Chapter Two: The turbulent spacenewt interactions unsurprisingly continue
“She’d set her expectations for hedgehogs far too high” I mutter as darkly as I can manage while half-covered in baby pandas.
Purple’s newt paced back and forth inside his bowl. Purple and I were alone as the greens cleaned up the great spillage of 65,002,004.
We’d moved from that room of charts and confusion to a nest they’d built for me – Shaped like a giant wicker bulb with a single open face and filled with comfortable foam on the bottom, it was surprisingly nice if not at all similar to a house. Again, I’d decided to let things go if I could spot any effort at all going in. Plus, they’d brought me pandas to play with and those things are even chubbier in person.
“What I mean is, if she was asking hedgehogs what love is, she’s just not going to have gotten very far. They’re a bit shy when confronted, or generally interacted with.”
“You is important.” Purple bleeped simply, continuing his circular pacing within the bowl as his orb-like mass guarded the entrance to my bulb-hut.
“I’ve always thought so, but I still have to say that thousands of writers poured their lives into encapsulating or describing what love is, and they all just sort of fumbled with it in their own way, and they had their entire lives, and I have a week, and it’s just really a lot of unexpected pressure and I’ve not pissed in an era.”
“Love is bodily relief?”
“We don’t judge, purple.” I say with as much of a smile as I can manage, tugging my sword close to my chest. Over the last few hours it’d settled in that I couldn’t recall a thing between a meteor absolutely ruining my lunch and being in the first newtroom. It made the thought of dying again seem rather empty.
“I feel as if I owe humanity quite a bit. You know, for leading to me after all that progression and evolution and stuff. There was a significant time investment. I mean, I am still planning on just getting through this and then making movies and shit, but I’d feel like I really let them down if a bowl kills me.”
“You will not be killed.” purple bleeped quickly “You will simply be drained and re-purposed.”
“I’d really like to know nothing else about that, if it’s at all okay. I’ve this thing with cannibalism being my least favourite way to go, and I know you guys are a bit different but I’m feeling like the sentience was my real issue with the whole thing, so yeah. We’ll not worry about the particulars.”
“You could tell her how to make the creator love her. She wouldn’t need so many husbands if somebody loved her.”
“That’s really quite bleak.” I mumble, flipping a baby panda upside down and watching her wobble to her feet and stomp in miniature back to my legs, renewing her climbing efforts. “Also, a creator? Is that the one who put you in the bowls?”
“You’re not being overly helpful right now, purple.”
“Don’t worry, we will help you describe love.”
“I mean, again, not judging but I doubt you know very well what with the way things work here, but I don’t think you guys know any better than I do.”
“We have produced a woman.”
“Congrats on the sex, but I’ve really got other concerns right now what with my impending re-death and all, I’m quite muddled to be frank.”
“You may name her Frank. She is for you.”
“Woah, hey, hey, slow down. There is another human? Because if there is I just became half as special as I was a minute ago and also I really really don’t support saying I own her, even if it would be great if we could sharply fall in easily describable love.”
“We didn’t have any other DNA pattern prepared.”
“You’ve lost me, again.”
“She is ready.”
“I’m not! Slow down a bit here-“
As I speak, a regiment of green bowls whizzes towards my bulb-bed. Behind them, is a woman. Definitely human. With a key problem getting in the way.
“Oh. You see, there is a problem with this-“
“What the hell! You can’t just bring have me brought to a man’s bed, you jellied freaks!”
The newts cowered back in their bowls, wheeling back and leaving her entirely exposed, if her lower shin would’ve been the giveaway.
“You guys…” I say honestly, heart heavy. I take in her familiar features with added curvature, her scarf, the lovely plush matching dressing gown.
“I’m really concerned I’m not this much of a narcissist.”
She glared at me. The way she glanced sharply around her now and then made her look quite observant, which was flattering. She went back to glaring at me.
“Want a panda?”
Firstly, she didn’t want a panda.
Secondly, she didn’t want much to do with me.
“I don’t get it. You are me, surely my survival is important to you?”
“I don’t see you mourning much. You think I would suddenly care what happens to somebody else?”
“Right. Well, I mean. I suppose. Still though, there is a lot of pressure on me to figure out this love-”
“bondage!” the bowls bleeped
“-and bondage stuff, which is two concepts to explain in a fairly short window of time, and, well, I mean, if I die that’s about half the human population gone all over again after it’d only just doubled.”
She stared at me in silence. Apparently, I am not overly impressed by basic addition. I am hard to please.
“I just need to clear this one hurdle and we can all go back to shenanigans and newt-movies. I just need you to put some effort in.”
The greens and purple fussed around us both, ambling around the wicker bulbhut as I glared at myself. Really, she did wonders for deflating my ego.
“You’re not figuring anything out, and you’re not going to. You’re not a hero. Your best talent was always being nice to people and hoping for the best while trying not to care as much as you always do so you don’t get disapointed.”
“That’s a little on the nose, don’t you think?”
I begin to doubt the efficinency of newt-cloning techniques. Another iteration of me from whatever DNA they have stored might have even less in common with the me I remember being. Again, not fond of death.
“You should give up on finding some magical solution and just go fail, like always.”
“Are you some sort of embodiment of anxiety? Because you shouldn’t trade hurtful things when the other guy has a sword.”
I stand then, glaring down at myself. I was taller than her, substantially less cruel, and I do think the DNA went a bit mean at some point in the process. Definitely a misfire, rather than a gender thing – the women in my family have always been soft as cushions
“There is a reason you don’t understand love.”
“On second thought, I don’t trust any insights from someone who doesn’t want to play with baby pandas. Leave.”
“I will. Enjoy your week.”
“She’ll be curious about you, too!” I call in anger after her
“I’ll have answers.” she spat back, her voice cutting all the deeper into me from knowing the hatred of me was my own. “Gather your newts and gang up on her, if you want any chance.”
“Bondage!” they bleeped again eagerly, being not at all helpful.
I stood inside my wicker house and watched me walk out of my life.
It’d been a hectic first day, but maybe I was right.
Maybe the week wouldn’t solve anything, and I should take the element of surprise. A giant red bowl couldn’t be that hard to sneak up on.
“Hurry up, then!” I call after them, myself trudging along at a snail’s pace as a chorus of muffled bleeping followed me. We are subtle as a toddler’s sudden silence. Bleeping troops, whirring wheels, whatever jelly they lived in swishing softly around in their bowls… Me, dragging a sword I can’t quite keep aloft along the ground.
As far as heroic parties go, we’d be sorted firmly into the “Other, etc.” quest division.
We come to the foot of a large hill. It’s fairly lacklustre, though I suppose the destruction which wiped humanity from Earth would’ve been patched over by now. A grassy hill makes sense.
“On second thought, is it too late to go back and clone more of me? We could just keep trying until one feels like playing along.”
I’m nudged forward by a horde of disagreable robo-newts.
It’s odd to think how quickly that stopped feeling unusual.
“So, what else is going on, then? Do you guys have the whole world to yourselves? How about space travel?”
“It is our turn to ask questions.” Purple says simply from my side, his oversized bowl wobbling and and straining fromas the newt inside lounged.
I didn’t have an answer for love or bondage yet, so we walked on in quiet silence.
It was nice of the bowls to come with me, but I’d seen before how innefective they were in combat. Not to belittle them, seeing as my own efforts got me interrogated, nudged and generally bested. Still. It’d be good to think of a plan before we got any closer.
We took a break at the hills summit – if it isn’t an unfair appropriation of mountain nomenclature to apply to a gently sloping grassy tufy of earth – and sit, basking under the Earthen sky.
Birds still exist, so that’s cool. Probably not allied with my newtbowl friends, but hey, not really within my sphere of influence.
“So, anyone up for some brainstorming?”
“It’s still your turn to answer a question.”
I’m feeling pretty exasperated by this point (rigid gelatin is the worst kind, and I’m used to being the stubborn one in a situation as evidenced by how quickly I denounced myself)
“Maybe if you let me have a few in a row, we’d actually survive long enough to get some learning done.”
“Alright.” Purple said simply, turning from his green friends to bleep at me.
Oddly, this time they didn’t bleep all together as one. The greens instead tipped their bowls and the newts crawled out, each of the squishing their way through the grass to swarm around purple’s bowl, crawling in on top of him.
I stared for a bit, very much hoping I wasn’t witnissing cannibalism. I’ll stress the point again to be safe, but I really, really don’t ever want to be eaten.
The writhing mass of newts swarmed around themselves, a squishy, gooey pile of newtlings. The basic principles of physics displaced the purple goop, which poured out and over the bowl. It was just generally fairly disgusting to witness.
I decideded then, watching all my friends on Earth congregate in a single bowl, that the intricacies of newt politics were better off forever beyond me.
The swarming came to a halt.
The newts crawled out, each writhing with the others to a single bowl near the edge of the hill, which they massed together to nudge back down the hill.
I saw the bowl tumble, then shatter. I felt the least heroic I had thus far.
The greens moved back to the way they’d been, one newt per bowl. A purple lay in the thin layer of purple goop left in the purple bowl, but even with my human eyes unaccustomed to lizard subtlety, I could tell it wasn’t the same fellow.
“We have rules.” New-Purp bleeped, turning with the greens and heading back down the hill. “We will ask your sister our questions. She claimed to have answers.”
I stood open mouthed on top of the hill, mid-quest and abandoned.
As far as heroic parties go, I’m firmly sorted into the “Fucked” category.
By now, the greens and their bowls and the newts inside are gone, along with the promises of friendship, comraderie, adventure, competence – It was all up to me now.
For some reason, this hit home harder than all of mankind dying out. Humans didn’t decide to leave me, and most of them hadn’t know me anyway.
As I’m about to walk off, I feel a tickle along my foot. Looking down, a newt has boarded Shoe Airlines and is ready to adventure. Figuring I owe the little guy for alienating him from everything he knows, I pick him up and plop him between the folds of my scarf. He’ll have a great view of my impending doom, which is good. Better than being abandoned on the hill for birds to find.
I stagger to my feet and prop my sword up over my shoulder. It’s awkward and I have to walk down the hill a little horizontally to stay sage and keep the swordedge from my neck, but I at least feel like I can manage a proper swing from here if I use both hands. And some luck. Maybe a bit of momentum, if I feel like pushing it.
That’s the inventory, so far.
1) Me, used.
2) Good ‘ol Purp, hopefully not too mad
3) Clothing, plush
4) Sword, muddy
Like I said, I’m pretty much fucked.
I begin to walk down the hill, and can see from here that Queen Blob has few inadequacy issues.
There is a large shelter – effectively a roof on pegs – and beneath it lay the Newtqueen, her giant red gelatin shimmering incadescent, her entire visage conflating as one of true captivation.
I ran out of sleek words, but I was trying to be nice, since my best way out of this seemed to be slightly murdery, and she just wanted to be loved.
Thinking about it like that made me feel bad enough to stop short, a few feet behind her.
Old-Purp stole a furtive peek at the situation, then rumaged through the folds of my scarf again until he was safely secure.
I’d actually snuck up on the giant red demoness. I don’t know exactly what surprised me so much about the whole thing, seeing as she bleeped and whirred and whizzed on a giant scale while humans were padfooted and graceful, by comparison if not inherent nature.
Still, I feel bad. She just wanted someone to love her. Menacing, sure, but not evil. I know what it’s like to tear your own head apart with doubt, and she was one of two things in existence that hadn’t actively shunned me. That put her second, she was practically family.
The fondness I convinced myself of made me cough, to get her attention. I even lowered the sword, which would be a bitch to raise again.
She scuttled to face me and rolled forward in a snappy instant.
I regret every decision I have ever made.
Especially the newt-based loyalty ones.
“Have you come to explain love, or have you come to be drained?” the newtqueen asked, the venom in her bleeps somehow not lost in translation.
“Definitely not the second one. Nope. The first, I suppose.” I say as my shoulder’s slump down a little. My sword had slipped and accidentally dug into the floor, so now I had to deal with that on top of the rest of my incompetence.
“I cannot find any like me.” the newtqueen blared, her bleeps finer and louder than any other I have encountered. “How do I make someone love me? Why doesn’t the creator provide?”
I digest this for a bit. Not literally of course, because I’d not eaten after the risky pasta from last night. My bowels will only let me take so many risks at once, or so I learned in college. Ba dum dum tssh.
“Do you have no answer? Did you simply decide to not waste a week of my time? Are you some sort of fool?”
“No.” I manage, not quite sure which bit I’m answering. “I have an answer.”
I very much do not, but I also don’t have anywhere else to go with this.
“What is it, then? Tell me of love.”
“Right, well, you see, it all depends. If life didn’t have wobbly answers it wouldn’t be much fun to figure things out. That’s the reason we arent born with knowledge and have to die eventually. Figuring it out’s half the fun, we need to make room for more puzzle solving!”
I stare up the the gigantic gillatenous gelatin. I’m actually in agreement with my speech so far, which surprises me.
She looms above me, to the point where I can see my own lovely plumpness reflected by her shiny bulk. I wish I’d gotten a slightly smaller sword, so I could actually make use of it.
“What are you saying it depends on, then?” her bleep demanded, curt. I could feel a sulk coming on, but I didn’t know if it’d be mine or hers, or which could possibly end non-fatally. “What did humanity know of love?”
“Well, I don’t know what your expiry date is, but I know you can’t rush things. Day by day, meet people and enjoy it. I mean, that’s not something I ever did. I knew it was best to live life for the journey and make myself the most interesting I could possibly become, to chip away at any regret so I die proud. But I never did any of that, and I didn’t ever stay dead.”
“Your particulars don’t interest me, tell me of your peoples knowledge of love. Why can I not find one like me?”
“You see, there you go. You’ve said that twice now! You want someone like you. Well, I met my clone earlier today and we got along pretty damn horribly, so it really has nothing to do with being similar. Just find someone you enjoy, they don’t have to be the same.”
A proud silence settled between us. I’d actually done it, expressed myself nice and succinctly. I’d live, I’d find a bowl for purple, maybe build a raft and see what else is out there (life cannot be entirely newt based) and work on lifting so I can actually wield this sword and not have to panic quite as often.
No panic. That’s quite catchy, isn’t it?
Newtqueen blared through my victorious silence. “They cloned another?”
“Yup, a girl.”
”THEY. MADE. A WOMAN.”
“Not a very good one, but yeah. Out of my cells.”
“I gave them one. So much begging, so many years!” she rattled, her wheels twisting and tearing her own way up the hill and towards the home of my bulb-bed and former chart-friends “I give and I give and they steal more!”
Hey, violence. And not against me!
‘ol Purp scurries out of my scarf and rests a slimey hand on my chin. He’s communicating, if not in any way I can understand.
The greens fucked him over anyway, right?
“Yeah, what ungrateful dicks!” I find myself roaring!
“DICKS!” the queen shrieks, her buzzing shrill and hateful.
“Let’s shatter some bitches!”