And now we’ve reached The Power of Three, or as I shall henceforth refer to it…the one with Brian Cox.
Sorry about the delay, but we’re getting back on track now with a discussion of A Town Called Mercy. Join us for a look at alien doctors, cyborg gunfighters, and second chances…all in a place called Mercy.
The cramping in his stomach was insistent and panic instilling. With acute awareness of every eye on him and of every individual in the room, the sweat curling around his upper lip, he made his way to the bathroom. He imagined not making it. He imagined the horrid, wet knowledge that he had failed rising up in his BVD’s and stopping his rush to the bathroom instantly. Not his stomach, but rather the mysterious region beneath his belly button cramped and churned with audible noises making his distress that much more obvious. He never had to go in public washrooms. In his 42 years on the planet, he had managed to avoid the dank, germ infested caverns as much as he could using a combination of superhuman will power and neurotic drive.
This was not going to be successful.
He had excused himself from the group of sci-fi enthusiasts he had been sitting with at the bar. An awkward excuse, he had to admit, but they were all too drunk on whatever was on tap to notice. He had at least a half an hour, he told himself, a half an hour before they raised their heads out of their glasses long enough to wonder.
The universal ‘man’ sign on the bathroom signaled the end of his struggle and he rushed his way toward it, sweat collecting under the brim of his hat. Just get to a cubicle, he told himself. Just get there and you’ll be all right. He flung open the sordid door and made his way automatically to the nearest cubicle, unbuttoning his trousers along the way. Then, sweet relief, he sat, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling. He felt the sweat cooling on his lip and on the back of his neck, felt the security of the four cramped and graffiti strewn walls. He could stay here as long as he wanted. There was no one to force him out. No one to tell him to hurry up. It was just him and his ratted Converse and the dirt under his nails to keep him company.
When the initial drama had passed, he sat, waiting for aftershocks. He heard the door squeak open and slam shut the way that only the most utilitarian hinges do and immediately tensed. Of course someone else had to come in but at least the initial distress was over. He could deal with this.
He heard the stall door beside him open and immediately tensed. If he could’ve lifted his feet up and hid them, he would’ve – dirty laces dangling and skirting the floor flirtatiously. Rather, he kept his Chucks firmly planted on the ground and waited for what he assumed to be an appropriate time to make his exit. He heard the rustling of the person beside him as he settled into position. As soon as he was busy enough not to notice, he could make his hasty escape. He could feel only the remainders of cramps flitting around his abdomen and knew from experience that as soon as he stood up and became preoccupied with other things, they would melt into the other vague signals his body supplied him with moment to moment. With a deep sigh, he turned to grab the toilet paper from the dispenser beside him.
Shock. Horror. It was empty.
Hovering above what he knew was a massive disaster, he began to sweat again. There was no way he could simply pull up his trousers and make his way back to the table where his acquaintances waited for him. They might smell it and for gods sake, he would know. It was impossible. There was only one option. He looked down and beside him to where his neighbor’s feet should have been. All he managed to utter was a strange grunt. All he managed to do was panic.
Rather than the traditional sneakers or even loafers, what he saw firmly planted on the water-warped linoleum were a pair of faintly glowing feet, hovering a few inches above the floor. The glow seemed to be just as solid as a pair of traditional shoes, bolstering the delicate toes of his neighbor above the germ laden floor with a kind of milky warping of the air, or even of reality itself. It actually seemed to suck the light out of the space, spiraling toward each finely crafted toe like a whirlwind in the depth of the ocean. Another cramp waved through his abdomen and he closed his eyes tightly. It must be what he ate. Perhaps making him hallucinate, perhaps someone spiked his drink. The sweat made its way down his neck and spread its insidious way across his shoulders and back. He just needed to pull up his trousers and get out of there. Get away from what was obviously a reaction to the intensity of the evening, perhaps even from the comic book convention itself. He was better off in his apartment in front of his computer. A sad truth but a true one. Still, the idea of stumbling back to a table of his highly insecure and highly critical peers with shorts filled with the undeniable stench of tummy troubles was too much for him. He needed help. He needed help from the stall next door. With what would be the biggest summoning of courage in his entire life, he cleared his throat and spoke,
“ Can I…Uh…” were those tears catching in his throat? No, he had to be tougher than that, “ Can I get some.” How did he describe it? Did they understand what it was? The delicate toes remained steady where they floated a few inches off the ground, the strange iridescent glow reflecting off the warped tiles, casting the dirty grout in a lovely, almost neon glow. “ Can I get some toilet tissue, buddy?” he cleared his throat, trying to rid it of the knot of fear that caught at the base of his neck. “ I’m out over here.” His voice echoed up to the corners of the bathroom, bouncing off the walls – strangely stained even where the ceiling met the corners. Silence. There was no response. He waited, barely breathing. A dull humming suddenly began on the other side of the steel partition. He could feel it vibrating the metal, the floors, even the porcelain seat drenched in his own fear sweat. The humming became louder and he followed the vibration as it moved up the wall between the two stalls to above. A roll of toilet paper, drenched in the same light as the toes beside him, shimmered above and them dropped with incredible grace into his lap. He gasped, feeling the very real plush of the tissue between his trembling fingers.
“Thank you.” He breathed, barely able to think let alone use his manners. There was no response. The humming abruptly stopped and he watched, amazed as the feet moved slightly to hover away from their previous position. The toilet flushed, an alien but average sound in the tiny washroom. His mouth open, he watched as the feet floated their way out of the stall, the door slamming shut behind them. He heard the bathroom door creak open and then close, letting a sliver of noise from the bar into the silence to die. With tears in his eyes and shaking hands, he took a few measured pieces of tissue off the roll.
Whatever happened, he knew it was going to be at least a week before he went to the washroom again and a solid year before he ventured back into a public bathroom. Maybe more.
Who would you consider to be the reigning queen of science fiction?
It’s rare to find a female in the genre that doesn’t have some sort of boot/booty short combo, as it has been, for years, a male dominated genre. However, as I snuffled about my house this morning, I found myself thinking of how women are represented in Sci-Fi. It seems to me that there are a few definite archetypes.
The Sexy, Unattainable One
Leeloo, Number Six, Seven of Nine, Pris, Barbarella…my god I had no idea there were so many! Fantasy women all of them with nary a thigh-inch to spare, these ladies have been knocking around the fantasies of boys and men for generations. Growing up, I was never that intrigued with these ‘types’. They seemed largely dispensable and I always wondered why creatures that were supposed to be so powerful dressed in such impractical space-gear…
The Brain and the Brawn
When I was in my early teens, I saw Terminator 2 and was awestruck by Linda Hamilton. I was both attracted and horrified by her giant arm muscles and her intensity was unlike anything I’d ever seen a girl do in a sci-fi film. I remember sitting through Alien about a million times as my Dad and Brother were obsessed with it, and my reaction to Ripley was about the same. Impressed and Repelled. These characters weren’t victims by any means, which was refreshing, but they were so lacking in the things I loved about being a girl that I had trouble identifying with them. Where was the long hair? Where was the…
Oh, Princess Leia! How I loved her in Return of the Jedi. (Although I don’t feel like I can admit that it was my favorite of all the old Star Wars films without being brutally beat about the head) I was under ten when I first saw her in that get up and I wanted it with all my heart and soul. I loved the fact that she could go from slave girl to gun-toting Jabba strangler the next. Admittedly the outfit isn’t any more practical than those I have already condemned, but seriously…I don’t think there’s a man or woman in my generation who wouldn’t want to either wear it or see someone wear it in real life.
That’s it! My choice for best female in sci-fi has been made for me and it’s not even human. I choose the bikini itself as an icon of femininity in the genre. Now, excuse me while I use my PayPal to order myself one…