Friday, June 24, 2011

5. conspirators

by horace p sternwall

editorial consultant and executive producer: dan leo

illustrations by rhoda penmarq and roy dismas

for previous episode, click here

to begin at the beginning, click here











nurse sherman pressed the little cigarette lighter type object and the car pulled off the road and headed across a dusty field. at the end of the field was an even flatter field and the car headed across that.

neither brock nor nurse sherman spoke. nurse sherman began humming a little tune.

"what's that?"

"what?"

"that you're humming."



"it's 'who put the benzedrine in mrs murphy's ovaltine'. it's an old song. probably not too many people remember it."

"oh."

"do you remember it?'

"no."

"see."

the car finally stopped beside a twisted little sagebrush.

nurse shermanpointed the cigarette lighter at it.






a rectangular slab of ground around the car dropped down below the surface like an elevator - twenty feet - forty feet - and stopped at about a hundred feet. the car rolled off it into a large garage or cavern, and stopped.
brock looked behind him and saw the slab rising back to the surface.

"pretty impressive. anybody know about this?"



"kind of old-fashioned really. but probably nobody knows i still have it operating. since you ask." nurse sherman opened the car door. "come on, let's walk from here."

they began walking across the floor of the cavern. it was dark and shadowy, and the far wall seemed to keep receding...

"not getting tired, are you?"

"no, i'm fine."

"good."

they finally reached the wall - and what looked like an elevator door, and turned out in fact to be an elevator door. they got in the elevator and nurse sherman pressed the down button. the elevator dropped like the cable had been cut.



"jeez!!"

"don't worry - it will be over in an instant."

the elevator stopped with a thump.

"whoa! how far down are we?"

"a ways."

'"you must like your privacy. are we getting off?"

"it's best to give it a minute. yeah, i like my privacy. this is where i bring all my love slaves - and my co-conspirators."

"oh? am i going to be - your love slave and your co co-whatever?"

"you're already my love slave, sugar, in case you hadn't noticed." nurse sherman pressed the cigarette lighter and the elevator door rolled open. "whether you want to be one of my co-conspirators - we shall see."

brock looked around. they were in an ordinary looking living room with a couch, a coffee table and three chairs. there was light, but he couldn't tell from where.



"make yourself at home."

"all right." brock sat down on the couch. "do i dare ask for - a drink?"

"yeah, i'll get you a drink." nurse sherman put her hand on the wall across from brock and a safe door appeared. she twirled the lock. "meanwhile i've got something even better." she turned to him. "this is a very special treat - not to be spoken of to anybody, you understand?"
"whatever you say."



she held her hand out. she had three packs of cigarettes in it. "pall malls, old golds, or herbert tareytons?"

"i don't care. old gold, i guess."

she tossed him the pack. he stared at it for a few seconds, then tore it open with trembling hands. when he got a cigarette in his mouth, nurse sherman was standing over him with a silver cigarette lighter she had taken out of the wall safe.

"ahhhhhhh!" brock took a deep drag.

"aahhhhh!" he held it in, then exhaled.

"that's better! that's much better! whew!"





he looked around. "maybe being alive again won't be so bad after all."

"i'm glad you liked it. savor the moment - it's a special treat - not an everyday thing, you understand?" she backed off and sat down on one of the chairs.

brock closed his eyes and took another drag. after he let it out, he asked, "so is there a catch? do i have to do something to deserve this special treat."

"you sure do."

"i have to be your co - co -"

"conspirator. conspirator. i guess people didn't talk so much about conspiracies in 1945?"

"no, i'm not even sure what a conspiracy is."



"huh. well, times have changed."

brock looked at the cigarette which was already almost gone. "can i have another."

"sure." she tossed him the lighter. "keep the pack. but don't take it with you when you leave here."

"oh, so i get to leave here, do i? ha ha ha!"

"yeah, you'll get to leave here." nurse sherman stood up. "wait here. i'll get us a couple of drinks."

she disappeared through a door brock hadn't noticed and he looked around the room. he still couldn't figure out where the light was coming from. the walls looked bare, but --

"i feel like i'm being watched," he said when she came back with the drinks.

"no, we're not being watched. or listened to, either." she sat down. "i would have been arrested a long time ago if we were."

"there's something behind the walls."

"there's all sorts of things behind the walls." nurse shermann took the little flat cigarette lighter type object off the coffee table and pointed it at the wall behind her. a screen appeared, covering almost the entire wall.



"wow, what's that, a television?"

"yeah."

"can i watch it?"

"later. it's really pretty boring. right now we have other things to discuss." she clicked the screen back off.

"this drink - " brock sipped it. "it's o k, i guess."

"just o k? you haven't had one for thirty-two years and you're hard to please?"

"it's supposed to be scotch?"

"it's as scotch as you are going to get - for now."



"hey, i don't mean to complain. but what do you mean - for now?"

she leaned forward. "i mean if you do what i tell you, and give me some good loving, and help me advance what i am trying to do - "

"whatever that is?"

" - then maybe i will find you some real scotch. or real champagne - "

"i'm not a champagne guy."

"or real whatever you want. " she leaned back, and waved her glass at him. "o k, listen up."

"i'm listening."

"you've been awake for a few hours now. what you've seen - what you've been told - about the modern world - probably doesn't surprise you too much."
"i don't know about that."



she ignored this. "trips to mars and jupiter, domed cities, world government, television, moving sidewalks, world peace, no money, cars that drive themselves - pretty much what you would expect, right?"

"um - maybe some of those things."

"well, let's say that a lot of people wouldn't be too surprised by any of them."

"all right, i'll say that."

"but there is something else. something much worse, something nobody ever suspected."

"no booze or cigarettes or steaks."

she laughed. "no. something nobody ever even imagined."

"all right. what?"

"the big mush."







chapter 6: the big mush


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