The Days of Our Pandemic: episode sane

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

Before diving into this episode, see what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

K stepped solemnly into the bathroom. In her hands she held a small cardboard box no larger than a shoebox. “Here it is, Z.”

“Here it is, K! This is it! Our hope! Our dreams of getting out of these four walls are finally coming to fruition! Here! In this moment! And you cannot unhinge us with your reckless ineptitude.”

“You think I’m unhinged, Z?”

Z glanced into K’s eyes without adjusting the position of her head from its centered view of the shipment. “Yes, K.”

“You do?” K asked, sorrow creeping into her voice for the first time in a long time.

“Yes, K,” Z said. 

Z fixated on the box.

“Z?”

“Yes, K?”

“What does unhinged mean?”

At this, Reader, Z saw an opportunity. And, Reader, she took that opportunity.

“Unhinged? Unhinged describes someone with an unusually strong sense of commitment to do what’s right, to endure through momentary pain, to inflict a bit of a poke, for the good of one’s self and others.”

K’s chin rose higher with each word. Higher and higher until she stared at the ceiling.

“And you think I’m unhinged, Z?”

“Most definitely, K.”

K stood as erect as Z. Her face determined. “Let’s open this shipment, Z.”

“Let’s,” said Z.

K grabbed at the packaging tape with her bare hands. She ripped it off like a bandaid. She opened the cardboard flaps and unveiled a white, foam box like an ice block. 

“It’s inside there,” directed Z.

K gave her a nod and proceeded to open the remaining packaging and all its sealants until all that was left was a single vial.

“Now,” said Z, “the magnetized syringe.”

“That’s the moving thing, Z?” said K as she watched two components wiggle and slide across the counter toward the vial she held.

“Yes,” said Z. 

Click.

“Yes!” said Z. “This is the moment, K. This is the time. Take it in your hand like this.” Z held a lip gloss tube to demonstrate for K.

Entranced, K followed Z’s instruction.

“That’s it. That’s it.”

K held the syringe. The syringe held the vial.

“Hold it up to the bruise on your arm.”

K’s trance broke. “Which bruise, Z? Look how many I have.” K pointed with the needled and began counting with pride. “One, two, three, four, five, six…”

“Number five! Number five!”

“…eighteen….thirty-two…”

“Number five. Number five.”

“…thirty-six…forty-five…”

“Num-ber five. Num-ber five.”

“…seventy-seven! Seventy-seven bruises, Z. Which one.”

“Numb-ber. F-ive.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so way back at the beginning of counting?” said K.

Z opened her heavy eyelids and stared at K until her eyes glossed over. No words made their way out of her mouth. 

K lifted the vial of mRNA and its needle of delivery up to her shoulder.

The movement of the needle roused Z.

Z said, “Now all you must do is jab it in on the count of three, and the mRNA will do the rest.”

“The messenger will do the rest?” asked K.

“Pardon?” Z forgot for a moment that she’d informed K of the true name of mRNA, the full name, the extended form name which, of course, began with messenger. “Oh, yes.”

K froze.

“On the count of three.”

“Can we do five?” asked K.

“You want to count to five?” asked Z.

“Right-o, Z,” said K. “It is bruise number five.”

“Go ahead, K,” said Z.

K, misunderstanding Z as usual, thought Z wanted her to go ahead with it. She said, “No numbers or counting then, Z. Right-o.” And she thrust the needle into her arm.

Z watched and a grin spread like a virus across her face. “You’ve done it! I’ve done it! We’ve done it!”

“We did it! We did it!” K skipped one, two, three, four, five times before the desire to skip drained a bit. Her skips became slower, heavier. She walked, step by step, in her own bathroom, and she noticed she held a vial in her hand. It looked unfamiliar to her. A vial with a needle attached. How did it get there? 

“Well, that’s dangerous,” she said and set the materials down on the counter. 

As she did, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror. She turned her head to the left and examined her right side. 

“Looks good,” she said.

She turned her head to the right and examined her left side.

“Looks good,” she said.

She tipped her lips up to one side, gave herself a nod, and said, “You, KZ Rochelle, are about to have a very good day.”

And with that, she turned, she exited the bathroom, and she called to her sons, “Xander, Xaivier, grab your things. We’re leaving. Let’s go visit your cousins.”

Inside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, a family fluttered with unusual activity. Previously, these people had been confined to their home for over a year of their lives. They shared experiences they’d never hoped to, like running out of paperclips and baking loaf after loaf of banana bread and learning morse code and turning the bathroom into a water park and then…

They went outside the walls of the lavender home with blue violet trim. Xander picked a goldenrod wildflower. He smelled it. He wiped the pollen and stem residue on Xaiver. 

And they went on, Reader, to interact with their cousins and others. They hugged. They played soccer, shot basketballs, attended school and church. They noticed the green of the leaves. They smelled the jasmine. They engaged their senses in the world outside. 

Thus it was that sanity returned.

THE END

this story has been brought to you by the insane mind of author, KZ Rochelle

The Days of Our Pandemic: episode the

a pinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

Before diving into this episode, see what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

Outside the lavender home with blue violet trim on Wonky Way Lane, a pair of peregrine falcons soared on the breeze over a rabbit den, flapping their wings and paying no particular attention to the bunnies below. Prior peoples have seen a harbinger herein, but such as those had long since considered the signs in the skies. They’d traded them (in an unsought barter) for the signs of insides. 

In front of the bathroom mirror in said Wonky Way Lane home, the following scene took place. Observe, dear Reader, from your safe distance on the far side of the screen lest you spiral into what you discover. Or perhaps, you have already….

“Today is the day, K,” Z said from inside the mirror. 

“What day is it, Z?” K asked.

“Today is THE day, K. THE day. The day we’ve been waiting for.” Z looked at K expectantly.

“TH, TH, THE day.” K pondered. “Is today Thursday, Z?”

“The day of the week is irrelevant!” said Z. “Today is the day we escape the world enclosed by these four walls.”

“Of course it is, Z. That’s the same thing we do every day.”
Z rolled her hazel eyes.

K misunderstood and tried to roll her eyes as well, but she ended up tossing her head back and hitting the crown of her head on the wall behind her.

A perturbed groan emanated from the wall itself. 

K and Z both ignored it.

“I’m glad you finally understand that, K, but today is not like every other day.”

K rubbed the back of her head. “I understand lots of things, Z. Like the chemical potential –”

“Yes!” Z interrupted K. “The chemical potential.” She raised a single finger. “That’s precisely what I mean.”

“Huh?” K still rubbed her head. She needed to make sure her thought-maker hadn’t been dented. Afterall, she had some very interesting thoughts stored there.

Z pushed her hair from her eyes, styling it without the means of a mirror — as she was in the mirror. “I have been working…”

“Right-o, Z. You’ve been working.”

“…on a project destined for success.”

“Yes, yes, success,” said K. 

“And the shipment I ordered arrives today.”

“Oooooooh.” K’s eyes widened. “Is it a present?”

“Yes and no, K,” said Z.

“Yes and no?” K cocked her head and squinted one eye as though she’d been squirted with lime juice — which, Reader, she had not been, even though Z often wished for a lime with which to squirt K. “How can it be both yes and no, Z?”

“Because not everything is black and white, K.”

“Of course not everything is black and white, Z. Look around you. There’s red and green and blue and orange and purple and —”

“Quiet!”

“Quiet is not a color, Z.”

“I know that, K,” Z said while trying to collect her calm.

“But if quiet were a color, I suppose it would be —-”

“Irrelevant!”

“No, K. Irrelevant is not a color either. Should we call my kindergarten teacher?”

“Oh, good gracious.” Z’s head flopped onto her upturned palms.

“I don’t know if I have her email. Or phone number. Or Meet. Or WhatsApp. Or Marco Polo. Or –”

“Anyway!” Z interrupted K’s spiral.

“Yes, Z. Anyway, quiet would be off-white,” stated K.

Z’s eyes peeked out from between her fingers. “Did you say off-white?”

“Off-white,” K said with one definitive head nod like a period.

“She must be off, right?” Z whispered to herself.

“Right-o,” said K, still punctuating her previous comment and unaware that Z had said anything since. 

“Can we get on with this?” asked Z.

“Certainly,” said K.

Z arose. She presented her best posture. “I have arranged for an important shipment of very specific messenger ribonucleic acid which you will use with this lancet to inject yourself.”

K shrieked. “A messenger is coming to lance me with acid?! Z, I do not want to leave here in a body bag. I would rather stay inside these four walls.”

“You will not stay inside these four walls and you will leave on your own two feet!” Z said.

“I don’t care if they hold me up on my two feet if I’m inside a body bag,” K informed Z.

“You will walk yourself, K,” said Z.

This confused K enough to settle her.

“So it’ll be like a Weekend at Bernie’s?” asked K.

“No, K,” said Z. “You will be alive. And with your own strength, you will walk yourself out of these four walls.”

K stared into Z’s eyes. 

Z stared into K’s eyes.

K furrowed her brow.

Z closed her eyes. She nodded her head twice.

K flinched. She took a step backwards. She crossed her arms. “I don’t believe you,” she said.

“You don’t have to believe me,” said Z. “You just have to administer the injection.”

“Right. Oh, Z?”

“Yes, K?”

“I think I hear a shipment arrival.”

At K’s final audible syllable, the doorbell rang. 

“Oooh. A shipment!” said K, clapping her hands together. “What could it be? I hope it’s for me!”

“Oh, Lord help me,” said Z.

“A shipment! A shipment!” K jumped up and down.

“That’s it, girl,” said Z. “That’s it. You’ve got it. You’ve got a shipment.”

K panted with her hands hanging midair beneath her chin.

“Aaaaaaaand, fetch! Go, girl! Fetch the shipment!”

K ran toward the bathroom’s exit. She hit her shoulder on the doorframe on her way out.

“Ouch!” she yelled but kept running. 

A cackle burst forth.

“I know, Rochelle. Sometimes, she’s just too much.” Z joined Rochelle with a reserved chortle. “But it’ll all be over soon.” 

Z turned. She faced you, Reader. Her cat-like eyes glowed and again she said, “Oh, yes. It’ll all be over soon.”

Can it be true? Will it be over? Is this the time K & Z escape from the confines of these four walls. Find out in the next (final?) installment of The Days of Our Pandemic…

Days of Our Pandemic: episode y3

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of  Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode y, part 2, they had a plan to leave the enclosure of these four walls in order to get K medical assistance. I know, you’re thinking about the multitude of medical assistances K requires, but, in this case, she suffered a laceration to the head. At Z’s insistence, the two were getting ready to leave the bathroom, leave the house, leave these four walls. But Z claimed K was forgetting something….

K held up the toilet paper. “Got the TP, Z.” She looked around the bathroom. She tried to remember if she was supposed to take the plumbing. Or was it the wet/dry vac? There was a towel on the floor. That didn’t seem like the place it should be. Maybe she was supposed to wrap herself in a towel. Was she supposed to stay fully clothed under the towel? That didn’t sound right. She was going to the doctor after all, the place she first attended in her birthday suit…

Z cooed, “What about,” then cawed, “ME YOU PEABRAIN?!”

“I didn’t pee in my brain. Did I, Z? Maybe I did hurt myself badder than I thought and my thoughts are not working. Oh no, a leak in my brain?”

“Nuthead.”

“Nuts, too!? I’m doomed.” K’s hands shot to her neck. She toddled and nearly fell, again. “I’m dying. I’m dying.”

“Then stop choking yourself,” Z told K.

“Oh.” K let her hands drop to her sides. “That fixed it.”

“And the doctor will fix the rest of what she can, but bring me with you.”

“Right-o, Z. Let’s go.”

K took Z to the garage, along with the toilet paper. She set Z on the passenger seat and buckled her in.

“Safety first, Z,” K said.

K started the car. She released the emergency break. She put the car in reverse. 

“Don’t forget to open the garage, K,” said Z.

“Right-o, Z.”

The garage door opened. K and Z began to back out of the garage.

“We’re doing it. We’re doing it,” Z said. “We’re leaving this blasted house behind!”

“Yes! A blast from your behind!”

Z was too thrilled to deal with K, so she pretended not to hear her.

Just before K and Z reached the edge of the four walls of the lavender house with blue violet trimming on Wonky Way Lane, K hit the breaks.

“What are you doing, K? We’re almost out! We are leaving, escaping! Self-liberation! Emancipation! Let’s go!”

“Uhhh? Z? There’s something fishy behind us.”

“What?” Z turned to see, but she was in a mirror so she could not see behind her. “What is it?”

“Well, maybe fishy is the wrong word. There are no fish. It is kind of goldfish colored though.”

“What is it, K?”

“It’s a big, fiery wall of fire.”

“No!”

“Yes, Z. It is. I swear. I promise. It’s for real.”

“It’s a wall of fire?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure, K?”

“Quite, Z.”

Z’s gaze met the ground. “It’s a firewall,” she said.

“But it’s for real. I thought firewalls were virtual.”

“They are, K, but we live in a world where the lines between reality and virtuality are disappearing.”

“And reappearing as a real live fire wall?”

“Sure,” said Z. 

“Then what will we do about my head, Z? Please don’t say cut it off. I like my head, Z. I wouldn’t like to live without my head.”

“You won’t, K,” said Z.

“Oh, thank you, Z,” said K.

“That’s not what I meant, K,” said Z. 

“Oh, thank you, Z.”

They sat a moment, each worrying over the circumstance they found themselves in but for entirely different reasons.

“Z? It’s getting hot in here. Can we close the garage door, please?” asked K.

Z felt the loss of the near escape and recognized that closing the garage door meant closing the door to a successful escape from the enclosed by these four walls. Again.

Z exhaled a breath large enough to extinguish a fire — on a candle wick. “Yes, K,” she said. “Let’s go inside and call the doctor.”

“Oooh! Can I do a virtual visit, Z?”

“That’s the only thing you can do thanks to the real firewall, K.”

“Oh, that’s much better, Z. That means no shots!” said K.

“Just the one right through the heart of our escape plan.”

K snickered. “That one’s not real, Z.”

“I know,” said a downtrodden Z.

“You’re so silly.”

“Come on now. Back to the bathroom. You can give me a good look at you there and we will get you a bit cleaned up before we call the doctor.”

“That sounds like a plan, Z.”

“Oh, K. I’d slap you if I could.”

“Okay, Z.”

The two made a virtual appointment, called the doctor, and cleaned K’s head — which turned out not to be bleeding at all. No. K stored several sriracha packets in her hairline and the fall caused one to burst and squirt onto her right eyebrow.  All remained as well as could be in the lavender house with violet blue trim on Wonky Way Lane. Which is, of course, to say things were not well at all.

Is Z out of ideas for good? Or will her ideas go bad? Or worse, might K take the reins to lead K and Z out of the enclosure of these four walls? Poor K and Z. What will they do next? Find out in the next episode of Days of Our Pandemic.

Days of Our Pandemic: episode y2

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode y, Z lamented her lack of creative energy and therefore her lack of a plan to escape the confinement of these four walls and K danced with her overflow of energy in the face of Draft Day.

“You want me to stop dancing, Z?”

“Yes, K.”

“Why, Z?”

“Because I need a plan and I cannot think of a plan with all dastardly distraction drowning my creative drive.”

“Well, why didn’t you just say so?” said K, who stood statue still. 

Z contemplated her recent efforts. The plumbing debacle, the foiled delivery, the perished paperclip predicament. Her ideas were unique. They were soluble. They should have been successful. But K always managed to get in the way of things going right or well.

K’s statuesque pose began to crumble. “Hey, Z, it’s hard being a statue.” K barely finished speaking before she burst into laughter. “Ba hahaha! It’s hard. Being a statue! Hahaha. Get it, Z? Ha! Because statues are stone. Haha. So they’re hard. Ha. Ha.”

“Hardy har har.” Z did not laugh. She deigned to be annoyed.

“HARDy HARD HARD! Hahaha!” K could not control herself.  

“It’s a solemn, solitary tune on a day I cannot cogitate to create a plan. No laughter, please.”

K’s laughter ceased.

“What will you do, Z?” asked K.

“I don’t know. I’m afraid I have no plan to escape.”

“No plan to escape!?”

“No, not really. And a doleful mood haunts my horizon. I have to have something joyful to look forward to in the paucity of escape. We must organize a virtual happy hour.”

K considered this. “Why must we be virtually happy when we can be reality happy? And why for only one hour? I think there are 28 hours in a day. Or is it 11?”

“No, K. You misunderstand, as usual. A virtual happy hour exists in a virtual shared space like Zoom or Remo or Google or Duo or Facetime.”

“Ohhhhhhh. Okay, Z. Is that how we plan to escape the confoundments of these four walls.”

“There’s no escaping these confounding misunderstandings, K. I throw in the towel.”

“That towel?” K pointed to the damp towel left on the floor from her pre-dawn shower.

“What’s the use, anymore? We will call a virtual happy hour and drink ourselves out of this blasted mindset.”

“So that’s how we’ll escape the confounds of these four walls,” said K, believing she was understanding. K continued toward the towel. “I don’t know what you need this towel for.” She reached for it. “But you seem sad so I’ll get it for you.”

As K’s arm extended from her torso, her foot tried to move forward. It tried only because it was caught on a taut hose, accessory to the wet/dry vac required to help tend to the water damage in the bathroom. The hose held across the floor like a finish line that did not give way with the first finisher. It caught K’s foot and sent K flying forward. She knocked her knee on the towel and her forehead on the floor.

Rochelle cackled in earnest.

“Not! Funny! Ro! Chelle!” said K, slowly pushing herself up to a seated position.

“I must agree, Rochelle. This is not funny. Are you okay, K?”

K turned toward the mirror to find Z. She smiled broadly and giggled because she was a broadly smiling braud. Even though she didn’t really like that word.

“Yeah. I’m okay. Thank you, Z.” She giggled some more.

“Come here, K.”

K’s fingers grabbed the counter and pulled her upright. She stood a moment then hunched her shoulders over the countertop, resting her face in her hands and her elbows on the counter. She smiled an idiot’s smile. Which was none too different than usual. But what was different than usual was the red flow falling from K’s right eyebrow. 

“A laceration!” said Z.

“Incarceration?” asked K.

“Not anymore,” said Z. “I think you’ve stumbled into a solution and a plan in one fell swoop.”

“I fell and I stumbled and I swooped,” said K. “And I hit my head.” K was puzzled. “Didn’t you see it, Z? I thought you were here. Maybe I hit my head harder than I thought? Or my thoughts are harder than my head? I think?”

“Unlikely,” said Z. “But we will have to take you to the doctor! A brilliant loophole!”

“Oh, geez, Z. Do I have to? I don’t like to go to the doctors. They give you shots there.”

“No shots today, K!” Z’s pep returned to her voice. “We are breaking out of the world enclosed by these four walls! Grab the toilet paper roll and head to the garage, K.”

“Are we going to get more toilet paper, Z? Is it back in the stores? No more hoarding?”

“K, we just went over this. We are going to the doctor.”

“But, Z. I don’t want to,” K said.

“Do you want to get out of these four walls?”

“Well. Yes. But.”

“No buts! We’re getting out! Grab the toilet paper. Take some and dab your eyebrow. You’ll drip on the floor.”

“Right-o,” K said. She slogged along, grabbing and dabbing and leaving the bathroom.

“K!!!!!” Z yelled.

K popped her bleeding head through the doorframe to the bathroom.

“Yes, Z?”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Z asked.

K held up the toilet paper. “Got the TP, Z.” She looked around the bathroom. She tried to remember if she was supposed to take the plumbing. Or was it the wet/dry vac? There was a towel on the floor. That didn’t seem like the place it should be. Maybe she was supposed to wrap herself in a towel. Was she supposed to stay fully clothed under the towel? That didn’t sound right. She was going to the doctor after all, the place she first attended in her birthday suit…

What will happen at the doctor’s office? Will K be kicked out for public exposure and indecency? Or will Z be able to set K straight before they arrive? Find out in the next installment of Days of Our Pandemic….

Days of our Pandemic: episode p3

apinkyandthebrainhomage by KZ Rochelle (of course)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is cymera_20210203_093159.jpg

See what K & Z were up to in the previous episode of The Days of Our Pandemic or follow K & Z from the beginning.

When last we saw K and Z in episode p, part 2, they were peering into the back yard, ogling a mound of dirt created by a gopher. However, K was more interested in the gopher’s attire and finances than in Z’s plan to escape the enclosure of these four walls. Need you be reminded, we pick up with K’s idiocy….

“Kept in the gopher or his cents? And does he keep his cents in his pockets? And where does he get gopher clothes? He should wear overalls. Don’t you think gophers should wear overalls? Do gophers wear overalls, Z? I could make them some overalls. I just have to go to the store to get some denim fabrics. They’d like denim overalls, Z. Only I can’t get to the store because, well…” It dawned on K in that instant that she would need to escape the confinements of these four walls in order to clothe the gophers in little gopher overalls. And that, she could not do without the help of Z’s plans.

Z waited for K’s inane thoughts to prattle themselves into pause. Then she spoke as though K never had.

“Gophers travel underground. And when you left me in the foyer yesterday, staring at a foil-covered box, I saw into the backyard to identify these gopher mounds and hatch my brilliant idea!”

“Ooooh! It’s a magic, shiny box that hatches ideas for the future. Like an 8-ball or Doc’s Packard convertible.” said K.

“K, I’m displaying my brilliance here, like the sun.”

“Oooooooh,” said K. “Warrrrrrrrmmmmm.”

“Here is the brilliant plan to escape the confines of these four walls,” said Z.

“…so I can make the gophers some clothes,” said K. “And it’s confounds.”

“It’s confines,” said Z.

“I heard confounds,” said K.

“That’s because you confound words all the time!” said Z.

“Yes. I can found them. I found a bunch of them. Like avant-garde is when a German asks for an English guard. I found that out. And honcho is when you’re too hot in a poncho. I found that out, too! And a williwaw…well, that one’s too dirty to tell. But I found all those words all by myself, Z — found in my own brain!”

“Clearly. Congratulations,” said Z without a bit of congratulatory affect. “The plan is to follow the pipes, digging our way as the gophers do, beneath the ground all the way to the water main and the city line and then we will be free! Escaped from the confines of these four walls!”

K began to sing. “The pipe line’s connected to the water line. The water line’s connected to the city line.” K began to dance about like a disjointed skeleton. “The city line’s connected to the green line! The green line’s connected to the red line! The red line’s connected to the blue line! Oh hear the words of this song! This song this song’s gotta  — be sung! This song this song’s gotta —  be sung! Oh hear the words of this song!”

“Are you quite done?” asked a smoldering Z.

“Not quite, Z,” said K who waved her arms above her head and moved her legs in the Charleston dance. “This song this song’s gotta — be sung! This song this song’s gotta — be sung!”

“THE END OF THIS SONG! THE END OF THIS SONG! THE END OF THIS HORRIBLE SONG!” Z’s lid popped. Her hair flew about like flames. Her words were on fire.

K stared at Z. She’d never seen Z lose her temper quite like that before.

“Okay, Z. I’m done,” said K.

“Quite?” asked Z, gaining composure.

“Yes, I quit,” said K.

“One can only hope,” said Z.

“I hope in one hand,” said K. “And in the other I –”

“Quit! Quit! Abort!”

“The plan, Z? Abort the plan? But we haven’t begun it,” said K.

“No, not the plan, K,” said Z.

“Okay,” said K. “On with the plan then?”

“Yes, K. On with the plan,” said Z. “To the bathroom to carry it out.”

K carried Z into the bathroom where the day began.

“This is it, K. This is the origin, where the nascent bulb of the life of my intelligence blooms out from its hardened edifice and astounds the world with its beauty and splendor. Are you ready?”

Are you ready, Reader? For in the next installment of Days of Our Pandemic, K and Z must put the plan into effect. What could go wrong? Find out in the end of episode p in the next Days of Our Pandemic post…