The Devious Astrolabe, Part 2

Part 1

Our story continues . . .

Jorgee was utterly lost. This section of the city seemed deserted, full of hulking industrial buildings interspered with a few sullen one-story pre-fab rent boxes.The dome of the city was a hazy web of light. Enough so he could see clearly, but making everything look black and white. His limbs were sore as his intoxication oozed out from his elimination glands and his head was beginning to throb in pain. He tried to bring up a map on his iPod, but this section of the city was under a data blackout for repairs. Probably, he thought, had been under a blackout for years by the looks of this place.

Occasionally he’d hear a sound behind him: a soft scuffling sound, but when he turned he saw only shadows and rotting plastimetal. Fingering the new pins on his uniform, Jorgee realized that he might very well be in trouble. His father’s voice snickered in his head: “Not a very auspicious start there, Grenthy boy.” Jorgee’s father had never called him by his preferred name, always by the nickname he’d been stuck with as a boy. In his language, a grenthy was a slow moving lobster-like creature that had a propensity for walking into any traps set for it, curling up and going to sleep.

“No, Father,” he though, “It’s not. Now go back to sleep.”

Usually when he dismissed his father’s memory the memory would laugh and insult him further, but this time, thankfully, the voice retreated to the subconcious cave where his ancestral voices spend most of their time.

A noise: like the slapping of wet leather on concrete, a sharp intake of breath and a giggle. Jorgee hurried on, hoping that he was heading toward the Navy’s stockyard. Another noise, this time like a giant mouth slurpling saliva.

Don’t turn, he told himself, don’t run. Just keep on walking.

He turned to see a large, gray shadow merge into the blacker shadows between the buildings. Then a giggle, clearly a giggle, came from the other side of the street and he began to run, tentacles slapping the broken concrete. He’d barely turned a corner when he heard a stuttering voice cry out “G-g-g-g-g-et h-h-h-h-h-im,” and he though, well, maybe I’ll get away if that one is giving the orders. But then he heard the footsteps of something massive and fast coming up behind him and he knew that they would catch him in mere moments.

He didn’t stand a chance.

“You never did.”

Shut up Dad.

Then: a light flickered to his left. A shop sign! He ran faster, felt his air-sacs expand to emergency reserves and begin to feed a blast of energy into his aching muscles.

BRAKTENTALINJAA’S EMPORIUM OF DELIGHTFUL ODDITIES (AND SECOND HAND CRAP) blinked the sign, shining like the most beautiful of nebula as Jorgee got to the doorway and . . .

It was locked. With a small sign that read, “back in 5 squinlies.” He had no idea what a “squinly” was but was pretty sure that, with his pursuers closing in, five of them would be entirely too long. He banged on the door with a curled tentacle, jiggling the doorknob (suprised that the knob tasted like actual brass and not burnished plastimetel) and squawked out a desperate, “Help!!”

The pounding footsteps slowed but became all the more ominous for the surity that slowness implied. Jorgee rattled the door harder and banged again.

“G-g-g-g-g-ot h-h-h-him n-n-n-n-n-now,” the giggling voice stuttered with slow malevolence. Just as Jorgee was about to give up on BRAKTENTALINJAA’S EMPORIUM OF DELIGHTFUL ODDITIES (AND SECOND HAND CRAP) he heard a shuffling sound from within and an old and crackling voice from within say “Hold yer goldurned horses, I’m a comin’,” then the click of a lock and Jorgee rushed inside, almost knocking over the decrepit old mech who had opened the door.

“Close it . . . they’re almost . . .”

“Are those punks out a’scarin’ folk once again? You just catch yer breath young fella and I’ll deal with these miscreants.” The mech, fragile and even rusted in places, stepped out to the street and closed the door behind him.

On this day..

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  1. Pingback: Living the Liminal » Blog Archive » The Devious Astrolabe, Part 1

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