"I dont like you," Ann said to the monkey, after her initial shock at his proximity turned into scrutiny.
Unfazed by the childs outspoken hatred, Geezer held his ground (risking capture, should this five-year-olds reflexes prove quicker than his), the better to return her hypercritical stare, as he assessed her strength of character (stamped across Anns phiz like a parchments watermark), evaluated her eye color (not a hint of amber encroaching on Adriatic blue), then pondered implications of the imps unforeseen immunity (and what to do about it).
Meanwhile, Ann calculated her chances of seizing the toy-size ape hesitating for fear of being bitten intuiting, of a sudden, she had telegraphed her punch.
"Do you understand English?" Ann wanted to know, presuming that, if the monkey spoke any language at all, it was likely to be Chinese.
Geezer shook his head no.
Ann doubled-up her chin and deepened her scowl.
"How can you deny it, then?" she demanded, catching the contradiction.
Geezer merely shrugged. All laboratory personnel learned Human languagesseveralthough most were schooled in written not conversational forms. Regardless, interpersonal exchanges could be conducted by other means. In fact, Geezer knew Anns thoughts in advance, before her tongue so much as gave them voiceadept as Simians were at side-stepping communications sluggish middlemen. Furthermore, his breed seldom vocalized, never verbalized; speech was strictly mutean important adaptation in a world of sharp-eared monkey-munchers.
"You made Ian a Owl-Eyes, didnt you! Mommy an Daddy, too. Theys just like yours," she said, leaning forward, peering into irises tinted a hue she had come to despise. "Whyd you do that, Monkey? Why change them, not me?"
The name is Geezer, chubby-cheeks. G, e, e, z, e, r; can you say that? Come on, try. Pronounce it Gee, like geek, then zer, like sir as sung by a horsefly, he coached extrasensorily.
Ann, never having been addressed in such a curious fashion, tried to decide if the monkey had spoken without moving his lipslike a ventriloquist, maybeexcept that she was sure he had made no sounds. Instead, she sort of imagined themnot unlike the dialogs she made-up when playing with her dolls.
"Dont call me chubby-cheeks," she ventured, sensing something condescending in the Lesser Apes look.
Geezer, impressed by the toddlers astuteness (and her pluck), countered with a conciliatory bow. Whereupon Ann made a grab for himwhich Geezer barely dodged, making a flustered, pop-goes-the-weasel exit.
So much for rendering aid and comfort to the enemy, Geezer muttered to himself, once safely back in his hideout. Ann, like all of her kind, was not to be trusted. Though she scarcely could be blamed for detesting her Races Scourge. Even those undergoing transmutation were scheduled to rebel (the more the merrier). How else whittle down numbers of those so grossly overpopulated? Ah well, behavior modification would proceed soon enough on a pair of fronts: physical and psychosomatic. The Mind of Man must come to accept its alteration as both good and irreversible. For this, a revolution was close at hand, a graphic (no doubt gruesome) demonstration of environmental truth or consequences.
"Honey, will you take a look at this?" Adam called, beckoning Evelyn to read what he had just pulled up on his computer screen from The Journal of Strange Phenomena.
"Paraphrase it, will you, Sweetie? You know how crossed my eyes get, gawking at a monitor."
"Here; Ill blow it up."
Extinct Monkey Is Found In Mountains
A tiny Chinese monkey the size of a mouse and long thought to be extinct has been discovered in the Wuyi Mountains of eastern China. The monkey weighs only 200 grams, has all the features of a monkey, and is highly intelligent. Chinese scholars of old kept the tiny monkeys as pets, training them to prepare ink, pass brushes, and turn pages. The Xinhua news agency gave no details about the species and did not indicate just how many had been found.
Click here to return to the report page.
"Honestly, Adam, youre as daft as Ann. I thought you said you "
"Didnt find a thing; no monkey much less one wearing a muffler. It simply struck me as odd, is all, tracking our daughters whimsy, then coming, face to face, with this tidbit of distant corroboration."
"Distant is right. China and Upstate New York are hardly next-door neighbors. Ill grant you its a coincidence; beyond that Well, the ideas absurd."
And with that, wife-and-mother returned to her chores, eager to forget this silliness, anxious to restore her households equilibrium, desperate to suppress an ever-mounting premonition that something else was about to go awryher maternal instincts warning of some new catastrophe
Ians, as it turned outhis mothers vague foreboding fulfilled then and there, as he who entered the backyard tool shed came across (while rummaging through everything from mason jars to hedge clippers) a can of insecticide (the old aerosol variety) and, recognizing its skull and crossbones label, thought to try it out on a nest of hibernating wasps. What Ian (ostensibly) failed to note (once he managed to pry off the protective cap) was an arrow indicating the direction in which to point the spray.
On a ten point scale ranging from low-end distress to the sound produced by a child in MORTAL TERROR, Ians earsplitting shriek was a definite TEN, an attention grabber; mother, father, and even grounded sister converged on the scene. And, though it took a moment to identify the trouble (Ian having dropped then inadvertently kicked the canister aside), events were reconstruct-able enough to warrant unanimous alarm (the victims in particular), his immediate transport to the nearest source of water well-advised. The garden hose being clogged with ice, Ian was rushed, instead, down to the basements zinc-lined sink, where, in hopes of restoring his self-exterminated vision, he received a second baptism.
"What next?" was Evelyns near-hysterical utterance, as she pried apart her precious little mans tight-clenched lidson which a crust of blisters already had formed, Ians amber eyes now encircled by fire-engine red, lending them the look of fried eggs in ketchup.
Good, God, for the love of Sweet Jesus began Evelyns silent prayerdiscontinued upon Adams placing a call to the Poison Control Hotline.
Later, Ann and Ian lay in their bunks facing one another in reverse, Ann above, her blindfolded brother below, this new arrangement imposed to protect the patient from falling out of bed. Outfitted at the Emergency Room (his second admittance in two weeks) with cotton disks held in place by a black flannel mask, Ian looked (to everybody but himself) like an Infant Zorro. Drops had been prescribed, as had an antibiotic ointment. Application of either spurred a squirming, screaming affair, on which bribes (Popsicles, M&Ms, doughnuts, etc.) had minimal effectsave to fan his sisters smoldering resentment.
"I seed that monkey again," was Anns attempt to sue for peace; she had barely spoken to her twin since he had started behaving weirdpicking his nose and eating it, for example. He did that a lot. He also neglected to wipe himself after going to the potty. Nor was he all that particular about where he squatted to poopleaving a stinky-smelly mess once, right in the corner of their bedroom! How he escaped a spanking for that, Ann could not imagine unless it had to do with her parents acting pretty weird, themselves.
"What monkey?" was Ians aggravating response.
"The one what sneezed all over you and gived you Owl-Eyes, Stupid; that one!"
"Oh," was all the satisfaction Ian would concede. He felt a bit once removed, of late, from his sister, as she did from him, although this threat to his eyesight renewed, somewhat, their bond.
"Does they hurt?" Ann asked in a gentler tone.
Yes they did! And his sisters concern reopened the taps of Ians self-pity. Behind the gauzy goggles, he bitterly weptwhich only made his eyeballs suffer worse.
Ann climbed down the bunk beds stepladder and joined her blubbering brother under the quilted comforter (her quilted comforter, come to think of it). Doing a perfect imitation of motherhood, she coddled, stroked, even tendered a loving kiss atop her siblings head.
"It can talk," she confided, to distract Ian further from dwelling on his infirmity. "Not out loud, like us, but clear, sort of. Calls himself Geezer. I almost catched im this time. Fast, though. I dont know where he hides, but not outdoors; hes living in the house. Makes me mad;" she bristled at the impertinence. "Makes me mad," she repeated in a softer voice, cognizant that Ian was crying himself to sleep. "Wonder what he eats? Ill have to check and see whats missing from the cupboards. Probbly just bananas. Cept maybe theys too big; this monkeys really small. Remember, when we spotted im, you thought he was a mouse?" she prompted Ian (alias Benedict Arnold, him whose single sighting of his sisters "hallucination" had been denied under cross-examination, testimony ensuring Ann never would be redeemedunless she could provide hard evidence, produce the elusive rascal for all to see. "Makes me mad," she muttered once more, before matching Ians steady breathing deepening the dent in a pillow their twin heads shared dreaming (for the first time since Geezers fateful arrival) identical dreams
manifest by four white crows come to roost, one atop each bedpost, issuing "CAWS," in unison (a winged Greek chorus), heralding some spectacles final scene, a demolition derby of wanton destructiveness (led by no one in particular), "SMASH" "BANG" "BOOM" ringing out in every direction, intense and at random, more fun than a barrel-full-of-monkeys (there being an excess on hand), a free-for-all in which the twins would have taken part happily, had the boundaries of their berth been less inviolable, more virtually afloat above the wildly cacophonous fray, bunk and mattress nimbostratus-fashion hovering over dismantled scaffolding now jumbled into pick-up-stick piles midst parti-colored rubble, glass flasks, bulbs, and test tubes spilling their guts in outlandish streams, flowing into tributaries, slithering through the grotto like a school of mercurial eels, the artificial roof commencing to shake, to quake, to crumble, uniform chunks jarred loose and falling throughout as stones of gargantuan hail, a madcap dash describing the Simians deeks, and ducks, and nimble dodges as they managed to flee the collapsing premises unscathed, theirs a delirious dance in celebration of an Eras triumphant end
or such was the impression made on both pajama-clad witnesses, Annwide-eyed, Iangaping through his blindfold (dream-vision unobstructed by realitys blinkers), each beholding the action with three-ring-circus delight
as the laboratory ruins reverted to their former configurationreplete with stalactites and stalagmitesdiscernible through the mangled mounds of equipment, beyond which, gawking from an isolated vantage point, Proto could be seen (fully clothed, this time, in silk pantaloons, galoshes, and pork-pie hat) looking quite composed (compared to his former disarray), his lopsided features fixed in a grin of emancipation
likewise interpreted by the twins (to whatever extent they empathized, as kindergartners, with Prometheus unbound). Ian was especially moved, while Ann took critical note of the midgets glimmering eyeballs, which mimicked her brothers, her mothers, her fathers, which glowed like their neighbors and neighbors neighbors, which shown with the same amber luster as did those who had set the hunchback freecasting a certain doubt on his presumable liberation.
Proto: victim of circumstance, a simpleton before his captureand seemingly ever after; nothing done by the Simians was apt to elevate the midgets aptitude, his congenital abnormalities having rendered him most ideal, a case study in compromised chromosomes that lent themselves, as predicted, to further and further deviation, turning him into a pin-cushion, his buttocks punctured repeatedly by injections of this, that, and the other, his nervous, neural, and blood systems systematically violated, then (subtly) rearranged. Carnival life, at its absolute worst, seldom had inflicted such indignities; midway machinations were never so cruel as these, the ones conceived and practiced daily, weekly, monthly by this army of anthropoid abductors. Better to be incessantly gaped at than incessantly tortured. Better to be a freak on display than an experimental subject, object, rejectfor, once fulfilling his function, Proto had been released.
How had it all happened? How had he fallen into the mitts of these miniature Mongoloid apes? Drugged, maybe on his day off. Set upon where he slept, on a hill that bordered the fairgrounds. Swarmed upon, as by a horde of over-achiever ants come to cart off their prize once stinging it into paralysis. Proto had watched themwith great difficultyas they opened, to examine, his near-catatonic eyes. What a frustrating feeling, to be strapped into an improvised litter (unable to protest), then hoisted and lugged through a forest (without so much as lifting a finger to resist), to be lowered into a chasm, into a Lab, into a refurbished cave. A nightmare, had been the hunchbacks stupefied kidnapping: hapless, helpless, hopeless, he had been unable to shake himself awake, to recognize what was bogus from what was legitimate during lavish abominations
a bewilderment that beset him even now, on the brink of deliverance, wondering at this spree of wholesale devastation (and what had incited it), puzzling at the certainty of all he had endured, thrilling (to the point of giddiness) at his ordeals termination
as decreed by the four white crows, whose criesrenewedcalled a halt to the Pandemonium, wings flapping truce-flag fashion, rising from the wreckage like souls released from graves
only to evaporate
as the twins submerged into a non-REM realm of synchronized slumber, sinking leagues below the threshold of imagery latter retrievable, brain waves turned into ripples submarine currents then deep-ocean calm
their twofold equanimity leaving Geezer in a wake of agitation. Restless inside his linen closet, he had stolen into the childrens bedroom just in time to eavesdrop on their dream about the Lab. Why had he been left in the dark, he conjectured? Surely someone could have clued him in; at least telepathically. A rescue party might have been too much to expect; the choice, after all, to overstay his visit (bad weather notwithstanding) had been his alone sort of. But to cut him off completely from communication afterward (not a single signal had been sent since the martyr had arrived) seemed odd if not downright heartless unless the toddlers dream were intended, not for them, but for Geezer himself a plausible explanation conceivable given the quirks of Subliminal Science (a field in which his fellows were supremely versed). Why be so obtuse, though? Why, with the dye now cast, was there need to maintain secrecy? Was not the Human Race well on its way to being dethroned?
Looming over the twins, from his perch on their lower bunks headboard, Geezer shifted his gaze from Ian to Ann.