Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

Operation Scarecrow

We're all here in the big tank. Everybody but the president. Veep Kerry's here, with his extra-large face mask and underwater conference apparatus. I've got my apparatus on as well, but I'm over in the corner. Mullah Billdoug just arrived from Tahiti--but of course he doesn't need any special equipment to dwell or communicate underwater. Two large tuna operatives just back from Houston and an elderly whiskered scientist named Catfish Billy swim in lazy circles, waiting for Lincoln to arrive.

Mullah Billdoug looks like something the dolphins drug in, which, of course, in a strict sense he is: that's who brought him here from Tahiti. But he's got two black eyes, a missing tooth, and angry red pustules on his lips and the tip of his tongue. He isn't talking about his midadventures in the South Pacific, but I gather they involved a sea lion, a vat of sheep dip, and four toothless Tahitian girls unaccountably named after the wives of the Prophet.

Now Lincoln rides in through the water lock and we all come to order.

"I want to hear from Charlie first," he says.

One of the tunas swims forward an inch or two.

"Houston is the epicenter of the mantid infestation," he says. "We were able to trace the phenomonic and allomonic communication lines from seventeen points around the perimeter of the city to a single condemned building in the Second Ward. We assume that's where Blattodea's holed up."

"Good work, boys," Lincoln says. "John?"

"Yes Abe," Kerry says, blinking earnestly inside his face mask.

"Slide back a little. I can't see Mullah Billdoug."

"Oh, sure, sorry, Abe," Kerry says, and slides back.

"Thanks," Lincoln says. "Mullah? Any luck with the thoughts they've been thinkin about how they'll be killin Lincoln?"

"I've managed to intercept a sizable amount of rush-hour thought traffic," the Mullah slurps. "And I agree with Charlie. The infestation tracks back telepathically to Houston as well. The leaders of the Million Mantid March check back with Blattodea hourly, using mental telepathy to coordinate their advance on Washington, the takeover of human hosts, and baseball scores."

"Excellent. Catfish Billy? How long till the hydrogen bug bomb is operational?"

"Well now," Catfish Billy says, flapping his gills a few times for emphasis, "that is an interesting question."


Friday, October 22, 2004

 

In the Astros GM's Office

"So, okay," Gerry Hunsicker says, cracking walnuts with his long green serrated switchblade right arm. "What happened?

"They just outplayed us," Phil Garner says, munching on offal over in the corner.

"Bullshit," Hunsicker says. "They had help."

"Help?" Garner says, cleaning one long filiform antenna.

"Fish help," Hunsicker says. "Lincoln was behind the birds on this one. A feeding frenzy for the Cardinals. It didn't matter how many mantids we fielded tonight. The early fish got the bird the worm."

"Huh?" Garner says. They didn't sign him as manager after nine losing seasons with the Brewers and the Tigers and then two years of "retirement" because of his towering intellect. They signed him because he's a wily cockroach, and the team's owner Blattodea wanted him on board. It made no difference that Hunsicker wanted another mantid like himself. Hunsicker proposed, Blattodea disposed. And Garner proved his mettle. As interim manager he took the Astros from the cellar to a playoff berth and a shot at the World Series. First time ever in 43 years of Astros baseball. New ownership did make a difference. Blattodea had been right about Garner. But it hadn't been enough.

"LaRussa had them fuckers on some kinda fish enzyme diet," Hunsicker says. "Clemens was fucking on fire. And Scott Rolen was like some kinda fucking superhero. Blammo. Dja see that home run he hit take off? And didja see that aquarium they had in the dugout? That can't be right. Them fishes was watching the game, reading our signals, giving LaRussa pointers. There's gotta be some kinda league rule against that."

"I don't know what you're talkin about," Garner says. "Fish is dumb as a sack a hammers."

"That's what I always thought, too," Hunsicker says. "But Blattodea keeps telling me no. All that stuff about their pea brain and three-second memory is just fucking smoke and mirrors. Turns out they're smarter than we thought. Well, cunning, more like. Manipulative slimy little bastards."

"Sure, boss," Garner says. "Whatever you say."

"I gotta tell you, though," Hunsicker says. "I'm a little worried."

"What about, boss?" Garner says.

"That fish-lovin Lincoln gots a hardon for Houston. I'm tellin you, there could be trouble."

"Uh, okay, boss," Garner says.


 

At the White House

Well, this is what I wanted, of course: the mantids out of power. And thanks to Mullah Billdoug's connection with Michael Moore, I've been offered this intern position in the White House, as Literary Critic to the President. No salary, of course, but they've given me an oversized fish tank to live in up here in the upstairs reception room, right next to Lincoln's study. They even threw in a castle, a windmill, some potted plants, and enough round stones to cover the bottom. The only drawback, of course, is that I have to sleep in rubber pajamas.

But, um, how should I put this: for a liberal Abraham Lincoln is a bit, well--imperious. Bossy. He doesn't exactly consult with advisors. He tells us what to do. From what I've read he was never like that during his first term. I guess all those years at the bottom of a lake took their toll. They would on anybody, probably.

He's had the Lincoln bedroom retrofitted to hold water, converted it into a large murky tank from which no algae is ever removed, no water is ever filtered. The old lath-and-plaster wall separating the bedroom from the hall has been replaced with a floor-to-ceiling plexiglass observation wall, with an intercom system so Abe (as he's asked me to call him) and Bessie don't have to come out through the water lock to deal with minor emergencies.

My task this morning is to analyze the literary references in the song the bugs on the Million Mantid March have been singing. Lincoln's fishy spies have it on tape, and the secretaries down in the typing pool (really only a wading pool) have transcribed it for me. My questions:


The Surgeon-General, Dr. Skipjack LaWrasse, sticks his head in. "Chief wants to see you," he says.

"Sure thing," I say, and head on down to the Oval Office.

"Doug," the great man says, looking a little dry around the gills. "Come on in."

"Mr. President," I say.

"Call me Abe," he says, but not in a particularly friendly tone.

"Right, uh, Abe," I say.

"So fill me in on the song," he says.

"Uh, sir, I mean Abe, I just got it thirty minutes ago--"

"No excuses, Doug. This is a war we're fighting. The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

"Yes sir, uh, I mean Abe. Well," I begin, clearing my throat. "I think I've tracked down the coach reference."

"Good boy. I knew I could count on you."

"The Houston police just faxed this over. Looks like some cockroach deity, or should I say blattodeity, is making a bid for the big time. Going up against Yahweh. Gutsy move on our enemies' part. I think that's the coach--or rather, I'm guessing, Coach. With a capital C. This whole first stanza is about entomotic hegemony: sucking nectar out of flowers, laying and hatching eggs, consulting with the blattodeity."

"Houston, eh? That city has been a hotbed of mantid activity for decades. I'll insert my best soldier fish into the city right away. With any luck we'll be able to trace the oothecae back to the blattodeity herself, nip the infestation in the bud. What I'm really worried about, though, is that second stanza."

"Of course, sir, I mean Abe. I think I might need some help with that one. There just isn't enough to go on, in a literary sense, in "With the thoughts I'd be thinkin'." No imagery there, no figurative constructs."

"What kind of help are you looking for?"

"I'm thinking a psychic. Someone who can hear those thoughts being thunk."

"What about the good Mullah himself?" Lincoln says. "Isn't he a psychic?"

"He's in the South Pacific," I say. "Corny as Kansas in August. I just got a postcard from him."

"We'll have him picked up," Lincoln says. "If his country needs him, his vacation can wait."

"Yes sir," I say.

 

Vote Blattodea

"Mayor White," Elaine says, "I thought you ought to see what some woman brought in this morning."

"Let's have a look, there, Elaine," the mayor says, taking the glossy photoprint from her hand.

I am Blattodea. I am Megaloblatta Longipennis of the Great Wings. I am Macropanesthia Rhinocerus of the Massive Torso. I am She of the Oothecal Eggs. I am She of the Filiform Antennae. I am She whose mouth points backwards between the Fore Coxa. I am the Hemimetabolous One, the Parthenogenetic One. I am Lucifaga, the Light-Fleer. I am Brotaetare, the Bread-Eater. I am La Cucaracha, que no puede caminar. I am the Bombay Canary. I am the Croton Bug. I am Polyphagida. I am Blaberida. I am Epilamprida. I am Gromphadorhina Portentosa.



Vote Blattodea in '04. Together we can make a difference.

"Yeah," Mayor White says, "the police commissioner has shown me a few of these already. Where'd the woman say she found it, Second Ward? Third?"

"No, Mr. Mayor. On a silver tray in some mansion out in River Oaks."

"Wow," the mayor whistles. "Looks like someone's giving Yahweh a run for his money. Just between you, me, and the compost heap, it's about friggin time."

Thursday, October 21, 2004

 

Postcard from the Seedy Side of Tahiti


The Mullah just doesn't attract the same kind of female attention he used to...



ACTUAL POSTCARD from the SLEAZE-O-RAMA. On the back the Mullah sez: Posted by Hello
Having a wonderful time, glad you aren't here. The venereal diseases are vicious.


 

At the Ranch, on the Sofa, Over the Breast


Three tiny mantids ready to pounce on the coke dust on young Barbara Bush's left breast.


 

The New Republican Party Theme Song

"Hey, Laura," George says, back at the ranch, retired to Crawford a few months early. "Come over here."

"I'm busy," Laura says. "I'm teaching Jenna to read. No, Jenna, no more nose candy. No! You may not snort coke off your sister's exposed breast! It isn't Christian!"

"Laura," George says, more insistently, "come here!"

"Oh all right," Laura grumbles, but then puts on a big Christian smile for her husband that she has vowed before God to honor and cherish till death do them part even if they haven't had sex in over a decade and are unlikely ever to again at this rate. "What?"

"Look through the telescope there," George says.

"Please," Laura rolls her eyes. "Not another cow going poop. I don't have time for your games, George. Go find a comic book or something, why don't you."

"Just look!"

Laura groans, but bends her eyes to the eyepiece. She starts back, then looks again.

"See?" George smirks.

"Who are all those people on the highway?" Laura says. "And bugs?"

"That's exactly what I wanted to know!" George says.

"Well turn on the security system," Laura snaps. "Maybe we can hear them."

"Oh, right," George says. He fiddles with the buttons for a moment, but gives up. "I can never make this dang thing work," he says. "You do it."

"Ohhh!" Laura says, but goes and turns on the sound. What they hear is a lot of buzzing, but also what seems to be a song from The Wizard of Oz. Only some of the words seem to have been changed:

I could while away the hours, conferrin' with the flowers
Consultin' with the coach ...
And my head I'd be scratchin' while my eggs were busy hatchin'
If I only had a roach ...

I'd unravel every riddle for any individdle
Conservative approach ...
With the thoughts I'd be thinkin' I could kill another Lincoln
If I only had a roach ...

Oh, I could tell you why the ocean's near the shore.
I could swarm of things I never swarmed before.
And then I'd sit, and swarm some more.

I would not be just a nothin', my head all full of stuffin'
My heart a robot goat ...
I would dance and be merry, life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only had a roach ...


"My God, Laura," George says, training binoculars on the March while Laura hogs the telescope, "do you recognize it? It's the Republican Party theme song! Karl was telling me about it! That's them! That's the Million Mantid March! They started without me, can you believe it? Without me! Let's go join in! They're heading to Washington to take my presidency back! We should be with them!"

"Let's not rush into this," Laura says, her eye still to the eyepiece. "Jerry Falwell just chopped down Karl Rove with a machete. And all the bugs cheered."

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

 

Didn't See a Thing

“I’m just telling you what I saw, Lieutenant.”

“Right, and I’m telling you what you DIDN’T see. Get it?”

“But Lieutenant—“

“Look, Sergeant Hymenoptera, if you like those stripes and you like working for the Baltimore Police as a detective, I recommend you didn’t see a gang of giant fish wearing leather jackets in a brawl on the waterfront. Capiche?”

“Look at the video from my cruiser again, Lieutenant. See? On their jackets? The Yellowfins. And there—see that fish head with the cigarette dangling out of its mouth? See there—that fat one with the big fins beating the living shit out of that fisherman? It was his wife’s frantic cell phone call that brought me down there in the first place—she kept screaming about ‘gangsta fish, gangsta fish’ and I—“

“—Look, Sergeant. One more time.” Lieutenant Myriapod said slowly, rising out of his chair. Something under his uniform rippled like thousands of hairs or legs as he rose. “There were no giant gangster fish on the waterfront. None. Got it? Or do I need to make myself plainer?”

“No sir.”

“Good.” The Lieutenant sat down again, and the rippling under his uniform stopped. “Now, take these and get them up around the city. Mayor’s orders.” He shoved a pile of posters across the desk.

Each one was emblazoned with “YAHWEH FOR GOD in ’04,” and a picture of a gray-haired, bearded guy in a robe whose face shone like a sun. Underneath the picture it said, in smaller print, “Steady Leadership in Dangerous Times—Don’t Change Gods in Mid-Apocalypse!”


 

Oopsie! Hope Hera Doesn't Find Out...

“C’mon, spit him out!” Falwell was shaking the plant by the top of its stem. “Puke him back up!”

“I c-c-can’t,” Rove gasped. “He’s stuck in some kind of bag or bladder down there. I think he’s being d-digested.”

Falwell kicked at the base of the pot. “Spit him up, I say!”

With the last kick, a slit opened at the base of the bladderwort, and out scurried several hundred cockroaches, all wearing blue pinstriped suits. As Falwell watched, they assembled into a very small version of Pat Robertson. Maybe 2’8” at most.

Mini-Robertson spoke in a high-pitched voice. “Goddamit! They digested about two-thirds of me! What took you so long?”

“I’m sorry,” Falwell chortled, turning his head aside to conceal his amusement.

“What the hell is so funny?” Robertson squeaked.

“You’re a d-dwarf!” Falwell snickered.

Rove began laughing too. “Look at him. I’ve seen bigger sub sandwiches.”

Buchanan arrived on the scene. He was carrying a machete.


 

With Friends Like This ...

“What? I told you I’m busy. We’re leading the march.” Buchanan shouted into the cell phone. “What? He did what? Goddammit. I’ll be right there.”

“What is it?” Scarborough asked, concerned. “Not another bug zapper.”

“No, it’s that dickhead Rove. He just ate Robertson.”

“What? How the hell did that happen?”

“Saw that Robertson was full of conservative cockroaches and just snapped, Falwell says. They’re trying to make him puke him back up.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do—I’m going to go back there are pull that fucker up by the roots, shake Robertson out, and chop up what’s left of that dumbass. First he lets himself be turned into a dildo, then a carnivorous plant. I’ve had it.”


 

It's All the Rage

Whaddya mean, an election? You don’t elect gods.

It’s all the rage, this democracy kick. Everybody’s doing it.

Well, count me out. I’m perfectly happy being a dictator. I don’t like something, smite! I like something, reward! It’s the natural order of things.

So you won’t run?

Hell, no.

It’s not going to be a fair election unless everybody agrees to put their name on the ballot.

What do I care about fair? I run things. Dictatorship is much easier.

But I’m telling you, heaven and earth are moving away from that model. They just won’t buy it any more. Dictator is a dirty word.

So we won’t use it—I’ll call myself omnipotent instead.

It’s the same thing.

Look, I’m not participating in any stupid election. Forget about it.

The others aren’t going to like it.

Is Allah in on it?

I haven’t talked to Him yet.

I tell you what, you got a list of who’s on the ballot so far?

Here. All of the Olympians, Buddha, Ganesh, Krishna, all of the Loas and a few South Pacific deities, along with Jesus and the Holy Ghost and Mary, and we’re adding more all the time…

Jesus? Jesus is on the ballot? Mary? The Holy Ghost? What the hell? They can’t run against me!

They’ve agreed. If you don’t run, it isn’t going to look good for the Yahweh party.

The “Yahweh Party”? What the fuck is that? Allah hasn’t agreed?

I told you, I haven’t talked to Him yet.

Well, that tears it. My own family running against me. I guess I’m in. When is this election? Any debates? Can I pick any running mate I want?

Here’s the official rules. Look ‘em over, and if you have any questions, just call me, okay?


 

Former Sinclair CEO in Critical Condition

Baltimore (AP)--David Smith, former CEO of Sinclair Broadcast Group, is in critical condition at the Johns Hopkins University Medical Center tonight after a vicious insecticidal attack late last night, JHUMC spokesperson Skipjack LaWrasse told reporters today.

"As far as we can make out," Dr. LaWrasse said, "from the patient's own garbled and rather hysterical account, he was attacked by several 'tunas' while out walking his dog in his upscale neighborhood. It is unclear at this time whether 'tunas' is the name of a local gang, derogatory slang for the members of some ethnic group, or was simply misheard by the triage team. These 'tunas,' if Mr. Smith's delirious ravings are to be believed, pulled out cans of Raid and sprayed both him and his dog (a Weimaraner) in the face. The dog was unharmed by the attack, but Mr. Smith's vital functions seemed to shut down, and he is now on life support."

Until the toxicology report comes back, police will not know whether the cans of Raid had been reloaded with some sort of deadly poison, or whether Mr. Smith was in fact an insect.

Sinclair Broadcast Group, under Mr. Smith's leadership, came under severe media fire last April when it refused to allow affiliate stations to air a Nightline special honoring American service men and women killed in the Iraq war. In a press release Mr. Smith found it "inflammatory" toward the Bush regime to list, as the Nightline special did, all the names of those who had died in that war.

More recently, Mr. Smith's right-wing mantid corporation again drew media fire for forcing its 39 affiliate stations to air the bug-infested anti-Kerry propaganda film Stolen Honor. On the advice of his close advisor Mullah Billdoug, American hero Michael Moore offered to let Sinclair air his recent patriotic documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 for free, in the name of "equal time." Mr. Smith refused the offer, allegedly because he's a fish-hating anti-American mantid.

With the ouster of entomophiliac George W. Bush from the White House and hermection-by-acclamation of Abraham Lincoln, recently awakened from his century-and-a-half-long sleep with the fishes, Sinclair Broadcast Group has been shut down and David Smith is out of a job.

Dr. LaWrasse considers last night's attack on Mr. Smith "supererogatory."

"I really don't see the need," he said. "The man's life was in the toilet already. This is just insult added to injury. Maybe, I don't know--maybe if he hadn't casually referred to John Kerry's love of 'smelly fish,' this would never have happened?"

The identity of his assailants is not known at this time.


 

Bladderwort

Karl Rove isn't entirely surprised to see Pat Robertson elbowing his way through the swarm to approach his pot on wheels. His heart sinks, though, when he sees the stranger trailing along behind Pat. They've got a plan. They're going to take some sort of action. And Karl is the target of this action. There was a time when he was always the instigator, ten steps ahead of everybody else. Now he just rides along passively, trusting others to water his soil and catch him eating bugs.

It's over, Rove thinks.

"Hey, Karl," Pat says. "How's it going? Getting enough water?"

"Cut the crap, Pat," Rove says. "Let's have it. I ate those bugs. What's my punishment?"

"No, no," Robertson says soothingly, "nothing like that. I mean, sure, we've got a little grumbling in the ranks, a lot of the mantids aren't really happy to have a bug-eater on the March, but we can handle that, it's a speed bump, nothing more."

"So what is it, then?" Rove says.

"Well, the fact is, Karl," Robertson says, "you're looking considerably, well, leafier."

"Say what?"

"More like a plant. We think the metamorphosis is progressing."

"Oh shit," Rove says.

"Exactly," Robertson says. "So I've taken the liberty of rounding up a horticulturalist, good conservative credentials, strict creationist, from the Department of Creationist Horticulture at Bob Jones University. Sam, come on up here. Karl, this is Dr. Samuel Waters. He's going to tell us what you're turning into here."

"Hi Karl. Sorry about your predicament."

"Stop fucking around," Rove snaps. "Get on with it."

"Uh, right," Dr. Waters gulps. "Well, to be perfectly frank, I think what we're seeing here is a transformation into a bladderwort."

"A what, now?"



"Bladderwort, Latin name utricularia. A carnivorous plant that traps insects with a bladder trap, usually under the soil."

"My bladder isn't under the soil," Rove says testily.

"No, no, of course not," Dr. Waters says. "The trap is shaped like a bladder. Most likely your traps have a partial vacuum, which sucks prey in, and a one-way lid, tripped by trigger hairs, which prevent them from getting out."

"That's all gobbledy-gook to me, Doc," Rove says, trying to keep the note of desperation and wheedling out of his voice. "What I want to know is, how long?"

"How long before you've been entirely transformed into a plant?" Dr. Waters says.

"How long before I'm put down," Rove says.

"Well, I--" Dr. Waters begins, but Pat Robertson holds up a hand.

"The fact is, Karl," he says, "the mantids have begun buying little miniature bottles of Roundup."


 

Insect Pie

The Million Mantid March is going well. Every town they pass through, their ranks swell, as timid mantids find the courage to join the swarm. The opposition's scare tactics--revolutionary new bug-zappers, death rays, digitized flypapers--are proving to be laughable fictions. The Washington Times, America's only truly objective newspaper, puts glowing accounts of the March on the front page every day.

Karl Rove feels a little silly riding along in a pot on wheels, with an assroot plunged deep in the soil, sucking up water; it's not a little humiliating to ride along like some kind of freak on wheels when everybody else is walking or swarming. He's not extremely happy, either, that March organizers have to keep scrounging up water, a gallon an hour, to keep dumping into his soil. But there it is. You go with what you've got. He's always been a fighter. He can fight this.

What's a little disturbing, though, is that the bugs walking and flying along on the march are starting to look, well, extremely appetizing to him. He can taste them on his tongue. He keeps humming "Sing a Song of Sixpence" in his head, but realizes at some point that he isn't thinking about blackbirds: it's "four and twenty mantids baked in a pie." What's that about?

The thoughts don't go away. The farther they march along, the more obsessed he becomes with eating insects. It doesn't matter how hard he works to keep his famous brain focused on the prize, on killing Lincoln and ousting his fishy minions from the White House: all he wants to do is eat a bug.

And then it happens. A good conservative cockroach from Mississippi crawls up onto the rim of Rove's pot, wants to tell him how much it admires his great work--and Rove snags it, pops it in his mouth, crunches it down. He does it before he even has time to think it through. Quickly, furtively, he glances around to see whether anybody has noticed: apparently not. Whew!

But then, a few seconds later another cockroach comes up to the rim of his pot, says she's from Water Valley (god what wouldn't Rove give for a whole valley of fishless water, preferably skimmed over with waterbugs), and has Rove seen her son? She thinks he came up here.

Shit. Somebody's going to hear her. She's going to keep going up the line, looking for her son. The paper trail will lead right back to Rove.

So he snags her too, crunches her down. Nobody sees: lucky again. But ... they taste so GOOD. What is he going to do?

A few minutes later an elderly Mississippian cockroach climbs up, wheezing a little with the effort, and introduces himself as the lay preacher of the Water Valley Primitive Missionary Cockroach Baptist Church: has Rove seen two members of his congregation, a mother and her grown son?

Rove gobbles him down too. But how the Raid is out of the can: somebody sees. Some random mantid, nobody big. But their eyes go wide. Karl Rove is eating bugs!

Rove motions the mantid over. Just to have a word, mind. Suggest maybe it would be better if this didn't get out. But the mantid's big buggy eyes go even wider, and it moves uneasily up the line, glancing back nervously, as if afraid Rove might be pursuing.

And now he knows that it's just a matter of time.


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

 

Potted Plant

"Come on, Karl," Pat Robertson says, "it's time. We're ready to roll." He's got that look of a Boy Scout hot on the trail of a merit badge. Merit badge in killing Lincoln.

"I, uh," Rove says, "I can't seem to move."

"What," Robertson says, "paralyzed? could be part of your post-dildonic symptomatology, along with the thirst."

"No," Rove says, "I can move my muscles. I just can't get up."

"Hm," Robertson says, and bends in close to inspect. "I don't see any reason for you--here, let me give you a boost."

He takes Roves arms and pulls gently but steadily. Rove grimaces, then cries out in pain.

"I think I'm--attached," he winces, feeling down under his rear end with both hands.

"Attached?" Robertson says. He looks closer, digs a little at the soft wet dirt Rove's been sitting in. "Oh, shit," he says.

"What?"

"Taproot."

"Do what, now?"

"You've put down a taproot," Robertson says. "Maybe some smaller roots too. Probably looking for water."

"So what you're telling me," Rove says, his eyes glinting hard and brittle through his glasses, "is that I'm some sort of fucking plant?"

"Maybe," Robertson says. "You never know with these Olympian spells. We need to send somebody out to buy a copy of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Give us some idea of what to expect."

"Well can you, I don't know, dig me up or something?"

Robertson shakes his head. "Could be dangerous," he says. "Could even be fatal. You could wither right up. No, what we need is a big pot on wheels. They carry em at Wal-Mart. We'll dig up the dirt around you and transplant you right into the pot. Take you with us on the Million Mantid March."

"As a potted plant?"

"Could be symbolically powerful," Robertson says. "Make George look like a good steward of the land."

Rove looks at Robertson sourly. This is no time for joking!

But he can't help it. He cracks a smile. Robertson cracks one back. When Dick Cheney comes in a minute later to see what's holding them up, they're both giggling hysterically.


Monday, October 18, 2004

 

Malathion Marathon

There is a problem, though. Ever since he escaped from the French (how did that happen? he can’t remember) he’s had this horrible side effect from living as a human dildo—an enormous thirst. He just can’t stop drinking. Water, mostly, but god, anything, anything, to slake this dry throat. And these slits in the side of his neck that pop open every so often when he’s drinking. Annoying—as if his throat had been cut so cleanly that the slits just opened occasionally while he swallows. Maybe he should have Mengele take a look, sew them up ...

But for now, to check the field reports and headlines:

ITEM: School of giant squid sinks billionaire Gates’ pleasure craft; all aboard devoured; millions in cash missing.

Hm. That’s bad. Was counting on Gates to cover some of the expenses of this mantid march. Maybe he mentioned us in his will.

ITEM: Temple complex at Mount St. Helens covered with water as crater collapses and lake forms; odd marine life noticed in new lake; poet at the scene reports that Triton rose up from the depths to blow his wreathed horn.

So the Hermectoral College is underwater now, eh? Damned fish. Need to get Hephaestos busy on blowing that lake sky-high ... Fucking poets. Poseidon on their side, is he? We’ll see about that.

ITEM: New “French cockroaches” 100% liberal; no kind of insecticide seems effective, say former GOP leaders now in hiding.

Well, we’ll just have to use a bug zapper, then ...

ITEM: Strange insect behavior “not a worry” says Lincoln; new “bug zapper” irresistible to mantids, and hundreds of thousands walk to fiery death as elite exterminator squads are dispatched to key cities with new equipment; French cockroaches impervious to alluring light.

God-damn it! Where’s DeLay? He’ll know how to handle this.

ITEM: Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s skin found abandoned at Lincoln Memorial; note at scene says “The Jefferson and Rousseau Brigade,” a heretofore unknown pro-Lincoln group, claims responsibility, says “French cockroaches” cleaned out the inside of former congressional leader.

Huh. That fucks that, then. Guess we’ll have to count on the Orkin Brigade.

ITEM: Lincoln addresses killer robotic goat scientists’ convention in Washington; urges attendees to focus on “bringing the wrath of heaven down to earth” while “preserving a place for 2nd-rate deities on small tropical atolls in the Pacific”; scientists cheer wildly; since Lincoln has taken office, killer robotic goat research funding has increased twofold while funding to creation science has been cut following allegations that labs are simply breeding grounds for mantids.

Rove growls. Note to self: get an operative into Sufi University!

“Ummmm, sir?” A voice calls from just outside the door.

“What, goddammit? Where’s my water? Did you bring my water?”

“Here, sir. But you should know that we are running low. Apparently all water supplies to this part of Kentucky have been diverted somehow—we’re down to a gallon apiece now and a bare trickle off the cave walls.”

Rove’s gills flap as he drinks. He doesn't hear that last bit.


 

Viva la Revolucion!

"Okay," Rove says, shaking his shoulders a little. He feels almost--human again. And god damn it feels good! "The Million Mantid March on Washington: what's the status, Pat?"

"They're massing as we speak," Robertson says. "In the forests and jungles and copses all across this great land. Operatives are handing out bug repellent repellent and depth charges."

"Depth charges?" Cheney wants to know.

"For the fish," Robertson says. "Every body of water they pass, boom."

"And they've got the Chimp placards to carry through major cities?" Rove says.

"You bet," Robertson says.

"And the Chimp Cloner Rumble? Condi?"

"I think it's racist for you to put me in charge of that," Condoleezza Rice says.

"You can be replaced, you know," Rove observes.

"No, no," Rice says. "I'm just saying. They're ready to rumble."

"The Christian Coalition, Pat? Rebecca Combs knows what to do?"

"They're armed to the teeth," Robertson says. "Ready to take back this great country of ours. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one--"

"Okay, okay," Rove cuts in. "We've all heard that speech, Pat."

"Sorry."

"And what about this three-judge Circuit Court of Appeals panel down in Georgia, already overturning the Patriot Act? John?"

"What about it?" Ashcroft says.

"What are you doing about it? They're protecting Americans' civil rights, like the fucking filthy fish-loving Lincolnites they are!"

"B-but," Ashcroft says, "Lincoln's in power! Until we overthrow him, I don't see what we can do."

"Be creative," Rove snaps, "hard as that may seem to you. Have you never heard of guerrilla tactics?"

"Uh, sure," Ashcroft says. "Dress some guys up in camo and paint their faces green and black?"

"How about a nice little infestation?" Rove says. "Mayor Bobby Peters wants to appeal the decision to the full 11th Circuit Court. Let's help him out, shall we? I want every square inch of those three judges' houses crawling with bugs. Send in a few talking bugs to explain the situation to the judges. Hell, send in thousands. They can chant around the clock, 'Overturn the decision.' Or, no, wait: have them chant Judge Tjoflat's words at all three of them: 'We cannot simply suspend or restrict civil liberties until the War of Terror is over, because the War on Terror is unlikely ever to be truly over.' Talk about your War on Terror: that should scare the holy fuck outta those Lincolnites."

"You're a stone genius, Karl," Ashcroft says. "We were lost without you."

"Take your tongue out of my ass, John," Karl says, but secretly he's pleased. Happy to be back; happy to have been missed. This is where he belongs! Here in this dripping cave, somewhere in the wilds of Kentucky! Plotting to get the White House back! This is what he lives for!


Sunday, October 17, 2004

 

The Most Dangerous Man in America

Satan walks through the dark silent corridors of the Elysee Palace, 3 a.m. Where would they keep it? In the vault? In the fridge?

He heads to the basement, opens doors till he finds the kitchen, flicks on the light. There are no windows: no one will see him here.

Sure enough, there it is, on the top shelf of the refrigerator, lying flat across a stinking package of limburger cheese. Or, no: it's brie. The stink is coming from the squid.

"My poor boy," Satan says softly, "how you have suffered. I have been remiss."

He slips the squid into a pocket in the Yahweh suit and exits the building, stepping over the lifeless Derrida at the front door.

Out on the street, he twists a dial on the Yahweh suit and in an instant is beamed across the Atlantic into Pat Robertson's walled estate in Virginia Beach.

The Dobermans come running, silent and deadly, and are actually in the air en route to Satan's jugular when another slight twist of a dial freezes them solid. They drop to the ground with a soft thud.

"God damn this is a bitchen suit," Satan marvels.



And then, there he is, Pat Robertson himself, president and founder of the Christian Coalition, on the front porch with a shotgun up and aimed at the middle of Satan's chest.

"I don't know how you got in here, you godless heathen, but I can tell you this: you aren't going out the same way. I've already called the cops. But first I think I'll have a little fun with you."

"Don't shoot," Satan says in a deep voice, "for I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt."

"Don't give me that shit," Robertson says.

"Pat, come on, it's me," Satan says, and pulls the Yahweh suit's head off.

Robertson lowers the gun an inch or two, squints out into the floodlit yard.

"Dad?" he says.

"Put that gun away and stop fucking around," Satan says.

Pat Robertson lowers the gun, holds out his arms. "Gosh, I'm sorry I threatened you, Dad! How could I know it was you, in that suit? Come here and give me a big hug."

"Never mind about that," Satan says. "I've got Karl Rove here. I need you to use your magic."

"You've got Karl Rove--where?" Robertson says.

Satan pulls out the squid. "Here. Hera turned him into a voodoo dildo squid doll."

"A which? Ew!"

"It's a long story. Come on, let's go inside. I want you to change him back."

"Why sure. Come on in. Iced tea?"

"No thanks. I'll take a glass of milk, though."

Robertson snaps his fingers and a maid jumps and runs. She slides a tall cool glass of whole milk into Satan's fingers about three seconds later. She is trembling. Her dark chocolate skin has a light sheen of nervous sweat. But it isn't Satan she's afraid of. It's her boss: the most dangerous man in America.

Satan collapses into an easy chair. Robertson remains standing, studying the squid up close. "Yes," he says. "Uh huh. Yes, I see."

Then, with only a moment's pause, he begins licking the squid all over. He licks every square millimeter. Even up in those hard-to-reach spots between the tentacles. Then he swallows, his eyes bug out, and suddenly his gorge rises. But Robertson's a pro. He doesn't spew randomly: he projectile-vomits at close range into the squid's head.

And now the transformation begins. The squid writhes, twists, bulges ominously. It throbs and hums. Tiny flippers protrude, then extend into arms, legs. The big pink head becomes a bigger pink head. Last of all, the eyes cough up a pair of glasses.

And there on Pat Robertson's living room floor, panting heavily with the effort, sits Karl Rove.

He looks around, sees where he is, who's there with him.

"Dad," he says. "Pat. My God what a nightmare I've had. How did I get here? And why am I naked?"

"No time for that, son," Satan says. "We've got work to do. Lincoln and his fishy minions have taken over the country. We've got to strike now or lose it forever."

"We have enough votes to run the country," Robertson says.

"Fuck votes," Satan says. "It's time for action. We need to mobilize the mantids. They're in hiding, cowed by Lincoln's bug bombs and roach motels."

"Okay," Rove says.

"If Christian people work together," Robertson says, gesticulating portentously, "they can succeed during this decade in winning back control of the institutions that have been taken from them over the past 70 years. Expect confrontations that will be not only unpleasant but at times physically bloody.... This decade will not be for the faint of heart, but the resolute. Institutions will be plunged into wrenching change. We will be living through one of the most tumultuous periods of human history. When it is over, I am convinced God's people will emerge victorious."

"Yeah, yeah," Satan says. "Save the speeches for the troops. They'll need em. Let's go."


 

At Ze Elysee Palace

"Stop! Ze Elysee Palace is closed at zis time of ze night, sir."

"Stand aside, for I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt."

"I did not come up out of Egypt. I am from Algeria."

"It's a figure of speech. Hey, you're Jacques Derrida, aren't you?"

"Why yes, I am."

"You were up in heaven for what, a week before you took this gig?"

"Somesing like zis, yes."

"What'd you get, some kind of special poststructuralist dispensation?"

"Martin Heidegger and Paul de Man, zey got me zis job."

"Hey, more power to em. Say what you want about Mussolini, he made the trains run on time."

"I am not a Nazi collaborateur."

"Hey, me, I don't judge. Whatever works, man. Whatever floats your boat."

"You don't judge? Did you not say you were Yahweh?"

"That's right."

"Do you, erm, have some sort of identification?"

"Union card do? Deities Local #405. Strongest damn union in the cosmos. Never busted."

"Zis card, he does identify you as Yahweh, Judeo-Christian deity, yes. But it was another form of identification zat I was expecting."

"Yes?"

"Do you have ze Holy Prepuce?"

"Right here in my pocket. Here, let me get it out."

There is a flash of light and Derrida collapses to the floor in a heap.

"Wow," Satan says, pushing through the door into the palace. "This Yahweh suit works cherry."