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My skin was thinking

Considered for June 3, 2012.

“My skin is trying to think again.”

“Um, sir…?”

“Now look, Borb,” I interrupted Borb before he could embarrass either of us again. I let you have all the fun last week with your fire trucks and hoses and stuff—right out in my front lawn. I even invited you to the cookout I was having at the time! So the least you can do—” I was on an indignant roll now “—is listen to my problems!” I harrumphed for good measure: “Harrumph!

“Sir, unless you have an emergency—”

I sighed loudly—in fact, as loud as I could without blowing the telephone handset out my grubby little hand. Borb McBorbley had been a lot more fun before he took this new job as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I chuckled to myself as I reminisced about my first encounter with Spend-O-Mart Manager Borb, and then my second encounter, which was even zanier than the first! Since 9-1-1 Dispatcher Borb didn’t seem to want to talk about my skin disease, I launched into a monologue about what a nice guy Borb had been—had been—before he went to work for these silly yobs who like to spell out the individual digits of their telephone number. After 7⅜ minutes of nonstop and eggluescent monologuery, I paused to take a breath. Borb, naturally, saw an opportunity to admonish me again, and indeed he took it.

“Look, sir, unless you have an actual emergency—”

“Well, Borb, I am feeling rather hypoxic now!” I tweeted smugly. 7⅜ minutes of nonstop, squirrel-like chittering sure does deplete the blood of its much-needed oxygen! “In fact, I think I’ve gone completely anoxic now! So why don’t you send one of those zanily-lit bread trucks of yours out here again—” I always wanted to work the word “zanily” into a conversation “—and escort me to the Alyssa Milano Medical Center down the street?” I paused, then added: “For if I try to walk there myself, I fear that I shall keel over deader than a frog with a golf club up its buttocks.”

I hoped the florid, antiquated phrasing of the last sentence—juxtaposed with the shocking amphibious imagery—would confuse and bemuse Borb enough to just shut up and send out his psychedelic bread truck without any further ado. Alas, I was mistaken.

“Sir, as we told you the last time you called, we’re unfamiliar with that… particular hospital. If you genuinely need assistance, we’ll transport you to the Ollanthorpe Memori—”

Nnnooo!! I squealed in a girlish baritone and slammed the phone down on its hook. (My phone still has hooks; it’s an old phone and it sure has got its hooks into me!) I shuddered, remembering my last madcap adventure at that particular hospital and its population of honking quacks. So, I concluded, the ambulance was a no-go: So I resolved to find something else to amuse myself today. So. So…

“…Buttons?” Zippy piped up. I slapped myself upside the head to admonish him. He piped down.

Moments later, I was scullywugging vendaciously toward my under-stairs pantry-chambery in order to fetch a can of gourmet Chef Boyardee ravioli, which I would then proceed to cook for blunch. I had bought 1701 cans during my last foray to the Spend-O-Mart on Alpha Ralpha Boulevard. Each ravioli was finely handcrafted and made with 100% “real” meat, the government warning label on the can proclaimed. “Real” was good enough for me, so I had bought the store’s entire stock of them. And now, days later, I would crack open the first can and eat the entire thing!

As my untoward scullywugging toward the pantry-chambery progressed to doorknob-grasping and finally -turning, I felt it start to happen again. I stopped dead in my vendacious little tracks. My eyes widened. My finger-tentacles clenched. My heart did the fandango-on-core.

My skin was thinking again.

Cursing the day I had met that dinkmonger, I dove into the pantry-chambery nose-first, pulled the door shut behind me with my feet, and latched it from inside (with my toe-tentacles). There was no reason to believe that the closed door would prevent the humperdumperdink’s telenoösis from reaching me, but it was worth a shot… considering that I had tried everything else. (Here goes:) I had tried hiding behind my toilet, then inside it. I had tried praying to Jesus, God, doG, and then even caT. I had tried stripping naked, wrapping myself in copper wire, dousing my entire caprine self in hoisin sauce and turmeric, and then plugging myself into the 220V outlet in my basement—doing so while wearing pasties on my eyebulbs. The 220 volts hadn’t blocked out the telenoösis, but they sure had given me new appreciation for all the disclaimers in YouTube’s terms of service about trying things at home!

Back here in my pantry-chambery, I curled into a fetal position. Upstairs, the humperdumperdink’s noödermis wrinkled and rippled in fierce concentration. Come Hell or high gas prices, it wanted to transfer its formidable noötic abilities to its new master whether he (that’d be me, snappy!) wanted it or not. My own epidermis crawled. I curled harder.

Time slowly passed as I curled and curled, images of the rippling, hair-growing humperdumperdink invading my conscious mind, my subconscious mind and then finally my unconscious mind. At first I felt as if I were merely falling asleep—or perhaps I was falling unconscious—or perhaps all the jugs of soy sauce in my pantry-chambery were causing me to hallucinate my way into epiphoria. One way or another—for some reason or another—using some neologism or another—my time in the waking world this fine Saturday afternoon was coming to a slow, whimpering finishment.

Something banged. I whimpered. Sense fled.

All that remained was the fuzzy, distorted imagery of the night terrors that visit me every time I lay myself down to sleep and pray the Lord my soul to keep. It began with vast, empty darkness, darkness suffocating in its inky thickness. Slowly, a dim, diffuse light began to permeate the darkness—source unknown and ineffable. Shadows grew from objects unseen. Suddenly ghostly, cataleptic goats sprang out from behind those shadows, goats miles tall: Eyeless, mindless, all the while braying accusingly at me like wild asses. Gnomes, beastly as ever, gremlin-like as ever, disassembled my door jambs and wainscoting, carried the material back to their underground caverns, and whistled “Pixie” as they worked. The gnomes even piffled my underdormfuddies egregiously as they passed by; I could do nothing but stare and smarm weakly.

Fractal erotolepsy gripped me in its steely, lubricious claws; a gaggle of redheaded Alyssa Milanos bared their feet, and waggled them tantalizingly, from behind the diffuse shadows lining the inside of my cranium. (And it was… inside… my cranium. As were the wolves and voles.) Each of Alyssa’s slender toes transformed into a barefoot and blonde Jennifer Love Hewitt, and each of her delicate toes became a barefoot and brunette Chloë Moretz. Lastly each of Chloë’s myriad noses sprouted a barefoot Pippi Longstocking. Anthropomorphized female foxes yiffed writhingly in the background, frogs croaked invitingly, and I mubbled, uncertain and duck-like, at the whole scene. All it was missing was Lucy Lawless wrapped in tentacles and a pair of nipple-snorkels.

The gnomes gnawed. The gnu knew. I just knawed. Some knomes knawed too. And I pawed the air impotently. The Alyssas and Jennifer Loves and Chloës and Pippis all mocked me from miles above—high as the goats—towering over me—towering and flowering and glowering and aaaaa…

Great Custer’s ghost! The machine elves! Oh, how they rolled on by now! Oh, how they foretold on high now! Rolling, dropping, drooping, rhooping, nipping, fopping, clipping, glopping! Concentric nympholepsy replaced by elvish horsefeathery. The machine elves popped out of the æther, peeping and pipping at me more giggliously than any Pippi ever could, long stockings or short. They nipped and gnipped and knipped and some even ńipped. All waggled their tertiary eyes at me, reticulating around themselves, wavily, swooningly, as the humperdumperdink’s exonoösis continued and my neurons started frying under the stress. But the machine elves continued grinding my gears and monkey-wrenching my thinkin’-monkeys into a quither of addlepated gree.

« Gabba babba bubbah bo-bort. And a fnugly dugly …doo!! »

The words simply emerged from the darkness, and echoed.

One machine elf crept up, ferret-like, alongside me. He wore a purple wig atop a green one as he sidled so, and his mouth drooped high above his eyebrows. His noses were all upturned, as were his ear and throats. I knew that I knew him (or them), but I couldn’t recall from when, from where, or from which previous episode of anoöia. Was this elf’s name Nurgdurbett? Or were their names Eka-Squirrelbuttocks and Ur-Dogbutt? I couldn’t recall. I couldn’t recall. The plural merged with the dual and the singular. Off in the distance, George Boole committed suicide.

« You can recall! All of you can! » Nurgdurbett-Ur-Dogbuttocks chittled at me betwixt and between guillemets of a nature not seen since that time I had ordered a pulled-pork sandwich from a street vendor in McGillicuddy Plaza but got a pulled-pud sandwich instead. I leaned down to grasp Nurgdurbett-Ur-Dogbuttocks by his tiny, purple wig but he darted behind the left-hand guillemet, purple-green hairs flying everywhere, and I was too weak to continue. The multi-infarct anoöia swept harder over me. Nurgdurbett-Ur-Dogbuttocks was no more than bytes on a hard drive now. The humperdumperdink’s hair was probably six feet long now, or longer, and curly as ever.

And then there was Sigisvult the Goth. I wasn’t sure how he fit into all this, but I know that he did.

In the real world, the one where logic still ruled with a mighty iron fist, I curled in on myself: A spiral galaxy wrapping tightly about the supermassive black hole at its core. I could see the galaxies for what they were, each galaxy a single cell in the tiniest machine elf’s body. Chloë… or Gödel …or Erdős? Gödel …or Erdős? Or someone else with weird dots and slashes in their name? That was what flashed across my anoöic axons and ganglia as I wrapped myself into a tight logarithmic spiral and tried to hide from the night terrors and erotoleptic visions engulfing my Pnårpy self.

I couldn’t believe that hdparm had reached version 9.39 recently. I thought 9.36 was far enough—but no, they had to go farther. And farther. And farther still—

I noösed of the only man in history to ever be killed by a cassowary. Phillip McClean, a man with my own first name, even spelled with the same two ells: A man I aspired to emulate right up to his last moments on caT’s green earth. Unfortunately, the closest I had ever come to owning a cassowary was pilfering a Kimdangian Emu from the local Tiergarten am Tiergartenstraße

—German?! I wrangled with my neurocytes, demanding they return to English (or Faroese) at flunce. They did so, but they still kept trying to visualize Dyanne Thorne and Alyssa Milano in a room together—

I was drowning in near infrared:// Marooned in realtime:// The Universe was ripping in two, bright light spilling forth from the tear:// It grew in intensity, sharpening, and then—

Suddenly, everything went intensely white. Upstairs, the humperdumperdink fell silent and still. Downstairs, deep within a darkened pantry chamber beneath the stairs of a palatial home, surrounded by cans of Chef Boyardee ravioli and jugs of inky soy sauce, a Pnårp whimpered and twitched. In a fit of paroxysmal goonflayvination, he awoke. The door to the pantry burst open on its own. Thought the size of the Universe itself was what emerged. In a clever if overused writer’s trick, the Pnårp returned to the first person and realized…

…I am the humperdumperdink!