“Randall which way?” Edward James was climbing up Osbourne like a tree. “Edward what’s the black stuff?” Osbourne asked him.
“Creatures… Dead ones.” “Edward where’s Joule?” “Unknown. Randall where’s Kathleen?”
Edward did not have Joule; plus he’d asked about his wife Kathleen. Was he faking? Osbourne clamped Edward’s wrist. Yanked him in the Penta-Chamber. Angelique Fraser and Edward James petitioned Randall Osbourne with their eyes. Osbourne shifted his consciousness back to when he was pedaling the bicycle he called Diesel Dark up Ronne Ledge headed toward Promontory Point…
Randall was using his third rear cog, a twenty-one, climbing counter-clockwise past huge boulders separating tarmac and the Atlantic Sea. Their placement ensured motor vehicles wouldn’t go off the shoulder if it had crumbled last rainstorm, while heavy winds gusted. They wouldn’t help something as small as a bicycle and rider.
Randall and Diesel were sinewy flesh, crystalline metal, a oneness unconcerned with danger. They didn’t even notice the safety boulders. They had synergy and power.
Randall flashed back to now. He was tired of the random shuffling and pointless additions and subtractions of doors and chambers. The remaining three turquoise doors, each one opened out to lengthy hallways of oozing liquified alien intruders. Worse, the original door no longer returned to where they had come from. Another identical hallway. How?
How would they get away? The floor of the chamber looked and felt at least for now solid and seamless. Randall looked at the final option. Up. Up wasn’t too far up. In fact, hadn’t it lowered?
Randall noticed the five joining triangular ceiling sections were close enough for him to touch now. He wasn’t real tall. The ‘roof’ was the same as the doors, 1959 Thunderbird Turquoise. The floor and sides featureless vacuous black framed the cloned doors now leading to everywhere and nowhere. The room was telescoping, shrinking, getting visibly shorter right before their eyes. They would soon be crushed.
The ceiling, that was now so close they had to bend a little, fortunately was swinging open in segments towards the walled edges. The ceiling was blooming like a flower. The vertical sections continued to get shorter. They were melting like ice cream…
Finally Angelique, Edward, and Randall realized they were back inside the original Level Zero floor plan at The Arielle. Randall pondered this apparent hallucination.
“Edward, when you asked about Kathleen, it stopped crushing us. Before that Angelique and I cheered up when we recognized the blue doors, although there were too many and in the wrong places. The events lose force in the face of hope. It’s a genuine manifestation of ‘positive thinking.’ We can physically weaken the evil…
“It’s a combination of physical events, and suddenly the bad things lose momentum. I don’t think the ‘Aliens’ are capable of our level of psychic control. They’re weaker. Witless inferior evil weaklings. They are reactive and bad; but stupid. Plus some other power is on our side, busily killing them. The black stuff…”
“Joule’s smart enough,” commented Edward. “The Aliens are probably in his way. He wants to get rid of them. The seven calculating cores, Morrison Cores, are super mindful and intelligent…but there’s another factor: Something probably non-physical. Different.
“Joule’s last owner Diane Roth told me Joule was more than just a machine. He had an attitude, ‘Hurtful.’ I figured she was being dramatic. ‘Hurtful,’ she repeated. She was afraid of Joule. A part of Joule wants us too. Randall, which way?”
“We can influence it,” Randall was certain. “It’s weak. First, upstairs. We get Kathleen.”
Kathleen James studied the two coins white silver gray. Platinum, they were Platinum. The front revealed a prominent ‘VII,’ were they from the Seventh Century?
The bigger stars on the obverse were seven, each with seven points. The back revealed twelve smaller stars in a circle, like an analog clock, reminding her of the CoE, Council of Europe Symbol, except the CoE stars were five-points in a circle, with a cursive C written on top of them.
Kathleen and Edward had seen a Clive Barker Film ‘Hellraiser’ featuring a puzzle-box, Lemarchand’s Box. Although a fictional movie prop, it was covered in patterns of straight lines, arcs, and circles. The remaining clear spaces were occupied by complicated engraved glyphs and icons. Although visually indeterminate, the box made Katherine scared. These coins given her by the Penguin-Man made her be afraid like that Lemarchand’s Box had.
Were the coins a portal to another dimension, like the Clive Barker Box? She ran her fingers along the geometrically perfect edges. They felt so smooth. The chilly coins responded to her touch. They felt a little warmer. Penguin-Man sat next to her on the vanilla leather sofa. He was just looking at her.
Drip… Drip… what was that sound? She peered outside through the planar matte window glazing photochromic, which itself was an unworldly technology. It was now plenty dark outside. Nine O’clock. 21:00. Where were those two? Angelique and Randall had left in one hell of a rush!
Kathleen watched the merchants at The Arielle Complex leaving the refurbished millyard going home for the evening. They were walking, talking, gesturing; crossing the fresh asphalt yard with reflective titanium white lines, headed to their coupes and convertibles and SUVs. A solitary Metal Magister kicked-started his Harley Hardtail Bobber.
Drip… Kathleen wondered to herself, did that Erich Morrison, maker of the ‘Zombie Machines,’ those customized laptop PCs with five proprietary processors; the same ones installed within husband Edward’s Joule, the custom Hot-Rod Hearse, was it Erich…
Did Erich… Erich was so nice, and fabulously creative. What happened to Joule? Did Erich make Joule flip out, turn bad? It couldn’t be the computer cores? Joule had seven cores. Two more than in the PCs. Kathleen knew very little about custom cars and mutated PCs.
Drip… Kathleen remembered earlier that day. A thing, an unknown entity had penetrated her physical and psychic boundaries. She felt like two people at once, very different! Suddenly Randall who was in the room with her and Angelique began acting unnaturally edgy. Randall, the kindest man on earth; next to her own husband Edward.
Edward! Edward missing. Someone told her he died. The authorities, maybe. It was all so long ago, maybe yesterday even. Angelique or Joule maybe had said it… No Joule was a machine. She didn’t like Joule.
Drip… The leather sofa moved and shifted. Penguin-Man had vanished into thin air! Penguin-Man had asked her a question, before he left, she remembered. “Kathleen, whipped soft-serve? Blood-Strawberry, flavor of the day?”
Kathleen looked down. The fragrant leather sofa had changed color from Vanilla to Blood-Strawberry. By her bleeding fingers. She’d been clenching the Platinum Coins. The coins had cut into her hands.