Chapter Four: Galactic Burgers
Jusius, the Holo, Farlo and his future self stepped out of the Creaser into the blue and white docking bay of EarthWorld’s Galactic Burgers. As they strode through the corridor a glass wall on their left allowed view into an enormous playground where hundreds of infant aliens played. Farlo was relieved to see human children among them, and not at all alarmed to see one with its head trapped inside a baby alien slug-thing’s mouth. The human child’s legs kicked wildly as a larger alien slug-thing slid toward them waving its arms, presumably hollering something akin to, “Don’t put that thing in your mouth!”
As Future Farlo headed to the toilets – departing with mention of his failing bladder, and that Farlo would be there too one day so shouldn’t be so quick to pull faces – Jusius and the Holo led Farlo into the giant foodatorium, housing tables and cubicles of varying dimensions. As the various aromas of alien food raced up his nostrils, Farlo’s attention was otherwise monopolised by the array of beings before him. Giant orbs of orange liquid housed long shapes chasing other shapes, which he supposed was meant as a meal. Toward the domed glass roof, beneath the scope of stars, a couple of bulbous air-dwelling species drifted amid scattered pockets of food and languidly reached out for them as they passed.
All throughout the massive hall sat aliens of every imaginable form consuming every other imaginable form. It was a veritable evolutionary smorgasbord, and Farlo couldn’t help wonder where on the food chain the human species sat. And as if to answer the question, his gaze fell on a sign proclaiming, Galactic Burgers! Now serving Humans!
Jusius and the Holo sat at a window-side booth appropriate for the humanoid form. A grid of tiny squares appeared on the table’s black surface, each containing a different symbol. Farlo took the bench opposite. The table space before him remained defiantly blank. He looked down at the characters as they poked at the grid.
‘What’s all that?’
‘The menu,’ Jusius said. Two trays of food manifested before them.
‘Why don’t I have one?’
‘Touch the table and say something,’ the Holo said. ‘It’ll translate into your dribble.’
‘What do you mean it’ll translate? Everyone I’ve heard so far speaks English.’
The Holo choked on his drink then recovered wearing a look of disbelief. ‘I’m sorry. Wait. What: the entire universe speaks English, is that what you’re saying? Your planet has the only non-English speaking life forms in existence, does it?’
‘Arse,’ Jusius said.
Farlo sighed. ‘I’m just trying to ask a simple question here. I think if anyone’s entitled, it’s me: the guy new to the universe.’
‘Any species joined to the Federation of Galaxies is subject to the Adaptive Reality Sweep,’ Jusius said. ‘A-R-S: pronounced Arse for the fun of it. Incorporated into the Arse is the ability to understand any language and process any environment.’
‘Arse,’ Farlo repeated.
‘No, it’s true,’ Jusius said. ‘Which is where the saying, “Give him the Arse” comes from. “They gave me the Arse”.’
Farlo eyed Jusius then looked down at his reflection and touched the table. ‘Dribble.’ He sat back as the grid appeared, marked at its top by the following gibberish:
Jusius leaned forward. ‘The long one’s your citizen number. H for human, E for Earth of the U-Turn galaxy.’
‘We’re called the U-Turn Galaxy?’
Jusius nodded. ‘You get a lot of traffic out this way. The smaller code is how many freds you have. Federation credits: the universe’s preferred currency.’
Farlo’s eyes widened at his account balance. The conversion rate from Earth creds to freds seemed to have worked in his favour.
Farlo looked at their accounts and noticed their citizen numbers were much smaller than his while their accounts were much larger.
‘You guys are rich.’
The Holo nodded. ‘We guys are.’
Jusius waffled through a mouthful of burger, ‘You don’t hang around for as long as we have without stumbling across the odd booty.’
Farlo glanced at Jusius’s tattered clothes. ‘So… what happened?’
‘What do you mean?’
Jusius sneered. ‘Nothing happened to my clothes. What are saying?’
‘Nothing,’ Farlo said. ‘It’s just… they look a bit ratty.’
‘Jusius’s motto is you should always dress prepared to be propelled into the future,’ the Holo said.
‘Every society has the downtrodden,’ Jusius added. ‘People failing to make ends meet. The future isn’t shiny suits, Farlo. It’s last season’s fashion torn at the shoulders. Any planet, any time you might arrive at, you’ll find the disenfranchised.’ He nodded at Farlo’s clothes. ‘I thought that’s why you were dressed like that.’
Farlo glanced down to his suit, tattered with mystery stains. ‘Yeah, it is. Well, it’s not intentional, but…’ He nodded again and then glanced from their account balances to his own. ‘Wait a sec. You guys don’t have this dash in front of yours.’
Jusius leant forward to Farlo’s account. ‘We’re obviously a bit less extravagant.’
Farlo’s eyes widened. ‘I’m in debt? How can I be in debt? I haven’t been off Earth for ten minutes.’
‘Hmm,’ the Holo said. ‘It seems someone a lot like you who shares your citizen number has been living it up in your absence.’ He placed a finger to his lips and looked musingly out the window. ‘Who do we know that would share your citizen number…?’
‘Son of a bitch!’ Farlo spat. ‘All that shit in our lounge room. The statues and artefacts. He bloody bought them.’
‘How did you think he got them?’ the Holo asked.
Farlo shrugged. ‘I don’t know. He’d acquired them on his travels or something.’
The Holo smiled. ‘Ha. You thought you were going to end up some big shot space-archaeologist, didn’t you!’
Farlo shook his head. ‘Son of a bitch.’
‘You can sell them and get it all back,’ Jusius said. ‘If they’re from the future or anywhere remotely distant you’ll probably turn a profit. Just chill. Get yourself something a burger.’
Farlo looked at his account. ‘With what?’
‘Cheese or something,’ Jusius said, then added through a stifled smirk, ‘Oh: you mean with what money. It’ll be tallied to what you already owe. And you owe a lot, so a meal won’t hurt.’
Farlo took what was meant to be a calming breath then stabbed at the image of a burger. His selection appeared, picked itself up and made a mad dash for freedom across the room.
‘Never seen a Galactic burger look so fresh,’ the Holo said, taking a bit of his own.
Farlo shook his head. ‘I am having such a bad day…’
‘Speaking of which,’ Jusius said, ‘while your other self’s preoccupied, why don’t you tell us a bit about you both. Like who the crap you are and stuff like that.’
Farlo shrugged. ‘What do you want to know?’
‘How about why there are two of you and-’
‘Three of me,’ the Holo corrected.
Jusius nodded. ‘And what the crap you’re doing jumping back and forth in time, trying to change everything.’
‘How the hell am I supposed to know?’ Farlo sneered. ‘He’s doing the jumping. Not me. I’m not even entirely convinced he is me, to be honest with you. Have you had a look at him? He looks like crap.’
‘Says the man wearing a suit made of dessert,’ Jusius said, nodding at Farlo’s clothes. ‘Is that custard?’
‘I don’t know,’ Farlo said.
‘So he just arrives out of the darkness of space and you have no idea why.’
‘That’s pretty much it,’ Farlo nodded. ‘You think I’m hiding something?’
Jusius raised his eyebrows. ‘Let’s ask Hol’, shall we?’ he said, and then turned to the Holo. ‘What’s he hiding?’
The Holo paused with his mouth around his burger then pulled it away. ‘Him?’ he asked, pointing at Farlo. ‘Nothing. He’s not even sure where he is. As for the other him?’ He shrugged. ‘No idea.’
‘What do you mean no idea?’
‘He’s got me blocked somehow,’ the Holo said. He took a bite of his burger then added through a mouthful of food, ‘Something to do with those metallic limbs of his. The circuits run all through his body. Spread through a network to envelope his brain. Can’t read him.’
‘You can’t read him?’ Jusius said. ‘And you let him on the ship?’
The Holo paused chewing to shrug. ‘I was shut off. All I remember is coming to with you lot standing around me.’
Jusius scowled and turned to Farlo. ‘We are so leaving you here!’
‘Oh, please can’t I come?’ Farlo said. ‘You’re such a friendly pair.’
‘Please!’ someone shouted nearby. ‘Please, please, please, can you just finish eating and can we please just go already!’
Farlo, Jusius and the Holo turned to see a women in jeans and a red cardigan leaning across a table. She was pleading with a burley green being with a head the size of Farlo’s torso. It had seven arms, three on one side, four on the other, and each had a different burger or soda in hand. It stared at the woman and took a taunting sip of a soda.
The woman groaned and turned, her shoulder-length locks doing the same of their own accord.
Farlo’s eyes widened. ‘Marley!’
Marley stopped and stared back stunned. ‘You have got to be kidding me…’ She came toward them, her gaze fixed on Farlo.
He looked her up and down, taken more aback by seeing her in casual clothing than on the Moon. He’d never seen her looking so casual. She’d really let herself go, in fact. Her hair was a tousled mess, her skin pocked with pimples and shining with oil.
‘Farlo,’ she said. ‘You’re not dead…’
‘I know, right?’ he replied. ‘Wow. You look… wait, what?’
She leapt into the booth beside him and grabbed his arm. ‘You have got to get me out of here! Please tell me you’re leaving soon.’
He shrugged. ‘I don’t know.’
‘How did you get here? Do you have a ship? Can I come?’ She collapsed her head onto his padded shoulder and sobbed. ‘Please, please, please tell me I can come.’
‘It’s not my ship. These two gave me a ride,’ he said and waved a hand toward Jusius and the Holo.
She glanced up at Jusius and the Holo then sat back. ‘Why are there two of you?’
‘Three of me,’ the Holo answered.
Farlo nodded. ‘Some of me’s in the toilet. What do you mean I’m not dead? That’s a very weird thing to say to someone.’
‘You fell seventy storeys from your apartment window. You were in a coma…’ she trailed off, then shrugged awkwardly, ‘everyone just assumed… Someone was even filming and caught it. You don’t remember it?’
‘What the hell are you talking about?’ Farlo said. He turned to the Holo. ‘This is all you, isn’t it?’
The Holo shook his head. ‘But I could find it if you want. All transmissions emitted into space are recorded in the Galactic Transmissions Catalogue.’
Jusius nodded in awe. ‘I definitely think we should see that.’ He looked at Marley. ‘How do you two know each other?’
‘We used to date,’ Farlo said.
‘We used to work together,’ Marley corrected. ‘I peed outside once, Farlo. It doesn’t mean I used to pee outside.’
‘How did you get here?’ Jusius asked. ‘Why don’t you have a ride?’
‘We were on our way to the expo when our driver got hungry. That big green dude over there,’ she said, nodding over her shoulder. ‘Don’t look. That was three days ago, Farlo. Three days! He won’t stop eating!’
Everyone but Marley looked across to the big green dude.
He glanced up and met their gaze. ‘What?’ he cried, spitting masticated food across his table. ‘I said we’d leave when I’m damn good and ready! Get off my spines!’
Marley nodded. ‘ We’re all pretty terrified of him, to tell you the truth. He punched a woman in the stomach for asking if there were peanuts. Three days, Farlo. I can’t take it anymore. Look at my skin! Look at my hair. I feel sick, but all there is to eat is burgers and oil-soaked carbs. How long have you been here?’
Farlo shrugged. ‘About ten minutes.’
She looked him up and down, lingering for a moment on his suit, then nodded and decided to change the topic. ‘Here’s a question: have you noticed how everyone’s lips are out of sync? Like they’ve all been dubbed?’
‘The Adaptive Reality Sweep,’ Jusius said.
Farlo, who actually hadn’t noticed, nodded. ‘We all talk through our arses, apparently.’
‘I know one of us does,’ the Holo mumbled.
‘You were all subject to it,’ Jusius said. ‘Whenever two or more species’ near, their perceptions of reality collide. They clash. It throws everything out of whack. Everything gets turned upside down. There’s no rhyme or reason to anything. The Arse pulls it all together. It’s a check and balance of the collective unconscious. Keeps your up and my up our up. Blends the two and we never know. Things would be very weird right now otherwise.’
‘Yes,’ Farlo said. ‘Well, thank God things aren’t weird.’ He looked at Marley. ‘Can I ask you a question?’
‘The Federation of Galaxies Orientation Expo,’ she said. ‘The fog. You do know about the fog.’
Farlo glanced out the window then turned back. ‘What fog? What are you talking about?’
Marley shifted to retrieve a yellow pamphlet from her pocket. She slapped it down on the table and slid it to Farlo. ‘It seems you, Farlo, have missed quite a lot, and I’m just the person to fill you in.’
Farlo picked up the pamphlet entitled, The Federation of Galaxies Orientation Expo. It covered such workshops as; The Universe: A Brief History of and How to get along in; Making Friends with the Planet Next Door; and Sight-Seeing for the Universally Unadapted.
‘Do you want the short version or the long?’ Marley asked.
‘Short,’ Farlo said. ‘Please.’
‘Earth’s been moved to the central business galaxy of the universe and joined to the Federation of Galaxies.’
‘Long,’ Farlo said.
Marley nodded. ‘Okay. So twenty odd years ago we launched the Potocnik Space Weevil satellite, heading deep into the Milky Way’s Local Group.’
‘Point form,’ Farlo said. ‘Something between the long and short.’
Marley offered a resigned nod. ‘It was never meant to return, just keep on going until it was lost for ever, but it came back. It was intercepted by the fog and sent back containing images and data of every planet in our galaxy. Plus,’ she flicked the pamphlet in his hand, ‘an invitation for Earth to join the fog.’
Farlo nodded. ‘And who are they?’
‘A conglomeration of corporations,’ Jusius said. ‘A giant hotchpotch of corruption and greed. They shuffle paper and pretend to get things done. Entirely profit driven.’
‘Our kind of people, in other words,’ the Holo said, waving a finger between himself and Farlo.
Farlo turned to Marley. ‘When did this happen?’
‘About a week ago,’ she said. ‘Just after the Sun was extinguished and chaos spread across the globe.’
Farlo shook his head. ‘What?’
‘The Sun was extinguished and everyone went nuts. You don’t remember?’
‘I’m actually thinking you just made it up.’
‘The fog’s in trouble,’ Jusius said. ‘Of the belt-tightening kind, if you get my meaning. They’re streamlining the universe. “No star can burn for the benefit of a sole inhabited planet.” It’s deemed a waste of resources. Plus you get everyone in a concentrated area they’re easier to control.’
Farlo stared at Jusius and mentally questioned the source of information.
Marley resumed: ‘The fog explains it had to extinguish the Sun. No reflection on Earth but we need to be relocated. So Earth and the Moon are moved to the centre of the universe. We’re notified we owe the Federation roughly one million years’ worth of back taxes, and they’ve taken possession of Earth until such time it’s repaid. Everyone has to attend the fog’s Orientation Expo in A Great Galaxy to Visit – that’s its real name, incidentally, not just a pun – and, whoosh, within a matter of days those who qualified are the first to be shipped off, everyone else following in their wake. And now, here we are. We no longer own a planet, Earth’s been entered into the Universal Tourism Catalogue, fleets of sightseers have been zipping between here and there from God knows where ever since, and we’re all sitting in an alien burger joint on EarthWorld.’
Farlo tried without success to loosen the knotted muscles in his face. ‘How could they have moved the whole planet?’ he sneered. ‘That’s not possible.’
‘Actually, they discovered it was,’ Jusius said. ‘You’re going to find adapting to universal reality extremely difficult if you insist on questioning everything. Just start taking everything as granted. We’ll be here all rotation otherwise.’
Farlo turned to Marley. ‘What do you mean everyone who qualifies?’
‘Healthy bank accounts,’ Jusius said. ‘It’s a user pays-’
‘I’m not talking to you!’ Farlo cried. ‘For the love of small children, can you just keep your mouth closed for a minute?’
Jusius raised his hands and leant back into the seat.
‘Thank you,’ Farlo said. He looked back to Marley and settled into a blank stare. Moments of awkward silence passed.
‘You’re out of questions, aren’t you?’ the Holo asked.
‘I’m trying to think, okay? I’m trying to process!’ He looked down at the table. ‘There’s a lot to process here!’ He waited until he was sure he had silence and then looked back at Marley and stared. Then he pointed. ‘Ah! Everyone! They are coming back, aren’t they?’
Marley shrugged, and that was all the response she offered.
Farlo shook his head again. ‘People don’t just up and leave their home planet.’
‘They didn’t just up and leave,’ Marley said. ‘We were evicted. There were very brief riots. It was all over the news.’
‘Let’s watch that!’ the Holo said. ‘I love a good riot.’
Jusius’s attention became drawn to the foodatorium entrance where an excited crowd was forming, looking around and searching the ground. ‘Holo… can I just have a quick chat? You guys wait here,’ he added to Farlo and Marley, then slid from the booth with the Holo in tow.
Marley turned back to Farlo. For a long moment they simply stared.
‘So…’ Farlo said. ‘How have you been? I’ve missed you.’
Marley sneered. ‘You’ve been in a coma.’
‘And maybe I dreamt of nothing but you. Why do you always have to be like this? I’m trying to be nice. I didn’t miss you. Still don’t. Is that better?’
‘It’s a little bit more genuine, yes.’
‘Well, good then, because I didn’t and don’t.’
‘Well, okay. I’m glad,’ Marley said, and turned away.
They both fell silent, staring ahead. After a moment, Marley turned back.
‘Look. Things are weird enough without us getting off on the wrong foot.’
‘I’m not the one with all the feet.’
‘I’m trying to play nice, Farlo. Let’s just try it for a bit. Clean slate.’
Farlo nodded. ‘Okay.’
Marley nodded. ‘So… Here we are.’
Farlo stared around the foodatorium then shook his head. ‘This is all too fricken weird.’
‘I mean, first there’s the giant octopuses and then Mamoof trying to touch me…’
Farlo nodded. ‘And now you…’
‘And now me. And two of you.’
‘Three of me,’ he said. ‘Including future me.’
Farlo nodded. ‘But the jury’s still out …’
Marley stared blankly and decided not to question it. ‘Right… three of you, then.’
Farlo nodded. ‘Three of me.’
‘Two of you,’ Jusius said as he and the Holo returned. ‘Don’t freak out or anything, but we think one of you may have just been killed. There are signs of a struggle. And a body.’
‘Half a body,’ the Holo corrected.
Jusius nodded. ‘A little bit more than half a body.’
‘And lots of blood,’ the Holo added. ‘Tell him about the blood.’
Jusius grimaced. ‘Lots of blood.’
Farlo pushed Marley from the booth and rushed toward the corridor. The journey seemed to take much longer than it should, yet at the same time everything was moving too fast. The corridor was approaching far quicker than he wanted, and he knew he wasn’t allowing enough time to process what he was about to see. He found himself at the edge of the crowd. They let him pass with an ease that contradicted the force with which he swept them aside.
He entered the bathroom where there was indeed a lot of blood. It was reflected in the shattered mirror and contrasted with vibrant beauty against the stark white of the room’s tiled walls and benches.
He walked forward, dazed, toward the long column of cubicles and the second cubicle, its doorframe splintered and the door barely holding its hinges. As he passed the one before it, however, he caught a glimpse of what the second held: a puddle of blood pooled beneath the divider-wall, where he could see a set of legs splayed across the rose-red floor, the closer one metallic, a lifeless hand beside it. Feeling spacetime slow he rushed to the mirror and threw his face into the sink. There were contents in his stomach that wanted to see the world.
Jusius and the Holo stopped at the entrance as Marley moved to the cubicle.
‘See?’ the Holo said. ‘All over the place.’ He looked up and gasped. ‘On the ceiling, even!’
‘Holy shit,’ Marley said, stepping back to Jusius and the Holo. She turned and stared at Farlo. ‘Is that…’ She looked at Jusius.
‘That’s you!’ she said, staring at Farlo bent over the sink. ‘How the hell is that you?’
Farlo was too preoccupied dry retching to reply.
Two employees rushed through the doorway. They were near identical beyond their white shirts and nametags: both were short, a silvery-green in colour and balding with the same dishevelled tufts of hair sprouting about the ears. They moved toward the second cubicle and nudged the door open.
Farlo lifted his head and, in the mirror, saw Future Farlo’s exploded torso. With a rush of blood and a heightened sense of light and sound he dropped his head into the sink and heaved. It was a small amount of bile with the want for travel, but its visit to the outside world was brief and it escaped from one pipe to immediately slip down the sink.
One of the employees pointed at the corpse. ‘Whoa! How did we miss that?’ He bent down and picked up a cylindrical object. He tilted it and it offered a moo.
‘What the hell happened?’ Farlo asked his reflection. Behind him, a taller employee entered with a mop and stopped before the body. It stared at it for a moment then turned the mop around and poked at the gaping wound with the handle. Farlo saw his future self twitch, an exposed nerve still responsive to stimuli.
Farlo turned and grabbed the mop. ‘Don’t poke me!’ He turned to the other employee and snatched the moo box. ‘And don’t moo it! What the hell is wrong with you people?’
The short employees turned to each other. ‘You don’t think it was the food, do you?’ one asked.
The other shook his head. ‘It doesn’t have the nutritional substance to blow someone up.’
‘I think we should leave,’ Jusius said, and swept through the crowd into the corridor.
Farlo dropped the mop and followed. ‘And what? Just leave me here? I’ve just been killed!’
‘I know,’ Jusius nodded. ‘And I can appreciate that it’s probably come as quite a shock, but I think you misunderstood. I meant I think we should leave,’ he said, waving a finger between him and the Holo. ‘It was more a statement of departure. Like ‘goodbye’.’ He clapped Farlo on the shoulder. ‘Good luck with everything. You want a ride somewhere?’ he asked Marley.
Marley glanced from Jusius to Farlo. ‘There’s no way I’m riding with the big green dude. Not if there’s another option.’
‘Oh, okay!’ Farlo said. ‘Great. You guys go and I’ll just stay and take care of myself, shall I? Me and my bloody corpse! Who, incidentally, only became a bloody corpse because you guys wanted to get something to eat!’
‘It was your bloody corpse’s idea,’ Jusius said. ‘“Kill two birds with one stone” were his exact words, ironically. You’re welcome to come with us, but we’ll more than understand if you want to stay behind and make arrangements.’
Farlo turned and stared at the crowd. ‘I can’t believe it all ends in a toilet.’
The Holo shrugged. ‘Fitting in a way: the last thing we hear is a flush.’
Farlo looked at the moo box in his hand. ‘This was the last thing he showed me,’ he said, and tipped it upside down. ‘Why would I come back here if I knew I was going to die?’
‘It doesn’t happen that way,’ Jusius said. ‘You jump back in time, you alter everything. Like tracing a line freehand. You’re bound to waver and make a new line, however slight. Just because future you died here, doesn’t mean you will. Nor does it mean, when he was you, his future you died this way either.’
‘This is a really weird conversation,’ Marley said.
‘I agree,’ Jusius nodded. ‘Let’s continue it on the Creaser.’
Marley turned to Farlo. ‘Look: I don’t quite understand what’s going on here. At all, actually. But if that is a future version of you in there, whoever did that could still be here. Waiting to finish the job. You can’t stay here by yourself. It could be dangerous. Plus the food’s terrible.’
‘It wasn’t the food!’ called someone from the bathroom.
Farlo looked at Marley then Jusius and the Holo. ‘I really don’t feel welcome.’
Jusius sighed. ‘Buddy: either come with us or shut up and let the rest of us leave. You’d think if anyone would want to get out of here, it would be you. Just come if you’re going to come.’
‘Humans rioting,’ the Holo sang. ‘You falling seventy floors to your death.’
The big green dude appeared behind Marley, a hand scratching one of its seven armpits, and then belched, ruffling Marley’s hair with its breeze. It patted her on the shoulder. ‘Okay, doll. Just let me unload and we can all get going.’ It stepped past them into the bathroom then hollered, ‘Hoo, that’salottablood!’
Farlo sighed and dropped the moo box into his pocket. ‘Yeah, okay. I think I’ll come.’
∞ ∞ ∞
Once returned to the Creaser the Holo ran a search for the vision of Farlo’s near demise. Staccato images flashed through the holoscreen before it settled on the image of High Street outside Golden Tower. A male’s voice and hand was directing two children as to where to stand and how to look when there was the soft sound of an explosion from above. High Street spun and vanished from the sphere and the upper floors of Golden Tower slipped into view. Miniature shards of glass caught the sunlight as they spiralled down. Beyond them was a thin trail of smoke, and the tiny figure of a person growing slowly larger as their rate of descent increased.
‘That’s you there,’ the Holo pointed. ‘The falling, screaming man. Wait: let me slow it down. We should soak this in. Make it last.’ The footage slowed to a third of its pace.
Marley stepped up to Farlo’s side and readied her hand to point to the screen. ‘You, Farlo Breeze, are one lucky son-of-a-bitch, and you are about to see why.’
As the image of Farlo fell, a large brown shadow moved through the frame and collided, sending him into a slow spin.
‘A swarm of cupcakes to break your fall,’ Marley said, pointing.
Farlo’s downward spiral continued as a yellow blur swept across the sphere on a collision course with the building. Some of the scrolls splattered against the tower as Farlo collected the remainder.
‘Cinnamon custard scrolls, likewise. And finally,’ she said, with her index finger ready, ‘a stampede of Strasburg to cushion the impact,’ she finished, pointing as he landed on a sausage migration. She shook his head. ‘Lucky son of a bitch.’
Farlo stared in horror, having just watched his life flash before his eyes for the umpteenth time that day.
‘Something out there definitely wants you dead,’ the Holo said.
Jusius turned to Farlo in awe. ‘Or very much alive.’
The holoscreen flickered and presented footage of New Flinders Street Station with a large group of people trying to squeeze into the frame. The image became awash with static then returned. The sky darkened, pitching the city into premature night, and a moment later the stunned silence was replaced by the sounds of screams and crashing cars.
‘What’s going on?’ Farlo asked.
‘This is when our sun died,’ Marley whispered.
As interior lights turned on throughout the city , someone with poor stress management skills was heard to scream, “We’re going to die!” A chorus of cries swiftly followed, and a little voice within the collective unconscious must have whispered, “Looks like a riot,” because within minutes cars were tipped onto their roofs and shop alarms were ringing in defence of broken windows.