Gumball. Naked mole rat. Baboon.
~snarfs into wine~ Alllllrighty then, you asked for it.
A cold sting spread over my cheek. Once. Twice. The third time the sting burned hot. My technicolor acid trip warped and waffled. Streaks morphed into faces. Animated. Cartoon animated. Saturday morning side-kicks pushed and pulled at me. Screeches dropped an octave or two into comprehensible words.
"Sober up, demon, you got to go. Animators, they comin' for you." I.R. Baboon from I AM WEASEL threw his shoulder into my side and shoved me down the sterilized grey hall.
A bell dinged. Monotone. The elevator at the end of the corridor flashed its red linear numbers.
Bing. Bing. Bing. 3. 4. 5.
The etching on the tall steel doors read 13.
"But that's what I want. The animators are the gatekeepers." I twisted away from Baboon. "I mean, I'll get out of here. I'll be back on the screen."
"Back on the screen? Back on the ..." Baboon held his sides and laughed. "You daft demon, you never been on the screen. You too damn old. How much ink you drink today, eh?"
Bing. Bing. Bing. 6. 7. 8.
A pink turd dropped from the ceiling, pulling down an air vent. No. Not a turd. A naked mole rat. Rufus from KIM POSSIBLE dangled from the wire-work. He chirred and grunted, gesturing wildly up to the air shaft.
I pressed my back to the wall. "The animators, they can update me. I can make it out through them. Every TV, tablet, and phone. I can go anywhere, be anyone."
Bing. Bing. Bing. 9. 10. 11.
"Animators don't digitize something as old as you. If they try, you get erased permanently." Baboon pushed me toward Rufus. "The Studio Head found your magic lamp on eBay. He wants you back on the glass, demon. Bind you to the lamp. Bind you to him."
"Fontana cursed the lamp. It wasn't enough to curse me. He cursed the lamp too." My world spun. Those days in 16th century Venice, crawling over plaster and stone just so a mad scientist could scare some coin from his patrons. Fontana the Inventor. Fontana the Magus. He'd been a fraud until that blood-stained night when he'd turned me from a man into the first animation. Stole my work. Stole my life. Damned my soul.
I leapt for the air duct.
"Oy, take this." Baboon tossed a black gumball at me. "If you want to be free forever from the lamp, demon, you got to put someone on the glass. They eat that gumball, they turn to ink...and that ink better be on your glass."