A hungry barber gets lost, who knows what will happen.
|[Introduction] A barber gets lost on the road and has no food. He must keep starvation away and find his way home. Unfortunately some unexpected complications arise.|
|And so it begins, an adventure that to all appearances is simple and not much more than a trip. But really anything trying is an adventure to all involved...|
Bob was lost. When he had started driving he had been near the top edge of the map, he had followed the exact markings shown, but when he got to this intersection there was no left turn. He remembered the long drive that had brought him here. It had started off with an invitation to stay at his cousin’s house. He had happily obliged. Happily he drove off through forests and fields untouched by man, except for a few winding roads. He felt at harmony with nature... He may have been staring at it out a car window... but that’s closer than most get these days. Sometimes the window was even rolled down. All in all a great step for the modern man. Presently, he looked at the street sign, then at the map again, this road wasn't even on here. He hadn't been paying attention to street signs before... He had only taken the turns that he had carefully marked on his map. He looked at it for a few more minutes in confusion, then groaned. He turned it the right way up. Ah well, it was only a simple matter of following the series of turns backwards. Yeah it was an hour drive jut to this point, but at least he would be home and not wherever the hell this was. He made a U-turn and began to make his way back. He had only been driving for about ten minutes when the storm hit. Suddenly rain fell and lightning struck. A huge tree fell in his path. He turned to the right, out into the fields where there was nothing large enough to fall on him, and pulled over, waiting for the storm to pass. As he sat his windshield became covered in water, which flashed startlingly each time lightning struck. He sat there, trying to get to sleep, but hunger and the constant flashes and bangs kept him awake. Though he did not yet know it, the trees were falling at such a rate in the woods that marked the way he had come he could not get back by the same way for some time. Finally he fell asleep, and had nightmares, little knowing that reality for him would soon be worse...
His first nightmare began pleasantly enough....
He was on a boat on a lake. It was a sunny day. But the sky turned grey and rain began to fall. He knew he better get back to shore because there was a flash of lightning in the distance. But the motor on the boat would not start. It rained on him. The storm became worse and worse. Hail started pelting him and he put his arms over his head.
Then a bolt of lightning stuck the boat. The flash blinded him, the thunder deafened him, and the electricity made every muscle in his body seize up so that he fell out of the boat.
Down he sunk through the green water of the lake. His eyes were wide open and he could see the fish swim up to check him out and then dart away from him. He landed on the sandy bottom standing on his feet. But his feet turned into tentacles and he saw that he was an octopus. He squirted out his ink and went shooting off through the water and hit smack into a rock. Bam! It hurt his head. When he woke up he was lying in the boat and his clothes were smoking. "Holy Lightning Blast!" he exclaimed. "I just got stuck by lightning!"
He checked himself all over but couldn't find any damage other than a Harry Potter lightning mark burned into his thigh but he thought that looked kind of cool and he didn't mind having it. It would remind him of the day he got hit by lightning on the lake. He would tell his grandkids about it.
But then he woke up and realized he was sitting in his car while the rain poured down and he was just having a nightmare. He wondered if lightning had struck nearby while he was asleep.
|Interestingly enough, it had actually struck the car. The shock had traveled through The metal outer casing to eventually be absorbed by the rubber tires. Though he was awake he was still exhausted, it seemed to him that the nightmare had kept his sleep from being restful. Anyway, he had no idea what time it was. Once again he attempted to sleep, but the hunger and lightning were much worse. He drifted off once or twice, though he didn’t remember his dreams, he kept waking up in a cold sweat. Finally he could sleep no more for the hunger and simply sat shivering. The rain pelted the windshield increasingly harder and he debated with himself weather or not to start the car and turn the heat on. Eventually he decided against it, what if he ran out of gas out in the middle of nowhere? Then, as abruptly as the rain started, it stopped and the sun glinted through the water on his windshield. ‘Time to get started’ he thought. He turned the key in the ignition and turned on the windshield wipers, clearing his view of just how much his surroundings had changed in the storm. There were sticks and logs from fallen trees everywhere. He made a U-turn and headed for the way he had come, only to see it blocked by a large sum of fallen trees. Impossible to move all of these, he’d have to take a different route. He made another U-turn and headed off to see if there was a parallel street that he could take. He drove for about twenty minutes without a single turn-off. Nothing, the middle of nowhere, he decided, still, he’d go on for another ten minutes before turning back. Just then he saw something on the horizon. a few red dots. As he continued he realized that they were houses. Maybe there was a village ahead... Maybe he could find a map. He was right about the first thing, but the second not so much. As he drove into the town he saw a stable, and all of the houses were made from very old looking brick. There was not a single car or motorcycle in sight. Not a lawnmower, not even a bike. People walked the streets and stared at him in his car as if he were an alien. This was not going to be so easy...|
Bob pulled over to the curb and rolled down his window. "Is there a good place to eat nearby?"
The person he addressed was an old man wearng black-and-white checked pants and a tattered maroon jacket. The old man flapped his arms when he spoke. "Why be? Why be? No more they say! No more! Why be? The bargain has been broken! Open the seals! Now is the time of perfidy!"
Bob decided the old man must be crazy. "Never mind, old-timer. Calm down. I'll ask someone else."
Bob got out of his car and approached another man, but the first man followed him, still flapping his arms and babbling about bargains and seals. Bob shook his head with a wry grin, thinking the second man would share the feeling with him that the first man was crazy. But the second man backed away from Bob. The fear in his eyes was extreme and suddenly the second man screamed a blood-curdling scream and ran off as fast as he could. After a minute Bob heard a door slam in the distance. The old man plucked at his sleeve. "Why be? Why be?"
Bob whirled on the old man. "Why be WHAT? What is wrong with you people? Is everybody crazy in this village?"
The old man pointed a bony finger at Bob. "You broke the seals! Not us! No bargain now!"
"Yeah, yeah," Bob said. "Quit following me."
Bob looked up and down the street. There was nothing that looked exactly like a store or a restaurant or anything. But there was that stable. He could smell the horses. Maybe there was someone in there. But when he entered the stable he only saw horses and no people. Funny that the village had all these horses but not a car or truck in sight. Maybe the village was some kind of cult, like Amish people, who didn't believe in modern technology.
He strolled back toward his car. There were two kids standing by it. A boy and a girl. The boy wore knickers and the girl had on a bell-shaped dress. That's it, Bob thought. It's got to be some kind of anti-technology cult.
"Hey, mister!" the boy said. "You from outside?"
"Outside what?" Bob said.
The girl giggled. "Outside!" she blurted out. "Outside! Outside! Outside!"
Zheesh, were even the children crazy here?
"Don't mind her," the boy said. "She broke a seal. You be outside, right? You take me with you?"
Sure, that's all he needed, a kidnapping charge by a bunch of crazy cultists. Maybe it was time to move on. "Is there a place to eat around here?" he asked the boy.
"Eat? You be eat? Eat with us! You come with me!" The boy grabbed Bob's hand and dragged him toward one of the houses. The door opened just as they reached it and a woman in a larger version of the girl's hoop skirt said, "Tokey, why him?"
"Eat, mama," the boy said.
The woman looked at Bob. Her eyes were an intense almost glowing green. "Hungry?" she asked and her tone was so deep and sexy that Bob pulled back a little just out of surprise.
"Uh... yes. I'm hungry. Is there a place nearby where I can get something to eat?"
"Eat here," she said in her deep voice and pulled him into the house.
|As it turned out, these people had a little more vocabulary than they let on. They just didn’t use it in normal speak, when things needed to get done. At leisure time however, they used many words that Bob had only seen in old writing. As he talked to the woman and her children over dinner he began to learn that these people really didn’t know much of the dealings that went on outside their little village. The boy’s best friend had apparently left and come back with fantastic tales, leaving all of that generation wanting to leave. As the conversation went on it was apparent that this woman would have liked him to eat more than just the meal on the table. Maybe later, thought Bob, after I find a map. Dinner was finished and he stood up and headed for the door.|
“Goodbye” He said.
“Do you have place stay?” She once again lapsed into their speaking shorthand after the pleasantries of dinner.
“No, I need map. I go.” He said, automatically adapting to the variance in speech.
“You stay, map tomorrow.”
He groaned, he knew that if he stayed he might never end up getting the map and going home.
“Map tomorrow.” She repeated.
He groaned again, his resolve was weakening. “Alright, but you have to help me get the map tomorrow.”
“I will help” She said, once again speaking more or less normally.
SHe sent the kids up to bed then said “I’m sorry, there are no extra bedrooms.”
He rolled his eyes, like he hadn’t heard that one before... “Lets just skip the pleasantries, we both know what’s about to happen.” “No.” She said.
I stood there unable to speak for a moment as I was completely caught off guard. Then she laughed.
“Of course I know what’s going to happen.”
The next day they went looking for a map. Bob was not happy with what they found at the local cartography shop. The maps almost never extended very far outside the village, but there was one huge map, dominating the space that showed the village in the middle of a region Bob had never hears of. It had a little red circle around the village labeled “the seal.” Bob remembered how everyone had been talking about him breaking it. He looked closer at all the other maps and saw that the seal was there to, just a much thinner line.
“What is the seal?” he asked.
“Not know?” Asked the woman
“Not know” He confirmed.
“Come” She lead him out of the shop.
She took him straight out of the shop and down the street. She lead him all the way through the town to the biggest building at the end. They walked straight into it and up a staircase. The walked straight down the hall and into an office. There was an old man behind the desk. The man had a short grey beard.
“He man break seal” Said the woman.
“Why you come?” “He not know seal”
“Oh” Said the man “Then we have a lot to talk about.”
After the woman left, the old man introduced himself as Count Missatoe.
"Count Mistletoe?" Bob said.
"No. Count Miss A Toe. Look at my foot. You see? 1-2-3-4... miss a toe! Hahaha!"
Jeez, Bob thought, it's like visiting an insane asylum. "Well, uh, Count Missatoe, what can you tell me about the seal?"
The old man put his finger to his lips. "Shhhh! You whisper, yes? Long time ago this village not here. It somewhere else very far away. Then very bad things happen and bargain was made. Village come here. Everybody be safe. But must be sealed in. Never go outside. Everybody say yes, we agree, never go outside."
Bob had an eerie feeling as he listened to the old man's tale. He had to lean over to hear the whispered words. It reminded him of ghost stories told around the campfire at summer camp. If the old man suddenly yelled "The hook!" Bob would not be surprised. But he paid close attention.
The old man continued. "Then one day bad child break seal. Not tell anybody. Things start going wrong here. Why? Why? everybody ask. Finally child speak up. I break seal. I sorry. But too late! Seal broke! So we try to fix seal. Almost fix. But not perfect. Now sometimes somebody from outside slip in and sometimes somebody from inside slip out. You understand?"
"Almost," Bob said. "But when you say this village used to be somewhere else... What do you mean? The whole village? The people, the buildings, everything?"
The old man nodded vigorously. "Oh yes! Whole thing!" He waved his hand in a wide circle. "Everything! Somewhere else then come here."
"But where was it?"
"Don't know... Far away... Very far away..."
Bob frowned. "I find your story difficult to believe."
"It be true!"
"Well, I'm sure you believe it. I just find it hard to believe myself. But thank you for telling me. Um... I won't have any trouble going back out through this... uh... seal of yours, will I?"
"Maybe not," the old man said. "Or maybe you stay here forever. You like that?" He began cackling with laughter until he had to stop and catch a breath. "I think maybe you like that, huh?" More laughter.
Bob stood up. "I'll be going now. Nice meeting you. Goodbye."
The old man was still laughing as Bob walked down the stairs and out into the street. Bob went straight to his car, got in, cranked it up, and headed out of the village. "If there is a seal," he muttered, "I am going to smash right through it. I don't want to ever see this village again."
|But part of him did want to see that village again... Or at least one of it’s occupants. Still though, he mostly wanted to get out. Unfortunately there are times when got gets bored. That is when wars spring out over nothing or an idea as horrible as daylight savings time springs up. Sometimes, however, the fortune of one very unfortunate man or woman is severely changed. Since the seal had been broken the village was in a state of flux between the world we live in now and the state in which it had been sealed: completely cut off from everything. Since nothing could exist in an area inhabited by nothing the universe sort of pulled out it’s random number generator and placed whatever landed in nothing in an area where there was something, removing all that was already there and putting that within the seal. With the molecules from a particular state of existence within the seal the seal would become closer to reality, but only the reality that the molecules came from. When the child had left the village he had appeared in nowhere, and having to be somewhere ended up in our world. The seal, now holding a tiny bit of our world was in our world some of the time. Bob happened to come out in nothing. It was pure luck that Bob, or the child for that matter, didn’t appear inside solid rock. More likely however would be appearing in space. It was quite lucky for all the villagers that the latter did not happen. Bob appeared up a tree. A very tall tree. Actually up it would not quite be the correct term, he appeared partially inside the top of the tree, transporting a small foot-shaped chunk of pine into the seal. The first thing Bob wondered was where his car was. Then he saw it, while he was distracted by the narrator droning on about some inter-dimensional crap that he didn’t understand he had crashed straight into a house. He had been flung out the window and through the seal. The village was floating a few yards away, all he had to do was jump... Then it vanished, with his car, and everything else he had had on him. Bob was in shock. How was he going to get back now. Had he paid full attention to my droning he would have known that it would appear at some point. Serves him right for not listening. He then set to the difficult task of climbing down the tree. He almost fell many times before he got to the bottom, and when he did he was a bit banged and bruised. He set off walking in search of some form of civilization. He was once again hungry and maybe, he thought, the people here would know a way back... Hell, he was probably just lost in a forest on earth. As he turned and walked away he did not notice that the village had once again appeared in the air behind him.|
Bob walked through the forest, painfully aware of his growling stomach. Boy, was he hungry! But the point came where he stopped and said, "I am noticing two things that disturb me very much. One, this forest does not look like any forest I have ever seen before. The trees look strange and seem to have bluish tinge to them. That one there has leaves that are bigger than I am. And two, that growling I hear is not my stomach."
The growling was coming from behind Bob so he stopped and slowly turned around, slowly so as not to alarm the growler too much. What he saw shocked him to his core. For a moment he was unable to move and just stared at the thing. Was it a frog? Was it a hyena? Was it a bat? It had a huge mouth full of sharp teeth and wings that were naked skin. It's eyes were golden brown and looked quite insane. This is not a creature you can reason with, Bob thought. Then he proceeded to try anyway. "Hello? Are you a good boy? Who's a good boy?"
The growl turned into snarl and the thing leaped at Bob. Fortunately, it appeared to be either very clumsy or damaged in some way. It was about as graceful as a baby bird that's fallen out of it's nest before it's even half grown. That thought made Bob look up. Geez! If this thing was a baby then its Mom would be a monster.
Sure enough, the growls of the baby thing were met by an awesome roar coming over the treetops and a flying version of the baby came flapping into view. It was the size of an airplane. Bob ran away.
Later, as he was gasping to get his breath back after running over a mile at top speed, Bob had time to think again. Where was he? It smelled like earth. It had a blue sky like earth. But it couldn't possibly be earth. Not with these plants and those monsters. Or was it a parallel earth? Maybe he had slipped from one dimension into another? Maybe all he knew about dimensions was what he had read in sci-fi novels.
Bob sighed. How many times had he read about guys in situations like this? It was Robinson Crusoe all over again. Well, he could handle it. Sure, his car was gone, but so what? There weren't any roads here. What good would a car be? That got him wondering if there were any people. What if he was the only human being? He might be trapped here forever! "No! No!" he cried. "Please not that!"
He must keep up his spirits and hope that somehow he could get back to his barbershop and, even more important, get back to a decent meal. Speaking of which, maybe it was time to check these trees for edible fruits...