The Translocation of Dr Pepper

Many residents of a small Oregon town have their lives uprooted when the soda fountain in a local diner begins to teleport, threatening the very existence of the planet at large.

This is meant to be a lighthearted, fun, and somewhat humorous story.

First draft.

Work in progress.


6. How to Lose a (Few) Girl(s) in Forty-Seven Minutes

.             September sixth marked the beginning of a week long time honored tradition in Pinebill, Oregon. Seventy-three years ago, Bill Pinebill V noticed a shocking lack of morale in the town. The year was 1944 and World War Two had sent the residents of Pinebill into a steep depressive mood that was not so easily escaped. The town had never before been much for dreariness so the local millionaire searched for a solution. Nearby the Pinebill estate was a balloon salesman. He sold balloons of all colors to young children from his cart. It was an honest living. One day, the ballon salesman was robbed at gunpoint and all of his assets were stolen except for his balloons which, with the help of an autumn breeze and God’s guiding hand, drifted past Bill Pinebill V’s window. The wealthy man noticed his three year old son, Bill Pinebill VI giggle with delight as nearly twenty-six balloons of all colors floated past. An idea floated into Bill Pinebill V’s head. Surely a carnival would brighten the lives of all of the Pinebill citizens. Using a third of his fortune, Bill created the first annual Pinebill Carnival in order to get the best rides, games, and entertainment money could buy. Admission was free for seventy years until the death of his son at the hands of his wife, Marina, who began charging four dollars per ticket.

.           The Pinebill Carnival was the biggest event of the year. People came every year from nearby towns to experience its splendor. Children in Pinebill, Oregon were even given the week off of school. The town mascot, the chatty honeybee, was painted on the sign of every booth and t-shirts with the slogan ‘Save the Bees’ were sold at the entrance. Bee keepers sold honey based sweets and competed fairly well with cotton candy vendors. Fair rides like carousels and ferries wheels where strung up with lights that made the whole town glitter at night. Fun houses and games stayed open twenty four hours a day. There was something at the carnival for everyone. And the fairgrounds were one of the locations in the soda fountain’s path.

.           Leela, Wendy, George, and Elouise were sitting in Elouise’s living room at 6:31 PM, discussing how to use this fact to their advantage. They had noticed, of course, that the soda fountain had been moving at an increasingly faster rate. Because of this, the cycle’s pacing would have to be calculated mathematically. Leela, who had taken AP calculus in high school, estimated that the soda fountain would be transported from Pinebill Cemetery to the fairgrounds at 8:54 PM. After that, the friends would have forty-seven minutes to return to it and leave. The question that none of them knew the answer to was where the soda fountain would take them from there. Leela was supposed to have brought map but had lost it during her shift at the Baffle House a few days prior. Wendy, George, and Elouise were all of the opinion that this would likely not yield any semblance of a positive outcome considering they had written the words “Heist Plan” on the top of the map in red Sharpie.

.           Regardless of their concerns, all four friends were determined to attend the carnival without paying the entrance fee. This crime, while far less severe than their previous one, was going to take significantly more planning. The reason for this was because, after trespassers had been spotted in the graveyard on two separate occasions recently, Chief Dominick had demanded a twenty-four hour security detail be placed in watch in Pinebill Cemetery. Many citizens of Pinebill, Oregon considered this action to be extreme but the chief of police had suspicions that the cemetery was somehow linked to Marina Pinebill's powerful influence on both sides of the law and intended to put an end to her meddling once and for all. His extreme determination, while an asset to himself, was a great inconvenience to the four amateur criminals who now wanted nothing more than to enter the Pinebill Carnival for free.

.           As the brainstorming and planning began, Elouise’s dogs, three Rottweilers named Barkleby, Sarge, and Veronica, happily wandered into the living room. The dogs were identical in every way. Only Elouise could tell them apart. George liked to joke that she actually had no idea which dog was which and, rather, used their names interchangeably. In reality, Elouise, who had raised the dogs herself, knew the dogs almost exclusively by their temperaments. Barkleby was stoic and loyal. Once, Elouise had fallen from an apple tree in her backyard and Barkleby was the one to stay with her until help arrived. Sarge was always happy. His tail wagged even when he slept. And, finally, Veronica, Elouise believed, was quite possibly the world’s most ferocious dog. Every veterinarian who had ever examined her shared this sentiment. All three dogs, regardless of their dispositions, were very sweet. At least to Elouise and those whom she did not consider to be enemies.

.          Wendy, who was allergic to animal dander and, by extension, dogs, sneezed. Suddenly, she was struck with inspiration. Aware that the police patrolling the cemetery were using police dogs, there was no need to distract the guards. They needed only to distract the dogs and the policemen would follow. Leela had also had the same idea but did not care to share it on account of her trepidations regarding having been inducted into a group of closely knit childhood friend in which she felt like an outsider. The feeling of being somewhat of an inductee among her new friends was, in that moment, strengthened by the realization that this was the first time they had seen her wearing anything other than her Baffle House uniform. She hadn’t yet told them that she was new in town or that they were the only friends she had made so far. The other three had secretly suspected this after she had called the soda fountain a ‘coke machine’ but said nothing to allow her to continue presenting herself as mysterious.

.           The strawberry colored convertible Ford Bronco was left at a parking meter three blocks from the graveyard. It was Saturday so there was no need to pay. The sun was beginning to sink below the horizon and the sky was glowing brilliantly in shades of red and pink. The air had a chill in it and the wind, when it blew, had a sharp bite that turned out heroes’ cheeks pink. George was shaking, and not just because he had forgotten his jacket. Once again, he had chosen, or rather, been chosen, to complete the most daunting trial of the operation at hand.

.           As his female colleagues crouched behind the shrubbery that lay just beyond the cemetery fence, George, hoping that his bravery would be commended, reached his hand into his pocket a drew out a dog whistle. After taking the deepest breath he had ever inhaled, George blew into the whistle as hard as he could, feeling somewhat silly when no sound audible to human ears was coming out.

.          The policemen patrolling the graveyard were startled when the German Shepherds at the ends of their leashes all suddenly began to bark and run towards a sound the policemen could not hear. Believing there was another intruder, the men followed their dogs. George hid behind a gravestone at the edge of the cemetery that marked the grave of Fanny Beatrice Holton, a woman who had died six years prior in a sewing accident. He looked at his watch. He only had two and a half minutes remaining. He blew the whistle again.

.         With the guards distracted, the girls quietly ventured into the cemetery. In the nighttime, Leela had found the graveyard to be unsettling and gloomy. In the daytime, however, she took note of the way the dying yellow grass and red orange sky collided with the evergreen trees. And the gravestones, the only hint of grey in all the town, seemed now less like a cold reminder of death and more like the ruins of an ancient civilization made up entirely of lives well lived. Because of the town’s large florist population, the flowers left on graves were always the most incredible selections and reflected the life of the person buried beneath. The was not a more gorgeous graveyard in all the world.

.         There was, however, something about Pinebill Cemetery that unnerved Leela even in the light of the setting sun. There was a stone statue that stood in the center of the graveyard. It depicted an angel, it’s wings folded over its face, with a long robe. The angel’s hands were misshapen and elongated. Leela had always a believed that the statue was too frightening a sight to stand in a place where people laid their loved ones to rest. The statue had been placed there by the Pinebill family before the town became a town at all and was so old that it had sunken a few inches into the ground. Leela walked at a faster pace as the girls passed the statue. She looked at her watch so that she would not become frightened. There was one minute remaining.

.          George’s heart felt like it contained a tiny prisoner who was trying to break his way out with a sledge hammer. As the policemen drew closer, one of the German Shepherds suddenly caught his scent and broke free of its leash to give chase. George leapt up from his hiding place and began to sprint towards the soda fountain which lay on the far side of the cemetery. The guards saw him and nearly chased after him but they knew could not run faster than the German Shepherd and watched it as it gained ground of the intruder. George’s heart was beating even faster now. He was all at once thankful that his mother had forced him to run track in high school as he was now trying to outrun a police dog and jumping over gravestones like hurdles. The dog was doing the same, though, and her training was much more thorough and recent. Forty-five more seconds. The outcome would not be good if George were to be left behind.

.           With the soda fountain in sight, George leapt over one final gravestone. His foot caught on the top of it and he fell forward into grass. He rolled a bit before looking behind him to see the dog had leapt over the same grave, albeit successfully, and was about the land on top of him. George rolled out of the way and tried to stand but was too panicked to catch his footing. Wendy ran to his aid and, when the viscous German Shepherd lunged forward to bite him, she punched it square in the nose. The sky was becoming dark. Seven more seconds. The pair just barely made it in time to be teleported to the carnival. The police officers watching were dumbfounded. They hadn’t noticed the soda fountain previously due to it having lost its illustrious shine over the course of it travels and now did not look unlike a rectangular stone, something common place in a graveyard. The police officers were entire resolved to believing it had never been there to begin with.

.           The four friends found themselves in a spare carnival tent that was used only for equipment storage. They were silent at first as they glanced each other over for injuries. Finding none, they burst into laughter. Not at anything in particular. It was more an expression of relief and a recognition of the level to which their lives had become illogical than it was a show of amusement. They heard footsteps outside of the tent.

.            The footsteps belonged to Agents Bentley and Flexbert. They had been searching the carnival for the rouge soda fountain all day because it was marked on the map and because they wanted to experience the incredible Pinebill Carnival before the end of the world. Wendy, Leela, George, and Elouise stepped outside the tent and immediately froze. The agents had their guns at the ready. They recognized Leela.

.             “Stop where you are!” Agent Flexbert shouted.

.             Pumping with adrenaline and fearing the legal ramifications of teleportation. Elouise yelled “Run!”

.             Wendy and Leela ran to the right while George and Elouise ran to the left. All four people knew that they should not be splitting up but reconvergence was made in possible by the fact that each of them was thinking the same thing: “You idiots! You should have run the same way as us!” And so nobody ever did. George and Elouise had run to a much more densely peopled portion of the carnival and were able to quickly slip away. Leela and Wendy were not quite so lucky and the agents ran after them. They were able to keep a fair pace ahead of their pursuant due to their familiarity with the Pinebill Carnival, which they attended every year.

.             Once they could be sure that they were not being followed, Elouise and George ran into a large tent to catch their breath. The tent was called the House of Mirrors because it contained a maze constructed entirely of mirrors. It wasn’t a very difficult maze but it was somewhat elaborate. Elouise stated that she believed the maze would be a good place to hide while they figured out what to do. George agreed and they set off into the labyrinth of mirrors together. When they were certain that they were at least halfway into the maze, they purposely took a wrong turn down a dead end and sat down on the ground. Elouise frantically texted Wendy to see if the other girls were alright. There was no reply.

.            “So much for a free night at the carnival,” sighed Elouise.

.            “We can still have fun,” suggested George.

.            “How? Leela and Wendy are still out there.”

.            “And they’re probably safe and saying the same thing about us right now.”

.            “You don’t know that.”

.            “I guess not. Why don’t we go up in the Ferris wheel and see if we can see them from up there? That could be fun and it might solve our problems.”

.            “Okay. That’s sounds good. But can we stay here for just a little while longer? I don’t want to go back out there right now.”

.             “Yeah. Me neither.”

.             Elouise laid her head on George’s shoulder and breathed deeply. She was trying to calm herself down and see clearly. George tried to move as little as possible so she would not be disturbed. They closed their eyes and became tranquil in their dread.

.              Across the fairgrounds, Wendy and Leela had completely evaded the men in tuxedos. They each bought a stick of honey cotton candy, which was a yellow cotton candy spun from sweetened honey rather than cane sugar. The girls took several rides on the swing tower before becoming dizzy and making the decision to play carnival games instead. Wendy was unaware of the multiple text messages she had received from Elouise because her cellphone had fallen out of the pocket of her high school letterman jacket while on the swing tower. While Leela was playing Wack-A-Mole, Wendy noticed she was missing her phone and became panicked.

.              “Hey, Leela? Could you call my phone? I can’t find it,” she said.

.              “Are you going to hear it with all these people around?”

.              “Probably not. I bet I put it down at the cotton candy stand.”

.               “Ok, well, let me finish this round and then I’ll help you look for it.”

.               Leela had a bad feeling in her gut. The men in tuxedos had come into the Baffle House earlier in the week. They recognized her. Now, they knew what Wendy looked like too. If they were to find her cellphone before the girls did, they would surely know whose it was. And there was no way that that could end well. Leela got a disappointing score on her last round of Wack-A-Mole due to her discomfort at the thought of going to prison.

.               Before she started hanging out with her three new friends, Leela had never committed a crime in her life. She almost never took big chances. Every time she rode the bus, she would sit by the emergency exit just in case. But there was something about her new friends that made her feel like she could take risks without consequence. And, now, she feared she would pay the price.

.              Wendy’s phone wasn’t at the cotton candy stand so she convinced Leela that calling the phone, while it might not help, certainly could not hurt. When it rang, the ride operator at the swing tower picked it up. He informed Wendy that she had dropped the phone after her third turn on the swings and that he had kept it to turn into the lost and found. Relieved, they began walking back to the swing tower.

.              On the other side of the carnival, George and Elouise were stepping onto the Ferris wheel. It wasn’t a very tall wheel but was it was y’all enough to see the entire carnival from the top. It was the main attraction every year; its recognizable shape all covered in string lights was an image featured on every poster and advertisement.

.              The fairgrounds always played the radio over the speakers but there were usually too many people around to hear the music. Up in the Ferris wheel, where it was silent, the music could be heard most clearly. Usually, the songs played on this particular local station were cheerful so Elouise thought it was ironic that it would be playing Desperado by the Eagles during her time of personal crisis. She and George stared out over the crowd as they rose higher and higher.

.              “It’s kinda pretty up here,” George remarked.

.              “Yeah, it’s nice,” said Elouise even though she wasn’t really listening.

.              “You know, I’m worried about them too.”

.              “I know you are.”

.              “I know sometimes it seems like I don’t care.”

.              “No, it doesn’t. I know you care. Now, shut up and help me look.”

.              “You know I care about you too, right?”

.               “Yeah.”

.              George stood closer to Elouise. He was a bit scared of heights so he had to look up every now and again. His eyes fell on Elouise. The lights from the carnival danced in her eyes. She seemed to glow even as she furrowed her brow. George knew that, if he had been the one missing, she would be looking for him just as intently. In the beauty of the moment, all he could think to do was kiss her. So he did.

.              “What is wrong with you!” Elouise pushed him away.

.              “I’m sorry. I just-”

.              “You just what?”

.              “I love you.”

.              “George, you are my best friend. That’s not a step down from anything. I love you, I really do. But I’m not in love with you. And, even if I was, now would not be the time. Our friends are missing! It’s not exactly romantic.”

.              “I’m sorry.”

.              “Please don’t ever do that again.”

.              “I’m sorry.”

.              “I know you are.”

.              Elouise looked at her watch. There were only three minutes left before the soda fountain would move again. Her eyes scanned the crowd. She spotted the two men in tuxedos standing at the operating booth at the swing tower. They were talking to the operator. George saw Wendy and Leela walking towards the booth and pointed it out to Elouise. Unable to intervene, George and Elouise watched as the men chased their friends back to the tent that the soda fountain was hidden in. All four of them disappeared inside without a trace. George and Elouise both checked the time. 9:41 PM.

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