Dead Planet XXXVI

Dead Planet XXXVI

“Memory is identity.”
—John C. Wright, Null-A
Continuum: Continuing A. E.
van Vogt’s World of Null-A


The kid: “Who was the chick?”

Rick: “That was no chick—that was a lizard droid.”

The kid: “Got somethin’ against droids, Rick?”

[The kid smirks, leans back in the antigrav-Laziboy. It’s in the massage mode. An electro-Camel dangles from his lip—he closes his eyes.]

Rick: “Nah. Just the liz-snake ones. They bug me.”

[Rick fixes himself a drink. Turns on the shower.]

The kid: “So, she tried to make you?”

Rick: “I dunno. Her name was Rachael #69. It’s a long story.”

[Rick kicks his desert boots off—slips outta his jumpsuit. He can’t wait to take a shower after being underground in Snakeville. He finishes off his drink. Gets into the shower.]

The kid: “Tyrell & Co. They must be gettin’ kinda desperate, Rick. If they’re pullin’ that kinda shit on you. They don’t know you that good, do they?”

Rick: “Fuck me. I dunno myself half the time anymore, kid.”

[Rick takes a long shower. Rinsing off the stench of Mars Underground. He’s thinkin’ and feelin’ human again—with the kid back again. He’d turned all that off a month ago—like a light switch. After the pyramid escape, Rick thought he’d never see the kid again. That him & the Predictress had made their escape somewhere safe. But the kid’s back. Rick’s already feelin’ human again—he can think to himself. He admits it—he’s missed the kid. A lot. He lets the hot water bring him back to life. The kid—what is it about him? He has a way of doin’ that. Just being there. Why Rick doesn’t know. It’s more than just a Nexus thing. He’d always taken it for granted. He looks down at himself—he’s alive again down there. That’s for sure.]

The kid: “So Tyrell the Double tried to pump you for info, hmm?”

Rick: “ Oh, the usual.”

[Rick dries himself off in the living room. Fixes another drink. Stands there—looking down at the kid. The kid glances at Rick—smirks. Browses thru the channels.]

Rick: “Yeah, the same old song & dance routine. Every 300 years they shed their skin—it’s the end for the old lizard queen. He knows it—even with the Tyrell clone double-body. The good cop—bad cop routine. It didn’t work.”

The kid: “You’d think they’d give up? It’s me they want, Rick.”

[Rick jiggles the ice cubes in his drink—looking out thru the balcony window. The Martian sunset glows ochre—like a rotten peach.]

Rick: “Yeah, you can say again. Tyrell wants an Exit Visa from the whole mess. He’s sick of the nazi snake empire thing—just as much as everybody else is. Especially now—gettin’ ready to kick the bucket. Funny how things work out, hmm?”

[The kid pulls Rick down into the Laziboy with him. The antigrav adjusts itself—expanding out to cushion them both in mid-air. Rick feels himself fallin’ into REM dreamtime—it feels like comin’ back home. The sunset slides along the Amazonis sea-bottom—stretching out into the desert. Rick hadn’t realized how exhausted he was—his body & mind craved it. REM dreamtime—how long had it been? He drifts off into a much-needed deep sleep…]

The kid: “Yeah, well. They understand, Rick. It’s a two-way proposition—they can’t get anything outta me without you.”

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