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.
Contrary to popular belief, the Tree Of Knowledge was no tree at all, but a cornfield.
The snake was no snake, but a massive scarecrow placed to drive all living creatures from the cornfield, including the pair of humans God had recently created.
Eve tempted Adam with the corn, but he did not find the husk-covered vegetable to be all that appetizing.
Only when Eve shucked it, boiled it in a nearby hot spring, and smothered it with salt and butter did Adam finally take a bite.
Upon their banishment from Paradise and discovering their nakedness, Adam created a corn-bib.
A long time ago, I remember my father showing me the place mat at the Chinese restaurant, printed with the stylized depictions of various animals, and saying that the Chinese Zodiac was how the Chinese government was run.
“Since they’re Communists,” he said, “the people run the country. When your year in the Zodiac comes up, you take office.”
“Sort of like jury duty?” I asked.
“In a way,” he said.
I looked at the animals… roosters, dragons, sheep, monkeys…
“Monkeys ruling China?” I asked. “What about the worl-”
That’s when our order arrived.
I never did get an answer.
A frog-footman bows, croaks “Harlequin,” and hands me a letter.
I thank him and open it.
Wonderful. There’s another damned croquet match at the palace.
I crumple up the note from the Red Queen inviting me to stay away from the party and toss it in the footman’s green face.
He ribbits and coughs.
“You’re looking for a tip?” I ask him.
He extends a flipper. “Sir?”
I smack him in the face with a pie and slam the door.
By leaving me out, that royal bitch proves once and for all that she’s not playing with a full deck.
You’d be surprised at the number of people who don’t come back to pick up their prints.
We used to call them ourselves, but now we let the computer call them.
Still, some folks just don’t care. So unclaimed prints and negatives get kept for a year before they’re tossed in the dumpster.
We really ought to shred or recycle them, but we don’t.
Every day you see someone who looks like a registered pervert go dumpster diving and pull out a box or two.
It’s disgusting, but I guess it’s better than them doing things to the actual kids.