Not three steps in, a woman in an official-looking loincloth approaches me, waves at my torso. “Have you redeemed any of this?”
“Oh. Um…no, but I was just about to—”
“No problem. Let me tally you up.” She holds up her tablet, taps something out as she looks me up and down. “Minor bruising, ruffled hair, slight limp, offended ass crack. Four Bloodcoin.” She tears off four tickets from the dispenser attached to her waist, hands them to me. “Don’t forget to cash in at the redemption booth. And word of advice, don’t be afraid to dirty up the bod, lose a tooth, maybe get a black eye or bloody nose.”
The ticket chick gives my rack one last glance, and then she drops me like a bad habit, runs over to the booth nearby, where some guy has just injured himself playing Greeting Card Paper-Cut (according to the sign).
Tickets in hand, I wander, agape, aghast. Wheezy Mellotron music plays over the PA. Besides the obvious attractions, like Russian roulette, Chinese Water Torture, a carousel centrifuge, and Bobbing for Crabs, there’s Barefoot Rusty Nail Safari, Broken Mic Night, Completely Average First-Graders Perform “Hot Cross Buns,” Möbius Queue, The Better Never Than Late Cafe, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Shaky Cam Footage Theater, The Frozen Status Bar, and Chipotle—among many, many others. Many visitors are grimy, singed, bloodied, their loincloths tattered or missing altogether. That’s to be expected when attending a human suffrage carnival, I guess. And what a carnival it is. As far as I can tell, all the games and rides are designed to hurt or humiliate. You earn tickets (issued by entrepreneuring ushers like the one who tallied me) for your pain, which you can then redeem for Bloodcoin. I’m assuming Thrill-Kill and her ex-husbands are taking a cut. Instead of mining Bloodcoin themselves, they’ve set up a carnival and are letting the masses mine for them. The whole thing is pretty devious, if you ask me.
After wandering the milling crowds for several minutes (there must be several hundred people in attendance, none of whom have brought their spray bottles, none of whom are social distancing), I find Jan over at the Expired Delicacies booth. The good news is, he doesn’t look like he’s been kidnapped. The bad news is, he’s pixelated and puking miserably into a bucket.
Attending a human suffrage carnival in Thrill-Kill’s Bloodcoin dungeon.
Puking into a bucket.
* * *
Manual reminder: all my books are 75% off during Smashwords’ July Summer/Winter Sale!