• T. Mark Mangum

Growler Ink, Alternative Story Line #2

To Say that Sally Well and Growler Ink were made for one another, would be a slight understatement.  ** Please read Growler Ink first, then Alternate Story Line #1. Thanks, enjoy! **

To Say that Sally Well and Growler Ink were made for one another, would be a slight understatement. Sally thrived at Growler, the work was exciting, magical, imaginative, creative, and the atmosphere more like a daily gathering of friends at a back-yard barbeque than work. So, noticing the departure of several co-workers over the months without notice, and with them seemingly dropping off the face of the earth was a given. Sally was especially worried about Dorothy. They were becoming such good friends.

“No Mitch, I am telling you something is strange, off ya know, not right. What do I do to get a health and wellness check done by the police?

“Did you talk to HR? Maybe they could let you know where she went and if she gave a new phone number. Mitch said as he poured his morning Joe and sat next to Sally at the balcony table.

“They say that she is still employed but has taken another assignment, but they can’t share her personal information.”

“Tell you what, I will drive by her home and take a peek.”

“Thanks, Mitch, you’re the best.” Sally said,” The rest of their morning coffee conversation played out normally till the hands of time called and they both left for work.

Sally had a copy call due on the next installment of Bang and Misfire, her signature comic that had become a hit since its initial publication eight months ago. Bang was a sassy African heroine born and raised in the streets of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her superpower was the ability to make anything go bang, ca-pow, you know, blow up; and I mean anything, even water. Her sidekick, Misfire, on the other hand, had the ability to make anything that is supposed to go bang, Misfire, thus the name misfire. Misfire was an introverted young lady of mixed ethnicity with dark brown straight hair that she cut and kept in a manner that covered both eyes. The pair in the Comic would go around taking the firepower away from those who wished to control things while oppressing people and being ass hats.

Officer Mitch Trowelsted rolled through his morning routine, then headed over to Dorothy’s home. He had visited there once with Sally during a work party. There was a for sale sign in the front yard. He parked and walked up the drive to the front door. The drapes were open on the front windows, he peered in, the home was clean and devoid of furnishings. He took the information from the yard sign and went about his day.

Sally was having a grand day everything smooth and according to plans, she had lunch where the constant nagging in the back of her mind concerning Dorothy became more pronounced. She sighed and texted Mitch. While texting, Heather from reception came in and moved to Sally’s table.

“Hey Sally, how are you today?”

“Heather, doing well thanks, and you?”

“Wonderful. So, Mr. Wren called down a moment ago and ask me to find you and send you up.”

“Oh, ok, I’ll go up right away, thanks.”

Heather departed and Sally put things away, straightened up, brushed her teeth, and went to the elevator bank. She had been upstairs before, but usually, the meetings with Mr. Wren were planed a week out or so. She began to worry a little. She reached the 13th floor and exited the elevator feeling a bit off like, she had been here before, but it was different in some way. She walked toward Mr. Wren’s office and then realized there was a hallway to the left that she had not noticed before. That can't be. She walked back to the elevators and check the floor number, 13, “hmmm?”

The hallway was long, much longer it seemed, then the building’s dimensions should have allowed. At the end of the hallway was a set of massive double doors twelve feet high and ten feet across. Sally stood staring mouth agape. She felt a twinge of fear. She reached for the handle. Not realizing that she had walked the entire hallway.

“Ms. Well? Are you ok?” Mr. Wren’s voice came from behind her.

“Ah, yes sir, sorry, I saw the door and, never mind, sorry.” She said and walked quickly to where he stood at the intersection of hallways.

“Do you want to see inside?”

“Ummm, sure, what is it?”

“OH, just a really big room, some desks, some people, portals to different dimensions, and some romorphengie.”

“Wait, what, different dimensions, what is a romorphengi?”

They got to the doors Mr. Wren placed his hand on a screen that Sally now noticed. He pulled open the doors and walked in. “you’ll see.”

Sally, stunned by the enormity of the room stood at the doors for a second, then followed as Mr. Wren had kept walking.

“Mr. Wren, what is a romorphengie, what is this place? What …” She stopped and stared, processing what she was seeing.

Along each wall stretching far into the distance there were desks, unoccupied and behind each desk a large round opening, they swirled and rippled like the surface of a crystal blue lake. Possibly a hundred, she didn’t count, they were all empty till down at the very end, there appeared to be folks at the desks and the portals would spark, whirl, shine and she perceived noise coming from them. She realized that she had been slowly walking behind Mr. Wren as she viewed the oddities before her. He had stopped and was eyeing her. He seemed off, stranger than normal. And his smile was a bit distorted.

“I do love Bang and Misfire, Ms. Well, what other sorts of amazing worlds are in that sweet beautiful head of yours?” he turned and walked on.

“Sir, thank you, sir, I have several storylines I’ve been working on. But what is this what is going on?”

“This, my dear, this is my Nursery of dimensional shifts where stories come to life; …” He gestured to the room in a showman announcer voice twirling on his heels.

“and I am the creator.”

Mr. Wren, it seemed had grown a bit and he was now clad in a flowing technicolored suite with tails that drag on the floor. He wore oversized glasses the lenses shaped like five-pointed stars.

Sally swooned and the room flexed and stretched and in an instant, they stood in front of the occupied desks and active portals. There at the desks were employees she recognized as those that had vanished including Dorothy, but what was that they were wearing? She wondered if this was what an Ayahuasca dream trip felt like.

“What has happened to Dorothy and the others? What is that?”

Mr. Wren was dancing about from opening to opening, whistling, and laughing pausing at each portal looking in and saying “Yes, yes, … beautiful, … Ha Ha!” and then spinning and dancing some more.

Sally was staring at Dorothy now she and the others were wearing, a furry suit?

Like a one-piece pajama suit with a hood but the hood had … eyes?

It was as if Dorothy had been swallowed whole by a bright green furry pajama monster!

Dorothy sat at the desk staring at the computer screen typing. She did not acknowledge sally or Mr. Wren, she just sat and typed. On the corner of each desk, an odd-looking printer whirled and hummed and printed page upon page one after the other. Sally noticed that Dorothy’s exposed hands had thin strips of the green fur along the top of each finger, back across her hand to the cuff of the pajamas.

“Dorothy! … Mr. Wren! Will! What is this, what is going on, what’s happening to them?”

“Ha Ha, … we, my dear, they are creating alternative dimensions, their ideas and thoughts and stories come to life for me to enjoy, come take a look into the portal, see, see.”

“No, this is crazy, no no no, your crazy!” She spun and ran for the door it felt the world had gone into slow motion that she was running in water.

“But Ms. Well, wait, I have prepared a desk for you right here, next to your friend.”


Growler Ink, Alternative Story line #2 is published on Medium an online publication. Please consider joining Medium as a paid subscriber. When you read my stories on Medium I get paid.

Copyright: T. Mark Mangum, 2020. All rights reserved. No part of my story may be copied, reprinted, or published without my written consent.

T. Mark Mangum, is the product of the 60s and 70s, his imagination, wonder, thoughts, and ponderings, emboldened by Star Trek, Star Wars, Conan the Barbarian, and The Hobbit. He loves a good story and hopes you will love reading his stories. Veteran, Father, TTRPG, and Board Game Junkie. He spent 20 years in the United States Army, another 10 working for the government, before realizing he should write.

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