Thursday, March 12, 2009

Directly Outside 7


Directly outside my window, grey steam spills from the drainage channels, licking at the yellow air with poisoned wisps.


I’ve seen this all before. Yeah. Either there’ll be the swill of septic body parts, vomited onto the flagstones, or a cartoon monkey severed into floppy segments by the grill, each one flapping around like a wafer-thin doppleganger of its immediate neighbour — only not quite, just to spook me.

Not quite?

Not at all.

With a rumble that dislodges the unwashed sweat from my toenails, an armoured vehicle rolls into the courtyard. It’s distinctly sci-fi: 1979 Alien to be precise, with overtones of Judge Dredd shoulder pads and cannons smoking like muskets.

A ridiculous trumpet sounds, and I laugh before I think to stay quiet. Should be an alarm or a fanfare, surely? So why am I thinking of Tom chasing Jerry round a chair? Ha! That’s funny.

Uh oh — some creatures clamber out into the mist.

Orcs.

Really, I have no idea what they are, but emblazoned across their rusting armour in splats of lime green paint, it says O.R.C.S. No time to figure out the acronym so I’m sticking with bulbous snouts beneath those helmets. And an inability to comprehend soap.

As they snap into formation round the vehicle, likely, they’re taking up guard posts. But the way they’re leaping around, they might as well be a dance troupe. Just my luck. In an infinite universe, I get the orcs who work out to Cyndi Lauper.

Nothing happens for a while — it makes for crappy fiction, I know, but I’m enjoying myself so much I don’t care. I can’t manage the splits, even in my skimpies, but these guys are hitting the big one eighty wearing more heavy metal than the combined studded jacket contents of an Iron Maiden audience. If I wasn’t chained up, I’d applaud.

I’m laughing so much, I don’t see the wizard arrive. He climbs out of the vehicle, I guess. I dunno. And before you ask, no, he’s not got W.I.Z.A.R.D sprayed across his pointy hat. It’s his eyes, you know? Devious looking, darting, and W for Wizard weird.

So this is where I really start paying attention. ‘Cos the orcs stop dancing and the muskets on the vehicle start whirling around, like they’re picking out targets in the sky. But it’s the wizard, he’s the one. He’s the one I’m looking at.

From under his robes, he takes out a crystal ball. It’s not like I’m any expert in magic or anything, but that’s precisely what it is.

So the wizard’s waving his hands over the surface of the glass and he’s making with the incantations and the orcs are banging on drums, and before I know it, the walls of my cell white out — a weird kind of white like a cloud reflected in mother-of-pearl. Then it dawns on me: whatever these guys are after, they’re about to get it from me — and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

Then a voice echoes round my newly appointed cell. I turn to see if it synchs with either of the wizard’s mouths (W for weird, right?), but I can’t see the window any more.

“So, almighty oracle,” he says. I straighten my hair and beard, hitch up my rags and smile. He’s got to be looking, surely? “Beans or bananas?” he continues.

Beans or bananas? For what? To eat? To wear? To transmute into flying demons? How the hell should I know?

I wait a while, bow and curtsey, hoping for some sort of hint, like him saying, “we really want bananas, please tell us to pick bananas,” but all I hear is breathing, like the orcs are getting impatient. I figure I have to make a choice, before they smash the crystal ball or smash the window (or worse) — but how do I decide? If I go with bananas, is it because I imagined the wizard wanting them, or because he’s implanted the thought in my mind? In which case, it might be beans; a triple double bluff, and in any case orcs seem more like bean kind of guys than banana kind of guys, don’t they? If they’re actually orcs?

So I take a risk: I go with bananas.

If it’s a toss-up between beans and bananas, you’ve got to go for the bananas, every time. Unless you should have gone for beans. Eeeeeeek — too late.

I gulp and duck and listen out.

Slurping, definitely slurping.


But are they eating them or — eeeew. And is it bananas anyhow? Or are they refuelling the vehicle? Like eco-fuel? I’m no connoisseur of slurping. Maybe I should have paid more attention when I had the freedom to make out. Or cook risotto. Or de-worm the cat. To be honest, they could be doing anything. With anything. Anything involving slurping. And since no boots or cudgels have come smashing through the glass, I guess they must be happy. So I sit back down on my bed and wait.

It goes on an age — hypnotic, like an ambient CD without the whales. Or pan pipes, harps or crashing waves. Yeah, one of those ambient CDs featuring only slurping. Ha! I try to keep my eyes open, I want to know what happens. I could be in danger, I dunno. Doesn’t feel like it, though. Feels sleepy. A funny kind of slurpy sleepy.

For once, I’m glad I’m trapped in this place. Doomed only to witness as the world spins by, directly outside...

5 comments:

McKoala said...

And while you're generating sci-fi flash, Haloumi is up to what, exactly? Hm? *sound of claw tapping against tooth*

Liked it, though.

Kiersten said...

"Just my luck. In an infinite universe, I get the orcs who work out to Cyndi Lauper."

I would pay to read it for just this one line.

Brilliant.

Whirlochre said...

Apart from the final somersault, Haloumi is done to a crisp.

As for Lauper — my favourite line too.

And now it's time for a weekend in the bunker...

Whirlochre said...

...surfacing only occasionally to pop to the shop for nachos...

Geoff said...

Such melodrama...