I Don't Get It, I Functioned Before

rating: +74+x

My foot throbbed. I had never dealt with that much blood, and I couldn't really move my foot. I was crumpled on the couch, and the two kids were playing with the huge tubs of legos behind me. Cinnamon buns, warm blankets, some reassuring words, and The Aquabats had finally managed to calm them down. I was sure there was a med kit somewhere in the house, but I just hadn't the time to find it. Worst thing that could have happened was an amputated foot, and really, wouldn't that just be interesting? I thought it might just be another quirk for me to have. A new nickname, perhaps. Footless Fool. Half-a-Calf. Footloose.

No. No, I was making myself angry thinking of all of those. A nickname doesn't define a person, and you never really got to choose them, did you? Some bloke would name a trait of yours and you would forever be painted with it. Brainy Brian. Was all of me just smarts? No, no it wasn't. I was a person. I was a gosh darn human being, and I deserved more recognition than Brainy Brian. I was Brian Harding. People should have just called me Brian. I liked the name Brian. It was tough, but didn't make me sound like a jerk. Someone who could stand up for themselves, but didn't take it as far as pushing others down. Brian. Strong willed, intelligent, kind. I rescued two kids from certain death that day. If it weren't for the bullet in my ankle, I'd have been riding high on self esteem.

The two kids were Joe and Abe. They didn't really know their last names. They didn't want to talk about the scary girl who was holding them hostage. They didn't want to talk about the blue muscular man who shot me in the foot. He was mean, he must have been such a mean person. Who shoots someone in the foot? A big hunky meanie, that's who.

It took immense effort to lurch myself over the back of the couch to peer at the brothers. What was I going to do with them? I never planned on being a parent. I loved kids, but… but I loved them at a distance. I loved making toys for them. I loved getting money for it. I laid back down. Was I a bad person? I was an employee of Wondertainment, and I was a toy maker. It was impossible for me to be a bad person. Couldn't be.

Still, Wondertainment had left a bad taste in my mouth. Polly Gary Ashley, getting away with all she did without a scratch. Without a scratch, yeah, and I got shot. I wasn't good at biology, for all I knew I could have been bleeding out. Not much I could do about it at that point. Just put pressure on the wound — like I was always told — and sit there. I thought to myself that I should get Joe and Abe to their parents… but how? I already asked them, and they didn't know the phone number. Tongue usually knew what to do with things.

Eh… I didn't feel like talking to Tongue. They were my kids. I was going to give them the best life they could have. They were going to live happy and free and they were going to eat ice cream every night and watch cartoons until their heads melted. I was never going to cook them broccoli, or spinach, or any other nasty green slop. They were going to eat like kings. The kings of candy land. They were going to feast on candy canes that I grew in the backyard, and lollipops that I picked off of trees. They were always going to get two spoonfuls of sugar in their teas. Joe and Abe. Joe and Abe Harding. It rang well. It rang true. I could be a mommy too. Whenever they felt down, I would be there patting them reassuringly on the back. We could play hide and seek, except all over the world! Egypt one day, Spain the next, Brazil the third, India the fourth! We could go visit ancient temples, maybe Stonehenge, some… skyscrapers? The possibilities were endless!

Just as soon as I could walk!

I was sick of laying on the couch and thinking about myself. I didn't like thinking about myself much anyways. I was going to walk no matter how much it ground my shattered ankle pieces together. The carpets cleaned themselves anyways. Woah. It was snowing. Snowing? What was the weather in this place? I got up and winced as I shifted my weight to my left foot. I looked over at the kids, who stared at me with wide eyes. They must have still been shocked from the experience. It made sense. I don't imagine you get through something like that without some scars. They would heal in time. I would make sure of it. Had I packed anything healing? I feel like I must have. I stumbled into the kitchen, and made my way to the back door where I had left my suitcase. I had never unpacked. Fell asleep unexpectedly early last night…

I balanced myself on the walls, feeling the warm liquid drip down to the sole of my foot and then follow it to my toes. I almost slipped on the tile floor but caught myself on the counter. The first aid kit is usually in the kitchen anyways, right? Holding onto the counters and leaning at a near forty-five degree angle, I finally arrived at my suitcase. I knelt down, and opened it. There were my changes of clothes — how did my makeup look? — my pillow, my blankets, all my face paint, and… Oh. My risperdal.

I tripped and fell last night, I must not have taken it then. I missed a dose this morning. My heart fluttered. I missed two doses of risperdal? Oh no, oh my that was bad. I was told to take a dose each morning and each night, and I hadn't missed anything since I was thirteen. It had been so long, I didn't remember what was going to happen. I started twitching, and picked at the child-proof cap of the bottle. What went wrong? What happens when I go off of them? What am I like without them? Am I still Brainy? What if I took them now? What is the worst that could happen? What if the kids found out? What if management found out? What if Tongue found out?!

I emptied it into the sink.

I wondered if the car worked. I hadn't checked out the car yet. I stepped outside into the snow, and grasped my keys. It was cold. I wasn't dressed for cold weather. Wasn't I? I had gone out into the rain just… eight? Hours ago. I should have been prepared. I closed the door and locked it behind me. Who knows what kids could do if they had free roam of the outdoors. They were safer inside. The cold felt good, on second consideration. It felt good to be cold. My left foot wriggled its toes into the snow, and enjoyed how they felt bitten. The tips of my fingers began to feel the same way, just sitting in the air and catching snowflakes. The metal tip of the keys felt like ice. Same keys that opened the house and took me back to the Tourist Trap also ran the car. Wondertainment was efficient if nothing else. If nothing else indeed.

I collapsed onto the shiny pink and white ferrari, had my unresponsive fingers fumble the keys into the car door, and then clambered into the leather driver's seat. The whole thing felt like a fridge. A freezer, really. I shut the door and laid down across the… the… the middle bit, between the driver's seat and the passenger seat. This thing didn't self clean apparently. I was still leaking? It was definitely less now, but I thought it would be none. I turned on the car, and started up the heat. My breath shuddered and came and went. Well, I sure had done it. Moved myself from my couch and into the car. From thinking about myself to thinking about myself. What a good job I had done.

I punched the steering wheel, and heard a satisfying honk. Very satisfying, actually. I punched it three more times, before my hand ended up resting on it's outer edge. Whew, I was dizzy. Dizzy and warm. I felt like myself. I hadn't really ever noticed that I didn't feel like myself before. I was feeling fresh and springy. My anger subsided and began to replace itself with contentment. I really did just need a change of scenery. Up into the wilderness. Up into the Tourist Trap. Back to my old house and out again. It's funny how much life changes over short spans of time. Just three days ago I was in Wonder World!™, and now I was out in the middle of nowhere — no, the middle of everywhere, and I had become a completely different man. Or maybe I was a different man before, and only just now did I get back to being me.

I was getting very tired.

I stepped out of a train and onto the sidewalk. It chugged out from behind me, off into the blurry nothingness, and left me at the base of a large building that was hundreds if not thousands of floors high. Its walls seemed to jut out at odd angles, and floors hung in midair where they were sure to fall but didn't. The walls were pinks and purples and bright baby blues until they reached into the grey storm clouds and up and beyond even that. I walked towards the large enamored archway, past the black landscape and through a pile of dark crates and barrels that surrounded the entrance. Once inside, I was able to look up into the dimly lit skyscraper and see that I was surrounded by stairs that spiraled up and up and up through spacious, wheezing art galleries. I only saw two or three other bodies, but they were too abstract to make out.

I took to the first steps, and marched up them with solemn gait, and lazily scanned the bright and bubbly surroundings. Every wall was covered head to toe in paintings and explanatory golden plaques — you could barely see the wallpaper in some places. There were glorious depictions of wars, love, children, sex and music and death and merriment and depression and nature and Wonder. Purples and yellows flooded over the blues and greens and oranges and reds. I kept ascending and noticed more and more sculptures — tan things with curves and motions that I couldn't quite make out. They seemed to come from all different times and all different styles — some were made of marble and others out of paper mache. Some were purely realistic and others warped perception itself.

Eventually I reached the top(?), and looked over the bleak pitch hills and valleys and mountains, covered in grey mists and obscured by passions and low hums. I held out my arms and felt the winds thrash me and almost pull me off the top of the amazing building, and I screamed at the stars just out of reach. I screamed at the art I've never made, at the people out to get me, and at the coldness on my skin.

Suddenly I was looking at a painting. It was small, and it showed a single sandstone building in the midst of a large plateau. A long glowing pathway extended from it, and slithered off into the distance. The plaque read "The Road from Here to Everywhere Else, by Sam Micheals". To everywhere else? Where was here? I strolled through hallways with chipping paint, and wrung my hands together in nervous lethargy. I plowed through the thick air, stepped through what felt like honey and mud. Determination drove me, fueled me, ebbed and flowed through me. I tasted vomit, I smelled blood, and I saw my creation.

It opened into a large concert hall, and there she was. Playing a piano. Vines and flowers and grasses wilted around her, as her long groping fingers tapped spiritlessly on the birch keys. Her deep, hollow eyes glanced up at me, and then she hunched more over her plagiarism. I wasn't angry anymore. I seemed to shrink — or she seemed to grow? — and I came close to her and had her knee come up to my neck. She stared emptily at me, and I clambered into her lap. I laid there, and felt like I was disintegrating. I closed my eyes. I let myself turn to dust.

It was peaceful. And dark. Accepting, even. I had let loose. A pain in my chest released, and I fell into nothingness. An abyss with small fleshy, shifting, sparkling blue and red stars peering back at me. I was vaguely aware of some loud, piercing white noise, but it subsided into calmness once again. There was only absence. No words, no thoughts, no feelings.

Just a burning.

I plunged a hand straight through her chest. It pleased me that she coughed and choked, and had her dark, empty eyes widen and her mouth fell open. She held my head, weakly, as I grew and reintegrated and overpowered her. I took her head, and slammed it on the keys, making a cacophony of cluster chords. Her blue, pale skin was like paper versus the wooden surface — tearing and stretching and giving in. The hall echoed with sweet dissonant song. I pulled her above my head, dug in with my claws, and pulled her apart like two rings at a magic show. Flakes of her floated down like confetti.

I heard a clapping. And then another. And more, and more and more and more. I turned, and the stage lights blinded me, but I could see more and more silhouettes stand up in the audience. A standing ovation. For me.

"What a beautiful performance! Bravo! Bravo!"

The rest sat down.

"Who are you."

"A great doctor, or so I've been told. And you?"

"I'm Brian Harding."

"You should go into acting."

"It wasn't acting."

"Oh ho ho, well, it isn't now!"

"You let her perform."

"And what a jolly good show it was!"

He laughed, and laughed, and then they all laughed and laughed and laughed. They were laughing, and they were laughing at me. Their fragile diaphragms wriggled and squirmed and bounced, just to show me. To show me just how much they cared. Just how much they cared for me.

I growled and lunged into the crowd.

Dear Judy the Tongue,

I must once again apologize for my behavior at our last meeting, but am proud to announce that I am feeling much more myself again. I had never realized how much stress I was putting myself under being constantly hard at work on a new toy all the time. Getting out and seeing the world via the Tourist Trap has been a much needed break for me, and for that I must thank you dearly. It has really been a wonderful time.

That being said, I have found myself struck sick. Now, it's nothing to be worried about, just a bit of a cold, but it means that I just don't have the energy to be out and about in the world right now. Being stuck at Tourist Trap has been a little boring this past week, and I am finding myself striving for something to do. I thought, "hey, what is my most favorite thing to just sit down and do?" That would be what I always do best — make toys! Just sitting in bed I have begun a myriad of ideas that I am eager to begin working on. Looking around the house, I think I have enough materials to start making a prototype of one of them, and isn't that exciting!

However, in following with protocol, I thought I should ask you if I could begin working on a little something or other. Wouldn't want to use Wondertainment resources without permission, now, would I? So, this letter is a formal inquiry into whether I, Brainy Brian, am allowed to use the miscellaneous materials in the basement for the creation of an exciting new product, Vend-a-Friend!

No child should be without a friend, and imaginary ones only go so far. I am campaigning to make a toy that acts like a person, but has the sole intent of being your child's very bestest friend! It alters its personality to better match the child's, it teaches your child emotional availability, and it plays whenever your child wishes to play! It is the perfect friend that every child deserves, and it would only cost… well, you know. We don't know how much it would cost yet, but I am projecting, say… $140? A bit costly but, well, it needs a consciousness inside it, and that just isn't cheap, you know? Anyways, I've been sitting all sniffley all day and am just so eager to hear back from you. I hope that you might allow me to pursue my best interests.

Love you always,
Brian Harding

Dearest Brainy,

That sounds just splendid! Of course, by allowing you to do this I am bending some rules — you aren't supposed to use Wondertainment resources to make toy prototypes until the idea has been approved at one of our monthly presentations. However, you have been having a rough go of it, and we always enjoy what you make us, so I am going to pull a few strings for you… and say yes! It sounds like a perfectly wonderful heartwarming idea that will bring smiles to the faces of children across the globe!

How you get these great innovative ideas time after time is beyond me. I am glad to hear you're holding up, in any case. You should know that we've all been worried about you up here. Lots of people fearing that you might never come back. It's been a crazy world here… Jelly Whale Emperor is shaping up quite nicely, but without your guidance all of your crews' usual confidence has been a little shaky and nervous. We're following your blueprints to a T — I've sort of taken your position, I was a pretty good sweets designer myself and am hoping to steer this in a direction you would be proud of. When you get back, you can tweak anything however you like. Didn't want to message you about it because you are having some much needed "me time".

I hope you can feel all of our warm wishes from where you are. The love is immense. We all miss you dearly, and wish you a safe return.

Licks of Love,
Judy Papill

P.S. How do you plan on making a consciousness? Only our most famed toy makers have ever been able to do it. If you pull this off you're on your way to the hall of fame!

Dear Judy the Tongue,

Thank you so much for the go ahead! I am certain you will not be disappointed! About Jelly Whale Emperor, I think that if you have the basic concepts down it is hard to mess up. It is a very unique idea, but I wouldn't imagine a very difficult one. The hardest part is probably going to be its ability to bring desserts to life, but I'm sure you guys will get there in good time. Can't rush genius — my name isn't Brainy for nothing!

I am glad everybody is worrying about me. Is Mr. Ribbit okay? I would hate to think that I left him with hurt feelings — if he's still sad about it, please tell him that I didn't mean any of it and that there is a hug waiting for him when I get back. Tell my crew I miss them too, and tell Polly that the scores are even now, and I forgive her.

Love you always,
Brian Harding

P.S. I think I've found the "materials" to do it myself, but that'll just have to be a surprise, okay? ;)

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