Tuesday, January 29, 2013
"Well, if it isn't Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, fresh from a secret cruise on the Nile," Tut said as he looked up from a large yellowed tome. "Miss Lizzie, I presume, late of the wilds of Africa and her mission of terrorizing the locals?" "Tutherone Bergodozzi, PhD of applied science and temporal weapons, esquire... I presume?" Her right eyebrow arched cattily, gaze full of I-won't-spill-you-past-indiscretions-if-you-won't-spill-mine, Lizzie faced down Tut until he shrugged and acquiesced. With that, Lizzie retired to the bathroom for a shower. Coxli was napping on the couch, seemingly dead to the world. "Decker, I see that your metamorphosis back to, er, Homo Sapiens has begun. I hypothesized something of this nature." Tut slid a length of purple ribbon into the book, closed it lovingly, and arose from his study table. "Cletus seems to have vanished. Did you...?" "Me? uh, no. Guessing he kinda de-materialized when I quit thinking about him. You probably knew he was a figment of my imagination, right? Think he'd be useful? Should I try to bring him back?" "In point of fact, I was privy to that information. I suggest you make the attempt to bring him back, but I harbor doubts as to your current ability to do so. With the alternate persona ebbing out of you, it seems likely that your temporo-spatial abilities will also be at an ebb." Decker closed his eyes and brought an image of the scraggly miner into his mind. He willed the image into living, breathing 3-dimensionality; nothing happened. "Well, shit my shits! I suppose this means I can't go mind-surfing off to any of the other worlds I've visited, either." "Most likely not." "Well, this little 'trip home' had better bring some results then, or it's gonna be like Adam and Eve all over again!" "And the end, as it were, for Aida's race, and Coxli's, and mine," Tut added, "And all the others attached to the temporo-spatial matrix of this river's contact." "Shi-... err, yah. Wow." Decker was flabbergasted. "I, ummm... yeah. I think I'll take a shower... itchy." He rubbed his hand across his left shoulder, dragging the rest of the fur off and leaving a smooth, lightly-freckled patch of skin. "Then I suppose we'd better get this train a'rolling." "We? No, Decker. Just you. You're going to have to do this by yourself. None of us were there when you and Furge tore the temporal fabric." Ahhh, yeah, great. Well, maybe we ought to have a little party before I go, in case...you know..." Decker had a thought. "But what about Lizzie? Do you think she could wait in the cave, if she wanted?" "Actually, it might be a good idea if we all waited a little ways down the tunnel to Terra to ascertain the results of your, er, endeavor." "Great, great!" Decker brightened. "Well, where's the good hooch? We should at least bring a bottle of that and have a little toast before I go tearing open the universe again." They packed a week's worth of dry provisions, but only a day's water, under the assumption that the stream at the upper cave mouth would be free of hallucinogenic properties. "And even if it is wacky water, what'll be the difference anyway?" Decker laughed nervously. "There's still a half case of bottled water either in my little Toyota or in the shack. And there's a solid three quarters of a tank of gas in the Toy, so we can get to... um, well at least we could get to good water." In the little chamber below the cave mouth, they passed Tut's bourbon and toasted Decker's success. Lizzie laid a sizzling full-body kiss on him and breathed a torrid "Good luck" in his ear, and he climbed out into the fading glory of an Arizona desert sunset. It was a short hike back to the ruptured shack, where he cracked a body-temperature beer and sat on the old, lumpy mattress. "Welp, this is it," Decker grated. "Wake up in the morning and go on a nice little trip. Just like last time, only hopefully a little different." He guzzled the beer, cracked one more and guzzled that, and laid back for what he assumed would be a fitful night's rest.