December 30, 2011

Mongo Saves a Little Piece of the Universe, the Piece with Maggie in It


 It’ll need more saving, though, before the end. 

           I need a night off.  Which is to say I’ve been banging away at SHADOWS like a mad thing* and if I had more days like this one I’d make the end of January.  And, in fact, I think I’ve probably got an hour or so of story-telling-brain left tonight, and I want to use it.**  So you won’t mind a minor example of Mongo saving the universe for a blog post, will you?***

            This is only second draft.  It may look different after I find out a few more of the bits I still don’t frelling know.   It’ll also need to be brushed and pressed and its hair-ribbon retied.

 * * *

. . . Army tank?

            Now I could hear—feel—something—the crackles and frizzles and—something-going-wrong-with-the-air—as all the unbent unfolded steel-legged gizmos made contact with whatever was beaming out of the tank.  Whatever the army thought needed to be in a tank to keep safe.  What were they protecting, the thing, or us?

            The new network of the tank-thing and the gizmos were chugging it out, the something-wrong-with-the-air.  I could see two gizmo-boxes from where I was sitting, soldiers standing over them, the lights from whatever feedback they were watching glinting off their faces.  There were almost-visible ripples wandering, weaving down the road, past our bus shelter.  They were like the visual equivalent of being seasick.  I closed my eyes, but I could still feel them, like you feel a boat heaving up and down.  I decided that was worse, and opened my eyes again.

            There was an army guy—in fact, several army guys, but the one in front had more stuff on his cap and his shoulders than the other ones, and he was looking grim and maybe angry—coming toward the bus shelter.  He saw us all right.  One of the guys with him was holding a sort of gun-wand thing out in front of him—oh, her—and she was pointing it at us.  There were three little red flashing lights at the tip.  The flashing was kind of hypnotic.  It looked like it was saying, ha ha ha, got you.

            And suddenly the bus shelter was full of gruuaa.  I was looking at the big angry army guy and as the bus shelter filled up with gruuaa I also saw a medium-sized hairy black-and-white cannonball arc immediately in front of the lead army guy.  Mongo.  I wasted half a second thinking, no, it can’t be Mongo, there’s nobody home now to forget and leave the door open.  But you know your own dog.  It was totally Mongo.

            Mongo dived across the road immediately in front of the army guy staring at me, and broke his gaze.  He looked at the dog, gestured to one of his aides and looked back at me—

            Except that he didn’t look back at me.  He looked toward the bus shelter and then looked confused.  His eyes skated right over the open front of the shelter where Casimir and I (and a very large knapsack and a very large algebra book) were sitting—in a seethe of gruuaa.  The army guy stopped and looked around like he was searching for something he had dropped.  He looked up again, straight at the bus shelter like he was sure whatever it was was in that direction.  Then the woman with the wand-gun said something to him, and I noticed that the blinking lights had gone clear.  Ha ha yourself.  He scowled at the lights, turned away . . . he was missing out the bus shelter, and heading toward the gate into the park.

            By then my arms were full of Mongo.  “Mongo, you loophead,” I said, burying my face in his fur, “what are you doing here?”  But my stomach was telling me something was seriously wrong. . . . 

* * *

* With a brief inspirational session of handbells.  Gemma^ arrived first and, bright with holiday cheer, wanted to know how I was.  Uggggh, I said, I’m trying to write a book in five months.  Usually I need about a year.  A good year.  Christmas?  Yes, we had Christmas.  I know this by the presence of a turkey carcass in the refrigerator.^^  And various amusing objects still scattered around the tree.^^^  Oh, and the tree.   

            Gemma’s a doctor, a GP.  She’s heard weirder life stories than mine# and she works insane hours.  But I had the feeling she was beginning to look a little professional at the end, when I said I had to stop because I had to get back to work, and she said, how much longer will you go on?, and I said, it depends on how long my brain lasts.  A couple of hours I hope.   —If she starts asking me how much sleep I get and what hours I keep I’m in big trouble. 

^ She of the fabulous flower-arranging.  I told her my Christmas garland had been much admired, and she said that her fantasy is to do bespoke special-occasion flower-arranging after she retires. 

^^ And more than the usual amount of chocolate in the cupboard. 

^^^ It’s not slovenliness or bad housekeeping, leaving your unwrapped gifts out in plain sight for a while after the occasion.  It reminds you what they are.  It may even prompt you to write thank-yous.  

# . . . Maybe. 

** Yup.  Done.

*** You’ll just have to wait for the book to find out what gruuaa are.


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