Chapter 24, "Attack of the Tallybonkers (From Outerspace)"
I watched dazedly as alien and robot beeped and clanked, slimed and hollered, oblivious to the impending doom.
"Hey, guys," I said, attempting to get their attention, "I think maybe now would be a good time to not fight over me with each other."
This elicited no response whatsoever from the raging dudes. In the distance, I heard a vague whirring. It sounded ominous. The drunk dude took this moment to approach Xlormp and Hector and berate them for spare change. Of course, his actions were to no avail, as neither of them paid him a lick of heed.
Frantic battle cries emerged from the walkie-talkie. "Frig!" Came Christopher's voice. "Battle station one has been compromised! Get to safety!"
I lifted the walkie-talkie to my lips and responded, "I will certainly try." I felt torn between my desire to not die and my love for both of these stupid, idiotic creatures currently insisting on ending each other's existence. I couldn't just leave them here, locked in battle, fodder for angry Tallybonkers.
Which is about when a stream of blue, wispy smoke-like crap zoomed into view. It would be here within a very tiny amount of time.
I'd seen Tallybonkers before. Both in their microscopic and slightly magnified states. On their own, they were adorable little fuzzballs that made my insides happy. In large groups, they became really freaking creepy.
And this group of Tallybonkers was substantially larger than the group I'd encountered all that time ago. Their buzzing threatened to deafen me. Memories flashed in my head, the feeling of these tiny creatures invading, trying to gnaw through my clearly delicious brain. The whole experience was unpleasant, and I really wished my so-called protectors were paying attention so that it might not happen again.
"GUYS," I shouted a bit more firmly, and I think maybe Xlormp looked up to chastise me for yelling at him, when he saw the cloud of Tallybonkers.
"Oh, crap," he spat, giving Hector 2.0 one more shove before drawing himself to full height.
"WE SEEK THE HUMAN FRIGGEN' GORGEOUS," the Tallybonkers whirred in their creepy mosquito wing speak. "WE HAD NO IDEA SHE'D BE SO INCOMPETENTLY PROTECTED."
Hector 2.0 produced a strange noise indicating indignation at his incompetence.
"OUR FELLOW TROOPS ARE TAKING OUT YOUR WEAK ARMY, YOUR PATHETIC ATTEMPTS TO OUTWIT US."
I felt a shiver take a casual walk down my spine. I wished Xlomp could wrap is flippers around me, but I knew they probably still dripped with deadly poison. If only the Tallybonkers were all magnified to giant lavender cotton balls, maybe this wouldn't be so spooky. I tried to imagine them that way. It didn't help.
The walkie-talkie crackled again. "Frig!" Lou's voice this time. "Report! Are you in a secure location?"
This time, only one Tallybonkonian voice giggled in response. "She is not secure at all," it said menacingly, but somehow also adorably. "She is, in fact, quite insecure."
A small ball of lavender fluff appeared, a magnified Tallybonker. I recognized him immediately. "Cliff!" I shouted, illogically happy to see him. I jumped up and down, clapping cheerfully.
"Silence, insolent one," his tiny voice rang above the rest. "You'll note the massive army I have accumulated. You will now pay for my family's disappearance. As your cohorts now pay. We came prepared for a fight this time."
I knew he was threatening me and stuff, but I just wanted to pinch his widdle fuzzy cheeks. I heard a chunk-chunk noise as Hector 2.0 cocked the weapon Christopher had equipped him with. But a beam of laser-like light zipped from the blue cloud, disintegrating the gun instantly. The large group of Tallybonkers emitted an eerie, buzzing laugh.
"WE HAVE WEAPONS TOO, YOU KNOW," they said.
"Indeed we do," Cliff reiterated. "Weapons for everyone. Including a little something special, just for you, Frig." He snapped his teensy-weensy Tallybonker fingers.
"This is unacceptable," Hector 2.0 clanked, attempting to equip another weapon.
"Frig, come stand behind me," Xlormp commanded. I glanced at him, seeing a look of pain covering his slimy face. I knew he was putting all of his effort into not grabbing me and therefore melting my flesh of. I felt like saying, "See, if you wouldn't have gotten into a stupid schoolboy argument, you wouldn't be having this problem right now and you could protect me like a decent Epicmasterfully Committed Dude." But I figured it wasn't really the time, so instead, I made my way over to Xlormp.
Or at least, I tried to, but the air between us thickened, and I could not force my body through it.
Cliff snickered. "Standard issue force field," his tiny voice mocked happily. "A nice touch, don't you think?"
"Yes," I agreed in spite of myself. "Classy."
The walkie-talkie voices blended together now. I heard snippets of Lou, Christopher and Klaxie all demanding to know of my safety, epic battles being fought in the background. For the first time since all of this began, I worried for my friends. Would they be okay? If the Tallybonkers could eat my brains, they could just as easily eat everyone else's. The thought of that sucked royally. I did not want people who were nice to me for some reason to end up as blithering doofuses (no offense to Lou, of course).
While I was thinking all of these thoughts, Xlormp kept the Tallybonkers occupied with his own laser vision. With all the dang lasers shooting around, it looked like some campy space movie from the seventies. Hadn't technology advanced beyond the laser yet?
Apparently it hadn't. And the next thing I knew, Cliff sat cockily on my shoulder. I turned my head so that I might better gaze upon him.
"Frig," he said, in a casual manner as if to suggest we might be friends were we not arch nemeses, "How would you feel about having your brain completely removed?"
"I doubt I would care much for it," I replied, having previously decided exactly how I felt about that particular outcome.
"It would be vastly superior to leaving you a tormented waste of humanity," he pointed out. "once your brain is gone, you won't have to worry about anything ever again."
Hector 2.0 battled best he could, ducking clankily out of lasers' way, struggling without a weapon to fight with. Xlormp did his best as well, but there were so many Tallybonkers, mocking him by hiding behind their force field. The walkie-talkie screamed at me, and I really wanted to tell them to take a chill pill, everything was fine, but everything was not fine, and here I was, standing useless, waiting for my brain to get sucked off into oblivion, hoping Lou's defense plan was valid and not the machination of a guy who'd spent the last five years on the crazy train.
Cliff snapped his fingers again, and this time, I knew it was the end. I could feel it. The snap held a certain undeniable finality that felt so...final.
And it happened in slow motion. The sharp beam of light formed in the center of the cloud of Tallybonkers, just like Lou had told me it would. Everything else fell away. There was no Xlormp, no Hector 2.0, no babbling walkie-talkie, not even Cliff. Just me and this light. It would be quite pretty if it weren't so deadly. My brain wasn't moving fast enough. I knew what I had to do, but I couldn't make the pieces click, and the light moved closer and closer with each passing moment.
I thought about what it might feel like, having my brain forcibly removed from my skull and placed in another dimension. Probably it would hurt. I didn't much care for the idea of a headache after all of this was over. If I were still here after all of this was over, that is. And so it was my desire to not suffer any massive head trauma that finally sent my fingers to grapple at the object Lou had provided me with, the object that sat so benignly in my back pocket.
A tiny mirror. I held it up to the light, and hoped. I hoped Lou was right. I hoped my aim was good. I hoped I was just dreaming, and that any minute I'd wake up and none of this would be happening.
I felt the light hit the mirror, and its force ricocheted up my arms. The mirror heated up, almost unreasonably warm, and I wanted to drop it to save my searing hands, but I couldn't let myself. I clung tightly to it, continuing to hope, until finally, I couldn't take the pain any longer and I passed out.
More Chapters to Delight and Amuse
Thanks everyone for being so understanding yesterday! You guys have been incredibly patient with me. We've got one more week of chapters, then an Epilogue, then that's it for this book! You should get a date for when the book will be available on Lulu when the Epilogue is posted. It's going to take a little longer than usual because our cover artist, Nikki aka opaleyes, is getting married! So she's kinda busy with wedding stuff right now. We're working it out and you shall have a solid, tangible book at some point in the future.
I also have an idea brewing for a contest to win some signed copies of stuff...more on that next week. :)