Chapter 7: “He’s not dead, Jim.”

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@Richard_Kadrey Prompt

Chapter 7:

“He’s not dead, Jim.”

“He’s not dead, Jim,” Debbee, the ship’s AI, relayed.

“Damn it!” Jim faced the monitor, the screen turning from green to a blood red. He hung his head and sighed.  “Ok. I misspoke. I meant to say Damn glad that Tod’s still with us. Yes indeedy.”

Debbee’s voice rebounded from all around. She only opened all channels when she was so pissed off that it spiraled down to her core programming. “Uh huh. Sure. I can tell how deeply moved you are.”

Jim always mumbled when his emotional state maxed out. This time it was anger mixed with a dash of guilt and a smidgen of petulance. So, he cursed.

“Jim, Jim, Jim. How many times have you been told-and not just by me-that your mumbling is a major irritant?”

He was in no mood for a lecture, especially from Debbee. Before his mouth worked without his brain Jim turned and activated the gurney. Debbee did the initial assessment. Now it was time to get him to the Med so it can do its magic. He followed the floating gurney; not that he needed to, but it was a good distraction.

Jim heard a scratching sound down by his right hand. “Huh.” He was clutching the remains of the Rogue Fleet Spork, supposedly the finest weapon in all the forty-two planets. “Yeah, right,” he mumbled.

“JIM!”

He kept moving on, finally reaching the med door. It swooshed silently open. Tod’s gurney went directly into the Medicus unit. Jim watched as the diagnostics protocol turned Tod purple for a few minutes while it reduced his clothing to recyclable mush.  Then the part Jim hated everytime he was hurt: Tod was tubed, injected, catheterized, IV’d, and skull-capped.

The whole procedure sent shudders racing through Jim. He had better things to do than to watch Tod, stupid freaking Tod, get hooked up. As he was leaving, he finally realized he was still holding the defunct Spork. Jim walked over to the recycling unit and tossed it in.

“Are you sure you want to do that, Jim?” Debbee chimed in.

“Well, gee, let me think. It’s broken beyond repair, half fused melted, and the Spork barely did its job when it wasn’t in that condition. So, yes, I want to recycle it. Now.” He waited a moment. Nothing happened. He sighed and finally said “Please.”

~~~~~~~~~~

Jim unlocked his cabin and the single door swooshed silently open, and then closed once he entered. He hung his cape, then his uniform, in the SteamSteward, pressed the Dry Clean cycle, and let it do its thing.

Sitting on his bed, he took the unfinished bulb of the Vulpes 24 and slurped it down. The warmth dribbled down his throat. Jim licked his lips, finding the last bit of liquid satisfaction. He tossed the bulb, turned off the lights, and settled in.

It took a long time for Jim to fall asleep. His mind was racing around with all that had happened on Anates: the high, gusting winds that made his cape flock around; the sudden attack from the man-eating Space Ducks; Tod, stupid Tod, not having his Spork and getting clipped by a few of the Ducks; having to protect Tod, stupid Tod, from further attacks as he bled on the ground; the fight for survival; and then noticing the blonde vixen on that horse-like thing.

Jim thought he noticed her directing the ducks. He wasn’t sure since trying to stay alive and protect stupid Tod. After taking down five of the ducks and noticing there were no more trying to eat him, Jim turned to look for the blond. She was gone. He hadn’t heard her arrive and hadn’t heard her leave. He was missing something. He knew it, but couldn’t find it in the mess going on in his head.

These thoughts swirled around Jim’s mind until finally, they spiraled him down into a deep sleep. His REM cycle was active and only increasing. The cover sheet was kicked off, wadded into the corner of the bed. His pillow was next, flung to the floor. Jim’s pulse and breathing grew frantic.

Debbee, who monitored Jim and Tod, sounded a blaring noise to wake him up. She repeated it, adding new sounds, upping the level, until it was all a discordant cacophony of sound.

Jim was still asleep.

“Tod is awake, Jim. TOD IS AWAKE.”

Jim bolted awake and sat up. “Stupid Tod,” he mumbled. Debbee let this one pass.

He was drenched in night sweat and his head was ringing. Debbee’s com screen was a bright yellow and spread across the room.

“I knew something was off. I knew it!”

“Jim, what was off?”

“The blond. She had wings. She had wings. She looked like us, but she had wings.”

**********************************************

Author’s Note:

I get a kick out of prompts. Right now, creatively, I need these jumping off points. That’s what you’re seeing here on Tale Spinning. I have a few projects of my own I’m procrastinating with that I hope I’ll finish and try to do something with them. We’ll see.

The above pic is one of them, created by Author Richard Kadrey. He has been posting, on Twitter, reworked/photoshopped covers of old pulp(ish) novels, changing them to show off his brand of humor. I just thought it’d be fun to write a few things from Mr. Kadrey’s posting: so, yes, this is my writing, not Mr. Kadrey’s.

Richard Kadrey is a writer, photographer, comic book writer, and an all-around interesting guy. His fiction straddles the Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Cyberpunk worlds, and he’s pretty darn good with it all. I fell in love with his writing starting with his first Sandman Slim novels. Gritty, sometimes violent, often full of whimsey, worth reading. He’s not just another pretty face.

You can check out more fun covers by following him on Twitter @Richard_Kadrey.

To get into his body of work, visit him at his website: Richard Kadrey

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