Martialla’s theory is that the blue stuff is a fermented sugar beet concoction. She had no explanation for why it might be blue. Is guzzling twelve to twenty ounces of alcoholic sugar on an empty stomach while you have several severe injuries a good idea? Probably not . . . because it’s a great idea! I felt like I was slamming shots of Jolt Cola and high proof rum. A few months (and a hundred years) ago an alcoholic caffeine drink hit the market and was quickly banned by the FDA for being a threat to public health. I’m glad all those FDA jerks a dead now because this is the best!
Riding a sugar high like never before, Martialla and I shimmied up that ladder like two happy little squirrels. O-kay, maybe that’s a wee little bit of an exaggeration, but we were raring to go is my point. There was no hatch or anything at the top, we were just barfed out in the fields. Which is a real safety concern for anyone walking around up top if you ask me – this must be why everyone was falling into wells back in the 80s. Get yourself some well covers, people!
It was night when we gophered out of the ground, but the night sky was even more illuminated than usual because to the northwest, some of the fields were on fire. Fire gives off light, you see. This was also giving off huge plumes of smoke which combined with the Not Northern Anymore Lights and the flickering light of the fire made some pretty trippy patterns in the air. Some of that may have been because we were wasted as well. I’ll admit that.
Maybe the smoke was obstructing our view but from where we were, we didn’t see any deadly Invincible marauders marauding around. We did see some wrecked vehicles and piles of dead bodies straight west of us but there didn’t seem to be anyone about. I was just about to say to Martialla that there had to be someone still around, the battle wasn’t that long ago, when an ugly pig-face jutted out at us from the darkness. I just mean that he was jowly and had an upturned nose, not that he was an actual pigman. I need to be more careful about how I say things here in the future since there are some weird mutants around.
He was carrying a vaguely gun-shaped thing that had an arrow sticking out of the end and he jabbed it at us in what I assume was supposed to be a menacing way and then squealed something at us in unintelligible futurespeak. Probably something like “freeze” or “don’t move” or “my hovercraft is full of eels”. Martialla and I looked at each other and then started laughing hysterically. And I mean that literally. I don’t mean we were laughing hard or that we were laughing uncontrollably. I mean we were hysterical. Stress, trauma, sugar, booze, starvation, blood poisoning, take your pick – a pigman was threatening us with an arrow rifle and we could not stop laughing. Even if we hadn’t been bleeding internally from a car crash and a fall, it would have been painful to laugh as hard as we were laughing.
Piggy didn’t know how to react to that. I was still laughing when I held out the bag with the water filters for him to look at. I was still laughing when he leaned forward to peer inside and I grabbed his arm. Martialla was still laughing when she stabbed him to death as I wrestled with him like two drunks trying to waltz – laughing all the while. When he was dead on the ground we finally managed to stop. Then we looked at each other, all covered with the blood of a dead human man who had hopes and dreams and likes and dislikes and then we started up all over again. Eventually we got our shit together and stopped laughing for a second time. Martialla took up the arrow-thingy and pulled the trigger and the arrow flew off into the night with a loud bang. She examined it for a minute and then declared that it was something like the weapon Captain Kirk made in the classic Star Trek episode “Arena” to defeat his Gorn opponent.
“Nerd!” I taunted her.
“It’s actually more like an ancient firearm that they made in China. You want to know what they called it?”
I was already halfway laughing for no reason “What?”
She grinned maniacally “Orifice-penetrating flying sand magic mist tube.”
You better believe that set us off again. We laughed so hard we ended up back on the ground. I wonder if there was no one else around to hear us or if our wild cackling was enough to send them back to base camp saying they didn’t find anything. Once we managed to calm ourselves again I looked over at Martialla, in the crazy dancing smoke lights of the sky she actually looked beautiful in a rave-y kind of way.
I reached out as if to tap her even though she was too far away to reach “Hey, hey Mar, Mar, you want to hear something funny?” She started chuckling at the very idea and nodded with a Cheshire Cat grin. “If I, if, if, if I had to, if I had to, to get five minutes on a nice soft bed with clean sheets I would shove your face in a vat of acid.”
She guffawed wildly “What if instead of a bed it was a living room couch, THAT, a living room couch that they let a dog get on sometimes? Not all the time, the dog doesn’t sleep there or anything, but it gets up there sometimes.”
I laughed for a moment “Hmm, for a dog couch? I’d beat you with a pipe until one of your eyeballs fell out, BUT, but you’d have to supply your own pipe.”
She bent doubled in laughter for a moment “That’s fair, that’s fair. What would you do for a tube of chapstick and some nice seared swordfish with lemon?”
I blew out a long breath “Oh, you don’t want to know.”