Cumming Attractions: Save Me a Seat

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Podkayne, "visiting a friend"? Pshaw, who believes that? ;) The events of this installment detail what Podkayne Cummings was up to during the Teaser Trailer.

Podkayne, "visiting a friend"? Pshaw, who believes that? ;) The events of this installment detail what Podkayne Cummings was up to during the Teaser Trailer.

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  • 1. Cumming Attractions
    Podkayne was biking.
  • 2. She was not biking because she enjoyed the activity. Quite the contrary, in fact. She hated riding the bike in her long green dress that got in the way of her pedaling; she hated the hot sun that beat down on her back, causing a thin film of sweat to emerge all over her body and soak into her clothes; and most of all, she hated the exercise over rough terrain when she could be at home, seated in front of a nice, comfortable desk, reading a book or perhaps even doing her homework if she was really bored.
    As she biked, dust was stirred up beneath her wheels and rose in a thick cloud behind her. This only served to worsen the dry heat that permeated the air. To distract herself, Podkayne considered what had brought her out here, so far from town that the small cluster of buildings only appeared as a smudgy blob in the distance. After all, it wasn’t as though she couldn’t have gone straight home on the bus with Dagny; it would have just been incredibly awkward. (Not to mention messy.)
    You lied to her, Poddy. The thought came to her unbidden, and with the first thought came a flood of others following it. L-I-E-D, lied! Going to a ‘friend’s house’… seriously?! You lied to your twin, for goodness sake! Who does that?! There’s gotta be something wrong with you. Disgusting. You are an awful excuse for a person, not fit to even—
  • 3. No. That’s not true. She hurriedly suppressed the flow of thoughts. Desperately, she reached for something—anything—else to think about to distract herself.
    She considered the flat land around her, filled with nothing but sand, sky, and the occasional cactus plant. The desert.
    In her mind, the very word desert conjured up an image of a flat geometric plane, extending out towards its limit: infinity. Unlike this wasteland, desert in Podkayne’s conception of it suggested a place of beauty, an enormous plain of luscious green that stretched into the far-off distance, all the way to the edge of vision, where the seen meets the unseen and land meets space.
    How fitting, she thought, cracking a smile at the pun. That’s exactly what I need right now….
  • 4. Space.
  • 5. “Aren’t they beautiful, Dagny? They look like hundreds of little fireflies. I feel like…like I could extend my hand to touch them, but they’d be just out of reach, and my fingers would brush at nothing but air.”
  • 6.
  • 7.
  • 8. It was quite late when the two girls stood on their front porch, side by side, staring out into the dark night. While in the daytime, the desert that they called home was scorched by the sun, a constant fixture looming overhead, the night had merely left them to the opposite extreme: icy cold and equally inhospitable. This was exacerbated by the fact that both girls were only wearing cotton pajamas, but Podkayne didn’t seem to notice the cold. Head tilted back, eyes directed upwards, she grinned and said, “You know, I wanna see them some day.”
    Dagny shivered, folding her arms across her chest as if to protect it from the cold. She struggled to pay attention to Podkayne’s words. “…the fireflies?”
    “No, silly, the stars.” She laughed and pointed at a particularly bright speck of light. “Look, see the one I’m pointing at, way up there? I’m gonna start with that one, just so I can get close to it and catch it in a net, and then I’m gonna race from one end of the galaxy to the other and back again with the net trailing out behind me in a giant, flowing wave. Y’know, I figure that’s what causes stardust—firefly tears. I’m wanna prove that to everyone.” Her face had settled into a dreamy smile by this point, and she sighed. “I wanna see it all.”
  • 9. “You’ll need a ship for that.”
    Podkayne returned to earth again. For a moment, she looked vaguely surprised, but she soon snapped out of it, clapping her sister heartily on the back. “Well, duh. I already knew that. But see, that’s why I’m dragging you along as my mechanic. Trust me, the adventure’ll be good for you. Bring a little zest to your life and all that.”
    “Then can we have the adventure inside, please? It’s freezing out here.”
    “What, you wanna go inside already? Why would you wanna be boxed into a room when we’ve got all this?” She gave a vague sweep of the hand. “Ooh, I have an idea; how about we spend the night outside, just like a room, ‘cept different, with the sand for the floor and the sky for the ceiling?”
  • 10. When Dagny gave a little shudder, Podkayne only gained resolve. “Aw, c’mon, it’ll be fun! We can go grab some sleeping bags and pillows and food and stuff. It’ll be just like a camping trip, ‘cept more comfortable!”
    Dagny frowned.
    “Seriously, I’ve got it all figured out. We can even start up a fire for warmth, like real ‘splorers do!”
    “Hmm, really?And how would we go about that, dare I ask?” Dagny said sarcastically.
    “Easy. I know where Dad hides the matches.” A mischievous grin crossed her face, which was mirrored more hesitantly on her sister’s. Podkayne grabbed Dagny’s arm and tugged on it. “C’mon, we better hurry up and do this thing before Mom and Dad get home.”
    “Well…okay,” Dagny replied. “You take the bedroom, I’ll take the kitchen.”
    “What?! No fai—oh, all right,” said Podkayne with a laugh, “but you owe me one.”
  • 11. Fifteen minutes later, upon unrolling the two sleeping bags they had managed to dredge up out of the basement across the ground, the girls had finished setting up camp. At the foot of the bags, Podkayne had placed a pile of logs to light a fire, which was now crackling merrily, generously radiating light and heat. Between them, bags of chips were scattered across the sand, strewn among the potpourri of other items gathered from the house, which varied from a deck of cards and portable chess set, to a mechanical alarm clock that gave a soft, steady “tick-tock” sound every second, to a teddy bear that was falling apart at the seams from a surfeit of love.
  • 12. “So? What do ya think?” Podkayne’s black eyes twinkled in the firelight. “Didn’t I tell you it’d be sweet?”
    “As much as I hate to admit it…yeah. Yeah, it kind of is.”
    “Hmph. Toldja so.” After taking a moment to admire their work, she grinned and, laughing, dove forward. She landed on her one of the sleeping bags, where she plunked down ungracefully on her stomach. “Dibs!”
    “Aw, c’mon. Really?” Dagny moaned.
  • 13. She sighed, taking a reluctant step onto the unclaimed sleeping bag. It squished under her weight. “Why do I get the one that smells like barf?”
    “’Cause you’re the bestesttwin sister in the world?” replied Podkayne. Her grin widened hopefully as she sat up. “And ’sides, Howard doesn’t like it. He’s got real sensitive olfactory glands, y’know.”
    “…right.” Dagny took a skeptical look at the bear that Podkayne had quickly scooped into her lap before taking a seat. “But now you owe me one.”
    “Yeah, ’course. Hey,”—she leaned forward, clutching the bear with her knees—“oof. Wanna play?” She held up the chess board, and Dagny nodded.
  • 14. “I didn’t think you liked chess.”
    “I don’t, really,” she said, tossing the chess board to the ground, where it landed with a dull clatter. She lifted the lid on the board and dumped out the pieces, which she proceeded to lay out accordingly across the face of the board. “I just thought you’d like it better than ghost stories or whatever.”
    “True. But, well, we could play cards instead, if you want.”
    “And have you cheat?” She laughed, standing up a pair of bishops. “Yeah. Thanks, but no thanks.”
  • 15. Dagny looked hurt. “I don’t cheat.”
    “Ri-i-ight,” said Podkayne. She rolled her eyes as she moved the oppositely colored queens into position. “You just deduce what’s going to come up next by counting the cards that’ve already showed up. That’s so not cheating.”
    “…doesn’t everybody do that? It seems perfectly logical.”
    “It also gets you kicked out of casinos,” said Podkayne dryly.
  • 16. Finally, she placed the last pawn. “You want black or white?”
    “Black.” She watched Podkayne turn the board around accordingly. “But you know I’m going to kick your butt at this, fairand square, right?”
    “Don’t be so sure about that,” said Podkayne playfully. “I’ve actually been on a winning streak lately.”
    “Beating Dad doesn’t count.”
    “Darn!”
  • 17. She looked up, and suddenly, her mouth fell open. “Hey…um, Dagny? Hey, look there behind you! I think there’s a…a shiny…er, thing. Um—”
  • 18. “You going to move any time soon, or are we just going to sit here all night?” she said, deadpan, not falling for any of her twin’s shenanigans.
    “Spoilsport.” Podkayne stuck out her tongue before moving a pawn forward two squares. “Your move.”
  • 19. As expected, Dagny beat Podkayne quite soundly. Still, it had been an intense game; by the end, every chip bag had been emptied and devoured, and the time was edging towards one in the morning. They agreed to set the alarm for ten A.M., and both curled up under the covers to enjoy a quiet slumber until morning struck with a vengeance.
  • 20.
  • 21. Hours later, Podkayne found herself still awake. It was the kind of sleeplessness that made every bone in her body tired and heavy, and yet filled her mind with an acute awareness of everything--every rustle of the empty chip bags in the wind, every licking of the slowly dying fire, every pulse running through her heart....
    Then she heard a sound, one out of place from the other background noises: that of tires rolling over asphalt. Another sound came right after—the slamming of a car door—and her eyes snapped open. They darted to Howard for a moment, and, smiling, she gave him a peck on the forehead. "Be right back," she whispered in his ear before disentangling her arm from around the bear's chest and wiggling her way out of the sleeping bag. As she did so, her gaze fell on Dagny, still fast asleep under the covers; Dagny had always been a sound sleeper. She pondered for a moment the idea of rousing her and dragging her along but decided against it.
    No, thought Podkayne, I won't wake her. Probably wouldn’t be worth it, anyway.
  • 22. Standing up, she sprinted over to the wall and, hugging its side closely, snuck closer to the front of the house, her bare feet gliding silently over the sand's surface. Up ahead, she spotted two figures in the middle of the road. Apparently, they had already waved off the car, which had consequentially returned to town. Now, Podkayne thought she could hear a pair of hushed voices. Her curiosity peaked, she edged as close as she dared and listened hard.
  • 23. "I am merely suggesting that it would be beneficial for our girls to receive some degree of formal instruction," she heard her mother say. Podkayne could barely hear her voice over the wind. "Surely it would put them on par with the other children in society."
     
    "That's just the problem, Lily!" her father said loudly. She nearly fell backwards in surprise.
     
  • 24. "Shh, honey, what will they think if they hear us?"
     
    "I don't care if they can hear me all the way at the other end of town, I'm gonna get this load off my chest! How can you possibly expect me to trust this woman, huh? No matter how much money she throws at the place, it's still just starting, for Bog's sake! Yeah, there'll be stumbles for sure, and I don't wanna subject our children to a damned pilot program. They deserve better than that!"
  • 25. “Come, come, be sensible. Ms. Schuyler is a well-respected philanthropist; everyone knows that. She has established grammar schools on dozens of outer planets. There can be nothing to worry abou--"
     
    "Pshaw! Nothing to worry about, she says." 
  • 26. "Goopy, please,” she said testily. “Let me finish."
    "No, let me finish," he said, almost shouting now. "You know as well as I do, they're both very smart girls. Do you honestly think that being taught the alphabet and how to add—again—when they’re already far beyond that is gonnado anything? They'll be bored out of their skulls!"
  • 27. “Ugh! If you would only look at this more rationally!"
     
    “Oh, now it’s me not being rational, is it?”
     
    “I hope for your own sake that you realize that that is beside the point…”
  • 28. “Generic angry comment."
     
    “Snippy remark implying the stupidity of the person being spoken to.”
     
    “Flustered attempt at a witty comeback.”
    “Snide yet veiled insult.”
  • 29. It all got so predictable after a while.
    Sighing softly, Podkayne turned away and leaned back against the shingled wall. She had heard more than enough. She tuned them out and, while she waited for them to wear out their voices shouting, glanced back towards the campsite. A sudden weariness overcame her; a yawn forcibly escaped her mouth; her eyelids grew heavy and began to droop. All she wanted right then was to curl up amid the many folds of her sleeping bag and go to sleep.
    Nonetheless, she waited until she heard the telltale sound of the front door slamming. Stumbling back to the campsite, she crawled back between the covers and absently felt around for her bear. When she couldn't find him, she crinkled her brow and began to sleepily search through the nearby pile of cushions. "Psst. Hey, Dagny," she hissed, suppressing a yawn. When no response came, she looked up, propping herself up on her elbows, and said as loudly as she dared, "Dagny, have you seen..." She trailed off.
  • 30.

  • 31. Podkayne stared for a moment longer. “…okay, then. I guess we’re even now,”she said and sighed. Then she, too, submerged again beneath the covers and allowed sleep to overtake her.
  • 32.
  • 33. It was strange; that night had been almost half a year ago, and yet she could recall everything about it, right down to the tiniest, minute little detail.It almost made her laugh now, to recall it. How ironic! Her parents’ ultimate decision to send them to school had deviated so much from what they’d intended, it was actually kind of funny.
    But she knew there was little reason to laugh.
  • 34. “What’s wrong with you, Podkayne? Do you have any idea what you’ve done?”
    “Erm…no? Not really. Why don’t you enlighten me?”
    “You…you…argh! Seriously?! You’ve messed with the fabric of our universe, violated the laws of nature, demolished the veil between dreams and reality…an’ that’s just the least of it.”
    “Heh. Sounds awesome, actually.”
  • 35. “Ugh!” Here, she rolled her eyes. “No. Just…no. Could you be serious for once?”
    “Sorry. Force of habit.”
    “It’s not funny! You do know it’s you who has t’ fix this stupid mess, right?”
    “…yeah.” She paused. “Yeah, I know. What do I need to do?”
  • 36. Podkayne shook her head, clearing her thoughts, and she pushed down on the brakes. As if consciously willing her feet to budge, she jerkily dropped them from the pedals to the ground; the bike obediently came to a stop. Satisfied, she untangled herself from the bike and carelessly dropped it; it toppled to the ground, but she paid that little mind. Instead, pulling her backpack from her shoulders, she crouched downand unzipped it, removing a thick book bound with an old, red leather cover and an overlarge white candle.
    Nestling the book under one arm and clutching the candle in the opposite hand, she took a deep breath. Here goes nothing, she thought.
  • 37. Slowly, she walked up to the small cluster of mushrooms; her instructions had been to find the “fairy ring”, and, well, she supposed this had to be it. I guess there’s no turning back now.
    Not that she really had any choice in the matter, of course. But still, deep down, she felt the slightest tingle of curiosityflare up: she was curious to see what would happen.
    Tentatively, she stepped into the ring. When no lightening came andinstantly struckher down, she smiled and fell to her knees, laying out the candle in front of her and opening the book in her hands. Podkayne flipped through the pages until she came to one that had been dog-eared to mark her place. Setting the open book onto the ground, she lit the candle as she began to read the passage…
  • 38. Vorgeladen.
    Ichnehme den Platz, derfuermichangesetztwird.
  • 39. Ich bin grau,steh’ zwischen Stern und Kerze.LebeimTraum,und schlafe in Herzen.
  • 40. Wirsindgrau,stehenzwischenDunkel und Licht.LebenimTraum,aberwachendavonnicht.
  • 41. Bitte.
    Hilfmir.
  • 42.
  • 43.
  • 44.
  • 45. ...
  • 46.
  • 47. “’bout time you got here. Was startin’ to be afraid ya wouldn’t come.”
    “Ha ha, very funny.” Podkayne snorted, sitting up. She heaved a sigh. So this was what she had meant when she said that she’d “just know” when to open her eyes. “Couldn’t trust me to do it all by myself like a big girl, couldja?” she said, lifting her eyelids.
  • 48. Outside the ring of mushrooms, Marsha Bruenig was seated next to her. Oddly, she wore a simple, bright yellow shirt and a pair of jeans, which provided a stark contrast against the dress that she typically wore; Podkayne faintly wondered how she’d managed that. Marsha had not been facing Podkayne, but now she spared her a glance and then a slight smile. “Nope. For all I know, you coulda been liable t’ get bored and turn us all into giant pink elephants, or something.”
    “Hm.” Podkayne rubbed her chin. “Well…now that you mention it…”
    “Don’t get ideas.”
    “Sorry.” She grinned apologetically.
  • 49. To change the subject, she stood up and stepped over the boundary of the ring. As she sat down next to Marsha, she added, “Hey, whatchalookin’ at?”
    “Me? Not lookin’ at nothin’. Just waitin’.”
    “Oh? Whatchawaitin’ for, then? Is there, like, a big spaceship coming that’s gonna touch down here or something? Ooh, if it’s a spaceship, can I fly it? I promise I won’t crash it!”
    “Hmph. Tourist question,” muttered Marsha dismissively.
    “…I mean, yeah, sure, I’ve never been on a ship before, but everyone’s gotta have their first time, right? It’s not like a spaceship can spontaneously combust like that simulator did that one time. No, really, it wasn’t my fault! And anyway…”
  • 50.
  • 51. “…wait, what?”
    “Y’know, a tourist question? Like one that someone with no experience who just wants to fool around, when we really don’t have time for all that crap and need to be serious about the task ahead of us wants to ask—that kind of question.”
    “Oh.” She paused. “Well, I’m sorry if I came off that way. I’m just curious, that’s all.“
    “I would try not to be so curious,” Marsha snapped. “If you’ll recall, things didn’t go too well last time that curiosity of yours came on too strong.”
    “Oh. Um, I guess you have a point….”
  • 52.
  • 53. To break the silence, Marsha sighed and scrambled to her feet. She awkwardly patted Podkayne on the back. “Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way. Look… I’ll explain later, ’kay? We just don’t have time right now, is all.”
    “No, it’s fine. I get it. Is there anything you need me to be doing right now, though? I can still help…well, sort of!” she added, laughing, tilting her head back to look up at Marsha.
    “Oh, don’t worry ‘bout it, our door’s here.”
    “Huh? What door?”
  • 54. Marsha pointed.
    “O-o-oh, that door.”
  • 55. “Did that just get here and I only didn’t notice it ‘til now?”
    “Yep.”
    “Wow, that’s kinda…sad.”
    “Yep.”
    “You must think I’m a complete ditz right now!”
    “Yep.”
  • 56.
  • 57. “C’mon, we need to get moving if we’re going to get to Dagny in time.”
    “Yeah, you’re right, let’s go.”
  • 58.
  • 59.
  • 60.
  • 61.
  • 62.
  • 63.
  • 64. About half a year earlier…
  • 65. Hello, and welcome to a new installment of Cumming Attractions! So yeah, it’s out later than I would have liked… let’s just say something called ‘real life’ has been getting pretty hectic recently, which is absolutely terrible. Grrr, argh!Getting into college, who needs that? :PSo this installment is called Save me a Seat. What can I say? I like running gags! Here, the title is dedicated to that awkward time right before a film starts when an emergency bathroom break impels you to temporarily leave the theater. “Save me a seat…it’ll just be a sec,” you say to a friend, but always, inevitably, by the time you come back, you’ve missed some action-packed opening scene.Of course, I only know about this phenomenon second-hand, as it (fortunately) has yet to happen to m—aw, crap.……
    You have my permission to laugh now. ;)
  • 66. Tiny
    Author’s Note:
    OMG! MY FEET DON’T TOUCH THE PEDALS AND MY HANDS CAN’T REACH THE HANDLEBARS. WTF?! HOW AM I EVEN RIDING THIS THING?!?!?
    Anyway, I hemmed and hawed about tacking this on to the end, but I finally decided to put it here: despite its reputation as a time of relaxation, being a second semester high school senior actually (gasp!) takes up a lot of my time and energy, and free time is fairly unpredictable. So I have no idea how long the next chapter’s going to take to get out, though of course, I hope it’ll be soon. Sorry ‘bout that.
    Regardless, thank you all for reading and generally being awesome! I really appreciate it. :)