Canto 12 – Goofy in Flintstone Land
Trav wasn’t wild about the plasticized fake tiger fur he was wearing. It was itchy and uncomfortable in all the most private of places. He kept his gob hat and eye-patch, though, unwilling to give up that part of his personal style. He was wearing this disguise only because Frieda had insisted.
Downtown Bedrock was an unusual place. For some reason unknown to Trav, the city designers had modeled things on an old Earth cartoon show called the Flintstones. It made sense to Trav, in a weird way, to have people dress up like cave-man cartoon characters and live in synthetic stone houses that looked like hollow mushrooms with flat tops. But he could form no reasons in his head for why a whole planet full of normal people would follow through on a strange idea like that. He thought he was more-or-less unique in the universe, the only one given to such ideas.
At a shop for selling Pterodactyl Burgers, he met a man named Fred347 Rubble. He was polishing the stone countertop with a white cloth and pouring the occasional Guava Juice for the customers.
“Excuse me,” Trav said, after gulping down the Guava Juice, “but do you know anyone who knows anything about Ancient artifacts?”
“You are the second one to ask that question of me in a week,” said Fred347.
“So, do you?”
“I know who would be able to answer your question, but you don’t want to go there.”
“Oh, yes, I do. I need to find out about the Hammer of God.”
The balding Fred347 glared at Trav as if he’d just said something completely stupid. It made Trav grumble to himself. Ged always thought he was stupid too. He’d show old Ged Aero, though. He’d find that hammer and make a fool of the know-it-all hunter from Questor.
“You have to go up Mount Quagmire to the mansion of Rocko Slaghoople. He’s the man who knows about ancient things around here. He’s a notorious gangster, though. He’s got a rock-caster with exploding bullet-rocks, and he likes to use it on guys like you.”
“Why thank you. I appreciate getting the straight poop, old Jester.” Trav saluted with two fingers to the brim of his gob hat.
“Yeah, go find out about poop from Slaghoople, moron.”
Trav was taken slightly aback. Why did people always respond to what he said rather than what he meant? It was a mystery well beyond a man like him.
A brisk walk got him to the top of Quagmire Mountain, where he could look down over a broad expanse of Bedrock City. The whole city was too big to see in one go. Millions and millions of people lived there in a sprawl of single to three-story rock homes. They were all people who wore fake fur and propelled their vehicles with bare feet.
Slaghoople Manor was a big oval rock with round holes for windows and crude wooden doors. The whole thing was dusty gray with veins of purple running through the rock. Palm trees leaned out from either side of the front of the building. Two thugs in fake leopard skins stood guard.
“Ay!” cried one of the thugs. “Whatcher dooin’ there?”
“I’ve come to see Rocko about an Ancient artifact, the Hammer of God!”
Each of the thugs pulled out an over-size wooden rock-caster. It was a cartoonish-looking hand-held catapult. “Getchuz inside!” ordered a thug.
“Okay, okay. Don’t shoot me with your scary-looking rock-thingies!” Trav grinned at his own joke.
“You’d do well not to laugh at the boys,” said a sultry voice from inside the open doorway. Trav entered to see a beautiful blond woman wearing what he would later learn was a Raquel-Welch-1,000,000-Years-B.C. Bikini. It was striking on the young lady, revealing much of her two best features. “Those weapons look foolish to an outsider like you, but they pack a deadly charge and can easily separate you from your head. Thog and Thing are deadly serious.”
“Who are you, beautiful lady?” Trav squeaked.
“Here they call me Gina Rock-a-Bridgeada. In the Galtorr Imperium, I was called Dana Cole.”