He soaked up the words from every page, eager for more, greedy for them. Equations and hypothesis danced in his brains. Compound concoctions. Farming solutions. Matter duplication operations. Language barriers. Psychological manipulation. Physical reanimation. War and art. Sounds. Musical manipulations. Telekinesis. When he reached any point of non understanding he quickly found it natural to close his eyes and reach out with his thoughts and lift understanding from some other, more educated brain. He never questioned this ability and never fell upon any information in the cabinets his father had directed him too concerning it. In the beginning it had been difficult, and at times would knock him into long states of unconsciousness. But over time the ability seemed to grow stronger and become easier to use as though Okmars body were adjusting to the weight of this new ability. Sometimes he would see his father. Solith never spoke much. It was Okmar who did most of the talking. Sometimes he would babble for hours and then look up to see the empty office and question his sanity. His left eye was his only friend during the ten years he remained under ground. It would extend and comfort him during emotional struggles, it would assist him when he was exhausted and it would listen when no one else was there. Okmar supposed he had gone a little insane but accepted this change and used it to his advantage. Seclusion, information, hallucinations, anger, sadness, alcohol and the ability to read random thoughts throughout the universe could certainly breed insanity in any creature but it can also breed many other things. It was year five that Okmar began to develop a plan to avenge his father’s death which he’d convinced himself in year three had been caused by all residents of Bicilite. They had passed off his father’s death as though it were nothing. Some were even joyous at the news. The government had seized their property, filled in the crater and developed a new plant for converting Bicilite to fuel. This had angered Okmar beyond belief. This was a dying race. Sometimes Okmar felt sorry for them and their small thoughts. What a waste of brain he would think. Dwelling on these unfortunates bred a layered loathing. His race should be leagues ahead of everything in the universe. If more had been like his father it would be.
When Onun appeared Z was unsure if he was really there. His head was swimming with delirium and his face hurt something awful. He actually attempted to move and ask for assistance even though the identity of the character was no secret to him, but it was a failed attempt. He watched the legendary Onun crouch down and inspect the impressions in the sand where Murphy had fallen. His head turned in the direction of footprints in the sand in a slow calculated way. Z watched as his mind continually battled with consciousness. His claws would extend and retract into the warm sand and his vision would wobble like television interference. He closed his eye against the terrible swimming in his head and slowly reopened it just as Onun blasted away in the direction of Murphy’s footprints. He moved away so fast that Z thought he had disappeared at first. Small dust tornados sprung up where Onun had been and a soft warm wind passed through Z’s clumpy fur. He dragged himself out from under the broken machinery and into the sun. He made it to the impression Murphy had made and noticed a Nicker weed sprouting from a small hole. Judging by these impressions in the sand, this was where Church had tumbled when Murphy fell. Z dragged himself into the hole and plucked the Nicker weed from the sand. As he began to use the weed his mind began to clear as the pain subsided. Following a few thankful moments his mind cleared enough to realize what was in the direction Murphy, Onun and Church had gone. An angry darkness spread through his face. He pushed all of this newly acquired information in the direction of Okmar’s thought sponge but received no response. Maybe they had gotten to him. Maybe they actually got to him. Z cringed at the first movement but found it easier each time he struggled forward. The hot Stungett beat down on him as he dragged his broken body, through the sand. When he crested the small rise he looked back at the smoking wreckage and the cluster of buildings in the distance. He pushed out one final thought before rolling over the peak of the hill. ‘The Pools.’
It took everything he had to remain still as Murphy contemplated crushing his head with the sole of a hovering foot. There was searing pain shooting through his head and one of his hind legs. He bit down hard and remained still for a very long time. Then the foot slowly slid aside and revealed Murphy’s lost expression. Z stiffened and hoped Murphy didn’t see it. Moments later, proof that he hadn’t seen it, as he turned and coughed his way through the heavily expanding smoke. Z continued to lie as he was until the fourth crash happened and the front window shattered. He couldn’t resist looking any longer. He slowly turned his head and watched Murphy run out the front window carrying Church over his shoulder. Through the smoke he watched Murphy fall to the desert sand and lose Church from his shoulder. Z struggled onto his belly and only moved more when Murphy picked Church up and disappeared from view. Z dragged his half burnt body across the littered floor of the shuttle, towards the exit Murphy had created with the pilot chair. When he was halfway through this painful struggle, Murphy had come back into view. He was nearing the top of the west valley side leaving a trail in the sand drifts. Z coughed and pulled his damaged body through the shattered glass that used to be the front window. When he fell the short distance from the ships floor to the sand, Murphy was long gone. Massive pain shot through his broken hind leg. He now realized that he was only seeing with one eye. This explained the headache and sharp pains ripping through his skull. He reached up with one shaky paw and lightly touched the area around the empty socket, cringing against the fresh pain. He laid that way for some time, beneath a fallen portion of the control panel, just inside the hot edge of the desert Stungett, sure he would die there. He went in and out of consciousness for a time, his mind working on both levels of consciousness in very conflicting ways. One moment he was envisioning a large pool of cool water in which he peacefully dipped his tongue and then next he envisioned words floating in the direction of Okmar’s busy thought sponge. Words with meaning. Important words.
“Sparks Alamnt!” Andelad Mot spit. There went every option except chancing the jump across to the other roof. They looked at each other for a moment and both saw that they had no other choice. Andelad Mot turned and jumped. He landed feet first a foot and a half clear of the edge and fell in a summersault, crashing heavily into an exhaust vent. Bohspox watched him lay still for a few anxious moments before he rose to a sitting position and gave a thumb up. The dog was joined by the other two now and the three of them barked crazily above. Bohspox said a silent word and ejected from the wall with everything he had. Unfortunately his pivot foot slipped slightly upon launch and he didn’t get everything into the jump he wanted too. His arms pin wheeled as he neared the edge of the roof, falling much faster down than he was across. His chest hit the edge of the roof hard enough to knock all the wind from his lungs. He desperately clawed at the smooth roof for any kind of purchase as his inability to breath swelled his wide open eyes. Andelad Mot slid across the surface on his belly and caught one of Bohspox’s flailing hands just as his weight carried him over the edge. The momentum of his fall dragged Andelad Mott a few feet before his much larger frame stuck enough to hold Bohspox. Bohspox looked up and kicked his legs at the smooth wall of the building. No tiny metal protrusions on this side. Andelad Mot let his balance settle before attempting to pull up the extra weight. His attempt was successful. Bohspox rolled onto the roof and coughed and choked in as much of every breath he could. Andelad Mot lay on his back and stared at the freaking dogs above. One of the dogs actually jerked back and forth as though it were considering a jump from that height. Andelad Mot hoped it tried.
They reached the end of the alley a full forty yards before the dogs and raced up the spiral stairs three, sometimes four at a time, leaving the floating sticks at the bottom in as much of a obstructive way possible. The dogs easily knocked them aside. Halfway to the top Andelad Mot spared a look back providing him with obvious proof that the odds of making it to the top, never mind to somewhere safe once they did before the dogs were ripping the flesh from their bones, was at the least a million to one. Protruding from the wall every four or five feet from each other were small metal boxes. He reached out, grabbed Bohspox by the collar and tugged him to a stop. Without explaining he leapt from the staircase and grasped at one of the small boxes. He missed it but in a stroke of luck his other hand found its way over another and he was able place his feet and quickly shuffle aside for Bohspox who was already hanging over the railing. The lead dog got close enough to taste the cuff of Bohspox pants with the tip of its tongue before its teeth snapped closed on air. It immediately began to snarl and bark loudly as it hung over the railing of the staircase with its front paws sending stringers of saliva whipping in the escapee’s direction. The other two dogs quickly joined in, the noise echoed down the dark alley. Andelad Mot continued shuffling along in a very concerted manner, always maintaining contact with the wall with at least three points and keeping his eyes from the mortal drop to the road below. The corner of the building was about eight feet away. The dogs continued to bark but there were a couple of whines in there now as well. Andelad Mot considered looking back but the heavy breathing of Bohspox accompanied by a few grunts and groans was more than enough to confirm his successful pursuit. At the corner of the building Andelad Mot surveyed the surroundings and found that if they climbed up another ten or twelve feet they could leap to a section of the roof of the building next door. He carefully made his way around the corner, looking into a cross wind that nearly blew his hands free. Bohspox followed and now that they were out of the dogs view the barking tapered off and then disappeared all together. They climbed up fifteen feet to be sure and looked down. If they cleared the drop there was a good chance that they would break a bone or injure themselves somehow. If they didn’t clear the drop they would more than likely die on impact or suffer in horrible pain until the dogs showed up to finish the job. Bohspox looked up. The lip of the roof was another forty yards or so and judging by the pain in his fingers and forearms from the limited hold he could manage on the small metal protrusions he calculated the risk of falling to a sure death very high. Suddenly one of the dogs head poked over the lip of the roof and once again the barking recommenced.
Bohspox and Andelad Mot sped through streets on the floating sticks, mostly through back alleys and side streets in the direction of the tallest building in the centre of the city. The Stungett hung in the bright blue sky just above the peak of the needle shape building, showering heavy heat onto the blacktops, waving around the air above them like dreamy visions. The cluster of shorter buildings stretched into the sky like rotting teeth. A fluorescent blue bulb of light flashed consistently at the peak of the control tower like a beacon. Bohspox stared at this light, transfixed by its rhythmic pulse and were it not for Andelad Mot’s vocal warning he would have ran right into a parked vehicle. He swung left, barely missing the back fin. He wobbled back into consistency and Andelad Mot pulled up next to him. “You okay?” “Yeah. Just got a little obsessed with the beacon.” Andelad Mot regarded him curiously and took the lead down a dark, trashy alley. Up ahead, the control tower rose in the centre of the alley walls in a very unwelcoming way. Andelad Mot weaved through some scattered debris, saw something crawl into the deeper shadows to his left from the corner of his eye but saw nothing when he trained his vision there directly. He wanted to be out of this alley right now. Something didn’t feel right at all. He got to thinking that he’d expected a certain level of desertion the closer they got to the centre of the city, but expected nothing to this extent. Other than four scattered, unaware, hungry looking cats seen from a distance and the movement in the alley there had been nothing. He turned and took a quick look at Bohspox who wore a compatible expression to Andelad Mot’s feelings as the wind rippled through his long yellow locks. Deep concern and a perfect paranoia. Andelad Mot slowed his floating stick until he drew beside Bohspox. “We should get up high and survey the situation! I’m not having good feelings about these dark hidden areas any longer,” he shouted to which Bohspox replied with a single nod. Andelad Mot flew ahead once again and swung right, into a darker portion of alley that dead ended but the end wall supported a black iron, circular staircase. Half way to this staircase his sense of paranoia intensified. He looked left and right as he exerted the floating sticks speed capability. Bohspox looked behind him and nearly swallowed his tongue as his eyes grew wide. Dog’s. Three of them. Bohspox hadn’t seen one since his trip to Stalogon B17 nearly thirty seven bixom ago. Stalogon B17 was a very small planet in the Xyphonix system just outside the Elephone galaxy. Bohspox had sold a single crate of Spox communicators to them and, as he’d always done in the case of a first purchase, made the trip personally. They seemed simple and proper. The exchange went well and he’d never received another order. These dogs looked much different. You could see any creatures intent by what was in their eyes, provided they had them. These dogs had murder in their eyes. Slobber fell from their flapping lips as they raced to stay behind the faster floating sticks. Bohspox turned back to face forward. He accelerated and as he passed Andelad Mot he shouted, “DOGS! MOVE IT!” Andelad Mot flipped a quick glance back before accelerating to top speed.
The desert seemed endless and the heat was heavy. The lame scenery blurred by Onun’s extreme progress. Sweat poured into his eyes and he constantly rubbed at them. Onun had become the wind. He streaked through the desert in a barely visible blur, kicking up a trail of dust behind him. He could dimly make out a black curl of smoke extending from the desert floor and into the bright blue sky a short distance ahead. He zig zagged around a couple of free standing cactus like trees, over a small drift and down into a wide spread valley. From the top of this valley he could clearly make out the smoking wreckage of the Fluth shuttle. Debris was spread across a half mile stretch. The smoking section was what remained of the bridge area and hung askew from the other hill side of the valley. Onun halted here and swallowed nothing down a dry throat. How anything could survive this was beyond he. He headed down the valley side towards the heap of smoking metal regardless. When he reached the recently smashed front window of the Fluth shuttle he side glanced at the pilot chair hanging half in and half out curiously. This drew his attention to the impressions in the sand. Someone had crawled out, fell down and then travelled westward. Onun’s eyes followed the tracks up the side of the valley and over. They were human tracks. There were no others. He quickly deducted that Murphy was either carrying the cats or they were still inside the shuttle, dead. He grasped the edge of some wreckage and leaned forward. The entire bridge area was black with smoke. If anything was in there it was dead for sure. Without hesitation he turned and jetted in the direction of the footprint trail not noticing the single glowing cat eye staring up at him from under the wreckage he’d leaned forward on.
“There is a path that run’s between two hills. The city itself can be seen in the distance, sparkling and active at night, drawn and dull in the day. The path is lined with ficusth trees that narrow at one point almost to the edge of the path. Okmar will send the bulk of his men through this pass figuring the distraction on the west side of the city would draw the majority of our soldiers. This distraction will be the public dismemberment of Phil Murphy. I will take the bulk of our forces and hide in the Ficusth tree’s where they narrow. We will ambush this parade and we will succeed. Okmar still has not received word of the Fluth shuttles crash. He is lost in some kind of memory trance. My hope is that Onun can reach Murphy before Okmar comes aware of these events. Bor will take what soldiers are left and lead them into an invasion of the distractions location. You will take them by surprise. No remorse.” Bor nodded as Kevin continued with his eyes closed. His face exposed duress. This process of reading Okmars thoughts looked to be taking its toll on his health. “Bohspox and Andelad Mot will sneak their way into the control tower in the centre of the city before any of this occurs. There is likely to be some Men in Suits guarding the tower. Extreme caution should be taken. When in control of the tower you will manipulate the city intercom and loop Phil Murphy’s entire new album over its speakers at full volume.” Kevin blindly held out a small mini disc and Bohspox took it with nervous fingers. “ This will be our queue. You must have the music on before the bulk of men enter the path and before Okmar can locate Murphy. This will be the only way we can coordinate our attack in secrecy. Once Okmar snaps from his current state all thoughts will rush into his head. He seems to be some kind of thought sponge. Everything will be revealed to him and he will take measures to impede our motivations. Go now. Take the sticks.” Kevin motioned with one of his paws to the far corner of the room where seven floating travel sticks hung neatly from custom hangers on the wall. Bohspox and Andelad Mot stood motionless for an entire ten seconds, obviously mulling over the plan and developing holes in the plan that could lead to failure. Kevin remained silent yet the air began to fill with a physical impatience. It was a very uncomfortable feeling and it affected the two enough to turn away and head for the floating sticks. “Be safe friends and hurry,” Kevin said as they took the floating sticks down from the hangers and pressed the big red buttons on the handles sides. They were gently lifted two feet above the ground. “The same to you,” Bohspox said and led Andelad Mot through the sliding doorway and down the hallway beyond.
The bus pulled to the side of the street with a loud exhaust of air from the braking system that sent a plume of dust swirling around like a tornado, I watched a skinny man who had obviously consumed his share of alcoholic beverages that day misjudge the distance from the bus platform to the road below. The shaky leg could not support the full weight of his step down. He fell forward, his inebriated state slowing his reflexes and reducing his sense, failing to protect his forehead from connecting with the curb in full momentum. An immediate spray of blood decorated the sidewalk, fanning out over some passerby’s shoes. A woman dropped a bag full of groceries, screamed and covered her O shaped mouth with tight, erect hands. A widening pool of blood began to form below the skinny man's left ear. My mother hadn’t noticed any of this until the woman had screamed. She cursed at the sudden hazard lights the bus activated and told me to look away but I couldn’t. I made it look that way to her but I watched as two men ran out of the bus, lifted the skinny man by his shoulders and drag him from the street to the sidewalk. Blood poured in an alarming rate from the gash on his forehead. His sweat pants had been dragged down to his ankles, exposing a bright orange pair of fruit of the looms. One of the men wrestled with the sweat pants, failed, shouted something in a foreign language and walked away briskly. The other man attempted to roll the skinny man over, but after seeing the amount of blood pooled beneath the skinny man's cheek he thought better and set him back down. It was then that my mother found space to merge into the left lane. My shin began to pain slightly as I fought my balance with the foot that wasn't hovering two inches above Z’s mangled head. I stepped back and replaced the hovering foot to the ground. I looked at Z’s smoking eye socket for a few more moments as the graphic memory of man and curb evaporated. I turned and saw Church’s dead body crumpled beneath some sparking machinery. I choked through the building smoke, trotted over, reached under the machinery and dragged Church out by the tail. There had been no disapproval noises. Half of the giant window remained in view. The glass had been spider webbed, some had even come loose, littering the slightly crooked floor. The control chair had come loose from its spinning stand and lay tight beneath the smoking control panel. I roughly tossed Church’s limp body over my shoulder and ran to retrieve the chair. I began to sputter and drool now. I swung the chair at the spider webbed window with everything I had. Small shard of glass sprinkled down on the first hit, but the structure remained intact. I swung again and again. The fourth swing shattered the entire window. Glass fell. I covered my face with arms and ran from the destroyed shuttle and into a bright hot heat. I fell to the hot sandy surface of Rock, coughing and choking. Church’s body toppled from my shoulder and rolled into a small hole that supported the only plant life my perspective provided. The electric energy in my veins continued to pulse. It only took seconds for me to repair my coughing issues. I felt no other pain at all. I momentarily recalled the reanimation of my baby finger before I stood with sudden purpose. I retrieved Church’s body from the small hole and ran west. A shocking strength ignited new energy in my legs. I ran like the wind away from the smoking wreckage of Z’s tomb, across the desert like terrain toward a destination my subconscious seemed to know of.
My eyes opened. There were my fingers. A long jagged cut ran along the inside of the thumb, across my wrist and out of my field of vision. The middle finger stood straight up in a very unnatural way. The baby finger was no longer there. I stared at these uncomfortable things for a very long time during which I noticed the smells of smoke and the sounds of angry electricity. I witnessed my middle finger snap back into place and the long jagged cut along the inside of my thumb fill in with new skin. Tendrils of stringy flesh began to extend from the bloody stump of my baby finger. I watched in amazement as bone and muscles began to materialize out of thin air. Tiny blonde hairs pushed their way through the new skin like blades of grass. Finger nails pushed through the tips. My attention was slowly stolen by the sprawled ball of fur crumpled in corner. Z’s fur was burnt in places. His tail looked devoid of fur. He lay in a twisted position; back legs to one side, front paws straight out to each side. The left side of his face glistened with blood; it matted the fur. All the whiskers on that side had been burnt off and a flap of skin had been torn from his top lip exposing four of his white, well kept, sharp teeth. Where his left eye used to be was a dark, smoking hole. His other eye stared blankly into nothing. Invisible arms curled under my elbows and lifted my cheek from the floor of the destroyed portion of the Fluth shuttle I seemed to have managed to survive in. I wobbled like a drunk towards the destroyed, smoldering corpse of Z, aided by something I would never totally understand. Seven of these unbalanced steps were what it took for me to reach him. I stared down into his good eye, searching for any sign of life. I glanced at the smoking hole where his other would be and gnashed my teeth. I raised my foot and held it over Z’s head for a long time, battling with my thoughts.