Carrousel (part one)

Finally, beyond our baggage claim and into the brief halls of many whereabouts, there were only shops full of knick-knacks and thoughtless things such that one might find for waiting for people. Jumble’s of gears and wires made up the walls that seemed unending and all but an afterthought in the construction of this place. A place that seems, senselessly to only exist in these between places. These spots, that people wait in for other things to happen. Such as a name, or flight, or number to be called out. Yet that did not happen.

It seemed as I went on people who had been here longer had started to build things out of the bits that seemed to just pop into existence every day. More wire and gears and nails, pens, magazines and for some reason guitar picks. Each a new strange thing that had a purpose that has more permeability than the original. Not a transient, effervescent existence, but a real tangible thing that had more realness built in. These new things ranged in their complexity from simple to the very complex. Some were instruments, like a long pole made of melted wires strung with guitar picks that shook as you stamped it on the ground. Another was a made of gears, wires and bits of plastic and made an odd but not unpleasant series of noises. There was also a number of people who had taken bits of piping that always seemed to repair themselves and made them into all sorts of different blown instruments. Eventually, whole bands got together and one of the more popular ones would play at what everyone called Grand Intake Central. The sort of area where people came from the strange sterile machines that got them here.

Each person came off a vehicle, what they called them, as blank as clean wall. No one knew exactly where they came from or what this place was. Only to get their baggage from the carrousel that seemed to continue bringing new bags every time a vehicle arrived. Like regular clockwork, they came in every morning, and once everyone had got off them they seemed to shut the doors and there wouldn’t be a new one until the next morning. None had a memory of anything but that, and sometimes people seemed to know they were related by blood to another person who was already here. That was all they ever knew other than their name.

Everyone’s bags would have the same content in their size and always in black, red and blue. Five shirts, four pairs of pants, twelve pairs of socks, thirteen pairs of underpants, a wash at with toothbrush, toothpaste, a comb, a brush, a bag of disposable tampons and pads (regardless of their own gender identity or presentation), a small plastic cup and a towel which had a series of numbers on it. Each seemed to be randomly assigned to the person and no two were the same. It was almost as if someone had read what clothes a person could want but not actually really have any actual experience with travelling or being a person.

Each day food also appeared, cooked and processed in the cupboards and freezers that according to those I had asked had existed since they got here. Every person I asked didn’t know how they got here. The food cupboards and freezers would only ever seem to have just enough for the people present. If you tried to hoard or keep your food, it would almost as quickly rot and be useless. Thrown into the bins that seemed to automatically empty every day.

Eventually, people started to think about staying up, to see what happened at night. The seats that were around were not uncomfortable to sleep on but also seemed to stretch back to allow you to lie down and snooze. When the lights went out, only a slight blue glow remained. Those who had decided to stay awake tried hard to keep awake. Slowly though each one of us nodded off to sleep. I tried to run on the spot, hum, click, walk around the areas of the place we were in, but to no avail. Eventually, I fell asleep. I woke on the hard cold floor and everything had replenished just like it always did.

Boredom started to become a problem, and we seemed to need to come up with new ways to entertain each other. Walking, running around the complex only provided slight relief.

We started to theories of why we were here. Some decided that it was just the Will of the Bag Carousel and that we should not question such things. But like a itch, you can’t scratch it dug away at you.

Privacy was one of the things people started to crave. The lavatories seemed to provide some but not really enough to make you feel alone with your thoughts. There was no real outside to get to. The rooms just connected together in a large circle. A woman who called herself Port made a map. Soon it was clear we have only ever enough space for the people we had already and any more who came had a new room added onto the honeycomb of rooms. Grand Central Intake and the Carousel area took up two whole hexes. Then one he was the space you could walk through to reach the next hexagonal set with the two other closest hexes taken up by first eating and sleeping hexes. As you went each hex seemed to have one eating, two sleeping areas one area full of spare bits that we had either gathered or made or new ones appeared in. Then each would also have a smaller connection hex that allowed for you to pass to the next five hexes and its connector. The whole pattern seemed to repeat itself a number of times till it doubled back on itself leading to a vast open circle.

Port calculated that their whereabouts twenty more sets of people to be coming from the ships until no space would be left and the circle of hexagonal areas completely full. After such time if more came we would have either to hope whatever force kept us here would help us by giving us more food and space or find that it wasn’t a priority for them, and that we should starve.

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Tile house

Bones stuck out at odd angles, dripping from the fresh rainfall. Each marking dead ancestors of the Tile clan. Everyone that had died, once they had become a clan member. Everyone celebrated here, therefore, had passed this test. Each bone tattooed with the name and life dates of their clan reign.

This did not reassure Jubér. They had yet to pass the test. This meant they belonged to their birth clan still. This meant if they reached puberty they would have their gender chosen for them, would have their tribe role chosen for them. Two things they did not want.

The first thing any clan member got to choose was gender, then role, and a proper Troll name. Jubér would, if they passed the Tile test get a Tile name. They knew what role, name and gender they would choose.

The dark entryway to the Tile tribe test was covered in grey slime. It was from the Troll leather that baked in the sunshine and then washed in the tropical rains. It was old. Warn. It was still strong though. Made from Trolls past who had the glory of becoming a Tile leatherback. Slime dropped from it as Troll skin was full of minerals. Even after death, they kept seeping out for years, even centuries after.

Trolls are natural herbivores, but ate dirt and rock as well. They needed minerals to have strong bones and skin. For in ages past, Trolls and their moonkin, the Orcs shared blows. Orcs natural carnivores saw Trolls as almost prey until the Trolls had fought strong enough back. Ever since they shared their moon, an uneasy peace kept.

Juber walked on as Tile clansman had to be brave, their only protection skin, their only weapon a small knife which they held in their left hand. It was carved from his grandmothers left thigh bone. Her life’s years carved on the handle. Jubér wondered what the Misfit clan test was. Grandma had belonged to that clan. She had done so to gain the ability to choose to be female. To choose to be a Misfit, and a warrior-woman spy.

Jubér was choosing a different clan. For a different reason. Tile clan was the clan for creators. Artisans, Musicians, Storytellers. Trolls took this job just as seriously just as they did any other. Anyone who wanted to be a Tile has to be brave, strong of spirit and true of heart.

A leatherbound manifesto was on the door of the next corridor. The dark and the slime were all that seemed to curse this corridor except for the small sheet of paper.

On it was the first test. It would say something.

It was one word.

make

This was not unexpected. Jubér had to make something that would let them get past the test. They noticed that the ground was no longer soil. Ancheint Troll tooths. So many that they where like tiles. Tile Clan. Jubér looked, staring in the dark for the one that wasn’t from a troll. Their. That one. A goldhound throat pouch. Then nearby a dogfish bone, and then a bit further back a bit of the leather was loose. It was dogfish leather. Probably from the same dogfish.

Jubér got to work.

The path beyond was darker than previous, it was beyond even their sight to be able to see it. It was clear that the task was to make a useful tool. In this case a torch. Binding the leather to the pouch and bone and making them into a torch. The goldhound pouch would light up when it was shaken. The night hunting insectivores loved to attract and eat every sort of insect that they could. Barking and yipping happily as they did. Most trolls had goldhound pets to chase the insects away from crops and protect their abodes.

A few shakes and it started to glow. Within seconds the path beyond was clear. More tiles and leather covered the wall. With each step now literally on their clanmates, it was hard not to feel like they were watching.

Then a door. A big black door. Made of Stonewood. Harder than iron, twice as heavy. This door was made to last anyone trying to just knock it down. Stonewood grew slow though. The tree that made this door must be older than the clan itself.

Barely carved, just a single handle and lock. Jüber tried the handle. As most would predict, the Stonewood door was unopenable. There would be a key, or perhaps they needed to make one.

Looking around, there was no key hidden, but then Jüber noticed the tiles on the floor were different slightly. One just had the letter O on it. Then another with the letter G and finally one with the letter H. Hog. Jübee knew this was a puzzle now.

In a few seconds they realized it was a bad pun. And poked the dogfish bone into the hole. A click sounded from the door and it slid easily to the side.

”Dogfish key, key fish dog, hog fide key. Puzzle pinning. I like it.” Jüber knew that there would be one last thing they had to do.

The dark spaces got tighter. The teeth tiles, sharper. Blood now seeped a bit from their feet. There were leatherback coats from the first hundred years of Tile clan trolls. Then bones. Full skellingtons from those who had dedicated their wholeness to the clan. This each had their name and what they had done to warrant such great glory.

Finally the last test. A somewhat morbid piano made of bone and hardwood. The keys of which had the letters ”Play”. Inscribed upon them. Jüber bet that the strings inside were made from Troll intestines. What to play? Anything? No. The Tile Clan song. The song that every Tile Clan member must know.

With a minute of key playing, the piano opened. There was a bit of paper and a dogfish bone pen with ink already on it. The paper had:

Name:

Chosen gender:

Tile clan path: leatherback, stone mason, bone poet, musician, creator

Jüber filled them in, and left the paper on the piano. Knowing the way back was to go the way they came in. It should be very interesting, being who I am for the rest of my life.

Still Sleeping (song)

The world

The world

Is turning browm

We talk we talk

And nothing done

Why do we just keep

On Sleeping

The World is turning

And it’s burning

And we don’t do anything

The World is turning

And it’s burning

And we don’t do anything

What will we do

When we run out of food

Who will we call

When everything is burnt to the ground

Why don’t we see

What were doing to you and me

Why do we

Just sleep

Two triangles crossed

Sleekly was the blue eyed beast that crept in jungles deeply

Waxy leaves parting gently on its feathered body. I’m hiding, hoping my smell is but a facsimile of it former stench

Beyond my magic, I cannot fight well and I have not had a crystal for a single spell for days

Rays have come through the trees and I hear the beasts clicking maw

Again I find myself feeling the need to thaw myself

Gentle rain falls and it’s very hard not to feel cleaner

The beast is still their blue eyes staring into my hiding spot

Clicking

Into

My

Dreams

I spot a tiny stone

A quartz but it will do

Magical light fills the spot I’m in, just enough to conceal me, from big greedy eyes

I see on the ground where the the stone was, and their are two triangles crossed

Leptus 1

It began in the heart of the darkest of Geni’s daughters, Mangal. 

Though calling them that still is foolish for a Scientist such as I. They are really Moons. 7 habitatal moons orbiting a gas giant called Geni. I’m told though making it a more compelling story requires ms to make it sounds all mysterious and mythic. 

Boring scientific reports do not last the generations. 

“Kelli? What are you up to?” 

“I’m dictitating Gina. I’m trying to get a historical context to the Leptus virus.” 

Gina looked at me somewhat sympathetically. “Let me look.” She jumped up upon my lap and read the screen.

“Oh this is no good. It’s got to start at the last possible moment to make a good story.” Gina started typing.

“But! I’m writing this story! It suppose to be a scientific story!” I try and grab the keyboard of her. “Look the dictator is taping this conversation now!”

Gina smiled “Well good. At least it’s not as boring now.” She leapt down back to the floor. 

“I suppose I should be greatful to you? A little help from what is essentially a talking cat?” It just came out of my mouth, I felt horrible about saying it as soon as I had. Like a short stabbing behind the eyes. A kind of sudden hortness. I’m still getting used to having emotions so real and tangible like this. It’s a hard work.

“I’m only a Catum thanks to Leptus. Much like you, own your own condition to the Aforementioned virus. I’m suprised you would attack my character like that.” Gina almost snarled. She arched her back and started to walk away, tail in the air.

“I’m sorry! I’m new to this! You know that. I’m not sure what came over me! Emotion isn’t something I’m used to! Gender isn’t something I’m used to! Life! Eating! Fuck even brething in and out is totally new to me!” I am overcome by frustration. How? I have this massive need to express myself. A woman? A person? How am I supposed to deal with this? Be expected to know all these things? 

“That’s why I’m here. Yes.” Gina looked back at me over her shoulder. “I’m sure that I can help you to do this. To learn your new self. Much as I try to learn to deal with mine. I do have a psychology degree, a much needed and in demand thing. However I shall sacrifice my own time for you. Since your the only known inanimate Leptus sufferer.”

I am in tears, these wet, salty things pouring from my eyes onto clothes that I got. Clothes that I know are universally boring now. I wear  them anyway as I have no idea how to deal with fashion.

“I just don’t even know how to begin. I’m the only one the virus has affected like this. I’m suppose to be a computer! How the hell does a virus affect a computer!” Shouting again, why does my body do so much of this thing? Making noise? Smells? Have hunger? Thirst?

“Oh darling, you are so having a hard time. I think it’s not the time to be writing this book of yours.” Gina started walking towards me again. Not unkindly purring.

I started crying again. What strange week things bodies are. 

Plastics 

In the lights of the store they waited. The manikins.

That’s all they knew…. Then.

I got them dressed every couple of weeks. I’m Madu by the way. Not that it’s important, as I’m dead now.

My job at the f! Store was simple. I was a permanent part time, so got the rotten jobs. I put clothes on the racks. Repricing the stock. Washing the stock that had been worn. Keeping a track of the lost and found. Answer simple questions. Always, always let the prettier girl do the cutest men. I got stuck with anyone she didn’t want to deal with. Poor fools didn’t know I’m a dyke. Or didn’t care. So I got some really pretty girls. I was completely professional, of course. I’m not a pervert, just really appreciate the female form. Men have never done anything for me. 

Princess, the Bosses daughter was the worst of them. She was born and bred as straight as a arrow and always a Princess in her mums eyes. Could do no wrong. She wasn’t dumb exactly. Just absent minded. She lost the store a few hundred one day by being on her iPhone . The “undesirable” took that to mean she was too busy and managed to leave wearing one of the best shirts in the stock.

Of course mummy wasn’t angry. Just disappointed. And when Princess made up for it by bringing in half the high school for the next social dance? Mummy forgave her. Even paid for her dress. Fucking evil bitch, she could do no wrong and be pretty at the same time. She had this 

I fitted the mannequins on a monthly basis. That’s pretty much the best job in the world. Can you hear my sarcasm? No? Oh. Well it’s shite. Like trying to fit a cement mixer. They never move properly. They always seem to be in exactly the wrong shape. Sometimes they almost seemed to be doing it on purpose. If you were really unlucky you get a cut.

One day as I was fitting one, I slipped and got my hand almost cut off on the sharp edge of a elbow joint. They were made of this fucking awful plastic. All recycled and that, but slippery like a eel. Almost skin like sometimes. I might have paid a bit more attention to that. I’m putting this one in the f! signitures peice, a pair of tuxedo shorts and a creame shirt. It really made the mannequin look quite silly, in my opinion. 

To recompose myself, and stop me from pouring my inner claret all over everything I had to raid the first aid kit in the back. I was shocked, well ok I wasn’t but I can pretend. It was mostly full of fucking tampons and condoms. Clearly Princess had been at it. Stashing her bloody stores in the bloody kit. Pun intended.

I took the closest looking band aid and patched myself up before getting on with the job. I made a mental note to nick all the condoms in a few days. Just to make next fortnight a bit more fun. I doubted princesses mum knew about her little secret. I wondered who her current squeeze was. Some flap bozo from the foot ball team no doubt.

A few day later I took them. And then all hell broke loose. She comes up to me bold as you like and asks me if I know we’re her condoms are.

“No I don’t. I’m not a sex educator. I did see boss nick her hand yesterday. Maybe she found them? She met Mr Princess yet?”

I’m truly trying so hard to look sensible dyke in my store uniform. A sort of blouse and midi skirt number. Makes me look like like a cherub. I hate it. I’m a foot smaller than princess but I’m making up for it in the chest area of you get my grip. I puff myself up like a duckling. She’s got nothing on me in a fight would fall over like a twig.

“Mr Princess? He’s not a princess. He’s a fucking motorcyclist. With arms the size of tree trunks and a cock to match. So fucking keep out of my stuff!” She yells, then storms off.

She thinks shes called my bluff. Oh how she wished she had. I managed to get Mr Tree Trunk’s, as I will now call him, number. She leaves her phone everywhere. I take it and text him messages. I’m pretty proud of myself. I impersonating princess pretty well it seems.

A couple of messages and I’ve got him convinced Princess is going to have sex with him at the store after closing. He asks to convince him. I’m going to go all the way tonight. Miss princess hasn’t actually done it with him! Ha!

I probably should admit I’m getting a crush on Princess. Stockholm? More like Bordeholm, I just haven’t really found anything else to do in this job. I’ve thought about this a few times now. I’m dead after all. It gives you a marvellously uncluttered perspective on things.

So he’s not entirely sure what between those hips of hers? Ha. So I take a picture of my junk and send it to him. I quickly delete the messages so when Princess finds her phone she doesn’t know.

Later on Mr Tree Trunk turns up when princess is at the front counter. Her eyes are out in stalks. Princess Mum / Boss sees him and is like “Whose this fellow?” Well in less polite words. Actually she said “Whose that horrible looking man, and whats he doing in my store?”

He walks in bold as anything and looks at princess and her mum. Mum is in full blown panic almost reaching for the phone. Princess quickly says “Mum this is Gavin. My boyfriend.”

Mum goes from full panic to out and out rage. “Your WHAT?”

Princess looks at me and knows I’ve done this. I’ve made this happen. She struggles to explain.

“You weren’t meant to meet him like this!”

I’m trying to my job and redress the mannequins as slowly as possible without laughing at Princess.

The argument goes on for almost an hour. I’m done with everything for close now. I say bye to the three of them. I did notice that one of the mannequins look different though. I should of payed more attention to that.

To late now.

I’m walking along the street the next day. f! Is between a show shop and a tax accountant on the main drag of the city. It’s a rainy day which probably means no one will come in at all. It will be quite and miss princess will probably get me to do stocktake in time for the  autumn sales.

I get into the store and Miss Princess is already their. A little more dark than usual. “Mum made me break up with Gavin. He told her I sent him sexts! I’ve never sent a picture of my junk! Why would I? I don’t have any!”

She gasped, put her hand over her mouth. What the? I just had time to think.

“Fuck! She knows dad!”

I was really confused. She didn’t have junk? Her dad isn’t hear. Who is she talking…

“Too.” I said aloud as a dark shape loomed behind me. It was the large male mannequin. He smiled at me. His arm comes down on my head and I’m out cold.

This isn’t where I die. No. But I’m out for quite a while. Just long enough.

I’m in a dark room.

It’s almost pitch black. I imagine I can see something. A shape. A dark shape.

Maybe two.

Then I realise. When I am used to the dark. It’s  Gavin. Mr Tree Trunk himself. He’s in the corner. Stiff as a board. I walk over. His body. It’s feels like a mix of the mannequin plastic and human skin. It’s going plastic. Like some kind of infection is turning him into a mannequin!

I’m breathless. I’m panicking. I throw up. Dizzy for a second I recompose myself.

The liquid that comes out of my mouth tastes off. Like a sort of silken water. I’m already turning into one. I have the infection or whatever this is.

Mum Princess / Boss must be a mannequin. The whole species is slowly taking the planet. That’s why their are always more fashion stores around. They are keeping things secret till they have a army big enough. Or something.

I try and throw up as much as I can. I’m forcing the weird plastic liquor stuff out. I’m going to have to tell. Warn. Then I’m going to die. Or worse become one of them. God knows if I’ll even think like me then? I’m turning into one of them, when does my free will go? Why am I thinking of pointless philosophy when I can be trying to raise the alarm? I get up.

I find the door. Locked. Big chunky one. It’s the storeroom lock. I recognise it.
I reach into my pocket, nope they were sensible. Took the key off me.
Generally all that’s in hear is clothes and the spare mannequins.
I guess they are actually relatives? Something like that.
They have all gone. Except for Gavin. Whose clearly going to be full one in a short while. He’s probably to far gone.

I wondered if he’ll still have his trunk? Oh no. Must get absorbed or something. Miss Princess said she didn’t have any junk. Then why the condoms?

That’s a good question to ponder. Why the fuck would a mannequin need a condom? Unless they were able to reproduce some other way and wanted to stop that? That must be it.

Only good reason I can think of in this dark. Then Gavin starts to move. I can see the gleam of the plastic skin. He’s not quite ready but it didn’t take more than 24 hours for the process to complete. I’m going to be like him in no short order.

I bash on the door. I think they might guess it’s Gavin. I’m betting that it might be assumed I’m going to be out the whole time. I grab one of Gavin’s arms off him. He barely resits. Ah, I think to my biology classes, the stiff stage is like a chrysalis, a moth or insect. Before the final walking talking stage looking human enough stage. Gavin’s arm in hand waiting to see if they open the door.

I could almost laugh at the absurdity of it. The new mannequin, being used to fight the old.
The door opens. It’s Mr Princess. I clobber him in a big hit. He falls over like a domino.
I don’t have time to wait to see if he recovers. I race out the door. Then I see them.
Little clear plastic eggs. Like pills. Princess Mannequin is laying them. Like eggs. That’s how they spread the infection, they put them in your food or drink. These little egg things. Convinced that they are human they give you these little things that turn you into one of them mannequins. When did I eat one? They probably force fed me when I was out.

In a few seconds I had to get out of the store, I didn’t have time to notice them throw a knife at me. It hit me square in the back. I felt week, hot, then fell over onto the pavement.

As I slowly bled to death I thought about how manuquins only knew of lights of the store and the clothes I put them in. Not anymore. 

 


Talk foundation fountain 

I gutted a fish, in your dreams. I’m sitting their descant, descaling it on a memento of your past. 

You whistling your old school song. The sky is purple with tears of the gods falling gently on the horizon. The ocean reflects only your smile.

You walk towards me on the peer. I lick my fingers clean, finished the tasks of the day. I get up and spit. I then see you and you smile at me.

I’m looking slightly annoyed with you, but not unhappy. I hold my hand on my waist and wave at you to come closer.

Stepping on a strange feeling bit of growth in the pier, your take a look at your shoes and feet. In the light the little dead things you walk on are crushed by your heel.

You look up at me your face hollow with fear. These bland bleeched bones, are human.

I’m still waving and waiting. 

Will you come to me? Or run away?