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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes Part Two: The Creepazoid


I had been battered about by the Atlantic. While She-who-must-be-obeyed grew up near the ocean, I had been stuck away in the Mid West: I was unfamiliar with the surf. Even though the waves were pretty small potatoes (as it were), on the first day we went swimming on our Florida vacation, I dithered around in the bad area between a rock (a receding wave) and a hard place(an incoming wave), and was treated to an exposition of "How Clothes Feel In Your Sears Kenmore Washing Machine".
My knees were scraped as I was in the agitate cycle, and as much as I like the taste of salt water, I drank a little too much for comfort during the spin cycle.
I came up sputtering.
She-who-etc. and friends were out a bit further in the smile and splash zone, ignoring me cruelly. After another trip through the washer,  I was ready to call it quits, when I spotted Lizard Breath and his sister, Gecko Eyes - a brother and sister I had met watching egrets eating geckos behind the 19th Hole - coming to my rescue.
They grasped my hands, "You have to go out a little farther, Pygopod, so you don't get smashed, " they said, using my nickname derived from a family of Gekkota.
I followed.

Afterwards, the entire crowd dried themselves on the beach, strewn about, chair and towel, like the aftermath of some not too serious disaster.
Pelicans in a row flew along the ridge of the curling waves, and Gecko Eyes thought how nice it would be to be able to fly like that...,  without having to dive into the water every now and then and grab raw fish and gobble it down. We nodded in dreamy acquiescence.
We built a couple of sand castles in a desultory, lazy manner as the day proceeded to dusk, the sun becoming more orange and red.
"Like a Red Giant star," said Lizard Breath.
I told them of my story of how the Earth was slung out of orbit by a passing black hole, and then took up a new orbit at a distance that caused everything on Earth to freeze into a deep, deep cold. The only place life could survive this catastrophe was in the neighborhood of the deep ocean hydrothermal vents, where life continued for a million years or so, until the Sun finally began to exhaust its supply of hydrogen, and became a Red Giant star.
As the Sun increased in size, the radiation during this Red Giant phase, although much less than during our own time, was sufficient to melt the frozen Earth, for the Sun had grown enormously and now was much closer to the displaced Earth.
Life resumed on Earth, and now there were a few million years left for intelligent life to get their acts together, and attempt space travel, and to find a new home for mankind! And this had to be done before the Red Giant phase of the Sun ended, and the star began to shrink and collapse into a White Dwarf Sun, ending life in the Solar System forever!

Lizard Breath had his own story.
There had been a large water slide somewhere along the coast, a huge inflatable vinyl play water slide, and he and his sister had climbed it all the way to the top and slid all the way down a number of times. They dreamed of an even larger water slide structure that extended, not along the beach, but straight out into the ocean, going maybe two miles or more.
It was a long walk out to the ladder two or three miles out in the ocean, and it was a long slide back three miles to the beach. The amount of friction was vanishingly small, otherwise the water slide would have to have been a mile high for the necessary gradient to "slip" all the way back those three miles.
"Maybe it was even 'negative' friction," said Lizard Breath, Gecko Eyes nodding in silent assent.
I suppose negative friction is the slipperiest of the slippery.
While walking along the catwalk on the side of the water slide, a catwalk sort of semi-enclosed by vinyl inflated walls, a wind came up and the waves increased and the air-filled catwalk began to heave and the balloon walls began to buffet against them. A storm was brewing, but they had already gone more than three-quarters of the way out, so it would be quicker to get to the end where the ladder was, get up to the top of the slide, and slide with negative friction all the way back to shore and safety.

The waves got larger and larger. Gecko Eyes began to shiver.
It was right about then that I became part of the story, and the three of us were walking along this inflated tempest-tossed wretched balloon. It was cold and wet, and I did not care for it one bit. I said as much, too, but things were happening too fast.
Just as we were about to get to the far end and begin climbing the ladder to the top of the water slide, we heard gun fire nearby.
"It's the Creepazoid!"  we all yelled in unison.
Now if you do not know who or what the Creepazoid is, you'll get a quick, down and dirty crash course:  Pursuer, a Nemesis T-Type developed by the Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil... Racoon City? Remember?
Anyway, Creepazoid was the first thing to pop into the heads of Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes back when they first saw this monster, and it is a whole lot better name than "Pursuer".

The Creepazoid was firing at us, and if we ascended the ladder to the top of the water slide, we would be completely out in the open like sitting ducks...
"Or fish in a barrel..." said Lizard Breath.
Fish in a barrel, I thought, my mind racing.

The dinner hour intervened, and we had to go our separate ways, leaving the story and Creepazoid to be finished off later. Lizard Breath and Gecko Eyes were called by their mother, and She-who-must-be-obeyed sent a towel boy to fetch me.
Later, I dozed off and had a one-reel dream about the stories that afternoon. I woke up and the big water slide bouncing dangerously in the sea seemed to be part of my Red Giant Sun story: everything reminded me of big, expensive projects into the vast ocean of space with the promise of unlimited horizons of exploration and a potential for a United Nations of space endeavor for the future...
But then the winds came and the waves rose, and we discovered our frailty as we struggled to keep our footing on that bouncing elephantine water slide of gigantic proportions. Wet, cold, and tired, we kept going, helping each other to maintain our balance...

... until the Creepazoid came...

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