Come and get it!
Weve been following our rumpled yellow-haired
hero ever since early 2001,
when he lost his motel along with everything else but the
red hooded sweatshirt on his back in a poker game. Hes
been bouncing around through several different dimensions ever
since. Here's episode 33:
as he was from the quick transition, Mel caught it right away: Anne
had called him "Smith." That said a lot, because her old
professor had been named Heimlich or something. Which meant that
Mel's arch-nemesis had been here, and that probably explained
the prof's eventual weirdness and bugging out.
Not quite sure how to deal with her yet, Mel cleared
his throat and rubbed his hands together. Okay, he thought. Go nuts.
He leaned over and turned on a gas jet for a second, then sniffed
reflectively. "Hmm," he muttered. "Let's not go to
In reply, she pounced as she did so well. "Not
yet." She kissed him and grabbed his wrist, thrusting his hand
down her pants. "So, what's your decision? Promise to take
me with you and we can keep playing."
She winked devilishly and Mel understood. Smith had
stranded himself in space and time just the same, and had worked
out a deal with Anne to get out. Only, as it stood now, it was Mel
acting for Smith pretending to be Hausmann.
As things turned out, Mel had indeed traveled dimensions
to get a piece of ass. Only, Smith was the one who had gotten to
enjoy it. Unless ... but no, it would be cheating that way. Besides,
Anne had been so eager when he first met her because Smith had left
her in the lurch. Mel's priority, unfortunate as it was, was to
scram and quick.
He pulled his hand out of her trousers and shook his
head. "First, I need to take care of something. Wait here.
I'll be back ... I promise."
He jumped up before she could reply, almost bowling
her over. Then he made a beeline for the doorway and as he left
the room he stopped. In a cheezy stage whisper, he muttered, "It's
numinous ... the solution is numinous."
That should do it, he thought. At least if he recalled
Anne's story correctly. Outside the room, he found himself in a
gloomy fluorescent-lit hallway. For once he was lucky. There was
a sign with a big friendly arrow pointing right. It was labelled
So far, so good. Mel bolted right and went up to a
series of static discharge doors. They were labelled likewise, and
he went through.
The last door wouldn't open. A metallic voice rattled
the claustrophobic space: "Please state your name."
Mel thought it over and, in a calm voice, replied,
The final door opened and he stepped into a large,
dark space. Lights flashed on, revealing a lab packed with scary-looking
equipment. Mel could hear a lot of it powering up, probably from
some automatic standby.
In the middle of the room was a huge thingamajig.
"That must be it," Mel said aloud. He could
have sworn that particle accelerators were big mile-wide rings but,
for whatever reason, this one wasn't. He could hear it humming as
he approached and he hoped he didn't have to wait an hour for it
to warm up.
It was time to get started, because he figured that
Anne would only wait so long. The machine was covered in green lights
and he hoped that meant it was good to go. Around on the ass-end
of the accelerator was a panel marked "ACCESS." It was
plastered with intimidating stickers.
Mel popped the cover off, revealing a number of circuit
boards and braided wires.
Here goes, he thought. Mel grabbed several
likely bundles of cable and yanked them out with a shower of sparks.
There were two reds, a yellow and a gray. Mel tied them all together
in a couple of grannies and a sheepshank. He reattached the ends
and all the green lights glowed brighter as he replaced the panel.
Whatever he had done, it was either very right or
very wrong, because the whole dingus split in two as if hinged.
Inside was a shimmering sparkle that seemed to extend forever.
"I'm getting good at leaping before I look,"
he said, as he stepped into the light.
It was an instantaneous transition, and Mel found
himself floating in the limitless sparkle. Before him was a huge,
silvery cylinder, which unrolled to reveal a metallic scroll covered
in shining characters. Mel puzzled for a moment and the scroll case
disappeared. In its place was an androgynous figure of the same
silvery appearance. It smiled.
"Uh ... hi." Mel was not really perplexed
anymore by this sort of thing.
The figure's voice was melodic. "I forget that
humans no longer read either angelic script or Babel. We can converse
this way, since you have entrusted yourself to destiny and the bosom
of the machine."
"You're the Machine Mind! The aspect!"
"Correct, and I approve. I will transport you
to the final stage of your journey."
"That was easy. How about we stop at Fort Bragg
real quick, so I can pick something up?"
The Machine Mind smiled and suddenly they were back
in the hangar of the abandoned military base.
"Frank?" His voice echoed in the vastness.
"Hello, Mel." Only one Frank was there,
and as he stepped out of the shadows Mel saw it was the cosmonaut
Frank, the one who had been absorbing the others. "It's finished,"
Frank said. "I understand so much now." He sounded inhuman,
like those Buddhist rappers who were briefly en vogue.
"Frank, we need to finish this," Mel said.
"Do you have the ring?"
Frank raised a fist and opened it, revealing the gold
ring. "Well, let me have it so I can skedaddle."
The omega Burley closed his fist again and grinned.
"Come and get it!"
Thanks to everyone who entered last month's Post-Holiday
Mel Extravaganza contest. Here are the answers: 1) Coffee; 2)
Rip City; 3) Khe Sanh; 4) gay porn star; 5) second base; 6) casoron
and dolomite lime; 7) five bucks; 8) neck (foot is an acceptable
answer); 9) Johnny Cash and Edward G. Robinson; 10) a good secretary;
11) a pencil.
And congratulations to Raul Fish of Portland, who
answered seven questions correctly. Second place went to T. Garrison
of Boise, Idaho, with five correct responses.