(Saturday, January 6, 2035)






          Miles F. Shore nodded to the two attendants, a not-so-secret smile stealing across his face as the monkey-on-a-stick trembled in his hand.  "Come, Scotty… take this, put it away.  The real game begins now... that game which is mine and mine alone, although I invite you to enter the circle within the circle.  I promised these gentlemen from the Trouble Factory a solution to their crime within three games,” the Doctor snarled, “and I intend to keep my promise.”  Teeth bared and yellow, his face a rictus of hate and discomfort, Shore stepped from one foot to another, and Norlin suddenly recognized the facilitator's problem as alike unto his own.  And universal – almost – all of the Stimwood talents and, even, his own four girlfriends were squirming and gasping, flailing against gravity to retain dignity… all save Lucy who still flowed and squatted, eyes closed, lost in another world and, perhaps, another time.

Dawn Dancingfeather was next to break… she rose, unsteadily, raised both hands over her head, and began to undulate aggressively towards Shore and the policemen on the dais.  A dark brown torrent exploded from beneath her blue traitjacket, lighter brown fluid gushed from her throat, and a torrent of blue, gold and violet sparks erupted in a corona of sizzling traitjacket electricity as she dropped like a marionette, strings cut, writhing and moaning.  Across the circle, Rocky burst, then Pisgah, then Dr. Wilson who, before succumbing to the correctional voltage of his traitjacket, screamed and cursed: “Shore!  Shore!… you kebbinfexxer, you did it again!…”

"And yet," the Doctor winced, "you and you others, again… you, you!" he charged Jack Bard and Crawford, "…and you!" he included the three policemen and four talents - "every one of you forgot that most elementary of precautions: neither bite to eat nor drop to drink may one consume in Goblinland.  Or, for the orphans and dullards… never take cookies from strangers!"

A violent wave of nausea seized Norlin, stronger than all that had come previously, and he felt his own insides explode... and, suddenly, it was as if he was seated atop a damp cushion, a jellicose pillow three inches high.  All of Stimwood's savants were down, now… even morose, dignified Judson Crawford and catfaced Starrett… flopping about in a mounting sea of wet fex; howling convulsively as Miles F. Shore roared with laughter between his own exuberant spasms of heaving and purging.  And Homer, who had left the dais to assist Dawn despite the wide, brown stains on his buttocks, had suffered the same fate by contact with her sputtering traitjacket and, thereafter, the galvanic puddle of fex, from which he rose, on all fours… literally baying at Starrett, who hissed and howled back…

Delivered from galvanic correction by their lack of traitjackets, Norlin’s four talents were, nonetheless, wracked by nausea, fluids spewing from either end and, also… for a lack of the paralysis of electrocution… raining curses on Norlin as he bent over and gasped for breath…

“Gonna haul you up before Compliance,” Lola gasped, between bouts of heaving…

“My gown!” Terushka Batter wailed…

“My fex!  My fex! Vona Rae gurgled, bending to scoop up handfuls of the precious, flowing diarrhea which, in scores of flowering puddles, had begun to merge and coalesce into a brown, monochromatic commons, imprisoning Norlin's girlfriends within a circumference of shuddering, screaming, spattering bodies…

“This is fiasco…” Peg Reilly accused, unbuttoning and throwing off her sensible sweater and sliding her smeared, streaked and blotched skirt down over her hips, kicking it towards the perimeter of the circle.

Norlin’s appeal to Dr. Shore being truncated by a new bout of purging, Henry Hat… still pristine in his yellow suit and clean, polished shoes… turned and appealed to Stimwood’s two burly nurses and to the other attendants hovering against the west wall: “Can't either of you gentlemen turn off the kebbin' electricity?”

“They can’t,” Shore gasped, “only I… I… Scotty, the briefcase...”

“Yes, sir,” one of the nurses replied, retrieving said object from that corner in which Shore had placed it. 

"Seven-six-eight-one-eight!" the Doctor spewed fex and language, but Scotty… and Thor, too… stared back uncomprehendingly.  "The code, the code!  Seven-six-eight-one-eight," Shore snapped again, and Scotty snapped to attention, fingers fumbling on a metal dial until the briefcase snapped open and Scotty looked up with stupid pride, expectantly…

“The traitjackets, you keb!”  Dr. Shore wheezed, gripping his stomach, then looking up… pale as the proverbial ghost as the disease, exasperation and a malevolent glee warred for possession of the composition of his face.  “Turn off the jesk'ballin' traitjackets!”

“Right away, sir,” and Scotty reached into the briefcase, twiddling dials until there came a great squeal of white noise, followed by a snapping of multiple snaplocks - whereupon the jerking, flopping academicians on the floor of the Turner Crisis Room (the nearly catatonic Lucy excepted) threw off their sparking, sputtering clothes and, one by one, ceased their twitching and shooting off sparks from hair and fingernails to lie, exhausted... so much roadkill in a spreading sea of liquid fex.  Frowning, Thor and Scotty pulled their green cuffs upwards to their knees and, sacrificing their flip flops to the great puddle of excreta overlaying the floor of the Crisis Room, waded into the great, brown lake to be sure that none were injured grievously.

Although the traitjackets' voltaic cracklings were stilled, the noxious, brown plasma had seeped into those crevices where powerlines lay, and there was a great, last sputtering of sparks before the great overhead chandeliers exploded and the pneumatic door reverted to madness baroque as any Stimwood inhabitant - opening and closing obsessively with a viperine hissing that afforded the occasional passers-by a brief glimpse of hell as they hastened away towards their appointments.

Nothing, however, interrupted Norlin’s spasms of defecation and, only as he blinked in the throes of catharsis, did he recognize the demonic smile that crossed Shore’s features as he righted himself, sliding out of the white coat as reptiles do - from old, unwanted skins.  Ripping off the rest of his soiled clothing, the Doctor balled the khaki and flannel with his no-longer white coat in a fist and hurled them beyond the circle, beyond the dais.  Erect now, almost preening in his birthday suit, he turned to his poleaxed retinue.

“Arise!  Throw off the remnant of your clothes – there is crime out there, and crime will not hold still for sanitation.”  Since Henry Hat, after one useful suggestion, had simply pulled his chair back a few inches from the Corporal’s fex and seated himself, again, Norlin was seized by conviction that these incidents were his to address but, also being seized by a new offense, a vast cloud of reeking gases arising from the ocean of congealed, bubbling fex, he could only gag and nod as the Doctor’s words tumbled from his lips…

“Arise!  You’re not permanently disabled, and HRI approved these traitjackets so there will be no appeal to the authorities – there are the authorities, if you will…” he pointed.

          “My jaw hurts,” whined Homer, disengaged from Dawn Dancingfeather.

          “Kick off those shoes, Mrs. Batter,” Dr. Shore suggested.  “They are ruined, but you, at least, can file a claim against the Trouble Factory.  Reimbursement is the least that they could offer…”

          "I stand alone," Troosh sighed after the fact, "alone and barefoot, and with only a very few others... mostly, poodles."