Abraham stared at the machine, letting his eyes wander across the contours, wires, gears, and pistons.
“What the hell is this thing?” he said.
“We’re not sure,” said the best of his advisors. “But we think it has something to do with chickens.”
Abe shrugged and stuffed a chicken in one end.
Lights flashed. Smoke belched. Gears ground.
A bell rang.
“It’s done,” said the advisor.
An egg rolled down a chute.
“The possibilities are endless,” said the advisor, smiling.
Seventy-three eggs later, Lincoln fired the advisor and made a very large omelet for the troops on the West Lawn.
The original Mustard Man was Dr. Charles Manning III. He made mustard for neighbors using an old family recipe in his garage, bottled it, and eventually sold it to drugstores around Ohio as “Manning’s Mustard Tonic.”
It was reputed to cure all ills, from the common to the deadly, but it was really just a simple table condiment. Still, Manning believed his tall tales and ate a tablespoon every hour.
Manning died of liver cancer. Seems that he used a lead teaspoon to consume his mustard.
We keep that spoon in the Mustard Man Factory Museum.
Tours are available daily.
Up in the North, no faerie can resist the call. The blazing sun sings to them, leaving other merriment to the all-too-brief night.
But down in Tierra del Fuego, unlucky faeries toss newspaper scraps in their tiny fire pit and huddle around the flames.
“This is s-s-s-s-s-stupid,” chattered Mugwort, rubbing his hands.
“Let’s dance,” said Flitwicket. “It might warm us up.”
“Eurocentric b-b-b-b-b-bastards,” grumbled Mugwort. “Why’d they change the schedule?”
“Something about a bulk discount on Pixie Dust,” said Flitwicket. “Thank bureaucracy. Someone needs to frolic his frowns away.”
Eyes narrowed. Delicate throats growled.
Flitwicket sparked nicely on the flame.
Alarms went off. Davidson stubbed out his twizzlestick, waved the purple vapors out of the air, and went back to work.
TARGET? asked the viewport.
“Quadrant 3,” said Davidson, twiddling the viewport’s knobs. “Section 5. Platoon 37. Unit 9-alpha.”
Davidson blinked as his avatar flew through the fields of vat-grown soldiers.
Except for Q3-S5-P37-9a. He was better.
Every now and then, a drone’s matrix would self-enhance, and its milk-white skin would turn dark.
“Obtain,” said Davidson.
Tendrils reached from the ground and pulled Q3-S5-P37-9a into the placentadirt.
Davidson smiled. The dark ones were worth bonuses.
I’m sure you’re aware of the news of a woman who found a fingertip in a bottle of Mustard Man mustard.
It’s all a lie.
I’d like to state for the record that it did not get in there at the factory. We have high quality standards for our mustard and make every effort to filter out severed body parts well before the bottling process.
I’m sure that it fell in there at some kind of dinner party. Happens all the time.
Especially in leper colonies.
We sell a lot of mustard to leper colonies for some strange reason.
Sharp, agonizing pain.
“GET THIS BULLDOG OFF OF ME!” rang through the halls of the White House.
Abe flailed his arm, but the bulldog refused to release Abe’s wrist.
At one point, Abe managed to pry the beast’s mouth open with a fireplace iron, but the dog leapt for his thigh and renewed its grip on the President.
“SON OF A BITCH, THAT HURTS!” shouted Abe.
Abe grabbed an axe from his desk and brained the dog, freeing his leg.
He didn’t bother asking why the axe was there, preferring just to remain grateful for its presence.
He wasn’t really her father. He was just some bum she’d picked up off the street.
She did this every year – picking up a bum, washing him up, putting him in her father’s old clothes, filling him with liquor, and then letting him sleep it off.
Hopefully, the bum would attack her. Just like all the others.
She’d scream “Happy Father’s Day!” through the pain.
Exhausted, she would try to forgive him for it all. She needed this.
At sunset, she’d cut his throat and bury him in the back yard. Just like all the others.
And her father.