(Warning! A character has a seizure, amongst other reasons there should be warnings)
“I’d like to meet the idiot who sold that man a firearm,” The Builder muttered while watching TV. Smoking a menthol cigarette, they waited for their dinner in bed.
It was one of those times where the pain was overwhelming. Nonetheless, they still kept their trusty hunting knife nearby.
“Where the fuck are my soylent tacos?! I swear, Moony takes forever to grind meat…” Grabbing a nearby ashtray, The Builder ground the remainder of their cigarette in. A second later, they pulled out a fresh one and jammed it into their mouth. “Now where’s my lighter…?”
As they searched, Horse-Face came in holding a plate of food. Rudely, they grabbed the plate from him, and shooed for him to go.
“Took you long enough!” They then shook a leg out from their blanket, and shoved him in the ass with their foot. “Now go find me another lighter.”
Struggling back to his feet, Horse-Face wondered if they’d remember their objective.
“I thought you were going to go find that blue woman who drank your Spirytus, Builder.”
Looking back up at him, The Builder made a sound of confusion, then realization. “Yeah, yeah, I’m giving her a head start. That’s nothing you should bother with. Now go find me a damn lighter!”
Shark was sitting on the bed now, sadly watching the door for his new furry friend to come back.
“I wish you didn’t shoo her out,” he whined as Sinbad took his place on the bed, “I wasn’t done petting her yet!” He then made grabby hands toward the door.
“You’ll get all the time to pet her tomorrow.” Sinbad now sidled up next to him, before noticing something different about the sheets. “Besides, I think she shed all over.”
Taking hold of the top sheet, he lifted it in the air, then shook it several times. A cloud of grey fur filled the air now.
“I like to think of it as ‘her giving us her blessing’.”
Sinbad just shook his head. “Why do I get the feeling we’re going to adopt a lot of dogs after we get our own place?”
He pulled the now shaken cover up to his waist, then decided to address what was on his mind:
“Am I the only one disturbed by this Annette lady?” Shark looked at him with an expression that indicated he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Right, you probably forgot…”
Sinbad pinched in between his eyes. “Remember that time your Uncle Bill was out on the lake?” No expression change. “He threw beach balls at you?”
“Oh, yeah.” Shark grew even more confused. “What about it?”
“Come on man, think about it,” Sinbad said while gesturing to the door, “Your Uncle Bill yelled out the names ‘Annette’ and ‘Sagebear’. Does it not freak you out that a few months later, a blue-skinned chick named Annette shows up with her Catahoula dog named Sagebear?”
Shark now realized what Sinbad was getting at. “Now that you mention it, that does seem odd.” He looked off in thought before coming to a conclusion:
“You don’t think Uncle Bill’s a psychic, do you?”
Sinbad just snorted, and wrapped his arms around Shark. “With all the hallucinogens he’s used, I’m amazed he hasn’t somehow ascended to some weird drug-induced alternate reality. Or died. Who knows with that guy.”
Looking in the fridge, Annette searched the shelves for anything edible. Sagebear joined her, smelling for anything fit to be made into dog food. She cringed at the poor state of this household’s food supply.
“I can’t tell if they’ve been disowned, or if they just keep forgetting to stock this.” She glanced over at her loyal canine companion. “Think maybe we should pay a visit to some old friends of ours?”
Sagebear sat back down on her rump, and barked once. Annette smiled, and pet her on the head.
“I knew you’d agree. But to be on the safe side…” Closing the fridge door, she tiptoed towards the other rooms. She pressed her ear to Lolly’s door, listening to her loud snoring. Annette then crept towards the other door, and was stopped when she saw it wasn’t completely closed.
Hearing the sounds was enough for her to keep from going in. There was absolutely no chance she was going to walk in and see that happening.
Reaching down, Annette gestured for Sagebear to go back to the living room.
“All right, let’s go. They just might appreciate the quiet time.”
Marc had just began painting a new work when the doorbell rang. Setting his paintbrush down, he quick checked the calendar to see if Mister Clay was meant to be home yet.
Surprisingly, he wasn’t supposed to be home for at least another few weeks. Marc wasn’t expecting visitors either.
“Yeah, hang on!” Grabbing his shorts, he quick pulled them on and ran out to greet the arrival.
Instead of one of the neighbors come to check on him, Marc ended up encountering a blue-skinned woman, and her grey dog. After a slight initial puzzling, he slid the front door open.
“Yeah? Something you need?”
The woman straightened her hair and gave a smile. “I’m looking for a Mister Clay. Is he around?”
Hearing the name of his mentor was bizarre, especially from an unfamiliar visitor.
“Nah,” he answered her while shaking his head, “he went off to do some errands in the city. I’m watching the house for him. Why? Owe you money, does he?”
Her smile faded. “Oh no…I just heard of a renowned sculptor here in town, and thought to look him up. But if he isn’t home, I could always wait. Or see if that one woman nearby is available for a different job-”
Marc knew who she referring to. Just thinking of her put a bitter taste in his mouth. He quickly slammed the front door, and stormed back to the room in which he was painting.
Annette was stunned at this rude end to a conversation. For a moment or two after being cut off, she stood there to see if he’d come back.
Watching him slam the door to a bedroom confirmed he wasn’t.
“Well, that led to nowhere,” Annette muttered to Sagebear as they left the property. “Let’s go find our old friend Amy instead.”
The stroll to Amy’s house was a short one. What actually bothered Annette, however, was that the windows were all completely covered.
“You’d think she was performing black magic,” Annette commented as she wandered through to the door. Seeing that said door was also covered with a blanket, she rang the doorbell.
“Just a second!” The sounds of grunting and opening could be heard. The same voice was speaking to an unknown person, telling them, ‘Hide in the bathroom!’
After a few seconds of waiting, the blanket was lifted.
Blaise and Alma were quite ecstatic at seeing Dennis coming through their door. Blaise greeted him with a peck on the cheek.
“Evening, ladies! Hope you don’t mind me dropping in unexpectedly. There wasn’t much to be done at work, so I thought I’d come by.”
Alma waved it off. “We didn’t have anything planned for tonight besides watching TV. Having you over makes our night more eventful.”
“It sure does!” Blaise took hold of Dennis’ hand, and led him into the living room. Upon letting go, she put up a finger towards him as a warning for something.
She then let loose with a loud belch. Dennis was taken aback by the volume she reached.
“My word, madam!” Dennis said in a tone of surprise. “I think I felt the floor shake with that one.” Blaise took it as a compliment, given the way she then smiled from his words.
“Oh, that’s nothing, Dennis,” Alma said as she touched his shoulder to get his attention, “She and I like to engage in belching contests. You should hear us then.”
Dennis looked bemused at this. “Do you now? Well, perhaps I could see this first-hand, should I ever get the chance.”
He then watched as Blaise picked the TV up off the floor. Rather than ask what caused it to fall, he decided to regale the women with the day he’d had.
“So it seems I’ve a sort of drifter at my house now. Drifter and her dog. I didn’t know what else to do, so I let her stay on my couch for a few days.”
“Drifter, eh? What’s she like?” Both Alma and Blaise’s interest seemed quite piqued now.
“She seems nice enough. Looks to be inflicted with a case of Argyria, though. I think the boy is head over heels for that dog of hers. A Catahoula Cur, if I know my dogs.”
Blaise sidled up to him and took hold of his arm. “Any chance I might get to meet this drifter?”
“If you aren’t busy at any point for the next few days, I could definitely introduce you to her! I’ll introduce the both of you to her, if Miss Alma would like to also.”
“Oh! You’re not Jenni,” Amy said as she slid the front door open to Annette. “Um…Are you the new landlady?” The large, distended belly she had didn’t go unnoticed.
Sagebear began sniffing her swollen feet. Then she took to sniffing the air.
“Urf?” Amy and Annette took no notice of Sagebear beginning to sniff the floor. Instead, it was spent clearing up any misunderstandings.
“No, no. I don’t need your money,” Annette tried to tell Amy, before quietly adding, “not yet, anyway. Although…”
Here Annette bent down and rubbed a hand over Amy’s bulging stomach. “I am a bit curious about the man who helped make this little miracle.”
Amy looked uncomfortable, wishing not to disclose the truth. “Um, well that’s complicated…”
By this time, Sagebear had poked her head into the bathroom. Her curiosity then gave way to rage at to who was hidden.
“Sagebear?” Annette looked up in time to see her dog run in. All she could hear was growling, and snarling. This gave way to loud barking, and a man’s agonized screaming.
Before either of them could properly react, Goodwin ran out of the bathroom, and out of the house.
“Get that filthy mutt away from me!” He shouted as he ran by them. A quick glance showed Annette that he was holding his hand to the left side of his ass. Some blood had begun to seep through his shorts.
“Yo! Smurfette! You awake?”
Sinbad and Shark had put aside their lovemaking to check on Annette. It had gotten too quiet for their tastes at this hour. Anyone, perhaps even Annette, would surely be watching TV in an attempt to fall asleep.
Peeking over at the couch, Sinbad growled and facepalmed. “She ain’t even here, man.” Shark just seemed more occupied with seeing if Sagebear was on the couch.
“Awww, and she took the doggy with her,” Shark groaned at the lost opportunity to resume his petting of Sagebear.
“So I guess we gotta wait until she gets back, before we ask her anything.” Sinbad investigated the kitchenette, assuming he could just do some cooking while they waited. “Have you actually made anything out of this book yet?”
“I’ve made a few things. Why?” Shark grabbed his own cookbook, flipping through the pages.
Looking in confused thought, Sinbad brought up a hopefully decent suggestion:
“Think maybe you could make something for this lady tomorrow?” Before Shark could protest by citing lack of experience, Sinbad continued. “Make something for her, and…”
He took the book from Shark and flipped a few pages to something for breakfast in bed. “I’ll make that for you the following morning. Sound like a deal?”
After the disturbing encounter at Amy’s house, Annette was back out on the street with Sagebear. She kept an eye out for any beings wearing thick sunglasses.
“There’s really only one place left to go now, Sagebear.” She stopped, quietly glowering at the mansion in the distance. The horrific memories of what took place there flashed through her mind.
Sagebear could sense her change in mood, for she began to growl while looking in that direction.
Trying to forget now, Annette focused her attention to the nearby police station. “Unless…”
The visitor’s allusion drove Marc to stop painting for the night.
If he weren’t so afraid of what Mister Clay would say, he’d have stabbed his canvases and broke the paintbrushes. Instead, he sat on his mentor’s bed, sulking.
Had he gotten any messages or calls from Amy, he’d understand better what happened. But all he knew was that she was pregnant with a baby that most certainly wasn’t his.
The only thing that broke him out of his funk was the phone ringing. Dragging himself off the bed, he shuffled into the other room and answered it.
“That’s all I get?” Mister Clay feigned apoplexy. “I’d think you forgot me already if I didn’t know you better.”
Marc tried putting some cheer in his voice. “Sorry, Mister Clay.”
“You know I’m teasing you, Marc. Anyway, just checking up on you. Anything worth reporting?”
As they talked, Marc felt an unwelcome though familiar sense of dread overcome him. “There was someone looking for you just a few minutes ago. You just missed her.”
Pausing for a moment, he heard Mister Clay sigh. “Typical. I finally get a potential comission, and I’m not there to accept it.”
As he went on with his progress, Marc just kept him going with “Yeah” and “Uh-huh”. He was waiting for any chance to say ‘hold on’ and try and deal with what was coming.
He didn’t get his chance.
“And the folks at City Hall were the most irritating, and…Marc? Marc?” Mister Clay was stopped when he heard a yelp and thud on the other end of the line.
The phone slid out of Marc’s hand, left unattended as he now lay on the floor, seizing uncontrollably.
Seeing the police station in this universe intrigued Annette.
It smelled cold, yet had the feeling of stoicism. The man sitting at a nearby desk worked quietly when she walked up to the counter. When he noticed her, he tipped his hat in greeting, and stood up to speak with her.
“How may I assist you, miss?” Right away, she noticed the differences between this Dudley, and the one she’d known.
“I’m looking for a Bill Racket. I’m assuming he’s here, after what happened on the news.” Annette waited for him to suddenly throw her out of the station for her request.
Instead, Dudley just gave her a look of relief for it. “All right, then. Follow me, if you will.”
He led her down a hall of cells. Most of them were empty. Those that weren’t held people with varying degrees of anger. Reaching the end, Dudley pointed out the inmate to her.
Sagebear tried poking her head through the bars, attempting to sniff who was behind them. She then jumped back and yelped. Annette was confronted with the sight of Bill gnawing at his own foot.
“I trust you know who you’re dealing with here, miss?” Annette stated she did. Pulling out a key, Dudley unlocked the cell door.
“All right, now! This wonderful woman here has come to free you. You best find a way to thank her properly, you gun-happy dolt.”
The moment Bill took a glance at Annette, he stopped and jumped to his feet. For what felt like an eternity, he stood there looking at her.
“Bill? Bill, are you quite all right?” He didn’t respond, as though he froze in place.
Then he began panting, before it turned into hyperventilating. Before Annette could begin to calm him down, he then began drooling and shaking uncontrollably.
It ended when he fell to the floor. Bending down, Annette poked him in the foot. She then looked up at Dudley to make a bizarre request:
“You wouldn’t happen to have a wheelbarrow by any chance, would you?”