Friday, November 19, 2004
Warning! Contents Flammable.
The Mullah tossed a wad of paper into the bin.
The shelves rocked slightly as the tremor hit. The Caprine News Quarterly pile slid to the floor first, releasing an explosion of tiny goats, all kinds, Oberhaslis, Nubians, Nigerian Dwarves, LaManchas, Toggenburgs, Tennessee Fainting Goats, you name it. This was followed quickly by the fall of Sheep Fancier Week, which released a pile of sheep of all kinds, but mostly Merinos and Dorsets, the featured sheep of the week. A couple of unfortunate shepherds also plopped out, along with a can of deworming medicine.
The sheep were mixed with the goats, there was pandemonium, and the tiny shepherds were trampled. The fainting goats were as stiff as plastic. The librarians tried in vain to separate the sheep from the goats but realized instantly they were not up to the task. Oh, if only Jesus was still Jesus, able to lift and separate!
But those days were gone, and nobody knew it better than Jesus. Because, lo! Unto him a sister had been given. And anointed.
The Mullah took the trash bin outside and dumped it into the back of the truck.
The gentle rocking motion of the Spanstron IV engine had lulled most of the authors to sleep. Two were busy scribbling, though. The scratch of their quills on the grocery sacks echoed the sound of the chickens that were busy pecking around the bottom of the capsule. Captain French poked his head in. “Are there any eggs today?” The chickens replying no, the good captain returned to piloting the vessel as it made its way to a rendezvous with the Bull of Heaven with the garbage.
Father, let me have the Bull of Heaven
To kill Gilgamesh and his city.
For if you do not grant me the Bull of Heaven,
I will pull down the Gates of Hell itself,
Crush the doorposts and flatten the door,
And I will let the dead leave
And let the dead roam the earth
And they shall eat the living.
The dead will overwhelm all the living!
Wait, wait, scratch that, Bill thought. The Mullah has lost his memory. That must be it.
The Mullah looked in the mirror, trying vainly to recall the face. It just didn’t work. That was not the Mullah in the mirror. It was the Mullah in the mirror, that is, but it wasn’t. It was like looking at a face on a carton of milk: Have you seen this Sufi? The Mullah stuck a finger to the mirror and rubbed his glass jaw reflection. Stubble. But he hadn’t shaved. He still had a beard. The mirror turned light, and then dark, and then light. A clock ticked loudly behind the wall.
The Mullah poked at his nose in the glass. His finger went through, and something grabbed it, bit it. The Mullah yelped and jumped back. Yes, there was blood. And a hole in the mirror. He quickly rubbed reflected shine over the hole as he saw a finger reaching through. The glass cleared and a face emerged.
The face in the mirror was that of the dying Robert Kennedy lying on the floor.
“Agh!” the Mullah choked. Furiously, he began beating on the glass to smash it. It only reverberated as a gong, and with each BONG appeared another face, and another, and another, until finally he dropped his hands and sighed. He looked once more.
The face there now was that of a very old woman with a third eye, right in the middle of her forehead. It was very bloodshot. The word "KCUF" was written on her forehead in red lipstick.
“Dammit, no!” Bill screamed, pushing his fist through the glowing screen. It wasn’t the Mullah’s memory at all. It was something in the water, or the air, some insidious chemical, no doubt.
His hand had been gashed by the shards of the video screen. Bill licked the blood. The taste was of sulfur, mixed with something like insecticide and melted aspirin.
How had it come to this? Had we all been poisoned? He realized that, although he knew he’d lived them, the last several weeks were a blur, as if, as if… as if he’d never really lived them at all. As if some vile dust had entered his lungs and gotten into his blood and wafted behind his eyes and into his limbic system. There was no feeling. None. The last, what? Four weeks? Five? were as numbed as a paste of cocaine on the tongue.
He’d have them back, by the Tits of Meshe! If it took storming the gates of the House of Time itself, he’d have them back. He wanted his weeks.
He picked up the telephone.