Slow Critters by Rachel Stelmach / Flickr
"Computer, dictation mode: It all started when one of our bees buzzed too close to one of our dogs. The dog snapped at the bee, which then stung the dog's nose. It couldn't have hurt the dog because of our safety protocols. But it apparently scared him because he started howling and barking."
Fudgeknuckle, don't begin so abruptly. Give some background.
I thought we agreed I'd do this report, Shockrocket.
Yes, but at least explain what CritterLand is. For the record.
If it makes you happy. "Computer, insert at beginning: CritterLand is a new amusement, which I'm in charge of, at Teleportation World."
You're just in charge of technical. I handle the business side.
Please stop interrupting. It's going to be hard for me to dictate this report with you surfacing your thoughts in my mind.
For the time being it's our mind.
Just let me get on with it. "Computer, continue dictation: The type of teleportation at CritterLand is more complex than simple place-to-place. So when patrons arrive, I show them to the booths, hook them up and explain everything. They make their selection; I program the necessary and -- BIP -- off their consciousness goes into one of our animals." There. Enough background?
I'd add how much we charge an hour and that we have everything from ants to zebras.
No. "Computer, resume after 'howling and barking.' This excited the bee, which started spewing pheromones. Unfortunately I'd just checked in a large school group, and they had all selected bees"--
To take advantage of the volume discount. My idea. Good business.
Yes, yes. "All those bees responded to the pheromones and swarmed at the dog. Then other dogs, goats, squirrels, and a pig charged in to check out the commotion. It was mayhem, pandemonium, a brouhaha wrapped in a din inside a --"
Sorry. Got carried away. Where was I? Oh, yes. "Things were so chaotic I thought I should end everyone's ride prematurely and transport them back to their human bodies. But I was afraid to before checking with the boss. So I tapped my teleportation implant and -- BIP -- I was in her office."
We were in her office.
"I knew to talk fast. Boss doesn't chitchat. I told her there was a situation at CritterLand. Before I could say another word, she reached behind her ear and disappeared. A few seconds later, she reappeared and told me to return and teleport everyone back into their human bodies."
She's very decisive.
"She said she'd rather have customers upset about their time being cut than animals hurt or a lawsuit. I assured her the safety protocols were working, but she pointed out that teleportation mistakes happen."
Don't we know.
"As I was getting ready to leave, she asked about the status of my situation."
Our situation. Please!
"I told her the ODNU team expected a solution in a few days."
And I told her you'd been saying that for a week.
Yes, you got your two cents in. You know, Shockrocket, I don't like having your mind in my body any more than you like being here. Now let me finish.
"The boss' office is fascinating. She's an antique collector so she has a lot of VenusGlass and MarsChrome. And everything's on the floor; not one piece of hover furniture."
Uh, you're off on a tangent.
For the last time, quit interrupting me. I swear, I'll go to the compartment where we stored your body and --
Try it. I'll run this body into a wall.
OK, let's both calm down. Just thought I'd add some color, describe her office.
Get on with the report.
"We said our goodbyes and teleported -- BIP -- back to CritterWorld.
"Your prosthetic wings fall off, spiral to the ground. You stretch your arms and continue flying, ride a breeze that calls your name."
That's not CritterLand.
The boss runs DreamWorld, too. I thought she might appreciate --
Just finish,will you!? Back to CritterLand.
OK, OK. "To make a long story short" – too late for that -- "when I" -- we -- "got back to CritterLand, things were as chaotic as when we "-- happy? thank you --" had left minutes earlier. Thankfully the safety protocols were still holding. We went to the main panel and, with some deft programming, I" -- OK, I'll give you that one -- "sent everyone -- BIP -- back to their human bodies with one mass teleportation. No animals hurt. No lawsuits. No one even that upset that their ride was cut short because we provided a full refund and a free meal ticket."
Yes, Shockrocket, the meal ticket was a good idea.
"A safety team has made recommendations we're implementing to prevent a similar incident in the future."
End of report?
"Computer, exit dictation."
Thank goodness. Now --
I give up. Who can sleep late with you two bickering all the time.
Morning, Slamjacket. Fudgeknuckle just finished documenting the CritterLand incident.
Fudgeknuckle, I don't know how you could do that properly without my input as Director of Zoology.
Don't you start.
Oh, who cares. I just want to get out of here. Anything new on getting Shockrocket and me back into our own bodies?
Working on it. This never would've happened if you two hadn't been trying to repair that teleportation booth. That's my job.
You shouldn't have been riding that horse. That's not what the animals are for.
It was after hours. Plus, I didn't expect you two would send your minds screaming into me.
We didn't do it on purpose. We --
Fellas, fellas. We've been over and over this. The ODNU team will undo our mishap sooner or later. CritterLand's not reopening till Thursday. What can we do to pass the time?
I say we take in Black Hole World. I haven't been there since I was a kid.
Good idea. Let's --
Wait. Do I get a say? This is my body after all.
Sorry, Fudgeknuckle. It's two to one. Off we go.
-- BIP --
David Henson lives in Peoria, Illinois. His work has appeared in Pikestaff, Lullwater Review, 7x20, 365 Tomorrows, The Fable Online, and Literally Stories, among others.