Omira Chapter 5
The inside of Blubo’s cart was twice the size of the outside. There was a fireplace roaring in the center, circled by a series of comfy looking couches. The front of the cart was dominated by a large round window, and a series of pulleys and ropes to control the Roopers. The back was a stack of crates, each stencilled with a picture of a rutabaga. A steel staircase ran above the door, and led a second floor nook, and the roof turret.
Cole and Jimmie stood just in the doorway, gawking. Jimmie shook his head, and looked back out the door. “This.” He considered pointing out that this was impossible, but figured it would be redundant at this point. Jimmie looked around the cart’s inside again. “This.” He repeated.
“This is amazing!” Cole exclaimed.
“Thanks Fella,” Blubo called from above. He penguin waddled down the stairs to meet Cole and Jimmie. “It’s a compact model,” he admitted with a smile, “but I didn’t need anything bigger then this.”
Neither Jimmie nor Cole responded. They just stared at Blubo. Blubo was pear-shaped, and swaybacked. His legs were short enough to be nearly non-existent, and ended with a pair of oversized feet in work boots. With his hat and his overalls, Blubo resembled a thumb that someone had dressed as a farmer.
If Blubo noticed the two staring, he didn’t mention it. “You Fellas make yourself comfortable,” he suggested with a wave towards the fire. “I’ve got get them Roopers moving eh? Then I’ll make you Fellas some soup.”
Cole was the first to recover her manners. “Thank you,” she said. Cole gave Jimmie a nudge, and he quickly nodded his thanks. The two then shuffled to the couches.
Cole and Jimmie collapsed on to the couches. They hadn’t noticed before how much their legs were aching from leaping and running, but they were noticing now. They also hadn’t noticed how hungry they were, and soup was sounding great; even if it was likely rutabaga. They made an effort not to stare at Blubo even though his back was turned. Instead, they both stared into the fire.
“There’s no smoke coming from the fire,” Jimmie noted.
“Of course not Fella,” Blubo commented from the front of the cart. “It’s a smokeless fire.”
“Of course it is,” Jimmie said quietly. He looked up at Blubo. The strange looking man was working a series of pullies and switches, and checking a bunch of gauges. It seemed pretty complex to just get a pair of fat Roopers to move. Jimmie stared back down at his hands.
Cole shuffled along the couch to sit beside Jimmie. She patted his knee. “You doing alright?”
Jimmie sighed. “I’m doing better,” he said. “They make this look easier in the books. Kids get whisked away to a magical world, they just shrug and go with it.”
“Well, it wouldn’t be much of a story otherwise,” Cole said. She mimed opening a book. “Lucy flipped right out, because damn it, lions shouldn’t be able to talk. She ran around screaming, then her head exploded. The end.”
“Alice looked about,” Jimmie added, miming a book as well. “Nope, she declared. This is beyond curious.” Jimmie chuckled. He patted Cole’s hand, still on his knee. “You’re handling it a hell of a lot better.”
Cole smiled at Jimmie, and took her hand back. “No I’m not,” she admitted. “I’m freaking out inside. I just hide it better.” Cole shrugged. “I know none of this is possible, but I’m not willing to dwell on it. It’s working for me so far.”
Any more talk about possibility and this place was interrupted as a large black pot lowered itself from the ceiling to the fireplace. Blubo smiled over from the controls, wheeling the large crank that lowered the pot.
“Lets get you Fellas fed, eh?” he declared.
Blubo didn’t waste time getting to the soup. He smiled and hummed a bit, but kept conversation short. He dug into his crates, and pulled out a particularly big rutabaga. Blubo held it up for inspection, but didn’t wait for a yes or no from Cole and Jimmie.
Blubo’s rutabagas looked an awful lot like turnips; only bigger, and done up in royal purples and snow whites. He only needed one for the soup; it was as big as Cole’s head. Blubo chopped up some Crayola orange carrots, and a pink fleshy thing that looked like bubble gum, but smelt like bacon when it cooked. He threw it all into the pot with a handful of mixed herbs.
Jimmie watched as Blubo stirred the soup. The water had taken on the pink color of cotton candy, and the bits of bright tinted vegetables floated garishly in the mix. Still, he couldn’t deny how great it smelt. Blubo watched over the soup for a few minutes before spooning out helpings for everyone. He broke a long loaf of pale green crusty bread into three parts, and offered it out with the soup. Blubo was an excellent, albeit color blind, chef. No one spoke until they’d moved deep into third helpings.
Jimmie squinted at the window along the front of the cart. He couldn’t see much out of it beyond the back ends of the two Roopers. “Do they just know where to go?” he asked.
“Oh yeah,” Blubo replied. “They’ve got their blinders on, eh? So they can only go home.” Blubo collected Cole and Jimmie’s empty bowls. He smiled curiosity at Jimmie. “You don’t have Roopers Somewhere Else?”
“No, we have…” Jimmie couldn’t decide if horses or cars were the best direction to go. Both and neither seemed right. “No, we don’t.”
“That’s a shame, eh?” Blubo waved at the window. “Great animals. Strong, sturdy, loyal.” Blubo shook his head. “But not very smart, eh? You cover up their eyes, and they don’t know how to go anywhere but home.”
“And that’s where we’re headed now?” Cole verified. “They’re taking us to your home?”
“Oh, we’re in town already,” Blubo replied offhand. He looked around the cart. “Ah, heck,” Blubo said. “I’m real sorry Fellas. I’m used to driving with the windows closed. I didn’t even think, eh?”
Blubo waddled over to the controls, and flipped a few levers. The walls of the cart broke into a mesh of panels. The panels all flipped, turning transparent as they tilted over. The entire cart suddenly became a giant viewing dome, and the outside world was visible all around them.
“That is amazing,” Jimmie stated, hopping up from the sofa.
“Yes it is,” Cole agreed. She got up to, and pressed her hands against a now see-through wall.
The cart passed between a series of thick pillars, and it took a moment to recognize them as homes. The buildings looked like fingers jutting out of the ground. They were covered in different lines of shaded grass, and finished with rounded roofs. Each house had only a few windows at the top that gave the illusion of them having faces. Some of the islands floated between the buildings, and someone had seen sense in running rope bridges between the ones too far away for a good jump.
“This is the most phallic town I’ve ever driven through,” Cole announced. “And I’ve been to Montreal.”
“How does that even?” Jimmie asked. He wasn’t certain how Montreal was more or less phallic than any other city. He’d never been.
Outside; dozens of Blubo like folk wandered the streets. They all wore simple overalls or dresses, and everyone wore an oversized hat. The men wore straw hats, or rice hats, or wide brimmed fedoras, while the women wore grand bonnets or huge summer hats. Everyone either waddled like Blubo, or hopped about on the spongy earth. Anyone that passed nearby stopped to wave at Blubo’s cart.
Jimmie waved back politely. “Can they see us?”
“Well of course not Fella,” Blubo said. “That’s not how windows work.” He chuckled. “They just recognize my cart.” Blubo stuck his thumbs in the straps of his overalls. “I’m pretty well known amongst the Goobs,” he declared. “Blubo’s famous rutabagas?”
Cole bit back a giggle as hard as she could. “Goobs,” she repeated. “Is that what your people are called?”
“That’s right Fella,” Blubo stated proudly. “Everyone around here’s a Goob.” Blubo thought on it. “Well, everyone ‘cept for the princess, eh? And I guess you Fellas.”
“What’s the princess?” Jimmie asked. He shot Cole a pre-emptive glance before she could add a comment.
“Well, she’s the princess, ain’t she Fella.” Blubo replied dismissively. “There,” he stated with a point out the front. “Town Hall. That’s where we’re headed.”
Town Hall was a stubby building. It was covered with grass, and rounded out at the top like the rest, but it was only a few stories high. Two huge rounded windows dominated the front, just above the double doors that curved upward near the edges. With it’s windows and doors; Town Hall looked pleasantly surprised to see them.
Blubo hopped across the cart, and began pulling levers and ropes. Outside, the Roopers stopped, and blinked as their blinders lifted. They shifted slowly, and turned towards Town Hall.