Look at the sympathy and bravery of the Wheelbarrow Queen. Look at the tattoos of endless scrolls that unfurl down her arms. These signs carry murderers and lovers, boring summers and drunken falls. Look at her blue parka lined with orange fur. Look at her best fishnet.
“Sluice Warrington was growing more and more annoyed with Rez, especially the man’s side-street studio with its clitter clatter of canvases and layers upon layers of dust and paint-pocked floors…”
“Could be a man or a six-armed cow or a twenty-headed sex goddess.”
“A warehouse that could be the love child between a dumpster and a medieval castle. Coming from inside, groans. Moans.”
Copper is the most antsy, selfish, stupid dog. She yips when you’re not paying attention, she flops on the floor and pushes your feet, belly jittering like jello, eyes pleading. Or she sneaks by your toes to beg, and if you pet her she pees.
If I put my hands on her head and push down to her rump, she pumps out a puddle.
Copper sleeps in the back office with the door locked and a gun on the desk. Where I sleep. I don’t trust the other dogs. They’re dreamers. But Copper sleeps lightly, and has a good ear, and will nose me awake when they are nearby.
Passengers puked. Passengers turned purple and took tranq pills. Passengers lined up for soma shakes (somalts the posters boasted) and stomach transplants. Nothing worked.
Many had just arrived by drop pod or iPort (if they had the digi juice) or materialization (if they preferred comfort over the continuity of consciousness and disturbing schools of philosophy). No matter the method, the silent slip of space had not acclimated them to the icy sea world called The Vart – an eternal snowcean where the hoarfrost could split open a cutter, where rolling waves whirred like bonesaws.
And so they emptied their temporary bits and even some more permanent ones and they stumbled about the cabins like cats chasing roombas. But no matter how fraught they became, the passengers did not forget their purpose. They were here to see the kraken – the first and soon to be last alien species in all six galaxies. They’d come to see its milky skein, its eight eyes like terran teeth always falling out and regrowing. To see the outline of its beak, not fully present in the visible dimensions. To survey its coat, said to reek of vinegar, and to touch its pastel flesh when the bluesuits weren’t looking.
The passengers had been brought by that vestige of humanity that still remained in their cyboreal demi-plastic casings (organic epidermises were so 2060). They were brought by that little part in all of us that wants to experience an experience so as to brag about it later – that part that sends a picture of a rabbit by the roadside to a friend, seeing the thing through lens and screens and photo editors.
In an alternate dimension where people speak English. A scene between dissatisfied lovers who’ve recently begun sleeping in separate rooms.
Let’s do it.
I need to pee.
[An excerpt from the famous orc scholar Urtok Helmbreaker. For the full text, please consult the librarians of Teatree University.]
The underworld is not the heart of a volcano as described by the Cult of Fire. Not the blue-ice fringe suggested by the Cult of Ice. There is no eternal whirlwind. The djinn of the Cult of Air must be disbanded.