Aphelion Issue 226, Volume 22
March 2018
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A Fish Out Of Water

By Linda Kelly

A Mare Inebrium Story

Mare Inebrium Universe created by Dan Hollifield

Take the air he breathes away from a man and he will gasp and struggle to regain it and, if he succeeds, he will be more cautious in the future. Take a fish out of water and although it also will struggle for oxygen, when it is placed back into its bowl, it continues its life with carefree abandon.

It was a typical early shift at the Mare Inebrium. The bartender, Max, wore the usual white apron that covered the front of his soft brown slacks and shirt. His sleeves were rolled up to the elbows. He was polishing a long curving cylinder with
a bar rag. A tall beautiful woman in a very short floaty skirt suspended over miles of legs stood across from him, leaning casually against the bar.
The usual regulars were at their usual places at the bar. A few D’rrish were seated in pairs across various gaming tables playing tri-d chess, or holo-holdum, Texas style. Occasionally they would chitter or click their mandibles or wildly flutter their
antennae as the games progressed. There were a couple of third shift space port workers having a nightcap before going home, and a couple of aliens indefinable in their portable life support drinking smoking, caustic substances. A couple of Human
class II Heavy Worlders were arm wrestling at one of the floating tables in the center of the room.
Trixie glanced at the class two pair. “Max, looks like you need to turn up the anti-grav on table 6, Buster and Bruno seem to be going for a record. Max reach under the bar and the table the wrestlers were using stopped it’s gentle bobbing.
Trixie picked up a dice cup by the lip and shook it a few times. She flipped it up in the air, it twirled once and she caught it from the bottom. She tilted the cup toward the deck of the bar and five holographic dice appeared to tumble across the surface. “I don’t know Max. I can feel them in the cup, but they just don’t roll out right.”
Max took the cup she offered him and handed it to Professor Camfortt. “You heard what the lady said, Professor. I guess it’s back to the virtual board with this invention.”
Professor Camfortt stuffed the dice cup in one of his capacious pockets and said, “An interesting question of physics, Max.” Professor Camfortt dreamily stared off into a point in the bar that held no interest, so Max knew he was already working on
the problem.
Max spotted a young woman across the room sitting in a booth. He shook his head and turned to Trixie. “Now where did she come from?”
Although he sensed the girl posed no threat, Max was always keenly aware of any being who crossed the threshold of the Mare Inebrium. This girl had drifted past his sensors and senses with not even a ripple of disturbance in either field.
“Trixie, looks like you ‘ve got a ‘live one.’”
Trixie turned around in surprise. She scanned the room and nothing had changed, The games continued, the special environments were still sipping on that which would dissolve a hole in the floor–business as usual--except there was a girl sitting
quietly in one of the booths against the wall. How, Trixie wondered, had the girl arrived without being noticed. She gazed quizzically at Max, but he just shrugged.
Trixie walked across the room, observing the girl. She was dressed in bell-bottom blue jeans inset with a hot pink panel that flared from her knees to her ankles. Her belt was a long fringed piece of paisley fabric. She wore a hot pink leotard that
clearly showed two perky nipples. Her eyes were elaborately made up. Her upper eyelashes were thickly coated into stiff spikes and dark eyelashes appeared to be tattooed under her black rimmed eyes. Iridescent shadow in graduating shades of
lime green covered her eyelids. Strangely, she wore no other makeup. Her hair, a rather mousy brown, was straight and rather stringy hung limply down to her waist. Some sort of wilted fauna dangled in wilted dejection over one ear.
The girl, in turn, watched Trixie approach. Her eyes got wider and wider as she saw the beautiful elfish face, the incredibly long legs, and an undulating stride, the girl thought she would give eight inches of her hair to emulate. As Trixie came closer,
the girl amended that to bald. She would shave her hair, if that’s what it took, to learn to walk like that. After all, hair would grow back.
“Hi, I’m Trixie. What’s your pleasure?”
The girl‘s eye‘s widened as she looked up at Trixie. “Far out. Wow. What a trip. I’m Sunshine Rainbow.” The girl blinked twice, her long spiky eyelashes slashing through the air.
Trixie looked at her quizzically. Then she noticed the girl’s pupils, which were hugely dilated. “I’ll bring you some water, Sunshine.” 
“Cool,” the girl answered absently.
Trixie went back to the bar and said to Max, “I don’t recognize her as one of ours, but she’s definitely under the influence of something we don’t sell. Give me a glass of water, will you, and we’ll keep her safe until she’s fit for the streets. Oh, and put
just a little ice in it. She specifically asked for it to be cool.”
Max frowned and concentrated as he stared across the room. “LSD.”
“LSD?” Trixie gasped. “That hasn’t been around her for decades”
Max nodded his head. “Somebody must brought it in from the port.”
“It’s such a nasty little drug – no turn off switch or sober pill.” Trixie shrugged. “Oh well, be that as it may. I’ll keep my eye on her. She should be fine far before closing time.”
Trixie didn’t bother with her tray. This girl was a freebie. She grabbed a napkin and carried the big glass of water over to the girl’s table. She put the glass on the napkin in front of the girl and sat down on the seat across from the her. The girl took the glass and drank deeply. Then she held the glass away from her and stared into it deeply. “Wow.” she said.
“Wow what?” Trixie asked.
“I’m really tripping,” the girl said dreamily. She did not take her eyes off the glass.
“How’s that?” Trixie asked.
Sunshine Rainbow now was holding the glass in front of her face with both hands. She looked at Trixie through the ice cubes. “For sure I can see you, but that’s --like normal. But I’ve never had a hallucination, like, bring me water before.”
“Hallucination? You think I’m a hallucination?” Trixie asked, puzzled.
“Far out,” the girl agreed as she continued to stare at Trixie through the glass.
Puzzled, Trixie asked, “Why do you think I’m a hallucination?”
“Maybe you’re a genie. Can I have three wishes?”
“Sure, sure.” Exasperated, Trixie got up and walked back to the bar.
“I wish for music, and world peace and water–lots and lots of water,” the girl said to the spot where Trixie had been. “And I want to walk like that– it’s way cool,” she added to no one in particular.
“Max, she thinks that I’m a figment of her imagination.”
Max leaned back and guffawed. “Trixie, you’ve been the object of many a man’s -- and many a woman’s, for that matter -- imagination. Why does this one bother you?”

Trixie‘s brow wrinkled in cute perplexion. “I dunno,. But something’s not quite right.”
Max looked at her thoughtfully. He ducked around the bar and ambled over to the girl, The genial smile pasted to his face was belied by his worried eyes. What made Trixie uncomfortable usually made him uncomfortable, too. He trusted her sense of
rightness. The Sunshine Rainbow did not appear to notice him until he sat on the seat across from her.
She looked at him thought the glass of water. “Cool” she said, as she nodded her head. “Another one.”
Max gently took the glass from her hands and put it on the napkin. The girl’s hands continued to hold the glass that was no longer there. She blinked at Max and said, “Wow.”
Max asked her, “What are you doing here?”
She smiled at him seraphically, “Just tripping.”
Max asked, “Tripping?”
She answered, “Yeah, far out, man.”
“Good trip?” Max asked.
“Psychedelic,” she agreed, “except for the monsters – bad juju. But if I look into the magic glass, they go away.” She glanced furtively around the room. She cringed as she saw the D’rrish sitting quietly at a gaming table playing tri-chess. She quickly
grabbed the glass and stared intently trough it at Max. “The magic glass makes them go away and the pretty man comes to Sunshine Rainbow,” she crooned.
Max gazed thoughtfully at her. He slowly got up and walked back to the bar. The girl did not appear to notice she was again alone.
 “Trixie, just keep the water flowing at the girl’s table, and always make she has a glass to hold. Don’t take one away unless you have another one right there,” he quietly told her.
“What’s up, Max?” Trixie asked, concerned.
“Just a slight temporal disturbance. Nothing that time and detoxification won’t fix,” he whispered in her ear.
Trixie nodded in understanding. She looked relieved. Throughout the day, the Trixie delivered glass after glass of ice water to the girl who drank one glass after another, never leaving her booth.
For a while, Professor Camfortt watched Sunshine Rainbow with scientific fascination. Finally, he turned to Trixie and said, “When all possibilities are excluded, then consider the impossible.”
Trixie and Max looked down the bar at the professor who was nodding toward the girl. Trixie laughed and asked him how he had figured it out.
“Physics, my dear girl, and of course, biology.” he replied. “Knowing human anatomy, I calculated that in no human species, even considering the sub-types, is there enough space within the mass for the quantity of liquid within the subject – that
girl, I mean -- to be stored.”
Max poured the professor another drink. “This one is on the house,” he laughed.
Dr. Camfortt absently clasped the beaker of steaming liquid and sipped it slowly as he once again stared off into nowhere and, to him, everywhere. “Mmm,” he commented to no one in particular, “Nice vintage.”
Trixie and Max were uncertain whether Dr. Camfortt referred to the drink or Sunshine Rainbow.
Trixie was placing yet another glass of water on Sunshine Rainbow’s table when the girl looked up and said, “What’s happening...”
Trixie opened her mouth to begin reassuring her with a vague explanation of transient temporal anomalies, but snapped it shut as she realized that this was just some form of greeting, not a request for information.
“I’m really tripping,” the girl said dreamily
One of the younger D’rrish ambled over to the juke box and inserted several coins. A three dimensional holo-projection of a multi-species popular band appeared between near the Club room entrance between the Bio Hazzard and WC areas.
The girl’s head swivelled towards the music and, as if mesmerized, slowly walked toward the holo-dance floor. She undulated and gyrated to the music with remarkably smooth grace. She skipped and swayed, she flung her arms above her head and girted to the music, totally oblivious to the other beings in the room. Many of the other customers, not all human, stopped talking or playing to watch her, and they continued to add coins to the juke box.
Trixie shook her head at Max and the Professor, “She’s obviously not an accomplished dancer. Her moves are crude and repetitive, uninspired, but despite that, she is fascinating to watch, isn’t she.”
Neither man, their attention on the dance floor, heard her.
As first shift tuned into second, Blanch came in, her long skirts swirling around her ancles, to relieve Trixie. She said, “Anything special going on?”
Trixie said, “Nothing much. Oh, just keep that booth by the wall supplied with ice-water.”
Blanch looked across the room. “Which booth?”
Trixie, turned to point at the girl. The booth was empty except for a few empty glasses, and no one was dancing to music. “She’s gone. I didn’t even notice.”
“Who’s gone?” Blanch asked.
“Oh just a temporal from the sixties.”
“A time traveler from the past?” Blanch gasped. “Why aren’t you worried? She could change the fabric of time!”
Trixie continued to calmly wipe the bar, “No, Blanch, she was from the sixties. She was one of those hippies we get here every once in a while. I think she was on LSD. To her, we were just a hallucination.”
“Ah,” said Blanch with understanding. “That’s why she disappeared. When her LSD trip ended--she returned to her own plane of existence.”
“And none the wiser, poor thing,:” Trixie said. “Can you believe it, to her, we’re not real--just fiction at best, when in reality, if she was indeed from the sixties as we suspect, she is long dead and turned to dust, may Kan’she’ellor’t’shen watch
over her.”
Max added, “And, since we are still here,” and he pinched himself lightly and winked, “yes, still here, she didn’t believe what she saw and what she experienced, so it never, in her plane of reality, really happened.”
Trixie clasped Max’s arm as they left the Mare Inebrium. “I’m glad this is were I actually exist. This reality is a good place to be.”
As they walked out the door, Max pulled her close, kissed her and they teleported home.
Somewhere, sometime, on another plane of existence, a young man wearing faded blue jeans and a madras shirt with cut off sleeves shook his girlfriend’s pink leotard-clad shoulder. "Sunshine Rainbow, it’s time to get going to the Love-Feast Apple and Forester are throwing on the Beach."
She looked dreamily up at him and said, “Far out.” She gracefully crossed her legs and rolled forward to stand up. She took his hand.
“Wow, you were really tripping. Was it really psychedelic?” he asked.
“Ok, I guess, but I don’t remember much. Just some music,” she answered.
“What kind of music?” he asked.
“I dunno, groovy, I guess. Wow, I’m famished. I hope Apple and Forester aren’t serving macrobiotic again.” And with that, the last of the gossamer memories of her day at the Mare Inebrium drifted away from her empty little head.


© 2006 By Linda Kelly

To reach me, pleas email me at my favorite Email address: RelativelyLinda@hotmail.com

I'm a 50 year old lady who works as a chemical dependency counselor. I live in Black Diamond, a village in the country outside of Seattle, WA. Besides being an avid Sci-fi reader, I enjoy playing with my grandchildren. My four year old granddaughter and I recently took a 2,000 mile road trip to California, but that's another story!

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