Friday, February 1, 2013
He breached consciousness smothering inside his old sleeping bag, matted with the rest of his sweat-sticky pelt. The mid-morning sun was blasting down through the remaining panes of the window, splashing across his face like a white phosphorus waterfall; he'd obviously slept better than he'd thought he would. Groaning, he struggled out of the tacky sleeping bag and into a sitting position on the futon, then used the outside of the bag to scrape as much of the itchy hair off himself as he could. He slipped into a relatively cooler back corner of the shack to munch a couple granola bars and guzzle a bottle of water. He donned an oversized, long-sleeved cotton jersey and a pair of sweat pants from the backpack he'd left in the shack lo those many hallucinations ago. Images from his past, the past of Decker Quall, began promenading through his mind; as though his life was flashing before his eyes, he mused, and wryly wondered if that was a good omen. The images cascaded forward until he was reliving the memories of the time after he'd consumed the peyote buttons; the surreal but wildly dynamic adventures he'd encountered on the descent into his own version of Alice's "rabbit hole". He clutched a sack of peyote buttons in his sweaty right hand. As his recent memories of time with Lizzie unfolded on the big screen of his mind, he opened the bag and allowed his eyes to drift down to the bag of a dozen or so innocuous-looking little baby tortoise shapes. He almost laughed as the connection between Tut and the buttons revealed itself to him. "Fuckety-shit-fuck, I guess Alice doesn't live there anymore," he sighed, raising his hand to trembling lips and tucking the first button between his teeth. He was salivating profusely as he bit down, cracking the little bud in half and then slowly masticating it. The bitter, styptic pulp was difficult to eat; he was tempted to grab a can of beer to wash it down with but settled for water. Lips smacking, eyes wrinkled up in an involuntary grimace, he worked his way through the contents of the bag of buttons, then took a few hesitant sips of water before settling in on the futon. He hadn't gotten nauseous the first time, but his stomach was roiling a bit when the effects began to creep up on him. It wasn't bad enough that he thought he was going to puke, so he stayed put as things started getting melt-y. The dry desert colors began to saturate, morph, and go fluorescent, and his stomach grew more unsettled. The colors began to ring in his ears; a cacophony of jangling lights buzzing and gonging. The strobing, mind-rattling chaos became blinding, deafening, disorienting, and he felt himself sink into the futon as though he were himself no more than a puddle of sweat. When he could no longer tell any one sight or sound from another, he felt the contents of his belly come flooding out; it was as though a fire engine had opened all its hoses on full, blasting away at the contorted, unintelligible surreality surrounding him, knocking down the sound and vision, muting it, drowning it... and then he was hunched over a green felt table, eyes screwed shut and mouth once again full of bitterness. Weak, shaky, he finally dared to look around. The bells and lights resolved into the carnival atmosphere of a Las Vegas casino, blasting away at full throttle. There were a pile of chips and several playing cards laying in front of him,drowned in the recently ejected contents of his stomach. Bleary, with trails still flashing before his eyes, he saw the phantasmagorical scene he'd witnessed last time he'd been here; it was an amalgam of many realities, with odd, alien beings working and playing the tables and slots, wheels and arcades alongside the usual crowd of Homo Sapiens Sapiens. He was decked out in the same regalia he'd seen Furge in the last time he'd been here. In fact, he noted, the resemblance didn't stop at the clothes. He was in the same pale, emaciated Decker body he'd seen Furge in, too. He was Decker Quall, kind of, but he noted that the memories he'd lost with his fur in the last few days were coming back... just a little different. The connection between partners of Furge and Degren's people was much more intimate than that of a human couple, that was obvious; the view from Decker's side of their memories looked strikingly similar. No wonder Degren had been so intent on finding his partner! So it looked like he hadn't brought Furge back to the lab with him the last time they'd, er, met, or maybe The Furge/Decker self had seeped out of him and back to Vegas... "Hunh. I'll be shittled and shit for a shit! What the everlovin' fuck now?" Decker reached up to scratch his neck, as there was something tickling against his wide, shiny lapel. "Shit wads and shit sticks! Fur again? The fun never ends around here, does it?" But if there was fur... maybe some of the powers would come back. And maybe instead of piddling around with trying to steal a car this time, he'd just teleport back to the shack (which, now that he thought about it, had been in much better repair than the last time he'd seen it... weirderer and weirderer) and see what might be happening there now. It wasn't the pleasantest trip he'd ever taken. As he passed out of Las Vegas, instead of just materializing in the Arizona desert, he found himself flitting through a kaleidoscope of strange, wavering, impossibly colorful visions. "Okay, peyote trip, I get it..." He pressed on through rainbow scenes of futuristic cityscapes, swirling chromatic gaslands occupied by prismatic flying manta rays, ocean villages of iridescent mer-people, civilizations and wastelands, jungles and stilted aeries, unrecognizable miasmic mandalas, and more, until finally the territory began to look slightly familiar in a tripped-out sort of way, Decker was dismayed to see his old acquaintances from the Timothy Leary version of the Jurassic Age stomping and flying about the arid foothills. The shack was under attack, and it appeared as though there was someone in it...someone kind of burly with creamy-hued fur... He was standing a hundred feet down the hill from the shack, his heart thumping madly as the Furge portion of his personality recognized the embattled figure. He stumbled toward the melee, his peyote trip now at its crux; cobalt blue cacti danced across his path, the sand came alive with aqua and mauve cockroaches that morphed into purple Gila monsters, lemon yellow and tangerine plaid sidewinders in horn-rimmed spectacles swayed where the cacti had just been. Somehow he kept moving toward the shack, reaching it just as it started to tip on its foundations. Degren was at the back wall, ready to dive through the hole opened up there by another manifestation of himself that was smashing the hole wider with a large maul. Through all the colored haze, through the marshmallow-y atmosphere, Decker shouted at the top of his lungs, "NNOOOOOOO!" The two figures startled at the sound of his voice, which had come out as loud as a fire engine siren. They spotted him just outside the remnants of the shack, which was crumbling beneath their feet. Decker narrowly avoided the impending foot of a blond mammoth with what appeared to be shrubbery for tusks and waved them to follow him. Degren had little choice; the floor was too tilted to get any purchase on and he tumbled to the ground. The Decker clone hesitated a moment before executing a clumsy dive forward roll through the hole and tumbled through the skewed wreckage, then Degren grabbed him by the waistband just in time to drag him out of the jaws of the voracious dinosaur. Decker scrambled on through his psychedelic daze, occasionally gesturing to the two men that they should follow him. Looking over his shoulder he was relieved to see that they were, but they were in immediate peril of being munched by whichever broccoli-tusked mastodon or rainbow-hued pterodactyl got there first. He tried to blink the beasts out of existence, but either he was too whacked-out to use the power or they were real. He made it to the cave mouth, flipped over the ledge and waved his arms madly to indicate where he was. A burst of adrenaline seemed to wing their heels; they narrowly avoided being eaten and dived into the cave behind him. Almost instantaneously the rock started to rumble as the giant, hairy blond elephants began assaulting the little opening. They scrambled to the back of the cave as a pterodactyl beak struck sparks from the side wall; none of these beasts seemed interested in fighting with each other at the moment. They must all be pretty hungry, Decker thought. He dug desperately at the spot where the cave had opened into the underground passage. There was soft dirt there, and smaller rocks, but the opening seemed well-plugged. "Hey, help me out here, guys!" It was weird to be looking at two of the faces that had recently been his; in the middle of his trip it was very tempting to just stop and stare, but business was business... a manic giggle breached the back of his throat, surging out into zebra-like guffaws, making the other two stare at him for a second before they started digging. A mastodon reached a long trunk into the cave and got the Decker clone by his ankle, dragging him toward open air. Degren stopped digging long enough to take a big rock in both hands , leap over and smash it down on the trunk, instigating an ear-crushing trumpet. A pterodactyl head darted in as the mastodon face retreated, and its wide, sharp beak grazed Degren's side, opening up an ugly gash from ribs to hip. Degren fell back toward his two companions weakly, barely avoiding the big creature's attempt to grab him up. The dirt and stone under Decker's hands started getting soft and funneling down into the void. A hole opened up, revealing a dim glow and a stone chamber. He scrabbled, head down, through the hole and rolled onto a pile of dirt and rocks, bumping into a leathery, buckskin-fringe-clad leg. He looked up to see Tut, Coxli, and Lizzie, just as Decker II and Degren flopped through the gap. The tunnel walls arced electric hues before his eyes, but the phantasms that had dominated his vision were starting to fade. "Degren needs a bandage," he croaked, "and I could really use some water." Lizzie's gaze slid confusedly from one Deckren-incarnation to another, obviously wondering which one to fall on in fits of passionate relief. "I, um, I think I'll be okay," Degren sat up, prodding at the wound in his side. "It's pretty deep and wide, but it's only through the skin. If somebody's got something to wrap around it, I'll be fine." Decker/Furge rushed to Degren's side, tearing at his now-soiled Elvis suit. ""Here you go, lov-um... Degren." He tenderly wrapped the shirt around the ugly wound. As the effects of the peyote wore off, Decker found that he had less to say, while the Furge portion of his self seemed to be taking over. Decker II was looking longingly at Lizzie, a fact that she eventually noticed. "Shit wafers and shit sauce, lady, but you are a sight for sore eyes," he breathed as Furge embraced Degren, and followed his own urge to emulate their behavior, but with possibly the only other living, breathing, real human in existence.