Sanity is forbidden Circulation: 184,543,350 Issue: 485 | 11th day of Running, Y13
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Oh No, Not Again...: Part Three

by fuzzymonkey31


Life will kick you in your gut whenever it needs a good laugh and just wants to see the expression on your face when it does. Life must be the most happy, self-satisfied jerk that ever existed.

     I made my way to Testing Room 2B in a flurry of emotions. Fear dominated, but a feeling of having been wronged in some way was waiting by the door of the emotional center in my brain. I had never signed up for being a test subject, and let me tell you, pay raise or no pay raise, I never will. I am very happy with remaining a brown Grundo, and no amount of money can persuade me otherwise.

     When I arrived there was the general feel of something having gone wrong. But why you'd call me, lowly snack bearer, when something goes wrong, is ridiculous.

     There were great throngs of mutated pets, huddled together and greatly worried, and there were many other indistinguishable shapes wearing protective gear and telling everyone else to "calm down."

     I approached a shape in protective gear that seemed to know what it was doing and tapped it on the shoulder. It turned to look at me. I didn't like the way it looked at me—I know, when someone is looking at you through a mask it's odd to say they were looking at you weird—so I looked at them equally severely.

     "I'd like to know why I've been called here," I said, trying to sound powerful and brusque, but ending up sounding weak and a bit dense.

     "Because the person who had the accident asked for you," the shape said through its gas mask, making it a very buzzy voice indeed. I felt even more dislike for this shape; its voice had a hint of "duh, why didn't you figure that out?" and a pinch of "I'm glad I'm smarter than you."

     The shape motioned towards an area by a conveyor belt where there was a clump of concerned people who were most likely doing nothing that helped; concerned people often do that.

     I pushed through the crowd to find Duncan cradling Jenny in his arms. At least, I was pretty certain it was her. She was a bit puffy and malformed at the moment. Duncan looked up at me with red eyes. His face was stained with tears long ago shed.

     "Bif... I don't know what to do." His face was blank from a dull terror. It was a horrible sight. "She drank a potion, but instead of changing into anything she just started puffing up and getting feverish. The overseers said that it was just a reasonably common side effect. He said 'You're test subjects! You're supposed to make sure the potions work!' "

     I nodded. It was true; they were meant to test.

     Duncan gulped, and began to speak again. "But this is odd. She's been like this for too long, and everyone else is freaking out. Then the bottle that she had taken a sip out of broke and made a mess on the floor–" Duncan gulped and sniffled. "–and some other people just stepped in it, and they're starting to act weird. This isn't a proper transmogrification potion; it gives disease of some sort!"

     I shifted nervously. "What am I supposed to do?"

     "I don't know!" said Duncan. "I just wanted someone who wouldn't be afraid to come near her. Everyone acts like if they touch her they'll get sick and it disgusts me. Even our old 'best friends' are being sissies." He looked at me meaningfully. "You're the person we've known longest 'round here." I nodded slowly. I got the feeling I should do something to prove I wasn't afraid.

     Sadly I was afraid. Terribly afraid; I'm a miserable hypochondriac. If a classmate at primary school had a cold I was the first to shun him from the games and recommend that he stay home until the symptoms left.

     But this was Jenny. Good ole' Jenny and Duncan from a thousand years ago. Friends trump germs and debilitating diseases. I might be a hypochondriac, but I'm no heel. Well, not anymore. Maybe in primary school but really, you should stay home when you have a... anyways, that doesn't matter.

     "Has anyone contacted Sloth?" I asked, stepping forward to touch Jenny's swollen face tentatively. It was extremely overheated and doubly swollen. I flinched involuntarily.

     "W-would he listen?" whimpered Duncan, sniffling again.

     "Of course," I muttered, clenching my hands in fists until the knuckles were white. "He has to."

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     The surveillance screen flickered off and buzzed for a second. Sloth shook his head. You can try as hard as you may to not break your glasses when making dynamite, but one of these days you'll get it right in the cornea.

     It was sad, really. But even though you make the cake you don't always know how to deal with the sickness someone got from eating too much.

     – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     I threw the door open without knocking. Sloth was sitting at his desk, hands folded on his desk and staring directly at my eyes, which was uncanny, because I hadn't informed him I was coming, but he seemed very prepared.

     "Yes, Bif?" he said, sounding very sad. He had no reason to be sad, I thought. I hadn't even told him why I was here.

     "A friend of mine was testing your transmogrification potions and she had an abnormal reaction. She's doing very poorly." I shivered a bit, trying not to think too deeply about having touched Jenny. My fingers still tingled. "I need you to do something."

     "Hm," he said, and then buried his face in his hands. He looked at me through his splayed fingers. "What makes you think I can do something?"

     I started in terror. "What do you mean?! You made the thing!"

     "That doesn't mean I know everything about it," he said, morosely. "But bring your friend in, anyways. And bring a sample of the specific potion she drank."

     I hurried off to do so. You may dash when you're worried about your personal problems, but you will fly when it's your friend who is in danger.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     Jenny lay tucked up in a blanket in a filing drawer of Sloth's. The doctor himself sat behind the desk, staring through a microscope at the malignant potion on a glass slide. He was very quiet, yet frantic, and it worried me, because he usually acts quite capable of solving everything.

     Duncan sat by the open filing drawer, staring at Jenny and shivering. He hadn't cried for a very long time, which I felt was unhealthy. He was becoming more and calm, which was nearly as worrying as Sloth's quiet franticness.

     I finally left the trio because they were making me feel twisted inside. I dashed to try and find some peace in this world of cold steel and unfeeling wires. There was no solace, in reality. I knew that. But if you don't seek for it, it's admitting you've lost, and admitting defeat is worse than anything else.

     I ended up outside of a door with the inscription "Office of Lt. Fish" on a gold plaque on it, and I entered. The great Yurble himself was asleep in a chair behind a little desk, peacefully snoring. I sat down in the little chair across from his and coughed until I woke him up.

     He started from his dreams in a haze of confusion. "... hzmpf purf ARGH! Set your phasers to stun, men!" He shouted, then noticed me and calmed down. "What is your necessity, soldier!" It was statement, not a question. My mother would always say you answered questions, not statements, but I've always known otherwise.

     "I just need someplace to clean out my head. My friend has gotten sick, Dr. Sloth doesn't seem too confident, and my other friend isn't crying; he's calm. I can't take it." I moaned and buried my head in my hands.

     Lt. Fish sat back in his chair and looked at the ceiling and clicked his tongue. "I heard that something went wrong in Testing Room 2B. I'm sorry they were your close friends, soldier. It's always hard losing friends."

     "She's not lost yet!" I cried, looking up desperately. "She can't be lost! Not Jenny!"

     "Sorry, I misspoke," Lt. Fish said, adding a couple of apologetic coughs. "I meant that it's hard being uncertain about if someone will make it."

     "Yeah," I mumbled. For once in my life, Lt. Fish wasn't helping make things better. It was like having a plushie you always cuddled when you felt sort of sad, then you went to hug it and it threw a rock at you and said, "Think Fast!"

     I stood up stiffly. "I'm going to go." I know it was blunt, and it probably hurt Lt. Fish a bit, but he merely looked at me pityingly.

     "I'm sorry for your dilemma. I pray for the safety of your friend. Good day, soldier." He saluted, and I returned it, then I left.

     Outside his office there was a general hum of people moving quickly and having something to do. Surely I was supposed to go back to Sloth's office and worry about Jenny next to Duncan, or search for a cure with Sloth. But right now I felt empty and useless. So I went the only place one can go when one needs to hide from the cold, miserable reality that faces us each and every day.

     – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

     Sloth pushed the microscope away from his face. Duncan was asleep next to the filing drawer and Jenny seemed at least comatose. Sloth reached over to small stack of index cards and pulled a purplish one from it. He turned it over in his hands, his eyes wandering over the office until they rested on Jenny.

     Finally he put it next to two green cards and a brown one the other side of his desk.

     He pulled the microscope back towards himself and peered through it once more.

     "Can't give up... mustn't," he muttered to himself. "It's my fault. I can't give up."

To be continued...

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Other Episodes

» Oh No, Not Again...: Part One
» Oh No, Not Again...: Part Two
» Oh No, Not Again...: Part Four

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