"The place? That the best you got, killer? Don’t know what it is?"
"Is it a city?"
The girl made out of broken glass paused and then shook her head.
"That’s pretty close, but no, not a state. It’s a Province."
Kirk was getting quite baffled by this whole situation.
"Does it really matter? I mean, isn’t that pretty close to a state? Isn’t Canada made up of the different provinces or whatever? Isn’t that like us and the states, more or less?"
The glass girl scratched her face. She took a pebble out of it and threw it on to the ground.
"Semantics are important in life, Kirk. Everyone knows that."
"How the hell do you know my name?"
"Oh come on. I’ve been your windshield for years now. Do you really think I wouldn’t know your name by this point? Are you really being that insulting?"
He was bleeding pretty badly. It had to be the blood loss or a hit on the head or something. That would make sense. Maybe.
"I’m in a lot of pain here so I’m just going to cut right to it. Are you real?"
"What do you mean?"
"You just came out of my windshield glass and started walking around. Umm…what’s up with that?"
"Oh, yes, that. Yeah, don’t worry about that."
"Are you kidding me? Don’t worry about that? I’m sorry. I’m going to kind of just sit here and freak out a lot unless you start answering some questions."
"Bah, Cindy was right about you. Such a baby."
He should call Cindy. Sure, they broke up, but maybe she could calm things down. In the mean time…
"Shut up! Don’t bring up, Cindy!"
"Geez. Touchy, aren’t you? No wonder she cheated on you with Barry that one time."
"Right here. Back seat. Saw everything. She loved it. Can’t say I blame her."
"Oh god. Oh god. I just can’t deal with this."
"Well, you need to get your stuff together, buddy. I’m alive for a reason. Get the emergency kit in the trunk, clean up your blood, and get moving. If you stay here you’re going to die."
Kirk just blinked and spat out some blood.
"Don’t be petulant. No time for it. Get moving."
Kirk shook his head. It had to be some kind of crazy head wound. Or drugs. Or something.
"Previous owner. Before your time. Crazy times." The glass near her glass cheeks turned a slight shade of red or at least it seemed to do so. "None of your business. Can you clean up your blood already?"
"Yeah, sure. Why not? I’ll listen to you glass lady, but only until I get some good pain killers."
"Yes, yes, drug yourself. I’m sure that is going to solve your problems."
"Oh shut up."
"All of you humans are honestly just such children."
"Don’t make me get a rock."
"Try it little man."
Kirk grumbled and started moving towards the trunk.
It was Friday. The only day of the week that really meant something.
The whole week was just a build up to the line. Every minute in his cubicle was just a minute in anticipation of waiting in line for his reward. Everything was just a matter of waiting.
Every stupid report. Every dance recital. Every child vomiting. Every boring and mundane conversation with his wife. Every meeting. Every red light. Everything.
The line was everything. Everyone knew it. It was like electricity in the air. Nobody wanted to live the lives that they were living. The line was the great equalizer. Everyone was waiting for the same thing. It was a chance to metaphysically embrace your fellow man in something greater than yourself. It was better than drugs, sex, and sports combined. It was the ultimate in all of creation.
Everyone always smiled on the line. Smiled and talked about the latest shows. It was a happy time, with everyone embracing the best that society had to offer. All were present with a common purpose and nobody with $100 to spare was turned away. It was exactly how democracy was supposed to work.
Nobody ever cut the line. It was too big. Too important. Sure, it happened at first but then it just stopped happening. Society builds itself up based off order. The line reinforced that idea with its perfection.
There were detractors of course. Misguided poor that saw the line as some sort of elite activity that was hurting the country. It was all total bullshit. They were sad and pathetic free thinkers that thought their crazy off the tube lifestyle was somehow better.
The woman four places up smiled at him. Her teeth were properly white and perfect and her body was Package 3. Sporty with a well toned but large ass. Always a good model. She made a gesture at him and he knew that she wanted sex. The line did that to people. It got people excited.
He was a Package 1. Well toned, perfect chin, good hair, blue eyes. It was expensive but worth it. Promotion after promotion came his way and he had affairs from the line all the time. They meant nothing of course but they were a nice distraction before he had to get back to his family.
The lined moved forward and the sense of nirvana came ever closer. Soon it would be his turn. Soon the world would make sense again, even if only for a few seconds.
The Package 3 went into the tent. It was her turn. It was hard not to be jealous.
She went in and out. The others replaced her. Finally, it was his turn. The end of the line.
He walked into the tent. It was Gwen Fisher from the popular reality show Witch Detective. She was even more beautiful in person. He walked into the proper place.
"I’m Gwen Fisher. Nice to meet you."
She then punched him hard in the face.
The nanobots in his body would fix the damage to his face within seconds and the Package 3 would be waiting out back for a quick screw. However, none of that mattered right now. It was important to live in the now and embrace the great wonder of America.
"Skip, this is important. If you don’t get it, don’t say that you do. We only got one chance here."
"Look man, I said I got it, alright? Can I go?"
Herman shook his head and took another drag on his cigarette. He was an ugly old son of a bitch but he knew the rackets better than most. This was going to work. It had to.
"You’re too damn cocky, kid. Don’t screw this up."
"Thanks for the confidence, Mom."
"Shut up and get in there."
Skip smiled at Herman and entered the casino. This world didn’t follow Union Jack standards. There were advantages and disadvantages to that practice. The good news was that they never asked about the source of your credits. Large sums came in all the time. Unfortunately large sums very rarely left. The house cheated often and there was very little you could do about it. You had to get in and get out fast. Only chance you had. No authorities to offer comfort or investigate.
"What’s your poison, blue eyes?"
The greeter was an Arv. They were a slender and beautiful people that were well known for being excellent lovers. They generally loved humans, especially humans like Skip. Every Arv had black eyes with no pupils. The colorful eyes of humans were considered incredibly decadent in their society.
"Bixli Ale and some chips, gorgeous."
He put his credits on her tray and smiled. It was a smile that often got him both in and out of trouble.
"I’ll have to keep an eye on you, Rome Tongue."
Long ago the story of Romeo and Juliet reached the stars. Somewhere along the way the O vanished from the name and it got mixed together with the term snake tongued. Rome Tongue was the end result.
"I look forward to it."
She came back with the drink, the chips, and her number. It was going to be a good night.
At least it should have been. Sadly Lady Luck wasn’t in the mood to cooperate. Skip quickly realized that he didn’t understand Herman’s instructions quite as well as he thought. It wasn’t completely his fault though. Vecna was a very complicated game. It combined elements from old Earth games and old alien games and mixed them together into a giant stew of mass confusion.
He was losing and losing bad. He examined the odds and only one choice looked good.
Betting on red. It was his only way out. If he bet on red and won he would both win back what he lost and walk away with quite a tidy profit in his pocket.
Herman was always too cautious. This was going to work.
"Bet it all on red."
The room went quiet. It was a bold move. Clearly these aliens and world travelers had never seen someone with such a large pair of balls. It felt right when he did it and felt even more so after the hush.
However, then the laughter started and it didn’t quite feel as right. Everyone paused a moment and watched the turning of the tiles. Everyone was waiting to judge him.
All of it. He lost it all.
Everyone went back to their business, many of them with uplifted spirits. They still had credits to bet after all. Watching others lose always made you feel better about your own odds.
"Better luck, next time, Rome Tongue. You’re dumb, but the offer still stands."
It was the Arv. She smiled at him and winked suggestively. Then the bouncers threw him out.
"What the hell happened? Where’s our money?"
Good old reliable Herman. Could always rely on him to ask about the money first, and then Skip’s general well being never. At least he was consistent.
"I bet on red."
"You can yell at me later, Herman. I’ve got a date."