Chapter 2

“DON'T FORGET TO BRING IN THE AIRPLANE” Mike Gravel yelled to his wife, since it was her job to leash a team of seven oxen to the airplane, and bring it into the hanger. But Mike Gravel didn't have a wife, he was just a man in a hammock, who thought he did. Luckily, the runway was sloped downwards, so the airplane slid downwards and ended up in his home every morning, when he woke up, and he imagined his wife did it.

He swung back and forth in a hammock, and wondered if it was true that if you swung all the way around in a hammock, your personality would reverse. He would try, but he didn't want to risk spilling his jar of mayonnaise. He had a big day tomorrow, and he needed his fuel. His dayglo shorts would blind anyone who tried to come into the room. While he slept and snacked, his robot was busy brushing and teasing his perfectly parted blond hair, which didn't make sense, since it was really just a plastic thing that was glued on. But Artificial Intelligence only goes so far.

Mike Gravel stared up at the arctic sky, through the skylight he had built in this, his decreed pleasure dome. He wondered if he would ever give it all up. He can imagine a situation where he could, because before he had this plan, and before he had even been Mike Gravel to the world, he was a shy boy in short pants skipping rocks with his childhood sweetheart, Michelle. Skipping rocks was easy when the ocean froze, but that made wearing short pants harder. Those days seemed to go on forever, which makes sense since 6 months in Inuvik, Alaska with the sun high overhead, and nothing to do but throw rocks at the frozen ocean, were pretty boring. But Mike didn't mind as long as he could share them with Michelle. She was shy, yet charming. Boisturous, yet demure. Sporty, yet bookish. She was the best rock skipper in all of Inuvik, and Mike wanted to impress her by skipping a rock just as far as she could. He never could, though. As the hammock bit deep into his flesh, Mike thought that maybe it would make more sense to build a robot that could skip stones, and looked like him. Maybe that was the way to impress Michelle.

But she hated smoking, he thought, as he lit a cigar off the one burning in his mouth. The smoke tickled his eustachian tubes. And what would he tell his wife? One woman was enough, although maybe he could hire a girl from in town to dust every once in a while.

All of the ideals and ideas that had burned Mike Gravel's heart since then--- the ideal of peace, of prosperity, of a snow machine in every garage, and a chicken in every attic, whether it wanted it or not --- had been inspired in the long idyllic afternoons walking with Michelle across the bright green bunchgrass of the tundra. The tears that came to his eyes now were not due to the cigar smoke, but due to the weight of memory.

His reminiscing was interrupted by the meowing of his cat.

“HONEY, PUT THE CAT OUT ONCE YOU'VE BROUGHT THE AIRPLANE IN” he said. Luckily for him, the cat wasn't a cat, but an armadillo that wandered in and out, using its steel-hard beak to break through walls when no one was around to open a door.

But now, the time for memory was over. The time for action had begin.

<-<-<-Mike Gravel to the Edge of Panic, Chapter 1 --*-- Mike Gravel to the Edge of Panic, Chapter III->->->

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