Kathleen James felt the plush pearlescent italian leather sofa shifting. At her left, something settling in, uncomfortably close. Kathleen was afraid to look. Prosthetic exhalations. Pungency, like a rusty iron museum piece, displaced the ozone and burnt smells in the vast Floor Three Main Room.
Kathleen knew it certainly was not Angelique Fraser, whose aura emerald green synched and solaced Kathleen’s psyche so well. Nor be it Randall Osbourne, he with the hands of a stone-mason, mindfulness of a sculptor, and telepathic diction of a poet.
Perhaps ‘The One’ who’d rescue this planet suffering from Amnestic Divinity? An ‘Extra-Mile Messiah’ bringing new beginnings of opportunity, dignity, and sweet dreams?
She glanced across. The ‘Penguin-Man.’ One of the two unearthly visitors who had barged in on Angelique’s husband, threatened him, and left behind two strange Platinum Coins. A month later, Edward C Fraser went missing. Blue-black beard-stubs of steel shard splinters. Penguin-Man passed gas.
“Kathleen, whipped soft-serve? Blood-Strawberry, flavor of the day…”
He handed her a tall twisty of the carmine-red ice cream confection. Into her other hand Platinum Coins with engraved seven-pointed-stars, frigid cold.
“Kathleen. Eat. Fast! Edward. Randall. Angelique. They’re waiting.”
“Angelique we’re going back up,” Randall Osbourne was telling her.
“Why? So you can crush me and hurt me and die and decay all over again?”
“Angelique, what about KATHLEEN?” “Randall! She’s by herself! Kathleen!”
The Thunderbird Turquoise fire-door was their only real choice.Randall thought… However, it wasn’t real thought… it wasn’t really Randall’s… It was an analogue, occult formless feeling; like much earlier this day when he’d touched the unique custom PC Computer created by Erich Morrison on display in Angelique’s Showroom…
They must go back, UP to Floor Three, where Kathleen James and what was left of her mind sat immobilized… SOMETHING had rearranged the entire Arielle Facility! Was ‘UP’ still there? Things in his damned head but not his things. Multiple consciousnesses, an entire chorus of consciousnesses.
Nevertheless saving Kathleen was good. Still… Was it a setup… Was it a trap?
Angelique and Randall approached the Turquoise Door. They spoke barely at all. Shared a mutual guilt realizing they had nearly bolted and ran without their friend Katherine James who needed them.
They kept moving along smooth chartreuse corridors striding past the 1950’s hotel-style furniture with silk seating. Brass table lamps slightly askew, tarnished, managed to burn quivering exhausted tungsten filaments.
The thick wool carpeting, appeased by Osbourne’s involuntary ritual blood offering was obligingly silent. He and Angelique opened and passed through the familiar turquoise portal of steel. The hinges, oiled by Osbourne himself, said nothing.
At that moment the structure began shaking.
Earlier that Spring, they experienced a Richter Five Quake while they were in the observatory floor. Fifth and highest level. It felt like this but this felt more brutal. The place was not merely swaying. It was GRINDING. That ancient foundation assaulted by the earth’s crust tearing like rough cloth.
Mixtures of krypton, argon, halogen, and LED light sources flickered threatened oblivion.
“Angelique the stairway is GONE! There’s just another fire door here…”
Randall thought about way back he and Nick Ackerman hopped the barb-wire chain-link fence and snuck into the fairgrounds. A yearly agricultural fair and carny show. Poor little white trash boys who’d saved their pennies, nickels, and quarters for spun candy cotton, air in disguise; the scary dive-bomber ride; and the freak-of-nature shows. They were both ten years old.
Randall recalled the gate admission cost less than that pack of Camel Cigarettes, unfiltered of course, which they had solemnly smoked in the adjoining woods while nerving themselves for their commando mission for saving money for inside the fair.
He’d snagged his dungarees, blue-jeans, on the rusted, infectious barb-wire fence-top. He had come very close to amputating his private parts and was not too young to realize the gravity of that inconvenience.
Although even then already an eccentric, outsider, and nerd-guy, Randall had some forcible qualities. Randall Osbourne was very brave and insanely willful.
The night breeze rushed in when the pants had torn. He wiped blood off his leg. Later, he’d check the extent of damage…
Back in the present, at The Arielle, Randall now summoned that same paranormal clarity and blind faith which had carried him during the fairground fiasco… This time he was not breaking in. He was breaking out.
Now at The Arielle Facility Randall Osbourne directed his will into the blue door. A hand pushed the blue door’s latch. It slid smoothly. Pictured an ankle, he had two bad ones, not shattering crumbling to bone chips. Randall kicked the blue door.