THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #24

THE NAKED TRUTH - PART FIVE




Even after the door had closed, Dominick was leery about turning around, thinking that the woman would try and trick him. Eventually, he grew tired of standing there and took a quick glance behind him. He was alone.

He went to the table and found a tray of food next to his new clothes. On the tray was a great wheel of cheese, a loaf of crusty bread, and a meaty gravy in a wooden bowl. It all looked so inviting, but he needed to get dressed first. So he ignored the tray and moved on to the clothes.

He was given a fresh woolen shirt: white, with long sleeves, and a pair of dark brown leather pants. Dominick had never worn leather pants before and he looked them over with a deep sense of trepidation. Along with the pants and shirt was a long surcoat of blue with the image of a hammer over the right breast. There was no footwear so he’d assumed that Herbert approved of his socks and boots. But first, the underpants.

They resembled long white shorts that hung to the knee. Rather than an elastic waistband, these shorts had a drawstring. They fit okay and actually felt better than the boxers he normally wore.

The leather pants, he was happy to find, were loose fitting and comfortable, as was the shirt. He pulled the surcoat on over his head and used the belt provided to cinch it around his waist. He’d leave the sword for later figuring that it would be more comfortable to eat without it sitting on his back.

Glancing around however, he didn’t see the sword. It had to be in the room, though, he distinctly recalls removing the belt with the sword and placing it… Well, that was the thing, he couldn’t recall where he’d put it. But then, the room wasn’t that big. He turned and the tray of food came into view.

The food sure did look tasty. And the smell was like ambrosia, whatever that was. And so he ignored whatever it was that had begun to nag at him, took a seat on the edge of the tub, and dug into the food.

Having grown up on processed and fast foods, Dominick had never tasted anything like the meal the woman had brought him. He had to admit that the food made the shame of being seen in the raw much easier to deal with. And he was, in fact, sad when he’d cleaned his plate . . . Or in this case, tray.

One finished with the food he looked over what he’d had in the pockets of his old pants. The woman had placed them neatly, side by side, on the table. His phone, his wallet, one pack of spearmint gum, two quarters, three nickels, eight pennies, his keys, and the cracked salt shaker. He stuffed them all in the deep pockets of his new pants and went back to the tray.

Nothing but crumbs left.

He pushed them around, wishing for more food, and thought briefly of his old clothes. To be honest, he wasn’t all that sorry to see them go. They’d smelled of grease and of course had been covered with the insides of a lizard. Secretly he hoped that Herbert would have them burned.

After that it was back to the waiting game.

He took up the phone and pressed the home button to wake it up. Amazingly, the phone survived his ordeal on the battlefield and being flung to the floor earlier without a scratch. He keyed in his code and the home screen popped on.

The fist thing he noticed was the weather app. It was showing nothing, of course. He was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to access any networks from this world. Gund.

Still, he swiped and tapped away at the phone. He’d still be able to access whatever was on the phone, he saved nothing to the cloud. He didn’t trust the cloud. He couldn’t see it so why put anything on it?

He tapped open his music player and tapped shuffle. The pounding drums of Rikki Rocket and the piercing guitar tones of C. C. Deville filled the room as Let Me Go to the Show by Poison tore through the small speaker at the base of the phone. Dominick got up and walked around the room, his head nodding involuntarily to the beat. He made three full circuits of the room before he realized that something was wrong. Something was missing.

What had been nagging at him earlier? He tapped at the pockets of his pants, both front and back, though these pants had none in the back. It was a habit of his. Whenever he got the feeling he was forgetting something, he’d pat at his pockets. Keys in his right front pocket, phone in the left, wallet in the rear right back pocket, nothing in the left. It was a ritual. Whenever he’d leave the house, or work, or even the bathroom, he’d pat his pockets.

He looked around the room again but still couldn’t see it. Something about the color blue and his back.

A polite knock sounded on the door, pulling him from his thoughts.

“Yes?” Dominick said.

The door opened and once again Herbert entered nose first.

“You’re dressed,” Herbert observed. “And you’ve eaten. That’s good. It’s time.”

“Time for what?” Dominick turned to him.

“To meet the Triumvirate. They are gathering now in the great hall. Grab Arakis and I will take you to them.”

“Arakis?” The name struck upon his nagging doubt like a mighty gong. But still did not resonate.

“Yes, the Sword of Power,” Herbert said with a note of impatience. “You will want to have that with you when you are brought before the Triumvirate.”

The Sword of Power.

That’s when it hit him.

The Sword of Power was gone.

Here ends Chapter Six



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