The Jesus Analog Cat, The Boring Old Biddy, and the Unsupervised Kitchen Appliance - Chapter 3
In which four little children meet a talking cat with a god complex and are understandably terrified.
Lola ran out of the junky room down the hallway, looking for her siblings. Primarily because there wasn’t anyone else to talk to.
“Pay attention,” she snapped. “I’m back!”
“What in God’s name are you talking about, Lola?” sneered Sadie.
“You haven’t been wondering where I was? Wait, don’t answer that.”
“I’ll answer that,” Parker said. “No. It never came up. We don’t need to know now.”
“She was probably pooping,” chuckled Emmett.
“Shut up, Emmett,” Lola said.
“I’ve been trapped in a cut-rate refrigerator for hours and none of you were even curious where I was?”
“Like the monkey said,” Sadie commented without looking up from her magazine. “We assumed you were pooping.”
“Gone for hours?” Emmett said, puzzled. “Either I don’t know how to tell time or you’re as crazy as that old man. I don’t know his name.”
“You don’t know how to tell time, either,” Parker pointed out. “What are you babbling about, Lola?”
“Just after breakfast,” Lola explained, “I got up to go after the Professor. I think he may be a ghost because he disappeared. Just gone. But then I got trapped in a Frigidaire refrigerator in one of the cruddier rooms and ended up in a magical land, having tea with a basketcase goat-man.”
“Jesus,” Sadie said with a skeptical glare. “She’s ready for the boobie hatch.”
“I’ll give ya ‘boobie hatch’!” Lola roared as she leapt onto her older sister. In a moment they were rolling around the room a-screechin’ and a-scratchin’ and a-pullin’ each other’s hair. Also biting.
“They’re like cats,” Parker chuckled as he watched his siblings brutalize each other. “It’s a shame we can’t tie them up in a burlap sack and huck ‘em both in the river.”
Once the novelty had worn off, Parker began to lazily kick at the two sisters to break them up. Both of them were scratched and bleeding. Lola clutched a fistful of her sister’s auburn hair.
“Alright, break it up, break it up,” said Parker. “Dames, I tell ya.”
“Parker,” Sadie glowered, “did you want some of this?”
“What do you have, Sadie?” Emmett asked, leaning towards her with eager curiosity. “Is it pie?!”
“I wouldn’t have to run away to join a circus,” Parker noted. “Let’s at least hear our demented kid sister out. What the hell are you talking about, Lola?”
“It’s– it’s a magic refrigerator!”
“Boobie hatch,” Sadie hazarded.
Parker sighed and rubbed his eyes.
“Parker,” Lola said, “I’m not crazy.”
“Maybe you’re stupid,” Emmett suggested.
Lola kicked him. “That’s you, ass. My defining trait is that I’m cute. Listen, the refrigerator is magic. At first I assumed I was dying too, because I was trapped inside of a refrigerator, but here I am. No noticeable brain damage.”
“Beg to differ, dear.”
“Sadie,” Parker sighed again. “How do you know it’s a… magic refrigerator, you say?”
“There was a forest inside of it,” Lola explained. “It was snowing and there was a half-naked goat man with emotional problems. He called the place Barnia. Why would I imagine such a thing?”
“Not hugged enough?”
“Don’t believe me? I’ll show you!”
“I’m not crawling inside of a refrigerator to have a hallucination with you, Lola,” Parker said.
“No, I want to see this ‘magic refrigerator,’” Sadie said.
“I’ll show you,” Lola said, shaking her fist made it more of a taunt than an invitation.
Lola rushed ahead of them down the hallway of the old house. Finally, they reached the unused room. She didn’t make a big show of it, more focused on putting them all in their places, and instead quickly opened the door and led them inside.
“Oh, what a quaint crime scene,” Sadie said.
“Over here,” Lola directed, ignoring her.
She held open the ancient refrigerator for all of them to see the bare shelves and seemingly bristling mold around the edges.
“Alright! Get in and see for yourselves.”
“Lola,” Sadie said as condescendingly as possible. “This is why we don’t play with other people’s garbage, sweetie.”
The others were equally skeptical. They all saw – Lola herself saw – a perfectly ordinary old refrigerator. There was no wood and no snow, just a poorly made icebox. Parker rapped his knuckles on the back and sides to make sure it was solid.
“Yeah, so you didn’t see any woods or any crybaby goat-man,” Parker said. “You were trapped and your brain was dying. Not a big mystery.”
“But I wasn’t dying,” Lola insisted. “This wasn’t some near-death experience. If it was, don’t you think I would have seen angels with harps instead of a goat-man with creepy sex books?”
“You didn’t mention the creepy sex books,” Parker said, stroking his chin. “Thanks for that. But it doesn’t change anything.”
“Were there pictures of naked goat ladies?” Emmett asked. “With the sixteen boobies and the—”
“Ew. No. I don’t know. I didn’t read them.”
“You just imagined someone else did, got it,” Sadie concluded.
“Why did I leave?” Lola asked herself. “Why did I leave? Surely not everyone in Barnia was a mess. I could have found a nice family… I could have been a star… I bet the people there were easily entertained…”
“Annnnnnd she’s talking to herself.”
“I could have learned their fanciful ways…”
For the next few days, Lola kept to herself. She could have made up with the others at any time, but she plain didn’t feel like it. What would be the point? If they weren’t mocking her about the magic refrigerator, they’d mock her about something else. Ingrates, that’s what they were, and one day she’d be in a position to pay them back for their abuse by refusing to give them so much as a dime to buy a crust of bread. She was pretty sure that was the American Dream… but she couldn’t properly enjoy it.
One day, she decided she would try to go back to the Land of Barnia. What did she have to lose? Little did she know, her brother Emmett was watching.
He hadn’t given much forethought to it, honestly. He couldn’t even remember what she’d said the place inside of the refrigerator was called. Cleveland, maybe? No, that was a state. It didn’t matter. He’d pulled pud and eaten Maypo until his stomach was distended and his hands raw and tingly. He was out of ideas for activities and Lola had just happened to catch his attention. As for Lola, she had no idea he was there, focused as she was on investigating the Frigidaire.
Emmett came into the room just in time to see Lola crawl inside and close the door behind her. At once he decided to get into it himself – not because he particularly cared about Barnia, but because he wanted to know where the light went when you shut the door. He didn’t realize the refrigerator wasn’t plugged in because he was a cretin. He opened the door. There were stained walls and broken shelves and the smell of rot… but the one thing there wasn’t was any sign of Lola.
“Duh?” Emmett said, scratching his head in his chimpish way.
There had to be a fake wall. Even he knew that and he was a whatchacallit. He closed the door and opened it again. Maybe he’d just overlooked his little sister.
She still wasn’t there.
Then he began to feel about for her. Maybe there was a secret compartment in one of the shelves. The fact that the shelves were flat made little to no impression on him because of his cretinous nature. He didn’t like this at all and began groping wildly in every direction.
“Lola! Where are you?! Come out or I’ll— I’ll beat you with a hose when you come out!”
There was no answer and Emmett noticed that his own voice had a curious sound – not the sound he’d expect yelling into a glorified crate, but a kind of open-air sound. He also noticed that he was getting cold. He checked. He hadn’t peed.
Then he saw a light.
“What is it people say?” he pondered aloud. “Go towards the light?”
And with this mistaken idiom, he crawled into the Frigidaire.
Suddenly, instead of finding himself crammed into the confines of a common household appliance, he was stepping into the shadow of thick, dark fir trees in an open place in the middle of a forest.
“Zow…ee,” he gasped as he gazed up at the towering trees overhead.
There was crisp, dry snow under his feet and more snow lying on the branches of the trees. Straight ahead, he saw between the tree trunks the just-rising sun. Everything around him was perfectly still and clear, as if he were the only living creature for miles. There was not even a robin or a squirrel among the trees, and the woods stretched as far as he could see, dark and deep in every direction.
It seemed as if he had always been farting.
…It seemed as if he would never stop.
Several seconds passed.
He cut his eyes suspiciously.
“Ugh,” Emmett fumbled. “Damn…gassy chipmunks.”
He remembered he’d been looking for Lola. He thought she had to be somewhere close by so he shouted, “Lola! Lola! It’s your brother! Emmett!”
There was no answer.
Maybe she’d run off with the goat-man, he thought. Good enough for her, but he didn’t much like being alone in this strange, cold, quiet place. He shouted again.
“HEY! LOLA! COME OUT HERE OR I’LL POUND YOU GOOD!”
Still no answer.
He looked around again and decided he didn’t like this place. It was cold and forbidding and there were all those damned flatulent woodland creatures. He had almost made up his mind to go home when he heard, very far off in the trees, a sound of bells. He listened as the sound came nearer and near and at least there swept into sight a giant sled pulled by two reindeer.
“Oh thank God, it’s Santy Claus!”
The sled was a fine sight as it came sweeping toward him with bells jingling and the little dwarf driver cracking his whip, snow flying up on each side.
“STOP!” commanded the hatchet-faced crone riding inside of the sled. The dwarf driver pulled the reindeer up so hard they almost sat down. Then they recovered and stood chomping at their bits and blowing. In the frosty air, the breathing coming out of their nostrils looked like smoke billowing out of a factory.
“And what, pray, are you?” said the woman, looking hard at Emmett.
“Buh?” said Emmett.
The hag frowned. “Is that how you address a Queen?”
“I guess,” Emmett said, scratching at his armpit. “How do?”
The shrew’s face squeezed up even tighter.
“Know ye not the Queen of Barnia?! Aha… ha… ha! You little idiot. I’m the Queen of Barnia, you see, and I have been ever since my great-great-grandfather–”
She went on like this, tracing her family tree for what felt like six hours. Emmett glazed over. He was surprised he didn’t collapse. He dazedly noticed that the sled driver had collapsed into a snoring heap.
“But enough about me,” she said at last. “I repeat– what are you?”
“If you don’t stop talking, I’m going to cry.”
“Are you a great overgrown dwarf that has cut off its beard? I swear I don’t know where you dwarves get your ideas. Indecent, that’s what it is. No one wants to see your horrid little faces. I remember when I was a girl–”
Emmett plowed face-first into the hard-packed snow.
When he regained consciousness, the tedious harpy was sitting next to him in the sled. The still wobbling dwarf was driving the listless reindeer again and they were trotting onwards at a sluggish pace. Emmett sat in silent confusion.
“I see you are a poltroon, whatever else you may be,” said the virago, idly picking at her cross-stitching. “Answer me, once and for all, or I shall lose my patience. What. Are. You?”
“How did you come to enter my dominions?”
“I’ll be honest, ma’am, I understood about two words of that.”
“Ugh. How did you get here?”
“Through the Frigidaire.”
“Well, I have no idea what that’s supposed to mean,” said the woman. “You know, I remember when young people–”
“Please don’t tell me about how things were when you were a girl again. I think my brains will spill out of my ears. I mean– Good God, lady. A door. I came through a door.”
“Aha… ha… ha!” the old beast cackled. “A door. A door from the world beyond! I have heard of such things! This may wreck all… But He is only one, and He is easily dealt with.”
Emmett had no idea what she was talking about, but at least his brain didn’t feel like it was shutting down production out of protest. He looked at the horizon and blinked and thought about model cars or something.
“Here,” said the hag. “I collect pictures of exotic delicacies. Take a look at this book and pick out something you’d like.”
“Okey-doke,” Emmett said happily. “Wait– are we going to share it?”
“Oh my, no. I don’t care for human food.”
“Ooh! I want this!” Emmett said, blowing right past this last ominous statement. The old witch looked down at his selection.
“That’s… just corn, dear.”
“Boy, I love corn!”
“I… see. I can get you all the… corn you can eat. Would that interest you?”
“Do I have to sit up to eat it or can I lay on the floor and just kind of shovel it towards my mouth?”
“…Whatever suits your fancy.”
Emmett excitedly swatted the driver. “Hey, Jeeves! You heard the lady– to the corn store!”
The dwarf driver made a low growling noise.
“I may as well tell you now,” Emmett said to the old woman. “A lot of times when I eat, I become blind and deaf. Kind of like a horse! Neigh! Neigh! I’m a horsey! Seriously, though, I’ll bite and not even know it. Keep your crusty old fingers out of there.”