Out beyond the limits of time and space as we know them, there exists an eclectic beach called “Thalpegurm.” To enter this beach, one must pay with an item that the visitor personally made.
Jex Hewmstrel approached the counter next to the door marked “entance.” He asked if there was a reason why the “r” was missing. The cashier merely waived a tentacle (one of twelve) as if to imply the missing letter was a natural occurance. It gestured, using Universal Sign Language (Modification 6A23), to request what Jex wished to offer as payment.
Jex held his payment out. “Katana sword, personally made replica.”
The cashier communed with its biocomputer for exactly 2.9 seconds. One tentacle waved “accepted,” while a second waved “two hours.”
“Only two hours?” Jex made to return the sword to its scabbard. “I can get more at the next entrance.”
Again, two tentacles waved. “No other entrances.” gestured at the same time as “one-point-five hours.”
“You just said two hours.”
Two tentacles became four, and waved in unison (for emphasis), “Point-five hour penalty for arguing. Care to further reduce time?”
“Deal at one-point-seven-five?”
Jex rested the sword on the counter. “Fine.”
The biocomputer spit out a chit. Two tentacles pointed to the “entance,” while a third gestured “enjoy.”
Jex went through the door. On the other side he first saw sands mid-way between light tan and egg-shell white in color. There was a smell reminding him of a humid day working in a meat-salting factory as a college student. His face cooled from the breeze. Near the waterline he saw a refreshment stand. He headed toward it. A large glass of something alcoholic seemed inviting at the moment.
Two-thirds of the way to the stand, he heard slithering behind him. He turned, and was met with the vision of the cashier sliding on four tentacles across the sand toward him. He hadn't realized the creature's size. It blocked out the early afternoon sun behind it. It brandished what looked like a pistol and two daggers.
Jex also hadn't realize his instincts had taken control until he noticed the refreshment stand passing to his left. The slithering was much louder behind him. He felt bogged down by the soft sand under his feet. He turned left and made the best time he could toward the waterline.
As he reached the edge of the wet sand, he felt his chest constricting. He had become out of shape since he'd gotten the promotion to the home office. The first step into the dampened sand sank out of sight, followed by the rest of him. He forced his head above the quicksand. A tentacle reached toward him, with a second waving inches from his face. “Grab me,” it gestured. He reached out and wrapped his hands around the cashier's appendage.
A second later, he was on solid sand again. Two tentacles plunged daggers into the ground, almost taking the tip of his nose off. The end of a pistol barrel protruded from the grasp of a third tentacle in front of his left eye. From his right eye, he saw the gestures for, “You forgot your change.”
(©2010 L. E. Merithew)