After coffee, and a healthy dose of stunned confusion, I decided to head back to the cabin and grab Shadow for a quick checkup in the Med-Bay. He was still guarding the golden ticket when I got back so I grabbed him up and put the ticket in my pocket for safekeeping. The feeling that he knows something I don’t is again amplified by this curious behavior. What could he be trying to tell me? And where did he come from? He feels immediately familiar to me for a reason I can’t begin to understand. It feels like all this has happened before and I’m just riding along on Mister Toad’s Wild Ride waiting to get red velvet waffles on a stick from the concession stand. Last time I checked, life was supposed to be random, but it doesn’t feel like that. Something good is going to happen soon. I can feel it.
Time seems to stand still as we walk towards the elevator. The alien birdsongs are hypnotic and some of the plants again seem to watch me as I pass. There is an uncanny flow to everything like I’ve located the rhythm of the universe and it is now propelling me along in a choreographed dance routine beyond my comprehension. All the dread and despair of my old life is but a fading shadow here in this cosmic waltz of invisible dance partners. You can almost tap to your foot to it. Looking back is a pointless exercise here in the rhythm of the glorious now. All of the thoughts that have been running around in me head cease their chatter as a delirious joy begins filling the space previously occupied by mindless narration. A pulsing in my forehead intensifies as I approach the elevator. The elevator performs its strange trick again and the door whooshes open to reveal Dr. Sophia with a surprised look on her face.
“I was just looking for you two,” she said while studying me carefully and shaking her head. She reached out to take Shadow from me and then hit me in the arm with some sort of injector, there was a light stinging sensation that quickly passed. “That’s for Eeeara, I want you to be more careful from now on,” she stated before heading off down the hallway with Shadow under her arm.
That was certainly weird. Guess I’ll head over to see Jerry and find out where we are headed next. When the door opens I am greeted again with shouts of profanity and the smell of burritos but something seems different this time. Jerry doesn’t have his goggles on and he seems more agitated than normal. He whirls around to look at me with a shocked look on his face.
“You have got to be kidding me right now. I was just about to ping your communicator,” he said with the sort of crazed look usually reserved for all-you-can-eat fried chicken buffets.
“What’s going on? I just dropped off Shadow with Dr. Sophia and thought I’d swing by to see where we are headed next.”
“Five seconds before you opened that door I received a comms transmission from an approaching craft asking to dock with us so they can speak to whoever holds the magic golden ticket. I just assumed they meant you because crazy seems to follow you everywhere,” he replied while pressing numerous symbols swimming to the surface of his control panel.
“There was a golden ticket in my pocket this morning and I have no idea where it came from. Hope this isn’t going to be another drunken shootout like on Kleptak 43.”
“It’s a small craft so I doubt there is going to be trouble. Putting it on screen,” replied Jerry who pressed another symbol causing a huge video overlay to appear on the massive domed window in front of us. A spacecraft that looks disturbingly like a metallic gold minivan with long sloping wings and a rocket engine swims into view.
“What in the….is that a minivan spaceship?”
“Directing them to Landing Bay 2. Walt and Steve will meet you down there. We’ll be able to keep this locked down if things go haywire,” replied Jerry who rolled another burrito in foil and tossed it to me.
I put the burrito into my pocket and head for the elevator. No sense in asking questions and getting caught up in any burrito-related chicanery right now. I Have to find out about that golden ticket. Where did it come from? Did the gnome put it in my pocket? Is this why Shadow was protecting the ticket? The questions keep coming in an endless stream during the elevator ride. Walt and Steve are waiting for me outside the door when the elevator opens and you couldn’t ask for better backup. The sight of those two would scare just about anyone.
“Never a dull moment with you around. Jerry said something about a magic golden ticket and a minivan spaceship,” inquired Steve who still had a cup of coffee in his hand.
“It was in my pocket after we left Kleptak 43. Whoever is in that minivan spaceship knows something about it and wants to talk to me. Only thing I can think of is that the gnome put it in my pocket.”
We enter the landing bay just as the ship is touching down. Every inch of it covered with a metallic gold paint that is so reflective it’s hard to look at directly. Rows of small thrusters fire from its smooth underbelly as it gracefully settles onto the deck. A large door on its side slid open to reveal a plush purple interior covered in blinky lights and futuristic looking screens. Two men step out of the door and they look a lot like Buddhist monks as they are wearing long orange robes and appear to be of Asian descent. A flying metal sphere about the size of a soccer ball follows them out. One of the men is carrying a giant cardboard check just like in my dream. For a moment, I can hear the rhythm of the universe again, and then equal parts of joy and panic rush in to take over that space in my brain.
“Greetings. We have been sent by his eminence Lord Kularcan of Slamyeane to present an award of tremendous value to the person holding the winning golden ticket. The golden ticket is worth 7 trillion solar credits to the lucky person in possession of it,” stated the monk who appears to be in charge. “Lord Kularcan holds these drawings periodically to share his immense fortunes with those who are fortunate enough to have a ticket find them.”
“Who is Lord Kularcan and what do you mean the ticket finds them?” I asked him while noticing a strange vibration in my pocket.
“Lord Kularcan is both above and below, under the mountain and in the sky, and his wisdom shines on us all. The magic of Lord Kularcan imbues each ticket with a special power to find those most likely to shine his light into the world. There have been rumors among the chosen that sometimes he delivers the tickets personally. I am Grebnar, the divine emissary of Lord Kularcan, please present your ticket.”
The vibration in my pocket is becoming so powerful that it’s getting hard to ignore. As I pull the ticket out of my pocket it begins shaking uncontrollably before flying out of my hand at great speed. Grebnar catches the speeding ticket, without appearing to actually move, and holds it against his forehead. He begins chanting a long, steady mantra and the ticket seems to fold in on itself and disappear into Grebnar’s forehead. Just when you think things can’t get’s any crazier, life sneaks up to shake you out of your slumber, this is certainly one of those moments. You really can’t prepare yourself for minivan spaceship monks who deliver magic golden ticket induced cosmic windfalls.
“7 million solar credits is equivalent to 222 billion earth dollars, you are going to be rich beyond your wildest dreams,” the voice of Cole in my ear seems very far away as everything feels like it’s spinning.
Grebnar turns to his companion who hands him the giant cardboard check which he then hands to me along with a small envelope. “You will find everything you need to claim your fortune in that envelope. May the glory and light of Lord Kularcan shine upon your journey and may you shine his light into the world,” he states while placing his hands together and bowing deeply.
I hold the giant cardboard check over my head just like I saw in my dream. Something good did happen, the great cosmic pinball machine in the sky sent me a magic golden ticket. A small door opens momentarily on the face of the flying metal sphere. There is a faint crackling sound and then they all got back into the minivan spaceship, in all of its golden glistening glory, and fly off. I can hear Walt chuckling behind me as I fantasize about getting this giant check framed.