Sloe gin fizzes were like a grown-up version of a milkshake - sweet and creamy and too easy to overindulge on. Much to her dismay the next...




It wasn’t the usual “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor” kind of headache. Those could usually be dealt with by a Tums, a Tylenol, and two bottles of gatorade.

This was knives-in-the-head painful.

Euw. Her entire left side was sticky.

And she was lying on a lot of sharpish, hard, painful objects.

Did she fall asleep in a Lego bin again?

She risked opening an eye.

An abominably cheerful metal face was staring back at her. It blinked, grinned, and vanished from her view of a gravel driveway.

“She’s not de-dead, guys!”

Blink. Try to focus. Fail. There was a tastefully appointed garden. The aforementioned gravel drive. A freaking mansion in the best Victor Frankenstein/Frank N. Furter/Edward Scissorhands style gothic heap.

And a small robotic giraffe gambolling on the lawn, leaving happy puffs of steam in its wake.



A man in a dapper suit approached with a tray. As he got closer, she could make out that he, too, was metal. Chrome. And, ridiculously, almost as sexy as his fleshy counterpart in her previous reality[1].

Bless his metal heart, he had gatorade and painkillers.

“When I dream,” she slurred, “I go all out…” It had to be a dream. Occam’s razor wouldn’t allow for anything less.

“Sip slowly,” said The Spine in his delicious velvety Bass. “You organics have easily disrupted systems.”

“This is not real.” Oh yes. The gatorade was already helping. “Walter Mansion is a figment of Bunny’s imagination. You guys are folks in makeup.”

She blinked again, absently picking bits of gravel out of the indentations in her skin. The pain was fading slowly. The world swimming back into focus.

The sky was full of zeppelins and planes. And hot-air balloons. And your regular, everyday clouds. “This is too painful to be a dream. Too weird to not be.”

The Spine snorted. Little puffs of steam escaped his chrome nostrils. “Oh. And I suppose where you came from, technology that works is just thrown away for the next new thing…”

“Pretty much, yeah.”

“Ri-ri-diculous,” said Rabbit. He was up a tree. “That’d mean you’d be ov-v-verwhelmed with trash and facing a global c-c-climate crisis.”

O God. She could see the clockwork spinning in his head. “Why’re you up a tree?”

“In ca-case of z-z-z-z-zombies. They can’t c-c-climb trees.”

She decided not to argue about why a robot would be scared of zombies. Rabbit had a near-reality orbit at the best of times.

O God. She was surrendering to the continuity. She checked her phone.

“WHOAH! C-c-c-c-cool!” Rabbit scrambled down from the tree. He immediately took lookie-loo position over her left shoulder.

She could hear his clockwork brain working. Yup. It was slipping a few cogs.

What sold her was the smell. Electricity and metal and oxidisation and -yes- steam. And that sort of fusty smell that clothes got when they hadn’t been on a human body for some significant time.

None of her dreams were ever that detailed. “Hi,” she managed. “I’m Paula.”

“Pleased to meet you,” The Spine offered a chrome hand.

When she took it to shake it, he kissed it with cold, metal lips. And her libido still ramped into overdrive.

“Now, how the devil did you get past QWERTY’s security system?”

“Yeah, there’s this fat guy who keeps getting pa-past it once a Yulemas? I get a c-cool hat, but we wanna know how it’s d-d-d-done.”

“Can’t help you there,” she winced. Light was still painful. “Too many sloe gin fizzes.”

“Ooh, those sound fun.”

“Of course. Inebriated organics can do things a mechanical mind can’t even fathom,” said The Spine. “Why don’t you come inside and get washed up? That way you’ll be presentable for the cab, when you’re ready to go home.”

There was still a signal. But Apple Maps was saying her home didn’t exist, any more. Not in this reality.

“Mind if I stay? It looks like I have no particular place to go.”

[1] Strictly IMO, The Spine is teh sexx. Just The Spine. Not David. I’m old enough to be his parent FFS

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