Chapter 19, "Battling Internal Rage"
Why is it that alien weapons always send up flashes of bright colors? As the purple light particles dissipated, I found myself lunging at Christopher, wanting nothing more than to wrap my fingers around her neck and squeeze.
"What the hell did you just do??" I shouted, rage seething from every one of my pores. I felt a flipper on my shoulder. Xlormp's. He'd made his way down from the roof. But I didn't care. Right now, I wanted to know what the hell Christopher could possibly be thinking, raising a weapon to my hobo.
"Calm down, Frig," Christopher choked through my harried grasp.
"YOU KILLED LOU," I screamed at her. "I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND."
She said, "I'm fine, Frig, really," and I was too angry to find it strange that she said it without opening her mouth, and that she used a man's voice, and that it somehow came from behind me.
"I HATE YOU," I shrieked, pulling back a fist to shove through her face. To drill a perfect hole through it, so she could feel the same sort of hole she'd just inflicted upon my stomach. But before my knuckles could reach her face, a hand grabbed my wrist and held it in place.
I looked up to see who could possibly find it okay to keep me from murdering a murderer, and I found myself looking into Lou's eyes.
"I'm fine, Frig," he said again. "Really."
I shook my head a few times. Lou was looking at me. I mean, really looking. Like, I could tell that his eyes were focused on mine, and that he understood the words coming out of his mouth.
"You're not dead?" I managed to speak.
"I'm very not dead," he said, coherently, happily, kindly. Fatherly.
Relief rushed through me so quickly that it forced tears right out of my eyes without my consent. It also forced dinner out of my stomach, and I leaned over and puked. Everyone managed to back away in time to keep clean. I sat there, sobbing and devoid of food to digest, trying to make sense of what had just happened.
"What just happened?" I demanded.
Christopher held out the offending weapon for me to take. "It's a Sploober injector," she said stiffly. "I can't believe I'd never thought of it before."
I knew I'd heard of Sploobers before, but I couldn't remember exactly what they did.
"Brilliant," Klaxie wheezed. "Absolutely freaking brilliant."
"The Sploobers enhanced Lou's brain waves, negating what the Tallybonkers took," Christopher muttered, clearly a little upset I'd tried to strangle her to death. "They counteracted each other. I wasn't sure it would work..."
Lou snapped his fingers. "You're Haberdash's girl!" he cried.
"Yup," Christopher grinned in spite of herself.
"You've gotten so big, I can't believe it! How long has it been?"
My brain hurt. "What's going on? How do you know Christopher?"
"I work for her father!" Lou said. "Why is there a dirty towel around my waist?"
"You put it there," I said. "To cook."
"Are you sure?" He asked, untying it gingerly. "I could have sworn I put on an apron."
Christopher patted his arm gently. "We have a lot to discuss."
She sat Lou down and explained that he'd had his brain taken by the Tallybonkers years ago. Lou did not remember the attack. He remembered having a tougher time communicating with regular people, and that was about it. But when he found out his brain had been eaten, his eyes flashed with a darkness I'd never seen on his face before.
"I finally figured out that you were the one working on a weapon to combat the inter-dimensional brain device," Christopher went on.
"Oh, it's not a weapon," Lou said, an edge to his voice. Hearing coherence come from him felt very disconcerting. Like watching a plumber shed his tool belt and perform a complex and beautiful ballet dance. "I've been working on it for ages, it's almost complete."
"If you could help us form a strategy to fight them, it would be very helpful," Christopher went on. "They're organizing to steal Frig's brain."
"No," Lou stated abruptly. "Absolutely not."
"You won't help us?"
"No, I mean the Tallybonkers will absolutely not steal Frig's brain." He placed a fatherly hand on my shoulder. I felt a lump form in my throat. Did I have lumpy throat disease? Or were these more feelings?
The aliens and the robots continued to occupy themselves as Lou and Christopher went over the details of defending me. I felt rather useless in that moment. On one side of me, there was combat practice happening, on the other, my best friend and dearest hobo discussed things I couldn't even begin to understand, because it was too space-y and complicated. I couldn't stop watching Lou, seeing him react with appropriate facial expressions and reply using words that made logical sense. I felt a bit of indignation: why couldn't Christopher had done this sooner? Why had she waited so long to turn Lou into someone that could hold an actual conversation? And now that she had, she was dominating all of his attention. I had things I wanted to say to him, too!
I sat, in the midst of everything, trying to sort out what exactly my feelings were doing.
IT'S STILL TOTALLY MONDAY, I'M NOT LATE, I SWEAR.
So who guessed right? :)