My Exploding Cat

Just stories and drawings really, no actual fissile felines.

Phoenix: Chapter 5

After a nice day of exploding potatoes, I was perfectly ready for a train ride, long or not. I had a deck of cards and a cheap mp3 player from a garage sale, and Mark had his computer, his lap desk (a big hunk of plastic that served as a hard surface on which to set stuff) and a stack of books and papers so he could continue working. But I managed to pull him away from the fray long enough to pound him in gin rummy… then to be doomed to lose while playing hearts.

The train’s bumps were mechanical and random, but there seemed to be a consistent life about them. We were riding a similar machine to the one on which Mark’s Old West characters—the non-pirate ones—had arrived. I bored myself thinking about that long enough to lose concentration on the hearts game, and after a stupid move made by me, he won again.

Most of the time, Mark and I moved around in cars, and used moving vans. Trains go a lot faster, though, and you aren’t stopping for a red light every fifteen seconds, so it was only a few hours before we had to get off, so we could get on another train.

You know your iPods? The seven-gig memory? Mine wasn’t one. It had a single gigabyte of memory storage, which was probably why I got it for five bucks. You can’t store ten hours of music in one gigabyte, and it’s not a good idea to neglect unloading the songs you downloaded off the Internet and realized were horrible right before a ten-hour trip. It results in your flipping through the junk whilst hunched over a tiny music player onboard a sweaty train. Result of this result: Not good.

Also, you may want to reconsider eating heavy foods before boarding any vehicle that is designed to take you halfway across the country. Chili dogs and gourmet tacos are out. So is salad, for that matter, because you find yourself absolutely starving later. Mark was discovering the former. I, with the weak stomach, had thought I’d planned ahead… and was discovering the latter.

The second train seemed a lot bumpier than the first, but maybe I was just getting bored and travel-weary and was feeling the absence of my bag of jelly beans, which Mark and I had devoured on the first train. Mark, on the other hand, was asleep, and after his recent behavior, the last thing I wanted to do was to wake him up—even to order food.

Instead, I turned my attention to the window. The ground was surprisingly lower than usual, because we were higher. The weather outside had begun to reflect our comatose atmosphere inside. Then it started to rain.

When I’m inside, I love rain. Rain is awesome. Rain makes a cool noise. When I’m outside, rain is awful. Disgustingly horrid. Bane of my existence.

But I was inside the train, so I leant back and listened to the rhythmically random tapping of the drops. I pulled a Mark, and fell asleep.

An hour later, I was being shaken awake.

“Phoeb! There’s this thing called food!”

“Really,” I moaned. “You’ve discovered it. Don’t tell me it’s sushi again.”

“No, it’s pizza!”

I cracked one eye open, looking to see what Mark had put on it. Then I remembered that we were on a train, and had a sudden, pathetic, desperate hope that Mark hadn’t brought any pickle relish along.

I saw cheese pizza. Just cheese. Safe-ish. I took the two slices Mark offered gratefully, remembering how hungry I was.

“Wow,” Mark said. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever seen you eat!”

“Salad,” I muttered through a mouthful. “Salad.”

“Hey, a fake palindrome!” Mark noted.

“Don’t start,” I warned. “I just got up, and some of Andrew Bird’s lyrics might sound… different.”

Mark seemed to know what I meant, because he stopped humming the tune and went back to his pizza. He finished, shoved the paper plate in a pocket of his duffel bag, and started playing Angry Birds on his computer. Apparently he had lost his appetite for work as well as pizza.

Several minutes later, Mark had gotten tired of lobbing unusually deformed triangular birds at what must have been very sick pigs (since they were green), and started playing a word game instead. It was called Chicktionary. The only disturbing point in this game, which involved making words out of letters stamped on eggs, was the way the eggs went back under the bawking chickens when you were done. And I mean under.

“The seven-letter word is oldster,” I said.


I went back to staring out the window. The rain had lifted, but the gray clouds hadn’t. Nevertheless, I was plenty happier with food in my stomach, so I spent my time offering help over Mark’s shoulder, rattling off the words the unfortunate chickens could spell out.

Eventually, both of us got bored with this again. Mark put the computer away and went to sleep again—Mark can sleep anywhere, and at will—and I was resigned to wondering exactly how Daniel planned to help control my magic—let alone deal with whatever assassin Mark was talking about. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely convinced that any assassin existed.

Finally, the train stopped, and we got off—and stepped into Florida.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 7:52 pm and is filed under Phoenix. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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