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?"