Layla Noir: Chapter 9

“No shit? Indeed. That is mostly vital organs and fluids, I cannot see any excrement myself”.

“No, you doofus”, I almost laughed as I wrestled with the insanity of it all, “I said, no shit, like no shit, Sherlock, like obviously. As in, your conclusion that we are in trouble is not all that difficult to come to, even for a monkey like me. Some alien monster just tried to kill me, and she or him or whatever the fuck it was, they were looking for you. So yeah, we are in trouble. Definitely.”

“Ah”, was his sage response. Wiz looked around, confirming that no one had been watching the alley, and then he remembered my frail and needy monkey body, saying, “oh, food. You needed fuel to continue. My hypothesis is that if he was not a distant scout, and had other members in a hunting party with him, we would already be dead. Therefore, we have time to feed you.”

I let the animal dig slide. I was fucking hungry. “Yeah but… I’m kind of covered in hunting party scout dude guts. So like…?”

“So you need new vestments for your shell. Understood”. With that, Wiz walked right into, and then through, the nearby wall, leaving me alone. Obviously, I was pretty nervous, which should explain why I couldn’t stop laughing for minutes on end when he returned with some truly retro gear. He had, as I soon saw in great detail, a pair of acid washed jeans, some converse all stars, sunglasses with pink-tinged lenses, and a Hawaiian shirt. Whoever Wiz just stole from was stuck in the 80s in a bad way! The Hawaiian shirt was especially ludicrous: it had a blue and white floral pattern as a base design with tigers lounging or pouncing all over it in various positions. Many of them were roaring, and a few of them seemed to be growing out of each other. Lazy artistry or weird guy, I will probably never know. I stared at Wiz, finally beginning to control my laughter, but all I could get out was, “Really, dude? Like… really?”

“What? Are these not close to your size? I’m pretty sure that they are. Try them on. You will see that I am correct” I guess style wasn’t something that he studied before coming here.

“No”, I chuckled, “that’s not the issue. Have you seen anyone else dress like this? This is how people looked years and years ago, in the 80s. You couldn’t have gotten me something that didn’t make me look stupid?”

“What does it matter if others perceive you as being stupid?” asked Wiz, obviously confused, “are you stupid?”

“I would like to think that I’m not, no” I said, slightly less amused.

“So? If you are not stupid, and others, looking only at the fabric you are utilizing to hide your nakedness, decide that you are lacking in intellectual faculties, does that not make THEM the stupid ones?”

“It isn’t that simple, man. Clothes do say something about who you are. If I wore a suit, people might assume I had money, or worked in business. If I wore sandals and a headband with a tiedye shirt, people might think I was a hippy, and so on. Right now they will assume that I love the 80s even though I’m clearly too young to have been in my prime during those years so I’m basically a loser…? I mean… I guess I could be going to a costume party…”

“See?”, he muttered, “it is not as simple as you say. From what I have observed, I can only conclude that people often dress like the identities that they are expected to manifest or like the identity that they want to operate within. People rarely go outside, dressed to express themselves as they are. All of the members of The Straight and Narrow dressed differently at our meetings than they did when outside. You may say this is a special situation, but is it? How many business men in suits spend their evenings in their underwear in front of a TV? How many teens in fancy attire attend parties dressed as animals or wearing bright neon colours? How many of them would want to be seen as nothing but what their clothing signifies?” As usual, he was getting to me.

“OK, so human culture is complicated”, I allowed, “but these clothes are still stupid. Whatever. I’m hungry! Can we please just go cop some damn food? Buy, sorry, buy some food. Jeez, it’s a real minefield you know, wondering what terms and words you know and what you don’t… it can be confusing”.

“I can only assume so. I thought a cop was a police officer… what you used to be. Speaking of, are you still one now, without the clothes to signify the role? If so, what does that say about your position regarding these pieces of attire?” Wiz was going to be a difficult partner. I was sure of this now.

“Whatever dude. Food”. I had been clothing myself as we spoke. He hadn’t turned his eyes away but I figured, fuck it. He already went deeper into my mind than anyone else has ever been allowed to go, who cares if he sees my dick? He didn’t comment on my nakedness so who knows. We went and got food. We went back to the motel room.

“Ok. So what’s the move?” I was itching to do something, anything, that made me feel less useless and endangered.

“I’m sorry? What move?” Wiz asked.

“Our PLAN, dude. What are we going to do? We’re being hunted, all of existence is at stake, neither of us can get home right now… what are we gonna do about any of that? What’s the plan, strategy, tactic, the collection of actions that we are going to take to fix this shit?” My voice got a little frantic by the end of that, embarrassingly so. It seemed like he noticed, but he didn’t comment on it, saying,

“That is not as easy question to answer. There are many unknowns standing between me and a confidently functional strategy for success, or even survival. In an overarching sense, we need to dethrone the various systems of government that are purposefully destroying creativity and individual thought. It might be prudent to begin with my reality, though, given that The Agents of The Overarching Narrative have clearly learned to travel between realities. Who knows how many they are now altering, tainting… I can only think of one way to get back, however, I do not think you will like it”.

“Ah, fuck, who cares. If I survive, then I can decide how I feel about how I pulled that shit off. It’s not like I have any ideas. Shoot”. Poor phrasing.

“Kill you? I would rather not, I’m not sure if my Escape Pod will bond to another if the original…” I cut him off.

“No! Fuck lol I mean tell me your idea. Jesus. I need to watch my idioms”.

“Ah. My idea is this: we wait, allow ourselves to be attacked by the hunting party that stalks us, and we capture one of them and steal his travel device which assuredly will have the coordinates of my reality. It would likely work best if you are the bait and I am the trap, such as how we ended the narrative of that scout”

“Wait a second”, I said, thinking quickly, “You knew? You knew she, I mean he, it, was trying to kill us? You let me go out alone so that it would follow me and you could kill it? Fucking dangerous game, you dick! It almost did kill me, we were squared off, I was about to die right before you arrived!” I was yelling again.

“But did you die?”, he asked, with altogether way too much calm in his voice, “…No, you did not. Trust me again with this. I will not let you perish, I am honor-bound by our partnership to protect you, as you are to me. We will prevail”.

I let this percolate in my brain for a bit before finally accepting that he was right. It had worked once. Maybe it could work again. “OK”, I finally allowed, “so say we do this. What are the specifics? How are we going to bait them?”

“That is simple. They lost a scout, so they know his lead was correct. You are that lead. With luck, he never even saw me, and they won’t be sure that we are together. They will assume he was stupid or you were lucky, or both. Therefore, all that we need to do is move together, in secret. In public, we will never been seen together, yet I will always be watching you” he was making it sound too easy, but what choice did I have? “You will take up residence in another shady motel, but we will leave a trail. Not so obvious as to arouse suspicion, but obvious enough to not be missed. Then, when they come for you, we get what we need”.

“So I’m going to deal with another one of those things? Fun” I wasn’t exactly excited.

“Another ONE? I highly doubt they will send just one scout after already losing one. You will have earned the respect of a full hunting party, I assume”

“Great. Just great. Wonderful”.

Author’s Note: Confused? Find chapter 8 of this sci-fi noir novel that I am writing and releasing live, at least one chapter every two weeks, right here. Enjoy! I really am excited for people to read upcoming chapters and I hope to hear back from people soon :) Leave a comment if you have anything to say about this story so far, where you think it is going, where you want it to go… whatever you like. Thank you for reading!