[dictation mode activated]
The sun’s at my back and I’m happily striding toward the edge of the Open Zone, my Charles Grodin Millipede is now a Charles Grodin Butterfly and I’m pretty sure I’ve thrown up all the hands so today is turning out okay. Things got a little tricky there for a bit. I’d been in the brain tree for… Not sure how long actually. It felt like a long time but the sun didn’t go down and I’m known to get incredibly bored if not entertained by at least 3 different stimuli. Charles Grodin Millipede was eating brains, the kangabelushis were nipping away rather harmlessly, and there was no third thing so I must have tuned out. I think it was when I got hungry that I tuned in again. Also, Charles Grodin Millipede had started forming a cocoon from bits of brain tree brain which is not something millipedes do so it must have been something Charles Grodin did back when he was among the living. Say, maybe that’s where he went.
Bored superior life form must be a prized delicacy to the kangabelushis because their gnashing vigil kept up for the entire time. I’m convinced the nibbly rhythm must have contributed to my spacing out, reminded me a bit of the sound of a distant train rolling along the tracks which is weird because tracks haven’t existed for decades. Now that I was bothered by about 4 things, I figured that the kangabelushis weren’t going to just wander off and it was up to me to sort this out. My first plan, pelt the kangaroo/shark/Jim Belushi hybrids with some of the brains growing in the tree was a bust. Darn things were far too squishy to do any damage to Jim Belushi’s notoriously durable forehead and they weren’t interested in them as an alternative food. My second plan didn’t exist, because I’m typically able to complete all my goals with whatever first plan I knock together. This is a blessing and a curse as it means I’ve led the comfortable life of a genius but have never learned to do work that requires effort. I was hungry and at a bit of a loss so I decided to eat some of the brains as, sun be damned, it had to have been at least a day or two up that tree and I needed something if I was gonna figure me a way outta there.
You’re probably thinking that you wouldn’t eat brains you’d found in a tree, neither would I. You probably would also never be in the situations I find myself in as you’re too boring to register as even a side character in the great narrative of existence so your dietary superiority complex is just the hollow ring of an empty vessel struck by events it can’t fathom. But I’m a brilliant enough man to know when I’m wrong and in this instance you wouldn’t have been it. I’m not sure why I thought they’d just be brains. Sure, they looked and tasted exactly like brains but they were growing on a tree in a shielded realm full of humanity’s stupidest bioengineered shenanigans so of course they couldn’t just be fucking brains. They’re some kind of biomod lucky dip, eat a brain and win a prize sort of bizzo. Actually, now that I come to think of it, this explains why my millipede was able to build a cocoon and become a butterfly. So that’s the mystery of the Charles Grodin Butterfly resolved but the greater one of his disappearance remains open. Stay vigilant! He may one day return to us.
I was working on a plan to fillet and bind the brain tissue into a kind of patagium I could use to glide to safety when I first noticed what I thought was indigestion. It took me a while to register that it wasn’t indigestion, being that I could digest nearly anything before the advent of designer organs I have thus lived unfamiliar with the experience. By the time I’d figured out that the sensation of being filled with a thousand grabbing hands wasn’t what indigestion feels like and that I was, in fact, filled with a thousand grabbing hands, their emergence was already upon me. I have no idea why hands. My best guess is that you aren’t supposed to eat more than one lucky dip brain as that amount of viral gene tampering is going to clash a little and create unexpected results. The first of said crawled out of my mouth, about the size of a cockroach, and fell to the brainforest floor beneath me to startle and confuse the kangabelushis.
I’ve seen some shit. I’ve been some shit. But most of this history of wild excess took place in otherwise controlled environments. When a hand crawls out of your mouth, you are naturally concerned. When it’s followed by a few more, you about shit yourself in panic as there’s no way to gauge if or when this is going to end. What if I was going to be stuck in a tree, diarrheaing hands everywhere until I died from dehandration? Was I going to turn into a hand? As if sensing my concern, a cluster of vomited hands, a lot of which were hitting the branch by this point, assembled into the a remarkable simulacrum of my deceased mother’s smiling face. I took this as a friendly gesture and relaxed my throat.
Smiling motherface of hands aside, vomiting a wriggling torrent of the buggers is an unpleasant procedure. The shifting mass of little fingers create a surface that combines both “writhing” and “firm” in ways I’d happily not feel combined again. Imagine porridge made of hands. Or oats with fingers. It’s both a pile of separate things and a homogeneous mass depending on how closely you are looking at it and this superposition upset my animal brain. Speaking of upset, so were the kangabelushis.
Madness has been the reward for any biologist fool enough to attempt a catalogue and codify the natural order of the Open Zone. Nothing can ever make sense because the system fundamentally recodes itself on a nearly monthly basis. The first time someone spotted the monthly routine, it remained static for about a year and the clever individual slit their own throat mere weeks before they were to accept an award for the discovery. I realize now that, while I had no reason to expect the hands to swarm and seemingly gain control of the kangabelushis I similarly had no reason to expect that they wouldn’t. The combination dome forehead and shark mouth probably comes in handy for something but it doesn’t come in handy for scooping up an agile mass of scurrying hand monsters operating with an eerie level of coordination. The combination groundhog, Christopher Titus, and manta rays would have managed, but not the poor kangabelushis. They hopped and breathily exhaled in what my semester of Belushi Studies taught me was a warning call but they settled into a dark calm as the hands swarmed them. Watching the process from my point up in the tree, the hands looked like a claymation as they interlocked over the kangabelushis and fused into a new skin. It reminded me of when that strangler fig consumed and briefly continued the career of Candice Bergen.
The handface dissolved and joined its brethren, with a wave I said goodbye to my mother and the team of kangabelushis now operated by my erstwhile upset stomach. I grabbed the cocoon and started on my way toward the edge, happy I’d both witnessed that and was soon to never have to witness anything like that again.
Withg the Charles Grodin Butterfly hatched, with the sun at my back, and the edge in sight [distant thunder] I think I’ll be back home in no time. I wonder what’s going on back at the office.