Story Six

Aboard My Train of Thought

THE MARK OF THE ANTI-BEAST

© 1996, 2016 By Scott Endsley

Continuation From Story Five

(Episode 1)

"I realize this is an odd place to take a break, but," my Right-brain asked my Left-brain, "Whad'ya think of this double trilogy so far?"

 

"Oh, uh, yeah," Left-brain shook his head, "A lot of confusing stuff, man!"

 

"Oh yeah, whad'ya mean?"

 

"The title is called, Aboard My Train Of Thought... how can you board a thought?" Left-brain asked bewildered.

 

"You know what I don't like about you, Lefty?"

 

"...What?" Left-brain didn't ask, after a long pause.

 

"You're supposed to say 'what?'"

 

"Ok, what?" Lefty sighed.

 

Right-brain shook his index finger and scolded, "you're so doggone literal, you never make an attempt to think abstractly!"

 

"Well if it weren't for me, Mr. Hipwing would be a blooming idiot and unable to engage in a regular conversation, without going all out in left field... no double meaning there. Hey, did you notice that the word antidisestablishmentarianism is nowhere to be found in this book?... Oh, I was wrong, there it was..."

 

"You musta put it there, I sure as heck didn't!" Right-brain scoffed.

 

"Is all of this some sort of allegory?"

 

"I never thought about that, Lefty, I'm impressed!" Right-brain expressed.

 

"Wasn't he the one who invented the internet?"

 

"Who?" Right-brain asked, confused.

 

"Al-a-gory, of course!" Left-brain proudly answered in jest.

 

"Cute... Humor isn't YOUR job, that's MY job!" Right-brain complained.

 

"So why does this book need a sixth story?" Left-brain asked.

 

Right-brain thought wisely to himself and answered. "...Because it's missing."

 

"Hmmm, I guess that's logical enough..." Left-brain commented while tossing the manuscript aside. "But while you're writing it, I'm going to go do some of what I am more adept at doing, like balancing the check book... See ya."

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(Episode 2)

It was an unusually solitary evening in the town of Dunghill, Missouri, as Ira Stippens lay in his bathtub, reading his waterproof version of ‘The Confessions of Saint Augustine,’ while chomping on a freshly picked pear plucked from his neighbor's backyard tree. Suddenly, he took notice of something seriously distracting. He quickly raised up as his bathwater forthwith seemed to gasp for breath. At first he was shocked, then quite disgusted... He hadn't cleaned in between his toenails in over a month; much less trimmed them. Still dismayed, he pole-vaulted out of his bathtub as there came a knock at the front door. Ira, with mind still occupied on his toenails, swung the door open and was at once greeted by a scrawny, bald, tambourine-carrying, Hare Krishna type.

 

"Where the blazes did YOU come from?!" Ira smirked.

 

"Dallas, Texas....Why?" the stranger asked. "My name is Ravi Ohlee. Did you know that by eating meat, you're eating Jesus?"

 

Ira, being a devout man in his own right, quickly picked up his New International Version study bible, then paraphrased slightly, "Jesus said, 'it don't matter what you put in your mouth, it's what comes from inside that defiles you'... in other words, you're full of crap!"

 

As Ira was about to hurl the door shut, Ravi wedged his foot in what was left of the narrow opening. "Do you always answer your door naked?"

 

"The door is not naked!" Ira muttered as he slammed it closed and went back to his welcoming bathtub, and proceeded to cleaning his toenails. Just who was this man, Ira Stippens, a man of many legends? No, just an insignificant member of the board of trustees at The First United Church of Prosperity, in Dunghill, who wore the same army fatigues, day after day, since retiring from his service in Viet Nam. A lonely and eccentric divorcee since his late 40's, when he returned from Nam a changed man. He had let his hair, beard, and sideburns go, before his faithful wife greeted his return, and to her displeasure, he was now a total stranger. Their wedlock of 20 years came to an abrupt end when she filed for divorce on the grounds of "unrecognizable differences."

 

But Ira was a well-respected member of the church community, and despite his rather good-for-nothing appearance, he was the biggest contributor in the entire fellowship. Dr. Screamer, the church pastor, was quite fond of the old man, but the congregation's only elder, Brother Name-It-Claim-It, had a bad taste in his mouth when it came to Stippens, and tried more than once to persuade the pastor to ask him to step down from the deacon-ship.

 

The church monthly evening fellowship dinner and singing service was about to come to order one significant Sunday evening, as Irma McGillicutty waddled with sheet music in hand up to the piano, and began playing a rather staccato version of "Onward Christian Soldiers." It was at that moment that Ira came inside from having a smoke and reclined in his own pew. Widow Jane Rutherford sweetly tapped Ira from behind and eagerly commented, "Good evening Ira, are you wearing Old Spice Aftershave?... It smells so manly!"

 

Ira, who was not going to let himself be taken in by such ladylike flirtations, him-hawd, "...Uh no, it's VERY Old Spice underarm deodorant," in return.

 

Brother Name-It caught a glimpse of Stippens sitting down and whispered something naughty in his wife's ear. She slapped his knee in a humored scolding. As Irma banged on the piano with much enthusiasm, several church members noticed her feet were no longer touching the pedals. Then her hands could no longer reach the keys. She seemed to be ascending slowly upward. Then she realized the same thing, and shrieked like a cat under a rocking chair. The eyes of the congregation followed her up toward the top of the ceiling, as their mouths opened as wide as the suction end of a toilet plunger. She had just crashed through the steeple attic stained-glass window when her husband of 35 years woke from his snooze and queried, "Do we eat yet?!"

 

"Oh my God!" Brother Name-It lamented loudly, "The rapture! I've been left behind!!"

 

Dr. Screamer rushed up to the podium and tried to throw water into the fire, so to speak, and urged for calm. "Everyone settle down, there's got to be an explanation for this! Now let's quiet down as brother Barnhardt will lead us in hymn number 145... Let's take it from the chorus:

 

"... And he walks with me, and he talks with me, and he calls me up on the phone...."

 

 

Following the dinner and fellowship, Ira, like always, volunteered before the evening was through, to clean up. Dr. Screamer begged for everyone to give him a hand... he received a standing ovation (before they all rushed to Martha's Sip & Chew for further fellowship...). After locking all the doors, Ira headed home, but was startled to hear what sounded like someone moaning in pain. He got out from under the street lamp and noticed the Hari Krishna transcendental tambourine man he had encountered days earlier, singing while holding out a coffee can. "What the hell are you doin' out here?!" Ira demanded.

 

"Oh yes, it's the naked bible thumper," Ravi scoffed. "Have you heard that the end is near? As we speak, Brahma and Vishnu are snatching the enlightened ones from the earth before the great Shiva destroys the planet!!"

 

"What are you talking about, does this have something to do with the disappearance of Mrs. McGillicutty?!" Ira interrogated.

 

However, before Mr. Ohlee would respond, a greenish haze engulfed his entirety as he slowly floated upward with a sense of tranquility on his face. Ira was suddenly drenched in a cold sweat, as the man faded into a single speck in the night's sky. Why was this happening? he wondered... It all surely wasn't an act of God. No, Stippens knew something sinister was at hand, for he smelled something foul... as he sat on the curbside and began biting his filthy toenails.

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(Episode 3)

Subsequently having been rehired into the highest office in the land by way of the back door, I was in deep bewilderment the following morning over the thousands who disappeared into the clouds the night before, while I paced the floor of the oval office. My new Vice President, Ross Parole, was doing an outstanding job of getting on my nerves as he paced in the opposite direction all the while humming, "The Yellow Rose of Texas." I wasn't so sure our alliance was going to work. On his first day of employment he informed me that for the betterment of the country I should let him wield the big stick of policy making. I refused.

 

"Mr President, I gotta darn tootin' idee as to what we ort to do. Since all these people are now kaput, we could balance the budget by freezing all their assets, then liquidate all that cash into a trust fund, and..."

 

"Go get me some coffee, Mr. Vice President," I growled while stomping on a rather large bug. This all-consuming enigma was to be the biggest challenge to my presidency thus far. All across the United States at least 35 thousand people had been reported missing in one night. There was panic in the big cities as thousands sought refuge in the thick forests and countryside from what most thought was the wrath of God. I had to repose the people's fears with not a minute to waste, so I hurriedly addressed a group of reporters in the rose garden. "Today we face a grim situation. We have no clue as to any explanation for this large-scale national security situation. But I as your President promise to put all my efforts in gear to quickly resolve the issue, and have put the National Guard on alert. The safety of the American people is my main concern. I'm inviting all heads of state around the globe to join us in a co-operative effort to find a solution."

 

My speech did little but exacerbate the situation as some, who hadn't been aware of the situation, now also feared for their own safety. The news media just reported the news and didn't attempt to explain or express any theories. For once, they realized the moral obligation of keeping everyone calm. As the week went by, more than 100 thousand people all over the country were witnessed ascending into the heavens like shooting stars. I finally had to call out the National Guard to deal with the hysteria, but was reluctant to bestow upon them full authority. All interstates were blocked off and all citizens ordered to stay at home, but the fear grew in intensity as some fanatical religious groups rejoiced in the happenings, and convinced quite a few non-believers of the biblical relevance of the circumstances. Churches were running out of room, and infidels begged the religious community to pray to their God to save them. The Pastor at The First United Church of Prosperity, Dr. Screamer, begged for calm from his emotional flock. He encouraged everyone to remain objective, and was encouraged that at least one important member of his church, Ira Stippens, had some sense.

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(Episode 4)

A groggy Stippens awoke from his slumber a morning after he burned the midnight oil researching the writings of Albert Einstein and Isaac Asimov; hoping to find anything that might explain physiologically the reasons for the daily disappearances. He clumsily threw back his cover and knocked over a stack of books on the foot of the bed. "Well hell, be that way!" he grumbled.

 

In spite of Ira's religious conversion 30 years ago, he was not an alarmist... but weighed everything with a grain of salt before he'd give a reaction. Here was a man who had been through a bitter divorce, war, poverty.... and above all, two deadly tornados both in one afternoon. It happened in 1975, when one April, an F4 was spotted on the ground four miles south of Dunghill, traveling north. Ira was bagging groceries that afternoon when the sky became frighteningly black and the sirens blew. No one in the grocery store had any time to get to safety, much less think. The tornado had already destroyed the high school, courthouse, and three fourths of the homes in Dunghill when it finally lifted and dissipated back into the clouds. It was fortunate that there were no fatalities. But, there wasn't much time for anyone to rejoice, as another tornado, this time an F5, roared into town while everyone dodged for cover again while praying. The twister stayed on the ground of the small community for an astonishing 35 minutes. The populous was sure this was going to be it. There would be nothing left of the town. However when it was all over, the township was astonished to discover that the storm had completely rebuilt the courthouse, the high school, furnished homes with new siding, hauled all the debris of the former storm to the city dump, erected a beautiful fountain in the middle of the town square, transferred a totally intact Goodyear rubber and tire manufacturing plant all the way from Little Rock into the once dying business district of town; and even delivered groceries to the local shut-ins!.. But even that spectacular incident failed to raise the eyebrows of laid-back Ira Stippens. Nevertheless, his calm would today for the first time be put to the test.

 

Ira dragged his feet in approaching the cockroach infested kitchen and reached into the refrigerator to grab a carton of buttermilk, which he would pour on top of his bran flakes. As he reached in his t-shirt shoulder pocket for a smoke this particular morning, he noticed a rather large June bug making what would be its fateful final destination. Ira took great pleasure in squashing him with a three-day old sock covering his left foot, before slipping on his shoes... again without changing his woollies. He wondered why his cigarette tasted so foul until he slipped on his bifocals and noticed he'd lit the filtered end. Nearly stumbling over a huge accumulation of dirty clothes, he then returned to the bedroom with his breakfast bowl of bran and a warm glass of prune juice. He reached up to his bedside black-and-white, and searched for something thought provoking to watch, then laid back down after tuning in on a courtroom TV drama:

 

"Has the jury reached a decision yet?" The judge asked.

 

"Yes we have, Your Honor... the bagel sandwiches were awfully dry yesterday, so everyone agrees on pizza today!" The jury foreman answered while salivating.

 

"Very well, this court is now adjourned for an hour recess, I get the swings!!!"

 

We interrupt this program to bring you a special news bulletin. Now here is NBS news reporter, Peter Waylon Jennings, in New York!

 

Thanks Joe... NBS news has just received word from a White House source that Vice President Ross Parole has been missing since last evening. The President is urging calm, and says he's fully confident that Mr. Parole... (Click!)

 

 

Ira quickly turned the television off, mumbled a quick prayer, then grabbed his double barrel shotgun from the wall, and darted out the door at an impressive speed for someone in his seasoned physical state. "Come get me, you cowards!" he yelled, just as Brother Name-It-Claim-It came strolling up, wondering what the heck was going on.

 

"Brother Stippens, what'r you doin'?!" Name-It scolded inquisitively, all the while carrying what looked like a large roll of raffle tickets.

 

"There aint no way in hell they're gonna get me!" Stippens defied.

 

"Watch your language, Brother Stippens! I just dropped by to offer you some 'rapture tickets'... they're only a hundred bucks each, and if you purchase one now, I can guarantee you an early departure!" the shrewd elder offered.

 

Ira had a real hard time holding back his disgust. "You no good... you'd probably sell your soul if someone offered the right price!"

 

Ira had real contempt for the likes of Brother Name-It, who more than once had been caught with his hand in the church collection plate. He also almost caused a church-split over the biblical consent of having a kitchen built next to the sanctuary. But the silliest antic of all was when Brother Name-It demanded Pastor Screamer resign because he failed to agree on a revelation he'd been given, that concerning their belly buttons, Adam and Eve both had “outies” instead of “innies.” Ira disdained the troublemaker at best.

 

As elder Name-It was trying to talk Stippens into buying a rapture ticket in his polished Amway-like presentation, he then realized the immediate unforeseen weightlessness of his own body, as he swiftly began rising from where he was standing. "Praise the Lord, Ira; I'm going to my glory, at last!"

 

"Not if I can help it," Stippens declared, lifting his gun toward the sky while shooting wildly in all directions. The words "Cut it out, Ira!" sternly reverberated across the forenoon sky, as Name-It rapidly climbed upward in gleeful anticipation of his new heavenly home.

 

Stippens rushed back inside to retrieve some shotgun shells. While reloading, he felt something cold and prickly on his shoulder and frantically wiped it off. "Man, these junebugs are really big this year," he spoke aloud to himself. Once more he felt something crawling-- this time on his head. He tried unsuccessfully to pluck it off, but it wouldn't budge for being tangled in his hair. So he stooped his upper body downward and aimed his rifle in reverse (barely over his head) and pulled the trigger, narrowly missing his scalp, but successfully shooting down the chandelier he'd been wanting to take down for many years anyway. In a panic, here fired in all directions as he kicked open the front door to escape.

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(Episode 5)

Elsewhere, our new friend, Ravi Ohlee, the transcendental tambourine man who had been sucked into outer space, discovered himself in a cylinder shaped room with a wall of red velvet that was well illuminated, though no visible artificial source of light such as a lamp could be found. The sound of grinding metal startled his ears at the same time the ceiling overhead slid open, and a giant bloodshot hazel colored eyeball, that was as wide as the ceiling itself, seemed to be studying him. Ravi assumed the great eye to be divine and prostrated himself in awe. "Oh great Krishna, at last I enter your kingdom. I have read the Bhagavad-Gita many times. I've refrained from eating flesh... and I have, um pretty much led a celibate life!"

 

The eye followed him around the cramped room as he began banging his tambourine, and singing a hideous version of that monotonous Hare Krishna song that anyone (who's ever been to an airport) could recognize with no effort. The ceiling sealed shut momentarily, then opened again, and an oversized nose pinned Ravi to the floor as it began sniffing him. Ravi began to have second thoughts about the divinity of the situation. He reared back and clobbered the intruding snout in self-defense.

 

Abruptly, an immense mouth with horrid breath entered upon the scene. "Hey, why did you go and hit my friend Nose like that?! Huh? What?" Mouth asked. "I can't hear you, I'll have to go get Ear... if I can pull him away from his Bose Radio."

 

Following a series of other tests, Ravi was scooped up through the ceiling with some kind of mechanical shovel, and dumped in a large room among a diversity of other people who turned to study him like a book. "Surely this isn't the eternal place of the Godhead," he surmised.

 

A rather frantic middle aged woman rushed to his side and begged to know, "Are you God?"

 

"I sure am, aren't we all?" Ravi gleefully responded.

 

Her face turned pallid as she turned away shrieking, "Oh my God, we're all in hell!!"

 

The 100 thousand or so claustrophobics banged their fists on the metallic walls while crying out for help, and a wall slid open from left to right, exposing some sort of movie screen. A loud friendly sounding voice, on that occasion, announced over a public address system, "Friends from Earth! The Greatest of Greats, Her Majesty, Queen Irol, sends her love and wants you to know you won't be harmed! You are all invited to help your world as well as ours, by involving yourselves in an interplanetary goodwill act of diplomacy between our two planets! Our featured movie this afternoon is an Apathonian classic western called, "Shootout Beneath the Flaming Moon," starring, Gerg Ydarb! Relax, there is plenty of popcorn and refreshments for everyone!"

 

In the time frame exactly parallel, on the third stone in our own solar system, and within the outer fringe of its own galaxy, Earth's citizens had just breathed a moment of relief at the same time a new crisis had just begun. The unexplainable disappearances had seemed to cease for now. The new dilemma began to snowball ever since insects known as June bugs, commenced to procreating and growing in size at an alarming rate. Crops were being destroyed. Telephone lines were being devoured, and nationwide interstate 40 was cluttered as trapped motorists witnessed June bugs along the highway, marching in over-exaggerated goose-step, all the while singing battle hymns with much enthusiasm.

 

One unlucky traveler swore that she was carjacked by two enormous bugs, who tossed her out of the car along the highway shoulder. She recalled one of them commenting, "Hey, let's hide it in the bushes for now, and when mom and dad are asleep tonight, we can sneak back out and go cruisin'!" A convenience store clerk in Casper, Wyoming reported to the police that one stood at least 6 feet 8 inches in height. It had barged into his store and knocked over several isles, then drank his entire stock of Coors Light. The monster bug was later arrested, but soon escaped because he ate his way out of the bricked cell. Authorities were now searching for a large, moaning June bug, with a block of ice wrapped around the top of his throbbing head.

 

Of course none of this had anything to do with the rather harmless British music group, The Bugs... However, hearsay claimed this was all an extravagant marketing scheme concocted amid rumors that the band was shortly to reunite. A farmer put up a sign in his pasture along the highway that read: PAUL IS DEAD MEAT! Adding irony to the situation, a tourist claimed that a huge number of these rabid insects completely covered his car one afternoon. He tried to spin his wheels in a getaway attempt, but they had already been consumed. He tried next to blare his horn, but they had disconnected it. Just as they were about to eat their way through the windshield, he knew not why, but he turned his radio on full blast, as The Bugs' 1964 hit, "You're Stepping On My Hand," was being played. Panic-stricken, they covered their feelers with their two front legs and desperately fled.

 

This having been discovered, I suggested, as president, to the press that someone fork out enough money to give the four lads from Liverworst an incentive to regroup and tour the US. John was easy with it--- as long as YoYo could tag along. Paul said if that was the case he'd bring his best friend, Buster. George indicated that was out of the question because he was allergic to dog hair. Pete volunteered to do a solo tour but everyone agreed the situation wasn't serious enough to warrant going to that extreme. So we went with an alternative... The Salvation Army Band had been working on some Bugs selections anyway, so they vigorously made plans to march from the east coast to the west coast, along interstate 40, and play the most unbearable Bug tunes that they knew.

 

The parading band neared San Luis Obispo, California, after three weeks of solid marching and playing. They had managed to drive the hydrophobic insects off the highway fleeing in the direction of the beach (along with brave vacationers who frantically abandoned their automobiles when the band approached with their gawd-awful sound). Once reaching the coastal sands, the savage bugs leaped in the water and drowned. But it was too early to celebrate as spectators and news reporters alike cheered, for the ocean strangely receded, then formed an enormous wave, and a monster of a June bug standing at least 6 stories high, with ten heads, and the words "sex sex sex" written on 3 by 5 cue cards stapled to every one of its foreheads, spoke; "NOW THAT I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION..."

 

The entranced crowd didn't know what to make of it, until someone in the crowd suggested that this was the biblically foretold, apocalyptic beast, and he was merely a lousy speller.

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(Episode 6)

Queen Irol had just risen out of bed as the Genodrahn Sun had illuminated her bedroom walls. "Oh, Kram sweetie, have the humans from that pesky little planet Earth arrived yet?"

 

"Yes, Your Majesty, all 144,000 are here and accounted for."

 

"Wonderful! Bring me the one that looks the smartest, OK sugar plum?" Irol gleamed.

 

Today was the 15th anniversary of her rise to the throne. As the legend goes: She was the 20th generation descendant of King Doolittle... who one day bought a beautiful bouquet for his wife, on his favorite concubines' birthday (which he totally had forgotten about). His prude friend became so enraged, that she sent some flowers of her own to the Queen, also supposedly from him, with a planted letter-bomb inside the card envelope. Having rid herself of the competition, his mistress, Bertha Tudor, won the thrown for herself and became the new Queen. This was referred to in all the historical annals as, "The War of the Roses."

 

Irol was really looking forward to all the festivities planned for the day as she noticed a new wrinkle on her grayish-white bald head in the mirror. She was a mere 56 years of age, which was still quite young in accordance to the longevity of the Apathonian average lifespan of roughly 110 years.

 

"This is the most intelligent looking one of the bunch, Your Majesty," Kram declared, escorting one of the humans.

 

"Oh yes, and just what is your name, sweetie?" She winked.

 

"Vice-President Ross Parole, who the hell are you?!"

 

"My," she grinned, "what big ears you have. I wasn't aware that you all had Feringees on earth!"

 

She went on to explain to Mr. Parole that they were all being held as "insurance," in case the US government refused to relinquish several hundred Apathonians being held against their will at Area 51 & 1/2. As a double measure, her Greatness assured him that there would be another batch of cybernetic June bugs unleashed upon his planet coming soon, to tip the bargaining power in Apathonia's favor.

 

She went on to give the V.P. the authority to act as a go-between if her "guests" had a complaint about anything. She promised that if anyone in the camp had a problem, they could voice it to him without any fear of any retribution, then he could voice it to her... and she would take it into consideration and laugh. She also advised that if anyone out of 144,000 gave her trouble of any kind, the Picasso Factory lay in wait to permanently and metamorphic-like, alter their appearance into some of her favorite Picasso paintings and drawings.

 

To make certain that there was a no-baloney understanding about her warning, she escorted the Vice-President back to the encampment and picked out a feeble looking woman in her autumn years to be made an example of. Screaming and kicking, the woman was tied down upon the conveyor belt right before they put the wheels in motion. In a torturous three minutes she went in one end and came out of the other. The newly deformed Picassovite was quickly put on display to everyone's horror as Irol admonished, "Now I'm sure the rest of you don't want to end up like Mrs. McGillicutty here, so I'm counting on you all to be good boys and girls, OK?"

 

The camp was terribly lacking in space and the detained humans had to sleep in shifts of one hour each, for the lack of beds. No gathering of more than two people was allowed. For ten hours a day they had to move bricks one at a time to the different piles they were all assigned, then move them back, day after day. They had only one meal in the evening consisting of fermented barkbiter roots and gruel. After dinner every night they had to listen to Irol's propaganda about their princely planet, as opposed to how evil and inferior Earth was in comparison. For instance, she claimed that Ronald Reagan once headed up a covert operation while in office, and sent Colonel Oliver North to Saturn's gassy moon, Titan, to approach the Titanian rebel underground with an offer to exchange a book of matches for 100 tons of liquid methane gas. The Mob obliged...

 

Matches were a controlled substance on Titan, and any terrorist in possession of them could easily blow up the planet-like moon, in view of its gassy atmosphere, with a simple strike of only one match. Ollie elatedly came home with the goods and handed it over to the CIA, who smuggled it inside the borders of the USSR and planted it in the Kremlin basement, in connection to the plumbing installed right below the men's room. A sensor device was mounted to recognize Mikial Gorbechev's 'cheeks' when he sat down, so that when he flushed, it would release a methane cloud and leave everyone (who didn't pass out) wondering where not to order borscht for lunch anymore. This operation proved to be a success with multiple defections, which single-handedly brought an end to 70 years of the evil Soviet Empire, and a hasty desperate dismantling of their nuclear arsenal.

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(Episode 7)

The fold at The First United Church of Prosperity were all a-quiver in light of the intense earthly goings on, while Pastor Screamer was trying desperately to keep the place of worship in focus. Since the disappearance of head elder Brother Name-It-Claim-It, he charged Ira Stippens with the task... because of his composed demeanor. He hoped the flock would take note and follow suit. But nothing seemed to dampen the fires of fear especially since the apocalyptic beast rose out of the California coastal waters, and made his presence known to all the world. Dr. Screamer was in the middle of a children's bible story one certain Sunday as he rhymed, "I saw Esau, sitting on a see-saw..." Suddenly, Brother Butch Butts had a word of knowledge: "Ira Stippens, thus calleth the Lord, 'thou art to rise from the depths of uncertainty, and go to Los Banos, California, to meeteth the Anti-Beast, Elmo Pigglesworth. He will disciple you as to how you must taketh the mighty sword of truth, and slayeth the beast! You shall go forth as the great Squirminator, and killeth him with my word!' thus sayeth the Lord!"

 

A reverent awe engulfed the sanctuary with silence, until Ira slumped with embarrassment in his pew and responded in jest. "...Poppycocketh..."

 

The sanctuary burst into laughter, but the humored church members suddenly fell to their repented knees, when the walls and floor began to rattle, and an invisible yet powerful voice added, "I'M NOT KIDDINGETH!!!"

 

Upon returning home from an eventful church service, Ira discovered his front door partially open. He was certain that he had locked it before walking to church that morning. However, his puzzlement departed upon stepping inside as he was embraced by the cool from the refrigerated air window unit. Sinking upon his sofa, he reached for a cigarette and noticed what looked like a ticket of some sort partially exposed in between the couch arm and cushion. He spent the next few moments attempting to figure out where it came from, instead of just picking it up. His curiosity finally triumphed. He snatched it up to his face and observed that it was an airline ticket for a flight bound for Stockton, California. He quickly made the correlation while remembering Brother Butts' antics that morning in church, and his frivolous prophecy. Ira tossed it on the floor and exhaled a rather impressive smoke ring. In the same fleeting moment, someone gently knocked on the door that was still partially open. With his bare feet propped up on the opposite arm of the couch, his filthy shirt opened revealing his gray chest hair sharing the same acreage with some tattoos and warts, he nonchalantly responded, "Yeah, come in," as he reached for a day-old half-filled can of lukewarm beer.

 

There was no immediate response, so Ira tossed his cigarette butt into his ashtray and swung the door even wider open to reveal a long haired airport shuttle bus driver with a ridiculously joyful smile. "Time to go, Ira... no time to waste!"

 

"Who the hell...?"

 

"Grab your ticket, I'll explain it along the way, come on..." he assured while pulling on Ira's arm, who quickly yanked it back.

 

"Did Brother Butts put you up to this?!"

 

"Look, my name is Mike, but that's all my boss wants you to know right now," the shuttle bus driver tried explaining.

 

Ira was relentless and declared that this was all "a bunch of hogwash!" Mike had no choice, it was getting late, and he was fearful that if he couldn't get Ira to cooperate, he'd lose his paid vacation coming up in the fall. So he caught Stippens's attention by putting his index and middle fingers up to his lips, and gave a startling shrill whistle. To the bewilderment of Ira's usually unimpressed reasoning, the bus swiftly pulled up to where they were arguing, as if it had been remote controlled.

 

"How the hell...?"

 

"I wasn't supposed to do that, Ira," Mike scolded. "Now, get in! Your luggage is already packed and in the trunk."

 

The flight took all of two hours and Ira passed the time away sleeping. A flight attendant had the good pleasure of waking the aged fart factory and snatched his pillow from under his head, after everyone else had left the plane. Ira mouthed a few tame explicit adjectives and pronouns under his breath while his lungs were begging for a cigarette. No sooner had he stepped down the folding staircase when Mike, the shuttle bus driver, pulled up on the runway and rushed to help him with his luggage. "So, Ira, how do you like Stockton so far?"

 

"How the hell...?"

 

"Here, let me get that for you..." Mike offered, then whistled toward the bus and the back trunk automatically opened.

 

"How the hell...?"

 

"I really wish you'd quit saying that, Ira," Mike nagged as they got inside, and suggested that Stippens not smoke in the van just as he was about to light up.

 

Ira scowled and threw his cancer-stick out the window and sarcastically remarked, "Yeah, that second hand smoke thing is REAL dangerous... Had an uncle that smoked for 35 years! He decided to switch smoking with his right hand instead of his left, one day. He died of a heart attack two weeks later... Yep, if he'd only just stayed with that first hand, he'd still be around!"

 

"OK, Ira," Mike responded after losing his temper. "I wasn't gonna do this, but you're not being very cooperative!" At that instant Ira felt something digging in his pocket. Just as he reached on impulse to see what it was, he witnessed his last pack elevate from out of his pouch. It momentarily hung in midair, then caught aflame and disintegrated right before his eyes.

 

"Why the hell did you do that?!" Ira fumed.

 

"I just figured you'd appreciate that, since you don't have a problem with second hand smoke!" Mike laughed.

 

"So who's this Elmo Picklewart, anyway, and what's all this got to do with me?" Ira asked as if he had more important things to do.

 

"Pigglesworth Ira. Once we've arrived he'll fill you in on everything..."

----------------------------------------

 

(Episode 8)

The long two-hour drive seemed nonsensical to Stippens since Mike seemed to exert some sort of miraculous physiological ability that could surely get them there a lot faster. "Why couldn't he just blink his eyes, or something," he thought to himself, "and while he's at it, I could use another pack of cigarettes!"

 

"Smoking is not good for you, Ira," Mike harped, "Don't even ask!"

 

"How the...!? Oh, forget it!"

 

The two of them pulled into Los Banos around 3pm local time. Mike spotted a run-down service station, and pulled up right behind it. He cautioned Stippens while covering his lips with his index finger, hinting to him to keep quiet while he lifted a manhole cover among some weeds, then motioned to him to get in first. They silently crept a ways down a dark underground passage full of rats and snakes, but went about their doings unconcerned as the two crawled through. "OK, I think this is it, Ira! Now, crawl out and knock on the farmhouse door exactly five times!"

 

Ira didn't understand all the caution Mike advised. Notwithstanding, he did what he was told and waited for a response. After two or three long smoke filled breaths from a well-earned cigarette after much arm twisting, Ira looked back at Mike peeking from out of the manhole cover and shrugged his shoulders and turned to head back. Finally, the door whipped open, and a ruffian even more uncouth looking than Stippens himself demanded, "Are you the Squirminator?!"

 

"Uh, were looking for a Mr. Picklewart..." Ira halfheartedly explained.

 

"Pigglesworth, Ira!" Mike corrected, while still peeking out without revealing himself.

 

"Who's your friend?!" Pigglesworth demanded of Ira with a sudden rifle aimed straight at the dimple in his chin.

 

Mike hum-hawd around but finally crawled out and explained, "Sorry, Mr. Pigglesworth, I'm Mike... you know, the one you've been informed about?"

 

"You!? You scrawny pathetic looking youngster are Mike? OK, if you're Mike... show me a sign!!!"

 

Mike had a sudden smirk on his face as he reached real deep into his pants pocket, and miraculously pulled out a 6 foot by 12 foot billboard that read: BABY BARF BURGERS AT A BARGAIN... AT BIG BUFORD'S BUFFALO BARF BURGER BISTRO BAGEL BREAKFAST BAR AND BOOKSTORE!!!

Elmo dropped his gun in awe, "That's a hell of a sign!"

 

The three pulled into San Luis Obispo shortly before sundown, as a group of reporters were questioning the apocalyptic beast who was soaking up the sun while halfway submerged in the water. "THE GREATEST OF GREATS AFFIRMED THAT NO HARM WILL COME TO THE HUMANS BEING HELD, SO LONG AS THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AGREES TO HAND OVER THE IMPRISONED APATHONIANS. ONLY THEN WILL THE BUG EPIDEMIC STOP, AND I WILL RETREAT BACK INTO THE SEA," the brute announced in his thunderous voice.

 

"Oh," Pigglesworth spoke up from the crowd, "We're supposed to take YOUR word for it. Why should we? You're a liar from hell, you who calls himself, Sir Elvis Holyfield!!"

 

"Sir Elvis Holyfield?!?!" Everyone gagged.

 

The beast did a double take with all ten heads and noticed his arch rival. "OH ME, OH MY, I THINK I'M GONNA DIE... IT'S THE ANTI-BEAST!" Sir Elvis scoffed, "HAST MINE ENEMY COMETH PREPARED TO DO BATTLE TO THE BITTER END?"

 

"You bet your sweet bippy!" Elmo replied.

 

Elvis scratched one of his heads and asked, "WHAT'S A BIPPY?"

 

"I dunno, it was just something they used to say on ‘Laugh-In’ in the 60's..." Elmo explained.

 

"OH, I WASN'T ALLOWED TO WATCH THAT, CAUSE MY DAD ALWAYS WANTED TO SEE BONANZA..."

 

"Well, if you subscribe to the Family Channel..."

 

Before Elmo had a chance to reach for his latest issue of TV guide, Mike stepped into the picture. "You all can go watch television later, right now it's time for one of you to settle the score!"

 

"OH," Sir Elvis mused, "I SEE YOU'VE BROUGHT THE ARCHANGEL WITH YOU!"

 

With that the two prepared for their significant dual to determine whether good or evil would prevail. Elvis quickly whipped out a floating Styrofoam table as Elmo revealed his box of tiddlywinks, and they began a best out of five series. Elvis won the first, but Elmo took the next two. In his humiliation of possibly losing a third match, Sir Elvis swung one of his arms over the table, scattering tiddlywinks everywhere.

 

"Hey, what did you do that for? That was my best set!" Elmo complained.

 

"YOU ALWAYS WANT TO PLAY TIDDLYWINKS, I'M READY FOR A REAL BATTLE!" Elvis proclaimed.

 

"Whatever you say, Sir Elvis," Elmo nodded, "OK Ira, he's all yours!"

 

Ira stepped forward with an old King James at the same time the beast's eyes caught sight of him, "THE SQUIRMINATOR!? I'VE CHANGED MY MIND, LET'S PLAY ANOTHER ROUND OF TIDDLYWINKS!" The beast cringed in horror as Stippens flipped back to the middle of the Old Testament. Ira cleared his throat and began his public address: "I will be reading this evening the entire Old Testament book of 1st Chronicles..."

 

"NO, NOT 1ST CHRONICLES! NOT THE BEGATS!!!” The beast nervously laughed, trying to pretend that this was all ridiculous child's play, and began whistling while trying to cover as many ears as possible as Ira began reading: "Adam, Sheth, Enosh, Kenan, Methuselah, Lamech, Noeh, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The sons of Japeth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meschech, and Tiras..."

 

Well into 15 minutes later, Ira continued, "the sons of Levi; Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. And the sons of Kohath; Amram, Izhar, and Hebron, and..." At this point Elvis the beast was squirming just like a bored three-year-old during church. It was working!

 

"And Azariah begat Seraiah, and Seraiah begat..." Two hours later, Elvis the beast not only was still squirming, but now going into spasms, and finally came to the point where he couldn't stand it any longer, thrashing all ten of his heads into each other, then vomited out from his mouths his own life; as he shriveled up like a deflating balloon. Ira did it, he literally bored the beast to death!

 

Archangel Michael drew from his lungs a heavy sigh and deadpanned, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm afraid Elvis has left the building..."

 

Cameramen, reporters, and spectators all cheered while vigorously and enthusiastically approaching the Squirminator, as he and his two cohorts made a quick dash back for the shuttle bus. People rushed up to the deflated beast to take pictures and someone noted a small round yellow circle with a smiley face in the middle, and the words, "Have A Nice Day!" written under it on each of the beast's lifeless heads... This was the mark of the Anti-Beast!

 

As the President of the United States, I called Mr. Stippens the next day and personally invited him to visit me at the White House. I caught his performance live on television and decided he could play an intricate part toward a solution of the whole Apathonian escapade. He reluctantly agreed after a lot of coaxing, but jokingly suggested that the U.S. government ought to rent a Ryder truck, load it with ammonium nitrate, and send it destined for the trouble making planet.

-------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 9)

Deep in the desert mountains of Southern Nevada, there lies a small community that everyone and his dog is well acquainted with, that being of course, Area 51. But across the alley there stood what most thought was a group of section 8 low-income apartments, or government projects for those below the poverty level. It was actually that of Area 51 & 1/2 (and in case you've forgotten, it was so secret that even the aliens kept at Area 51 didn't know anything about it).

 

Despite its deceiving appearance on the outside, Area 51 & 1/2 was actually very plush in its interior and a place only for 'significant' occupants. Upon stepping inside, it still held a dismal appearance; but once the proper password was given to the front desk teller, you would be escorted to the combo garbage-shoot/elevator and lowered downstairs, where the privileged few controlled the world's banking, political, commerce, stock market, elections, weather, and sewage systems, from underground.

 

There were 367 occupants at Area 51 & 1/2. Most notable were 56 of the 127 extraterrestrial aliens from all over the universe who were in complete collaboration with the World Trilateral Commission, and just like every other conspiracy, the CIA was revamping the original Area 51 into an amusement park, to sell it to Disneyworld. The local folk in that particular neck of the woods caught wind of the plan and took up a petition to stop the measure, complaining they didn't want to move their tourist trade to Florida, because of the extreme humidity. At the time of this writing, both the World Trilateral Commission, and the CIA were taking their concern into serious consideration.

 

On the nicest floor underground lived an old Apathonian drude named Derf Enotstnilf. As you remember, he and his crew, and a human passenger whose name he couldn't remember, crashed into an army weather balloon, leaving them marooned in the New Mexico desert in 1947 and eventually captured. Derf had excelled to the privileged ranks in the last two decades. He was responsible for numerous inventions that had helped the United States win the cold war, not to mention the first Kitty-Kat-Pooper-Scooper which he was proudest of.

 

On the third floor below at Area 51 & 1/2 were the new aliens who hadn't as of yet converted over to capitalism. In Cell Block 34 Second Hand-1st Door to The Right #12 Blue 72 Red 25 Wide-Left, lived an alien brought back by Oliver North from Saturn's moon Titan, on the brief visit you read about earlier in this story. Zolo, as he was known, had come a long way since the 80's, although he hadn't been totally reformed quite just yet... He loved to hand make gloves for the other captives, as well as the guards; but he still refused to sell any of them because he despised Capitalism. It's sad to say, but it didn't look like Zolo would be transferred to Disneyworld any time soon.

 

But the sector described above was NOT the most classified secret at Area 51 & 1/2. On the 5th floor down, you could find a workout gym, a Burger King, an arcade room full of video games, and a tennis court. Every morning around 8am you could find Jim Morrison playing tennis with Mayor Jimi Hendrix, as both worked up a healthy sweat. Jimi could still do all those great licks that used to drive the fans wild, as long as he was wearing his dentures. Janis Joplin owned a flower shop, Jimmy Hoffa made doughnuts to pass the time away, and grunge rocker, Kurt Cobain, stared at the television all day. He was known to throw the furniture around when 'The Price Is Right' didn't come on when it should've.

 

Yes, you too can purchase your own death certificate, move in, and watch all the money come pouring in from fan clubs, memorial funds, biographies, movie re-releases, tribute concerts, and sudden through-the-roof record sells since your 'death!'

------------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 10)

On Apathonia, Queen Irol's captive audience had become restless in the last few days of incarceration, so much so, that she had already 'Picassovited' one third of them for getting out of line and asking for too many favors. The new 'Picassovites' had to be put in a separate encampment of their own, on account of the violent behavior they instinctively displayed once transformed. Because of their violent behavior, they had to be separated from the others. A scuffle would break out as one would elbow the other with his forehead, and get a bloody nose just below his buttocks, or a herniated eyelid, in return. The rabid Picassovites demanded their immediate release and threatened to start procreating, but the Greatest of Greats had needn't to worry... most of them were so altered, they couldn't locate their genitals if they tried.

 

Word had not as of yet met Irol's ear about the fact that Sir Elvis Holyfield, the beast, had been slain; and nobody volunteered to be the bearer of bad news. The Apathonian Secret Service all drew straws, but as always, whoever would end up with the smallest one would renege. Finally, they all agreed to give the job to the janitor boy who happened to be mopping at the time. Mij was a young 18 years of age, and soon to be wed to a sweet little prude who was with child... though he was not the father. They promised him the day off to take care of wedding plans if he'd oblige. Mij thought it was no big deal and accepted.

 

"Well, good morning there, sweetie poo!" Irol bid the good natured adolescent drude, "How's the little pregnant prude doing, hmmmmm?"

 

"Oh just fine!"

 

"So is this your first child, Hun?" her Greatest of Greats begged to know.

 

"Well, it's my prude's first anyway," he blushed in return.

 

"Now Mij, you know it takes two to tango!" She giggled and winked.

 

Mij in his usually wise-cracking manner jested, "Yes that's true, but I didn't meet her until after the dance!"

 

"Oh aren't you the clever one?! Is there something you need, sweetie? Nobody usually comes around just to say hello. What is it I can do for you, Hun?"

 

"Well, the guys at A.S.S. wanted me to tell you that Sir Elvis Holyfield kicked the bucket a few days ago, that's all." Mij chuckled goofy-like. "Say, I've been meaning to talk to you about my vacation..."

 

"WHAT?!?!" Irol bellowed before coughing up an enormous fireball that totally engulfed the harmless little guy, "KRAM, GET IN HERE!!!"

 

"Yes, your majesty!?"

 

"First, clean up these ashes," she demanded, "Then run all 144,000 humans through the Picasso factory, and I don't care HOW long it takes! Do I make myself clear?!"

 

"But, excuse me, Your Majesty..."

 

"I just did! Now do it!!!" She yelled.

 

"Of course, your greatness... Right Away!" Kram galloped out of her royal residence to fetch a broom, as she slammed the door behind him. But as he exited, he distinctly heard the sound of a bloodcurdling scream, followed by a desperate striving-to-breathe gagging sound. He whipped the door back open and discovered Irol lying flat on the floor facing upward, with a potted begonia plant stuffed down her throat. Shocked, Kram came to her aid, and with an abundance of effort, tried to remove the pot from her mouth, but it was too securely fit. She had no pulse. Her skin color, bleakly pale. He propped her head in his lap and couldn't decide whether to weep, or rejoice, as he took a double take and noticed a small yellowed-in circle, with a smiley face and the inscription: Have A Nice Day!... on her forehead.

 

Once again, the Mark of the Anti-Beast.

 

As custom called for, a week later Irol's body was sealed and loaded aboard a torpedo-like missile and therewith launched toward the Flaming Moon, where other Apathonian royals and war heroes throughout the ages had been laid to rest.

 

Kram would have done better for himself if he hadn't fled into hiding. He was shortly captured and wrongfully charged with the crime, found guilty, and sentenced to death by way of the atomic-egg-beater immediately after the new Greatest of Greats, Gerg Ydarb was sworn in. Gerg was once an Apathonian movie actor, and later a prominent member of the Apathonian Secret Service after a long military career with the Apathononian Guard. He then accepted the number two job in the government as the Mediocre of Mediocres, with Irol's full blessings. However, Gerg was a lot more even tempered than his predecessor, and temporarily shut down the Picasso Factory while trying a more humane diplomatic approach toward the 144,000 Americans being held. Once in office, he sent for Vice President Ross Parole, and began making plans to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the two planets' grievances against one another, by paying a visit to Earth along with Mr. Parole the following week.

--------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 11)

The mood in Washington on the morning of the 27th of June was as dreary as the morning drizzle. I called for a formal meeting between myself, the Chiefs of Staff, and Mr. Ira Stippens... who had become an overnight icon since slaying the apocalyptic beast that Apathonia had unleashed on our corner of the universe. I was to utter nary a hint or clue about my firsthand experience with the Apathonians in my past. Stippens felt about as out of place as a toothbrush at a barbershop, as he twiddled his thumbs, waiting for the conference to begin. I officially opened it up by introducing him to the Chiefs of Staff as someone who I believed could be essential in a diplomatic solution with Apathonia. Everyone in the room turned and friendly-like nodded, all except for General Higgenbotham that is, he just stared ahead and fiddled with his double chin. "Has the person in question here been through a thorough FBI background check? This is not the way we do things in Washington, Mr. President!" he chided, waving his finger in my face.

 

"Mr. General, Sir, I'm the Commander in Chief! This is the way I do things in Washington!" I fired back. The General quietly returned to the space on the wall he'd been staring at, and continued to play with his chin. "Now, what I was about to say was... I think Mr. Stippens here, because of his sudden prominence and popularity, should head up a committee concerning the issue; to give the American people a sense of hope in this conflict with the hostile alien government. Because we have no idea where Apathonia is, we'll have to assume they will make the first contact," I surmised. "Ira, what do you think should be our stand in this possible negotiation with the Apathonians?"

 

Ira blushed and slid down in his chair, and tried to downplay the suggestion he was an expert of some sort. "Well I... Uh, I never seen a UFO before... the only flying saucers I've ever seen were thrown by my ex-wife from the kitchen..." he joked, as most of the Chiefs of Staff half-heartedly laughed, "but uh... I don't think I have anything special to..."

 

"Oh knock it off with your humility crap!" General Higgenbotham hollered. "You know you want the job... You and your cohorts are nothing but a bunch of foolish and stupid ineffectual tiddlywinks playing ignoramuses, that's what I think of you!!!"

 

I quickly tried to jump in between the middle of them both, but it was too late; Ira had already bluntly whacked the General right smack in the middle of his face with the chair he was sitting in. "Get this maniac off of me Mr. President, he broke my nose!" the General bawled as he hastily attempted to put his schnozzle back in shape with his hanky.

 

"Mr Higgenbotham, Sir... Why don't you take the rest of the day off, huh?" I suggested. What I really wanted to say to the childish General was it was his naptime, and did he need anyone to pat him on the rump to help him fall asleep?

 

"I'll get you for this, Stippens... Even if it's the last thing I do," he threatened right before he ran down the hall to be consoled by his wife, who just happened to work in the Press Secretary's office.

------------------------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 12)

The colossal June bug epidemic all across America, once thought vanquished, had flared up again after the recently 'waterlogged pests' larva left behind, hatched in extensive numbers. Once again, fields of grain were leveled, phone lines gnawed in two, and traffic halted from coast to coast as the six legged monsters sought to avenge their parents.

 

Having once tried but failed to bribe the British rock group, The Bugs, to do a nationwide tour-- in view of the fact that the rabid monsters couldn't stand their music-- I was successful in talking them into at least doing a live interview and performance on a worldwide television appearance. John got busy and wrote what would be the worst Bug song in history, titled, ‘Free as a Bug.’ "This will make them quit begging us to get back together," John boasted as the other three sighed in relief.

 

The day came not any sooner when exactly 1800 hrs. UTC, live from Paul's kitchen in his London flat, the interview began. "So tell us Paul, when was it you decided to be a performer?"

 

"I think I was six months old at the time, and me mum was changin' me diaper..." Paul began.

 

George butted in, "You're such a wiseacre, you always tell that same dumb story, get real, Paul!"

 

"I can tell whatever bloody story I want to, Georgey Porgey!"

 

"Do you have anything to add, John?" the interviewer asked.

 

"Yeah," John smarted off, "I think it's wee past Georgey and Paul's Beddy-By time..."

 

"John," George fired back, "when you open your eyes, do you see anything besides the inner walls of your colon?!!!"

 

John, Paul, and George evidently hadn't seen or spoke to each other in over 26 years and were finally letting out some animosity on one another. As they eventually began brawling on the floor with each other, Pete took center stage and completed the interview with an intricately detailed discussion about his 25 plus years of touring as "The Bug."

 

With only five minutes to go until the song, ‘Free as a Bug,’ was to be performed by the pop-combo, the three others were too bruised and bloodied to play. John was missing an index finger, but found it later betwixed George's teeth. Paul had a slight concussion. And, George had had his digeridoo shoved down his throat. But the show had to go on.

 

Luckily The Bugs had recorded a rough demo of the song, and the producer imposed the reluctant studio engineer to roll the tape. With the very first few measures of the song's intro, the warlike insects all over the country took no notice. But when the first verse began, they stopped chomping on phone lines, they stopped robbing the fields of grain, they stopped wreaking havoc... and joined in singing... while they became even more vicious and tried to eat their way into the homes of millions of Americans to get a better listen! The switchboard at NBS studios rang off the wall with people informing them it had failed...

 

But, there was still the last desperate measure.... They had no choice whatsoever, so they held their noses and asked Pete to fill in. Of course, Pete obliged.

 

He only knew one song on the guitar and that was a song by the 1960's folk icon, Bob Dillydally, called, "Blowing My Nose in The Wind." The creepy crawlers, once having eaten through the walls of homes all over America, merely caught a glimpse of Pete tuning John's guitar, and cried out in unison, "OH MY GOD, NOT HIM!!!" They all conglomerated in the skies like birds of a flock in such dire terror that they voluntarily drowned themselves in the deep waters of the Pacific.

 

It was a success, the world was rid of an impending potential exacerbating excursion of suffering (the June bugs were pretty bad too), but Pete begged the producers to let him sing anyway. He finally backed down when I personally called him on the phone (at the network's urging), and offered The Congressional Medal of Honor, instead. He'd always wanted a Grammy... but the "small token of appreciation would suffice."

------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 13)

Vice President Ross Parole, and his comrade, Gerg Ydarb, had just entered the Earth's outer atmosphere as a few fleeing terrified June bugs hit the spacecraft's windshield. Gerg turned on the wipers as Parole, opening a Rand McNally road atlas, guided him toward Washington DC as the headstrong two fought over directions. "You wanna drive?!!" Gerg yelled.

 

Finally pinpointing the South lawn of the White House, Gerg slowly lowered the craft and a deafening siren sounded as a guided missile system rolled out from under a camouflage, tanks steered their gunnery, and about 100 armed Navy Seals took aim in their direction as they landed. Parole swiftly opened the hatch and commented, "By golly, if you'd been that prepared in Nam, we would've won the stupid thing!"

 

"Mr. Vice President!!!???" the commanding officer questioned quite puzzled.

 

"Now," Parole demanded, "Y'all get the luggage. Oh, this is my friend Gerg, he's sorta the big G on Apathonia!"

 

I'd been given the all clear once the secret service verified that it was for sure the Vice President. I rushed out to greet Mr. Parole, though secretly I had wished they'd left him on Apathonia. I was a little queasy, in view of hoping his friend Gerg wouldn't recognize me from my former dealings with the small planet. Parole was basking in the glow of all the attention he was receiving. "Mr. President, good to see ya. Smith, how the hell are ya? Say, General Higgenbotham," Parole smirked, "what the hell happened to your nose?"

 

"Uh, it was a golfing accident, sir...." Higgenbotham blushed. "Mr Hipwing, er um, Mr President, how do we know this is really the Vice President? And has Mr Gerg here had an FBI background check?"

 

"Why don't you go play a round of golf, General Higgenbotham, sir!" I suggested.

 

I made plans to start negotiations with Gerg, The Greatest of Greats, for that evening. However, I had lost sight of him or the Vice President shortly before lunch. Little did I know but the General had both of them incarcerated downstairs in a makeshift holding cell, while he interrogated them. Higgenbotham was about to release the Vice President until he mentioned Area 51 & 1/2.

 

"What do you know about that place!!" the General demanded.

 

"I know that there are 100 or so innocent people who want nothing more than to go home to their planet, sir. We art to be 'shamed of ourselves!"

 

Pacing the carpet of the oval office later before noon, all the while puzzled concerning the where abouts of Gerg and the Vice President, General Higgenbotham nervously followed me while assuring me not to worry about them. It was then that I caught on. "Where are you hiding them, General?"

 

"Ok, Mr President, I assure you they're safe down there!"

 

"Oh, they're in the basement, thanks Higgenbotham..." I said while in immediate pursuit of the elevator.

 

Higgenbotham followed me down to the storage room/wine celler, nervously arguing his case. As the elevator slid open, I quickly took notice of all the jail cells apparently recently erected. "I wonder who could've put these here, Mr. General..."

 

"Well, I uh... you see... I... uh...um..."

 

We rounded the corner just as I spied the V.P. together with Gerg, playing a hand of poker. Gerg must have been a quick learning being that Mr. Parole was stripped down to his Fruit of the Looms. "We're in a fine pickle, Mr. President," said Mr. Parole. "Seems we got into this mess cause we've got some of their people in confinement at 51 & 1/2... at the General's blessing! We art to be 'shamed of ourselves."

 

"I thought it was known as just Area 51, Higgenbotham?"

 

"Oh all right, President Hipwing," the General pouted, "Area 51 & 1/2 is a top secret strategic world command center for the Trilateral Commission.... it's so secret, that even the aliens at..."

 

"Ok Ok, we get it... enough already!"

 

The General had a lot of explaining to do, but it would have to wait until after lunch, as Gerg, Parole, Higgenbotham, Ira Stippens, and myself, waxed the presidential limousine, then headed to Gert's Greasy Spoon to pick up some chicks.

-----------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 14)

Prior to the start of negotiations that evening, everyone except for General Higgenbotham was gathered and seated in the room. Ira couldn't help eyeing across the table at Gerg, who returned with a quick smile. Stippens made an obvious attempt to look away. He'd never dreamed he'd ever see the likes of the Apathonian. I called the meeting to order, in spite of Higgenbotham's absence. "Gentlemen, we're all here today representative of both sides of this issue," I began while the General entered the room and quietly sat down. "As all here know, there are 144,000 Americans being held against their will on Apathonia. At the same time there are 100 or so Apathonians being held at Area 51 & 1/2 also..."

 

"May I add," Gerg interjected, "against their will as well? Some of these drudes and prudes have been held for decades!"

 

Higgenbotham jumped on the small extraterrestrial like a dog spotting a bone, "Look, your greatness, or whatever... Area 51 & 1/2 is a very plush resort. The captives... um, the occupants have everything they need or want. Why, there's even a Burger King there! So they are VERY comfortable!"

 

Vice President Parole quickly whispered into Gerg's ear explaining what a Burger King was.

 

"I don't think you all can appreciate what it's like to be held against your will for so long on a foreign planet. I do!" Gerg explained. "I was in the Apathonian Guard at a young age for most drudes. We were defending a friendly planet called Van Gogh, against an evil empire from the planet of Di Vinci. Our outfit was captured. The lucky ones were let go if they chose their right ear to be severed. The rest of us were taken back to Di Vinci, where we were made into foot servants by their Queen, Moaning Lisa. For five long years we busted our bones to make her happy, but all she ever did was moan, and moan, and moan. I tell you the truth, gentlemen, I will never be the same..."

 

Even stone-hearted Higgenbotham had a hard time keeping a dry eye. The room became loud with sudden silence. Ira, wiping his glasses, then spoke up... "Gerg, I uh can't say I uh ever been in your situation. But look at all the trouble your people have caused. The June bug thing, kidnapping our people, and scaring everyone into thinking all this was part of an apocalypse..."

 

Stippens had just barely made his point as a White House staffer barged into the room and demanded to speak with me outside the door. I excused myself as Ira lit a foul smelling bargain cigarette. General Higgenbotham fidgeted with his double chin. Then Gerg tried to ease all the tension, and began sharing some cheesy Apathonian jokes. I quietly crept back into the room with an aura of deep concern.

 

"What is it, Clyde?" Gerg Asked.

 

I sighed and sat down. "Gerg, Your Greatest of Greats, I don't know how to tell you all this, but... someone has hijacked your craft and put a Ryder Truck full of ammonium nitrate on board. It's heading straight for Apathonia on automatic pilot!"

 

General Higgenbotham had escorted Ira down to the basement to be interrogated, in view of the fact he made a crack earlier, coincidentally suggesting the same thing be done for all the trouble the planet's people caused. "It was just a joke; I didn't do it!" Ira maintained.

 

He got right up in Ira's face..."Well, who did, Stippens?!"

 

"I think YOU did, Mr. Hickingbottom!" Ira shot back.

 

"It's Higgenbotham, and it doesn't matter if I did or I didn't. I told you I was gonna get even with you for breaking my nose! I was the only one in the family that had a decent one, and now thanks to you, I HAVE MY MOTHER'S NOSE!!!" The General yelled.

 

Later I was in the oval office trying to console an extremely worried Gerg. "I don't have anything to offer but my regret, Gerg. I don't know what got into Ira, I thought I knew him."

 

"I knew he was bad news from the word go!" General Higgenbotham offered once entering the room from downstairs. "This is most regrettable..."

 

"I hate to break up this pity-party," Gerg snapped, "but does anyone here realize if we don't get on the ball, 1.5 billion drudes and prudes will die tomorrow?!"

 

"I'm sorry, Gerg, but we don't have any type of ballistic missile capable of traveling fast enough to shoot it down." I apologized.

 

"You mean to tell me that in a world such as yours, with all the weaponry to destroy the world 10 times over, you don't have anything technological built to travel past the speed of light?!"

 

"Well, if your people are so doggone smart," the General offered, "maybe they'll see it coming and run like hell!!"

 

"Ok, knock it off, General!" I commanded as a staffer alerted me to a visitor in the main lobby.

 

Rounding the long hallway, I caught a quick glimpse of a gentleman in a red workman's jump suit. I somehow knew I'd seen him from somewhere. "Yes, what can I do for you?"

 

"Yes, Mr. Hipwing, I'm with the Carter Crane Company. A General Higgenbotham solicited our services this afternoon and I just came by to give him his receipt..." the rather jovial man said.

 

"What's this regarding?"

 

The overly friendly fellow snickered, "He rented an old broken down Ryder truck, and paid us to have it lifted aboard that some-sort-of-strange top secret government vehicle. He said he was retiring to Montana... Oh, by the way, if you see a Mr. Ira Stippens anytime soon, tell him Mike said hello!"

 

"Yeah, I'll do that," I acknowledged, realizing I'd been had by the General. I smiled real big while reaching deep in my pocket. "By the way, do I know you from somewhere?"

 

"Nope, not from around here anyway. Thanks for the tip!"

-----------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 15)

The Genodrahn Sun had long set below the western hemisphere of the Apathonian planet and the Flaming Moon hovered over the Southeast. The human captives in the encampment just outside of the city of Tararaboomdia, were becoming more discontent by the day. Two thirds of the hostages had already been Picassovited thanks to Mediocre of Medocres, Zonka Punksquirt, who filled in while Greatest Of Greats, Gerg Ydarb, was off to planet Earth trying to make peace.

 

Punksquirt was an 'old guard' member of the Apathonian establishment, and a member of an ultra-secretive group called the Dongwazzle Dozen, a group ready and waiting for the right time to begin a bloody coup-de-tat, and implement an even more intrusive control by state of the people. He despised what little recent reforms that were implemented prior to the reign of Queen Irol, and he and his cohorts were hoping to accomplish the overthrow during Gerg Ydarb's absence, but their plans would be foiled for now.

 

The human 'collateral' imprisoned in the camp were in the midst of switching sleep shifts, when one of them noticed a bright jet-stream-like trail in the night sky. The Apathonian Guard quickly pinpointed the flying object at approximately 25,000 miles in space above the planet. They readied their intercontinental ballistic warheads in case it was a hostile attack. At the same time the prisoners became worrisome as they could plainly see that it was heading in their proximity overhead.

 

Just as it entered around the orbital space of the flaming moon, they all sighed in relief as they witnessed it changing course because of its gravitational pull. They sat in awe, watching the greatest fireworks display they had ever seen, as it crashed into the flaming moon. A ring of fire and molten rock encircled instantly around Apathonia, similar to the giant rings of Saturn. During the five or so second explosion, nobody detected a sound, until the ground beneath their feet began to totter and shake, and the encampment walls came tumbling down, freeing not only the humans, but the Picassovites as well. They began gathering force by capturing the remaining humans and running them through the Picasso Factory.

 

The Greatest of Greats' younger brother, Ekim Ydarb, hurriedly decided to board his private vessel and head for Washington DC, to warn his brother not to return because of the ensuing chaos. He made it out of Apathonia right before all hell really broke loose. Zonka Punksquirt had just come from out of the shower, when 15 Picassovites busted inside of his private quarters. "Please, don't kill me!!!" he shrieked with a skimpy towel wrapped around him.

 

"What should we do with him?" The Pacassovite King, Ravi Ohlee, taunted as they laid him before his deformed legs.

 

"Why don't we run him through the Picasso Factory, not once, not twice, but three times!" Brother Name-It-Claim-It suggested.

 

"That's a wonderful idea, Brother Name-It!"

 

They dragged the Mediocre Of Mediocres by his long nose, all the while he was making an unavailing effort by kicking and biting, and tied him down on the conveyor belt. King Ravi Ohlee pulled the lever and Zonka twisted and turned in agony once inside, then came out the other end severely distorted. Ravi shoved him back in, and this time, he came out ever more disfigured and grotesque. When he was shoved in for the third time, the heat funnels on the top spewed a gaseous black smog...and the walls collapsed in flames. Zonka stood upright on his earlobe with fire coming out of his eyes and hair, lion-like fangs protruding from his buttocks, a muscular clinched elbow above his now 11 foot, 4-inch frame, and cried, "NOW WHO'S BAD?!!"  The others quickly prostrated themselves before him in homage, then turned around and leaped on their former King, Ravi Ohlee, and gave him a slow death by tearing off his limbs.

 

Because of the fiery circle that now surrounded the once cold planet, the heat index fluctuated up and down at a higher rate. The mean temperature had increased by 15 degrees. This caused a phenomenon its inhabitancy was not used to... rain.  High cumulative clouds gathered over the township of Tralalaboomdia causing extreme panic. The unique sound of thunder terrified the people, and most especially the Picassovites, who called it "loud gods."  They attempted appeasing them as Brother Name-It lead the Picassovites in primitive worship dancing. They cried out in tongues they'd never used before, while Name-It prostrated himself for a full 15 minutes until lightning bit his lower extremity, causing him to dance even wilder and holler. The others tried to imitate him while praying that gods would bless them with spiritual fire also. The good King Zonka pulled aside Brother Name-It after the festivities were over and knighted him Sir Sparking Butt, while the others paid tribute by waiting in line to kiss his charred rump, and receive their sanctification.

-------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 16)

The Greatest of Greats' anguish was now twofold. He not only was severely troubled over the fate of his beloved Apathonia, but his heart was also reaching out for General Higgenbotham who was in a holding cell, ironically built with own hands, down in the White House basement.

 

"You don't need to worry yourself over him, Gerg. He chose his own actions and should suffer the consequences."

 

"I know you're right, Clyde," he agreed, "but I've never been the same since my own captivity 24 years ago... I feel bad enough about the actions of my predecessor, Irol, and all the Americans almost 50 light years from home.... How hopeless they must feel."

 

I reached over and patted him from behind on the shoulder. "And I'm just as concerned about your people. I'll tell you what, let's plan a trip to Area 51 & 1/2 for next week. I promise you Gerg, I'll do everything in my power to see to it that there will be an equal exchange... let's hope for the best that your planet is not destroyed."

 

Suddenly Gerg's ears turned a bright off-green color, and small bright follicle hairs raised from the top of his otherwise bald head. I couldn't help but stare. The Greatest of Greats caught on and laughed with tears, "I know what you're going to ask, Clyde. It's the Apathonian version of having a lump in your throat... I really wish you'd consider pardoning the General. You know, you have the authority to do so, Clyde."

 

I was struck by the alien's humanity. "You've got a great big heart, Gerg. Come on, let's go talk to the General."

 

Once downstairs we noticed someone had shut down the lights. I blindly reached for the switch then we proceeded down the long narrow corridor, until we located the iron cubicle. "OK Higgenbotham, it's your lucky day! Good Godfrey!!!" I gasped, as I discovered the General lying flat on his back with a potted begonia plant stuffed down his throat. Gerg discovered the Mark of The Anti-Beast and became overwhelmed with grief. "No, this can't be! This is the same mark that was on Queen Irol's forehead when she was assassinated! This means that Kram didn't do it! I put an innocent man to death!" He sobbed.

 

"Kram Oingomeyer?!" I asked with a slip of my tongue.

 

"How... How did you know that, Clyde?"

 

I had no choice now but to level with him about my former dealings with Queen Irol, which oddly didn't seem to matter to him right then. He was more concerned about the immediate situation.  "Do you realize what this means, Clyde? We're now dealing with an intergalactic serial killer!"

 

That afternoon, the Los Banos, California police department, in cooperation with the FBI, brought in fruit picker and ex-con Elmo Pigglesworth. They had caught his performance along with Ira Stippens in slaying Sir Elvis Holyfield, the Beast, on television a while back. Being that he either directly or indirectly had something to do with The Mark of the Anti-Beast, they wanted to question him concerning General Higgenbotham's death.

 

"So, Elmo, tell us about the Anti-Beast." Sergeant Wilco requested calmly.

 

"Whadya wanna know?"

 

"Well uh, Mr Pigglesworth, we saw your little tiddlywinks match-up awhile back..." Wilco smiled, "Uh tell us about that there mark that was discovered on all ten foreheads of that there beast, after he was um, deflated, so to speak..."

 

"A little yellow circle with a smiley face, and the words 'have a nice day' written inside...." Elmo grinned with pride.

 

"Yep, that's the one. Now let's put the two together. Elvis is dead, and you put the mark on his forehead."

 

Elmo's demeanor changed immediately. "I play tiddlywinks, that don't make me no murderer!"

 

"You wanna tell me how that there mark was put on the General's forehead too, before HE was 'put out?!'"

 

"You forgot to include Irol, the Queen of the Apathonians..." Elmo smirked.

 

An unprepared Sergeant Wilco flipped through his scattered papers. "Uh, yeah, what about this Irol, Queen of...."

 

"Apathonia."

 

"Yes, that's right, what about her?" Wilco asked.

 

Elmo sat up and leaned right into the sergeant's face, with a long piercing crazed look of dare, an air of sheer unyielding fearlessness, and a voice of unadulterated boastful pride, as he whispered sadistically, "She didn't play tiddlywinks worth crap!"

 

"I believe I've had enough of this!!!" Sergeant Wilco yelled.

 

"Good, can I go home now and finish pickin' ma cherries?" He retorted.

 

Pigglesworth was held for only three hours while they searched his home, but found no probable leading evidence, no not even a solitary begonia plant. He was written off as a lonely and eccentric fruit farmer, in need of a bath, shave, and hot meal... which they gave him for the trouble.

------------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 17)

Upon the evening prior to when we were to leave for Area 51 & 1/2, I along with Ira stippens, and Vice President Ross Parole, were treating Gerg to a barrage of American Movies. We were all do doing our best to try and comfort Gerg., as he was on nerve's end, wondering if Apathonia had been blown to bits, or had been spared. He thoroughly enjoyed 'The Brady Bunch,' but totally disdained 'E.T.'

 

"That was the uppermost hideous thing I've ever seen!"

 

"Don't blame me," Stippens remarked in self-defense, "I chose 'The Blob.'"

 

"Why do you Earthlings always either imagine folks from other worlds as cannibalistic, idiotic, blood sucking, necrophiliacs," Gerg asked, "or adorable and affectionate, ignoramuses?! We're just people like you all!"

 

Ira, ever the insightful one, cross examined Gerg, "So what are your B-rated movies like on Apathonia, how do they portray, as you say, folks from other worlds like us?"

 

"Hmmmm," Gerg paused for a moment, "Good point, so sue me!... Anyone for a game of poker?"

 

"Come in..." I acknowledged a hasty knock on the door.

 

"Mr. President," the staffer said in a begging for pardon tone, "an Apathonian craft has landed on the South Lawn. We're holding someone who claims to be the Greatest of Greats' brother. What do you advise, sir?!"

 

"Ekim!" Gerg rejoiced. "Maybe Apathonia has been spared!"

 

Gerg was rapturously relieved that his home planet was still intact, but in the light of all the chaos going on, he wasn't sure when it would or ever would be safe to return. I advised him he could stay in the Lincoln Bedroom for however long it took, but he chose instead, the Watergate Hotel. "It's a hell of a lot cheaper, thanks anyway, Clyde."

 

The morning afterward, we landed on the obscure runway at Area 51 & 1/2 in the middle of the Nevada desert, at 5am. A variety of military armored vehicles surrounded the plane. They were expecting us, but it was standard conduct, nonetheless. A number of troops, whose identities could not be revealed because of some sort of mask covering their eyes, nose, and mouths, matter-of-factly approached; and a commanding officer gave us all blindfolds then explained we would not be able to enter in without them. I asked them if they knew who they were dealing with. "Just procedure, Mr. President." I was respectfully informed.

 

Ira, Gerg, and myself were guided over to some sort of trolley car and secured with abnormally tight seat belts. We were told that the blindfolds would be temporal, but the long ride inside took at least a half an hour. "Gentlemen you may take off your blinders and exit your seats," the driver spoke.

 

At first view, the ceiling made me think we were in some sort of cave supported with hefty crossbeams. The adobe-like walls were lined from end to end with glass windows and chicken wire like protective steel. "If you gentlemen will come over here," the driver waved, "I will start introducing you all to the occupants. Let's start here with Zolo, he's from the Saturn moon called Titan. Breathes pure methane, so we have ventilated his cell with the fumes of Area 51 & 1/2's sewage system. He is very valuable to us in developing a means for future astronauts to visit the likes of his planet. .... Mr. President you can talk to him, but you must press this button here in order for him to hear you..."

 

What a strange looking being Zolo was. His scaly looking skin layer was very reptilian looking in nature, complete with some sort of gills on the sides of his face. "Hello, Zolo. I'm glad to meet you!"

 

Zolo's eye color changed to a bright red and his tight lipped aperture seemed to form a friendly smile. "Snoitaludargnoc ev'uoy derugif siht tuo!"

 

"What did he say?" I asked.

 

"Oh, I'm sorry... Zolo is very proud of his Titatian-American roots, however he refuses to speak English ever since they tried to make it the national language. He merely said he'd make you a pair of gloves before you go. It's his hobby, and he's very fast!"

 

We were then led two windows down to a compartment that appeared more like a jail cell. A bizarre looking lone figure the size of an older child, lay in the corner with typing paper strewn all about him on the floor. "This is one of our most troublesome residents. He comes from a planet near the center of the Milky way called Zucchini. He was the 'Pharphignuut', or President of a small Southern region. He was impeached while in office on account of being involved in a fraudulent loan scam. But he fled his planet and went to Washington DC, a place he had often read about in various sci-fi periodicals as a boy, where he met then-President Plimpton who promised him asylum if he would offer his home on Zucchinni to Mr. Plimpton when HE got out of office. The deal was later squashed of course..."

 

What's all the typing paper on the floor about?" I puzzledly inquired.

 

"Oh, he's writing his memoirs. He plans to publish them as a book he's appropriately entitled, 'Pharphignuuted!'

 

"Oh."

 

"Now over here is our most privileged occupant," the 'tour guide' motioned. "This is Derf Enotsnilf... from the planet Apathonia..."

 

"Of course," Gerg recognized, "I served in the Apathonian Guard with you Derf! I'm Gerg Ydarb, remember?"

 

"Gosh, it's been so long... Almost 50 years now. My memory isn't quite what it used to be." Derf admitted.

 

"In case you all haven't heard about it," the gentleman began to explain, "Derf crashed just outside of Roswell in 1947. His comrades were all killed in the accident. Derf is most valuable to us, he built the..."

 

"Valuable to YOU?" Gerg protested.

 

The guide was taken aback slightly then continued. "Yes he's invented many important technological breakthrough weapons and radar systems, not to mention satellites that helped us win the cold war. He's given a very healthy income for his efforts!"

 

"And just what kind of a life does he have here?!" Gerg angerly challenged.

 

"Well Derf is one of the few that are free to roam all over the base. He likes to go to Burger King a lot!" He smiled.

 

Gerg was close to the boiling point. "What kind of a life is that? Derf, I'm here to take you back to Apathonia with me. I'll make sure you have a good income and a job in which your expertise is fully utilized..."

 

"With all respect, Your Greatest Of Greats," Derf bowed, "I'm an old drude now, nearly 90 years of age. There's nothing for me anymore on Apathonia. These people have been quite good to me and I want to stay, Sir."

 

Gerg paused very seriously then proposed, "Derf, we will give you everything you want. What is the real reason you don't want to go back? I sense you're holding something from me..."

 

"Well, Your Greatest Of Greats, you all don't have the 99 cent Double Whopper With Cheese special, back home on Apathonia!"

------------------------------------------------

 

(Episode 18)

While Gerg stayed behind to try and talk sense into his old comrade Derf, Ira and myself were then lead down a dark corridor, passing steel enforced glass window after window, occasionally sneaking a peek at many peculiar and sometimes misshapen faces of various living things from throughout the cosmos. Our guide lead us down to the very last door, but strangely there was no window as all the other compartments. "Only YOU can come inside this room, Mr. President. This one is top secret and your friend must stay here."

 

I couldn't imagine what the big deal was, we'd already seen stranger beings in one day than any one person would in their entire life. Nevertheless, Ira stayed behind with a strange aura of suspense, and eyes seemed to peek out of the corner while I pulled on the handle of the heavy door, and stepped inside.

 

DR: Hey Clyde, how did we do this week?!

 

ME: Doc?!?! How did I suddenly get here in your office?!

 

DR: I just thought I'd help you end your double trilogy, Clyde.

 

ME: Uh...hmmm, what double trilogy, Doc? You never seemed to believe me when I told you about all the weird goings on.

 

DR: Clyde, I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but you're going away for a while. So I got you a nice going away present.

 

ME: Going away?!

 

DR: It's a nice beautiful freshly potted begonia plant, whadya think, Clyde?!

 

ME: Begonia?! You... You mean, it was you. Why Doc?!

 

DR: Well Clyde, ever since you quit coming around because your insurance company refused to pay until you reached your deductible, I simply had a lot of time to kill! Literally speaking of course...

 

ME: You knew all along what was going on. I wasn't crazy!

 

DR: Oh no, Clyde, that's what so ironic about all this. YOU weren't the one who was crazy!

 

ME: I... I don't understand...

 

DR: Mary, would you please ask Mr. Pigglesworth to come in now?

 

SECRETARY: Sure thing DR Radford.

 

ME: Elmo is in on this too?!

 

DR: You see, Elmo used to be one of my patients too. He used to hear a constant voice in his head, but he never would take his meds... Oh, have a seat Mr. Pigglesworth, I was just starting to fill Clyde in. Maybe you could continue for us...

 

ELMO: Hello Clyde, as Doc was probably telling you, I used to hear this one strange voice in my head. The first thing it would say every morning was, "It's been you all this time, and we both know it, don't I?"

 

ME: That's amazing Elmo, I used to hear the very same thing, what did you finally do?!

 

ELMO: Well, for a while I would just ignore him, but that didn't seem to work. So, I decided to use a little psychology on him and invented other voices in my head to communicate with him. After a while, he forgot about being just a voice, because I had created an entire world for him in which to interact.

 

ME: Cool! But, what do I have to do with all of this?

 

ELMO: He don't get it, Doc...

 

DR: Let me help a little here. Clyde, YOU are that voice!

 

ME: Huh?!

 

ELMO: But that's not the half of it, Clyde.

 

ME: This is a gag, right, guys? No, maybe I'm delusional right now and you all are all part of it!

 

DR: No Clyde, I've already told you, you're sane! You're just not real, that's all...

 

ME: Come on, Doc!

 

DR: I'm sorry, Clyde...

 

ME: Well, if what you're saying is true, put him on his meds!

 

ELMO: No meds!!!

 

DR: Can't make him do it, Clyde, that would be against the Patient's Bill of Rights!

 

ME: Come on, Elmo, please take your meds so I can call your bluff...

 

ELMO: No Clyde, for all of the trouble you gave me for years, it’s now your turn. But I’m basically a nice guy, so I’ll tell you what… Elmo Pigglesworth is an assumed identity I just picked up. I’ll give you a year to go over this long detailed story all over again, with all of its clues about my true personhood; if I come back then and you’ve correctly figured out my true identity, only then will I put you out of your misery and take my meds…

 

DR: Sounds fair to me, Clyde!

 

ELMO: Yeah, have a nice day!

 

In the blink of an eye I was no longer in Doc's office, rather sitting up next to the bark of a tree looking down on a lush valley below, as a train whisked through the forest. It was then I was flooded with a sense of Deja Vu and slowly turned my head, and in a terrific anguish, I sobbed uncontrollably after I read the carved inscription on the large maple tree behind me:

 

YOU'RE PROBABLY HERE, AGAIN

----------------------------------------------------

 

 

(Episode 19)

It's a hot day in July. I just finished reading aloud my double trilogy to my two best buddies "Matilda, Maggie, what did you think of it? Let's start with you, Maggie."

 

"Well, good sir, I know you worked bloody hard and suffered much, but I'm afraid it's a bit way out. Nobody's gonna believe any of it!"

 

"What would you know?" Matilda buts in, "I'm very proud of you, luv!"

 

"So you like it, Matilda, huh?" I excitedly ask.

 

"Don't get me wrong, luv, I am proud, but...."

 

"Bloody little pussy willow," Maggie growls. "You bloomin' felines are so wishy washy, ya know. You're gonna say the same thing, aren't ya?"

 

"Oh, why don't you just dig up an old bone and....."

 

"Ok, knock it off, you two," I interrupt. "Ok, Matilda, what's the surprise you promised me earlier?" I question as the doorbell rings, while she and Maggie trade looks at one another, giggling.

 

"Go ahead, good sir, it's probably for you!"

 

"Maggie, you know how much I hate surprises," I scold while opening the door, "what in the world?" There, standing on the deck are the entire cast of the book (Excluding Elmo & Doc, of course). "Hey guys, come in!"

 

Evidently they had come prepared for a party, as Irol, the Greatest of Greats, brought fresh tea and crumpets, Mrs. McPherson, the little neighbor lady, brought fresh vegetables from her garden, and trailing behind is Mr. Big, the one eyed midget, riding though the ship's cabin door on the back of the Rumpasouraus Rex.

 

"A smashing pad you've got here!" Professor Endicotsley expounds.

 

"Oh, thanks, Giles, been wanting to meet you in person! Did you bring your lovely new bride?" I ask.

 

"Yes, yes, of course, she's bringing in some of the gifts. Bad back, you know."

 

"Gifts?"

 

"Oh yes, sweetie, we've a lovely treat planned for you!" Her Greatness smiles.

 

"What's the occasion?" I ask in puzzlement.

 

"You gotta be kiddin!" Deputy Doodah laughs, "I can't believe you'd ask such a question."

 

Then Barry King strolls up, suspenders and all, and puts his arm around my shoulder. "Mr. Author, it was a pleasure being a part of your book!"

 

"Well, thank you, Barry, I really......"

 

"Say, where's the professor? I've a few questions to ask him!" Barry announces as he excuses himself. Homer, Strange, and Marty the Mysterious Milkman, are busy sampling all the party treats, as the Merry Calypso Singers treat everyone to barbershop quartet music.

 

"Gather round, everyone!" one of the singers announces, "Giles Endicotsley will now do the spoons, as Sheriff Bonehead and Ira Stippens will tap dance for us!"

 

The whole living room is packed as everyone else is either playing cards, watching TV, or reminiscing about the book. Yes, everyone is occupied except for Sheriff Marshall Dumas.

 

"What's wrong, Sheriff?" I ask.

 

"Oh, nothing'.... I guess. Just that I didn't get much of a part in your book, that's all.... Not even in the second trilogy!" He mopes and looks down at the floor.

 

Trying to encourage him, I refer back to the few pages in which he was mentioned. "Well, Sheriff, some of us don't get very many pages in this world, but our lives can trigger events that influence the over-all picture."

 

"Whadya mean?"

 

"Well, if it hadn't had been for you.... Deputy Doodah wouldn't have.... Uh, let's look at the possibility that.... Well, what I'm trying to say is..."

 

"Hey, Doofus! What's up?" Doodah buts in.

 

"Excuse me, everyone!!!" Irol, her Greatness interrupts, trying to get everyone's attention, "Derfbag, Hun! Bring the gift we all chipped in to get Mr. Hipwing. Mr. Author, sweetie... I hope this gift gives you many hours of enjoyment and satisfaction in your continuing career.... Go ahead. Open it!"

 

"Gee, thanks...... Uh, a new word processor? Listen, I have no need for this. I've given up writing, you see..."

 

"What?! You can't do that!" Everyone gasps.

 

".... Thanks anyway, Irol, but I'm getting out of the writing thing." I apologize, handing her back the gift.

 

"Well, I've never been so insulted in my life! Come on, Derf, let's go!"

 

"Just wait a moment, good lady," Professor Endicotsley intervenes, "now, Mr. Author, what if the author of life were to quit writing? Just think of how many people would never know the joys of friendship... the pain of sorrow, or the hope of another day. There's lots of more stories to be created, sir, and they're just waiting for you to create them."

 

"Yes, indeed! We all agree with the Professor!" Edith proclaims.

 

I glance at all the grateful faces in the room, young and old, and become moved by their doting appreciation. We certainly had been through a lot together, me and this kindred I had created. How could I just give it all up? "Ok, Irol. Thanks.... Uh Irol, would you please wrap up the end of this double trilogy for the readers out there?"

 

"Of course, sweetie! We hope you've enjoyed this useless little piece of writing. You've been such nice boys and girls, and we only ask you to suggest this bit of literary mind twisting to anyone with whom you might have a grudge!"

 

Unfortunately, The End

I wouldn’t wait in anticipation very soon of the unforthcoming sequel, “Exodus Gluteus Maximus!” (Yes, everything sounds better in Latin).

 

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