Plugs

We came through in tin, our useless armor clanking, and the room was all stairs, some M.C. Escher thing, and the soles of our metal shoes, of course, had no traction, so every step was nearly a slip, nearly a tumble down however many floors, but the stairs also went up, wrapped around behind the doorway, and we made our way on careful, slow, slow tiptoes up, and the stairs grew steeper and those greaves or whatever pinched when we lifted our legs higher for the stepping, but there was another door, which we were grateful to reach and be through–

–through into a forest, in clothes of vine-bound bark. And ants biting. We took advantage of our new mobility, jogged through the trees. The next door has to be somewhere/said Monice. Has to be somewhere; could be anywhere/said Solly. Are we done?/I said. There yet?/I panted. We weren’t, but nobody said it, just ran. To the next door, and through it. And into–

–sand. Sand. So much. Sand. Desert. Or vast beach. (Maybe that blue distance is water.) Insect carapace clothes. We trudged. Slowly slowed. To rest. (Solly: I hope we’re there soon. Monice: When we’ve learned what we need to, the quest will end. Solly: Learn? Learn what? We’re too busy running from place to place. (I was too tired to say anything. Just nodded.) But the sea. A flash-tide. Was coming. Was on us. And we went through to–

–stone-suited mountainside-sliding scree-riding tumbling cracking smacking avalanche-among crushed pressed pushed and–

–through in tin again, that Escher-stairway room again, and us too tired, too bruised, to tiptoe-climb again, and I fell first and heard Sol and Moni thunder-tumbling after; however, it wasn’t as far a fall as I’d expected, and I wasn’t too much worse by the time we landed on a landing, where the door was a rectangular well in the floor, and we dragged ourselves over, and Moni dropped through, then Sol, then I went–

–through. In eggshell smocks and feather bloomer-breeches. On the plains, astride ostriches. In the midst of a flock-stampede.

“Enough!” said Monice.

Dismounting, she ducked as the rest of the flock stiff-legged by.

Following, Sol and I jumped down and covered our heads.

“No,” I said, “We have to…”

“No,” said Sol. “She’s figured it.”

“The quest’s over when we say it’s over,” said Monice. “And I say it is.”

And it was.

Page 392

YARAMAZ TURKISH CARPETS

Species:    Animal

Habitat:    Ranges. Prefers city or suburban. Nocturnal. 

Designation:    See special cautions in hunting.

The above name is a rough translation. They are also referred to as “mischievous flying carpets” in other texts.

Although they bear resemblance to and share the gift of flight with the flying carpets of the Arabian Nights lore, Turkish flying carpets are not inanimate objects imbued with magic but sentient living creatures.

Although not intelligent as say a monkey or a dog they are still highly cunning. The creatures make their homes in carpet warehouses where they blend in and like to sleep during the day. Come dark, they fly out into the night and into the windows of unsuspecting humans, usually children. Through some sort of sympathetic communication that is not yet understood, the Turkish carpet will coax the child onto itself and take it for a wild ride, usually lasting until dawn. It is believed that the carpet feeds upon the thrills of the rider and that the ride itself is not random but somehow linked to the subconscious desires of the host. In 1992 the obese son of one time Monster Hunter Charles Stuyvesant was believed to have encountered a particularly wild Yaramaz that flew him from his Brooklyn brownstone all the way to Hershey Pennsylvania. There is reason to believe that this particular beast perished in a vat of heated chocolate but the police report makes
no mention of the beast, only the child’s unlawful entry into the factory.

Recent Observations:

In 2009, rumors of strange flying objects in Brooklyn has sparked belief that the so called “Hershey” Yaramaz did not perish at all. So little is known about their mating and reproduction that designating this Yaramaz an offspring as has been postulated is premature.

Cautions:

Stuyvesant’s field notes from 1992 also indicate that the Hershey Yaramaz did not perish in the encounter. Stuyvesant went hunting the creature and tracked it to a carpet showroom on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Stuyvesant thought he had surprised the beast but the carpet salesman who had been on his way out reported seeing the carpet rise into the air and that  Stuyvesant went into some sort of trance. He claimed Stuyvesant rode the carpet out the window and into the night. Stuyvesant gave up monster hunting in 1992. His last contribution to the field was to caution that only those “dead at heart” attempt to hunt Yaramaz as anyone else could easily fall prey to their sympathetic lures.  Stuyvesant  moved upstate and opened a chocolate shop which to this day he operates with his son.

-END-

Five bottles on a shelf, they sang songs to me on a cold winter’s night: songs of lips against snow, of roots, of tusks and of gold and of all that piled in the room, spoils of my father’s travels. They always found a way into his pockets, those oddments.

And I, their un-bottled sister, was their ear.

And I, their ten-fingered sister, stood on tiptoes in the kitchen to take dried peach slices from the wooden boxes, to take cardamom and cloves from the dispenser. I stood in front of the shelves and dropped my fruits and spices into the bottles.

They murmured thanks, every one.

Eyes and mouths and four finned limbs grew from them in haphazard ways, puzzle ways, and I watched them as if they would move just-so in their bottles and make a neat pattern.

“Have you seen fish in the water?” one whispered — or was it two? I couldn’t follow all their mouths.

I tilted my head to the right, looking at the dried blowfish behind one of the bottles.

They swam around it in the toilet bowl, pressing their lips to it — like fingers, I thought, to learn how it felt — and they swam down when I flushed, down through the pipes that curled like my hair, down to the underground rivers.

I’d stolen my father’s oddments before. If he noticed, it was only to see an empty space on his shelf for another travel-token, another spade-shaped coin or intricately carved statue of a mermaid.

A week after I emptied the five bottles, he filled them with shells and sand from a black beach in the Aegean.

And I, growing older, saw the five un-bottled boys on warm nights when I walked alone by the river.

Up until now, I’ve walked out to the crash site about once a month.  I’ve gone there most nights in my dreams, too. I know this is crazy, but I can still feel her. She’s so pissed off it fills my head. I don’t blame her.

Lately I’ve been thinking the only thing that will satisfy her is the ultimate sacrifice.

Last night, like usual in the dreams, everything was the same as ten years ago, from the glass on the ground to the voice in my head saying, “your old life’s over.”

(At the time I thought someone’d said that out loud, but there was no-one there yet: only me and that poor stranger lying on her side, who would never speak again.)

In the dream people drove right past. My wife went by.

I wanted to call out to her, because she’s the kind of woman who would stop for much less. I can tell she’s about to ask me for a divorce. She says I still tell her in my sleep, “it was an accident.”

In the dream that poor stranger never moves. Yet I always go to feel her pulse, just like I did.

Last night, she moved.

She turned her head slowly, and fixed her wide-open eyes on me.

“You have to,” she grated out, and tried again. “You have to. Let me go.”

Her head rolled back. I woke up.

I lay there a long time, cold sweat on my back. Then I slipped out of bed and got dressed and shaved until my cheeks hurt and left a note for my wife and started walking.

By the time I got there the sun was coming up. Nobody living was there to see a man talking to the trees by the side of the road.

“I am so very, very sorry I was so damned dumb,” I said. “I didn’t realize I was keeping you here. Man, that must have pissed you off.”

I waited, I didn’t know for what.

“I get it now: my penance isn’t suicide or coming here forever.”

The trees shook in a breeze that didn’t touch anything else. I saw it. I stood and waited until I felt her go. Then I went home to see if my wife’d let me put my arms round her and listen hard to her, even if she didn’t say anything at all.

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