Thursday, February 3, 2011
Tw' iter - part 4
Part 1- here
Part 2 -here
Part 3 -here
Part 4 -here
Part 5 -here
Part 6 -here
Part 7 -here
Menacing doors passed on both sides as Steph lead the terrified group down a narrow hallway that kept curving in on itself like an ouroboros that got a bit confused and tried to eat its midsection first.
“Didn’t we already pass the ‘Danger Tiger Eating Men’ sign?” Pearl asked, shuffling in the middle of the group. Devtony took up the rear under the pretense of guarding them should anything really big and scary try and outflank them. In reality he was hoping for a chance to bolt once everyone’s back was turned but every time he slid back a step Pearl would follow suit. She must have eyes in the back of that cloak, he mumbled before reminding himself that there was a very good chance she did and possibly on the balls of her feet. The universe was a very strange place and had its own laws when it came to biology.
“Not much further, around the ‘DM’s to Nowhere lab’ and past the ‘Something bad has happened’ lounge,” Steph had her ‘everything’s perfectly cool, no reason for the authorities to watch me’ walk on which could only mean some really bad shit was about to go down.
Hellena bounced beside her, grinning from ear to ear. This was a lot better than sitting in some tree blind waiting for another ship full of men to land so they could have another raid party. She had high hopes it would even top the bunga bunga after. “So what does a space station need with a Whale department anyway?”
Devtony and Steph paused panic on their faces before both started yelling out, “I didn’t here anything about a Pail. Why would you want a rail? Does anyone have my gel? I could really use a trail.”
In a clutch of panic and visions of nets in his eyes Devtony kept calling out everything that rhymed with whale as Steph pulled Hellena to her side, well nudged nicely she knew how much damage that sword could do all to intimately and whispered “Do. Not. Use. The. W. Word.”
“What W word?”
“The one that sounds like a cry.”
She furrowed her brow trying to go back over what she said, “Oh, you mean . . . gotcha. Why?”
“You don’t want to know. I think we’re in the clear, I don’t hear any wings flapping.” Steph paused putting her ear to the wall, “yep it missed us.”
Pearl stepped forward, “Are we getting close to this forum?”
“What? Oh yeah we passed it back there, it’s through every door on the right.”
The group started at her, “You mean we could have just walked in all the way back by the lift.”
“Well yes and no, look you’ll see,” she slipped off her glove and pressed her palm against a small panel and a voice quite a bit like MoCoddle read out “HELLO USER @STEPHAROONI, PLEASE ENTER” and out spit a small card with a strange symbol on it.
“Come on, come on we don’t have all day, get your hash tag so we can get in.”
Pearl and Devtony exchanged a look, he shrugged he had no idea what a hash tag was – sounded spicy. Hellena, never one to back down from a small box on the wall wiped her hand off on the small bits of fabric she wore and made contact. “HELLO USER @HELLENAHEAVENLY, PLEASE ENTER,” she grabbed her hash tag grinning. “It looks like a game board. Ooh are we gonna play . . .”
“Tic Tac Toe? No.” Steph butted in.
“You call it Tic Tac Toe? I only knew it as Eye, Tooth, Toe. Huh, this place is backwards.”
“Well, we don’t have all day.” Shrugging Pearl and then Devtony both placed their hands and received their own hashtags. The bounty hunter turned his over and over trying to figure out what the small sheet was good for.
MoCoddle having processed her newest best friends grinned and with a smirk opened up the door to Level 500 Forum – or as it was known throughout the rest of the station ClusterFuck #1.
They all, even Steph who spent most of her illegal life inside one of the ClusterFucks, gasped (they were going to run out of oxygen at this rate) at the mass of life ringed around a huge stage where a distant spec stood his words magnified back through the loudspeakers “And I say we didn’t not try not hard enough!” People, so many people, all the people not out in the corridors stood there a few patiently and most not so patiently waiting in a huge eternal twisting line to get up to the platform. Barriers in the form of velvet ropes were erected keeping each coil of the line separate though a few amorous souls would jump when the mood striked.
Where a gap formed, generally from someone vacating the premises so to speak a business or two would spring up. There were small booths selling every kind of ware imaginable and some most would rather not think of. Life was lived in the line, babies were born near routes 35, 56, or 150 depending on how long one waited. Bathrooms were the first business ventures established. Level 500 was proud to boast a pay toilet once every 50 people. But of course those who lived in the line had no way to earn coin so the entire line economy was based upon trade for goods and services.
This was where a smuggler thrived, guards were forced through the line and could be avoided easily enough if you had the right numbers or were really good at ducking under legs and people forced to mingle and wait were willing to try anything to get their minds off it. Business had been booming for Steph as she turned to her terrified compatriots, who looked like they were about to need one of those much boasted toilets. “Welcome to the forums. Now quick get in line before someone takes your spot.”
The human urge to beat out their neighbor over rode any sense that this was an incredibly stupid idea and Pearl followed by Hellena and Devtony fell into line behind the swirling masses. “What is this place?” Pearl asked Steph who started to disrobe out of her sterile garb, leaving a rather dashing young woman in a curious adventurer’s outfit behind (the fedora was a bit much).
“It’s the forums, I thought everyone knew about the forums.”
“I’m from . . . out of town. I don’t understand why is everyone standing in this line?”
Steph paused as she dug through her pack for the ceremonial whip (a must for all smugglers), “You know, I’m not sure. It’s just what everyone does.”
“So you all get in line for something but you have no idea what lies at the end?” Truly these people were baffling.
“Yeah, exciting isn’t it?”
The line moved surprisingly quickly for the large masses, the same voice still droning on from the center stage. This was not due to people finally reaching their lauded end but a trick of engineering and the use of wormholes to put those at the front back to the end. A bit of space sickness from the trip kept the travelers confused enough they never noticed.
Pearl and Steph were locked in conversation, arguing over the point of it all. Hellena turned to Devtony, “Whatcha think’s at the end?”
The giant looked up easily over most of the heads and placed a hand over his eyes, “Looks like a stage surrounded by barriers.”
“Oh, like a ring. You think there might be some wrestling?” The joy on her face belied the terror that the bounty hunter was certain must be somewhere in the Amazonian. The idea that she actually enjoyed getting into danger wasn’t a possibility.
He looked up again, willing his eyesight to get better but when he turned back Hellena was talking to a strange man with a pumpkin on his head. “Hi, I’m Hellena. I have no idea what I’m doing here.”
“Mmph mmmphh fump (translated as ‘I am pumpkinsam and I am standing in this line with a pumpkin on my head’).”
Devtony shrugged his shoulders his footsteps slowing to a crawl, he let a few of the people behind him pass by. This was turning into a mad goose chase and he was in no mood to be the remaining loon. Maybe he could talk his way into the lift without Steph’s card and . . . and get vaporized two seconds in.
“Hello dearie, you seem lost.” The bounty hunter turned around searching for the grandmotherly voice, “Down here, you big stupid . . . dear.” The voice changed for a second becoming harder and younger only to have the syrup poured on extra thick. A woman, well what was probably a woman, doing her best to appear as a crone right down to the fake nose and warts that kept slipping off blinked up at him. She had a small stand set up, nothing more than a few curious knick-knacks surrounding her. “You are the Tony yes, once known as Splutnik.”
“How did you,” Devtony started, “Not even my parents knew that!” Then again what his parents knew could fit into a thimble for a pixie.
“Come,” she waved her hands pulling him into her web, “you must take this,” and with almost no force placed a strange looking fruit into his palm. It was brown and probably half dead covered in spines that poked into his flesh.
“I really don’t think I . . .”
“You take, trust in Rebis-AZ. I never let you down.” The woman winked, causing her nose to slide down and drop to the floor. She scurried down looking for it, just then Pearl appeared looking as mad as a porcelain mask can, “We were looking all over for you.”
“Well actually not, it’s surprisingly hard to hide here. What’s that in your hand?”
Devtony looked back towards where the old/young woman had been, now only a crowd of teenagers talking animatedly about a singing beaver in her place. “I have no idea,” and hurled the strange fruit deep into the heart of the crowd.
The pair got back to the place Hellena had been saving for them, noticeably absent was one woman who carried their only way back home “Steph’s gone.”
“What do you mean, Steph’s gone?”
“She said to stay here and that she’d be back,” Hellena smiled once again reminding the panicking pair who was carrying the giant weapons.
Devtony and Pearl exchanged a look and trapped in this strange place no one to get them out and with no idea what else to do sat down on the side of the line letting people pass them. The Amazonian was in the mood to sight see and with the prodigious use of the threat of the giant sword on her back got some people to act as the bottom of a pyramid.
“Wow this place is amazing. There’s a huge board lining all along the wall that keeps flashing small messages.”
Devtony snorted, in no mood to play along. He was beginning to overheat surrounded by all these people. He thought about taking his coat(s) off but didn’t like the looks of anyone else with their thieving hands of thievery. Pearl responded, “What do they say?”
“Mostly gibberish. M-t-n-b-k-e Hey look at me I’m eating a sandwich, Smarmy Jerkface – my sandwich is better than your sandwich. There’s an awful lot of sandwich talk for some reason. Perhaps there’s a Subway in the middle. I hope so, I could kill for a club.” At the words kills and club the pyramid scattered back into the fold figuring that dealing with stern looks and muttered words from fellow patrons were better than the Amazonian.
Pearl turned from Hellena who managed a perfect dismount from atop a pile of squirming bipeds hell bent on getting far away to look at the pile struggling to breathe beside her, “Oh my NerfHerders!”
Hellena turned to see her new best friend slumped over, his skin an unsightly shade of green with a strange white goo foaming over his eyes and mouth. He turned a bit at the masks cry but could only make out strange shapes as the world around him melted into a grilled cheese sandwich. The last of his energy drained and the giant plowed forward crashing on his face and stopping up the line.
The Amazonian gritted her teeth, at last a bit of action, and as Pearl yelled for a Doctor Hellena picked the slowly cannibalizing himself Devtony up onto her shoulders. “Which way to a doctor?”
“I have no idea, all I see are people!” Pearl scattered, trying to be heard over the din of whoever’s thoughts were being blasted across the vast space. “Doctor? Is anyone a Doctor! Surely someone is a Doctor?”
Hellena, sensing a bit of fun and using the unconscious giant as a battering ram plowed through the line in record time. Pearl ran behind offering platitudes as she went.
“I’m so sorry, yes please excuse us, our friend is very sick. We’ll make it up to you.”
This was taking too long though, the barriers made sure the line which seemed immensely long to the observer was actually infinite times bigger. “Bugger it!” she yelled turning from the people waiting in line and took to bashing down the barriers with her best friend.
He was unaware of anything going on around him and kept mumbling, “But I don’t want to go to the asteroid belt today mother.”
Line Authorities would have butted in and stopped the group making a dash for the center ring if they hadn’t of all died out about 300 years ago when their uniforms all malfunctioned and played a continuous loop of “It’s a Small World After All” on high speed. No one ever bothered to replace them and the place had been self serve ever since. People left in the wake broke from whatever spell the velvet ropes put them under and began to mob behind the dashing Amazonian making their own break for what they believed was freedom.
“I think I can see the podium!” Hellena yelled back to Pearl who was hot on her heels. Except there was an unexpected problem, unnoticed all these centuries by the swarm, the fact was the eternal line and simple barriers had no connection to the center ring at all. It was barricaded on all sides so none of the riff raff could get near the microphone.
“Bloody Hell!” This is going to hurt, Hellena thought and with all her strength tossed the giant high into the air and in one fast move pulled off her sword and sliced a hole through the chicken wire circling the stage.
“Hellena, that was amazing,” Pearl said.
“I know, right,” the Amazonian pulled back on the wire so the masked woman could slip through completely forgetting the giant still in the air. He hit the ground with a thud that knocked the other line patrons off their feet. Luckily his head cushioned the fall. “Oopsie, Daisy,” she picked him up again and made for the strange arena.
Pearl was ahead of her, looking furiously for someone in charge but no one was there. Only a chair sat upon the stage near the microphone with a small puppet near it that was surprisingly familiar. She looked towards Hellena who was getting a bit tired of the load and set him down on the stage with a hard crack.
The women approached the microphone. Hellena picked it up and handed it to Pearl. She pushed her mask back and cleared her throat, “Excuse me,” her voice echoed back across the mass of people, “I say, excuse me but is there a doctor in the house.”
Much as someone who spent their entire life near a highway suddenly moves to the country every ear turned and mouth silenced as the constant hum of the voice changed becoming higher and softer. Pearl swallowed again, the crushing weight of attention full upon her, “Our friend is very sick.”
Hellena, her focus on the hole she made and the mass of arms and legs fighting through it called out, “Uh you might want to hurry up, we’re gonna have a lot of company soon,” she looked at Pearl and the chair beside her, “Hey isn’t that Mr WordsWorth?”
“Is anyone here a doctor?!”
A flash of purple light blinded everyone on the stage (which was getting rather crowded quickly) and a man dressed in a strange blue jumpsuit walked through, “I’m a Doctor.”
“Hu actually,” he said slipping a small disc onto his patient.
“What?” Pearl was getting tired of this game.
“No time, take this,” he placed a disc in her hand and one in Hellena’s, “This is gonna get a bit bumpy, try not to throw up.”
The mob broken from whatever spell the new voice had began a resurgence towards the microphone, their holy grail of a wasted life. Doctor Hu smiled and with a quick wave to everyone on queue pushed a small button on his suit and the entire group vanished in the purple haze.
People crashed into people as all of level 500 converged in one giant pile of limbs.
at 8:34 PM