Dead Planet XXIII

Dead Planet XXIII

“No two objects in the universe—
no two events are identical.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A Continuum:
Continuing A. E. van Vogt’s World
of Null-A

"For the purpose of simplifying semantic confusion—call me Teoxi, sixth son of Uaxactun, the last absolute monarch of Tikal,” the kid said.

It was the kid—but it wasn’t the kid. He turned around there on the balcony patio—and looked thru me. He looked thru the Predictress as well—scanning her clairvoyant Powers of the Primordials.
The kid spoke without moving his lips. He had assumed additional powers at the pyramid—that I wasn’t aware of. He stood there in front of me—like the man who wasn’t there. And yet he was there—and somewhere else at the same time.

The far future version of the kid—was still bleeding into the present. No, that was incorrect. It was the far distant past version of the kid—his Tikal background & training, his native American poise & bearing that stood before me.

The dead planet—many of them including Earth—were similarizing themselves in my living room. The Tikal kid was telepathic—down 10 stories below armored men were guarding him. The elevator & staircases were covered—something was controlling the radio waves from the other pyramids.

“The Shadow Effect—that darkened the Oort Belt Cloud. It’s back again. It wasn’t an accident—it was an attack,” the Predictress said to me.

“A lizard attack—with their creepazoid shock troops,” I heard the kid say in my head. “They can initiate similarized temporary versions of themselves—just as you & I did back in the pyramid.”

I listen with a grim sense of suspicion. I like it better when it’s just me & the kid. Dealing with Tyrell’s sub-surface Mars Underground City thugs doesn’t turn me on at all. The whole pyramid thing—it's totally subliminal to me. All I have to show for it—is a fuckin’ tremendous headache.

I walk over the wall—open up the bar. I program a chartreuse Neptunian gimlet—and kick back in my anti-grav Lazy-Boy floating lounge chair. I’ve had enough Martian bullshit—the same with all these Egypto-Indo-Magellanic helter-skelter space operas.

“Fuck off—both of you. All three of you—or whatever. Let me relax a little bit—kid, get my bong will you?”

Both of them—laugh at my louche Earthman bitchiness. I give a shit about all these crummy similarizing schemes & games—WTF I have my hands full just taking things one step at a time. How did I get sucked into all this goddamn fuckin’ superbeing shit anyway? I’m just a two-bit private dick—I don’t need some lousy fuckin’ fake Martian Maltese Falcon hangin’ around my neck.

I kick back—close my eyes & click on an old black & white YouTube flick. The big wall screen hums—Humphrey Bogart stares out at me from Casablanca. His big sad knowing eyes sizing me up—sipping a drink like me.

“Well, kid, here’s to you,” he says.

Except it’s Tyrell. A Peter Lorre lizard is lounging behind him—nasally whining about something. And Conrad Veidt is there too—along with a cadre of his slithering nazi creepazoids.

Tyrell is their captive now—they’ve similarized him on the vidscreen. Static crawls across the screen—zigzagging the surface now & then with nervous jittery little water-spiders of ultraviolet evil X-rays.

Tyrell: What in heaven's name brought you to Casablanca Mars, Rick?

Rick Deckard: My health. I came to Mars Casablanca for the waters.

Tyrell: The waters? What waters? We're in the Martian desert.

Rick: I was misinformed.

[Even the lizards laugh—the creepazoids smirk]

Tyrell: What is your nationality?

Rick: I'm a drunkard.

Tyrell: That makes you a citizen of the galaxy.

[All laugh]

Tyrell: I know a good deal more about you than you suspect, Rick Deckard. I know, for instance, that you're in love with the Nexus kid. The same with Rachael. It is perhaps a strange circumstance that we were both in love with the same woman. The first evening you came to give her the Voigt-Kampff test— I knew there was something between you and Rachel. Since no one is to blame—I demand no explanation. I ask only one thing. You won't take the droid away from me. The letters of transit—it’s all right for you to go. But I want my droid son to be safe. To stay here on Mars with me. I ask you as a favor, to leave Mars if you want. But don’t take him away from me—like you did with Rachael.

Rick: You love him that much?

Tyrell: Apparently you think of me only as the cold, ruthless leader of a corporation. Well, I'm also a human being. Yes, I love him that much.

Rick: As much as you loved Rachel—your “assistant?”

Tyrell: You took both droids away from me. Rachel is gone—the kid is all I have left. If you’re truly interested in the kid—let me have him back now.

Rick: I'm the only "person" I'm interested in.

Tyrell: Deckard. I'm going to miss you. Apparently you're the only one here on Mars with less scruples than I.

Rick: No matter how clever you are, Tyrell. You’re still a lizard. The kid is your exit visa... The kid is my exit visa too. You saw him levitate the pyramid back there.

Tyrell: You play dirty, Deckard.

Rick: You’re the dirty one, Tyrell. In fact, you’re just another dirty old Lizard replicant queen aren’t you?

Tyrell: I think not. WYSIWYG Mister Deckard.

Rick: Nice snaky avatar troll indeed, my dear. What did you do with Tyrell? Or did he escape to Titan?

Tyrell: [Narrowing his snake slit eyes] My dear Deckard—you underestimate the influence of the Lizard Dynasty. I don't interfere with them—and they don't interfere with me. On Mars, I am master of my own fate! I am...

Creepazoid Cop: [whispers urgently in Tyrell’s ear] The Lizard Lord himself is here, sir!

Rick: You were saying?

Tyrell: Excuse me.

[The vidscreen goes blank]

[I yawn—switching channels over to the Dooley Wilson site. "As Time Goes By" (1931) is playing. From the 1932 Broadway show "Everybody's Welcome"—written by Herman Hupfield & performed by Dooley Wilson (piano and vocal). Hummed by Ingrid Bergman—variations showing up often in the filmscript.]

Rick: Don't you sometimes wonder if it's worth all this? I mean what you're fighting for?

Dooley Wilson [Lizard playing piano]: You might as well question why we breathe. If we stop breathing, we'll die. If we stop fighting humans—the world will end.

Rick: Well, what of it? It'll be out of its misery.

Dooley Wilson: You know how you sound, Mr. Deckard? Like a man who's trying to convince himself of something he doesn't believe in his heart.

[I sip my drink. Shrug.]

Dooley Wilson: Monsieur Deckard, what kind of a man are you?

Rick: Oh, I’m just like any other man, only more so.

Dooley Wilson: Mister Deckard, there are no exit visas sold on Mars. But we know that your Nexus kept boy can exit with you anytime he wants. That’s the reason we permit you to both remain alive.

Rick: Oh? I thought it was because I let you show up on my vidscreen? [Yawn]

Dooley Wilson: There is *another* reason.

Rick: Play it again, Sam. For old times' sake.

Dooley Wilson: [lying] I don't know what you mean, Mister Deckard?

Rick: Play it, Sam. Play "As Time Goes By."

Dooley Wilson: [lying] Oh, I can't remember it, Mister Deckard. I'm a little rusty on it.

Rick: I'll hum it for you. Da-dy-da-dy-da-dum, da-dy-da-dee-da-dum...

[Dooley Wilson begins playing]

Rick: Sing it, Sam.

Dooley Wilson: [singing] You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh / The fundamental things apply / As time goes by. / And when two lovers woo, / They still say, "I love you" / On that you can rely / No matter what the future brings-...

Rachael [rushing up] Sam, I thought I told you never to play...

[Sees Rick. Dooley Wilson closes the piano and rolls it away]

Rachael: Rick, I have to talk to you.

Rick [drunk] Uh-huh. I saved my first drink to have with you. Here. [passes her a drink]

Rachael: No. No, Rick, not tonight.

Rick: Especially tonight.

Rachael: Please...
[she pours a drink]

Rick: Why did you lizards have to come to Mars Casablanca? There are other places.

Rachael: I wouldn't have come if I'd known that you were here. Believe me Deckard, it's true I didn't know...

Rick: It's funny about your voice, how it hasn't
changed. I can still hear it. "Rick, dear, I'll go with you anyplace. We'll get on a shuttle-craft together and never stop…"

Rachael: Don't, Rick! I can understand how you feel.

Rick: [scoffs] You understand how I feel. How long was it we had, honey?

Rachael: [on the verge of tears] I didn't count the days.

Rick: Well, I did. Every one of 'em. Mostly I remember the last one. The wild finish. A guy standing on a station platform in the rain with a comical look in his face because his insides have been kicked out.

Rachael: Can I tell you a story, Rick?

Rick: Has it got a wild finish?

Rachael: I don't know the finish yet.

Rick: Well, go on. Tell it - maybe one will come to you as you go along.

Rachael: It's about a girl who had just come to Earth from her home on Titan. At the house of some friends, she met a man about whom she'd heard her whole life. A very great and courageous man. He opened up for her a whole beautiful world full of knowledge and thoughts and ideals. Everything she knew or ever became was because of him. And she looked up to him and worshiped him... with a feeling she supposed was love.

Rick: [bitterly] Yes, it's very pretty. I heard a story once — as a matter of fact, I've heard a lot of stories in my time. They went along with the sound of a tinny piano playing in the parlor downstairs. "Mister, I met a man once when I was a kid," it always began. [laughs]

Rick: Well, I guess neither one of our stories is very funny. Tell me, who was it you left me for? Was it Lazlo, or were there others in between or... aren't you the kind that tells?

[Rachael tearfully and silently leaves. My face falls into my hands sadly, knowing that I’ve said all the wrong things]

Tyrell: You despise me, don't you, Rick?

Rick: If I gave you any thought I probably would.

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