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The week the internet went down, so many of us sat around marveling at the weird weather and telling scary stories. One story lead to another, all around the world.
[[Time Bandits|Time Bandits]]
Their bellies dig across the rooftops here. Some to graze, some to further engorge, some to die. They bloat across the shops and schools , they hang heavy atop the mansion on the hill with an unspoken sense of malaise and age like the rot in its wood, the wear in the once glorious stained glass. The church spire sometimes seems to pierce them briefly, the radio tower shooting them full of talk radio , morning drive blather and the organs, blood and skin of commercials for pills, mortuaries and new soda flavors.
These [[clouds|Belly the volume]] may bring big rains, they may bring meek impotent gnat storms of drizzle, they may bring shade and no falling water at all. In this aging foothill town the clouds sometimes die away, break, dissipate , rupture, gently fade, burn away in summer heat and sun. The behavior is not unlike the jellyfish balls of lightning said to emerge in thunderstorms from televisions, from windows, some layered inside like a complex organism, some simple aglow ; some die quietly and violently rip apart in their end.
The wifi is down again.
[[Belly|Belly the volume]]
The weather gods don't like all the attention people pay to science. They appreciate the few left who still worship the old gods, and failing that, Evangelical Christians, who at least describe inclement weather as "God's Will." Climate change deniers are welcome in Valhalla. Thor and his minions are frankly offended every time a bunch of PhDs and weatherman get together at some international congress and try to convince a group of politicians that weather is the mere mortals own fault, that the various elements of carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and toxic waste are conspiring to overturn centuries of belief in higher powers who could simply clap or sneeze a storm into being with their mere desire. It's all true, of course. Things are getting out of control. For every horrendous electrical ice storm Thor launched from the heavens, for every Tsunami Posiedon hurled across the sea, for even the whirlwinds Zeus whipped from the heavens, a hundred or more could be blamed only on the petty humans trifling with their own environment. When was the last time somebody had even bothered to sacrifice a goat, much less a vanquished captive, in the name of Thor? They still made comic books and films, sure, but even those sat orphaned on the newstands and bombed at the box office. And there in Duluth sat an evil mastermind infected with the spirit of Loki, daring to write and inspire a movement of writers, making light of the weather, writing strange and insulting, cryptic little stories to insult him, to make of the divine power of weather a plaything for their little tapping fingers. Thor flew into a rage the likes of which Minnesota nice was unfamiliar with. The skies clapped with fury and the winds whipped like screaming harpies. Trees were uprooted and went crashing into domiciles. Their power would be shorn away and they would sit in heat for days without light, without comfort. Ha! Mr. Rob, where is your impish smile now. Trifle with the gods! Feel my anger! There is only one who can save you from this, and his name is THOR. Beg for my forgiveness. Write my name on the side of your "skyscrapers" and casinos. THOR is the leader! THOR is the power. Say my name.
[[Minnesota|Thor in Minnesota]]
Hello? Hi! Hi my name is Rob Wittig and I'm calling to ask if you, if you ever, um, sell your goats? I mean like after they get too old to produce usable milk? We're big fans of your cheese, by the way, we get it at the Duluth co-op. Yeah! Yeah, no it's really good! You're welcome.
Yes, I know.
Yep. Yeah I actually have some experience with goats when I when I was a kid.
That's right! Yeah, I only let a goat get behind me once! That was, that was enough.
Yeah, tough fencing for sure yeah.
Yeah, they can, they can dig, actually, actually we, we aren't going to be keeping it, keeping it that long actually.
Yep, pretty much right away.
Yeah, we know what to do with it. Kind of a, kind of a traditional Scandinavian thing, butchering, traditional Norwegian thing.
As, as soon as possible, really.
Monday, Monday after, afternoon? OK.
No, no thanks the price doesn't matter, I trust you. Price doesn't really matter.
We pretty much gotta, gotta do this no matter what.
OK, thanks! Thanks bye!
Mark took a Major League-size wad of Big League Chew out of the pouch and tucked it in his lip. He wasn’t supposed to be chewing gum with his braces, but you know…
What’s wrong? asked Rob, reaching out a hand to his Members Only jacket, but Mark was not to be consoled. Just ran a hand through his middle-part feathered hair.
Remember the Mount? asked Mark. Rob knew what he was talking about. Mount Saint Helens. Its eruption had burned a hole in Mark’s memory.
I was sitting watching Mork and Mindy. It was before Jonathan Winters came on the show, which you know, was the beginning of the end. Good episode. Classic Mork.
And I got distracted by a report of Mount St. Helens blowing, came in over the radio my brother and I had built out of that Am/FM transistor radio I kept tucked under my bed. I grabbed a can of Tab and chugged it.
That night I dreamed a terrifying dream. I was riding my Huffy Wrangler through my neighborhood when these cars started following me. I think they were Oldsmobile Omegas. I started booking, but they followed me all the way to my best friend’s house, Ricky. We had plans to play some D&D.
Even though, I knew those guys were following me, I still went. Ricky and I had a cool campaign with our first level characters -- I had a Ranger named Max. The rolls were coming up all high numbers that night. Later we played some Atari.
All along the men who followed me were hanging put, watching, taking notes. I was too scared to say anything.
Later I come to find out they were mining my life for future commercial properties for streaming TV and a novel-to-film deal -- all about nerds in the ‘80s. And what was worse, I later find out, they had traveled back in time to get the whole story, so they could write it before I could.
Total jag-offs, said Rob, shaking his head.
No duh, said Mark.
[[Time Bandits| TB Now]]
"Now the real trick with time bandits," said the cowgirl who rode up on a brown and white steed as if out of now where, "is to get them to talk!"
And with that, she lassoed the men in their dark suits and tied them to a nearby 80s reference.
"Now listen boys, these guys don't have to steal your life material, you can also steal theirs. They know stuff about a future you couldn't possibly imagine! Go ahead and ask them! I'll keep them here until you get all the information you need to make yourselves rich and powerful."
Mark and Rob looked on with that anxiety teenagers are so good at, especially when forced to make decisions with any kind of weight to them.
It had been easy to just roll with it as the men in their suits did their thing, but now this woman wanted the boys to exploit them back?
"Come on! What are you boys waiting for?" The cowgirl insisted. "You realize I'm basically your great-granddaughter from the future! Our family's success depends on this!"
"Come again?" said Mark.
"Yeah, wait, what?" said Rob.
So the cowgirl explained how members of Mark and Rob's family eventually hooked up to produce her, and now she was all amped up in her mission to travel through time and restore the family's legacy of intellectual property which had been stolen again and again by the Triple M Time Bandit Gang, blah, blah, blah. Rob strained to listened while running his forefinger across the big callus he'd built on his thumb playing Atari. Mark took off his glasses, and cleaned them with his rock band tee-shirt. This cowgirl seemed determined that the boys would be her tools in her conquest increase her power and fortune in the future. Her lecture went on and on.
Finally Rob shoot a glance at Mark and said, "Let's get out of here."
As they walked away, Rob pulled a new 8-track from his backpack, and handed it to Mark who totally flipped out. You'd never guess who the band was.
[[Time Bandits| TB 2016a]]
2016(a) Rob shook his head too. Sighed.
"Doing the real work while others profit. Story of my li . . . well, legally, story of their life." .
Meanwhile, 2016(c) Rob was still stuck on Corsica.
[[Time Bandits | TB I'm Getting]]
I'm getting lost in the meta-verse, said Mark distractedly.
What? asked Rob, staring at versions d-h of himself through the time rip-tide.
Was that Thor? asked Mark(e) of Mark (g), wearing opposite color Rip Tide t-shirts..
No, said Rob (z), that was Jeremy Hight.
Come on! exclaimed a steely Hayley. Pull yourselves together! I'm getting tired of fading and fading out, my gender flushing from one to the other, and the onslaught of Presidents:
George Bush VIII
Plus, I seem to have missed the dimension where we use quotation marks!
Agreed! It's just too much! exclaimed Rob 7,8, and 9.
7 of 9 just sat there shaking her head at Caprica 6.
And how, pray tell, does one pull oneself together? asked Schroedinger's siamese cat in a dead/notdead sort of way.
Outside the 50% chance of rain was both precipitating and not.
Jumpin' gigawatts, doesn't anyone in any dimension realize there are certain laws that govern these kinds of episodes no matter how absurd? asked Doc Brown to the kid from Voyagers!, whose omni was displaying red and green lights flashing in such a pattern as to induce seizures in anyone not seized by the shear chaos of a complete conflation of all parallel universes.
The volume of video evidence is irrefutable. Meteorologists have zero explanation.
A cloud dissipates, as clouds do.
Then from all points of the compass, other clouds navigate toward the point of disappearance, traveling in straight lines, regardless of wind currents. Which never happens. Never ever ever. At least never before.
The clouds then belly up to form a circle around the vanishing point and remain geostationary for 30-50 minutes.
What Alex Mitchell blurted out the first time he saw one is as good an explanation as any. "It's a cloud funeral!"