081: Trobled

Verb: trobled – Simple past tense and past participle of troble.

TODAY on flaglock: the witch-hunt – the troll-hunt? – continues in the little town of 6B32, and J39M has decisive trouble with Music 25A and with dreams.

Step, step step – pause. Wave the torch around. Try not to set the forest on fire. Step step step – pause. Wave the torch around. Try not to snag torch on nearby branches. Repeat ad infinitum, or until –

Marco paused, torch tilted in his loose grip. There was a tuft of gray fabric in the bush not a foot away. Could it be … ? His free hand shot out, gripped tightly – the torch straightened and stood upright at attention – and pulled –

It was an old sock. Marco pulled a face and threw it away. Several muffled crunches later, Anita appeared before him, torch in hand. There were leaves on her shoulders and in her hair; her glasses stood askew. “Anything?” she raised her eyebrows. Marco shook his head. “He’s not in this neck of the woods.”

“Totoro!” said Anita, adjusting her glasses. “Totoro!” she whistled piercingly (Marco flinched), as one would at a dog. “Come out, Totoro!”

Julian dashed haphazardly through the brush and shrubbery, Totoro clutched tightly to his chest. He snagged his foot on a root and tumbled into a roll, refusing to release his ward. He loosened his hold briefly, whispered into Totoro’s ear, and seeing it twitch nonchalantly, nodded and continued on, a little slower.

He broke free of the forest and was in the open air. Fifty meters ahead, a sandy road stretched onward into the gloom, over the hills and toward an implicit town in the distance. Julian stared, but not for long; he knelt in the grass and put Totoro down gently. There was an audible rubbery sound as his little (at his scale, invisible) feet touched the ground.

Totoro, too, turned around to look at the road ahead, but did not dwell on it. He faced Julian again, bag already slung over his shoulder. His eyes were still large, round orbs, unchanged by emotion.

“Here,” said Julian, “take this to her. She will understand.” He handed Totoro a letter, which disappeared into his sack, along with the many mixed nuts and other natural goodies inside.

Julian hugged him warmly. Totoro closed his eyes, and his whiskers bristled. When at last Julian let go, Totoro extended one stumpy arm and patted him on the head. The rubbery sound reprised itself. Julian shut his eyes, too, and nodded. He opened his eyes to Totoro’s bright smile, which he mirrored.

Totoro, still grinning like a cat, leaped well over a meter and got a running start; with another leap, he whirled about in the air and disappeared.

Dazed again, Julian stood up and stared out into the hills. He thought he saw the faint outline of a little fuzzy thing skirting over the grass with the wind. He watched a minute more, and turned away, setting a brisk jog back through the forest. He needed to be back at the hotel in ten minutes if he wanted a solid alibi.

And so they lived happily ever after – not really. The joke is that the camera cuts away before we can see all hell breaking loose.

William set both Michael and me another hypothetical problem, one that deserves thorough documentation. Michael had the “easy button” (ten-minute maximum, consciousness only) and I had God-mode Google Earth in a milkbowl. More about that next time.

A dream from last night cannot wait, though. As with many of my other dreams that take clearly defined form, the cast was altogether random. I threw myself into a sappy love story. With the girl who used to sit behind me in English class and sound sort-of-nice but still make me wonder vaguely if she was mocking me.

What’s more, it was not taken for granted that we had to be lovers: rather, she confessed to me, and I showed skepticism. At that, she even earnestly offered to prove to me in no uncertain terms (though post-dream, these “certain terms” don’t hold water) that she was enamored with me.

SOME kind of development happened; I’m not sure what exactly. But I woke up with the terrible bitter feeling of lost love. This feeling cannot be condensed, compressed into a single sentence: it is at once sadness, longing, confusion, and above all, hollowness, crystallized and buried at the core of your heart.

The upshot of this, though, is that it’s such strong, unadulterated emotion. You FEEL it hurting you, you feel it fading away and a new day of blandness coming upon you. It’s part of the bizarrely masochistic reason why I enjoy my strong dreams, even the nightmares – it’s the only place where interesting things happen without backlash.

Ah, yes, my struggles with Music 25A? All I want to say is that I eyeballed my classmates on day one; the crowd outside 124 Morrison was a motley crew. One of the girls stood out – very slender, long hair, not-very-happy-expression but a cute face, and not excessively extroverted. I filed her away in my internal cabinet for later reference.

Then the class preceding us cleared out of 124 Morrison, and we shuffled in. To my horror, the freshly filed girl went to the chalkboard and started erasing. She introduced herself as our GSI in accented English.

I raced to the cabinet and wrenched her file out, casting it into the acid pool at the backdoor reserved for such emergencies. What HAVE I done.


EDIT: I should take back what I said about dreams and emotion; last night I dreamed that Blechacz … well, it won’t happen, but in the dream … I was crying hysterically and nothing anybody could do (in-dream) could calm me down. I’m certain the rest of the world would mourn, too.

Get well soon, Rafał!


2 thoughts on “081: Trobled

  1. Kako

    To J39M-san:

    Hats off to your admirable skills to casually hide your undercover message filing and destruction. Only if I had such swiftness before the subject backstabs me and labels “invalid” on the folder.

    Your truly


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