We traveled with the Quarryfolk back to their hole but they were adamant that we couldn’t go into their caves. I was equally as adamant that I never wanted to go in them. I never thought much about caves before, why would I? But now that I’m confronted with the idea of living in one? I find that I don’t care for that at all, not one little bit. Maybe I have PTSD from falling into those tunnels. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of living like a dirty mole rat.
I almost changed my mind about caves the first night sleeping outside when I woke up with a furry blob gnawing on my leg that looked like a massive gatordog head on a body made up of pieces of a camel, a pig, and a bontebok. I didn’t wake up because I felt any pain, I woke because I felt something tugging at me. It was like that Massive Head-wound Harry sketch from SNL only with my leg. Martialla’s theory is that the beast has aestheticizing saliva like a leech or a vampire bat (she claims anyway, I never heard of such a thing) my theory is that I hate it and want it to burn in the fires of hell.
We should probably always sleep in J-Lo to avoid such nighttime leg foraging, but it’s not very comfortable being inside her. If you know what I mean. Sometimes you just want to stretch out. Stretch out on the wet hard ground covered with itchy and stabby gross little plants. Have I mentioned that the future sucks lately? Martialla and I haven’t had a ton of chances to trade, but we’ve had a few, and I have yet to see anything like a sleeping bag or a bedroll or anything to toss on the ground to keep slime scorpions from crawling in your mouth while you’re asleep. I feel like these future people just flop in the mud like mangy stray dogs. I used to hate when we went camping and I had to sleep in the old camper van my parents borrowed from their hippy friend Lincoln. Now I would kill people for just one night in it. How many people? That’s a good question.
As we loitered on the rim (if you know what I mean) from time to time more of the bodybuilder people who always skip leg day would come out to speak with us. I figured in order to get them to go along with my plan, Martialla would have to fight their leader in a kal-if-fee battle to the death or she’d have to marry and bear the children of the clan member with the most robust aroma. I assumed she’d have to be humiliated or commit bloodshed of some kind to get things moving. But instead after a couple days, the triangle shaped muscle people just said (paraphrasing) “sure, I guess we’ll violently revolt against our masters”. Just like that.
While we were waiting for that delcaration Martialla, being the stick in the mud that she is, asked me why exactly I was trying to get them to rise up against their masters. I tried feeding her some line about freedom of the human spirit and dignity and huddled masses yearning to breathe free but she didn’t go for it. The funny thing is I was only mostly lying. Some part of me did want them to be free without any other ulterior motive. If you want to enslave people that’s one thing but you don’t have to be a dick about it. The Paradisians could have just taken these people’s oil, they didn’t have to treat them like garbage on top of everything else.
I leveled with Martialla and told her that I didn’t like the Paradise people and I wanted them to die. She pointed out that we never even talked to them. There are always a few assholes in the bunch, maybe they’re not all like that. Plus, even if they are all like that, making deals with assholes is what life is all about. Even if we want them to die, having them die fighting against the Invincible would be far more useful than fomenting (is that a word?) rebellion against them. She went on to say that the whole reason we wanted them on our side is not just because they have planes and armored cars, but they most likely know how to use them and seem to be experienced and skilled fighters beyond that. Plus they may have other client villages that have resources of their own to call upon – warriors and weapons and supplies and so forth.
I admitted that these points were all well made, but what did she want me to do? Back out of the plan to Trojan Horse them?
“Yes.” Was her response.
Poor, poor, sad, plain Jane Martialla. She’s a natural born follower so she doesn’t understand the burden of leadership. You can’t change horses mid-stream. Once you’ve decided on a course of action you have to stick with it, no matter how stupid or suicidal that decision turns out to be. Changing your mind is a show of weakness and you have to lead from a position of strength. I explained this all to her but she still didn’t get it.
“That’s asinine. You change your mind all the time. Plus you are weak. I know that. Who are you trying to impress?”
I thought about it for a moment and then grunted noncommittally “Alright, I just don’t like those Paradise people and this is what I’m doing about it. Happy now?”
“No, not at all, why would I be happy that you admitted you’re being unreasonable?”
“Well, there’s no going back now, the wheels are in motion.”
“They said it’s going to be ten days before they’re supposed to deliver anything to Paradise. There’s plenty of time to go back. I would say anything up until we’re actually inside the compound with a bunch of armed men is on the happy side of the point of no return.”
“Well . . . technically . . . maybe. But this is what we’re doing.”
She sighed “Is this a Rob Lowe situation?”
I nodded “Yes, I’m playing the Rob Lowe card. This has nothing to do with logic or reason, this is pure and simple hatred unfettered from such concerns as good sense and accountability.”