57)   Super Sunday, 2/17:  4:30 – 4:40 AM  The Number of the Imp is Seven Hundred Seventy Seven Megaherz!”



Back on the G-P floor, Captain Capps and Westy dashed into the 007 Club, hastily piling the remaining hunting knives, ninja stars and canisters of pepper spray into cardboard boxes, even dumping out smart bush jackets and smart shoes to have more available containers.  Upon  emerging, they were nearly run down by an increasingly frantic Henry Robot, whose peripatetic, clockwise circlings of Giga-Plex had grown as increasingly erratic as had his insistent monotone:


“Good afternoon.  I am Henry, your cybernetic personal assistant.  How may I help you?”


And the mightily-annoyed Capps intercepted Blick, who had been trailing his charge in the hope of effecting some cybermiracle

          “What is that thing?” he asked the robotist, point-blank.

          “Henry has, uh… quasi-military applications…” Blick admitted.


          “Quasi… meaning he’s a sort of test model, not a beta-test by any means, further down… a gamma or delta test, maybe…”

          “Does he have a nuclear core?” Westy cut him off.


          “In the movies,” Soames explained, “things like Henry always have a nuclear core, ready to go off…”

          “This isn’t a movie… unfortunately…” Blick despaired.  “Fortunately,” he corrected himself.  Westy didn’t despair.

          Instead, he remained alert, sniffing – between the barking dogs and demented, crashing cars outside, not to mention the sporadic gunfire and indomitable television, the group facility for hearing within Giga-Plex was, pretty much, nil.  “Does anybody smell anything?  Smoke…”

          Lester Capps hoisted a box of exotic, probably useless weaponry and pointed to Evan Augsberg, awkwardly removing his trousers on the Dom.  “Maybe that fuckin’ thing is finally burning out!” he said, shoving the weapons of questionable destructive capacity into Westy’s arms.  “Take this shit back to Stu…”

          Augsberg was fully naked now and had apparently killed or converted the cameraman, whose gear portrayed the media icon in all of his wrinkled glory as he raised his right hand and decreed – as an electronic Messiah, holding back or releasing the waves, “…a metahysteria, promulgated by those same thirty-seven deceivers who would force Americans to tattoo the Number of the Imp on their foreheads… and the Number of the Imp is seven hundred seventy-seven megaherz, which is the number…”

          Henry the robot, trampling CDs, DVDs and the outstretched arm of a zombie corpse, butted up against a rack of iPods, seemingly grunted, then turned south, making for the henge of televisions, the Dominator, and a furious Leland Buford Sonnenschein who’d pointed to a crouching figure high above, straddling the nude commentator’s head as it continued stereo-pontificating through Tungwa’s top-of-the-bargain-line forty-two inch LCD, drawing the attention of Mark Tenison and the Grrrlz...




“That bastard took a shot at me!” Big Sonny fumed and pointed.

          “Where?” Tenison looked around

          “Up there!  Went right back behind that column over that rack of cables…” Sonny said.

          Mark cupped his hands.  “Capps!  Captain Capps!…”

          Effie Lou, trying to hide her assets behind a flatscreen, echoed: “Shooting at us…”

          Lester looked away from the berserk robot.  “Where!”

          Sonny, Effie Lou and Tenison all pointed upwards.  The zombie, having apparently expended all the ammo in his gun, let go of the tower stanchion to fumble through his pockets, managing only to spill half a dozen cartridges that bounced on the floor while Captain Capps shot him in the groin.  Screaming and flailing his arms, the invader seemed to actually dive from his perch, far out onto the floor, towards the Dominator… as Henry, the robot, accelerated into the Romanian behemoth.  The 92” screen, holding its several quarts of Romanian plasma, stood atop a thin, cheaply molded foundation which buckled under the impact of robot and descendent – there was a horrid creaking sound before it began falling like a great redwood in its forest, depriving the onlookers of the spectacle of the giant Evan Augsberg… naked, radiating insanity… though not the myriad Little Evans, still declaiming his prophecies from the smaller units to all sides…

          “…in their groceries.  They all have yellow hats and little mustaches, and all come together, with plans.  We may beg forgiveness, based on a misunderstanding of their Scripture, or we can acknowledge that God does not love this world; we can repent, apologise until our lips and limbs turn blue, consign our one-eyed demons to the fires, but, against the Lamb of Death…”

          Big Sonny, looking the other way, scowled back at the shrieking, pointing subordinates… and, so, never even knew what killed him.  Only his fingers and one wet shoe… crocodile, as it turned out, not alligator… protruded from beneath the fallen television… silent at last… having cracked on impact.  Viscous black, bloody plasma oozed across the floor, crinkling and snapping with electric flashes and ozone reek, mingling with the blood of Giga’s robbers as Tenison stood openmouthed, oblivious to the flying bullets… Effie Lou Wilson, on the other hand, having fainted, dead away.  Captain Capps looked upwards from the shattered television and the oozing remnants of his crushed patron to the zombies celebrating on the rafters, then down again…

          “Aw, shit!” the Screaming Eagle screamed.


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