I recognized that voice immediately. “Kink? What…?”
“Put the glasses on.” She pushed them onto my face.
Suddenly, her outrageous attire was back. I looked at the strangers on the other side of the table and they were gone replaced by my allies. Tam, G’fon, Timmie-boy all had returned. “What is going on here?”
“Sorry, Frank,” she said. “Forgot you didn’t have an image inducer.”
“Image what now?”
“Inducers. They make people think we look like how they think we should look like. It’s kind of a time traveler necessity. We all have them built into our system.”
“You mean like holograms?”
“No, more like mind control.”
“Mind control?” I exclaimed.
“Oh, relax,” Kink replied, dismissively. I didn’t appreciate it.
“It’s not control,” Tam said. “It’s more like suggestion. It’s just mild persuasion, telling the brain to see what it already wants to see.”
“Wait,” I said. “Then why did it work on me? I already know who you people are. I know what you look like. You’re who I’m expecting to see. I was definitely expecting to see you more than anything in this room.”
“That’s the suggestion part.”
I was not put at ease by any of this. “Sounds like mind control to me.”
“Mind control, mental suggestion,” G’fon said. “What’s the big difference?”
“The part where you’re controlling people’s minds,” I told him, frowing frustrated.
“We’re just making them see us in a less conspicuous manner,” Kink said. “That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.”
“There’s nothing you’re making them see?” I asked “Nothing else you’re doing to their minds? Nothing else you’re doing to mine?”
“Frank,” Kink said, “would I do anything to your mind without telling you.
I looked at her and she smiled, innocently.
“Frank,” Tam said. “Remember what we’re doing here. We’re on the run from the Time Police. They’re out to get us. We have to hide. Letting people know that we’re here is not a good idea. You understand that, yes?”
“I understand, but…”
“No, buts. This must be done. Coming here was your idea. We put our existences on the line for you. If you have doubts now, then we must pull out immediately.”
“I don’t have doubts about my plan,” I told them. “I do have some doubts about your methods. Mind control…”
“Is necessary,” Tam cut in before I could say anymore. “We cannot allow the Time Police to know about our existence. If they find out that we’re here, we are gone. This delay alone is already too long.”
“I know the Time Police are our main concern but mind contr…”
“Can I activate my device now?” G’fon interrupted. “But don’t worry, Frank, as soon as I do we can get back to arguing about whatever it is that you’re arguing about. It seems to be very important to you.”
“Mind control!” I exclaimed. “We’re arguing about…”
“Yes, G’fon,” Tam said, ignoring me. “Activate it. We’ve wasted too much time already.”
G’fon pulled out a small device that looked a bit like a mechanical mushroom and placed it in the middle of the table. He pressed the tip of it and its tip began to strobe green. Suddenly, I heard something that sounded like a flock of birds screaming. I grabbed my ears and realized the sound was coming from the back of my head and I wasn’t the only one who was hearing it. Everyone in the entire room was cringing, even Kink and the others. Not even G’fon was spared. As the sound started to recede to just a mild annoyance, I glanced outside. It looked like everyone out there had gotten hit with it, too.
“What the hell, G’fon?” Timmie-boy exclaimed. “That was horrible!”
“I’ve got to send a beacon out across the astral plane,” G’fon replied. “What did you expect?”
“Not a burrowing beetle tearing through the back of my skull.”
“Oh, come on! It wasn’t that bad.”
“It was pretty bad.”
“Well, we had to make sure all of China heard it,” G’fon explained. “Otherwise our sorcerer might not hear it.”
“I think he heard,” Timmie-Boy said. “I think all of China heard it.”
“I hope so.”
“That’s assuming this sorcerer is even in China,” Tam said. “Just because he’s from here doesn’t mean he’s currently here, no?”
“Oh,” G’fon said. “Do you think I should try it again so…”
“No!” we all shouted.
“I’m sure it will start working soon enough,” I added.
“Oh, it will. Trust me. It usually…” G’fon stopped talking as the floor ripped open. People screamed as a large fanged beast climbed out of the rip.
Timmie-boy gaped at the large creature. “I’m hoping that’s not who we’re looking for.”
“No,” I said, “that’s not…”
But the creature didn’t wait for me, it just lunged toward us with its mouth wide open. G’fon, the tiger-striped lizard man, bounced to his feet and dove to intercept it. They both fell to the floor, rolling around.
“We need to help him,” I said, but before anyone could move a blue woman with eighteen arms appeared in front of us. She shouted at us in Chinese, but I didn’t understand a word. Tam stood up on the bench and said something back to her. They got into a heated conversation until a giant worm monster emerged from the ceiling. We all jumped out of the way as it smashed through the table and the wall behind it.
As I started to get up, I was grabbed by a man with three heads. They began speaking at me in three different Chinese dialects. I, of course, understood none of it, except that all three of them seemed very angry. But before I could say anything, a giant ogre smashed through the storefront and grabbed him.
I turned to run, but I realized there was nowhere to run. The entire restaurant had filled up with strange creatures fighting each other. I looked around for the others. G’fon was still rolling around with the fanged creature. Timmie-boy was lying on the ground unconscious. Kink was stuck to the ceiling by some kind of goo. And Tam had wandered over to the far corner trying their best not to be noticed.
Things did not seem to be going very well.
to be continued…