Categories > Original > Sci-Fi

Cosmic Jukebox

by CarcinoGeneticist 0 reviews

Space. Adventures. Irresponsible Parenting.

Category: Sci-Fi - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Fantasy,Humor - Warnings: [V] [?] - Published: 2015-08-17 - 1911 words

Cyril D. Exley has been described by many people as apathetic. Many teachers cited “a brilliant mind but lacks drive,” and gently requested depression treatments and several doctors. Aware of the rift growing between them and their moody son, Cyril’s parents allowed him to temporarily move out of their house to live with his maternal grandfather, Dudley Akiyama.
Cyril had been on board with the idea, helping pack up his room with a minimum of complaining and chattering to his parents that this might be a good thing for him. Stories of Cyril’s ninth birthday, when Dudley transported the two of them to a post-apocalyptic Earth and Cyril getting arrested a year later due to Dudley, universal customs, and an alien egg, did not make it into the rounds of cheerful banter.
So it wasn’t that Cyril was depressed exactly. He just knew the universe was chaotic and horrifying and not a lot of things were worth giving a fuck about.

Cyril slowly cracked open the door to his room. He glanced down the hallway, standing momentarily still before opening the door wider. He carefully crawled out on his hands and knees, sneakers knotted together and hanging around his neck like headphones. Sock feet and hands padding on the shag carpet, Cyril stood abruptly, pressing his back against the wood-panelled wall, before surreptitiously glancing around the doorway to the living room. The living room was empty, and Cyril surged forwards, rifling through couch cushions, an ashtray filled with candy wrappers, and sweeping an arm under the chairs.
“Where the hell?” hissed Cyril, glancing over his shoulder and evening out his sneakers.
Creeping out of the living room, Cyril clambered into the kitchen, straightening up to check the counters. There was a small metal box on the table, and Cyril eyed it dubiously. He’d never seen it before, so that meant it could either be harmless or could unleash a before-unknown level of pain. It was hard to tell with weird artifacts in Dudley’s house.
Cyril reached for it, hesitated, and then brushed his fingers over the surface as lightly as he could. Immediately it began to beep, and its temperature dropped to the point where a thin layer of frost formed over the table’s surface.
“Whoops,” said Cyril, not moving.

“What did you do?!”
Cyril nearly shrieked. The cube began to emit a harsh purple light and slowly started to spin, cracking away from the ice on the table.
“Shitshitshitshit!” Cyril hissed, unzipping his hoodie and throwing it over the cube, turning as his grandfather stomped into the kitchen. He took note of Dudley’s bulging forehead vein and snarled upper lip and felt his stomach sink to somewhere around his knees.
“You little punk-ass little bitch,” said Dudley, holding a hand out for Cyril’s hoodie. Cyril reluctantly handed if over, feeling his shoulders hunching in. Dudley unfolded the red-and-black hoodie, throwing it back to his grandson without looking at him. The cube was floating now, spinning in the air and starting to scream.
“Goddammit Junior, always putting your fingers where they’re not supposed to be. You’re friggin’ winning the lottery for being the biggest pain in the ass today. How’re you gonna top this tomorrow?” shouted Dudley over the noise.
“What is that! Why did you leave it on the table!” screeched Cyril.
“Junior, grandpa needs you to scurry to the basement and pick him up a gun. It’s purple. I’d tell you the make, but you won’t remember or appreciate it.”
Cyril darted out of the kitchen, heading down the basement stairs in leaps of three.
“Where in the basement!” he shouted, looking around and spotting four purple guns. Dudley always gave him shit for leaving them lying around but the basement gun rack was in really haphazard shape, with guns abandoned on the floor and others left on end tables and laid out on the couch. Which one? Hesitating between a small purple pistol and what looked like a shoulder-mounted cannon. Cyril grabbed the bigger one, unholstering it from the wall and leaving the pistol on a crocheted pillow.
“Aw, jeez!” he huffed, staggering under the weight and managing to cradle it in his arms so he could run back upstairs.

“I found a gun!” he called, stepping back into the kitchen. Cyril could feel his hair being lifted away from his head by the energy emanating from the cube.
“Great job for doing what you’re told, Cyril,” snapped Dudley. “You grabbed the wrong damn gun.”
“What? Which one, there’s like four-“
Dudley snatched the gun out of Cyril’s hands, aiming with one hand and firing easily. The cube erupted, splattering toothpaste-coloured goo all over the kitchen cabinets.
“Back downstairs,” said Dudley, thrusting the gun into Cyril’s chest.

Cyril spat out a gobbet of goo, gagging. “I need the keys.”
Dudley stopped, glancing back over his shoulder at his grandson. “Come again?”
“The keys. I need them? To give Autumn a ride? To school?” said Cyril haltingly, having the feeling he’d be exiled to his room before Dudley loosened the grip on the keys.
Dudley wiped toothpaste-goo off the lenses of his glasses, staring beadily at Cyril, who had started to scratch at the side of his face.
“You need the what now?” said Dudley, turning around.
Cyril swallowed.
“The keys, grandpa. I need them.”
“The keys to what, Junior?”
Cyril inhaled deeply.
“I need the keys to Beercules. The Beerlukeys. Should I throw in a dumb little dance to sweeten the deal?”

Dudley’s face cracked into a grin. “They’re on top of the fridge.”
Cyril exhaled shakily, shooting his grandpa a grateful smile.
“Just clean up this shit when you get home. And maybe shower. Galaxy goop can sublimate flesh after a while.”


Hauling a keg of beer out of the garden shed, Cyril rolled it through the backyard up to the garage, bumping the side door open with his hip. His hoodie had miraculously survived the cube’s death spasm, and he had used half a bottle of calamine lotion on himself to stop the worst of the burns. He sort of wondered what he was going to tell his teachers when he went back to school on Monday.
“Hey, you,” said Cyril to Beercules, kicking the door shut behind him and shouldering on the garage light. Beercules was a VW Beetle at one point in its life, before Dudley had reconfigured it with a warp drive and an alcohol-synthesizing engine. Through this, Beercules could achieve shaky, reluctant flight as a Supersonic Flight Dynamics test vehicle, although it looked less like a flying saucer and more like a cross between an inside-out VW Beetle and a pile of trash.
Thumping the beer keg down next to Beercules, Cyril unscrewed the empty keg in the back of Beercules, replacing it with the full one, momentarily listening to the calming glug-glug-glugg of beer running into the belly of Beercules.
“Alright,” muttered Cyril, pulling the keys out of his hoodie pocket. “Let’s go.”

Beercules lifted uncertainly out of Dudley’s driveway, with Cyril narrowly missing the electrical wires. Navigating above them, Cyril put the emergency brake on and began fumbling around in Beercules’ glove box. His fingers sifted over a near-endless supply of cassette tapes before snagging on Queen’s Greatest Hits. Cyril jammed it into the player, snapping the brakes off and navigating one-handed towards his destination.
Fleet Street was normally fifteen minutes away, but Beercules could get there in five. True to form, Autumn Bellsworth was waiting outside, alto saxophone case resting on the pavement like a wiener dog. Shielding her eyes against the glare of the sun, she squinted up at Beercules, watching as Cyril uneasily parked with two wheels rolling over the curb.
“Sorry I’m late,” said Cyril, kicking the passenger side door open. “Dudley stuff.”
“Mmhmm. What the heck happened to your face?” asked Autumn, carefully sliding her alto into the backseat and buckling it in.
“Again, Dudley stuff. Hopefully it’ll wash out by Monday.”

It would probably be easiest to describe Autumn Bellsworth as Unlike Everyone Else, setting her apart as a closed system in the face of all other women. However, looking at the infinite system of the universe, there is probably more than one strawberry-blonde white girl who enjoys spray paint, alto sax, and mass-produced pop music, even if you factor in that Autumn’s eyes had a habit of crawling over whoever she was talking to, lingering in areas that would make the other slightly uncomfortable.
Autumn and Cyril had become friends in grade eight chemistry, when Cyril slid into the empty seat beside her with a travel mug of coffee and a can of Red Bull. Twisting the top off the mug, Cyril stated, “I am going to die,” poured in the Energy Drink, and chugged it down. Their friendship was further cemented through group projects and solidified through swapped tales of sordid subpar parenting.

“Sooo,” said Autumn. “Can you play something else?”
“Like what?” Cyril said, distracted as he tried to un-jam Beercules’ handbrake.
“You know, anything from after the year we were born?”
Cyril stared at her in mock horror. “But Autumn! I’ve been permanent DJ of Beercules since grade nine!”
“I’ve been trying to challenge that edict since then. Trial by combat, Exley!”
Cyril snickered. “You couldn’t beat me in hand-to-hand if your life depended on it.”
Autumn slouched in her seat, picking at a duct tape scar on her armrest. “I hate Queen. I hate a lot of their songs but I know all the damn words because of your terrible music taste,” she griped, tearing up a silver tape sliver.
“Well, looks like you’re fucking walking next time, aren’t you?” asked Cyril, turning left to pass over the grotty public pool. “I mean,” he continued, “How can you not like Queen? Or ELO?” He was doing his best to look shocked, but they’d played and replayed this argument too many times for it to be anything different.

“Uh, because I’m not eight hundred years old? Recent stuff is okay too, Cyril. Dudley’s just, like, brainwashed you into liking music from the nineteen-seventies,” said Autumn, reaching for the cassette player’s eject button.
Cyril laughed briefly. “Go right ahead. It’s a cassette player. You’re never gonna get a tape with the stuff you like on it. Not in a million years,” he said, hanging a right towards the school.
Autumn narrowed her eyes. “You don’t know that. I mean, your grandpa has all sorts of weird science stuff, right? He probably has a blank cassette tape I can borrow.”
Cyril pulled Beercules into park, dropping down to land squarely in a teacher’s empty parking spot. “If you think that cassette tapes are ‘weird science stuff’, then maybe you should leave the science stuff up to me and Dudley,” he said, touching Beercules’ wheels down gently.
“Whatever,” said Autumn, reaching back to get her alto sax. “Thanks for the ride, Cyril.”
Cyril shot her a grin. “Not a problem. Want me to pick you up so you can further berate my music choices? It’ll keep you from getting arrested again.”
“I was in holding and got an ankle bracelet, jackass. Big difference. And yeah, sure, Exley, do what you like.”
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