By: Sterling Warner
“Did it happen again?”
“Uh-huh! This time my heart beat faster, Gil, and I could swear I heard high pitched voices speaking in some foreign language, ordering me to do something.”
“Sit down, Smithy, and hold my hand. We’ll get through your next seizure together.”
Smithy relaxed, sat down, and squeezed his best friend’s palm. He thought he heard a familiar Pink Floyd lick from David Gilmore’s guitar and could detect the sweet scent of lilacs—a signal. “Ready, Gil,” he warned.
Less than a minute later, both friends fell on the ground, biting their tongues and convulsing like epileptics. In the meantime, they entered a surreal, hallucinogenic dreamscape—stranger than anything experienced on an acid, peyote, or magic mushroom trip.
The horizon seemed to be lit up by neon gas; crisscrossing rainbows flashed off and on as the ice caps on distant mountains were white one moment, lime green the next, and then deep magenta in a matter of seconds. Close by, Canadian geese let loose with eerie calls to one another that sounded like sitar strings playing a medieval marching song.
Amid a distorted sense of time and reality, Smithy and Gil awoke with a difference. Propping themselves up on their elbows, they both beheld pale, veiled, robed figures approach from just a few years away. “Are you seeing what I see?” Gil asked, hoping Smithy might disagree.
“You have a choice,” one figure interrupted.
“Er, what choice?” Smithy replied, trembling.
“Yield your knowledge, swear allegiance to me, and live—or exist as a voiceless phantom, doomed to haunt your species during dream-time forever.”
“What’s to decide?” Smithy reasoned, cracking a bit of a smile. “I flunked second grade and dropped out of high school, you know?”
“Yeah, and I was a sixth grader for two years—and also dropped out of school,” Gil interrupted.
“And yet, you want our knowledge? Crazy!” Smithy said, shaking his head. “Wow!”
“We’re actually from an alternate universe—the sort you earthlings portray in science fiction stories, comic books and movies.”
“You seem to know quite a bit about us,” Smithy replied, still not sure if the Wraiths before him were a street gang in costume or the real thing.
“Yes, we are vessels of knowledge, but our one-dimensional nature will never change until we gestate human-like behavior.”
“Who told you that?” Gil laughed.
“An abbot back home…I must fulfill my mission.”
“Is that it?” Smithy and Gil asked in unison.
“Swear your allegiance to me—an oath that you’ll never break.”
“Huh?” Gil inquired.
“Consensually, allow me to clone and gestate your behavioral traits, fulfill my mission, and access your knowledge as well,” pleaded the ragged Wraith.
“I’ll swear,” Gil willingly replied.
“Me too! Clone my behavior and gestate my mind anytime you like Smithy insisted.”
The head Wraith spun around, raised its hand in front of lesser wraiths, and commanded, “Back! Find human vessels of your own to bargain with!”
Next, the ragged Wraith walked towards Smithy and Gil, placed its hand on their heads, and muttered something in tongues. “Now it is done, so I leave you in peace,” it said.
As the ragged head Wraith walked away with its followers, a change came over the stilted, hunched figure beneath the robe. First it started slapping a fellow wraith’s face back and forth like Moe. Next, it shouted, “Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!” like Curly and began running in place. Then, the ragged head Wraith took its index and ring finger, made a V and began poking the eyes of any fellow robed creature still within distance—just as Shemp or Larry would have done—adding, “I’d knock your brains out if you had any!” Finally, looking around at Smithy and Gil, it laughed and rejoiced, “Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk! I’m trying to think, but nothing happens!”
Smitty laughed. “That Wraith’s mission seems complete! It’s thinking, talking, and acting like our own role models.”
“Yup! It hit the jackpot with us!,” Gill reflected. “Where’d we be today without The Three Stooges?”