Friday, January 15, 2010

Murder, My Sweet

Murder, My Sweet

“As his income from past
works grew more secure,
Chandler was able to devote
more of his writing time to
non-mystery projects. He had
a particular interest in fantastic
stories—tales that were told
realistically except for the
magical plot twist such as
teleportation or invisibility.”
—Robert F. Moss, Raymond
Chandler: A Literary Reference,
New York, Carroll & Graf

The room was full of snakes. The snakes were moving in all sorts of directions—there was no end to them. I’d never seen so many snakes in my life—big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones.

And they all had greedy, bulging eyes staring at me—daring me to move so they could bite me. It was just awful—lying in bed looking up at them. I couldn’t move—I was paralyzed from the neck down.

I could blink my eyes and scream. But nothing came out—there was no lung power or strength to call out for help. I’d never seen the room before—it didn’t have any windows. I lay there in bed—thinking about it. After a long time—I took a deep breath. It hurt my lungs—and gave me a headache.

I yelled “Help!!!”

But I started laughing. I didn’t know why it was so funny about it—but I began laughing more and more. I lay there in bed—laughing my head off. I didn’t like the sound of my laughing—it was the laugh of a fruitcake.

But somebody must have heard it. Steps were thumping madly outside the room—a door slid back automatically and a robot jumped in sideways and shut the door behind it.

It was a killer robot—it had a greenish malignant face and dull green eyes. Its cyborg skin was gray and crummy-looking. It sounded gimpy—like a beat-up lawnmower. It moved in jerks—like it was running out of gas.

“Don’t pay any attention to me,” I said. “I was just joking.”

The robot scowled—it looked down mean at me. It tried to talk and then finally it said, “Earthman want strait-jacket treatment again?”

“Don’t pay any attention to me,” I said. I kept swatting the snakes away—especially the big mean anacondas and boa constrictors. Where were my pants?

“Where am I?” I asked Robby the rubber-necking robot.

“Where you belong, human,” it said disdainfully.

It went out—the door sliding behind it. The lock clicked.

It didn’t do the snakes any good. They were even more agitated and slithery. They didn’t go away—they didn’t dissolve or float off. It was like a nest of them—how did they get them to network together that way?

My head ached—I started to remember. Amthor reaching into my mind—with his crummy telepathic dirty fingers. Feeling me up all over—inside out. They’d popped and unsnapped my Velcro limbs—my arms and legs, where were they?

How could I do anything without my hands and arms? How could I escape without my legs and feet? It was time to wake up and get out of there. I could feel my telepathic powers returning—could I still levitate like during the games?

“Okay, Flambeaux,” I said between my teeth. “You’re a butch guy. Six feet of hockey player—one hundred and eighty pounds of muscle. Hard muscles—and no gut. You can do it. You’ve been slam-dunked harder than this before. You’ve been zapped and drugged—until you’re crazy as a loony-tune. Run over by a Mack truck—sunk like the Titanic. Now let’s see you do something really tough—like putting your pants on.”

But first I had to zero in on my errant limbs—I heard them banging around in the closet. I concentrated my psionic powers—the closet door slowly creaked open. My right arm crawled out of the closet—and started inching across the floor. Finally I got it to levitate and click into place.

I waited a minute or two. Soon my other arm and my legs crawled free of the closet—I used the homing chip to bring them to me. They clicked into place—and I could finally move. I got outta bed—I broke a fingernail. I’m tough—I can walk again.

I felt pins and needles—and lots of phantom pain. I almost fainted a couple of times—it felt like I had the dt’s. The snakes started disappearing—they began hiding under the bed. I got dizzy—I vomited. Time passed—an agony of nausea and dazedness and animal sounds clinging to me. It passed.

Back in the closet I found my clothes—I got my pants on and shirt. It took awhile—but I did it. I felt better and better. I was coming to—getting rid of the poison of whatever they did to me. I stopped walking around the room—I was ready to talk to somebody.

I cried out for help—and sure enough the robot came running. The door flew open—it had a blackjack this time. It was going to nail me good—and shut me up forever. I was leaning against the wall—on the opening side of the door. The robot eye bulged out—when it saw the empty hospital bed.

It turned around—and I socked it good. I grabbed the blackjack and hit its head. The head flew off—it made a grinding noise and stumbled backwards. It whined and I hit it some more. I stuffed it in the closet—after going through its pockets. I found a ratty raygun—turned it up to the max.

Outside a long silent hallway—with a steel staircase without banisters curving downward into a lobby. I was still inside the Titan San Bernardino Prescott Motel—the pale yellow sickly light of Saturn’s rings glowed through the dirty windows. I wondered how many other poor slobs—were captive inside this joint.

I put my foot out—to go down the stairs. I tiptoed along the runner—it was a long ways down. This was the time to flee—to get far away. But there was a room at the bottom of the staircase—I heard Amthor talking on the phone. I pushed the door open—and stepped gently in.

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