Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Prepared and the Ill-Equipped . . . The Inscrutable Bandersnatch . . . Balsa Playing Cards and Grapefruit Juice

The bouncers, convinced by now that whatever it may have been that was driving the behavior of this frantic Puppeteer and this deranged albino, it wasn't the officially sanctioned spirits of their establishment, moved towards us as we ran towards the banks of turnstiles. They appeared to have us trapped for a moment, then the two of us--tapping into similar reservoirs of the Drug Power--catapulted ourselves over the 'stiles, while the tuxedoed doormen struggled with the one-way mechanisms. Seeing the few seconds we'd bought, I fished in my pocket for some hundredth-star coins, and tossed them in the air where they caught the thousand neon lights and flashed like Chinese sparklers in the smoky air.

"A little something for you! Thanks for the show, boys!" I shouted, and then we ran for the doors with everything the drugs could provide, cackling like chickens at feeding time.

We got into the tunnels, took a few turns, found a maintenance access tunnel, and finally collapsed against the a generator, consumed by laughter and cheapjack hallucinations.

I went for the kit bag, and soaked yet another towelette with ether, huffing deeply, and passed it to Nessus, who did the same.

"Totally ill-equipped," I slurred in between my laughter, as the ether miasma spread through the dim tunnelway.

"They have," laughed Nessus, "no means to deal with psychos at our level."

"None whatsoever," I agreed, and could say no more, lost in more laughter, barely able to breathe.

Finally, I caught my breath and pulled out the hash pipe. "So then," I asked as I sparked the thing up, "what shall it be? The Dunes? The Circus Circus? I hear they've got a captive Bandersnatch."

Nessus' eyes lit up at the end of their stalks. "Captive?"

I shrugged. "Well, you know, it's kind of agreed to the arrangement."

He grabbed the pipe from me and took a long hit. "Agreed? What the fuck is that about? Why would a sentient creature agree to be put on display for a bunch of drunken mongoloids on a rock 30 light years from home?"

I threw my hands up, annoyed by the questioning. "Shit, Nessus, who fucking knows Bandersnatch logic. Why the fuck do they allow themselves to be hunted on Jinx? They're twisted fucking aliens."

"Ah shit," he said, "never mind that. It's too deranged even for us. Let's just go to the Venus Venus, we can play poker and get loaded on Wild Turkey, let these drugs fade slowly."

It sounded to me like a plan. I grabbed the pipe from Nessus' mouth, and stood up as steadily as I could. "At any rate, we need to get out of here. Those neanderthal doormen are probably still combing the tunnels for us, and I'm sick of this ether stink."

Nessus arose, and, grabbing each other for support, we stumbled back towards the main halls as well as the sick drug allowed.

* * * * * * * * * * *
The Venus Venus is what all our public places would look like if the Kzin had won the First War. The proprietors have built massive dioramas in homage to Burroughs' Amtor, complete with tropical biota, and massive algae-stoked pools stocked with hyper-adapted fish brought in from Plateau. The whole thing is kept sweltering, 90 degrees fahrenheit and 90% humidity. Everyone inside is half-frantic from the climate, and it keeps the clientele drinking better than some half-assed bowl of salted peanuts.

Nessus and I sat down at a poker table. They were using cards made of balsa, I saw. I guess even plastic-coated decks became soaked with perspiration. The ether was for the most part gone, and the mescaline, too, leaving just the hash. I ordered Wild Turkey with grapefruit juice; for better or for ill, Nessus made the determination to skip the juice.

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