Madison's led up a dark, foreboding spiral staircase, then under an electrified portcullis, until he ends up in a dusty antechamber with a microphone and security camera. His guard gives the password and, to show that he's not under any duress, activates Madison's shock collar again. Somehow Madison doesn't collapse into a limp, twitching heap, keeps control of his bladder, and is led into a freaky alien boudoir.
A moaning sort of music caressed his ears.
He was hit with a feminine whiff of fragrance and he fearfully opened his eyes.
He was standing in a softly lit room of considerable dimensions. Gently rippling colored lights bathed the walls in ever-changing pastels, soothing, almost hypnotic. Overhead, at first he thought these must be the open skies and then he saw that the stars were slowly dancing in a pattern about a moon which, real as it looked, could never possibly, in nature, pulse with the same ripples as the walls: the ceiling was some sort of an illusion that must change the hour of the day or night on command.
I'd make a crack about Hubbard's drug collection finding its way into his work, but I actually approve of this. All the other decor on Voltar has been pretty boring silks and gold spam, but this feels suitably alien.
Grammar's awful, though.
The floor suddenly frightened him. It seemed to be a thick mist, not a rug, and he was standing ankle-deep in it. But he was reassured to find it seemed to be holding him up.
The furniture, delicate and curved, bureaus and chairs and tables, didn't seem to have any legs; they were just motionlessly floating in place.
You might think now'd be time for Madison to have another little "I'm really on another planet" freakout, like he did on the spaceship. Nope!
The lost feeling he had experienced at his first glimpse of this place--like nothing he had ever heard of or imagined on Earth--was leaving him. The determination to be successful in his visit gripped him again. Where was Teenie?
Seeing all this makes him less culture shocked. It fills him with confidence and purpose! It gives him focus.
Madison's only thrown off-balance in a literal sense when the Space Floor somehow carries, "without even so much as a ripple," him and his minder over to what he initially took for a "huge bureau" but is actually a bed. Teenie's there, being... ah, tucked in by her maids.
Teenie turned her head slowly and her sex-glazed eyes gradually focused on Madison. Then she closed her too-big mouth and smiled a slow smile.
In a lazy voice, in English she said, "You waited so long, I was finally certain you weren't coming so I let them go ahead--they wring their hands so when they see me all worked up by dancing and unsatisfied." She was coming back to herself now and the musing quality was leaving her voice. The lazy smile turned into a grin. "Well, well, Maddie. You finally decided to let me have a crack at breaking you of this mother fixation." She laughed with delight.
This after Krak was shocked that a debased society like Earth would engage in sex with a minor.
Anyway, the guard recites his little presentation and shocks Madison a third time. This last shock is too much for his poor body to withstand, and Madison goes into cardiac arrest, expiring on the floor while the horrified maids and an ambivalent Teenie watch, The End!
I can dream.
Teenie and the maids instead laugh cruelly while she orders them to get a pot of grease (?) and some "masculine-smelling powder" to blast him with, while Madison weakly tries to fend them off, helpless against two women and an girl. It's sorta like a Hubbard Action Sequence, just y'know, rapey. So another Hubbard Rape Sequence then. As if one wasn't enough.
Madison's eyes were glazed with terror. He was making a blocking motion with his hands.
Two maids' faces were laughing at him as they knelt in front of him.
Madison was backing up.
One maid had the pot of grease.
Madison was staring down at it.
The other was measuring out some hash oil.
"No, no!" shrieked Madison.
Teenie was convulsed with laughter. "Oh, Maddie," she shrieked, "you ARE a clown! This time you're going to be cured of your mother!" She sat up. "After me, you're going to get those two," and she pointed to her maids.
"NO!" screamed Madison.
But then Madison notices that nobody's holding the control pad for his electrified collar, and he socks one of the maids in the jaw (guess he can fend off a girl) and scrambles "like an agile ape" to the top of a twelve-foot-high bureau. It's an impenetrable fortress, the guards' whips can't even reach him up there! The others are too shocked to immediately react, because really, who'd have expected a man dragged into the room in chains to be less than compliant with this situation?
THIS WAS HIS CHANCE!
Into the hiatus,
he shouted, "Teenie! Listen to me! There's something you don't know!" Now was the time to launch his beautiful idea. Fate was trembling on the edge of the cliff. Would she listen?
Madison's big plan is to reveal to Teenie that Soltan Gris is on planet Voltar with them, safe and sound in a Royal prison, completely out of her reach. Any thoughts of sex clouding Teenie's teenage brain are immediately dispelled by rage at the mention of old Inky.
"THE SON OF A (BLEEPCH)!" cried Teenie, leaping to her feet. "You mean after all he's done they're protecting him in safe custody?"
"Exactly!" cried Madison.
Teenie stamped her foot in fury. "Well, God (BLEEP) HIM!"
"And Teenie, if I have your help, I can get him HANGED! You know me and you know what I can accomplish if I'm turned loose!
Wait, just last chapter Madison reminded us that he never intentionally ruins anybody. He thinks he's helping people when he gets them death sentences, so logically, if he were trying to get Gris killed he'd... not do PR on them?
Teenie, if you back me up, then when they stretch his neck I can guarantee that I will personally put your hand on the rope!"
She looked at him: her eyes were furnaces of revenge. "It's a bargain!" she screeched. "Just tell me what you want me to DO!"
Also, why didn't Madison tell her this the minute he was placed on the bed, or even try to communicate with her beyond screaming "NO!" and recoiling from cooties?
All this to say, the subplot's now resolved. Teenie gives Madison full access to the mansion and starts pacing and ranting and racing and panting about how she's gonna "GET Gris!" Madison is free to get dressed and leave, all because he "remembered his Shakespeare: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman kicked in the teeth.'"
Tonight he had escaped death thrice! Once at the hands of Teenie; again from the threat of being unfaithful to his mother; the third and the far more important one of being wiped out by the deadly Bury.
Because remember, Bury's a warlock who can kill people from across the gulf of space.
With Teenie's influence, cleverly working step by step, he could now get on with his job.
Heller, he thought, here I come!
Wait. If Madison's finally acknowledged that his work ends up destroying people, might he not come to realize that maybe Mr. Bury didn't want Heller to become famous? Maybe he hired Madison because his work ends up destroying people. Maybe he wanted Heller destroyed. Maybe he doesn't actually give a flying (bleep) about how famous Heller is! Particularly on other planets.
The universe will never again see such magnificent and skillful PR as would now occur!
He had to be clever, he had to be careful, he had to advance step by step. BUT HE WOULD GET THERE!
PR was the one weapon against which there was no defense.
Except cynicism and/or skepticism. Or fact-checking. Or a modicum of common sense.
Oh, there were pitfalls on the way that would yawn. But, in gleeful confidence, Madison strode into the Voltar night.
And with that, we're set to resume to main plot, such as it is... after a two-chapter interlude. Try to swallow your disappointment.
Back to Chapter One