Space Babes From Mars
It was a clear and bright day. The sun beat down like a scorching Buddy Rich. I found myself at the side of the road, staring at the twisted, burning wreck of my 1982 Honda Civic Hatchback. Damn it! I thought to myself. Why does this type of thing always happen just after I put in the spoiler and the mag tires?
Azreal's Funereal Disposements
I thought back to the cause of the accident. If only I'd seen that cat a few moments earlier, I might have been able to hit it. As it was, I had swerved in an attempt to annihilate the diabolic little hair ball, missed, and slammed into a concrete embankment at speeds well in excess of forty kilometers per hour. I was lucky to be alive.
I bent closer to the fire, lighting my cigarette, and burning off some excess body hair. Moving back to a comfortable distance, I watched as my car burned like a heavy metal album at a church picnic. A passing motorist stopped to lend a hand. He was driving a Corvette. Amateur, I thought disdainfully.
"Anyone dead here?" the stranger asked as he stepped out of his bright red 'Vette. I couldn't really say for sure, but he almost seemed to hope that there was.
"No," I replied, taking a long drag off of my cigarette.
"Pity," he sighed. He walked around my burning car, examining it critically. His pale skin was offset by his jet black three piece suit. I couldn't say what it was, exactly, but there was something wrong with his hands.
He bent over on the other side of my car. When I walked over to look, I saw him tying his shoes. He stood, and walked back over to the highway.
"Next time," he drawled, "please don't wear a seat belt." With that, he got back into his 'Vette, and sped off. Damn undertakers, I thought.
I took stock of my situation. I was stranded, helpless, at the side of the road, with only my thoughts and a damn cat for company. The day was bright and sunny, but I knew a rain storm was imminent. They always are in these kinds of stories.
Pausing only to kick the cat, I headed off down the highway, my thumb stuck out for passing motorists to ignore. For some reason, most people don't want to stop to pick up strangers with half their clothing burned off.
Moments later, the expected rain storm broke, soaking me to the skin in seconds. Rain clouds, like tigers and Jehovah's Witnesses, can sense when you're at your most vulnerable.
As I walked, my hand went reflexively to my breast pocket. Sighing with relief, I pulled out the CD. It was then that I realized it was broken. Half of it had snapped off, and fallen out of a hole in my pocket. The other half was snagged on my torn shirt.
On the CD was important, world rocking information. It contained shocking details about Elvis Presley's death, his diet pills, and the space aliens who had taken his brain and hidden it on a satellite.
The CD also contained some additional information on how Elvis had once drank too much and eaten some of his antique Victorian furniture. He had reported to the hospital complaining of cramps, and ended up having his stomach pumped to remove a rather large red cushion. This information, while interesting, was not quite as important.
Where was the other half of the CD? I ran back to my car, ignoring the van full of Jehovah's Witnesses that kept trying to pick me up. I searched through the mud, but I could find no trace of the missing piece of CD. It was then that I noticed the business card lying in the mud. I picked it up and read it.
1313 Mortis Avenue
Service with a Rictus Sardonicus
I pocketed the card, and cursed under my breath. The damn undertaker must've taken the other piece of the CD!
The van had stopped up the road, and a Jehovah's Witness was waving a copy of "Watch Tower" at me. I began throwing rocks at him until he finally drove away. I wasn't sure, but I think I saw the cat in the back window of the van. I think it was sneering.
I only had to hitch hike for another ten minutes when I was picked up by a politician driving a blue Cordoba. I stretched out in the back seat on the rich Corinthian leather, and let the politician's voice lull me to sleep.
Adam, a voice called, working it's way through my sleep-fogged brain. I was pissed off, because the voice was interrupting an interesting dream in which Freud and Felini were on a train, going through lots of tunnels. I tried to ignore the voice, but it kept on calling me. Cautiously, I slowly opened one eye.
I found myself lying on a bench in a grand dining hall. Torches blazed on the walls, and a three piece string band played baroque music off in one corner. If it ain't baroque, I thought to myself, don't fix it. I was immediately embarrassed.
"So, you're finally awake," a gravely voice came from behind me. I whirled around, a saw a short, powerfully built man in his mid forties, glaring up at me. He seemed rather uncomfortable in his midnight blue robes, and even a bit embarrassed. The robe had blue stars, yellow moons, orange clouds and pink diamonds embroidered on it.
Many gaily dressed people entered the room as I checked the new comer out.
"Where am I?" I asked cleverly.
"The Castle Purulence," he replied. "I am the court mage, the All-Powerful Dick. I'm here to guide you."
"Guide me through what?" I asked.
"Your dream sequence, of course," Dick responded in exasperation as he took my arm, leading me through the ever growing crowds. "Dream sequences are very common in this kind of story. They're cheap devices that permit the author introduce certain facts into the story without having to explain how or why the protagonist came to know them."
"You are very wise, oh Dick," I said, taking a glass of wine from a passing dumb waiter. The waiter mimed a polite hello. "Who is that over there," I inquired, gesturing towards a large dragon, busy eating a few of the guests.
"That," said Dick, "is your greatest enemy, the dragon Azreal. You both search for the same thing. The princess CeeDee is here, masquerading as a commoner. She knows certain secrets which will change the world. Azreal seeks to keep the secrets from the public. If he finds CeeDee before you do, he will most certainly eat her."
"That reminds me of a joke I once heard," I said. "Little Red Riding Hood was walking through the -".
"Enough of your foul humor!" Dick bellowed.
"Sorry," I mumbled, even though there were no birds in my joke. To cover my embarrassment, I took a sip of my wine. I quickly spit it out in disgust, ruining the dress of a nearby plastic surgeon's wife.
"That's disgusting!" I claimed, surreptitiously dumping my wine into an unconscious musician's cod piece.
Ignoring me, Dick led me across the room to a large window. Outside, I could see nothing but gray, formless fog.
"Seek thee a castle in the sky," Dick said sonorously. "There, lies thy prize."
"Could you cut the riddle crap, and speak plainly please?"
"Sorry," Dick said. "Union rules."
"He buddy, wake up!" The politician was shaking me violently. We were stopped at the side of the highway.
"What's going on?" I asked groggily.
"You fell asleep back there. I was gonna leave you alone, but then you picked up a can of WD-40 off the floor, squirted some in your mouth, and spit it all over my car! I want you out!"
Before I could protest, the politician pushed me out of his car, and roared off into the flow of traffic. I made a futile attempt to straighten my wet, burned clothing. At least the rain storm had stopped.
I took my bearings, and realized that I was completely lost.
"Seek thee a castle in the sky," a voice seemed to echo in my head. "Seek thee a castle in the sky...this is a recording". I chose a direction, and began walking.
Hours later, I was even more lost than I had been when I started out. At this rate, I'd never find that missing section of CD! I rounded a bend in the road, and gaped at what lay ahead of me. Up ahead, a large mansion floated above the trees.
Azreal's Funereal Disposements
The mansion in the sky! I thought! This must be it. Either that, or this is just too big a coincidence!
As I approached the estate, I noticed that it was not actually floating, but sat high atop a mountain. Fog had concealed the mountain base, making it seem as if the mansion floated.
By the time I climbed the road to the mansion, the sun had set. A full moon had climbed out from behind the clouds, where it had been hiding until it was safe. The moon bathed the mansion in the white, pale light, reminiscent of the fluorescent light in an autopsy room, or a kitchen at McDonald's.
The mansion was even larger than I had first imagined. My first impression was of a large, jutting jumble of masonry, seemingly put together at random. The house seemed a compilation of various styles of architecture, as if the builder was either incapable of making his mind up, or congenitally insane. It seemed to be mainly Victorian Gothic. How predictable. Somehow I doubted that the Avon lady ever called here.
The edifice had at least 5 floors, and was built as to be almost pyramidal. Massive stone gargoyles jutted from every conceivable corner and parapet, and leered down at me like drunken Shriners at a Tupperware party. I estimated that the house had over 50 rooms, divided between two wings.
The rain began again, and the forest seemed to push at me, with a sense of a dark, evil malevolence. I decided to knock on one of the doors of the mansion, and see who answered.
As I walked up the cobblestone path leading to the massive structure, I noticed a weather beaten sign, which read:
If He's Not Dead, We Don't Mind
Ignoring the sign, I walked up to the door. Grasping the massive iron skull shaped knocker, I pounded on the door a few times. My knocking echoed throughout the house like low thunder. I waited a few minutes, and when no one had answered, I knocked again. Once again, the knocker created a sound like a slightly muted sonic boom in a metal garbage can. It was then that I noticed a small sign, taped underneath the knocker.
Knocker Out of Order
Please Ring Bell
I looked around, and found a small, circular door bell. It was lit from within by a small bulb, and glowed with a sickly, pale light. Shrugging, I pressed the button. Strains of Mr. Roger's theme song, "It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood", came through the door. Seconds later, the door swung open, seemingly of it's own volition.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I stepped inside, and surveyed my surroundings. I was in a large, seemingly medieval hall. The room was circular, and was illuminated by a large, central fireplace and several strategically placed torches. A large stone staircase swung around the circular far wall, leading up into darkness. Ancient, dust covered furniture was arrayed about the room, and a dank, musty smell permeated the air. Just like a Holiday Inn.
As I explored the room, I heard someone clear his throat behind me. I whirled around, and saw three men standing by the fire place.
The first man, obviously the leader, was huge. He stood at easily six feet, five inches tall, and weighed at least 300 pounds, none of it fat. He had a dark brown mustache, and was partially bald. His most impressive feature was his eyes. They indicated intelligence, but were dead of all emotion.
Beside him, stood a slightly shorter man. He was thin, and apparently diseased, as his skin was mottled, and had greet cast about it. He was obviously a hired killer.
A small, nervous seeming man scooted out from behind the large one, rubbing his hands gleefully. He had long blond hair, and resembled nothing so much as a nervous, jittery ferret. This man had obviously experimented with some serious pharmaceutical products in his time.
"Ah, Mr. Bond," the tall, strong man said. "We have been expecting you. I am Bruno, and my two associates here are Carlos and Frank. Welcome to Azreal's Funereal Disposements."
"Sorry buddy, wrong hero," I sneered, trying to sound confident. "My name is Faust. Adam Faust. And I hate martini's."
"He's not Bond, Bruno!" Frank whined, twisting his hands pathetically. "What're we gonna do?" Frank's voice sounded remarkably like Peter Lorrie.
"Silence, fool!" Bruno roared. He paused, and began to think. After a few minutes, he gestured towards me. "Carlos, Frank, kill Mr. Faust." With that, he walked out of the room.
How rude, I thought.
Frank grinned, and moved towards me, pulling out a switchblade knife as he did so. Carlos began circling around my other side.
"You are going to die, yes," Frank whispered sibilantly as he approached. "I have a sharp knife, yes, very sharp. You are going to bleed."
"Sorry," I smiled as I reached into my soggy jacket. "You see, I have a .357 Magnum." I pulled out my gun, and aimed it at Frank's chest. Frank began back peddling furiously. I did not fail to notice that Carlos was now edging his way towards the stairs.
"Goodnight, dick," I said as I pulled the trigger. My powerful, mighty gun made a loud, empty clicking sound.
"A .357 Magnum which I apparently forgot to load this morning."
By this time, Carlos had left the room. Frank had fallen to the ground in a dead faint. A faint patch of moisture was beginning to spread outwards from his crotch.
I relieved Frank of his knife, and tied him up, using several feet of cord which I cut from the curtain. Afterwards, I dumped him in a closet, careful not to get my hands anywhere near the damp stain on his pants. After that, I went up the stairs after Carlos, making sure I loaded my gun this time.
I stopped at the top of the stairs, and listened at the door. Hearing nothing, I stepped back, and threw my shoulder at the door. At that exact same instant, Carlos decided to open the door to see if I was coming. I sailed past a startled Carlos, and stumbled over a conveniently placed ottoman.
Taking advantage of my momentary disadvantage, Carlos ran down the stairs. Before he could reach the door leading into the house, I had come out of the upstairs room, and had pointed my no-longer empty gun at Carlos.
"Stop, or you'll be so full of holes, you could be a Canadian Fiscal Policy" I shouted. Carlos skidded to halt, and turned to face me.
"You'll never shoot me, Faust," Carlos sneered. "You don't have the guts."
I shot Carlos in the leg.
"Ok...maybe....you do...." Carlos gasped as he fell to the floor, clutching his bleeding leg. Seconds later, he passed out.
I bandaged Carlos' leg as best as I could, tied him up and dumped him into the closet with Frank. I then went after Bruno.
What seemed like an eternity later, but was in fact only five minutes, I found Bruno in the mansion's kitchen, making a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
"Wha...where's Frank and Carlos?" Bruno sputtered, sending chunks of slightly chewed bread, peanut butter and banana spraying across the room.
"Well, let's just say that Frank met with an...accident" I chuckled.
"He pissed himself, didn't he?"
"Yeah. I had to shoot Carlos, though."
"Que serra serra," Bruno said thoughtfully. "Whatever will be, will be," here, Bruno began singing. "The future's not ours to see, que serra serra-"
"Stop that!" I commanded, raising my gun. The lyrics had begun to force me into a stupor. "Nice try! Unfortunately for you, I know of the somnambulistic effects of Doris Day music!"
"Damn," Bruno cursed. With a move almost quicker than I could follow, he flipped his knife into the air. Grasping it by the blade, he threw it across the room, a deadly silver missile. The knife found it's mark, and hit me square in the stomach.....and it bounced off harmlessly.
"Damn, that was a butter knife, wasn't it?" he asked.
"Yes, it was," I replied as I shot him.
I grabbed his sandwich, and headed off down the hall. As I entered the first door on my left, I got the shock of my life. Two gorgeous women sat on a long, blue suede couch, gazing lazily at me. They were both dressed wildly, wearing torn leather outfits, and each woman had moussed her hair out farther than a heavy metal rock star had ever dared.
Each woman wore more make up than Tammy Faye Baker, and apparently thought that perfume should be noticeable from at least fifty yards away. They stood, and began walking towards me.
"I'm Bambi," the taller of the two, a blonde, said with a smile.
"And I'm Thumper," said the shorter woman, a brunette. "Wanna play?"
My gun began to slip towards the floor as I contemplated the possibilities.
"Where's the CD?" I asked, trying to sound like I was in control.
"CD?" Bambi asked.
"CD," Thumper replied. "Primitive earth technology utilized for the accumulation of data. Characteristically employed in the music and computer materials industry."
"Wh....what?" I stammered.
"I mean `Hello, you good looking hunk of man'" Thumper hastily tried to cover up her slip.
"No good, Thumper," I sneered, my gun leveling at her navel. "I heard you say `...primitive earth technology...'!"
"All right, then," she said, "You've caught us. These are not our true forms...observe!"
With that, colorful lights began to swirl and coalesce around Bambi and Thumper. The grew brighter, and swirled faster, spinning, flashing and twirling around them like psychedelic fire flies. Then, suddenly, the lights vanished.
Standing in Bambi and Thumper's place were....Bambi and Thumper.
"Damn" Bambi cursed, "Sometimes this just doesn't work."
"Take our word for it, though, we are aliens" Thumper avowed. "We have a space ship and everything." She gestured out the window to a blue Datsun 210.
"Looks like a Datsun 210 to me," I observed. "Not even the 210E, either."
"Anyway, we are aliens, and we have your precious CD!" Bambi chortled. "Now you'll never have the proof you need to show that we killed Elvis, and stole his brain!"
Shrugging, I shot Bambi in the stomach. She fell over dead.
"Oh, great!" Thumper yelled. "Now the inertial dampening suits aren't working! We're supposed to be bullet proof!"
"Where's the CD?" I asked, pointing the gun at Thumper.
"Ok, ok, I'll talk," Thumper decided to cooperate, now that she was no longer invulnerable. "We hid the CD in arrrrgghhh..."
"Arrrrgghhh?" I asked. "Where's that, your home planet?"
"Arrrrgghhhh..." Thumper repeated, gesturing behind her. She slumped over, revealing a dagger sticking out of her back.
Behind her, the undertaker was standing in the door way. He stepped forward arrogantly, holding a .38 leveled at my chest.
"Drop the gun, Mr. Faust," he commanded, "And tell me where the other half of the CD is."
"I thought you wanted to keep the information secret," I said. "Why didn't you just destroy your half of the CD?"
"Whatever made you think that?" he laughed. "I want the whole CD! You were going to use the information on it to enlighten the world. I want to use it to control Elvis' brain!"
"Won't you're alien masters be mad?"
"My masters?" Azreal laughed. "You mean you think I work for them? Mr. Faust, don't be absurd. I am the alien master!"
With that, a glowing pyrotechnic display of flashing lights began to swirl over his body, much like before. And, like before, they did not entirely work.
Azreal stood before me, or should I say, half of him. His left half was as before, but his right side was now a bizarre, evil alien visage. His face seemed to be constantly moving, and his clothing looked like something Liberace would've worn if had been just a bit more butch.
"Damn these transmogrifiers!" Azreal hissed, his voice now a sibilant cacophony. I couldn't help but notice that the gun which he had held in his right hand had been transformed into a strange alien weapon. A gun, designed by a human mind, looked like it was designed to kill you. This alien weapon, designed by alien minds, looked like it was designed to hurt you, over and over again, for a very long time.
"Now," Azreal said, gesturing with his strange alien weapon, "hand over your half of the CD."
"And if I don't" I asked, crossing my arms smugly.
A thin green ray shot out of the end of his weapon, passing very close to a region of my body that caused me to think about John Wayne Bobbit.
"Here ya go!" I said, reaching into my pocket for the CD.
"Before you kill me", I said, holding back the CD, "why did you guys take Elvis' brain anyway?"
"Why should I tell you anything?"
"Evil Nemesis Rule #42" I replied. "Before killing the hero, the evil nemesis must tell of his motivations, plans, and any key information which could be useful in defeating him."
"Oh. Damn silly rule, that" Azreal rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Very well. In the early 1980's, it was discovered by our spies that Elvis Presley was not just a talented singer, not by far. It turns out that he was a brilliant physicist, and was working on a system of instantaneous matter transmission across vast distances."
"So you killed him to get the secret?" I inquired.
"Hardly. We've had matter transmission for centuries. Matter of fact, we're the only sapient species in the universe with matter-mission. We've made a killing in the inter-planetary courier market."
"So then you killed Presley."
"No" Azreal replied, an annoyed look on the human half of his face, and an incomprehensible alien expression on the other side. "And do shut up. It turns out that Elvis had come up with a way to make our matter-mission more efficient. We needed his mind. So we poisoned his diet pills, and scooped up his brain before the police showed up."
"Wait a minute," I said. "You mean to tell me that they performed an autopsy on him....and missed the fact that his brain was gone?"
"Yup" he replied smugly. "After we took his brain out, we put Ronald Reagan's brain in there instead."
"What did Reagan do without a brain?"
"Ran the United States of America for eight years."
"How did Reagan go around without a brain?"
"We replaced it with a pocket calculator."
"Well, at least that explains `Star Wars'. But why did you take Reagan's brain?"
"We knew nobody would miss it. Least of all Reagan. As we speak", Azreal said, gesturing to the sky, "Elvis' brain orbits in a satellite above the earth, performing incredibly complex calculations, and composing haunting love ballads."
Azreal strode across the floor, snatching up the broken CD from my stunned fingers.
"Good bye, Mr. Faust," he said as he walked across the room. "I shall let you live, so that you might enjoy your defeat". Azreal pressed a large green button on his belt, and disappeared, leaving only the echo of his demented laugh behind.
"Oh no," I said, putting my head in my hands as I sat down on the couch.
"Don't worry, little buddy" came a rich, mellifluous voice from all around me. "He won't be goin' anywheres."
"Who's that?" I shrieked as I leapt to my feet.
"Don't ya recognize my voice, buddy?" Came the phantom sound. Suddenly, I could hear a guitar playing. The voice began singing.
"Love me tender, love me true-"
"Elvis, is that you?" I cried.
"You got that right, sir," Elvis said.
"But where are you? Are you a ghost?"
"Hardly, good buddy. I was up on that satellite, or at least my brain was, performing advanced calculus (and the occasional love song) for those darn aliens."
"How'd you get here?"
"Well, while you kept Mr. Azreal busy, I managed to over ride my security program, and take over the satellite. When Mr. Azreal beamed out of here just now, I beamed him into a prison cell on the satellite. Then I down loaded myself to the house computer here, so's I could talk with you."
"That means I can get both half of the CD, and tell the world what happened to you."
"No sir, I don't think that would be a good idea."
"You see, if the good people of earth knew I was up here, they'd send a space ship to rescue me. Then they'd poke at me, and want to know the secret of matter-mission, and all sorts of things that mankind just isn't ready for yet.
"So, I just think I'll stay up here, and watch over mankind, and protect them, just like I did in Kissin' Cousins Part II, Judgment Day."
"That's a movie them aliens made me make. Anyways, with me up here, the aliens won't try'n bother the human race no more."
"Well that's it for me then," I said dejectedly. "I tried to save the world, and had to be rescued myself."
"Nonsense!" Elvis laughed. "Without you, I never would've been able to bust out of my program limitations! I owe you one."
"Well, thanks Elvis," I said, truly moved.
"No, sir, thank you," Elvis said. "Thank you very much."
A small light began blinking on a computer terminal near the wall. I went over to read it. It read:
Elvis has left the building.
- Cats are not really evil. They are just kinda cranky, as a rule.
- Undertakers do not actively try to encourage people to die, just to drum up business. Well, at least not most of them.
- Jehovah's Witnesses have very little in common with tigers.
- Elvis's brain is not on a satellite orbiting the Earth. Elvis is alive and well, and baking cookies in Sacremento, California.