Never Have I….
There is a knock on my door. “Come in!”
Greyscale sneaks in with a bag filled with various alcoholic beverages. How do I know that the bag contains contains alcoholic beverages? Well one, because I asked him, and two because it’s a deep purple, which only to the Company-clerks use.
“Did Hermann see this bag?” “Yea, but I told him it was mine.” “Puh.” He opens it. “How much do you know about alcohol?” “You have seen me drunk. Twice- and that’s how many times I have been drunk, ever.” “Not very much then. I’d figured as much.” He arranges the bottles on the floor.
“I have got you four ciders”, he motions and points at four bottles containing a green-looking substance. “Ciders are lightweights: they’ll make you piss, but won’t do much for that buzz you’re looking for.” He takes out four glass bottles. “Beers. Personally I am beer man. Hard to go wrong there. Now, seeing you’re new to this whole hate-your-liver thing, I bought you some simple things.Beer#1 is a sugary-honey thing from some microbrewery. Beer#2 is an import from Honduras, which, considering your heritage, is kinda funny. Beer#3 is something that has been stored in a vanilla barrel, and really, and anything stored in a barrel is good. Beer#4 is something from the great province of Norrland, because you know, it has a moose on the bottle and all.”
He opens the bag once more. “Geez, how much booze did you buy?” “One’s approach to alcohol should be like one’s approach to guns and bullets.” “And that is?” “You should never run out. These days, Sweden is famous for its tap water, which is clearer than summer-sky, and which you can drink anywhere and everywhere. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time when a thane wouldn’t accept another thane’s welcome-mead if it wasn’t strong enough to put hair on one’s chest.”
“Because they wanted to be seen as tough?”
“Partly, but mostly because the water tasted awful and made you shit for seven whole days. Dysentery ain’t no joke.”
He takes out several packages of energy-drinks, and a smaller bottle. “This”, he inclines his head at the smaller bottle”- is vodka. And this-” he holds the packages”- is Cowbull. Mix a tenth of vodka with the other nine being energy-drink, and you’ll get something that will keep your buzz going.”
He holds up a finger. “Don’t ever drink pure vodka. That’s how you blackout and end up in a forest surrounded by a bunch of naked werewolves.”
I think for a moment. “What happens if you mix vodka with, say, beer?” Greyscale blanches. “Don’t…. don’t do that. It would be a very bad idea.I once drank chickenblood mixed with wine, and that tasted better than mixing beer and vodka.”
I look at the clock. 18.50.
“Alright, I am ready.
Greyscale drives me up to the Orchard. I am about to leave when he grabs my arm. “Call if there is anything.” “I will.” “Seriously. Don’t sleep in some barn, or in the bed next to some shifty person. If you’re tired, or bored, or really drunk, call.”
I nod at him, and he leaves.
Standing on the porch, having not entered yet, and I can still feel the music throbbing through the air. /Noise I say./ Where do you go when you aren’t talking to me? /I sleep. I think. I have Greyscale’s memories, but his and my personality are different. I spend alot of time trying to puzzle out those differences, for the sake of sanity./
I step up the porch and knock on the door. And what have you found? “Come in!”, somebody screams.I walk in. /It’s odd. At one hand, I have memories of atleast three millenia. But in one sense, I am newborn./ I stumble. Greyscale is over three-thousand years old?!
Verde sends me a picture of Greyscale in jeans and a sweater. And then the image transforms, like a book where someone is flipping the pages, each one faster than the other. Greyscale in breaches and vest. Greyscale with a flintlock pistol and cravat. Greyscale wearing mail and a shield and a sword. Greyscale wearing a shorter sword, a more barbarian style-armor.
I blink. Unlike the usual images Verde sends, these have a ‘weight’. Solidity– a sense of ancience. Is that even a word? “Rune, come!” I remove my shoes and walk through the Orchard. Sitting in the kitchen are Kai and Elena. “Am I early? You said seven a clock.” “Yeah, but when people say that, they mean that you should come like an half hour after the allotted time”, Elena responds.
I sit next to Kai. “So what is Kai doing here then?” “Kai is here because Kai said that he’d help Elena make punch”, Kai obligates in third person. “Huh. Need a hand?” “Sure.” Elena takes out the mother of all bowls, sangria and something that she identifies as Korean liquor. I pour the sangria, Kai pours the Korean stuff, and Elena just watches. “There!” We both stop.
She opens a cabinette, takes out three glasses and a large spoon. Three handfuls of punch later and we sip on it. “This is good”, I say, a bit surprised. It taste like the very weird lovechild of a soft cough-medicine and something that is fifty percent cinnamon, and fifty percent some kind of fruit, like orange, and yet not. I can feel a mellow sensation in my tummy, working its way up to my brain “Of course it is”, Elena rebutes. She continues. “And what would you know about punch?” “I have tasted mead, once.” “Mead and punch are two entirely different beverages…” “Like cat and dog”, Kai decides. We sit there for a while, me, Kai and Elena, and sip on punch which we by unanonimus decision call Silla-punch, after the old Korean kingdom (yes, I like history, sue me).
/You do realize that this is atleast three tenths liquor, as close as four eights./ I frown.I don’t taste the liquor. /That is how you know there is way too much liquor./ Eh, I’ll be fine. Verde shakes his serpentine head.
During the following hour, the rest of 1A tumble in. Hannah and Pontus, hand to hand. Amina, Stella and Amina in troika-formation. Shirin, accompanied by Chiyo, who keeps a watching eye over her, like a mamabear. Linnea, alone. Signe and Marika, talking animatedly about something. Sara arrives, already a little drunk. And then the last but not the least, Nevena.
Elena grabs a chair, and stands on it. “We’re getting crowded here, so we’ll retire to the atrium, alright?”
“Now then.” 1A has gathered in the atrium, sitting in chairs and loveseats, several of which I don’t remember being there two days ago. Elena continues. “We’re going to play a drinking game-” several people groan”- called Never Have I… done that.” More groans.
“The rules are simple. An statement will be issued, like ‘never have I kissed a girl’. If you have kissed a girl, then don’t drink. If you haven’t then, then drink. This clear to all?” Nods. I crack open a beer. I mean sure, there is free punch. But this is a beergame. You have to drink beer, Elena says. It’s practically in the rules. The beer— it tastes like honey and sugar–and the sugar is a bit too much, almost cloying
“I will start, and the first question will then be, never have I kissed a girl.” I, Shirin, Sara and Amina drink (a peck on the cheek does so not count). Hmmmm. Elena nods at me.
“Never have I been to France.” Several people catcall my suggestion, but the only people who don’t drink are Hannah, and surprisingly, Shirin. Nevena, who is next to me, offers the next statement, with a wicked smile and firefly eyes.
“Never have I masturbated to porn.” There is a pregnant silence in the atrium, and not a single person drinks. It’s Amina’s turn, and she offers the next gem. “Never have I had sexual thoughts about a teacher.” Shirin, Kai and Chiyo drinks. “What”, Chiyo exclaims. “I don’t fantasize about my teachers, you perverts!”
“Never have I smoked”, Sara says. Everyone except her, Amina and Signe drinks.
Amanda drops the social equalivent of nuclear bomb. “Never have I had sex.” I blush somewhat, but I, Amina, Chiyo, Pontus and Shirin drink. Nevena looks down in her cider-bottle, as if regretting something.
I look at the various beer, ciders and drinks the rest of 1A is drinking. Elena is on her third beer, Kai on his fifth. Pontus is holding two glasses of punch, both half-finished. Each of them have glossy eyes, like they have a fever, or are partway to being drunk. I look down on my beer, my first beer, which is four sixths full. Ah, better to drink slowly then to lose my memories.
“Never have I played hockey”, Pontus says. Everyone besides him and Amina drinks. “Never have I played an instrument”, Chiyo offers. Everyone except her, Hannah and Kai drinks. Marika rubs her hands gleefully.
“Never have I seen a horse mate with another horse.” Fourteen sets of eyes stare at her. “Drink up.” We all do, not surprisingly.
Stella laughs. “I got one. Never have I skipped school so that I can go with my girlfriend to a cinema.” Everyone except me and Nevena drink. “Never have I read Kafka”, Shirin squeezes out. Everyone except her and Chiyo drinks.
It’s Kai’s turn. “Never have I had such a great class!” Several girls go ‘awww’, and we all drink.
Hannah confidently asserts, “Never have I touched an emperor-penguin.” “Does it has to be an emperor-penguin?”, Marika asks. “Yeah, couldn’t it be any kind of flightless fowl?”, Linnea asks in her beautiful voice. “No, don’t judge the penguins just because they can’t fly”, Shirin admonishes. “You all drink. Now”, Hannah adds.
” Never have I seen the movie Shawshank Redemption”, Linnea asks. Sara, Pontus and Amanda drinks.”Never have I NOT farted in a lesson!”, Signe almost scream. The party grinds to an halt. There is a moment… then everybody laughs. And then everybody drinks.
Stella comes up with the best never-line though, atleast in my opinion. “Never have I asked a large woman if she is pregnant.” I and Pontus don’t drink, but the rest do.
“So, the next beergame will be…” Elena says.
I lock my hands with Nevena’s and think to myself that is might just work in the end. I open another beer, having finished my first one, and drink some more. This beer tastes acrid, with a toffee undertone.Yeah, this might work.