Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Decker 37

"Nix, nein, negatory, not on your nuggets, nudnik!" Coxli had crept up behind Deckren and was hysterically stabbing a sharp-nailed finger into his left kidney region. "Nasty naked nixie needs no niceness now, no way, no how!" He grabbed Deckren's elbow and tried to drag him back in the direction they had come.
"Lizard boy?" Lizzy's right eyebrow arched as she reached for a towel. "I thought that was one of your imaginary constructs, like the turtle and the duck." She rubbed herself dry, then wrapped the towel around herself, seemingly as an afterthought.
"Im-err.. Tut? Aida? No." Deckren waved his free arm in a semicircle, palm up. "This is Cradsell 4, Aida's home, um, planet, right? And Tut was part of some interplanetary monitoring group, there on the river. Had to be real. And I was unable to make a solid image of Aida appear, though Coxli and I seem to be able to create just about any imaginary thing we like."
Coxli's alliterative warnings had devolved into high-pitched chittering as he threw all of his weight into dragging his friend away from the object of his fear. Deckren remained rooted, curious and a bit apprehensive regarding Lizzy's allusions.
Lizzy's brow knit. "Well, no wonder we had such trouble nabbing you and keeping you under wraps. I'm glad for my sake that I decided to 'change sides'! I wonder why I've been unable to realize my own fantasies..." She let her last idea linger as she looked Deckren up and down in an almost hungry fashion.
"Coxli, ease up on my arm, wouldja? D'ya see any evil henchmen with blasters poppin' out of the woodwork?" Deckren pulled the panicked lizard around in front of him, grabbed him with both hands, looked him in his rapidly nictating eyes and gave him a firm shake. "We can "pop" out of here any time we want, and it doesn't seem as though Lizzy has that ability. See any concealed weapons on her? Relax, dude!"
The lizard-man looked abashed. "S-sorry, silly saurian psychosis, simply saving sir's skin, as it were," he shrugged, gathered himself, "but, um, you're probably right, DUDE, she seems relatively harmless at the MOMENT... you can let me go. I'll be a good little newt." Rubbing his shoulders as though Deckren had bruised them, he sidled around behind the big, furry man and watched Lizzy distrustfully.
Deckren returned his gaze to the invitingly-wrapped woman before him. "As to your, er, fantasies, Lizzy, you might recall that I have a life partner. Looks a lot like me?"
"Had. You had a life partner. The two of you melted together, at least according to the evidence, the Consortium was able to gather. Decker and Degren fused into one entity when the primary temporal barriers between realities melted. You're both of them, er, you, now. I'm hoping that leaves you open to new, um, possibilities." She cocked one hip and spread her arms, showcasing herself before him. The towel dropped incrementally, seemingly of its own accord, revealing one perky nipple.
"I'll have to ponder on all that." Deckren did note that certain urges were arising, but he ignored them in favor of prudence. "In the meantime, we need to figure out a little more of what's real and what's not. Maybe you want to put some clothes on for the time being."
"Killjoy." She stalked across the wet tile toward a dressing stall, letting the towel drop before she pirouetted between saloon doors.
"Holy shit and multiples of shit," Deckren muttered under his breath, "just when I thought things couldn't get any weirder!"
It came to him that he might try "disappearing" Lizzie to see if she was actually just a figment of someone's imagination. The clothes hanging over the stall top kept flipping in over the edge one by one. "Hmm. no such luck." So she was real. But unable to do the dimensional slide...? Maybe those sentient races that had developed technology to cross planes didn't have it.
Speaking of that, what about Tut? He brought the image of the psychedelic turtle into his mind, coke bottle bottom glasses and all, and concentrated; nothing happened. Not really proof of anything, but it nudged him toward thinking Tut wasn't a figment.
Lizzie came out of the dressing room in black fatigues and cross-trainers. She had a black beret cocked over her left ear and some sort of Batman-looking utility belt around her waist. "So what's on the agenda now, gentlemen-er...critters?"
"Well, first order of business for Coxli and I is figuring out what to do about you. We were just in the process of poking around various um, realities to see who we might run across. We have to decide whether it's best to just blink out of here and leave you behind..." (Coxli nodded vigorously) "...or bring you along, or imprison you in some sort of imagined thingie, or waste you, or what. We don't really have much cause to trust you, ya know."
"I get it, I get it," Lizzie's shoulders dropped, and she frowned thoughtfully, "Um, well, I guess there's not much I could say or do at this point. I'm kinda stranded here now, took my chances on where to end up when the tech all crashed everywhere, y'know, last shot with the temporo-spatial deal... couldn't see hanging with the Evil Empire when they were losing all their power tools. And to be honest, I guess I might be exaggerating my attraction for you a teensy bit, but you do have some powers that my old cadre don't, and a girl's gotta think about security, right?"
Deckren turned to Coxli, who had skittered up a wall and was hanging in a corner of the ceiling, watching and listening. "What say, bro?"
"We've got to think about security too, bro, and sis here ain't exactly the wise play to keep around, y'know? Whatcha got in all those pouches, sister?"
"Oh, the belt!" Lizzie unbuckled it and tossed it into the corner below Coxli. "Yeah, a lot of useful stuff in the standard issue survival kit, none of it terribly good weaponry. I had to scram too quick to assemble much in the way of an arsenal. Look it over. Keep it if you like. I bet my ass on you guys accepting me, so why not go all the way? Want my clothes, too?"
"Um, I don't think that will be necessary," Deckren watched as Coxli skittered down and rifled the belt, "Coxli, let's set her up here with some food and stuff and check out a few more places. Lizzie, we'll come back and check up on you. I promise. If your situation seems to be unchanged, we'll reassess our 'relationship' then. Okay?"
"Well, it's not the outcome I was hoping for, but I guess it's better than nothing. I'll be here. Maybe you could think me up some chocolate, though. A girl wants some kind of satisfaction, after all."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Decker 36

They stood ankle-deep in a vast, slow-ebbing puddle ethereally frosted with swirling fog. The low-slung sky was a bubbling osmosis of tobacco-stained ceilings and French mustard. Deckren sighed deeply as his feet began to tingle.
"Well, that pretty much answers one question... we're not getting anywhere via the old "underground river" route. Pizzle-shit!"
"Tickle my toenails, this trip is terrifying!" Coxli lifted one scaly foot out of the water, then switched. "Thither to the other, brother?"
"Yeah, might as well go back where we were, make another plan."
The now-familiar delta wavered into tangibility. Deckren shook his head and let his shoulders slump. "Well, fuck me green. Howza guy supposed to find any of the good parties anymore?"
"I've got an idea, Mister Pouty-Face," Coxli jabbed a knuckle into Deckren's ribs. "We could decorate this place for a party!" Palm trees materialized, along with grass huts and a wandering band of Mariachi iguanas. Grass-skirted otters smiled and hula-ed. Coxli shimmied up to the closest dancer with his arms waving over his head and hooted, "Arriba!"
Deckren waved his hand in annoyance, dismissing Coxli's creations into nowhere. "Quittit, man! Can't you see I'm trying to think?"
"Well then, Gertrude, shall I buy you a dress? Maybe I'll just head for someplace more fun, like that old hotel by the spot you stole my sailboat. Whaddaya say to that?"
"Hey, that's not such a bad idea, Coxli!" Deckren brightened up at the prospect. "If we could get to this place, which is now sort of a mix of your home and Degren's, we should be able to go to other places we've been! Maybe our friends are wandering from memory to memory, too... we might meet them!"
"They might come here, too," Coxli said., "y'wanna leave 'em a note?"
"You are laser-sharp today, my scaly friend. Where will we leave it?"
Coxli gave Deckren a pitying look and shook his head. "How about right over...there?" He waved a clawed finger at the nearest bluff, where bold red letters a hundred feet high appeared one after the other to form, "DECKREN AND COXLI WERE HERE ~ BACK IN A WHILE". "Howzat, fuzzy?"
Memories of signs on doorknobs of rickety bait stores flashed through Deckren's mind; Decker memories, which brought forth some new questions.
So where did he want to be, and who did he want to meet? For that matter, who did he want to be? Did he get a choice in the matter? At this point, being Decker didn't seem like the most appealing choice. Except that Mom and Dad might wonder what had become of him, if they still existed. The Degren option didn't seem a lot better, considering that Furge was nowhere in evidence. But he was really enjoying the comparatively superhuman abilities of Degren's physiology...
Then there was the current amalgam; Deckren, man without home or family. Holed up in a cave with an alliterating lizard. Well, at least Coxli could be considered a friend.
"Let's just go on 'thinkabout', buddy. Never know who might pop up, right?" Deckren stuck out a crooked arm, and Coxli tucked in his scaly foreleg. "The old Hotel?"
"The old hotel. Right up at the front door. Don't wanna rip my skinny little lizard leg off as we think ourselves to different locations, yeah?"
"Coxli, you are on a serious roll today. Front door. Ready? Go!"
It was pretty much as he'd remembered it, though the wind-whipped freezing drizzle was a bit of a surprise. Coxli's scaly skin blanched quickly, his reptilian metabolism headed toward suspended animation in the chilly air. Deckren imagined a grey and red battery-powered woolen body sock around the stricken lizard; Coxli's eyes cleared and the color returned to his face almost immediately. Feeling a bit chilly himself, Deckren cloaked himself in a navy knee-length drover's coat, high, soft black felt boots and a broad-brimmed black felt Akubra with a red leather band. "Always wanted one of these get-ups." He imagined a full-length stand mirror and eyed himself up. "Noice, mate!"
Coxli looked down at his own regalia dourly and waved a claw, adding a fluorescent rainbow scarf and cummerbund to his ensemble, along with knee-high rainbow booties. "Plenty of imagination for your own accoutrement, but just dull old "sock monkey" for your pal, huh?"
"Hey, just tryna keep you warm, not impose on your sense of fashion, dude!"
The walkways were icing up rapidly. They decided to head into the hotel for a look around; see if anyone else had decided to hole up here from the strange weather. The big old double doors groaned stiffly as they struggled to pull them open. It had obviously been a bit longer in subjective time here than where they'd been since their last visit; the corrosion on the hinges was almost furry.
They wandered the halls of the labyrinthine old building, sharing a bottle of the excellent wine from the same stash that Cletus had discovered last time through. Most of the doors stood open, revealing rooms in varying states of disarray and decomposition. Every now and again they'd come to a door that was shut, and they'd try it to see if it was unlocked. Some of the unlocked rooms contained evidence of having been inhabited; old plates, bottles, desiccated fruit rinds, even the mummified remains of one luckless traveler, which made them leery of opening any more closed doors...
In the depths of the hotel, 2 levels below the entry, they were given pause by a glimmer of light around a bend in the hall. Deckren crept forward quietly, motioning Coxli to remain tucked into the frame of an open door. The sound of soft singing rose to his ears. The voice was strangely familiar.
Rounding the corner, he saw that the light projected out from another open door. He could hear the sound of water splashing, and the wet aroma of shampooed hair tickled his nostrils. He inched toward the door, took a deep breath, and slowly tipped his head to allow one eye past the jamb.
Inside was a fully functioning Roman bath. Steam partially obscured his view of the interior, but he could see the silhouette of a very feminine upper torso, arms, and head above roiling pool water. The hands were busily scrubbing away at the long dark hair. The lovely, lilting voice struck an odd chord in him; where had he heard it before?
"I know you're out there, Fuzzy," she broke from singing, and now he recognized the voice. "Don't worry, I'm not trying to kill you anymore." She rinsed the soap from her hair and stood, then walked toward him.
"Lizzy." His heart thudded in his chest; he looked around for signs of an ambush. "What the-"
"Like I said, no worries, moit," her Aussie accent perfect, she said, "I'm all through with the Program. I was hoping you'd show up here." She stopped an arm's length from him, looked him up and down languorously. " As infuriating as you've been for me over the past few, um, adventures, I couldn't help.. um, well, y'know...
"Shit and umpty shit! What NOW?"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Decker 35

Deckren stood at the cave mouth, looking out into the distance. Coxli was skittering around on the cave walls, chattering exuberantly about how similar this was to his birthing nest. Things had altered slightly since the brightly colored lizard had arrived; the cave had gotten deeper, the colors darker. The river had widened considerably; it seemed more like a delta now, and the bluff was higher though more time-softened.
Questions roiled his mind like the salty breeze that played over the delta waves before him. Had he created the mental picture of Degren's world, thus creating the reality? Was it a remembrance that brought him back to something that already existed? If it was not a figment of his imagination somehow materialized, where were the people? What the hell was Coxli doing here, and why did the whole scene change at his arrival? Was Coxli a drug-induced hallucination, a creation of his imagination, or a real being? Did Deckren bring him, or did he come of his own volition?
Real or imagined, at least he had someone to talk to now. "Hey, Coxli, what brought you here? I was about to get swallowed by a foggy river that seemed to be dissolving everything when one of Degren's old memories came to mind. I concentrated on it, I was!"
"Errr... yes, it was something like that for me, as well," Coxli agreed after a short pause. "I'd been washed over a huge waterfall vortex thingie, was falling toward certain doom, and my life was flashing before my eyes... a sweet memory of my birthplace came clear and I grabbed for it with all four limbs plus tail. I must admit the picture changed a bit when I saw you. Caves aren't as deep, sea is much smaller."
Ideas were starting to form in Deckren's mind. "Okay, sooo.... I tried to bring Degren, and you appeared. Coincidence?" He rested a forefinger under his nose and a thumb under his chin. "Hmm... maybe it's time to try again. Coxli, hang tight for a bit. I need to concentrate." He closed his eyes and tried to create a complete image of his soul partner/doppelganger in his mind.
Nothing happened. Though he had a clear, vibrant picture of Degren in his mind, right down to the velvet stroke of his skin and the fragrance of his breath, the image did not solidify into the person. "Well, shit!" So there was one inkling reinforced. He visualized Coxli and tried to evoke his duplicate. No luck. He tried his old persona, Decker; nothing doing. Who would be next? The comic book heroes had been easy.... but they were definitely fictional. He tried to summon his mother, his father, his old boss at the Cafe Carumba, with no success.
"Okay, let's try some hallucinogenic fish." He clambered down from the cave and stood, knee-deep, in the clear water of the delta. Closing his eyes, he remembered the exotic-finned, opalescent creatures of the river he'd (recently?) traversed. He looked down into the water and three large specimens were nibbling at his toes. Cat-quick, he lunged for one and caught it behind the gills, lifted it clear of the water. It flopped in his hands, trying to escape. "Coxli, do you see this fish? Do you remember these from our journey?"
"Of course, Deckren! May I suggest you not eat it? I seem to recall them having an odd effect on you."
Deckren pitched the fish back in the water, watched it swim away. Time to try another. Let's see... how about the marina attendant? He pictured a man-sized weasel in a smudged, worn ballcap...
"Will you be utilizing the public facilities, or would you care to upgrade, sir?" The dock, the attendant's booth, and the attendant himself stood before him in the shallow water of the delta. He dismissed the image and it vanished. "Coxli, did you see that?"
"Errr... a snarky old weasel trying to coerce you into commerce? How could I miss it?"
"Alright, your turn. Think of a made-up person, maybe a story from your childhood. Paint them as real as possible in your mind. Imagine them here."
Coxli blinked twice, then closed his eyes. An image of a giant cockroach in a bowler hat, smoking a Meerschaum pipe, wavered and then solidified before them. It held out an open tin of sniffing snuff. "Brilliant scenery, my good men, just brilliant! Would you care for a snort?"
"Okay, Coxli," Deckren chortled, "send it away. Now try, um... Aida."
"That ditzy duck in the pillbox hat? Why?"
"Wanna know if she's real."
"Okay....." Nothing happened.
"Well I'll be damned. Let me try." Deckren pictured the giant white duck, replete with shawl, handbag, and dangly earrings. Again, nothing happened.
"Okay, I think I'm starting to get it. Reality is subjective here, but the real people in it are not. But why is it suddenly like this here, and where are the other real people? Why the hell am I not still Decker, on Earth, just fumbling along in one plane of existence, with no power over what is?"
"Who cares?" Coxli imagined a palm tree and dashed up it gleefully. "What more could you want than to be here, dude?"
"Well, nothing against you, Coxli, but I'm gonna kinda miss some of my other "real" friends..."