Tuesday, November 27, 2012
The casino floor was a precipitous near-tangle of tentacles, hooves, tails, legs, and assorted other anatomical oddities, milling in vague eddies and tessellations amid claxons, bells, rattles, sirens, and highly amplified heavy breathing. Coxli had disappeared into the crush almost instantly, off to test the flexibility of the fabric of chance. Deckren stood at the top of the same long escalator he had seen Furge/Decker descend the last time he had been here, or at least a reconstructed memory of it. An idea had come to him as the din materialized around him; why not try to make all the people vanish? If he couldn't make real people appear, he probably couldn't make them disappear, either. Wondering if Coxli's memory of the place was going to resist his attempt, he concentrated on sending voices away first. The raucous din of conversation faded almost immediately, making the piercing mechanical audio assault feel that much more violent. The gamblers, the servers, the croupiers and the security, the janitors and the hookers were gone; the flashing bulbs and the illuminated whirligigs, the marquees and the spastic oscillating search beams shone and glittered eerily against the stillness. Coxli's alliterations filtered through the sterile disquiet. Deckren tried to pick out the direction and range of the lizard's diatribe, finally focusing on a roulette wheel in a far corner of the great room. In the sweep of his gaze, Deckren thought he saw other figures strobing through the jangly maze, but his first concerns were Coxli and a mad hope of seeing Furge. Furge... strange as it seemed, even after the melding of Decker and Degren and the seeming completion he/they felt, it seemed the final puzzle piece still floated out there... or was it just a habit now, to seek out that... what? Fragment? He recalled the stirrings that Lizzie's coquettish play had elicited in him. It was easy to imagine that he could act on those stirrings now, without the grim, betraying illness Decker had felt the last time he had been tempted in that fashion. In his musings, he didn't notice Coxli's irritated approach. "Bat-blasted bambinos of bitter bungling, bro, what babbling bitch bit your biscuits? Busted by boorish bummery, breaking bonny betting on balls? Bad, bad, BAD!" Coxli's crest was tangerine and crimson; his cheeks were blaze orange and his eyes were speckled fire. Degren, startled out of his revery, stared blankly at Coxli, sighed, and dropped his elbows to the balcony rail. "Um, sorry, dude, just testing out a theory. D'you see any living beings out there now?" "Living lizards, lounge lilies, lords and ladies, lovely latinum lozenges all LEAVING, Leopold!" "Easy, easy man, what's the big deal? It isn't real, dude!" Deckren reached to pat the fuming lizard's shoulder, saw the rows of needle teeth bared and thought better of it. "Look, if you want your action back, just give me a little bit of your attention for a few minutes and help me see if anybody real was hanging around here. I'm still kinda hoping to find Furge, ya know, and maybe Tut or Aida, though I don't really know why... except things are gonna get kinda lonely with nothing but made-up people to play with... don't you think?" Calmer now, Coxli let the bright colors ebb out of his face. "You should have warned me. I was on such a roll... but all right, let's look." They changed the lighting to a steady, blue-white glow, then glanced around from the balcony before taking the escalator down. There were no giant white ducks or kaleidoscopic turtles wandering about on the gaming floor, and no sign of the near-albino hotshot gambler, so they went floor to floor in the hotel, turning walls to glass so they didn't have to scrutinize every room. "Must've just been wishful thinking, those hints of motion I thought I saw," Deckren breathed sadly, "let's search someplace else." "But but but... my GAME!", Coxli whined. "Fine... here you go." Deckren cast a perfunctory thought across the gaming floor and the crowds had returned. Coxli scampered gaily through the throng, back to the roulette wheel. Deckren seated himself at one of the quieter bars salted through the big hall and ordered a whiskey soda. One of the scantily-clad hangers-on, a perky redhead with obvious augmentation pressing on ahead of her, bounced up to him and started making small talk about his lovely fur; he cast a bored thought in her direction and she promptly vanished.