(Sunday {Venuday}, January 7, 2035, and After)







          Norlin... who lolls on the King’s barberchair, now – spent, eyes downcast, vision flitting across the rust-speckled plane of the King’s ghastly mirror, limbs awry… suddenly Kruppe’s massive contour inhabits the doorway… the reflected Lieutenant scratching his poxy cheek with the skimmer in one fist, massaging his groin with the rance in his other.  “Well, boy, you did run us ragged,” he allows... a rictus meant to pass for victory’s genial aftermath creasing his blotchy, soiled features.  “Made a run for the border, didja... heh heh… well, it’s over, now, so why don’t you just hand over that what’s in that purse in your pocket and we’ll call it even.  Hey, you can stay here, if you want.  Move in!  Place seems to agree with you...” Kruppe shrugs.

          Norlin strains to lift himself, but only topples into the King’s sump again, splashing on his hands and knees before the contemptuous Lieutenant.  “Don’t try it,” Kruppe warns, training both guns on the back of the Corporal’s neck, “it’s all the same to me, shooting your lights out and taking the fex for myself… for myself, and for the rapture of Becoming!  It’s over, Norlin... all of this!... look around.  Just as Triple-J foresaw, we’re embarked upon the new, terminal phase... an eternity of silence and seamless curvature, hard work, respect for money, sinuosity and the law.  Perfection on earth, Norlin, imagine… like the earth!  Just take that fex from your pocket slowly... oh hell, what motive do you have for compliance, nothing left inside, Norlin... couldn’t make it past me to the crapper and, even if you could, do you think the damn thing would flush?  Jates – no!... hey, I’m doing you a kebbinfavor!

          He sighs again at the waste of it all – life and liberty, “health,” he chuckles, “and security, and property.  Never over til’ the fat man dances...” the Lieutenant brays and then, weak as he’s become, Norlin can fairly see the red thing-poison scooting through the veins of Kruppe’s face and neck.  The Lieutenant lifts one foot, then the other, in a sloshing shuffle, croaking “…it’s now, or never!”

The clicking, booming chorus that answers ain’t the kebbinJordanaires – not even the Sweet Inspirations!

Still, it’s only as he’s preparing to blow Norlin to Kingdom Come, that Kruppe sees his own destiny loom up in the goblin glass of the King’s Mirror... phibes!

          Crawling through the window... behind him... opening wide those preternatural, Arsenal-fashioned jowls to...


          The foremost phibe... nearly wholly bufe and spotted with toxic warts... takes Kruppe’s head between its jaws like a kid biting off the crook of a candycane on a snowlovely Christmas morning – both guns fire widely, missing Norlin but exploding Elvis Presley’s dark mirror into a million glittering starbursts, just as the Lieutenant’s skull implodes in a spray of red and a dribble of gray brainmatter.  Aspid and Germany Smith jostle each other, trying to be first out of the bedroom... Chet does fire off a retreating shot but, with a malevolent smirk, the phibe retreats – its Trouble Factory prey still twitching in hooked, amphibian claws.  Its confederates swarm to hoist the Lieutenant’s body over Graceland’s windowsill and push it through the bent, ruptured security grate and its biting, slashing roses.  And then, only the retreating volley of booming and clicking, snarls and ripping flesh hint at the obscene banquet transpiring below the window, above Graceland’s front door.  The two surviving policemen creep back, weapons drawn, eyes darting… sloshing towards the Lounge Room…

          Where Norlin has scrabbled forward, sprawling across the King’s commode, fingers fumbling at Reason’s purse, drawing it forth, at last...

          The Veronica...

          Norlin’s fingers close around the thick white turd... he holds it up, dangling it before the Intelligence Chief.

          “I’ll drop it...”

          “Don’t be a fool, Corporal,” Germany advises, sweating copiously despite the moist, January chill of Memp’is.  He awkwardly transfers his heater right hand to left, wipes his brow, and stares incomprehensibly at the blood smeared across his palm...

          “Am I?” Norlin looks up. “A fool?  Whose fool am I?”  A crazed suspicion flits across the membrane of his mind... “when I am dead, Germs, will Skark cut me open to retrieve and sell my fex?”  He tilts his head, worriedly.  “Where is Skark?  And how did you kebbinswiffs lose my criminal?  Disapparated... you say?”

          “Sort of,” Chester Aspid blurts out.  “He was sprung from out of his cell by this giant, yellow cube that floated through the air, and through the wall... that cube looked confused, too, than it disapparated, with the suspect inside.  It was a confused cube.”

          “How does a giant, yellow cube appear confused?” Norlin asks, still holding the Veronica over Elvis Presley’s fexxer...

          “You had to see it,” Aspid says, wiping sweaty hands on his shirt.  “It moved aimlessly – and, after it vanished, it did so with sputtering... and sparks...”

          “Maybe,” the dying Corporal rasps, “the human resonance that is impossible to express is, nonetheless, expressed by the essence of its elements – be they Elvis, or the new credulity which evolution adorns.  A life-sized Dead Sciences center.  Maybe the masses no longer desire to play or hear your old mushrooms for, everywhere, their contours make us gag...”

          “You’re crazy,” the Intelligence Chief retorts.  “Crazy as any of those zooks we used to route down to you in Crazy Squad!”  He brandishes the heater, sniffing… “something burning?” he ventures…

          In the King’s bedroom, behind the two men from the Trouble Factory, more long, damp shadows cross from wall to ceiling... phibes... lots of phibes... have slithered through the rose palisade.  They are massing, creeping up behind Smith and Aspid...

           “Maybe...” Norlin grins, forcing his right hand to wobble six inches closer the toilet, until the Veronica is fairly suspended over the foul sludge in the bowl.

          “Now you’re asking for it,” Smith bridles, training the heater on Norlin and firing off a beam that scorches two fingers off the Corporal’s hand – with a great PLOP and two smaller plinks, the fingers and the huge, white fex drop into the bowl.  Norlin reaches up with his left hand, and a fusillade of lead, condensed resonance and congealed light from Smith and Aspid’s weapons tattoo his neck, face and chest.