It’s difficult to pick up your own fingers. I knew opposable thumbs were important, but I had always taken them for granted. I regret that.
I scrambled in the middle of the sidewalk attempting to scoop up dozens of misplaced digits. How many were there supposed to be again?
Thirty? Seven? Nineteen?
Did it matter?
No matter, there wasn’t time. Crow mounted rats were swarming toward me wielding salad forks and chanting something about a weenie roast.
I counted forty-seven fingers and four thumbs. Close enough. I had to get to a seamstress!
Beneath my feet the sidewalk warped and twisted, becoming a funhouse reflection of itself. The cement sloshed underfoot as I ran from the chattering horde.
A glance back confirmed my fears – the crow mounted rats had boarded Nordic longboats and were rowing gracefully over the wave crested walkway.
I was in need of an escape. A hiding place. Anywhere I could dodge the longboat sailing carnivorous rodents.
There! Mere feet away stood a black goat with the words “free candy inside” painted across its ribs.
“Please!” I begged. “Can you help me? I’m being chased by -”
Behind me the longboats had slowed their pursuit. The beasts were engaged in a battle among themselves. Heaving large rotten heads of iceberg lettuce at one another.
The goat, too, saw the odd battle.
“Can you help me?” I said.
The goat nodded and opened its mouth.
“Geh ihng!” It said.
“Oh! ‘get in.'”
The goat nodded.
“I don’t think I can fit.”
“Ho ong.” The goat’s jaw unhinged. Opening as wide as a doorway. Its tongue curled into a staircase.
“Thank you!” I said running up the fleshy steps and diving down the mucus slick gullet.
The entrance closed behind me. Gravity pulled me at breakneck speed down the slippery tube. It took everything I had to hold onto my forty-seven disembodied fingers and four thumbs.
I spilled out onto a white marbled floor. Stone pillars stretched out for miles on either side. Stained glass windows depicting some fanciful war between Heaven and Hell rose along the walls reaching up to a ceiling lost somewhere in darkness.
“Oy! Who are you?”
I hadn’t noticed the five pixelated thugs standing in the middle of the room. They looked like sprites from the old Super Nintendo game, Maximum Carnage. As if they had somehow jumped off the screen into the real world. Two held lead pipes, one a knife, another brass knuckles.
Their leader, the one who had challenged me, held a slingshot. The purple mohawk, t-shirt tucked into ripped jeans, and leather biker boots made it extremely difficult to take the guy seriously.
“Oy! Didya not hear me, son?” He said stepping forward.
I had heard him, but I was having a hard time remembering. I didn’t know how to answer the question. Who was I exactly? I didn’t have time to figure it out before the guy shoved me into a pillar.
Fingers and thumbs spilled out onto the floor. Bones snapped. Blood spurted. The strange sprite stepped through the appendages pointing his slingshot in my face. If I was going to salvage my poor flanges, I had to act.
It was go time.
I sidestepped the slingshot and drove a knee into his ribs. I felt bones crack. I assumed they were bones. I wasn’t sure what sprites had beneath their visible layer. He doubled over and I drove another knee into his face. The snap of his nose and neck echoed in the room.
One of the pipe wielding thugs leapt forward. He must have been a lower level sprite. His swings were predictable. Slow. His two dimensional form limiting his reach.
Like a skilled dancer, I moved in as the pipe arced froward. My fingerless palms guiding the arc into an over extension of the sprite, throwing him to the ground. I used my weight to break his arm at the elbow.
His scream was sudden and frightful. I drove my foot into the back of his skull. The screaming stopped. The remaining three sprites ran out of the room the same way I had entered.
I managed to salvage thirteen fingers and seven thumbs from ground. The numbers seemed off – didn’t add up right, but I didn’t care. I needed to find a seamstress to reattach the fingers to my hands. I still wasn’t sure how they had fallen off.
A few moments were spent exploring the cathedral-like room. Not surprising I couldn’t find any sign of free candy. I did manage to find Pac-Woman hiding behind a pillar. I convinced her the thugs were gone, and she could go free.
She left. The room was strange, and I was ready to leave. Certainly the caterpillar riding rabbits had moved on in their airship.
I started to leave when I heard a long drawn out moan. Or sigh. Or maybe a one of those yawns caught somewhere between a moan and a sigh. Regardless, it was loud and got my attention.
Behind me has stood, or rather floated, a semi translucent man in a pair of overalls and a hardhat. He had an ample beer gut and unkempt hair.
“Can I help you?” I asked.
“You – you can see me?” he asked.
Answering questions with questions was going to get us nowhere, so I decided to answer his question straight. “Yeah, of course I can. You’re standing right there.”
“And you can hear me?”
“I mean, you’re talking kinda loud.”
“It’s just that no one’s ever seen me before!”
“Do you hide from them?”
“Then how do they not see you?”
“Most of the living can’t see us.”
“Living? And who’s us?”
“No matter! Help me! Please! I need your help!”
“Uuuh…okay? What ya need?”
“My family has no idea where I am. They’ve look for me for years! Please! Tell them my body’s in this pipe! Please go to them! Their last name is Elton.”
“Oookay. Where do they live?”
“On the family farm, of course! The Elton Farms? On Fargo? Have you never heard of us?”
“No matter. Please! Go find them! Find them!”
“Okay. Okay. I need to see a seamstress about these fingers, first.”
“What about your fingers?”
“I need them sewn back on.”
“Look at your hand.”
Holy shit! There they were! My fingers reattached to my hands! It was a miracle.
“Holy shit! My fingers! My beautiful fingers! Look at all…one…two…three…ten! There are ten of them! Where did the others come from?”
“Please, go! Help me!”
“For saving my fingers – anything! Right away!”
TO BE CONTINUED…