Chapter 20, "Hey, Everyone, I'm Still Here, Too, You Know..."
Something weird happened once Lou officially regained his sanity. Everything started falling gently into place, like a pleasant breeze on a Summer day. The Zmeephish-Quians seemed more willing to cooperate with Christopher and the robots. Mr. Haberdash gazed at Christopher with something other than vile disgust upon the return of his beloved colleague. All around me, things were getting done and people were working together with aliens to get it all done. It was as if Lou's memory was the missing link, the key to everything.
And yet I felt utterly and completely left out. I spent the next couple of days watching from a distance as all of this happiness and contentment happened. Sure, Xlormp and his endlessly sensual slime were a decent distraction during the nights, lunch breaks and any lulls in conversation. But it wasn't enough. Something nagged at me from inside. Lou had been my hobo, my friend and confidant for so long, and all of a sudden, he was in the thick of things, an unspoken leader in the fight for my continued existence. And I couldn't even get a word in edge-wise with him due to the ramped-up security measures.
I confessed all this to Xlormp after one of our slime sessions.
"I don't understand what you mean," Xlormp oozed casually.
"I mean I think I could be doing something other than letting a whole bunch of people decide what's going to happen to me," I mentioned, aimlessly tickling a stray tentacle.
"But Frig, you are helpless and fragile. It should make you pleased beyond measure that so many are willing to fight for you."
"What if I want to fight for myself?"
Xlormp's laugh was bold and mighty. I felt its resonance vibrate inside my very spleen.
"Fight for yourself?" He garbled. "Your human brain, while adorable, is such a silly-willy sometimes." He rubbed me an affectionate noogie. I battled the urge to rip off one of his limbs and beat him with it. That would do no good in this situation.
I tried to get Lou's attention during the day's strategizing, but every time I caught his eye, he was in the middle of deep conversation with Mr. Haberdash. So I tried for Christopher instead, but she was also busy. As the assigned Weapons Expert (a title given to her by Mr. Haberdash which she wore proudly on a fresh new name tag), she spent this time running back and forth between the robot army and the weapons room, making sure each and every metallic soldier possessed an arsenal best befitting its talents.
I was getting pretty danged disconsolate over all of this nonsense, when something tapped me on the shoulder and alarmed me with intense alarm.
"Hector!" I cried, turning to see my robot friend appraising me with his electronic eyes.
"Frig, your mood registers in my database as despondent with a touch of hunger."
It is true. I would have killed for some enchiladas right about now.
"What agonizes you so?" Hector 2.0 clanked.
I didn't know what to say. I mean, how could I explain such a bizarre set of emotions to a robot, especially when I didn't even fully understand them myself? But on the other hand, he couldn't be any worse than talking to Xlormp.
"I'm confused about Lou," I attempted.
"Lou is a human being with a freshly renewed brain," Hector 2.0 said. "What is your cause of confusion?"
I watched as Mr. Haberdash and Lou ran by quickly with clipboards, discussing something intently. Lou waved at me as he passed us by, but his head was turned before I had a chance to wave back.
"I'm confused about him being able to think again."
Hector 2.0 nodded as though he were a paid therapist or something. "His temporary brain restoration is an unusual shift in status-quo," he monotonized conversationally.
"Yes. Unusual." I agreed. And then I fully processed the sentence. "Temporary?"
"Yes. The effect of the Sploober injection will last up to two weeks, then fade until the recipient reaches his or her former state of brain functioning."
I shook my head a little, hoping this might jostle my thoughts into the right places so that I might consider them more easily, but it didn't work.
"So, Lou will only be able to talk to me like a normal person for another week and a half, and that's if they figure out how to keep my brain in my head?"
Hector 2.0 placed a cold yet caring metal hand on my shoulder. "Affirmative."
My lip wobbled. Oh, now, what the hell was this? Tears? Sadness? Anger? I didn't like this at all. What kind of crap was it to give me a coherent Lou, then not even let me talk to him, then force me to watch him fade back into insanity? It wasn't fair. In fact, it was stupid and lame. It was like dumping out an entire box of cereal into a big bowl in an effort to pull out the prize, only to discover the prize was some crappy sticker and not a cool mini car like you originally thought it might be.
I wanted to hit something, but past experience reminded me that hitting Hector 2.0 was a bad idea. Hitting Christopher seemed the next logical choice, but she was working so hard, theoretically for me, even though right now I felt more ignored than anything else. I certainly didn't want to hit Lou, and I hit Xlormp all the time anyway. And all of the other robots and aliens spent all their time working with Christopher, Hector 2.0 or Mr. Haberdash. There was not a chance for me to hit any of them.
So I knelt over and socked the earth beneath my feet. And I hope like hell it felt my wrath. Because my wrath at that moment was marvelous and great.
The good news is, despite all of my angsting and misery and confusion and pain, somewhere in the middle of all that, everyone else came up with a workable plan. Which, after much deliberation, they finally felt comfortable letting me in on.
There are more chapters, just in case you forgot somehow.