El No, We Won't Go
Copyright© 2010 by Ol'Mac
Thursday 8:38 A. M. Chicago City Hall Basement, Chicago Special Zoning Projects Office
Arthur Simon Silvus was the personification of his name's acronym. Everyone that worked in City Hall knew this and it was the main reason his office was in the basement surrounded by City record archives. He'd worked for the City government for five years now, bounced from one department to another, ever since his Great Uncle Albert had bribed Arthur's way into an opening.
Nepotism and graft are such a lovely things and as everyone knows they never give rise to incompetence in the workplace.
'Five years of being shuffled from one department to another', he thought, 'But now I'm in charge of my own department and I'll show those S. O. B's how to run one correctly.' It never dawned on him that his 'departmental crew' consisted of himself.
Arthur just knew things were about to change though, he could feel it in his bones. Unbelievably, for the first time in his civil service career, he was correct.
As Izzag let his thought patterns sweep through City Hall he finally came across Arthur, blazing away like a bright shining beacon of stupidity. 'Absolutely perfect, ' was the thought running though Izzag's mind, 'Oh, you're just perfect you big, beautiful, hunk of ignorance!'
There actually were a few requests for zoning changes resting in the 'IN' basket on Arthur's desk, mainly because the folks who'd run this department prior to his tenure had known that these items didn't have a prayer of passing through the 'Meat Grinder' they would be subject to before being implemented. In the parlance of City government they were 'orphans', but that didn't deter Arthur in any way, shape, or form.
Two of these stood out like beacons on a hill to Arthur, weaving their siren song while his own mind supplied the counterpoint.
The first was a request for some type of huge phallic, obelisk-like, monument to be erected in the northern part of Grant Park. As an F-you gesture it was mighty impressive. The Carrera marble that was to be the construction material would have been blinding in the morning sun and considering just who had requested this, it began to make perfect sense. This had been submitted by the infamous 'White Power' group that had raised cane in getting permission to march though 'Skokie, IL' a few years back.
The second was a simpler request for re-zoning of the Southwest corner of W. Van Buren and Wabash Ave. to residential. Submitted by an inmate of the Joliet, IL State Correctional Facility with way too much time on his hands.
The justifications for approval of these requests ran through Arthur's mind like a paean of praise, 'They'll love me for this. What a perfect place for a small residential section, why the park will be right across the street, ' the thought flashed through his mind.
It never even crossed Arthur's grey matter that people living there might be a bit annoyed by three hundred and fifty trains with almost four hundred thousand passengers going overhead daily. But of course, this was because Izzag was a master at 'thought channeling' and he'd also seen 'Legos' with better neural connections than 'perfect' Arthur.
And so it was that Arthur Simon Silvus performed his first, and last official act as the head of the Chicago Special Zoning Projects Department. The APPROVED stamp descended like the crack of doom on both of his little treasures. He then made certain they were transmitted to the proper departments for implementation.
City governments - like Ketchup bottles - are strange things and yet normally would not be confused with one another. However, they do on occasion follow roughly the same physical laws.
At first with both it's impossible to make anything happen and then there is the inevitable 'splat' of overcompensation. As one department after another banged their stamps, these re-zoning requests took on a life of their own. In city government, this was known as the 'Steamroller Effect' and woe betide anyone that got in the way once this 'Effect' was set in motion.
There were two things, though, that should have raised eyebrows into hairlines throughout the building. These two 'Mini-Rollers' were going through the 'Meat Grinder'; like the 'Terminator' through a field of 'daisies' and even more unbelievably, doing it on a THURSDAY and FRIDAY! Izzag was just simply the best at what he did.
Izzag shepherded his little one's along like a nervous mother hen.
From one department to the next they flew. Cloud a mind slightly here. Verify this action with a petty jealousy there. Whatever it took to get his babies over this hurdle and on to the next. It's a very good thing that no one could hear the maniacal laughter following along with these harbingers of Death. Heart attacks would surely have been the order of the day.
But on second thought, at least it would have cleared out City Hall.
Friday 10:50 A. M. Chicago City Hall
Joseph William Buckley, or Joe Buckley as he was known around City Hall, was the Elevator Operator.
He knew his job was on a par with a 'Fireman' on a modern train. But the benefits package that went with a civil service job was just too hard to pass up. He knew every person the worked in City Hall. Knew their first and last names, and whether to call them Sir or Ma'am. Knew whether it was OK to chat, and most importantly, when to shut up.
'This place has been a beehive today, ' Joe thought to himself, 'wonder what the heck's going on?'
About this time one of the building's larger 'Egos' stepped into his car.
"Good morning, Mr. Anderson," said Joe, closing the car door, "Fifth floor, sir?" Getting the nod, he engaged the car smoothly and ran it up to the fifth. "Thanks, Mr. Anderson and have a pleasant day, Sir," Joe caroled.
Closing the door and heading back to the lobby, he thought, 'What in the name of all that's Holy is going on? That clown never comes in before noon.' He soothed himself once again with what was rapidly becoming his mantra; 'Think about the benefits Joe, just keep your focus there, think about the benefits... '
Friday 11:20 A. M. W. Van Buren News Stand
Mike was in the middle of rotating stock on the 'You Aren't Good Enough', magazine rack: Vogue, Cosmo, etc. when he got flash traffic from Samron. 'My Lord, Lannee reports major activity at City Hall. She also states the flavor of the undercurrent is like warmed over Death.'
'Isn't that what City Hall always smells like though?' Mike sent.
'No, My Lord, ' Samron returned, 'this, she reports, is -Literal Death Walking the Halls- not the normal vices of human politicians. She forced herself to remain until she could verify it, then fled for her life.'
'Convey my personal thanks to her, once again she has gone beyond what anyone expected of her, ' sent Mike, 'I hate to even ask it Samron, but can your folk swarm the place? Wherever this infection started there should be a fingerprint left of the agent that sowed this chaos. We need to isolate that and track down the bastard.'
'My Lord, it will be done at once. I shall lead myself, ' came Samron's reply.
'Just be extremely careful Samron, I would not trade one of your folk for this Intel, ' Mike sent.
Turning to his Dad, Mike said, "Pop I hate to do this, but something big just came up and I have to deal with it."
"Go on then boyo, I've certainly watched the stand by myself before," replied Gordon Alison Kilian to his only child, "Oh and Michael, while you're taking care of this, take care of yourself too son."
"I will Pop, I promise," said Mike, turning to head for Grant Park Grove. While on his way to the Grove, Mike thought, 'Oh God, there's no help for it', along with, 'Desperate times, Demand Desperate measures', then pulled out his cell and called Rick's number.
The answering voice said, "Hey Mike, what's up?"
Mike replied with, "Hey Rick, I hate to bust in on your day but have you and Stan taken lunch yet?"
"No bud, we were just about to log out with dispatch, and go for it." Rick said.
"I need you guys help with something and I promise not to burn too much of your lunch with it. Can you and Stan meet me at the grove on the north side of Grant Park in say ten minutes?" Mike asked.
"Sure buddy. See you in ten." Rick rang off.
Friday 11:30 A. M. Grant Park Grove
Meeting Rick and Stan, Mike led them over to the Grove, saying, "Guys, thanks for coming. I apologize in advance for screwing up your world view."
At this, wariness started to descend over both men's faces, and Rick said, "Mike. What the heck is that supposed to mean?"
"Well," Mike replied, "Stan, you're still Catholic, right?"
"Yeah, not strict about it, but yeah," Stan replied.
"Well, watch this," Mike said, keying the portal.
Both men hit the deck an instant later weapons out and Rick whispered, "What the ... Mike, what is that? A Stargate?"
"Nah," Mike chuckled, "that's fiction. Besides, their contraption only works in this Universe. This baby goes to a completely different one. Oh, by the way, you guys can get off the ground now. You don't really think I'd lead you into danger without warning, do you?"
Rick snorted and said, "Well jeez, Mike, it's not every day we have an eight foot tall, silvery mirror thingy ... pop up out of nowhere. Ya know?"
"Yeah. like I said, I'm really sorry to have had to break it like this. But we need both you guys worse than you'd believe possible," Mike replied, while heading for the portal. "Now let's go. We're burning your lunch hour here and we can always get something to eat on the other side."
Turning back to his friends, Mike asked, "Hey Rick, what time ya got?"
"About 11:32 Mike, why?" Rick shot back.
"Just checking. Come you guys, let's go. Don't know about both of you, but I'm starving," Mike replied, heading for the portal again.
As they stepped through, Mike heard behind him, "Holy Shit", followed by "Holy Mother of..."
Turning, Mike said, "Gents, welcome to Elfrealm Lake's Edge where the temperature is seventy two degrees, always. Please make sure your tables are in the upright and locked position. As we'll be landing in about the next fifty years or so."
"No way this is real, Dude." Rick blurted out.
"Well, it doesn't get a whole lot real-ler, uh, more real ... ah, to heck with it. I'm hungry," Said Mike, while materializing an oak table and four chairs.
Sitting down, Mike said, "So, what do you guys want to munch on? Personally, I've got a craving for roast chicken with all the trimmings," while making those things appear on the table. Lifting and eyebrow at Stan and Rick who were still standing rooted to the ground in shock, He said, "So, you guys planning on standing there all day with your mouths hanging open, or what?"
Then slapping himself in the forehead, he added, "Oh crap, I'm sorry Stan. I forgot it's Friday do you need fish or something?"
"Nah Mike, chi ... chicken's ... f, fine," Stan said, while easing himself gingerly into the chair.
The sounds of eating continued for quite a while. As each man tried to digest: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn-on-the-cob and a new world view.
When Mike figured they were getting settled in a bit he asked if they'd had enough to eat and then cleared the table. Then bringing in a carafe of Angelo's best and three mugs plus a plate of 'Bolos de Sol' he saw a hint of recovery along with an appreciative "Ah" from Rick.
As they dug in Rick asked, with an attempt at humor, "Hey Mike, what's with the fourth chair? You being symmetrical, or what?"
"Well no. That's actually for our after lunch guest, who should be arriving any minute now," Mike answered with a grin and pointing off to what Rick still thought of as the Southwestern direction. It was just so darn hard to tell with this constant twilight and with no Sun for reference.
Stan and Rick turned their heads in time to catch a solid white Arabian cresting a hill and carrying what looked for all the world like a knight in silver armor.