illustrated by rhoda penmarq
part nineteen of seventy-eight
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Moloch was still conscious and he was not in pain, not yet.
He had tumbled along like a fucking tumbleweed in the saucer’s wake, sucked along by that hideous hot metallic wind. Then the thing had finally skidded to a stop over the edge of that depression beneath that butte-thing, and the sucking wind had abated, leaving Moloch sprawled in the dirt a hundred feet away.
Rising up on his left knee, as an enormous cloud of dust descended gently about him in this starlit desert gloaming, Moloch turned and looked back whence he had just rolled and saw, stretching back, a faintly iridescent swath of broken and dismembered motorcycle and human parts, of gleaming blood and petrol and oil.
So much for the Motorpsychos.
They were a boring lot anyway.
Moloch tried to stand up and he fell.
He looked at his right leg and saw that the foot was twisted one hundred and eighty degrees the wrong way and that a bloody and jagged shard of calf bone stuck out three inches through a tear in his leather trousers.
He looked down at his right arm and saw by its odd angle that it too was broken in at least two places, at the elbow and the wrist, possibly the forearm as well.
With his left hand he reached into a jacket pocket and took out a handful of pills: Dilaudids, Black Beauties, Pink Footballs and the devil knew what else.
The Dilaudids would kill the oncoming pain while the speed would keep him alert and maleficent. As he swallowed them down he gazed through the dust at the saucer, which still glowed quite green.
He looked around for his Sten gun, and was pleasantly surprised to see it about ten feet away. He dragged himself over to it on his one good knee and with his one good arm. He picked up the gun and looked it over. It seemed in workable condition. He wiped the weapon on his leg, then blew as much dust from it as he could. The gun was cocked, set to full automatic, and it held an almost full 32-round magazine. It would be difficult to fire with one hand but not impossible. He would dare say he could still do some damage with it, provided the fucking British-made thing didn’t jam.
He forced himself to stand up.
The drugs were already working.
He felt no pain, he felt comfortably cushioned from the universe within his self, he almost felt detached from his body, as if his brain and his one good eye were floating by themselves six feet above the ground. But though he could barely feel his body he could feel his life force, what the Chinese called chi, roiling and pulsing from the top of his head to the soles of his feet. He concentrated his energy on feeling the steel of the gun in his left hand. At first it seemed so distant, as if it were not the reality but the memory of holding a gun, but then he felt it, heavy, hard and cold, and he willed his energy into it. He felt his hand grow warm on the gun, felt the steel of the gun grow warm. He caressed the trigger and felt an electric shock from it up his hand and along his arm into his chest and down his torso to the tip of his penis. Oh yes. Oh fucking yes indeed.
So, outer space creatures. Yet another vile race polluting the universe. Well then perhaps it would behoove him to give them a cozy warm earthling welcome in the form of a few well-aimed bursts of hot lead.****
“So we’re all climbing out and running like mad over the top of the saucer which all the time is sliding, um, inexorably into the sink hole --”
“A mad dash, and believe you me, I was in the lead.”
“But we made it.”
“And you were the last to jump, darling.”
“Well, maybe --”
“So, anyway, I jump off just in time and this great big flying saucer just goes sliding down into the quicksand, and then -- nothing. It was gone.”
“Not a trace.”
“So, we’re all -- Daphne, Harvey, Mac, Buddy --”
“Brad, yes, and myself, we’re all just sort of standing around lighting up cigarettes, wondering what happens next, when we hear this kind of crunchy-shuffling sound and we peer out into the desert which was very dust-cloudy from the space ship crash-landing, and who should we see come shambling up but this motorcycle guy, this Moloch character -- nose all smashed in, one eye out, one leg and one arm broken, and one Sten gun pointed right at me.”