The urge to flee came on quite suddenly, after another run-in with Nessus in the bathtub.
After my woolgathering walk through the tunnels of Tweedle-Dee, I returned to our suite and found the Puppeteer half-awake and straining to reach a music cube located halfway across the room from him on a high shelf. It was blasting out some female warbling a totally resistible mating call.
"For Ghod's sake, turn that unholy shit OFF!" Nessus mumbled.
I hit the wrong button and the cube suddenly got louder, twice as loud.
"OK, or turn it UP!" he shouted. "I don't fucking care either way. Just shoot me in the head RIGHT NOW!"
I tried to find the volume control. The tiny screen on the front of the cube said we were "hearing" some creature called "Adele," screeching out some forgotten hideous hit from The Olde Days.
Despite his agitated state, Nessus hadn't yet sloshed all the green water out of his tub. The floor was covered with it, though, and his three padded feet couldn't quite find somewhere solid to stand.
Adele continued harpy-like, cawing on and on about how she'd never again meet "someone like you" until the day came when she was finally "rolling in the deep." I bashed the music cube against the counter a few times until it finally shattered into pieces and put all three of us out of our misery.
"Ghods, thanks," Nessus said, and then his heads slumped.
"Have a headsache?" I asked.
"Good Ghod, yes," he said. "I'm going to need several gallons of coffee -- immediately! Besides, we have Work to do."
"What do you mean?"
"While you were out soul-searching, we got a new assignment from the megazine," he said. "We're supposed to stay on Tweedle-Dee and cover the Known Space Pharmacists' Convention. The megazine'll cover everything -- Stars up-front for the story, unlimited expenses, all pre-approved."
"But what about the race story?"
"IS THERE a race story?" he asked.
There was a pause.
"Good point," I mumbled.
"I thought so," he said. "Now, if you'd be so good as to help me out of this tub, I think the only thing to do is check the hell out of this room and go see what those drug-pushers are up to!"
There was another pause.
"Uh, Nessus, have you seen the ... uh ... mess out there?"
"Whadda ya mean?"
"Well, you wouldn't happen to remember stumbling around the suite in an acid freakout while trying to slice me up with a Sinclair molecule chain ... would you?"
"Bullshit! I WHAT?! Help me outta this tub."
I helped Nessus out, handed him a big bath towel, and pointed him out into the suite. Clearly his mind was a little cloudy when it came to recalling the past six hours or so.
"Oh, HOLY SHIT...." I heard him gasp from the front room....