First Chapter: Genius de Milo by Russ Colchamiro
Title: Genius De Milo
Author: Russ Colchamiro
Publisher: Crazy 8 Press
Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:
The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.
All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.
Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.
In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.
For More Information
It began with a flicker.
Eternity, yes, of course, because that’s where all of Creation originates, where even just a single idea, a notion—a tickle in the back of the brain—alerts you to the possibility that something is brewing. Something delicious. Strange. Alluring.
You’re not quite sure what that glimmer might be—that flicker, that tickle—but whatever shape and form it takes, whatever it eventually becomes, well, you know you’re onto something.
But this was a different kind of flicker.
As the Minder of the Universe—the presence overseeing the Cosmos—it was Brigsby’s job to notice these kinds of things.
Yet as the host of Breakfast with Brigsby, the top-rated talk show in Eternity, Brigsby was an entertainer to the masses, hidden in plain sight. He needed to interact with Eternitarians at least enough so that he could gauge their response to his grander endeavors, but even the good folks of Eternity weren’t ready to know just who and what he really was.
So talking to them through their TV sets about food, fashion, and relationships made it a heckuva lot easier to conceal the fact that he was also responsible for the creation of the Universe and everything in it.
“Larry! The TV’s fritzing again. I thought you took care of it.”
“Yes, yes, keep your shirt on. And it’s not fritzing. It’s just a flicker.” Larry swiveled the massive flat screen and looked in back. “Here. See. The plug is loose. Here we go …”
“Oh, my dear, Lawrence. You always have the lugubrious tonic that soothes my achy temperament. You’d think I would’ve had my fill of LOST by now, but I just love that Sawyer. A bit of a temper on that one. But he’s feisty. I like that.”
“LOST made me crazy. Too many dead ends. And don’t get me started on that ending …”
When entertaining guests, Brigsby drank blue martinis, always a blue martini. But when he needed to unwind, nothing did the trick like sitting on his couch, in a silk bathrobe, with a snifter of chocolate milk. His slippered feet rested on the coffee table.
“Now-now, Lawrence. Don’t be such a Whiny McWhinerson. It was twisty and fun and set on a crazy tropical island with beautiful people in compromising positions. Sometimes that’s enough. And how could you not love Hurley? He’s the best. So funny!”
“My apologies, sir.”
“And don’t call me, sir! You know I hate that!”
Brigsby may have had power and influence beyond the scope of comprehension, but his appearance was that of a frail, wrinkled, middle-aged man who could be easily floored by the flap of a butterfly’s fart. He shuffled in his seat so that his chocolate milk sloshed within the snifter, peaking over the lip, spilling into his lap.
“Oh, will you look at that …”
Lawrence let out a wry smile. Not only did he serve as Executive Manager of the CBM Warehouse—the storage facility securing Cosmic Building Material, the Universe’s liquid DNA, the building blocks of all Creation—he was also Brigsby’s personal attaché.
As such, he gave Brigsby the business now and then just to keep him honest, Minder of the Universe or not.
Brigsby wiped his robe clean. “Ha … ha. You are quite the jokester tonight, aren’t you? I think you’ve done enough. Now let me get back to my show. It’s the one where Desmond keeps flashing back and forth through time to find Penny. So romantic. Tell me you didn’t just love that one!”
“Yes, of course. That was pretty good. But before I go …”
Brigsby offered a exasperated sigh. “What now?”
“Have you seen the flicker?”
“Lawrence. Really. I just want to watch my show. Yes. You fixed it. You’re a peach. What would I ever do without your keen ability to jiggle the wire in—”
“No. Not the TV. Out there. Earth. It’s …” Lawrence stepped up to the window so that his reflection mirrored back at him. The distant sky was black, peppered with stars too numerous to count. The magenta pinwheel of the Andromeda galaxy swirled in the distance. Nearby was the permanent nothing of Milo’s Smear. “… Flickering, B. It’s twitching, it’s …”
“Yes. Fluxing. Exactly. It’s fluxing.”
Brigsby sighed again. “I know, Lawrence. I know.”
“Oh. Well … should we look into it?”
Brigsby lifted the remote, paused the episode. He swirled his snifter and took a healthy swig. “First thing tomorrow. I just don’t have the strength right now. I decommissioned thirty-four star systems today. Breaks my heart sometimes …”
There was a look on Brigsby’s face—it wasn’t the good look. Lawrence turned to the fluxing Earth, and then back at Brigsby. “Might I ask …? How bad?”
“It’s that fakakta jar again.”
“What … you mean … the Jason Medley jar? The Theo Barnes jar?”
“That’s the one.”
“I thought the boys took care of that. Ira. Howard. They said not to worry. That we were all set.”
Brigsby sipped his chocolate milk. “Yes,” he said. “They did. They used to be a lot more reliable …”
Lawrence stared into the great expanse. Of the countless celestial bodies in the Universe, Brigsby had taken a special liking to Earth. When he commissioned the planet’s creation, he had it written into the design blueprints that the inhabitants be fashioned with the innate ability to evolve into beings far greater than their consciousness would allow them to initially perceive. If they were to ever reach their true potential, Earthlings would need to survive their own self-destructive impulses long enough to strip away their ego and realize that their very existence was only the first step toward a much grander design.
“The flicker,” Lawrence said. “The flux. I admit, I hadn’t noticed. How long has it been like that?”
“A while now. It hasn’t resolved. So like this damned TV, it’s going to need a manual adjustment. A loose wire, I suppose.”
“How much time do they have?”
On the surface Lawrence had asked a seemingly straightforward question. But as applied to the standards of Eternity, time was not a simple conceit. The passage of time could speed up or slow down. It could leap ahead or jump back. It could travel in loops. It could bend (but not break). It could twist, flatten, knot and gyrate, as well as oscillate, pendulate, undulate and rotate. It could also whirl, purl, revolve, slant, spin, expand and retract, and—when it really got going—whiz, shimmy, shake, buckle, tangle, tremble, tread, roll, flip (although not flop) and even completely reconfigure. And it could all happen simultaneously or in any combination.
Brigsby clarified to the degree that was possible. “The flux is … sporadic, but the pace is picking up. If they don’t get to it soon …”—rare for Brigsby, he looked genuinely sad—“… Earth will flux right out of existence.”
“I’m sorry, B. I know how much you like that little planet.”
“Yes, well … I am rather fond of it. But that’s not my biggest problem.”
When Brigsby said he had a problem, Lawrence never knew quite what that meant, given the countless cosmic issues that arose on a rolling basis. But in this case, he understood this to be a Problem, with a capital P. “B? What is it? What’s out there? What else?”
Brigsby finally got up, and in his pink bunny slippers, shuffled to the window. “Milo,” he said. “He’s back.”
“Oh, not that miscreant. I thought we had more time. How did he reconstitute so quickly? That’s way too fast.”
Though the fate of Existence was summarily at his whim, Milo was one irritant Brigsby could, at best, contain, and then only for short durations. Even Brigsby didn’t know how or why he himself was the Minder of the Universe, where that power ultimately came from, or what fibrous tissue ran through the grand Consciousness. He had always been and, as far as he knew, would always be. Until his time was up. And until that occasion presented itself, Milo would remain his eternal foil. The Jester to his ultimate court.
“No idea. But he’s out there mucking up my Universe. And I’m not having it.” Brigsby slurped down the remainder of his chocolate milk. “If Milo’s back this soon it means he’s up to something. And I’ve spent way too much time and gone to way too much trouble to let him ruin Earth for me now. There’s no telling how much damage he’ll cause or what else he has in mind.”
Brigsby refastened his robe tie and stared out into the Universe. He motioned with his snifter. “Hit me again, Larry. It’s going to be a long night.”