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July 25, 2013

I Hraet You (77)

Beat 77: Alterations, Altercations, and Something Else that Starts with A

Well.  That was interesting.

Lloyd opened his eyes and stared at the ceiling -- at least he would have if a ceiling hung above him.  It didn’t.  Blue skies and fluffy clouds stretched as far as his eye could track, with the occasional seagull flapping about for shores unseen.  He sat up, expecting a solid floor to make the task as simple as possible; splashing waves greeted his palm instead, and a few gentle waves dashed across his body.  His body, he noted -- the extravagance of Lloydellina’s frame had been replaced with his svelte (and still-bandaged) form.

This ocean again.  Lloyd stood up and patted his body down, taking in the serene surroundings. But why this time?  Last time it was because the park’s Ferris wheel nearly claimed my life.  This time it was because…  He crossed his arms and nodded to himself.   Let me think here.  I was trying to overwhelm Miss O’Leary’s other self -- and myself, at that moment -- by trying to imagine the circumstances that Miss O’Leary herself must face on a regular basis.  A bit of empathy, assuming my terminology is right.  I can only wonder if it worked…or, given my surroundings, if I’ve failed entirely.

He smiled nervously.  Or perhaps this is an overwhelming success.

It didn’t take long for Lloyd’s focus to zero in on a certain object.  He’d noticed it from the outset, and every sweep of his eye inevitably came back to it: a standing lamp.  A standing lamp, staying true to its namesake: it stood in the middle of the ocean, balancing atop the surface in spite of the waves sloshing across its black base.  If it had bothered to shine any light it would have worked perfectly.  In casual defiance of reason and common sense, sure, but at least it would work.

Lloyd stepped toward the lamp, and examined it like a barber checking out a pair of unruly sideburns.  “A lamp in the ocean is more than a little curious.  But considering that I’m here as well, I can’t help but wonder if there’s something I should be doing.”  He stroked his chin.  “So many mysteries and conundrums have cropped up recently; if I can solve one of them, perhaps I can solve some of the others.”

He slid a hand across the lamp -- cool to the touch, as he expected.  “What am I supposed to be doing here?” he asked as his lips tightened.  “I didn’t stay this long last time.  So is there some sort of interaction I’m meant to have with this lamp?”  He tried to rattle it, but it didn’t move a centimeter from its place; he would have had more luck trying to lift a bus.  That didn’t stop him from trying, though; he pushed, and pulled, and kicked, and even tried taking a bite out of it.  Nothing.  Nothing but a well-earned toothache. 

As Lloyd pulled back (and massaged his jaw), he looked up at the lamp.  “What am I supposed to do?” he asked once more.  “What?  What?  WHAT?”  He thrust his fists into the air.  “TALK TO ME!”


Lloyd’s eyes widened.  “Oh.  Well, thank you for that, mysterious androgynous voice inside my head.  I…think.”  He looked around the ocean again.  “Wait, what exactly is ‘awake’ supposed to mean?”


“Yes, I can see those.  What of them?”


“Awake…waves…thought…I would say we’re playing a game of charades, but if that’s the case then you’re in flagrant violation of the rules.”


“Well, that’s not much of a clue.  Unless…of course!  It’s the greatest clue of all!”


“Realize?  So if that’s the case, then the word I’m dealing with must be…” He counted off on his fingers.  “Three syllables, then?  Oh!  Is it cantaloupe?  I could certainly do with a slice right about now.”


“Realize…realize, then power?  So no cantaloupe, then?”  Lloyd glanced at the lamp.  “Hold on.  I’ve just realized -- that lamp isn’t on, is it?  Granted I’d think it a bit difficult to find an electrical outlet in the ocean, but still…”  He furrowed his brow, and counted off on his fingers once more.  “Awake.  Waves.  Thought.  Realize.  Power.  Setting aside the odd duck of ‘idiot’, I think there’s a message here.  You’re trying to tell me something vital, aren’t you?”

He didn’t get an answer -- but then again, he didn’t need one.  “Wait a moment…after I left this place the first time, I woke up with the power to enter the audition room.  If my return here is constant with certain requirements and results, then...could it be?  Is this the means to awaken a new power within me?”


Lloyd couldn’t hold back a laugh.  “That’s it.  That’s it, isn’t it?  Something I’ve done recently has helped me awaken to even more hidden potential.  Yes, of course; opening my mind to new possibilities -- my experience in the audition room, my transformation, and my reawakened resolve must have triggered some sort of mental metamorphosis.”  He tapped his foot against the ocean’s surface.  “So that would mean that these waves -- they’re not merely ocean waves, but thought waves.  Whatever those are.”

The waves under Lloyd’s feet jostled, and he nearly lost his balance.  He stayed upright somehow, but the lamp he’d failed to even budge suddenly tipped over, and bobbed against the water.  “Aha!  Just what I was hoping for!”  He leapt at the lamp and took hold of it, taking note of its innards; the light bulb it housed seemed fine, but it rattled in place. 

“It doesn’t seem to be screwed in all the way.  Perhaps if I…”  He took hold of the bulb and started twisting -- one twist, then another, and one more for good measure.  But before he could get the bulb secured, the lamp shot out of his hands and stood straight once more.  “What on -- I wasn’t done yet!”

The lamp just stood its ground -- and then, it started to hum.  A green light emanated from the bounds of its shade, rising higher and higher until Lloyd had full view of a volleyball-sized sphere.  The sphere shot upwards, leaving an emerald trail of vapor in its wake, and forcing Lloyd to crane his head upward.  But not for long; he could hardly get in a blink before it hurtled toward him like a meteor…and crashed against his torso with about three times the force.

“Hrk!  That’s sure to leave a few ribs broken!”  But in spite of his moaning -- and his body skidding a dozen yards across the ocean -- Lloyd held the sphere atop his chest.  As he sat up, it burst into hundreds of green marbles.  The sphere vanished.  But in its place, he now held...


Lloyd looked back at the lamp.  Its green glow had long since vanished, and it stood watch over him like a guard tower.  “You want me to continue going forward?” he asked.  “You needn’t ask me for such a thing; I’ve every intention of pressing onward, no matter where it may lead.  And now that I have this, I suspect I’ll be having a slightly easier journey.”


“Yes.  Someday -- one day soon, I shall succeed.  That, I promise you.  Thank you for your words of wisdom, o magic talking lamp.”  He turned aside.  “How many people have had the chance to say that?”






Lloyd blinked rapidly.  “I’m back,” he said airily, taking note of the audition room -- and with it, his rabbit-eared form.  He eyed his palms.  “Did it work?  Did I manage to gain some new power?”  He didn’t have to wonder long; he caught a glimpse of the desk in the distance…and with it, the green light pulsing atop its surface.

“You little bastard -- what the hell did you do?!”

Lloyd’s shadow stretched before him, and for minutes at a time looked ready to strangle him.  “You really think you’re getting away from me that easily?” Deirdre asked; she might have been featureless at the moment, but Lloyd could have sworn he saw the veins thumping atop her fingers.  “I don’t care what’s going through that head of yours -- it belongs to me.  You belong to me.  And I’ll be damned if I’m about to let you come out on top!”

Lloyd’s eyes darted back and forth between the shadow and the desk.  He didn’t bother with any niceties; he just broke into a full-on run towards the desk, going as fast as his high-heeled legs would allow.

He traveled a whopping three steps.  On the fourth, a forest’s worth of thorny vines wrapped around his shins.

“You didn’t think I’d let you get away that easy, did you?” Deirdre asked with a bone-chilling chuckle.  Her shadow caressed the lower half of Lloyd’s body.  “Whatever you’ve got going through your head, I don’t care.  I’m about to blow your mind -- and once I do, you’ll be all mine.  Forever.

Lloyd hadn’t just lost control of his legs; voltage seemed to crackle within his limbs, forcing them to twitch and spasm out of place.  His arms refused his commands, and moved of their own -- or rather, Deirdre’s accord.  Their destination?  Lloyd could quickly guess; his hands looked eager to take hold of some particularly ripe melons.

“Your mind can’t handle this, boy!  One touch is all it’ll take to shut you down and turn you into putty in my hands!”  A wild laugh filled the audition room as Lloyd struggled to hold his arms in place.  “Don’t bother resisting!  You know this is exactly what you’ve always wanted -- so just sit back, turn your brain off, and leave everything to me!”

“I refuse!”  Lloyd clenched his teeth.  “The minds of others may not be worth much in your eyes, but to devalue them -- to underestimate them is certain to ensure your defeat!”  He clamped his eyes shut.  “Allow me to show you true power!  As they say…mind over matter!”

“What are you -- w-wait, what are you…?  WHAT ARE YOU -- OH!”  The shadow backed off of Lloyd, and retreated further and further with hands raised to guard.  But Deirdre couldn’t protect herself; she gripped her head and wobbled about, but her feeble efforts didn’t do a thing.  Lloyd had long since launched his attack -- and he didn’t have to throw a single punch.

He just had to use his imagination.

And he’d chosen to imagine Mrs. Overdose’s feet.


Lloyd laughed to himself.  “Ah, that takes me back.”


A puff of pink smoke shrouded Lloyd whole.  Before it could fully dissipate, Lloyd -- the real, male, non-full-figured Lloyd -- sprang out of the cloud, and dashed clumsily for the desk. “I’m me again!” he cheered, a few blinks away from tears.  “That must mean my dear host is…!”  He glanced over his shoulder; as the smoke cleared, he caught a full glimpse of Deirdre, wrapped up tight in a mass of thorns, and clawing furiously at her skull.

“Get them out of my head!” she wailed.  “GET THEM OUT OF MY HEAD!”

“I would be glad to, ma’am!”  Lloyd stumbled over the desk and assumed the proper position.  “I’ve got all I need to begin my offense in earnest!”  He took hold of the green sphere.  “It all starts with this!”

The sphere shone brighter, and just like before it burst into a spread of marbles.  And in its place -- in Lloyd’s lifted hand -- laid the key to his future.

A quill pen.  A quill pen, with a green feather fluttering in his grasp, and a tip soaked with emerald ink.

Lloyd looked at the pen.  He looked at Deirdre.  He looked at the pen.  He looked at Deirdre.  He looked at the pen.  “I have no idea how to use this.”


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