Across time and space, the king of Earth and his evil prime minister waited patiently. They knew that Kilgore Trout would be leading an attack against them, against Earth, Trout’s home planet. All the armies of Earth, all nations under the command of the king, were marching and training and preparing themselves for war.
With their drones, their artillery, their armies and navy, and hundreds of thousands of civilian militia controlled by antennas surgically inserted into their craniums, Earth’s rulers were in no danger from the pockets of isolated and poorly trained rebels on the planet.
Those poor souls, romantic in their self-delusion, held meetings, formed committees, and even played war games, waiting for the day that Kilgore Trout would arrive and return the planet to the unhappy masses. More about the unincorporated territories and the King’s efforts to absorb them into his empire is explained in Chapter 17.
The fact remained that Earth was secured and there was zero chance of an insurrection and blessed little civil unrest. If a group organized itself on a street corner, a surveillance camera would see them and a police officer would soon arrive on the scene with a thought-scrambler to send the malcontents back home with pounding headaches and no memory of the forty-eight hours preceding the government’s attack on their brains. Most people called the prime minister the Czar of Pain. They called him this because of the headaches.
These same suffering serfs gave the king of Earth the nickname “Doctor Death”.
I suppose, now, I should give you some history about the Czar of Pain and Doctor Death.
The king of Earth was born Herman Smelt, on April 1, 2067. His father, George Smelt, was a shoe salesman. His mother, Verna, provided Customer Service for the Department of Discretionary Purchases. Both of them spent eight hours of every day, Monday through Friday, sitting at a computer, pushing buttons. At that point of history, nearly everyone on Earth spent eight hours of every day, Monday through Friday, sitting at a computer, pushing buttons. Society faced crises that seemed terminal. Some people were starving and some people had vast wealth. The inequity between the rich and the poor was ridiculous. It was a Gilded Age for some, the Stone Age for many.
George Smelt and Verna Lindenberg met in grade school when they were growing up inKokomo, Indiana. The two of them used to spend Saturday mornings wandering around a grassy community picnic spot called Highland Park. They would always make it a point to study and admire the stuffed two-and-a-half ton steer named Old Ben that had been on display in a big glass box since 1920. Old Ben weighed one hundred and twenty-five pounds on the day he was born in 1902. During World War II, proud Hoosiers spread the story of Old Ben around the world. He had been featured in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. In 2067, when I was a foot-soldier in the war between Michigan and Oklahoma, the dead bull was a quaint reminder of a world that no longer existed. Two hundred years later, in 2200, when Herman Smelt had conquered all of Earth, things had really gotten screwy.
This story isn’t about Old Ben. In fact, cows will not be mentioned any more in this story. This isn’t about George and Verna. It’s about their offspring, Herman Smelt. The most interesting thing about Herman Smelt, before the Awakening, was that he was born on April Fools’ Day. He was a small child, myopic, with allergies to dust and mold and ragweed. He wore glasses. Later, he became a teenager, splashed with acne and forced by his mother to wear sweater-vests. He was afraid of girls, uncoordinated, and was neither musically gifted nor interested in sports. He spent much of his time alone in the dusty reference section of the Kokomo Public Library.
Herman Smelt had just one friend. His name was Melvin Dribbins. Melvin’s father worked with George Smelt and the two families lived on the same street. Melvin was dumber than George, but more athletic. They met when they were just five years old and they remained friends throughout their lives.
Herman and Melvin were a couple typical dweebs with little dweeb fantasies and dweeb hangups.
Then came the Awakening, which is described more fully elsewhere. I will not spend the next two hundred pages of a one-hundred page book by repeating the story, no matter how sensational and world-changing it was.
Suffice to say, at the end of it, Herman Smelt and Melvin Dribbins (later dubbed the Czar of Pain) were the undisputed bosses of everything on Earth, except for the weather and the wild animals. The military and political leaders of the society ruled by Herman Smelt were controlled by antennas surgically implanted in their craniums. Every member of Herman’s legislature and Supreme Court, every military officer and every fire chief and police captain, all the big-shots, had antennas in their heads. If any of them was reported to have not followed explicit orders or was believed to be negligent, what a shock in the head he or she would get.
The ordinary citizens, those subjected to thought-scrambling, they didn’t have antennas in their heads, but the electronic thought-scrambling they got from their leaders, that caused migraine headaches that would disable a person for days. Is that all clear? I hope so.
That’s it: I’m through. You didn’t ask for a ridiculously convoluted back-story and I’m not going to give you one. It’s time for a little action, don’t you think? Here we go.