Surreal

A story I wrote back in 1994 or thereabouts

Dorky eggplants lining silver furred trashcans collide with mango flavored bikins reading the Wall Street Journal and wearing orange tinted sunglasses. Odd how nobody noticed this fabulous sight as they walked down the once-spectacular breezeway of Le Beaucoup on the boulevard. Luckily for me, I was wearing my surreal tinted contacts and so I managed to catch a glimpse of views that the average Plutonian doesn’t often see. The eggplants were now being squished to a pulp under the brownish haze of a walking tourist trip. Each seed was instantly buried in five feet of pavement. I wondered what would transpire beneath the hardened ground swell of this netherworld by tomorrow.

Sublimely dodging the bikinis, I managed to avert a new disaster by being in the way of a maroon body snatcher who was careening toward his prey at an irregular speed. The maroon body, saved from being snatched, slackly carried on with his business. I, on the other hand, was not doing so well. Feeling around the textured hardness of the neoearthian concrete, I was having no luck finding the contact which had dislodged itself from my eye. Those people who write the advertisements that say these contacts never come loose must be lost in lalaland when they are writing. Luckily, I still had two in, so I managed to jump up in time to avoid being run over by a streetcar- pushing cab driver. When the danger had passed, I cast one more look at the ground. This was my favorite set of surreals and I hated to lose one. Punching the contact locater I carried in my pocket, I was glad to see the purplish color emerge from the center of the vortex commonly known as a street.

Ice cream-covered go-carts  splashed lumps of Neapolitan flavoring as they careened past at breakneck speeds while dusty street sweepers swept behind. Jungle coated artichokes flew by at beatnik speeds. Fitly flown fivers flooded the floor. The purplish glow ebbed and flowed as the life around it rearranged itself. If I didn’t take care, my contact would be lost for good.

Gathering all my courage around me, I stepped off the sidewalk as a be-jangled platypus aimed for me. In case you don’t know, here on Pluto, the streets are for wheels and the sidewalks are for pedestrians. If a pedestrian steps off his curb, it’s open season on him. Of course, if a wheel touches the curb (say while going around a curve too fast), he’s dead meat. But, as a pedestrian, I do have the right to protect my self, so I flashed my sub-woofer at the platypus and he sprinted off in the other direction. I knew I had to hurry before the Big Wheels came along, so with neoclassical antislowness, I crossed the pied daisies of the freeway to the dead center (not just some meaningless phrase) and reached for my contact.

Varoom, Varoom! Oh no! Grabbing my contact and wiping it off, I thrust it in. I turned to fact the Big Wheel that was gunning his engines at me. But wait, instead of a grinning maniac, I was face to face with a  pseudoantibambivour (in other words, a creature that catches Bambii by making them think that he is a creature that doesn’t eat them). In case you’ve never seen one, one end looks like a Bambi (a type of cartoon deer) and the other end is this huge mouth. This pseudoantibambivour (mouth end) was grinning at me as though I was a Bambi. But this was all wrong. Pseudoantibambivours can’t survive on Pluto – the air is too thin for such large creatures. What was this one doing here?

The contact. I must have picked up some off-worlder’s lost surreal instead of mine. I popped it out and glanced behind me. The purple glow was still there. In my hurry, I had picked up the wrong one. I pocketed the other (never know when it might come in handy) and grabbed mine. Popping my real surreal into my third eye, I turned to face the Big Wheel I knew was waiting for me.

My luck was still going strong. It wasn’t a real Big Wheel. It was a Little Wheel wired for sound. “Good sound kit, kid.” I called over my shoulder as I dove for the curb. Ahh, safe at last . . . well, at least I was out of the street. With all my contacts in, the path unfolded before me like a tricolor brochure. Literally. One minute the sidewalk was riddled with various and sundry Sunday lounge lizard types, and the next, the sidewalk opened in on itself, leaving me with a clear path to who knows what.

Being the adventurous type (a nice word for curious), I stepped on the new path and looked around. Suddenly I stopped, shocked. This was something I had never seen. The path was completely free of droppings. Plutonians excrete waste through their little toes. Without surreals on, the waste is invisible, but being able to view both the seen and the unseen world has both advantages and disadvantages. So, you continually get to see excrement. By now, I was so used to it that I never even noticed it, but I did notice that it was missing. In other words, this was the path less traveled by, or never traveled by. It was totally new! And it was moving. Just in the time I had taken to notice the newness of this untrodden footway, I had gone from there to hear, and the sound was unbelievable. A cacophony of cackles that seemed to be coming from all around me was busting through the sound barrier I wore. Without my sound barrier, I would have been deafened. Only, I saw nothing that the sound could be coming from. Odd, my contacts were still in, weren’t they? I reached up to make sure, and remembered the contact I had picked up in the middle of the street. Since mine weren’t working, it might be worth a try.

I pulled it out and looked at it. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t usually go around picking up strange contacts, and I really don’t usually wear someone else’s surreals, but this was a strange situation and it seemed to call for different tactics. So I put the contact in.

Lions and tygers and bares, oh my! I looked around. Then I looked back around, and tried not to stare. I wasn’t sure where I was, but it looked like something from a Rousseau painting. Lions were parading with lambs, tygers were burning bright, and the bares . . . oh my! It’s amazing how much difference a contact can make! A center eye surreal will usually only show so much if the two “real world” eyes are blind. Oh, I don’t mean they can’t see anything, but that they only see the  “real world” that most people see. Many times I have managed to avoid an attack or even to save someone else from an attack because I continuously wear surreals. I even have an extra soft pair to sleep in.

So anyway, back to the bares. At least the previous bikinis had been somewhat covered. I guess the bares were covered by their hair, which was very long and straight and did an excellent job of covering their front while still letting you know that you were looking at a bare. Only problem was, all their hair seemed to be covering their fronts, so what was covering their back? Maybe that was why they were all facing me.

Or maybe not. A deep boom caused me to turn around and look behind me. A giant anteater was hitting my path with his trunk. Squished ant stew for supper tonight, honey? Anyway, not wanting to become one of the ingredients in the stew by mistake, I stepped off the beaten path. Instantly, it was refolded, and my path became a tricolor brochure again. What?!? Where I had been standing, the thing that used to be a path, was in truth a brochure. And the scenery had changed again. Now huge flying reptiles were buzzing overhead and monstrous trees were walking around me. Hold it!!! This was getting weirder and weirder. But first things first, I wanted my brochure. Making sure not to step on it (I wanted to look at it first), I picked it up and put it in my shirt pocket.

Then I looked up. Uhhh, um, well, um, remember the trees that I said were walking, well did I happen to mention that they were blue and red and green and some had polka-dots, and orange and purple and stripes and everything? Well, they were, but they weren’t trees. They were Monopods. Huge one-footed creatures who resemble trees like a child’s drawing resembles reality. Flipping through my brain encyclopedia, I discovered an entry for monopodularcyclopticunimouths. Yeah! Where was I, that a one-footed, one-eyed, one-mouthed creature would apparently be the main feature of the planet?

Perhaps I still wasn’t seeing the whole picture. I took out the new contact and replaced it with my old one. There, that was better, not! Because of the distance Pluto is from the sun, we live constantly under artificial light. Now it was as though I was no longer under the protective shelter of that light. It was dark! I mean nearly pitch black. I could barely see my hand right in front of my eyes. Okay, what was going on here?

Suddenly, a velvet puddle of blackest midnight brushed up against me. I must confess, I jumped. Well, what would you do? Have you ever seen pictures of people who have been eaten by midnight puddles? I have, and let me tell you, they’re not a pretty sight, all dark and moody. So, I jumped and to be totally truthful, I also screamed. Unfortunately, this didn’t scare the puddle off. I really didn’t know what else to do, so I stepped in it.

Craaaacccckkk. Ouch! Shards of something that felt like glass-coated plastic stuck into my left foot. I know, puddles don’t usually crack, and they especially don’t send off shards of glass-coated plastic, but this one did, and suddenly I could see.

Like I said before, Plutonian light isn’t very bright, but even so, I was blinded. As my eyes adjusted to the light, I noticed cobblestone grapefruits plummeting down a carpet slide. Odd, this looked familiar.

Jumping out of the way of a streetcar-pushing cabdriver, I realized I was home. Ouch. My foot was still aching from stepping on the puddle. Bending down to look at it, I noticed some broken glass laying on the ground near my foot. No wonder it hurt, it had become dis-attached. Grabbing it, I also picked up the shards of glass lying beside it and studied them. Odd how dark they were. I held one up and tried to look through it, but when I did, I could barely see my hand in front of my face. Odd, was I experiencing deja vu? When I put the glass down, everything was normal again. Suddenly I realized that I was seeing through a glass darkly. So it hadn’t been a velvet puddle of blackest midnight that had attacked me, it had been a glass darkly. Well, that explained why I had been blinded when I changed contacts. While I wasn’t paying any attention, he must have snuck up on me. Gathering up the shards, I put them in my pocket, reattached my foot, and headed for home.