Sunday, 6 March 2016

Nigel (omgiag iii)

The Characters

Nigel – A wonderful boy
Maddie – An equally wonderful dog
The girl – The girl
Clive – Satan
Bri – Sometimes co-creator of the infinite universes
Proth sphere – Often times co-creator of the infinite universes
Turks – Former reporter for The Infinite Reboot and Revisionist Press
Blake – Friend of Turks’ and Piter
Wendy – Blake’s wife
Piter – The guy with the watch
Carl – Nigel’s father
Rachael – Nigel’s mother
Via – Satan’s wife
Kev the younger – Clive and Via’s son
Tria – Clive and Via’s daughter
Meta – A philosopher
Beta – An imaginary philosopher
Brok – A bartender
Bok Choy – An interloper
Chot – A non-uppermost-North American Canadian
Brik – A goblin general
Brak – A goblin general
Arag – A Neanderthal
Penny – A lovely human being
Booger – A ghost
Balthiton – A wizard
Pocus – A magician of sorts
Grav – A graviton
Fornithus – A poltergeist
B24ME – Demon and game show host
Gorgoth – A demon
Timmy – A demon
Gryx – A demon
Pilch – A demon
Jesus – Jesus
Terminal – A computer terminal
rm – A program that removes files
cp – A program that copies files
mv – A program that moves files
plog – A log file analyzer
chmod – A program that changes permissions
chown – A program that changes ownership
reboot – A program that reboots the universe
shutdown – A program that shuts down the universe
find – A program that finds things
grep – A program that finds patterns in files
37.log – A disagreeable log file
Flit – A fairy
Grug – A young ogre who likes bedtime stories
Flug – Grug’s mom, a much larger and more sinister ogre

The Inevitability of Change

    “You know, Carl, Nigel will be thirteen tomorrow.  Don’t you think it’s a little odd that he hasn’t grown even one inch since he was nine?” said Rachael, Nigel’s mother.
    “I know.  I’ve been thinking about that for a while now.  Do you think we should take him to a doctor?” said Carl, Nigel’s father.
    “I think if we try to take him to a doctor, he will just send us to the bar.”
    “Yeah, I know.  Well, he seems healthy enough and it isn’t like he isn’t smart.  Hell, he knows more than either of us, so maybe we shouldn’t worry about it.”
    “What do you think he does when he goes away?”
    “I don’t know.  He must have friends he plays with.”
    “Where does he go?”
    “Beats me.”
    “I feel so uninvolved in his life,” said Rachael.
    “I know.  Maybe we should do something with him to remind him we are here.”
    “Like what?”
    “I don’t know, but we have to think of something.”
    “One more thing,” said Rachael.  “I miss our friends.  Do you think we can get Nigel to bring us back to our old house?  I mean, it’s beautiful here.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful place, but it is terribly lonely.”
    “Maybe.  Did Nigel tell you where he was going?”
    “I think he said Ceti Margaux, although I don’t know why he would go there.  That place smells like rancid farts.  They do have the best wines though.”
    “You know, maybe we could get Nigel to give us the ability to travel around wherever we want like he does.”
    “I wish he was here,” said Rachael.
Nigel appeared before Rachael and Carl, a smile on his face and said, “So, I guess you figured it out.”
    “Figured out what?” said Carl, not the least bit surprised to see Nigel.
    “Oh, I guess you haven’t.  You were looking for me?” said Nigel.
    “Nigel, your mom and I were talking.  We think we should take you to a doctor,” said Carl.
    “I know, because I haven’t grown,” said Nigel.  “I haven’t grown because I don’t want to.  There is nothing to worry about, and if you really want to live in our house in Connecticut, all you have to do is make a wish,” said Nigel.  “You might want to wish that you keep this house as a vacation home, or if you prefer you could wish yourselves some other vacation home or homes,” said Nigel.
    “So, you are going to make these wishes come true?” said Carl.
    Nigel laughed, “No, you are.  Just make a wish.”  Nigel disappeared.
    Carl looked at Rachael, confused as ever, and said, “I wish I understood what’s going on.”  His face changed.  “I wish you understood what was going on, Rachael.”
    “Oh my God!” cried Rachael.

    The girl turned off the TV and left her house on Uthio Minor, heading to the bar to meet Clive, her mind on Kev.  Kev had disappeared three years ago, having fully realized who he was, the one true God.  She wondered if he would return or if he had chosen not to be in the game this time.  On many occasions she had tried to communicate with him, but had never received an answer.  Was this just part of the game?  What were her goals in the game?  She hadn’t the faintest, and had been able to learn absolutely nothing from the other players.  She suspected Nigel knew, but the boy would give nothing up other than vague hints.
    Turks and Blake, now gifted with infinite wishes couldn’t help either.  They weren’t able to make certain types of wishes, the types of wishes that would allow them to figure out what was going on.  However, every other wish they made came true.  The two, now best friends, lived in enormous floating castles hovering over Uthio Minor.  The girl rarely saw them. 
Piter had chosen to return to Peoria, Blake making a series of wishes that would allow Piter to live a life of quiet comfort.
    Meta had rejoined with Beta, and the two lived on Why, a planet populated entirely by retired philosophers.  Both of them believed in God, much to the dismay of their neighbors.
Bri and the Proth sphere existed in Bri’s blue-sky dimension, occasionally recreating the universes, but otherwise remaining quiet.
    Clive and Via had married and had two children.  They lived in Kev and Clive’s house in Vermont in 2014.  Their two children, Kev and Tria, fraternal twins, were now two years old and were quite advanced for their age, more than able to keep up a conversation with adults.
    Arag disappeared on the day that the last game had ended, and none of the other players had seen him since.  The girl had searched for him on multiple occasions, but had never found even the smallest clue.  Penny had also disappeared, and the girl assumed Penny had gone with Arag.
Balthiton rebuilt his staff and moved to Vegas, joining up with Pocus and Grav.  The girl went to a few of their shows, but hadn’t seen them in at least a year.
    Jesus also disappeared.  The girl suspected he went back to Earth, circa 9AD, but had never tried to find him.
    “Hey,” said Clive, as the girl sat down beside him.
    “Been a while,” said the girl.
    “Hear anything from Kev?” said Clive.
    “No, and Nigel isn’t saying anything.  I’m sure he knows what’s going on.”
    “How are Via and the twins?”
    “Great.  Via is pregnant again,” said Clive.
    “Congrats, Clive.”
    “Thanks.  So, what do you think the game is?”
    “Haven’t the faintest.  I bet if we could find Kev, he would give us a hint, but I don’t think he wants to be found,” said the girl.
    Clive ordered green teas for the girl and himself.  He looked out at the beach.  “You know, there have been many times when it took us ages to figure things out.  Maybe we have to be patient.”
Brok delivered two green teas and said, “Still trying to figure it out, eh?”
    “Yeah,” said the girl.
    “Well, at least we didn’t get all of our memories wiped out,” said Clive.
    The girl and Clive took sips of their green teas and Brok smiled, in his bug-like way.

    “I’m not going to say this again, Beta.  God exists because I believe God exists, not because you believe he exists,” said Meta.
    “But, I exist and believe God exists, therefore, God exists,” said Beta.
    “There you are wrong.  You do not exist.  You are but a figment of my imagination.  Why do you think nobody can see or hear you?”
    “Because I do not want them to see or hear me,” said Beta.
    “Well, then want them to see and hear you and prove that they can see and hear you and I will believe you,” said Meta.
    “If I did that it would only prove that you have no imagination,” laughed Beta, taunting Meta as usual.
    “You know, Beta, it has been three years and I still don’t know anything about this game.”
    “Maybe there is no game.”
    “No, I think there is, but I haven’t the faintest how to win it.”
    “Maybe you’ve already won,” said Beta.
    “I think I would know if I had won, you dolt.”
    “Maybe we need to find God.”
    “God doesn’t exist,” said Meta.
    “You just said God did exist,” said Beta.
    “Only when I believe he exists,” said Meta.  “That I am sure of.”

    Piter took a sip of his tea and stared off into space.  It had become ritual, drinking green tea three times a day, always at the same times.  He didn’t know why he did it, but he knew it was important.  His first tea of the day was always at six thirty-seven and thirty-seven seconds, his second at nine thirty-seven and then his third at twelve thirty-seven.  These were important times, times that had been embedded in his mind by some unknown power, possibly God.  Of course, it could have been Arag or Nigel.  He couldn’t be sure.  However, he knew he had to drink tea at these times, and he had done just that for the last three years.
    He came out of the trance and looked around his family room, no more enlightened than he had been before he took a sip of the tea.  He went into the kitchen, grabbed an apple out of the refrigerator and returned to the family room, sitting on the couch.  Did he even want to play the game?

    Playing hide and seek with the twins always amused Via, despite the fact that she could never find either of them.  Their ability to turn invisible and teleport at will made the game rather pointless.  Still, she enjoyed it.  Kev the younger and Tria would call out to her and would let her get close to them, but would always teleport to a new location in the house when she drew near.
    “I’m here, mommy,” called out Tria from the kitchen.  Via teleported to the kitchen, in front of the refrigerator and reached around, hoping to surprise Tria, but the girl had departed.
    The game went on for another few minutes before Via said, “Okay, I give up.  Time for lunch.”
    The twins reappeared, now sitting at the kitchen table, wide grins on their little faces.

    “I wish Kev was here,” said Turks for at least the millionth time.  Nothing happened.
    “I wish Arag would doubt that we all don’t know what is going on,” said Blake, sitting next to Turks on Turks’ leather sofa.  Blake did not feel enlightened.  He knew he couldn’t wish that he knew what was going on, but had thought it might be possible that Arag could be used to shed some light on things.  However, both Blake and Turks had been unable to locate Arag.
    “I’m bored,” said Turks.
    “Yeah,” said Blake.  “Let’s get Piter and do something.”
    “Like what?” said Turks.
    “I don’t know.  I feel like we’ve already done everything there is to do.”
    “What about Wendy?” said Turks.
    “She’s on Nirid playing polo with the girls.  She’ll probably be gone for days.”
    “I’m surprised she doesn’t want to be with you all the time.  After all, you wished you were the greatest lover in the universe.”
    “Sex gets old after a while.  I’m tired of it.  You know what I wish?  I wish I would never be bored,” said Blake, immediately disappearing.
    Turks pondered that for a moment before saying, “I wish I would never be bored.”  Turks disappeared as well.

    Nigel loved the swans.  He loved this park, a park he had created.  He loved watching all of the aliens that roamed around, and looking up at the yellow sky, filled with floating orbs of light.
He checked the time, three thirty-seven, hoping she would show up.  He could have made her show up, of course, but for some strange reason believed that doing so would somehow make her appearance less meaningful.  He had never done anything to change her course in time, although he had created her.  He gave her free will, praying that her own will would bring her to him.
Three forty-four.  He saw her in the distance.  She had on her red dress, Nigel’s favorite dress.  She stopped by the side of the pond, staring at the swans.  She loved this place as much as Nigel did.  She didn’t know he had created it, and Nigel did not intend to tell her, thinking that sort of manipulation would be unfair.  He wanted her to love him, but he would not force love upon her.
She stayed in the park for an hour, never approaching Nigel, and then disappeared.  Nigel did not know where she went and made no attempt to find out.  She would be back.

    “Do you think we should make her talk to him?” said the Proth sphere to Bri.
    “No.  He doesn’t want that,” said Bri.
    “Do you think she will ever talk to him or love him?”
    “I should know the answer, but I don’t,” said Bri.

    “What should we do?” said Rachael.
    “I don’t know,” said Carl.  “We can’t change it with a wish.”
    “Maybe we can talk to Nigel and tell him everything is going to be all right.”
    “I don’t think that will work.  We’re going to have to find some other way.  I wish I knew how to make things better,” said Carl.  “Didn’t work.  I wish that Nigel won’t get hurt.”
    “Did it work?” said Rachael.
    “I don’t know, but I think we’re going to find out soon,” said Carl.

    The girl reappeared.  She had a boy with her.  They were holding hands.  The girl leaned over and kissed the boy on the cheek.  Nigel’s heart broke, and in that moment, he imagined something horrible.

A House on a Hill

I’m still here.  I am always here, but you might not hear from me that much.  I want to tell you about a house, a house on a hill, not a high hill with trees, but a lonely, low hill, barren and isolated, beset by howling winds.  The house, a drab green, three-story Victorian, with black door and black shutters, all closed, lies vacant and has been vacant for years.
    Nigel created this house one night as he slept, the product of a horrible nightmare in which he failed to find the love he desired.  The house has no electricity or running water.  It is dark and cold place with creaky floors and many spider webs.  A ghost lives in this house.  His name is Booger, a name given to him by Nigel.
    Booger doesn’t like much of anything, but he does like Nigel.  However, he isn’t the best companion, given that he tends to have negative thoughts, thoughts that tend to echo in Nigel’s mind.
    Nigel found himself standing outside of a familiar house that stood on a familiar hill, buffeted by cold winds with voices that taunted and teased.  He saw the shuttered windows and that black door that swung slowly open as he looked at it.  Through that opening he saw nothing but pitch black.
On the front porch of the dreary house he found a large, black candle and a box of matches.

    “Something has changed,” said the girl.
    “I know,” said Clive, looking at Brok, the insect-like bartender who had just transformed into a ghost.
    “Nigel,” said the girl.
    “You know, I think you’re right,” said Clive, look now down the beach at two other ghosts walking hand in hand, two children by the looks of it.
    Brok floated over to the girl and Clive and said, “You have to save us.”
    “Definitely Nigel,” said the girl.  “Where the hell is he?”
    “Do you think he turned everyone into ghosts?” said Clive.
    “Not everyone,” said Brok, his voice hollow and distant.

    Wendy thought it more than slightly odd that all of her friends had turned into what she assumed were ghosts, ghosts who were begging her to save them, ghosts who were threatening to kill her if she failed to save them.  She teleported back to her castle in the sky on Uthio Minor, looking for Blake, but could not find him.
    She teleported then to Piter’s house in Peoria, finding Piter sitting on the couch staring off into space, a glass of green tea in his hand.  She sat next to him and waited for his return.
    “We have to save Nigel,” said Piter when he returned.  He turned to Wendy.  “Where is Nigel?”
    “I don’t know.  He could be anywhere.  Do you know what just happened?” said Wendy.
    “Everyone turned into ghosts,” said Piter.  “Well, not everyone.  Nigel did this, but I don’t know why.”
    The ghost of a tall, gaunt man drifted into the room and faced Piter and Wendy.  “Only the dead shall live,” said the ghost, pointing at Piter and Wendy.  Piter knew he and Wendy were in danger. He pressed his thumb against the face of his watch and stopped time.
    “We have to get out of here,” said Piter, grabbing Wendy’s hand and teleporting them to the bar on Uthio Minor.

    “Why is there a ghost standing beside you?
    “I don’t know.  I wonder what it wants?”
    The ghost let out a wail, a sound so horrifying that both Meta and Beta teleported themselves to the bar on Uthio Minor, praying the ghost would not follow.  There they found, Clive, the girl, Piter, Wendy and an apparition that appeared to be Brok, the bartender.
    Moments later, Arag and Penny appeared, followed by Balthiton, Via, Kev the younger, and Tria.
Everyone spoke at once, nobody hearing a thing, and then Clive shouted out, “Wait!”
    “What the hell is going on?” said Via.  “We were just attacked by ghosts in our house, Clive.”
    “It’s Nigel,” said the girl.  “Something has happened to him.  We’re going to have to find him.”
    “Where are Turks and Blake?” said Piter.
    “Haven’t seen them,” said Clive.
    “Maybe they have become ghosts,” said Meta.
    “Or maybe they don’t exist,” said Beta.
    “Would you cut that out, Beta?” said Meta.  “This is not the time for that.”
    “Nigel is in a house on a hill,” said Kev the younger.  “He is with Booger.”
    Nigel plays with Kev and Tria quite often.  He is the only one who can find them while playing hide and seek, though he usually lets them win.
    “Booger doesn’t want Nigel to leave the house,” said Tria.
    Everyone stared at Kev and Tria.  Finally, Clive said, “What else do you know?”
    Kev shrugged and said, “Nigel is sad.  The house on the hill is his sad place.”
    “Do you know where the house is?” said Via.
    “It’s in his mind,” said Tria.  “So are we.”
    “Not good at all,” said Wendy, knowing full well what Nigel’s young mind could conjure up, and remembering the time Nigel had imagined that everyone in the universe was being chased by giant, rabid wolverines.

    “I don’t think I’ve had this much fun in my entire life,” said Turks.
    “I know,” said Blake.  “We have to bring the others here.”
    “I wish the gang was here,” said Turks.  Nothing happened.  “That’s strange.  Why aren’t they here?”
    “You know what’s strange, Turks?” said Blake.  “There is absolutely nothing here other than you and me.  Not one damned thing, and I have never felt so engaged in my entire life.  Where the hell are we?”

    “We’re in Nigel’s mind?” said Clive.
    “I think so,” said Kev.
    “I think you’re all in my mind,” said Beta.
    “Dammit, Beta, would you stop?” said Meta.
    “Who are you talking to, Meta?” said the girl.
    “Beta, a figment of my imagination.  He just claimed that we are all in his mind.  He likes being difficult,” said Meta.
    “What are the odds we are all inside Nigel’s head right now?” said Clive.
    “I’d say pretty high,” said Arag.  “I can’t tell for sure, however, because someone took away my ability.”
    “I think you just have a different ability now, Arag,” said Penny. “Anyway, Tria, where is this house?  Have you ever been there?”
    “I was there once,” said Kev.  “It’s spooky.  No lights and spiders everywhere.”
    “I haven’t been there,” said Tria.
    “Kev, do you know how to get there?” said the girl.
    “I don’t know.  I went there when I was asleep,” said Kev.
    “Maybe we should all go to sleep,” said Via, noticing a band of squat green creatures approaching the bar.  “Guys, who are they?”
    The green creatures noticed Via and the gang and broke into a run.
    “They have swords,” said Clive.  “Gamma War!”
    Everyone teleported to Singularity Bar on Gamma War, finding themselves surrounded by sword bearing, squat green goblins.
    “Our place in Vermont,” called out Via.
    Everyone appeared in Clive’s house in Vermont.  They saw no goblins.  Clive checked outside, came back in and said, “I don’t see anything.”  At that moment, a ghost drifted into the room.
    “Save me,” it said as it passed back out of the house.
    “You know,” said Meta.  “The only thing we have going for us right now is that we are immortal.  We are immortal, aren’t we?”
    “Maybe not in Nigel’s mind,” said Arag.
    Carl and Rachael appeared in the room.
    “Thank God we found you,” said Carl.  “Nigel needs help.”
    “We know,” said the girl.  “Do you know where he is?”
    “We know, but neither Rachael or I can get there,” said Carl.
    “Where?” said Via.
    “He is in a house on a hill,” said Rachael.
    “Yeah, we know that,” said the girl.  “You know, maybe we should go to sleep and see what happens.”
    “You’re going to go to sleep with ghosts and armed goblins roaming around?” said Wendy.  “By the way, where are Turks and Blake?”
    “No clue,” said Clive.  “I think we should take our chances and go to sleep.”  Clive looked at Rachael and Carl.  “One of you will have to wish that we are all asleep but will wake up if we are in any danger.”
    “What if it doesn’t work?” said Rachael.
    “Then we’ll have to go to sleep the regular way,” said the girl.
    “There is no way I’m going to be able to sleep,” said Meta.
    “Me either,” said Beta.
    “You’re not even real, Beta, so please shut up,” said Meta.

    “She is never going to love you,” said Booger, hovering in the shadows, dreary and down as ever.
    “I know,” said Nigel.  “You were right.  I never should have made her.”
    “Well, just stay here with me.  I’ll keep you company.”
    “Maybe I could talk to her.  I could go back to the park and introduce myself.”
    “But she is with that boy.  She doesn’t like you.  She never will.”
    Nigel sighed.  Booger was right.  Maybe he could make another girl, one who would love him.  But, he had created the one girl.  There was no other.  Maybe if he talked to her.  Booger could be wrong.
    Nigel went back to the park and sat on his bench.  The girl showed up not long after, this time without the boy, so Nigel approached her.
    “Hi, I’m Nigel,” he said.
    The girl turned to him, a frown on her face.  “So?” she said.
    Nigel didn’t know what to say, so he said nothing for a while.
    “Can I help you?” said the girl.
    “Do you want to play tag or something?” said Nigel.
    “I don’t know you well enough to play with you,” said the girl.
    “Well, you could get to know me,” offered Nigel.
    The girl disappeared, and Nigel, defeated, returned to the house on the hill.
    “I told you so,” said Booger.
    “Maybe if I keep trying,” said Nigel.
    “She will never love you.  Trust me.  You know I am the only one you can trust.  You know that, don’t you?”
    “I know,” said Nigel.  Thoughts of ghosts and goblins ran through Nigel’s head.  Only Booger could protect him from them, Booger, his only friend, the only one who understood him.

    “Maybe we should go back and find everybody,” said Turks.
    “Yeah, maybe, but maybe we can stay here a while longer,” said Blake.
    “As much as I hate to say this, I think we need to go back.  This place is great, but there is something about it.  If we aren’t careful we could stay here for all eternity,” said Turks.
    “Fine,” said Blake. “I wish we were back home.”
    Nothing happened.
   “I wish we were at the bar on Uthio Minor,” said Turks.
    Nothing happened.
    “I wish we knew what was going on?” said Blake.  “Dammit, why didn’t that work?”
    Turks didn’t answer, far too busy enjoying himself, the desire to find the others long forgotten.

    “I think we should recreate the universe,” said Bri.
    “Good idea,” said the Proth Sphere.  “How are we going to get everyone out of this mess?”
    “Not sure.  I can’t change the way they think, but I can change their environments.  Maybe I should put them all together.  That way everyone can try to talk to Nigel.”
    “Worth a shot,” said the sphere.
    Bri and the sphere connected and recreated the universe.  Moments later, Bri said, “Nigel changed it back.”
    “I noticed,” said the sphere.  “Where is Kev?  He could fix this.”
    “Don’t know, but I think we better find him.”

    “I wish we are all asleep and that we will wake up if we are in danger,” said Rachael, now laying on the ground with everyone else.
    Rachael and the others found themselves standing on a barren hill, buffeted by screaming winds that threatened to knock them over.
    At the top of the hill they saw the shuttered house, its front door closed.  Clive approached the house and opened the door.
    Everyone woke up in Clive’s house.
    “What just happened?” said the girl.
    “We were in danger, of course,” said Meta.
    “Maybe we should change the wish so that we won’t wake up if we are in danger,” said Penny.
    “I doubt that is a good idea,” said Arag, “but I think we should do that.”
    “We are immortal, right?” said Meta.
    Nobody answered.
    “I wish we are all asleep,” said Rachael.
    They reappeared on the hill, standing in front of the house.  Clive took a step inside the open door and disappeared.  The others heard a deafening wail

    “Someone is here,” said Nigel.
    “Don’t worry about that,” said Booger.  “I’ll deal with him.”

    “Do you think we should go in?” said Penny.
    Arag approached the door and called out, “Nigel, are you in there?  Come out and talk to us.”
    The door slammed shut.  Arag tried to open it, but it was now locked.
    “Um, you all might want to turn around,” said Meta, now staring at what appeared to be an army of ghosts and goblins.
    “Great.  Just great,” said the girl.  “Follow me.”  The girl led the group around the back of the house.  There they found a stairwell, leading down to a door.  The girl rushed down and opened the door.  “You don’t have to follow me, but I’m going in.”  She stepped through the doorway and disappeared.
    “They’re coming,” said Meta, looking at the surrounding army of ghosts and goblins.
    “Everyone, go in, now,” said Arag, leading the way through the doorway.

    “Kev,” shouted Via.  “Tria.  Where are you?”
    Via had appeared in the middle of a vast desert, nothing visible and no footprints in the sand to tell her where to go.  She called out to Clive and the others, but received no answers.  Every direction looked the same, so she started moving forward, calling as she went.  Far ahead, she saw a disturbance in the sand.
    “No,” said Via, trying to teleport away.

    Clive found himself strapped to a table, a doctor and a nurse standing beside him.
    “He is out,” said the nurse.
    Clive looked down and saw that everything but his abdomen was covered by a sheet.  The doctor leaned over and made an incision across Clive’s belly.  Clive jerked and screamed.
    “Looks good,’ said the doctor, now making another incision.
    “Stop!  Stop! I’m awake,” cried Clive.
    “Of course you’re not awake, Clive,” said the nurse.
    The doctor made another incision.

    “Beta,” said Meta.  “Where are we?”
    “I don’t know, Meta.  Maybe we are nowhere.”
    “Why is there a giant dog looking at us?”
    “I don’t know.”
    “Why do I look like a chew toy?” said Meta.
    “Good question, Meta.  Perhaps it is because you are a figment of that dog’s imagination, just like I am a figment of your imagination.”
    “As usual, you are less than helpful.  I can’t move.  Can you?”
    “Indeed I can, but I can’t be of much use because I am imaginary.  I am imaginary, am I not?”
    “Dammit, Beta, distract the dog,” said Meta.
    “I don’t think the dog sees me,” said Beta.
    “Run over to that corner and see what it does.”
    The dog got up and approached Meta, sniffed him, and then picked him up with its mouth, its teeth biting into Meta.
    “Dammit, Beta, do something!”

    Balthiton had cast his light spell dozens of times, but still remained in absolute blackness.  He heard shuffling sounds and groans.  A cold hand touched his arm he jerked away.  He tried to teleport away, but as far as he could tell, he remained in the same spot.
    “Hello?” said Balthiton.
    “Hello,” said a voice.  Something grabbed Balthiton from behind and dragged him away.

    The girl knew it wasn’t Kev.  It couldn’t be Kev.  Or could it?
    “Hi,” said Kev.
    “Are you real?” said the girl.
    “I don’t know.  Am I?”
    “Kev, if you are real, could you fix this?  Nigel has lost it.”
    “I can see that.”
    “Are you going to do anything about it?”
    “Really?  Because?” said the girl.
    “What is your worst nightmare?” said Kev.
    This was not Kev.

    Penny and Arag found themselves sitting on a bench, staring out at a lake.  Swans floated by and birds flitted here and there, singing and chirping.
    “Nice place,” said Arag.
    “Yeah,” said Penny.  “Do you think we’re in Nigel’s mind?”
    “Not sure, but I doubt this is going to be pleasant,” said Arag.
    “Be careful, dear.  You might get your ability back and doubt something awful.”
    “Good point.  Doesn’t look like there is anybody around.  Should we just sit here?”
    “Sure,” said Penny, taking Arag’s hand.

    “Hon, why are we home?” said Rachael.
    “Is it home?” said Carl.
    “Looks like it.  Well, I don’t remember having a giant snake in the family room, and I don’t remember being a rabbit before,” said Rachael.
    “Not good,” said Carl, bolting off to the side as the snake struck at him.  Rachael sped off to their bedroom, hoping she could hide under the bed.
    Carl raced into the kitchen, surprised to see Maddie, his dog, now much larger than him, chewing on a toy that looked remarkably like Meta.
    “Help me,” cried Meta.

    “Oh, I like this playground,” said Tria.
    “Where are the others?” said Kev.
    “I don’t know.  Do you want to climb to the top of the fort?”
    Kev and Tria climbed to the top of the fort and looked around, hoping to see the others.
    “I hope they’re okay,” said Tria.
    “I doubt they are,” said Kev.
    “Maybe we should go home,” said Tria.
    “I already tried to take us there.  We can’t leave this place.”
    “Kev, do you see that giant purple thing in the sky?”
    “Yes, I do.”
    “It’s getting closer.”

    “Piter?” said Wendy.
    “Yeah?” said Piter, staring at a two foot long cockroach.
    “You might want to use that watch of yours right now.”
    Piter pressed his thumb against the face of the watch and stopped time, careful to keep Wendy moving in time.
    “Where are we?” said Piter, noticing a giant bottle of dish washing liquid, a giant dried sponge, and the underside of a rather large sink.  He realized, of course, that they were in a cabinet under a sink, the cabinet door partially open.
    “I think we’re in my kitchen,” said Wendy looking out into her kitchen.  She crawled over the edge of the cabinet and dropped to the floor, followed by Piter.  On the floor, they saw dozens of large cockroaches, all stopped in time.
    “Do you think the others are here?” said Piter.
    “I don’t know, but I doubt it.  Maybe we shouldn’t have entered the house,” said Wendy.
    “Yeah, maybe.  You realize we are about six inches tall right now.”
    “I wonder what those cockroaches can do to us.”

    “How is it we’re having so much fun when we’re not doing anything?” said Blake.
    “Don’t know.  Don’t care,” said Turks.
    “Seriously, don’t you think something is wrong?”
    “I don’t know.  What does it matter?”
    “I’m going to try something,” said Blake.  “I wish we weren’t having fun.”
    Turks and Blake found themselves surrounded by enormous hornets with enormous stingers.  After receiving his first sting, Blake cried out, “I wish we were having fun.”
    The hornets disappeared.

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