Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Sludge the Crusader
I'm baaaaack! It's been awhile, and for that I'm sorry. I seem to have missed a lot of good stuff during my unfortunately prolonged absence. I'll try to catch up on everything soon. Anyway, I got fed up with pop science fiction recently, so I decided to lampoon all of it in one sell fwoop. (I'm also somewhat sleep-deprived and I've been reading Terry Pratchett, so that may have something to do with it.) Don't look for any underlying message here; there really isn't one, other than Ecclesiastes. Sorry. (This is just the first part, by the way. And I typed this on my iPad, so if some words don't make sense, they were probably victims of an unfortunate autocorrect.) --------- Whooshvmmmm. Whooshvmmmm. Whooshvmmmm. Whuffmmmm. Fffffffffff... "Oh, blast. Blastblastblastblast." Sludge dropped his brightslicer, which he had been wiggling through the air like an electric eel through the deep blue netherworld by the Great Barrier Reef. The brightslicer was making little zzzt zzzt noises and sparking. It had shocked his hand. He swore, picked up the brightslicer gingerly, and deposited it in a convenient wastebasket. Mail-order brightslicers always fizzled out on a guy after a while. Well, so did most mail-order weapons, but that wasn't the issue right now. Sludge would just have to go back to his usual broadsword-and-laser-gun combination. Those brightslicers simply weren't worth the effort. Or the money. Or the burnt fingers. Sludge wandered into the kitchen and opened his Cryo-gen refrigerator. There was a bottle of dark green, noxious-looking liquid that probably had an ecosystem of its own and a jar of hot pink jelly. Sludge contemplated getting some toast, but he remembered the only bread in his house had the consistency and color of a small boulder. That is to say, it was hard, a bit flaky in spots, and beige. With a sigh, he shut the refrigerator door. He didn't want to go outside yet--it was a quarter till noon, which was pretty early for him. The air outside wouldn't probably be cleaned by the airbots until noon anyway. Now would be a good time to establish some facts concerning Sludge. Sludge is about twenty-three years old, blond, short, somewhat stubby, and a practitioner of the Course. He usually has food on the end of his nose, which is rather long, especially given the general shortness of the rest of him, and slightly hooked. His weapons of choice are a broadsword and a laser gun, though he obviously has tried brightslicers too. He lives in a little beige nook in the side of a beige cliff on a beige planet with a beige sky. Altogether it's a pretty boring place, but since Sludge has never been off world, he doesn't know that. We won't bother him with such details. Anyway, Sludge had no food in his fridge at the moment and he didn't want to gunk up his lungs by wandering around in a dirty atmosphere, so he went back to his bedroom and booted up his Comp-U-Tek 10,000. It looked like an Alienware tower, but sort of shorter and beiger, rather like Sludge. It also had a little beige knob where the Alienware logo is supposed to go. It would have been proudly made in the "SUA" by way of Malaysia if such things had existed at this time. Sludge navigated to one of his favorite sites. Or he would have, if his connection worked. It redirected him to an error page. With a sigh, he closed the browser. It bit him via his projected keyboard. "What is it with technology hating me today?" he shouted irritably. The computer sulked and refused to do anything else for him. He gave it a black look, considered destroying it with the Course for a split second, and then lost interest and wandered back into the kitchen. He opened the fridge again, saw the same two items, and shut it. The clock on the wall beeped. It was noon--the airbots were due to be out cleaning things up soon. Sludge began the complicated process of getting himself ready to go outside. First he put on a pair of leather pants. (Actually he took off his pajama pants first, but that isn't important. Well, it is, but... never mind.) They were made for someone a bit taller and skinnier than Sludge, so they dragged on the floor and strained a little around the top. They were, however, necessary for any practitioner of the Course to wear, so wear them he did. Next came the standard white shirt with slightly poofy sleeves. (Okay, not strictly white, as it hadn't been washed anytime in the past century or so, but it was close enough.) Sludge tucked it into his pants as neatly as he could, but he missed the back tail, which hung down behind him like a stiff, dusty, somewhat smelly tail. After the shirt was a short vest. It had been passed down from father to son for seven generations, and it was starting to show some wear. Essentially, it had at some point resembled a vest, but now it looked more like something you would use to clean a toilet, if the toilet was old and decrepit and had lost its self esteem somewhere along the line. After all that, Sludge popped a pair of old sneakers on his feet (sort of like chucks, but beiger and floppier and generally less awesome) and stared at them for a moment before he realized that he'd forgotten his socks. He pried the shoes off his feet, rummaged around in the only pile on his bedroom floor that wasn't a breeding ground for eight-legged things that would crawl into your ear at night and try to dine on your cochlea, and found two more or less matching socks. They were two different heights, but since his pants were too long anyway, it wasn't as if anybody would see them. He put the shoes back on and went on a hunt for his weaponry. At last he found his laser gun behind a miniature wall of toothpaste (don't ask) and his sword stuck in a dried mat of hair and who knows what else in the shower. It took him a good twenty minutes to figure out the little straps and such, and when he finally did figure them out, he got them backwards, so they were all twisted around. Oh, what the heck, he thought, I'm not going to go on a quest today or anything. I'm just going to the supermarket, for goodness' sake.