I stepped in through the front door, closed it, leaned back against it for a moment, and doffed my sunglasses in the gloomy safety. Only then did I let out a little sigh, and mop the sweat off my face with a handkerchief.
Creepy confronted me in the kitchen.
“You went to that awful meat place again, didn’t you?”
“That awful place of meat,” he accused, pointing at me with a trembling finger, “the one with the name that makes me queasy, in the Quantum Strings Mall.”
“Fried Cheese Fridays?” I asked, and was warmed to see Creepy grow somehow paler than he already had been.
“You went there again, didn’t you?”
“What do you mean, ‘again’?”
“You were there yesterday.”
“I … that was their old menu.”
“And it still wasn’t a Friday, was it?”
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“With a name like that, to go there on any day other than a Friday is just tempting fate.”
I couldn’t exactly argue with that, after what had just happened. “Tomorrow’s Friday,” I said. “So maybe I should go there, and undo all my bad mojo.”
“Aha!” Creepy waved his finger at me again. “So you incurred bad mojo,” he lowered his hand, suddenly remembering what I’d been in the Quantum Strings Mall for anyway. “Did you meet the Hanging Barrister at the Java Update?”
“It was the Hanging Barista,” I said, “and no. He didn’t show up today either.”
“So what’s the matter with you? Why are you all out of breath and greasy, and what are those squiggly welts all over you?” he squinted, then looked at me sombrely. “Did you go to Chip Wong’s House of Noodles without me again? Because I told you, I’ve given him strict instructions to pelt you with-”
“No, I didn’t go to Chip’s,” I said, “and I told you before, that place is vile and I only went there that one time because you said there were ninjas.”
“And there were,” Creepy said triumphantly, “and they were in Big Jim’s Hiking Goods And Lumberjackery. You just thought they were in the noodle bar because you’re racist.”
“Don’t start that again,” I warned. Creepy tsked. “Anyway,” I went on, “you’re not far off. I got in a bit of a fight with a ramen creature from Opposite Land.”
Creepy listened as I told him the story of the ramen burger.
“Just goes to show,” he said, “noodle burgers are bad news no matter what universe you’re in,” I nodded agreement to this bit of wisdom, because it didn’t seem worth arguing the finer points of gastronomy with a vegetarian. “How did you defeat it, though?”
“Oh,” I said idly, examining my nails, “that was easy.”
“In Opposite Land, Hatboy doesn’t eat stuff.”