Thursday, January 11, 1990

NOIR OBGYN: Fingers of Fury...The Series

The city of TURPITUDE is a mean slug of Western States humanity. Carved out of pure mountain granite because the original settlers were too drunk to recognize flat land, Turpitude remains so far removed from the main freeway of life that the latest dance craze is the Hop, Skip and a Jump. Crime lords, scum lords, lords of the dance, and the producers of 3 AM info spots on cellulite reduction run this town with a whip, a chair, and an unlimited supplies of ammo.

Turpitude: A town so bleak of spirit and down on its luck that its Chamber of Commerce works the next county over under an assumed name. Turpitude is on a flood plain, located in a Tornado Corridor and soothingly encased around several nuclear waste disposal plants. There is so much open sewage running through its streets that Mumbai refuses to export its street urchins there. Sinking slowly into a toxic swamp, the city fathers have, for years, made lemonade out of salmonella-filled nachos by lighting the street lamps with escaping methane gas. Sodom and Gomorrah were monastic enclaves compared to Turpitude.

Google maps ignore this droplet of phlegm. Pigeons flying overhead hold their anuses tighter than a pro wrestler's vise grip rather than beautify either the town’s statues or the heads of its residents. Jokes and bad ideas don't even come here to die. On January 1st, the townspeople celebrate a new start to the year by burning the city down.

Yet, amidst the squalor and hopelessness that is the daily routine of Turpitude, one strutting distaff of kindness exists: A woman willing to thrust her cleavage sky high, to manhandle the town's corruption, crime and malfeasance, even when it means sticking her manicured fingernails down holes of no good. Her name: NOIR OBGYN. The very whisper of that name forces distaff villains to check their appointment calendars; males simply run screaming “lalalalalalala” in every which direction.

By day, NOIR OBGYN, the only clean doctor in a very dirty hospital, is that special angel of mercy, dilating this and pap smearing that. Strutting her hoochie astride six-inch stilettos, this beauty glides effortlessly down the grittiest of hospital wards, slapping out Greek and Latin mumbo jumbo to subordinates, patients, and passerby alike.

Whether pulling bullets out with her teeth or selling her patented home autopsy kits at below market cost in between rounds, NOIR OBGYN's presence commands adulation bordering on rock star hysteria. Without her, hernias would not be herniated, transfusions would not be transfused, and amputations would not be amputated. None of which are her specialties, but then her fee rates are less. So saintly is she in the eyes of those she serves, her beatification is already accepted – though most of her patients assume the act involves the use of baseball bats.

By night, a different personality emerges transforming her from an angel of mercy to -- mercy save us all!--a daring, groin-kicking crime fighter. A vigilante cruising the back alleys and spit-washed side streets of a city so low in the depths of depravity, Hell looks down in disgust. Her Thor's hammer of rectitude is Lenore, a mighty Speculum of hope, dispensing cold justice onto the backsides of hot bods. Pursuing the parasites that inflict pain and misery on a population already depressed, repressed, dispossessed, and demon possessed, NOIR OBGYN is hardly a leggy dame to trifle with…unless the price is right and the condoms worn measure extra large.

Tough as diseased toenails, a hard drinker who never swallows, and a chain smoker who rarely inhales, NOIR OBGYN is the town's whiskey-voiced babe, marshalling both brains and her medical degree to bring a much needed semblance of feminine hygiene to this hog’s ass area of the world.

Back alleys, cul-de-sacs, streets with no names, and roads less traveled are this heroine’s nightly running paths of revenge, retribution, and retaliation. She punches, she kicks, she screams, and she nags her way past arch villains like DOUG, THE SOCIALIST DOG WALKER, RUTH THE THERAPIST, SOL THE POLLSTER, THE STENCH GANG, VIRGINAL BLISS, SCHOOL GIRL PLAID, and MISTER RIGHT NOW. Welding Lenore in one hand and her Fulsome Forceps in the other, NOIR OBGYN performs a series of frontal lobotomies on villainous back-ends.

Her base of operations: FISTULA HOSPITAL.

Nothing characterizes Turpitude's fleshy underbelly more than FISTULA HOSPITAL, a building so big and thuggish in its Brutalist architectural style that its very presence forces those living around it into a faux Russian accent. Fistula began its life as a two bit, second rate, no accountability dumpsite set up by the Federal Government to handle those cases that got away from them during illegal medical and nuclear testing procedures. While still used as a CIA black hole, it is now more commonly known as the abattoir of choice for the ill-maintained, the downtrodden, and those visitors just passing through on their way to Canada. It is also the best place to find skim milk fed veal.

Fistula is the toughest, meanest, and filthiest medical institution anywhere west of the Sargasso Sea. The hospital runs dark, dank, and dangerous, a foreboding institution of misshapen blood-soaked walls and viscera-filled corridors that lead the unlucky towards open elevators shafts and stairways towards the Styx. For civic pride it does have the largest auditorium in the city, used primarily for bingo nights, high school proms, and leaving the dropped off elderly enough space to fend for themselves.

The lights don’t work; the toilets overflow; the IV bottles are places where homeless pathogens go to die. Patients bring their own embroidery needles to suture themselves post surgery. The morgue prioritizes refrigerating beer over stiffs, and the operating bays share enemas, bandages, syringes, and bed pans with the Smiling Destitute Shelter Grocery Store next door. Fistula is forbidden to become a member of any HMO plan until one of the administrators spells HMO correctly.

What the doctors don't regurgitate up in backed up toilets, they toss on the floor for their patients and to those unnaturally large rabid pet lab rats that scurry around like cockroaches.The walls of J. Marion Sims are acoustically contoured to absorb the sound of patients during elective surgeries screaming "more morphine you bastards, more morphine." The walls of Fistula remain erect thanks to the adhesive tendencies of dried blood. The doctors at J. Marion Sims all have advanced degrees. Those working at Fistula run fevers of over 104 degrees.

Under the cover of escaped chlorine gas canisters, each hospital ferries across the river personnel to switch around patient’s charts, medications, and X-rays. This humorous fracture of the Hippocratic Oath can be traced to suppressed anger over weekend intramural sporting events between the two medical establishments (both are in the same softball league), though the sadistic glee of simply removing feeding tubes or readjusting patient pharmaceutical records cannot be denied. The animosity between the two hospitals runs deep and pathological. Each hospital so despises the other that the only legal sexual position available for fraternization is three feet on the floor and your neck in a tight noose.

NOIR OBGYN has no time for any of these silly dick-swinging contests. She has a city to save: Turpitude is a town full of sickness (something to do with prevailing winds from the meat packing plant up river) and coughing, wheezing, hacking, and sneezing up bloody mucous are part of the town’s daily conversational pattern. Fistula is a convenient place to use as her crime-fighting cave for the darkened hallways are already filled with tons of bat guano.

Like all good crime fighting heroines, NOIR OBGYN's back-story is so sordid she puts surgical gloves on when telling it. The memories of her sloppy birth haunt her to this day. While still encased in all of that coming out of mommy gunk, her parents had her surname legally swapped from Coccyx to OBGYN, thus already limiting their daughter’s professional choices in life. NOIR's parents were simple farm types, their pediatrician being a colorful character named “Doctor” Ed Gein. Her parents are no longer around. She visits them as Lorraine Incognito weekly at the Unsubtle Home for the Decrepit, where she asks them about her non-existent twin brother Caleb simply to confuse them.

As soon as NOIR developed her femininity to a Double D degree, she ran away from home, leaving behind school, friends, and her re-enrollment paperwork for 10th grade.

At that age, her medical interests were confined to certain over the counter items like Sudafed, cough suppressants, and exercised-filled walks on the beach where she found the most marvelous of collectibles.

As a typically repressed American teenager, her only knowledge of the world of OBGYN was what her fingers uncovered while bathing long and luxuriously in front of her father’s friends. Coins thrown at her at an early age still act as a psychic trigger forcing her to jump into any fountain or wading pool to perform all three acts of "The Beggar’s Opera."

Walking into Fistula early one morning to score some progestin due to an unplanned indiscretion the evening before with either Rod, Clod, or Betsy, NOIR’s name and bust line immediately drew the attention of ARNOLD, the hospital administrator. Asking her whether she had any experience with women’s health issues, NOIR calmly lied that she was from Regina, Canada and was driving her mother's stolen Volvo. She then turned her head and coughed to prove her sincerity.

Such overwhelming knowledge of female body parts was proof enough for Arnold. He immediately hired her to head the Department of Women’s Difficulties and Questionable Problems at his medical center. As a signing bonus, he told her that she could pull apart anything she wanted with her fingers. He then pointed her to the hospital gym where rolls of saltwater taffy needed pulling. She was seventeen at the time; a fact only important to the story should flashbacks become necessary.

From her first day as its mostly sober ombudsman and chief surgeon of Women’s Difficulties, NOIR faced so many insurmountable obstacles in this house of horrors that the words, “insurmountable obstacles” became the only adjective and noun written in her day planner.

24/7 is just half of her work schedule. Rushing from teaching high schoolers in Turpitude's grade schools how best to wash out their needle wounds to sand blasting crust, rust, or dust from her patients nether regions, NOIR OBGYN has only time to sweat through one of her glands and then only discretely with friends for nationwide publication.

She'd much rather spend her time battling bad people in the various toxic sink-holes of Turpitude than make those obligatory doctor rounds she first discovers are necessary from watching reruns of "St. Elsewhere" and "ER." The neo-natal care unit just freaks her out. As a woman, she has suddenly discovered the difference between the birth canal and the Panama Canal. The screaming babies, the faulty pumps spraying milk over flaking ceiling, and those wacky nurses with their dopey game of racial and gender baby switching drive NOIR to fondle both Johnny Walker Red and his brother Hiram.

As of late, NOIR OBGYN has been forced to recruit her RN staff from prisons, work camps, and underground terrorist cells, realizing these candidates know how to work well under pressure and have the fundamentals to dispose of bodies without trace elements bobbing back up to the surface. Even better, none of them speak English, which makes giving them orders all that much easier.

NOIR remains responsible for all the hospital’s alcohol and drug abuse out-patient clinics as well as she is the only one on staff who can walk a straight line during much of the day. She eases her fellow doctors from their dependencies by showing them documentaries on the successful treatment of Amy Winehouse.

On weekends, she counsels self-esteem and assertiveness to all the hookers plying their FUNdamentals in the back alley of the hospital. She takes a piece of their daily action in cash rather than go through the nonsense of filling out silly insurance forms. As an incentive to keep the girls in the program matching towards the Lord, a steady supply of medical grade morphine is left in small easily identifiable trash bags in the hospital’s chapel. NOIR discovered long ago that to fight the big crimes, small indiscretions must sometimes occur.

Outside of doctoring and crime fighting, her life is mess. Through her apartment, runs a tributary of the Turpitude River, which makes the rent cheap, and the cleaning up easy. Cat fur covers all her Goodwill furniture though she has no cat. Her wicker baskets overflow with unopened condoms so dusty cockroaches use them as breeding grounds of their own. Located on every inch of her floor are medical books stolen from the local library. She plans to read them one day if ever the need arises.

One other portion of her day should be addressed. From midnight to 6AM, NOIR pole dances at Heidi's Oil, Lube and All You Can Eat Lounge under the name Bennett Serf. Using her speculum as part of her act, she entertains the clientele by contorting into positions not yet recognized by Kama Sutra publications. Since the lighting at Heidi's is set at non-existent, no one there recognizes her as the doctor who earlier that day fixed their STD infections.


PEEPS is the street vendor outside Heidi’s. Peeps serves Noir discounted day old souvlaki in payment for medical exams for his six daughters. He also has his ear to the ground...literally since an unfortunate run-in with a vice grip elongated one beyond the norm. He is the go to guy for all street info including, but not limited to sanitation pick-up and paper delivery services.

DELTOID EDDY is her favorite customer from Heidi's and the only clean detective in town. His fingers are never outstretched for payola because his hands are always in his pockets due to a slight case of Asberger Syndrome. He views this woman as something more than a stripper with a martyr complex. He wants to sleep with her but can never get his hands out of his pockets fast enough to unlock his apartment, so she gets bored and leaves.

Jaywalkers or serial murders are the same in the eyes of Deltoid Eddy who ends up bagging and tagging them though not necessarily in that order. There isn’t a night or day or mid-morning that NOIR is not pulling knives, bullets, meat cleavers or gerbils out of Deltoid Eddy. Thank goodness her normal clientele gives her so much practice.

Deltoid Eddy has yet to make the connection that the doctor he adores is also his favorite stripper or Turpitude's crime fighting vigilante. Given her salary, NOIR never changes out of her bloody work clothes. Deltoid Eddy is remains in the dark. He is after all only a detective first grade.

WET NURSE WILLY is NOIR’s androgynous friend and the only one who knows her fighting chick identity. HE/SHE can lactate at the drop of a hat whenever a child or a 40-year-old male needs feeding which apparently is quite often. Wet Nurse knows the seamier side of Turpitude because as a seamstress, what else would she know? She also has all the solvents to clean out viscera from NOIR’s support hose.

Sometimes NOIR must go beyond the law to right a wrong or make a wrong less foul. When she needs to score a quick fix to give to her informants, she calls on PRENATAL ANNIE, the pharmaceutical dispenser of all pills great and small. Why she dresses in a Catholic schoolgirl outfit when she delivers her prescriptions for happiness is anyone’s guess. She is Jewish.

TAILGATER PATRICE is the purveyor with everything at his disposal. Whatever NOIR needs to battle crime above and beyond her female equipment, Tailgater is there at her disposal with weapons, sealing wax, or envelopes. He asks no questions. He expects no answers. In fact, unless he’s discussing what’s in the back of his VW Beetle, he has nothing to say about anything to anyone. On casual Fridays, Tailgater stops by at 9AM with keggers galore for NOIR's surgical staff.

ARNOLD is her feckless, reckless and fustian boss; he’s also a corpulent louse running insurance scams, racketeering, slavery rings, and body parts salvaging out of his office. He works every angle like a man possessed. He has three twerps to put through private school and hourly psychiatric care for his wife GLADYS. Underage Bangkok hookers and tranny medical coders run him a pretty penny as well. Away from the hospital, the man relaxes by operating online educational classes on constitutional rights, art history, and animation writing for children’s programming.

Because Arnold is always in need of scratch, the man wallows in the pig trough with ROY. Roy is an android-cyborg-extraterrestrial third year resident student who pays him top dollar to abduct and anally probe a few of the more paranoid and delusional on his medical staff. As Arnold sees it, if these people truly believe in ETs and anal probes why not make a few bucks off their mental disorders? This allows Arnold's nephew HORACE a steady supply of patients with itchy asses when Roy returns them back to the hospital. Horace is a board certified proctologist and everyone’s favorite public accountant with a bogus business degree.


No one in Turpitude is without guilt; no one is without sin. Sunday sermons are cut short, not by gunfire but by yawns of been there, done that, what can we do next to aggravate the good Lord. What was once the moral center of each individual is now a fast food drive-in of sin, corruption, and wanton needs.

Each street of Turpitude is run by a different gang. This means public transportation schedules vary from block to block. Getting from one villain to another is both time-consuming and expensive. NOIR would drive to her destinations except those DUIs just won’t disappear no matter who often she asks Deltoid Eddy to erase them. For convenient crime-fighting expediency she prefers to see all the bad guys come to the hospital for Monday bingo nights, all you can eat Tuesdays, free bullet removal Wednesdays, bitch and bull slapping Thursdays, free armaments Fridays, quit smoking Saturdays, and tell us your embarrassing stories about the clergy Sundays.

BUTCH THE MIDWIFE is one of Turpitude’s worst felons. He hangs around the streets waiting for something, anything that needs his birthing skills. He has a sixth sense and knows instinctively when squirrels, snails, and puppy dog tails are ready to drop their young. He handles human births as well. He loves screaming the words “push you bitch” at total strangers including any males passing by. He asks for no midwife fees knowing that as a drug dealer, he will get the young whelps sooner or later. NOIR plans to bring him and his criminal organization down even if it means no more free Lamaze classes at the hospital.

DOUG, THE COMMUNIST DOG WALKER, is a small slip of a man. In fact, he has been known to wear slips while walking his feral hounds. Doug refuses to walk anyone’s pooch without first quizzing the owner about the dialectic. If the dog answers incorrectly, he feeds the animal a diuretic right before dropping the capitalist animal off to its owners.

OSHKOSH IN NEED OF THERAPY does nothing nefarious without first contacting her unseen therapist over her cell phone. No matter how dastardly the plan, as long as it does not infringe on anyone’s personal space is fine with the therapist.

SOL THE POLLSTER is the town statistician and works both sides of the cyclone fence. Villains use him to poll the fright response of the general public; NOIR uses his services to poll how short her crime-fighting smock should be or the best stiletto heels for grinding into the groins of male malefactors and for those females who grew a pair.

THE STENCH GANG is a group of mutated rats, ferrets, bunnies, and cockroaches who have grown to near human size by swimming too long in the Turpitude River. They commissioned Sol the Pollster to poll the best name for themselves. Stench Gang won out, barely beating Unpaid Bills and Woofer and Tweeter.

VIRGINAL BLISS is a group of Japanese schoolgirls who dress like Japanese schoolgirls. They roam the city menacing onlookers by telling them how best to use their cell phones and cameras before selling them upgrades.

MISTER RIGHT NOW leads a gang of over very handsome extraterrestrial males with square jaws, deep voices and muscular builds who refuse to work any Earth jobs. They pray on the affections of lonely women they meet in the used car classified ads on Craigslist.


NOIR OBGYN is an OBGYN out to clean up a city festooned with corrupt doctors, lawyers, drug dealers, aliens, paranoid schizophrenics, insurance agents, cops, robbers, teachers, children and various other folk who sit around in moral squalor and physical degradation, shooting off their guns, shooting up their drugs, and shooting off their mouths.

This is a crime fighting saga that trends on the familiar territory of “one virtuous vigilante against many sickos” and the use of the words “our hero” to an escalating degree of repetitiveness. Our hero comes from a hardscrabble background where learning early the difference between right and wrong helped her understand up from down and left from right.

Our heroine works in darkness and in shadows but with the right sunscreen is willing to work outside at high noon. Our heroine has a catchy name that impresses people who never mastered all the letters of the alphabet. Our heroine brandishes specialized crime fighting tools only she and every female of a certain age are familiar with.

Though her town is in ruins, her personal life a shambles, and her professional life one background check away from prison, she refuses to compromise or fold although as a part time stripper, she can bend like a willow in a hurricane. She trolls the streets, buildings, landfills, side alleys and social halls bringing street justice to a town too dumb to realize it no longer needs rabbit ears to see "American Idol." Through those blood shot angel eyes of hers, she sees for Turpitude a better tomorrow because at this very moment, it sucks.

Wednesday, January 10, 1990

Adventures on Marrs...Landfill: The Diary Begins

Please begin with this introduction:


I am surprised that Marrs is a planet of wet garbage, rotting clothes and lots of broken electronic junk. I must write all of my observations down in my diary. I love Ms. Goff as if she were my first cousin, but was she ever wrong! Ms. Goff showed us pictures of Marrs as a dry, cold, and desolate world. She described it as a planet probably “devoid of life”. I was just dive bombed by a Marrtian wasp and nearly gobbled up by a Marrtian centipede. No more than a football field away from me there are Marrtian aliens roaming around, strapped to big smoke-breathing monsters . I wonder if football fields are the same distance on Marrs as they are on Earth? I will remember to measure both once I know exactly what a yard is.

When I get back home, I will suggest to my favorite sixth grade teacher that she let us eat all of her out-dated science books. I will inform her that Marrs looks just like the floor in her classroom after a day with her children. Writing this diary about Marrs exploration will not be easy. I must observe everything and write it all down. What an important job for a sixth grader!

My fellow astronauts are sort of confused and scared at the moment. They don't understand why our beautiful glass house was shot off into space. It's now a complete mess. But we will survive because that's what we do for a living: Survive. Ms. Goff said that you couldn't kill any of us off with nuclear weapons,whatever those are. We will all work together to make the best of a situation made more difficult because none of us know what we're supposed to be doing or who we should be following. We did not volunteer for this mission. We didn't even know we were in training to go anywhere except around the next leaf or twig; otherwise we would have packed overnight bags (though we also have no idea what an overnight bag is).

We never signed a contract to be anything but who we are; but if Mr. Houston orders us to colonize Marrs, then that's all the reason we need. We're patriots if nothing else. We would have made all of our relatives proud of us -- except we brought them all along with us. I just wish we were packing ray-gun heat like in those games Ms. Goff's kids play when her back is turned. I wonder if this is a good beginning to an astronaut journal?


I have always fantasized about being an explorer, especially of outer space, and now here I am. When he could remember my name apart from all of those of all my brothers and sisters, my dad would call me, Irvin the Dreamer. My mother would just call me too thin to be her son, so eat. For the longest period of time, I thought my name was "So Eat."

Instead of learning how to secrete like all of my friends, I would sit alone and stare up at the skies at night, dreaming I was floating around with all the other astronauts Mr. Houston sent up there. Not without proper insulation, mind you. I wouldn’t want the vacuum of space to squash me like a bug. I’m a bug already so who knows what I would have ended up looking like.

I wanted to leave home ever since Ms. Goff first put up a map of the solar system and began showing films about space travel. I never thought I would ever escape my glass house, let alone end up walking around the surface of Marrs -- especially not with all of my lifelong friends, as well as those mean neighborhood bullies who look at me as a box lunch.

Our very existence depends on us being adaptable and getting along with one another. The Marrtian terrain has mountains and mountains of hot and cold junk. What isn’t on fire or blowing in the wind is collecting icky maggots or rusting away under a blazing sun. The Marrtian air has a stinky smell that, surprisingly, we all find quite appetizing.

Right now I am reconnoitering our position, traipsing on enough red planet food to keep all of us fat and sassy for a million lifetimes. Why does all of this look suspiciously like the mystery meats and tuna salads found on the walls of Ms. Goff’s classroom after her offspring throw their lunches at each other? At least none of us will starve to death up here, but is that really why Mr. Houston spent millions of dollars to send us to this place: so we can feed ourselves until we can’t scuttle, waddle, fly or flee? The others on my team could care less, but I for one believe we have a higher mission to accomplish.

We must watch wherever we walk. A greasy, sticky liquid cakes everything. It oozes out of the ground and tastes like a combination of marmalade, old cat food, bread crumbs, poop, and transmission fluid -- all food groups that are wonderful in their own right, but can be poisonous when mixed together. Lucky for me I overheard Ms. Goff say once that my kind not only breeds like cockroaches but have cast iron stomachs as well. I hope that was not meant as an ethnic slur! I note with sadness what getting stuck in this slop has done to past explorers. It seems to have made them slap happy before they died. They all have smiles on their faces.

I just got hit in the face by the tail of a rat the size of a turkey pot roast. Birds flying overhead look like things Ms. Goff called Pterodactyls though I’m certain on Earth they would be called sea gulls. One of the kids in class brought in a documentary that showed a Pterodactyl destroying Tokyo until an even larger monster came up from the sea and hit him in the nose. We never found out what a Tokyo was or why it was always being destroyed, but I’ve already discovered these very same monsters here on Marrs. The wind blows them around a lot. I swear they look like balloons.
There are smoke-belching dragons only yards away from our space pod. They do nothing but move our food source and our communications equipment from one hill to another. Then they compact it all and toss it on another hill. Seems like a waste of time. Two-legged martians in white suits marked "Toxic" roam around the landscape. They have human features but they never take off their helmets. Maybe Marrtians can't breathe their own air.

These creatures keep picking shiny things up and putting them into bags only to cart the bags away to who knows where. Maybe these human-like things are not Marrtians after all, but time travelers from some other planet. This really scares me because they might be the sort of flying saucer people I keep hearing about who do those weird experiments on confused humans and dairy cows. This Marrtian world is fit for neither man nor beast. Luckily for us, we don’t fit into either of these categories. I like how this journal is coming along.

What sort of jerks lived here before us? Ms. Goff never mentioned any previous civilizations on Marrs, but whoever they were, they certainly were wasteful. Everywhere I step looks like a commercial for a big box store on Earth: cartons of cell phones, ugly pairs of shoes, oversized dresses, coats and ties that only sportscasters and clowns would be caught dead in, computers, batteries, cars, plastic bottles. There is also a half-eaten baloney sandwich now under my feet.

I know from box stores because at night the janitors who cleaned up around us turned on the television set in Miss Goff's room to a channel selling all this very rubbish under our feet. Now what are the odds of that?

Have I mentioned my name yet? My name is IRWIN and this is the most important mission any cockroach could ever be entrusted with. I wonder if NASA offers good medical insurance? All the bugs, slugs, grubs, worms, ants, flies, beetles, stink bugs, grasshoppers, centipedes, millipedes, and other Arthropods and Mollusks who unwillingly accompanied me here look to me, I guess, for direction because I look very studious in my glasses and I know where we are. The responsibility is already killing me. I need to rest longer on this baloney sandwich.

Our home now is this partially cracked glass house. It was so beautiful and stately before it traveled to Mars. Ms. Goff called it a terrarium, but we called it Casa a Pupae. It was located north of her desk near a dictionary, a globe of our planet which never moved beyond some island called Manhattan, a gold-star filled wall, a flag, and a picture of some guy in a suit with snake eyes smiling down on us.

Casa a Pupae broke apart when we crash-landed, but we can still take sanctuary within it. We have fortified it as best as we can against both the weather and the indigenous life forms found here. We will soon try to establish communications with Earth. I wonder what “indigenous” means?

My great-great-great-great-great-grandfather used to tell me that his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather, Tucker, was the very first occupant of the glass house -- even before there were any plants and water. That shows you how tough my bloodstock is, though I don’t think I have any blood. According to legend, Tucker was lifted off the floor and placed inside by a teacher who caught him eating tuna salad sandwich droppings. From that day on, Tucker was known as Tuna Salad Tucker. That name stuck just like his many feet did.

Over the centuries, the glass house became home to millions of creatures and zillions of plants. The house extended for such a distance that no one I know had ever walked its length. Another Tucker once claimed there was a large body of water off in the distance, but I was not going out there to find it.

I was satisfied with my little piece of ground I called "my little piece of ground". As for water, well there was always that stupid looking kid Jerry who, when Miss Goff's back was turned, would open up our ceiling and pour over me a warm yellow liquid from a can. He laughed, but I was refreshed for the day. Then Ms. Goff began to talk about outer space.

Danger lurked in every corner of the glass house, so you would think that a sensible cockroach would not want to leave the safety of his leaf. Many of my relatives, however, had what SOLLY THE APHID said were "shpilkes," which I always thought had something to do with dating. Those wacky teens wanted out of our small community in the worst possible way. Not one ever came back to tell us what they saw. That map of the solar system looked so inviting and not just to eat. I knew that I would have to leave one day as well.

CECILIA MANTIS was no bedtime ghost story.
She was out there somewhere, just waiting to pounce on anything that came close to her. Walking around in circles was fine with me for the time being, as was climbing up to the glass ceiling to get a better view of Ms. Goff and her kids.

Ms. Goff taught science most of the time, but answered questions on any subject. I never yawned once, let alone fell asleep,though something called an isosceles triangles made no sense to me.

I learned that science was all about small poofs of smoke, flames that shot out of tubes, and much shaking of liquids. Often her children would just stare at us and forget to pay attention to what Ms. Goff was saying. Sometimes they even made faces at me or threw paper in my direction. Other times they would gaze up at the ceiling. I would gaze up at the ceiling as well to see what they were looking at. I saw nothing but cracking plaster. I still have no idea what her kids were looking at. Then they would all cry when test results came back.

Except for the ghost stories about Cecilia, I had a good life in the glass house. I would wake up at dawn when I remembered to and then stare at the big map of stars across the room. Every day Ms. Goff would show a lot of films to her class. Everyone at Casa a Pupae would gather in the front row and watch and snack and watch and snack.

There were movies about our relatives and how we were born and eaten. That scared most of us into not chewing on anything afterwards for at least a minute. Most of the girls wondered where the cameras were located and became very paranoid whenever they went away to do certain things. I guess I didn’t care because I was a guy.

I especially loved watching movies about space travel. I did get tired of hearing the sound of RHONDA MILLIPEDE trying to recreate the roar of a rocket launching while scratching her back legs. JOSE TARANTULA would sit in the back making fun of the special effects. He said we were actually watching something created in a barn he once lived in. Of course no one told Jose to quiet down. Anyone who did was never heard from again. Jose called it the law of the jungle. I never knew he went to law school.

It was a good life, a carefree life, a life worth living. Then one day it all ground to a halt. No more movies; no more Ms. Goff; no more water or free food or yellow liquid poured on me; no more classes in space travel. The lights never came back on and the room remained silent. Our glass top became so dirty we couldn't even see outside our world. We began to live in a perpetual twilight that upset everyone's sleep cycles, except, of course, the cicadas.

Something strange was happening. We checked the last school calendar on the wall. We were aware of all holidays because Ms. Goff and her kids would feed us extra grass and wave goodbye before leaving. Some would throw us boughs of holly or decorate our walls with photographs of pumpkins or turkeys or drawings of human skeletons. She had some very strange holidays, but she and her family of kids always returned.

There was that long time during the summer when only large humans in green overalls appeared. They came and fed us and made sure all the waterfalls were working. They dusted and swept the floors, and tore things apart and put them back together again. And then, when the leaves began to change color by SALLY LADYBUG’S accounting process, a bunch of new children would arrive with Ms. Goff.

A lot of the females were quite jealous of Ms. Goff. Every year as summer approached, she would wave goodbye to her kids; then, three months later she would arrive back with 20-30 new kids almost fully grown. Only ODETTA THE DRAGONFLY produced better behaved offspring that quickly.

It was already fall and no men in green overalls had come into the room to dust or to check on us. RALPH THE ANT kept saying that the end was close at hand and that we should stockpile while we still had a chance. How could Ralph know when he had no hand? SEDGWICK THE GRASSHOPPER laughed whenever Ralph said that. Sedgwick stole whatever he needed from Ralph's stockpile when he was away visiting his Queen. SIDNEY THE DUNG BEETLE threatened to tell on him, but Sedgwick cut him in on some of the food so Sidney kept quiet.

So one morning, while I was sitting on top of a mulberry leaf thinking about traveling to Marrs, a bunch of really big humans came into the room. They were not dressed in green. They began to take away the desks and chairs and tables. They broke open the floors and cracked apart the walls. Our glass house began to rattle. Then someone threw a large cloth over us. We were in total darkness.

Then Casa a Pupae shook like it never shook before. All the trees and bushes tore away from the ground. We all went sailing hard against the sides of the walls. I finally met Cecilia who looked just as terrified as the rest of us. I knew something was wrong when she clung onto me to keep her balance. It felt just like the way I imagined a rocket ship might feel on the way to Mars. I told everyone that.

We were swinging back and forth so much I thought I would never get Cecilia off of me. Then bang! The glass house landed on something. We were screaming and shouting but then a rough-voiced human said, "This load is heading to Marrs…" I didn’t catch the last word but it sounded like “fill” or "spill". Maybe we were going to one of Mars' moons though I never heard Ms. Goff talk about any.

Then engines revved up. I screamed we were starting lift-off into outer space. Everyone went nuts and began biting each other's heads off, but I felt exhilarated. I climbed up the wall to get a better view of the booster rocket. I also wanted to see what Mr. Houston looked like.

At first we moved very very slowly. Then, with a sudden whoosh, I lost my footing and fell back to the bottom again right into the waiting claws of Cecelia. I told her we were trying to fight our way past Earth’s gravitational pull. She looked as if she had just eaten one of her husbands. I told her about pounds per square inch and thrust power. She told me not to leave her and started to cry.

Then I heard the secondary rockets kick in. It was a sort of herky-jerky grinding sound. We were climbing at a steep angle. I wondered whether NASA knew what they were doing because cracks opened up at the top corners of Casa a Pupae. The sealant was coming apart. I could see my life before my eyes, all of them. We would end up floating around in space like some old Russian satellite and come down to Earth on someone's head.

Cecelia pushed me along as we crawled up the side of the glass house, trying desperately to get through one of the cracks. More and more cracks appeared. We were losing air pressure. I felt faint. I wanted to see Earth one final time. Cecelia cried out that she was sorry for eating all of her husbands. I guess marriage is tougher than I thought.

Outside, the world was moving past very quickly. We still seemed to be on the ground. That was strange: Rockets always went up in Ms. Goff’s movies not sideways. Then I saw something up ahead. It said MARRS NEXT EXIT. Holy wheat stalks! I must have passed out and just regained consciousness. We were already there.

Marrs was closer to Earth than Ms. Goff let on. The rocket ship had turned into a truck and was now traveling down a bumpy dirt road. Very clever engineers at NASA to design a rocket ship as a truck. Ms Goff had spelled the planet with only one "R". Maybe she needed more than a masters to teach after all. I slipped back down into the waiting tentacles of Cecilia who hugged me as if I were one of her half-eaten children.

Casa a Pupae stopped rattling. A sudden Marrtian wind lifted our house up in the air. We felt weightless but only for a few seconds. We were coming down ugly onto the Marrtian landscape. This would be a hard landing. There was a large crash. Our house tumbled over and over again. Everything was breaking up around us.

The covering blew off. Casa a Pupae was resting on its side next to mountains and mountains of Marrs junk. Several soldier ants came out from under some leaves and saw this as a very good defensive position.

According to my calculations, we’re now been on Marrs now for years. I can't tell time yet, but so far the sun has yet to set. We’ve tried to fix the break in our shelter, but the warm smelly Marrtian air continues to make work difficult. Our home is a total disaster, but now the place really does have a lived-in look.

We’re already had plenty of multi-legged visitors sniffing around our house. I’ve convinced Matilda to try to set up some form of communications with Planet Earth. Lodged in a bottom corner crack is a cell phone. The Earth signal is weak. Mr. Houston asks if we want anchovies with the pizza.

Tuesday, January 9, 1990



When genetic mutation transforms evolution from a jagged lurch toward perfection into a Möbius band of horror, it's time for some new heroes to emerge. This is the story of a boy and a girl and a monster who attempt to reverse the effects of an experiment that has spun out of control and turned Earth into a battlefield.


On New Year's Day, 2029, sixteen-year-old twin brothers named Kanvik formed the CLONETECH Corporation. With one patent, the corporation would, within months of its founding, become the most advanced biogenetic and climate manipulation research institute in the world.

IAN Kanvik was the showman of the two, preferring the limelight and parties after 20-hour workdays; THEO Kanvik rarely raised his voice above a whisper, desiring only two things: a clean laboratory and spending as much time as possible with his research papers. Considered geniuses on the order of an Einstein, Galileo, or Newton, the brothers set the world on fire. Ian reveled in the widely held belief he was a genius and made sure everyone knew it; Theo stood in the shadows and let his calculations speak for themselves. Both agreed on one principle: no problem on Earth was insoluble or undecipherable to the Brothers Kanvik.

The Kanviks re-engineered mankind itself by creating the impossible: one extra chromosome strand to add to a human's original strand of 23. Known as the XYZ Inhibitor, this synthetic chromosomal pair would revolutionize mankind in ways known only to subsequent generations, by which time it was far too late to reverse the process. In 2029, no one cared about any untoward future effects, for the human animal had suddenly discovered Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth.

Given to a child in utero, the XYZ Inhibitor neutralized and then corrected any imperfections of the other 23 chromosome pairs, while producing a generation-proof protective crystalline coating. Once inoculated, no child would be a carrier of genetic defects that could be passed on to future offspring.

Genetics-based diseases that had killed, crippled, or shortened the lives of hundreds of millions over the span of human history vanished immediately. Family histories of strokes, cancers, and heart disease ended with this new generation. Even the normal aging process slowed to a respectable crawl.

Life appeared limitless and the possibilities endless. Of course the Inhibitor offered no protection against hot lead, stupid stunts, drunk drivers, or an indolent attitude towards eating junk food while drinking like a fish and smoking like a chimney. No advances in science could ever compel man to not purposely do himself in.

There were, however, some bizarre side effects as the children grew older. The Inhibitor gave them the ability to survive in ways only previously contemplated by science fiction writers. Salt water turned out to be as harmless to drink as milk. Drought disappeared as oceans became one large aquafina for this new generation. Ozone level depletion grew to be inconsequential. The Inhibitor prevented any coarsening damage to skin from exposure to vast amounts of the sun’s ultra violet rays. Now baking oneself to a crisp left the sun worshipper with nothing more than a golden tan and excess vitamin D.

Several years later, CLONETECH produced a second generation of the XYZ Inhibitor for expectant mothers. This new version created more oddities of human nature. The children born of mother's injected with Inhibitor 2.0 developed a multi-purpose digestive system with enzymes powerful enough to break down anything short of diamonds, sulfuric acid, and motor oil. Everything became edible, be it pan fried or grilled. Muscle and tensile strength grew exponentially. The wonderful choice of hunting like a cheetah or eating a cheetah became a matter of habit and taste. The world clamored for even more advances from CLONETECH.

The brothers did not disappoint them. With the use of DNA cell replication and amber enhancement, nothing extinct remained extinct for long. New and additional species were developed for fun and profit. Jurassic Parks became all the rage, breeding extinct animals for sport hunting or to be served at exotic food festivals. Fantastic hybrids resembling creatures out of Godzilla movies were engineered for the amusement of zookeepers and children.

There were even rumors on the outer fringes of the Ian Kanvik cult that he was playing around with the reanimation of dead tissue and that there was a wing of the company called ZOMBIECLONE. Ian denied that foolishness, but given how much good the brothers had given the world, many people believed a little bit of the dead coming back to life scenario would not have been the worst thing to occur.

Thanks to the Kanvik's engineering projects, Earth became a world without want or worry…except for those occasional bloody conflicts where it would take five times as many bullets to kill a single soldier than it did in previous wars. Hospital stays were measured in seconds; babies were now born perfect. Even the stupid greed of industrialists was mitigated by the very strength of this new human body, which now could withstand all but the worst toxins and poisons cast in the atmosphere and spilled into the ground. Living in toxic landfills became no more of a problem than swimming in oceans full of mercury and PCBs.

Then Theo Kanvik awoke one morning and became scared to death of this new form of paradise on Earth. While mankind appeared to be riding the crest of an Eden-like environment, a small band of concerned scientists, led by Theo himself, began to warn against additional Inhibitor advancements and recommended a complete stop to its distribution. Spending long evenings in the laboratories and pouring over obscure scientific data from within CLONETECH, Theo had discovered the Malignancy. At the time of his discover, the XYZ Inhibitor had already been on the marketplace for 20 years.

Theo determined that synthetic gene creation was in actuality a self-decaying poison pill. It was one thing to eradicate all genetic diseases from mankind, but subsequent Inhibitor advancements were causing mankind to mutate into a race that would soon no longer be considered human. Mankind, Theo concluded, would reach an evolutionary apex within the next several generations, and then begin to regress, to devolve backwards to a certain point. Then the process of evolving would commence again. Humanity would ride a continuous roller coaster loop until the species itself died out.

Ian ignored his brother, and with the aid of his powerful friends shut down all dissent. Then Theo and his wife mysteriously disappeared one night in a boating accident, leaving behind his twin babies, ROLAND & SYDNEY.

Raised by various relatives, Theo's twins finally ended up in the care of their uncle Ian. Neither child, nor for that matter anyone within the extended Kanvik family, had been given the Inhibitor before birth. While parents clamored for it around the world, the Kanviks did not volunteer their own children.

Over time, both Roland and Sydney grew to be world-class scientists. Even as sixteen year-olds, their grasp of CLONETECH's work led them into the same maze of research intelligence as their father. What they found shocked them to their core.

They concluded, as had Theo, that instead of being man’s salvation over the previous two decades, the implantation of the Inhibitor into the very fabric of human existence was now a waiting hangman’s noose. As the 24th chromosome progressed from one generation to the next, it would begin to set off acids that would eat slowly and microscopically into the structural linings of surrounding chromosomes. Subsequent generations would slowly devolve as the DNA strands became more and more primitive and fragile. Then the process would somehow begin to right itself temporarily, only to have new generations fall further backwards. Frankenstein had not created a monster; he had created a caveman.

Confronting their uncle would not be an easy task. Fifteen years before, Ian had taken them in as his own; but a palpable unease existed between the twins and their uncle Ian. Unanswered questions regarding the fate of their parents hung heavy over every conversation, and Ian’s nonchalance toward the disappearance was disquieting to say the least.

Ian confirmed with a smile and a headshake the genuineness of their detective work and with it the genius of the Kanvik bloodline. It had taken their father years to uncover and confirm what these two young wizards had unearthed in several months of determined sleuthing. Fifteen years before, Ian, himself, had confirmed the deadliness of the Inhibitor through his own experiments. Why do you think none of the Kanviks ever received any of it?

Instead of stopping the program, Ian continued it, believing that eventually, he and his team would find the correct formula for mankind. Making omelets means eggs are dropped on the floor. Scientific discovery is not without pain. In addition, lawsuits brought against CLONETECH would have not only ruined the company, but would have put him behind bars or worse for the next millennium. By the time the real effects were known, Ian would be a distant memory, if human memory even existed by then.

When Rodney and Sydney threatened to go public with their results, Ian did what all villainous uncles do. He had the kids disappear.

All their notes, annotations, and interpretations on the Inhibitor were summarily destroyed; all their friends and other nosey parkers were enhanced and, through the use of extraordinary rendition, sequestered in the various CLONETECH prison systems of the world. Nonetheless, Ian Kanvik, ever the softy, believed a few years away from Earth might straighten his young relatives out, so he made them vanish in a much more classy and humane fashion.

The real adventure begins

On a cold and rainy Halloween day 2069, Roland and Sydney Kanvik were sent off site to the CLONETECH colony on Mars for some tough love. Blasting off from the CLONETECH launch pad that day was a rather nondescript solar-fueled spacecraft with two cryonically sealed compartments. Waving good bye to the both of them, no doubt with a tear in his eye, Ian expected to see them both return one day as two changed and responsible members of his society.

It was supposed to be an uneventful journey. It would have been except for that sudden sunspot explosion that caked the solar panels with far too many alpha gamma delta omega rays, sending the drone into a synchronized death orbit between the Earth and the Red Planet. Their small craft became a floating tomb lost, misplaced, and unnoticed amidst all the other junk suspended up there; yet it continued to function properly because it received constant energy from the sun.

The two kids were soon forgotten, another lost couple in a series of Kanvik family mishaps. For 500 years, the spacecraft propelled around in space; then another series of sun spot explosions jettisoned it out of its meaningless orbit and back down towards Earth, where it crashed into the Pacific Ocean.

Their temperature controlled coffins smashed on impact, throwing Roland and Sydney against the broken solar panels and the jammed hatch. That was one lousy awakening. They figured their uncle would put them through that thumping even before sending them off to the Martian prison.

The twins waited for the hatch to open. Why were they feeling seasick? Where were the CLONETECH officials? Why was it taking the guards so long to open up the cabin?

They were rocking on mountains of liquid: Cold water seeped through cracked windows and hull breaches. When did Mars develop oceans and violent waves? Who cared? They were about to drown.

Then the hatch door ripped apart. Standing in front of them is Sasquatch! Water rushes in; the craft sinks under the waves.

Of course the three make it safely out of there.

Their rescuer is a mutated human named LAND, leader of a tribe of simple fishermen and dirt-poor farmers who work for a NORMAL. A NORMAL, Land explains in some strangulated form of English, are people who look like Roland and Sydney. Were they related to the NORMALS on the hill?

Land had rescued the twins, but he hoped that they would not whip him for being out fishing beyond his family boundaries. The twins promise not to touch the eight-foot tall, 500-pound behemoth.

Rodney and Sydney discover a world coarsened by 20 generations of Inhibitor chromosomes. It's full of three-story high Venus flytraps, rodents the size of tanks, acid rivers filled with 50-foot carnivorous koi, man-eating cockroaches, prehistoric beasts, flying hybrid monsters, and Cyclops-like humans. Littering the countryside are living machines, broken down cyborgs, anti gravitational weaponry, and half human/half beast highwaymen. One scientific advancement five hundred plus years earlier had caused all of this damage.

Amongst all of this chaos and anarchy, a new class of human had not so much arisen as stayed the same, scions of the humans that half a millennium before were purposely not given the Inhibitor. These NORMALS now ruled a planet gone mad with constant experimentation. Their attempts to maintain control over this wildness had, over the centuries, plunged Earth, into a veritable caste system based solely on levels of mutation.

LAND, a natural storyteller, tells the twins of one such NORMAL, smarter and more wicked than all the rest, who myth spinners allege has the magic to restore all people to being NORMAL. Rodney and Sydney want to know where this Doctor Moreau lives. Does he already have the magic bullet?

Rodney and Sydney remember the rejuvenation formula found in their father’s notes and of his concern that no good would come of a world blanketed by the effects of the Inhibitor. What could two teens do in a world no longer recognizable to them to rectify the damage done to Earth by five centuries of the Inhibitor? Where would they start? Would they have any allies? Could the ingredients for the formula be found? Could they survive a landscape of oversized animals, constant human mutation, and the armed might of the ruling NORMALS?

LAND will accompany them in their travels for his family unit disappeared one evening without a trace and with no explanation. In their travels they will meet a beautiful fugitive NORMAL named BEATRICE, a direct descendant of the chief architect behind the Inhibitor. She has seen the Leader of Leaders and describes him as a tall handsome man with steely blue eyes, a strong prominent chin, a shock of black hair, and a strong booming voice that can be heard far over any crowd. In fact, Beatrice is stunned at the facial similarities between the Leader and Rodney and Sydney. It seems that Ian Kanvik after five centuries, is quite alive and still giving orders.

Monday, January 8, 1990

Alien AuPair

By Sidney Iwanter

Synopsis: Fifteen year old Angus Aupair is so shy and introspective his fellow students know of his existence only through word of mouth and the fact that he has a smile for everyone. Angus writes articles for the school newspaper, the subjects of which are so arcane and indecipherable that several have been published in the Journal of “What’s this All About Alphonse?”. He authors gushy language to his girlfriend Roxanne, who really isn't his girlfriend. Roxanne believes love poetry should contain at least one word that does not require the assistance of the Unabridged Oxford English Dictionary, and so she believes Angus is actually a piece of undigested gruel. Angus's optimistic outlook on life is put to the test the day he looks up and sees a spacecraft hovering overhead with five car sick alien kids heaving their lunch down onto him. By surviving that vomitus encounter (most recipients simply melted away), Angus is offered the position of lifetime, au pair to a family of intergalactic cops. If he refuses, Earth suffers a fate worse than death: every teen will be forced to forever listen to their parent's music.

Look up the word “introspective” and right next to its pronunciation key and those really weird Indo-European root derivation symbols will be the sweet and beguiling picture of fifteen year-old ANGUS AUPAIR. Surprisingly docile and acquiescent for a boy so far into teen-hood, Angus prefers an environment of quietude and contemplation. He finds the dropping of a pin on a shearling coat cacophonous. Non-confrontational in every aspect of his existence, Angus prefers the path less traveled -- a dirt road will do just fine.

On most weekends, Angus can be found sitting under a spreading chestnut tree, dangling his feet over Placid Falls, and composing poetry on his two favorite subjects: pumice and the love of his life, Roxanne. Even with the black flies, the sand fleas, and the mosquitoes continuously buzzing around him, Angus is a contented young man. But no American advertiser will pay good money betting that 9-14 year-olds will watch a well-adjusted kid sit under a tree writing poetry to a girl who barely knows he exists. What do you think this is: children’s television from France?

So let’s start our story the way so many begin today, with an exciting and totally inexplicable supernatural event. The event in question happens the day after yesterday. Follow Angus as he walks through the toxic waste dump just down the street from his nondescript home. Watch as Angus notes a buzzing sound high above his head. See the shock and consternation appear on his face as he realizes that hovering over him, so close he can touch its underbelly, is a flying saucer, windows open, with five green-faced alien children looking down at him. Witness his lack of reaction time (for he never went out for any contact sports) as the five green-faced alien children vomit their late afternoon snacks all over him. Laugh along with the alien children as the spacecraft peels away into the cloudy skies, leaving Angus dripping in liquid stomach churnings.

Before he can wipe the grossness from his face, a sparkling array of colors envelops him, and Angus finds himself in the middle of very tackily decorated mansion furnished in googie art supreme.

The house extends for miles upward and outward in an hommage to M.C. Escher ; yet the walls are translucent and Angus can see right across the street to his home. His mother robotically waves at him. Wasn’t this locale a toxic waste dump seconds before?

Running towards him on the stubbiest of legs are the five little vomitoriums screaming and carrying on like a berserker herd of wildebeests. All cough, wheeze, hack, and sneeze over Angus. Phlegm, mucous, and snot, cover the poor boy. Food spills from their mouths, noses drip like leaky faucets, and something oval and with eyes keeps popping in and out of all of their ears.

A young couple sits blocks away eating piles and piles of pancakes. They wave at Angus but remain seated. “Our children have the sniffles.” You’re terribly patient with them.” Around their feet are assortments of outer space weaponry. We know this is outer space weaponry because that’s what the labels on the shipping crates state. Angus looks around, sees what appears to be the front door a half-mile away, and runs like hell towards it. At least fleeing from school bullies has made his sprinting abilities Olympic caliber.

Arriving home, Angus asks his parents about the new house which, if he remembers correctly, was not even there that morning. What about the new neighbors with the heavy gun emplacements around them? Their malaria infested kids dripping forms of radioactive mucous? Did they also know they were aliens?

They laugh robotically, while moving equally as stilted. His parents tell him that while he was authoring unpalatable poetry down by the fishing hole, to a girl who finds him as unpleasant as rancid tree bark, the new neighbors constructed that garish-looking mansion over the toxic landfill. Angus feels comforted by his parent’s belief in his writing ability.

The new neighbors had, seconds earlier, brought over a plate of their homemade pancakes. They had asked whether Angus might be available for some babysitting chores a few hours a week. Angus had already passed the kids’ first employment exam: something called the vomiting and not dissolving into puke itself test, a problem encountered by previous job applicants. Now wasn't Angus happy that his parents had rubbed cooking oil over his bottom as a baby? Working as a babysitter, the new neighbors believe, would broaden Angus’s horizons and perhaps force him to write poetry that rhymed. His parents had given their approval.

This was all quite strange to Angus. His parents had never volunteered him for anything other than “Scared Geekless Boot Camp.” Why were his parents talking to him in a strange staccato fashion as if they were hypnotized? What was with their new eating habits? Pancakes without syrup. How did the neighbors know his name or that his poetry did not rhyme? It all began to feel like a Scooby mystery.

That evening, the family of seven comes over to visit. The adults introduce themselves as Stephen and Stephanie Foster and throw more pancakes to Angus’s parents, as if they were lions at a zoo. They devour them as zombies devour fresh, live flesh. The Fosters are happy to note that Angus survived the car sickness test. So many hadn’t, and family compensation costs have become more and more expensive. Anyway, their poor darlings always suffer car sickness during long journeys -- especially when they forget to give their children normal bathroom breaks.

The Fosters are ecstatic to learn that Angus is a registered Aupair, and has been for the last fifteen years. Mrs. Foster says being a conscientious parent today is so difficult when both breadwinners must work long distances from home. Many times she and Mister Foster can’t break away from their respective assignments to make it back in time to pick their sweet lovely children up from school, or serve them milk and cookies, or help them with their homework, or sing them sweet lullabies at night.

Their children are well mannered, polite, and quite studious. The position would be a snap, especially now that Agnus has been inoculated with all of their germs. Mrs. Foster and her husband promise that Angus's life would not change one iota if he accepts their offer. In fact, they can guarantee that all of his obligations, chores, and homework assignments would be done on time without missing a single beat. And best of all Angus would get an hourly wage with benefits.

The five Foster kids jump on Angus and crawl all over him like body lice. While this responsibility would be best suited for a teenage girl spinster, the kids already have lockjawed themselves to Angus. How could he break their hearts, all fifteen of them, by saying no?

His parents look up from a tray of non-syrupy pancakes long enough to sign their Hancocks along the dotted line on a contract seemingly pulled out of thin air. With that, Angus is now duly employed. They tell Angus that his first babysitting chore is still weeks away, so kick back and enjoy life. His parents have just committed their son to working with aliens and all they got out of the deal was a bunch of lousy dry pancakes?

That night, as Angus sits doing his homework, the entire Foster Family materialize before his eyes. Both Foster parents are armed to the teeth and look ready to kick some ass, anyone's ass. Mr. Foster apologizes for such short notice, but he and his wife must leave immediately. Work beckons. Could Angus please take care of their little babies until they return? The kids swarm over Angus like maggots on putrefied flesh.

Foster family panic spreads out like warm butter in Angus’s bedroom. The babies are crying. Mister and Mrs. Foster dance and talk hurriedly in a foreign tongue that sounds like words recorded backwards with a disco beat in the background. They drop very large weapons of mass destruction around Angus’s bedroom. Angus remains calm and asks what could possible take them away from home at 11 PM.

Emergency assignments pop up constantly now that they have been assigned to the most violent sector in the entire Universe: the Earth Quadrant. Getting to know the shortcuts through asteroid belts and comet clusters is not as easy as it looks on Google. Right now, they have to settle a domestic disturbance on Jupiter and neither one has any idea which black hole to use. They haven’t even stopped for donuts and coffee yet.

The life of a parent is all about worry this and fretting over that. This new job assignment has come up so suddenly that they still own a house in the Andromeda Hills they need to unload. Finding an affordable home in such an expensive area of the Universe took more time than expected, so they were forced to take the first toxic landfill available on the market. They still have to worry about private schools, private piano, ballet and marksmanship classes to sign up for and that’s just for them. Mrs. Foster begins to weep as she checks all of her body armaments. Mr. Foster comforts his wife in a manly fashion: He throws up his hands and walks to the other side of the room.

Angus has homework assignments in history, government, and earthworms due tomorrow. No need to worry, say the Fosters. They have a wonderful gift for their new au pair. Behind the screaming five kids stands a robot, a silent Angus Aupair. It’s Angus's very own clone, brand new and straight off the assembly line and programmed for any scheduling emergency.

In fact Angus Clone is programmed to do homework, think, talk, and act exactly like the real Angus. Best of all, it comes with its own carrying case. The android is so flawlessly designed Angus’s parents would be hard pressed to discern the difference. Angus Clone will substitute for Angus whenever he is called away for au pair duty. Mrs. Foster promises they will be home in time for Angus to sit at his breakfast table as himself.

Each Foster carries on them a gadget (I like the word transponder, but in their lingo, it’s called a gvetchener). Whenever he’s needed by any of them, the gvetchener is pushed. Angus disappears, replaced in the blink of an eye by Angus Clone; so quickly, in fact, that no one will know the difference. Mr. Foster tells him not to worry. His family has never been push button happy gvetcheners. Both parents warn him not to be swayed by the pleas of their children. They can be awfully persuasive.

With that, everyone vanishes from Angus’s room except Angus Clone. Angus Clone looks at the text books in front of him. Angus Clone looks at the clock: It is midnight. He sits down and closes all work assignments. He picks up the phone and orders six pizzas charged to Angus's parent’s credit card. He text messages Angus's classmates to come on over for a late night pool party. He promises to take them all to Las Vegas for the weekend. Apparently a few bugs exist in Angus Clone that the factory failed to recognize.

Angus walks around lost in the very large Foster home of so many rooms with so much bad furniture. Where are the bathrooms? The refrigerator? Do aliens go to the bathroom? Do they eat anything but dry pancakes? The children sit enraptured in front of a very large home entertainment unit. They hold each other in fear. Angus freaks out himself at what they are watching.

He turns off the set immediately. It is time for bed. Where are their bedrooms? Their toothbrushes? Their P.J’s? The kids point past an old-fashioned picture window that opens out onto the far recesses of outer space to a star very very far away. A spacecraft wafts slowly down from the ceiling. It is time to go home and sleep in their real beds. No one likes this new house. All of their toys are still back in the old one. Their parents will never know. The spacecraft has auto pilot, so all Angus need do is get in. The "brain" will not take orders from anyone other than their parents or their new au pair. But Angus is only fifteen. He doesn’t even have a learner’s permit yet. Will Angus read them the bedtime story of how the six galaxies blew up? That's their favorite. The ship blasts out into space.

Back home across the street, the police have arrived to break up the food fight, disco dance, and pool party. Angus Clone hides in the closest as the police cart away Angus AuPair's parents. When it is safe to come out, Angus Clone sits down in front of the computer and completes Angus’s homework for the following day. Angus Clone might have his faults but being unprepared for class is not one of them.


An ongoing series of events bent on unintentionally destroying the sanity of our main hero. A modern day version of Jekyll and Hyde, minus all the blood but with just as much screaming. Sounds sadistic but workable. Angus Aupair is all about a calm, introverted and rather perplexed kid trying to live through his teen years under a rock. He is under constant siege from both a screws and bolts loose clone who can't do anything right except make a complete mess out of Angus' life and five alien hellions who love him to pieces. Angus is now a parent, a protector, a teacher, and a foil.

In the language of Nervish, the mother tongue of the Fosters, 'au pair' has two specific meanings. Au Pair can describe “a person who takes care of other people’s children in a fashion similar to that of a parent minus the costs for room and board and college.” The second definition is of equal importance: "an unlucky bounder, usually a flustered boy who writes free verse poetry about rocks and girls, who now lives a life so chaotic, dangerous, and hair-raising that heads have been known to explode in slow motion.

The Foster family lied to him. They are a family of slap happy button pushing gvetcheners. Angus Aupair’s au pairing never ends. Walking home, singing in the shower, as he answers questions wrong in class or working feverishly on his homework at 3 AM. Suddenly: BOOM! He’s gone, disappearing so effortlessly that no one notices the Angus Clone replacement. There are those times when someone’s transponder, needing new double AA batteries, slices Angus in two—no blood, of course-- leaving his top part attached temporarily to Angus Clone’s bottom half and those forever dancing feet. Mistakes happen in all lines of work.

His charges: five kids with distinct dietary needs and demands, with homework problems, bully concerns and personality quirks. Kids who become agitated by sounds of paint drying and grass growing. Who wander off to see what’s on the other side of the universe. Whose favorite outdoor game is something called “hooligan tag” involving galaxies blowing up and black holes disappearing with a single Earth human stuck in the middle. And what of the multi-headed strays that follow them home? The Foster parents are not keen on pets, especially those that bring six foot fleas into their new Earth home.

Like any reliable surrogate parent, Angus must subsume his own survival instincts to keep the Foster Kids happy. So when he is not writing up versions of his last will and testament in non couplet rhymes, Angus spends his waking hours running, chasing, leaping, falling, and stumbling over more space time continuum than the Time Bandits.



Once, Angus wrote poetry and contemplated nature. He thought he had a girlfriend. He was totally ignored in school. Then Angus took on the job of au pair to five little tykes. His life is now in total free fall, but he pockets some nice walking around money in a currency good on Capricorn. Angus’s grades are better than ever because he no longer does any of his homework. His classmates watch his dance moves in awe; his teachers fear his intelligence; and the police have begun to follow his every move.


It might be the mirror image of Angus physically, but emotionally his alter ego is really out there, which is quite appropriate since that’s where he comes from. The Clone never shuts up, never stops dancing, and never quits acting like he’s all wound up with nowhere to go. He’s like a rabid used car salesman, an obnoxious telemarketer, a sleazy real estate hustler and the most trying class clown rolled into one. He’s a backslapper and a glad-hander. He is the perfect nudge, weaseling his way into every conversation regardless of topic. He raises his hand to answer questions in such a jerky fashion that he knocks everything within a five foot radius through walls. His work is always spotless and correct.

This kid would be hated by everyone, except he also gives out correct homework answers to anyone who asks. He volunteers for every assignment both in and out of school. He also volunteers everyone else as well. The principal constantly drags him into other teachers' classrooms to lecture on math and science because Angus Clone is a far better educator than anyone on staff. Even the government enjoys listening in on his lectures, as someone high up believes there is a weapon there someplace. Angus Clone stands up for all the little guys at school when picked on by the school bullies. This adds a certain air of suspense when the real Angus perp walks past them on the way to detention for crimes and misdemeanors committed by Angus Clone.


Roxanne knows something is not kosher with Angus. She just can’t quite figure out what’s up. One minute Angus is as fragile as a hot house flower; the next he struts around like an Olympic gold medalist. It’s all very confusing to her, but she plans on getting to the bottom of it. She finds the quiet, shy, and demure Angus who writes mushy poetry to her worthy of being a stalker with no class. However, Roxanne doesn’t mind the Angus who hands out homework answers as if he were a broken gumball machine. She loves his samba dancing skills as well.


PLOVER is lactose intolerant; he can’t digest anything except food from his old neighborhood or, at least, that’s his story. ALUM is so spoiled that when she isn’t given her way, she explodes sending her molecules dancing in all direction. CUSTARD lives by some mysterious book of rules that no one has ever seen or heard of and that includes his parents. SPINNER is not lazy; he just wants to be left alone to write poetry, dangle his feet over waterfalls, and look up at the stars. Angus wonders how any kid could develop a personality that twerpy. BERGAMOT has the worst case of St. Vitas Dance on record. He can’t sit still. He needs to be on the move constantly. Like all of his brothers and sisters, he has no discernable teeth.

The kids have a select group of super powers, the least of which is the ability to teleport anywhere in the universe merely because they can. They do stuff to Angus that could only happen in a world devoid of all physical reality. Angus gets turned inside out, miniaturized, elongated, dematerialized, blown up, his DNA restructured into animal, vegetable and mineral and much worse as the five prank, punk and puke all over him. Angus believes Mr. and Mrs. Foster would much rather stay late on the rings of Saturn handing out parking tickets than come home to their pain in the ass offspring.


Angus is not quite sure whether the kids' father is an undercover intergalactic cop, a villain on the scale of Darth Vader, or Barney Fife. Mr. Foster constantly talks about his work, can barely walk for all the armaments he carries with him, and is always buying cooking utensils on line. Like all fathers, he loves telling stories about his own childhood. Like all children, they don’t care. He has a wonderful sense of humor because everyone laughs at him.


Angus thinks Mrs. Foster has something to do intergalactic weapons testing but is not quite sure because she is too busy selling cooking utensils on line. At home she is a whirlwind of matriarchal attention, driving the kids to soccer practice, piano recitals, and gymnastics classes. She also allows her children to stay up late and watch planets collide and supernovas to explode.


Since Angus started this au pair job, his parents have had the best run of luck in the world, winning the lottery every day. In fact they no longer go to work at all. They sit home and eat pancakes and speak in a glazed, glassy-eyed monotone.


Plover’s lactose intolerance forces everyone to go to his favorite restaurant in the Foster’s old neighborhood; but they immediately run into a slight problem. A villainous force has uprooted the entire building and is holding it and its chief chef hostage until he makes a secret dish newly discovered on an uncivilized planet. Captured by the bad guys, it looks like curtains for Angus and the kids until Plover tells them that Angus can make the secret dish: macaroni and cheese using hamburger helper. Give up the recipe and Plover will have a lifetime supply of his favorite food, the one that keeps moving even when ingested. Whatever Angus makes tastes like macaroni and cheese with hamburger helper. All are saved. Plover brings back to Earth his live food.

Alum’s throws one of her patented hissy-fits and disintegrates just as Spinner sneezes, sending her molecules into all sorts of areas where young molecules are not supposed to go. Most end up magnetized in a nuclear reactor. To put Alum back together again could cause Earth to disintegrate. The kids say cool to that. Angus wonders how history would judge his actions were that to happen.

Angus Clone discovers he has misplaced a few bolts while playing semi-professional football for the local college (remember he is 15 years old). Before he falls apart totally and misses the big pop quiz math exam, Real Angus and the kids have to transport him back to the factory for repairs. The Factory is a zillion light years from Earth and in an area of town that scares the kids witless. Every building houses dentists.

The five kids get into their parents’ secret den full of very large weapons of mass destruction. By the time they are finished playing with the weapons, Earth is spinning the wrong way and gravity is quickly disappearing.

The five kids want to visit their parents at their jobs. Before Angus can do anything about it, the kids hold hands and teleport themselves to a war zone on a planet way up there. Angus has to get the kids back to Earth and working on their homework before their parents find out and shoot Angus into space.


SECTION ONE: You shall be hired for the position of au pair with all rights afforded you under the Au Pair Federation including health and welfare benefits, a room of your own when convenient, private entrance when applicable, and clean towels when available. You shall accompany the parents into battle whenever necessary.

SECTION TWO: You are to be friendly, courteous, kind, and gentle to the children of Unpronounceable Last Name for they are impressionable, naïve and innocent. Do whatever their parents feel is necessary to broaden the children's horizons. You are, however, forbidden to place them in any dangerous circumstances or lead them into troublesome situations without consent from said Parents or Guardians. You will not be allowed to handle any live armaments around the children unless they wish to be part of the battle.

SECTION THREE: The children should be taught fully the ways of the au pair’s home planet’s culture and manners by afternoon field trips when opportunities arise.

SECTION FOUR: You shall have two weeks a year of paid leave and every other weekend off to go home, if it's not too far away.

SECTION FIVE: You are to have no personal visits from friends or relatives without written approval of the Unpronounceable Last Name family, for such visitors could be spies or enemies of the family.

SECTION SIX: You are not to tell anyone about your position as au pair lest you be kidnapped by some other aliens desiring your services.

SECTION SEVEN: Should you fail to live up to the Au Pair Federation’s high standards of responsibility, you will be removed from the position forthwith and placed in solitary confinement on Mars. Your home planet will be DESTROYED forthwith as well.