I had learned all the maneuvers when I said to Apacevj, “Now what?”

“Just practice, enjoy yourself, and when you’re ready, fly to the ceiling and do a painting. If you can’t focus on an eksetyk, there are mechanical switches on the desk — see: UP, DOWN, HOVER, EMERGENCY LANDING. Or use the joy stick. No problem. OK?”

“Um. Uh…”


“Um. Well, I’m not really much of an artist and…”



“Feel better?”

“Yes, I understand.”

“Good. OK. Have fun, and afterward I would suggest for homework that you read at least 600 pages a day for this week from the Ofuye.”

“Uh, well…”

“Please, High Priestess Chickie Babe… When you’re finished absorbing the written context, I will show you the Upper Utd’mbts equivalent of those 4200 pages in about 5 minutes. That, I think, you will find astounding and worthwhile. But without the preparation it will be impossible to absorb. Yes, a bit arduous, but well worth it.”


“Thank you, Fevepo Zawmb’yee. Then may I have leave to go?”


Mieta Apacevj bowed and left. I started to think this might be fun.

I laid out all my paints and brushes and a jar of water on the top of the Reksipj. I flew it just below the ceiling so I could recline in my chair and brush paint onto the ceiling. I did a background like I did in Doug’s hallway. Doug… My eyes washed the hands he would have held, would have maybe added a suggestion, a praise. I rested: the artist reclining, declining to continue without his laugh, just in hover mode.

But this limbo didn’t last. There was a loud grinding sound in the ceiling and then the tapping of a pickax. It seemed like the explosive drill-pick-and-chisel music of a lunatic archaeologist, who in his mania to discover, has thrown his careful brush aside, and the sounds were coming closer. I jumped out of my chair, ducked…

Yeow ugh Kievifkwa hell: ceiling burst open — rain of plaster, rock, and a falling lunatic who crashed onto my desk, screaming and moaning, a drill bit in his lap.

I said, “James Ziohat, I presume.”

“Yes,” said the lanky manic man, flailing about. He had curly black hair, half straitened for vanity, half left curled for guilt. Ascetic by appearance, hypocrite by fat vulgar intrusion like the cork screw of a wild boar.

I hit the emergency land button, and we plunged to the floor. Four Kutibea agents ran to me and carried me twenty feet across the marble floor while ten Wipzib surrounded James Ziohat with drawn guns. A team in haz-mat suits charged across the floor and sprayed him with a foam.

An agent said, “Fevepo Zawmb’yee, are you alright?”

“Yes, I’m fine.” I watched from a distance.

More Kutibea stormed into the room. One took direct aim at James and shot him with a stun gun. He fell to the ground. The haz-mat team tore off his clothes, rinsed him with a water cannon that slid him around the polished floor, and handcuffed his hands behind his back.

“Fevepo Zawmb’yee,” said a tall muscular Kutibea with crisp enunciation, “the intruder has been neutralized and decontaminated to level one. We may approach, if you wish, for the questioning, but contact is to be avoided. Do you want to observe?”

“Yes,” I said, and we walked over to where they had pulled him to his feet.


What’s To Be Done With James Ziohat?

Yeah, I know, I was supposed to do a live blog(is that the term?), speaking extemporaneously as things happen and I started to it when I first took over the blog from Doug, but I can’t seem to just write to you all on the web in the middle of a crisis(and there always seems to be one). I just can’t seem to understand the up-top culture. Utcoozhoo told me to learn all about it. What do I do on a blog … um, is it: “today my breakfast was cold. I sent the kids off to school, and the old oak tree crashed into the kitchen that is being remodeled”? Kids? I can’t do that — I sent Doug away and … I can’t eat breakfast when I’m supposed to supervise the interrogation and torture of James Ziohat.

Did I say torture? Well, I don’t know — I’ve read the procedures to be followed for intruders who penetrate the Kmpamew, and I can see the goal is to prevent secrets from being revealed to the up-top world, but the various methods are … never mind. Oh, then, actually, I suppose this blog is treasonous but I doubt any of the elite read the up-top literature as it’s beneath them. But I do have to edit and interpret because most common daily chatter is boring and trivial. Isn’t it? (Oh God, I sound like Doug). You know, an execution here or there, quite ordinary. End of the world — that sort of thing.

How do I tell you everything? Oh, Kievifkwa, oh hell. Yeah, I know, I’m all over the place. I speak in present tense and then as I fail to record as I go, I pop up at random with a discombobulated rendition in past tense of everything I’m behind on. Yeah, no way to run a blog even for a High Priestess. Oh geez, Oh Kievifkwa, oh hell, I can’t figure out English past tense or Utd’mbts conglomerations. Yikes. I’m here, I’m there, I’m not quite what would have been if I were an amalgam of precious metal, mettle, and omnipresence in a narrative dream. Oh what precious gibberish, and look what I’ve done — Doug used to think I was precious. Oh Kievifkwa. This day hasn’t gone well.

I mean, what would you do if you were a High Priestess with absolute power and threatened by pip-squeaks like James Ziohat? (Oh yeah, I have to figure that out — “if you were” is subjunctive case.)

But anyway … more and more, I’m having an uneasy feeling about what my role actually is in this palace milieu of intrigue and deception. I am much too ignorant to be a leader. I fear, therefore, I am a puppet unaware of the strings attached to my undeserved honors. I’ve been having some incredibly weird and grandiose feelings lately. Maybe, maybe not, paranoid.

Perhaps to survive, I should call some hidden cabal’s bluff, and take the unlimited power that they assume, in my naïveté, I would never dare to claim, before evil forces can organize for a coup. Perhaps I must strike while I still can. At his moment, there are traditional forces who would blindly follow my every order, but I would be commanding blindly, sending troops into a remote battle foreign to my understanding, while certain generals position themselves to survive with whispers in a code I don’t understand.

But all of this is a fantasy unease like a child who fears monsters in the closet and under the bed, shadows on the wall. They must know what a child I am.

I could, at this moment, order the execution of an opponent, but I can’t even be sure who is my friend and who is my enemy. From what I’ve been feeling lately, I’m wondering if I’m my own enemy.

I need to learn a lot more to understand what’s going on. Can I trust Apacevj to teach me?

Geez, Kievifkwa, Utcoozhoo should have appointed Doug to this job — he’s more rational and in his own way not any more oblivious to reality than I am, but at least he can repress his feelings and take more control. I could see him say, maybe, everyone cool it, do nothing, write a report and I’ll decide when I’m up to it or something. No, that’s not it.

I should e-mail Doug and apologize and maybe I should tell him everything and let him take back the blog so he can expose everything and be treasonous with me. I’ll issue a pardon or something… I should look it up…


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