And now, from ridiculous to tedious, Chapter 11 – the chapter that refuses to end – evolves once again. It’s not that I don’t care about my protagonist, Elmer, and his dubious love-life, but when is this story ever going to move on to chapter 12?
Chapter 11 annex
Always Time for Sausage
Though I was still in the cave next to the ram, I submerged myself into the liquidy sensation necessary to travel to the school of amazing stuff. I arrived, as I always did, in the front hall, as if I had just walked into the school from outside.
Dirk didn’t know why that was, and I sure didn’t.
There was a large bulletin board with normal looking bulletins posted on it. All the bulletins, except the one stretching across the top, were different than the last time I’d come, but in one way they were the same – I couldn’t read a single one. I couldn’t even tell if they were written in my language. There was something about being in the school that disconnected my ability to read – at least most of the time.
Not that I’m a big reader. I haven’t read a book since I finished the last book of that great series about the short wizard and the dragons fighting against a female wizard that looked and spoke like a common country woman. They just don’t write books like that anymore.
Being able to read would have been handy because many of the dials, levers and knobs in the school of amazing stuff were labeled, and as Dirk told me, with a few exceptions, I couldn’t turn a dial, pull a lever, or fiddle a knob without knowing what it did, and even if it did work for me – I had no idea what a dial might do to me, or to all of creation, when I turned it.
But I was desperate and insecure. I needed to find a way to make things right. I ran up the stairs and straight for the custodian’s closet.
It had been a dial in the custodian’s closet that allowed me to gather nutrients, precious metals, and algae from the soil and water of Two. Turning the dial the other way pushed dirt and stinky-stuff from my body and clothes. It was a pretty handy dial for a single guy without a kitchen or bathroom and living in open space.
The closet was full of dials, levers, knobs and even switches, which I’d seen nowhere else in the school. I need to find a way to fix things with Ono, I repeated over and over in my head, as I looked at all the labels, some blurred, or even torn. Only one was clear, and now that I knew what it was, I could read the label clearly – ‘the dial of matter attraction (solids and liquids only.)’
Why couldn’t I read any of the others!
In spite of Dirk’s warning, I started grabbing knobs, dials and levers, searching for anything that might move. It was disappointing, but probably fortunate, that nothing budged.
So many devices were here. It just made sense that the answer to my problem was in this little closet. I threw myself at the switches, which I’d been too afraid to handle before. One moved. Above me, a glass bulb burned brightly. It made the labels much easier to see, but no easier to read.
I wondered if the bulb above me signaled the destruction of Two, or perhaps the light of all the stars were now captured in the bulb, making the night sky dark. I looked at the label and saw that I could now read it. It said, ‘closet light.’ That didn’t sound dangerous, but I moved the switch again just in case closet light’s function was to trap all light in the closet instead of just a being a super mechanical candle switch.
It seemed darker than before. Maybe, in spite of what Dirk said, the switch was magical.
I had to find an answer! Maybe I wasn’t desperate enough yet. I wailed and grunted, and butted my head against the closet wall.
It was surprisingly unhelpful.
I left the closet in such a fury that I left the door open. Then I went back and closed the door. That proved it. I wasn’t desperate enough.
I closed my eyes and started running, hitting walls, and doorframes. I tumbled down a particularly painful set of stairs. I didn’t care. I just kept running blind – then bleeding and blind, until I ran into something that was neither doorframe, nor wall.
I opened my eyes and saw a giant covered bowl set on a pedestal. The cover had a lever, and it moved when I jerked it, but all that seemed to happen was that the cover released most of the way around except a hinged edge on one side.
Was my answer in the bowl? I lifted the lid. The bowl was empty. I closed the lid, then lifted it again in case it was one of those magician tricks where the ewe lamb suddenly appears in the empty space.
No, just an empty bowl. Of course a suddenly appearing ewe lamb wouldn’t have done Ono and me much good under the circumstances. Two had a lot of ewe lambs, and besides, those magic tricks with the ewe lamb had been shut down after Uriculous retranslated the thirty-fifth idea.
There was a knob on the wall. Attached to the knob was a spigot. Beneath the spigot was a large pail. I grabbed the knob and it turned in my hand.
Brown items began popping out of the spigot, landing everywhere except in the bucket. My first thought was that I had activated a mechanical Swampy, but when the brown objects fell they didn’t sound like excrement. I picked one up. It didn’t feel like excrement. I put it to my nose. It didn’t smell like excrement. Among my senses, I had one vote for excrement, and three votes against. That left only one sense.
I put it in my mouth and bit down…
It was a little squishy, but not at all excrement flavored. I say this, though I have very rarely tasted excrement, my own or others, but after a few centuries one comes to believe, rightly or wrongly, that one can recognize the taste of excrement.
This is the great argument of faith put forward by Reverend Elmer Gentry (no, I was not named after him.) Elmer was challenged in court by Scoops Barrow to prove his faith.
“Do you believe my squat would taste bad?” roared Elmer. Barrow said he did, at which point Elmer produced a prodigious pile right there in the courtroom and handed Barrow a spoon. “Prove your faith,” he said.
The case was dismissed as no-one could remember what the case was about after that, and the courtroom was in serious need of airing.
All that being said, and not being a proper theologian, I still believed that the brown object was not excrement flavored. As a matter of fact, it was tasty – meaty and smoky.
I decided to name the object a little smoky sausage. This little smoky sausage bore a striking resemblance to the mysterious item I’d found in my fanny pack earlier.
It appears there is too much to accomplish in the school of amazing stuff to wrap up Elmer’s journey in one post. And what more can we expect of chapter 11? Will we see Son of Chapter 11? Chapter 11, a New Hope? Chapter 11 Apocalypse? It is a reasonable assumption that this chapter will end sometime.
Maybe in time for Memorial Day.
Some folks went to a lot of trouble to salute some other school of amazing stuff.