“Finished at last.”
I should have learned to stop telling myself that a long time ago, but no. Once again I was oblivious to the very cycle that has incalculably screwed me over, and all hell broke loose.
Often times fulfillment deludes us into believing that our work is over. Consequently, we become inattentive and unprepared for the repercussions that may entail our feats. That was today’s lesson in this nutty after-school program.
Ugh. I don’t even know where to begin. My mind feels… murky. Maybe a recap will jog my memory and restore today’s events.
On any other day, I’m the first to wake up—well, second to Captain, who hardly ever sleeps—but not today.
I spent all night working on the template for the series of weaponized bathtubs that Captain ordered, which he demanded I finish today by sunrise. When I finally turned in and collapsed on to the sofa upstairs, I was greeted by daybreak’s glow peeking in through the windows and numerous holes in the ceiling. Beyond exhausted, I passed out in a matter of minutes, but with a grin. I did it! I wrapped it up by the skin on my teeth! Sweet dreams to me.
Unfortunately, I was subjected to a surprise wake-up call later on. Captain has zero tolerance for sleeping in. I’ve seen him express that towards Snippy on countless occasions. That man never seems to get enough sleep.
However, it was not Captain who woke me.
I groggily opened my eyes to Pilot’s stuffed puffin friend repeatedly booping the lens of my G-Goggles with its beak. What? Was Captain too busy making Snippy miserable to wake me himself?
“RISE AND SHINY, DOC-TOR ANGIE!” Pilot chirped. “MISTER KITTYHAWK IS EAGER TO TEST DRIVE THE BATHMOBILE!”
I swatted at the Kittyhawk and turned my back on both of them. “Go away,” I groaned, but he persisted, and tugged on my coat like a pouty child.
“HEY! GET UP, YOU FLUFFY LOAFER!”
“It is too early for this crap,” I thought, even though it must have been about noon. I once complained about Snippy being bothersome, but he’s got nothing on Pilot.
“Fiiiiine…” I gave in to his fussing and sat up, which I instantly regretted as the first round of consequences from my labor hit me like a ton of bricks. My head felt just as heavy, and how it pounded.
“COME ON! WE MUST GO HAST-I-LY!” he exclaimed, squeezing that toy in a giddy vice-like grip as he bolted down the stairs. I’m surprised its freaking eyes didn’t pop out.
After heaving myself up from the couch I descended after him, sidling against the banister until I no longer felt woozy.
“Too much to drink last night?”
Snippy sat across from me with his head cocked to one side, seemingly amused by my klutzy disposition. Blast it. Even he woke up before I did. Choosing to ignore him I slung my backpack over one shoulder and trudged over to the door, but before I could even get a hold of the handle it swung open with mighty force and nearly clocked me in the face.
“FRABJOUS DAY, DR. ENGIE!” Captain bellowed, making his usual pompous entrance with Pilot in tow. “PILOT TELLS ME MY SUCCULENT ORDER HAS BEEN FULFILLED.”
“It sure has…” I said. “I’m going out to test it right now. Bye.” And with that, I shrugged between them and headed outside.
Somehow Captain and Pilot took that as an invitation and pranced about behind me, dragging Snippy along with them. He looked like an irate dog walker fixing to get his arms torn off by two hyper puppies. It was hilarious.
No way was I about to put up with their nonsense while working, though. “No, none of you are coming with me,” I admonished, coming to a halt. “Once I’m done with the tests I’ll return and give a demonstration. Go do something else until then.”
Of course, Pilot just had to start whining. “WHAT?! NOOOO!!”
Then Captain shut him up instantly, of course. “NOW, NOW. WE MUST NOT INTERFERE WITH DOCTOR ENGIE’S FORWARDING OF SCIENCE! COME, WE SHALL TEST MISTER SNIPPY’S REFLEXES IN ZEE INTERIMS!”
“Huh. That went surprisingly well.”
But Snippy… I could see it in his goggles. He wanted to kick my teeth in for indirectly tasking him with what could only be a total nightmare. I had to make that call, though. They would just get in the way like they always do.
Once I arrived at the rundown hangar that serves as my workshop I did a quick inspection of the tub to ensure nothing was amiss.
“Alright then. Yawn… Let’s get this over with.”
Then I wheeled it outside and on to the street.
Careful not to bump any buttons, switches or levers, I climbed into the bathtub and admired my craftsmanship. Sure, it was a laughable contraption; a ridiculously useless joke, but you have to admit it takes someone with mad cunning inventive skills to pull it off with such limited resources. Someone like me.
Next came the moment for which I had painstakingly busted my ass. I fished a key out of my coat pocket, stuck it in the ignition, and gave it a twist. “…What? Nothing?!” I tried it again and again, only to furiously throw my hands up when the engine still didn’t start. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling so cool anymore.
“Guess it needs more work… What a—”
Before I could drop a single F-bomb, a grumble reverberated through the bath and it started to hum! Paying no mind to how it could possibly be running with the key removed, my confidence was restored. “Yesss! It does work!”
Of course it did. Why would it not? It passed my inspection. Twice. Everything was up to par. Well, except for the sluggish engine, but that’s nothing. I shrugged it off as “bugs happen” and took mental notes of how I could fix it later. Inconvenient? Yes. Problematic? Nah.
But then the bath quavered madly, spun around and shot off like a rocket. Not part of the plan, in case you’re wondering.
The rampant bathtub weaved around cars and other vestiges of days gone by as I jerked the handlebars to and fro. Slamming on the brakes failed to tame it, much to my disapproval, so I frantically scanned the floorboard for the key. You know, the key I tossed in a seething rage earlier. Then I took an additional mental note: Punch yourself.
How did I mess this up? Did I overlook a minute yet critical detail? Was this monstrosity doomed to fail regardless of my expertise? I should have inspected it more thoroughly. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Everything about this was stupid. Why did I even agree to construct it in the first place and believe for one second that nothing could go wrong? My head was spinning with doubt and regret all over again. Literally spinning. I tried not to puke as the vessel spiraled under my feeble efforts to control it.
Though I couldn’t think straight, one thing occurred to me clear as day once my bottom left the seat: I neglected to fasten the safety belt.
The next thing I knew I was crashing head-first through plaster and hit the ground with enough momentum to go rolling over bricks, rotten lumber, shards of glass, and other fragments of the decrepit building I shot into. Once stationary, I lied still in a total daze as I re-collected my senses and registered what the hell just happened, then gazed up at a rickety sign that loomed over me.
“EMERGENCY ROOM WAITING”
Are you serious? Of all places, that blasted bathtub hurled me into a hospital. Too bad all the medical staff are skeletons. Otherwise it would have been rather convenient.
I grumbled in annoyance at the irony of the situation and flung myself upright, which proved to be another act of haste I would hold in regret when a zapping pain constricted my skull and slithered down my spine. Sharp profanities spewed from my mouth while I sat a flinching, wound-up mess and rubbed my head. Oh, my dear aching head… Today has not been a good day for us. Between that and the floaters in my vision, it was as if I had been dealt a bout of pseudo intoxication much like earlier that morning, except I could barely hold my head up this time. “Great. Looks like I’ll be walking out of here old-man-style,“ I griped. You know, that would have been preferable to what actually happened next.
...What happened next? Oh yeah. A piercing screech rang in and snapped me out of pain’s seize just in time to witness the bathtub come barreling through the doors, right toward me. This thing was out to get me, I’m sure of it. In what little time I had to react, I raised my legs in defense and the rampaging tub slammed smack into my boots, sweeping me across the tile and into a corner with a tremendous crack.
My head spanked against yet another wall and tears instantly pooled as I cried out, but it was my knee that I clutched in agony that, by comparison, reduced my headache to kitten kisses. That no-good knee… It’s never been quite right since the lift accident, so I had no doubt that the bathtub’s attempt to bulldoze me just messed it up bad. “You bitch,” I snarled through my teeth, wanting nothing more than to obliterate the tub into an anthill of ash with its own rocket launcher.
I can’t believe this. Was a bathtub seriously causing me this much trouble? It tossed me like a rag doll, blew out my knee, and now it was literally two feet away from pinning me to a wall. It was happening all over again. My own creation had turned on me… and this time it was a weaponized bathtub. I’d laugh if it wasn’t so painful.
But how would I stop this brute? Its souped up arsenal was pointed in my face and I was sweating bullets. Knowing—or rather, not knowing—this thing, it could go off at any moment. I looked it over in desperation for an answer and brainstormed as it relentlessly jostled me. I had no key to shut it off, no clippers to cut the battery cables. What could I do?
The gas tank! Eureka!
My next search was for something sharp, and I knew just the thing. I reached for one of the rusty bars protruding beside me, grasped it firmly, cranked it a bit, and… Snap! Being concussed is no hindrance to my genius, evidently.
Wasting no time, I vehemently stabbed the tank and gasoline gushed out, saturating the floor around me. There were also... jellybeans? How hard did I hit my head?
It was slow going, but the tub was running out of juice, and in a matter of minutes the engine died with a pathetic croak. “Shit...” I exhaled, and kicked the tub back a couple inches with my good leg. I did it. I totally owned it. All that was missing from this scene was a badass one-liner, but… I felt kinda sick.
Out of nowhere a wave of nauseating dizziness crashed down on me and the room seemed to be teetering in a fluid fashion. It brought back some suppressed childhood memories involving fun houses and merry-go-rounds.
“Oh no…” I whimpered. There was no holding it back anymore. I scrambled to pull my respirator down, lurched forward and vomited… right into the bathtub. Acrid justice, I suppose. Then I fell back against the wall with a huff and replaced my respirator. At this point, I realized I wasn’t going anywhere soon. I was stuck here. The others had no idea where to find me, and it was all my fault.
While my heart rate climbed astronomically, I tried to calm myself down and resist panicking at the thought of what this could mean for me. People recover from concussions all the time. Sure, some are burdened with severe physical and mental ailments for the rest of their lives afterward, but that’s rare, and they do survive. Yeah? Yeah. I’d just have to give it some time and I’d be good as new again... So long as my companions find me before my body succumbs to dehydration. Yeah. But I somehow failed to find reassurance in my reasoning and broke down into a sobbing mess.
What a long, horrible day, and it wasn’t even half over. I just wanted to be back at base, sleeping the rest of it away on my couch with no insane morons around to rattle my nerves. The closest thing I could have to that was a stretch on the floor in this ruined hospital, though, so I laid down and curled up the best I could without tripping a pain wire. By then I was too out of it to care about the gasoline that drenched my clothes, and figured I’d just lie there and rest until I felt well enough to attempt dragging myself "home.”
The rest is foggy.
I remember staring at the jellybeans and thinking the green ones looked good. I still wonder if they were really there. Moments later my eyelids fluttered, and suddenly everything felt alright. I had zoned out completely and was drifting fast. However, despite being grasped in a hazy stupor, I swear I could hear chatter off in the distance, growing more audible the closer it drew. Relieved, I uttered a hoarse sigh.
“Someone—or something—witnessed the accident and is coming to help… Or finish me off. Either way, this will all be over soon…”
That was the last thought to cross my mind before I blacked out.