I’m running down the side of this volcanic mountain and I get my toe stuck on this overhang. In the distance, I see a ghoul waving his arms and screaming obscenities. I’m trying to free my foot, but I have to be careful because if I lose my balance, I could fall off the cliff to the pool below which is filled with everyone’s lies. Nasty things, they’ll stick to me with suction cups. Then I’ll have to go to the underworld and plead with Lord Grunion, but he’ll want me to parade around in my bra and panties before all those little nincompoopers. If I were a different avatar, I wouldn’t mind, but Janeen didn’t make me into an exhibitionist. So I rock back and forth, thanking my aikido training for helping me not to panic, even though the ghoul’s getting closer. The thing’s got one eye in the middle of his chin and an orange vinyl perm that rises in ridges from his head. If he gets close, he’s going to spit this acidic goo on me that will cost ten of my lives and I’ve only got that many left. So I unzip a ruby from the inner-lining of my collar, just in case, before the ghoul is about to open its stinking mouth, I free my foot and leap to the other side of the mountain. I’m glad I didn’t have to use up one of my rubies to paralyze the thug. The ghoul stands there on his right leg, drooling. I shout obscenities in Russian letting loose with po’shyol ‘na hui, basically telling the ghoul to fuck off. The coast is clear. I’m so shook up that I forget what I’m supposed to be doing—that’s right—collecting rubies from the slime-toads so I can get off this mountain and back to my house where a vegetarian dinner awaits on the counter. I’d prefer a rib-eye, but I’m not the one who makes the rules.
I throw the glowing jewel to the ground. “Coffee,” I say. There’s a steaming cup and a thick slice of challah. Not fair. A ruby is a lot to pay for a continental breakfast.