There’s an App for That

“Why ‘Jerry’?” Brett asked. “What does that mean?”

“Because it’s gold, Jerry,” said Dennis.

“No, it’s short for Jerry Maguire,” Bradley said. “You know-”

“Show me the money, yeah,” Brett said. “Like, this program is going to make us a lot of money somehow?”

“No, no,” Bradley said. “That’s not it at all. It’s that scene where he gets fired and he’s like-”

“I haven’t seen that movie in years,” said Cheryl to Brett.

“I have,” said Chad. He stared at the table.

“Well,” Bradley said “calling it Jerry Maguire all the time was sort of cumbersome so we started calling it-”

“Yeah, we get it,” Brett said. “Bradley, these gentlemen contacted us yesterday and expressed great interest in speaking to you and your team.” Brett lifted his hand from his smartphone and pointed his first two fingers at the finely-attired men sitting to his right.

“Mr. Lewiston,” the expensive suit nearest him said, “may I call you Bradley.”

“Yes sir,” Bradley said. His nod was a vibration.

“Bradley,” he said. “I’m John Tucker.” He pointed his thumb over his left shoulder. “This is my associate, Malcolm Frobisher. We’ve had an eye on your work for some time now.”

“Bradley,” Brett said. “I need you to be honest about what you’ve been doing for us here.” Brett looked over and met the eyes of his corporate attorney, Cheryl, who sat to his left, then shifted his gaze back to Bradley.

Malcolm watched this exchange and cracked a slight, crooked smile.

“Bradley,” John said. “I need you to tell me what this thing does.”

“Well, I,” Bradley said. He glanced at Cheryl. “I, uh.”

“Screw that I can tell you what it does,” said Chad. His hands were in his lap. He inspected his palms.

“Chad,” said Brett. “I don’t-”

“Guys,” said Dennis. “Guys it doesn’t do shit.”

“Gentlemen,” said John. “Gentlemen,” He opened the manila folder in front of him and produced a stack of paper, which he slid over to Cheryl,
“and lady.” He winked.

“What is that?” Brett asked.

Cheryl furrowed her brow and skimmed the front page. She lifted a finger and turned the page with her other hand. She turned another page. “It’s immunity for the corporation with the stipulation that we cooperate. Same deal for Bradley as an individual. It’s solid enough.”

“What does ‘enough’ mean?” Brett asked.

“You know what it means, Brett,” Cheryl said. She closed the packet. “It means what it means. Don’t fuck around.”

“That’s right,” John said. “No monkey business. Shall we proceed, Mr. Lewiston? Bradley?”

“Where do I start?” Bradley asked. “I’ve never done this before.”

“Start at the night of the beta,” Malcolm said. “Fill in whatever is relevant.”

“Okay,” Bradley said. “Okay. So, it was supposed to be limited. I mean, it was limited. We do this all the time, beta testing different features among users. I mean, we have over 500 million worldwide so there’s really no limit to what we can test. Practically nobody’s page looks the same. We don’t always run it by people, either. I mean, uh, Dennis, he did Willie Nelson remember?”

“What is Willie Nelson other than a musician I enjoy?” Malcolm asked.

Brett looked at Dennis, who turned to Cheryl. “Cher. Seriously?” Dennis asked.

“Seriously,” she said.

Dennis slumped over in his seat. “Okay. Well. I made, in my spare time, which we are allowed to do-”

“Jesus, Dennis,” Brett said.

“We are,” Dennis said, “we’re allowed to code on breaks, or stay late, whatever. Well, I did. I did Willie and it let you search for buy ops in states where pot is legal. Not just stores, I mean, people could post offers, it was supposed to be a music festival thing-”

“Through the network,” Chad said, “but he set the parameters wrong.”

“Fuck you man it was that fucking intern,” Dennis said. He arose from his slump and flopped down on the edge of his chair. It tipped precariously forward and slammed back down with a clack.

“Guys,” Brett said. He looked at John. “Long story short, it was supposed to be a beta in a few legal counties and it got posted to the entire eastern seaboard. By morning we were getting emails from people all over the country.”

“Why don’t we know about this?” John asked. He eyed Malcolm.

“We do,” Malcolm said. “User side it was called Sticky.”

John nodded. “Yes, yes I do. That must have been, what, four, five years ago? God, I was one year out of academy. I thought it was the Russians?”

“Heh,” Malcolm said. “Brett blamed it on hackers from one of his shell companies, shut that one down. They own a couple of big outlets so it didn’t get legs. It was need to know but now I guess you do.”

“Hah,” John said. He looked from Dennis to Brett. “What a deal.”

Brett pressed his lips together in a tight line.

“It’s still all over Reddit,” Chad said. “And 4chan.”

“Chad,” Cheryl said.

A vein pulsed on Brett’s left temple.

“Right,” Bradley said. “So, where was I?”

“You were describing Jerry, but if you don’t mind, go back a bit and tell me what gave you the inspiration, other than Dennis’s escapades,” John said.

“Okay,” Bradley said,”I, well, you know I like to think of myself as pretty passionate. You know, it hurts me. The things people do, I guess, and working here I get to see it 24/7. Everyone’s feed is full of just, well, garbage. I mean, there are good things too, but it’s a, well, sorry Brett, but it’s a sea of shit.”

Brett considered Bradley for a moment. He smiled with his mouth only. “It’s okay, Brad,” he said. “We want you to express yourself, constructively, in whatever way you feel is appropriate.”

“Oh,” Bradley said. “Okay. Well, it started as a joke. Not really a joke, but.” He paused. “Let me back up.” Bradley gazed at the blank yellow legal pad in front of him on the table. He breathed in deeply through his nose, held it for a second, and exhaled through his pursed lips. Six sets of eyes peered at him from across the table. They waited.

“When they had the shooting back in, oh, last year? No it was two years ago. There have been so many, but that was the one. I got sick of the onslaught of crap opinions and fighting, so much fighting. Everyone has some goddamned idea, right, and most of them won’t do anything about it anyway. The people who actually vote don’t even use our site-”

“That demographic has actually increased ten-” Chad started.

“Chad.” Brett said. “Please go on, Bradley.”

“Well, anyway, I started thinking. We send notifications when people post certain combinations of words. It depends on what it is, I mean, it’s complicated. I can show you the source code but I’m not sure you’d get it.”

“I get enough,” John said. “Your team programs a set of flags, which can be words, time logged on, time between posts, interactions, and so on, and your site can send messages accordingly.”

“Yeah,” Bradley said. “Yeah, that’s the long and short of it. So, these people, I mean these guys, it’s always guys. These guys, they’re on our site. Nine times out of ten, they’re here, and I know they got the warnings. Probably the ‘are you okay’ text but maybe even the Suicide Hotline. And I thought, what if we took it a step further?”

“What is ‘further’?” Malcolm asked.

“Uh, well,” Bradley said. He faced Cheryl. She nodded. “Well,” he said, “what if it checked for a few other things? What groups they are a member of, what they like, where they post, age, ethnic groups, gender, religious affiliation, political interests. It all gets weighed. Then, if they’re over a certain score, they get a different message.”

“Kill yourself!” Dennis said in a cheer. He raised his arms above his head, fists clenched.

Goddammit Dennis,”Brett said. He bared his teeth.

Dennis flopped his arms into his lap. “What? What?” He said as he glimpsed around the room for support. “I told you it doesn’t do anything. It’s a fuckin’ suicide program. ‘Kill yourself’, haw haw haw. Really?”

The room was silent.

“It did, though, didn’t it?” John asked.

“Do something?” Bradley asked. “I mean, it sent a message that suggested they would be better off dead. It was almost poetic, Chad wrote it-”

When time, it comes, to fade to black-” Chad said.

“Yeah, like that, but did it work then?” Bradley said “I don’t know-”

“You do though,” Chad said. “We checked. You checked.”

“What does he mean, Bradley?” Malcolm asked.

“Well,” Bradley said, “I stayed late one Friday, you know the one, obviously, and I ran a limited beta in Southern California. It was 250,000 people in metropolitan areas only, selected randomly, but within that group, it sent 17 messages.”

“Go on,” John said.

“Nine of them never logged back on.”

Brett furrowed his brow and bit his lip. Cheryl stared down at her legal pad. She had drawn a series of black stars and a question mark.

“But you don’t know,” John said.

“We do,” Chad said. “It’s not hard to check the news, Google names.”

“Weren’t you afraid someone would find out?” Malcolm asked.

“If they used as much of my app as I think they did-” Dennis started.

“Hey Dennis,” Bradley said, “don’t disrespect me like that man.”

“Dude I just calls ’em as I sees ’em,” Dennis said as he folded his hands behind his head.

“What are you talking about?” Malcolm asked.

“Look, it’s standard.” Chad said. “Dennis is acting like it isn’t but it’s open code, we don’t use it much, but you can freeze screen shots, printing, snip tools, whatever, for the duration of the message.”

Cheryl looked up and to the right. “Uh,” she said, “what stops someone from whipping out their phone and taking a photo.”

“Well, Cher,” Dennis said, “that’s the brilliance of me, baby. That other shit is standard but what I did is link the desktop version to the app so that if you got a desktop message, any other device on the same account is camera locked, and vice versa. It doesn’t stop a third party from getting their phone out, or a fucking Polaroid for that matter, but what are the chances of that?”

“Actually, the chances are pretty good for drug buyers but not so good for suicidal people,” said Chad.

Dennis lifted his right fist towards Chad and slowly extended his middle finger.

Malcolm looked at John and cocked an eyebrow. John nodded back.

“Okay guys,” Malcolm said. “We’ve gotten all we need from everyone but Chad and Bradley. The rest of you are excused but please remain available. We may need you for a followup.”

Dennis was already on his feet. “Great. I have shit to do.”

Brett faced Cheryl. “Is this good? I mean, are we good?”

Cheryl frowned. She regarded Malcolm and John then back to Brett. “You still smoke? I need a smoke.”

“Uh, shit. Sure,” Brett said. He hesitated for a moment before he started to stand. “Okay.”

After the door swung closed on its hydraulic, John studied Chad for a moment, then he addressed Bradley.

“All right,” John said, “we’ve established what message you sent, but you keep talking about a message. A warning message isn’t an app.”

Bradley glanced at Chad, then back at John. “I didn’t want to look after that night, but Chad checked for me. There were suicides, but there were also murder-suicides,” he said. “It didn’t work.”

“But it did,” Chad said. “They would have done it anyway, man.”

Bradley’s lips pressed together until his chin turned white.

“Chad’s right,” Malcolm said. “You realized that, didn’t you?”

“I knew then that it wouldn’t stop,” Bradley said. “I knew that people wouldn’t just leave without hurting someone, so I thought, what if I could direct it? What if I could give a suggestion?”

John’s nose crinkled. “What,” he said, “like a hit list?”

“It’s not a list,” Chad said. “I mean, there is a list, but people aren’t presented with it because we figured that would be too overwhelming. It takes your location and means into account, and then figures out who deserves it the most-”

“Deserves?” Malcolm said. He stood up. “How can you calculate such a thing?”

Chad ran his fingers through his hair. “Uh, well-”

“There’s a point system,” Bradley said. “If your net worth is a certain amount, you get points. If you publicly hold certain political views, there are points. More power is generally more points. Violent criminal records count too but also large white collar crimes. I wanted it to be as equal as possible. If you’re on a corner in Gardena you might get a drug runner but if you’re in downtown Sacremento-”

“So this is a revolution machine?” John said. “A hit suggestion box?”

“Wait John,” Malcolm said. He put his hand on John’s shoulder. “Chad. As I understand it, you built this on a previous platform. You linked it to all the information you’ve collected, you allow people to enter more information if they wish, and when they set off those triggers, when the system determines they’re that lone gunman, it pops off a suggestion. Not just that you kill yourself, because that’s a given that they’re going to get shot by police or bodyguards, but kill whoever.”

Chad nodded. “Yeah, in layman’s terms.”

“So it’s not an app, really, like Instagram. It’s a function of the site itself.”

“Correct,” Chad said.

“You may go,” said Malcolm.

Chad looked puzzled. John glanced over his shoulder at Malcolm with a similar expression on his face.

“It’s okay,” Malcolm said to them both. “Bradley can handle this from here on out.”

“Okay,” Chad said as he stood. “Uh, I’ll text you okay?” he said. Bradley nodded silently as Chad left the conference room.

Malcolm walked to the end of the table and sat beside Bradley.

“So, earlier, you were talking about Jerry Maguire,” Malcolm said. “My wife loves that movie. I remember that scene you were describing, before you were so rudely interrupted. Tom Cruise gets fired and he says ‘who’s coming with me? I’m not going to, you know, flip out, but who’s coming with me’, right?”

Bradley chuckled. “Right. ‘Who’s coming with me?'”

John stood up and walked to the end of the table and sat on Bradley’s other side.

“This program is active, isn’t it, Bradley?” Malcolm asked.

“Yes,” Bradley said.

John looked at Malcolm. “What do you mean active? He said it works-”

“Not in that sense,” Malcolm said. “Chad was with him until this step. It’s not a triggered message. Anyone can use it.” He looked at Bradley. “Right, Bradley?”

“A message wasn’t enough,” Bradley said. “Maybe the problems get solved, maybe not, but I thought, what about the guy who has inoperable stage IV cancer? Do we include him? I don’t know if I could justify egging on a person who might survive, who wasn’t a creep, but what if I made it optional? What if I made it more, you know, user friendly?”

“So a guy lives in DC and he has leukemia,” John said. “My God.”

“It’s not just that though,” Bradley said. “Social media wasn’t good enough. As much as we hate to admit here, not everyone is on it. People’s pages are run by their assistants. The media is full of lies. I needed real information. I gave it fields and made the parameters adjustable by the user, but it wasn’t enough. I connected it to every accessible database of public information, but it wasn’t enough. I needed all of it.”

“I know,” Malcolm said. “Which is why we’re here today.”

“I’d guessed that,” Bradley said.

John looked at Malcolm. “We can’t give that to him.”

Malcolm nodded. “We don’t have to. He got in two weeks ago.”

“What?” John said.

Bradley shifted in his seat.

“He’s plugged us into his equation,” Malcolm said. “I thought we’d cooked up some spooky shit for the drone program, but this guy,” he shook his finger at Bradley, “this guy is the spookiest.”

“Have you used it?” John said.

“I’ve done myself, yeah. You know what it says. Do you want to know what yours say?” Bradley asked.

“Oh, I’m not sure I want to,” Malcolm said. “I do need to ask you about last week, when you made some adjustments. Our logs say that you set the time and date on your calendar to noon on November 22, 1963, turned off your GPS, and entered your location as Dallas, Texas.”

“If you know all that, you know what it said,” said Bradley.

“I need John to hear it,” Malcolm said.

“Well, it wasn’t that simple. There were factors I didn’t see firsthand. If the date is set in the past, the fields are populated by the best available information, but everyone didn’t have a tracking device in their pocket-”

“Bradley,” John said.

“Lyndon Baines Johnson,” said Bradley.

John blinked. Malcolm rose from his chair and said, “How’s that for on the job training, John?”

“Uh,” John looked up at Malcolm then back at Bradley. “You didn’t publish this thirty minutes ago or anything, did you?”

“No,” Bradley said. “I’ve been up for days running simulations. It’s something to ask the combined knowledge of the human race who it would have killed at any particular place and time, but it’s here. It’s just here.”

“Good,” Malcolm said. “Good. You’re going to need to leave with us, Bradley. I hope you’re okay with that.”

“I have to be,” Bradley said, “don’t I?”

Malcolm nodded and patted him on the shoulder. He turned to John.

“John, I need you to stay behind. There’s a team arriving in twenty for cleanup. If Brett has questions we’ve got a government contract and he’ll be transferred a significant sum into his offshore holdings by tomorrow morning. The others are fine. All they saw was a suicide message. Chad will get the standard followup just in case.”

“Gotcha,” John said. “So, Bradley, I guess Malcolm knows, but I don’t. What did yours say?”

“Heh,” Bradley said. “It was Brett, but if I’m going with you guys, I have a feeling it’s going to change.”

“Mr. Lewiston,” Malcolm said, “I have the feeling a lot of things are about to change.”

The Kontest, Part II

The first part of The Kontest is here.

Bernard S. Bird, known as “Nards” to friend and foe alike, stood in the parking lot outside George’s Arcade surrounded by an antsy crowd of kids fresh out of school for the summer. He retrieved a crumpled piece of paper from his battered backpack and held it aloft as he slowly spread it apart with both hands.

“What is this?” he said to the girl who stood, arms crossed, in front of the entrance.

Diane barked a short laugh. “Can’t you read?”

“Yes,” he answered, undaunted. “It says ‘Mortal Kombat Champion Diane Blythe invites the students of Columbia Middle School to the Summer Exhibition Tournament at George’s Arcade.'”

“So, it can read,” said Diane.

“You aren’t the champion,” said Nards. He waved his hands around as he spoke. “The championship isn’t until the fall, and this isn’t an exhibition tournament. It’s the elimination tournament-”

“Hah!” Diane uncrossed her arms and put her hands on her hips. “Clearly a typo.”

“A typo.” Nards mocked. “A typo?” He turned his head both ways and looked at the crowd around him. They murmured in support. “You can’t just print a flyer announcing that you’re the champion-”

“You can’t play anyway, Nards,” Diane said. “We’ve already had this discussion. You aren’t even qualified-”

I am.” Nards said. “I have. The guys, we had a local tournament-”

“In your bedroom?” Diane’s smile looked like it might break her face. “I already told you, shitty Nintendo doesn’t count.”

“No, Diane.” Nards said. He pushed his glasses up his nose with one finger. “Karl’s Grocery has a machine in the lobby, we had a tournament, and I won.”

“Yeah,” said Diane, “and I just got elected President of the United States.”

Uneasy laughter filtered up from the still-gathering ranks of children.

Nards rifled through his backpack again. “Karl witnessed it himself,” he said, and produced another wrinkled sheet of paper. “He signed this. My mom even had it notarized at the bank!”

Diane’s face fell. “You sonofabitch.”

The crowd gasped.

“That’s right Diane,” Nards began, encouraged, “it’s the Summer Elimination Tournament. You can hang all the flyers you want but we all know that you aren’t the champion of jack shit.”

While the children laughed and clapped, there was a commotion towards the back of the crowd. A jingling. Something approached.

Diane stared at Nards. “You seem to have forgotten something,” she said.

Nards stopped smiling. “Oh no, Diane.”

“Oh yes!” she shouted. Her voice cracked. “It’s my arcade! MINE! You won’t even get in the door!”

“It’s not yours, Diane,” Nards said, “it’s your family’s. You can’t control who goes in the arcade.”

A shadow moved behind the glass. Nards could see the old man take a puff from his cigar. Some of the smoke filtered out through the battered aluminum door frame.

“You,” Nards started. “You-”

A thud startled Nards as an overloaded backpack landed next to his feet with a metallic jangle.

“Donnie,” Diane said. Her voice dripped with disgust.

The small boy approached Diane. His orange hair flew in the wind.

“Time to pway,” he said. “I’w be gweat again.”

Diane pursed her lips. “Hrm,” she said. “Okay Donnie, you’re in. You don’t mind a little exhibition do you?”

“No,” Nards said, “You can’t-”

The crowd around him shuffled.

“I can do whatever I want, Nards.” Diane said. “It’s my arcade, my game, and my fucking tournament.

The old man cracked the door and beckoned. Diane took Donnie by the shoulder and started towards the arcade. Some of the children in the crowd began to follow.

“Guys. Guys?” Nards looked around him. “Guys you can’t go in there. Who’s going to play? It’s just her, and, and,” he flapped his arms around his head, his hands still gripping the flyer and the notarized letter, “that little troll!”

The kids fell into a line while Nards continued to yell.

“She’ll just pull the plug again!” he shouted. “He doesn’t even know the moves!”

The students of Columbia Middle School filed into George’s Arcade, as they always had, and watched pixelated characters jump across the screen and decapitate each other for hours. Quarters were spent. Second hand smoke, inhaled.

Bernard S. Bird sat on the curb outside George’s Arcade until the summer sun began to disappear over the horizon. The first mosquito arrived and he slapped it away. He stood and pushed his glasses up his nose with one finger. At home waited Star Trek, and Mom.

He put on his backpack, straightened his shoulders, and set off through the orange-blue twilight.

Doctor Who vs Hydra

This was written in response to the online “furor” over Marvel’s decision to write Captain America as a secret member of Hydra. As with every other comic book controversy ever, these things seem increasingly petty after a few minutes/days/weeks/months of consideration. 

“Doctor’s Log, Stardate… Oh what is a ‘star date’ anyway?” the Doctor asked no one in particular as he flipped levers on the TARDIS console.

“Doctor,” Clara began, her dark eyebrows furrowed.

“Clara!” he said in a startle, as if he had forgotten she had been standing there. He grabbed her by the shoulders. “Clara. The place: Mutter’s Spiral, Earth, America. The year: 2016. The subject: Doom.”

“Oh boy, here we go,” she replied, still incredulous.

“Boy or no boy,” he said “my instruments detect a great cataclysm in 2016 caused by-” he dropped his hands and paused to glance at the console again, “-comic books!”

Clara cocked an eyebrow and pursed her lips. “Are you certain, Doctor?”

“Well,” he began “we all know that the collapse of the first great human empire began in 2016-”

“We don’t know that,” Clara interjected, matter-of-factly.

“And,” the Doctor continued, unimpeded, “all the periodicals at the time mention this ‘Captain America’ betraying his allegiance to the American people!”

“You know, Doctor,” Clara said as she started to pace. “I probably don’t keep up with American politics as much as I should but I’m pretty certain there is an important election going on in 2016-”

“Nonsense,” the Doctor said. “Look, this blog here, and blogs never lie, claims that, somehow, this comic book event caused a rift in the space-time continuum which traveled back to the time of the Captain’s inception, during the Second World War, and retroactively offended not only the people he initially defended, but modern day comic book fans, who will, in turn, destroy civilization as you know it!”

“I am completely lost,” said Clara.

“As am I,” said the Doctor, “but the answers to our questions lie in Poland. The year: 1944.”

“Oh no, Doctor,” Clara said, her wide eyes even wider. “You can’t.”

“Oh I can, Clara,” he said. “We’re already there.”

The Doctor strode over to the TARDIS console and adjusted the scanner’s viewscreen to face them. Clara could already see that they were in a prison yard.

“We can’t go out there, Doctor,” she said. “We’ll be killed.”

“Oh, Clara,” the Doctor said. He smiled. “I’ve enclosed the TARDIS in a static warp bubble. Everything outside it will be time locked. Hopefully, we’ve caught someone and we’ll pop out and ask them a question.”

“I should be used to this,” Clara said, “but this might be just about the worst thing you’ve ever done.”

The Doctor paid her no heed. He pointed at the screen. “There,” he said. “Right there. That confused looking fellow. He’s the one.”

Clara frowned. She stared at the screen. Her hair flew as she whipped her head up to face him. “Let’s go then. Let’s do this horrible thing so I can get to work on never forgiving you.”

“After you,” the Doctor said, deadpan, as he extended his right arm towards the opening TARDIS doors.

They marched outside.

There stood, not ten yards from the TARDIS door, more of a skeleton than a man. His head was shaved. He spoke.

“Am I dead?”

Clara and the Doctor stopped in front of him. Their voices were muffled by the warp shell, as if they were speaking under a thick blanket. They stood facing him. A single tear escaped Clara’s left eye. The Doctor spoke first.

“It depends,” he said. “Is your name Vladek?”

“Yes,” the man replied. “Now answer me.”

“Oh, you’re dead, but not in this time,” the Doctor said. “Not for decades.”

“Hrm.” Vladek stared. “This is not comforting. What is that thing?” He pointed at the TARDIS. “You don’t sound German.”

The Doctor ignored the first question. “Gallifreyan,” he said.

“He’s Scottish,” Clara said. She sniffed and wiped her face.

“I am dreaming then,” Vladek said. “So, what is your purpose?”

The Doctor reached inside his coat and pulled out a battered comic book. On the front, Vladek could see what looked like a man in a blue uniform punching Adolf Hitler in the face.

“Do you know what this is?” the Doctor asked.

“A pulp.” Vladek said. “A funny book. What of it?”

“Well, since you’re dreaming, dream this: in the future, this character,” the Doctor tapped the cover with the long, thin fingers of his right hand “isn’t punching Hitler anymore. He’s a bad guy.”

“I see,” Vladek said. “Even asleep, I am too hungry to care about this. Let us dream about food.”

“He’s right, Doctor,” Clara said. “Even you can’t be cruel enough to deny him a meal.”

The Doctor frowned. “A meal will kill him.” He stuck the comic under his arm, reached into his coat again, and pulled out a Hershey bar. He extended this offering towards Vladek. “You’d do well to save half of that for later.”

Vladek shuffled forward and took the chocolate. “I think I know what is well to do,” he said. Still, he snapped the bar in half before he began to unwrap it.

The Doctor stood, silently, and watched him consume it. Clara turned away and stared at the white sign on the TARDIS door. She repeatedly ran her eyes over the message.

Advice & Assistance
Obtainable Immediately


“Damn it all,” she whispered.

Vladek put the last piece in his mouth and chewed. He sucked a bit of chocolate from his thumb.

“Now,” he said, “I am not so sure I am dreaming. Perhaps I’ve gone mad.”

Clara turned to face him. “No,” she said. She jerked her fist toward the Doctor, thumb extended. “He’s the mad one.”

“Nevertheless,” the Doctor said, “we still don’t have an answer to our question. So, what is it, Vladdy? If this cartoon decides, someday, that he doesn’t want to punch old Mr. Mustache, what then?”

“How is this a concern?” Vladek said, already more animated from the rush of sugar. “These are things for children. Where is my family? Where is my wife?”

“She will be safe, eventually. In most respects,” he replied.

“You are a devil,” Vladek said, “to bring me treats and taunt me with this,” he flapped both hands towards the Doctor, “this!”

“You’re not wrong,” Clara said.

The Doctor cut his eyes at Clara and back to Vladek. “If this character is a hero to some people like you, someday, aren’t you offended-”

“Everything is offensive!” Vladek shouted. He started to pace. “The Germans are offensive. This place is offensive. Life is offensive. You are offensive.”

“Doctor,” Clara began. She put her hand on his shoulder and stepped towards Vladek. “Vladek. Do you think that people should be able to write what they want?”

He sighed, long and hard. “This life,” he said out loud, but to himself. He ran his hands over the stubble on his scalp. “Yes,” he said. “The people who censor, we know what they do.”

“Yes, but,” she said, “if someone wishes to be offended, even over something as silly as a comic book, they may write that too?”

Vladek laughed, short and hoarse. “Yes, if that’s how they want to waste their time.” He smiled with his mouth only. His eyes glared and remained hard. “Maybe I will write a comic book about how stupid they are.”

“No, that’s your son,” the Doctor said.

“What?” Vladek said. “I have no son.”

“Not yet,” the Doctor said. “Not yet.”

Clara inhaled slowly and deeply. “Doctor, we read that at Coal Hill. Art-”

“I think we’re done here, Clara,” the Doctor said. He wheeled around, his coat flaring, and started towards the TARDIS doors.

“But, what about-” she started, her hands extended towards Vladek.

He stopped inside the threshold and turned around. “He’ll remember, but he won’t say anything. He’s a smart guy.”

Vladek stared at the Doctor. “You play with us, devil. You play with our misfortune. I will tell people that.”

“And you may,” the Doctor said, “for that is the sad truth.”

He disappeared inside the TARDIS, which began wheezing and moaning seemingly faster than the Doctor could have reached the console from the door.

Clara stepped quickly towards the door and paused just inside. She gripped the door facing and turned her head towards Vladek. “It gets better,” she said, her voice raised over the din.

“The devil’s escort,” he said, smiling for real now. He raised his hand, still gripping half of the Hershey bar. “No, you are an angel. Goodbye, angel. Tell God he has some explaining to do.”

She looked at him, silently, for as long as she dare during the liftoff sequence, and slowly shut the door.

“Oh, I would,” she said quietly, to herself and the back of the door. “I would.”

“Talking to yourself again, Clara?” the Doctor said without looking up from the console.

She approached him quickly, her feet hitting the deck fast and hard. She stopped, her face inches from his. “I’m a teacher, you know. Next time you need a historical opinion so you can win a Facebook argument, you could ask me instead of traumatizing everyone involved.”

“Oh Clara,” the Doctor said. “What do I need a time and space machine for if I’m just going to stand around and talk to you all day?”

“What, indeed,” she said. “Take me back to Coal Hill. I have a good idea for a lesson on free speech.”

“Do you have any conclusions, Miss Oswald?” the Doctor asked. He smiled in that mischievous way she simultaneously loved and hated.

“Other than the fact that you probably are a devil, no,” she said. “I’ll present all facts and allow the students to decide.”

“Well!” the Doctor said. He had already pulled out his smartphone and situated it close enough to his face for his breath to fog the screen. “That isn’t going to help me compose this blasted tweet!”

Oh-Oh Here She Comes

“Tell me a story, Grandpa.”

“Oh I have one for you. It’s a doozy, but you have to sit very still and make yourself as small as possible.”

“Okay,” the boy said. He squatted to the floor of the hut and scrunched himself up into a tight ball.

“I think you’re about old enough for this one,” the old man said. He winked, cleared his throat, and began.

“Once upon a time, when there were countries, the greatest one was called the United States of America. They said ‘United States’ because it was a union of states from sea to shining sea, a ‘state’ being a government. Their governments made their laws, and the One Big Government made its laws, and, well, this is the boring stuff-”

“No, go on Grandpa,” said the boy. “I want to hear this one.”

The boy lost balance and rocked around a bit before coming to a stop, still squeezed into an eerily compact little-boy-sphere.

“Okay sonny,” he said. “Don’t get too excited. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, they had laws and lawmakers and lawyers and they liked to yell all day about things, but they weren’t always the most important things. In fact, as time went on, they got sillier and sillier. For example, they would fight over where people could go to the bathroom.”

“What, like in the hut or outside?” the boy asked.

“Oh no sonny,” the old man said, “this isn’t France I’m talking about. They fought over which facility people could use. They had the holes marked, Men, Woman, sometimes Family, Unisex, and nobody agreed on who needed to go where. They didn’t have the one like we do here.”

“Wow,” the boy said, his eyes wide.

“Yep. And all the while people were killing each other, but not the way you think. Statistically (that means a fact that you learn by counting, by the way), maybe one out of a hundred people ever died by violence directly, but they were poisoning the water. They poisoned the land and the air. They did this, mainly, to make money, er, barter. You know, things to trade. But most of them thought they had to! That’s the real kicker. They just accepted it as the way things go that you have to drain a lake to sell the water, or dump mercury in the soil to make tools.”

“Gosh,” the boy said. He squeezed himself even tighter, his brow furrowed.

“Mhm. Greed is a wickedness inside us all, that’s for damned sure. We’re all selfish. We all want to live, but that drive does something to us when we’ve achieved all we need to. It makes us want to do more. It’s a useful tool but it also lies. It lies and tells us the barter our mother gave us was ours all along. It lies and tells us that the fortunes we were blessed with were created by our sheer will. As if we could concentrate a turnip bigger. As if we could wish a fish. And we know you can’t do that.”

“I’d like to see a fish,” said the boy. “Maybe a red fish or a blue fish. Or one with a star!”

The old man inhaled deeply through his nose and stared past the boy for half a minute. He worked his jaw as his eyes searched back and forth on the low ceiling, as if some answer lay there. He forged on.

“The earth had always given signs, which some heeded, but most didn’t. People even argued whether they had the capacity to change things at all. Some said it was inevitable, that the earth got hot on its own. Some said it was people and their smoke. Either way, it didn’t matter. No one changed anything. Or not enough did, anyway. Hell, most couldn’t. A man starving in a crumbling city can’t tell a rich man how much oil to burn. Some did yell. Most just tried to live. Like we’ve always tried to live.”

The boy was as a small boulder. His breaths were imperceptible. When was the last time he had blinked?

The old man’s throat was already dry. His heart thudded in his ears.

“I was a young man when they hired the new boss, same as the old boss. They weren’t any worse a leader than there was before, but they were bad enough, and at the worst time. People were too busy being tricked into doing nothing to do anything about it anyway.”

“What do you mean?” the boy said low, just above a whisper.

“I mean they had things to do, like in your books. There were machines in the city that did things, wonderful things. You could talk to someone on the other side of the earth. You could even carry a thing in your pocket that contained the collective knowledge of humankind! People could have used these things for great good but instead they mainly used it to show each other what they were eating, or what their children looked like, or even to tell each other to kill themselves.”

“Wow,” said the boy, his eyes wide. “Why would someone do that?”

“Oh sonny,” the old man said. “It was so much worse than that. While people were being stoned to death and chopped to pieces, people on their damned machines were too busy complaining about the exploits of their favorite rich people. Or worse yet, complaining about the Spreading.”

“The Spreading?” the boy asked.

“Yes, sonny. The Man Spreading. Apparently mankind was taking up too much room on the earth, but people weren’t concerned about that. They were concerned that when one man sits, he sits too wide. Too big. He spreads himself all over the place and no one has room to sit anywhere!”

“Is that why?” the boy said. He rocked a bit, still spherical.

“Yes,” the old man said. He smiled and nodded. “We squeeze now, the Mansqueeze, to pay homage to our ancestors. Those who lived before the great deluge. Those great idiots who wouldn’t heed the warnings. Those loud, human idiots who we cannot blame, no we cannot, because it’s our nature to complain. Our ritual is now that all men will squeeze in low huts until humanity breathes its last breath. While the women walk among us, firm and wide, so wide, wider than ever before-”

“Dad?” A familiar yet higher voice asked from outside the cloth hut.

“-so big and huge and loud and we must squeeze so small-”

The boy giggled. The roof of the hut was ripped off violently.

“Dad what are you guys doing to my couch?”

“We can’t even spread out on an empty bus!” the old man cried before bursting into peals of laughter. “Oh come on, Karen!”

“Dammit, Dad. I’m never letting you babysit again,” Karen said. She tossed the couch cushion back at her father.

“Aww!” the boy said.

The old man couldn’t stop giggling from underneath the cushion, but Karen could just make out “the matriarchy” between gasps.

The Kontest

“This is my machine.”

George’s Arcade was a converted BP station situated in the parking lot between two restaurants, Big Beaver Breakfast and La Frontera.

Diane stood with her arms crossed, defiant. Of course it was her machine. Not only had she mastered the moves of every character in Mortal Kombat, but her family owned the arcade. She faced a growing crowd of elementary and middle school kids fresh out of last period.

Small, bespectacled Bernard was next to her, visibly quaking. The kids called him Nards, a nickname that began as an insult and had eventually lost its power out of repetition. Now it was a strange term of endearment. “Get her, Nards,” someone said, low.

“It’s not fair,” Nards said. “You don’t even have to pay. We’d all be that good if we had the key and we could just keep sticking in the same quarter.”

“Key or not,” Diane replied, “I’m this good because I work at it and I beat all of your asses. I should hit you for real.” She raised her fist and the crowd backed up a step, forming a half circle around them.

“I’ve been practicing as well,” said Nards. “I have a setup at home. Me and the guys chipped in, didn’t we guys?” He looked around for support, his arms raised. “We’ve been playing all weekend and I’m obviously the best.”

“Everybody knows that Nintendo isn’t the same,” said Diane. “It doesn’t even have a joystick. You’ll get wrecked in the tournament.”

“I’d wreck you,” he said, practically panting, “if you’d just give me the chance!”

“You don’t have any money,” she said. “You and your dirty friends spent it all on shitty Nintendo games and this is the real deal. I can play all I want but you need quarters and I don’t see any.”

Nards looked down, his eyes welling. Dozens of sneaker-clad feet shuffled around him. “He can win. I’m telling you he can win,” said a girl, softly, behind him.

“Shut the fuck up, Liz,” said Diane. “You’re not coming to my tournament party if you don’t keep your goddamned mouth shut.”

“Holy shit,” drifted up from the back of the crowd. The kids were accustomed to regular playground banter but now they were in the wild frontier of verbal conflict.

No one had noticed the bell jingling atop the swinging glass door behind the kids. The crowd began to part as someone made their way through. Their heads tilted down towards a boy hefting a backpack that looked as if it might weigh as much as he did. He struggled, each step thudding, until he reached the players’ territory in front of the machine and let the pack drop to the floor with a jangle.

“Donnie,” said Diane, as if stating a fact.

Donnie looked up, grinning through a smear of chocolate. “I’m here to pway,” he said. He couldn’t have been five years old. He wasn’t even in school yet but here he was, unsupervised, with a bag full of his daddy’s money.

“Fuck off Donnie,” Diane said. “You don’t know shit about Mortal Kombat and you’re going to get machine all sticky.”

“I can pway,” he said, grinning impossibly. Was he unhinging his jaw? “I can pway. I can pway aww day.”

Donnie unzipped the bag and revealed what must have been upwards of $500 in quarters. The still-growing audience collectively gasped.

“He can play,” voices arose from behind him. It was a chant. “He can play. He can play!”

“Okay, okay,” Diane said. “Fuck. Fine. Someone get him a stool. And wipe your goddamned hands, Donnie.”

The children were used to following orders from Diane. She practically ran the place. They were vaguely aware of a wiry fellow smoking a cigar behind the glass display case full of wacky wall walkers and parachute men, but no one paid him any mind anymore. It was rumored he’d beat every level of Pac Man back in ’83, but there was a dwindling number of kids who even knew what that was.

Step stool fetched and hands wiped, Donnie took his place to Diane’s right. “This will be a piece of cake,” she said aloud for the benefit of the crowd.

She smiled.

Donnie selected a character, seemingly at random, and they began.

Diane’s hands flew in a flurry of special moves. She landed hit after hit and, within seconds, Donnie was down.

She laughed, a cackle that sent chills down spines. “Hope you have another huge sack of cash, Donnie Dumpo!”

Round Two began. Donnie flailed, wildly. Beads of sweat dotted his brow.

He was hitting her.

“Shit,” she said, breathing heavily. “Stop playing wrong YOU’RE PLAYING WRONG.”

She tried combo after combo and produced nothing. Donnie landed a hit. Hit. Hit. Hit.

Then she was down.

“Fuck you, Donnie. Fuck you,” she said through gritted teeth. “I’m done fucking around.”

Round Three. Fight.

Diane was tense, livid. Heavy breaths shot out through her nostrils.

“You can’t. You won’t,” she said, punctuating each jerk of her joystick and button mash with a declaration. “You can’t!”

Donnie flopped, jumping up and down on the stool in time with his character on screen. He was mad. Whirling. Winning.

“NO. FUCK,” Diane cried as her power bar lowered. For every hit she landed he returned another, and then another. She couldn’t discern a pattern. He was pure chaos, a random number generator made flesh.

Then she was down, both Diane and her character. Somehow Donnie had fumbled into a Fatality sequence, which had just begun, and Diane was on the floor doing something when the screen went dark.

She stood up and brandished a thick, black electrical cable.

Moans of disappointment filtered through the room.

“Fuck you guys,” she said. “That’s right,” she yelled after them as the crowd began to break up. “Fuck you. I earned this. This is my arcade! I’m going to the tournament. Me! Me!”

Donnie had already dragged his bag over to plug quarters into Street Fighter II. Liz hung back, hands clasped, and Nards, inexplicably, was still standing beside the Mortal Kombat machine.

“Uh, Diane,” he said, his chin down. “Uh, can I go to the tournament party with you? I can carry your bag.”

“Eat shit, Nards.” she said. “I’m taking Liz.”

Liz smiled.

Part two of The Kontest is here.

Petunia Hatches a Why

Part one is here.
Part two is here.

Petunia flopped face down, jellylike, still pulsing in the aftermath of innumerable orgasms. Innumerable to her, at least. It had actually been 37.

“Gah, I’m dying,” she croaked, as a rivulet of saliva escaped the corner of her mouth.

“Nonsense,” said the Inspector from the other side of the room. He was already gathering his boots, a gesture that would have signaled, if Petunia hadn’t been too preoccupied to notice, that he definitely wasn’t planning to stay the night. “Those are just the aftereffects of the Thrustening.”

Petunia was drowning in a puddle of miscellaneous bodily fluids. She grasped for purchase on the slick vinyl surface of her waterbed but found none. She floundered for a moment and collapsed, defeated.

The Inspector pulled up his trousers and looked on in amusement while he buttoned them at a leisurely pace.

“Well,” he began, businesslike, “it’s time I popped off in search of my destiny. I must say, it has been a pleasure -”

“Mffff!” Petunia heaved into her plastic prison. “Hfffmmffhh!”

“How can I leave?” the Inspector repeated back. Fortunately for her, his phone booth telepathically translated any form of communication he encountered and delivered the result directly to the language centers of his brain. This included Drownish. “By stepping into this phone box,” he answered, matter-of-factly. “My entire life has been spent in preparation for this moment. The droid drills. holo-edging. I’m a lean mean thrusting machine and I have a galaxy to fuck.”

“Hrgnrfgggbbbb!” Petunia bubbled.

“You won’t become pregnant.” He had stopped gathering his things and faced her, wielding his Aural Lens as if he had suddenly required protection. “It’s not possible.”

“Hrfnn?” she fizzed.

“No, you don’t understand. You would be able to tell because the implantation is immediate and violent,” he preached, punctuating each key word with a shake of his Aural Lens. “It is no matter. While we’re obviously physically compatible, our genotypes are too dissimilar to -”

Petunia began to quiver, which was not unnatural for a body asphyxiating in an aquamattress valley of spooge. However, her limbs began to contort from her torso outward, each joint fixed at a right angle to the previous one, until she resembled a flesh pretzel.

“Oh no,” the Inspector said, deadpan, his even tone betrayed by his dilated pupils. “This is most improbable.”

He raised his knee high and thrust the heel of his boot into the mildewed trampoline of death Petunia called a bed, springing her from the awkward rubber tomb. Her face detached from the surface with an audible smack and she gasped, raspy and raw as air exploded into her lungs. She landed, still twisted but unharmed, in what looked to be three weeks worth of dirty clothes piled between her bed and the wall.

“Gaahhhh!” She wheezed, panting. “My hero,” she said, not too distressed to be sarcastic.

The Inspector marched towards her. His lens whirred and shined as he ran it over the length of her body and stared into it deeply.

“Great Bordok’s arse!” he cried. He took a step back, stumbled over at least four pairs of mismatched Chucks, and danced, marionette-like, until he found his footing. He pointed at her. “You? You! Did you know? Did you know that you’re half…” he paused, unsure of how to categorize this new specimen, “half Space Princess!?”

“Does this mean I’m having a baby?” Petunia asked. She was surprisingly chipper for a person who had been suffocating in love leavings not two minutes prior. “It all happened so fast! Is it going to pop out in a minute, like Aliens? Are my arms and legs going to stay like this?”

“Stop asking me questions!” shouted the Inspector. “You have to let me think. Now, let’s see.” He paced the room, this time deftly navigating Petunia’s wardrobe detritus. “No, you won’t stay twisted like that,” he began. “The process should end any minute now. Yes, you are pregnant. Regrettably, inexplicably pregnant, but you are pregnant, and NO, it’s not going to pop out. It won’t pop out for, well…” he paused and looked up as he completed a mental calculation, “a thousand of your years.”

“A thousand!?” she cried. “I won’t live for a thousand years! How will I have my space baby? I’ll be a mummy.” She began to weep, bitterly. “A mummy mommy!”

“Not if I have anything to say about it,” said the Inspector, “which I do.”

He extended his lens-free right hand to Petunia and adopted a false baritone. “Come with me if you want to live.”

She narrowed her eyes and frowned.

He laughed. “I’ve always wanted to say that. But seriously, come fly the horny skies with me. We’ll figure this thing out together, you and I. Thrusting through space and time, like Darmok and Jalad!”

“Nothing you say makes sense,” Petunia answered as a smile crept along her still-encrusted face.

“That’s okay, baby,” he replied with swagger. He snapped his fingers and the doors of the phone box flew open. “Nothing has to make sense when you fuck like a champion.”

The Inspector swept Petunia, still naked and pretzeled, into his arms, and strode through the doors of the phone box. A Moog-like warble fit for Emerson, Lake, and Palmer filled the air, and the box became transparent. It disappeared with a crack of thunder and a magnetic pulse, which yanked every thumbtack out of Petunia’s bedroom walls. Dozens of posters and magazine pages shuffled to the floor in a rain of paper rock stars.

There was silence then. It was the sweet stillness of night, except for a goddamned mockingbird that wouldn’t shut the fuck up, be-bopping his hell-crooning from the tree outside Petunia’s bedroom window. Why isn’t it legal to murder you, you warbling, sleep-destroying, flea-ridden sack of crap? Why do babies die of cancer but, still, you live? What sort of nightmare, sewage-flooded, stranded Carnival Cruise Line universe is this?

Click here for the next adventure.

Inspector Why and the Shroud of the Swamp Thwacker

Part one is here.

The Inspector leaned back against the heavily scuffed headboard of Petunia’s waterbed and lifted his Aural Lens to his mouth. He appeared to suck on the stem, briefly, before exhaling a cloud of wispy, white vapor.

Petunia, who had been basking in his glory, looked up, incredulous.

“Is that magic magnifying glass of yours also some sort of bong?”

“Uh, no,” he said with singsongy sarcasm. “It doubles as a vape pen. It’s what all the cool kids are doing in the future.”

“Huh.” Petunia digested this for a moment. “Is it better for your lungs or something?” she asked as she twirled her fingers through her freshly mussed bed head which, if phrenologically divined by a soothsaying cosmetologist, would have revealed the winding, epic tale of the greatest fuck ever delivered this side of Arcturus in no less than twelve distinct volumes.

“Pfft! Of course not,” said the Inspector. “It kills people in 1/10th the time! Just wait until the Great Suffocation of 2018 hits and everyone goes back to smoking unfiltered Camels.”

He noticed Petunia’s worried, cowlike gaze. “Oh. It can’t harm me,” he assured her. “I’m a Prince of Space.”

“The Space Prince?” she said as a smile crept across her face. Petunia might have been a solid D+ student but even she appreciated the gravity of the situation, considering alien royalty had just smashed her IUD with his intergalactic scepter and left a dwindling deposit of cosmos custard lingering in her lady hole. She stared, her face fixed and determined, as if she were trying to psychically bore through the posters of bushy haired men with bulging codpieces on the adjacent wall. She imagined herself donning a crown of constellations and swimming in hulking hoards of intergalactic loot.

“Not the Space Prince,” the Inspector replied, “a Prince of Space. More specifically, the heir to the throne of your particular galaxy, which, by the way, is known to our people as Mummer’s Bung. I’ve traveled here to reclaim the throne from my cousin, the dastardly Magister. I was raised by my uncle, the Prince Regent, after my parents were brutally murdered by an unknown assailant. My cousin and I spent many Standard Time Units together, hidden away on his father’s Pube Farm. On the evening of my seventh birthday, which was a week after my cousin’s, as luck would have it, the Regent sat me down by the plasma hearth and shocked me with the tale of how he had found the King and Queen asslocked by an Anal Vortex Manipulator. The Queen’s last breath, before she was rent asunder by a gravity wave that pulled her inside-out through the King’s asshole and vice-versa, was spent imploring him to ‘find Tad’, which was a reference to her nickname for me, her ‘little Tadpole’.”

“Oh how sad. How sweet,” Petunia cooed, frowning. After a beat she popped a smile and exclaimed, “There’s nothing little about Tad now!” while bobbing her head from side to side.

The Inspector paused and narrowed his eyes as if considering something, then seemed to think better of it. He blinked, gave his head a quick shake, and continued.

“My uncle rushed to my nursery just in time to see a man in a purple biosuit attempting to override the fail safe on an Autocircumciser. They struggled briefly until the assassin’s faceplate flipped open to reveal a visage so familiar that my uncle found himself frozen in terror. The villain fled in the confusion and my uncle ran to my crib and swept me aside just before the Autocircumciser reached critical mass and blasted a hole through the mattress and the floor beneath.

“So, I lived on the Pube Farm with my cousin and learned to stump-back Swamp Thwackers. As I began to develop into the devastatingly sultry specimen of manhood you see bulging before you, my cousin grew jealous that I, not he, would inherit the galaxy after I had graduated from Turgid Academy and experienced the Thrustening. He was ashamed that his father, who had become my friend and trusted adviser, would so willingly relinquish power to the son of a King who had been crushed to death by a butt singularity.

“During our senior year at academy he started referring to himself as ‘the Magister’, and he hatched his master plan: to travel back in time and kill my parents before I was ever conceived, which, if successful, would have put my uncle and, subsequently, himself in line to inherit the throne. Luckily, for me, he’d never paid attention in Quantum Chromatography Lab and, as a result, incorrectly measured the coolant pH in his Overthruster’s Flux Capacitor. What an oaf! He arrived shortly AFTER my birth instead and ended up being the actual murderer of my parents. It was the first and last original thing he ever did. My uncle was always suspicious about his strange ‘twin’ but he didn’t figure out that the doppleganger was his own son until it was too late. The Prince Regent was a strong, honest man, but when it came to wits he was all cock and no cunning.”

Petunia looked on, agape, as if she had just witnessed a train wreck, or had at least read about one in a few shitty, overlong paragraphs of science fiction exposition.

“I have so many questions,” She said. “Like, why pubes, and what’s a ‘stump-back’?”

“Well,” he began, “the aluminum-based pubic hair of the Eridanian Swamp Thwacker is the best natural insulation a spacefarer will come across without stooping to business with the Talaxian Corporation-State. Plus, it just sounds kinky. As for stump-backing,” he said, throwing her a wink and a knowing glance, “I can demonstrate but it will require a stump and a willing participant.”

Something stirred beneath the comforter.

“And the thrusting, I mean, ‘the Thrustening’?” she inquired, expectantly.

“Oh, we just did that,” said the Inspector as he nodded towards the growing duvet tent between his legs, “but it’s about to happen again.”

Part three is here.

Inspector Why

Petunia awoke to a warbling sound not unlike the first five seconds of Cars by Gary Numan, before the drums kick in, which is something she would be familiar with because it was the eighties.

She wasn’t sure if it was the result of too many long nights of whippets and Headbanger’s Ball, but she could have sworn that she saw a red telephone booth, the British kind, materializing at the foot of her bed. Before she had a chance to scream, the booth became solid and out bounded what appeared to be a man wielding a magnifying glass that emitted an ethereal glow. He was also insanely hot. I mean, the room temperature rose at least twenty degrees but he was also very attractive. Like Bowie hot without the gay vibe.

He gesticulated towards her, glaring intensely. “Are you harboring Nemanorian terrorists?” he growled, spitting through his teeth. He was wild, and maybe even sexier than Bon Jovi without the girly hair.

Petunia stared, speechless. She wasn’t used to talking unless it was about boys, gum, or MTV, but he did look like a boy from MTV… a smokin’ one at that! Her mind groaned as dusty cogs broke loose from years of hairspray rust, and she lurched into action.

“Uh hey, got any gum?”

“Gum!?” the man ejaculated. I mean seriously he was yelling but he also shuddered and it looked as if he might have jizzed his pants, like Jimmy Eversworth in Mandy’s car after Junior Prom. “How can you think about chewing at a time like this? The Nemanorians are tiny and they could be anywhere… in fact, my Aural Lens seems to be detecting their presence right… THERE!”

The guy with the sexy voice like Bruce Springsteen, but not so cro-magnon, swept his glowing magnifying glass towards Petunia’s pretty pink panties.

“They’ve landed in an environment conducive to their survival. Dark, dank, musky…”, he trailed off, panting.

“There’s nothing in there but my IUD!” Petunia cried.

“Precisely!” shouted the man, now wide-eyed and dripping with perspiration. “The Nemanorians are notorious for posing as OBGYNs. By the way, let me introduce myself.” He extended a hand. “I am the Inspector.”

“Uh,” Petunia cringed as she hesitatingly extended her arm towards the Inspector, “Nice to meet you, I guess.”

“Good. Now that we’ve got that out of the way…”, the Inspector said as he grabbed her hand and pulled her against his strong, heaving chest. She sensed that he was powerful, like Hulk Hogan, but not all greasy and gross and shit. “I have to travel inside you so we can stop the Nemanorians from completing the Skank Eruptor, which would transform your naughty bits into a world shattering tachyon beam.”

“How are you going to do that?” Petunia smacked. “You got some kind of shrink ray in that phone booth of yours?”

“No,” the Inspector smiled as he raised an eyebrow. “I’m going to smash it with my cock.”

Part two is here.