Abraham looked in his mug, frowning.
“Is there a problem, sir?” asked the steward.
“Is this coffee?” asked Abe.
“I don’t think so,” said the steward.
“Okay,” said Abe. “Is it tea?”
The steward sniffed the liquid in the cup.
“It’s neither,” said the steward. “It’s bourbon.”
“Bourbon?” said Lincoln. “Ah. Bring me the rest of the bottle, then.”
Lincoln looked out the window of the rail car.
It would be nice if they were moving. Or were still hooked to the engine, for that matter.
They’ll come back for me, he thought. I’m the President.
He sipped and smiled.
Such magnificence, birds spread in flight.
I watch the images every ten seconds through my monitors.
Standard film is 24 frames per second. This is 240 times slower.
A lot can happen in ten seconds.
We’re supposed to watch and count Mexicans trying to sneak across, but we’d rather count rabbits and wolves.
Frozen in time, they look like angels.
Soon, we’ll get a live feed from these Observation Stations. And they will turn the gun turrets back on.
As I said, a lot can happen in ten seconds. It can really mess up your aim.
George was free. No more of the space crap. The endless reworking and tweaking of the movies had finally come to an end. Besides, all futzing ever did was annoy fans and make the stack of hate mail grow faster.
He could hand the remaining video games and TV series to subordinates.
Just independent films for George.
But still, after everyone was gone… he enjoyed making his little alternations.
What harm could that be?
He clicked on the “Jar Jar” file, dragged it over the “Casablanca” icon, and selected “Render.”
The credits came up.
And then, his lunch.
Just like Heinz marketed green ketchup for kids, there was a blue Mustard Man as well.
It looked cool and it glowed in the dark, but it tasted revolting. But not as revolting as the music they used in the commercial.
Take the rhyme “The Muffin Man” and substitute “Mustard” for “Muffin.”
Sing that six times in a row without gagging. I dare you.
They stopped making it when the glowing blue dye was found to cause blindness in laboratory rats. Or was it ovarian cancer?
Something like that.
We lost a fortune on it.
Still, it looked pretty cool.
Dear Loyal Fans,
Mustard Man would like to thank all of you who have written him in the past three months.
This has all been one huge misunderstanding. What I thought was a sampler pack for a condiment manufacturer’s convention in Istanbul turned out to be 10 kilos of high-grade heroin.
This was not my heroin. Mustard Man is strictly a coke and pot kind of guy. Needles are disgusting, messy things.
I’m sure that this will all work itself out. My lawyer assures me.
Once again, I thank you for your support.
Mustard Man (aka “Prisoner 0175236”)
Jessica was the greatest of Bigeasyologists, scholars of the Sunken City of New Orleans. She’d researched the films, books, holocordings, music, and cooking her whole life.
Now, the final force-barrier against the Gulf of Mexico was in place. The osmotic pumps were revealing what was before only accessible to divers, drones, and avatar-subs.
Sure, the French Quarter would take weeks to dry out, but Jessica didn’t want to wait. She wanted to be the first.
She’d earned it.
The hover-cameras followed as she landed on Bourbon Street, took off her helmet, and then her top.
“Bon temps roules!” she shouted.
“The Mighty Servant 5 leaves Hong Kong tonight,” said Blinky. “Manifest is a beauty.”
“Yarrrrrr!” said Winky, giggling.
Elves make excellent hackers, thought Santa.
Later that night, the sleigh raced over the Pacific and spotted the massive vessel.
It looks like an oil tanker with Legos on top, thought Saint Nick.
They landed quickly.
“Hit the Mattel containers, ye scurvy elves!” yelled Santa to his crew. “Watch out for Dobermans!”
“Aye aye!” yelled the elves.
This was so much more fun than making toys.
Santa drew his toy cutlass and chortled, his belly shaking like a bowl full of grog.
“Stop!” Abraham shouted. “I command you to stop!”
Abe clung to the back legs of the angry elephant, wondering how the hell he got into this mess.
Why do I keep doing these things? he thought. Why won’t I just let him run away?
He let go, passed out, and by some miracle wasn’t trampled.
Later, the ringmaster waved some smelling salts under the president’s nose.
Lincoln awoke. Johnson shrugged and went back home.
“I was drunk again, wasn’t I?” said Abe.
“As a goddamned skunk,” said the ringmaster.
“Forget about the elephants,” said Lincoln. “No more circuses for me.”
“It’s a cookbook!” was the last thing Dr. Chambers heard before the spaceship door closed.
The Kanamint had said they were here to serve man.
Quite literally, as dinner.
Chambers sighed, slumped against the wall of the crowded cell, and slept.
He woke up, alone.
The door opened, and a Kanamint wheeled in a cart.
“Your dinner,” thoughtcasted the Kanamint.
At first, Chambers wasn’t hungry, but the smell was… captivating.
He took the lid off of the tray, tasted a sauce-covered cube, and moaned with delight.
“I must have this recipe,” he said. “Delicious!”
Eventually, they made him a chef.
Walking carefully up the stairway, Abraham tried hard not to trip on any kittens.
Somewhere down the hallway, the cats were fighting again.
He almost made it to the top. Then, all of the sudden, a herd of kittens came down the hallway to the stairs.
The President reeled and grasped for the railing.
After falling four steps, he clung tightly.
“Oh Lord!” moaned Lincoln. “No more kittens!”
Mary Todd poked her head out of the sewing room. “But you said-”
“I think we’ve got more than plenty now!” shouted Abe. “Enough!”
They were coming back.
Abe braced himself.