CHAPTER NINE

A SOMEWHAT EXCITING DEVELOPMENT

Marsha's eyes flashed madly. Bumantha had been backing away slowly as Marsha advanced at an equal pace for about forty feet at this point, and Bumantha finally realized that she could probably just turn and run. A moment passed, and Bumantha turned and ran madly up the mountain. There was a rough gravel road, and she followed it. Marsha could be heard breathing heavily as she continued to claw her way after Bumantha. "TAKE…A…SHOWER!" she yelled after her.

Bumantha continued running long after Marsha could no longer be heard. She cursed herself for not taking any of the food that had been on the cabin's table. Had it been laced with something? If Marsha was going to blow up the building, why would she taint the food? Bumantha stopped thinking about it. With Marsha, anything was possible.

She ran until she reached the top of the mountain. There, she looked out over the valley and screamed at the world. All she had wanted to do was make her life incredible, but instead it had become incredibly terrible. Bumantha sat down and wailed. She decided that she would just go ahead and die right there, on top of this stupid, useless mountain.

Thirty minutes passed, all of them whispering about what a massive failure Bumantha was. Bumantha figured it wouldn't be long now before Marsha caught up to her. Bumantha didn't even want to guess what Marsha had in mind when she caught up to her. Five more minutes passed, and sure enough, a legless Marsha could be seen determinedly scrabbling up the road.

"Hey!" Bumantha called, "What are you going to do when you get up here?"

Marsha paused for a moment. "I don't know!" she called back, "I haven't really thought that far ahead."

"Oh. Well I'm sure you'll think of something!" Bumantha encouraged. She sat lazily on a boulder, thinking about nothing.

A deafening noise could be heard faintly in the distance, and Bumantha wondered idly what it was.

Marsha continued toward her.

The noise grew louder.

Marsha crawled ever closer.

The noise was directly over Bumantha now, who was too lazy to look at the source. It was literally right over her head, and she couldn't be bothered to move her head three inches. The sheer laziness of this woman is truly astounding.

Anyway, Marsha's eyes widened, and she paused for a moment before doubling her speed.

Bumantha looked up just in time to see a rope fly down and hit her in the eye. "OW," she yelled, "What the hell!?" Couldn't a woman sit on top of a mountain and wait for a legless psychopath to catch up to her in peace?

"Sorry!" a voice called down from the helicopter, "Climb up!"

Bumantha politely declined the invitation.

"For Pete's sake, Bumantha, get up here now!"

Bumantha looked up. "Arthur?"

Marsha had reached the summit. "Don't go, Bumantha!" she panted, her fingers raw from clutching at gravel.

Bumantha looked up at Arthur, then back at Marsha.

"Seriously, Bumantha, is this even a choice?!" Arthur shouted.

Bumantha grabbed the rope and the helicopter ascended just as Marsha reached the boulder.

Bumantha, clinging to the rope, looked down at Marsha expecting to see anguish on her blistered face. Instead, Marsha was looking up at her with an expression of mild disappointment.

"Arthur!" she shouted over the roar of the blades.

"What?"

"How did you know where I was?"

"What?"

"Where did you get this helicopter?"

"What are you — look, Bumantha, I can't hear what you're saying! I don't know if you've noticed, but this helicopter is really loud! Now climb up here!"

Bumantha looked at the rope, then up at the helicopter. Ten feet, at least. She grasped the rope firmly and tried to pull herself up. Even with the adrenaline, this woman, this…this useless human being…well she just couldn't do it.

"I can't do it!" she called.

"What?"

Bumantha clung to the rope, a task that was quickly becoming difficult. Eventually, Arthur realized the severe ineptitude of his cargo and found a good spot to land the vehicle.

Perched precariously on a peak, Bumantha clambered into the cockpit.

Once buckled in, Bumantha started running her mouth again. "How did you — and what are you — explain."

Arthur sighed. "I've been assigned to…take care of the issue with Unit M-425, which you know as 'Marsha.' I really should have suspected something when you told me about her, but…anyway, I'm supposed to —"

"Well what are you going to do?"

"Jeez, Bumantha, if you would just stop talking for a minute, I'd tell you!"

Bumantha bit her chapped lip.

"As I was saying," he continued, "I'm supposed to take you to a nearby base to, uh…" he looked at Bumantha pityingly, "clean you up, get you any psychological help you may need, et cetera, et cetera."

"And the police?"

"We've taken care of it."

"And Marsha?"

"She'll be taken care of."

"Wow." Bumantha sat back in her chair. "What kind of organization is this?"

"The kind you don't tell anyone about."

For once, Bumantha had enough sense to not say anything. A few minutes later, they approached a cave. "Wow!" Bumantha exclaimed, "You've got a base inside a mountain?"

Arthur frowned at her. "No, that wouldn't make any sense."

Bumantha spluttered about nothing making sense and fell silent again as they passed through the mountain tunnel, emerging over a valley with a single white building smack in the middle of it. As they approached the roof, which was large enough to comfortably land fifty helicopters at a time, a horrible thought occurred to her. She looked over at Arthur with fear in her gaze.

Arthur felt her stare and glanced at her sideways. "What?" he said, after a moment. It was very difficult to land a helicopter with this filthy woman staring at him like he had just killed a puppy.

"So…you do know about the Furbies?"

"What — oh my god, Bumantha, again with the Furbies? No, I have no idea what you're talking about. Do you want to tell me?"

Bumantha curled her lips in and squinted at him. She decided he was being honest and crossed her arms to indicate that she had no intention of telling him anything.

Arthur successfully landed the helicopter and they got out onto the roof of the massive base. It wasn't exactly covert, but it did have a sense of being hidden in plain sight. Two yaks approached Arthur and Bumantha, and of course when I say "yaks" I mean "agents."

The first yak spoke unto them: "Behold, for I am a parrot of mighty proportions."

Except he didn't say that. What the yak, or agent, really said was this: "Come with us." I only lied because what he actually said wasn't very exciting. In fact, I feel like this chapter has been super boring so far, so let's talk about something on an entirely different planet.

Several moons rose over this entirely different planet, and the people rejoiced. Two additional moons had been launched into orbit that day because a very wealthy photographer wanted to take a picture with nine moons in it rather than the usual seven.

Back on Earth, Bryce the window cleaner (don't tell me you forgot about him! It's not like he saved the main character's life or anything) had a dream about this exact thing, but forgot about it immediately after he woke up. Shame.

Anyway, I guess we should get back to useless, stupid old Bumantha. By this time she had been washed, dried, and was resting comfortably on a cot. They had taken (and incinerated) her raggedy sweater, the broken glasses, the single glove that hadn't really been useful to her, and the picnic blanket. She felt kind of strange about this, but on the bright side, they had also shaped her clumpy mass of hair into something presentable. Granted, it didn't look good on her, but hardly anything looked good on Bumantha. If you covered her face with your thumb and looked at just the hair, it was fabulous, but I digress.

Arthur peeked into the room.

"Hi Arthur!" Bumantha chirped.

It was apparent that Arthur had been hoping that she would be asleep. "Hey," he said, "Just thought I'd let you know that I'm going on a joint mission to dispose of Unit M-425."

"Alone?!"

"No, I just told you it's a joint mission."

"So you're going with other agents?"

"That is what a joint mission is."

"Okay well be careful, okay?"

"Oh, I was planning on being stupid and reckless." Arthur rubbed his face.

"Arthur, that's not a good plan at all!" Bumantha sat up in bed.

"Okay, okay, relax. I'll see you later," he started to leave the room.

"Arthur?"

He leaned against the doorframe and looked at her with exasperation. "What?"

"I'll miss you."

Arthur sucked air through his teeth. "Okay," he said, and left the room.

Bumantha fell back on her pillow and sighed.