The Joracian Mystery

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Jambalaya

Through misty veils of sleep, I thought I heard a voice say, “Yo’ Jambahlayah is served!” Groggily we rose, our eyes half-closed. The aroma of filet gumbo was overpowering. Someone had left steaming covered dishes on trays. Tall carafes held some chilled beverage, two fluted wine glasses beside them. “Sylvia,” I murmured gently in my love’s ear, “It’s dinner.” Removing a silver cover, I began to drool, suddenly realizing I was famished. Sylvia was soon beside me, raising a forkful to her dainty mouth. As I pigged out, making yummy sounds, Sylvia poured some of the liquid into our glasses. I watched as she sipped, pursing her lips in a little smile, her eyes all but closing. “It’s Asti,” she declared. “My favorite.”

Famished, we ate like pigs. Our repast continued in delighted silence for some time, broken only by sounds of animal satisfaction. When we had finished the food, or eaten all we could (the portions were magnificent; but I always try to stop eating whenever I feel just right), we sat back stupefied, our hands cradling our bellies. Then, to my surprise, Sylvia and I both let out a terrific belch simultaneously, and burst into laughter together. Sated, Sylvia found she was restless. “Let’s go exploring, Sam.” As we crept toward the portal, we were wearing the uniform of the Joracian High Command. She tried the door. “Coast is clear,” she said, grinning.

“This way,” I said, looking down the left hall. A guard was posted before a prominent-looking entrance. As I approached, this guard pointed to his temples in the same strange manner as Brôk had done. Before he could straighten up, though, we had passed through the double doorway.

It took awhile for our eyes to grow accustomed to the light. Sparkling, shimmering lights revolved around the walls of the room. There was sound too, a pulsating rhythm and a bass voice (or was it baritone?) that drove the music; it seemed I’d heard it before but all I could think of was: the Orson Welles of Rhythm-&-Blues. “Sylvia,” I said, “Where are you?” I couldn’t see a thing. Steaming mists rose off the central edifice, which gradually emerged, capturing my attention. “Sam,” Sylvia cried, “it’s a hot tub!” By the time we reached the edge of the tub, our clothes had magically dissolved.

Sylvia was ravishing; her body had never looked so beautiful. We stood together, feeling the bubbles procreate around us, our hands discovering the surface of our bodies as if for the first time, arms encircling each other’s waist, drawing our lips and the centers of our bodies together hard, with a slapping sound. But before our lovemaking could begin in earnest, Sylvia hunkered down into the water, only her nose, mouth and eyes showing above the water line. I could see that something was on her mind.

“Sam,” her brows furrowed, “do you like this place?”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t know. These Joracians—I don’t trust them.”

“They’ve taken on the job of relocating all of Earth’s inhabitants. I think we have to trust them.”

“Do you think we’re all right here?”

I explained to Sylvia, as best I could, that the Joracians were, from all I could gather, our very good friends and that, on the whole, I believed their plan for evacuating Earth an environmentally sound one indeed. I suppose I must have gotten a bit long-winded. Suddenly, the water seemed very hot to me. Sylvia had, on the contrary, grown colder. She had moved away from me as I spoke and now sat sulking at the far edge of the tub, her knees drawn up to her perky little chin. “What’s the matter?” I asked. “I’m sure you’re right!” she snapped back. “It’s just—well, it all seems a little…too good to be true?” I remember thinking: downright preposterous; but I never said a word. I drifted with the moment instead, letting Nature take its course. That’s what Laotzu said to do; and I fancied myself something of a Taoist.

Sylvia seemed to grow more distant with each passing moment. It was just one of her moods. “We better get out,” I said. I don’t remember dressing. But no sooner had we crawled back through that steamy fog than we found each other, plain as day, dressed just the way we came.

“Far out,” I muttered.

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