Stinky Cheese — Prologue

STINKY CHEESE
Melody Ayres-Griffiths

PROLOGUE:

THERE WAS A GIRAFFE in the second-story bathroom, just off the stairwell.

Remarkably, Elsie was not at all surprised by this typically strange development.

The giraffe, however — and understandably so — evidently found the entire fiasco quite troubling. “He doesn’t look very happy,” observed the calico cat, Damian — the talking feline, too, did not give Elsie any pause to think, for he had, in fact, been conversing with her for several hours now.

“By the time today is finally over, Damian, I imagine there will be a great deal of unhappiness all around.”

The cat nodded in agreement — imperceptibly, but Elsie knew he nodded nonetheless, and the two carried off toward her bedroom in search of a most important document, one Damian was convinced would rescue them. Meanwhile, the giraffe forced the bathroom window open, and then chewed contentedly upon the leaves of the maple tree situated just outside.

Elsie’s four year-old brother Jonas stood in the hallway, wearing a kimono and geisha shoes. “Konichi wa,” he said, before vanishing once again, the way he had several times before. “Jonas!” Elsie cried, darting hopelessly towards her wayward brother the very same moment he blinked out of existence, his sister then collapsing on the floor in tears. “Jonas!”

“Come now,” said Damian, “we must find that diary!”

“You’re certain this is going to work?” Elsie sobbed, noticeably unconvinced.

“Yes,” insisted the cat. “Yes, it will. It must, or else the universe will just simply fall to pieces. Now, come on!”

Wearily, Elsie took to her feet, and the two entered Elsie’s bedroom. At that point, the world turned upside down.

Nothing appeared to be particularly affected by this strange turn in events; indeed, everything appeared to now be attracted gravitationally to the sky, which had itself previously been the ground. Elsie looked upward to gaze upon the bridge of her own nose.

Her vision had been flipped one-hundred and eighty degrees. “Do you see this?” she asked Damian, confused.

“Yes,” he confirmed, “but we must work beyond it. Where is the diary?” As best she could, Elsie began to rummage through her disorganized belongings, soon seizing upon the object of her search like a dog upon a rabbit.

A chimpanzee demanded entry through the bedroom window. “Go away,” Elsie shouted at it. “We don’t want any!” Disoriented, she sat down upon her bed, and opened her journal.

Frustratingly, it appeared to be nothing but scribbled gibberish.

“Turn it around,” advised the cat.

“Remind me again just how this helps anything?”

The piano-phone at the end of the bed began to ring, playing ‘Fur Elise’. This oddly soothed the chimpanzee, who fell off the window toward the ground, above.

“Don’t answer that,” warned Damian.

Elsie answered it. “Hello?” she asked the receiver tentatively, “Who is this?”

“Konichi Wa,” Jonas replied, from wherever he was.

Elsie leapt to her feet, and the diary fell to the floor. “Where are you, Jonas? Where are you?”

“I unno,” he mumbled, the child quite uncertain of this. “Konichi wa!” The line went dead.

“Jonas!” Elsie cried into the phone. “Jonas!”

An upside-down cow passed lazily by the window, as if it were a helium balloon. “Moo,” said the cow, somewhat befuddled.

“Greetings, Missus Cow,” called out the giraffe from the bathroom window, “You wouldn’t perchance know just precisely what on earth is going on here, would you?”

“Moo,” explained the cow unhelpfully, as she drifted away.

The piano-phone began to play once again. Elsie answered it, despite Damian’s disapproving gaze. “Jonas?” she queried the receiver excitedly.

“No,” the voice responded, much older and deeper. “Who is this?”

“This is Elsie.” Cautiously: “You?”

Sinister: “You’ve found yourself in quite the predicament, haven’t you, Elsie?”

“I’ll say; a cow just flew by the window –”

Calmly: “That’s completely nonsensical; after all, cows don’t fly by windows.”

“I’ll say. I mean –”

Sternly: “No Elsie, you don’t understand. Cows don’t fly by windows — rather, they float!” The caller briefly laughed quite maniacally, then, and disconnected.

“The diary?” reminded Damian, clawing at Elsie’s leg.

“Ouch!” she protested. “You never told me how this was supposed to fix anything!”

Damian sighed, or did whatever it is cats do to express frustration. “It’s about quantum physics, and the role of the observer. You are the observer, and the universe appears to have forgotten how it’s supposed to behave. Hopefully, if you remind it, by reading entries from your diary before things began to collapse, it will restore some measure of order. Does that make any sense?”

Elsie pondered for a moment. “I suppose so. Although, there’s much more to the universe than just me, you know.”

“Think of your diary as a little piece of string tied to the universe’s finger. We just want it to notice the string.”

“All right,” Elsie agreed. “Where would you like me to start?”

Damian considered. “The Monday two weeks ago was, I believe, the last uncorrupted occasion, so we ought to try there. Perhaps, we might also discover what has gone so terribly wrong.”

“Okay then.” Elsie sat down upon the bed once again, picked up her diary from the floor, and opened it, searching for the appropriate entry.

“Hello?” called out the giraffe, “Can anyone help me down from here? Hello?”

Elsie ignored him, and started to read aloud. “Monday the fourth of September. Today was my first day of high school, and so many things were so very different…”

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Stinky Cheese — Prologue

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