(Soundtrack available at bottom of post)
There was a noticeable booming once we got through the airlock and began walking down the hallway. I can’t be sure but it sounds like we just crash-landed in a gigantic interstellar dance party. My suspicions were confirmed when the door slid open to reveal an almost retina-searing wall of light followed by all manner of insanity. Living beings of every possible physical permutation who must have just fallen out of the great lifeform randomizer in the sky right before we opened the door. All manner of multi-headed tentacled bipeds, blob creatures, large crawly things, and lizardmen who were obviously having a good time getting hammered in a never-ending midnight street party. The walls of the buildings are covered in massive strobing display screens with all sorts of debauchery for sale.
A three-breasted blue woman is dancing on a screen that must be 50ft tall on the side of a building. She is beckoning to passersby to come inside. Futuristic mixed drinks, all manner of gambling, and anything you could possibly imagine wanting but never quite saying out loud. Some it is more than a little confusing given the variation of physical attributes on display. Everything here seems to be lit either blue or purple and the bass is pounding now. I’m going to guess that is a band playing a concert on the side of the building. The instruments are not familiar and at times I’d swear someone was playing an electrified alpenhorn. The crowd just split around us as we moved forward. They gave us wide birth for some reason and a few people took one look at us and bolted into the crowd.
Walt lit a strange smelling cigar with what looked like a laser beam and inhaled deeply. It almost seemed like everyone stopped paying attention to us after he exhaled. Walt turned towards Cole and raised his palms as if asking a question. Cole tapped himself on the side of the head with his finger and nodded. There is no sense in asking them a question because I doubt they could hear me. The electrified alpenhorn has a new dance partner that sounds a lot like the high voltage execution of a repeatedly exploding lawnmower. This is probably what those crazy space kids are calling pop music now. We are one gong solo away from being able to dance to this wall of confusion.
We continue to push through the crowd until Walt turns the corner into an empty alley. On the wall is a large neon sign that says “Here Right Now Lounge” with a blue arrow pointing down towards a recessed stairway leading to a very large basement level door. Walt made his way down and ran his massive finger over the face of the door tracing out a symbol in blue light and then knocked twice and then twice again. The door transformed into hundreds of small hexagons which began folding back on themselves in every direction. We are greeted with the sound of more music but at manageable volumes with less interpretive anvil banging.
Thankfully, there are fewer people here, in what could best be described as a dimly lit interstellar dive bar. The music is coming from a small stage off in the corner. I had no idea that rockabilly was a hit with aliens because a scaly green-skinned fellow with a towering pompadour wig is belting out vocals over some swinging grooves while some sort of tentacle creature bangs away at an upright bass. A bartender who looks a lot like an ivory-colored human-sized praying mantis lit up with a broad smile as we approached the bar. Large martini glasses filled with a swirling dark liquid are lined up on the bar for us.
“Here comes trouble,” said the bartender who must be female judging from the sound of her voice which is throaty and seductive with a slight rolling insect-like quality.
“We aren’t trouble, we just always wind up where trouble is,” replied Cole with a smirk.
“Perspective is a funny thing. Who is your new friend?” she asked while cocking her head and watching me intently. Her gaze was penetrating and laser-like in its focus.
“That is a question nobody has an answer to yet and you wouldn’t believe the story if we told you,” answered Cole who was now sipping at his odd-looking martini.
“You’ve got yourself a mystery man then? You can leave him with me and I promise to explore him thoroughly,” she replied while licking her upper mandible with a long skinny tongue. Walt let out another low rumbling chuckle.
“Not sure he’s ready for that yet Eeeara, but I’ll keep the offer in mind if the search for answers proves unfruitful,” remarked Cole who was grinning at me.
“There is something strange about this one. He doesn’t seem like he’s from around here. He doesn’t smell right either. Judging from the roses still in his cheeks I’d be willing to bet he’s a long way from home,” Eeeara stated as she studied me carefully. “Got a name mystery man?”
“I’m….not really sure about that yet,” I replied feeling slightly aroused and confused at the same time. The martini is tart and powerful as the warmth of it begins to spread through me.
“How could you not know who you are? After all, you are here right now both figuratively and literally and that is the hardest part. Few more black hole martinis and you’ll be good as new, I can assure you,” she countered while looking at me seductively. The raw sexuality she is projecting is both powerful and unwavering.
“Have you heard anything about a strange signal bouncing around the cosmos? Anyone mention something strange being picked up on the sensors?” asked Cole who appeared to be trying to distract her from fixating on me.
“Koouranae was here earlier and he grumbled something about his navigation system being knocked offline during a power surge. Think he was on a scrap run out in the direction of Orion. Why do you ask?”
“It’s been a weird few days and we are still sorting it all out. Keep the drinks coming and thanks for the tip. Not really much we can share at this point but we’ll keep you posted. Can you have the boys stock up the ship’s armory while we are here? Given recent events we want to be ready for anything,” responded Cole who was suddenly looking very serious.
Eeeara reached up to touch a spot on her head behind her giant bulbous eyes and said, “Wake up boys! Diagonal22 needs a care package and make it quick. We don’t want to keep our best customers waiting do we?” She then reached over to touch my hand with a slender claw and with an unmistakable intensity she said, “You let me know if you need anything mystery man, and I do mean anything.” The rounds of martinis kept coming and everything started getting a little blurry. It’s probably a good idea to be a little drunk the first time you see a giant owl man start a circle pit. Weirdest interstellar dance party ever.