Roy caught her eye in the rear view mirror. Cute! A brief smile reflected back at him and an electric jolt shot from his chest to his groin. Hot damn! He pulled a smoke out of the pack he kept in his bag and lit up.
“How far is it to the hotel? I gotta get up tomorrow and catch a train to Amsterdam, suppose to meet a buddy there by next week.” His voice was slow and drawn like wet cannabis resin.
“Not so far that you’ll be late, no? Why are you staying in Ukraine?”
Roy waved his hand in a lazy motion. “Oh, grabbed the wrong train, you know. Figured I might as well find some place with a decent bed.”
“Oh, I know perfect place! But you shouldn’t stay in, I have party with friends, we should go!” Bad English. Well, not so bad, there was no question that he had heard worse before. She seemed a somewhat excited for it all but hey, why not? He was running a bit low on blow, after all.
“Sure, I just gotta grab a shower first. Take me to where we’re going and I’ll call you later.” Roy watched her smile again and figured it was a good idea.
He was taken to a subpar hotel, an old and dusty house that over looked a sad looking creek. Trees stood leafless in an unkempt yard. The cabbie stopped the car at the end of a disheveled driveway. He handed her some Euros and grabbed his bags.“Thanks, I guess I’ll see you tonight. Later”
A withered crone came to greet him at the door. She led him upstairs to his room and left without a word. Roy dropped his things on the bed and went over to the window. The creek that he saw from the street was dingy through the window grime, a single apple tree stood lonesome by the weak currents. He stepped away from the window and fell into the bed backwards, too tired to care. The roof didn’t leak and the sheets were clean at least. Maybe tonight would be more fruitful.
She took him to a club on the seedy side of town, if in fact there was a side to it at all. To him the whole damn area was a slum. How did I end up in this shit-hole of an outpost town anyway? he thought, but kept his comments to himself. The population seemed to be large for an active nightclub, so it was better than nothing.
“Do you have anything on you?” She said as they approached the line.
“Uh… no I’m fresh out.”
She took him by the hand and led him to the front of the line. Scowls and shouts of profanity followed them. Words that remained unheard were exchanged between them, a brief flash of skin of her lower left hip, and the velvet rope was unhooked. He was stopped at the entrance for a moment as they padded him down.
“Jeez, you could’ve warned me before. What if I really was packing heat?”
The girl smiled at his crotch. “I think that’s the only heat you’re packing, no?”
Roy felt a grin on his face and he shrugged. “It would seem so. What is this place?” He was forced to raise his voice as they entered into the main room.
“It’s called Pink Garden! Wanna know why?”
“Ohh, I think I can guess.” He found himself saying as he gazed around. There was a very common yet distinctive theme amog the floor staff. All of them were female and all of them where pant-less. “Why not just go totally naked?” He had as much difficulty hearing himself as he did when the cabbie girl spoke.
“I guess because then it leaves nothing to mystery. Come on, I have friends in the back!”
She led him through the club. Music thumped into his ear, dum dum dum dum, and the dark room flashed with brilliant colors. Green, red, orange, and blue light flashed in a seizure inducing pattern. Just your typical week night back in L.A! A set of double doors marked VIP were set up in the back of the room. and he was led through a neon blue lit hallway. After a couple turns down a few corridors the girl stopped at an ornamented door.
“There already here?” Roy asked. Kinda weird that she would take him to a room full of strangers.
“Yeah! I told them about you and they wanted to meet!” Without another word she opened the door and went inside.
“Uh, ok then.” And he followed.
He felt a nauseous tightened around his chest once the door closed behind him. Uh, shit, was his immediate thought. These fellows hardly looked like the party type. In fact they looked fairly non -threatening at a cursory glance, but in a closed room with faces fixed like sex starved cadavers they made him feel something akin to doom. They wore strange black and red trimmed robes and stood in a semi circle with their arms crossed.
“You know what? I think I’m just gonna chill at the hotel until the next train out of here.” Roy attempted to turn and leave but was blocked by a rather large and unpleasant looking Russian.
“But the party is about to begin!” A man with a thin face and bulging eyes stepped forward. “Boris, show our guest some hospitality!”
Strong arms crushed against his crib cage in a violent bear hug and he was lifted up and dropped in the chair at the center of the room. Roy saw the girl in the corner, the same smile from the rear view mirror on her face. Bitch! He thought just before leather straps secured him in place.
“What the fuck?!” His heart pounded like a gorilla on crack, his palms sweaty and mouth dry. A strange ringing filled his eardrums and his lips twitched involuntarily.
“Relax. We are not here to torture you. Not physically anyway.” The thin one raised his arms. “We’re here to discuss the glory of Ergu!”
“Ergu the Great And Mighty One!” The man in the center removed his hood to reveal a bald head grotesquely covered with a chronic assortment of liver spots . His scalp wrinkled in mysterious furrows as he began to chant. Roy struggled in vain against his restraints.
“Bring forth the elixir!”
One of the acolytes scurried over to the far side of the room and produced a tray with an assortment of fresh tea. Well, now, what do we have here?
“The girl says you are a user of drugs! Most magnificent, since these are what allow us to perceive the true nature of reality!” The man with the liver spotted scalp said. “We welcome you to our initiation of the enlightened!”
“You’ve got a rough way of welcoming people. I think I’ve got a broken rib or arm bone or… something. Shouldn’t I find a hospital somewhere?” It wasn’t entirely a lie: he was pretty sure that burly Russian crushed something inside him.
“Pain is an illusion! Soon you will journey with us and learn the true nature of reality!”
Someone forced his mouth open and poured in the foul tasting tea, mildly scalding his tongue and throat as it went down. The strange monks or whatever they were began to chant in a strange language, bouncing on one leg as they danced around him.
Suddenly the world fell away, replaced by swirling fractal patterns of alien geometry, sights and sounds his brain was having difficulty comprehending. And out of the chaos of colors came a translucent image: a room, much like the sort he saw in the children’s ward in the hospital he spent so much of his childhood in, except it was his adult self he saw strapped to the bed. Surrounding him were several creatures, their shapes vaguely humanoid but horribly twisted, and on their heads strange little hats made of binary code.
Then he was inside his imaginary self, looking up at the deformed beings, their incomprehensible faces staring down at him as if he were a lab rat to be tested upon. One of them proceeded to smile, or what he understood as a smile, except it wrapped all around the creatures head and partially floated in mid air as if traversing a fourth dimension he could not perceive. The being leaned in close, and when it spoke, the words traveled across spiral discs that swirled around its head and bounced into his mind like surreal rubber.
“Yes, yes, blind follower of the blind.
Tumbling down the rabbit hole.
Yes, yes, you are a causality.”
Roy felt his mind ripped from his body as the acolytes in some far away world slit his throat and drank his blood, offering his consciousness to their mysterious gods – the Machine Elves.
And they accepted.