Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "The Ramifications of That State of Mind"

This poem is spillover from the December 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] louisadkins. It also fills the "Sweat" square in my 12-1-18 card for the Summer in December Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Not Quite Kansas series and directly follows "Cruel Intentions and Difficult Truths."


"The Ramifications of That State of Mind"

[Sunday, September 9, 2018]

In the interests of avoiding
any further weirdness, Gideon
replaced their chalk symbols with
fresh ones drawn in ink on skin.

It seemed to work, or at least
when they caught the bus,
the angels and the demons
weren't all staring at them.

It was a quiet ride through
Oread Neighborhood with
its big old houses, down to
the University of Kansas with
its much bigger school buildings.

They hopped off the bus where
Jayhawk Boulevard met Lilac lane,
and walked from there to the bookstore.

Stores, offices, and other establishments
had taken over the smaller buildings
nestled amongst the larger ones.

Funkenstein's Bookstore occupied
a place whose wide glass windows
and carved wooden trim marked it
as belonging to an earlier century.

"This used to be the library for
the Psychology Department before
it outgrew the space and moved to
a bigger one," Gideon said. "Then
it turned into bohemian retail space."

"So what makes this a funky bookstore?"
Raymond wondered, looking around.

"Funk is fun. And it's also a state of mind.
But it's all the ramifications of that state
of mind. Once you've done the best
you can, funk it!" Gideon explained.

Raymond just shook his head.

Gideon pulled the door open
to step inside, then stopped
so suddenly that Raymond
bumped into him from behind.

"Hey," Raymond said. "Warn
a guy before you do that!"

"This looks ... bigger ...
than I remember it being,"
Gideon said uneasily.

"Is that a problem?"
Raymond said through
his teeth. "Or just a comment?"

"It's, uh, no big deal," Gideon said.
"I think they just take up more of
the building here. I've been through
most of it, so I should be able to find
my way around. There're signs too."

Raymond looked around the bookstore,
which was divided into different nooks.

The walls were cream and covered
with prints and knickknacks. The floor
and the mismatched bookcases
were various shades of hardwood.

A foil dragon dangled overhead
next to a dreamcatcher. One shelf
had skulls on it, and a glass cabinet
held an assortment of deer antlers.
Another wall had framed collections
of dead butterflies on the shelves.

Raymond found it more creepy
than funky, but then, he wasn't
the target audience here.

A woman with ginger hair
to her shoulders smiled and
waved. "Hi, Gideon," she said.

"Uh, hi, Gina," he replied.

"Someone you know?"
Raymond asked Gideon.

"Yeah, she's the older sister of
a girl I'm too chicken to ask out,"
Gideon said. "Gina works here."

"It looks like the people are the same,
or similar, like the buildings," said Raymond.
"This world just has some ... extras."

Some of the nooks included
reading tables and chairs.

Gideon pulled him into
one of those and sat down.
"Okay, I found the textbook."

He thumped it onto the table
and gave Raymond a look.

"What?" said Raymond. "I don't
know anything about this kind of stuff.
You're the Religious Studies ... minor.
You sit down and figure it out. I'll
find something else to look at."

Glancing around, he found
some local interest books and
started scanning for differences
between here and home.

Most of the physical layout
seemed to be the same, although
as with the bookstore, exact usage
sometimes differed from what he knew.

The biographies were full of oddities,
though, and not just the inclusion
of notable demons and angels.

Most people had tattoos or
other body art of protective signs
to ward off unwanted interest.

"Hey kid, you ever think about
getting a tattoo?" Raymond asked.

"No, why?" Gideon said, looking up.

Raymond showed him the biographies.
"If it's that popular here, it probably works."

"That looks really painful," Gideon said,
his whole face scrunching in dread.

"More painful than getting eaten
by cherubs?" Raymond said.

"... maybe not," Gideon said.

"So are you finding anything?"
Raymond asked, looking
at the open textbook.

"I found the ritual that I used,
but it really shouldn't have done
anything like this," Gideon said.

"Obviously, since we don't have
spells to alter reality," Raymond said.

Sweat trickled down his neck. He
was beginning to wonder if they would
ever get home, or if they were stuck here.

"I know," Gideon said in a small voice.

"Okay, what were you trying to do?"
Raymond said. "That might help."

"Compare different rituals," Gideon said.
"That's why I needed to go through them,
even though I knew -- thought I knew! --
that they wouldn't do anything. I was
taking notes for my class paper."

Raymond rubbed his face.
"I meant," he said, "what were
the rituals designed to accomplish?"

"Oh!" Gideon said. "Summoning spells
for demons and other incorporeal beings."

"That is not what happened," Raymond said.

"Well, I had a thought -- maybe I sort of
did summon something, but it was us,"
Gideon said. "I think we somehow
switched places with us-from-here."

"All right, let me check on that,"
Raymond said. "Do you have
a laptop in your backpack?"

"Yeah, why?" Gideon said.

"Loan it to me. I'll look up
our not-quite-Kansas selves
if I can," Raymond said.

"Okay," Gideon said. He
took out his laptop, unlocked it,
and passed it to Raymond.

While Gideon leafed through
the textbook, Raymond looked up
websites around Lawrence, Kansas.

Most of it remained familiar, like
the buildings, but strange symbols
formed a border around every page.
Part of the firewall, he guessed.

"This is all wrong," Gideon said,
slumping over his book. "None
of it's like it should have been!"

"Any idea why the ritual
changed so much from
its intended purpose?"
Raymond asked him.

"I dropped the book and
the whole jar of mint into
the fire," Gideon replied.
"That might have done it."

"You scuffed the chalk, too,"
Raymond remembered.

"Yeah, that was supposed
to contain whatever got
summoned," Gideon said.

"We were both standing inside
the chalk lines," Raymond said.

"I think that might be why you
got swept along with me,"
Gideon said. "It was only
supposed to affect me --
or rather, the demon, and
put me in control of it."

"Do you feel any sense of
control over those creatures?"
Raymond said, glaring at him.

"Uh ... no. No I don't,"
Gideon muttered.

"What possessed you
to try summoning, anyway?"
Raymond said. "It sounds
kind of dangerous to me."

"Monte shared his stash
of grass on Friday night,"
Gideon admitted. "It seemed
like a good idea at the time ...
or at least, in that state of mind."

Raymond sighed. "The next time you
get stoned, before you do homework with
reality-altering aspects, please consider
the ramifications of that state of mind."

"Yeah," Gideon said faintly. "I think
maybe I better start doing that."

"Good," Raymond said.
"Now get back to work."

"Okay, man, I'm on it."
Gideon ducked his head
and applied himself to it.

Raymond ran a search
through the university site
and found not-quite-Gideon.

"Good news, kid, you don't
have to change your major
after all," Raymond said,
turning the laptop around.

"Religious Studies?" Gideon said.
"Not-quite-me is a total doormat."
Then he frowned. What the hell
does Occult Convocation mean?"

"I don't know, where are you
seeing that?" Raymond said.

"It's listed as my -- I mean his --
specialization," Gideon said.

"Well, break it down," Raymond said.
"Occult is stuff like demons and angels.
Convocation means a gathering."

"Summoning," Gideon murmured,
tracing a line in the book. "There are
two kinds, evocation and invocation.
Maybe convocation means both."
He looked up at Raymond. "I think
not-quite-me was into summoning."

"Maybe that affected us too,"
Raymond said. "If he was doing
something in a world where that
works, and you were messing
around with it in our world ..."

"Then somehow the signals
got crossed, and we switched
places," Gideon said. "Yikes."

"Well, look on the bright side,"
Raymond said. "If he's majoring
in Religious Studies, then you can
borrow his textbooks. I confirmed
that you have the same address."

"Okay, that doesn't suck," Gideon said,
and went back to studying diagrams.

Raymond used the opportunity
to look up his own information.

Or rather, he tried to.

His login no longer worked
at the police department.

"Maybe they changed
the passwords," he said
to himself, trying again.

When he tried looking
at the employee index on
the public website, though,
he was nowhere to be found.

Then he looked up his apartment.
That belonged to someone else too.
There was simply no sign of him.

"Shit," Raymond whispered.

Gideon flinched. "What's wrong?"
he said, looking up from the book.

"I'm not here," Raymond said,
wiping sweat from his neck.
"Not in the police station, and
not in my apartment either."

"That -- that's not good,"
Gideon whimpered. "I am
sooo sorry for all this."

"That's the first time you've
said that since we got here,"
Raymond said quietly.

"I didn't mean for any of
this to happen," Gideon said.
"It was a stupid mistake. I -- I
can fix it -- I think I have this
almost figured out now!"

"No." Raymond put a hand
over the book. "Right now,
at least one of us has a home
and access to materials that
could help us. We're not going
to risk making matters worse by
rushing into another ritual when
you don't know what you're doing."

Gideon wilted. "Yeah, I guess
you're right about that," he admitted.
"But then how do we get home?"

"For now, we don't," Raymond said.
The words opened an aching pit in
his heart, but he knew that panicking
wouldn't help get them home sooner.
"You study, and I'll ... think of something."

He closed his eyes and buried his face
in his hands. Thinking wasn't exactly
his strong suit either. He was a cop.
He was a lot better at doing.

If he wasn't a cop ... then
what was he? Maybe nothing.

Raymond's head was full of static.
The ramifications of that state
of mind frightened him a bit.

A touch on his wrist startled him.

"Hey, man," Gideon said gently.
"Why don't you come home with me?"

"What good would that do?" Raymond said.
"This isn't a slumber party, Gideon."

"I know," Gideon said. "Let me help.
The least I can do after getting you into
this mess is offer you some crash space.
There's a guest bed in the corner of
the basement, or you could throw one
in the open part of the attic instead."

"What will your housemates say?"
Raymond wondered, frowning.

"If they're anything like mine,
they won't care," Gideon said.
"People crash with us all the time,
it's why we got a bed in the basement.
You can just come in when I do."

"Like this?" Raymond said, plucking
at his uniform. "I'm pretty sure that
impersonating a police officer is
a crime in this world too, and I'm
not listed on the department site."

"So we'll hit the clothing bank
on the way home," Gideon said.
"You'll need at least a couple
of changes anyway ... if you
don't mind being seen there."

Raymond shook his head.
"I'm not too proud to accept
help when I need it," he said.
"Thank you for offering."

"Guess you're ahead of
me then," Gideon sighed.
"I never seem to manage it
until I'm in over my head and
going down for the third time."

"We're in this together,"
Raymond said, reaching out
to pat Gideon on the forearm.
"No matter how it happened,
we have to work together if we
want to get through this."

Gideon took a deep breath.
"Okay," he said, "together."

* * *

Notes:

"Funk is fun. And it's also a state of mind. But it's all the ramifications of that state of mind. Once you've done the best you can, funk it!"
-- George Clinton

See an aerial map of Lawrence, Kansas. This map shows the University of Kansas. The Psychology Building is Fraser Hall, located near H-7 on the accessiblity map. Funkenstein's Bookstore is just south of it, and shares the same parking lot.

Department of Psychology
1415 Jayhawk Blvd.
Fraser Hall, Room 426
Lawrence, KS 66045-7556

Here is an aerial view of campus.

This is the exterior of Funkenstein's Bookstore. The counter stands near the front. Inside are many bookcases and tables. Occult items includes skulls and cauldrons. There are lots of other odd bits such as butterflies and copper pans.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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