He finished carving “BOBBY AND WENDY FOREVER” on the tree, then folded his knife.
Bobby had all of her albums. Every concert bootleg too, thanks to other obsessives and Napster.
Obsessives, not stalkers. Stalking is bad. Very bad.
He had other trinkets from her life. A curl of her hair from a hotel shower drain in a locket. Photographs that the corner drugstore duplicated and collected for him. And dresses that the cleaners said they’d lost.
All he needed was her. He had to prove his love.
He patted the gravestone, picked up a shovel, and began to dig.
Five small bodies in the morgue. Their mother strapped to a bed in the jail.
Yesterday, she’d drowned them in the tub.
And Bannerman had snapped.
“SHERIFF BEATS BATHTUB KILLER,” screamed the paper.
Bannerman looked through the paperwork. The intake form was a mess, so he rolled another in the typewriter and copied things over.
He got to “PREGNANT: YES/NO” and stopped.
He recalled her berserk rants as they dragged her in. He swore he’d heard “I AM CARRYING SATAN’S SPAWN!”
Screw it. It’s Friday.
He checked YES, and then dialed that asshole reporter.
“Enjoy this exclusive,” he grunted.
The hunter cowered behind a tree. He took off his fur cap, wiped the sweat from his gigantic bald head, and breathed heavily and rapidly.
Can it hear me?, he thought.
A twig snapped.
He’d lost his gun. His beloved double-barreled shotgun.
In the distance, a click.
It has my shotgun.
After all these hunting seasons, the hunter had finally become the hunted.
More footsteps. Big, furry footsteps.
His heart pounded. His throat clenched.
“Don’t bwast me!” shouted the hunter. “Fow God’s sake, wabbit, pwease don’t bwast me!”
The hunter ran, wishing it was still Duck Season.
After the DaVinci Code came out, everything Galileo ever wrote or painted was searched for hidden messages. X-Rays, magnetic waves, deep-radar signals, and refractive lasers wobbled the molecules to and fro until the researchers declared there was nothing to find.
Or as they say in Italy: “Niente!”
Then someone realized that Galileo invented the “This page intentionally left blank” page.
That someone was me.
Know what you get when you rip all those blank pages from his diaries and journals, rub them with a lemon, and hold a match up to them?
But now I know God’s shoe size.
I get asked about the Mustardmobile a lot.
Know what? There is no Mustardmobile.
If there were one, I’d hope it would be as nice as the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.
Man, is that one sweet ride. I remember a baseball game where Mustard Man Mustard and Oscar Meyer were doing a joint promotion, and the Oscar Meyer guy let me drive that thing.
Okay, I’m a really lousy driver, and I ran over some old woman.
Thankfully, we covered that incident up and kept it out of the papers. To this day, she thinks a cab ran over her.
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.