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The turtle herds of insomnia

NōDōz’d on August 12, 2012.

I tried to doze, but I didn’t dream. I didn’t even doze. I couldn’t doze… no matter how hard I tried—and I tried hard. Here aboard the ÅSS Goose from the Machine, awash in my own antefallopious mulcritude and quinparallel instoppelopathies of the most ingrethine nature, I was sleepless. I was suffering from a bout of insomnia that made that nipple-clamping accident in Peoria last week look like a walk in the goatburping park on Shoehorner Street.

My insomnia gripped me like the cold, bony hand of a wizened, old man clinging to a quarter that he had just found on the sidewalk—a quarter that a passing shiftless bum was now demanding so he could go buy himself a bottle of booze and a scratch ticket which would most assuredly not be a winner. The wizened man was the stingiest man alive (or dead), and besides: He needed that quarter to buy himself the last tube of allopathic denture cream on the Spend-O-Mart shelf. The wizened man cackled sourly, gripped the quarter harder, and plodded onward toward the Spend-O-Mart. The shiftless bum just stared, agape.

Extended analogies aside, I tossed. I turned. I tossed some more, for good measure. I even twerned, but mention of such things is inappropriate for a family-friendly blog such as this one. I tried stuffing my head between my pillows. I tried stuffing my pillow between my heads. I tried lying on my left side, hoping my organs would all settle into the proper position for sleep. I tried lying on my right side, hoping that after my organs had to hold on for dear life for a while, they would be too exhausted to keep me up any longer. I tried laying on my head, but balance has long been a skill that has eluded me, so I soon fell down onto my buttocks with an embarrassing schtroumpf! and a Bieberine yelp. I tried laying upright on my feet, but then realized that this position was synonymous with “standing,” a posture in which I have never been able to sleep—not since my previous life in 1627 as an auroch, at least.

Nothing worked. Nothing got me to sleep. After two hours of tossing and turning (oh! what I wouldn’t give to be living my previous life in 1699 right now), I tried beating my head against the wall until I knocked myself out, but all that I succeeded in doing was rendering my nose rather bloody and giving me a headache that rivaled that cranium-cracking accident that happened last month in Peoria.

“Hahaha, ‘Peoria,’ I snickled to myself under my breast. “What a silly name for a place!” But, comical city names or not, still I could not sleep: Not a single nod, not a single wink, not even a single rapid-eye movement.

“An idea!” I shouted to the four winds (and fifth hamster). If Dinglebuckey had been here, he would have looked at me curiously, hamstery little head cocked, as if I had taken leave of my senses again. I started flicking my eyebulbs back and forth as rapidly as I could—perhaps manually induced rapid-eye movement would jam my Pnårpy self down into REM sleep!

Needless to say, my idea didn’t work. (But you knew that.) After six minutes of furious trying, I gave up, admitted failure, reattached my retinas, and lay back down on my buttocks on the comfy bed in my expansive cabin. I flicked off my eyebulbs—spun down my eye turrets—and just waited for sleep to take me, like a thief in the night.

Sleep did not come.

And then suddenly, out from the darkness: “We’re off… like a herd of turtles!”

I leapt from my bed in a frothing anger. The midnight turtle-herder had returned to taunt me in the dead of night! I grabbed the nearest broom and started shaking it like an ornery old man, stabbing into the darkness with its bristly bristles.

“Where are you, you moose-kvetching buzzard-squisher!? You goat-poked nubbly-munger! You gnarly-gnashed floopity-flarble! You… lamb-fisted, horse-lipped, lurp-derped dog-anus! You goat plunk! You coadge badger! Where are you!? Show yourself so that I may squish you with my bare, bear hands!”

There was no answer. No turtleherd came forward, turtle-herding staff in hand and turtle herd in tow. I lay back down and once again asserted all of my efforts toward falling asleep. My breathing slowed, my blood pressure lowered, all my piss and vinegar settled into my lower piss-pouch, but still I could not sleep. I wondered if, subconsciously, my fear that clowns would eat me was preventing me from sleeping, but I quickly dismissed the idea upon remembering that I recently added both vorarephilia and coulrophilia to my long, long list of paraphilias.

If only a clown would eat me.

I rolled over onto my other side, then my other, then my other. I tried sleeping on my stomach, then my back, then my knees, then my elbows, and then even my prehensile tail. I forced my eyes shut, then closed every other orifice in my body, too—but to no avail. My clock silently ticked out the hours, minutes, seconds, thirds, and fourths (but no broomphs). I peered at it and groaned in squelching infustulation as I realized it was almost morning—and almost time to go water the seedy horrors I was growing in my ship’s hydroponics bay. I grinned. “Soon, my pretties… soon…”

Thoughts of the eldritch, sesame-seeded horrors I would soon unleash on the world began to soothe me. Cobwebs began to form in my mind, my teranoötic cognition slowed to a mere meganoösis, logic fled my cranial circuits and was replaced with something that would make Boole more nauseous than even ten girls, one cup could. And then—

“We’re off… like a herd of turtles!”

Rarrrrgh! Rarrrrgh and flarrrrgh!! I howled throatfully, my neck veins bulging and my eyebulbs not far behind. Show yourself, turtleherd! Or I’ll tear this ship apart deck plate by deck plate!!

No turtleherd showed himself. The turtle herd stayed quietly concealed somewhere, too.

“Suffering ſuccotaſh!” I exclaimed archaically, not even bothering to update my eſſes to their lithe, modern form. “Will this turtleherd haunt me forever!? Will I ever ſleep again!?”

I fleeped to drive the point home. Unfortunately, this far from home, all that that accompliſhed was piercing my forehead with that 10d nail that I had been uſing to make points lately. I rolled over, cloſed my eyes, and tried even harder to ſleep. After 2⅝ more hours of that, all that that accompliſhed was ſpraining my ſpleen and giving myſelf a hiatal hernia.

I counted the thats in the last paragraph and frowned. Somewhere the Sun was probably coming up. Somewhere off in the distance, a dog was probably barking. Somewhere it was probably Sunday. But here aboard the Goose from the Machine, it was still dark, I was sleepless and dogless (and yet oddly very thatful). And I would be damned if I would ever allow a single Sunday to happen aboard my shiny new starship!

If Yappie hadn’t died in that livermoring accident a while back, I would have a dog. But now all I had was a pet moose, a pet cow, a pet Ravna, and a pet Loquisha. And yet none were here aboard the Goose, so it’s not as if any of them mattered right now. I rolled over onto my other other side again (the one with the blebs!) and tried thrice more to sleep, doze, nod off, nap, catch some z’s, catch some zebras, catch some zucchini, catch forty winks (or even twenty of them), get some shut-eye (or even some shut-mouth), or even be molested by the Sandman should that be necessary to get some actual sleep in this part of near-bagel space.

Kneeless to say, sleep never came. I lay wide-eyed and awake on my eggluescent pillow until my alarm cluck started beeping (2⅝)2 hours later. Yawning groggily, I arose, dressed, blushed my teeth, brushed my eyebrow dandruff out, shaved most of the hair from my squirreline form, and finally wandered blearily up to the Goose’s mess for some tea and strumpets.

Tea guzzled and strumpets eaten, I wandered—slightly less blearily now, but no less squirreline—up to the Goose’s bridge in order to stare intently at the slowly, slowly growing image of the scrumbumptious Bagel Nebula as it approached (or, more pedantically, as I approached it, since bagel-shaped nebulas aren’t known for being particularly motile).

I sat down heavily in my captain’s chair and eyed the nebula as intently as I could muster, considering my sleepless and Seattle-less state. The nebula eyed me back, balefully and kerniciously: I realized then that beyond the nebula, or perhaps even deep within it, there would surely be eyeless potatoes eyeing me… forever!

I cranched, flinching and quailing simultaneously, and cast my eyes downward at the floor. I scrunched up my nose and boonflayvined ŋiffiliously. A fleeting thought: If only Alyssa Milano had been standing in front of me now, barefoot or even be-sandaled, I would have something better to look at than the cold, hard, aluminum deck plating. Oh! what I wouldn’t give to gaze upon those ten slender and ŋubricious little toes right now! I sighed inwardly (and kicked myself outwardly) for forgetfully leaving behind every single photograph of Ms. Milano that I possessed—I had even forgotten my copy of her full photo shoot from the 2003 swimsuit edition of Goats Illustrated.

I sighed. Time passed… sideways, then head-on.

Bored, I started leafing through my copy of Memoirs of a Japanese Chicken Sexer in 1935 Hebden Bridge, knowing that Mr. Andoh’s gripping anecdotes of sexing chickens were just what the doctor ordered to cure my boredom. (It’s not what it sounds like, trust me: It’s worse.)

Instead of curing my boredom, this old memoir cured my insomnia: I fell asleep in my captain’s chair. I dozed, and I dreamed: I dreamed that I was a laptop, its lid closed, its CPU happily drifting off into sleep mode itself. Its circuitry powered down and its capacitors slowly discharged the last of their electrons along its otherwise dormant circuit pathways. Resonances and miniscule eddy currents formed along the sleek copper pathways, bits in RAM were half-flipped, then some half-flipped back. Stray electrons shot across an AND gate here and there, and the CPU almost completed a single op. Ghostly images of whatever had been in memory remained, but they were attenuated—half-formed. My blue power LED blinked serenely. I dreamed of half-downloaded websites and fragments of Excel sheets. Bits and nybbles of the movie my owner had been watching moments before closing the lid melded illogically with what remained in RAM of the spreadsheet, and suddenly profit/loss figures were involved in a mad car chase down the expressway. Cars carrying broken JPEG icons swerved out of our way as bullets made of annuity formulas and amortization curves streamed past my head. A signal, an interrupt: Was someone opening my lid? Did a lone ARP packet arrive from the LAN, accidentally waking me from my hibernation? Who-has, who-has, who-has…?

It all made sense. With my logic gates fully asleep, insufficient current to awaken them, it all made sense to my addlepated little CPU and other ICs.

I awoke 818⅛ hours later to find that my trusty starship had made it to the Bagel Nebula—and passed right through it! I had overshot my destination by more than six, threescore, and six smurf-laden light years! Grumbling, I threw the ship into reverse (my ship has a reverse) and started back to the Bagel Nebula. I stood up and stalked off the bridge in a huff.

“Soon, my bagels,” I whispered conspiratorially, grinning from all sides, as I walked along the long line of growing bagels in the Goose’s hydroponics bay. I rubbed my hands together and—had I had one—would have twirled my handlebar moustache as devilishly as I could muster. “Soon, you will awake… soon, the scrumptious goodness of the Bagel Nebula will breathe life everlasting into your bagely little hides! Arise, my pretties, arise!” Thunder and lightning crashed. I was in deep space, light years from any atmosphere, but who cares? It’s not like any of this makes any real sense. “Soon we will conquer the known Universe together! Arise! Ariiise!! Muahahahahaa!!”

The bagels swelled and grew.