CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

Michelangelo stood before the spiral staircase in the landscape of his dreams, he was attired in top hat and sporting a monocle, with a twirl of a phony moustache. He looked posh. He felt rich.

"You're looking sharp" said April, close to his side, flaunting a thin velvet yellow dress.

Opposite him was Kala, attired in a silk emerald gown.

"Not as sharp as this little razor leaf" said Kala

"This isn't the time for fashion fever, not when we've got to deflate a disease" said Michelangelo

Behind all three, were two scared little twin girls, holding on to one another in sheer fright.

"These dogs are barking up the wrong tree if they think they're going to cut you girls down in confidence, don't worry though, I've got a woman's touch this time around" said Michelangelo, "Let's see if we make these packs of addicted animals teacher's pets" he continued.

The three of them stared at the edge of the spiral staircase at the rabid dogs, all representing the latest batch of EDX addicts they were combating within the dreamscape, and slowly, and valiantly, they put their feet firmly forward to advance.

Back in the real world and within the workshop area of the Turtle's lair, Donatello monitored the life readings on Michelangelo, April and Kala as they sat fixed to a trio of chairs, three EDX prisms held in their hands.

"You sure this won't hurt Kala?" said Dask as he and Zack lazed about, prodding and poking at the various contraptions in the workshop.

"Not to worry guys" assured Donatello, "We've managed to regulate and stabilize the EDX pathogens using some leftovers of the mutagen that created us, I injected a small dosage of it into Michelangelo and he's filtered it through his own bloodstream, carrying the brunt of the workload, April and Kala are perfectly fine"

"Well I hope she doesn't enjoy herself too much in there, we've got to get Tibbit and that Feldman bozo to Dimension X pronto" said Zack, looking on at Dask

"Hey, you've been a bit distant lately, what's your take on this whole deal...seeing home again? Being forced to be all about the truth with us?"

"Just feels like everything's being done for arts' sake" said Dask, "People are less invested in the lives of other people and more into what their output of creativity is...for all I know, Tibbit could be more eager to have his trader followers take away all the creative members of my home world rather than an assortment of different talents and keener minds...perhaps, now that the planet is public knowledge again, we should look into maybe taking a few visits there and recruiting some for us just for safe measure"

"Now that makes for a prettier picture" said Dask, high-fiving his friend.

Donatello's turtle-com suddenly went off, he hastily walked over to it and pressed down on it. It was Irma

"You're a sight for these sore eyes" said Donatello, "How's tricks?"

"Don...A.P.E just called, they didn't know how to reach you, I'm...Don, he's gone"

"Who's gone?" said Donatello

There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile

"Kim Sagan. Doctors observing him at the hospital he was stationed at, they said he just got up and went wild, fought his way tooth and nail out of the building, managed to jump out of the second floor into trash containers, got up and sped off"

I am what I am, I am alive

What you see, is what you get

Yeah my friend we haven't started yet

One small step for a man

One giant leap for all mankind

You gotta let it go, you gotta let it be

You know you cannot hide from the devil in me

"Don? Don are you ok? You look like...you're hearing distant drums or something"

"Something like that Irma. Something like that" Donatello said

His mind cut through the strange buzzing in his mind, a song he listened to years back, "I Am" by Suggs, routinely looping in his head, he thought about the clash he had for control of his sanity with Sagan earlier, returning to two words in particular

"Wake. Up"

The realization dawned on him very quickly. It stung him mercilessly.

He had told Sagan to awaken.

And so he did. Just like that.

And now, whatever rosy picture the Turtles had put together, whatever future creative undertakings were on the verge of commencement, one interpretation was clearer than any other

Things were going to go very dada.

If you're gonna find

Some kind of peace of mind

THE END...

...THE SMEG IT IS.