Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scene 46

Myron is looking at the stars. He’s shivering but trying not to, so Blinky will feel protected. A few of the stars shimmer and wink off. The atmosphere gets weird-looking for a second, and then pop, there’s a translucent cigar-shaped thing hovering in the air above them. Like 50 feet up. (Because Myron doesn’t go for science fiction, he’s clueless about the fact that the thing has a cloaking device. To him, the cigar just appears.) There’s a squid looking out the window.

“Hey,” he says. The cigar-shaped object disappears.

“Did you see that?” Myron asks.

Blinky murmurs no.

“I think I just saw a UFO,” says Myron.

“Cool,” says Blinky.

The truck slows and stops for a moment, then rumbles through a right turn. Blinky and Myron look up as they pass under what looks like a huge open garage door. The navy sky goes to black. The truck stops.

They’re inside a conical salt dome, the kind that you see along the highway system. It’s like a cross between a beehive and giant shingled teat. But what matters, for the purposes of the story, is that they’re out of view. The helicopters aren’t going to find them in the dome.

Myron whispers to Blinky. “I think we’re okay in here.”

He gets down out of the truck. They’re in front of a giant spreading apron of salt, stories high. To the right, there’s an open semi-office, kind of like a janitor hideaway, set apart from the tons of salt by a high wall. There’s a desk with a bookshelf, and a coffeepot, and a cot. Myron walks around to check the cab of the truck. It’s deserted. To Myron’s amazement, this does not surprise him. Normal gets more remote all the time. Myron returns to the truck, helps Blinky over the side, then, struggling, carries him to the cot. He lays Blinky down and tends to him. He fixes a wet paper towel, a blue one like you clean your dipstick with, and gently dabs Blinky’s wounds with it. “Blink. You’ve done some dumb things before.” Blinky flinches under the dabbing. “But I don’t think that you have ever come close,” says Myron, combining tenderness and reproach, “to the level of dumbness required to light a fire in a gas station.”

“Ow. It was dumb, I know--”

“But hey, live and learn.”

“It was flaky,” says Blinky.

“You know what it was, it was an accident.”

Myron gets up and makes a pot of coffee. He putters around as it brews, then pours two mugs. He brings one to his friend.

Blinky props himself up on the cot. His eyes are brimming. “Poor Tom,” he says, taking the cup. “I killed Tom.”

Myron says, “Not poor Tom. Nasty Tom. Tom the Menace.”

Blinky is not consoled.


“Yeah Blink.”

“I’m going to prison.”

“No, you’re not.”

“He totally blew up.” Myron looks down for a second. “Just like, BLAM,” adds Blinky.

“He was kind of a slow guy,” Blinky says softly, “who worried about people knowing he was slow.” Blinky licks his lips. “He was afraid.”

“I suppose.” Myron touches Blinky’s arm gently. “I saw the guy in action.”

“You saw,” says Blinky with effort, “his old lady in action.” He smiles sadly. His eyelids are heavy.

Myron leans over. “You are not gonna believe this. She was planning to kill him.”

Blinky is quiet.

“She tried to get me involved.” Myron laughs. “But,” he says, “you beat her to it.”

Boom, Blinky’s asleep.

Myron gets up and walks to the high open doorway and looks out. The stars are winking at him. A serious vista. The red glow from the Fuel King fire is far off, three or four miles away. Blinking lights, probably on the copters, are circling wide around it and heading off to wherever such things and people go. Some imperial outpost of the SBE, Ltd. system. Monumental busts arrayed in a great hall, looking down on rows and rows of accountants and lawyers.

Myron shudders. He reaches up and rubs his head. He’s feeling around on the top of it. Slowly. He’s thinking antlers.

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