The ketamine-laced tranquilizer dart was wearing off. Jimbo raised his head, but all he could see were the glowing rainbow sprites swirling above him, moth-fluttering around the smoky oaky torches bolted to the cavern's ceiling. Pretty lights, oo, he'd love to float among them like a supernaut. If only he wasn't tied down to this rusty old sacrifice throne.

"Kill tone! Jelly smash!" yelled the Feeb.

The shout cut Jimbo's brain-haze like a razorblade on a punch-swollen eyelid. Thank God for ol' Feeb; he missed the Brainy Train all right, but what wits he was dealt never went dull, no matter how much booze or weed was in his system.

The Alleygat Autocrats had surely spat gigantic rainbows in all their minds, but Feeb, he knew how to keep everyone on course. A coarse, hoarse course, of course. Fuck him and the horse he coursed in on .... Jimbo's head fell sleepy-dead to his spattered chest.

"Explorers, come out and plaaaay!" screeched the Feeb.

"Wakey bakey," Jimbo snorted, his eyes popping open. He focused in on Bobby, who lay in a darkening pool of stickiness. The monster's minions had bobbed his legs clean off below the knee. A gummy machete lay mere feet away, just out of reach.

Fucking minions, Jimbo thought, his head clearing a bit more. What kind of nihilistic fuckclowns firebombed their own city and worshipped a big jiggly sonic death slug that wanted to apocalyze the whole planet? Big Slime could've promised to poop pure gold for all Jimbo knew, but who could cash it in if the world was cashed out? Stupid mooks.

Jimbo saw Bobby's chest rise and fall. His leg vessels had probably rolled up inside the stumps, saving him from a quick bleeding death so he could look forward to slowly melting in the belly of the beast.

Ain't life a peach? Always cut down, and not across, kids, Jimbo thought.

"Hey Bobby," Jimbo called, his throat dry and rough as the hemp ropes binding his wrists behind the wrought-iron throne. "Wake up, Bobby."

They'd crippled Bobby because he was the strong one, the one they couldn't rely on drugs and itchy ropes holding. Now Jimbo had to be Hercules. But first he had to bust free of this damned chair.

He craned his neck at the Feeb, who'd been strung up on meathooks through the flesh of his back in a suicide suspension. He'd survive, if they got him down and to a doctor before infection set in.

They were in a freaking charnel house; the greasy remains of countless bodies lay in festering puddles around them. Thank whatever God still cared about this pisspool of a city that their noses closed up shop soon after they found an entrance to the tunnels beneath the cathedral.

Hunt the Wumpus. Raise a rumpus, he wants to jump us ... crap, stay focused! he thought.

"Bobby! BOBBY!"

Bobby stirred and faintly laughed.

Jimbo knew Bobby was off bouncing in Happyfunball Land like he'd been. Still was. He had to give them both something to focus on.

"Bobby, did you know that Catholic priests can bless beer?" he asked. "They can even bless seismograph machines."

"You're shitting me," mumbled Bobby.

"No, I am being completely true with you. A Catholic priest could most especially bless that machete beside you, even though it's done you wrong, like that gal in that country song. You got no legs, Bobby, so don't try to walk, but get that blade and crawl over here with it. Bobby!"

"I got no legs?" Bobby started to drunkenly hum a Monty Python tune.

"Think of the nice blessed seismograph! 'St. Emidius, pray for us, and in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, protect us and also this seismograph from the terror of earthquakes,' the nice priest says. Save us from the terror of singing puddings, Bobby Boy. You've got to."

"I can be abundingly Van Helsingly heroic now, Jimbo," Bobby replied, reaching for the machete. He gripped it, and started to king-snake forward, then went slack, his eyes glazed. "Pretty pretty blood, is it all mine?"

The Feeb wailed and fought his fleshhook chains.

"Ring ring ring the devil's calling! Come out, come out wherever you are!"

"Beer is life, Bobby! Bring the machete," Jimbo implored. "It's Miller time for sure! We gotta hump or we're skunked!"

A low, weirdly modulated rumble rolled from a nearby tunnel. It was the sound of a thousand pounds of ancient clotted slime dragging itself across the floor of the catacombs.

It was the sound of pure impending death, a sound older than evolution, a cosmic alarm clock blaring WAKE UP NAKED MONKEY YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! Every rat brain would fear it like the roar of an exploding star.

Jimbo saw Bobby's pupils expand as the adrenaline hit his blood, and suddenly Bobby was up on rawtorn hands and knees scrabbling to the back of Jimbo's chair, sawing at the knots. Jimbo felt the ropes give and he pulled his hands free, swinging his arms in a pitcher's windmill.

A Catholic priest could bless anything. A perfect, crystalline memory surfaced in the foggy sea of his mind, lit by synaptic fire: the shutout game he'd pitched against St. Francis DeSales in high school. Their coach Father Santoro blessed his baseballs before the game: May God guide your arm like he guided David's sling against Goliath, and with the Lord's help we're gonna beat the snot out of those rich little nancyboys at St. Francis. Amen.

He felt in his pocket for their salvation: the aluminum jar of caustic salt was still there. The last priest alive in the city had blessed it. The minions didn't think to strip them of anything but obvious weapons. Stupid mooks.

The ancient acidic God Slime crawled into the flickering torchlight like an enormous, unholy pudding glistening with a million emerald eyes. It was humming, vibrating, getting louder. They only had a few susurrous heartbeats until it reached the deadly tone to batter bones muscles to pulp, liquefying their flesh so the acidic abomination could sponge them into its hundred stomachs.

Jimbo pulled out the blessed jar and gripped it split-fingered for a fastball. He whispered, "Sing a song of sixpence, slimeball, 'cause I got a pocket full of lye!"

He wished to himself, prayed to God and pitched as hard as he could. The shiny jar hit the mark and sank fast into the hungry, stanky flank.

The God Slime's ravenous jelly ate through the aluminum, and suddenly its innards started blistering, bubbling, foaming. The caustic salts bloomed whitely inside the green, translucent flesh. The monster thrashed, melting faster than a sugar witch in a rainstorm, hissing a song that was pure delight to the heroes and ghosts listening, rejoicing in the vanquished catacombs.

There is something about the way she smells that forces me to smile, even when she's pissing me off. And every time she tosses her hair and squints her eyes at me (before stomping down the stairs and slamming the front door) I remember the reason I fell in love with her.

(She makes me ridiculously happy.)

Some people forget about this, the longer their relationships wear on. Its the reason people split up, families are torn apart, husbands and wives divorce.
Not us.
I'd never let her go.
Because the times when we aren't fighting are beautiful. (And I know that its just the hormones anyways.)

Inside her slowly growing belly is something that, when magnified, must somehow resemble the Geico spokeslizard.
Sitting with her in the dim room, and seeing that faint flicker on the screen during the ultrasound told me that we had created a beating heart. And more would grow of it. Every day, more and more new cells are forming. I sometimes picture our baby forming the way the Hawaiian islands came to be. Layers and layers and layers of slowly oozing magma. Only, you know. Cells instead of magma, obviously, lest a lava-baby spring from the loins of my cranky, bloated, amazing wife.

So on these days, when we can't even watch Ren and Stimpy together without arguing, I smile, and remember the way she was when I first met her. Loud, laughing, and witty, to balance out the hormonal, crying, angry woman that lives here now.

I play the perfect husband; bring her ice cream, rub her feet, hold her hair when she feels sick.
But all the time, waiting for my wife to return, and bring with her our son, or daughter, or spokeslizard.

We pick out names, and I catch little breaths of her perfume, even though she's been at her mother's house for the last 3 days. She used to not mind when I snored.

I paint the nursery to look like a key lime pie (white up top, creamy green, with a chair rail) because I know that's her favorite, but the thought of it makes her sick, lately. (I blame the lizard).

And while I've got a good 6 or so months left before she comes home for good (no more mood swings, no more crying), I steady myself; reminding us both that things are constantly getting better.

(I love you, Cici.)

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