©Ernest Hogan 2014
I threw the ticking, beeping package as far as I could, which in my weakened condition was about fifteen feet. It plopped down on a patch of green grass and just sat there, while Vampiko and I held our breaths. Sat there beeping and ticking, that is.
Suddenly, the beeping and ticking sounded familiar. I ran over, picked it up and tore the package apart while Vampiko screamed, "Flash, don't! You'll be killed!"
Inside was just what I had figured. I held it up and yelled, "It's all right folks, it's just my wallet, watch, and pager!"
The crowd gave a collective groan and dispersed.
"It sure was nice of them to send your stuff back to you," Vampiko said once she got the Undead Volkswagen and its precious air-conditioning going.
"Yeah," I said, "Nice. Whoever they are."
The air-conditioning soon had my kneecaps feeling like they were icing up. So cool, man. I felt like I was made of ice, and melted in the percentage of the diabolical Phoenix sun's rays that made it through the Undead's tinting. Melted. E. Vap. Or. Ated . . .
Suddenly, I was in a cavernous climate-controlled environment. The Krell chip had me running toward the heart of a humongous computer, like out of some ancient cornball sci-fi movie. The central memory bank glowed a warm, pink neon. The chip was so happy and hungry that it chewed its way through my brain, out of my skull, and zoomed at the information source like high-tech kamikaze mosquito. It exploded, a scalding, overwhelming nuclear blast that had my Hiroshima-fried skeleton disintegrating as it flew back, head over heels, like in an old Cold War nightmare that my mother told me about, years ago.
Then Vampiko's tongue was cleaning out my ear.
She giggled and said, "You fell asleep, mon cher. Don't worry. We're home now."
Home. Big Ugly Peach Apartments West. I could feel at least eight sets of paranoid eyes focused on us. One of them belonged to an oversized lizard. And there was a saguaro near our apartment where none was a few days ago. Wonderful.
"You look like you could use a siesta," said Vampiko. "Why don't you use my coffin?"
I wanted to, but the chip made me check for messages.
"Congratulations," a digitally-distorted voice said when I hit the play button. "You made it home. Remember, we're watching you."
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