Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Dionysus' Dream

One of the many scenes cut to bring Fallen Nation: Party At The World's End down to its fighting weight. Still a worthwhile entry point...

Brown water spurted out of his mouth, splashing to the grungy deck beneath him. He could place himself even before his eyes opened. The sharp scent of salt on the wind, the sound of seagulls wheeling overhead, the perpetual rocking; how, he didn’t know, but he was on a boat.

Dionysus lay helpless on the deck, his arms and legs mostly bound, looking up at the wheeling seagulls and three of the dirtiest men he had seen in his life. They spoke to each other gruffly but easily.

“Th’ bastard’s gonna live, looks like,” said a scratchy, thin voice. Dionysus cracked open a stinging, briny eye, to see a man in a stained wifebeater kneeling over him. The rubbing of rough hands rattled like dried corn husks in his ears as they bound him with waterlogged rope.

“Can’t be too careful,” another said as he pulled the knot tight, his voice a deep baritone. Dionysus could only see a massive tattooed arm from his position. This one was both larger and stronger than he.

The rope biting into his wrists slowly dragged him out of the haze. He was already trying to gather as much information as he could in hopes of devising an escape. “…If he survived God-knows-what out there, he’s probably slippery as a’ eel, he is,” the man continued.

Coughing dryly this time, Dionysus stared incredulously at them.

“Well we can’t be too careful, like I says,” the first man said casually, still rubbing his hands together. “You’re a young, pretty thing once yer cleaned up a little…Probably nimble, we’ll get somethin’ for ya down on the docks or at the market. More than a round at Gullespi’s, more than likely. We’d be idiots to go and kill ourselves a nice trade like that.”

Dionysus tried to sit upright but only managed to wriggle around on the deck. Feeling sheepish, though surprisingly calm, he finally asked, “listen if it’s all the same to you, could one of you help me sit up?”

“Right,” the third said, sliding his boot under Dionysus and prying him into a seated position against the rust-streaked walls of the cabin.

“That’s a little better…I guess. I mean relatively speaking…” The three of them looked at him blankly. He reminded himself to try to stick to monosyllables. The sun was beginning to dip towards the horizon, lighting up the water a rich, shimmering gold. Purple shadows hid in the troughs of the waves that gently lapped at the barnacle-encrusted sides of the vessel. He could easily guess at the time, if he knew what the time of year was, or where the hell he was.

What he saw on the horizon crushed any hope of that. Windmill-topped skyscrapers jutted straight out of the sea, raking sickly swirling clouds with their jagged tops. In the canals between the buildings he thought he spotted sailboats traveling back and forth. A city in the ocean? What was this, Atlantis?
Then he remembered why he wasn’t concerned. Because I’m dreaming. And when I am awake, he remembered, I am also dreaming. Sort of. Waking and dreaming are just two different worlds. I am a Demigod, and though my body can die, my essence is eternal…Well that’s a lot off my chest. So, where the hell am I?

As he sat thinking to himself, the three men went down on their haunches and inspected him more closely, as if he were a trophy fish. By the sound of it, they intended to sell him somewhere. Some sort of slave auction, probably. Boy were they in for a surprise.

“Can any of you tell me where I am? When my…boat sank I um, lost my bearings,” Dionysus said. He wasn’t thinking very well on his feet but luckily this bunch weren’t Mensa cardholders, either.
“Yeah that’s New York over there,” the fat one said, pointing at the partially submerged city. “Were you on a merchant ship from ’adelphia, or what?”

Dionysus was pulling a blank, he simply didn’t know enough to improvise a convincing story. Instead, he stared out over the waves. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said. Of course New York City was familiar to him, and so the silhouetted skyline on the horizon was also familiar. The water was a new addition, but he was dreaming, after all.

He pondered how this could be used to his advantage. It was highly doubtful they realized they were dreaming. Why play on their terms? What if the ropes binding him were actually snakes?
Start with the sharp bite of the coarse fibers. He wriggled his wrists against the restraints, ignoring the burn, imagining instead the unmistakable, paradoxically dry slickness of snake scales.

It was even easier than he had expected. The ropes pulsated and loosened. A vermilion ball python slid from his wrists and zigzagged towards the sailors, who stared dumbstruck at the miraculous spectacle. Wreaths of ivy curled up over the sides of the boat, seemingly from nowhere, and moored it in place with a groan. They were tossed into the waters below.

Dionysus gazed up at the seagulls still circling above.

This time, gravity would not tether him. He jumped, and never landed.

[Where is the fucking counterculture? Mythos Media.]

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