The sea was as smooth as glass. The orange life raft was motionless.
"I've gotta have a drink of water!" snarled Sam Slam to the purser, who was guarding the precious reserve of water.
"Now, now, Mr. Slam, you must think of the rest of us, too."
"Yeah, I'm thinking, alright. I'm thinking I oughta throw the rest of you jerks overboard right now." Sam Slam grabbed the portly purser by the jacket.
"That's enough, PUNK!" "Bob" stood up and kicked Slam in the butt.
"Fuck off, Dobbs. Nobody's gonna stop me from getting that water." Sam threw the man into the sea and turned to face "Bob."
"Listen, dipstick, somebody should've put you to sleep a long time ago." Slam threw a right punch. "Bob" ducked and brought his head against Slam's chin. KLUNK. Slam was out like a light.
Dobbs managed to haul the soaked purser back into the boat.
"No problem." "Bob" shook the man's hand.
It had been three weeks since their boat, the Foolish Princess, capsized. Supplies were nearly gone. Twenty people had been aboard; now only three survived -- J. R. "Bob" Dobbs, Sam Slam, and the purser.
"This is the last of the water, Dobbs." Slam dribbled the last remaining drops into his parched mouth. "Now what are we gonna do?"
"Go thirsty," "Bob" replied tersely.
The purser began to pale. His shiny uniform was now tattered rags.
"I feel faint." The purser fell to his knees. "Bob" hurried to his side.
"You'll be OK, buddy."
But the purser's breathing became erratic. With a horrid gasp, he was gone.
"Get rid of the stiff, Dobbs."
"Hang on, Slam. Maybe there's still something to be done." "Bob" tried every surgical technique he knew. Still -- nothing.
"CHUCK HIM. He stinks already." Slam grasped the body and heaved it overboard.
"So it's just us, huh?" said "Bob."
"Looks like. Too bad you're not a broad." Slam grinned lasciviously.
"Seems at a time like this, you'd be thinking of something other than your dick."
"One last fuck...that's all I ask."
"Slam, you sleazy being. Have you never heard of Slack?" inquired "Bob," almost pityingly.
"Is that where you tie 'em up?"
"In a certain way, yes. You tie Them up," "Bob" explained.
"Ah, come off it, Dobbs. Nobody believes that mumbo jumbo anymore."
"THEY keep you from believing you can do this..." "Bob" got out of the boat, and began walking across the water.
"Holy shit!" Slam was amazed. "I must be dead."
"Yes. You are dead. You are spirit. Your body is a lie. A fiction."
"Bullshit. I can feel my body. It's real." Slam patted his chest. "Bob" walked back to the boat and stood facing Slam, whose hand passed through his chest.
"Am I real?" "Bob" asked. Sam Slam made a grab for Dobbs, but all there was, was AIR.
"Aieieieiei," yodeled the SlackMaster.
"This can't be happening. It must be a dream. Tell me it's just a dream!"
"It's all a dream. We just think we're awake."
"You mean, I can just... 'wake up,' and not be lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean?"
"Of course. That is the essence of the Slack Center. Our foot gland has the ability to reach into the fourth dimension -- time. Don't DREAM it, BE it."
"But how do I 'wake up'?" Slam demanded.
"By becoming AWARE of all that is around you. The things around you have hypnotized you into NOT SEEING. I guess that wraps it up. See you later, Sam."
"Bob" lit his pipe and began to fade away. Only his smoke remained.
Sam Slam was alone on the raft. His nights merged with his daze. He could no longer tell if his eyes were open or closed.
Then...a vision. It was "Bob," descending in clouds of glory, surrounded by a dazzling light.
"'Bob'! You've come back for me!"
The Living Slack Master landed in the boat.
"Slam. Your time has come." "Bob" reached down and pulled the plug on the raft. PPPPssssssssstttttttt. Slam was frantic.
"You evil bastard!" Slam yelled, and lunged for "Bob." It was as if his body burst into a million strands of light. Sam entered the BeforeLife.
AND THE RAFT WAS ALONE.
Slack Comes When Called.
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