Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Warty Hugeman and The Flames of Funtown

Funtown was burning. As flames consumed the time-worn wood and fading paint, he felt a crushing sense of loss. Warty Hugeman was born in Funtown, and died there too. He rolled over onto his back, his dorsal fin digging into the sand under him, and watched the smoke rise into the sky.
Wartimus Riesigmann and The Phantom Recursion: A Wartimus Riesigmann Teenage Adventure
Wartimus Riesigmann cut through the chain link fence as quietly as he could, but each time the bolt cutters snapped through aluminum wire it sounded like a rifle shot in the night. The others crowded behind him, whispering about what they would find once inside. He turned back to glare at them. Andrea put her hand on his back, her small, delicate hand, and his anger ebbed away. She had been his whole world since the kiln explosion that killed his father. He knew they would be together forever.

Wartimus finished cutting through the fence and crawled in first to help the others. Andrea came after him, her eyes filled with excitement. She was one of those mad, wonderful people who thought the world was filled with delight. Even in filthy utility overalls and a burglar's black sock cap she was devastatingly beautiful.

Helenique squeezed through next, the sharp edges of the fence plucking at her clothes. It was obvious to Wartimus that Andrea's childhood friend was both a lesbian and desperately in love with her. Andrea laughed the suggestion off, refusing to believe Helenique was so clueless to her own nature. And besides, Andrea was used to everyone that met her falling at least a little in love with her. Making up the rear, as always, were Andrea's cousin Sticky and his miserable dog, Max. Wartimus spent at least ten minutes of every day thinking up hilarious ways for Sticky to die. Wartimus hated hippies, and rich hippies doubly so. And the dog Max was just a low cur that whined piteously because Sticky would only feed him organic hippie garbage that cost more per pound than dry-aged steak.

Despite Andrea insisting that her friends were an asset, Wartimus spent more time keeping them alive than actually solving the mystery of his father's future diary. Professor Hieronymus Riesigmann's body had never been found. The police theorized that he had been vaporized in the blast. The diary had been given to Wartimus by his father's attorneys after he refused to hold a funeral for an empty casket; it turned out to be a detailed set of predictions for the next few years of Wartimus' life, years that would be a treasure hunt for seemingly random objects that were hinted to possess an immense power when brought together.

This was the last location in the diary, the parts warehouse for the Dentzel/Looff Carousel in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. Wartimus had crisscrossed the globe on the diary's instructions that was written in the machine-precise script of his father. The first entry, dated ten years previous, perfectly described the events of the day his father died. If his father knew of his death, why not avoid it? If he knew his son would spend four years and a sizable percentage of his inheritance chasing the artifacts described within, why hide them in the first place?

The diary said that Funtown would utterly deserted and even contained a hand-drawn diagram of the warehouse and where and how to breach its defenses. A cakewalk, it said. All the pages after the ones describing Wartimus and his team finding "the device" were blank. This was the end of the journey. The future would be an unknown from this point on, something for Andrea and Wartimus to make their very own.

Andrea jimmied the warehouse door while Wartimus kept an eye open for guards. The diary didn't mention everything. In Ghana, it hadn't told them that taking the microcircuit would set off a lethal response system that would half-bob Max's tail and burn a hole in Helenique's leg big enough to throw a nickel through before Wartimus could beat the robot to pieces with an office chair. Or that the elevator in the secure office tower of an advanced textiles manufacturer in Rangoon would trap them when it sensed too much weight for the security code that was entered. Wartimus had to pull a foot-long piece of frayed cable out of his biceps after the nine story climb in the dark shaft.

He shooed the others into the warehouse when the door was unlocked and shut it behind him. He used a penlight to read the dairy's floor schematic. What he wanted was on the far side of the warehouse, but this was the door the diary insisted they come through. They had all learned the harsh lessons of disobeying the book. He pointed the way, turned off the light and followed them.

The warehouse was filled with broken pieces of the carousel, picked out in pools of light from above. A shattered chariot squatted on a pallet and cracked pieces of horses where piled up haphazardly. Wartimus felt a strange unease and he hissed at the others to stop and be quiet. He could hear a dry, rubbing sound, like charcoal on a tombstone relief. The hairs on Wartimus' arms sprang erect. Horripilation, he thought. His father's lessons as a child never left him. The sound grew louder and he dropped into a defensive crouch.

Sticky was the first to die. His skull sheared off in perfect silence, like he had walked through an invisible wire. He fell backward before any could process what had happened, and a gout of blood from his sectioned brain drenched Helenique. Her scream shocked Wartimus into action. He tackled Andrea from behind and covered her with his body. Helenique's scream cut off as she crumbled to the ground, sliced as thinly as expensive ham from crown of her head to the soles of her feet. A wave of her blood washed over Wartimus and Andrea, who was locked in a silent scream. Max was barking, sounding almost hoarse from the volume. He scrambled back from the corpses and stood his ground. Something pink and grey and wet whipped out of the shadows and beheaded Max with a final, startled yip.

Wartimus sprang to his feet and began dragging Andrea toward the door. She was trying to get to her feet to run when a rotted tentacle shot out the shadows and latched onto her boot. Wartimus threw his arms around her torso and heaved with all his strength. The boot came off, Andrea's perfect, pale foot practically glowing in the dim light of the warehouse. She laughed with relief until the tentacle latched onto her foot and lower calf. Wartimus pulled again, hoping to break its hideous grip. The skin of Andrea's lower leg and foot came off like a loose sock.

Andrea fainted with shock, going limp in his arms. More tentacles snaked out, engulfing her lower body. Wartimus could feel her heart hammering away against her chest. He tried to pull her away. He strained, veins standing out on his forearms, and he let out a tremendous, thunderous fart. He couldn't break them. He was too weak. They finally ripped her away.

Wartimus fell to the cold concrete of the warehouse. Andrea was dead. He waited for them to come for him as well, wanting the end. Nothing, just the dry rubbing from before.

"Come on, you fuckers!" he growled.

A light began to grow on the far side of the warehouse. It became brighter and brighter, until it filled the place. It was blinding. Wartimus buried his face in his hands, the light too bright against his closed eyelids. No heat, no pressure, just light. He could see the bones of his hands before it finally just stopped.

"ANDREA!" he screamed
Warty Hugeman looked up at the smoke-darkened sky. He had travelled billions of years and trillions of miles, but he came back every subjective year on her birthday to where she had died. She would have been thirty on the day Warty found Funtown in flames.

What he discovered in the deserted warehouse was a small box containing a high-capacity portable drive. It was all the instructions needed to assemble his first timesuit and a detailed plan on how to rescue his father from the explosion in the last, thinnest whisper of time.

If his father was really dead or if his son, Wartimus Reigismann, now Warty Hugeman, would eventually rescue him was still unknown. Warty wasn't ready to forgive. There might not be enough time in all of time for him ever to forgive.

Wake-Up Call: A Wart Der Huge Interstitial Adventure

Wart Der Huge watched his younger self lying in the sand to watching Funtown burn. He was a sentimental fool then. Nothing was what he once thought it was and it was past time for Junior to wake up.

Wart Der Huge packed away the extra incendiary mortars he had used to set Funtown on fire and blinked out of existence.

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