Chapter 3:

Superballs of the Stratosphere

Drinking Coffee while Dinosaurs Roam My Backyard

It’s time to clean the house. Or rather do a little bit of cleaning. Trying to have a completely tidy house with two girls leaving their toys everywhere is pure fantasy. The best I can manage is to strike at the major problem areas as they develop. This time it’s superballs. There’s gotta be at least a hundred of them. And they are everywhere.Bookmark here

I walk around with my coffee mug assessing the situation and doing the best I can to not step on any of them. Should I pick them up, or have Milla and Meri do that? After all they are the culprits here but it might be quicker to do it myself than to first find the girls and then find a way to make them to do it. Nothing in the universe is as impervious to simple requests for a bit of their time as the sheer titanium will of two kids having their hearts set on doing something completely different.Bookmark here

Yeah, I’d have more success with squeezing water out of a stone. I know. I’ve done it. Though admittedly it was a very porous rock.Bookmark here

I remember having a few of these superballs when I was a kid. I used to build elaborate space stations out of Lego blocks with my friend and then we’d demolish them by flinging those bouncy balls at them. Sometimes the trick was to hit the wall behind the Lego structure and hit it with a ricochet from behind.Bookmark here

I kind of fancy trying one out for a bit after all these years. Why not? A touch of harmless fun.Bookmark here

I almost grab a bright red one but then I remember seeing in a documentary that in nature the color red is a sign of danger. Better safe than sorry. A translucent blue will do. I pick up a few of those, and since as an adult I have learned to think ahead I decide to go outside. Otherwise at best I’ll leave a mark in the ceiling or at worst manage to break a window.Bookmark here

The patio looks well suited for the task at hand. Let’s see how high I can make this blue beast bounce. I fling the ball at the concrete slab at my feet.Bookmark here

The ball hits the ground. For a fraction of a second it almost seems as if at that precise moment it is in fact considering its options, whether to just unexpectedly stick to the ground like a chunk of neutron porridge gone bad or actually do what it is traditionally supposed to do. It chooses the latter. And I immediately regret my life choices.Bookmark here

The bounce begins in slow motion. I can see the ball moving up. Then it picks up speed and vanishes from my sight. There’s a loud boom as the sound barrier gets not only broken but utterly demolished. I look up but the ball is of course gone. No matter though. I can see more than clearly the trail of destruction through troposphere to stratosphere and whatever spheres lie beyond them as it ascends. I had no idea clouds could behave in that way. That’s at least tens of kilometers up, if not hundreds. I make a mental note that beside bright red things I should from now on stay clear of translucent blue things too.Bookmark here

And that settles the question I was pondering earlier, namely whether to try and hunt down Milla and Meri to help me with the cleaning or not. The answer is definitely yes. I will not touch a single superball on my own, not without an express promise that certain colors are absolutely safe to handle without exceptions.Bookmark here

However that brings me back to the problem I was trying to avoid.Bookmark here

Where are they?Bookmark here

I’m pretty sure they are still inside. I know because I told them that when they went out they’d need to take some trash to the bins too. Plastics, organic waste and cardboard at least. All of which were firmly untouched just moments ago. I head back in.Bookmark here

“Milla. Meri. There’s stuff for you to do.” I walk to their door and find out that neither the door nor the room is there any more. Instead I find a staircase. Kind of curious, seeing how we don’t have an upstairs. Well, most of the time anyway.Bookmark here

“Hey girls, there’s chores galore and I’m not doing all of them on my own, Come help me with them. You can get back to your plays right after. Unless you stall long enough and it’s lunch time. Up to you.”Bookmark here

I get no reply. Drawing a deep breath I start to ascend the stairs to an upper level that doesn’t exist. Except now it does, even though I have time and again told them that spatial stretching on ground level is way preferable to going all 3D. Preferable to my mental mapping capacity anyway. I always sucked at multi-level dungeons in games.Bookmark here

I find a corridor and immediately in front of me see a familiar door almost covered in stickers. Rainbows, unicorns, princess crowns, biohazard sign, flowers, several butterflies and a hand-scrawled sign telling visitors to stay out. The exclamation mark has the radioactivity symbol as a dot to enhance the point.Bookmark here

“Are you in there? I’m coming in.”Bookmark here

I open the door slowly. That means very carefully and standing on the side. But no bucket full of water falls down. Nor jello for that matter. I sneak a glance. I wouldn’t call the room empty with all the heaps of stuff with blinking lights littering the floor but the girls aren’t there nevertheless. I look around the corridor and see another door at the end of it. Sort of.Bookmark here

I squint and the door comes to focus a little more. It’s less a solid object and more a shimmering suggestion of a door, a distinct possibility for the existence that the door hasn’t committed itself fully to just yet. It’s green and more an arch than a rectangle. I walk closer and start to see intricate details, vibrant leaves and snaking vines that pulsate with a verdant shine. I reach my hand towards it and the door feels like it’s starting to set, like it’s making this universe it’s home, finally. There’s a handle. I grab it and pull. Enough of these games for now, I want my second mug of coffee.Bookmark here

“Alright young ladies. I’m here to issue a few orders and to drink some dark roasted mocha, and I’m fresh outta my black bean juice. Get your hineys in gear and get ready for some heavy duty tidying up. I’ve decided to vacuum the floors once you pick up your assorted flotsam and jetsam. You have thirty secs to comply and after that your weekly dessert quota is gonna get dented.”Bookmark here

A figure sitting on a throne lays her deep green eyes upon me. Her voice send some serious chills to the marrow of my bones.Bookmark here

“You dare to threaten the dessert quota of the Queen in her own court, mortal?”Bookmark here

Perhaps I chose the wrong door after all.
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