Zanzibar – Part 6
Zanzibar – Part 6
by Keith Channing
“What is your name?” a voice boomed.
Javelin had no idea where the voice came from; he couldn’t sense its direction, it was just there, inside his head. He looked around at his surroundings. He was standing in the middle of a vast room, so enormous that he could barely make out its walls and ceiling. The floor, though, was covered in something that felt like moss; moist and squidgy; but had a nauseating, multi-coloured, psychedelic look that wouldn’t have been out of place in a badly made 1970s porn movie. The sounds that were drifting around him, or maybe that he felt in his head, were a good match for the flooring. Although the area was brightly lit, the light was concentrated around himself, and had little spread. It was as though he were in a spotlight. The combination of sights and sounds was making him feel queasy, a feeling he fought with all he had.
“My name is Javelin,” he said defiantly, with a confidence he feigned, hoping to mask the intimidation he felt.
“No it isn’t,” replied the voice with a timbre and depth that caused the ground under Javelin’s feet to vibrate, “you are Rodney Dean, and you have dared to question my authority in my fiefdom.”
“Yeah? And who might you be?” Javelin asked, maintaining his hostile attitude.
“Who might I be? You have the audacity to question me.”
“Damn right, I do. You pull us from our home, through some grotty smoke and into this place you’ve got people thinking is paradise. Do you think you’re God or something?”
“Not God, young Rodney, but definitely something.”
“You have spunk, I’ll give you that,” the voice replied. Then, after a momentary pause, “Alright. I’ll play your game for a while, until I get bored with it. Behold my form.”
A second light shone on a near-amorphous, semi-translucent mass that had the appearance of a large, see-through slug in shifting hues of mother-of-pearl, its insides floating around like a lava lamp. Top centre of the blob was a dome, somewhat reminiscent of old drawings of a flying saucer, back in the days even before UFO sightings became de rigueur. In the middle of the dome was a large, vertically aligned, ovoid orifice, and atop the dome were four tentacles covered in suckers, like those of an octopus.
Although barely seventeen years old, Javelin believed he had lived a lot, and considered himself as tough as anyone he had ever met. No-one frightened him, no-one ever got the better of him.
Javelin retched and vomited.
The floor on which he was standing absorbed his ejecta, and Javelin distinctly heard what sounded like an appreciative ‘Mmmm’.
Inside Javelin’s head, the thing laughed. “Not what you were expecting?” it asked.
“What are you?” Javelin screamed.
“I am the Arikatoteshika, the head of the Zumotokuari family of the Cnazvu. My kind have curated the Lacteus galaxy since before time began. It was granted to us by the Architect in recognition of our role in the previous incarnation.”
“Surely you don’t think this is the first and only time the Multiverse has been through this cycle?”
“Okay, Harry Toshak or whatever you are. Joke over. Cut the theatricals and put me back with my posse.”
“Joke?” the Arikatoteshika boomed, “Theatricals? Do you know what you are dealing with, Rodney Dean of Earth?”
“Why don’t you show me, if you’re so high and mighty and powerful.”
The Arikatoteshika directed Javelin to look up. He followed the direction in which two of the Arikatoteshika’s four antennae pointed and saw three large windows. In one of the windows he saw Jacob with his arm around Comet’s shoulder, while Cougar, Mustang and Rambler were talking together. In the second, he saw Hemi talking to two other people in some kind of cave structure. The third showed the inside of his house, where his father looked as though he was trying to comfort his mother who was weeping uncontrollably, as was his little sister – the only person other than himself that he ever really cared about.
“Tell me, Rodney,” the Arikatoteshika said, “to which of these three scenes would you like me to return you?”
“Home, obviously,” Javelin replied.
“Are you sure that’s where you want to be?”
“Your recent behaviour, and that of your friends, strongly suggested to us that you would rather be anywhere else, as long as it was away from there. Didn’t you say as much to Henrik… I mean Hemi? That is why we moved you all to the place you called paradise.”
“But we were wrong,” Javelin humbly admitted, “I can see that now. If you could send me… well, all of us, back, I promise you’d see a difference.”
“I don’t believe that, Rodney; but I believe that you believe it. We can do that for you. We have the power. Sadly, though, you don’t have the will; you don’t really appreciate what you have left behind.”
“What can I do to convince you?” Javelin asked in desperation.
“If I send you back, I shall have to send you all back together. You need to convince the others of that. For now, I shall send you back to the place you called paradise, and keep a close watch on you.”
“What about Hemi? He’s in that other place.”
“Henrik isn’t your concern at present; I shall deal with him as he deserves and needs. You, I shall return now. You know what you have to do?”
“I think so.”
“Good, because when you return, you will have no recollection of this place, of me, or of this meeting.”
“Can I ask one thing before I go? Why don’t you want people to use your name?”
“You don’t like to be called Rodney, do you?”
“No, it’s embarrassing.”
“Be thankful you aren’t called Norman!” the Arikatoteshika replied, his voice laced with acid.
With that, the lights went out, and Javelin was alone in total darkness.
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
or Jump ahead to Part 7