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Orlyn Farr is going for FOR ALL THE MARBLES.

After the Cataclysmic Events (ACE), the populace fled the surface to live under-ground. With Ice Age conditions complicating a return to the surface, whole townships formed anew. With limited space, sundries and foodstuffs available, overpopulation soon rears its ugly head. To continue living past the mandatory declining age of 60 annums (thirteen moon cycles), senior citizens must have the financial resources or the political clout to pay for Rx Medical and a luxuriously appointed flat in top-of-the-line Care Centers like Paradise Acres. If you don’t have the scratch, you can opt-out. Most seniors choose this option. They quietly accept a hot-shot of Morphine and a final visit above ground. The treacherous white-out conditions on the surface will freeze you solid in a few time-ticks. Or try being a Big Winner. Beg, borrow, or steal enough Federal Reserve Notes and Teleport to the Annual Sixth Decade Tourney. The Big Winner gets Rx Medical and a flat at Paradise Acres. Along with all the lime gelatin, fellatio and potent narcotics your old ass can gobble. If you lose, well… you should have opted-out. But not our stalwart adventurer.

Orlyn Farr is betting his own life FOR ALL THE MARBLES.

PART I

Hedging My Bets. Spilling The Beans:

I just turned 60 annums old. The BINGO tournament in Bogota is less than a month away and I hadn’t a pot to piss in. I was forced to live with my kids and their kids in a cold, cramped domicile. It was underground in The Harbor and it forever smelled like stale cabbage and unwashed flesh.
When my son looks at me, I can tell he looking forward to me opting-out. Neither of us can pay the after 60 tax, for it is purposefully prohibitive in cost. We had no political connections. I suspected he’d already spent my Death Insurance he’ll get when I go up top and freeze to death. He also looks at my corner, and I can read his face like an open book. It was filled with thoughts on renting my corner to a relative that actually had the funds to pay for it.
There’s no place I can run to, so I was planning on just going in early, opting-out, and getting it over with, when the message came in. It was coded and secret, which was strange all on its own. I have never in my fairly pointless time on this frozen shitsicle of a planet got an important message like that one. I couldn’t receive it at home. Instead, I must make way through The Harbor’s tunnel system to the Postal Center. There, after I give them a drop of blood from one of my fingers, I can retrieve the momentous message.
I left immediately for the Postal Center. Once there, I had my wrist scanned for the legal bar-coding chip we legal Harbor citizens have for ID. My finger tip was punched for the blood sample. It naturally beeped at my age, locking me into the security pod until the machines sorted it out. It unlocked, seeing that I have a month left to live, and allowed me to proceed to a private viewing station. I went inside the station and secure-locked the sliding door with my thumb-print. I centered myself in front of the screen. As I did so, it lit up. A beam of light scanned a bust shot of me, no doubt a redundant security measure. Whoever I was about to talk to wanted to make very sure I was who I said I was. In a moment it was done. An old human woman came on the screen. She had to be every penny of 80 annums old. I’ve never seen anyone that old before. Not in person, anyway. She must be important in a way I can’t comprehend. She looked pretty healthy too. Her eyes were clear and sharp and she had a full head of hair. When she smiled, I could see that the woman had all of her teeth. It all must have cost her a fortune. The only thing wrong was the hissing of medical gases and the slight blue tinge to her lips.
“Greetings, Mr. Orlyn Farr, I am Chess Master,” she began. “You are 60 annums old. Have you made your final arrangements? Have you found your peace?”
Stupid, I know, but I started laughing. There’s just no way it could really be her. Ever since she took over, Chess Master ran everything in The Harbor. And she probably wasn’t limited to just our shit hole. I’d never seen an image of her. I don’t know anyone who has. Yet, she was supposed to be here, conversing in secret to Orlyn Farr, a guy who can’t even pay for one more year of his ridiculous life. No way. And then I got scared, for what if she is who she says she is? What the fuck do I do then? Begging would be a good start. I stifled my laughter like it never was.
“Greetings to you, Chess Master,” I replied, not knowing any of the protocol for this sort of deal.
“I can see from the blood that has drained from your face, that you believe me?”
“Um, uh, well – yes, I do.” I stammered like an imbecile. She seemed to take it in stride.
“Good, because I don’t have any time to waste, Mr. Farr,”
“Yes, Sir,” I replied.
“Then answer my question, Mr. Farr: have you made your final arrangements?”
“No, Sir, I haven’t.” I frowned. The realization I guess just hit me with full force right then. “I mean, I can’t afford the tax, so I guess I will have to opt-out. I’m far too old and sick to run.”
“What about your family, Mr. Farr? They can’t pay the tax for you?”
“No, they can’t, Sir. Painfully, though, I don’t think they would, even if they had the means.”
“You don’t get along with them?” Chess Master asked me.
I thought about it, but only for a moment. I said: “I think I take up valuable space that my son could get rent for.”
“He’s probably counting your Death Insurance too, I’d imagine.”
“Yes,” I said plainly. “Opting-out is for the best, I’m sure.”
She said nothing for a moment. Chess Master was looking down at something, below my view screen. Checking on something, she seemed to be.
“Have you considered BINGO?”
“You mean the tournament in Bogota, Sir?”
“Yes.”
“I couldn’t even afford to take a bicycle taxi to the Teleport Station, let alone the whole package, Sir.”
“What if I was willing to sponsor you, Mr. Farr? I’ll go further and say that since time is such a concern for me, I can tell you, in complete confidence, of course –“
“Of course, Sir,” I replied. I was quite intrigued by then.
“Good. What if, in addition to sponsoring your costs, I was to insure that you win?” she asked.
I’ll tell you some truth: a dropped pin could have been heard. I stared at her bluing lips and how they had darkened as she spoke. Chess Master was keeping her composure intact, but I could see she was suffering. Her lips lightened as she breathed in the medicated mist.
“How can you do that?” I asked Chess Master, the fear of her momentarily lapsing. “You can’t do that, no one can.” I insisted.
“My dear fellow,” she hissed, angry. “You’ll find that there is nothing I can’t do. There’s no move I can’t make and there is no game I can’t win. I say the word and you will be sent to Bogota where you will win the BINGO tournament. Your reward will be anything and everything your little heart desires.”
Something tiny, hope I suppose, began building inside me. It started to swell to the point where I could think of nothing else. She is promising me the moon and the stars. Strangely, I knew she could deliver the goods.
But, what, I wondered, did she want in return? I had absolutely nothing to bargain with. What did she want?
“What do you want in return,” I went ahead and asked her. “You must know that I couldn’t possibly have anything you would want or need, Sir.”
“On the contrary, Mr. Farr, you have exactly what I need,” she explained. “Or, rather, your granddaughter, Vanessa has.”
“Vanessa? Sir, she’s only 6 annums old, she’s barely started school.”
“I’m aware of her age, Mr. Farr,” she replied, testily. “I need her because my heart is failing and she is my exact genetic match.”
The clouds parted and the angels sang. I got it, but could I do it?
“I see,” I managed.
“Yes, well, time is of the essence, Mr. Farr, which is why you are being made this exclusive offer. I’m afraid there is a great deal of work yet to be done, so I will need your answer, straightaway.”
“By when,” I asked “a few days?”
“Sorry, no,” she replied. “I’m afraid I need your answer right now.”
I thought about it, I’m not ashamed to say. I even thought about saying no. But, in the end, there’s no I in TEAM. But there is one in BINGO.
I told Chess Master where little Vanessa could be found.

“Chess can be described as the movement of pieces eating one another.”
Marcel Duchamp

PART II

My Last Meal and Testament:

The Tourney officials organized the BINGO Cabaret and Mixer for us tournament players and volunteers. It was being held in the fancy-schmancy grand ballroom of the Bogota resort. It’s always a first-class wing-a-ding, and this year’s was no exception.
I was waiting in my hotel room. I was smoking a nice, fat, complimentary joint while receiving some complimentary head from a re-animated corpse. Although she was cold and blue and not much of a conversationalist, the formerly-living did suck one Hell of a good dick.
Now that the chamber of my geriatric love gun has been emptied, I could finish getting ready. The honor bar was unlocked. Inside were pills and powders and tiny syringes of clear fluids galore. They were all labeled by name, as well as action. I was trying to decide what all I wanted to imbibe. I was getting frustrated at all the choices. Usually, the only drugs I saw were the ones other people were doing. I racked my memory banks, but it had been so long, I don’t even recall what I used to like, besides weed. So, I chose the pragmatic route and took them all. I tossed a few random pills down my gullet. I laid out some of the powders and snorted them with a rolled Note until I started feeling really strange. I looked in the mirror and could hardly see my reflection. Between the drugs kicking in and my cataracts, my vision was seriously flawed. I saw my vague reflection morph into two and then I knew I was ready to go. I left my room and headed to the grand ballroom. When I got there, the Mixer was already in full swing.
It was a wonderful collection of the freaky and deranged. I could see that they had a cabaret show going full bore up on the main stage. On two side stages, amongst too many manned mini-bars to count, the fetish proms were located. Full humans, Halflings, Pit Demons, ghosts of the damned and the formerly-living zombies were filling up the ballroom. Folks were suspended from hooks piercing the flesh of their backs, spinning with their heads thrown back, in big circles above the crowd. A bright red demon girl with fake heavenly angel’s wings walked around, offering quick injections to the party-goers. The demon girl called the shots ‘angel kisses’. Judging from the animated reactions of the injected, the ‘angel kisses’ housed some really killer speed.
I was anticipating a kiss myself when my progress was thwarted. A huge bouncer type motherfucker stood as an impenetrable wall of blue and green scales. He looked at me with his giant yellow lizard eyes, having scanned my wrist. I started walking into to the festive fiesta and the bouncer stopped me cold.

“The fuck I’m not, Gargan!” I told him, right to his pierced nipples. Lizard-boy hadn’t a clue what I had to do to get here. There was no way he was going to stop me, no matter how big he was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not brave. I’m not the rough and tumble type, but this gigantic ass clown was not going to keep Orlyn Farr from getting down on the get-down. I was bunching up, waiting for shit to escalate when he deflated me in an instant. Instead of answering, the behemoth handed me a note. It was handwritten on fancy, pricey parchment. I already knew who it was from, so I stepped out of line and opened the note. It read:

My Dear Mr. Farr,

I apologize for keeping you from the public festivities. You must understand, Sir, I have a rather large investment in you, as per our agreement. I cannot allow any public indiscretions, nor can I take any chances on you getting injured or ill. I must insist you return to your hotel room, where a private party is being prepared for you. If you do not comply, you will automatically forfeit your portion of our contract, and you will be remanded for an immediate opt-out.

Sincerely Yours,CM

Well, shitballs. Having no choice, I turned on heel to go back to my room. Once there, I went inside and saw that the cabaret had come to me.
A pretty young zombie man greeted me at the door. He stuck a needle in my thigh. I began smiling uncontrollably for the rest of the evening. We walked around the mostly zombie party.
They weren’t interested in eating or drinking, slugging or drugging, so there was more of everything than I could ever consume. But I gave it my best shot.
When I finally passed out, hours later, my testicles hurt from overuse and my head was swimming and spinning. I vomited most of the real animal flesh I’d gluttoned down.
The zombie boy helped me get into the big, comfortable, oversized bed. His cold kiss is the last thing I recalled.
The next day at high noon, the BINGO tournament began.

“The older I grow, the more I value Pawns.”
Paul Keres

Hey kids! It’s time once again for “FuknPunch”, the Unemployed Child Care Clown” far-out fiction sample! Sure to tickle your funny boner!

An ‘excerpt’, a ‘snippet’ (in no discernable order) from the forthcoming “PHARMACIDE” by The Grim Reverend Steven Rage. Dig:

Three-point-Two:

Pender moved up to the counter and told her his name. Pender handed her his driver’s license for ID and this month’s coveted prescription from Dr. Fox. He had no clue as to who Dr. Fox was, or even if there really was a genuine Dr. Fox. All Jon Pender knew was that each month Hannah Bergh gave him a prescription for synthetic heroin, written by Dr. Fox, and each month he filled it. Lately, she’d also been giving him a variety of additional pills. He took them all. They subsidized his monthly usage enough to where he always had a nice drug collection at home.
Pender found he couldn’t look at the frightened tech, or anyone else for that matter.

Damn it. I should have never gone to that interview.

Three-point-Three:

Dr. Jon Pender’s home all through his medical school and most of his clinical training was a tiny, spotless studio guest cottage. The small cottage sat behind a two-story 1930s era home in the fashionably historic Encanto district.
Pender’s home was thickly and thoroughly shaded year round by three stately oak trees. Nearly a dozen smaller Chilean mesquite and Chinese elm trees were also scattered around the nice property, adding additional layers of shade. It was peaceful and quiet all the time and Pender just loved it.
The DesMartins, an elderly couple that owned the property, stayed in the main house when in town. They wintered here in PHX, summered in their other home up north in Minnesota, and traveled in between. The couple had no children and therefore, no young grand kids running around, bugging the hell out of Pender. Half of the year the whole place was his. The DesMartins felt much better having the nice young doctor living on grounds and watching the place for them. It was the perfect place to live.
The cottage was only a few scant miles from both the medical school and St. Anthony. Most important, the DesMartins showed exceeding kindness by making sure the rent was low enough for Pender to afford. He had to live off the nine hundred Notes a month stipend he received as part of his Civil Service contract.
Pender walked through the front door of his quaint, but very snug domicile. He hung his coat on the rack by the light switch. He flipped it on and the room was sprinkled with the yellow light of two table lamps. The two combined were just enough to shed light on almost the entire cottage.
Pender went to the immaculate kitchenette. He left not so much as a single dirty dish lying around. He retrieved a diet soda from the refrigerator. The spotless tile of the kitchenette and the scrubbed pine of the living quarters perfectly complimented the floor to ceiling book shelf. It was also clean, devoid completely of dust and scattered papers. The shelf held many books, but they were all quite medical or scientific in nature. Placed firmly right up to the edge of the shelf there was an old roll-top style desk. It was also spotless.
The cottage could not boast a television, or stereo. It had one clock radio. The fold out couch-bed was currently encased in the room’s only comfortable piece of sitting furniture. Pender never entertained guests, so the arrangement was well suited for his needs.
Pender went back into the living area and placed his gym bag on the floor. He sat for a moment on the couch and briefly closed his eyes. The pain from his knee was getting progressively worse.
Pender could not afford to take the time off from his residency program to go through surgery and rehab for his knee. He would have to join another class and wait for an opening, which could be anywhere. No, he’d gut it out with the pain killers and keeping active.
Pender just wished to God the Tylenol with codeine would kick in. Then maybe he could think about something, anything, else.
I need to take a second one, he thought. Pender gently placed his left heel on the scratched oval pine coffee table. He leaned forward and with a grimace began massaging his knee.
Pender extended his leg and stretched it as far as he could. The noise his knee made was crushing empty peanut shells. Whenever Pender humped the stairs at St. Anthony his knee would double-crack with every upward step. It was embarrassing when he wasn’t alone.
He returned his leg to the table and massaged it anew. It was pissing in the wind, though. Nothing he did seemed to help. Only hiding the throbbing beneath the mask of pain pills gave to Pender any semblance of relief.
Pender was concerned with his growing use of such strong analgesics, but only as it pertained to his career. He could never write his own prescriptions. That would spell trouble with a capital BUTT that rhymed with FUCKED. No physician wanted that kind of disciplinary scrutiny.
His personal physician was making overtures of cutting down and eventually offing his supply all together. He tried not to panic. In response to this growing threat, Pender began squirreling away as many pills as he could. But he could see the bottom of the bottle and it was making him nervous.
Definitely, he decided. I’ll take one more, just to make sure the pain doesn’t get in the way of my interview.
Pender stood. He trudged to the bathroom at the rear of the cottage. He opened the mirrored medicine cabinet. Pender shook out another T3, thought about it, and shook out another. He downed the two pills with a paper cup of tap water. Pender sighed as he ran the shower. He stripped off his clothes, and with his knee still cracking and popping and hurting, he stepped under the tepid stream of water.

Pender arrived at the parking lot of the research wing of St. Anthony for his interview with time to spare…..” end excerpt.

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