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1-143 [Frook 1, chapter 1.4, brick 3]

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 "Fire on!"
 Frank the bartender glanced over at Skip and his vaguely humanoid water-composed friend. Skip still wasn't quite clear on what constituted proper social etiquette in Flutonia, but from the look on Frank's face, randomly yelling out in the hopes your body will explode into a mass of fire at a wooden bar table near a storehouse of flamable liquids wasn't included. A plush chinchilla and octopus broke their attention from their menus with a curious worry.
 Kilo frowned at his failure, then began snapping his liquidy fingers to create a spark. While this seemed much less likely to work, it seemed to provoke a stronger objection from Frank. He shot a closing fist toward Kilo's hand, and lowered his eyebrows in surprise as it just splished the water harmlessly, although the motion still succeeded in some respect in that Kilo's fingers were now temporarily missing. The teenager looked up in a rebelious annoyance, but the barkeep simply shook his head implying some aspect of what he'd done was taboo. Then he slid some free matches on the table over to him and resumed mixing the plush toys' drinks.
 "What was all that about?"
 Skip lowered his voice to a whisper. "If I remember clearly, I think the bartender is very particular about copyright infringement and has strict rules about mimicking or alluding to copyrighted frwoa material, even if that isn't the intention. My guess is you came too close to mimicking some scene in Marvel's big screen rendition of the Fantastic--" Four people in Frank's Bar halted as Frank slammed his fist on the bar table, causing absolutely nothing to happen except exactly what he'd intended to do: demonstrate his low anger management skills regarding copyrighted references in a threatening manner but not cause a mess.
 Frank simultaneously beamed like Peter in Narnia when knighted after his first wolf kill, Lonestar in spaceballs when he lifts a Yogurt statue with a schwartz ring for the first time, Luke Skywalker shooing down his first X-wing, Wesley Crusher after saving the Enterprise in any given episode of Star Trek, Ms. Palmroy in Donnie Darko in that romantic shot as she stares down symbolically at Cherita for no clear reason after cursing loudly in anger up to the sky, Grandma Death in the same film now twice alluded to as she gazes off her porch into the vast and wonderous world of her front yard, and SquishToGo in his prideful Fair Use YouTube videos founded on his impressive education of looking up 'fair use' on Wikipedia.org.
 "But why'd he slip me the matches?"
 "Maybe he thinks they won't work for you any more than snapping your fingers will. You'll just get them all wet before they can light."
 "But--" Kilo frused and glanced back at Frank who'd resumed his bar cleaning with a subtlly lifted mood as if having reached some personal goal in time to be ready for the second half of the Hour Frank Accomplished Something Or Other Unbeknowest to Skip and Kilo. Kilo looked about to ask him something but Frank just slid them a couple complimentary beers. Kilo reached for his ID but realized he wasn't asked for one, didn't have one anyway, and was probably too young to drink even if he had much of a lower body to hold up jeans and a wallet.
"Isn't he going to ask to see--"
"Shush and drink up, I think he's in a good mood, and we'd better not ruin it. I'll take responsibility if we discover you're under age and he comes to his senses." Frank, apparently oblivious, pulled out a heavy stack of paper and began flipping through it with a careful, devious focus. Kilo's attention jerked back to Skip as he asked the most unoriginal question a creative writer could ask a teenager not particularly preocuppied with future ambitions.
 "So, any idea what you want to be when you grow up?" The indecipherable expression on Kilo's watery face said his expression itself couldn't decide what it wanted to be when it turned into something. Perhaps it was deciding to what extent Skip was being ironic while being confused as to what curves of facial water should expose such a debate.
 "I dunno... a tsunami?"
 "I thought you didn't want to be a murderous instegator of mass death and destruction."
 "Right. So maybe something important like a tsunami, without the death and destruction."
 "How about a kiddie pool?"
 "Howz'at important?"
 "Well, children's imaginations are at their peak just out of the womb, aren't they? They should still be pretty fresh when they're about kiddie-pool age. A four foot diameter puddle of tap water could be a vast ocean of life's possibilities to a 2-year old kid."
 "What if he pees in me?"
 "His youthful epiphanies bound to one day change the world should make up for it."
 "What if his epiphanies land the world in a fiery apocalypse?"
 "Then they're going to need the tsunami." Kilo was now fumbling with the matches trying to ignite one without getting it wet. He'd failed with half of them and was now carefully experimenting with the rest before he ran out. He seemed intensely involved but still had the organization to converse as if thinking deep was second nature.
 "Ever get the feeling you're supposed to start something big? Like really big? Like Flutonia's just some vifa training facility, and some day you're gonna find out there's a whole universe of tangible matter out there and you alone are going to have the brains to think up the ideas that'll save existence from a bunch of green slimy aliens from another universe? Or that you're some kid Einstein growing up in some sort of dream-like sandbox in a remote corner of hyperspace, and as soon as you figure out what the hell energy is and what it equals, you'll be ready to use your equations to build the wormholes that will let everyone travel around everywhere they need to go? And that they built this whole place just so you could get a gradeschool history lesson on what life was like before it got all real and stuff? Or that life already evolved so much that everyone just got bored again and re-created the dawn of the universe just to watch it grow from the comfort of some vifa matter-energy living room? And that they've made you really important with genes to change the world and stuff because just watching normal people go to work every day is just dead-ass boring? Or it's all a super computer program and you're supposed to get to the last boss so someone can get back to their boring cubicle job? Ever feel that?"
 Kilo's thoughts--which seemed secondary to his more attentive task of snapping a spark with his fingers--seemed to flow like the water that he was, or at least be fueled by it. One thought seemed to flow into another like self-similar mental rivers in the same fractal forest. (Perhaps his body fueled his mind, or his consciousness sustened his body of water; Skip was in no position to ponder the finer points of metaflutaepistemelogical phylo).
 It first appeared a tangent, but Skip quickly discarded this as an innacurate interpretation. While it was ramblyish, Kilo's rant also seemed relevent--perhaps very relevant--to whatever the hell was going on about now or where it was all heading, and seemed intrinsic to who he was as a character. Whatever it was, it was wet and watery, and in fact seemed to run on water, Skip added. He hence decided to call this a "run-on", however uncreative the term seemed.
 Skip found Kilo's particular run-on rant to be as baffling as any other set of ideas he'd had the obligation of pondering. Skip had just barely started to come to terms with his setting; just barely begun to grasp the careful patterns in which the nonsense of Flutonia re-baffled itself into continuously worse nonsense. That a bored teen who seemed less grounded that even Skip could start thinking about possibilities beyond Flutonia entirely was dizzily disconcerting. Of course, there was the scant relief that Flutonia's pattern of topping it's own bafflingless continued to become exponentially worse at a steady rate, but this wasn't much.
 What did it mean; was Kilo even more prolific a prodigy than everyone said Skip was? Perhaps Kilo was important to all the universe in the way that Skip was supposedly important to the universe's obscure fractal pool of Flutonia. Only an infinitesimal spec of jealousy prevented Skip's relief at being less important than he previously thought from dominating the moment in utter totality.
 "Nope. I can honestly say that considering my role in all the universe has definitely been off my todo list for the day. Save any previous friter inconsistancies to that claim proving me wrong, of course."
 "Yah. Same here."
 "What do you mean?"
 "I mean I just had a thought that maybe someone somewhere was that important, and I was hoping it might be you so I could tag along and do something more exciting than sit in a nameless bar and drink this skanky horse piss." Kilo took a long, ironic swig of his beer. Frank was still absorbed in the book he'd pulled out and didn't seem to notice the comment. The plush chinchilla and octupus at the diner booth were getting ansi for their drinks, which were ready, but sitting bored on the bar table. Both the plush animals were guaging the distance to the drinks while collaborating on how they might reach them. Kilo failed with his last match and another set was instantly slid over to him. He frused, as this all seemed fishy behavior, but shrugged and resumed his attempt to light one. Perhaps his body's alcohol percentage would allow him to catch on fire a bit if he could get one lit this time.
 "Well, we could always think up something important. I mean we thought up the bar, didn't we?"
 "Or just walked around Square One and entered the first bar we could find." Kilo managed to get a match half-lit, but his finger just extinguished it when he tried to touch it.
 "Self-fulfilling prophecy, you think?"
 "Self-full-what? No, I'm nowhere near full at all. I think I have to be like half alcohol or something for this to work. D--Dammit!" Kilo chugged the rest of his beer and stuck out his hand behind him for another one. Frank simply slid him one of the dozen he had lined up without looking.
 "What the hell--? Something's up with Frank. I think he's too absorbed in that book to realize he's dishing out alcohol to a minor. That's enough beer, Kilo."
 "I have a high tolerance." Skip shrugged Kilo's rebeliousness only out of a morbid curiosity of finding out what book Frank was reading, and because of a really fuzzy sense how much at all he was supposed to be looking out for Kilo. The forgotten chinchilla and octopus were trying to help each other up on a barstool.
 "Either way it should work. If we set out to think up adventure and we really can't, then maybe we'll just bump into it anyway." Kilo got another match lit in vain. "What we need is a katalyst."
 "A whuh?"
 "Something to start with. A nucleus, a focus, a nexus, a.. spark... around which everything we do will rotate and grow from. For the only half hour of life I've known, life has been a whole bunch of random sh!@. Someone told me it might all start to make sense at some point, but I can't wait that long. I need to write the greatest Flutonian story ever told by the end of the day, and you want to become the first Flutonian puddle of water in the known universe, something quite worthy of storytelling. I have some vague sense of worldly writing skills, and you seem to have some odd potential to ripple out into the vastness of existence for lack of anything better to do but drink beer and whine about friter narration. Somehow we work well together, since we've already thought up a place to get drunk, and who knows what we could think up tomorrow. I'd say this one's a no-brainer."
 "Oh, boy, batman, this sounds fun... Not." Skip paused to decide whether Kilo's negation of his sarcasm canceled it out or augmented it. Or perhaps it just weakened it by rhetorically watering down a comment that was already mock true by implication. Skip took a guess that Kilo's frusing meant he was debating whether sarcasm negation was "in" or not, and whether he should add another "not" if it wasn't. "Anyway we still need a catalogs, and I'm fresh out of deers."
 "You mean 'katalyst', and 'ideas' ?"
 "Yah, that's what I drunk."
 "Kilo, you're drunk."
 "Best state for inspiration... Matches still aren't working. Need more booze." Frank slid him another beer and Kilo tried chugging two at once. "Alright. Alright." Kilo concentrated... "Katalog... Katalog... alright ok ok ok. Somethiiing.. simple. Wind?... so been there. Already sick of waaater... Fire? Ice? A bolt of lightning? Nah, sound like !@#$ing nerd RPG spells. Okayyy... Earth. We'll start with earth. Big ball of earth. Yup. Earth."
 "Hunmm... that's not bad, kid. That's great, actually. Great! Okay, since we don't know anything else about it, we'll stick the ball of earth in a completely black void of nothingness. Then we'll fill the whole void up later, or just procrastinate it indefinitely or until it eventually implodes.
 "Freckle it."
 "Hunh?" Kilo was still occupied with the matches and was getting a spark every other match now.
 "Freckle the void. Some acne, or a little dandruff or something, just so people know it's there and don't fall into it or whatever."
 "A physical vacuum of corporeality which in its entirety is itself a graspable and pseudo-metaphysical entity! Thats perfect!"
 "Uh, sure."
 "Is that all?"
 "Hunh?"
 "Well how about a bunch of them."
 "Isn't that a little much to start off with?"
 "Well, you know, we'll just throw in a number so we know how many more balls of earth we have to explore before my frwoa--and your adventure--is finished. Then we can think up some details for our Earth before we go try to find it... or think to it, or whatever."
 "Three." Kilo lit a flickering match in unison with his suggestion.
 "Too boring."
 "Four."
 "Too fantastic."
 Frank half-subconsciously lowered his eyebrows a tad.
 "Five." Light. Flicker.
 "Right out."
 Frank's eyebrows lowered another tad.
 "Six?" Light.
 "Too Battlestar." Lower.
 "Eight." Light.
 " 'Eight? What happened to seven?' "
 Frank's grip started to tighten in conjunction with his expression.
 "Nine?"
 "Ninth Gate."
 "10?"
 "Ten monkeys."
 "11? 12? 13?"
 "Oceans 11, Oceans 12, Oceans 13."
 "Geez. Alright, something totally random. 37."
 "37!?" Light. Flicker. Tight. Angrier.
 "40?"
 "The forty year-old Virgin."
 "You do have some numbers, don't you?"
 Frank missed this allusion entirely, as did every Monty Python fan freer within a forty universe mila radius who didn't have every line of every Monty Python skit memorized.
 "What kind of number could be the most important in the universe but not already taken? Alright, ok, how about forty ttttt--"
 Frank shot his arm for the bar towel with baffling speed.
 "--ten?"
 Frank halted, but held still.
 "Forty-ten? Is that a number?"
 "(I was going to say 42 but I got this odd--)"
 The towel whipipped toward Kilo with infathomable speed. He managed to dodge it, but it had the indirect effect of slapping Kilo's current match and lighting it as it flew from Kilo's hand and fell in a napkin disposer which ignited. Kilo reached to put it out, but the flame only igniting his hand. The flame whooshed through Kilo's whole body and for about a half a second he was the exact fire-person he'd been trying to become. It only lasted a moment as the alcohol he'd absorbed burned off, and Kilo managed to splash out the napkin fire.
 Frank's towel, however, was not so lucky. As Frank whipped it backward from the flame, it burst into a full torch of light as it had recently been used to wipe up a spilled drink. But instead of stomping on it, dosing it with water, or handing it to Kilo, he instinctively tossed it to avoid getting burnt. Unfortunately he tossed it on top of an open bottle of tequila, which ignited, as did six others in turn.
 The two plush toys were now sprinting for the exit, and Skip tried to pick up Kilo and hurl him at the fire. The attempt landed him on the floor in a sploosh as if he'd tried to climb a waterfall. Finally, as Kilo leaped over the bar himself and punched the fires. Upon extinguishing them he seemed a bit depressed, having hoped to light up himself again.
 Strangely, the fire out, everyone awkwardly progressed back to their previous positions in silence as if nothing at all had happened. The toys at their booth, Frank to his book, and Skip and Kilo back to the beers. Frank especially seemed nonchalant on the matter, and slid Kilo another beer.
 "So.. Earth!"

 As Skip and Kilo brainstormed their idea of Earth, Skip noticed the bar seemed to shift and morph around them as they spoke. He couldn't tell if their very ideas were molding the fabric of the vifa space around them or his subconscious had hidden what was there all along in order to pawn the place off as his own idea. Or maybe it was a loose-knit dream, shifting one setting to another as the feel of the dream changed.
 As Skip and Kilo talked on, the vifa diner booths formalized into totally solid, visible entities. They became apholstered in bark-brown leather next to lightly draped windows as if a ghostly interior decorater was working on them on some askew plane of existence. They finally became complete with a salt and papper shaker, napkins, and a bottle of A1 at each table, and the floor became a thin, dark carpet in a vaguely celtic pattern. The walls were painted in subtle earth tones; the ceiling in a butch gray.
 By the time Skip and Kilo's Earth idea was as fleshed out as it was going to be for the moment, the place had achieved a net feel of a uniform cafe/bar. Nothing clashed. They'd barely remembered precisely what they'd discussed, but the bar around them stood an ambassador to the very idea of Earth. It was nothing special, but it was a starting point. Neither had expected the whole setting around them to change, but nonetheless, right of the bat their plan seemed to be working brilliantly. They could begin exploring their idea of Earth without even thinking up rockets and transdimensional transporters. The final result was akin to the final progression of someone sitting at a table eating a bowl of salad while the scene around them changes from a barnyard picnic to a backyard city park bench in a Ranch dressing commercial stressing its manufacturing "Since 1884".
 It felt as if an indefinite period of time had passed. Earth seemed a vast and complex idea, and to have a good enough an idea of what it was to have materialized a random earthly bar must have taken a long time indeed. Skip looked up at the clock as Kilo took the last swig of the chocolate milk Skip had switched him quite awhile ago, but the clock was different, too. Before it had seven divisions labeled 1 through 7. Now it had 12, and five little marks breaking up each twelvth-slice. Something was wrong. Even with all the change, it seemed out of place for time itself to have changed systems.
 "Why the hell is that like that?"
 "Bases." It was Frank who'd spoken. Skip didn't have even the faintest memory of any bartender ever doing so. His voice was as deep and introspective as any character who rarely speaks and then moves mountains the rare moments they break silence. Of course, the epiphany-deep tone had little or nothing to do with the fact that Frank's words seemed as mundane and useless as possible.
 "What?"
 "New clock." It was a conclusive statement, as if the meaning of "Bases; new clock" was very clear, and any clarification or elaboration for anyone clueless enough to not know what they meant--or dense enough not to accept them as an exciting mystery if they had genuine reason to be unfamiliar with them--was completely out of the question.
 "It's supposed to be 1:43."
 "It is." Somehow Kilo found it easier to read the new clock.
 "Then we have a lot to do. Come on, kid, I think our plot's about to pique."
 "Shouldn't we stick around and help Frank out with his whole scheme to burn the bar down and collect the fire insurance?" Skip looked carefully at Frank and could finally read the title of the bright neon book Frank had pulled out just after they'd walked in:
 "Burning Down Your Bar: Restauraunt Fire Insurance For Dummies."

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