Drabblecast 320 – Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside An Enormous Sentient Slug



Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Cover for Drabblecast 320, Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside An Enormous Sentient Slug, by Skeet ScienskiThank you, Inspector. I’m ready.

Yes, I understand my rights as a resident extraterrestrial. No, that won’t be necessary.

Of course. Ask me anything. I only wish to see justice done.

It grieves me to say so, but I concur. There’s no doubt about who murdered Lord Ash.

 

 

 

Half a Conversation, Overheard While Inside An Enormous Sentient Slug

by Oliver Buckram

Thank you, Inspector. I’m ready.

Yes, I understand my rights as a resident extraterrestrial. No, that
won’t be necessary.

Of course. Ask me anything. I only wish to see justice done.

It grieves me to say so, but I concur. There’s no doubt about who
murdered Lord Ash.

Let’s see. When I heard the shot from the laser rifle, I was in the
kitchen with Mrs. Moncrieff. She was making cucumber sandwiches while
I washed the breakfast dishes. Lord Ash has–excuse me, had–a superb
china collection. That teacup in your hand, for instance, is 19th
century Wedgwood.

No, no hidden appendages. I am as you see me. The Slime Brethren never
evolved hands. We use our digestive system.

It’s quite simple. I clean the dishes by swallowing them. As they
travel through my intestinal tract, I scrub them with various
sphincters, mucus membranes, and stomach acids.

Vomit them up? Of course not. That would be vulgar.

Correct. Although I prefer the term “defecate.” That particular teacup
has passed through me countless times. I gulp it down, and a minute
later it pops out the other end, spotless.

Inspector! You’ve spilt tea all over your trench coat.

To tell the truth, it _is_ quite a valuable cup. Don’t worry. I’ll
soon have the handle mended.

Very well. Four years ago, my previous master and I traveled here from
Callisto. He was a kind man, though overfond of playing whist. After a
run of bad luck at the gaming table, he was obliged to offer my
services to settle a sizable debt to Lord Ash. That is how I first
came to Ash Manor.

Lord Ash was quite a different sort of master. He spent his time
drinking, hunting, and (or so it seemed to me) tormenting his
servants. It amused his lordship to employ me in a menial capacity,
although the Brethren are renowned throughout the galaxy as scholars
and healers. When Lord Ash was in his cups, he’d often “accidentally”
spill salt on me as I attended him at table. His drinking companions
thought this the height of wit. It never failed to send them into
paroxysms of laughter.

Because it is our custom. Once we take a new master, we serve him
until his death. Happily for me, that time has now come.

One summer, Lord Ash left Io to tour his estates in the Kuiper Belt.
He shocked everyone by returning to Ash Manor with a new bride. I’ll
never forget his first words to the assembled household. He said to
obey her as we would obey him.

Your cup is now repaired, Inspector. Shall I excrete it? I’m sure Mrs.
Moncrieff would be happy to make you a fresh pot of tea.

As you wish. At first, marriage appeared to have miraculously
transformed Lord Ash. He stopped drinking. He no longer screamed when
his breakfast was late. He stopped kicking Pharaoh. My skin was free
from salt blisters. He even gave up–

Pharaoh. His lordship’s Labrador retriever. As I was saying, Lord Ash
gave up hunting. Before his marriage, he used to spend hours with his
rifle, stalking the magma seals that frolick in the lava pools. But it
broke her ladyship’s heart to see the little creatures suffering, so
he stopped. Or so he claimed.

Those were the best days. Many a happy evening I regaled Lady Ash with
tales of my travels through the galaxy. She showed me many kindnesses.
Sometimes she brought me mulch from the rose garden. Once, when I
suffered from a flare-up of mantle mange, she spread soothing salve on
my skin with her own hands.

Everything changed on their first anniversary. I was cleaning the
fireplace in the next room and overheard the whole thing. Entirely
inadvertently, of course. He presented her with a sealskin coat. He’d
hunted and skinned the seals himself, to surprise her. She sobbed and
ran from the room.

After that, things were different. She mostly stayed in her room.
Judging from the salty taste of her pillowcases, she cried herself to
sleep every night.

Yes. It pleased his lordship to have me wash the laundry as well.

Lord Ash reverted to his old self, only worse. He started drinking
again. He resumed screaming when his breakfast was late. One morning
he hit Pharaoh with a fireplace poker. Fortunately, while his lordship
was out hunting, I was able to heal the poor thing.

Yes. I mended Pharaoh in the same manner that I mended your teacup. Of
course he could breathe in there. Perhaps you’d like to give it a
whirl? I can clean your coat while you’re inside me. It may be a tight
squeeze in my pyloric canal, but I’m sure you’ll be fine. Simply
insert yourself feet first into my–

No? Very well. After we heard the shot, Mrs. Moncrieff and I rushed
upstairs. Naturally, for me, “rushed” is a relative term. We found her
ladyship standing over the corpse of her husband, clutching the rifle
in her hands.

She was in a terrible state. Evidently Lord Ash had beaten her–for
the first time, I think–and she’d grabbed the rifle and shot him
dead. Obviously self-defense.

Well, I suppose you’re right. It’s for a jury to decide.

The death penalty. I see.

How’s the search going? Still combing the volcano fields for her?

No, I don’t imagine there would be. Not if she committed suicide by
throwing herself into a lava pool.

Very distraught, yes, when I last saw her.

Of course. Any other questions?

You’re welcome. I was planning on taking the three o’clock railgun to
Ganymede Central, if that’s satisfactory.

Yes. I’ve booked passage home on the _Empress of Rigel_. It’s been far
too long since I’ve seen my mucus-kin.

My pleasure. Goodbye.

Play
First appeared in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, 2013
Episode Art:  Skeet Scienski

Twabble:  “The dragon ate me but did not destroy my amulet of protection. Still, after days of battling in intestines, I was pooped. ”  by  Algernon Sydney is Dead


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