Sal Oberon woke up with a root beer hangover and an unhealthily fungal eleven-year stubble on his chin. He scratched places he couldn’t remember having, thinking what had happened to time, what was the point of quadratic equations (inexplicably), and was the thing that had seemingly evolved from the half a pizza he’d left, pre-hibernation, still edible? He checked his watch: half past Monday — or something.
Sal Oberon, Master Storyteller and Part-Time Shyster Magnet, fixed coffee. He stared at the eight feet high pile of junk mail on his doormat, wondering absent-mindedly if his landlord had died and forgotten to tell him. He picked up a random envelope and opened it: ‘Congratulations, Mr Obiwank (Sal Oberon rooted around behind his ear for a red biro with which to wearily spell-check the moronic mass illiteracy, the memory of which lumbered back up on him like a large toad squeezed into the dream of a pretty nymph princess), ‘congratulations on being selected to receive A LIFETIME’S SUPPLY of non-returnable BADLY SPELLD JUNKMAIL! Oh yes. Your liff is complete. Fret no more, Mr. Obiwank: you’re [sic] blood pressure is our pleasure! FREE fore liff!’
The pot on the stove hissed. Sal Oberon made coffee, not yet sufficiently stirred in himself to care greatly at the largely squeezed toad of mass illiteracy. It belched in a metaphorical manner and hopped off into a dark recess of his mind: ready to pop out with a small amphibian fanfare at some point in the not-too-distant future, its pretty nymph princess costume popping a few stitches at the edges instead and in the meantime.
The doorbell rang and Sal Oberon moaned wearily before levering open the front appendage to his formerly rented abode (landlord status pending), blinking in the light.
Our hero stared with heroic grace, one index finger holding up an eyebrow, also holding in the mush of his root-beer-deranged brain. ‘What?’
‘What is it?’
The shadowy disembodiment of a voice that lurked beyond the proffered, held aloft and slightly aubergine paper managed to express its discombobulation without further recourse to actual words. Sal Oberon spoke in a slower tone, as was customary, he found, when dealing with the more flexibility-challenged: ‘What is it that you’re asking me to sign?’
There was a pause, and then: ‘This paper.’
‘Yes, but what is it?’
‘It’s a slightly aubergine form. Sign it.’
‘It needs your signature?’
Sal Oberon stood on his doorstep and a blinding flash of epiphany flushed down on him from a great height, delivering unto him the purpose for hibernations, lobotomies and voluntarily overly-deep enemas: you don’t get out of life without the pink form of bureaucracy giving you the right to take your last breath and the pasty maroon form to say you can start mulching into the undergrowth. Sal Oberon sighed.
‘What do I get in return for my signature?’
There was another pause. ‘You get this slightly aubergine form with your signature on it, which says you’ve signed the form, which is slightly aubergine. Sign here.’
Sal Oberon gave in and signed the form. The shadowy disembodiment of delivery thanked him from the very depths of his tick box and disappeared up his own slightly diminished agenda. Sal Oberon clicked the door closed quietly and filed the slightly aubergine form on his eight feet high ‘to do’ list. Our hero dragged his sorry arse off towards the toaster, wondering if re-hibernation might be a crime punishable by death and whether that might come under ‘irony’.
When the second doorbell chimed, Sal Oberon through [sic] his red biro at the door. It shattered into a bloody mess of ink and abject apathy.
‘Delivery for Mr. Obiwank.’
‘He’s dead. He slipped on the toast of the eternally buttered side down. He accidentally impaled a lung on a plastic fork.’
The doorbell chimed. Sal Oberon regretted the purchasing of bloody Greensleeves, Ad Infinitum. The doorbell continued to chime and showed no signs of ever not chiming again. Sal Oberon answered the door.
‘Why . . .? No. Don’t bother . . .’
Sal Oberon signed the mustard form, the indigo form, the puce and magenta form, and the off-beige form that stated that he’d signed the mustard, indigo, puce and magenta, and off-beige forms. He took delivery of the proffered appendage to his life, slammed the door and sat down with it before the delivery drone had had time to even think of disappearing up his own agenda.
The package sat in Sal Oberon’s lap like a turd might. He unpeeled it, carefully, as you might. The folder was municipally non-coloured, though it had a catchy logo: Council of the Forest of the Congenitally Be-Dwarfed, De-Hibernation Policy and Procedures (a Guide for Breathing, Shitting and Quadratic Equations), Volume 1 of 64 (pages 1-1684). Compulsory Reading (on mauve-form-actioned threat of eviction, excommunication, or any other order of the Council’s spontaneous choosing). Read by Tuesday, and sign (every page). Twice. In turquoise ink. In the right-hand margin. Countersign your own signatures for proof of identity. Twice. Re-read for accuracy. Proceed to start of list.
Sal Oberon added the policy document to his ‘to do’ list. A largely squeezed toad of a metaphorical nature and moronic mass illiteracy croaked brightly for a second, mistaking the ‘to do’ list with itself, before retiring to the crack between the floorboards. Our hero’s foot came down, missing it by a pretty nymph princess’s split seam.
Sal Oberon reached for his rudimentary Tale Weaving equipment, blowing the dust from its cavernous innards. ‘Right,’ he said. ‘Right . . .’ (though he wasn’t entirely sure what would be next, and right seemed to fit the bill right enough).
Dear the Council
Sal Oberon, Master Storyteller and Part-Time Shyster Magnet, was a little rusty at his game, coming out of hibernation as he was.