As Narrated By Roman Voss
Malostet – 2999 A.D.
Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump.
The bass launched an assault on my eardrums. The strobe lights weren’t helping either, though they achieved the desired effect of making thousands of useless lowlives look more interesting than they actually were.
The DJ shouted some nonsense then cranked his synthesizer on high.
“Ladies, gentlemen, andacrons, filozens, polaprops, and all of the various, assorted Rombekian sexes too numerous to mention at this time, welcome to Loktai Cren! Is everybody having a good time?”
“No,” I thought as I moved through a crowd of scantily clad flesh. “I am not having a good time.”
Loktai Cren. Roughly translated from Shai to English, it means, “The Skin Palace.” If you’re a pervert who enjoys hooking up with random strangers and don’t have much in the way of standards, you’ll of enjoy this joint. Hell, you’ll of love all of Malostet for that matter. The entire planet is Andromeda’s answer to Vegas. Just pop a few penicillin chews before you book your trip.
I pushed my way across the dance floor, bumping into tails, claws, scales, all kinds of non-human body parts, although there were plenty of my kind in attendance as well. In fact, one of them, wearing nothing but his underpants and a pink top hat jumped out in front of me and got in my face.
“Dance, man!” the loser said. “You gots to dance, baby!”
“Move,” I replied.
“Feel the vibes, guy!” the idiot said. “Let go and become one with the music!”
“Your snot box is about to become one with a clothesline,” I said.
The dumbass put a greasy hand on my shoulder. Right on my duster. From the outset of this tale, I’ll tell you one very important rule.
No one touches the duster.
Punch. Drop. No one noticed or cared. That’s the type of place it was. Frankly, that’s how most places in the Undesiredverse are.
I stepped over his twitching body. Stop worrying about him. He was warned.
I reached into my pocket and retrieved my Sen-Pen 89.0. It looked more or less like a regular silver writing implement. As mobile devices went, it got the job done, though it was no Nokarima Mind Box.
I clicked it, turned it on, then put it back in my pocket.
“Call Jonesy,” I said.
My pilot’s reply came through on my cochlear implant.
“You ready to bug out?” I asked.
“What, you’re not scoring with the talent?” Jones asked.
What timing. Just as he said that, I spied a slimy Steegotz, shimmying all seven hundred of its grotesque pounds around the room, spewing a heavy mist out its blowhole all over anyone who got too close. The medical community claims that Steegotzian blowhole discharge doesn’t contain any contagious germs but I still didn’t want any of that gunk on me or my duster.
“There’s no talent to speak of.”
“I’m just powering up,” Jones said. “You’ve got a real crap bucket here. They want extra because they had to dig up a hundred year old converter unit.”
“Fine,” I said, disgusted. I was even more disgusted when I felt a claw pinch my ass. It happened so quick I couldn’t figure out who did it.
“Just put it on my credit.”
“Which account?” Jones asked. “They’re all maxed out.”
“Oh. Charge and barge. Gotcha.”
“Get over here,” I said. “I don’t want to spend a minute longer here than I have to.”
“Aye aye, mon capitan.”
Finally, I made it to the bar.
A stage hovered above the crowd. There were thirty stories worth of dance floors in the entire tower and all the beings above gathered at the bannisters to look down on the main show below.
I took a seat. The DJ babbled on.
“And now beings, put your hands, hooves, flippers, paws or whatever you’ve got together for…THE ZIMBA ZIMBA GIRLS!”
“Christ on the cross,” I thought. “Anyone but them.”
The Zimba Zimba Girls were Earth’s top act. You couldn’t step two feet out the front door of your unit without hearing someone playing their dopey cyber funk songs. All screeching and moaning. Elaborate costumes. Multicolored hair. Crazyness. I assumed this trip was going to give my ears a rest but I walked right into a stop on their intergalactic tour.
“Who do I have to spark to get a drink around here?” I asked out loud.
Poor choice of words. I cringed as I felt a cold, six fingered hand wrap itself around the back of my neck.
“You can hit me with your big spark stick anytime, lover,” cooed a sultry female voice.
I turned. That elongated forehead. Gray, scaly face. Two creepy yellow eyes. The daintiest pair of nasal slits I’d ever seen. Otherwise, a fabulous human-like figure. She was hot for a perrek. On Earth, we’d of called her a butter face.
“Hello Roman, dearest,” she said. “I knew it was you.”
I struggled for words.
“How uh…how are you?”
“Absolutely dreadful since you walked out of my life,” Keeva replied.
“Oh please,” I said. “I bet you say that to all your tricks.”
She lit up a crex pipe. It was pink, like her dress. She puffed it and attempted to pass. I cut her off.
“Yeah thanks but no thanks,” I said. “I like to live.”
“Gorgoza shit,” the lady of the evening said. “You’re going to sit there and tell me you’re clean?”
“I didn’t say that, but crex will kill a human as sure as orange juice will waste a perrek.”
“It will?” Keeva asked. “I swear, I need a flowchart just to keep track of what kills who anymore.”
The barkeep took a moment out of his busy schedule to mosey on over.
The Shai. There’s been a long dispute as to whether or not they count as humans. Essentially, they’re very close to being human albinos, with the exception that their eyes are completely blank, devoid of any retina and as eerily white as their skin.
Loktai Cren was owned and operated by some seedy Shai underworld types, so naturally all the paying gigs in the club went to their own kind.
“Your mother licks herpes sores off the backsides of dead elephants then eats waffles for dinner in the company of a flatulent orangutan,” the barkeep said.
“Excuse me?” I asked.
The booze jockey reached a finger into his mouth, brushed it along his bottom lip, then shook his head.
“Sorry about that. Lousy defective translator chip. Gotta reset it constantly. What’ll it be, mac?”
“Rizzle Juice,” I replied. “And don’t skimp on the rizzle.”
“One rizzle with an extra drizzle of rizzle, coming up.”
Keeva leaned in closer.
“You know I have missed you.”
“I’m surprised you even remember me,” I replied. “That was forty years ago and…”
I stopped myself.
“Have many suitors?” Keeva asked. “True. But none as memorable as you.”
I was certain that was just a hooker line, but it was nice to pretend that someone cared.
She brushed her fingers over my head.
“You’ve grown your hair long. You barely had any that night.”
“Basic training regulation haircut,” I said.
“Are you still in the service?” Keeva asked.
“That didn’t work out.”
The barkeep returned with a stein full of sweet, delicious rizzley goodness.
That scaly hand was on my knee now.
“Perhaps we can pretend you’re on shore leave all over again, sailor?”
I took a swig.
“That ship…has sailed.”
Keeva was taken aback.
“And here I thought that night was special.”
“It was,” I said. “And I’m still itchy.”
“You haven’t gone paloproptastic have you?” Keeva asked. “Sure, the outer glands are thrilling but once you get underneath that mushy layer its all sharp bone and acidic excretions.”
“No,” I said. “It’s not like that. I’m here on business.”
“Pleasure IS my business,” Keeva said.
“No sale, baby,” I said. “Peddle your inputs somewhere else.”
Keeva’s face turned sullen.
“I’m not peddling, Roman. I really am quite pleased to see you.”
“Can’t say as I blame you,” I said as I turned away.
Keeva took another puff then brushed her hand across my cheek.
“Poor thing. I can see you’ve grown cold since our special night. I wonder what happened to make you so?”
“I’d tell you but it’d probably take three or four days,” I said.
I took out my Sen-Pen and set it to hover vertically above the bar.
“Last photo,” I said.
An image of a Shai male popped up. Tall guy. Long beard. Muscles. Scar on the right side of his face.
“Has he been around?”
“Izok?” Keeva asked. “Sure. He’s got the penthouse suite. Something tells me you’re not here to just say hello to an old friend?”
“Something tells you right.”
“Keep my name out of it, please.”
“Its none of my business, Roman,” Keeva said, “But you do know Izok is a made being in the Cabal? You’re inviting a lot of heat on yourself.”
“That heat’s been there for years,” I said. “I never asked for it.”
Keeva smiled, opened her mouth and stretched her long tongue out all the way to my cheek, slathering it up and down before pulling it back with a snap.
“You still taste delicious.”
I had a few prepaid cred chits in my pocket. I pulled one out and slid it across the bar. She stood up and slid it back.
“I don’t want your money, fool. I want…”
“What?” I interrupted. “A man to take you away from all this mess?”
I took another belt of rizzle juice.
“I’m not him, baby. I’m knee deep in it.”