The Robert Armstrong Syndicated Newspaper Strip
by A. S. Salinas
SPECIAL BONUS FEATURE!
By popular demand we reprint here a complete story of the cult-classic Robert Armstrong syndicated newspaper strip of the late 1930s. Legendary Alex Raymond was the artist of the short-lived strip throughout its duration. The late 1930s, of course, were the height of the adventure comic strips, as readers from the Great Depression found solace in the colorful escapades of these larger-than-life characters, and the fast-paced and exotic Robert Armstrong had to fight it out every day with the likes of Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician and the Phantom, as well as with Raymond’s own Flash Gordon every Sunday morning. In time, Raymond started dedicating more and more time on his lush Flash Gordon weekly pages and eventually had to drop Robert Armstrong. The strip was swiftly canceled…
STARTING TODAY A BRAND NEW ADVENTURE!
Robert Armstrong took a deep breath, inhaling the air of Titan’s outpost. The terraced avenues of Huygens Town were loud with festive noise as the entire population of the north pole colony seemed to have taken to the streets to celebrate the Saturnalia, the great feast that marked the start of the gas giant’s Aphelion season. Crowds of masked men and women and sentients of other kinds thronged the narrow boulevards under the domes, dancing and screaming. From his table at the balcony café, Armstrong watched them all in silence, wishing Isabel were there.
There was a tiny rent in the perpetual cloud cover exactly over Titan’s north pole, where a needle’s eye was formed by the large moon’s rotation. It was the only spot on the entire lunar surface where outer space was visible.
The stars were huge and bright that night, except where the hovering Iad Hollanda cathedral glowed in full phase right next to the Winter Habitat of the Tsar. It was the bulk of Saturn, though, which occupied almost three fourths of Titan’s narrow sky window. Cobalt blue whirlpools burned dully on the surface of the gas giant, the Rayleigh scattering of available sunlight creating different hues in the rich blue tinge, even to the naked eye.
His semi-sentient waiter appeared to have vanished, and he was feeling lonely anyway, so Armstrong wandered away from his table.
By one of the roulette tables he found Tom Antaeus, his old business partner, smiling his basilisk smile. Tom Antaeus had two girls with him. They both wore black stockings embedded with pieces of ice from Saturn’s rings, and Zero-G short skirts which fluttered gaily around their long trim legs. They were bare breasted, as was fashionable in the Jupiter moons, except for their metallic Zero-G nipples, which they did not need. For his part, Tom Antaeus wore a Mozart waistcoat to struggle with his very Wagnerian chest and, to complement the effect, had dyed his naturally scarlet hair into powdered white and force-grown it so he could braid it. It only betrayed his Aristo origins, of course. Tom grinned at his old mate. “The Strong Arm of Mars himself! Ladies, we’re in the presence of royalty.”
“Really?” said the blonde girl to his left, sidling up to Armstrong’s side.
“No,” he said.
The two girls returned their unfocused attention back to the roulette table.
A third woman disengaged herself from the crowd watching the deranged betting, and approached Armstrong with a smile. “You have the most interesting friends, Tom,” she said. Clad in shimmering metallic dress and boots, with a white fur hat propped at a jaunty angle over her long red hair, she stood up before him. The blonde girl looked at him, then her indolent eyes wandered again.
The young woman stood on her tiptoes and kissed him. Her tongue tickled his own. He smiled and offered her a smile of his own, savoring the salty taste of information she’d just dropped on him through her saliva. A library’s worth of data was now stored on the input nodes on his tongue. Some images and sound, but mostly text, so it was quite a lot to digest at once.
Her name was Susan O’Day.
“First time on Titan, Mr. Armstrong?”
“Please, call me Robert.”
Once his own saliva finished dissolving the data-package, it processed and rerouted the signal straight into his brain stem. Meanwhile Armstrong concentrated instead on the strange young woman before him. He found he could not keep his eyes off her iridescent dress in whose taut, mirrored surface Armstrong could see his own distorted reflection. “All right,” she said with a grin. “First time on Titan, Robert?” She had a melodious voice, like tinkling Japanese bells.
“Not at all, actually. I was here the last time they had a Saturnalia festival.”
Susan O’Day frowned. “You must be older than you look. A lot older.”
It was Armstrong’s turn to grin. “Like you wouldn’t believe.”
MORE EXCITEMENT TOMORROW!
THE STORY SO FAR...
Robert Armstrong met a girl.
The roulette spun and Tom Antaeus lost again. “Ah, lost again,” Tom Antaeus said. “Not my night. C’mon, Strong Arm, help us find some of that free food we were promised. So far I’ve only seen the free drinks.”
“Of course.” He nodded for Susan to follow them.
The blonde girl seemed to have developed a sudden interest in Armstrong so she attached herself to his arm as they all made a random circuit of the first floor. When they reached the bar, Susan O’Day placed herself to Armstrong’s left side.
“I’ll have a Marstini,” she said.
Some information had been conspicuously absent in her saliva. “Where are you from?” he asked while they delivered their drinks. Armstrong was already on his third Marstini.
“I was decanted on Ganymede. And you? I can tell you’re not from trans-Jovian space.”
“I was born on Earth.”
She raised an elegant eyebrow. “Born? How charming. You’re full of surprises, Robert.”
“Ganymede,” he hummed. “Right. So, what’s a nice Rebis Ross girl like you on a big bad Iad Hollanda world?”
“It gets better. My sperm father was a minister with the Mirabilis Protocol.”
Armstrong laughed out loud. By now they had to speak out very loud at each other, the screams from the festival growing louder and filling the air under the Huygens Town dome. Red and yellow clouds swirled above them, against the orange-brown sky spinning around the circle of black space. As the colony was built on the very walls of a miles-long crevice, the gardened terraces hanging on the steep basaltic mountainside of this canyon, the silhouette of great black peaks crenellated the nearby horizon.
The lights from the Saturnalia glittered against the liquid hydrocarbon lakes at the bottom of the deep crevice. They were the only stable surface liquid bodies outside Earth, and the colonists from Huygens Town had an inordinate fondness for them. One of them was the size of the Caspian Sea, and several vessels could be seen gliding through its syrupy surface. Methane raindrops dotted the dome’s translucent surface, turning the vista into a rainy postcard. A melancholy sight. It was beautiful, Armstrong thought—totally and completely alien to the human experience of the past three million years. He was glad he had someone like Susan O’Day to share the moment. He’d seen too many gorgeous sights by himself.
She studied his serious features and had to take a sip from her glass to hide a sudden smile. “You want to hear something even funnier?”she said. Armstrong leaned closer to the girl, and finished another Marstini. “I used to work for the Triton Entente.”
He almost spat his Marstini on her face, he was laughing so hard. “So maybe the right question would have to be why did they allow either of us inside Iad Hollanda space,” he said.
The blonde girl looked expectantly at him, but quickly gave up. The loud noises and bright lights from the gaming tables screamed for her full attention. Tom Antaeus had already vanished with the other girl, so Armstrong led Susan O’Day back to his table. When they were there, she summoned the closest semi-sentient for another round of Marstinis.
While they waited for their drinks, they sat in silence, under the shadows of towering redwood trees, trying to drink the whole experience. The trees had been imported decades ago, when the Iad Hollanda had started the first colonies on Titan, and had now grown into beautiful sizes and arched overhead, almost blocking the orange sky. Their table stood near the edge of the terrace, overlooking the vast hydrocarbon lake spread below them...
ANOTHER THRILLING CHAPTER IN TOMORROW’S SUPPLEMENT!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Robert Armstrong enjoys a party.
A young woman strolled past them, her skin dyed green. Her short-clipped hair was of a darker shade of green; emerald hue to her absinthe skin. Armstrong’s eyes pursued her as she crossed the plaza. He’d always found green skin extremely erotic. Perhaps it was that the woman looked as if she was asphyxiating. Susan O’Day followed his gaze.
“I once thought of dying my skin blue,” she said helpfully.
“Green is better.”
“I guess. Green-skinned women get more fun, like the old saying goes.”
Armstrong finished his drink.
“Come,” she said.
“Where are we going?” He didn’t feel like leaving his table anymore.
“Come,” she insisted. “ I want to show you something you haven’t seen. “
He thought this unlikely, but he followed her, looking in vain for another semi-sentient who wasn’t busy. She led him back into the casino floor, and up a set of stairs. If anything, it was even more crowded up here. They had to shoulder their way into a narrow corridor, lined with closed doors.
“I’ve heard about you, of course,” she said. “I knew of you even before I tasted your saliva. You’re a man completely devoid of morals of any sort. I find that refreshing.”
“I’d like that in writing. “
“I like men. I like killing them, occasionally,” she said, grinning with her perfectly white teeth, like a predator playing with its prey. “What about you, Robert?”
“I like killing people, sure. Who doesn’t? Um, what is your hand doing?”
“Your data kiss left me vaguely curious. You decided to upgrade your brain, but not your manhood? Most men would say you’re an idiot. Maybe the upgrade didn’t take.”
“Is that a roundabout way of telling me I’m not sufficiently endowed?”
“Oh no. I wouldn’t want you to feel awkward right now. Not when we’re about to make love.”
“I’m what you might call a femme fatale. The object of men’s fantasies. And I always get what I want.” She gently shoved him into one of the rooms. It was mostly dark, so Armstrong had to switch the spectrum on his eyes. The infrared silhouette of Susan O’Day took off her shiny dress over her head. His mouth locked with her glowing lips and laughed. In a minute it was over and he fell back on the floor. Her infrared laughter filled the room.
He lay back, exhausted and content. Neither one said anything.
It was nice in the darkness with the girl beside him. Eventually she snuggled her head against his chest and fell asleep. Maybe he fell asleep, too. Maybe he was only half-awake. In any case, he dreamed of Isabel. This happened all the time, of course, whether he was awake or not, so again it was hard to tell. Isabel. Dead Isabel who wouldn’t want anything to do with him anymore even if she were still alive. Dead Isabel, who reminded him he had a job to do.
Armstrong stroked the girl’s head absently. “I thought you were asleep,” she muttered, while her arm went for something under her crumpled dress.
Armstrong leaned forward and scratched the back of her neck. Susan O’Day collapsed on top of him, senseless. The blade fell from her open hand. He grinned.
MORE SUSPENSE ON SATURDAY!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Robert Armstrong got lucky.
He glanced at her reflection on the mirror to the left, and put his clothes back on.
So somebody knew why he was here. No more time to waste. Too bad. Quietly, he exited the room.
As he sauntered his way to the second floor his eyes glanced at the scene outside through the paneled window. The people of Huygens Town were completely absorbed by their ecstasy. This close to the exclusive casino, it was mostly Aristos, swaggering unafraid, but also commoners, as this was Saturnalia. There was the clashing of cymbals, and the jangling of bells from every quarter. Armstrong could just about see the suspended bridge arching over the open chasm of the crevice, all the way to the other side of the canyon, filled by a merry procession of men wearing harlequin masks and women with enormous phalluses strapped to them. Persons wearing masks in the likeness of the Tsar, leering satyrs all, offered bawdy benedictions left and right.
Armstrong watched these anonymous crowds, fantasizing about ways of killing total strangers. Much of his time was spent like this, mulling about possible contingencies in case he got caught. Dead Isabel kept spurring him on, though.
He tried accessing Susan O’Day’s head, but the girl was still unconscious. Satisfied, he shut the contact. In theory, the neural node inside her skull could not be spied upon, but at least he could tell she was still out. Even if she hadn’t been numbed by wine and brandy, the drug should keep her asleep for several hours.
Back on the casino floor, he didn’t recognize any of the people in there. Then he noticed Sarah Bergman, looking back at him. He’d been wondering if she would show up at all. She had attached Zero-G tips on every hair on her head, and her long raven mane floated as if underwater, like mermaid’s tresses haloing her perfect oval face. Sleek metallic stocking hose, also embedded with Saturn’s ice and painted in gold, showed off her legs, while a stiff and shiny strip of plastic snaked three times around her naked upper body. In a throwback to last millennium, the narrow white strip covered the nipples on her breasts. Of course, Sarah Bergman had wanted to shock, not to offend, so her taut belly button was demurely hidden. Her curious eyes peered at everything and everyone behind a set of green-tinted handheld glasses.
He stepped out of the casino, not wanting to engage her directly. He felt hot and nauseous, anyway. He realized he was about to vomit. He fell sweaty, and tears in his eyes. One too many Marstini. He tried to stop himself, then he bent over as he heaved mightily. He felt Sarah Bergman’s hand touch his cheek, but he was too weak to shake her off. “That’s right. Get her out of your system.”
DON’T YOU DARE MISS TOMORROW SUNDAY’S INSTALLMENT!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Robert Armstrong got sick.
He allowed Sarah Bergman to lead him to her private gondola and morosely sat in the passenger seat. The propellers at the back of the streamlined balloon came to sudden life and they were off. Just as they lifted, the Cathedral ships outside fired their first cannonade. The rainbow beams attacking the surface of Saturn cast a dull light over their cabin. As Sarah Bergman drove her ship towards the nearest dome lock, she paused in her concentration for a split second, to watch the power of the Iad Hollanda as the surface itself of mighty Saturn opened up, even for just one moment, to pay homage to the Saturnalia. Armstrong never bothered looking up, and huddled in his coat as he let her drive him away from Huygens Town. In no time at all, the dome and the Saturnalia receded into the distance and the back of his memory and they were alone, with only the orange and gold clouds for company. He said nothing and just watched the colors. At some point, she grabbed his hand. He let her, taking some of the strength she was feeding him.
“No one will ever love you like I do,” she said.
CHECK THIS SPACE TOMORROW!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Robert Armstrong ran into Sarah Bergman.
Glancing at the instruments, Armstrong could tell they were heading for her palazzo on the Kronus colony down at Xanadu. Slowly pushing their way through layers of methane clouds, the sleek gondola was a silent pebble against whorls of yellow and ochre, the continent of orange-brown ice spread before them. Black lakes peppered the whole landscape. Outside of the Iad Hollanda domes, even the air itself was thick, like walking through soup. To Armstrong’s eyes it had always looked like an atmosphere of gazpacho, which had always looked to him like vomit and bile, and just as disgusting. This made the view not as clear as it would be from a balloon high on Earth altitude. He was aware, however, that Sarah Bergman had never been to Earth. In the distance ahead of them flashes of an electrical storm could just about be seen.
“Did you know I have a child?” Despite the weather and shifting methane clouds, Sarah Bergman’s firm hands made the gondola handle every turn smoothly.
“Who’s the father?” Robert said, still studying the swirling lights outside
She laughed. “A woman would ask if it’s a boy or a girl.”
His arms were still huddled around him, his body starting to feel better. “Fine. Whatever. Why are you telling me this?”
For the first time she turned to look at him. “That’s a very direct question for you. Did I do anything to offend you?”
“No more than usual.”
The atmosphere just above the frozen lake of ammonia outside the Kronus dome was shimmering, while a ferocious wind lashed particles of dust over its surface. The winds at these latitudes were usually very strong, and had carved nightmarish geological formations over the centuries. Enormous rocks stretched upward and down around the dome, like ribs looming over a half-buried skeleton. Telemetry was quickly exchanged between gondola and station and a door slid open in the side of the dome.
“Who invited you to Baxter’s party? I thought you two couldn’t stand each other.”
“Who’s going to stop me? I’m like you, Robert. I like irritating people.”
“Why did we come to Kronus? Little backward colony.”
“C’mon, don’t be like that. I’ll let you tie me up.”
The image in his head alone was enough to give him a smile.
“How are you feeling tonight, Robert?”
“I don’t know. I never do.”
WHAT IS ROBERT FEELING? FIND OUT IN TUESDAY’S NEWSPAPER!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Robert is sad.
The great lake splayed before Sarah Bergman’s palazzo looked like a sea of paraffin, which in effect it was. Armstrong had taken off his jacket and shirt and lay on a non-sentient couch. The spider legs at the base of the couch led him to a magnificent wardrobe. Hoping he was still drunk, he chose a sky-blue coat, its skirts almost touching his knees, with wide button-back cuffs. His mustard yellow cravat had semi-sentient tattoos floating dumbly. He powdered his face with white dye, with some rouge for his cheeks. His white Pompadour wig was so big it was almost intimidating. His breeches as well as his stockings were bone white in hi-def cotton threads. Looking at his reflection in the hi-res mirror, he had to admit he liked what he saw. All that was missing was a drink in his hand.
The couch took him next to a large balcony overlooking the lake.
Sarah Bergman was already there, mixing the drinks. She had also changed her outfit. Her new blouse was particularly attractive. Her breasts were now left bare, as was the current fashion among the Iad Hollanda, but also her belly button, as was most definitely not the custom among any world in the System. In these days where so many were clamoring for the human rights of eidolons and klones it was not seen as tasteful to announce one was of natural birth.
Armstrong frowned. Not that long ago, Sarah Bergman wouldn’t have been afraid of provoking people outside her palazzo. What was the point of being subversive only inside the safety of your own home? Maybe Sarah Bergman had grown old while he wasn’t looking. Since she was his same age, he found the thought depressing.
“I admit I’ve always liked this little pied à terre of yours,” he said.
“Of course. Why do you think the Tsar likes Titan so much? Titan offers prime real estate, not like those chunks of water on Rhea or Iapetus. Jupiter’s Ganymede might be bigger, but the Iad Hollanda own an actual world in Titan, not a moon.”
“I’ve been on Ganymede. It’s gorgeous.”
Sarah Bergman shrugged, not raising to the bait, and gave him a drink. “The Rebis Ross can keep it. Who wants to deal with those crackpots from the Haydn-Walesa Alliance or the Charybdis Revolutionary Front? At least Titan is ours and no one else’s.”
“Titan and Ganymede are largely why the Iad Hollanda and the Rebis Ross are the two super-powers in trans-Jovian space. The Front and the Alliance will soon be absorbed.”
“Super-powers,” Sarah Bergman snorted derisively. “Sure, even if we have to hide from the sun under all that orange smog.”
“That ‘orange smog’ like you call it is what gives us our wealth, not the actual real estate. It’s an organic chemistry factory’s dream. You should’ve been here only twenty years ago, before we used Titan’s surplus nitrogen to terraform Mars. The clouds used to have a distinct amethyst hue. I think you would’ve liked it.”
“I probably would. Too bad Daddy kept me up in my ivory tower until you helped me escape.”
“There are worse places to be raised than the Winter Palace,” he said. “And the Tsar was probably only thinking in the safety of his only daughter.”
Sarah Bergman glowered at him.
Armstrong grinned sheepishly. “Or maybe not. How would I know. Thank the gods I’ve never had any children.”
MORE EXCITING REVELATIONS IN TOMORROW’S INSTALLMENT!
THE STORY SO FAR...
Robert and Sarah are talking.
“My problem was that I let you know how I felt for you,” she said. “I even told you I love you. And all along you kept pining after that other girl.”
“Freud said it first.”
“I don’t know who that is,” she said.
“So use that itsy-bitsy computer in your head and look it up. It might be easier if you look for Groucho Marx, though.”
“Finish your drink, Robert. You can leave when you’re finished. I don’t know why I even bother.”
“You’ve always had it wrong in that respect, Sarah,” he said.
“I’ve never hated you. Quite the contrary. We make quite a pair, after all. I’ve always thought so, at least. We’re too much alike in many ways. It’s really too bad we’ve never had the right chemistry. If it’s any consolation, it’s probably my fault. It usually is.”
“So what are you saying?”
“Can I see your necklace?” he said. He’d always admired it.
Sarah reached under her blouse to find the jade pendant and gave it to him. He drew it up close to his eyes to inspect it. The slim golden chain made his face hover inches away from her throat, and she held quite still. “It was my Mother’s,” she said, retrieving it and finally breathing. “Please don’t play games with me.”
“I’m saying I like you now more than I ever have, Sarah Bergman. After you know someone for a while, and shared their company, I guess that’s inevitable, right? But maybe it’s just the depression talking. Maybe I’ve given up and I’m settling for Number Two. Is that what you want?”
She bared her teeth. “There really is no need to get rude.”
“No, I mean it. What if we end up happy together? Does it matter how we started? It probably wouldn’t make a great song, but it could do as a great life.”
She finished her drink and got up to get another one. When she wasn’t looking he quit smiling.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.” Surprisingly, he meant it. “What are you thinking?”
“I don’t know. You must be right, and we’re more alike than I thought.”
“Why didn’t you go to the party with your belly exposed? That’s what I would’ve done.”
“I don’t care if people know I wasn’t decanted. I don’t like eidolons. Does that shock you? These days organic viruses have even less rights than computer viruses. At least klones have representatives.”
“So, I didn’t feel like starting a fight tonight.”
“Fine. But you left Huygens Town with me. You don’t think that’s going to ruffle some feathers up in the Winter Palace? So maybe you did want to start a fight with someone, anyone, tonight. I was just the convenient excuse. One of these days you’re going to find out Daddy’s patience isn’t infinite. One day he might just come and get you himself.”
“When that happens I’ll kill myself.”
“I would miss you.”
She smiled, and shot him a look. “I have my personality backed-up on Ganymede. A safety box in a nice Rebis Ross bank. If I fail to appear after a certain amount of time, a new me will be decanted.”
“And the Tsar’s only daughter won’t have a belly button any more. I bet the old man will love that! “
“I have a lot of free time on my hands. Don’t you? What do you do in your spare time? “
“I map my genome inside my head and memorize the whole sequence just to avoid the boredom.”
He swiveled his legs off the walking couch and stood up. Before she could stop him, he was kissing her. She pressed herself against him, and moaned something. He kissed her neck. He tried to get aroused by the touch of her bare breasts on his shirt, by the warm breath over his ear, but could only think of his own genome sequence, going over and over inside his head. She had absolutely no appeal to him. She never had.
MORE SCINTILLATING ADVENTURE TOMORROW!
THE STORY SO FAR…
Sarah Bergman got lucky.
Armstrong left her asleep on the balcony and found his way to the palazzo’s bridge-room wearing only his underwear. The palazzo’s bridge was a vaulted chamber with floors of black marble and columns of white marble. Half a dozen indentured klones were stationed at separate console units. Screens of telemetry and banks of controls were set into polished mahogany surfaces. The captain’s chair was placed at the back, just below a massive gilt-framed oil painting; a hunting scene of young-looking Aristos in riding boots and white jodhpurs under a red sky, gathered around a felled animal Armstrong could not identify. The painting’s oils had basic low-sentiency and mutated dogs barked at the dead creature over and over in a closed loop.
“Robert Armstrong,” the Captain said. He was immensely fat, with an appropriately debauched face. The visage of a perverse cherub. His cold shrew of a wife played the pianoforte in the background, some archaic monstrosity unearthed from some ancient starship. She was singing an aria. She had not bothered to cover her belly button, either, and in fact, openly flaunted her swollen paunch. Armstrong remembered his last visit to the Winter Habitat, only last orbit. Every lady back then had force-grown their bellies and paraded around the Tsar’s Grand Ballroom like so many pre-millennial pregnant women, the season’s dernier cri apparently. One of them had even unearthed a typically quaint expression from a different century, “Love Handles” Armstrong remembered, “for your lover to grab on to”. He could notice some red finger marks already branding the Captain’s wife’s love handles.
Armstrong drew the gun behind his back and opened fire.
THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES TOMORROW!
THE STORY SO FAR...
Robert fired his gun.
Armstrong found a light skiff and took off from Sarah Bergman’s palazzo, heading for Titan’s dark side. He took a ballistic trajectory that rocketed him over the moon’s cloud cover. The icy rings of Saturn rose aslant over the black background. Because of Titan’s slight inclination towards Saturn, the rings were sometimes up, sometimes down. An experienced native could tell the time of the lunar year just by looking at the rings. Considering the moon’s axial tilt was zero, the real reason Huygens Town had been built on Titan’s north pole, this was actually harder said than done. Armstrong could see fireworks going off around the Winter Palace. A fleet of Cathedrals circled warily, like drifting whales, their Gothic hulls gleaming with the light of every celebratory explosion.
Armstrong looked away, fixing his eyes forward. Saturnalia for him had ended.
An eerie calmness seemed to envelop him. He loved these quiet moments, alone inside a spaceship. He loved having company at certain times, to share all those wonderful sights, but mostly he loved these moments of silence. Maybe he should feel sorry for himself, he wasn’t sure.
There would be a freighter waiting to take him off-Titan down by the South Pole. Armstrong relaxed, letting the autopilot take over. Dead Isabel could leave him alone for a while now. Job’s done. He unscrewed a bottle he’d smuggled out of Sarah Bergman’s palazzo. She’d be waking up soon enough. Tomorrow she would have to look for a new Captain to fly her palazzo. In an orbit or two the Tsar would have one of our captains killed. He wondered if life had always been like this. He took a long drink off the bottle, thinking about her expression when she found out. He took another drink. How long would it take her to figure out he’d planned everything? That she wouldn’t be seeing him again in a very long time. He placed the bottle between his legs. He liked the feeling of the swirling bottle nestled between his thighs. He stared into the emptiness before him.
Stared at the clouds below him, rapidly coming up.
He might as well be circling a ghost world, uninhabited and featureless. He could be the only man alive in all of existence, alone with himself just like he preferred it. Or maybe he was still back in the darkened palazzo, in Sarah Bergman’s arms, imagining the whole thing. What was more likely, really?
His fingers keyed in a different course. Before the ship had finished turning around, the bottle was back on his mouth. Before long, he was steering his way back into the Kronus dome, towards the warm bed of Sarah Bergman, the woman he did not love.
About the Author
Armando Salinas was born a very long time ago, and it's starting to show. To cope with it he drinks large amounts of alcohol, enough to kill Dylan Thomas. He's written 6 short story collections and one novel (which no one bought, so maybe it isn't true). Long out of print, these obscure items exist now on the Kindle, like One Night in Bangkok, a collection he's inordinately proud of. He lives in Mexico City, waiting for true love, but settling for meaningless sex. Lots and lots of it. You can read his blog (in Spanish) where he rambles on about whatever book he read that week. Oh, and from Monday to Friday he dons Armani suits and obscenely expensive Prada shoes and pretends he's a yuppie stockbroker, not a writer, because darn it, somebody has to pay all those bills. Did I mention the alcohol?
Post a comment on this story!
Back To Flurb Home Page...