by Alex Shvartsman
Joe stepped through the door and found himself in a cramped, smoke-filled card room. The players paused their game and turned toward him, five and a half pairs of eyes studying the newcomer.
Seated around the green felt table were a robot, a witch, a vampire, an alien Grey, and a fairy. And looming behind them was a pink mass of scales and tentacles topped off with a bowler hat. It regarded Joe thoughtfully with a single bulging eye the size of a dinner plate.
“Hey there, new guy,” said the fairy. Despite her two-foot frame her voice was sultry rather than tinny. “And what are you supposed to be?”
Joe tried to answer and realized that he couldn’t. He remembered nothing of who – or what – he was, except his first name. He felt strange, empty, as if someone had sucked everything out of his head through a straw.
“I know that look,” said the witch. “Everyone has trouble with their memory in the first few hours. It’ll go away. Unless you’re an amnesiac spy, that is. But we already had one of those.”
His memory problems were selective, Joe discovered. He recognized the sounds of a Frank Sinatra recording crooning in the background, yet couldn’t recall a reason for arriving at this place.
“You aren’t anything obvious,” said the fairy. “If you figure it out quickly, don’t say! I’d rather guess.”
“Well I’d rather play poker,” said the Grey, the kind they usually depict abducting cattle and probing things indiscriminately. This one was dressed in a three-piece suit, and his almond-shaped head was topped off with a cowboy hat. He caressed a large stack of chips with his three long fingers. “It’s your turn to deal,” the alien said to the fairy.
The fairy pouted.
“We do nothing but play cards,” said the witch. “Let her have her fun.”