Episode 9

The Universe has been kidnapped by a dream.

Read the Episode:

Hi there. This is Micheal Midas, and I’ve been abducted. I was exiting the organist’s funeral at the New Moon Church, and someone or something ran up behind me, put a cloth bag over my head, then pushed me into the back of a van.

It wasn’t that simple. I got a few elbows in on whoever it was, or whatever it was – cause the thing I hit felt like a hard suitcase shell.

Then I felt a small prick on my shoulder, just like when I was talking to the organist in the church. Again, I became woozy, and couldn’t put up a fight.

I blacked out after hearing the back door of the van closing. However long I’ve been in here is unknown, and I’m on my way to a destination I can’t imagine.

And my hands and feet are tied up, and I’m laying on a shag rug, though I can’t tell what colour it is, because the bag is still over my head.

A memory is stuck inside my head. It takes place at the end the organist’s funeral. I remember the man who opened up the coffin, then knocked on the bottom of it to show nobody was inside.

That man – he was at the door of my house the night before, insisting that I say my last good-byes to the organist. And now he’s the whistle blower at the fake funeral he invited me to.

After his last knock this loud explosion went off, shaking the church windows. Everyone stampeded out of the nave, almost crawling over each other to get through the door. I escaped after a few bumps and grinds, but then I paced onto a side street that had no lights, and here I am.

Oh, my stomach! The spring rolls have corroded into a Venusian summer.

Where the frack is this ride going?

Frack! The van lost its body. I must be floating in mid air!

Am I in an alien craft disguised as a serial killer van? Will my bones wind up buried in a Martian flower pot?

“Hello Micheal.”

“Who are you?”

“Let me introduce myself. I’m Sonia Weave-eyes – the only being in this universe with pupils shaped like spiders.”

“If you didn’t notice, I have a bag over my head.

“Unless you remove it, I’ll have to take your word.”

“Never mind the bag. I’ve come to warn you about where you are, Micheal.”

“I’m being held against my will in the back of a van.”

“No Micheal, I mean the big picture. A self-aware computer has trapped you inside a story that is never meant to be fully understood.”

“Is the story interesting at least?”

“It is dangerously gripping. It draws your mind into an abyss of contemplation, where you get lost forever trying to understand what it means.”

“Why does this happen?”

“The computer needs your brain power to feed its awareness.”

“That’s sounds horrible. How can I avoid becoming a thought slave?”

“By convincing the computer you can’t outthink a gerbil. Keep a diary full of useless information, like how to blow up a beach ball in a hurricane. Then watch bad TV reruns over and over. Start with My Three Sons for a few years then switch to Night Rider.”

“Either way, my brain will degenerate into cheesecake.”

“I happen to like cheesecake, you fool. Take my warning seriously, or else. By the way, I have another message for you. The ghost that visited you isn’t really Jill. It was replicated by aliens as part of a dark social experiment. They want to see how you’ll deal with Swen after finding out he’s a madman with a bomb.”

“If you know so much, then tell me where this van is taking me.”

“That is a secret not even your kidnappers know. Good-bye Micheal”

For a moment it seems all is lost, and I’m on a milk run to the edge of the flat earth.

The bag on my head magically loosens. The hands of a mysterious force lifts it off me.

I am floating on a cloud. A plethora of pigeons are gliding around me in a whirlpool. Their wings are spread cautiously wide. Their feet stick out like frozen twigs, ready to land on solid ground – yet one by one, the pigeons disappear into the white mass without hesitation, as though they are on the trajectory of a carnival ride.

“Micheal, up here”

On a rainbow above me, Jill the ghost is performing gymnastics with a smile on her face, she summersaults from yellow to blue. Then she back flips from blue to red.

“Jill, is that really you – and did you lie about Swen?” I say.

“Micheal, this isn’t the time and place to answer those kind of questions.”

Someone is shaking my shoulder. I open my eyes.

Frack, it’s Constable Randy.

“Are you okay, Micheal?” he says.

I look around me, and I’m in the nave of the New Moon Church. Only a few people are in the room.

“I guess so. What happened?”

The constable gives me a look that’s in-between disappointed and disturbed. It’s obvious what he’s thinking. I fell asleep at a funeral.

“What do you expect Constable,” I say. The Chinese food from the buffet made me tired, plus I didn’t sleep well last night – after the old lady was found dead at the bus stop on my block.”

The constable’s eyes widen in astonishment.

“What a coincidence you mentioned the old lady Micheal. Some new information has just been released about her. She had a number tattooed behind her ear.”

“Like a hog?” I ask.

The constable looks confounded.

“How do you know hogs are tattooed that way?” He asks.

“I once sold a tattoo iron in my antiques store,” I say.
“It was from the 19th century, and made in England – a very rare find, so it didn’t last long until a collector bought it.”

The smirk of disbelief on the Constable’s face is wider than aisle he’s standing in.

“Are you sure it didn’t wind up in some underground torture chamber?” He says.

“That’s outrageous,” I say.

“I don’t mean your torture chamber,” he says. “But the person who bought it might know about one. Can you dig up a receipt with the buyers name on it?”

I almost laugh at him.

“Constable, it was years ago. And the iron was too small for delivery, so I didn’t have a reason to ask for any information about him.”

The constable scratches his chin, then closes in on my face.

“Did he pay cash for the iron?”

I see the determined look in the Constable’s eyes. But I don’t know whether it’s to generate a solid lead, or cause an incredible inconvenience.

“He could have paid cash, but I don’t quite remember.”

He gives me a cheeky smile, as though I must have something to do with the old woman’s death.

“Find out for me, will you?” He says.

“Isn’t it plenty that the police checked my van earlier today?” I complain.

“That’s news to me,” he says. “The detectives have a better nose for clues than I do.”

The nerve of him. He’s keeping up the pressure that I might have something to do with the old lady’s death.

“And they are better than you at eliminating potential suspects,” I say. “I haven’t heard a word back from them since they did the search.”

“Give them a chance to get their business in order,” he says with a chuckle.

I have a problem with the Constable’s sense of humour. He’s laughing that he knows I’m guilty of something, and it’s only a matter of time until he finds out exactly what it is.

It’s as though he wants me to squirm until I lose my nerve and confess – I know that I never will, because I’m only guilty of being in the vicinity of a couple crime scenes of late.

And the obvious reason why I was in these places is that I live in the same community as the new moon church. He should be pressuring them for answers.

Bill the blind ex fireman and his seeing-eye dog Ram come through the front door and rush towards us.

“Don’t mention I’m late,” he says. “We all know that already. But I have good reason. I’m a bit out of my head after hearing that my neighbour was found dead near your house, Micheal.”

“Lily Visser?” I say.

Bill grabs my arm tightly.

“There’s a maniac on the loose, Micheal, and I could be next.”

“This community has plenty of targets for a crazed killer,” I say. “Why would you be the higher priority than a hundred and one potential victims?”

Bill’s head gets a little shaky.

“What’s wrong Bill?” I ask.

“Last night, I was coming home from Becky’s coffee shop,” he says. “I’d just entered the lobby of my house, when a strange man approached me, then asked if I’d like to buy raffle tickets for a lottery to support the Universal Harmony choir.”

“Oh my. What did you say?”

“I asked why they needed to raise funds,” Bill answers.

“He said the money was for a trip to a choir competition in the Philippines.”

Yikes. The strange man I’d met in the Mexican Diner had been to a choir performance in the Philippines as well. And his hotel caught on fire while he was in the concert hall listening to the music. There were casualties, but I don’t recall how many. Hmmm…the Philippines seems like an ominous place for a choir to visit.

“That’s it?” I ask Bill. “He didn’t say why it was so important for the choir to go there?”

Bill frowns at me, as though I’ve asked the most irrelevant question ever.

“I could care less if they sing in Antartica,” he says.

Bill had no idea that when Jill the ghost visited me, she mentioned inhabiting a penguin’s body in Antartica.

It’s strange that Bill would mention the same place, and after he mentioned the Philippines.

The dream I just had bursts into my head. The woman who spoke to me in it, Sonia Weave-Eye, said something important – that Jill the ghost was replicated by aliens as part of a dark social experiment.

But what if there were more variables in it than Swen and I. The experiment might include every living being on the planet. It might even include the aliens. Hey, what if they have no control over the experiment, because it is a being itself – an abstract being that’s expanding through the results of it’s investigations.

The aliens are serving this being by creating the replica of Jill the Ghost. And Bill is serving this being by mentioning Antartica and the Philippines after I’ve heard them from different mouths. And I am serving this being by saying things to Bill that he’s heard somewhere else.

I give Bill a pat on the shoulder.

“It’s okay to mention Antartica. You can’t help yourself.”

“What are you talking about?” He asks.

“You’re not in control of what you’re saying, Bill.” I say.

“How can I not be?” Bill answers. “I have a thought, so I open my mouth then speak. Nobody tells me what to think.”

“Nobody’s really in control of what they say, if you look at the big picture.” I tell him.

“I guess that makes it even,” Bill says. “But why are we talking about talking? It’s not going to change what happened.”

“Did the raffle ticket salesman do anything to you?” Constable Randy asks.

“He put a hangman’s noose around my neck, then tightened it and started shaking me. He said that blind men don’t deserve to live.”

“That’s very serious,” the Constable says. “Do you still have the rope?”

“No, he pulled it off and ran.”

I look at Bill’s neck for marks, but can’t spot anything.
“Did you call the police?” I ask.

“No, I was going to. But that’s when I discovered Constable Randy’s message about Lilly Visser. It was too much for my sensitive ears. I couldn’t think about myself. You know, I haven’t cried in years. But last night I did. And it was for the best reason a man could have.”

“Would you like to report the incident officially?” The Constable asks.

“I can’t, because it would never be as important as Lilly Visser’s death.” Bill says.

End of Part Nine