so far - At
the peak of the great Battle of the Fifteen Armies, Yancey Slide, Ronin
Demon of the Tenth Continuum, sees all is lost for the Allied cause.
He becomes a deserter, fleeing the Darogad by means of a Howdy Hole.
Taking refuge in a cooch joint he is betrayed by a Masked Informer to
a three-team of Pentecostal Fire Boys.
Two- Doing The Jump Without A Body
Yuma hadn't been able to find any speed. He had been deprived of amphetamine
for more than ninety six hours. The Blimp had been monopolizing the
living room, smoking some black-sticky bastard-concoction from south
of the border, and washing it down with tequila straight from the bottle
while watching pay-for-porno on the Russian mob's black satellite. Johnny
had tried a couple of hits on the glass and tinfoil burner, but it had
only made him want to vomit, which said a great deal for the Blimp's
capacity for consumption if nothing for his taste. After a while, Johnny
had also found himself sickened by all the cocks, cunts, garter belts,
and lousy drum machine music on the big TV, and he retreated to the
privacy of his bedroom to seek either death or oblivion. Fourteen Valium
had finally put him to sleep, but then he was unable to wake from the
nightmare. And was it some fucking nightmare. Usually Johnny Yuma came
out his dreams screaming. In this one he was screaming going in. He
screamed until he was dizzy, but it didn't make a blind bit of difference.
The cacophony just smashed back at him with some Newtonian equal-and-opposite
logic, along with a vast reverberating boom, like the towering rhythmic
rage of some vast aquatic mammal. Johnny Yuma was submerged in a pit
or tank. A pit of worms? Snakes? No. Not alive. Neither vertebrate nor
oozing things; they were cables, roiling, squirming, fully articulated,
varying in size from a domestic power cord to miro-filaments, some transparent,
some blue-black, a scattering of red, and small but crucial coils that
glowed bad, alien-with-gangrene green. All seemed controlled by their
own innate quasi-intelligence, or maybe a single integrated mind, but
that told Johnny Yuma a great secret within itself. He was being changed.
Johnny Yuma didn't use phrases like "their own innate quasi-intelligence,
or maybe a single integrated mind", dude. But more and more Johnny Yuma
wasn't Johnny Yuma anymore.
He was being penetrated with all the symbolic and physical
implications that came with the statement. Violated, invaded, fucked;
although he wasn't sure if "fucked" applied. To be fucked, even to be
raped, implied that whatever or whoever was doing the fucking would
remove itself when the rape was complete. Johnny Yuma could detect no
such guarantee. The cables appeared to be fixing to stay. They were
even adapting him to their liking, sucking, shaping and changing the
crucial him all through his being. A TV screen appeared. and with its
coming all else was black. His screaming continued but the foldback
seemed to have been turned down. The picture on the screen was of huge
rabbits, the size of city buses, lolloping down Fifth Avenue in New
York City, somewhere in the thirties, snacking on available sidewalk
trees. ("How the fuck long is this going to take?")
("How the fuck should I know, I just run the program?")
The screen blipped and vanished and Johnny Yuma was drowning
again in the all consuming cables. His mind was no longer working the
way it had. All was plastic stretch and distortion. Simple arithmetic
flattered. The spot on the dice didn't tally. Insulated vinyl sheathing
was coating his brain. His bones were charged, electric, grinding like
tortured machinery as they adjusted, but adjusted to what? Again the
lights went out and the TV returned. Now the image was much smaller,
or maybe distant, as though it had moved away from him. This image was
of a woman's hand, with long, extended and carefully shaped fingernails,
perfectly finished in paint the color of the flame. They were being
roughly hacked short and ragged by a pair of crude kitchen scissors.
"I'm standing here with no fucking body, and wondering
how much long it's going to take three very pissed off Pentecostal Fire
Boys to figure out what I did, how I did it, and come after me?"
"Fuck you Slide, you go in when you go in."
Johnny Yuma could feel almost nothing left of what he considered
himself. He was one with the wires. His identity was slipping away as
the scissors chopped the nails. The image vanished and his self awareness
with it. Johnny Yuma's final vision was just a tiny white blip that
only stayed long enough to extinguish itself and vanish. Bye-bye Johnny.
"Okay, you got the corpus."
"About fucking time."
Slide hit Earth, fully discorporate, at the start of the
twenty first century, but his landfall wasn't as tidy as it should have
been. He was on the barrier cusp of the randomly selected dimension
and leakthrough was all over in form of minor
front-end and after-images. But that faded as he lined up with the prevailing
time stream. What did anyone expect? He'd done the jump without a body.
He was free of the Pentacostals, but where the fuck was he? The room
in which he found himself was the third floor hovel of some speedfreak,
junkie, stained-sheet grahzny, and the way Slide's luck was running,
the cadaver was probably wasted from some fatally debilitating retro-virus.
He was evidently somewhere, xxxxxxxxIllustration
courtesy of JZ (Jay Shah
though, and that was an anytime improvement on discorporate time-tidal
drifting. Slide sat up and rolled over with very little pain considering
the levels of intoxicant abuse to which this body felt like it had been
exposed for some protracted period. On the floor by the bed was a pair
of narrow black jeans. In the back pocket was a wallet and in the wallet
was a driver's license in the name of John Wayne Yumac, but other more
trivial documentation that showed the former went by the name of Johnny
Yuma. Slide sighed. Johnny Yuma? Give him a fucking break. This sonofabitch
probably had warrants out on him. He pulled on the jeans and looked
out of the window, over a rusting terminator side of a-city-that-no-one-wanted
where rotting railroad spurs had been abandoned by the retreat of heavy
Slide knew he shouldn't be too judgmental. Most realities
in this quadrant had already fallen to The Empire of the Mole People
or the Retards' Crusade. At least this shithole had television. Slide
turned on the TV and grazed to what was billed as the Sci-Fi Channel.
He expected Star Trek and was pleased when he got it. Admiral Spock
on the USS Bounty gave him an approximation of the Q-bias and DZM displacement.
As if in confirmation he heard a muffled boom and a distant tremor shook
the building. Urban nadsat juvie-bombers in this stream; probably augmented
by random arson, and more legit political terror. He guessed he could
have done worse although the place was probably overpopulated by feral
baby-bouncers, hormone geeks, mindless shvat-whores, and the kinda pukes
who collected Nazi empty Zyclon B canisters with letters of authentication.
the detritus of a civilization in free fallxxxxIllustration
courtesy of Jeanette (Moxie Graphix©)
but at least in this place Hassan IX would still be underground with
his Mu-deer Network and dogpack of Al-zabadi Boys. Later Slide would
check who was US President. That would pin the exactitude closer to
Slide moved from bedroom to a bathroom which was equally
filthy and disgusting, and looked at himself in a cracked and flyblown,
flaking mirror. What he saw was a skinny greaser with a Ratfink-copy
tattoo, and a death's head ring on the third finger of his left hand.
He pushed the lank hair out of his eyes, and rearranged the face to
make it more threatening than hunted, more predator than prey, more
plausibly demon. In his infinite time, Yancey Slide had occupied more
human bodies than he could count, and he knew that, just like all the
others, this vehicle of flesh, blood, and toxins would gradually change,
and start to look like all the others, but he didn't want to wait. Temporarily
satisfied with the adjustments, he splashed water on his face, and took
a deep breath. Someway, sometime, he would return to a dimension where
he could wild with his own blazing right-fire, but, until them he would
play out the hand.
The body wanted a cigarette. Like most pre-owned vehicles
it came with a smeary residue of the previous occupant's primary addictions.
He walked the body back into the bedroom, getting the feel of it. A
half full pack of Mild Sevens were among the clutter. He shook one out
left-handed and lit it with the flame rose from his right index-finger
and he took a deep drag. This Yuma had used his floor as a wardrobe.
Clothing was littered along with beer cans, girlie mags, fast food containers,
and old newspapers. A tabloid headline read HIT THE DIRT!, another I
DONE IT! Slide smelled a shirt. It would do. He did not have time to
dress with taste. He could sense a second human who needed neutralizing.
Across a living-room that was little more than a couch, a bigger TV
with audio-muted porn still pink-skin flickering, and a continuation
of the garbage-floor motif, a fat sweat hog wallowed snoring in his
disgusting pit. Slide sniffed. "I guess it's a question of wake him
or kill him."
Or both, but in which order? The bastard was fat, a real
human planet who oozed in enough pre-packaged filth to make the late
Yuma look house-proud. Along with the black jeans, Slide had annexed
Yuma's scuffed engineer boots. He poked the planet in an approximation
of it's equator with the toe of a boot. The mass of offal was in a position
as though he had passed out while masturbating, and now he grunted and
gurgled with the incomprehension of waking outrage. "Fuck, Johnny? What
the fuck? What the fuck?"
"What do they call you?"
The obese man-toad blinked. "You know what I'm called."
"Just tell me."
The fat man looked nervous but also reasonably familiar
with the irrational and psychotic. "They call me the Blimp."
"I need money, Blimp."
"Fuck, Johnny, has the geezin' crystal finally Swiss-rolled
"Look at me very, very carefully you over-fed fuck. Do
you see any trace of your erstwhile homeboy known as one Yuma, Johnny?"
The Blimp looked into Slide's eyes, shook his head hard,
and gulped his terror."What the fuck is happening? What are you?"
"You don't need to know."
"I don't have any money."
Slide knew the Blimp for exactly what he was. Dimes of this,
grams of that, deals and fencing shit for ten year-old housebreakers,
and then back-recruit them for kiddie porn, and some time a honey with
a jones and no money could take a deep breath, close her eyes and suck
him off for a taste of that for which she hurt. The Blimp had a cache
of cash someplace. No question. Slide appropriated the mind of the fat
bastard and sent back to where he, Slide, had just come from, to see
if a whiff of the Darogad would get his attention. The saucers were
moving in at a more leisurely pace, mopping up whatever was left at
least partially alive. The EM blasts were so thick upon the ground they
notched a higher resolve than what the grunts and troopers laughingly
called reality. Running at a straight and true 447.5 MHz, the too-bad
Frequency-of-Satan, they rez-stripped, and roentgened clear and metallic,
right to the nerve endings like a sterile, high conductivity, ozone
torture. The Blimp got it all and screamed.
Slide saw a Maxwell House coffee can, one of the kind with
the trick base they sold in drug paraphernalia stores. He unscrewed
it and discovered close to seven hundred dollars in a roll of dirty
twenties and hundreds. "And what else do we have here?"
Beside the coffee can was a fancy-ass, fifty caliber Desert
Eagle, all new chrome and black plastic, and firing half an inch of
Teflon coated slug that could crack the engine block of a city bus in
anyone's time zone. Fuck the nine gods, consumer humanity in the twenty-first
century, a fucking plague with few if redeeming features.
"You shoulda kept this toy under your pillow."
Slide slid out the clip. Loaded. Better and better.
The Blimp blubbered. "Don't kill me."
"Why not, Fats. Wouldn't I be doing the culture a favor?"
The idea of a naked and toad-like fat human groveling for
his life was a little more than Slide could take so soon in the sector,
but, instead of the shooting him, because, even in this dogbreath reality,
it might have attracted attention, he flipped him back into the battle
field illusion. The Blimp then commenced to scream. And the Blimp had
cause. In his mind, he was naked among the dead. Not a fucking thing
to do about it; no available refuge, no shelter from the hard-rain,
or the knowledge that, on a carpet torrent of plasma projections, the
flying saucers would drift silently and majestically forward for the
finally mopping up, the phase of defeat when decimation turned to extermination.
"Shut the fuck up, or I'll gouge out your eyes in the here
and now and really give you something to scream about."
The Blimp fell silent. Now he only squirmed, although at
the same time achieving a small and flaccid erection. Slide didn't want
to guess what the Blimp found to be a turn on. Instead he looked for
a phone amid the slovenly trash. "Gotta find out if Doc Zen's operating."
Three blocks away, Nuygen von Bulow picked up the intercept,
and smiled triumphantly at The Humiliation. "Just as I predicted. He's
looking for Doc Zen." Nuygen von Bulow was an entity that,
had Slide know she was listening to his call, would have evoked in him,
among other more violent reactions, a curse on himself for a bad bout
of overweening veteran's contempt. He'd landed at random in twenty-one
dogbreath in the twilight of its techno-gods, and might be forgiven
for not expecting high-test trouble to be ready and waiting. He knew
better than that. He knew that, in the Fullness, all things were possible
and nothing is forgiven. The last time that Yancey Slide had seen Nuygen
von Bulow she had been felating a High-Soviet Knight of the KGB with
a pistol to her head, and since it was Slide who had precipitated her
into the less than welcome predicament, even for the creative von Bulow,
he would not have doubted
she meant him anything but harm at that moment. Yancey Slide had been
at odds with Nuygen von Bulow ever since he had first met her when she
had been the pupil of Shiro Ishi during the notorious human vivisection
experiments at Unit 7-31 in Japanese occupied Manchuria, but where Shiro
had been at least approximately human, von Bulow was anything but. Shiro
himself would certainly attest to this, especially when, in white furs
and with a bullwhip, she'd drive him into the snow. She was perhaps
a drencrom succubus with ambition, or a mutant demon of a kind he had
never previously encountered. She didn't smell demon, but Slide knew
how nothing could ever be counted on in this neck of time. "And he doesn't
have the faintest inkling I am here."
And the way she smugly seized the testicles of The Humiliation
in a slim and black gloved right hand, and with uncommonly long and
slender fingers squeezed them triumphantly hard, indicated that was
exactly how she wanted it.
All Slide knew was that the phone rang three times and when
Doc Zen answered, he sounded dreadful "This had better be fucking good."
"Doc, it's Slide."
"About time you fucking called, do you know how much trouble
"What's the time context on the trouble, Doc?"
"From here to fucking eternity, boy. From here to fucking
eternity. You're reverberating all over the place."
TO BE CONTINUED