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The Abduction of Mrs. June Rea

by Devon Pitlor

Sex and death are one alike, we think We connect, we mate, a temporary death We come back for more and finally die forever The big mirror of our lesser pleasures. ---from a popular children's song on the death of the Catubade cousins

I. The Gray Alien monologue begins. So now I'm stuck here with all of you. You're not going to poke or probe or take fluid out of me like the others did, I guess. You just want me to talk. Sure, I don't mind that. Just keep that beer coming and the pork. Towering Gods, how I love your pork. Not ham, bacon or sausage. Just your nice greasy roasted pork. And you know by now that the beer for me is like, well, water. And recently, chez moi, we haven't had much of that. Your beer doesn't get me drunk or anything. That's for you people. We get drunk on other things. Sometimes we get drunk on the beauty of death, as I'll tell you. You want to know about Mrs. June Rea. Her of all people!! Why I wonder? She's just a hysteric bitch in my opinion. Her and her author friend, the guy who made all the money off her abduction, both of them fall among the worst examples of your insipid, pudgy race. No, what I should tell you about is the Catubade cousins and their suicide pact with the Hallobibba girl. And I probably will because it's on my mind. They're are part of the reason I'm here. Besides, I like stories full of blood. That was the Catubades. Let's talk about them and leave Mrs. June Rea alone. She has her own writer to spin her saga, and my end of it is so much less colorful, so drab in my working class sort of way. You know this whole conversation should be in French. I express myself so much better in that language. That is what I was trained for. I can say things

in French, form quaint nuances, things that...well...ring longer and better in your ear. Never mind. I can handle English, and this is no time for cheap poetry. Let's go on. How's my English, anyway? Am I using the right words? Can you get past my accent? Your researchers said I sounded like tin. Isn't that a metal? How can you sound like tin? Damn, I hate your barbaric tongue. I resent its little empty words like "to" and "wherein." Well, you're smarter than your technicians. You know better than to ask me stupid questions about thrust and alternate dimensions. I know nothing about any of that stuff. I'm a food producer. We get in the skimmers or the flatboats, and we move. We use the controls. We touch the buttons. We go down the road. That' what we call it: "down the road." Direct translation from my language. Where we are, where you are, I can't enlarge on that. Not even in French. Not even in my language. Fault of my education, I guess. You people should have captured a scientist, but they're probably too clever to get caught like I was. A scientist would have never done something stupid like I did, going out on low power. But, frankly, they're boring as bricks. And I don't think you have the words here to translate their mouthfuls of terms. Towering Gods, we don't even understand them back home. Suppose I'll never get away from this place. When you're done, you'll send me back to the pokers and probers, and they'll probably cut me open while I'm still alive. They've already taken out enough of my blood to paint a friggin' mural. And they still can't get over that it's gray. Gray blood, big deal. They should have been there when the Catubades died. They would have seen all the gray blood they needed. And splashed all over the walls at that. Do you realize that crazy girl stuck a dranstarb in both of their...their... Well, let's not go there. You don't much understand our anatomy, anyway, let alone the words for it, despite all your drilling and probing. But you should know damn well by now that we have gray blood. We're insects, you know. Or at least our ancestors were. Full of magnesium, I think. That's the word for that stuff here. You're full of iron. That's what makes your blood red. We're full of magnesium, and we're gray. Grays you call us. Of course, we're gray. That's how we are. Just like you, my friends, are pink. Pink and blotchy red. Your

blood shows through everywhere. Damn, I wish this were in French. I'd have a better way of saying it. You know I was educated in French for my service in this world. And if it hadn't been for those godawful Catubades and the inflation caused by that old tottering General Monshala, I'd still be there. In France, I mean. In the Massif Central, where it is cooler. Where people know how to eat and drink, and the peasants don't get all hysterical about us like your Mrs. June Rea. I used to eat cheese, reblochon...but that's another story. Just keep your beer and pork coming. Forget the cheese. I won't touch the yellow paste that passes for cheese here. Anyway, I'm a neuter. So what do I know about science and geography and that stuff? They don't even let you draw in neuter school. We can't make maps. Neuters are supposed to mind their own business and work hard. I always did, too. What happened to me wasn't my fault. I always worked, all my life, did my job. Stayed fit too, but since I've been here, I've gotten really fat, as you can see. My stomach is all bloated out with pork and beer. Not much of your usual slim "alien" image, is it? I've seen your pictures and drawings. I've seen how we're meant to look. What you've got there is a pictures of the children. Spoiled brats like the Catubades, who are just around here to make trouble, see and be seen, and get in the way of those of us who work. So now your so-called researchers will probably cut into my stomach this time instead of just pumping it out. And you know what they'll find: pork. Pork and beer. Because that's what I eat and drink when I'm here. So keep it coming. Roasted pork!! Light beer!! I'm trying to make the best of this. Who cares if I am getting fat? I don't breed anyway. II. After a short food break the monologue continues. Like I told you, I'm a neuter. And I was sent to France to manage the, what should I call you people, the herds? the flocks? I made enough money to buy a few people of my own two. Before the inflation came and the government collapsed, I was doing pretty well. In the Auvergne, there were farmers who sold us pigs straight out for those little gold chips you like so much. There were people who didn't freak out when we asked them for a few cells and some

fluid for our flesh cultures. I knew a young shepherd, for example, who used to actually like the whole thing. He used to jump up on the worktable and stick out his arm ready for an injection. Said it kept him healthy. And he was right. Of course, we keep our best producers healthy. Your silly Mrs. June Rea and her writer friend would never understand that. That's why we have to use the dranstarb on people like her, to make them more peaceful. And sometimes it doesn't work. Sometimes they remember being in a flatboat with the extraction crew. They wake up hollering bloody murder about our huge eyes or our tiny nostrils. Big deal. A little tube stuck into them here and there. They hardly feel it. Nothing like what your clumsy researchers did to me. Look at these marks. Look at these drillings. We're insects, for the Towering Gods' sake. What do you expect to find when you penetrate our shells? We've got organs under there just like you. III. The alien is refocused once again to Mrs. June Rea. Ah yes. Mrs. June Rea... Well, let me at least tell you why I was in Montana and why I got sloppy with the hysteric bitch. You see the same government thugs that ruined my job in France had been suspecting for some time that Mrs. June Rea was a little toxic. Mind you, I said "a little." Her flesh-wall may have made someone a bit queasy, no doubt a frail female child brought up on watered-down stem beer and nusikaz, some weakling kid like the Catubades, who never spent an entire day outside in his life. But nobody's been poisoned or anything. Sometimes our controls just slip a little. So they sent me back to check, give Mrs. June Rea a simple injection, an inoculation if needed. Hell, that would have kept her in prime form until she was---how do you count age?---in her fifties. But no, she had to start screaming and talking to police and hack writers. She had to make some best-selling nightmare out of us, something everyone just had to read and shiver over. That's not good for herd management. If too many of you see us, it causes a panic---a real Chinese fire drill. I like that expression of yours: a Chinese fire drill. All through history that's been happening: panicked herds, silly, monkey-based fleshers running around and shrieking, bumping into each other, burning things and fellow fleshpeople, writing books, making movies. Towering Gods, what

boredom...movies! Movies about bug-eyed extra-terrestrials carrying you off somewhere. Shit, we don't have enough food or water to nourish our own children properly. What would we want you there for? So you could sit in the Assembly like that stupid Italian and explain all of your wars and religions to us? Towering Gods, I haven't thought about that Italian in eons. I suppose he's still there talking about Caporetto. But that's another story... How about another bottle of beer? It doesn't affect me, you know. IV. Sideways questions lead to answers about the Gray Alien's "world." Yeah, the city. Teddam was in in dreadful condition. Just hideous! A social catastrophe. Thousands of us were out of work, standing around kicking rocks all day, urinating in cans and trying to sell it. Kids roamed the streets begging for food, though the gendered ones usually preferred drugs, or sex, or one another's company alone for a few seconds in a breeding closet. Old people had nowhere to live. They slept in the empty reservoirs or pitched ragged tents in the Territories. They'd tell you a story or sing you a song for a cup of fresh urine. They had nothing to do but repeat their damn stories about Teddam during the Revival, about the cabarets and the lascivious neuter dancers and wicked boy impersonators who had all died before most of us were born. Some of them, the old people, wore their former uniforms. But all of them babbled. Old people. They talk and talk. They remember. They make hard times worse with their pointless reminiscings. Hard times. They're tough to tell you about because you don't have anything remotely similar. You don't have the same reverence for the aged. You don't feel obliged to listen to them like we do. Fault of our education, I guess. Your money isn't the same either. We don't give a damn about that crap gold we used to pay off your smart peasants like the French farmers who know how to keep quiet and sell us their pigs and lambs. We use...how can I express this?...power credits. They are tied to state-owned energy but printed out on film. I guess that is what you would call it, film. I'd show you a sample, but your all-knowing investigators took it all away from me. They kept asking what is this blue stuff? They didn't have a clue what we use it for, and I didn't

bother to tell them. I suppose all my cash is sitting in some lab somewhere and they're still scratching their empty heads over it. Anyway, the money, at least in the city of Teddam, became next to useless. You see, the Supreme Assembly, which hasn't been supreme in eons, was driven forward mostly by a few malcontents who judged things were getting out of hand because they weren't getting their fair cut of the graft. They wanted to bring in an old Crown Prince, Krippo, a senile, ancient creature, to run things like a regent. They liked him because he appeared philosophic, because he didn't say much, because he just smiled benignly all the time as if he had a big secret. The only secret Krippo had was that he'd spent more than one season as a female impersonator in a low cabaret down in the Reservoirs. V. They allow the political monologue to go on, reluctantly. Towering Gods, he was old!! Our time isn't the same as yours, so I can't really tell you just how old he was, but trust me he was well beyond public life. He had been part of the old Revival Party, which had laid the sewers all wrong and polluted the animal parks. So to this day there are no animals in Teddam or even in the Territories, and that is why we steal your pigs and grow meatwalls like the ones cultured from your Mrs. June Rea, the human meat walls, I mean. And the animal ones too. Hell, you are all just animals to us. You know that. Yeah, the Supremes wanted to bring back a Revival relic like Krippo, I guess, because he was supposed to remember how good things were and stay out of their way. But they needed to get the permission of the Upper Provosts, the Landowners, to bring their champion back. So they tossed out the Italian (who later found his way back in because in our world he was useless for any other kind of work) and a few other superfluous intellectuals and petitioned the Landowners, day after day, and remember, our days are longer than yours. All they did was talk and debate and cause commotion.. That's all you read about on the info-panels, how they were going to outreason the Landowners, how they'd convince everyone that Krippo still had a firm hand and a stable mind.

Meanwhile, the Landowners---most of whom owned not a scrap of land, it was just an old name---pretended to listen but countered by devising their own little intrigue, which amounted to a new and crazier scheme to pay down Teddam's big debt to the Commonwealth, a huge debt for which their patrician master class was mostly responsible. It was a very simple idea: They printed money, that blue film your people are so fascinated with. The law gave them that right. And print they did, night and day, with big gleaming smiles on their faces, I suppose. They thought they were so clever. It got to be that it took thousands and thousands---later millions---of power stamps to buy even the simplest commodities like a cube of cultured animal meat or a jar of stem beer. Savings---like my own---were decimated. I couldn't even pay my neuter tithe to the Temple of the Towering Gods. They took my communion badge away too, but that was just one day before I was going to sell it anyway. Old people who had accumulated credits for eons found themselves without a chair to die in. They found themselves gaping like reservoir mudfish into the starlight wondering like dumfounded fools what had happened. To charge up a simple dranstarb, for example, at the public energy well, it cost 500,000 credits where once it had been almost free, especially if your job was to go Down the Road and collect cultures from you people, which you can't do without a dranstarb, thanks to hysteric bitches like Mrs. June Rea. Rents in Teddam also skyrocketed out sight. Multiple evictions came daily. I told you, people were living outside, under the dustspouts, in the dry reservoirs. They wandered up and down all day puzzling over what had befallen them, always loyal to the government and respectful of the Landowners because...well...because that's just the way we are. Fault of our education, I guess. The state schools drilled unflinching respect into us. VI. Another break, but the Gray ET still wants to talk about his land. Of course, there were those who profited. The real property owners, for example, not the State Provosts. Those people held possessions of actual value, like skimmers, which they could exchange for domestic services and necessities like water---which comes right from here, as you know, but that's another story. All in all, the situation was frantic. You would have had to live there to

understand. I tried to see a neuter doctor once because I had a growth on my...you don't know the word...why bother? Anyway, it (the doctor) would not see me, not for a million credits, which was about all I had left. It told me to take a sharp edge and slice the lump off and to stop the bleeding with wet clay. As for my job, forget it. The regulators found a way of closing down industries like flesh-wall culture while they decided which patrician master was going to come in and buy the seized assets. We all stopped working, naturally, so your type didn't see any "flying saucers" over the Pyrenees that year, or anywhere else for that matter. I lost my own little herd, too. My contactees probably thought I'd returned to "heaven." That is where we used to tell them we came from, and the smart ones were always satisfied. The Landowners, acting as ever on behalf of the patrician speculators, sent out corrupt as crap regulators to all the flesh producers like me. Unless you paid them off in cultured meat, and lots of it, they would find the slightest taints and wipe out your charter. That's what happened to me. I found myself begging like everyone else. I hung out in the meeting halls and played cheeka all day. I drank stem beer, which does get us drunk. I peed in cans and hawked it in the misery camps. I listened to the wailing and moaning, saw naked children bleed. And I watched people perish, just fold up and die. You know, we can do that from despair. Your researchers are lucky I didn't do it. I guess I'll have to let them kill me. I've already seen the worst. What can they do further to degrade me? In those days in my world, I picked up a bad attitude about life, and it hasn't left me yet. VII. More questions but the Gray, as ever, steers the monologue. That was around the time of the Catubade cousins. You want to hear about them? Couple of boys, ready to breed, ready to go out and spurt their patrician seed into any available receptacle. They came from an old manufacturing family...wire, I think...and lived in the Green Terraces next to Roedi Hallobibba, the water minister, the guy responsible at that time for

siphoning off your water and pumping it to Teddam, or otherwise diverting it to his private lake in the Territories, but that's another story. You know, we've been taking your water for eons, messing around with your climate and geography, creating deserts. Too bad. That's just the way it has been. You, after all, are our property. But you have deserts that...well...you don't need to have, dry places that used to be wet. Of course, we give some water back to you, and it's cleaner than it ever was here. We have germs for that. You have germs for that. You just don't know how to use them. Too bad. Next time you get a big monsoon, you can think about us. Think about us pissing and puking in your water then cleaning it and blowing it back. Think about Hollobibba's lake and how good it would have looked in Mongolia. The Catubade cousins were rich and spoiled. As I said, they lived in the Terraces, and, as far as I know, were not trained to do any work at all. They went to a state school, but they weren't trained. It was one of those social schools that their kind maintains mostly for show, a place where you learn music and poetry and how to address the Supreme Body of Provosts on festival days if you're ever invited to speak. They learned to drive skimmers and even flatboats so they could come here and observe those of us who really had something to do, so they could float above us and make jokes, sing their dirty songs about your filthy habits, and make fun of us neuter workers for tending you with such care. Just parasites in my opinion. That is all they were. But in Teddam there were thousands like them. They contributed nothing but had all the breaks. In the eyes of the Towering Gods, their role in life was to look pretty and say witty things. Right around the time the Supreme Provosts had finally given up on their crown prince and were debating whether to open the city to another old relic, a certain General Monshala---I'll tell you about him later--who they hoped would restore order and punish the Landowners for making the money worthless, the Catubade boys got all enamored with Roedi Hollobibba's daughter. Understandable too. Praise to the Towering Gods, she was beautiful!! During the scandal which followed, the info-panels carried her image for days, and I could easily see how young males would get senseless

over her. And I'm a neuter. If her picture alone affected me that way, I can just imagine what power she exercised over the gendered ones. Of course, you wouldn't understand. She'd just be another ugly alien to you, a Gray, full of gray blood with a bug's head like one of your puny little undersized green insects crawling on a twig. But for us...well...I've made my point. The girl was indescribable. The Catubades tried every brainless thing to get her attention, and they succeeded, I guess, because after the schools folded during the money crisis, she started inviting either one or the other of them into her room when her father was off misdirecting water to his estates or whoring with the street princesses in the Reservoirs. Rich girls did things like that. They "entertained." The morality of the times was feeble. The old folks never let us forget that, nothing like during the Revival when sex was apparently confined only to the canny establishment of the better families. Anyway, the story goes that she never let them connect with her. Connect, I think that is the right word. How do you talk about sex with another species? But she would stand naked beside them in her breeding closet, and they would trade "indecent kisses," as the info-panels prudently called them. The Towering Gods themselves could have not said for certain exactly what they did in that closet, however, because it never really came out during the testimony. It may have been innocent enough. But, in fact, what was she doing with a breeding closet, anyway? She was just a child, a second-stager. I can't tell you how old she was because our time doesn't match. But she was young, real young, an adolescent, I guess you'd say. Something like Mrs. June Rea must have been when her original owners found and tagged her. Bet June was hysteric then too, the bitch. But Alaz Hollobibba had a breeding closet nonetheless. I suppose she had a good reason for it. You know, we use closets; you use beds. But it's all the same thing. Sex is sex, regardless of the species. Just a meaningless little cultural difference. We're insects, you know, and I'm a neuter, and I take a whole different angle on sex. But save that for a later day. If I keep talking and tell you about my personal adventures, it might delay my return to your men of so-called science. At least I hope so. Say, could I get

some more beer? VIII. Another food and drink break, and the story of Alaz Hollobibba continues. One day when things were really bad, I mean in the streets, Alaz invited another boy named Tanto or Tantoc to her father's quarters in the Terraces. This kid was just an urchin. His father had been in the waitstaff of some Territorial estate, and I think the kid himself polished skimmers for the rich children of the Terraces. You know that they couldn't buzz around and scare you people with dirty skimmers. Can't you just hear Mrs. June Rea telling her author friend that the flying saucers were covered with black gunk? So Alaz took a fancy to this boy for some reason, and she asked him in one afternoon. The Catubades showed up, as they always did, I guess, hot and horny, full of patrician idiocy, arguing between one another who would go first into Alaz's closet. When they saw Tantoc, they both went a little insane---or at least that is what Alaz Hollobibba would later tell the state examiner. During the trial, she'd claim they saw Tantoc as a "rival," a notion that excited her. I remember the defense arguing that it was highly unlikely that Den and Ost Catubade, highborn as they were, would consider a skimmer-polisher as a rival, but that is what Alaz maintained. What ensued was really daft. It makes our race look bad. The two boys, bred since childhood to be mannerly and stay physically composed, retired to the kitchen and started smoking ingots of white cargalane, a potent and illegal drug, much favored by the patrician masters--something I wish I had a big piece of now. They became despondent and suicidal, so Alaz claimed in her account. While Alaz, with impunity and---how do the French say it insouciance---retired into her closet with Tantoc, they sat outside and smoked and tried to figure out what to do about the situation. One of them, Den, I think, had a fully charged dranstarb in his pocket, something his social class rarely had or needed. He had been carrying it around in school before the big collapse and had been bragging about joining a kind of suicidal fraternity with the mysterious name of Ka-Attechab, a name which means

absolutely nothing in our language. The fraternity apparently wanted to come here to your world all of all places, shoot up a bunch of you people, let themselves be captured (like I have unfortunately been) and die gloriously among the "animals." Oh sorry, I didn't mean to be so crude, but that is what we call you. The fraternity also sponsored long sessions where they wrote songs and marches about a "lost fatherland" located somewhere out in the Territories. Groups of them used to tramp out of the city singing these songs and searching for this hidden place, banners and torches in hand. On every excursion, one boy was meant to die by dint of his own iron will, his symbolic resolution to be an inspiration for the rest. But it rarely if ever happened. They just talked and sang about it and cadged food from the Territorials and made big fires. They never brought girls with them, so there were the usual rumors about homosexuality. I'm a neuter, so that doesn't shake me, but the old people hated it and tried to pry their sons away from the club, just like the Catubades had once tried to do with Den. Rich, bored boys they were, hot to breed, but they avoided girls unless one like Alaz just thrust herself on them. And when one did, they just couldn't let go. But now this object of delight and effortless conquest was grunting and gasping in her breeding closet with an estate boy from the streets. The cousins smoked and smoked and schemed and schemed, but neither of them did anything. Again rather typical of their social class. So in the end, Tantoc walked out of Alaz's closet pulling up his clothes, and Alaz defiantly poured herself a huge glass of stem beer. That was where it should have ended, but it didn't. After Tantoc left, kissing Alaz, it was said, in one of the forbidden places on her body, they cried and wailed to her about their love and frustration and pain. Neither could go on living after seeing her in the arms of another. Both wanted to die...die for her...die for their desolation...die for something...die just to be glorious. All the while Alaz and Tantoc had been in the closet, the cousins' whole plan had been about death. Den, I think, took out the dranstarb and waved it around and handed it to Alaz. And Ost, following their final design, told her

that it was her duty and destiny to kill them both because she had made their lives unbearable, unlivable and meaningless. The whole episode was probably very dramatic. In my own language, I can close my eyes and hear what they must have been saying. Boys like that were steeped in melodrama from childhood on. It came with their social rank. And with the ruin of the times coming down around them, though not yet touching their families, such young people tended to get excessive. The drugs of course augmented the whole spectacle to a large extent. The press always mentioned that. Whatever the case, you can be sure that torrents of words spilled forth and that they begged Alaz for hours and hours to kill them. And our hours are longer than yours. And she finally did. What did a girl like that know about a charged dranstarb? It must have just looked like a toy, a glamorous decoration. I can point one at you or Mrs. June Rea, and it only makes you woozy and unable to remember much, but when you insert one into our...I don't know the word in English...these slits here...look, they won't bite you...when you put one into us in this spot fully charged and activate it, well, stand aside. There wouldn't be anything much for your researchers to play with if you follow what I mean. That reminds me. I wonder what they are going to do with my dranstarb. You have holes in your bodies. I hope they find one and put my dranstarb into it, them being men of science and such, sticking a dranstarb up their...whatever you call it! Alaz Hollobibba killed them both, blew them all over the walls of her father's apartment. And then she blamed Tantoc, or tried to. She said he was jealous of the cousins and that they had previously threatened him with the weapon. She said he hated the whole Terrace social class and that the cousins were just toying with him, using her, Alaz, to tempt him inside the apartment. "Trash from the Reservoirs," they were supposed to have called him. The authorities followed the lead but couldn't establish anything. We're insects, you know, and we don't leave grease or oil or little finger marks on things. You couldn't check the dranstarb and see who had been holding it.

After doing the deed, Alaz had let it drop to the floor before running out crying for help. It told no stories. Her little ruse lasted for a few days, but one of the public examiners, a neuter who had some connection to the Supreme Provosts, dislodged the fact that Alaz was of a somewhat relaxed morality. She stood in the truth circle and admitted before a peer board that she had had relations with the Catubades. The examiner pressed on, and her escapade with Tantoc came out. The media had a carnival. It became a social class issue, and Tantoc rose briefly as a working class hero, a poor boy wrongly accused by a homicidal patrician girl of a horrendous crime he didn't commit. The Teddam crowds converged on the justice buildings chanting their support for the skimmer-polisher. During this time, Hollobibba senior had to resign his position as water minister, and his state-appointed replacement---a neuter like me---discovered all the places he'd been hiding your water. That was bad enough, but on the last day of the proceedings, Alaz broke down and confessed the whole thing. In front of the staid peers, she gave a poetically sexual account, irresistible to the media, which plastered it on the info-panels for days. The boys were "beautiful," she wailed, and she wanted to give them a "beautiful death," which, as I said, is not what you get with a dranstarb stuck in you. She thought their suicide wish for her sake was "appropriate," given the bad times, their youth, their loveliness and their incurable despondency. Also, she lamented the closed schools for some reason, and, finally, she was---after all---only following their instructions. She was lonely and bored. Again the press went wild. The crowds churned about in the streets, happy to find a diversion for their idleness. Little children in the Terraces spontaneously made up a song about Alaz that went something like "Narip Alaz emove drit sh.." Forget it. I can't translate that kind of crap. But you heard them singing it everywhere. Politicians in both Conclaves crawled out of the cracks and demanded immediate change. Even the old superannuated Italian from the Battle of Caporetto came back and explained the horror of the crime in terms of your Holy Mother or some other god he knew about in Italy. The morality of the times had become insufferably degenerate and grotesquely debased. The

people of the Terraces and other communities surrounding central Teddam cried out for state-sponsored reform, a strong hand, discipline for the children, renewed military service. IX. The political upshot of the crime worsens. No. Ex-Crown Prince Krippo of the Revival wasn't enough. Not any more. A tougher person was required. Hard times require hard leaders. Only General Monshala of the Greater Commonwealth could restore order and decency, make the money valuable again and put wholesome people back to work. Monshala would re-open the schools and demented girls like Alaz Hollobibba would not be given the free time to pursue fantasies bred of idleness and tedium. The old education would prevail, the Revival education. Children would stand to attention when schoolmasters entered the room. Respect for authority in all of its forms would be restored. Colorful things depicting flags and state emblems started exploding in the skies. The crowds lit bonfires. Patriotic dancing broke out spontaneously in the Reservoirs. A few questionable cabarets re-opened, and a popular neuter named Catotsix reworked the children's song about Alaz into a long musical production which suddenly it became everyone's duty to see. How about another beer? Tastes better than this water we return to you after it's been back through your pipes. Yes. I'll tell you how all this affected me, how they put me back to work extracting cultures in your Montana, scaring your suburban housewives like Mrs. June Rea. But first, let me tell you an amusing twist. During Alaz's trial, the government brought in a sex expert, a neuter like me, a certain Doctor Tha. Tha had a lot of panache and stagemanship. The neuter stood in the truth circle and elaborated on how girls like Alaz were attracted to death because dying itself must resemble the several seconds of ecstatic oblivion that follow successful connection. Now what would a neuter know

about that I can't say. But Tha was dramatic and convincing. It has its own private institute out in the Territories where it treated both boys and girls like Alaz for "untoward sexual yearnings and death longings...a common malady of the times." Tha's institute was very reputable to the middle classes, but later it came out that Tha just liked abnormal neuter sex with both genders and used its institute to get as much of it as he could. The doctor bemoaned the wantonness of the era like all others, but the press became especially enchanted by the way it formed its words. It spoke in a kind of shamanistic tempo that mesmerized its listeners. A public clamor brought this miscreant to the Supreme Provosts as a triumphal delegate not long after Alaz's confession. But Tha had set a trap for itself. The main business before the Supremes, as I said, was calling the supposedly harsh General Monshala into Teddam. Monshala had stated openly that he would purge all sexual deviants, especially neuter sexual deviants, from the city. Doctor Tha was threatened because Monshala would most certainly close the doctor's sexual institute, which had become little more than a house of perversion, as soon as Monshala assumed power of state. Monshala had once mistakenly sent a young army recruit there for treatment of perverse suicidal tendencies, and the young man, the issue of an overly moral Commonwealth family, had returned to garrison with stories of absolute depravity which all of his commanding officers right up to Monshala bought as irrefutable truth. In short, Monshala was into social cleansing, and Doctor Tha, despite the neuter's unctuous public appeal, was just another pervert. It was said that Monshala was a man of few words, and Doctor Tha, who lived by words, feared this. When Tha got into the Supremes, the doctor received the usual courtesy of being placed first on the speakers' list. The delegates felt it would just thank them for its appointment and sit down, allowing them to get on with the business of inviting Monshala and his garrison into Teddam. Well, it didn't. Tha knew about the law which forbade any delegate from taking the podium from a colleague engaged in lecture. Lecture, that's what they called their speeches in the Supremes. A lecturing delegate could, by law, go on indefinitely, providing he did not pause for more than---oh you would say two minutes---to ask a question. Tha began blathering about everything that

crossed his mind: morality, water, you flesh people and your foul habits like smoking, tainted meat-walls, marital aids, strip clubs, movies, then about school, things which burned and things which didn't, what floated, what sank, what the Landowners were plotting, etc. The neuter seemed inexhaustible. Speaking for days, it effectively blocked the recall of General Monshala. Tha ate and drank at the stand and eliminated wastes into its clothes. We can do that, you know. It's not too sanitary, but our urine and feces aren't like yours. I hesitate to say they're cleaner, but that about covers it. We're insects, you know. But a delegate from Ishintap managed to halt Tha's game and stay within the law. A day into the stormy season, Tha, who had now commandeered the podium for weeks, chanced to hear, along with the rest of the assembly, a burst of thunder and a crack of lightning, both of which were normal at the onset of the period. We don't get rain, but we get plenty of wind, dust and atmospheric disturbance. Now I know that here, Down the Road, that scares you people, but in Teddam, we don't think anything of it. We're not frightened by weather. In fact, we don't even discuss it much, but Tha paused for a second, looked over its shoulder and casually interrupted its spiel on sex-induced skin infections by asking "What's the weather like?" Even the stupid Italian, the Caporetto veteran, whose only purpose on the Supremes was to represent you people, which I might add he did very poorly seeing as how he hadn't been Down the Road since 1917 when we grabbed him, woke up and looked around. The delegate from Ishintap, a neuter named Kriset, who was one of the few delegates still awake, jumped up and shouted: "The weather is stormy! It's the stormy season! Now if I can take the floor, we'll move to other things..." X. The Gray Alien concludes his monologue. The rest, I suppose, is history. General Monshala received his pass to the city, came in and shook everything up, or at least his lieutenants did. They even

went out and burned down Tha's sexual institute. Monshala himself had only one good eye and was fused at the waist and couldn't bend. His mind drifted off after every three or four words he spoke, and he seemed obsessed with some unseen being called a chiffur that he claimed stood beside him and poked him with pins. Alaz Hollobibba was more or less pardoned after she entered a woman's retreat where she was later killed by a green-eyed female who had taken an unnatural liking to her. Doctor Tha, impoverished, tried to rekindle its career by publishing a pamphlet on the "necessary punishment of lesbians." That too failed. Alaz died mumbling about the beautiful act she had created in killing the Catubades. She told a bedside nurse that it was her best work in life. Tantoc the skimmer-polisher went to the Landowners as an apprentice delegate but later quit and wrote musical poetry for some of the re-opened cabarets. He wrote a song about himself, I think. And I, I was sent here. I learned English through the secret state method, and I became the agent of a new meat-culture company, one of Monshala's many interests. You do know he got very rich after his takeover because he not only grabbed the government but hundreds of our bankrupt industries as well. And the Italian, your guy, he's still giving his blunted accounts of some long-ago battle called Caporetto, which is the summary of everything he can say about your species. Few delegates listen to him. He is kept alive artificially of course. Mrs. June Rea? Just another animal in my herd. She'd been tagged years ago by another outfit that went bust. She had an old identification number and an even older inspection number, one dating from her childhood, I suppose. I had to bring her up for examination because someone thought her meat-wall was tainted. I already told you that. My dranstarb, my skimmer, my instruments, my other things that don't have names in English---all of them were running on low energy. That how they sent us off under Monshala: half prepared. It's well known that the old fluke hoards energy. I followed procedure, but she woke up and started to bawl. I had to let her go and get back to the flatboat, and that was when the skimmer engine blew out and I crashed. The last thing I remember was veering aside to

miss Mrs. June Rea, who was running across a field in her underwear. She was still a valuable beast. I didn't want to hurt her. Reading her book, I don't think she ever saw the explosion. By the way, did you read her book? I asked for it when I was with the researchers, and they gave in because I'm top secret and she isn't. That author really smeared me: "Head like a preying mantis, thin drooling lips, anaemic gray skin glistened in the moonlight...claws. Claws? Do I have claws? How about another beer? _______________________________ Devon Pitlor -- October, 2010 ///

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