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A Cage in a Pit in Another Universe

by Luc Reid

"What you in for?" said the skeletal guy from his rusty, spherical cage a few yards away.

"I paid for smokes with money from another universe," said Andy from his own cage. He shifted, trying to get comfortable, which was impossible. The cage was too short to stand up in, too curved to sit in, and lying down made the bars cut into him. Squatting was bearable for short periods. He tried that again. Belatedly, he remembered his manners. "What about you?"

"I ate an Eyeball of Power."


"Yah za, it wasn't bad," said the skeletal guy. "Kinda savory. You know, ma slacka, you sound brainburnt to me."

Andy looked out across the wide, dank pit, crisscrossed by girders from which dozens of cages like his hung by tangles of thick chain. "If that means crazy, then yeah, probably. You know how long we're supposed to be here?"

The skeletal guy smiled, revealing a mouth almost devoid of teeth. "What you mean? How long before we die?"

"They have to let us out sometime, right?"

"How come?"

Andy didn't have a good answer to that. His legs were beginning to ache, so he tried sitting again, but the cage forced him into a slump, then into lying down against the rough bars.

"You want a cigarette?" Andy said.

The skeletal guy laughed mirthlessly. "Yah za, what we gonna do with those?"

Andy shrugged, took out a cigarette, and cupped his hand around the end while he flicked his lighter.

"Yah my long-suffering mama!" said the skeletal guy. "You got fire?"

Andy flicked sparks from his lighter in the guy's direction as he took a deep drag on his Millboro, which tasted awful. "Yeah," he said. "So?"

"I told you," said the skeletal guy. "I ate an Eyeball of Power! We just gotta swing these cages closer, ma slacka, and we'll be flying outta here in no time!"

Andy had no idea what eating an eyeball had to do with his lighter, but he damned sure didn't have anything better to do. Clamping his cigarette firmly in one side of his mouth and squinting, he stood up as much as he could, his back pressed against the bars, and leaned first one way, then the other. The skeletal guy began to do the same.

Hell, even if the guy turned out to be crazy, at least Andy'd made a friend.

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