The Soap Bubble - Episode 12a. The Outer Edges of the Bubble

Getting across the Recently Added Image stream proved harder than I expected. Stream suggests a small easily jumpable trickle of water , not the thundering churning torrent that was my first view. My diminutive guide explained that the flow was not always so fast but right now a multiple up-loader was flooding the system.

Watching the flow I got flashes of similar images as they rushed past. After a minute or two the torrent abated to a gush , watching the flow I could just make out small gaps between them.
“Right then, how do we get across?”, I asked trying to sound as confident as possible.
“It’s easy. All you have to do is jump through the gaps!” my guide explained to me as though it was the easiest thing in the world.
The gaps appeared tiny, the flow fast and remorseless. “But every time I see a gap it’s past!” I whined, aware that any kudos I had achieved was disappearing fast.
“Look mister, just watch what I do then copy me. The stream sucks you in just like a train going past a platform. As long as you jump hard you’ll make it”
Before I could complain any more he jumped into the stream. In a blink he was on the other side waving at me.

My mouth dried, legs turned to jelly, of all the things! I did not want to drown in the image stream, this was insane. Gap, Gap, Gap, they flashed past, I jumped. The stream caught me. What an odd sensation. So this is what milk must feel like as it gets sucked through a straw . I was across and standing by the mighty Munchkin who was smiling down at me as I scrambled to my feet at the edge of the stream.
“Ain’t that a blast?” he asked his grin widening “Now let’s go see my dad, he’ll be over here near the trailer.” Grabbing my hand he dragged me through the thick mist away from the stream.

As the mist started to thin I realised where we were! Somewhere over the rainbow? Oh if only! No this was the outer edge of the Red Bubble^tm^, where the wild creatures roam. Now when I say wild creatures, I do not mean lions and tigers, rather the really dangerous two legged monsters , crazy people and those that enjoy their company . This was Woodsac country, one of the few on the list that I was worried about meeting.
The kid was tugging my arm as my pace slowed, “C’mon mister. Poppa will want to meet you!” he was pulling me hard, his pace remained as fast as before. Yep, this was Woodsac’s boy!

A rag tag collection of beat up buildings and trailers began to congeal as the mist thinned some more, polished aluminium shone in the sun. Whilst I had never been here before I knew stories of this place, it was a collection of odds and sods, a bit from here and a bit from there, a cacophony of imagery that didn’t fit elsewhere within the Bubble^tm^. I guess this was one of the reasons that it attracted the type of people it did. Out of the corner of my eye I could make out people living amongst the scrapheap of images but when I turned to get a closer look they were gone. It was very off-putting. The trailer was suddenly in front of us. Looks like depth of field was also messed up around here! The kid broke free from my grip and ran over to the prone figure of a man , sleeping or unconscious I was unsure. The boy laughed as he kicked and poked the figure back to life, “Wassup? Huh? Quit kicking me”, the man grumbled, but the hug he gave showed he really loved that kid .
“Poppa I found someone on the wrong side of the stream, just like you told me I would! Look I brought him for ya!” the kid had gone into machine gun mouth again. Not needing to stop for air he told his dad about every detail of our meeting. Woodsac’s gaze left his son and settled on me, his eyes struck me first there was something scary just underneath the surface there!
“Looks like we got an unwelcome guest” he growled, “You showing up means trouble round here, some scary people is interested in you”, he spat in the dirt , “We best get you outta here, the crazies they don’t like sharing the outer edge with no moderators.” Okay so he might be crazy but right now he was talking sense, I sure didn’t want to be here and if Moderators were on there way I wanted to be here even less.
“Fine by me!” I blurted, the skin on my back crawling as I felt eyes watching me. This place was playing havoc with my paranoia.
“Follow me” he said as he walked past the trailer towards a squat cinder block structure with a burnt out old junker of a car outside . Jake explained that this was his private garage. Once through the armoured door, the inside was spectacular. Jake was a petrol-head and road sign thief , his collection screamed that from the rooftops.
“I manage to keep the crazies out of here by having an axe murderer friend patrol the area” he proudly stated “it means he gets fresh meat for his rabid clown and keeps my cars safe. It’s a mutually beneficial agreement.”
My initial opinion about his sanity was blown out of the water. This guy was the wrong side of crazy, another loose screw and his front door would be unhinged. That said he did have a superb collection of fast cars.
Jump in . I’ll explain as we go. First we need to reach escape velocity!” the car gave a deep bark as it started. What did he mean about ‘escape velocity’?

As I sat down I was thrown back into the passenger seat. I fumbled for the seat belt as the car shot off out of the garage and across the barren area between the outer edge and the rest of the bubble^tm^.

Jake was enjoying himself . You could see by the look on his face! “We have to go fast to avoid the moderators. They use the badlands here as a training ground. Recently it’s been wild around here, they’ve been preparing for something big! If this wasn’t the Bubble^tm^ I would say they’re getting ready for a war.” His eyes never left the horizon as we rocketed across the flat plain.
Glancing down at the speedometer I could see the needle bouncing off the bar just past 160mph. Okay that’s a fast car and a manic driver . The roar of the engine continued to build but it still didn’t sound like it was being pushed hard!
“I bet you’re wondering how me and the boy knew you’d be coming?” he yelled at me over the roar of the engine.
“ummmm not really” I began to say expecting this again had something to do with the old man.
“My camera told me. Can you believe that? I thought I was turning into a crazy until the boy told me he heard it too!” His grin widened as he shared his tale “I was out taking pictures of the nut jobs and wackos , and the last picture I took spoke to me! Literally! It got a voice of its own and started speaking. It told me to take you to a place called ‘Trinity’, and that you’d be safe there because the Moderators wouldn’t be able to get you when you get into the underground.”
The roar of the car continued to increase, as did the speed. The ground whipped past. I really wasn’t sure if Jake’s reactions would allow him to change direction if something got in our way. A quick flash and we were on a road . Darkness descended instantly. From a bright plain to this, well that’s what escape velocity must have meant. Lightning arced around the car as it raced on at breakneck speed. I fought back the urge to ask if we were there yet! The car started to slow and the world settled from its speed blur.

New day new bubble^tm^, still desert but a bit more scenery than before, gone was the detritus of the outer edge. We were much deeper inside the bubble than before. However this was landscape country , where the deer and the antelope look best with a wide angle panorama shot. People remained scarce and the car slowed more as the road changed again from a hard top to a track. A collection of half fallen down wooden shacks looking more like a fire hazard than living quarters came into view, the track meandered through rock shapes and cacti until we reached the edge of the ‘town’.
“This is Trinity . End of the line” called a cheery Woodsac . I think he had enjoyed driving across the bubble at silly speed and scaring me half to death.
We were miles from anywhere. How come I always end up in these god forsaken places? Why can’t it be in a city near people with things to hide behind. The buildings looked fragile and being the only people here it wasn’t going to take much to spot us was it?

I got out of the car stiff from the drive, “Hey, you dropped this!” called Woodsac, in his hand he held the novelty Vampire teeth. I was certain they had been safe and secure in my bag. A far away look came over him, he muttered something that I didn’t quite hear and then he wasn’t there. Not just him but the car as well, I closed my eyes and replayed the last 5 seconds, the last thing I saw was the face of a monster with sharp pointy teeth … could that have been Woodsac too?

Trinity was deserted, it took me 5 minutes to realise that even the scorpions and rattlesnakes didn’t come here. It felt wrong. I couldn’t explain the feeling only that it wasn’t quite right. It was bright and the sun hung in the east, bathing the area in a bright orange glow, normally this would be enough to have me up and going gaga with my camera shooting anything and everything with a forlorn hope that one picture might be good enough for my portfolio, but this place, well it just didn’t inspire me, it left me cold. I sat in the shadows of one of the more "structurally sound shacks ": wondering what would happen next.

An unearthly howl was what happened next, the hairs on the back of my neck raised immediately. Here we go again! Peering out, a shambling figure cloaked in a dark monks habit was walking into town, the sun behind it meant that no clear detail could be made out. If in doubt do nowt, was a phrase from my youth. It came back to mind as I sat there in the shadow watching this dark shape getting closer and closer.
The figure stopped in the middle of the street, like a wild-west gunslinger just stood there, gusts of wind made the dust swirl around it.

“Bloody dust!” coughed the middle aged woman as she reached to pull back the hood of her habit, “Hate it. It will take ages to get it out of my shoes.” She sneezed “Oh that’s just great and now my allergies too!” I was expecting an Obi Wan Kenobi figure but apparently that would have created a copyright infringement issue, instead I got Poorly One with Allergies , I must admit she looked thoroughly miserable.
“I’m here you miserable sack of beep! Where the beeep beeep are you? I’ve not got all day you know!” she screamed.
I tried to stifle my laughs and nearly choked, a tiny cough escaped me, the figure turned and marched towards me.
“You think it’s funny hiding from me you miserable sack of beeeeep”
I don’t know why she said the beep sounds, honestly I was expecting a higher class of people out here.
Suddenly, she smiled, “Glad you made it” she looked me up and down with the critical eye of a portrait artist “ So you’re the one they’re all looking for ? Well I gotta tell you I was expecting someone bigger!” she chuckled.
I was going to be all right.

The Soap Bubble - Episode 12a. The Outer Edges of the Bubble

Drew Walker

Joined July 2007

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