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The Earl of Zerces: chapter 19
The machine with no apparent purpose had now unfolded itself to reveal its purpose: holding in place a young woman. Every one of the girl’s limbs was being firmly held by mechanical apparatuses, and her eyes looked drugged and hazed. Over on the other side of the room, the beast howled even louder than before.
“What exactly is that?” Lang couldn’t help but ask about the beast that was howling. It didn’t seem to have a face, and along with its great bulbous arms and tiny yet muscular legs, a pair of wings came out of its back.
“Ernest Edison,” Doctor Sherwin grinned. Lang already hated the little beetle-like man. “He was a Dieselship pilot once, but after coming into contact with the girl, he mutated.”
“Mutated?” Lang shifted his focus back onto the girl. She seemed so helpless and docile in her current position, how could she have such power? Then he suddenly remembered what the Earl had said. Could this be?
“The drop,” Lang barely whispered. The portion of the Earl’s power that had fallen to this planet’s surface. It was a girl, no; it was a damsel in distress. The more Lang looked at the girl, the more he began to see similarities with her and the Earl. Both had pale, almost pure white, skin, and pure white hair, and when the girl druggedly opened her eyes, their icy blue hue looked directly into Lang’s soul just as the Earl’s always did. Then Lang suddenly remembered, he had to say the magic words. But before he could, his thoughts were interrupted by Doctor Sherwin.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes,” the dumpy man continued to grin stupidly. “It seems as though the girl is made out of vanwaves.”
“What?” Lang didn’t understand.
“I know, strange, isn’t it?” Doctor Sherwin continued to rant. “But when we analyzed her skin, instead of normal human skin cells, we just found millions upon millions of vanwave particles that make up her entire body.” Doctor Sherwin’s glasses suddenly turned opaque with reflected light, and his grin started to take a turn from the sycophantic to the schizophrenic. “I can’t wait to dissect her. What secrets she must hold!”
Lang’s mind suddenly snapped back to reality, and he turned to the girl, ready now to say the words. Setting down his briefcase, he placed the back of his wrists on his forehead and began to sway his hips from side to side. He had no idea what purpose this served, but the Earl had told his to do this. Before the shocked scientists around him could react, Lang spit out the magic words as fast as he could.
“Dansa med oss, klappa era händer, gör som vi gör, ta några steg åt vänster, lyssna och lär, missa inte chanson, nu är vi här med Caramelldansen!!!!!!!!!!!”
It was done, the words had been spoken. …and nothing happened. Everyone in the room stared blankly at Lang, even the beast, which had now stopped howling. Bright red embarrassment flooded Lang’s cheeks, and he felt that somewhere right now, the Earl was howling with laughter.
“Do…you want a glass of water or something?” even Doctor Sherwin didn’t seem to know how to react.
“I’m fine,” Lang quickly spat out. He was going to kill the Earl for this.
But just then, the girl lifted her head, and everyone’s attention turned back to her. Her eyes no longer looked so hazed. In fact, they were…starting to glow. Wait, what was-
VOOM! A giant sphere of white energy exploded out of the girl’s body to envelop the room and destroy everything. Equipment went haywire, steel walls were melted, and scientists were swept up into the giant wall of whiteness. Lang remarkably, felt the whiteness enfold him, but felt no pain or danger from it. Looking around, he noticed that it was like he was standing in Zerces, only instead of blackness with whispy grey things all around him, there was whiteness. At first, there was nothing around him, but then, none other than the Earl popped up right behind Lang.
“Hello,” the Earl gave Lang such a shock that he yelped and jumped a full foot in the air.
“My, you seem rather bemused,” the Earl chuckled, obviously amused.
“What the h*ll did you make me say!?!” Lang shrieked at the Earl.
“I don’t know what the words translate to in English,” the Earl could barely contain his laughter. “But essentially you just made a fool of yourself in front of the greatest scientific enclave in all of Urbania. Congratulations.”
“Why couldn’t you have made me say something else?” Lang asked, feeling the red flush come over his cheeks again.
“Because I wanted you to make a fool out of yourself,” the Earl could no longer contain himself and burst out laughing. “My god, you should have seen your face when nothing happened. Bwahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!”
Lang at first felt angry, hurt, and embarrassed. But then, after a few moments, a change came about him. Lang knew that he shouldn’t, but he suddenly felt himself starting to laugh as well. First a small trickle of giggles escaped him, and then a waterfall of laughter exploded from his lips. Both he and the Earl of Zerces were laughing so hard that tears fell from their eyes and their lungs hurt, on and on and on they went, until finally the laughter subsided, to be replaced with complacent and content cheerfulness.
“I did feel pretty ridiculous,” Lang admitted, as he took a seat on the “ground”.
“Yes, but you can at least admit it,” the Earl pointed out both physically and figuratively. “And you can laugh at yourself. Those are probably the best things one can ever learn to do.” The Earl paused then, and a somber hush fell over him as he quietly added. “Sometimes I even forget to do that.”
Lang looked strangely at the Earl. It was as though he was seeing the Earl for the very first time.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that,” Lang said, and drew the Earl’s surprise. “I mean, just because you aren’t willing to admit that you made a fool of yourself, doesn’t mean that you aren’t willing to admit that you can make mistakes.”
“That’s self-contradictory,” the Earl said.
“Is it?” Lang asked. “I don’t know, I didn’t really think about what I was going to say before I said it.”
The Earl paused for a moment, and then grinned. “Well, I guess that’s something that you still have to learn.”
“I guess so,” Lang shrugged. “So did we succeed? Did the ‘drop’ go back into the ‘glass’?”
“Not yet,” the Earl said. “All you did was release the girl from her prison so that someone I’ve entrusted the real job of getting her back with can do just that. Do you want me to explain more?”
Lang thought about it for a while, and then replied, “No, I guess not. I mean, I have a feeling that I’ll find out eventually, so it’s not that important.”
“Splendid!” the Earl slapped Lang on the back. “Then let’s go back.”
“How do we get back?” Lang looked around, not seeing a door anywhere.
“Right behind you,” the Earl pointed. Lang looked behind him to see the giant monolith, which he knew hadn’t been there before.
“You’re just messing with my head, aren’t you?” Lang asked.
“You just figured this out now?” the Earl’s brow raised in surprise.
“Whatever. What’s the next task?” Lang sighed.
“First let’s get back to Zerces, then I’ll tell you,” the Earl walked to the door, and Lang eventually got up and followed.