Preview Chapter of CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE GEEKS!

PROLOGUE

Garmanbozia

Fuck, get hard!

I stood over the toilet, staring down at my flaccid member, hanging indifferent between my legs like the trunk of a geriatric elephant.  I knew full well if I couldn’t take full advantage of my morning erection, I’d have to wait at least another day before I could get one again.  I tired of the waiting.  No amount of stimulation—visual, tactile or mental—could restore life to my manhood.

After several minutes of more coaxing, stroking, yanking, slapping, tugging, humping and, well, anything else I could think of, I conceded my defeat.  Useless again.  I slammed the toilet lid shut and flushed, my eyes drifting to the rank of orange pill bottles now crowding my Claratin and daily vitamins.  I needed the Claratin to survive the wretched smog of Los Angeles, and now I needed its prescription neighbors to function too: Klonopin for anxiety, Ambien for sleep and the Wonder Twins: Lexapro and Abilify.  Or at least the Lexapro and Abilify purported to do wonders for people with my…condition…and for some, maybe they did.  But after almost a year on my superhero meds, I had yet to experience anything I’d classify as “wonder.”  Plenty of other descriptors came to mind—alienating, stifling, dehumanizing—but never wonder.  As it was, between the headaches, dizzy spells, nausea and flaccidity, said medication made me barely function at best.

Barely.

Still, even the most basic function in daily life trumped the alternative, which, for the record, was no function at all, as I’d learned in the hardest way possible.  I had to remind myself every morning of the days in bed, the blackout shades expelling all natural light from the apartment, the crying fits, the bottomless pit of darkness which consumed me, rendering me helpless to escape, robbing me of the hope of ever feeling joy again.  Yes, I had bad days, and I gave them no more than a passing thought in the beginning, which is why it took a near-intervention from my roommate before I called my doctor.

No, Leak-Win, sleepin’ sixteen hours a day isn’t noh-mal.  That’s tsuris.  It’s a problem.

I could hear her rusty-gate Yiddish-accented words echoing in my head.  I reached down and tapped one white Lexapro and one teal Abilify pill from each bottle and tossed them into my mouth, puckering at the powdery bitterness against my tongue.

Crying foah days isn’t noh-mal.

I juggled the pills around with my tongue, watching myself in the mirror with disgust.

Sayin’ you’d be bettah off dead isn’t…

I swallowed both pills dry, chasing them with Claratin and my vitamins.  I stared at my naked, emaciated body in the mirror—the pasty white skin devoid of the now-unaffordable expense of tanning lotion, the glimmer of my piercings at my left nipple and belly button, the latter sporting a skull in a glass ball within the divot of my navel, a USB drive hanging from a lanyard around my neck, and my eyes, so dilated and glassy that the once-shining green irises I’d so prided myself on had all but vanished.

Leak-Win, I think you have bipolah disordah.

I recall staring down at the diminutive frame of my spinsterish physician, her lips drawn into an affected frown of sympathy.  I felt so helpless, so violated.  “I would be better off dead, then,” I grumbled to her.  That made her reach for her prescription pad.

Not that I blamed her.  My friends did the right thing by urging me to see her, and her treatment regimen offered hope for people with my…condition.  It also offered a broad array of nasty side effects, both physical and mental.  I hadn’t written so much as a word since the day I started the meds.

I glanced at myself in the mirror one last time.  This is living? I wondered.

I switched off the bathroom light, burying my face in a towel hanging on the back of the door.  I pulled the fluffy terrycloth up over my ears, held it there, and closed my eyes.  The towel smelled of faint bleach—the staple odor of hotel linens.  I stood there breathing the fumes, barricading myself from the world, with only the recirculated wisp of air conditioning filtering into the room from a vent above the door to caress my spiny, naked back.  God, I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t, or—

“Liquin!”

The familiar voice forced the towel from my face as I opened my eyes in the darkness.  Had I left the lights on, no doubt I would have caught a glance of my own bemused expression—eyelids half closed, mouth stretched the length of my face as if chocking back some poison.  I had to get moving.

“Liquin!” the voice insisted again.  “Are you taking a bath with the toaster again?”

“No!” I barked, reaching in the dark for my boxers.  I pulled them on, feeling around for the button fly to make sure I had them on the right way.  “Did they give us a toaster with the room?”

“That’s good,” the voice continued from just beyond the door.  I threw it open, squinting in the refracted daylight of the hotel room, my disgusted expression unchanged.  “Because, you know, they have safety cutoffs on the power outlets for a reason.”

Before me stood the glowing form of The Admiral, my roommate of the day, her characteristic smile phosphorescent white, her almond eyes complimenting her butterscotch skin, smooth and flawless and jet black Latina hair highlighted with shimmering auburn tresses.  She seemed to radiate energy no matter where she went, no matter what the circumstance.  She wore an X-Men t-shirt, altered and fitted to show off her curvaceous torso, designer jeans and her trademark fedora.  She cocked her pelvis and rested a hand on her hip, showing off her apple-shaped ass bulging under the denim.  I scoffed a half-assed laugh, stepping past her, into the disaster bunker that had been our hotel room the night before.

Roxanne Rodriguez and I had lapped the same social circles for years.  I always knew to say hello to her, to wave or exchange a friendly hug, but I never really knew her that well.  Then, in a chance meeting at the DMV of all places, she and I had the get-to-know-you conversation that had eluded us for so long.  Her own enrollment alongside my dear friend Kate at the Hollywood Film, Television and Drama School of Los Angeles, sealed our steadfast friendship.  Roxanne swept into my life like a hurricane of energy, brightening my days with laughter and conversation, offering genuine compassion and support as my biggest cheerleader.  Movie nights with Kate and her boyfriend Windsor, fueled by bottles of red wine, became regular events, as we’d trade horror stories of dating sprawled in our pajamas on my couch.  Roxanne made for a guiding light as my life darkened.  I often wondered how I’d ever lived without her—she was the big sister I’d never had.

“I’m not going to kill myself the day of Comic-Con, my good Admiral,” I assured her.  “At least, not until we check into the other hotel.  That way the housekeeping staff can clean up my cadaver and they won’t come after you for a tip.  The room won’t be in your name.”  Not that I’d given any thought to the possibility.

“Ew!” squealed The Admiral.  “You better leave money for tip, little brother,” she said, following me across the bedroom.  “I’m not paying for that shit!”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I moaned, rummaging into my suitcase.  I selected a nondescript pair of jeans and a distressed yellow t-shirt upon which I’d spray painted the words “TWILIGHT SUCKS.”  I tossed the shirt to the edge of my bed and pulled on my pants.

“Dude, you’re not even ready to go yet!” The Admiral reprimanded me as she noticed my still-open suitcase.

“I’m an expert, I know what I’m doing,” I said devoid of passion, as if spieling tired sound bites.

“But what are you wearing for the weekend?  Where’s all the paperwork?  What about the First Aid Kit?!”

“God, Roxanne!” I whined, pulling on my shirt.  “It’s set.  Everything is ready.  You’re going to be fine.  It’s all fine.”

“Liquin!” she growled.  “It’s Comic-Con.  Your reason for living.  Act excited!  Spin up the FTL drive!”

“Yes, Admiral,” I obliged, collapsing onto the stiff, bleached sheets of the unmade hotel bed.  Roxanne frowned, but the sound of her ringtone—a bizarre mash-up of Metallica’s Enter Sandman and Lady Gaga’s Telephone—prompted her to retreat to her side of the room.

“Retract the flight pods!  Recall the fighters!  Stand by for hyperlight jump!” she called, wading through the clutter of the room to find her phone.  Without missing a beat, I watched her answer the call: “You got Roxanne!  Darling! Hey…”

Roxanne worked as the assistant to a Hollywood Legend and received calls around the clock for this-or-that, some request for autographed merchandise, errands to run, invitations to Hollywood parties, and just about anything else.  Her ability to manage such a broad fleet of demands had earned her the nickname of “The Admiral” from me.  Well that, and her ability to wrangle and date several men at once.

I wallowed in my angst another moment or two, listening to The Admiral spout Hollywood platitudes like boiling water from a geyser.  She had a point: if I had a reason to keep on living despite my continued failure as a screenwriter, it had to be Comic-Con.  I relented from my moping and started to pull myself together.  I pulled on my “TWILIGHT SUCKS” t-shirt, selected a few other random geek-tastic fashion bits from my suitcase, and started to zip it shut—

“First-Aid!” Roxanne called from across the room.  I stuck my head up like a periscope over the edge of the bed to see her still on the phone, but with a wild grimace on her face and two thumbs extended up, signaling her readiness for a good time.  I dug through my suitcase, rolling my eyes in annoyance, and pulled the First Aid kit from the bottom of my luggage and popped it open to let Roxanne give a final survey of the contents of the retro-travel box.  A bottle of scotch, a gram of high-quality medical marijuana, Vitamin B12, Vitamin C powder, laxatives, anti-gas pills, painkillers (regular and prescription), Ambien, antacids, a bottle of rum and a few stray pills of Cialis made their homes into the tiny compartments of the kit.  One last supply—a bottle of vodka which, I had earlier discovered, stood too tall to fit in the last open bottle-slot of the kit.  Undeterred, I’d transferred the booze from the oversized glass bottle into an empty shampoo bottle from my home recycle bin.  As I glanced at the “Coconut Follicle Moisturizer” label, I strained to remember: Had I thought to rinse the shampoo bottle first?

”You’re marvelous” The Admiral purred with muted excitement as she sashayed over to embrace me, Bluetooth still attached to her ear.

“I sure hope so,” I grumbled, resituating the garments in my suitcase to make room for the First Aid kit.  Consolidation of space…always a necessity at Comic-Con.

“Did you pack your meds?” The Admiral asked, her tone somewhere between that of an affectionate grandmother and an emasculating Nurse Ratched.  I glared up into her chestnut eyes and ivory smile, feeling like I’d just inhaled a gallon of lemon juice.  Without another word, I went straight to the bathroom, threw my pill bottles into my shaving bag along with my toothbrush and hair products and went back to my suitcase, dropping the blue faux-leather toiletry bag on top of the rest of my luggage and slammed closed the lid of my suitcase, zipping it shut with an annoyed yank.

“Stop it,” The Admiral ordered.

“What?” I grunted, playing dumb.

“Don’t do this…”

“Do what, Roxanne!?”  I threw up my arms in feigned exasperation.

“Don’t act like this!  You’re better than this!”

“Am I?  Am I really?”

The Admiral relented a moment with a frustrated scowl.  She gripped me by both shoulders, pausing a moment to adjust her fedora and remove her Bluetooth as she did so.

“You are Liquin Sonos, crypto-insurrectionist author, screenwriter—”

“Wannabe screenwriter,” I injected.

“And executive geek who has finished one Hell of a good script!”

“Which nobody will even look at,” I added.  “I still hate my life.”

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