Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Decker 30

He awoke to the uneasy sensation of being thrust randomly in many directions, as though he were in the womb of a pinball that had just been catapulted into a hyperactive kaleidoscope of shifting, reeling, magically manifesting and disappearing marshmallow bumpers. He hesitated to open his eyes; bright colors strobed erratically through his eyelids over moments of absolute blackness, sometimes fading slowly, sometimes quenched as quickly as they came. Finally, he summoned his courage and looked.
The crystal-clear liquid in which he was submerged extended in all directions as far as he could see. Cataclysms of stone and dirt, forests and cities erupted in bubbles all around him, some moving across his vision, some imploding on themselves, some melding with other eruptions. Funhouse mirror images of himself, in every incarnation of his life, refracted around him; childhood scenes, restaurant scenes, visions of Degren and Furge, his emaciated Furge self in a kaleidoscopic gambling hall...
He swam in a sea of seemingly endless possibilities, for himself and for everything else. He thought to look up, perhaps to find the surface, and realized that no "up" presented itself to his liquid perceptions.
He remembered that, not so long ago, he had ability to concentrate on and visualize, even materialize in, a singular time/space scenario. He struggled to reconstruct a recent scene, one in which there were anchor points; walls, floors, earth, sky... he realized that there was something missing.
He was alone. There had been two minds working together, two consciousnesses weaving the warp and woof of their chosen reality. Where was his other self? Where was Deckren? He twisted and turned, trying to see in all directions at once. He reached out with his mind, seeking that tenuous thread of contact they'd developed in their time together, as they'd become more and more like each other. There seemed to be no sign of a conscious Deckren anywhere in his perception.
His search was interrupted by a rising, thundering rush. A great cataract of lightning-charged liquid gushed into the endless sea, and it was moving toward him. He struggled to swim away from it and was confronted by a similar column, which seemed to be moving in the same direction. Glancing around, he saw other columns gushing into the sea from all directions, like streams from bath faucets into half-full tubs. Bits of flotsam, bubbles, fish, and what appeared to be unconscious beings tumbled into the sea from the columns.
To his senses, though the cataracts were pouring in from every angle, they all seemed to be moving in the same direction. Or... was it he and the sea that were moving, and the cataracts were stationary? As this perception gelled in his mind, he got the vertiginous sensation that he was falling, being pulled along by an imperceptible but rapid current in a great, bottomless river.
With a new "anchor point" for reference, he was able to orient his vision and become more circumspect in his search. He scanned and dismissed many incarnations of his "self", all in different stages of development, all acting out some "reality" that he could not perceive. It was disorienting to look on versions of himself, carrying out acts that were familiar but often not quite recognizable, going all the way back to his childhood, interspersed with static bits of other existences that roiled in the increasingly-disturbed sea of what he now surmised was a mixture of the essences of many space/time scenarios. He recognized that his view was dominated by his own life perceptions; his own self-creation. It occurred to him to wonder if his whole life had been played out more in his own head than in the reality he occupied, and if that was the reality he occupied...
As more and more of the cataracts rushed in from all directions, it was becoming more difficult for him to evade their crushing turbulence. The roar of them, the chromatic blasts, the impact seemed to flood his vibrational spectrum, bleeding across sound, vision, smell, and senses he could not define. Even as he thought his perceptions would overload, a new input presented; it was like a whistle or a hiss. Where his perception of the tumbling cataracts seemed to emanate from many directions, this came from before, or below, him. He glanced ahead; the horizon, once a seemingly infinite sea, was a wall of chromatic vapor, like an impending sandstorm or a monstrous typhoon.
Paddling hard away from a threatening cataract, he caught sight of a limp form ahead. His heart leaped in his chest; was it himself? Galvanized, he swam toward the figure. It worried him that this was the only self-incarnation here that seemed inert. What had happened?
The wall of chromatic fog now dominated the horizon. No cataracts penetrated the mist. His unmoving self drifted beyond the influence of all the tumbling columns, into the swiftly flowing mirror sea between himself and the cloud wall. The impact of the cataracts faded as the wall's whistling hiss permeated him. His sense was that the wildly turbulent seas of commingled space/time were organizing into a flow that, without the turbulence, accelerated to the point of spontaneous vaporization. He could almost sense his own molecules increasing their vibration in sympathy. Was this the crux of his wild, psychotic peyote trip? Was he going to vaporize into an empty cosmos?
He didn't feel ready for that eventuality. He once again located the limp form of his other ego and stroked strongly toward it. Some part of his mind objected, as he was racing directly toward the cloud wall, but he knew that his only hope of escaping being dissolved was to integrate with that "other" self.
With what seemed the last of his energy, he closed with himself and grabbed a limp ankle, then pulled him close. He could feel his body growing a bit ethereal and wondered whether this was the familiar "melting together" he'd experienced with "himself" before, or their final dissolution as the space/timestream of uncounted realities clashed.
He felt himself awakening, and with that new consciousness came a rush of energy. The empty ache that had dominated half his mind for some time was filled; he was becoming whole, perhaps for the first time...
Just as the two-become-one passed the vapor point of the great, flowing sea into a brilliant flash of energy.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Decker 29

As they orbited the chamber, intent on each other, the frozen timescape slowly melted out of stasis. In their 360 degree peripheral vision, they were marginally aware that a current seemed to be developing. A soft gurgling, as of a tiny spring erupting from mossy rocks, rose in volume and constancy to the sound of a rushing river.
"Does it seem appropriate to you that we're dancing in ripply circles while everything melts into a giant puddle puddles?"
"Is there something else we could be doing?"
A wide, sweeping glance around the room gave them the impression that the happenings outside the walls had synchronized with the dance inside. Decker/Furge was swimming through the air toward Tut, who was grimacing down at his turtle paws, which seemed to be growing less scaly and more hand-like. The metal briefcase Tut clutched was now closed. The two Aidas still waltzed on, seemingly oblivious, at the opposite side of the chamber. Coxli breached and dove through the chamber walls, grinning, acrobatic, cavorting; a brilliantly iridescent lizard/porpoise set free in multidimensional seas.
"What do you suppose would happen if we stopped dancing?"
"I dunno... let's try it."
Their inertia carried them, slowly spooling, about halfway around the chamber. They felt their feet break surface tension and slip down into the gelatine-y substance that the floor had become. The two Aidas swept toward them, seemingly on a collision course.
"Hmm... maybe not such a good idea. Will you lead, good sir?"
It was a tricky maneuver to extricate themselves and resume sliding across the surface, but with a gentle see-saw motion, like a pair of carousel horses intertwined, they managed to ease back into the flow of the dance. They were now a quarter of their circuit ahead of the Aidas, and the space around them reflected the unbalance; things were starting to wobble. In addition, the center of the chamber floor began to bubble, then surge, then it popped and opened into a whirlpool. The transparent walls rippled and sagged, undulating in hypnotic waves down toward the swirling hole. The writhing scenes of alternate worlds were sinking under a watery phosphorescence strongly reminiscent of the river they'd ridden, seemingly eons ago.
Tut (once again half himself, half Lizzie), Decker/Furge, and all the things that had occupied the center of the chamber were drawn rapidly by the whirlpool's venturi effect. The Deckrens and the Aidas were being pulled more slowly; if they directed their dance toward the perimeter of the chamber, Deckren discovered, they could "tread water", maintaining their distance from the widening maelstrom.
The bubbles in the rapidly dissolving chamber walls elongated, then commenced reeling counterclockwise as the whirlpool gained force and consumed the floor, which was now just a narrow, sloping, corkscrewing shelf that the two dancing pairs descended as though on a mad escalator. Coxli, no longer able to breach the whirlpool's surface, raced up the ledge, his once-scintillating colors now a constant, flat blaze-orange.
Deckren shouted over the roar, "Do we dare try to follow Coxli's lead and go against the flow?"
"Let's just slow down a little... maybe we can get close enough to the Aidas to get them 'on board' with whatever we try. They seem to have as much influence as we do, whatever that amounts to."
The slippery surface of the ledge seemed to grab at their feet as they slowed, rippling and splashing angrily around their toes, eager to swallow them in. Barely maintaining buoyancy, they fought off the current and closed the gap between themselves and the Aidas. They could see a bulge in the ledge surface bowing up between them, rippling down into the whirlpool, threatening to spill off and erode their narrow purchase. "Oh, shit biscuits, that might be as close as we can get," Deckren yelled at himself. "Let's try shouting at them."
They yelled, "Aida!" several times, at the top of their lungs, and received no response. They slowed down a bit more, trying to close the gap, and shouted again. Finally one of the ducks turned her head and spotted them. She immediately stopped dancing, which caused her to slide off the ledge, dragging her companion with her. They both commenced swimming up the whirlpool wall, only managing to tread water at the brink of the ledge. Deckren could see they were working at their physical limit to maintain their position; it wouldn't be long, he guessed, until the current won.
The distraction had them near-ankle deep in the liquid of the ledge, and it took all their flagging strength to get back on top. It was no longer wide enough for them to remain at arm's length and rotate, so they hugged tight and baby-stepped in small circles. The wave they'd generated by closing with the Aidas almost tripped them up; his elbow grazed the whirlpool wall, throwing up a spray that drenched them both and nearly swallowed them.
The center of the whirlpool was now empty for as far up as they could see; Tut/Lizzie, Decker/Furge, and all the accoutrements of the chamber had been sucked out the bottom. The luminescence of the water was disorienting, but by gauging perspective, it seemed to be nearly equidistant to the top as to the bottom; looking up offered the same wavering circle of black emptiness as looking down. They were in the distended belly of a great, watery snake that was dancing to some lunatic snake charmer's chaos flute.
They saw panic distort the twin ducks' pretty faces as their energy flagged and they lost their battle to the current. They accelerated down the whirlpool wall, crashing into one ledge, then the next, disrupting the flow as they went. By the time they'd struck the third rotation of the ledge, it had mostly lost its form; it was just a slight, coiling ripple in the maelstrom. When the Deckrens came around to the first splash the Aidas had caused, they were able to surf over it; at the second, they barely hung on. The great anus of the whirlpool was racing to meet the Aidas, and creeping ever more rapidly up on the Deckrens. They saw the two ducks pass the bottom; saw them stretch, distort, and vanish.
They struggled to remain on the dwindling ledge for as long as they could, then laid out to body-surf the whirlpool's now-glassy surface. Remembering the river water's hallucinogenic effect, they both risked a splash to scoop up a drink before they passed the brink. Things were just starting to get colorful again when the roaring went silent and they were falling...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Decker 28

It felt like coming awake, but with eyes already open; straight from dream to reality. Or... perhaps vice versa? There was a dull, pulsing haze over everything, and it seemed that all the elements of this dreamlike reality were writhing, intermingling like a tangle of electric eels. Quadruple images reluctantly melted to double and, finally, to coordinated stereoscopic left-eye dominant vision.
He was Decker Quall. He'd eaten some peyote buttons in a dilapidated desert shack, and he'd gone for a helluva trip. In fact, the trip didn't seem to be over. Elements of it were weaving in and out before his eyes: A seven-foot-tall, bespectacled, psychedelic painted turtle, a loquacious pair of giant white ducks, an alliterative lizard, a control room like the inside of some upended 1950's submarine, crackling with multicolored electricity, rife with odd, watery scenes from a science fiction Fellini fantasy... he was Decker Quall, but he was beginning to wonder what the hell that meant. Reeling, he staggered toward a curved tables and collapsed into a chair.
A naked, creamy-furred dude materialized and mirrored his movements, causing phase ripples to wash through his newly re-gelled personality. He stared across the table into those insanely familiar eyes, further disoriented by the cream-furred reflection he saw there. "Shit exponential!" Degren's doubling of his expletive jarred him loose; he was Deckren for a moment, then recalled visions of the distorted casino muddled that. Pangs of lust and powdered stimulation knifed through him; the call of manic fortune and wild, unreal elation, the hot sense of power and helplessness merging, the thrill of riding waves of chance and entropy... he wondered where that came from, then realized that he was empathizing with the Furge/Decker entity they'd gone to rejoin, reclaim, reorient....
Where was Furge? As the transpiration of his recent adventures once again slid across his mind like stage curtains reopening, he saw himself tackling Furge and reaching, striving, intending toward this giant hyperbaric chamber, back to Tut, the genius turtle who could help them put things right... but it seemed he'd lost Furge somehow.
Galvanized, he stood and shouted, "Tut! I lost Furge. We have to go back!"
"Err... Deckren, I don't think..."
"I had him, dammit! Deg-...umm, yeah, mirror-me, let's get our heads together and make the trip. We probably don't have much time!"
"Deckren, I still have the projector up and pointed to the locus you just came from," Tut said. "Furge disappeared from the image at the same instant you did. He's not there anymore."
"Well I'll be shit-damned, shit-smeared, and shitillated!" Again, the exclamation was doubled simultaneously. The two furry men caught each others gaze, both unsuccessfully fighting the impulse to giggle like little girls. "What now, Tut?", one of them said.
The curving, riveted-plate wall behind Tut was boiling like pizza sauce. Tut himself seemed to waver. Deckren clenched his eyes shut and shook his head, then looked again; the big turtle had briefly shape-shifted into someone suspiciously resembling Lizzie, the woman who had twice tried to abscond with the projector. The two Aidas, oblivious to everything but each other, were circling the chamber as the floor tilted beneath them, a mad teacup carnival ride in four dimensions. Coxli skittered across the boiling walls, randomly popping in and out of exploding bubbles, re-emerging each time in different, glistening colors. His alter ego, wavering slightly before him, mirrored his actions, oscillating in and out of phase. He told his body to move toward the other Deckren; it responded clumsily, exaggeratedly, and he lurched into an unexpectedly solid, arcing metal bulkhead. The impact seemed to knock something free in him and he righted himself, steadier now. He felt a weight leave his body, saw a familiar, near-emaciated form extrude itself from him and crumple to the floor.
It was Decker/Furge, naked now, nearly hairless but for tufts in the oddest places; head, crotch, armpits... something strange about that, it seemed, though deja vu...
Deckren reached for the prone figure, but it vanished, only to reappear next to his alter ego, who was now on the opposite side of the room, seemingly encumbered as he had been seconds before. He chanced a forward flip in their direction, landed a hand's breadth away from the now-stirring naked man, staring into his own mirrored eyes.
Neither noticed that Tut had fully transformed into Lizzy, who was brandishing some sort of crystalline pistol that, to her dismay, was squirting out rainbows, butterflies, and miniature multicolored pastel unicorns. She launched the offending weapon toward the undulating, rotating ducks and made a grab for the projector. Coxli, looking slightly dizzy, poked his head out of a frozen bubble and saw her. Throat sac in turgid splendor, iridescent green and metal flake yellow, he dived out of the ceiling in her general direction, all the while sputtering machine-gun alliterations at her like blowgun darts. He landed on her left shoulder, knocking her to her knees; the projector went careening into the air and was sucked up by a molten vortex. Lizzy leaped toward the ceiling, hurtling through the air like a trapeze artist momentarily, but she struck one of the rainbows that lingered from her earlier barrage and transformed into Tut, whose inertia was so different that he simply halted in midair, blinking through radically askew psychedelic swirl coke bottle bottom glasses. Coxli's dorsal spines raised up and turned fluorescent purple, then Doppler-ed off into an invisible spectrum.
The other Deckren seemed off-balance, heavy. Deckren clapped him soundly on the chest with two open palms, jogging free another Decker/Furge entity, which fell and melted into the first. As the amalgam shuddered into consciousness, rising slowly to his feet, the two Deckrens found themselves drawn irresistibly to one another. Each braced for what they expected to be an inevitable merge, but their hands clapped together and they commenced to waltz toward the perimeter of the now wildly transfigured chamber. They took up an orbit polar to the two ducks and rotated slowly in relation to each other as the orbit path snaked between the jetties and fjords of the funhouse mirror walls.
Eyes locked on his partner's, Deckren tried to vocalize his thoughts, which seemed to be echoing in bubbly curves around the periphery of his brain, much like the images reflected in the chamber walls. Knitting his brows, he thrust a thought directly at Deckren. Muddled as it was, it must have gotten through; he reciprocated, amplified, clarified, "You."
Their communication catalyzed, crystallized. The room froze, along with everything in it except the Deckrens and Decker/Furge. The mirrored walls went transparent, revealing a mind-bending hellscape of alternate worlds melting, meshing, smashing into each other in hurricanes of temporo-spatial flux.
Deckren, by some heroic effort, locked onto his partner's mind signal and transmitted, "What the FUCK?"
"Agreed," came the stoic reply, "what now?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Decker 27

.Deckren concentrated hard on reviving memories of Decker, his former self. He (they?) tried to see the man who had fallen out of the Arizona desert into this strange long ago? Images of waiting tables, driving, lonely nights in that tiny apartment.... all seemed like reflections in a mist-veiled mountain stream. Eyes shut tightly, he struggled to bring that human self into focus as waves of disorientation washed over him. The sterile, flat echoes of the pressure chamber gave way to a chaos of voices, bells, electronic noises, clacking, ratcheting....the heavy smell of tobacco smoke, of deodorant and cologne, of alcohol and lust, so familiar....
Las Vegas! The three of them stood on psychedelic swirling carpet, surrounded by milling seekers. Flashing lights, green felt, spinning wheels, the ceiling perforated by constellations of color, boiling iridescent storms with chromatic lightning bolts, chandeliers, strange creatures and spacecraft circling under capacious vaults or close-hung skies. Reality was out of sync here too, Deckren thought, though the convolutions of inter-dimensional dancing somehow seemed less out-of-place in Vegas that it would elsewhere.
The games of chance all seemed to be operating normally, though the denizens at the various tables and machines were an odd mix of earthly and non-earthly species, still predominantly human but not overwhelmingly so. Scantily clad kangaroos served drinks and lit cigarettes, scaly rabbits fussed over their chips, bespectacled androids watched intently as dealers flipped cards, ambulatory octopoids monopolized rows of one-armed bandits, web-fingered humanoid bats plunked down stacks on red or black, odd or even. No one seemed perturbed by the incongruous mix of entities that swept like slow tides across the still-solid floors.
Still struggling to get their bearings, the Deckrens scanned the crowd for any sign of Furge or their Decker-self. Coxli leapt onto a row of slot machines and started pulling handles randomly. They crisscrossed the huge room, trying to cover as much territory as they could, while the little lizard-man scampered and scaled, fiddled and chittered. They were ready to give up on finding Furge when the noises of the big room began to dampen in a slow wave, starting from a down escalator near the center.
Behind crimson mirrored shades, resplendent in a bone-white Italian suit, matching oversized fedora with a blood-red band, broad, blood-red tie, and red patent leather penny loafers, surrounded by slender, well-endowed and near-naked females of several species, a gaunt, pale incarnation of Decker rode languidly down the moving stair.
He stepped off the escalator, moving like royalty through the obsequiously parting crowd. He was walking in their direction, though it was impossible to tell if he'd spotted them. He was smoking a long, slender cigarette and sipping from a brandy snifter, seeming little concerned by the fawning sycophants that approached him. Occasionally he'd bring his lips close to the ear of one of the females, whereupon she'd invariably break out in bell-like laughter.
The conversation in the big room had quieted to a bare whisper by the time the Decker incarnation was close enough for Deckren to speak to. The slot machines still chimed and beeped merrily, but all the roulette wheels had stopped and all the card tables had gone inert.
"Decker, or Furge, or whatever you're calling yourself," Deckren rasped uneasily, "remember me?"
The white-clad figure stopped and stared, unmanned at seeing two Degrens. His manner changed abruptly from gracefully regal to completely abashed. Fumbling off his sunglasses, he stuttered, "D-D-D....? Um, I..." Then his gaze hardened, and he thrust the glasses back on. There was only a slight quaver in his voice as he said, "Do I know you?"
"Of course you do, Furge!" The two Deckrens spoke simultaneously.
"I don't think I do," came the cold reply. "Now if you, er, gentlemen will excuse me, the ladies and I have to attend to."
"Furge, or Decker, whoever you've become, look around you!" Deckren swung a pointed finger around the room. "Things are messed up. This is supposed to be a planet of humans, with an ordinary sky and ordinary ceilings. You don't belong here. We've got to get you out of here and back to our, er, your home planet! We might be the cause of all this weirdness!"
"Total bullshit," the confused Furge/Decker spat back. "You're with the casino, aren't you? Trying to get me to take off and leave my winning streak behind! I practically own this town now, you bastards! You know it, and you're scared shitless of me! Get out of my face!"
"Furge, you know who I am," Deckren said, "and you know who we are. This isn't right. It's messing things up in a whole lot of places, in a whole lot of ways. Come with us and we'll try to set things straight. You'll be able to come back to me-er, Degren. This set-up isn't going to hold together much longer. We've got to try!"
For a moment he looked convinced, ready to return to his old life. Then an icy glaze came over his face. "And give up this crazy party? You freaks must be nuts. C'mon, girls. Table seven is waiting for us, ready to spill poker chips on us until we've got more than we can carry. Have a nice life, er, gents!"
He made to continue on, but the two Deckrens blocked his way. A dark snarl curled his lip. "Best you step aside, boys," he uttered coldly. "The management doesn't take kindly to people messing with VIP's." He waved one hand and several large, dark-suited men materialized out of the crowd, sidling between the Deckrens and his posse, then he locked elbows with two of the girls and strolled toward the poker tables.
"Here's a little something to keep you happy," one of the thugs pulled a double handful of drink chits and ten dollar chips out of his jacket pockets and dropped them in front of the Deckrens carelessly. "You don't want to press the issue, take our word for it." He cracked his knuckles and spun on one heel, a move that he and his cronies must have choreographed, as they all turned in perfect synchronicity.
"Shit to the power of SHIT!" Deckren stood, teeth clamped firmly together; angry, indecisive. Then the seriousness of the situation galvanized him. He brushed through the crowd, the other Deckren at his shoulder. They marched past the small army of black-suited goons toward the poker tables. The goon who had spoken to them tried to grab him by the shoulder.
"Um, excuse me, si-" Taken aback by the adamant strength of Deckren's shrug, Goon One practically hit the floor, but managed to regain his balance. "Okay, we've got a couple of wise guys here," he said as he motioned to his crew to close on the two Deckrens, "but let's see if we can keep the disturbance to a minimum. Watch out, they're stronger than they look."
There were nine of them. They fast-walked up to make a semicircle behind the Deckrens, then closed it up to form a full ring. Goon One was at the nexus now, facing them. "Sirs, this is your last warning. If you don't intend to stop harassing the clientele, we will be forced to eject you from the premises."
The Deckrens shrugged and moved to walk past. Goon One grabbed his left shoulder, this time determined to hang on even if it caused pain. Deckren brought his left arm up and over, locking his elbow over the man's rather ham-like forearm, then let his knees go limp and his body drop straight down. When the pressure on the man's elbow was almost equivalent to Deckren's weight, he lifted his right knee and turned his left shoulder inward. Before the big man could get his legs under him, he was being urged painfully toward the floor. He tried to swing a left-handed roundhouse into Deckren's midsection, but Deckren had already set his feet and sprung into a forward roll, still holding the arm bar. The reversal of inertia was too quick to compensate for, and Goon one had no choice but to fall under the pressure or have his shoulder dislocated.
In the meantime, the other Deckren was keeping several of the other goons at bay by spinning like a dervish and leaping six feet straight into the air, unleashing with the occasional devastating circle kick when one of them got too close. Two were already incapacitated when Deckren bum-rushed Goon One's face into the stiff carpet and concurrently slipped in a well-placed palm edge at the side of the bullish neck.
The other six goons stood confused for a second before rushing silently but menacingly toward the two Deckrens. When the two sinuous, gray-furred men passed through each other in a front flip phalanx, they were too dumbfounded to defend themselves; four heels struck behind four ears, and then there were two. The two took up defensive crouches, to little avail; the Deckrens feinted, then blurred in with sleeper holds. With minimal fuss, the nine big security men were sleeping like babies.
Furge was oblivious to the fray, firmly ensconced in his poker game. When the Deckrens appeared behind him and each put a hand on his shoulder, he jumped like a scared armadillo.
"You're going to need to show us to your room immediately," they both urged him. With a meaningful glance at the prostrate goons, they lifted him from the chair. He allowed them to lead him to the up escalator.
"Um, Stephie's got my room key," he said, pointing at a lissome female with mouse fur and semi-human but splendidly attractive features. Gotta get it from her."
"Bring all your girlfriends, Furge," Deckren said, "Wouldn't want any of them to feel left out!"
They made it to Furge's suite without further incident. It took up an eighth of the twenty-second floor, stretching out before them in wide-open opulence.
"Call the main desk and tell them you don't want to be disturbed, Fu-er, Decker, or whatever you are," Deckren growled. It was really disconcerting to be looking at this odd incarnation of himself, his lover, feeling homesick, feeling.....what? Unrequited? Alienated?
Coxli appeared at the door just as it was starting to close behind the other Deckren, dragging a tablecloth full of coins and chips behind him. "Holy Hindu headwrap, Hedwig, here's a helluva hootenanny, hey?" He was winded by his exertions, but obviously exuberant.
"Coxli, what the hell are you going to do with all that?" Deckren shook his head, then turned to make sure Furge was making the call. "You are coming with us, Fu-" another combination name popped into his head, almost making him laugh out loud, "u-um, Decker... you know that, right?"
"I don't know anything of the sort, fuzzball! Yeah, kick my ass if you want, but I'm not coming with you willingly! Where the fuck would you take me, anyway? Fuzzball land?"
It suddenly dawned on Deckren. "You don't remember anything, do you? Your spirit quest, our home together... do you remember any of it?"
Being in this odd incarnation of Las Vegas wasn't helping Deckren's memory, either. He tried to bring back scenes from his time in Arizona, from Minnesota... it was all pretty hazy. The only things that held clear came after he'd eaten the peyote. So Furge probably only had memories going back to the moment when he'd come to Earth.
"You don't really have much of a memory, do you, Furge? You probably don't even remember that name, Furge... don't you want to know who you are, where you came from? I mean, are you content with just falling out of the sky, full grown, in Sin City? What a shallow, meaningless little existence, Furge!"
"I-I don't know who this Furge dude is you keep calling me, but I'm Decker, Decker Quall! Here, wanna see my driver's license?"
"Where did you grow up, Decker Quall? Who's your mother, your dad? Who did you know before you came to this freaked-out, avalanching cesspool of a bad movie?"
"This is my life, and I'm keeping it!" Decker/Furge seemed to be deeply upset about his lack of a past, but not so much that he wanted to give up the party. "I may not know who I was, but I know who I am, and it's all going my way here! Why would I want to change my luck?"
"Because you're changing everybody's luck, dickweed, and yours isn't gonna stay so good if you stay here, I can assure you!" Deckren's head was starting to reel, and the walls of the suite were beginning to breathe in color. "We've got to get you out of here before the whole timespace shittle-crack does a big ol' backflip, leaving nothing but some dirty toilet paper where Aunt Wednesday's back yard used to be!"
"You're making less and less sense, fuzzball. What difference could I possibly make?"
"Look at how your luck is running, pasty-boy. How could that be normal? You're at the nexus of something, or something."
"Your lizard buddy is having the same luck as me, fuzzball," Furge said as he scratched at his cheek, discomfited to feel a thin coat of soft fur there. "Now what the hell... what did you do to me?"
Deckren squinted in the pulsing light. Dude was growing fur just like his... what did that mean? "You... um, we...." Why couldn't he think? "Coxli! Deckren! We've got to get back to, um, the turtle guy, the duck..." He made a grab for Furge, who almost managed to elude him, then dragged him toward the other Deckren, concentrating as hard as he could on the weird pressure chamber he was pretty sure he'd come from, not too long ago... Furge seemed to melt into him a little, but the other Deckren was still a long arm's reach away as the suite started to fade....

Friday, March 11, 2011

Decker 26

The two Aidas stood at dueling distance, eying each other suspiciously, uncharacteristically taciturn. Degren and Decker kept a careful distance from one another as well; the ramifications of their recent body-swap was more a motivation for this than their disquieting mutual attraction. Coxli perched on one of the three arcing tables in the huge hyperbaric chamber, munching something that looked like a granola bar and letting his saucer-eyed gaze flit nervously from one face to the next in no discernible order.
"By Bacchus' absinthe-steeped bib, I've no plausible explanation for the temporo-spatial distortion you experienced." Tut's left flipper tapped meaningless Morse code on the flat of his shell as his right adjusted and re-adjusted his huge soda-bottle-bottom spectacles. "I've read and re-read the manual, and the settings I engaged were for surveillance only. According to current science, physical laws disallow any possibility of reality transference when the device is so engaged. There should have been no physical interaction possible while you were in the Cradsell 4 virtual transmission!"
"The only change is constant, or some such drivel, I seem to misremember," Coxli addressed the distant metal ceiling, trying to imitate the disgruntled turtle's professorial tone."Methinks the machine is kaput-ski."
"With shit as warped as it is," one of the Degren/Decker clones observed, "who's to say whether anything is real or virtual? I'm less and less convinced that I'm not laying on a piss-stained mattress in a busted-up shack in the Arizona desert, tripping my brains out. Or maybe more and more convinced. I mean, hells bells, people! How could this be a hallucination, could it not? Am I making any sense?"
Degren/Decker nodded his head, confused, wondering whether he'd been the one who'd spoken. "Anyway, what's next?"
The walls of the chamber were beginning to distort; a little like pea soup coming to a slow simmer under dull cellophane with areas of color glowing through. The floor still seemed stable. Decker/Degren had a minor epiphany. "Okay, so what if it wasn't the device that caused the temp-er, made us actually 'go there'?"
Tut's leathery pate crinkled dubiously. "The odds against gratuitous travel to the point specified by the device while in surveillance mode are astronomical."
"But what if it wasn't gratuitous? What if it was our intent that, er, took us there? Everyone here knew where we were, um, going."
Tut still appeared dubious, but it was easy to imagine the gears turning inside his skull. "Cognizance and collective intent...conscious sine wave alignment...hmm.." He seemed almost to vanish into his own thought processes.
"Well, we've lost Tut for the moment," Decker/Degren said, and nodded to himself. "Let's do a little layman's experiment. Let's imagine a scene we've all witnessed and see if we can bring it up without the machine."
Coxli quivered as warning-light colors radiated across his scaly hide. "Negative, negative, numbskull! Never nudge neck into noose, ninny!"
The two Aidas were as rotating poles around the chamber, still eying each other suspiciously. "I'm not imagining anything," one said, pointing a wing, "until we identify this feathered hussy!" The other giant duck doppelganger-ed the pose, replying, "Everyone here knows who I am. Who are you?"
Degren/Decker let an exasperated groan slip between his teeth. "Aida, meet Aida. We've somehow managed to pull versions of you from different timelines into the same one. I had read in some old science fiction books that there was some kind of physical law that would make that impossible or dangerous or some such, but here you both are, one and the same. I'd say kiss and make up, but you might explode, or tear the fabric of space/time, but then...well, who knows? Are we going to just hang around marking time until something even weirder happens? If this is my peyote dream, I'm vetoing that plan."
Each Aida stood dumbfounded for a moment, then cautiously waddled in for a closer inspection of the other as recognition dawned simultaneously in their eyes.
"Heavens, I'd thought Tut was tossing me over for one far more attractive than I! You are a gorgeous example of the species, aren't you, dear?"
"My thoughts exactly, Lady Aida," the other giggled. With the tension broken, the two ducks waddled off to the perimeter to converse.
"That's one distraction taken care of," one of the Degrens muttered."Shall we get down to cases? What's our next move?"
Tut seemed to be surfacing from the sea of equations that he had been immersed in. He pulled off his glasses and absentmindedly wiped at the lenses. "I begin to see an hierarchy of integration emerging. The temporo-spatial matrix is at some sort of duality or multiplicity nexus, as evidenced by the recent doubling of Aida and the uncanny morphing of the Decker/Degren fractal. As the time/space segregation fabric dissolves, the laws of coincidence manifest as a fractal paradox. By my surmise, more such doublings are likely to manifest, possibly at an exponential rate. I am troubled, however, by the notion that there may be a third Decker/Degren entity in the flux. The Furge entity is, logically, another "doubling". But that would indicate a fourth, you see? It doesn't seem to fit that we haven't any evidence of a complementary entity for Furge."
"Whatever. Shit shit SHIT, man! You're the damned genius turtle, what do we do now? Do we have time for all this goddamned extrapolation?"
"Er, you may have a point, Deg-er,... you may have a point. Perhaps the search parameters of the device will allow us to focus, there doesn't seem to be a function for DNA coding... but we would be well served to locate the Furge entity...."
"I have an idea," A Deckren said. "Get me to the southwestern U.S., and I'll focus my thoughts on my Decker memories; look for myself in your, um, timespace matrix. Furge has most likely transformed into me, right?"
"That is one possibility. What leads you to surmise that you could direct the focus of the device?"
"We directed the function of it on Cradsell. We were only supposed to be able to view the scene, not interact in it. That was us, not the machine."
A glowing blue-green trickle on the chamber wall caught Deckren's eye. He blinked and looked again. Still there. It oozed out of a pea soup bubble and seemed to flow back into another a foot or so below. Scanning the chamber brought several more little streams to his attention. "Um, well, whatever we're gonna do, we'd better get on it, unless those leaks are just me hallucinating."
"Though I can no longer discern which of you Deckrens is speaking at any moment, I will confess that your line of reasoning seems sound." Tut waved a flipper toward the device. "My own cogitative process seems less transparent. Though your limited. er, plan would stretch the definition of advisability, evidence suggests that you are more attuned to this temporo-spatial disturbance than I."
While Tut prepared the device, Deckren tried to remember who he had been before the peyote trip. It brought his heart into his throat to note that he saw himself as a soft-furred desert denizen; his memories of life on "Earth" were almost as dreamlike as his current existence. "Decker. Decker..." Wait. Furge! Wasn't it Furge they were looking for? He glanced at his other self, who was just looking up at him. "We need to think of both", they blurted simultaneously.
"Here is a map of the Southwestern United States," Tut offered. "Kindly offer me a coordinate."
"Well, Decker was here," Deckren pointed to the middle of Arizona, "but his destination was way up here." His finger now rested over east central Minnesota. "What Furge would do is beyond me. He would probably go where the wind took him."
"Let us assume, then, that his movements would be random with a slight bias to the north northeast." Tut calibrated the unit and waved them into the device's area of effect.
"Anyone else coming?" Deckren intended it as a joke, but Coxli surprised them all by racing over.
Numb my nictating nostrils, I never needed numbskull nudges, but now I'm not feeling nice about napping in this nervous now. Engage, ninny!" He shook his scaly finger at the dumbfounded turtle. The three strange beings clustered up and Tut hit the switch