Land of the Bizarre - Part Five
For hours, Bethany drilled Alex on the past. Her complete lack of knowledge about the twenty-first century startled Alex. Somehow, he'd gotten it into his head that future generations would know what it was to live and work in the deep past far better than people in his own time knew their past. But now, here five hundred years in the future, he sat in puzzlement at how much of the past the future had forgotten, or merely found irrelevant.
Alone in the lab now, throat begging for a drink, Alex spied a glass of water next to the terminal Bethany had been working on when he first stepped in.
As he picked up the glass and lifted it to his lips, Bethany wandered in. A moment later, she let out a shriek of surprise and screamed, "No!" but it was too late. Alex had already taken a drink of the water, which turned out not to be water. The liquid had a tangy, fruity taste. It slid down his throat, leaving a wonderfully pleasant warmth all along its path.
"You did not just drink that!" Bethany ripped the glass from Alex's hand, eyes glaring at him.
With a burp, Alex shrugged. "I was thirsty. So sue me." He paused, noting the distraught expression that crossed Bethany's face. "Why?"
"Do you normally drink unknown substances?"
"I try not to make it a habit."
The warmth spreading throughout Alex's stomach rolled through his body, slowly at first and then more rapidly. Soon, his head grew warmer, then heavier. He blinked several times, unable to focus on Bethany. "Uh..."
"'Uh' is right, genius. I was using this to clean the crud off the inside of that terminal. Not so much water as a highly potent drug that's not meant to be drank, much less in such quantity."
Bethany paced around Alex, a slow turning circle that made him dizzy in seconds. He crumpled into a chair as the room tilted at awkward levels. "What the... what do you mean, not drank?" he asked, eyes closed to hopefully relieve the disturbance his vision caused his mind.
Alex felt a thud against his forehead as Bethany thumped him good. "Those that dare to take the drug do so by dropping a single drop of the stuff in each eye. That's plenty. It causes subtle hallucinations that are said to enhance and interact with the environment around you. You, though, you took a whole swallow. While you don't have to worry about going blind, I'll be shocked if you come through this with a stomach, or much of any internal organs left."
The first thing Alex saw when he opened his eyes caused him to close them again, fast. Too late, of course, the damage had already been done. Even with his eyes closed, the image imprinted on his mind, refusing to let go. So he did the only thing he could think to do, he opened his eyes.
An enormous kangaroo started at Alex, deep pools of black for eyes blinked at him. When the creature spoke, it sounded startlingly like Bethany. "You all right? Not looking too hot there, Alex."
Behind her--it, the kangaroo--stood a paneled board with dozens of squares. Leaning back, Alex suddenly recognized the board dotted with squares filled with numbers. Then the familiar music started and all of it sucked Alex into an insanity he couldn't comprehend.
Alex stood behind a podium. To his left, the kangaroo that sounded like Bethany hopped back and forth in place, also behind a podium. To his right, Katlyn stood. Well, it wasn't exactly Katlyn. Alex shook his head, deeply disturbed by the image. The head belonged the Katlyn, but the body, he recognized the body of his brother--the body that he'd seen after the suicide, skin blackened, withered, dead. Tearing his eyes away from the sight, Alex looked ahead at the numbered board. Standing nearby stood another Alex, this one Alex Trebek.
"Bethany, you select first," the host said.
"Thanks. I'll take Shit Alexander Sterling Doesn't Know, for 1000, Alex."
"The answer: One plus one equals this."
Alex hammered at his buzzer to no avail.
"Katlyn rang in first," Trebek said.
Katlyn answered, "What is three?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. That is incorrect."
Bethany rang in next; still Alex tried to get his buzzer to work. "What is two?"
"Correct! Pick again."
"I'll take, Women Alex Tried to Sleep With But Failed Miserably At, for 1000."
An image of Sela appeared on the monitor as Trebek read: "The woman seen here, known for leading a rebellion against all odds."
"I never tried to sleep with her!" Alex threw his buzzer down and shoved the podium to the floor. The next thing he knew, he was looking up at the brilliant lights in the ceiling and the side of his head throbbed with pain.
"Ooh, that had to hurt," said Trebek. "Let's see an instant replay!"
Alex's eyes shifted to the monitors, and he watched as Katlyn's head on Daniel's dead body spun toward him. One of Daniel's feet flew through the air, connected with the side of Alex's head and floored him.
"You should know better," Katlyn said, staring down at Alex.
He struggled to his feet, just in time to see Vanna White rush Alex Trebek. She knocked the host to the ground, then straddled his hips, grinding away all too much for public television. They'd surely have to edit this episode.
"Trebek!" came a shout from above. Alex gazed up at the top of a scaffold that appeared out of nowhere. Looking down at the bestial actions of Vanna White and Alex Trebek from that scaffold, face flushed, jaw clenched, was Pat Sajak. "How dare you, Trebek! You dirty, dirty whore!"
When Sajak reached into his pants and whipped out his gun--as in Uzi--Alex scrambled for the exit. Gunfire ran out behind him and, despite his better judgement, Alex looked back at the carnage. Bullets were sailing from the scaffold in slow motion while Trebek and Vanna ripped at each other's clothes. Sajak had perfect aim, if only time cooperated a little better.
Turning back, two wicked-strong kangaroo feet smashed into Alex's face. He flew back and landed right in the spot Vanna and Trebek had just rolled away from in their mad inter-promotional lovemaking. As the stars cleared from Alex's head, he realized where he'd landed. A dozen or so bullets hovered just above him, still coming down. Any moment now they'd slam into his chest. For the life of him, Alex couldn't move. He twisted and turned, trying to break free of whatever it was that held him down. When he stopped, his eyes fell upon Katlyn.
In Katlyn's hand, Alex saw a remote control pointed directly at him. "Don't!" he yelled at Katlyn. "Don't pre--" his lips kept moving, but the words didn't form sound. Alex stared, unable to fathom why Katlyn would do this to him. As the bullets drew ever closer, barely a hair's width from his body, he got his answer.
"How dare you try to sleep with Sela!" Katlyn wailed. "You'll pay for this! You'll pay, you bastard!"
Try as Alex might, mouthing the words no and I didn't try to sleep with her proved futile. The first slug worked its way through his chest in agonizing slow motion. While the slug moved slow, the pain roared at full blast, flowing up and down his body unmercifully.
"Looks like it hurts," said the bouncing kangaroo as it bobbed up and down above Alex's head. "Sucks to be you, man. Sucks a whole lot."
A loud explosion filled the room. Dust and debris billowed up from a hole in the wall as a man sprung through the cloud and landed dead center stage. Hands on his hips, chin held high, the man shouted, "Never fear, Regis is here!"
With blinding speed, Regis Philbin flew to Alex and plucked away the slugs that threatened to assault his body. After tossing them in his mouth like candy, Regis then proceeded to shove his hand into Alex's chest. He ripped out the one slug that entered Alex's body, tossed it, too, into his mouth, and then swiftly flung the kangaroo across the room, into Katlyn. Both Katlyn and kangaroo rolled through the debris, disappearing into a void that existed outside the studio.
Regis yanked Alex to his feet. "What can I say!" Regis proclaimed. "Another ratings hit! I tell you! I'm unstoppable! Here's a million bucks!"
Before Alex could say anything--not that he had anything to say, he was far too lost--Regis bolted through the opening to the void and disappeared.
"That darn Regis!" yelled someone from the audience. "What a man, what a man."To be continued...