“Stuck here?!” He was incredulous.
“I’m afraid so,” replied Dr. Mulholland, now on her 3rd glass of wine. This didn’t count the stuff her double John Lockfry 02 knocked down earlier. Karoz wondered if the alcoholic effects accumulated between the two of them or if it was wiped clean after a transformation. By the looks of her state, he’d guess the former.
“Tea, madam or sir?” It was the Selenite butler Karoz was introduced to earlier, seeming to sense a need to maintain a certain level of sobriety. The last of the true monsters, Dr. Mulholland claimed. Tamed and harmless as a little kitty now, she explained, and then even purred like a cat to reinforce the idea. “No thanks, Alberta,” he said. “Nahh,” slurred Dr. Mulholland in turn. He dutifully retreated back into his hidden corner of the diner.
“Don’t you think it’s cruel just to keep him tucked away over there until you need him?”
“Nahh,” she said again, and made the wine in her glass more turbulent. “So what do you think? What’s the arrangement going to be?”
“Arrangement?” Karoz querried.
“I mean, right now it’s me and the hubbie, Alberta over there, and then Bendy. H-how do you fit it?”
Karoz was firm. “Hey, I’m not staying. I’m going to get off this rock somehow.” He was starting to talk more like the locals.
“How? It’s all unlinked. We had to do it because of the monsters, like Alberta. Hey Alberta?” she shouted toward his hidden corner. He immediately came forth.
“Yes, madam? Tea madam?”
“No, I was just wondering if you could tell our guest Karoz about your kind, the Sele–nites. And how we tamed you and took out all those wild, murderous bits.” She snarled at him this time and clawed the air.
“Yes, madam. My people are Selenite warriors that come from the inside world. We numbered 7. We battled the Selenite isopods, who also numbered 7. We killed each other off many times over, but always came back to life at the Bright Lites. Until you and Mr. John Lockfry deactivated the Bright Lites and set me free. I am the seven who are one.”
“He means the rezzing crystals,” explains Dr. Mulholland, “the ones that are brighter. I’ll show you sometime. Heck, let’s go now. I’m tired of sitting around this place night and day. Well, night. The hubbie never wants to go down there. He’s crippled. Oh, what I mean his mind is crippled as well as his body. Come here, come here.” Dr. Mulholland waved Karoz closer to her. He leans over the table toward her, careful not to spill his wine. “He *is* the moon now. How about that?”
“I don’t understand.”
“The moon became crippled when we unlinked it and extracted all the monster codes. My husband became crippled at the same time. It was an arrangement. One of us had to go back in that chair. It wasn’t going to be me.” She looked at him with fire in her eyes.
“Going back to Collagesity, you said you woke up in the woods and found your way to Baker Blinker’s house.”
“Gloomy Gus, um huh.” She swigged another gulp of wine.
“You had a pocketbook.”
“Unch, right. The key.”
“Baker Blinker said it had money in it. And a note from Old Kent, the shark you know.”
“I know. The shark told us to give it to you. The shark said you were the most important person in Collagesity now, but you can’t change. So we brought you here. You’re *trapped*. We didn’t die in a firey explosion. That was just staged.”
“Staged,” repeated Bendy in a smaller voice from her shoulder.
Karoz Blogger just shook his head at this. He didn’t believe a lot of what she’s saying. He was eager for another transformation to take place so that he could talk to the male side, get another slant on events.
Dr. Mulholland wiggled a finger at Karoz. “We had to keep you away from her. The evil Baker. We can’t even allow you to have a quarter to call her. Oh, what the heck, here’s a quarter. Give her a call; tell her you’re okay. That shark is probably crazy, after all. Tell her you’re on the moon, we’re here, and everything will be okay.” Then she says this in a lower tone, more to herself: “Except it won’t be okay.”