Saturday, March 8, 2014

Anarchy in the Ukk

Nearly blinded, almost senseless with pain, Joe swatted poorly and slid slowly deeper into hopeless... but then remembered he was probably anything but alone. "All you corpses!" he shouted. "Let's kill moths!"

His hate for the innocent-looking beasts was shared by everyone else in this mass illusion, and soon they all were, despite the pain of mostly missing at hitting their own lacerated bodies, swatting furiously.

After a few minutes, a POP emanated from where the skater boiz lie, and the gloom lessened. Joe could feel his body heal a bit; Lemmy suddenly remembered his manners; Lemtata was more whole. And yet the horror persisted. They all swatted on. One more time a POP and a slight lifting of the gloom. They swatted more, victoriously now, and much less in pain and horror. A third POP, and there was no horror but the void.

It was a pretty horrible void, even with people and a floor in it. A pearly floor and an endless pearly mist. "Where am I?" Joe screamed, this time the horror his own.

No-one's voice replied from all directions. "OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY OOKEEKAY" like an echo, but far too persistent. Though it was not loud, it was overwhelming. Joe put his fingers in his ears and inexplicably felt compelled to close his eyes as well.

When the voice had faded and he had opened his eyes, there was anarchy all around him. It looked like a Hieronymous Bosch painting, but with all people, no props, except the few effects they had brought with them into this void. Passionless sex, deathless murder, lifeless laughter, hateless screaming.

"Maybe I should have stuck with the moths."

Joe decided things couldn't get any worse, and that he had no friends to abandon until the end of this anarchy. He walked away, in a straight line, aiming to get lost and die, or live - either one would be salvation.

"Really is a lovely place, isn't it?" drawled  the monocled man who emerged from the fog after Joe had walked an hour. "I call it the Ukk. Let me show you why. WHERE AM I?!"

The man quickly showed displeasure... then fear when Joe did not crumble.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Moth Balls

Joe was lying on pavement.  His light cycle was gone, though he could feel shards of glass beneath him.  Tron was quiet.  Dave and the Lords and the whole damn spark city.  Gone.

At first the sensation was that there was a large power source somewhere nearby, because of the insane humming.  But then Joe felt the fluttering all about his face and hands.  It was dark, but he thought he could just make out...& then the sun burst through the black (clouds?) and blinded him for a second but not before he saw for a split second.

Lemtata and Jose were feet away from him, dead.  All his friends and the Lords, all the concert goers and the skate kids. Lying in piles, everywhere.  More bodies than he'd ever seen.  Picked clean.  Just the clothing and hair to identify them.

Suddenly he was seized with immense blinding pain and thousands of bugs began to bite him all over his body.  Fluttering and his own screaming.  The sun again and he saw.

Moths.  Millions upon millions, flying in flocks like migrating black birds, waves and waves of them.  He looked down and what wasn't covered with moths was bleeding profusely.  He began to weep.  How had it come to this?  Funny, they didn't look harmful.  They almost looked...a word was struggling to come to his mind.

"Innocuous?" Lemtata's breastless corpse moaned.  Lemmy's corpse was trying to fuck her.

Of course.  George Rhea's three nightmare inducing moths.

"It isn't real, Danny.  It's just like pictures in a book, Danny!!!!" Joe screamed.   He began swatting at all the moths that were on him, hoping he'd by some chance strike one of the three.  They must have been responsible for a lot of this nonsense.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tomato Synthesizer

Almost immediately, a familiar voice hailed Joe from his left, just past his peripheral vision. In his imagination he saw his quarter flying away, as if fleeing Uncle Scrooge in an old Donald Duck comic.

"Uh, hey Dave. What are you doing here? What is this stage doing here?!"

"Oh, the first thing we did once we flew in was look for a place to play," Dave shrieked. cordially. His voice was a bit muffled, as he was still chomping on the remains of small animal he'd hunted down along the way. "And what luck! Just when we were feeling down in the dumps and decided to play a bit at this arcade to lift our spirits... it turns out that this Flynn guy that owns the place LOVES outworlder music and he has a stage right here! He says he'd rather spend on live music than on advertising! Hell, just as we were loving we saw two guys in crazy robot helmets end their set! AMAZING music -- I thought I was 20 years in the future!"

(Pixellated, black-outlined, blue, and immediately fading words began to rise from Dave's head: "EXCELLENT JUSTIFICATION! +100")

"That... stage... where you are... wasn't... here, a moment ago..."

"Aww, ya coof, we've been here almost an hour setting up!"

"...Yeah, OK. Outworlder... you mean, like us?"

"You bet! They get people like us all the time, nobody's bothered by it at all... certainly not half as much as us folks coming in. But you seem all right... oh, I made you waste your quarter. Here's another, sorry." Dave handed Joe a quarter made of pure electricity. It didn't burn at all, but merely tingled pleasantly. Joe had no doubt it would be accepted by TRON.

The band was truly a sight. Each member proudly avian and meticulously preened, each member with an instrument or microphone readied in their talons. The mic, the guitar, the... tomato synthesizer?! There in the place where Joe expected an ordinary synthesizer or at least something reasonable like a chocolate minimoog, lolled an enormous, ripe and juicy looking tomato, and as the band was doing a sound check at the moment, it was clear to Joe that it was also an analog synthesizer with superb sound. Lemtata walked over and scooped a chunk out of the tomato's near side. "Delicious!" she declared in a chewy-jawed muffle.

The Lords finished their sound check. Robert Calvert, resplendent in blue and ebony feathers, had appeared through narrative magic and stood at the mic. "We have a very special concert for you tonight, folks," he cawed, addressing the rows and files of characters seated behind and mostly to the left of the TRON machine, facing slightly leftward towards the stage. Acid was there, and so was Sting; Luigi was there, and so wasn't Jose, who stood at a Ms. Pac Man cabinet next to Joe (But! But that spot -- oh, never mind) while munching a half-electric, half-material beignet. The seats were the classic hard-plastic sweat-inducing 70's models with cheap-ass metal legs and the pointless hole in the back.

"This concert is special because it's our first in your lovely city, and because we'll be opening with a new song tonight, dedicated to our good friend Joe Eawest... Ladies and lightningbolts - we present SPACE PARANOIDS!"

The song did not at all fit its title; it was neither very spacey nor particularly paranoid. But the Hawklords were visibly pleased with their new style (and indeed, the rest of their concert would sound similar), and this music was no surprise to Joe, being as he was a Hawkwind pilgrim unstuck in time.

The song's lyrics, however, did fit its title, and so the band enthusiastically cheered, underscored by tomato-and-cheesy synthesizer and would-be hardcore guitars, these lyrics:

"On the edge of real and strange,
They flip a switch to turn your page,
Your game is a game in a game in a game --

(..."And your lyrics are pretty fucking lame," Joe added amusedly in his head as he inserted electrocoin to continue.)

-- Who knows when it will end?

Maybe no-one's watching you,
If they are not what will you do?
No-one to judge, no-one to say
That what you did was right today
No God to want to send away
No meaning to your end

You wanna be a -- SPACE PARANOID!
You better be a -- SPACE PARANOID!

Today you're walking in the sky
Tomorrow, space -- well if not, why?
Electric sighs among fleshy lives
Is meaning at its end?

Maybe Trans-Pac's behind you? --

(Joe nervously checked. Pac wasn't.)

-- When Pac does come, what will you do?
We know you've judged and that you say,
'Inside this game, I've found the way'
You think that you've run but you stand in place
And soon you'll meet your end

You wanna be a -- SPACE PARANOID!
You better be a -- SPACE PARANOID!


It was around this time that Joe crashed his lightcycle through the wall.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Arcadia Arcadia

Joe chuckled as they walked away, glancing back at Woody Allen, who had morphed suddenly into Luigi, Mario's brother, and was looking suspiciously at them.

He clutched Lemtata to him and sped up slightly, suddenly nervous.

    "What's up?" Lemtata asked, glancing back, "Joe, he's following us.  Where did Woody Allen go?"

    "I don't know, he just turned into that guy, listen just keep walking, I think I have an idea." Joe replied, backtracking.  He had seen a touristy information booth a block back, and his instinct was telling him he needed a map.

    They arrived at the information booth after speed walking dorkily past a group of seeming wanna be delinquent ne'er do well pre teens who were skate boarding and smoking something that smelled both of weed and cigarettes simultaneously.  Their skateboards sparked and crackled as they landed or did 'Ollie's', and Joe wondered if they ever got electrocuted.  One of them smirked as they strode by and snapped-"Where's the fire, Pee Wee!?" to which all his cohorts guffawed and jeered.  Joe paused, stopped walking instantly, and coldly glared at the kid.

    "Luigi from Mario Brothers is following me, probably to kill me, and my best friend Jose is lost in this city, so get out of my face." and Joe kept walking.

The punk balked and his face drained of blood.

    "You said the name. can't say that name!  Hey!!"  Joe paid no mind and focused on the map he was to receive surely.

     The pudgy old lady at the information kiosk was too happy to receive a customer and proceeded in with a lengthy rant about the downtown district and its charms and also the I.E.D., the Interdimensional Education District, but Joe tuned her out once she handed him the gawdy tourist map he had been hoping would be included in the kiosks offerings.

The map showed different features of the downtown district with different symbols,  and Joe found what he wanted quickly and, after turning back and forth for a second, asked the pudgy lady:
     "Which way is Mother Boardwalk Way?"
    The lady, whose dayglo orange name tag insinuated that her name was Midge, pointed the way, and Joe briskly walked off, tugging on Lemtata's arm.

Their destination loomed before them in the nightsky a block before they got there.  The glow from the neon and lights on the building's exterior filled the late night with a paltry and eerie false daylight.

"Nero's Retro Arcade Palace" blinked a story-tall vintage neon sign.  It seemed the blinking was not a feature of the sign but rather an indication it may be on its last legs.  On the fritz was the theme of this district.

They walked in.

Joe led Lemtata down aisles and aisles of upright video games, searching for something.  He began to despair that he wouldn't find it, until he got to the back corner of the building, off near the service elevators, and, crammed in a corner and covered in grime and dust and barely recognizable, he saw the video game console he seeked..

The tube emitted a faint blue gleam.

Joe reached into his pocket to find quarters.  He hoped.  Yes.  There were at least a dozen quarters in his pocket somehow.  He didn't know how, but didn't particularly care.

He dropped a few into the machine.  It chirped with affirmation and Joe hit the 1 Player button on a video game named TRON.

    "This is the place." said Joe.


Shock City

Joe looked frantically for some hope, any hope of a safe haven. Somewhere to hide, some... ally at least! The Hawk Lords, maybe? He called out to them for help, but they seemed just as confused and hopeless as he.

"Lemtata!" he shouted over the whistling wind. "We're gonna die, we're gonna get et! I don't see anywhere to gooo!"

"Joe, I'm shocked!" Lemtata reprimanded him. "There's a whole sky city right in front of us! How can you not seeeee it!"

"Well I'm shocked that you can say such a -- oh," Joe stammered, as there was a whole floating city right in front of them, where he was sure there had been nothing before.

It was unlike any city he had every seen: sparks flying from most things, and some other things were sparks. Electric and unelectric seemed to interact here with the same naturalness as living and non-living back in the world that Joe remembered as "normal," the world he had (short of the occasional stoned illusions) always inhabited until just hours ago. Electric dogs led on leather leashes by electric little pigtailed girls; sparking, popping men flirting with flesh-and-bone redheads. Everything. Jose drinking an electric milkshake. (Jose drinking an electric milkshake?!) Soft electric crackles drowned by the oh wait fuck we're gonna die we're gonna get et!

"You're right honey, let's go!" Joe concentrated on floating forward, and forward he floated. Then flew. Then flashed fast into an electric alley, too small for Trans Pac to fit. It was dark as electric allies go. A scintillating, lederhosened cross-dressing Woody Allen stood there in a provocative pose. "What's up, Tiger Lily?" he cooed, and Lemtata immediatelz frowned at Joe for not brushing off Lightning Woodie's evident sexual offer quickly enough.

Flying Hawk Lords

Joe blinked.

The stage had disappeared, as had most everything else.  Suddenly they were both surrounded by clouds and rushing air.  Then they slowly rose above the cloud cover.  Lemtata and Joe were levitating at about 30,000 feet, or so he estimated as he nodded at a very startled pilot inside the cockpit of a passing Air Bus, out of SEA-TAC by the look of him.

Then, something struck Joe as odd.

Lemmy and Michael Moorcock suddenly flew by them, but they had black, oily crow's wings.  Three seconds later, Dave Brock fly by, also winged, though his were golden and red.  They also were all dressed in Viking garb.  Hawk Lords? 

"Hmmm." Joe looked for Jose. 

There was no videogame anywhere.  Then Joe saw it.  About 10,000 feet below them was a giant yellow number in the sky.  It looked from the size of it that the glowing numbers must stand 75 feet high.  And the number was increasing. 

33,455,248,344. Now 33,455,249,587.

It was then that Joe realized that he could still hear the Trans-Pac gobbling.  And the gobbling was getting louder.

"Joe, LOOK!" screamed Lemtata, pointing below them.