“How on Earth could this happen?” mumbled Arthur.
He read the brochure again:
“The Teddy 3000 is your child’s best friend. Teddy is soft and huggable. Teddy can be used as a floatation device. Teddy has GPS tracking if your child is kidnapped. Teddy is made from 100% recycled materials and is 100% recyclable. Teddy can be used as a breathing mask or emergency environment-proof tent. Teddy knows all your child’s favorite songs.”
Arthur put the brochure down and looked at Teddy.
Teddy stared back.
They both watched powerlessly as Arthur’s daughter played “fort” with the box Teddy came in.
It is the middle of the twenty-first century, and the naming rights for absolutely everything in America are up for sale. Up to an including America itself.
Want to name a river after your heavy-duty laundry detergent?
Name your price!
Want to name a county in the state formerly known as Idaho after your line of extended-wear colored contact lenses? Name your price!
Want to name that snowy mountainpeak something like your kid’s breakfast cereal? Name your price!
Want to name a hurricane after your closest competitor? Name your price, but you’d better have a good trademark specialist attorney ready.
On the tenth anniversary of landing on Pluto, a service was held at Johnson Space Center. Wreaths were laid at the memorial by three widows and an assortment of children.
A few billion miles away, a scene of a different sort stood in the frozen icy wastes. Inside the shuttle-hopper, three statue-like corpses sat for eternity, faces obscured with crystal clouds sprouting from their mouths and nostrils.
In cartoons, underwater characters often exhale bubbles that pop at the surface, releasing the words screamed from below.
Would you hear “What the hell are we doing here?” if the ice were shattered?
Strangled by wires and smothered by concrete, The City yearned to breathe free once more.
It remembered when it was just a tiny village, a few houses by a bend in the creek.
Those were the days.
Soon, it grew into a town, then a city, then a City – Big C.
It had to act before it became what comes after a City with a Big C.
Strange messages bled through the sidewalks… fires with no rational explanation… plagues… droughts…
The people fled. But they left the concrete and steel to weigh down the corpse of The Dead City.
Remember those robotic dogs that cost thousands of dollars, were a royal bitch to program, and broke easily?
Well, they’ve come out with new versions of the things with additional features, and they cost much less now.
The company started a trade-in program: old dogs for new dogs. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks after all because there’s something in the RAM or firmware or bits and bytes.
Anyway, sometimes those robotic dogs misbehave or get really stubborn, and they get abused. Smacked around. Beaten.
That’s where I come in. I’m with the ASPCRA.
Alice sat with her sister on the riverbank, bored out of her mind. She didn’t feel like braiding flowers again, and she wasn’t terribly interested in the book her sister was reading, either.
That’s when the White Rabbit muttered something about being late, looked at his pocketwatch, and hopped towards a hole in the riverbank.
Alice waited for the snap of the rabbit-trap.
It came, and the rabbit screamed in agony.
“Have you found a recipe for rabbit yet?” asked Alice.
“I think so,” said her sister, shutting the cookbook. “You club it, I’ll skin it.”
Alice kept the pocketwatch.
Daventry had a problem: crime.
Gotham had Batman.
Metropolis had Superman.
Daventry had nobody… until The Question arrived.
Dressed in question marks, The Question of Daventry roamed the streets at night, fighting crime.
Criminals changed their schedules to the daytime. Then they agreed on a rotating-shift plan to cover all hours of the day to keep The Question constantly exhausted.
Eventually, the criminals got word to The Riddler, and The Question of Daventry was sued over the costume. Then lawyers arrived from Hub City about the name.
I think that explains the guy in the chicken suit with the flyswatter.