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Zanzibar – Part 17

August 31, 2016

Zanzibar – Part 17

by Keith Channing

“Was this you?” Mustang asked, looking pointedly at Javelin.

“What, that? You know I can’t draw or paint.”

“We don’t know what you can do since you came back from that place,” Cougar said, “You’ve already told us you know stuff you didn’t know before. Maybe you know how to paint, now, too.”

“You may very well think that, Cougar,” Jacob said, approaching the group from behind. “But have you looked at the list of signatures on the back? I mean really looked?” They all agreed they had. Jacob continued, “There is a gap between Cobra and Cougar, and one between Cougar and Javelin. Javelin, Mustang and Rambler are close together, and there’s a gap at the end. What does that tell you?”

“I see what you’re saying,” Javelin said, “the names are in alphabetic order, but Comet and Hemi are missing—”

“Which suggests this was done at another time and two names have been rubbed off,” Cougar suggested, “Anyone remember us doing this?” There was no response save a shaking of heads.

“That,” Jacob offered, “is because it was done by you all in a timeline where your friends did not disappear.”

“So you’re saying that even time is different here, is that it?” Javelin asked, knowing the answer but not wanting to be the one to tell his friends.

“There are many things to be discovered here,” Jacob said. “Consider the space after Rambler’s name.” He gave a cheery wave and left the five to consider his words.

“Shit!” Cobra said, “Has anyone seen Wildcat lately?”

“Not since we first arrived here,” Javelin said. “He somehow seems to have been wiped from our minds.”

“Is he in the Smoke, too?” Rambler asked.

“No, he’s not,” Javelin replied.

“How can you know that?”

“I don’t know how I know it; I only know that I do know it.”

“So where is he?”

“I don’t know. He’s been wiped from my mind, too.”

“Let’s do one thing at a time,” Mustang said, “we can put this stone somewhere obvious and hope that if anyone comes from the Smoke, they’ll see it.”

“Yeah,” Javelin replied, “then we’ll look through Hemi and Comet’s stuff; see if we can find anything useful there.”

“Like what?”

“Like anything. I’ll know if we find it. You guys are gonna have to trust me on some things. Okay?”

Mustang walked off with Cougar to place the stone, while Cobra, Javelin and Rambler started to look through Hemi’s and Comet’s meagre possessions.

“Jav; How long have you known Comet’s a girl?” Rambler asked.

“Dunno, mate. I think I’ve always known.”

“Yeah, but she don’t dress like no girl, and she sure as hell don’t act like no girl I’ve ever known. I put her way of talking down to her whatsits not dropping yet—”

“Her voice,” Cobra offered.

“What?” Rambler asked.

“Her voice not dropping.”

“Yeah, that too. But what’s that all about, Jav? Why don’t she act like no girl?”

“This is supposed to be a secret, so you have to swear the sacred Motorheads’ oath that you’ll never breathe a word of what I’m about to tell you, to anyone, anywhere, anywhen. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Okay. When Comet was little, her dad left her mum and ran off with another woman. According to my dad, Comet’s dad reckoned her mum wasn’t feminine enough for him. Course, that made her mum try really hard to be as feminine as she could, and she wanted to make Comet the same: the girliest clothes in town, pretty dollies, everything frilly and pink and girly. Well; when her dad was around, she used to go fishing with him, she’d go to the football with him and always watch the most manly movies on the box. All with him. He even dressed her up as a boy. Never wore a dress when he was around. In fact, if you saw her in the street, you’d have thought she was a boy.”

“Still would now,” Rambler added.

“Exactly,” Javelin said, “she told Hemi; and I couldn’t help overhearing on account of the glass I was holding against the wall; that she never wanted to be a girl; that she couldn’t bear to turn out like her mum. You know her real name’s Harriet, don’t you? Well, she insisted, when she was five, that her mum should call her Harry, not Harriet. I shan’t forget her words to Hemi. She said, ‘I’m a girl, but I don’t feel like a girl; I feel like a boy. Damn it, I am a boy, trapped in a girl’s stupid body.’

“Wow,” Rambler breathed. “That’s heavy.”

“Damned right it is,” Javelin agreed.

“But what I don’t get,” Cobra said, “is how, if she’s really a boy, what’s she doing being in love with Hemi? I mean, if she’s a boy, shouldn’t she like girls, not boys?”

“It’s not that simple,” Javelin said, “who you like or not doesn’t follow any rules. I mean,” he added, playfully punching Rambler on the arm, “I quite like you lot.”

“Ewwww,” Cobra said.

“Not like that, but we’re friends. People have bad people as friends, people they don’t like at all, really. It’s weird like that.”

“Okay,” Rambler said, “nothing here. What can we do about Wildcat?”

“Let me go into Ruth’s house – I can think better in there – and see if I get anything. The Curator said I should convince all the Motorheads to try to get home, and Wildcat is one of us, so we can’t do anything without him.”

Cobra’s head dropped, as if he were examining his shoes for bird droppings, “Can you even remember what he looks like, guys?” he asked.

Cobra and Javelin shook their heads silently.

Javelin looked up. “When Mustang and Cougar come back, tell them where I’ve gone and why, will you? I’ll be as quick as I can.”

“Sure thing,” Rambler said.

“But listen. And I mean this. Please don’t say anything to them about Comet. Nothing they don’t already know. And they don’t know any of what we were talking about earlier, okay?”

“Sure thing,” they chorused.

Mustang and Cougar came into the clearing only moments after Javelin had left.

“We put the stone in the centre of the village, right next to the well,” Mustang said, “anybody’s sure to find it there. Where’s Jav?”

“He’s gone off to think,” Cobra replied. “Listen. Can either of you remember what Wildcat looks like?”

“Course I can,” Cougar replied, “he’s… he’s got… his…”

“Yeah, we can’t either,” Cobra said.

“What does that mean? Is he completely lost to us?”

“That’s what Jav is trying to find out now. He reckons that without Hemi, Comet and Wildcat, no way can we ever go home!”


This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.

If you missed a chapter, click to read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Part 13, Part 14, Part 15, Part 16

or Jump ahead to Part 18

 

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