Dead Planet XXXI

Dead Planet XXXI

“The general rule is that any
notions of identity are simplifications
of a more complex underlying reality;
this rule applies to self-identification
as well.”—John C. Wright, Null-A
Continuum: Continuing A. E. van
Vogt’s World of Null-A

Deckard can’t help but notice—how utterly, tragically, completely depressing Hellas Town has become. Flying low over the shabby concrete city jungle—he slows down to get a good look at how everything has really gone downhill fast.

The Lizards down below are mopping up—the has-beens, the old hanger-on Martian crowd, the bums & loonies, the smalltime hoodlums, the drifters & young hustlers from Terra still hangin’ around town. They’re all being rounded up by the Creepazoid cops & Lizard heavies.

Deckard tilts his hover-craft to the left. “Oh jeez,” he says. “They’ve closing the old Amazon Pawn Shop—what a raw fuckin’ deal.”

The old couple, Joe & Gardenia, look up & wave to Deckard. He’d land and say goodbye—but he knows where they’re going. To the Soylent Green glue factory—for lizard food. That’s where.

“Pretty soon they’ll be coming for me too,” Deckard says to himself.

He guns it back for the Tower—thinking fast, pretty much deciding what to pack & what to burn. He’s been the man in the high tower long enough, that’s for sure. Mars was good while it lasted—but nothin’ lasts forever these dayz. Where to go now tho—with the fuckin’ snakes everywhere?

Deckard can’t help but look down—getting into how crummy & film noir the whole planet has become. Mars reminds him of an old ‘50s gangster movie—that one with Sterling Hayden in it. What was the name of it? Asphalt Planet? Asphalt Jungle?

“I forget—but I can still see those opening credits. Crawling down that Saturday night movie screen—back in the those good old movie palace dayz like the Rialto & Golden Gate.”

Far down below—the crumbling ruins of an old gone Martian city. A crummy canal-front—rundown spaceport hangars, power wires looping overhead, crumbling curbs lining the dirty streets, pot-hole asphalt abandoned alleys, garbage lying around.

Grey concrete bridge columns, decrepit plastic apartment houses falling apart, Chandler-esque kipple fading fast, decaying terminals leaning against each other till they fall down, last minute crime just waiting to happen, growing on things like green mold on cheese, a kind of dying Earth city like Cincinnati, taking its own sweet rotten time, kicking the bucket the slow way, one desperate Martian hoodlum at a time…

“And I’m the last has-been hold-out—me just another two-bit private dick hoodlum. Marty the Martian & Dick Handley—they’ll get the fuck out in time. Their kind always thinks fast—when it comes to their own fuckin’ skins first. They know when the game’s up. When the rats need to abandon ship. They’ll move on to some other casino planetoid or Las Vegas moon. Probably Titan Town—that’s where the dismal dregs & reject gang lords are migrating to. As if it’ll do ‘em any good…”

“The Snakes got me in their slant-eye sights—me & the other two,” Deckard says to himself. “The kid & that Predictress dame—that young dynamic droid couple hiding out somewhere. They better keep playin’ low too—if they know what’s good for them. They must know somethin’ I don’t know—something big & nasty. Bad enough to get the lizards & snakes all upset—so fuckin’ nervous & nosy.”

“Everybody scramblin’ for their own precious Exit Visa—even the Tyrell lord lizard double & his gang. The creepazoids heavies want out too—they’re sure getting desperate about something. Funny how things work out,” Deckard says to himself. “The snakes & creeps more worried than me,” Deckard smirks to himself.

The Jag hover-craft takes a quick dive—and then changes course for the Hellas Town limits not far away. That’s where Deckard’s Jag-jet is headed for now—the bleeper on the vidscreen blinking emergency red. He leans back in his Jag pilot seat. The controls have been taken over—now they’re on automatic. There’s nothing Deckard can do—except let the hovercraft go where it’s told to go.

“Destination: Tyrell (Lizard double) bunker,” says the Jag-craft voice. “Arrival time: two minutes. Urgent detour: No cancellation possible. You’re expected soon, Detective Deckard.”

“Who cares,” Deckard shrugs. He adjusts his shoulder-holster tighter into his armpit. A zoid-gun hugging him close—it always made him feel better.

“Everything was getting too easy anyway,” he says to himself. “There for awhile I wondered what was up. Something’s gotta be really wrong big time—with the Lizard agenda in free-fall this way.”

“I’ve been thinkin’ the same thing the Jag-jet droid said on the intercom. “Them pussy-footin’ around with you all the time.”

“No shit,” Deckard says.

“Now it’s even more apparent,” the Jag-jet droid opined. “The lower-level slugs & heavies like Lt. Snake? They’ve failed, haven’t they Rick? So now it’s time for the big shots to make their move. It’s about time. I’ve been waitin’ for them to play their crummy cards—ever since we got outta that Martian pyramid, remember?”

“Yeah, Jag—I remember. Some of it anyway. The kid did the heavy lifting tho—him and the Predictress queen. Oh well…”

They were getting close to the Hellas Town city limits. Deckard wondered what the Tyrell clone had in mind this time? More fun & games? Maybe it’s too late for that—maybe he’d waited too long?

“Oh well, Jag, everything else is goin’ down the shitter. Might as well be yours truly too, hmm big guy?”

The Jag-jet doesn’t answer—it’d never been a very talkative droid. Only in a pinch—it’d bitch about something or other.

The underground bunker doors up ahead—they’ve begun sliding slowly back. The Lizard tractor-beams—gently grab hold & pretty soon Deckard finds himself in an elevator. Slowly taking its time—descending 10 miles into the heart of the beast. The monsters waiting for him—down there in Mars Town Underground…

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