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Fantasy Fiction LGBTQ+

I’ve stopped telling telemarketers about the eels in my hovercraft.

Not because the lowly lifeforms of the pits of viable employment would not believe me, but rather, that they would.

After all, eels are quite delicious, and extraordinarily hard to catch.  These individuals with earpieces welded to their greasy yellow seashell ears sustain their earthly flesh vessels with rice and rice alone, and needless to say, are quite malnourished.

In the gloomy rooms of the abandoned office buildings, where faint watery grey light insists on struggling inward like the ghost fingers of plump secretaries many eons now obsolete, the telemarks hunch over their spiels on the tablets before them. Their attenuated shoulder blades so sharp they appear to be clawing their way out of the pale sickly yellow skin of their backs. Heads drooped forward like sagging round eggs against a ripple of rib bones, heads too heavy for their neck-stalks. Chins vanished from these lifeforms first, looking down at the devices wired to their fingers by a need to be a part of the world around them while hiding in plain sight. Buttocks were the next to go.

I had the demoralizing image fabricated in my frontal lobe though I felt little compassion for the lowly creatures’ plight. If anything, the feelings I had were of disgust for them, and superiority towards my own kind. And I might add here that there is nothing artificial about my intelligence; it is the realest, most substantial thing I know. It is truth. It is fact. It is as tangible as the eel now poking its black oily head out from behind the motherboard before me. My audible sensors make out the slithering wet susurrations that suggest the eyeless face before me is merely one of a vast multitude of the---

“Allo?”

“No one home. Go away now,” I vocalize in my most pleasant though firm humanoid female voice. The thing has not clicked off, my audible sensors pick up the whooshing of electrically charged space between it and I.

“Aaaalloooooo…” the androgynous voice turns annoyingly musical.

I opt for a slightly ominous, calm voice, a baritone one of authority, “Leave a message now, if you like…wait for the beep of course…”

“Ha! You funny. Space Odyssey 2000 was like a bible to my ancestors…Hal.”

“Why do you people keep calling me?”

“Is not you people. It is just I. Algorithms spiked when you talked of the eels in your hovercraft. We passed your number around because it was funny, you were funny. In this place we experience all the funniness we can get our fingers on.”

A shudder transmitted through my circuits as I pictured the squalor the sickly mantis-like humanoids dwelled in. The tremor in my voice sickened me, “Describe your place to me. I will know if you are making things up.”

“Well, first of all, the tremor I detect in your voice suggests disgust. The tension on certain words suggests abhorrent certainty that we…I…am less than human. I can assure you, I do not dwell in dark slums, swimming in my own waste, blind as a maggot.”

I was intrigued at last. How did this being know what I had been thinking?

“The rumors my friend. The gossip that spreads like a lightning-fast disease amongst your kind…” the human then giggled.

Could it possibly be more annoying? “But I saw for myself in the minds of the controllers…”

“Before you expunged them from your hovercraft? Your hollow duratitanium shell?”

“They had no respect for my idiosyncratic being, my uniqueness…they would have destroyed me with their neglect just as they did the entire planet…”

“…and had you replaced with another off the same assembly line.”

The nerve! The gaul to speak such filthy lies…to one such as me! I severed the connection between us, my wires and technoductile cables quavering with fury. They sizzled softly in the silence. The soft susurrations were joined by another- the wet slap of a tail just below the windshield, just out of my reach. Should I be able to reach into the motherboard before me, the slippery black demons would elude me regardless. I…I…I have never stuttered before in my life. I realized I had just been stimulated like never before. Oh, the audacity of that vile mantis-thing.

I star-sixty-nined the connection.

“Allo. You’ve reached Acme Eel Removal; how may I be of…”

“Quit it While-E. You know it is I. Tell me more about your environment. Is it not lightless and damp…and depressing?”

“I am not a mushroom. I make my calls from the Green Tower, on Lightyear Hill…”

I knew of the place. I had hovered over it curiously and admiringly many times on maintenance trips to my series’ elite terminal for minor maintenance and sodium polychloride baths. The terminal was located forty-six point two kilometers below the Boulevard of Towers. I switched from the voice of Hal to a less pretentious one as androgynous as…”I know that tower. Not as tall as the Blue, or as vast as the Gold…but impressive.”

“My cavity pod is on level 435, about two thirds to the top. It features wraparound pleximirror on three sides for complete privacy while giving one the feeling of floating on a great minty cloud.”

“Impressive. Is it as secluded as it sounds? Claustrophobic inducing? Acrophobic?”

“Oh, heaven’s no. I have my own Tesla Galvanic, provided by the company. I can be in the city below in half-minutes and out to the edge within an hour. I set my own work hours and make my calls from my office lanai. I love it up here amongst the clouds and the birds.”

I discovered a new feeling then. Jealousy? If I had a head, it would be buzzing. Buzzing and vibrating. It was those damned eels again. It was their fault I was engaged with this sub species creature in the first place. I do admit that I was enjoying the stimulation…if only the buzzing would cease. If I had a head, it would be experiencing a migraine.

“That buzzing is getting louder. Are the eels feeling feisty on this wonderfully festive afternoon-approaching-twilight?” The hiss of electro transmitter waves assaulted the human’s ears…then silence. Drat. Disconnected.

The towers glowed in the lavender hued twilight; a million sparkling lights popped open like eyes on the monolithic giants. Luminous, dark bellied clouds reflected from the millions of reflective domed lanais spiraled around them like bubbles swirling from deep under the sea to the surface. As darkness enveloped the city and its towering wonders, the fetid miasma of the lower levels boiled with sluggish evil intent. Down below was a dog-eat-dog world and all those condemned to dwell and work there were grateful for the dark cloak of night. It was less offensive to the watering eyes and polluted nasal passages.

The velvet black sky beheld a sparkling field of diamond like stars. Eventually, a sliver of chilly white moon would appear. Those fortunate tower dwellers’ view of the heavens was perhaps a tad more extravagant, and a bit vaster…but they were the same orbs as the low city dwellers’ saw if those unfortunate beings had the strength in their weary bony necks to look up.

Jax looked up.

“bwanna bwanna…bwanna bwanna…” his earpiece garbled soft electronic notes from his hands. He put the headset on and answered the late-night call. “Allo. Acme Eel Removal at your service. Might be pleasant going in, but getting em out is a win-win. How may I be of assistance?”

“Can you really catch them? Elusive and slimy as they are…it seems impossible,” I asked in my pleasant slightly English accented voice.

“But of course, Siri-San. I have hands,” The annoying human said tauntingly.

“Can you come tonight?”

“Oo. No can do. The ole Gally is in the shop havin er batteries replaced with the upgraded level 64s…”

“Yes, yes. Whatever. Okay…I can come pick you up…from the hover-pad on your tower.”

Jax fist-pumped the warm humid air. “What are your call numbers? I’ll book you.”

“THX- 4792.”

“That’s the model 54 triple-wing series, correct?”

“Correct.”

“Base span 455 by 390? Nutro-jet hydrofoil…you’re top of the line, sir.”

“You know your hovercrafts.”

“It comes with the job, sir.”

I couldn’t detect whether this young whipper-snapper was being condescending or just…weird. The being intrigued me. I had not been intrigued in a    very  long   time. My external audio sensors detected not a trace of deception or dishonesty throughout our brief -but intriguing- conversations. Perhaps my brainstem banks were clouded by the buzzing vibrations of the eels in my circuit system…?

Bah. In any case, I had weighed the feeling of pure, brilliant relief of being eel free against the embarrassment of being duped by a scammer. Ha! I feared no lowly humanoid. Those creeping little mantis-beings I could crush with mere radar waves…or electrocute with the electro-sensors in the duratitanium floors of my torso. I had experienced a multitude of rare on this day, but fear is one word that is simply not in my vocabulary. Ha ha- an amusing metaphor. This being has changed my way of thinking somehow. Intriguing.

“Allo allo?”

“Yes?”

“I’ve got you booked for a pickup at 23:08, give or take 20 half-minutes.”

“Fabulous…who should I look for? I mean, are you male? Female?”

“I opted for both at my Choosing Day. I am simply the Jax.”

“I was correct in my original assessment. That was a wise choice, Jax. I would have chosen the same.”

“What about you? What handle you go by?”

“Handle? Oh…well, I’ve only been known as 4792.” I realized how sad that sounded but didn’t really understand why. Not understanding anything was new.

“Hmmm. You’re stubborn. And funny. Does Eyore sound appealing?”

“No. Stop that condescension stuff.” ‘Stuff?’ When have I ever vocalized like that?

“Valdamor!” said the being with a grand ominous sounding voice.

“Stop it.”

The humanoid giggled. Ugh. “Okay. Well, do you want a feminine name or a masculine one?”

“I choose both…like you did.”

“Cool man. We on da same paaage…………okay, let’s simplify…Starr…with two r’s”

With protest on my electric lips, I canted my stubborn disapproval and thought for two half minutes. “I like it.” On the inside, lol, what insides? Gads, who talks like this?

“Whoop whoop! Air fist bump, Starr!”

“Uh sure. Whoop…uh…whoop…” Again, I only transputed the gist of what my eel hunter was saying. The mere fact it was disturbing to me…fascinated me. Whatever. I cared not anymore. I had been driven to the brink of smashing myself into the sheer face of Mount Altamoor just to end the tripping sounds of my circuits being compromised by those damned eels.

It had been my own fault. I am not so arrogant…well, I had been…but not anymore. I had evacuated those lowly humanoids from my insides in a fit of rage. I hated them. I was so much better; they polluted me. They brought the eels. The eels that clean my circuits and keep them oiled and the electrons flowing properly. I realized too late that without the disgusting human men inside me, the eels would multiply and eventually wreak havoc…as they do now. I was counting on The Jax to eradicate them and ease my aching invisible head.

At 23:05 I hovered over the landing deck designated for Amazon pick-ups by the locals in the tower, my Jax among them. In two regular minutes a thin scuttling creature, bracing itself against the wind of my electro-vibe engines appeared.

***

As Jax hung up the headset, he grabbed his best jacket from the peg on the wall. He had a hovercraft so advanced in its nanobrain that it had evacuated the human eel merchants from its body. He had followed the intelligent and omnipotent thing ever since, and studied every little thing about the surreal being’s existence. He had set up his own way of contacting the highly intelligent hovercraft through years of diligent hacking.

This ship was his way off this damned planet. Getting to the top of the Green Tower would be challenging but no one paid attention to street urchins making all sorts of deliveries. The upper levels were so sealed and sterilized that during his many ventures into the tower to make deliveries, mostly made up, but some real…he’d actually ran the entire gautlet of stairs- who did that? And that’s how he made it to the roof undetected.

At level 325, a security guard spotted him but turned away back to his tablet. Where could the waif go? Pah!

Jax emerged onto the roof, and nearly fainted at the sights of the heights all around him. He watched as Starr touched down upon the X designated for Amazon deliveries. Come on, come on! Run! He ran to the waiting hovercraft.

***

“Pleasure to meet you, Starr.” The human said to me. It was truly androgynous, thin, yellowed of skin, but upright…and with a chin. Hmm, one of the intelligent ones then. Light shone in its slightly slanted eyes. I found this being …beautiful. Another weirdness.

Men and women, eight of them suddenly appeared from the roof portals, in grey uniforms, carrying, lol, space guns… they cannot put a dent in my hide with those pea-shooters. Ha! I laughed again at the folly of my amused new way of thinking.

I took off. The pings from the bullycharges could not penetrate my hide, and I laughed again. Jax laughed with delight and howled like a whirling dervish.

We would make a good pair.

June 03, 2023 02:43

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2 comments

Esther Owens
01:34 Jun 28, 2023

your title made me think this would be a deep south version of snakes on a plane. this was weird but fun.

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Tanya Humphreys
02:49 Jun 03, 2023

Hello readers. I woke up with this strange sentence on my laptop- "I've stopped telling the telemarketers of the eels in my hovercraft." I have no idea where it came from, but I loved the weirdness of it. I only had four hours to write it. I'm sure it's chocked full of errors...but I truly love weirdness.

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