"What we have here ... is a failure to communicate." Arturo167 stated matter of factly.
"Oh god, will you shut up?" Arturo48 exclaimed. "There is no failure, you are just a blistering idiot!"
Arturo85 popped a cheese ball in his mouth. "Calling a double a blistering idiot is rather like calling your brother a bastard, is it not?"
"Oh you stay out of it!" Arturo 167 raged.
Across the crowded room, three Mallories, two Colins and four Quinns were betting on the outcome of the local world sport, Fallen Arch Ball. "Come on!" "Run you cripple!" "AHHHHHH!!!! He cheated! I'll bet he has a special orthopedic shoe!"
16 Wades were arguing heatedly with 14 Maggies about their respective worth as team members. "Well," Wade245 snorted, "more of your doubles have ended up barefoot and pregnant on various worlds when they were left behind by their fed up teammates! I can't tell you have many abandoned Maggies I've personally run across!"
Maggie15 snarled. "I'll have you know that I've run across enough Wade heads floating around in water boxes to form a basketball team! Of course, you'd need a body to be able to play basketball. But one of them could be the basketball I guess!"
"That's it!" Wade 69 growled, taking the plastic two liter bottle she'd been holding it and smashing it against the buffet table. She advanced on Maggie 15 with the jagged remainder of the bottle.
Two other Wades and a Diana held her back. "Come on, girl! She ain't worth it!"
Across the way, 5 Remmys were on stage singing, each trying to outdo the others. The crowd of 20 or so other Remmys watching all told each other that they could do it better.
A Quinn appeared at the door of the huge ballroom. "Could the Sliders who were with me on the No Ice Cream world get over here?!? We Slide in 10 minutes!"
A Remmy and Arturo headed for the door. They grabbed a spork wielding Wade and pulled her away from a Maggie who had dropped into a Hong Kong Phooey stance.
"What a mad house! I never imagined meeting so many obnoxious people at one time! And that is just my doubles!" Arturo shook his head. "Did you ever find out why so many of our doubles showed up at once?"
Quinn shrugged. "They said they think their world is some kind of crossroads. Sliders appear here all the time. That is why they built this special holding place for all Sliders, to avoid mass confusion."
Wade shot a look behind her. "Let's get the flock out of here. I don't care why."
Arturo was still musing. "But the timer countdown is to a specific 'weak point' that only occurs every 29 years! Shouldn't everyone be Sliding out of here at once?"
Quinn smirked. "If you're going to ask that, then why not ask why it is that we seem to reach a world only days or months before the weak point when it could just as easily be 10 or 15 years. Time's up! Let's go!"
He initiated the vortex and before they knew it they were on another world.
Wade kicked a rock shyly and produced three wrapped presents from her jacket pocket. Her breath pillowed out in visible gusts. Wherever they were along the West Coast, it was COLD.
Remmy grinned. "Ah, girl, you didn't have to get us anything! We agreed no presents this year because we haven't been anywhere long enough to work in the past month."
Quinn hugged her. "Thanks Sweetie! Um, I kinda broke that agreement as well." He pulled out three wrapped presents from various pockets.
Remmy's grin got larger as he too pulled out hidden gifts.
All eyes turned to Arturo, who was obviously freezing and seemed to be dying to yell at them about finding a warm place to do all of this, only the heartwarming moment made him hold his tongue. He looked at each of them in turn. "What? I keep my promises! We all agreed NOT to do this!"
They continued to look at him in silence.
"I didn't get any of you a blasted thing!"
They continued to stare at him.
Arturo sighed and produced three gifts. "I did this ONLY in case you all violated our agreement!"
They shared a laugh together. Quinn nodded towards a lit restaurant nearby. "Wanna go there and open these suckers?"
As he led the way he pulled out the timer and took at gander at it. "Shoot, we only have 53 minutes! Just enough time to slam and open our gifts!"
The others were tired of Sliding so much, but further complaints didn't seem helpful so they trudged behind him. Quinn nudged open the door and entered first, still absentmindedly carrying the wrapped presents.
The person behind the counter looked up, did a double take, and scowled. He reached under his counter and whipped out a shotgun. "HEY!!! Can't you people read?" He gestured violently towards the sign on the door that the Sliders had completely ignored.
zone. On December 25th,
AND ABSOLUTELY NO F-ING
Quinn's eyebrows were past his hairline. "Oooooookay. We'll just be going back now, okay?"
He backed out and they departed quickly. "Hmmmm, methinks we shall not be going into any other places on THIS world!"
Arturo's presents had disappeared back into his pockets. "I suggest discretion on this world. There seems to be some animosity towards Christmas here."
The presents disappeared faster than good ideas at a Peckinballs brainstorming session. They settled on the curb, shivered, and waited for the timer to run down.
"Some Christmas, eh?" Wade muttered.
"Don't worry, girl, we'll still have 23 some odd hours to enjoy Christmas on some other world."
A sudden gunshot startled them. The sound of running feet from that direction drew their attention. A man dressed as Santa came running around the corner. As they watched he dove into a grove of bushes. A lynch mob rounded the corner moments later. A dozen angry men and women bearing torches, pitchforks, clubs, and shotguns spread out. "Find 'em! How dare he come down our street! We have our street clearly posted!"
Wade buried her head in her hands. "Gimmie MallWorld anytime."
A gust of wind drove Wade into Remmy, sending them both rolling down a steep hill. By the time they stopped at the bottom, a layer of snow 6 inches thick had accumulated around them, making them resemble a giant snowball. The other two, laughing despite their concern, rushed to help their friends up.
Remmy and Wade brushed each other off while Quinn checked the timer. "Sheesh, this is going to be an active night! 37 minutes until we Slide!"
Wade groaned. "I'm not opening my presents in this blizzard!"
Arturo chuckled. "My dear girl, at least you have the White Christmas you have been pining for every since we started on this infernal journey."
"Ha ha." She retorted. But then she spared him a slight smile. This was a little better than that last bizarre world.
They had just enough time for one snowball fight before their Slide.
As the vortex opened and the Sliders started jumping in Wade suddenly stopped and sniffed. She bent down and exaimined the "snow." Shuddering, she jumped up and ran into the vortex with the horrible knowledge that they had NOT been playing with snow!
A man with a wicked tuft of hair and a long thin neck ran into Wade, knocking her back and to the left. Back and to the left. He rushed on without so much as a word.
"This must be Rude World." Wade scowled, straightening her blouse.
Everyone seemed to be rushing to a toy store so the Sliders followed curiously since they only had a little time to kill before the next Slide. When they got close enough to read the hand lettered sign in the front window, Arturo grabbed his friends. "Oh no! This is bad news! We could get hurt if we get any closer! Let's find a safe place to hide!"
The sign read, "New and final shipment of Tickle-Me-Cabbagemon-Kids here today!" Underneath the words was a drawing of something hideously cute. So cute that it even turned the stomach of Wade.
"You're right, let's lose this place." She gagged.
They ran several blocks away, careful to not get between anyone and the store. When they were in the second hand store neighborhood they finally slowed down.
Quinn was relieved. "They're only selling Peenie Babies here, we're safe guys."
Just to be extra safe they stayed at a bookstore, which was so empty that they each had a reading couch to themselves. Wade amused herself by examining the books of this world, careful not to touch the spelling dictionaries because they had so much dust on them.
"Listen to this, guys. 'Wrestling Exposed! It's Been Fake for Years!'" She giggled. "Well, duh."
"Wrestling's fake?" Quinn quipped.
Remmy threw a "The 60's" bookmark at his friend playfully.
Wade continued, "'1,000 MORE Reasons to HATE Adam Sandler.' He must be even more annoying on this world! Cool!"
Inspired, Remmy had moved over to the small CD table. "Oh YES! There is a God! The Backstreet Boys are in the 49 cent bin! Oh, and look!" He held up a CD. "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince didn't go insane on this world! Still using a pronounceable name! It's a vile curse word but at least it's pronounceable!"
Quinn sighed. This was quickly getting tedious. "I guess we better get to an alley. There's always one around. We Slide in a couple minutes."
Wade rose to her feet, peering around her. "Do any of you see anyone?" She shivered and looked down at the reddish brown grass. "If I don't see someone in a minute, I'm going back through the vortex."
Arturo turned curiously. "Whatever do you mean, my dear?"
She looked at him with sudden realization. "Oh, never mind. That wasn't us."
They started walking and still didn't see anyone until they were almost downtown. As they passed a theater Remmy happened to notice that Hudson Hawk IV and Waterworld II: Electric Boggaloo were playing and just shook his head.
Everyone in town was gathered in the town square, facing a stage where a solemn man was pulling names out of a barrel. "Quince Poindexter."
A young skinny man of about 20 groaned and kicked a rock. "Aw man!"
Another young skinny man with bad acne, glasses, and a pocket protector also groaned. ":-#!!! This thing is rigged! This is my fifth year in the row of being called!"
A huge man wearing a tee shirt 16 sizes too small, penny loafers, and baggy khakis whinnied -er- whined in protest. "A-gain?"
When all the names had been called, people who were nerds, outcasts, or who (worse and proving beyond a shadow of a doubt their "loser" status) were wearing "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Curious, Arturo asked a passing muttering man what was going on. The man, someone over 40 who had dared to wear a Red Hot Chili Peppers shirt, scowled at them. "Where have you been? All the losers are getting screwed again! This 'drawing' is a joke, man!"
"Drawing for what?" Quinn wanted to know.
"For who gets to take all the town's children out to the country for the rest of the day." The man sighed morosely.
"What on earth for, my good man?" Arturo demanded.
The man started to turn away. "So that everyone else can have the Annual Christmas Orgy, why else?"
"WOO HOO!!!" Quinn and Remmy said in unison, raising their arms with glee.
Arturo kept his expression somber but his hands straightening his tie gave him away. "Well, it appears, my friends, that some worlds really do know how to celebrate Christmas!" He glanced at his watch. "It's 10:16am. How long before we Slide?"
Quinn whipped out the timer. "One hour and 43 minutes."
Remmy accosted another passerby. "Hey, when does the party start?"
The depressed man muttered, "12 noon, exactly. When else?"
"WOO HOO!!!" Wade cheered, raising her arms with glee.
"Did you see the blond in the towel?" Quinn sighed.
"I can't believe we couldn't talk them into starting the orgy early." Remmy moaned into the table, since his face was lying on it.
"Did you see the blond in the towel?" Quinn sighed.
"It was quite painful seeing them roll the barrels of maple syrup, marshmallows, thumb cuffs, stuffed animals, feather mattresses, and other paraphernalia out and then have to leave just as the loudspeakers started playing Johnny Mathis." Arturo whined.
"Did you see the blond in the towel?" Quinn sighed.
"Guys, guys. Snap out of it! You guys got screwed, I admit, but ..." she trailed off. "Actually you DIDN'T!" She broke into a giggle attack too strong to finish what she was saying.
The waiter returned with four cups of steaming coffee that smelled so good none of them could believe it. All four quickly slammed down a huge gulp, then said, "ahhhhhhhh" in unison.
Quinn suddenly sat up straight. "Oh. My. God. That is the strongest cup of coffee I've ever had!"
"I think it's eating through my teeth!" Arturo protested.
Remmy tried to spit out what was left in his mouth, but his tongue no longer worked properly.
"This isn't coffee! This is liquid Speed!" Wade gasped.
The waiter returned, pleased. "Ah yes, this is a special house blend. Guaranteed to either blow up your heart or keep you up for 24 hours straight, whichever comes first, or your money back. All it takes is one solid draught. All of you seem to have qualified for that. Now, are you ready for the main course?"
"No." Quinn, his voice so fast it sounded like Alvin.
"Nugh." Remmy spat out around his lifeless tongue.
Arturo shook his head 27 times.
Wade threatened him with a jam spreader and scowled.
The waiter snapped his fingers.
Four stocky women, none less then 6 foot 6 inches tall, none with less than 16 inch biceps, all wearing "Men, they're what's for dinner!" tee-shirts, and all carrying truncheons, pounded over in knee high boots. The waiter nodded his head at the Sliders. "These troublemakers are trying to refuse the mandatory Christmas dinner of semi-cooked liver, raw cabbage, eggplant stew, and Rocky Mountain Oysters. Take them to the Pain Room."
The Sliders looked at each other for a long moment, thinking about the described meal.
"I'll take the pain, please." Quinn decided.
Arturo stood quickly. "Me too."
Wade joined them.
Remmy tested his tongue. "I can't feel my tongueth! Woo Hoo! Bring on the food!"
The waiter smiled and approached Quinn. "Perhaps I better tell you what the pain room involves." He whispered into Quinn's ear. The others could only hear a couple of the words. "<whisper> ... probe ... <whisper> ... transfusions ... <whisper> ... snort tube ... <whisper> ... Seinfeld -."
"SEINFELD?????" Quinn yelped. "I'll have the meal please." He zipped back to his seat.
The other two hurriedly joined him.
"Thaaaat's better. Bring on the first course, ladies."
Remmy sighed. "I know that I lucked out by not being able to feel my tongue. But did the feeling have to come back just in time for the aftertaste?"
Arturo straightened his suit. "Well, let's find someplace sane to ride out the rest of this blasted holiday! Could that possibly be asking for too much?"
He opened the door and stepped out. A mime with big rubber feet, a Technicolor wig, baggy clothes, and the classic mime face makeup smashed Arturo with a cream pie right in the face. The mime held up a sign that read, "Treat or Treat! Merry Christmas!" Then he pantomimed giggling and quickly ran off.
The others carefully came out when the mime was out of range. In the distance they could see other mimes blasting other careless people.
Arturo tried the pie. "Mmmmm. First good thing to hit me all day!"
Wade got the others' attention. "Guys! There's a herd of mimes coming this way! And those don't look like cream pies in their hands!"
The others ran after her, looking for shelter.
This world seemed suspiciously quiet. The four looked around warily, ready for anything, but no passerby paid them any notice.
"Well!" Arturo finally sighed. "Let's find the Chandler and get cleaned up and maybe we can finally exchange our gifts, what do you think?"
The others were agreeable. Quinn checked the timer and was not the least bit surprised that they had less than two hours before they Slid. "We're in Sliders' Hell." He muttered.
As soon as they had cleaned up and changed, they headed down to the bar for a round of drinks before their next Slide. They passed a sleeping cat in chair next to the door, a man drinking a 7up Chaser, a woman eating a Sexual Chocolate 69 candy bar (earning a glance from Remmy), and a woman with "TEMP is God, Clapton is only an Arch Bishop" tee-shirt.
They all ordered drinks and wolfed them down before the bartender could even move away. The man chuckled. "Rough day, eh?"
"You have no idea how rough." Quinn grimaced. "I'd rather go on a mission to Mars than live through this day again!" He checked the bottom of the glass to see if any droplets remained. They had a one drink maximum on the days they had to Slide, though it might end up getting waived today.
A patron sitting a couple seats down overheard them and snickered. "You haven't had a rough day, boy! I'VE had a rough day!"
The Sliders shot each other a questioning look. "Okay, my good man," Arturo soothed. "No need to get worked up about it."
The patron announced loudly, "this man thinks he's had a rough day! I had to work a twenty-six hour shift at work today!"
Someone across the way chortled. "That's nothing! I had a twenty-EIGHT hour shift today and I work on a manure assembly line!"
The first man shook his head. "I got ya beat! I'm a pre-op groin shaver!"
Wade leaned forward, whispering, "what kind of world is this? Upstage World?"
The second man returned with, "we had to assemble PIG manure today! Pigs that had eaten nothing all day but Jello!! GREEN Jello!! How about THAT for a :-#y day???"
The first man snickered. "Roseanne Barr had an operation today. Followed by Marge Schott and Brad Pitt! And Brad Pitt had just come from the movie set of Kalifornia!"
Everyone gasped. The second man got up and left without another word, unable to top that.
The Sliders shook their heads and debated having another round. "We better not, it might be cold on the next world." Wade commented.
"COLD?" Another patron, this one a woman, said from the table behind them. "It gets so cold where I live that we have to strap heat tape on our arms and legs or our blood would freeze!"
A man from across the room scoffed. "That's NOTHING! Where I live, it's SO cold that we have to keep our milk and drinks in a heater just to have them warm enough to be cold drinks!"
The crowd hissed. This was evidently not good enough. Perhaps it was too verbose, or just lame, the Sliders were not sure.
"It's so cold where I live that you have to hold your mouth to someone's ear to talk! Otherwise the words'll freeze six inches from your mouth!"
Remmy's eyebrows shot up. "This is Liar World. Let's get the hell out of this bar!"
"HELL???? Son, the hell I'm going to is going to be freezing AND burning at the SAME TIME!!!"
The Sliders gathered their belongings and rushed out. Other people were talking now.
"That's NOTHING! I had SIXTEEN wisdom teeth taken out! At once! With a blowtorch!"
"PAIN? I'll tell ya about PAIN! My son left the plunger in the commode once and..."
Outside the Sliders took a deep breath and tried to relax. "A couple minutes till we Slide. Let's hope the next world is somewhere we can stay for longer than a couple hours!" Quinn commented.
Remmy shook his head. "I don't know about that. So far we haven't been on a world we'd WANT to stay on!"
"Well..." Arturo started to say, and then thought it best not when Wade shot him a dark look.
"Now this is more like it!" Wade beamed. "Maybe we can rest for a while and finally open each other's gifts!"
Quinn checked the timer and sighed. "Two hours. Grrrrr."
They hit the street, finding everything decorated festively, many Santa's walking around, people dressed as elves, most people carrying wrapped presents, and almost everyone smiling and seeming to be in a good mood. The Sliders relaxed and joined in the crowd.
A Santa passed close by Remmy, muttering, "Merry Christmas." Remmy, distracted by a huge Santa Claus statue in the middle of the square ahead of them, merely nodded in response.
None of them had noticed that every Santa and elf was wearing a holstered .44 AutoMag. The Santa whom Remmy ignored stopped and drew down on him. "HEY! I SAID, 'Merry Christmas' !!!"
Remmy turned and peered into a barrel the size of a mop bucket. "Um, Merry Christmas!"
Santa nodded and put away his weapon. He started to turn away, but then eyed Remmy balefully. "And a Happy New Year!"
Remmy formed a weak smile. "Happy New Year right back at ya!"
Santa walked on.
The Sliders exchanged glances, something that had become a habit today. "I take it Christmas is mandatory on this world." Quinn remarked dryly.
"Yes," Arturo agreed, "I suggest that we put aside the natural hatred and aversion we've developed for Christmas over the past 16 hours and try to get into the spirit of things, shall we?"
"Or ELSE." Remmy gulped.
Christmas on this world seemed to be a cross between Easter and something they had never heard of that involved goats. Because half the people on the street seemed to be dressed up as pank bunny rabbits and several children were slamming chocolate rabbits. But a lot of people also dressed up as mangy goats.
They passed a child who was looking at his chocolate bunny rabbit reflectively. The kid suddenly mumbled while moving the rabbit, as if it was talking, "it is a far far better thing I do, than I have ever done. It is a far far greater place I go, than I have even gone." Then the child bit the head off the rabbit.
Wade fought back a giggle and kept walking with the rest. "So, is this finally our last Slide of the day?"
Quinn, checking the timer, snorted. "45 minutes!"
Arturo shrugged. "At least it has allowed us to get off some annoying worlds, of which this world appears to be yet another. Goats?"
As they passed a gang of teenagers, the oldest and roughest looking put a hand on Quinn's chest. "Hey! Are you a Goat or a Bunny?"
"Excuse me?" He shot a look at the others, none of whom looked willing to offer a choice.
"ARE YOU A GOAT OR A BUNNY???"
Quinn had had enough today. He jerked past the man's hand and walked on. "None of your f-ing business! Come on guys."
The teenager stood there, with his hand still outstretched, and sniffled. "You didn't have to be rude man. I'm just trying to get into the spirit of Eastmas." The others came forward and gave him a group hug.
Quinn stopped, sighing. Damn the guilt! He turned and smiled. "We're Goats." He didn't fancy the idea of being a pank bunny, so even a mangy goat was better.
The crowd of teenagers started laughing and giggling. One was laughing so hard that he doubled over and fell on the ground. "A GOAT? Baa ha ha ha ha! MWA-HA-HA-HA!!! A nasty, mangy goat? The animal that Santa Claus forced to stay outside in the rain the day he was born in the manger so that the bunnies would have enough room? MWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!!!" They all made "L" 's with their fingers on their foreheads. "LOSERS!!!!!"
Quinn wheeled around and stormed off. "The next time I feel the twinge of guilt in my heart, someone slap the smirk off my face!"
Wade slapped his head.
"Hey! What was that for?"
She shrugged endearingly. "The last 50 times you've gotten us into trouble because of your guilt."
"Hardy har har." But he said it with a smile.
They had just enough time to drink some hot potatonog at a roadside stand and then it was off to another world.
They had landed in a park of course, so they settled in on a bench and started removing the outer garments. "Global warming must be more progressed on this world." Quinn remarked as he put away his power blue mittens.
Arturo noticed the presents he had stashed away in his coat. "Well, things look quiet enough, do we have time before you Slide to go ahead and exchange presents?"
"That's a great idea!" Wade chirped, finding hers in her coat.
Remmy opened his first. "A handkerchief from Wade! Very thoughtful!" He dried his eyes with it and hugged her. "A pair of Air Shaq shoes from the professor! Guaranteed to increase your vertical leap by one eighth an inch and your field goal percentage by minus 18 percent! Thanks! But I don't play basketball."
Arturo chuckled. "This is for when one of your doubles catches you stealing from his bank account!"
The last gift, from Quinn, was a brand new cue ball, which got a round of chuckles.
Wade got a locket with Quinn's piccie in it from Quinn, a pocket watch with the inscription "Oh My God!" written on it from Arturo, and copy of Huckleberry Finn from Remmy.
Arturo got a comb from Quinn, a brush from Remmy, and a mirror from Wade. He glared at them, "just what are you three trying to imply?"
Quinn got an onion loaf from Arturo, a locket with Wade's piccie in it from Wade, and a biography of William Shatner from Remmy. "I can feel the love guys," he beamed and they had time for one round of thanks before they Slid to the next world.
Quinn checked the timer and compared it to his watch. "We Slide around midnight, so this will be the final Slide of this horrid day."
"Today has felt like that movie with Bill Murray about the repeating day." Remmy sighed. "One Slide after the next."
"Yeah, I can't figure out how the producers pitched Hogan's Heroes to a network either." Wade commented.
Remmy stared at her, then figured that she hadn't heard him correctly and dropped it.
They walked on, noticing that every single business was closed. Not surprising, given that it was near midnight on Christmas Day.
"I wonder why the street lights aren't on?" Wade muttered, fingering her new locket.
"It's like a we're in a war zone or something, there is a total blackout." Arturo commented nervously.
"I'll bet that's it!" Quinn exploded. "I'll bet that on this world they celebrate Christmas by having Santa fly over and bomb cities! Or maybe the elves are striking on this world and are launching bombing raids to protest Santa hiring scab replacements! Or maybe 20 impotent Hell's Angels rejects called the
A window opened. "They're turned off at nine so that decent hardworking people can go to sleep, you almsman!!! Now begone before I call the plunger patrol!"
Quinn stood there, his hands in claws in front of him, mouth open in mid-rant. He dropped his hands and closed his mouth. "Oh. Cool. Let's cop a squat until the next Slide then."
The other three followed him, glancing at each other. "An almsman?" Wade whispered to Arturo.
The man chuckled and whispered back, "you don't want to know, my dear."
The coffee they'd consumed earlier was starting to wear off by the time they were ready to Slide. They were going to be ready to find someplace to sleep on the next world.
He was about to go on with more exclamations of glee when he noticed a poster on the far wall of the alley they had, of course, Slid into.
'Watch CreekDance! Live! December 26th, Christmas Day!'
"Um, guys. Christmas on this world is the 26th, which means this is Christmas Eve again." He checked his timer. "And we have 24 hours on this world."
Remmy sighed. "Well, maybe we'll be able to enjoy this one, eh? I mean, what could be worse than what we've already been through?" He chuckled.
Wade stood in horror. "Um, guys." Her voice froze and she could just point.
The poster which had caught her attention depicted a large man dressed in red and white. Instead of a cone cap he wore a red skin tight cap with vicious looking horns projecting out both sides. His grin was maniacal. On the poster was written:
Satan Claus is coming to town!!!!!!
Remmy swallowed. "Satan Claus? Q-Ball ...?" He trailed off as he noticed the other three running for cover.
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