Man, so we went down there like we used to, you know, but it was different, it just wasn't the same, man, I always said He had the contacts, and He could smell a cop a mile away, it was, like, it was this miraculous power or something but, man, now that He's gone, it's so fucking hard, man, it's just hard to score anything good, you know, I mean, when He got some, it was terrific, smashing stuff, and we always had a good time, but now, man, the best I could do, well, man, I dunno, it was just better when He was around. Sucks that He's dead now. Sucks.
The cops came for Drunken Stupor but he was not there, thank you very much. They ransacked his house instead and satisfied themselves with taking his stash, and all his baseball cards.
The ex-wife came for Drunken Stupor but he was not there, thank you very much. She kicked his dog and took her ukelele and Bob Marley records, and changed his answering machine message to "Fuck you, asshole!"
The minister came for Drunken Stupor but he was not there, thank you very much. He prayed to God for the man's soul, but deep down inside he knew it was a moot point. He got a Pepsi out of the fridge.
I came for Drunken Stupor but he was not there, thank you very much. Long time since I'd last seen him; all I had was an address to go on. Words cannot express the betrayal I felt. Well, actually, yes, they can. That asshole.
The Jehovah's Witnesses came for Drunken Stupor but he was not there, thank you very much. They left some very nice literature on his doorstep and were hit by a car later that afternoon.
Death came for Drunken Stupor, and death doesn't give a shit WHERE you are. Death found him and popped up next to him and bent him over and reamed him but GOOD. Happens to everyone sooner or later.
It began to consume him, this terrible need for his left shoe.
Here were his hi-tops, but they would not do. He was not feeling up to tying laces, and they would make his feet uncomfortably warm after a while. He set them aside and continued to ruffle through the debris of his room.
There were his soft dress shoes. They'd become progressively scuffed over the years, but they still fit well. Even so, he would need to replace them eventually. Tonight, though, they would not do. Laces again, and they would look terribly out of place for the casual attire the evening required.
He found his house slippers. Ahhhhhh. Soft, easy to slip on, warm but not confining like the hi-tops. Unfortunately, like the dress shoes, they would look odd, and they were awfully vulnerable to messes and careless foot-placings.
And the one moccasin, the right one, grey and comfy and just what he needed. But its mate was gone someplace, vanished under the heaps or in the dark shadows of his room. He flipped over another stack of laundry but it was not there.
He could not go downstairs until he had the matching shoe. Desperation drew an ever tighter rein on his mind as more and more of his room was cleared without success. A rise in the voices below, a swell of activity from the party-goers, yanked hard on his perception. Where were they?
Then he heard the chuckling. It was a dry, rasping sound-- not evil, but bitter and spiteful. It came from beneath the bed. Of course it would. Earlier, while he had been making squishing sounds, the creature under the bed had snaked out a black and feathery arm, and dragged his left moccasin into its domain.
"Give it up, feathered bed-beast," he said, knowing (of course) that it would not be so easy.
"What have you for trade?" it asked, its voice the sound of aging paper.
"Is the mere fact that I allow you to remain in this comfortable abode not enough, that you must steal from me?" he responded, trying not to show his fear. It lived under the bed because he could not force it to leave, but perhaps it did not know that. They had never discussed the issue before.
There was a long silence, and he began to think perhaps it had left for some other corner of the room, when its voice rose again:
"No," it hissed, "I want something new. I want something beautiful and valuable to keep. I want something precious, something you value, which will remain under here with me forever."
It tried to feign nonchalance-- to act as though it was working up this plan as it went along-- but he could tell it had something in mind.
"What do you want?" he asked wearily, wondering if perhaps he could take it on with sword and crossbow, if he could shrink to miniscule size and engage it face-to-face. It would be a giant beast if he did, if he took it on in its home, on its own ground.
Another long silence passed before its voice issued from the darkness under the bed like the air bleeding from a slashed tire.
"There is a girl here sometimes," it said. "I..."
But he would hear no more. "No!" he shouted. "I am not about to stuff my girlfriend under the bed just to get my ratty old shoe back. Toss it out here or I'm coming in after it!"
It hissed violently this time, an aggressive and hateful sound. He drew out his sword, then, and braced himself for the charge, but just then the door opened. It was she of whom the creature had spoken.
"Coming downstairs?" she asked, and her voice was nothing like the bed-creature's.
"I, uh, can't find my shoe," he said, feeling somewhat foolish. She knew nothing of the bed creature, and he would not be able to convince her. He had tried to convince others without success.
"So come down in your socks," she said, breaking into a smile. He set down his sword. It seemed so obvious, so simple.
"Right," he decided, "I'll be right down." And she left, closing the door behind him.
"We'll settle this later," he said quietly, and he could tell from the silence that the creature had taken a serious blow. Its best hold over him had been broken, and when he returned later he would be clearer of mind and stronger of body.
Then, tugging up his socks, he stood up and went downstairs.
FELIKK drags one of his sharper nails along the drapes which surround the circle. "You've got to cut this shit out, you know," he says in that glass-melting voice of his. "I mean, I enjoy our talks and all, but your physical extension is really taking a beating. The idea of intelligence without corporeal component is nice, but I'm afraid you're not there yet." He shifts his scaly mass a bit on the stone floor.
I roll back on the divan to grab another piece of honeycomb. The third-circle beehives are an incredible sight, I'm told. All I know is that their honey is the sweetest thing I've ever tasted in my life. On more than one occasion, I've taken a load of TMA-1 just to have something to eat on this side. The occasional talk with FELIKK is merely a bonus.
"I'm taking a series of counter-agents during my offtimes to replenish the lost marrow and hemoglobin," I tell him. "I know what I'm doing." I peer out through the haze, through the circle wall and into his dark chamber. Behind him are a set of braziers and the brass door, which appears to be the only way in and out. Beyond that, presumably, is the rest of Hell. I can't leave the circle, though. 'Security reasons', FELIKK says. He hasn't gotten permission for an NDA to cover me.
The big lizard eats a coal from a brazier and fixes me with his eyes, which are glowing brighter than usual for some reason.
"So why is your body going into cardiac arrest right now?" he asks, and suddenly he isn't the friendly knowledge spirit I've been getting all the answers from anymore. Suddenly, he's the leering soul-devourer, the seventh-circle archivist and right hand of the Hell-Wide Web.
And my containment circle no longer seems quite so roomy and comfortable anymore....
When I come out of it, I'm in the living room still. She assures me that I was fine the entire time-- my respiration, pulse, temperature, and blood pressure all stayed within the safe ranges. I look at the vial of yellow goo and decide to go back and give that motherfucker a piece of my mind. And this time I'm visualizing a circle-breaking athame to take with me as I go under. Let's see what's behind that brass door, shall we?
"Okay, so that's sixty-five for the coli, another ninety for the fetal colloid..." "And the gene bases?" "Well, you got a couple of choices. I got the usual, that's still a buck seventy per base, yeah." "Got anything cheaper?" "There's, uh, I dunno, I think it's Mexican. They knock it out in big ovens but I don't think they sterilize them real well. But it's ninety-nine cents a base and it'll fuck you up, sure." "But you don't recommend it?" "Well, the shit's nasty, y'know? If you're just looking for a cheap breeding stock for your trout pond or what the fuck ever, yeah, sure. But I wouldn't be making no Master Race outta this crap, you know?" "Yeah, okay. Hm. Can your friend from Switzerland get anymore of that, whatever it was, that..." "Oh, that wild Alpine stuff? Shit, I dunno, maybe, but that was expensive and he didn't want to do any dinky protein shit, he was looking to sell mammalian, higher-order stuff, you know..." "Well, I got the money for it and it's been awhile since I made a good warm-blooded vertebrate, so if you can get some, like, I could do two-twenty-five a base probably." "I dunno, I'll ask him but..." "Well, if you can't, I'll take the usual buck seventy stuff, but the ebola I made out of that Alpine stuff, shit, that stuff really kicked like a motherfucker." "Yeah, yeah, it was definitely primo." "Okay, so I think that will do it. The coli, the bovine fetal colloid, and whatever you can get me on the base sequence stuff." "Yeah, okay, man. I'll Fed Ex it day after tomorrow." "Fed Ex? Is that safe?" "Shit yeah. I just roll it up and stuff it in tampons. They never check those. Dogs hate 'em, too." "Wow, man, that's really clever." "Well, shit, I didn't do all that post-doc work just to get busted by some minimum-wage postal jockey."
The sunrise drips up from the skyline in globs of light, most of it on the short end of the spectrum, and he takes another bite of stir-fry. Another glob splots up onto the cloud. BLOPP. This one is deep yellow, and resting on the cloud, it resembles a cracked egg. He looks at the stir-fry and realizes that, no matter what you call it, it's still just food. Shovel it in and break it down with stomach acid.
Nummy nummy, as he takes another bite. The smack of his lips times EXACTLY with the next splot of sunrise, but it is not coincidence. He planned it that way. He is always planning such things, and then he marvels at the synchronicity 'twixt Man and Nature.
Love that stir-fry.
The last of the sun rises, spattered across the sky like spilled rainbow. It will congeal, he knows. It always has before. The sun will congeal and then he will be out of stir-fry.
The spoon scrapes bottom. He looks down and sees the empty pan. No more? He looks and sees that the sun is still pulling itself together. SCHLUPP, goes the congealing ball of plasma. He looks down again. The timing is wrong. Something is going to be different today. It could be bad, so he decides to consult the Oracle.
He shuffles back to his house, the combined stone cavern and vegetable tree-top clubhouse that he lives in. His feet drag across pebbles. They shout obscenities at him, but to him it just sounds like shuffling feet. The sun completes its coagulation behind him, and he checks the pan once more. It is still empty, which reassures him a bit. But what could have caused such an unprecedented mistiming this morning? Certainly this was a surprise, but he know realizes that he feels no surprise at all. Looking deep within himself, he sees not a glimmer of surprise anywhere. This surprises him. The problem neatly fixed, he takes another step and crosses the many, many leagues to his home.
Stepping inside, he whisks the pan into an empty area. It vanishes into the lack of filled space. Sunlight streams in through the window in little rays, occasionally popping small holes in the counters and walls. A stray beam hits his left arm and blows it completely off.
Inconvenient, but he's had it worse.
Surely this loss of a non-vital limb is not what the mistimed stir-fry portended? Perhaps, but he still checks the Oracle. It is resting where it always has, which is no specific place at all, so he picks it up and speaks reassuringly to it.
Behind him, a sunbeam blows a Flintstones glass into shreds. He looks down at the Oracle and sees his advice for the day:
BUY A NEW FLINTSTONES GLASS.
He does so immediately, calling up the Flintstones Glass Delivery Service. It is there in seconds, standing among the glittering remains of its predecessor. It is at this point that he notices his inability to wonder at the things that happen to him. He ponders this for a moment and decides that pondering ones inability to wonder and wondering itself are similar enough to reassure him. This reassures him, which is reassuring.
Redundancy is its own reward, he thinks.
It is more or less at this point that the sun begins to set. More accurately, it drops completely, in just a few seconds. It drops like a fallen scoop of sherbet and splats all over the horizon. Speckled drops of splattered sun fly all over the walls of his home, but they are already fading into darkness.
The moon chips a crack in the black above, and night has fallen. He sits back, watching erosion at work on the bricks of his fireplace. It may take millions of years for them to erode into powder, but he has time. And a mallet, to hasten the job.
It occurs to him that he never did find out what was so special about today.
Maybe it was the arm....
Rimrunner <******@halcyon.com> wrote: >when did i get married, and to whom?
Don't you remember the goofy guy with the sandy blonde hair that had been really badly cut? There was some tomfoolery with a ring and a limo, and a surly doorman who wouldn't let him in or something.
No, wait, maybe that wasn't your wedding. It might have been a Mentos ad.
"...then the elf-angels, who incidentally looked just like the mutant inbred messiah-child of the Grail from PREACHER, started moonwalking up and down my walls..."
"...hideous fresnel lamp made entirely of powdered urea, or maybe it was sand from a sandblaster..."
"...no difference between a wheel of cheese and a table of chess..."
"...up and down and up and down, plucking the most beautiful thoughts I have ever formed from my mind, holding them in my hands like the Christmas tree ornaments of my childhood, and throwing them against the hard bright tiles before me, watching them shatter..."
"...like it was um you know everything was all kind of like you know um it was sorta like a type of you know everything was like oh fucking WOW! and..."
"...spank spank spank and next thing I know I'm cramming stuff into every orifice and everything was BREATHING..."
"...locked in with the beat and suddenly I was not just one person, I was like a hundred or a thousand different people and every one of them was a total fucking dickhead who hadn't been drinking enough water and needed to vomit desperately..."
"...got to close to the rainbow colors and next thing I knew the spinning crystalline wheels had dragged me in and I was being ground up between yellow and green, then green and blue..."
"...realized that men and women are DIFFERENT, see? I mean, like, REALLY different. REALLY. Now, see, you're laughing again because you think it's so obvious but that just means you don't know how much I mean when I say 'really'. I mean it's more than that. More than you think. I mean..."
"...whole thing was modeled on the structure of that fucking mail daemon I'm writing for work..."
"...but as it turned out, four hours of body-wrenching puke was just the thing I needed..."
A little bit of cannabis in the bong A little bit of esctasy all night long A little bit of tryptamine in the brain A little bit of ketamine while it rains A little bit of nitrous in the lungs A little bit of acid on the tongue A little bit of mescaline for a while A little bit of you just makes me smile (cue the horns) MeO-DMT Number Five!