George and Marcus in Transit
by Michael Harshbarger
Part 1 appears
in this issue.
George and Marcus in Transit #5
(Two men are next to each other in some massively large, white area that strangely resembles a certain mass retailer.)
(Marcus has yet to pick his jaw up off the floor as George groans and begins to come to.)
Impossibly Bright Being: I must now confer with others of my kind on how best to instruct you two sad excuses for biological organisms. Please make sure that one does not touch a single item.
(With that, the Impossibly Bright Being floats away and disappears through a nearby wall. Marcus turns to George, who is struggling to stand on his own.)
Marcus: Hey, maybe now you will learn to control your terminal case of mouth diarrhea.
George: I’ll have you know, that is an officially recognized disease in three billion galaxies. As far as me learning my lesson, quite the contrary: that was the best sleep I have had in ages. It felt like I was levitating about three feet off the ground and being gently guided into a huge Comic-Con version of Walmart.
(Marcus, well past the point of being bewildered by George, simply sweeps his arm in a Vanna White-esque motion. George just stares at him blankly. Marcus grabs George by the head and forces him to look around.)
George: Well as I live and breathe. What do you know? Say, you think they have a clearance aisle in here? I really need to pick up a couple tons of feed for my sixty pet elephants. Oh and a new dung backhoe.
Marcus: I doubt they have that here, buddy, seeing as we are obviously no longer anywhere near Earth, and may be in a different dimension altogether.
George: Now you’re talking my lingo, Sparky. I knew you would eventually come around to the ways of the Wizards of Gorgonathia. Speaking of which, back in my wizarding days I used to turn mountain lions into—
Marcus: Nope. I’m gonna stop you right there, you giant ass. Let’s just take a look around this place.
George: Well if you say so. Lead the way, Lord Mayhem.
Marcus: Just don’t touch anything, huh?
George: I most certainly can’t make that promise.
Marcus: I figured. Come on.
(George and Marcus start off slowly down the nearest aisle. The shelves on either side of them rise out of sight, packed full of items that closely resemble everyday Earth goods, but just different enough that they are completely unfamiliar to our heroes.)
George: Oh look! Nose hair trimmers designed for vagabond interstellar rhinoceri!
Marcus: Yeah, OK. I doubt it. Look, let’s just not talk for a while, OK? Let’s see if we can find what is sure to be the universe’s largest and weirdest restroom...George! The bright, floaty guy said not to touch anything!
(George is on his tippy toes reaching for a box of what resembles Twinkies, except the casing is leathery, and the filling is yellowish-green. Marcus goes to grab George, but not before George grabs hold of a box. They tumble to the floor, the box lands next to them. They each hold their respective breath.)
Marcus: Phew! I thought for sure that would set off some kinda chain reaction where things would come crashing down and the weird flashing guy would come back.
George: Don’t you worry your pretty little face there, fella. I have plenty experience with intergalactic shopping. Why just last year, I was in the Zenori Sector picking out a new floating membrane for my platoon of clones and I didn’t have any kind of issue. The secret is you just gotta know how to converse with these stellar folk.
Marcus: Ssshhhhh! What’s that noise?
(A faint rumbling builds; the shelves on both sides of the aisle start quaking. Items start falling off the shelves. Suddenly, all the shelves drop to vertical, spilling everything to the floor. Just as quickly, all the rows vanish into the floor and the entire structure transforms from bright white to blood red.)
Marcus: Oh God, oh no!
George: Oh I’m sure it’s nothing, seen it all before. We will just need to get our IDs checked at the help desk.
Marcus: Shut up. Oh great, what’s that coming at us?
George: Looks like Drangal and the boys. I haven’t seen them in ages.
(A mass of floating beings all in black, along with the Impossibly Bright Being, fly across the open space. No features are discernible. Marcus covers his head with his arms. George just smiles a cheesy smile. The beings stop just short of our heroes.)
Impossibly Black Beings: So, these are the creatures you found. They appear to have the basest level of intelligence required to function.
Impossibly Bright Being: Yes, masters. They were caught in our dumpster pod. I was unsure of what to do with them, as they appear to have little, if any, use. I nearly just eliminated them on the spot for their own good.
Impossibly Black Beings: Well, immediate destruction certainly would have been more prudent. They do appear completely useless. However, since they are already here, let us take them to The Mother and see if she can find any redeeming function they clearly do not possess.
George: I have one request, I am quite ticklish on the toes and in the pelvic region, so if you lot could just avoid those areas during your examinations I would be very grateful.
(One of the Impossibly Black Beings lets out a small chuckle. Marcus faints. The Impossibly Bright Being again renders George unconscious. They both float horizontally as the group turns and heads back the way they came, our heroes in tow.)
* * *
George and Marcus in Transit #6
(Two men are floating horizontally beside each other in a massive white ballroom.)
(George and Marcus slowly open their eyes and are instantly returned to a standing position. Before them, seated on a 30-foot high throne, is the most luminous of beings with indescribable features.)
Impossibly Black Beings: Mother, we present to you these oddly shaped and colossally incompetent sacks of biological matter. The Bright One discovered them in Waste Management Receptacle 3485. His name appears to be a misnomer, for the prudent course of action would have been to immediately destroy—
The Mother: SILENCE!
(The Mother rises from her seat and begins to glide down the ramp of the throne. She focuses her gaze on George.)
The Mother: My dear Hermathanias, how joy does swell within me to see you once again. And in such an unexpected setting.
(The Impossibly Black Beings, The Impossibly Bright Being, and Marcus all stare up at her with their mouths open.)
George: Ditto, m’lady. I didn’t know you still ran this joint. Why, I haven’t seen you since the summer of ’69. I had just got my first real six-string, bought it at the five-and-dime.
The Mother (giggling): Oh my sweet Prince, how I have missed the way you speak to me. I have found no other in all the universes that has such a way with language.
Marcus (voice quaking): You’ve got to be kidding me. How on Earth, er, well, how could you two possibly know each other?
Impossibly Black Beings: Yes, we also would seek a response to the inquiry posited by the doltish being.
Marcus: Piss off.
The Mother: Children, children. There is much, rather most, you do not and could not possibly understand.
(The Impossibly Black Beings display their version of shame across their vague faces.)
The Mother: I suppose it would do to let them in on our little secret, wouldn’t you agree, Herm?
George: I guess it wouldn’t hurt. What with us being in the late stages of the fifth epoch and all.
(Marcus stares at George in bewilderment, floored that George could actually be concise and coherent. He looks back upon the luminescent face of The Mother.)
The Mother: Well then, before the beginning of all things. Before even the beginning of non-things, Hermathanias and I were not so different. In fact, we were the only beings that survived the Great Destruction of Northwaip.
George: Boy, those where the days. If you all think this universe has a nice setup, you should have seen that dog and pony show. Although it did teeter on the brink of pretentious if I’m being honest.
The Mother: Now Herm, do be kind. And so where was I? Oh yes, after the desolation, Hermathanias and I found ourselves floating freely in complete nothingness. At least that is the term I would use to describe it in the language of this universe. The true description, if uttered in the old way, would destroy our fragile cosmos.
George: I would just call it week-old remains in the bottom of a pig slop.
The Mother (smiling): There you go again, setting my light-filled insides a-flutter. So but, yes, we passed the eons with small talk and the most intimate love-making this side of Northwaip.
Marcus: I’m sorry what?
(The Impossibly Bright Being begins to shudder, slowly shrinking until there is no sign of it left.)
The Mother: Oh dear, must all of you existers be so prudish? As I was saying, there was not much for us to do, and even Herm’s magical touch can lose some of its power after a few million millennia. So we set about constructing our new version of being, or what Herm decided to call existence. It was a fairly simple process considering what it has turned into. Rather like pushing a button, really. And then, Bang. We gave it a few billion years to coalesce and, I must say, it didn’t turn out half bad, did it, love?
George: Not too shabby; excepting Earth, of course. We definitely made a few miscalculations in the designs of that sector. The head species is a bunch of crap-for-brains, I tell ya.
Marcus: Then why do you hang out there? Why take our form and live among us? And why all the constant spouting of nonsense, George... er, Herm?
George: Well met, fella. To be honest, I have a soft spot for the hapless. And seeing as it was our fault I thought I might hang around from time to time and see if I could make any adjustments. The flood didn’t work. Same with all the war and disease and religion. That never was my strong suit, managing sentient life. The constant incoherent banter was just to see how y’all would react.
Marcus: You bastard. You think you can just play around with humanity all willy-nilly? Think you can just cause insane amounts of suffering and death? AND GET AWAY WITH IT?
George: I just told ya it isn’t my strong suit, champ.
Marcus: That’s it! I don’t care what kind of eternal asshole creature you are. I should have done this a long time ago.
(Marcus rears back to throw the hardest punch in recorded human history, but is frozen mid-wind up with only his eyeballs free to move. George begins to transform, slowly at first. And then an instant later he is a mirror image of The Mother.)
Impossibly Black Beings: THE FATHER.
(They flatten themselves on the ground, seemingly melding with the floor.)
The Father: We have plans for you, young Earthling. You have within you the only hope for your kind. You must return, and you must follow the instructions we impart to you. We will be in constant contact. We will take the form of voices in your head. You must obey. What say you, Marcus of Earth?
Marcus: Uh, sure?
(Marcus is instantly returned to his city. He goes on to star in “The Avengers,” episodes 11, 12, and 13. Soon after, the world descends into multiple, endless wars, for reasons unrelated to the films. The Earth is completely destroyed. A few billion years later, its Sun runs out of fuel and engulfs it, leaving no evidence that it, or any life, was ever there at all.)
The Father: Well, hell. I thought we really had a shot at this one.
The Mother: Yes, as did I, my sweet.
The Father: Shall we try another? There is a promising planet in the Andromeda Galaxy, as the Earthlings called it, that looks worth a try.
The Mother: I think another area of the universe would serve us better. That sector is just one giant cosmic gutter.
Marcus: You guys are the worst.
Copyright © 2019 by Michael Harshbarger