Saturday, October 16, 2010

Even Yet More "Antisocial!"

The story continues.


“I have two questions.”


“’Where are we’ and ‘is that a dragon?’”

“Unknown and affirmative.”

“I have a third question.”


“’Do you have anything to drink on you?’”




Thirty seconds earlier, Dr. Pock and Jet had abruptly appeared in what appeared to be a dimly lit room. Upon further investigation, Pock was able to discern that it was some kind of bar. He grinned. However, his elation was quelled when he caught sight of the dragon not ten feet away from where he and Jet were standing. Its presence was bad enough; that it stood between Pock and the bar was the bigger issue.

It wasn’t particularly large as far as dragons went; it measured maybe five or six feet from nose to tail when on all fours. It had thick, rust-colored scales that covered its entire body, and a set of fearsome claws. Curiously, on its back was a large tattoo of what looked like a raven-haired teenage girl. Pock found that curious. The dragon had a set of ominous teeth that were only visible when it smiled.

Wait... thought Pock. Smiled?

“A fourth question,” he said.


“’Is that dragon smiling?’”



Indeed, although a dragon is, physiologically, a fearsome creature, the fact that this one seemed to be smiling—and not smiling in an evil or mischievous way—was decidedly at odds with what was otherwise a daunting appearance.

“A sixth question.”

“I believe you’re only up to five,” said the dragon in a remarkably clear, articulate voice.

Now Pock was completely freaked out.

“Unless I miss my guess,” the dragon continued, “you are the unwitting victim of a wanderhole.”

“A what?”

“A wanderhole. A small fragment of a wormhole that, as its name suggests, wanders through space. They were created decades ago during the great intragalactic wormhole building projects. When the wormholes were created and manipulated to travel in certain directions, small bits were dislodged and have been traveling randomly through the galaxy. Only very rarely are sentient beings or spacecraft unlucky enough to fall into them. I mean, the odds of it are pretty astronomical. But this is astronomy, after all, and sometimes these things happen. It looks like you two have just joined a very select club.”


“At any rate, welcome to here.”

“What is the name of here?” asked Pock.

“Come again?”

“This planet. This place. What’s the name of it?”

The dragon thought. “That’s a good question. We don’t really have a name for it.”

“You don’t?”

The dragon shrugged. “It’s never come up before. We just refer to this place as ‘here’ or ‘this place’.

“What’s your name then?”

“We don’t have names. We’re more of a pronoun-based culture.”

“But not very pro-noun,” offered Pock.

“Yes, that’s very good. At any rate, let me buy you two a drink.”

Pock moved to a barstool with a speed that the dragon could swear caused a red-shift. Jet and the dragon sat on either side of him. A taller, upright, much stouter dragon appeared behind the bar and poured three drinks. Pock gave it a cursory examination before taking a sip. It tasted remarkably like gin, but with more beef. And like that would stop him. He downed it in one gulp and the bartending dragon poured another one.

“I’m Benjamin, Benjamin Pock. And this is Jet. Jet’s a robot. We’re from the planet Earth which is, um, somewhere far from here.”

“I can imagine. The wanderholes can send folks on some wild journeys.”

Pock downed another drink and a third one appeared in front of him. Whatever this place was or wasn’t called, he liked it already.

“It’s remarkable, though, that you speak perfect English,” said Pock.

“Come again?”

“Your English. It’s perfect for a race that has never heard of Earth.”

The dragon looked at him confusedly. “That’s curious. I was about to say the same thing about your speaking our language perfectly.”

“Which is called...”

Our language,” said Pock and the dragon simultaneously, as Pock was starting to catch on. Well, to a point.

“My little red friend, you are blowing my mind,” said Pock, quickly draining his third drink.

“It really is a question of tradition,” said the dragon. “You see, many thousands of years ago, the two beings who developed our language met for what has come down to us through our lore as The Naming of Things, when they gave all the objects, and creatures, and plants, and feelings, and snack crackers in our culture certain names. But then they stopped abruptly, and said, ‘Whoa, dude, these names we have for everything are so totally sick, but if we, like, give all the gnarly beings a single name, then, like, they’ll be stuck with that and that’s all they’ll ever be, which would totally suck.’”

“They spoke strangely,” said Pock.

“Yes, well, it was an early form of our language, which has evolved and grown in complexity. And become less ridiculous. Anyway, they decided that nouns—especially proper nouns—were far too existentially limiting, so they named as few things as possible, just the bare minimum of what was needed to actually have a functioning language and culture, and that was it.”

“That’s cool.”

A few more dragons had started entering the place and took places at the bar, at booths, or at highboy tables set around the edge of the room. Pock looked around curiously.

“What up?”

“It is the Red Hour,” said the dragon.

“Red Hour?”

“A daily ritual of the most solemn type, marking the close of another day, another day’s worth of good work done, and a celebration of life. It involves high spirits, revelry, and heavy drinking.”

“Basically Happy Hour,” said Pock.

“Yes, But ‘Red Hour’ sounds a bit more ominous.”

“Hey, I’m just happy to see that you actually have a name for something, my nounless friend.”

“It’s that important to our culture. The trouble is,” the dragon added with a touch of sadness, “that our insta-choir—well, jukebox, really—is broken.”

Pock perked up. “Well, my friend, you are lucky that we happened in here today. Jet—“

Jet had been sitting quietly, staring at the drink he was unable to actually consume, performing a chemical analysis of it with his eye sensors.

“You might be interested to know what this contains,” he said to Pock.

“Never. Anyway, we are in a position to help these people—well, beings. Jet, Command-Boogie Shoes.”

And with that command, Jet stood up and walked out to what it now occurred to Pock was a dance floor. Jet held up his hands, and opened a plastic panel on each of his palms, revealing speaker holes. Loud music started blaring out of his hands, and the dragons all perked up. Some moved into the center of the room and began gyrating.

“He has a whole library of MP3s loaded into him. And we sometimes supplement out incomes by DJing at parties. Our act is called Bennie and the Jet.”


Pock walked over to Jet. He unfastened a clasp behind Jet’s left ear and the top of his bald head swung open on a hinge, revealing a mirror ball. It caught the reflection of the ceiling lights and Jet started rotating his head.

“That’s quite an act you’ve got,” said the dragon.

“You should see karaoke night.”

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