Chapter Twenty-two – Mind Not the Matter
...My head... The pain...
A blaze of blue light stabs through my eyelids. I try to shield my eyes but can't lift a wing. In fact, I can't move at all. Stop acting so weak! It was just a knock on the head.
And a fall...
With a groan leaking out of my beak, I squint at the walls materializing in my view. Blowhole's cave. The dolphin's henchmen cluster beneath me. Wait – beneath? Then I must be...
Icy chill presses against my back. Blast! The infamous metal trap plate. To that I'm chained beyond a chance of escape, wings cuffed below the shoulders, feet in shackles. No amount of squirming will get me free out of this.
A shadow overcasts me, dimming the cave and making it less hurtful for the eyes.
"We're meeting again, peng-you-in!"
That voice. That cheery, gleeful voice, so unfitting of a dolphin with murderous intentions.
Shadow of Blowhole's flipper floats overhead. "You can gawk once we’ve finished. Now back to work, lobsters!"
His command bounces off the walls and rushes back with deafening intensity. The lobsters spring to action, crashing into each other and hopping at the seats placed beside various machines.
Blowhole cackles and pats the metal. The plate reflects a glint of his laser. "There's pleeenty to do, after all. Wouldn't you agree, my minuscule arch nemesis?"
"Like breaking free and turning your lair into a pile of wreaking havoc? Sure."
He wheels over, scowling, but his teeth click together and form a grin. "You sound confident, peng-you-in."
More than I feel. My heart thuds against my rib cage and my head pounds but I'm not telling him that. My state may be enough to tip him off that it's nothing more than plain threats.
"Well, enjoy your confidence. It's not going to accompany you for much longer. Heheh. Among other things..."
Where is Hans, by the way? How come my second-rate archenemy hasn't come to gloat at my impending demise? I doubt he's suddenly grown a conscience.
Maybe Blowhole got him out of his way once the puffin had nothing more to contribute. Which would be right after capturing me, given how effective he usually is.
But now he has succeeded.
Despite my desperate situation, I can't stop a smirk splaying across my beak. You may have won, Hans, but you won't be here to see it.
The dolphin snickers into my face. "Are you ready for your magnificent defeat?"
If not for the shackles closing around my wings, I’d beat the laughs out of him. The only possibility to resort to while hanging on the plate is spiking him with a scowl. Not much harm in that but I won’t go down completely triumphless.
“Look at that! What a terrifying stare!” Blowhole tips backward in pretended alarm, then wheels back to me, sneering. “I see through you. You are shaking on the inside, am I correct?”
No denying. Once he gets rid of me, the city will become an easy target for his plans. And my team… How will they cope? What’s he going to do to them? Will they be able to face him?
Stop! I force a memory to rise from the deep of my mind, an image of Rico standing up to our car gone awry. Marlene saving me from Hans’s darts. Kowalski’s invention working for once. Private besting the Red Squirrel.
With every image, I can breathe a bit easier. They’ll be alright.
I must look more triumphant than I should, because Blowhole clicks his tongue and frowns. “Don’t worry, peng-you-in! I have other means to make you crumble, and a doctorate to prove it. One of the maaany other titles I hold is ‘psychologist’, didn’t you know?"
Oh. That’s news to me. "You are something else 'psycho-'!"
“Enough!” He slams a button on his scooter. His latest abomination erupts from the machine, muttering something in a robotic voice so deep I can’t catch a word. It would be laughable… if not pointing right between my eyes.
Be strong without me, guys. I scowl the device down as it engulfs me with a glare of purple light.
Images flood my mind by thousands. Blowhole’s grin. The lighthouse. Enemies.
Is that it? How the end feels like?
Letter. A sword crashing into the wall, unbreakable.
Snippets of the past?
Kowalski scanning my wing through a looking glass. Private passing me a paperclip. Rico hacking up a smoke shell.
An otter ripping all her guitar strings. Or violin? A storm on a boat… two voices, reassuring of their capability. Accordion playing, fades away. Shouts. Screams. Chilling as ice.
Am I shaking? Have I been?
Piece of a bone, dripping red. A lock. Bars. Glistening needle. Then panic, splitting panic that shatters my mind to splinters.
And then nothing else at all.
The buzz dies down. Huh? That was it? I lean in against the door, wincing as my ankle rewards me with a stab of pain, but the room has fallen silent.
Why don’t I get to relish Skipper’s defeat? Blowhole hasn’t suffered through frights and falls to get it done, I have. Dragged the half-conscious penguin here, about to pass out myself. The lobsters weren’t of much help by then; they stopped being useful once my enemy had landed in their clutches.
And now at top of all this, Dr. fish has locked me out of his lab the second I left to find some ice packs and bandages. No luck with that, either. Not even seaweed! I’ll have to grit my beak and try my best to walk it off.
Something smacks my shoulder and I freeze on the spot. Blowhole? Found me overhearing? Think of the shark...
"A-ehm! You are not allowed there."
Just one of the reds. Breathing out, I cough. What did he just say?
He pinches me. “Am I speaking to a void or what?”
What an annoying one. I snap my wing away and scowl the lobster down. He blinks a few times, shifts his eyes and scowls back but at least stops pestering.
"It's my revenge too." I adjust my position at the door. No sounds, still. What’s going on in there? “Doctor fish should better remember his promises.”
“He’s the one giving orders, not some scabby puffin!”
He tugs at my wing. I jerk back. His claw clasps a bunch of feathers. The last nice ones, why? I’ll show him. I sweep his eyestalks into a grasp and shake. "Don't touch my wings ever again, ja?"
He does anyway, a racking squeeze worse than all the lost feathers. "How dare you boss me around? Doc is gonna-"
"Hey! Red One! Puffin!"
No, not more of them... Another lobster rushes to us, waving his claws as if trying his hardest to fly. "Hey, stop fighting, would you, you two?"
My opponent twists his eye to the newcomer's direction. "Who's th- Twenty-three! Why are you interrupting me when I'm trying to teach this greenhorn a lesson?"
Twenty-three –what's with the weird names?– works his way between us. "No more fights here. Doctor, uh, he wouldn't like seeing his workers quarreling, right?"
Right. Another one kissing his boss's tailfin.
Red One does the reasonable and clonks him over the head. "I'm the one here to maintain order. Teaching newbies not to snoop around is my job."
“Don’t bug him with that,” Twenty-three says. “If he’s brave enough to snoop, he’s brave enough to face the consequences.” He turns to me. “Are you? I hope. You seem brave, but...”
He’s doubting me... with a compliment?
“He rather should be. ‘Cause when I tell the Doc...” Red One’s claw swings towards me.
Ducking, I glimpse him hitting a switch which jerks down with an ominous click.
The room is still.
What? No spikes falling from the ceiling? No lasers? I stop torturing my ankle with the tense posture. Stupid me. Getting scared without a good rea-aah!
A void opens behind my back. I tip down and end up on the ground, winded, staring at the now-familiar ceiling of the lab. So that’s what the switch was for, huh.
Blowhole’s frown closes in my vision. "What's happening here?"
The moment I get up, two claws seize my wings. You too, Twenty-three? Stupid lobsters. There are three now, two trying to rip me apart and one standing aside, staring at the wall.
"Here, boss, your henchbird! I’ve caught him lurking behind the door."
Like a kid showing off his first catch. If that’s not Red One...
"I'm not a henchbird." I lose some more feathers escaping the lobster’s grip. "Let me go!"
Blowhole leans over my head. "As you may recall, we've had a deal." A flash from his fake eye stabs the floor near the place I stand.
"What, what did you just? You are not an exception to the rules I set."
I can't afford to cow out after so many hardships, can I? "Ja, we've had a deal, rigtig."
Doctor fish doesn't honor me with a reply. Time to press harder. "I've done my part, and what did I get? The right to be locked out at the first opportunity?"
He snaps out of his statue-like state. "I 'm not finished here yet. How well do you suppose I can focus in this noise levels, puffin?"
What exactly does he need to focus at? Skipper is supposed to be helpless.
"I won't bother," I say. "Just let me take part in the revenge, as you promised. Why would I be helping you otherwise?"
Blowhole scolds me with a glare and gives his head a shake. He must see through my bluff, know that I was in no position to refuse. Even if revenge could wait, the gulls wouldn't.
"Fine. Red One, shut the door." He turns his back to me and wheels to a machine that's beeping for his attention.
Red One nods and grabs a lever but first, he scowls at the lobster standing aloof. “You are not allowed here either, Twenty-three.” I jerk as he spits the name out like a gulp of saltwater.
The lobster leaves with eyes hung down, doesn’t even try to fight back.
A claw smacks my wing. "Remember," Red One says, “Doc does not repeat an order twice." I turn but he pulls me back. “And neither do I.”
When the door closes out the main cave’s lightsources, the lab lights up with the glow of screens. Only now it becomes clear how many devices has the dolphin crammed into this tiny space. If I lied down, they would look like the sky back home. But I haven’t come here to revisit old memories.
I find Skipper bound to a metal plate. The gash above his eye doesn’t look so deep now but my throat still clenches at the sight.
I’ve won. Defeated you. Made you feel the ground. I still can’t believe my luck.
Too bad I haven’t found the bandages. He would be- no… Skipper would never beg. Especially not when I did that to him in the first place.
As I approach, he raises his head and looks at me with eyes full of… nothing. No fear, or regret, or anger, not a pinch. He doesn’t say a word. Just blinks and shakes his head. The void in his eyes deepens. Somehow, it’s worse than if he was spewing curses. What has Blowhole done to him?
The dolphin’s staring at a screen, tugging at a pair of headphones too tight for his huge head. I poke him. “Wait,” he says, "I'm in the process of... a concept too complex for you to grasp. Red One, call number Two in immediately and put Eight on the guard duty."
"Understood!" With that, the lobster crawls out of my sight, and Blowhole turns to me. "So, what did you want?"
"Have you... hypnotized him?" I lower my voice, just in case Skipper’s listening.
“Hypnotized? Oh, not at all.” Blowhole grins and glances at his capturee. “The penguin has only lost his mind.” He doesn’t seem to care he’s shouting that fact straight into said penguin’s face.
But the notion is absurd. Creepily so. I stifle a half-choked laugh. “Has? As in, right now, and not times ago?” Or is it more than a joke? Was it insanity on Skipper’s part that landed me in here?
“Ehm!” Doctor fish spikes me with a scowl; he doesn’t look amused. Like to a cue, Skipper adds his own, somewhat baffled glare.
“I’m not joking,” Blowhole snaps. “I mean it without a trace of figuratives. Our enemy’s thoughts, memories, feelings, all that I have here." He pats the machine next to him in a manner that makes me wonder whether it will bark.
"That’s not possible!" Stealing someone’s memories, what kind of revenge is that?
"Can’t you see it?"
Exactly. The screen he points at brims with nothing but numbers, charts and lines that only he could ever understand.
Before he can proceed to explain, Red One barges in and hops onto a seat next to him, panting and looking far less smug than when he had left. I fight the urge to show my own smugness and smirk at him.
Blowhole grits his teeth so hard they grate. "Why is it taking so long?"
"Excuse me... boss!” Red One holds a claw to his chest and puffs. “There were certain… complications... with number Two. He has... left his workplace and was… still is… nowhere to be found." He stops to catch a loud, enormous breath. “I ended up ordering Forty-five and Twenty-seven to find and get him for m- for you, Doc.”
The dolphin grins as if he’s just heard a good joke, yet his eye is serious. The other eye glints red. Like a while ago. I crouch behind the trap, next to Skipper who stares down at me, and I watch the laser zap through the air and bounce off the plate. The metal heats up behind my back but I’m shaking nonetheless.
"Oh, so that’s it. It must feel rewarding, showing off your arduous, hard-earned number-one position." Blowhole speaks calmly, draws out each syllable, but they stab like a grip of his teeth. “Don’t forget about the seventy-four other lobsters eager to lighten your burden.” His tone is a new one, a hiss which reminds me of that slimy snake Savio.
Red One holds up a claw. "Seventy-three, boss!" How can he keep his wits together?
Blowhole squeezes the cable of his headphones. "What do you mean?"
"What? Then that Thirty-eight is still-"
"Oh, of course. Him. It’s clear to me.” The dolphin leans to Red One’s eyes. “Crystal-clear.”
While to me it’s anything but.
"Still, none of that matters! Seventy-four or seventy-three, they can replace you nonetheless. If I were you, I would think twice before handing out unauthorized orders.”
Red One nods and gazes at the keyboard. “Right, Doc. What did you want from number Two? I’ll... do his task and leave the chew-out for you.” Blowhole’s done it. Knocked that lobster down a notch... or three.
Or is ‘just this time’ what One mutters under his breath?
“Don’t be concerned,” Blowhole says. “It’s in my best interest to punish him. In your best interest is to stop talking and start working."
“Right… Uh, what exactly am I supposed to do with these?”
Red One, and clueless? What a turn.
Eye shut tight, Blowhole presses a flipper to his forehead. “Don’t make me do it myself. It’s extreeemely simple. You'll remove all unnecessary patterns from the record. I need pure, relevant thoughts, nothing casual or ordinary. When you finish, transform the record into the highlighted form."
"Of course, Doc!"
The lobster’s claws spring into motion across the keyboard.
Still frowning, Blowhole sighs and shakes his head. For a split of a second, his eye meets mine and I dive behind the panel.
Too late. The dolphin wheels over. "Hmp! Scared already, puffin? Brace yourself, for this occurs on a frequent basis. Too frequent for my taste. Every so often a lobster thinks he can get away with disobeying my orders.”
Could I get away now? As soon as I move, he squeezes my upper wing. “But you have no reeeason to worry. While they are workers, you are an ally. I believe you are doing your very best for our cooperation to be successful." The squeeze tightens. “Or aren’t you?”
I stammer out a ‘yes’, not sure whether that means I’m trying, or the opposite. I’m an ally. An ally, hm? Two allies against a common enemy…
...who’s still waiting to get what he deserves. I glance at Red One’s screen and Blowhole looks at me. “You look like you would benefit from some sleep in the meantime.”
That’s his wish, not mine. “And risk missing out on my revenge? No way.” Saying it, I become aware of the heaviness in my eyelids.
“It’s going to take a while.”
Despite my best attempts, I’m dozing off seconds later.
Closed RealityThe issue around isn't the free willed.
It is those who are close-minded.
A herd of sheep always walks straight.
The one-eyed is the king to the blinded.
Scared of change. Afraid to become true.
No matter the factual providence.
They deny each with their stupidity.
Ignorant, with shallow thoughts.
Living their life in mere simplicity.
But who to blame in this chaos.
Insidious is blind inception.
Who is right? Who is wrong?
It's all based on bad perception.
Race and Reality Sometimes I don't know what to think about myself in terms of culture.
I am black. I was raised in a black family. I went to a black church growing up. I lived in a black community. And yet, my relationship with the African American race is only skin-deep at best (pun intended). Maybe it was the fact that I was homeschooled growing up. But a sheltered upbringing only makes a partial impact at best. Even if I wasn't exposed to racism directly, I still read about it at school. And surely all of those cutthroat white supremacists and KKK members would be waiting for me as soon as I took my first steps into this cold, cruel, unforgiving world we call life.
Actually no. Though I was homeschooled growing up, I did go to several co-ops with other homeschooled families. The parents were also teachers assigned to a group of students. And of those teachers and students, many of whom were white. And if the Black Lives M
Sexism - a story untoldI. A mother scorns her infant boy for
wearing a dress; the fresh print of a
hand mark glows on his cheek.
Meanwhile, his sister plays in shorts
II. Lunchtime and a child, no more than
twelve, hurries home early. Tears
smudge the sleeves of his favourite
shirt as he tries to muffle his sobs.
A girl hit him in the face, but boys must
III. Accused of sexual harassment, a
young man apologizes for complimenting
a lady at the bar. Somewhere in the
crowd, a girl pinches a stranger's bum
whilst her friends screech like hyenas.
She was only mildly flirting with him,
IV. In a restaurant, a woman insists her
date pays the bill. The following day,
he's accused of earning too much and
spending too little.
V. A man is pinned against the wall and
forced into sex. Even though he turns
away, he must enjoy it because he's
just a guy. Women can't rape men - it
doesn't work like that.
VI. Somewhere in this world, a boy
holds the door open for his crush, a
husband hunts do
Banning Someone Based on Geography Is WrongUsers from Syria and Iran have been banned from accessing Deviantart in 2017, and this is just coming to light now.
Please support our Syrian, Iranian, African, Turkish and Middle Eastern users.
Don't be stupid enough to conflate making regular art with making IS or ISIS related propaganda based on a user's location.
Read :iconMythiril:'s account here, and sign his petition if you want to support an inclusive, open deviantart that doesn't follow our shithole president's agenda!
(Apparently the link to this journal doesn't work--surprise surprise. So please click on mythiril's icon, and go into his journal entry. thanks)
Having a hard time supporting this idea?
Imagine, for a moment, that Deviantart existed and banned people from germany from accessing the website during WWII. Would it be right to repress the voices of german jewish artists under prosecution? WOuld it be right to ban the voices of people in countries under occupation
There is a place midst the mist
between fans and haters
where true fans cease to exist
replaced by creators.
In this place, as you can see,
true turned all fans’ fantasies:
Bow and arrow,
path silent, narrow
among Panem's trees.
Two are acting
but all fighting
at the stake are destinies.
Caught a horse and slain a pig,
to the bedrock did I dig.
Cut a tree and built a raft,
of survival mine is craft.
I’m a ghost in heavy chain,
in the sunshine, snow and rain,
listen, my friend, listen well,
for the things that I will tell…
Three ghosts you will meet tonight.
Three ghosts will come give you fright.
When the sun brings Christmas days,
you have chance to change your ways.
My friend, how long have you been
waiting for the ink machine?
On a gleeful killing spree,
Bendy’s out there roaming free.
If you don’t mind sharing soup,
better come here in a group.
You must stop that cruel invader
with dark name of lord Darth Vader.
Just when you think he has won,
he says, “Luke, you are my son.”
Or want a terrific Harry-fic?
The magic boy’s fans sure are quick!
Wizard, troll, ghost or a witch,
you won’t catch the sneaky Snitch.
A ghostly bunny? Robot chick?
This pizzeria is all but chic.
Going mad from isolation?
Rather change your occupation.
Your willingness, that may falter.
But you must not balk, nor can halter.
Do what you must – you will know.
That, or your name isn’t Snow.
Monochrome and mono-tune,
the monobear will bring but doom.
To the basement called us all
for a bullet rebuttal.
“You take that!
Today’s victim is not dead!”
What’s the verdict? You can guess:
“Guilty of sheer awesomeness.”
Ponyville – you know that place?
Creatures which you there would face…
with a dragon in her tow,
gulping six pies in a row,
doing cool tricks in the air,
making friends with grizzly
one with keen eye for the fashion,
one with hard work as her passion…
together living in a bliss.
What a power friendship is!
Did you like this journey well?
All the stories fans can tell...
If you think them worth my rhyme,
come back here another time.