this, but somehow, I see Stephan not approving if I did not try, at least, to collect Pearly's remains.
I begin climbing up one of the swing’s tethers toward the lair of the great snake. Pearly's blood mixed in with the snake's venom slicks the cord. I wrap my feet in the rope to get a pull up, moving slowly, maybe a couple of centimeters every ten seconds. The snake's eyes watch me; ready for another meal? Don’t snakes eat once a week or something? I cannot reason my fear away. Up in the canopy, the snake surely waits, noting my progress toward it.
I pass branches and leaves into the dank dankness of the canopy. I cannot hear anything but my raspy breath. The dark clings like hot tar. Then my head bumps into something. A hard sticky lump retreats, then swings slowly toward me through the gloom.
I stop my mount of the swing rope ready to skinny down when the branches part and facing me hangs Pearly’s leg curled at the knee over a branch. One leg, nothing else, with his toenails covered with mauve fungus. I reach up and grab the branch from which his leg dangles. I swing my left leg up and over, and for a moment his leg rests against mine, sending a chill up my spine as if the leg mocked some horrid incubus pressing my thigh.
I seat myself on a crook made by two limbs, catch my breath and look around. Pearly appears nowhere, only his leg smiling from its wounds.
I hear the breeze in the treetops, but a softer sound overlays the whispering of wind. The sound envelops me, and the leaves rustle on all sides. The rays from the snake’s eyes burn a hole in my neck. I feel myself the mongoose who has finally met its match. Although I cannot see the snake, its slick cold smoothness waits, waits, waits for a new meal.
Nervously, I dislodge Pearly’s leg. As it falls, it thuds through the lower branches, then toward the ground like a pinwheel. The noise seems to have disturbed something. I hear movement. I search for the source of the sound. Gradually, my eyes grow accustomed to the shifting shadows. Then, I see the snake wrapped around a branch only 10 feet away. Mostly slender appears the snake, but a lump about the size of Pearly bulges the middle of its corpus.
Although I have had many adventures since manifesting in Tarpon Springs, this describes the first time that I scoot on my haunches across a branch toward a snake. I pull out my machete from my hip sash as I go. The snake appears in a stupor from its meal. I am close enough now to take a swipe at it. As I raise the knife with both hands and bring it down, the snake opens its bloody mouth and clicks it fangs. Like a thundering locomotive, its head darts towards me.The snake’s neck proves insubstantial. The machete slices through it. It cuts the branch I sit on as if it, too, amounts to dreams and soft butter.
The snake, the branch and I fall from the dark shade of the canopy into the patchy light of the jungle floor. The branch coasts onto the ground, with me on top, then the snake lands, curling around my body like clammy air. It thrashes and slobbers me with its bloody stump of muscle-pulsing neck as if it tries to eat me by gumming. I move from under the stink of its insides, but I cannot take my eyes off the lump in its middle.
“That’s Pearly,” I exclaim. Just last week he had held me in his arms and kissed me so tenderly that I felt less a woman than a baby. From spite at his treating me like an infant, I had bitten him on his inner lip.
He had laughed and called me his cozy bundle. “Let me humor my woman,“ he had said as he spurted saliva over my tummy, a prelude to the snake adventure I now realize. That must have happened, so I figure out why my past has predisposed me to play with one who treats me like a novelette baby. My conclusion: Abuse lies back where I cannot remember, back in the days before I gained description.
Pearly, just another escapade, a fling, something Stephan might write of my adventuring. Stephan so intimates my existence. Still I must finish my adventure with Pearly. That he lies in the snake adds a complication, true enough.
I look at the headless serpent. “Give me back Pearly,” I demand. The snake’s muscles on the tail side of the lump convulse. The lump slides up its long throat. First, the head pops out all slimy, then his shoulders, waist and other leg. Then he, the snake, the vines, the river and the surrounding jungle evaporate like morning fog on a sunny day.
All that, filled with Pearly and our adventure, transitions into my red Ferrari. As well, the god of aliens imprints me into the car. With no hiatus, I drive north on McMullen Booth Road. By the time I reach Curlew Road, I can smell Lake Tarpon. At Tampa Road, I take the long curve onto East Lake Road. I push the Ferrari to two hundred kilometers per hour.
Without an interim, my Ferrari roosts in the garage, and I fumble around my room bumping into the pictures on the walls. I feel that I should flatten; however, the image of the Andean alpaca herder that I have solidly in mind just stares at me and beckons not. My state begs the question, I see. Oh, my 3rd dimension blocks the transition; I back away, plop into the rotating chair and act the potato. This mockery cooks the night while I regard the pictures on the walls, and I think of Stephan typing away.
The room fills with sunlight. I discover myself dressed in a new sack dress and flats. In the garage, the Ferrari purrs in place. Someone has started it. It seems newly there as if it had died and just now resurrected.
I hop in and roar off, stop at Grindys. I buy OJ, coffee, and a plain bagel with cream cheese. I always get that. Lasts me the entire day. Food in hand, I exit the body tube and jump onto the third floor of Alien Consolidated, LLC. I look into Gloria’s office as I pass by. Not there. Something strange befell her, eh, what?
As I near my office, for once Stephan does not stop typing. “Good morning,” I say. He looks through me without smiling. I tell him all about my adventure with Pearly. He makes no sign of having heard me. He looks down at a pile of papers on his desk and says, “Just one small change to make, and done.”
"Done? Done?" His words taste as dull as paper, as unimaginative as ink. I try bargaining: "I'll do more adventures for you." If I take on more adventures for him, he’ll send me to flatten more often.
When I arrived, Stephan should have gone to sleep, and now I should shuffle into my office to see clients. In my mind, I am verily striding in through my office door. Nevertheless, I find myself still standing in front of Stephan.
He grins, and I feel something electronic tickling my feet. I look at them growing dim. Except for a faint lingering blankness, they disappear. The feeling creeps up my legs until they, too, fade out. When the emptiness reaches my neck, I think that I’d better yell, but the scream nulls before any utterance comes forth.
Now, though I see, I do not view myself. I am looking in on another void, as alien to me as I to it. Slowly, the realization comes over me: Non-dimensional now, and my mind's a blank. No past or future. No present. No more adventures lie ahead to enliven me. No more respite in my room full of pictures. Does finality decimate my existence? Have pictures ever slicked my walls? Perhaps zero describes my Waterloo.
But although I have vanished, I can sense a thousand familiar images in Stephan’s mind. They leave with him as he skips, full of jounce, out the door and into a floater, then into an old two-story building, up to the second floor, and into an office that has a sign on the door reading, “Sara Springsted, Literary Agent." As a weightless dot, I ride Stephan’s pictures as if they have life themselves and glide with him through the door.
Determination lies on his face, and just the slightest hint of assertion. He says, “It’s done,” and I begin to sink desolate into his mind.
Springsted rifles the pages that he gave her. “Runs about a hundred and fifty thousand words, I’d say. Right length. Title good, too.”
Stephan laughs. “Yeah. ‘Getting Into Adventures’. I became fond of my alien. Hated to finish the novel. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if characters could come to life, just for a while, so that you could find out how they feel about being in your book?”
Stephan says, “My treatment has been adequate.“ He raps his knuckles on Springsted ’s desk and kisses the air with his Jovian lips. “Perhaps, I’ll write a sequel after my next project. Give her a chance to play anew.”
I cannot contain myself, generating thoughts in his subterranean depths, I bathe him with the potential of creating me dimensional. I could go adventuring again.
A new story from the book Eve of Valor: 25 Tales will post on or about 1 Apr. To get the book "Eve of Valor: 25 Tales" click here.