The Myconet, Part 48

The eerily fused space-time event that had once been – or would be, maybe – Colonel McOldentimes or Colonels McOldentimes directed me out of the administration office and back through the yard. It was a direction I hadn’t really gone before, since my last couple of trips through this what-I-was-increasingly-realising-was-laughable-to-call-a-time-period had taken me away towards the fence and the cellars that apparently riddled the area.

I was only too happy to get out of the office, but the schisms across space-time didn’t stop with the poor Colonel(s). I did my best to avert my eyes and not walk into any of the strange blocky intrusions across ground and buildings. I looked up at the sky, but that was worse. The faded blue was blotted with horribly familiar signal-gap nothingness that I had once seen at the utter extreme end of the chronological universe, while time-travelling with Creepy.

I didn’t like to think about it, mostly out of concerns of copyright violation. But also because the holes in the shredded and ancient remains of the firmament had distressed me beyond measure. The sound they’d made was enough to set my teeth on edge. I wasn’t sure how they could be here, in the past … but I was sure it wasn’t good.

The cookhouse was a combination kitchen, canteen for the prisoners, and dining area for the guards and officers. It was deserted at that particular time of day, although what precise time of day it was – well, that was hard to judge. It was hot, and bright, but the sun didn’t seem to be the source of it. Not the sun that was visible up in the patchwork sky, anyway. I crossed the yard towards the building, stepped around a shorn-off section of some part of the continuum that appeared to be a segment of full-to-the-brim salt lake like a big three-sided square aquarium without visible glass[1], and stepped up onto the cookhouse verandah.

[1] I say this as distinct from a triangular aquarium. It was a square, but it only had three edges. The fourth just sort of faded away to nothing, merging back into the ‘normal’ background. It was like someone had put a picture-layer of a lake over the top of the existing yard-picture, then cropped three edges cleanly and blur-erased the fourth.

The cookhouse trumpet was hanging by its braided rope strap from a wooden peg on the cookhouse wall, where the duty chef could pick it up and play a few notes to call the guards and convicts to eat at the designated times. Aside from the fact that it was hanging on a peg instead of lying on a manky old table in a sewer, and it was shiny and undented and its rope supple and new, it looked exactly like the one we’d found.

The one that Creepy had grabbed in a moment of possible X-ray-specs-planning excitement, setting off the entire curse.

Curse, I snorted, picking the trumpet off its peg and looking around.

On one side of Barnsley Yard, another shear had jagged across a bunkhouse of some description. The version of the universe it had fused with appeared to be a corpse-laden swamp. As I watched, in apparent violation of rules that evidently only existed for as long as it took the unravelling universe to decide they were surplus to requirements, the mud began to ooze out of the join between the two realities, and squidge its way down the bunkhouse wall. It puddled on the ground, then poured over a straight-line drop-off that was another schism from one perspective, and the edge of a time-cellar trapdoor from another.

“Curse,” I said out loud, since snorting it in my mind had not been enough. “Right.”

I dropped the cookhouse trumpet onto the verandah, raised my boot, and began to stomp on the instrument heavily.

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