CONduit is coming up fast. If you’re in Utah, come on out and say hi. Most every fantasy and sci-fi author in Utah will be there, and there’s a mess of us.
October 5th, 2012
President Baldwin surveyed the Whitehouse underground war bunker. The greatest minds in the country were gathered here, appropriate for their greatest time of crisis. It had only been two days since a hole had been torn between worlds, but already all of Europe and half of Asia had been conquered and consumed by the slimy purple bastards.
The Secretary of Defense stood at the front of the room, giving the most important PowerPoint presentation in human history. SecDef had even worn his nicest eye patch. It was the black one with the embroidered USMC bulldog on it. The fate of all mankind rested on the decisions that would be made in this room in the next few minutes. So of course, Powerpoint wasn’t working. They’d wasted ten minutes trying to get it running.
“Piece of ****! ****-knuckle **** pot!” the SecDef shouted as he kicked the projector. “What’s the deal, Ed?”
“It says it suffered a fatal error,” the Secretary of Education said as he poked ineffectually at the keys.
“Fatal error?” SecDef drew his .45. SecEd was smart enough to get the hell out of the way. “I’ll show you a fatal error!” POTUS covered his ears just in time as the computer exploded in a very satisfactory manner. The Secret Service detail was used to these kinds of outbursts, and barely raised their collective eyebrows.
Tom Stranger had a seat just behind POTUS. He leaned forward to whisper, “It doesn’t really matter which dimension you’re in, Windows still does that. There’s even one Earth where Bill Gate’s cyborg head is god-emperor, and they’re still forced to use Vista.”
POTUS shuddered at the thought.
“**** squat **** son of a ****monkey!” SecDef grumbled. “I’ll do this the old fashioned way!” He snapped his fingers and two generals and an admiral brought in a dry-erase board. “Dismissed **** stains!” SecDef bellowed as he drew a dry-erase marker from his dry-erase marker holster. He popped the cap and started drawing stick figure versions of the alien invaders.
“They call themselves the Horde of Righteous Purification, but they don’t talk much, because they’re usually too busy eating babies!” SecDef deftly drew a frowny face on one of the blobs. Then he thought better of it and drew a bunch of sharp teeth as well. “They travel from planet to planet. They face-**** the ever livin’ **** outta that planet, eat everything, steal all the resources, and then stick a black hole in the core before they leave, just to be dicks about it!”
“Have we tried negotiating with them?” the Secretary of Health and Human Services asked.
POTUS groaned. He didn’t really know what Health and Human Services did. “Duh. You think I’m stupid, Tina? Of course we did. But they ate the ambassador. And then they ate the Secretary of State. Then they ate his dog. We even tried playing the keyboard, like in that one movie with the mash potato mountain, but they ate John Tesh too. John Tesh and his keyboard! I’ve depopulated half the state department. It was like an all-you-can-eat bureaucrat buffet,” POTUS sighed.
“But what if we were nice to the—“
SecDef hurled his dry-erase marker at the SecHeHum. “Shut your pie hole, hippie!” Sadly, because he only had one eye, he lacked depth perception and struck the Press Secretary in the nose. But SecHeHum hid under the table just in case. Victorious, SecDef drew another marker from his holster, purple this time, and continued his briefing. “The Horde lives for war. They’ve been biologically augmented for the last million years to be perfect killing machines. They don’t have tanks. They are tanks!” He colored the many tentacles and murder sparklers and eye ball cannons purple. “Their air power is made up of giant purple pterodactyls, with scramjets for buttholes. They fart themselves to mach 4 and sexually assault F-22s!” He switched to red to draw flames as little stick figure human soldiers were crushed mercilessly beneath the tentacles. “Their vats grow a fully combat effective Death-Mauler in ten minutes!” SecDef made explodey noises as he drew.
POTUS spoke up. “And you don’t even want to know about their Harvesters!”
“What do they Harvest?” the Secretary of Agriculture asked suspiciously. He knew a thing or two about harvesting.
“SCROTUMS!” SecDef shouted.
Every man in the room cringed and crossed their legs protectively. “Nuke ‘em!” screamed SecEd as he pounded the conference table. “Nuke the **** out of them!”
The room began to chant “NUKE! NUKE! NUKE!”
“That’s the spirit!” SecDef answered. “Too bad we’ve been nuking them left and right since breakfast. France is now a glass parking lot with permanent nuclear winter so the Horde went ice skating on it! They are immune to radiation, bullets, electricity, disease, lava, and personal insults. We’ve tried everything. They sweat nitro and sneeze acid, and when they’re not killing, they’re practicing killing, or sharpening things so they can do some stab-killing! They exist only to blow **** up…” he trailed off, a single tear forming in his good eye. “My God, they’re beautiful.”
The greatest minds available began to panic. Which was understandable, since half the world’s population had died in the last twenty-four hours, but it was an election year, POTUS knew he needed to get this situation under control, right the hell now, so he stood and flung his chair across the room. He went through a lot of chairs that way, but it got the point across. He’d risen to fame and popularity by playing a decisive man of action during the five seasons of the #1 most successful Libertarian Space Cowboy show to ever air on TV, so everyone knew not to screw with him. The room grew quiet. “Ahem… That’ll be all R. Lee.”
SecDef didn’t hear. He was drawing a bunch of little stick figure army men and saying “No. Not my scrotum!” in a very high pitched voice. Sadly, the purple blob thing got them. “AAHHHHH! NOOOO!” Deep voice; “This will look good on my trophy necklace.” Then more exploding noises.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” POTUS spoke calmly. “This situation is under control. All is not lost. Allow me to introduce Tom Stranger.”
“Your reality took out a policy with my company back when John Wayne was president,” Tom walked to the front of the room, passing out business cards the entire way.
INTERDIMENSIONAL INSURANCE AGENT
“Interdimensional insurance?” the Treasury Secretary asked. “What’s that”
“It’s just like home owners insurance, but for events relating to rifts between realities,” Tom answered.
“Are you the guys with the cute little gecko?” SecHeHum squeaked from beneath the table.
“No,” Tom said. “That’s Geico.”
“What about the duck?” a Secret Service Agent asked.
“No. That would be AFLAC.”
“What about that weirdly attractive red headed woman with all the makeup who lives in that somehow Orwellian white room?” the other Secret Service Agent asked.
“Flo?” POTUS asked. “Damn, yeah, she is hot.”
“No,” Tom answered as he adjusted his bowtie.
SecDef looked up from his dry-erase massacre. “Cartoon secret agent chick that fights robots?”
Tom shook his head sadly. “ I’m afraid my firm does not have any sort of attractive, ironic, or humorous mascots. What we do, however, offer is a full line of interdimensional insurance services. Since this Horde incident originated on Earth #789-Alpha-12567, they fall under your extended Space Marauder Protection. We’ll just need to fill out some paperwork, and by paperwork, I mean blowing up a bunch of aliens, but we’ll get this all wrapped up in no time.” The room breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tom had been voted number one in customer service for three years running.
“So there are other Earths?” SecAg asked.
“Every time a Planck event warps the geodeosynergy matrix, a Thorne Conundrum will cause an alteration in Hawking space,” Tom said happily. When SecAg looked at him blankly, Tom realized he needed to tone it down for this universe’s Cow Lord. “Yes, a whole bunch of Earths. A different one for every decision ever made.”
POTUS whistled. That was a lot of Earths. There was an Earth where he’d had oatmeal for breakfast, and he didn’t even like oatmeal. “So what happened to 789 whatever?”
“Sadly, that version of America hadn’t kept current on their policy and they were harvested. It was a strange planet. You see, they spent all their budget on odd things, like tarps, or buying perfectly good cars so they could destroy them so they could buy new cars, or acorns, or Canadian style healthcare.”
“What’s a Canadian?” Secret Service Agent #1 whispered to #2. #2 shrugged. Whatever it was, it sounded silly.
“I wonder how they could possibly have gotten in such bad shape?” POTUS asked. “We were doing awesome until that whole invasion thing.”
“In that horrible reality, Firefly was cancelled after just one season your Excellency,” Tom Stranger explained. Everyone present recoiled in horror. Tom was used to the shocking variations between alternative worlds, but because of his extensive travels, he was extremely knowledgeable. “There was never a Libertarian Space Cowboy revolution. You were never elected. Instead the Republicans ran a senile version of Colonel Tigh and the Democrats won, with, what I believe was Steve Urkel.”
“Impossible!” SecDef shouted. “Lies!”
“You have a show on their History Channel where you shoot watermelons with machineguns. Only you didn’t have the eye patch.”
SecDef put on his war face. “OooRah! ****in’-A. Now that would be sweet!”
Tom Stranger nodded. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do. Thank you for picking Tom Stranger for all your interdimensional insurance needs.” He clapped his hands twice and his giant robot battle suit crashed through the bunker wall. The twenty-foot tall velociraptor-shaped monstrosity of plasma weapons and bio-armor had a single bumper sticker between its death ray and the napalm sprayer. It read; You’re in Strange Hands with Tom Stranger.
“Thank you, Tom Stranger!” POTUS shouted, climbing on the conference table and lifting one fist heroically into the air. “America! **** yeah! Coming again to save the mother-****ing day, yeah!” he quoted from the National Anthem.
Tom leapt into the cockpit of his battle suit just as his cybernetic implants kicked in. “It’s time to kick some ass and adjust some claims.”
TO BE CONTINUED… EDIT – Here in fact: A message from Stranger & Stranger http://larrycorreia.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/a-message-from-stranger-stranger/