Meanwhilst, on the Isle of Langerhans

by | Apr 9, 2019 | Fiction, Issue Eight

Miniature Churchill is born in Sheboygan, her breathing spouts intact. “She’s perfectly formed,” says a nurse.

But the tiny prime minister is far from perfect: congenital mucklucks have grown like saddles on the ankles of her heart.

The surgeon raises an eyebrow above the mask he wears to keep out placenta germs. “These boots are starched,” says Knackers in horror. “I need basilar skull fracture, STAT. And get me a Cognitive Engineering Specialist.”

It’s touch-and-go in the operating room. Nobody is safe from the roaming fingertips of fate. The city’s third-finest anesthesiologist is lost in an undertow of lady juices. (“Serves him right,” Dr. Knackers will say that weekend over Parcheesi. “Either learn how to read a blood gas or GTFO. Blue space! YES.”)

Seventeen hours after the first tentative lavage, the communication circuits are reconnected. What’s more, the muckluck transfusion is a blessed success.

Miniature Churchill is transported safely to a ghost ranch with her family the Meats, and Knackers orders champagne muffins to be brought in from the greatest planets of the galaxy.

All is well, then. Well, for twenty-one years. And then the tiny prime minister’s detonator is activated by the anesthesiologist’s angry ghost.

After the funeral, the meat-puppets sue. “In Mini Churchill’s name!” cries Mr. Meat to a skeptical substitute jury. “The death of our daughter–an innocent cigar-smoking depressive–shall not be the darkest hour along the speed bumps of our life!”

Should,” murmurs Mrs. Meat.

“Okay, fine. So she was a repulsive puffin-curious fool whomst– What was that, darling?”

Should. We want it to be a speed bump so that we’ll get more money. Make sure to emphasize the money. They gave me a seventeen-hour lavage.”

What they do not know is that Miniature Churchill (My God, but she’d hated being called “Mini”) is not, in fact, dead. She has been spirited away by a passing contingent of lesser deities….

Somewhere on the Isle of Langerhans, she emerges from an abandoned puffin burrow, her bowler hat shining, her pudgy digits wielding a walking cane of superior strength. “Ppeace in our ttime!” says Miniature Churchill, menacing a plover. “Or my name ain’t Wwwinston.”

“Chhaaaamberlainnn,” whisper the palm fronds.

“Beg pahdon?”

“Youuuu neverrrr saaidddd thhhhat,” the sweet ocean breeze says sweetly. “Thhhat was Nevvvillle Chaaa–“

“Silence!” Miniature Churchill raises a hand. “We are not amused.”

The breeze ignores her. The palm fronds titter. They change the subject to historically-contextualized racism and the doughnut shortage at Dunkirk.

“I hate this place,” says Miniature Churchill. She tries to bludgeon a coconut with the tip of her cane. “I should have never left Sheboygan.”

She has said the magic word. There is a monstrous flash–and it becomes ridiculously clear that World War N has occurred on the mainland. The sky turns to garnet, then puce, then a map of London’s Underground. All the world seems to smell like wet dogs.

Soon, a ship arrives with one survivor: Dr. Knackers.

“So,” says Miniature Churchill. “The mucklucks weren’t starched after all.”

“You!” The doctor wades ashore for about seven minutes. He spits a limpet into his palm and flings it into the cruel sea.

Churchill circles him in the afternoon haze. “I gather you’re 73% titanium alloy now. And you’ve aged.”

“We’ve all aged, shithead. That’s how this life thing works.”

“Perhaps. But we don’t all do it with such … adequacy. Adequacy is no saddle-standard.”

“Oh, yeah? Well I never actually reconnected all of your communication circuits,” cries Dr. Knackers. “Hahaha! How do you like them fuckin apples?”

“You wish you had an apple, doctor. There’s nothing to eat on this godforsaken island but leftover C-rations from the Battle of the Bulge.”

Knackers waves away the assertion. “Puffins is as puffins does.”

Miniature Churchill gleams. “Very good, Mister Surgeon. That was a verbal decoy mosquito. You’ve passed my first test.”

“And what have I learned, eh? Eh, Church?”

“That a lie gets halfway around the world before my sweet tiny ass has a chance to emerge from a burrow.”

The surgeon shakes his head in disbelief. “I know prime ministers,” says Knackers. “And I damn well know the Langerhans.”

Churchill thinks a moment, frowning. “But my muckluck transfusion was a blessed success. Right?” Her voice quavers now. “B-because I was led to believe–“

“It is too late for beliefs.” Knackers pulls the ripcord on his moistened navel. A pulsing space halo propagates outward from his basal ganglia towards the birth of all possibility.

When that dies down, Churchill strikes a parsvottanasana pose. “What else you got?”

Knackers whaps her with a fistful of kelp.

Churchill counters with a parry. A thrust. She serpentines up the beach.

And then somehow they are tangled on the silly sand, a school of stray dolphins leaping away towards the horizon. Churchill’s breathing spouts wheeze and suck with alarming slurps. “Kiss me … you asshole.”

“I might just do that.” Knackers regards the sweat-soaked bowler hat with mounting respect. “What’s your handicap on Parcheesi?”

The tiny prime minister belches weakly. “How long I’ve w-waited to hear those words,” she gasps as the nuclear clouds part. An irritated puffin returns to its burrow.

The doctor raises another eyebrow, whispers, “You’re not very much like the Original Churchill. Are you?”

“Oh, Knackers.” Miniature Churchill boops his salty nose. The first of her circuits fails with a bright, tiny spark.

Read more Fiction | Issue Eight

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