Chapter 16, "I Would Feel More Emotions if I Knew What was Going On"
Everything happened very fast. I felt a crushing sensation on my left side, and suddenly, I was pinned to the floor. The Place erupted in screams, howls, and other various weird noises as aliens of all sorts began freaking out simultaneously. I saw a bright flash, but then it dissipated almost instantly. I wondered vaguely if I had died. If I had, then dying sure was a lot like hitting your head pretty hard on some pavement.
The next thing I knew, I was lying on something soft, something cushy. Probably it was a bed. I prodded it with my fingers, checking to make sure. Yes, it certainly felt like a bed. Did they have beds in Heaven? Was I in a Heaven hotel? A hotel with kind of crappy room service, maybe because I wasn't always the nicest person in the world, so they stuck me in the one that didn't leave a mint on your pillow just to be polite?
But then Christopher's head appeared over me. Had Christopher died, too? Was she hanging out with me in the crappy Heaven hotel? But I thought she was a pretty okay person. Why would they stick her in the crappy hotel, too?
And then I saw a metallic visage hovering above me as well, and I thought I must be going mad, because robots don't go to Heaven. Or do they? My entire spiritual philosophy began rearranging right in front of me, with this new idea. Were we really all just random neuron firings? Were robotic processes all that different? Do robots fantasize about technological lambs or something?
But then I realized I was being ridiculous, and I wasn't in Heaven after all, because Christopher said, "You're alive! Thank goodness!" and I thought that wasn't the type of thing you would say if you were dead to someone else who's dead. You'd probably say, "Well, we're dead, I guess." Which isn't what she said at all.
And then Hector 2.0 said, "All life systems functional. Brain function back online. Shut down technical support sequence, begin obsessive love triangle program number three." He placed a robotic hand on my forehead. "Frig, would you like to go consume sustenance with me?"
I sat up. That was maybe a bad idea, because my head pounded like a demented wrestler in a tiny room. If the wrestler was also claustrophobic. And the tiny room was my brain.
"Hector...Christopher...what's going on?" I asked perilously.
Christopher sniffed. "A lot of stuff. All you really have to know is that Schmeertz is currently locked up in our basement."
"Schmeertz?" That's right. Schmeertz had tried to kill me. Something wibbled in my stomach, the familiarity of imminent death by alien almost comforted me. It meant that, despite all of the craptasic suckery that I'd felt when he left, Xlormp existed out there. Somewhere. Somewhere he still lived, waiting for me, so that the next time we met, I could punch him right in the face and tell him what a complete nimrod he had turned out to be. It would be awesome.
"Yes, Schmeerz," Christopher confirmed confirmingly. "A lot of weird stuff happened at The Place, and I think maybe we shouldn't go back for a while. You're not safe, Frig."
Not safe. Suddenly, something very important occurred to me. "Wait!" I abrupted. "Did we get to eat cake?"
Christopher shook her head somberly. "No, Frig. We ate no cake."
My heart sank. Hector 2.0 stood up mechanically. "Activate cake retrieval systems. Cake retrieval systems activated." He clanked out the door, presumably to bring me delicious cake. Maybe he was useful after all.
"But anyway, Frig, that's not even the most important thing," Christopher sighed in a depressed way.
"It's not?" I said, alarmed. What could be more important than cake?
"No," Christopher announced negatively. "The most important thing is...well...I don't even know how to say it."
"Use your vocal chords, probably," I suggested helpfully.
"It's just that..." she paused dramatically. It was really annoying.
"Yeah?" I said anxiously.
"Charles P. Wiffleton died."
I stared at her blankly. I'm pretty sure I even blinked a few times. "Who?"
Christopher rose dramatically, and began pacing the room. "Charles P. Wiffleton. The hobo king? He hangs out with Lou all the time!"
I paged delicately through the names and faces of the people I'd met since arriving at Spatulas, and I could not for the life of me remember a Charles P. Wiffleton. "Um...that's very sad?" I attempted.
"It is!" Christopher moaned. "It is the saddest thing ever! Far sadder than you almost dying at the hands of an alien. I understand if you're upset. Are you upset?"
I thought about that, and I concluded the answer was no. "Not really," I said. "To be honest with you, I'm a little more interested in finding out what Schmeertz was doing in The Place."
Christopher sat back down on the bed and lovingly took my hands into hers. "Anyway," she said, "Charles P. Wiffleton's funeral is tomorrow. I can take you, if you want to go."
"I would go if I had any idea who he was," I said.
"Lou will be there. I think he would want you to go."
"I don't think Lou even knows who this guy is."
"This is very sad, Frig. I'd appreciate it if you'd weep with me."
I bit my lip, not sure how to proceed. Christopher fell over and dissolved into a fit of tears. I watched dubiously.
Hector re-appeared in the room, carrying with him a tray, on which there sat a plate of amazing looking strawberry cake, topped with whipped cream, and even a side of ice cream. He'd gone so far as to bring me a super fancy spork with it.
"Oooh, cake!" I yelled, reaching for the delicious treat.
"Hector 2.0 is please to present you with cake, Frig." He handed me the tray, maneuvering over Christopher, who was now crying so hard that she'd begun hiccuping frantically.
"Anyway," she managed to choke out, "I think we should drive you home, so you can tend to Lou. He is probably grieving." But it took her, like, three minutes to say because of all the dang hiccups.
"Okay," I said, "But can I finish my cake, first?"
I finished my cake, and boy howdy, was it delicious. It had this awesome creamy filling that I didn't even know about until I bit into it, and then my tastebuds began to sing joyously, and it was wonderful.
But now the cake was over, and Christopher and Hector were driving me back to Lou's plywood mansion. To be honest, I'd be pretty grateful to sleep in my own room tonight, if they would let me. Things were starting to get kind of weird.
The drive home was boring, so I started thinking of this book I read this one time, about this guy who ran this factory, and it made all kinds of candy, and people were all desperate to get inside for some reason, but the dude was kind of eccentric and so he had this contest which was pretty much just a good way to sell a crap ton of candy bars, and then these ungrateful kids got to take a tour around the place, and in the end, one of them got to take a ride in a glass elevator, and he learned the true meaning of Christmas, or something.
I thought about that, and how it might apply to my life right now. I decided after several minutes that it really didn't. But it didn't matter anyway, because we were home now.
Christopher said, "Okay, Frig, here we are. I'm going to drop you off, then Hector and I are going to go home and cry some more."
"Neat," I pronounced. I got out of the car, and watched it speed off. Christopher had something of a lead foot. This thought amused me, as I considered the fact that there was someone in that car who had a literal lead foot.
Lou was out in his lawn chair, which was not unusual. He was covered in animal droppings, which was not unusual, due to Larry and Limbo (who were both, in a rare moment of rareness, asleep on his shoulders). He was talking to someone in a lawn chair next to him, which was also not unusual, except for who was sitting in said lawn chair.
Lou waved at me. "Hi, Prehistoric Wibble-wobble!" he called. He gestured to his guest. "We're having a conversation about shoe polish!"
This chapter may not make a lot of sense if you haven't read New Moon. But really, do any of these chapters make sense?