Yeah, I'm writing this post drunk. SO WHAT?
Sorry. I'm a little testy right now. Lemme explain.
I got my final paycheck from my Undercover Santa gig at the Mall of Lallor. That was fine. They even threw in a bonus for all the extra business I was able to drum up; it seems that I was their most unforgiving, brutal Santa Claus ever, and it brought in the Solstice fanatics by the rocket-load! And those nuts, they'll spend space-cheddah on Solstice merchandise with such abandon, you'd think Gold Boy himself was crapping his gilded turds directly into their purses. I
However. I can't deposit (or, to be perfectly honest, cash) the damn paycheck because the freakin' banks are all shut down. So that's Sucky Thing Number One.
Sucky Thing Number Two is how Eyeful Ethel was going to throw her employees a lavish Solstice Eve party at work today, but had to cancel at the last minute due to civil unrest. It would have been a fun bash, too, I bet. Everybody was there, save for Gadfly Lad, of course, and Storm Boy, who had visi-phoned in sick with something unpronounceable and contagious. (I bet he's canoodling with that "Ox" guy right now. ...Huh. Apparently, I believe in "Ox" after all! It's a Solstice miracle!)
We had just finished decorating the office and were wondering why the caterers were late, when that blimp I saw last week drifted by our windows. Which was a bad sign, considering we're only on the third floor. We all rushed over to "ooh" and "ah" at it. (Okay, so maybe it was more "AAAAA!!!" than "ah" but still.) The last "N" in its lighted slogan flickered out with a burst of sparks, changing its dire prophecy to "THE END IS EAR." Abruptly, the blimp banked upward and soared into a radioactive cloud. Mere moments later, it emerged, heading in the opposite direction and sinking rapidly. Several sky mutants clung to it. Its tail burst into flame. It planted itself nose-down into the public square a few blocks from us, and exploded. It was a sight to behold -- the conflagration featured an impressive, multi-stage display, with fountains of sparks; whizzing, boomeranging debris that shot gaily into the sky; and a stunning Roman candle sort of sustained burst. It was way better than most fireworks shows I've attended -- and I've attended a lot! About halfway through the blimp's lengthy demise, the lights blinked out in the nearby buildings. As if by some secret signal, hoards of rioters flooded into the streets, and started beating the shit out of one another. Then our own building went dark.
Ethel swore, loudly. Then she sighed, "Sorry, folks. Solstice is canceled. I'd advise you to all get home as soon as possible. You know, before things get out of hand."
I tried to visi-phone Klup, but I couldn't get a signal. Nobody could. The reason for this became apparent once the blazing communications satellites came pouring out of the heavens. One smacked squarely into Nightmare Boy's gloss-black Lallorghini XE rocket-car. "Oh, come on--!" he moaned.
"Didn't see that one coming, did you?" I quipped. He laughed, albeit ruefully.
As we hustled our asses out of there, I gallantly offered to walk somebody home. The only taker was Nightmare Boy.
I only had to clobber a handful of rioters at first (while Nightmare Boy cowered behind overturned baby carriages and other bits of detritus) but after six blocks or so, the crowds started getting thicker and meaner. Nightmare Boy's eyes looked positively wild, as he nervously checked street signs and his wristwatch. At one point, we had to retreat into an alley.
"Where are we?" demanded Nightmare Boy.
"Around Tcheru and 59th," I replied. "And don't take that tone with me."
He glanced at his watch again. "Duck."
"Down on the ground! NOW!" As I blinked at him, utterly confused at this change in his demeanor, Nightmare Boy tackled me. I was about to smack him in his beautiful face when the engine block from an exploding zoom-lorry sailed overhead, right where my head had been.
Nightmare Boy rolled himself off of me, and smiled. "I saw that one coming! Oh, and you're welcome." He burst into the universe's suavest-sounding giggle fit. (It was very George Takei-like.) He hopped to his feet and extended his hand to me.
Flushed with embarrassment, I allowed him to help me up. "Thanks, dude," I said. "And I'm sorry I've doubted you. I guess you're not a big phony after all!"
"Not all the time, anyway," he grinned.
I scouted the other end of the alley. The chaos was less-pronounced on the adjoining street. I motioned for Nightmare Boy to join me. I explained to him that the crowds were getting too thick and too violent for us to safely make it all the way to his home, and that we were better off finding some place where we could hole up until the next morning.
I noticed that a hover-biker bar across the street still had its lights on, and suggested it to Nightmare Boy as a suitable spot. Two muscle-bound patrons tumbled out the establishment's front door, trading punches. Then they started to make out.
Nightmare Boy's pallid complexion blanched to lily-whiteness. "I think I see a dance club a few blocks down," he gulped. "That would be good, too."
I squinted, trying to make out anything beyond the veil of smoke he was pointing at. "What, behind that overturned acid tanker and the Burning Effigy Parade? Good luck with that."
In front of the hover-biker bar, the two men had interrupted their make-out session to resume belaboring each other about the head and groin.
"I'll take my chances," replied Nightmare Boy. Convulsively, he darted out of the alley, and disappeared into the haze.
So here I am, by myself on Solstice Eve, in a hover-biker bar. I'd be tempted to brave the riots again, except the owner has had to activate the inertron shutters. No one enters; no one leaves! The Solstice carol videos belched out by the holo-box are bracingly gory affairs, but around their twelfth repetition they've lost their luster. The floors have filmed over with a combination of dirt, melted radioactive snow, and various bodily fluids. There's nothing to eat except soylent snacks. The heater is stuck on "blast furnace" level, which means I'm currently swimming in my own perspiration. I've been in three fist-fights already. None of them have ended in a make-out session, goddamn it. My vision is blurry. (Whether it's from the alcohol, the chokingly thick clouds of cigar smoke, or the pool cue chalk that nailed me in the eye when I first entered, I'm not sure.) An hour ago, somebody vomited into the complimentary bowl of rum punch. And to top it all off, the owner just came around with a box of those tacky dark beast ears (on headbands) for everybody to wear. I put some on. Because I don't care, anymore. "The end is ear," indeed.
...Hold the visi-phone! There's a hot, beefy dude "making eyes" at me, and he's got the brawniest arms and the lushest salt-and-pepper beard I've ever laid eyes on! I'm gonna walk over there and see if he wants to "wrestle." It looks like this day won't be a total loss, after all!
Happy Solstice, everybody!