Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 11
Jun 2011 10

Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 11

Posted In Blog,Books,Entertainment,Fiction,Geek,Internuts

by Mur Lafferty

SuicdeGirls presents the eleventh installment of our Fiction Friday sci-fi series, Marco and the Red Granny, which is brought to you by SG columnist Mighty Mur a.k.a. cyber commentator Mur Lafferty.

Marco and the Red Granny is set in a not-so-distant future where an alien species, the Li-Jun, has transformed the moon into the new artistic center of the universe, where the Sally Ride Lunar Base soon gains the nickname “Mollywood.” These aliens can do amazing things with art and the senses, allowing a painting, for example, to stimulate senses other than sight.

In the previous installments, Marco, a writer whose career has long been in the doldrums, gets a surprise call from an agent he thought he no longer had, informing him that he had received an offer from Mollywood for a much coveted Li-Jun patronage. Keen to catch up career-wise with his ex-GF Penelope, who’d unceremoniously dumped him after being recruited by the Li-Jun two years earlier, Marco jumps on the next shuttle to the moon. Once aboard, he finds himself sitting next to a seemingly unassuming old lady called Heather, who turns out to be The Red Granny, a legend in Li-Jun’s reality show world for being a three-time champion of The Most Dangerous Game (which requires contestants to sign away the rights to their life).

After settling into his new accommodations at House Blue, Marco has a brief meeting with his new patron, a Li-Jun called Thirteen. It’s only then that Marco realizes he’s never been shown the terms of his employment, and a sense of unease sets in. That evening, Marco is taken on a trip to see The Red Granny in action in The Most Dangerous Game. After a bloody battle, the senior reality TV star is again victorious. The viciousness of the game however, leaves The Red Granny unconscious, and Marco shocked, disturbed, and in need of a stiff drink. Unfortunately stiff drinks are frowned upon by the Li-Jun, so Marco settles for an early night

The next day, Marco learns first hand about the process that enables the Li-Jun to put taste into paintings, music into pie, and stories into (nonalcoholic) beverages. Having had his deepest and most depraved memories dredged and thoroughly probed by the aliens so they can be monitored and recorded, Marco finally sees the terms of his contract.

Having accepted the Li-Jun’s too-good-to-refuse offer, Marco settles into his new life at House Blue. However, though he’s been handed everything he ever wanted, somehow the reality of it is hollow. Twenty thousand words into his new graphic novel, with his first deadline looming, Marco is suffering from a severe case of writers block. Looking for inspiration in the bottom of a glass that’s had something actually worth drinking in it, he heads to the seedier end of the Moon and stumbles across an illicit establishment which turns out to be run by a collective of folks who are strictly persona non grata as far as the Li-Jun are concerned – The Alcoholic’s Guild.

Taking a sip of gin, Marco looks up and sees a couple enter the bar. The man catches the attention of most of the establishment’s other patrons, but it’s the woman beside him that Marco can’t stop staring at.

“Penelope?”

Marco and the Red Granny – Part 11
“…And it’s ‘Knowledge Of His Will’ Abrams Now,” Penelope said.

Marco was on his fourth drink and finding it hard to focus. “Can I call you ‘Will’ for short?”

She didn’t laugh. “No, people usually call me ‘Knowledge.’”

“What’s with that, anyway? Where do these weird cult names come from?” The bartender, introduced to Marco as Remove All These Defects O’Brien, put another gin in front of him

“Joining the guild isn’t a small matter, Marco,” Penelope-no, wait, Knowledge-said. “The new name we take illustrates our faith in our commitment.”

“Commitment in leaving AA.”

“Exactly. And we mark the point where we left AA for another option with the mark of the step we were on.” She rubbed the 11 on her neck.

Marco shook his head. “But I still don’t get it; I thought no one left their patronage?”

Knowledge poured another glass of wine. “That’s what they tell you, Marco. The truth is, there are two ways to get out of the patronage mode. Joining the Guild is the easier way. The Li-Jun hate drunks.”

“But didn’t they know you drank before they got you up here? Didn’t they check that about me?”

“You’d think they would,” Knowledge said. “Maybe they thought they could keep us from it. Didn’t work with me.”

“So what happened with you?” Marco said.

“I came to Ride Base. Signed on with House Magenta. They support most of the chefs. I was so excited, but the artist mapping took a lot out of me.”

Marco looked down. “Tell me about it.”

“I baked for them for a year or so, but the mapping left a bad taste in my mouth that only wine could kill. I started coming here. When they found out-”

“What?” Marco said, alarmed. “What did they do? They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“They said I could go to AA or go to The Most Dangerous Game.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. So I went through. Got my chips, got my sponsor, and got to step 11.” She closed her eyes and recited, “’Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.’ Then my sponsor, Spiritual Awakenings McCloud, defected to the Guild, and I went with him.”

“So… why did you stop after eleven steps? Isn’t that near the end?”

She took a deliberate sip. “It is.”

Marco sighed. “So? Why?”

“The twelve step program is an eye-opener. It is designed to expose the truth. Alcohol, in most cases, shrouds the truth. Which is odd, because one finds oneself more honest than ever while under the influence, right?”

She was so beautiful it hurt to look at her. Marco kept his eyes down. “I guess.”

“But too much alcohol could mask the troubles in your life. Most of the time. But in this case-in my case-it made things perfectly clear. And it was clear that I had to leave.”

Fighting a wave of bile, Marco pointed to the small man Knowledge had entered the bar with, who stood at the end of the bar with a glass of whisky. “And is that Spiritual Awakenings?”

“It is.” Her voice took on a dreamy quality. “He has gone through all twelve steps. Went through the hell and out the other side. And remained the same. He’s the highest rank in the guild.”

“You have ranks based on your AA steps?”

“Sure. If you have had the strength to go through the entire program and come out the other side changed, but the same, you are truly a master of the Alcoholic’s Guild,” she said. “I made it to eleven.”

“I see,” Marco said.

She leaned forward, her eyes sparkling. “To be part of the AG, you have to hit rock bottom, like lying in a puddle of you own vomit in an alley rock bottom. Then you join AA and learn all about the church, and God, and all that. It offers a way out of the alley. Perhaps, at some point, the Guild can show you the back door out. It’s not back to the alley and your vomit, but it’s not in a church of sobriety, either. It’s its own thing.”

“But you have a disease,” Marco said uncertainly. “You needed help. Now you’re drinking again and you’ve lost your patronage. How can that be good?”

Knowledge poured another glass of wine and sipped it thoughtfully. “You know, Marco, this isn’t glamorous. Being a stinking drunk isn’t what I wanted to be when I was a little girl. I know what I’m doing to my liver. I know what I’m doing to my brain. You get detailed medical lessons in AA as well as when you join the Guild. But look at it this way: an animal that has its paw stuck in a trap can either sit there and wait for the hunter to come back, or it can gnaw its paw off to get free. So you wonder, what’s worse, being in a trap, or forever changed for the worse, but free?”

Marco’s eyelids drooped. “Listen, Knowledge, I-”

Knowledge held up her hand, surveying the empty glasses on the table. “I know what you’re about to say, Marco. I miss you too, and you have reached the ‘I love you, man’ stage. Don’t say anything you’ll regret. We’re different people now.”

Marco blinked and tried to focus on her. “No, I was going to say I don’t know what to do. House Blue doesn’t make art. I don’t know what they want me for, why they did that rape-your-mind-artist mapping thing to me.”

Knowledge sighed, and Marco had that feeling that he’d missed something, had made her angry but she wouldn’t tell her how or why. She signaled to Remove All These Defects (“Defects” for short) and said, “It’s time for you to go back. All I can tell you is, pay attention, but don’t ask too many questions. And come back here for a drink soon. Just don’t let them follow you.”

***
Excerpt from the Marco and the Red Granny, published by Restless Brain Media at Smashwords. Copyright 2010 Mur Lafferty.

Mur Lafferty is an author and podcast producer. She has released several works via audio podcast, including her novel Playing For Keeps, the novellas in the Heaven series, the audio drama The Takeover, and many others. She’s won the Parsec Award and the Podcast Peer award. Her published works include Playing For Keeps (Swarm), Nanovor: Hacked (Running Press Kids), and Tricks of the Podcasting Masters (Que), not to mention several short stories. She is the host of I Should Be Writing and the Angry Robot podcasts, as well as the editor of Escape Pod, the sci-fi audio magazine. Marco and the Red Granny was originally published as the premier podcast serial at Hub Magazine, and is available for Kindle via Amazon.

Mur lives in Durham, NC with her husband, Jim Van Verth, their daughter, and two dogs. You can find her in the Murverse, at Smashwords and on Twitter.

Catch Up With Marco and the Red Granny:
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 1
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 2
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 3
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 4
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 5
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 6
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 7
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 8
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 9
Fiction Friday: Marco and the Red Granny – Part 10

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