Eliot number one said, “I have an announcement to make.” Everyone looked at him.
He said, “I am an old man and I am not much use to anyone, anymore.” He waited for some argument or sympathy before proceeding.
He cleared his throat and continued with his train of thought. His eyes were closed and the back of his head pressed deep into the comfy pillow built into his chair, just above his shoulders. “When I asked for Sylvia to be here, with me, you have to know that I wanted her to be my age.”
Cthulbanana spoke in a robotic monotone when he said, “Eliot, in fact we scanned your soul and you wanted Sylvia to be sixteen years old and to have had a boob job.”
Eliot’s eyes snapped open and he looked ready to jump out of his chair and knock Cthulbanana off his flexible, round base.
Cthulbanana’s one eye popped wider than it had been and his eyebrows extended up to the end of his fingers. “We don’t need any violence,” he said.
“Well, watch your mouth,” said Eliot. “I don’t care what kind of a goofy little monster you are. You’ve got no right looking into my soul, much less telling everybody what you found in there.”
“I do apologize, Mr. Rosewater. Please accept my sincere apology, sir. Sometimes, with our different customs, language, and history, translation is difficult. I assure you, it doesn’t matter what I said,” said the Tralfamadorian. “We really must get moving. Mr. Rosewater, I understand that you intend to join the revolution.”
“Um, um, yeah. I mean, yes,” said Eliot. “But, how did you know?”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Cthulbanana. “Now, pay attention.
“You are going to be sent to San Lorenzo, a possession of the United States. The Prince of Washington, DC and the Queen of Maryland are about to host the King of Earth, Herman Smelt, at a State Dinner. Exactly one year ago, the government spread a story that your clone, Mr. Rosewater, your clone, had been killed during a prison escape attempt.
“Is this all sinking in, Mr. Rosewater? The gentleman who you have been visiting with, the one you called Eliot number two, he was a clone of you, a clone that was made by non-Earthlings. You don’t remember it, because your memory of the biopsy and scraping was erased.”
“Can this chair be made into a weapon?” asked Eliot.
“A weapon?” said Cthulbanana.
“Yeah, a weapon, like with James Bond equipment,” said Eliot.
“Ah,” said Cthulbanana, “You are wondering if it can be equipped with machine guns and missiles and if it can be made to fly.”
“Um, yeah, I guess,” said Eliot.
“It already has been done,” said Cthulbanana. “Most of the weapons are controlled by your thoughts. I will teach you how to control all of its features. It is made of a magnetic, ceramic material that is bulletproof, and it will fly two hundred miles per hour.
“But first, let me remind you, Mr. Rosewater, of the situation on Earth. Yesterday you realized it was hopeless.”
“I don’t want to just die without trying,” said Eliot.
“We knew you wouldn’t,” said Cthulbanana. That’s why the chair was all tricked out.
Meanwhile, on Earth, Herman Smelt, the half-worm, half-human creature, was having dinner on San Lorenzo with his hosts, the Queen of Delaware and the Prince of Washington, DC. They were celebrating a lie. They were celebrating the one-year anniversary of the death of that radical anarchist Eliot Rosewater. The expectation was that, following a series of public appearances and photo opportunities, Herman Smelt would be honored by his hosts and given total control over their combined fiefdoms. Smelt’s iron grip onNorth America, with the acquisition of the two remaining independent states, would be complete. The prince and the queen had been the last holdouts, the final pure-blood humans to resist the ever-growing power of the half-human Herman Smelt and his swarming, grublike followers.
That’s right: grublike.
The King of Earth and the Czar of Pain were nothing, if not consistent, in their repeated efforts to be disgusting. Not only had they personally morphed into freakish semi-humans in their old age, with skin that peeled off like the aged casings of worms, they had created millions of hideous, wormlike creatures that lived to do the bidding of Herman Smelt and Melvin Dribbins. These inhuman monsters, in their larval stage, were sort of like landlocked shrimp. Shaped like miniature, slimy, croissants, a hundred of them could be stuffed comfortably into a wooden matchbox. They remained in a dormant state, barely breathing, scarcely growing, needing no nourishment, for six months. At that time, they doubled in size daily, lived on protein waste products, and grew prodigiously. Two weeks after ending their caterpillar stage, these creatures were six feet tall, ugly as a baboon’s love-child with a python, and evil as flying monkeys.
Meanwhile on San Lorenzo, clone-Eliot was standing, sweating, in an underground bunker, lit dimly with torches. He stood on a raised platform in front of a wild gang of his generals. There were twenty of them. They had worked themselves into a frenzy because the government had been saying for a year that Rosewater was dead, and he had returned.
He looked anything but dead.
And his generals! They looked as nutty as anything you’ve seen in the Matrix movies. They were hopping around as if they were being eaten by ants. Eliot, meanwhile, was being dressed by his squire, just like a medieval knight. When he was all wrapped up inside his gear, he looked like a cross between Darth Vader and Batman. Actually, he looked pretty scary. He had a laser weapon in one hand, a pistol with the firepower of an M-1A2 Abrams tank. His costume (he would always call it a uniform) was made of a lightweight, bulletproof material. It included a cape and a headpiece with a plain black mask to hide his features.
While all this hoopla was going on, a flying easy chair came loping over the horizon, inches above the ground. A GPS scanning device allowed it to find the hidden bunker where the meeting of revolutionaries was taking place. Eliot Rosewater, a useless, worn-out wreck of a man, had arrived on the scene. He pounded on the heavy metal door of the hidden bunker and waited for clone-Eliot to introduce him to his worshippers.