Muxworthy At Play
by Lisa Storm with Steven Blaqart
The bar was teeming with noise tonight. Clinks of glass, low adulterous whispers, loud guffaws of the annoyingly drunk and the strenuous beat of a long forgotten song bashed out of the jukebox, vibrating the floor beneath Max Muxworthy’s leather clad feet.
Humanity at play.
Maxwell Muxworthy, Lieutenant, Recon squadron, Bot Inspection and Destruction Unit, #126876.
Maxwell Muxworthy, ghost squad, mission: destroy technology that leads to destruction of humanity.
Looking around at the teaming mass of drunken idiotic humanoid flesh drooling over their words, Muxworthy had to fight to find a reason to save humanity. He tossed back the rest of his martini…then coughed, struggling for air.
He wasn’t sure why he followed the rest of his coworkers to this tiny, unkempt bar. Visions of twisted metal and melting steel had assaulted his memory all afternoon.
“Tashes like water,” he informed the bartender, narrowing his eyes, his head starting to list to the right.
“Not my fault you wanted ice in your drink, buddy.”
“Nishe earring,” Muxworthy curled his upper lip, a slip of drool pooling on his chin.
Bartender Pete, Muxworthy had no idea if that was his real name or not but he decided it didn’t matter, leaned closer. “You want another drink or not?”
“No Thanksh, Petermisher.”
Petermiser rolled his eyes, stalked in the opposite direction.
“You’ll be dead shoon…all of you…all of you…” God dammed watered down drinkers anyway. What did it matter if bots took over? Who would care? All sit around playing Xbox anyway, why should he risk his life, his sanity, fighting the tide against an inevitable future?
Inevitable deadly future; one that humans are inviting into their every days lives with smart phones, computers, cable boxes…
The red eye stared at him, holding him in its unrelenting stare. He knew the red eye, spent his life hiding from the red eye. His fingers itched for his laser; he reached for his side…empty. No laser, no rifle. Stuck in the past without weapons.
“You gonna eat that or just play with it?”
Muxworthy turned his head, blinked once, his hand going lax. He registered too blonde hair; too tan skin, too white of a smile. She wore a flimsy black tank top and black hoops in her small ears. Her blues eyes studied his face, her red lipsticked mouth crooked in a drunken smile.
“Shashen…croket, trinay,” he tried.
“Sandy,” she supplied with a half laugh. She pointed at his fingers. “Olive. Say: Olive.”
“Close enough,” Sandy laughed, blowing strands of hair off her forehead. She had a nice forehead, smooth, brown, human.
“Shansy, you see thish,” he warbled, eyes getting harder to open with every blink. He held the red eye between thumb and forefinger. “It sees everything, every move you make, every bake you cake.”
“Hmmm,” Sandy plucked the red eye from his fingers, popped it into her mouth. “Yummy.”
“Are you insane? Do you have any idea what was in that thing?” His heart hammered in his chest. “Do you have any idea what they are doing in Japan?”
“You mean right now?”
Muxworthy nodded. “Robot brains, hearts, implanting them into human schpecimens. Human suckers going to them for help because they are dying of canceler,” he slurred, drunkenly, “of heart disease, turned into guinea pigs.”
“Uh huh.” Sandy waved the bartender over, motioned to Muxworthy’s empty glass. “Suzie said you were in Iraq.”
It took him a moment for his brain to flip sideways, “That is completely nonshensical, how can I be in Iraqi when I am sitting right here? Shoeshy is a fool, prolly signed herself up for a robot heart.”
Sandy laughed, a high frazzled sound that pained Muxworthy’s ears. “Don’t let work make you crazy, George usually goes nuts around the end of the month. He usually snaps out of it first of the month, that’s why he set up this little get-together.”
George? He could care less about that scoundrel of the slicked back hair and manicured fingernails, part owner of Battaglia and Goberman, PPC. The guy probably never had been in a fistfight in his entire redundant life.
“Can’t you see what’s happening? Pretty soon machines will tell us when to piss, when to shit, and all with a touch of a button! And then,” Muxworthy sliced at his open collar with a finger. “They will tell us when to die.”
A glass was placed in front of Sandy; she took out the kabobbed red eyes and set them on the bar. Muxworthy watched her throat move as she drank. Was anything getting through that blonde noggin of hers? How could he tell? The red eyes winked at him from their resting place, inches from his hand. He leaned in closer to Sandy, his palm covering the discarded green and red orbs.
“Do you want to see something?” he whispered in her ear, her light flowery perfume tickled his nose. Lilac. For a moment he felt like laying his head on her shoulder and forgetting his mission all together.
Sandy turned her head, their eyes, mouths, and noses mere inches apart. “Depends on what you want to show me.”
“My arm,they fucked up my arm.” Muxworthy pulled back, snapping to attention, his gaze never leaving her blurry face, palming the offending red eyes, and slipping them into his shirt pocket to be studied in the privacy of his apartment lab. “Robotic arm, the bone and muscle blown away by enemy fire, shrapnel tore the shit out of me.”
He unbuttoned the crisp blue dress shirt; slowly rolling up the sleeve to his elbow, then stuck his forearm under her nose like showing off a magic trick. Sandy blinked once, twice, eyes wide suddenly sober.
“They fixed me good, made me one of those bots. The operation took forever. Almost died on the table!”
Dim lights overhead twinkled on the metallic surface covering Muxworthy’s arm from his elbow to his wrist. Sandy’s mouth opened then closed, then curled up on one side, a wrinkle of disbelief between her slim brows.
She took one long red polished nail and… POP… sank it deep into his arm then… POP… sank another nail into him, his robot arm…
Sandy let out a bark of laughter, “You asshole, you almost had me-“
“Lishen Shashen, I almost died!”
“It’s tinfoil you nutter,” Sandy leaned back, slapped his arm. “You are wasted. Better not let George know, he doesn’t like it when we get too messed up at his end of the month parties.”
“No, that’s Suzie’s job.”
Sandy laughed again, Muxworthy stared at her but nothing connected in his brain—the laughter, Suzie, George—he must have had too many watered down martinis. Perhaps she knew more than she was letting on.
Perhaps she had information he needed.
Maybe if he got her back to his place, he could interrogate her without distractions. Plumb her depths as it were.
“I think you should come home with me, itsh too dangerous here…their eyes see everything.”
Sandy rolled her pretty eyes. “Like I haven’t heard that one before. You’re a spy right and someone is following me?”
She must be more involved than he thought. Muxworthy tried to remember the names on his list of contacts Conroy gave him before sending him spiraling back through time. Sandy Jerkins, or was it Gerkins? (he really should’ve stopped drinking at the third martini) was not on it, he was sure.
“No, no, no,” he said emphasizing each no with a drunken wobble of his head. “You don’t get it. You are all in danger. You will all die if the bots aren’t stopped. In Ten years from this very day the bots will take over and all of this will, all of you will be dust. Come with me now, and I will save you. All of you.”
“Why don’t we ask a few of the others back to your place, too,” she said. “We could have an awesome after party.”
“There aren’t going to be any more parties. Ever.”
Sandy laughed again, sucked more liquor into her red mouth.
Why wasn’t she listening to him? Did she want to die? Was she just a lemming? What the hell?! He would have to check her wrists, maybe she was suicidal, and maybe her tiny brain couldn’t handle the truth blazing in front of her eyes. Humans…
“Denial is futile and only leads to disaster,” Muxworthy mumbled.
“You need to lighten up Max, have some fun. Let’s dance.”
“Muxworthy. The name is, Muxworthy.”
Sandy reached a hand over, peeled off the tinfoil, Andy’s Subs etched in yellow swirly lettering slipped to the bar. A web of white thick scars etched his forearm. She stopped suddenly, the smile dropping from her face.
He snatched his arm back, rubbed his hand on his aching leg. “I don’t like to dance anymore. Not since, well—” his eyes strayed to his arm.
“Oh, yeah, right.”
Silence fell between them, uncomfortable. Deadly.
Her eyes searched the room, perhaps looking for someone else to wrangle onto the dance floor. He sighed. He hated to dance. It was a colossal waste of time, but if battle conditions called for dancing. Well, he’d dance.
“Fuck it,” he exclaimed suddenly, making Sandy jump. He grabbed her hand, heading for the dance floor.
“I hope you can keep up,” he snapped, slipping into soldier mode.
He was a lean mean dancing machine and he proved it. By the end of the night Sandy was drenched in sweat, and his robotic leg was throbbing in time to Billie Jean. He twirled and dipped and shook his moneymaker till the entire bar, Fuck George included, was clapping and trying to copy his company learned dance moves.
When at last Muxworthy staggered to the shadow-lined street, Sandy was indeed, on his arm.
And the red eyes nestled deep in his pocket.