Category Archives: Tales

Tango Down: The Last Flight of St. Nicholas

(This story is inspired by this article in the Boston Globe about changes made to NORAD’s popular “Santa Tracker” program.)

The jolly old elf known to many as “Kris Kringle” and to the United States government as “Threat Vector 19” crossed into American airspace at 0520 Zulu just north of Duluth, Minnesota. A pair of F-22 fighter aircraft silently slid in behind him and maintained station a few hundred meters away. This is new, the Claus thought.

Suddenly invigorated by the presence of high-performance aircraft, he let out a right old laugh as he took the rare chance to perform close-quarter aerobatic maneuvers, thinking the pilots of the fighter craft behind him would relish the opportunity to do the same. It was a fatal error.

Just as the tiny red sleigh completed its barrel roll, the pilot of STARFISH 3 announced to no one in particular, “FOX 1!”

Santa barely evades the AIM-7 Sparrow missile and dives for the ground as the missile’s contrail glistens above him in the moonlight.
Just a few weeks before, the US Government informed Kringle that he had to appear at an FAA facility for inspection of his vehicle and a flight competency test before he would be permitted to fly in US airspace. Always willing to help out the good people at the Federal Aviation Administration, Santa appeared as instructed in his trademark sleigh drawn by eight flying reindeer.

The FAA inspector approached with a clipboard in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Santa was alarmed, but you know, America.
The FAA inspector noticed Santa’s discomfort and smiled as he boarded the magical craft. “Listen, I’m not supposed to tell you this because it’s your test, but,” he nodded his head toward the reindeer,”you’re going to lose an engine in flight.”

It was a joke, but Santa isn’t laughing now as he deftly evades dozens of 20MM rounds zipping all around him. He jukes to and fro in a mad dash for any type of haven from the onslaught, the tracers leaving ghastly after-images in his eyes. The trees whip by in a blur as he increases speed, but Kringle’s mind recalls a fact heretofore never needed: these aircraft are ungainly at low-altitude and low-speed. Santa promptly pulls-back on the reigns, decelerating so rapidly the inertial dampeners can barely compensate. A quick check of his magic sack reveals none of his precious cargo has been lost as the F-22s speed overhead and quickly pass out of sight in a matter of seconds.

The old Saint removes his cap and wipes his brow. He chuckles to himself at the near escape from almost certain doom, but unbeknownst to him a Global Hawk UAV has been monitoring his movements from 60,000 feet overhead and relaying them back to NORAD. Even now, as Kringle speaks comforting words to his frightened reindeer, electronic signals are forming an invisible net around the elf from which there will be no escape.

With a wry smile, Claus snaps the reigns and begins to rise once again into the night just as a pair of Apache helicopters appear above the tree line, their cannon trained directly upon his sleigh. Santa looks over his shoulder to see another pair of Apache approaching from behind. Above, he can barely make out the silhouettes of two armed Predator drones circling overhead.

He briefly considers making another run for it before spying a black cross slowly diving toward him. Kringle’s blood runs cold. It’s an A-10, the same beast that took out Jack Frost years before on Alaska’s North Slope. The gig was up.

The pilot of the Apache directly in front of Claus signals him to land immediately as a long line of black SUVs approach. They encircle the sleigh as Claus descends to the ground. Men in cheap suits empty from the vehicles by the dozen, guns drawn just as Santa touches down.

Kringle holds up his hands, but Comet, sensing danger, bolts and makes a run for the treeline. He staggers and falls as his body is riddled with hundreds of bullets. The muzzle flashes from the massive array of small arms fire form a constellation of death in the dark night. With a gargling moan, Comet breathes his last.

An enraged Prancer charges a group of agents directly in front of him and manages to connect head-on with one of the anonymous men as small arms fire again erupts in the night. Though mere inches away from a withering barrage of gunfire, Prancer is a credit to his name as he spins to and fro, kicking here and there with his massive hooves. Viscera hangs from his antlers and human bones crush beneath his bulk during his mad dance of death. A direct shot to the head finally fells the great beast, whose momentum allows him to crush one more suited figure beneath him before he, too, expires. In all, half a dozen men lay dead or dying in a circle around the reindeer.

An inconsolable Santa tries to make a run for it, but without the extra lifting power of Prancer and Comet, he can’t achieve take-off speed. Agents board his sleigh and forcibly toss him from the still-moving craft. As Kringle lands on the ground, he rolls and comes to a stop. He looks up to find a dozen guns pointed at his head.

The government agents, inexplicably wearing aviator-style sunglasses even in the dead of night, strip Claus of his famous red suit and cap, leaving him shivering in just an undershirt and boxers in the snow. He’s handcuffed by an agitated agent who makes sure to tighten the cuffs real tight, restricting blood flow to Santa’s hands. Numb from the cold and likely in shock, Santa doesn’t notice. He winces as a boot hits him square in the back and plants him face first into the snow. The agent grabs the jolly old elf by his magnificent white mane of hair and drags him to one of the waiting SUVs.

Through his tears, Kringle sees his magical reindeer punched, kicked, and rifle-butted, their moans of agony piercing the silent night. It’s the last thing he sees before a black hood envelops his head.

As the black line of SUVs snakes off into the night, they leave behind a scene of utter horror. All that remains are a few tufts of fur and chunks of meat in massive pools of maroon blood against the purest white snow. By morning, the wolves and other carrion will have removed the remaining evidence of slaughter, leaving only the blood behind as silent witness.

Santa is never seen nor heard from again. Rudolph, it is rumored, is an unwilling test subject of the Department of Energy at a secret facility in Utah.

After drone strikes destroy Santa’s workshop, Mrs. Claus and the surviving elves seek asylum in Norway, only to be rebuffed at the last second. At the moment, they are all living in a dacha as guests of the Russian government. Some say they’ve converted to Orthodox Christianity, though many believe it’s just another of Putin’s amateurish attempts at propaganda.

The sudden disappearance of Santa Claus causes widespread distress, but American corporations soon fill the void with their own mascots, working in concert with other brands to create synergy.
Coca-Cola’s Polar Bear® Brought to You with Limited Interruption by FedEx Air® is currently the most popular of the bunch, though Nike’s Lebron James in the Just Do It™ Sled Sponsored by Foot Locker is gaining influence out West.

The Waffle House’s “American Jesus” remains a mainstay of the South, even though he was a short-lived promotional tool to celebrate Labor Day.

Tim Horton is popular in Portland.

I’ll now end this tale and leave you with the inspiring words of the Macy’s Holiday Savings Elf®, beloved by children aged 4-8 in desirable demographic households with at least one college-educated parent: Festive Celebration to All and to All a Good Night™ (All Rights Reserved)!

The Shape of Things to Come

The Shape of Things to Come
The Shape of Things to Come

Contrary to the speculative fears of earlier generations, the conflict between Man and Machine did not arise due to exploitation, slavery, or superior mechanical intellect, but due to the robotic penchant for absconding with half-naked women.
Where and how this peculiar behavior arose is a matter of some debate, but many believe it originated with the programming for the Thresher Minion™, an early personal assistant from robotic pioneer, HotStepr. This particular variant of HotStepr’s popular TOBOR line of mechanical automata allowed someone to use the Thresher Minion to quickly swipe a personal belonging of a friend and bring it back to the minion’s owner, as part of HotStepr’s much-lauded social media strategy.
In the following decades, urban legends of robotic petty thievery abounded, but these stories were almost always dismissed as the fevered delusions of a gullible populace given to anthropomorphizing machines. The skeptics maintained their arguments even after a large tetrahedron built from thousands of commemorative Rudy & Santee coffee cups was discovered in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
The remote spot in the Atacama had become a place of pilgrimage for oddball techno-nerd outcasts wishing to shed their inhibitions and escape societal norms for a few days, though some of the early pilgrims believed that it had become too corporate, while others declared the whole thing “over” after the appearance of professional counter-culturalists who tended to show up and ruin anything that looked like a chance to score weed and see naked women, but that’s not important right now.
The tetrahedron, according to experts, was merely a marketing stunt of the Nipsey Cola Corporation, or the work of overzealous fans of the cult comedy classic, Rudy & Santee Tango Force Ghoster Begin. It was most certainly not the work of the Mark VII “Happy Friday” Deep Sea Cable Repair & Cappuccino Dispensing robot, as many suspected.
Repeated claims of robotic thievery were dismissed out of hand until Vairo star and Tri-World Interior Minister, Branch Donito, was accused in the disappearance of her synthkid. As the most popular Vairo of her day, Donito’s several dozen organic imagers transmitted a continuous stream of virt-world holodata to audiences throughout the inner solar system, who followed and commented on everything they experienced in the data stream.
It was an enterprising vaironati who examined Donito’s dorsal imaging stream and discovered the fuzzy, but unmistakeable silhouette of an Ares Labs’ Shin Hai To binary load lifter carrying the struggling synthkid from the Utopia Planetia Arcology to the planet’s surface. He uploaded the video evidence to the SolarWeb, providing incontrovertible proof of robotic mischief, as well as relieving Branch Donito of a Class 12 misdemeanor and a $35 fine.
Still, the Solar Authority refused to take direct action until Max Jiggins, a stenobot from Xien Collective, alighted with the Authoritor’s third-favorite mistress. Within minutes, intra-stellar war was declared on all mechanical automata; however, no units were activated, no forces marshaled, nor any pulse rifles fired, as robots had absconded with the authorization orders, several key command computers, and a set of keys from a 1986 M-Class BMW.
The Authoritor herself was eventually stolen and replaced with a ceramic kitten, though it was several years before anyone noticed the change. As it had overseen the largest economic expansion in human history, it was decided not to ruin a good thing and the ceramic kitten was eventually named Authoritor in Perpetuity.
It was assassinated 243 years later.
As the centuries passed, widespread genetic manipulation had stretched the very definition of “human” to its limit, but the advent of the Intelogicals changed the game forever. They were beings who defied categorization. Each of their cells was a computer, using the very DNA itself as a CPU. The impossible dream of humanity was finally realized: Man was Machine and Machine was Man. Sexual congress with a robot wasn’t even necessary, though that never prevented legions of humans from trying anyway.
The Intelogicals quickly eclipsed humanity and became the dominant intelligence throughout the solar system, exploiting every world from the moons of Saturn to the icy sentinels in the permanent dark of the Oort Cloud.
They were also obsessed with locating and breeding pure humans: those with unmodified DNA, representing the archaic humans who existed before genetic modification became the norm. All humans certified as “TruHu” were placed within biological preserves, populated with flora, fauna, and technology from long-extinct environments. The most famous of these was Holocene Park, where Intelogicals of all types took automated tours to observe archaic humans in their natural habitat.
The park operated without incident until a recently excavated “Humpty Runner” from one of the old mining complexes on Europa was installed as part of a new “Rise of the Machines” exhibit. Upon activation, it immediately abducted the first human female it saw and escaped the preserve. Mandroid enforcers pursued the wayward robot on period-appropriate motorcycles, with only primitive weapons at their disposal to disable the robot without harming the priceless human captive.
They were unsuccessful.
Millennia later, a node from the Tantillium Mindform discovered an unremarkable star with a most remarkable feature: a giant tetrahedron comprised of both organic and machined material over three light years in size enclosing the entire star system. It soon became a place of pilgrimage, drawing intelligences from all over the galaxy to observe its perfect angles and proportions.
Many concluded that it was almost certainly the work of mechanistic beings with a geometric fetish, but it was usually attributed to a marketing stunt by a defunct tourism board or the work of overzealous math nerds. After all, many perfectly good dodecahedrons existed throughout the galaxy, though none even remotely approached the scale and grandeur of the Tetrahedron.
Curiously, many of the pilgrims who went to the Tetrahedron often reported several personal items missing upon their return from the structure. To date, there has been no official explanation for the unusual phenomenon.

Sic Transit Terra

With a Creamy Magma Center
This is How the World Ends

Sometime after the Brussarian Consolidation, humanity entered a new Golden Age of peace, prosperity, and unparalleled space exploration thanks to the Carota Expansion Diaphony: a myriad of applications derived from the invention of Carota, mankind’s first artificial element. Carota provided near limitless energy, confining poverty to the barbaric past and making resource shortages a myth of distant memory. Spaceships traveled far beyond the stars to the outmost reaches of the Universe.
One of these ships crashed onto a desolate planet in a distant galaxy, killing the crew and destroying most of the ship, yet the Corota Drive survived intact.
The Cuniculans, a species numbering in the trillions yet bereft of planet and home for countless eons, discovered the ship by chance during one of their numerous foraging missions to feed their rapidly expanding population.
In the Carota drive they discovered the most nourishing and delicious foodstuff they had ever encountered, yet it was only a morsel; a mere preview of untold delight. Having tasted ambrosia, the Cuniculans yearned for more Carota to satisfy their constant hunger.
It took hundreds of years, but they eventually found a human colony world rich with Carota and they devoured it with relish. One by one, the lights of Earth’s colonies went out, bewildering the mother planet.
Ships sent to investigate and re-establish contact never returned. It was not long before a Cuniculan scout finally found Earth itself. Driven to madness by the overwhelming abundance of Carota, he gorged himself on the planet’s Moon before the terrified and bewildered crew of the El Mare Fahd, a seeker ship just returned from a lengthy expedition to the Walküre Expanse.
They never saw the Cuniculan horde approaching from behind. Perhaps it was better that way.
Sic Transit Terra.

How "The Final Countdown" Should've Went

So we’re watching The Final Countdown, and while I thought this movie was cool as a kid because it had airplanes, ships, and time travel, the ending of the movie is really quite lame, because it negates the previous 1.5 hrs of story. It leaves you wondering what the point of all of it was, if they were just going to reset everything exactly back to where it was at the beginning of the movie.
Here’s the way the movie should have ended: The Nimitz’s air wing successfully executes its mission to prevent the attack on Pearl Harbor and sinks the Japanese carrier fleet, effectively neutering Japan’s ambitions in the Pacific. The Nimitz travels through the time vortex and emerges into a world radically transformed from the one they left…
Since the Japanese never bombed Pearl Harbor and their carrier fleet was mysteriously wiped out, the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere collapsed, leaving them a significant power in the Pacific Rim, but not strong enough to force the US to capitulate its interests in the region. Their failure to bomb Pearl Harbor left Roosevelt with no real excuse to enter the War that the American people would accept and support.
Instead, he could only ratchet-up the lend-lease program to Britain and Russia, lending further credence to isolationist and Nazi sympathizer propaganda accusing Roosevelt (who had begun building up the Armed Forces in 1940) of spoiling for a war and actively trying to provoke the Germans into attacking American shipping, thus giving him an excuse to get the US embroiled in yet another European mistake.
Buoyed by German failures in the Soviet Union, the Republican opposition, led by Charles Lindbergh and his America First Committee, intensifies its opposition to Roosevelt’s policies, claiming that Germany obviously isn’t the threat its been made out to be, as Great Britain and the Soviet Union have effectively stymied German expansionism and will undoubtedly turn the tide. American opinion is solidly in the isolationist corner. America stays out of the war, but continues its lend-lease program.
In 1944, facing the collapse of its Eastern occupied territories due to Soviet advance, the Germans launch their V-1 and V-2 rockets at cities taken by the Soviets. Since neither Italy nor the West were invaded by the Allies (North Africa was still taken by the Brits, but they were repelled in Sicily and are presently consolidating and marshaling forces from around their Empire for a second invasion of Sicily), Germany has the full resources of France and support from Italy to form a defensive line in Poland to stop the Soviet advance cold. They succeed at holding the line long enough for German scientists to procure fissile materials and develop the atomic bomb, which is promptly used in the Ukraine as a practical test of the technology.
The Germans then deliver atomic bombs simultaneously to Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, and London. The Germans threaten more such atomic attacks against the British and Soviets if they do not capitulate. Britain, suffering the total loss of its government and capital in one fell swoop, signs an armistice with Germany.
Stalin, already well-known for his bloodthirsty policies against his own people and unwillingness to surrender, has no such intentions. In response to Soviet intransigence, Germany begins indiscriminate atomic bombing of the Soviet Union as quickly as it can make bombs (it actually had a very low stockpile of atomic weapons due to shortages of available fissile material and what many people thought were actual atomic bombings were really just firebombings).
Stalin is finally killed in one of the atomic bombings near Tblisi, but despite desperate messages from the remaining Soviet leadership signalling a willingness to talk, Germany uses two more atomic weapons anyway before agreeing to meet with them.
Hitler demands unconditional surrender or he and his new Chinese allies will split the country amongst themselves (the China mention is merely a ploy, though Germany has had talks with the Chinese government, nothing has been formalized). The Soviets say they need some time to discuss it. Hitler tell them to take all the time they need. 30 minutes later, Sevastopol is obliterated in atomic fire.
The Soviet envoys rush back to Hitler, eager to agree to his terms. While there, Hitler receives a message that Murmansk has been annihilated as well. He then tells the envoys that if they do not immediately agree to unconditional surrender, Germany will execute its plan to completely obliterate the Soviet people from the face of the earth. They agree and the Soviet Union is no more. Germany is able to execute its original goals for the Slavs in the East and in 1946, it finally launches its amphibious invasion of Britain and succeeds in eliminating its final enemy.
Nazi Germany, triumphant, finally turns its eye to the US, which is woefully unprepared to check German aggression and is economically weak (it never inaugurated the military-industrial complex and while no longer in a Depression, the nation is in a protracted recession). Germany consolidates its holdings, successfully completes its Final Solution, and with Hitler dead in ’47, enters into a temporary inward-looking phase as a power-struggle ensues and Goering emerges as the new Fuhrer.
Goering holds a summit with President Lindbergh, agreeing to end German aggression as long as America agrees to limit the expansion of its military and vows never to develop atomic weapons. American companies, eager to do business with the German regime, also accompany Lindbergh to the summit and agree to become suppliers to German companies. Many American companies also receive licenses to operate plants in annexed regions.
The promise of slave labor motivates many corporations to build factories and warehouses in Europe, further weakening manufacturing and employment in the United States, which never experiences a post-war boom (baby or economic), nor a transformation from a mostly rural, farm-based population to a largely urban population.
Goering is assassinated in ’54 and replaced with a hard-line government looking to continue the True Fuhrer’s goal of German domination. Working with American companies in Europe, who are more interested in increasing shareholder value than quaint notions of patriotism or loyalty, Germany expands its Atlantic Fleet of ballistic missile submarines and battleships, as well as its fleet of Zeppelins and modest carrier force.
With a secret agreement with Mexico to start armed border intrusions in April of ’56 to distract the Americans, Germany launches its armada at the eastern seaboard of the US in May of that year, quickly establishing a beachhead in the Northeast. Canada, which was liberated from the Dominion when the British fell, agrees to stay out of the war and does nothing to hinder the Germans nor help the Americans. It doesn’t hurt that they are promised control of the Great Lakes by the Germans, either.
With the largest amphibious operation in history underway, the Germans quickly capture the Northeast, including NYC and Boston. The residents try their best to resist, but alas, since the US never became the largest manufacturer and exporter of weaponry, from small-arms to tanks, these brave patriots are completely outclassed by advanced German machinery, most of it built by Ford in its various slave-labor plants in France and the Ukraine.
The Germans, augmented by various contractors hired by American corporations heavily involved in Europe, eventually battle the Americans to a standstill along the Mississippi. The M-Line, as it will come to be called, holds steady as the combined forces of Western Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans (though initially sympathetic to the Germans, the Mexicans are easily convinced by the Americans that they will be nothing more than slave labor should the Germans succeed in eliminating the US) resist further German advance, while at the same time homegrown “terrorists” attack and harass the Germans in their occupied territories.
The Free Territory of the US seizes the North American assets of US corporate collaborators and starts a nascent militarization program using their factories and supply chains. The Chinese, seeing an opportunity for northward expansion into Siberia, launch their own invasion, spooking the Germans into stopping their advance and shuffling forces around to deal with the Chinese threat.
This is the world the Nimitz finds itself in, not back to 1980 where it began its strange voyage, but the winter of 1957. The crew of the Nimitz knows nothing of the events just described, but they quickly discover that Nazi Germany not only won WWII, but has cleaved the US in two and is the only country with nuclear weapons. They also realize that they are the most advanced warship in the world with the most advanced aircraft and technology, as well as the only other power with nuclear weapons. And they are their country’s last, best hope for victory. Roll credits, greenlight the sequel.

The Ballad of Roger Kowalski

(I wrote this in 2007 and I’m reposting it here)
I’m no stranger to sadness. I was given up for dead in the dank, putrid swamps of the Okefenokee and fended for myself until a kindly Indian chief took me to his lean-to and lashed me to a tree. The tree was about three feet from the water’s edge, and when I asked why he tied me there, he told me that I was bait for Roger Kowalski, the craftiest gator in the Florida swampland.
You see, the Chief had a grudge against this gator since it ravaged his village many moons ago. His people were attempting to build a nice, respectable casino out in the swamps to attract tourists. They had hoped it would one day be a major alternative to Orlando, but the lack of roads or navigable waterways stymied progress, leaving a tribe of forlorn Indians standing behind makeshift blackjack tables, as well as gift shops full of authentic Indian blankets saturated with authentic smallpox infections.
It was around this time that Roger Kowalski showed up. You see, Roger always had a snout for business and he knew a golden opportunity when he saw one. One day, he scooted up to a riverbank and ate a small child to get everyone’s attention. As the people raced to the riverbank, the Chief implored them to stay at their gaming tables, as a carload of wayward tourists from Poughkeepsie was bound to show up at any moment. Besides, he said, that gator ain’t never been anyone’s friend and you really shouldn’t trust anything that evolved over 200 million years ago. Nothing good ever came out of the Triassic, not the least of which was Roger Kowalski.
But the people would not listen to their Chief. They remembered the good old days, when they sat around complaining about how snobby the Seminole were and how they were too good for the swamp. Every now and then, a Seminole would come by in his flashy blue jeans and fancy ’74 El Camino to rub their faces in his tribe’s good fortune. They had a football team named after them, after all, and what higher plateau of success could anyone ever hope to achieve?
Roger Kowalski knew all about their resentment and used it to his advantage. He told the people that the reason their casino had failed was due to a lack of advertising. After all, how can anyone come out here if they don’t know you exist? Roger told the people that they needed to build a sign tall enough to be seen from the highway, which meant a huge tower needed to be erected right on this very spot.
The Chief warned the people not listen to the gator’s smooth words and pleasant promises, for his way led to ruin. After all, he reminded them, it was the gators who served as scouts and guides for the German army that conquered their ancestors and sold their powdered organs as aphrodisiacs on the Asian market. But the people would not listen. Seduced by dreams of neon and steel, they erected a huge tower and placed upon it a massive sign reading, “Indian Gaming!” A large arrow pointed downwards, just in case there was any doubt as to where the Indian gaming may be found.
The tourists did come and they did game. They brought with them their children and pets, their greedy land developers, their corporate sponsors, and their nudists. Roger Kowalski negotiated several important deals, including the development of hotels, restaurants, and a theme park. The Indians, though, increasingly felt left out of this newfound wealth. No one bought their blankets or misshapen pottery, nor was anyone dumping buckets of cash at their gaming tables.
Nope, everyone was flocking to the recently opened themed casino: Stalag Nights. With its cinder block walls and romantic guard towers, the casino attracted and delighted crowds with its hourly “Escape from Stalag Nights Extravaganza!” show, featuring an authentic simulated escape ending in a blazing gun battle, as the escapees crossed the wire and were blown to smithereens by the minefield before being finished off by rabid german shepherds. After the show, the entrants were treated to a unique experience seen nowhere else in the world: a spooky train ride inside cattle cars to the “depot” where they were “deloused” with pure, Columbian-grade cocaine and marched off to the gaming tables.
The Indians, though, were not happy. While everyone else seemed to be having a good time, they were still sitting in the swamp and whining about the Seminoles. They complained to the Chief, but he would have none of it. He told them that they would not listen to him before, so he would not speak to them now. The Indians then went to see Roger Kowalski, who thrice daily entertained crowds with tricks and amazing feats of feasting. As he sat in his multi-million dollar tank fashioned to look exactly like the swamp surrounding it, the people complained that they were not seeing any of the good fortune that the tourists had brought. Roger promised them that they had come at just the right time for an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime offer.
Since their casino wasn’t doing very well, he told them that he’d take pity on them, seeing as how they were old friends and all, and he’d buy it from them for a full 35% stake in Stalag Nights. This seemed like a good deal to the people, so they took it. There was only one condition: they had to agree to work in the casino for 30 days before they received their stake. That was a fair deal, considering Florida’s obscure labor laws, so the people agreed to Roger’s terms and readied themselves for the first full day of employment most of them had ever seen.
When they arrived, the casino handlers instructed them to remove their clothing and wear official Stalag Nights uniforms. Afterwards, they were told to wait in a holding area for their assignments, which would be forthcoming. After waiting for an hour, the people became unsettled, but one of the casino bosses finally appeared and directed them to face the door behind them. Once it opened, there were told to run out and enthusiastically greet the guests.
Afterwards, the german shepherds reported the Indians to be “tasty” and 9 out of 10 would recommend the dish to their friends and colleauges. Of course, they didn’t have much time to sit and quietly digest their meal, as the hourly explosions from the minefield over the past several months had unsettled the swampy foundations of the freakishly huge advertising tower until it finally relented in its contest against gravity. It groaned and squealed as stresses ran up and down its spindly frame before beginning its inexorable fall to the ground. The tourists’ screams were quickly silenced from tons of falling debris that choked the very breath out of them, while others barely escaped the catastrophe, only to find themselves forever lost in the endless wastes of the Everglades.
Roger Kowalski collected the insurance claims from the destroyed properties and sold the remains for scrap, leaving nothing of the casino megaplex’s existence behind except for a trail of crushed beer cans and broken promises. He slid back into the water, never to be seen again.
After the Chief told me his tale, I spotted two iridescent eyes glittering at the water’s edge. Consumed by fear, I pointed at the water. The Chief took a long, hard look and let out a belch of disgust. “That’s just Dean. No matter what he says, those damned car stereos are Sparkomatics, not JVCs.”
Soon after, I traded a used gum wrapper for my freedom and made it out of the swamp. I emerged onto a lone highway losing its battle against the invading kudzu. I headed north for the promised land of Tallahassee. But that’s a different story.