개쩌는 차 여행 모험
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Shortly after the Boss Lady got an assistant
사장 아가씨 모시기 이후 얼마 뒤

The Executive Board of Dr. Wondertainment, Incorporated, sat around a circular table, in a square room on the top floor of a boxy grey building far removed from the toy factory and the Workshops of Wonder. The building contained a great many square rooms, which were divided into further square spaces, and each of these square spaces held an Accountant, or a Manager, or an Assistant to a Manager, or a Regional Representative, or a Department Head, or a Department Bottom, or a Supervisor, or a Supervisor to the Supervisor, or a Team Diversity Manager, or a Diversity Enforcer, or a Human Resources Manager, or an Executive Manager, or an Executionitive Manager, or one of many other fun-filled positions.
원더테인먼트 박사 주식회사의 이사회는 장난감 공장과 경이의 작업장Workshops of Wonder과는 동떨어진 회색 상자 같은 건물의 꼭대기 층의 네모난 방의 둥그런 테이블에 앉아있었다. 건물에는 네모난 방이 정말 많았는데, 또 네모난 공간으로 나뉘어지고 각각의 네모난 공간엔 회계사나, 관라자나, 관리자의 조수나, 지방 대표나, 부서장이나, 부서말단이나, 감독관이나, 감독관의 감독관이나, 팀 다양성 관리자나, 인적자원 관리자나, 경영 관리자나, 다양성 집행인이나, 사형 집행인이나,[역자: 의도적으로 순서 변경했습니다.] 다른 재미를 위한 자리들이 자리하고 있었다.

All of these many and varied individuals stood in their squares and stamped pieces of paper. The pieces of paper had words on them, but the people in the squares did not read the words. Their job was to stamp paper and move it to another square, not read them.
이 모든 많고 다양한 이들은 자신의 네모에 서서 종이에 도장을 찍었다. 종이에는 글이 적혀있어지만, 그 네모 안의 사람들은 읽지 않았다. 그들의 일은 종이에 도장을 찍고 다른 네모로 넘겨주는 것이지, 읽는 것이 아니다.

Above all, the fluorescent lights hummed.
그 모두의 위에서, 형광등이 잡음을 내고 있었다.

The Executive Board had brought the stampers with them when they arrived: it was not proper for an Executive Board to be without their court. It was also not proper for the Executive Board to interact with their court in any way, so they stayed in their board room and never left.

As was appropriate for an Executive Board, the members had no eyes, so that they could not be misled by irrelevant information. They had no tongues, so as not to speak irrelevant words: instead, ticker-tape rolls of fluctuating stock prices and focus group data spilled out from their thin lips into the shredders that sat between their withered knees.

The Doctor has taken initiative… the voice was little more than a whisper, a hiss of air escaping the mouth. It has removed its sphere of influence from the Structure…

Will the assistant be of use…

It will do whatever is instructed of it…

With the Doctor away, it falls to us to maintain order…

Correct…

The bright purple convertible Wondermobile, all spoilers and chrome, raced down the ancient raised road. Basalt paving tiles stretched out to an indistinct horizon that never seemed to come closer, a sharp line of black against the harsh red of the dry, flat land that baked under three suns. Lining the road were crumbling chunks of ancient masonry, and tangled rows of twisted old trees, their branches heavy with browning fruit.
모두 스포일러와 크롬인 밝은 보라색 원더모빌이 고대 raised 도로를 질주했다.현무암으로 포장된 타일이 전혀 가까워지는 것처럼 보이지 않는 흐릿한 지평선까지 뻗어있고, 선명한 검은 선이 거치고 건조한 붉은, 세개의 태양 아래 구워진 평평한 대지를 배경삼고 있었다. 도로의 안감은 고대 석조의 부서진 조각이고, 나무가지에 무거운 갈색 열매가 열린 오래된 나무들로 뒤엉켜있었다.

Dr. Isabel Wondertainment sat with one hand casually on the wheel, the other flipping through radio stations, and a massive pair of rhinestone-encrusted pink plastic sunglasses taking up the majority of her face. The radio flicked through station after station, jumping from random clicks and number strings to K-pop jellybean ballads, to solar flare rap battles in booming Russian, to the “Tom Kenny (All Praise Unto the Immortal Dog-Emperor of Nine Realms) Musical Extravaganza”. Isabel eventually settled on the Galactic Plumbers’ Union Orchestra.
이사벨 원더테인먼트 박사는 한 손은 무심하게 핸들에 올리고, 다른 손으로 라디로를 휙휙 돌리고 있었고 얼굴의 대부분을 가리는 라인석으로 감싼 핑크색 플라스틱 선글라스를 쓰고 있었다. 라디오는 방송국과 방송국을 넘어가고 있었고, 무작위 클릭과 숫자 문자열에서 K-팝 젤리빈 발라드, 폭발 러시아의 태양 폭발 랩 배틀, "톰 케니 (모두 아홉왕국의 불멸의 개-황제를 찬양하라) 뮤지컬 대연극"까지 돌아갔다. 이사벨은 마침내 은하계 배관공의 연합 오케스트라에 멈췄다.

Emma sat in the passenger seat, reading a fluttering map. Jeremy sat between them, looking very happy with the trip. The back seat was filled with all manner of whimsical-looking plastic items: the Wondertainment Bubble Fun Gun Playset™, the Wondertainment Grabby-Claw-Thing™, the Wondertainment Big Foam Noodle™, a jug of Happy Hiker Grrrranola Trail Mix™ ice cream, the Wondertainment Super Secret Surprise Box™, and a great deal of other goodies: They had cleaned out the laboratory of anything that seemed to be of use.
엠마는 조수석에 앉아 펄럭이는 지도를 보고 있었다. 제레미는 둘 사이에 앉아 있고 여행덕에 매우 행복해 보였다. 뒷좌석은 온갖 종류의 기발해 봉는 플라스틱 제품들로 가듣차 있었다. 원더테인먼트 거품 재미총 놀이세트™, 원더테인먼트 꽉 잡기 발톱™, 원더테인먼트 거대 스티로폼 막대™, 행복한 하이커의 그래래래놀라 트레일 믹스™ 한 단지 아이스크림, 원더테인먼트 슈퍼 비밀 깜작 상자™, 다른 대단한 상품들이 있었다. 그들은 아무 연구실에서 쓸만해보이는 걸 쓸어담았다.

“You know, you are the best assistant I’ve ever had, Emma,” Isabel said.
“그거 알아, 넌 내 지금까지의 조수 중 최고야, 엠마,” 이사벨이 말했다.

“I’ve only been working with you for a few hours, ma’am.” Emma kept her eyes on the map.
“전 당신을 위해 일한지 몆시간 밖에 안됐습니다. 사장님.” 엠마는 여전히 지도를 보고 있었다.

“Really? It feels like a lot longer than that.”
“정말? 더 많이 길었던거 같은데.”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe I am the only assistant you’ve ever had, ma’am.”
“제가 틀렸다면 정정해주시죠, 하지만 전 제가 지금까지 당신의 유일한 조수라고 생각합니다, 사장님.”

“Right. I mean right as in you’re right, not right as in I understand that I should correct you if you aren’t right, which I don’t have to do because you’re right…though, I did have Mr. Butler when I was really little, but he was really just my dad’s assistant. He was a friend of one of my dad’s friends from way back, and dad took him in when he lost his old job.”
“맞아. 내 말은 네가 맞다고, 네가 맞지 않으면 내가 고쳐야 한다는 것을 이해한다는 맞다가 아니라, 왜냐면 네가 맞아서 내가 고칠 필요가 없으니까…어쨌든, 난 정말 어렸을 때 집사 씨가 있었는데, 정말로 그냥 아빠의 조수였지. 집사 씨는 오래전부터 내 아빠의 친구의 친구였는데, 오랜 직장을 잃었을 때 데려왔지.”

“Where is he now?”
“지금은 어디 계시죠?”

Isabel shrugged.
이사벨은 어깨를 으쓱했다.

“I…don’t actually know. He just sorta stopped showing up.”
“어…사실 잘 몰라. 그냥 나타나지 않더라고.”

There was another one of the long pauses that characterized their conversations, though it had in the space of a few hours become far less uncomfortable. The relationship had naturalized quickly, like the introduction of chocolate to marshmallow1: as soon as the connection had been made, it became impossible to think of one without the other, and unbelievable that a time of separation had ever existed.
몇 시간 사이에 많이 덜 불편해지긴 했지만, 다시 둘의 대화의 특징이라고 할 수 있는 오랜 침묵이 있었다. 관계는 순식간에 융화됐다. 마치 마시멜로와 초콜릿을 같이 먹게 된 것처럼.2 관계가 형성되자마자, 서로를 떼어두고 생각할 수 없게 됐고, 함께 하지 않았던 시간이 존재했다는 사실 자체가 믿을 수 없게되었다.

“So, uh, how goes the mapping?”
“그래서, 어, 지도일은 어때?”

“It goes well.”
“잘 되고 있습니다”

“Anything I should be worried about up ahead?”
“뭔가 내가 미리 걱정할 만한 일은?”

“Nope. It should be a straight shot for a while longer.”
“아뇨. 당분간은 직진입니다.”

Isabel glanced over at the white sheet of paper. Its surface was a shifting spaghetti mass of tesseractic lines in red, black, and blue, twisting and curling and consuming each other, driving barbs to the brain through the eyes.3
이사벨은 하얀 종이 한 장을 흝어보았다. 표면은 뒤틀고 웅크러지고 서로 먹어치우는 빨강, 검정, 파랑색 4차원입방형 선의 움직이는 뒤엉킨 뭉텅이였고, 눈을 통해 뇌로 미늘을 보냈다.4

She very quickly looked back at the perfectly straight road.
이사벨은 엄청 빠르게 고개를 돌려 완벽하게 직선으로 뻗어있는 도로를 쳐다보았다.

“I’ll take your word for it.”
“네 말이 맞겠지.”

“The Factory won’t give us any trouble while we’re in transit. It won’t know we’re coming until we’ve passed the corporation limit,” Emma said.
“저희가 이동하는 동안 공장은 어떤 문제도 일으키지 않을 것입니다. 기업 경계선을 넘기 전까지는 저희가 가고 있다는 것을 모를겁니다.” 엠마가 말했다.

“That’s when the fun begins.”
“그때부터 재미 좀 보는 거지.”

“I trust you’re going to play it by ear.”
“즉흥적으로 처리하실 거라고 확신합니다.”

“I move where inspiration takes me.”
“난 내 영감에 따라 움직이는 걸.”

“I’ll start on the backup plan, then.”
“지원 계획을 세우겠습니다, 그럼.”

“I thought you already had a backup plan.”
“이미 지원 계획이 있다고 생각했는데.”

“I did, but I don’t think it will be enough.”
“있습니다. 하지만 충분할 것 같지는 않습니다..”

Isabel grinned.
이사벨은 미소를 지었다.

“We make the best team ever.”
“우리는 역대 최고의 팀이될거야.”

A roar echoed from up the road, off to the right, loud enough that it could be heard over the radio and wind. Isabel turned the dial down, straining her ears to see if she could hear it again.
거대한 울림소리가 도로 위, 오른쪽에서 들렸고, 라디오와 바람소리를 뚫고 들릴 정도로 큰 소리였다. 이사벨은 다이얼을 낮추고, 귀를 세우고 다시 들으려고 했다.

“Did you hear that?”
“그거 들었어?”

“I believe I did, ma’am.”
“그런 것 같습니다, 사장님.”

“It didn’t sound good.”
“좋은 소리는 아니였어.”

The roar did not repeat itself for some time, and had been written off as a circumstance of no portent when several things happened in short succession.

A massive grey bulk launched itself up onto the road, tearing up trees and rubble. Isabel screamed and slammed her foot down on brake. The Wondermobile spun around, tires screeching, rubber burning. The creature slammed down onto the road, debris showering down around it. The Wondermobile ground to a stop, rocking back and forth on ruined suspension. The creature didn’t move. Neither did the Wondermobile and its occupants.

Isabel opened her eyes. Her sunglasses had flown off in the chaos.

“Are you guys okay?”

“Yes,” Emma said.

Jeremy barked the affirmative.

She looked beside her to see that Emma was still in her seat. Jeremy had rolled onto the floor. True to their word, neither of them were hurt.5

Isabel sighed in relief, and stepped out of the Wondermobile. Emma and Jeremy followed.

The creature that had crashed in front of them was massive. More of a smooth, grey hill, big enough that its head and upper torso stretched across the whole of the road, with the back legs and tail draping down the slope. It rested on its side, rising up at least twice Isabel’s height and exposing its white underbelly. A broad, wedge-shaped head, encrusted with barnacles. Gigantic serrated claws. The stench of salt.

It didn’t move. Isabel tiptoed up to it, straining to hear or see some sign of breath. There was none.

“I think it’s dead, ma’am.”

Isabel nodded, and said nothing. The words got bunched up in her throat. She was aware of death, as a concept: sometimes people and animals stopped moving and looked like they were sleeping, but they weren’t actually asleep, and they weren’t going to wake up. But this was so sudden it had been alive when it jumped onto the road, and now it…wasn’t. Things weren’t supposed to die like that. Its eyes weren’t closed. Its eyes should have been closed, but Isabel could just see the creature’s pale yellow eye, staring blankly out at nothing.

A sickly acid-green feeling welled up inside Isabel’s stomach. She didn’t know its name, but she knew its flavor. Impressions of memories, dredged up from subconscious seafloors. Old impressions of presence, of something that once was, and the empty space that now took its place. Buried wrongs and hidden loss.

Isabel found herself shaken by this, and the feeling remained. She tried shrugging it off, and it did not budge. The creature was dead. It had died here on the road. The road was dangerous, then, and the Factory even more so.

Isabel turned to Emma.

“We should keep going.”

“That’s going to be difficult.”

“We can get around it. Let’s just go…”

A great gurgling noise erupted from behind them. From the creature’s body. Emma ran over, grabbed Isabel, and hoisted her above her head.

“I’ve got you, ma’am,” Emma said as if this was the most normal thing in the world. Isabel said something that sounded like “eeeep”.

The creature’s belly split open. A thick wave of putrid brown fluid gushed out, flecked with crusting black foam and chunks of unidentifiable semisolid sludge. Isabel, being held above Emma’s head, was kept safe from the tide of sludge. Emma, standing underneath Isabel, was not.

The air was ripe with methane and fermenting sewage. Steam billowed out from the burst innards. The flow slowed, and stopped.

Wordlessly, Emma walked over to a bare spot of road and set Isabel down. Behind her, Jeremy pulled himself out of the sludge and began shaking the gore off of him.

“Thanks, Emma.”

“I am here to help.” Everything south of her collarbone was an unpleasant shade of brownish blackish reddish puke. Flecks spattered her glasses. She looked completely unflustered, as if she was standing in line at the grocery store or some similar task.

“Are you doing all right, ma’am?” she asked.

“I’m fine. Just a bit…”

A pause.

“Do you need a hug, ma’am?”

Isabel looked at her gore-stained assistant for a moment. Emma was not predisposed to smiling, but there was nonetheless a sort of reassurance to be found in her face. Stability and support.

Yes, a hug would be nice, Isabel decided.

It was a very awkward hug, given the difference in height between the two, but awkward hugs were okay sometimes, when a hug was really needed.

“Thanks, Emma.”

“It’s what I’m here for.”

Isabel righted herself, her sweater now thoroughly filthy. Jeremy wandered over, with a very plain “Hugs? I love hugs!” expression.

“Okay, Jeremy, hug for you too.” Isabel grabbed her still-dirty corgi and hugged him. “We’re going to need to get you a bath. And get me a bath.”

“There should be soap in the back of the Wondermobi…oh no."

Something was emerging from the carcass on the road. Something like a man, with rotten brown skin and stringy hair, and wide flaps of loose skin that hung almost like tattered clothing. It stumbled out, basalt cracking audibly under its feet. It moaned, shielding its eyes from the suns.

“Ma’am…I am going to have to ask you to run,” Emma said.

“What is that thing?”

“Ma’am, you need to run. Now. Pick a direction and don’t stop. Don’t let them touch you.”

“What? Emma, I’m not just…”

Two sunken sockets, now adjusted to the light, came to rest on the two women and one dog.

Isabel. You need to go. Now.” The force of her delivery softened back into her normal, neutral tone. “You’ll be okay. I’ll catch up with you.”

Isabel swallowed nervously, and nodded. She couldn't really think of anything to say. With Jeremy in her arms, she ran. Ran off the road, down the hill, through the trees, and away.

Emma, running at the Rotting Man in nothing more than a casual jog, jumped up and landed a kick directly on its neck. The Rotting Man dropped to the ground. Emma did not. She planted herself on its back, swooped her arms under its withered limbs, joined her hands behind its neck, and with the full skill of the Viscount Nelson impeccably executed, cleanly severed its skull from its vertebrae, with the sound of a spoiled grapefruit trod under foot.

Emma stood up and removed the map from her pocket, its spaghetti strands still writhing. She tore it up, and tossed the scraps into the air.

The sky pulsed in shades out of space-time, and the desert was flooded with silence, and the ground crumbled into dust. The Way began to curl in upon itself like burnt paper, folding in like origami. Blurring at the edges like glasses in the rain.

More Rotting Ones pulled themselves up to the surface of the road. Men, women, children, lured by the smell of their decaying prey.

Emma stood there, and watched them approach, as the Way collapsed around her.