The Tumultuous Lullaby

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Dimensional rifts are common.

In fact, they are so common that in many universes they are not noticed anymore. Dimensional rifts are the cosmic connections from one universe to another, or more specifically from one reality to another. They are beyond microscopic and reach an atomic level, a cosmic pin prick.

Stories have the elasticity to stretch themselves as acute or obtuse as they desire. No matter how rotund or malnourished, stories can find the optimal form to squeeze through a dimensional rift.

Welcome to Unantipanease. Unantipanease is afflicted with dimensional rifts, attracting all the undesired and unwanted stories from the rest of the universes. Unantipanease is the toilet bowl of conceptual malpractice.

As many of these stories are unfinished, they have turned themselves into quests. The Unantipaneasean’s are presented with quests for completion. If a quest is unfulfilled, then the quester becomes retired, the instantaneous evaporation of one’s own existence.

The landscape of this planet can be described by the wandering Ronald, who’s quest it was to find the edge of existence.

“I once thought I saw this huge shadow on the horizon, like the darkness of true emptiness. I thought I was going to see, or not, what the edge looked like. I swear I was only a leap and two skips away from reaching the edge, when I was suddenly standing in front of a huge rock with a baboon holding an armadillo, and a bunch of zebra’s and gazelle’s chanting ‘Anarchy’ beneath it.”

Half the historians believe that Unantipanease is a doughnut. A circular shape with a constantly changing landscape.

The other half of the historians believe it does not matter. Many of these historians have walked from tomorrow into yesteryear could not remember their banking information because of this.

The third half of historian’s wonder, what it means to be whole.

The quest we are following is that of a dwarf and an elf, a pair of musicians. They were walking up a dirt road, on their way to their next gig.

Clobbermite the dwarf had been too effective a miner and was expelled from his community. He had smoothly transitioned into a career as a drummer. From his point of view, it had been smooth if you could ask the instruments he played they would disagree.

“I can’t believe we never got a ride. These drivers always have to get a certain someone to a certain place. Ya never know if it's that turtle walking by.” Clobbermite was hitting his right fist into his left hand to emphasize his feelings towards the turtle.

The turtle might have sped up.

“I don’t think we have to worry about the turtle. You know they can’t get retired.”

Slalom was an elf. She was a flutist by trade and worked wonders on his simple reed pipe. Intelligent and demure, Slalom was the brains of the pair.

“I know that, what if that turtle needs to get its shell kissed or its tail pulled, by a feminine type, you know what I mean.”

The turtle would not make eye contact with Clobbermite.

“I’m afraid I do, and please leave the turtle alone.” Slalom was looking over at Clobbermite in his black t-shirt with the words SMASHING ROCKS.

“Well what is it were supposed to be doing.”

“As I have told you before, we are performing a lullaby at the Sanctuary. I believe the place is a resort of some kind.”

“We’re getting’ retired, I mean we’ve only had rock concerts so far” Clobbermite looked pleased with himself.

“Yes, playing to a bunch of rocks has proved successful so far, although we’ve been lucky our quests did not leaving the rocks intact when we left.” Slalom was looking over at Clobbermite, who appeared to be thinking, and this always made him nervous.

“What are you thinking?” Slalom ventured.

Unbeknownst to Clobbermite, Slalom always kept an elephant tranquiliser on hand, she was slowly reaching for it. It turns out a flute can also be a blow gun.

“You know I think I could play quieter on a turtle shell. That turtle looks mighty relaxed to me. He’s just casually walking along and all.”

The turtle definitely, sped up.

“Oh, that’s all,” Slaloms hands returned to her pockets, “don’t you worry I already have idea.”

As they were approaching the top of the hill they could see the roof of a building. At this point Clobbermite decided to change the subject.

“You know what I don’t get about retreats”.

Slalom did not think it would be too important, but she would amuse her friend.

“What is it Clobbermite?”

“You know they must have a mighty great plunger. People spend so much time pent up, that has to build up a lot of...”

“I can see something” intervened Slalom.

The building underneath the roof started to come into view, and the sign read Sanctuary.

“Alright mate, it’s go time” said Clobbermite.

“Remember, to let me do the talking”

They had reached the end of the path and were at the front door. Slalom reached out a long slender arm and rapped surreptitiously.

An orderly opened the door.

“Well you two don’t look like much, what do you want?”

“You know, no one thought much of manatees, until they sought revenge on a sea captain for using incorrect gender names” replied Slalom.

“Oh, whatever, come in”

Entering the main hall of the residence the two musicians could feel a calm wash over them.

“They’ve got my nuts” yelled a man in a coat with the sleeves oddly sewn to the front of his jacket.

“Just what kind of retreat is this exactly” said Slalom.

“This ain’t no retreat” replied the orderly “this is a mental hospital my friend, and don’t mind him that’s just Gary.”

Gary stopped screaming and walked over to Slalom. He turned as if to offer a handshake and remembered he could not use them.

“Hi, I’m an accountant from the city, I just got a quest the other day ordering me to have a psychotic break like a bunch of squirrels stole my nuts.”

Slalom turned to look at his partner in bemusement, but Clobbermite had disappeared. Slalom was not particularly bothered; he knew his partner liked to test out a theory.

When Clobbermite returned from the lavatories he found that Slalom had already set up in front of the patients.

“You never would guess what I found out” started Slalom.

“You’ll never guess what I found” countered Clobbermite.

Before Slalom could stop him, Clobbermite had pulled out a plunger from inside his shirt and started smacking.

As a drummer Clobbermite does not play on drums, but on whatever is at hand.

As the patients watched this half-crazed dwarf smacking a plunger against the walls, it energised them in a way that no doctor would want.

All Slalom could do was reach for the tranquiliser. As she was bringing his flute up to his mouth, Gary the accountant leapt out of his chair and screamed “NOT MY NUTS, NOT TODAY” and then whispered “sorry mate, just gotta play my part is all.”

Clobbermite straightened up, he was able to see all the patients. Standing and staring straight at him. Then they let out a roar and started slamming their chairs.

“Well what are we going to do now” started Slalom.

“I was hoping you would jump in with a tune anytime there.”

“Were going to get retired now for sure.”

“Well the way I see it, we’re right on track.”

“What could you possibly mean.”

“Well we played our version of a lullaby; all we have to do is keep them calm.”

With the patients rampaging around the room Slalom said “how do you suppose we do that.”

Clobbermite took the plunger and smacked the nearest patient over the head. They crumpled to the floor in a heap.

“Can’t get more calm then that.”

With a smile covering Slaloms face all she could say was “Smashing Rocks it is then.”