Friday, August 21, 2020
A Pennske truck slowed in a school district, its headlights picking out a car that had stopped at a speed bump.
In the driver's seat, Ed grumbled. "Another speed bump phobic. He must have a full glass of water on the dash. Add that to the list of people I'd send to Mars."
"It's quite a list by now," said the dwarf Hecabano. "Before that, it was those who hang an arm out the window."
"And," Wicca added, "who walk with palms facing the rear. And--"
"Okay, okay."Ed took an alternate route to stay on schedule. The trip to Pennsylvania had already been delayed by rioters. Wicca's magic put them all to sleep so they could pass the war zone. It also afforded the vampire Cambris an orgiastic romp. She was full as a tick.
Suddenly Ed hit the brakes at a restaurant, targeting another of the offending signs that set him off.
"Here we go again," Wicca said.
Ed made some alterations with a magnum Sharpie, then sprinted back to the truck. The sign now read NQ MA8R NQ 8BRV+GB.
"It looks Russian," Hecabano pointed out. "One would never know it once said NO MASK NO SERVICE."
Ed tucked the marker away. "Well, if I'm a vandal, I'm also a thief, since I had to klep the marker outta personnel. And speaking of the studio, Wicca looks like somebody stole her favorite dolly."
"Humorous, Ned." The horror show hostess glowered. "If this is our last supply run before it all blows up, there goes my show. And I'm nobody in Outworld!"
They arrived at the nature park as they always did. Wicca blanked the cameras and opened the mag-lock gate. The truck lumbered to a stop in front of a destroyed statue of William Penn. This time it didn't goad Ed.
"Who cares?" he said. "I'm flyin' on Sharpie fumes. Anyway, I see the mermaids made it."
The three performers from Six Forks Palladium waited near an impressive pile of suit cases. Binia, Sirtis and Ellie had traveled from the east coast for Wicca's invite to tour Outworld.
"Holy cow." Ed climbed down to survey the trunks and cases. "We have stuff in Outworld. You got encyclopedias in there?"
Blonde Binia was perched on a trunk. "I don't know, Ed. There may be nothing to come back to. Coming in earlier, we saw a mermaid statue someone had broken up."
"Why would they do that?" wondered the brunette Sirtis.
Ed spread arms for the obvious answer. "Because it's a statue!" Wicca and Hecabano laughed, but Cambris remained attuned to the night sounds. Those nearby had gone silent.
"Let's get movin'," Ed decided. Wicca donned a magic mask depicting an Oktoberfest gentleman, which would allow them to walk into the illusory hillside. They began unloading the truck of goodies unavailable on the other side: sodas and snacks, magazines, cosmetics, specialty foods, batteries, CDs. . . .the list was long.
The mermaids followed Wicca through the gateway with their possessions. It was their first view of the Archon plane, the universal hub between an infinity of dimensions. An endless domed lattice soared above, looking out on a nebula. Fantastic structures and bridges were guarded by tall, black-robed Archons, who admitted the proper mask for a specific dimension.
"Ours is that way," Wicca said. "It's a depressed arena with lots of doors. Don't open any but the one I show you. Otherwise, you let out a horde of freaks ready to rumble."
Cambris, in bat form, flapped ahead toward the new home of the Dracula brides. Everyone else made frequent trips from the truck until Hecabano pushed the last cart through the arrival tunnel.
"Is that everything?" Ed asked. Wicca had bespelled a park guard to return the rental truck.
Wicca crossed arms glumly. "My Mercedes certainly isn't here. But then, there aren't any gas stations on the other side. Or auto mechanics."
Trailing the group, Hecabano shook a fist at the Earth tunnel. "We'll be back! I think. . . ."