Hollow Moon Part 24
- Hollow Moon Part 1
- Hollow Moon Part 2
- Hollow Moon Part 3
- Hollow Moon Part 4
- Hollow Moon Part 5
- Hollow Moon Part 6
- Hollow Moon Part 7
- Hollow Moon Part 8
- Hollow Moon Part 9
- Hollow Moon Part 10
- Hollow Moon Part 11
- Hollow Moon Part 12
- Hollow Moon Part 13
- Hollow Moon Part 14
- Hollow Moon Part 15
- Hollow Moon Part 16
- Hollow Moon Part 17
- Hollow Moon Part 18
- Hollow Moon Part 19
- Hollow Moon Part 20
- Hollow Moon Part 21
- Hollow Moon Part 22
- Hollow Moon Part 23
- Hollow Moon Part 24
- Hollow Moon Part 25
- Hollow Moon Part 26
- Hollow Moon Part 27
- Hollow Moon Part 28
- Hollow Moon Part 29
- Hollow Moon Part 30
- Hollow Moon Part 31
- Hollow Moon Part 32
- Hollow Moon Part 33
- Hollow Moon Part 34
- Hollow Moon Part 35
“Heeeelp! Heeeeeelp! Help me! Please! Heee… mph. Mmmph! Mmph! Mmmmmph!”
“No one can hear you scream, Lod,” Esk said to Dr. Severius.
Severius was in the traditional position of examinee strapped nude to one of the metalloid assessment slabs in the moon. The sounds he made echoed off the walls of endless chambers and circulated back to his own ears. Esk stuffed a sock in his mouth to quiet him so he could think.
Lod has the Council and the antidote I need for the poison. The King Axolotl will never be freed if I do not find a way to wrest him away from the Reverend and the Gossips. The Reverend himself has been captured, though, and to free the King Axolotl, I must free the Reverend. Priorities, priorities, think, think, priorities… Do I free the Council first or the King Axolotl? Who is in more danger? I do not know the answer. Think. Lod is in my custody right now, and the Reverend is not. I must have them both available to question about the respective kidnappings. I must rescue the Reverend before they place him among the prison psychopaths!
Esk had made up his mind. Extracting the Reverend from the secure unit would not be difficult if he could keep the Reverend away from the security cameras. Other patients in the secure unit of the psychiatric ward would not be hard to discount if they happened to see the Reverend translated out. The staff could administer more medication… He would, however, need to replace the Reverend with someone else because of the strict headcount in the psychiatric ward. Fifteen-minute rounds kept that tradition alive and well. Esk hatched a plan.
“Stay right there, Lod,” Esk told Severius.
“Mmmph!” came Dr. Severius’ strangled reply.
“Seen the shrink t’day?” asked the warden.
“Nope. Don’t care to, neither,” said the prison gate guard.
“Hmph. Lazy sack a’ bones. Prob’ly off to one a’ his con’frences drinkin’ ‘spensive liquor an’ tryin’ ta’ get some young girl ta’ notice ‘im. Good riddance.”
“Yeah, that guy creeps me out, Warden. Who’s that comin’ now?”
“Ah, that’s Esk! Good ta’ see a competent face ‘round here now an’ again.”
The warden waved to Esk, who gave the customary gesture in return.
“Fillin’ in fer the shrink t’day, Esk?” asked the warden.
“Um, yes. Filling in for Dr. Severius. That is correct.”
“We’ve sure missed ya’ ‘round here, boy. Glad yer back. Go on in!”
“Thank you, Warden.”
Esk walked through the gate and past the guard toward the prison offices. Esk needed to find a suitable doppelgänger to replace the Reverend in the psychiatric ward. Surely one of the psychopaths in Cell Block D would do….
Sam was worried sick. He had not seen Esk since his release from the hospital. What if he was dead, or kidnapped, or in a ditch dying somewhere? These possibilities preoccupied Sam and distracted him. Sam decided to call the prison warden to find out if he had seen Esk.
“Warden? Hi, this is Sam Wilkins—Esk’s friend,” Sam said. “I’m lookin’ fer Esk. Has ya’ seen ‘im lately?”
“Oh, Sam. Yeah, I seen ‘im. He’s here this mornin’. Prob’ly workin’ with one a’ the inmates, now. He did wonders fer one of ‘em that we was sure couldn’t be helped. Smart boy, that one.”
“Thank you, Warden,” Sam said, hanging up.
At least Sam now knew where Esk was. This most likely meant Esk would be home that night. Esk would need an extra special supper, and Sam got to work preparing it.
The Reverend found himself a free man, though still in light blue scrubs, outside the hospital. Esk took him by the arm and steered him toward the bushes next to the entrance to the hospital’s psychiatric complex. The next thing the Reverend saw was somewhat familiar, though he could not quite place the location. He recognized the smell—petrichor, Esk’s favorite.
Off-white arches made of a metallic substance formed towering oval archways stretching in every direction. Pathways crossed over themselves on their way to unknown destinations in the shadowy distance. The chambers were immense. Esk allowed the Reverend to stand beside him unrestrained in the midst of this, awaiting his reaction.
“What is all this?” the Reverend asked.
“This is where you will be staying for the foreseeable future until I can make other arrangements for you. If you misbehave, I will be forced to take severe action. Do you understand?” Esk replied.
Thinking that the “severe action” would be to turn him in as a fugitive to the police, the Reverend agreed to do whatever Esk asked of him. The Reverend had no idea he was inside the moon or that Dr. Severius was in one of the examination and reprogramming rooms nearby. Esk showed the Reverend to a comfortable-looking room that had curved walls and some semblance of a bed in the center.
“I feel like I’m in the middle of a giant eggshell,” the Reverend commented as he ran his hand over the wall of the chamber, “and it’s even smooth inside.”
“You may think of your temporary home as such if you wish, Reverend.”
“What is this place? Not that I’m not grateful fer ya’ pullin’ me outta’ that nuthouse.”
“It is your home until further notice.”
“Do ya’ have somethin’ ta’ eat ‘round here?”
Esk was not prepared for this necessity. The Reverend could not gain sustenance from the sugar baths or manufacture his own food using light. No. Humans were hopeless in these matters. They required other organisms to feed on for energy. They even had other organisms extract vitamins from the food in their intestines for them!
Esk thought fast and translated a few kitchen appliances—refrigerator, range, freezer, toaster, and sink—along with appropriate utensils to make a variety of foods. Esk also translated all the foodstuffs that he had seen in Sam’s kitchen into the cooling apparatus for later consumption. Needless to say, the inventory managers of a few chain stores were left scratching their heads at the end of the day. Sales must have boomed during the last fifteen minutes at the appliance store….
“Everything you need is in the chamber to your left if you are hungry,” Esk told the Reverend. “I will be back shortly. We must talk seriously when I return.”
“Yeah. I agree,” said the Reverend, heading for the room Esk had indicated contained food.
Esk translated himself to the stand of trees near Sam’s cabin and found Sam cooking on the range top. As usual, something was on fire.
“Esk! Buddy! I been cookin’ ya’ a special meal. Yer gonna love it!” Sam said.
“I am sure I will enjoy sampling this new food that you are preparing.”
Esk was not at all sure that he would be able to stomach, as the humans said, whatever Sam was burning, but he would do his best for his friend. Sam dumped the contents of the sizzling pan onto a plate in front of Esk and slid a few thin bread spheres toward him on another plate. Handing Esk a fork, Sam proudly presented the new meal.
“It’s fajitas, Esk. Vegetarian ones, since I know ya’ don’t like meat.”
“How do I…?”
“Here, ya’ take yer fork and dish ya’ up some peppers an’ onions an’ zucchini on this here tortilla, then ya’ add some refried beans and cheese to top it off. Now ya’ roll the whole thing up and eat it… like this.”
Sam fixed them both a fajita and bit a mouthful out of his, grinning as if he had won a trophy. Esk handled the roll somewhat clumsily—it was hotter than expected—and stuck his tongue against the end of it. Sam laughed, nearly choking. Esk finally tasted the new cuisine and was delighted.
In the meantime, the Reverend had cooked himself some dippin’ eggs and toast inside his new abode. Now he desperately needed to use the commode… but where was the bathroom?