1. Stop by the Cinnamines
We join our leading peeps just leaving ’hind
the grueling Baguette Bridge, weaponized
by violent winds & e’en mo’ vicious fish
with the dark arts to blaspheme gravity
& fling their trunks @ unsuspect pedestrians.
But such a tale is over now, & if
you wish to learn mo’ ’bout it, I advise
For now our heroes — or, mo’ true, our villains,
for our protagonists keep as their muse,
not saving others’ lives or changing minds,
but saving change placed in their pocketbooks,
by finders-keepers or by robbing weepers —
stand staring @ the Cinnamines, which guarded
behind its taunting mouth mo’ gems & gold
than Boskeopolis in whole could hold.
But standing in their way lied a white feline,
a cat fat as a truck now stuck in front,
blocking the opening from all entrance.
Autumn said with a tone that didn’t suggest
such endearment @ all.
The prospector they’d ne’er met rubbed his prickling chin & sang an ol’time jig:
♪ Lady tie bin receptacle,
sirens when my wood oozed to peak,
dissn’nt farms all a’ground me
sue business mafia coming week
lices is o’erwhelm m’bean,
Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.
I’ll ’ave t’be the bun
to disp’oportion you when I’m fallin’ down… ♫.
Autumn had hoped the prospector wouldn’t note her,
but here he came, his hungry pupils aimed @ her.
¿What’d you believe on o’er my song?.
It fucking sucks so many fucks, I’d rather
Cerebus stab its million hell-fire dicks
into my ears & blast piss-acid lather
deep down till it & my blood intermix;
imbibe a sewer’s worth & swallow back
the puke you both conspire to now inspire;
consume used band-aids; munch lunchboxes packed
with scabs just crusted off — fuck, eat live wires;
gouge fire directly in my corneas;
or shred off all my skin till nothing’s left;
chainsaw my cunt so fine it’s bloody dust;
& soak the rest in bleach & clorox than
hear 1 mo’ fucking note from that vile pox
you call that chalkboard-scraping vocal box.
It doesn’t please me well.
Too nice, Madame.
The prospector continued to itch his scratchy chin.
If you want to get past that fluffy cat, Madame,
the only way to wake ol’ Whiskers here
is itchy dust. Tearfully, my fluffy beard
haven’t no dust, ’cause it’s OK itchtyologist,
if’y curb my fish.
Gainst her best judgement, Autumn asked in awk,
¿You know where we can get some?.
replied the prospector,
Heard I from some crow in
Plum Pub who always drinks her coffee black
on twilit night that you need to butthead choice trees
in Wasabi Woods to produce the powder.
Autumn’s brows fell.
You’re just yanking my face.
Nope. I only do that on Saturdays.
Autumn walked ’way from him, hoping to build
’nough distance so that when the inevitable
brain breakdown happened, she’d be far ’nough ’way
to not be caught in that bastard’s goggles.
Then she threw her arms up & garbled,
¿Who could have guessed that going down that damn bridge
wouldn’t get us shit? Good show.
Edgar looked down @ the grass, pale in the gray air, with the gripping hands like a child who can do nothing, but ne’ertheless feels guilty for doing nothing.
They lingered still in silence, save the wind,
oooing & ahhhing @ all Autumn’s failures.
Autumn only wished that prospector would find better prospects elsewhere so she could try budging that useless cat without him spilling his eyeballs all o’er her continued incompetence or have him harrumphing her ’bout not following his inane advice.
Wasting precious time is worse
than losing shine in front o’ some senile.
So she stepped up right to the cat’s back, where its black & dark-gray-striped tail curled round its ’hind & back feet.
¿How strong a sleeper could it be?
She tried prodding it all round its tail, feet, & knee; but the best she could manage was getting it to punt a foot back. She tried tickling its foot as hard as she could, but it only kept kicking back with crescendoing force.
All right; I tried.
She pulled out her knife, only to pause on hearing
stampeding treadsteps to her side. She turned
seeing there Edgar, o’ all people
scrambling up toward her.
¡Autumn, no! ¡You can’t!.
Autumn stood stupored there, knife hanging open.
Edgar caught up & grabbed her arm
with such a force to shock.
We gotta move the bastard somehow, Autumn said.
Yeah, but…. & Edgar froze with that damned look
full o’ homogenized horror that Autumn
in grumpiness witnessed before her frown
her mate-checkmated state, & saw that she
could never hope to stab the stupid thing now.
Look, I was just going to jab it, Autumn answered.
It wasn’t like I was going to cut it up —
tho I wouldn’t be surprised if that didn’t wake
the brainless beast, besides. Likely I
could slice him up completely & I’d just
be left with but a bloody husk still clogging
my path just like this fat fuck’s arteries
already work to vanquish it themselves.
Edgar felt his soul shrink back, but said,
You’ll only risk making it so he couldn’t move
e’en if you manage to wake him, mo’ like.
Autumn rough-rubbed her face, partly to cover
her eyes from meeting back the prospector &
unveil the blood bursting to bust her temples,
as it had threatened her with since her birth.
Fuck… I guess I have no choice; — as if
my life were ever happy. Guess we’ll have to go
all the way back to Wasabi Woods.
2. Stop by Wasabi Woods for Itchy Dust
’Twas meager meters in Wasabi Woods
when Autumn’s memory returned from rest
to the specific way the prospector
elucidat’d for scraping in that dust.
She turned to Edgar.
¿How the hell are we
gon’ to headbutt a fucking tree without
earning e’en mo’ brain damage than I have?.
Maybe we need a helmet, Edgar said.
Maybe we need to give up ’cause this is fucking stupid.
3. Stop by an Equipment Store for Helmets
But Autumn swung back not to their apartment, but
to an equipment store to buy 2 helmets,
just in case.
Have a nice day, the clerk said, swelling with cheer.
No, Autumn said, straining out the “O”
as she nabbed the bag, receipt, & change,
then turned & left before the final act
o’ the clerk’s reaction.
4. Return to Wasabi Woods to Pick up Itchy Dust
Right, ¿does my head look dense enough now?,
Autumn said after she clasped on her helmet.
Then her eyes widened & she slapped her face
so hard it made a noise so loud it jumped Edgar.
¿What the fuck is wrong with me? ¿What,
am I to believe this arbor, sauronlike,
is spying tightly ’nough to know the truth
whether I clock it with my cranium
or anything else as equally hard?.
Edgar gazed @ these tranquil Sapindaceae
blushing saucy yellows, reds, & oranges
from remnant rains. Autumn debated
whether ’twas to avoid acknowledgement
o’ his association with Autumn the Genius
or simply boredom with her const fuckuppery,
immutable, & yet not functional,
evaluating things so lazily that
her rusty generator hasn’t yet
yielded an answer, but, like a koi pond
her lisping stream goes on & on ’thout stop,
currying no accomplishments, no need
for e’en a single argument ’bout such
a mono-mad generic-brand sewer piped together,
that million $ waste, all null & void,
an undefined bug still sick with side-effects
with garbage stuck in corners, uncollected,
while tearing every thread o’ insanity —
yeah, that while’s ever true: static’s its type,
& that’s what makes it such a hassle.
But then, ¿who knows? ’Haps such random ratshit
does make every difference.
¿& how are we to know what tree to hit?
It’ll be a romping month bonking up thousands
& keeping track o’ who we hit & didn’t.
Autumn couldn’t tell why she was saying this ’loud
like Edgar would abruptly turn to her,
& say with honey-sweet endearment, “Autumn,
you fucking tool, the answer is…”.
Wait… ¿Didn’t that prospector say a thing
’bout a black crow in — ? ¿What was it? ¿The Plum Pub?
I reckon I recognize that name. Now,
¿didn’t the prospector say the crow would have
an answer for that fat-ass cat, & that
the crow was always there @ eventide?
I must be bedlamite if I preheat
that belfry-batted ol’ man’s recipe.
You know there is no if to that condition.
Autumn looked up @ the sky & shivered @ the sight o’ its deepening dimness.
Edgar, come, Autumn called out as she dashed toward the city horizon, glowing orange as the sun loomed close ’bove.
5. Stop by the Plum Pub to Talk to the Crow
O, I’d forgot ’bout that. Good idea, Autumn.
Edgar must’ve seen the neon purple-pink sign
3 buildings down from what they’d now accomplished,
its selfsame skeletal structure curvier & brighter
scoring to burn the words, “THE PLUM PUB” into
passersby’s eyeballs — tho, in its defense,
doing a rotten job o’ it, for its
characters didn’t all succeed to fit the script,
with lazy M all fizzled out.
Autumn formed a stiff frown @ Edgar’s compliment.
It’s not yet dark, so we’ll have to wait a while.
That’s no problem, said Edgar.
But Autumn did feel a bit o’ buoyancy, despite the way the world was procrastinating her all day. ’Twas strange: more oft she answered lost control with the synapses o’ a rabid ferret oven-locked; but this gave ample time to stir her thoughts — & Autumn ne’er had time to stir her thoughts.
In inverse to the fuzzy mess alfresco
o’ varying grays, inside engorged itself
on solid blacks & sharp neon pastels.
Feeling a rumble in her stomach &
feeling that this would be a yawning night,
Autumn maneuvered thru the lake o’ strangers
up to the front to order bread & black coffee.
For a short second she began to ask
if Edgar wanted anything to eat,
only to then remember with the shame
o’ anniversary-forgetting husbands
that skeletons like he lacked means to eat.
Autumn turned & leaned back against the desk,
& spent her order’s delay watching the faces,
the pub’s remainder;
but they were all flesh faces — nothing avian in view.
Then, ’fore she even noticed the time pass by,
the meal amanuensis called her name
& set on the bar a coffee & baguette.
She swiveled back & thanked them as she took it,
& then led Edgar squeezing thru the thickets
toward the only vacant table they could find.
There without wait to fuel herself she drank
her brew still steaming, ignoring all the burns
this pirate brine fresh in its fiery youth
battered against her cavities until
’twas leaking from her eyes that scoured this pub,
nowhere to stay the night. Edgar seemed the same —
mo’ desperate, in fact, deprived o’ food
for thought to occupy himself. She felt
another pang for him, wondered if he
being as… ¿sensuous? ¿Did he mire much
o’er his eternal empty stomach,
starving him senseless, an existence tasteless.
Speaking o’ sensuousness & thinking o’ this
& his heliacal expression e’en
in the space o’ such boredom, ’specially he
who hardly held a stake in all this business,
pressed Autumn’s hand out to reach Edgar’s. This
@ 1st alerted Edgar with a scared stare,
only to melt to cooler curiosity.
Autumn continued rubbing Edgar’s hand.
Autumn looked up & saw Edgar turning his head round the pub. She followed him, but saw nothing but — O… She just noticed a couple couples dancing violently round the tables after chugs o’ mug after mug o’ coffee. This & the radioactive flashes o’ neon hue after neon hue made them look like hyper alien demons.
She shrunk back from the force, the movement.
You know I can’t dance…. Her words were swept ’way as debris-by-broom by the booming music.
But Edgar replied,
O, yeah… I just thought… Yeah. I wasn’t — I’m not — I can’t dance, either.
Autumn slipped her hand back.
O, no, it’s fine. Edgar was almost sounding urgent.
She laid her hand back onto the table, & then he laid his on hers, & then she laid her other on his other. She could feel the criminally soft satin o’ his robe sleeve brush up & down on her extremities. She twisted her thighs together tightly, beginning to regret the effect her recent superfluity o’ caffeine was having on her heart.
Then Autumn heard the door squeak open & glanced
toward it to see the black bird herself stalk inside,
dressed in a sturdy vest, dusty thick glasses,
& a limp cigarette.
Autumn turned to Edgar with sorrow & said,
Sorry, baby-pup: business.
They rose & walked up to the crow.
’Scuse me, Madame — you, the crow. ¿What is your name, please?.
A tint o’ annoyance filled the crow’s eyes, & she moved thru the tables mo’ swiftly, not e’en turning her head. This caused Autumn & Edgar to stand back a bit. Autumn bit her lip, torn ’tween sympathy for an aversion to being hassled by strangers & a need to further her quest.
Then the fear o’ flubbing her chances o’errode her manners, & Autumn stepped closer & raised her volume a notch as she said,
I was told you have itchy powder.
The crow said with a brass voice,
¿& what makes you think I’ll give some to you?
Autumn blinked for just a second before saying,
’Cause I’m prepared to offer money for it.
Having finished her order, the crow turned back to them with ire still in her eyes.
¿& what makes you think I need money?.
’Gain, Autumn kept her eyes level with the crow, her tone consistent.
’Cause it’s a capitalist world full o’ capitalist people.
The crow released a dry laugh.
¿Did you just come off some undergraduate business class @ your techie college, pumpkin? She took a long drag o’ her cigarette.
¿Do I look like 1 o’ you shabby people? ¿Do I look like I follow your vulgar ways, like I give a shit ’bout your nest padding?. An eye thinned, & seemed to become mo’ sour under the glittering lights.
Get me the Last Fedora & I’ll give it to you. Nothing else, no money. Period.
Autumn took a deep but silent breath, hopeful that the crow couldn’t see her. Neither changed her expression.
¿Would you be willing to tell me where I might get it — or do you not know?.
The crow tapped her cigarette’s debris into a nearby tray & then began drilling it inside.
If I knew, I’d already have it.
All right. Sorry for disturbing you, Madame.
Then she retired to their table, only to sit in Edgar’s chair facing the front door. Edgar eyed her quizzically for a moment, but then sat in Autumn’s seat in silence.
She leaned toward him o’er the table & whispered with a thumb jerked o’er her shoulder,
Some guy o’er there’s been staring @ my breasts, that’s why.
Bafflement returned to Edgar’s face for e’en longer.
Autumn raised her mobile & began thumbing it.
I guess the only choice we have is to look up this ‘Last Fedora’ online. This’ll liable take a while.
They sat there, Autumn taking sip after sip
o’ her now-empty coffee, trying to still
the nerves she’d sparked with the same coffee that
had been in it as recently
as quickly as each night evaporates
till the supply is finished, leaving but
A breach broke in her brain, inviting in
the waves o’ chatter it would usually bulwark.
She thought how pleasant it could be to be
1 o’ the other patrons’ life & spend
a night relaxing just for once instead
o’ just investing them in breathless chase
for e’er mo’ capital which has the same
¿You want me to get you anything from the front desk?, continued Edgar.
Yes, thank you. Just a sandwich or something, please. Anything’ll do.
6. Rob the Crow to Get Her Itchy Dust
When the crow walked out the front door, Autumn delayed a beat before leaping to her feet & saying,
Shit. I left — I left it on. She held Edgar’s hand down & said,
Stay here; I’ll be right back, & then rushed out the front door.
She shuddered in relief when she saw the crow still there, — albeit tougher to see in the emaciated moonlight, outside the perimeter o’ the neon lights, forcing Autumn to squint to make out sable on obsidian — walking down the street @ a casual pace with her back to Autumn. Autumn followed a meter ’hind, turning her head side to side, rubbing her chin, & mouthing the words,
Now, ¿where did he say ’twas?.
How heavy to keep so sturdy with her heart
beating on her with double dubious bets:
¿Should she prolong their starry stroll & stretch
the chances o’ the crow turning, or dare
act now, when there were people present.
She kept following, & the crow didn’t change her steady step. Autumn threw her hood o’er her head, squirming in an imagined chill.
Idiot. ¿Why’d you try approaching her honestly? If you’d just waited, you wouldn’t have to worry ’bout her recognizing you.
How wrong she was — as if I’d e’er be accepted into a college, “techie” or not. No, quite contrary, I made the mistake o’ thinking I could do straight business, when my only business is straight stealing.
They reached a suburban area sparsed with woodland, with few streetlamps & fewer people.
Now or ne’er.
She surged forward & tackled the crow to the ground. Before the crow could squawk S.O.S., Autumn clamped a hand o’er her beak, causing her to flop under Autumn’s weight & steam Autumn’s hand thru her beak like a lit tea kettle. She fished thru the crow’s vest pockets, but found nothing but flat space & the bumpy metal shape o’ a key.
Fuck, fuck… Think….
In a corner o’ her mind squeaked a mouse, ¿Is this worth it anymo’? ¿Should we risk so much for a mere possibility?.
A possibility o’ riches grander than that pitiful ’scuse I have now. A need.
She leaned her face right ’side the crow’s & whispered,
Listen, I don’t care ’bout yours or my pride or whate’er. I’m still willing to pay. Give me the itchy dust, & I won’t hurt you.
The force o’ the heat on her hand strengthened. She loosened her beak just a bit, ready to wrench it back on the second the crow began screaming. But the crow didn’t scream; she merely said in a hoarse whisper,
Get off me & I’ll get it already.
Just tell me where it is, whispered Autumn.
The crow sighed.
I can’t ’splain. You just don’t understand: I’m no human; my ways don’t work the ways o’ humans.
Autumn’s tone deepened.
You won’t be in the same world as humans if you don’t tell me where the dust is.
She realized her breathing was dense & tense. She definitely wasn’t cold now: her face was saturated in sweat, her body a burning coal under her jacket. Every bone in her skin jittered.
I have it @ home…, croaked the crow.
Autumn dipped her head like a wilting dandilion.
Promise to spare my life & I’ll take you there.
Autumn’s heart raced.
¿What choice do I have? ¿Am I going to just stay here on top o’ her for eternity? Either I have to free her or murder her in the end, anyway.
No risk, no reward.
All right. Autumn pulled out a knife & held it to the crow’s neck.
Don’t try anything.
All right, the crow said with alarming calmness.
Now let’s stand & you’ll lead me to your house.
But Autumn felt just as hampered, walking stiffly with 1 arm wrapped round the crow’s shoulder in a fucked-up parody o’ an embrace & the other holding the knife pressed to that feathery throat. So close, Autumn could sense the smell of ol’ newspapers invade her nostrils. Vibrations shot throughout the crow’s fringes, like a frightened chihuahua, like Edgar when he was scared.
You’re already evil. The worse you could do would be to abdicate after doing a half-evil just as vile as going full maleficent. You committed, now accept the consequences.
But Autumn’s nerves didn’t like the consequences into which she was walking. Meters ’head she saw the suburb break into a better-lit suburb, with people strolling by. Autumn stopped herself & the crow in the shade just outside & halted.
Shit, ¿How am I going to do this?.
She jolted when she saw a light beam on her. After surveying the vicinity, she realized ’twas the headlights o’ a car that had passed, & was now rounding a corner.
I can’t just stand here like a… Someone’ll see me here.
She focused mostly on stabilizing her shaking knife hand.
Then she heard sirens; & before she could move, she saw a police car slowing just ’side her. A cop in frizzy hair stepped out with a gun aimed @ her.
Let her go.
Autumn stared @ the gun coolly, & then slowly released the crow.
7. Get the Monster Key to ’Scape from Jail
She felt her jailmate’s eyes on her nape like crawling cockroaches as she stood before the bars, examining them.
It’s no use. There’s only 1 way to get thru those bars, & that’s the Monster Key. E’en the ol’ ‘Wall-Clip Trick’ don’t work here, with no loading zone to use.
¿O truly?, Autumn said in a dull voice as she turned back to her cellmate, a woman with healthier weight & muscle than Autumn named Traci with an I.
¿& where would this s’posed Monster Key for someone who s’posedly thought they could ’scape from places specifically designed to not be ’scaped be?.
I have it hid somewhere — & don’t think ’bout trying to steal it. Yeah, I know why you’re here, & that’ll work e’en less healthily for you like the last time, Autumn. The cellmate gave a big grin.
I’d ask how someone with such a precious name ended up trying to slit some crow’s throat, but then ’gain, I don’t care, so I guess I won’t.
If you did, indeed, have this purported Monster Key, ¿why would you still be in here?.
Her jailmate stretched back on her top bunk with her arms crossed ’hind her head, the smug grin still renting out her face.
I like it better in here. Not as much stress. I inform you, it’s the outside that’s the real jail — in & out, in & out, the long commutes, the noisy honks, the clocks constantly clogging your mind with pinchpennied time…. The cellmate’s breathing had become somewhat burdened, with her posture & eyelids rising some pixels, only for all to fall back down to their earlier serenity.
¿& what would you want for this Monster Key?, asked Autumn.
The cellmate shrugged.
¿Whate’er happened to good ol’ money?.
Money’s strangled here, said the cellmate as she held her hand in a stiff claw.
It can only be used to buy certain crap from this place’s monopolistic store; & the Cheka’ll notice if someone who had no money before suddenly uses too much without any outside gift or anything. No, cigarettes are the currency here.
I take it there aren’t e’en 25 cigarettes in this whole place.
O, there are. It’s not too hard to get some; just go round doing errands for other jailmates. I know, for instance, that Sammie wants an extra blanket, ’cause she gets über cold @ night & said she was willing to give a cigarette for 1.
Cigarettes are worth far mo’ than ₧.
Trading her own blanket for Sammie’s cigarette was an easy 1. The other 24 would be far mo’ tedious:
Maddie wanted Autumn to spot her on her weightlifting, & then refused to give Autumn a cigarette with the ’scuse o’ Autumn “not doing it right”. Fortunately, Maddie wasn’t just belligerent, but also incompetent, & Autumn was able to sneak a pack full o’ 4 from her during outside break while she was rising from her bench seat to yabber with someone.
Esperanza had some strange fetish for seeing other people punch punching bags, so she offered a cigarette if Autumn could “fill the meter” before 3 minutes passed. Esperanza refused to ’splain what this “meter” was. Autumn expected that this was ’nother ’scuse to bilk her out o’ her due wages; but before the 3 minutes were all used, Esperanza stopped her & told her that the mystical “meter” had been filled, & gave her the cigarette after all.
Later that evening a guard approached their cell & informed Autumn that she had a visitor. She followed the guard down the halls to a thin but long room with 1 wall made o’ dusty glass. Autumn immediately spotted her visitor by his bony body & heliotrope robe ’mong the few & sat in the chair ’cross him, frowning uncomfortably @ the sad panic in his eyeholes.
Autumn, I don’t know how I can bail you out; I don’t have access to your account, & don’t know where any money you might have hid is.
Autumn shook her head.
Don’t worry ’bout that. ¿Could you get me some cigarettes in here? I need a’least 19.
Edgar leaned as far back in his chair as he could.
Autumn sighed & looked down ’way from Edgar.
Look… I need… OK.
Edgar tilted his head in curiosity as he drilled her with his eyeholes.
OK… I’ll see what I can do.
@ the end o’ the next day she received a 25-cigarette pack inbound, making all o’ the other cigarettes she’d collected useless.
Once ’gain she expected to be stiffed somehow by her cellmate; but once ’gain, she was surprised when said cellmate congratulated her & handed her a key as large as her hand with the face o’ a bull monster @ the end.
8. ’Scape Jail to Return to Wasabi Woods
Autumn waited till ’bout an hour after lights-out. She dreaded that her cellmate might open her fat flytrap to ask her if she was fleeing tonight or to inquire why she was dallying; but as far as she knew, her neighbor had drifted off to sleep in the darkness, offering only the sounds o’ snores. Autumn was glad for them — & somewhat wondered if they were intentional to help her for this very purpose. Every creak as she sat up & slid off the bed made Autumn cringe. It made her also glad that her cellmate had dibsed the top bunk.
She plugged the key into the gate hole & expected it to not work. ’Gain her expectations went unmet.
The problem was, while the creaking was quiet ’nough that only her own wide-open ears could hear them, — or a’least took them to be mo’ than just bodys’ regular dreamtime exercises — she couldn’t see how anyone could miss the cry o’ the gate sliding open. But e’en after slipping back to her bed with a blanket-hid eye peering out, she didn’t see any flashlight beam stroll by nor hear anyone speak in the next 10 minutes.
If I wait any longer, it’ll be dawn already.
¡The Cinnamines await!.
She threw off her blanket & stepped out into the hall. It must’ve just been her imagination, but it seemed to her feet that the cement floor outside her cell was colder than inside. That was when she realized she didn’t have her shoes on & scurried back inside to tie them on. Then she paused a li’l longer & decided she’d probably want some other tools with her & noticed her blanket: she yanked it off her bed & tied it round her shoulder like a cape.
Having completed that quest, she leaned back out to see the hall just as vacant, just as dim, as she’d left it — just as it had been when she 1st lay down that night. She took a deep breath & stepped toward the door @ the other end, each step seeming like it would be the 1 to ignite the alarms.
& then when she finally reached the door & turned its knob she found it wouldn’t budge.
So much stress, only to end as a scooby-human story.
But then the obvious idea prodded her mind, & she shrugged, ¿why not?
& indeed, when she put the key in the door’s lock & turned it, she heard a click, & felt the knob loosen under her grip. ¿Why not?
But she hesitated. She knew this lead to the main office, where there’d be a guard or 2 nesting. They must have a’least 1 person watching the place 24/7.
She ducked & peered into the slit just under the door: there she saw the boots o’ a guard standing just on the other side o’ the door — but just standing. Then she untied her cape & slammed the door open, knocking the guard onto the floor. Before the guard could get up, she leapt onto his back & wrapped her cape round his whole face, muffling his shouts, as well as his vision. Next she pinned the guard’s hands down & emptied his pockets, sliding the bulky intercom device far ’way as soon as she set it on the floor.
Then she unbuttoned his shirt & began to yank it up, struggling as it stuck to his volcanic-shaking head. She tried to ignore the mushy feel o’ the guard’s bare skin, now slick with heavy sweat, on his knees. I already stuck a knife to someone’s neck.
She cuffed the guard’s wrists together & then unbuckled his belt & slipped off his pants with the comfort o’ someone cleaning a litter box. Finally, she dragged the guard ’hind the desk & then threw off her own prisoner’s uniform & threw on the guard garb, eyes flicking round like wasps for signs o’ anyone else. The loud — a’least in Autumn’s ears — sound o’ the guard pounding his body onto the hardwood floor didn’t help.
After buckling the belt o’ the uniform far too baggily big for her to be convincing, she pocketed the guard’s pocket leavings still left on the ground & then went to the lockers. She scanned the metal boxes near the end till she found “Springer, A.” & tried every key on the guard’s ring till she found 1 that clicked. Then she pocketed everything but her civilian clothes. She ruminated on that, but then realized that if someone caught her, they’d be able to identify her better by her natural appearance than by a plain denim skirt & a “PHAT LOOT” T-shirt. She bundled her clothes in a ball & held them under her arm, & then closed the locker & rushed for the front door, only to stop & let her breath catch up with her.
You can’t just wear the costume; you have to wear the role.
Howe’er, she did surmise that being so hasty wasn’t unbelievable for the kind o’ job — or, truly, any job in cutthroat capitalist society. So she settled for storming out & down the front steps with petulance painted on her face. She didn’t look round herself, but kept her focus on her cell phone — the universal sign for someone too busy for human interaction.
Nobody stopped her but the gate @ the far front, rattling in the black breeze. The same inkling hit her mind as before: she pulled out the Monster Key & turned it in the gate’s lock. ’Course it clicked. This time when the gate slid open with a shrill squeak, she didn’t so much as glance both ways; she marched straight out & ne’er came back.
9. Get Edgar to Bring to Wasabi Woods
Edgar sat up stiff as rigor mortis when he heard a click from the door. You’re just imagining things — just go to sleep already. But his body refused; it turned to the door & e’en went so far as to imagine the knob turning.
Then he saw the door open & saw a shadow stand in front o’ the incoming wind for just a second before yellow light flashed on. After a second’s adjustment, his eyes spied Autumn standing, panting, not in her regular raiment, nor the prisoner’s vestments he saw her wearing last afternoon, but a white police uniform.
¡Autumn!, he said in a gasp.
No time for talk. She tossed the bundle she held in her arm, which unfurled onto the floor, revealing its contents to have been Autumn’s typical T-shirt & skirt, & then she was striding for the chest in the corner, her chest o’ costumes.
¿Do you think you’ll need a costume?, Autumn asked just before yanking the shirt off o’er her head & tossing it onto the floor. As she began unbuckling the belt & pulling down the pants, she continued,
Sure someone saw you visiting me; but that’s not proof in itself. She kicked the pants ’way & then paused, pursing her lips & eyeing the ceiling as she oft did in rumination, which Edgar had to admit looked mo’ abobada now in just her bra & boxers. Finally, she said,
Better careful than contrite. She opened the chest & tossed o’er to Edgar a pair o’ loose jeans, a black T-shirt, & a white jacket with a heavy hood.
Wear the hood up. She began to slip on her own costume, — a red shirt, black jeans, & a brown jacket — & replaced her regular glasses with shades.
We look ’nough like last-decade thug-wannabe douches that it wouldn’t be beyond belief that I’d be the kind o’ twat who wears sunglasses out @ night.
Edgar held his new clothes up & hesitated. After a quick peek round, as if any surprise stranger might’ve snuck in while they weren’t watching, he pulled off his robe, revealing his tendril nest o’ a torso, & began tossing on this new attire — an activity fraught with fumbling under the stare o’ Autumn’s eyes.
When he finished buckling the belt o’ his jeans, — which weren’t e’en close to fitting Edgar’s bough-thin legs — Autumn asked,
As e’er, Edgar said eagerly.
10. Tickle a Tree for Itchy Dust
’Twas bluing on to dawn, but still unsunned,
by the time they had reached Wasabi Woods,
revealing just how late the night had fallen —
the brunt o’ busy busless passages.
Autumn inspected every tree & leaf,
each stump & rock to prove that they were ’lone,
then tossed off her hood, throwing her hair to the mercy
o’ the thickening wind. Then she pulled out
her borrowed hair, the stolen crow feather hid
in a stealth pocket o’ her skirt & started
rubbing it dusterlike along the trunk
o’ the 1st tree encountered ’mong the many —
a peanut butter maple, oozing sap
o’ creamy morning donut taste, its feet
buried beneath its own rainbow-hued hair —
tho still with plenty leaves held left to lose.
Howe’er, the gusts conspired themselves to hold
the tickling hair against her flimsier grip
like an invisible wall, till Autumn turned
her back against the zephyrs, wall vs. wall.
Now ’twas akin the wind assisted her.
& yet, for the 1st seconds nothing hap’d.
Autumn thought, ’Course this tip would end up dull.
But then the tree had shook — not just the limbs,
but its whole bole in great vibrations
slithering straight thru roots to branches. Then
she heard what sounded like hoarse coughing &
saw the air sour with sprinkles o’ yellow dust.
Autumn dropped down her pack & practically ripped
its zipper off in the blitz to get her bottle,
& soon ’twas ready-filled with lune-lit dust.
After she stored it safely back in her pack
& wrapped her pack’s soft handles round her arms ’gain,
The problem now’s we’ll have to go
all the way back thru Baguette Bridge ’gain just
to return back to the Cinnamines entrance.
Autumn frowned deeply @ this prospect. She
could see by Edgar’s face that he was none
too pleased, either. But as her pupils wandered
these wildwoods, she remembered something…
¿Was it the matched synapses o’ the tedium
o’ that owl — whom she hoped wouldn’t swoop in
& waste mo’ hours o’ her time — bridged with the bridge
that drew her memory?
¿You remember when?
we came here for that Ruby Heart a year
or so ago?.
¿Didn’t that owl —
not the one who had blathered a thousand words
o’ pointless haiku studies, but the 1
who stamped my hand — say something ’long the lines
o’ a music player that, with a certain song,
could warp us anywhere we’ve been before?.
11. Get a Music Player & Learn the “Song o’ Highway Breezes” to Warp to the Cinnamines
Online research taught Autumn they could buy
a music player from an emporium
created in a cave by a “rockcoon”
& in the middle o’ this bosk, whose “door”
is born only by blowing open wide
a cavity in the mouth o’ the mountain wall
with some explosives she had had to buy
with plasma, which was too unpleasant to show,
back in the city, this shop that only sold
2 other products: sticks o’ dynamite —
which would’ve come handy when they needed to burst
open that arbor years before, as well
as this own store, & probably wasn’t sold
in line with Boskeopoleon firearm sales regulation —
& leaf-patterned wrapping paper. Autumn figured
being a thief that she should wager a try
shoplifting the music player… Ne’ertheless
she judged that difficult, due to the dearth
o’ customers — a shock considering how
convenient finding this location was —
& the shopkeeper, made o’ solid stone,
its quaking stomps ne’er stopping, e’er beside,
wagging its tail forth & back like a club
& babbling obsequiously ’bout his
“humble” opinion ’bout the so-called great
prices he wrote himself, & surely with
help from his friend, supply, demand, & that
companion often too ignored, production,
exacerbated by the way he spit
cannon balls @ the wall whenever he
opened that hole he called a mouth to speak.
These prices, it turned out, was not for ₧
but for the bell around the feral feline’s neck,
who dwelled atop the tips o’ Mustard Mountain.
Blessedly, Edgar had another bell
in the back corner o’ his pockets, so
they didn’t have to do that bullshit &
could get their music player ( ’long with the
now-worthless dynamite & always worthless
leaf wrapping paper, which, ne’ertheless,
Autumn’s thrift wouldn’t let them leave behind,
in case the blue moon comes & they must blow
open another cave or give to someone
a Marxmas gift ) & now needed just
that “Song o’ Highway Breezes”.
Now, I recall when we were here before
that owl said we could learn that warp song from
some secret squirrel, but didn’t say where to find them;
& I couldn’t find them anywhere online.
& thus they wandered wide a range they could,
asking any wildlife that looked halfway sentient
if they had witnessed someone selling songs
until they found a blackberry-obsessed canary
clicking out loud aphorisms to all the world
who, on their break, informed them where there dwelled
the squirrel they seeked on the condition they
told it they liked its tweets. They did & quickened
to the rock wall due north o’ Acre E7.
But, just ’fore Autumn knocked, she thought, Shit.
I still must get those acorns, ¿haven’t I? O well.
I might as well see if it’ll give me hints
for where to find them. But, when the door opened
she saw not a squirrel, but a dog-sized hamster
fur white with chocolate-colored spots. It spoke:
¡Aiai! ¿Hem ke-ke panso watchie samya
ferdoo, moy hooho?.
¿Tufham du nooie
moy lelo?. Autumn harshly rubbed her face.
The hamster spoke again:
Gitjoo am Sterster
seekchoo tafamham ke-ke watchie banchu.
Thanksie. The hamster shut the door.
Then Edgar turned his head to Autumn &,
scratching said head, he said,
with arms like leaves deluged by rainfall drooping,
I understood enough
to know we need to get some other junk.
12. Gitjoo a Sterster Seekchoo to Talk to the Hamster
Luckily, Autumn found a Sterster dictionary up on Kootslist.
Less luckily, she found out the poster only offered it in return for Raccoon Pie.
¿Does nobody use money in this economy anymo’?, Autumn said with barely-held-back anger.
13. Get a Raccoon Pie to Trade for a Sterster Dictionary
She scoured the web with every spider limb
& called all local stores, but they stored nothing
resembling Raccoon Pie. ’Pon emailing
the Kootslist poster, she heard back
that she would have to bake the pie herself.
As Autumn bonked her forehead with her fist,
so soon run out o’ means to lease this debt
o’ dammed frustration sans sending herself
or someone else to the hospital,
Edgar put hand upon her shoulder, soothing,
I could bake it for us.
¿You know the recipe?.
Edgar looked down.
14. Get a Cookbook so Edgar Can Bake a Raccoon Pie
Autumn researched & found they needed a copy
o’ Lectibus’s World Cookbook, found only @
Booker’s Used Books, itself found down @ Cypress,
in Southern Boskeopolis, where the scales
tipped a bit heavier gainst the quieter north,
( including most o’ that supporting beam,
the not-perfectly-central Boskeopolis ) —
a modest town compared to that live wire
o’ Honey Plaza stuck like a heart worm
to Central Boskeopolis. This town,
tho crowded like its older sibling, clothed
its edifices in ol’ fashioned styles,
compared to downtown’s sleek & modern shell,
with shorter statures, but covered in curves,
& dressed in earthier reds & yellows ’stead
the grays & blues o’ downtown.
It’s still less tedious than going thru that
damn bridge again, said Autumn ’long the way —
tho the way she clenched her fists beside her
belied this so-called positivity,
& Edgar only nodded silently.
But ’nother roadblock cocked their blocks: as Autumn
neared where the map app said it’d be, they saw
instead some store for natural food named Maustrup’s
Typical Mapster’d get this wrong — as always.
¿What now?, asked Edgar. Autumn bottled up
her irritation @ him asking that
the thousandth time, only to realize whence
that irritation truly came: ol’ damning
Let’s just ask inside, she said.
Inside they found a dusty shop with racks
brimming with breads, jellies, & dry shrooms.
Just as they entered with the tinkling jingle
made by the glass door’s bell, a mousy shopkeep
came round the desk & tallied up to them.
Hello, find gentlepeople, the shopkeep said.
¿How may I help you?.
¿Do you know where there may be a place named
“Booker’s Used Books”?, asked Autumn.
Autumn noticed a flicker of unease
across the shopkeep’s face, so soon replaced
by the benign façade he wore before.
’Fraid not, Madame. We only carry food here —
nothing but food.
Autumn screwed her brows @ him, already
paying mind to him beginning to sweat.
OK… Well, thank you, anyway.
So sorry I couldn’t help you mo’, Madame.
I wish you luck. ¡Have a great day!.
Outside again, Autumn still had that look
fixed on her face, suspicious & bemused.
I guess that that’s the end o’ that road, Edgar said,
tho almost as a question. Edgar spied
Autumn fiddling with her phone. After
some minutes, Autumn mumbled to herself:
It’s worth a try, then headed back inside.
Hello again, Madame. ¿Decided you
wanted to try some food, fresh from the fields,
Autumn wasn’t looking @ the shokeep, but
@ the array o’ options on the shelves.
With chin in hand, she wandered round these shelves
a casual glance thrown here & there, with Edgar
following ’long, watching her curiously.
¿You think they have the ingredients for the pie?.
But all Autumn replied with was,
As she went thru the shop, she glanced behind her
to see the shopkeep watching her from ’hind.
She passed the bread aisle to the back with produce
& stopped before a bunch o’ dry shrooms
& picked 1 up. Then she turned & hastened
back to the bread aisle & picked up a loaf
o’ wheat bread, followed by a turnip, grapefruit,
& last, a carton of organic orange sherbet
’fore heading back toward the front desk.
As Autumn laid these items on the desk,
the shopkeep murmured,
Hmm… This shibboleth
was sleuthier before the internet.
Autumn & Edgar watched him closely as
he pressed a button underneath the desk,
& then turned right to see a cooler shelf
slide rightward, revealing a stairway down.
Have a good day, Madame.
Then she led Edgar down the stairs, which led
into a basement floor that seemed to be
a cave o’ dusty bookshelves so engorged,
some o’ the books were scattered ’long the floor
just like a flooded lake.
They waded thru them all, to the front desk,
where sat another mousy shopkeeper,
but this time with thick glasses & a thick gray beard.
Hello… I don’t recognize you fellows
¿Now how’d you figure out the riddle so?.
That’s not important, Autumn said.
is that I need “D. Lectibus’s World Cookbook”.
The bookteller adjusted his eyeglasses.
Ah, that’s a classic.
¿You have it?, Autumn asked.
But you’ll need something before
you’ll give it up to me, Autumn said flatly.
O, well, just money, ’course….
& Autumn sighed, relieved.
15. Get the Ingredients to Bake a Raccoon Pie
To think what hobbies I could have instead
much cheaper & less dangerous, said Autumn
as she flicked thru the cookbook’s yellowing pages,
both she & Edgar sitting on the curb
in front o’ the natural foods store.
’Ventually she found page 272,
where the index promised the Raccoon Pie would be,
& it informed her Edgar only needed
2 mo’ ingredients: a tanuki leaf
& cake mix. She shut the book & said,
Let’s see if we can get them from this store.
But after minutes searching up the aisles,
tho she found cake mix sitting on the shelves,
she couldn’t find any tanuki leaves;
& when she asked the shopkeep, he informed them
sorrily that they did not have it stocked.
But as they went outside, Edgar exclaimed:
¡I remember! There are tanuki leaves
in Spinach Swamp.
¿Just out in the open?.
Uh huh. Right there on the few trees they have.
Then Edgar scratched his head.
A’least they were
the last time I was there.
Knowing my luck,
they won’t be anymo’.
16. Flee the Police to Get a Tanuki Leaf to Bake a Raccoon Pie
But as they headed down the streets, Autumn noticed an officer staring @ them.
Knew I should’ve gone all the way & dyed & changed my hair.
Without turning toward the cop, she began subtly increasing their pace & turned into the 1st alley they found, wherein she began running, dragging Edgar with her.
When she stopped them @ the fence @ the end, Edgar asked thru heavy breaths,
Autumn held the dumpster before the fence.
No time. Climb.
She helped Edgar up onto the dumpster, & then o’er the fence, & jumped o’er herself just as the officer was entering the alley.
But ’twas only the cops who stopped, & they
ne’er found Autumn & Edgar e’er again,
17. Get a Tanuki Leaf to Bake a Racoon Pie to Get a Sterster Dictionary to Get the “Song o’ Highway Breezes” to Return to the Cinnamines
So Autumn finally reached Spinach Swamp,
So Autumn finally got tanuki leaves,
So Edgar finally baked Raccoon Pie,
So Autumn got the Sterster Dictionary,
So Autumn finally spoke to the hamster,
So Autumn learned the “Song o’ Highway Breezes”,
So they returned back to the Cinnamines…
18. Get Pissed Off
Autumn’s voice was so deep & so loud that it startled Edgar. She took a step forward, fists clenched & eyes gnarled.
The cat who had been sleeping in front o’ the cave was already gone.
The prospector, who was still scratching his OK itchy chin, climbed out o’ a hole in the dirt & said,
Ah, yes, the cat woke from its slumber & ventured off to impregnate the neighbors. I’d have called you, but I was too busy hearing blackberrybird88’s profound notes ’bout ecological issues.
Whate’er. Don’t care. Autumn turned to Edgar.
Lets hurry inside ’fore that dumbass cat comes back.
With that settled, we can thankfully finally commence with the story I was s’posed to tell, the story o’ Autumn & Edgar’s exploration o’ the Cinnamines.