Issue #53

Spring 2015

The Fractal Tamer

by Holly Saiki

Hi, and welcome to the Eleventeenth Paradox Talent Contest, hosted by the Wainwright Institute for Meta Commentary Studies. We have just returned from a commercial break. I'm your host, Frannie Wilson. We've got an especially skilled group of contestants this year. Our latest contestant, Anonymous Jones, had just used his amazing unorthodox origami folding skills to turn a rusty pickup truck into a flock of beautiful shining metal birds. Our next one is Ms. Mary Q. Contrary, well-known expert handler of Sapient Fractals, Conceptual Demons and other more fanciful creatures.

Ah, the lights are dimming, this means that Ms. Contrary's act is about to begin. It looks like the audience is literally holding their breath with anticipation. Things are so quiet that you can hear the cars chirping outside. The spotlights are focused on the stage, literally trembling with anticipation for the show to start.

There is a soft, scratchy shuffling sound growing in volume, which I can hear to the far left of the stage. I can see the audience turning its head collectively to the source. Oh my! All of a sudden, two starfish shaped fractals have bounced on to the stage. Their bodies are sparking with color, composed of shades visible to the human eyes. They have stopped in the middle of the stage. I feel the tension in the air as the two fractals begin their equivalent of a stare down. The vehicles outside the building have resumed their chirping.

Hey, I didn't expect them to form their tentacles so soon. They're now doing the fractal equivalent of a silly slap fight, tentacles softly flailing as they gently hit each other. They look so cute fighting each other and making squeaking noises.

Now the fractals are retracting their tentacles, slowly gliding away from each other. They're now hunching, probably preparing to do something truly spectacular. I see that the audience's breathing has increased in nervous anticipation.

Holy Cow! They slammed into each other. Their broken bodies have created billions of mini fractal particles that sparkle in the spotlights, giving off a lovely rainbow glow. The sound they are making by the collision is a fractal cascade of lovely algorithmic melodies, I hope that the viewers at home can hear it on their TVs. I can feel the music vibrating all through my body. It's fading away now, now there's a loud crackle following it. That's odd, it sounds sort of like popcorn popping.

Something is nuzzling my ankle! Let's see who the little bugger is. Hey, it's one of the mini fractals. At least I think it is, it's a lot smaller than the ones we've seen so far. But I have a very good hunch that the cutie came from the body of one of the fractals. Oh how cute, it's yipping like a puppy, or more likely a robot puppy, judging by the metallic timbre of its voice.

It looks like there are more of these little guys than I thought, since the entire room is filled with that endearing technological noise. They're nuzzling the audience's feet and legs, hopping up and down like cute little kittens. It's quite adorable, but I wonder where their owner is. She'd better show up quickly.

Looks like I was mistaken, the lights have become bright now, blinding the audience. Shoot, I knew I shouldn't have stood directly in the path of the nearest spotlight. At least the little fractals aren't bothered by it, they're all rushing toward the stage in a big hurry.

The lights are dimming now, which means that the audience can focus on the stage without running the risk of permanent blindness. All of the fractals are on the stage now, continuing to bounce energetically. There's a mysterious figure standing in the middle of the group, hidden in the shadows.

The mysterious person's hands beckon the spotlights to illuminate their form. The fractals are getting more excited in their jumping, as if they can't wait for them to reveal themselves. The audience is sitting still as they watch the person's head slowly rise up, the tension building to a rising climax.

Finally! It's about time that Mary shows her face, her eyes closed like a Cheshire cat and sporting a big goofy smile. I wonder what she's going to do next.

Holy hell! Her eyes transformed into crystal white fractals, the glare they give off is almost blinding. The fractals are rising up from the floor and getting sucked into her transformed orbs. She's thrown back her head, humming like she's in an esoteric trance. It sounds more like a mechanical buzz than a human voice. What weird, kooky thing is she planning to do now?

Mary's now making retching sounds, that doesn't sound good. I hope that she knows what she's doing. The Tenthteenth Paradox Talent Contests have had a few performers dying onstage in their mad rush for contradictory glory. I still have traumatic flashbacks about the last horribly glorious fatality, the performer Nicolas Pumpernickle, exploding like a party popper. The curling ribbons and sparkly confetti were splattered everywhere, even on the ceilings. It took about two months to find every bit of the colorful remains. I still get a cold shudder everything time I see a glimpse of party decorations.

But I digress, let's get back to the act. It looks like she's vomiting up the fractals that she absorbed into her eyes. They're now a big blob and plopping onto the floor with a weird squishy, static buzz. Now they're splitting apart and resuming their starfish shape. They're starting to float off the floor by spinning their limbs.

Mary's grinning again, it looks like she has something else up her sleeve. Her eyes are glowing white again. I just hope that she doesn't do anything that's going to make the audience worry about her.

Small little circle fractals that look exactly like the larger one that we saw earlier, are popping out of her eyes. Mary effortlessly catches them and starts to juggle some of them with her hands and tosses a few of the others to her pet fractals. They're mimicking her actions and juggling the ones she gave them. Seeing her doing this is hypnotically soothing.

Folks, I think we're just about to reach the climax of the act. She's starting to glow with a bright light that resembles a scrambled television signal. Mary's tossing all of the tiny fractals in her mouth and swallowing them like pills. The two huge fractals are copying that. They then stand still after they do it.

Holy cow! The fractals have immediately jumped on to Mary! At least I think they did, because it looked more like they floated onto her body by making jumping motions. They're covering her entire body by stretching all over it. Amazingly, she's managed to remain utterly still.

Looks like the glowing fractal eyes are the last thing to be covered by them. Now she's standing still, the fractals' patterns are becoming more circular. It's almost acting like a lava lamp, lulling you to sleep. Okay, stay awake Frannie! Your viewers at home are counting on you to comment on the acts like a true professional.

Oh man, the audience is buzzing with excitement as her body is melting and reshaping itself into a very large fractal, vibrating with nervous tension. It looks like she's mentally preparing herself for her final act. I hope that she doesn't permanently damage or kill herself just so she can win the contest.

Oh my god! I don't know how to explain it, but she just transformed into a butterfly. Wait, I must be mistaken, she transformed into a fractal juggling octopus. No, I think she's a herd of fractal kitties. I'm not certain what she transformed into, unless….

Of course, she's transforming into all of them at once! I don't know how she did it, but she mastered the ability to do several actions at one precise moment in time. Very few Paradox artists can do this extremely difficult skill, due to the fact that the ability to dwell within all of the infinite planes of the multiverse at the same time is one jealously guarded by those who practice it. The audience is totally enraptured by Mary's ultimate act. Heck, I would just sit and watch, if it weren't for my broadcasting duties. Now it looks like that the colors are transforming into a brilliant white light. Could it be that Mary is going to be the second Paradox performer to ascend to a higher plane, like Roger Yevon did in the very first Paradox Talent Contest?

Good lord, I did not expect her to literally explode in a flash. I just hope that the audience is smart enough to shield their eyes from the glare. The Paradox Talent Contest really doesn't need a bunch of lawsuits after the show. Well, I better just wait for the glare to die down and hope that Mary is okay.

My eyes are finally clearing up and Mary and her two fractals are standing on the stage looking perfectly normal. She's taking a bow to rapturous applause. Her fractals are mimicking her moves in an adorable manner. Now she's taking her top hat off of her head and gesturing the fractals to jump in there. They bounce right in before the audience can blink.

What an amazing act. If it doesn't get into the finals, I'm going to be severely disappointed in the judges. Well, we're going to a commercial break. When we get back, Patrick Reverdy will play his latest melodic symphony: "The Primal Atonal Tone.".

Author Bio

Machine 4


Holly Saiki is the Honolulu Anime and Manga Critic for the online website Examiner.com. She has an upcoming short story, "A Special Holloween Treat," scheduled for the 2015 Fall/Winter issue of The Stray Branch. She is currently working on a Superhero Novel and a Vampire short story collection.