Margie and the Marvelous Ming Way

by CR Kalthoff

Some creatures look and act a little….out of place.  Some naturally assume they are from this planet.  Others aren’t so sure.  There’s a man that sits on the park bench at 3:14 am every 4th day of each month, singing Townes Van Zandt songs at top of his lungs. I know that’s not that weird; we’ve all seen street performers. The kicker comes at watching him dump freshly churned butter into an empty newspaper dispenser during the chorus of Waitin Around to Die.  He doesn’t seem to belong in this elitist neighborhood of Languaneezo City….The kind of neighborhood that produces top-level businessmen, and cheerleaders for major sports organizations.  The kind of place where the houses are exactly the same in every way, right down to the window trim, except mirrored every other house or so.  But that man dumping margarine’s older, and more confident brother, butter is not only one of the richest men in the county, he is the mayor.  He absolutely belongs here.  That little black dog prancing and leaping through the cat-tails and empty China Deluxe containers, however, just teleported here from the planet Mingolia, and is currently the smartest being on Earth.

—————————————————————-

“Dr. Marge?”

“Yes, Steve?”

“We seem to have a slight problem with the levels.”

“What sort of problem?”

“Well, there aren’t any levels. Shouldn’t there be levels? Isn’t that bad?”

“Yes, that’s bad.  That means that there is nothing in that room to make the levels go up and down. That means it’s gone.”

“Oh….well then I have some bad news….”

Dr. Marge dropped the beaker in her hand and tore through Lab 402 toward the now, widely open door to a room which was previously completely sealed from the world around.  That security failed when the student in Chair 6 spilled his drink trying to hit on the girl in Chair 7. While everyone enjoys the “thrill of the chase,” his stopped him from seeing the drink fall onto the “OPEN DOOR” button, and then roll along the grooves until it embedded itself deep into the circuitry.  This not only caused the board to spark and smoke, but it also opened the sealed door to the glass-encased, sound-proof room where they were keeping THE EXPERIMENT.

“YOU FOOL! Do you have any idea what you just let out?!?  We’re all dead!”

“It was just a person.”

“First of all, you’re fired.  Two, you’re stupid. And three…You just freed a cannibal with super-pin strength and invisibility.”

“….oh….will I still get credit for this job towards my major?”

“Get the fuck out.  Now.”

The student dropped their head and walked to the exit. Six seconds after he pressed the light-grey button to open the door, his right front arm was ripped off at the shoulder joint. Slipping on the blood and gore on the floor, he fell backward, hitting his head.  Within seconds, his body was gone, dragged down the hall screaming and muttering gargled apologies to breeders….

After a couple of minutes, Marge started her emergency evacuation procedure. This involved her abandoning not only the entire facility, but the planet as well.

Marge’s ears perked up….something was around the corner….outside the lab….a scream….the shriek sounded as though a banshee had stubbed their toe on an unfinished and very jagged wood floor. 

The scream was, however, shortly honored as Chad’s right ear frisbee’ed down the hall passed the door marked “Lab 402.”  The ear spun with such intense speed, that it stuck in the concrete wall at the end of the hall as if it were made of unbendable steel sharpened to the absolute thinnest edge, rather than leathery dog hide.

Luckily for her, Chad was never trusted enough to be let in on Marge’s plan.  No one was.  She hated them all, and was actually glad the experiment escaped, because it allowed her to do the same.  With every scream, she smiled a little bit, and with every rip and tear she heard around the corner, she moved a little bit faster.  She walked over to the wall, three feet from the sealed room, and pulled down a “Cats are People, Too” poster. This revealed a toggle switch that when flipped, dropped a “Porcelain Dew” from the soda machine in the far corner of the lab.  Marge calmly walked past the walls lined with beeping computers and past the coffee machine that hadn’t been turned on since the incident involving the Sasquotchian Terrier-Reader from the glaciers up north.  She stepped over the broken beaker shining piece-by-piece on the linoleum floor, and through the haze of burned-orange light from the evacuation procedure.  She walked over to the machine, grabbed soda, and turned it to where the mouth was pointing at the 6th ceiling tile in the first section of the room.  She opened the drink, and the room was enveloped in a red/blue light, much similar to those of flashing police car lights.  The lights reflected and bounced off of her dilated pupils, causing her brown eyes to turn a very bright shade of blue as she waited.  After only a couple of seconds, Marge’s gaze was interrupted by the room’s sudden change in temperature.  It got hot.  Really hot.  Marge shook her head, and looked around the room, her ponderous stare lying, finally, on a factory copy of “Howard the Duck” on VHS, now perfectly centered in the room.

Marge stood upright, as they all did, unless a night of drinking heavily weighed down their front feet as well the next morning.  With her white lab coat an inch above the ground, she walked over to the tape as the sound of breaking glass, vicious growls and barks filled her ears.  She paused to look behind her at the door leading from the lab to the main building.  Still closed.

           

It’s not in here yet, or I’d be dead already. 

Outside Lab 402, the halls were red and smeared.  Where earlier that day, lab assistants and students hurried to and fro, now remained only a few twitches of spurting life.  Those twitches and spurts originated from the same lab assistants and students that earlier hurried to and fro. Now the experiment was loose….it had broken out of the complex, and was jumping fences and ripping flesh throughout the town….soon the planet.

She turned back toward the VHS on the floor, knelt and picked it up.  White light.  Wind hit Marge’s face so hard, it blew back her cheeks and jowls, making a slapping noise like those little plastic paddles you get at carnivals and PTA events.  The wind stopped and the brightness of the light drizzled into focus. Fifteen years of her life stared back at her. She stood in front of the “Ming Way.”

The Ming Way is a transportation module in which, essentially, a giant hand grabs your body, and throws you from one spot in the universe to another.  Nobody’s quite sure how it works, because Marge just simply never told anyone. She would always just change the subject. Usually to food.

Marge’s eyes were galaxies dropping stars as the light faded, leaving her floating in a chalkboard green color. What is that sme-…is that chalk? She thought as she spun tail-over-teeth into nothing. The problem that was now pouring down on her, was that she forgot to set her destination coordinates. She had intended on going to S-393, which is a very lovely planet with no cats, plenty of sunshine and all the White Russians she could possibly ever drink.  Instead, the coordinates picked a planet at random and set the speed to “Super Duper X42.”

If that seems fast, that’s because it is….

Marge burned a hole through a very surprised Weeping Willow on a planet farther away than most can comprehend in a total of seven seconds.

—————————————————————-

A pristinely wrapped, mint condition VHS copy of “Howard the Duck” shot out of the willow tree and screamed across an empty field. It landed next to a “COMING SOON!” sign at the edge of the grass, Marge following shortly after.  She laid motionless for about ten minutes.  When she finally pulled herself up, smoke twisted off of her and disappeared into the air.  Her face turned red, and she buckled her knees. She bent her arms to cover herself when she realized her lab coat was gone and she was naked. She searched the grass for clothing of some sort, but was only able to ascertain a food container with a logo written in a language unfamiliar to Marge’s now brownish blue eyes.  She scoured the landscape for a good two days, eating whatever she could find, and drinking water from the various creeks and the major river flowing through that part of town.  On the third day, she was rifling through a box of bread and cheese in an alley when blue and red lights started bouncing off of the brick walls in front of her.

Oh god, the duck!

Her face sank and her stomach dropped.  With no idea where it was going to take her this time, she turned around to pick up the film, but was grabbed instead by a gangly looking fellow dressed in blue.  The man was much, much taller than Marge, and of a different texture.  Before she could spit out “Who the hell are you,” she was thrown into the back of a car, and driven away.

END of Part 1

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