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LEARNING TO FLY — BOOK III

June 5, 2010

LEARNING TO FLY

{a post-apocalyptic homo/hetero-social/sexual love story with zombies and shit}

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Copyright 2010, Christopher C. Knall

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CONTENTS

BOOK I – GENE POOL

BOOK II – ABOVE THE PLANET

BOOK III – ROUGH BEASTS

Chapter 23 – Graham Crackers

Chapter 24 – Slithering Horde

Chapter 25 – Bad Company

Chapter 26 – AI Mighty Insane

Chapter 27 – Boys With Toys

Chapter 28 – Charlie Foxtrot

Chapter 29 – Lap of Lux

Chapter 30 – Unplugged

Chapter 31 – Condition: Grounded

Chapter 32 – Zombie Food

Chapter 33 – Epilogue
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For no one in particular.

For the “dirty dozen” from the north, who braved the road and kicked ass, and the creature they saved.
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BOOK III – ROUGH BEASTS

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Chapter 23: Graham Crackers

“A little more than kin and less than kind.”
—Hamlet,
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,
Act I, scene ii

“Birds in their little nest agree.”
—Isaac Watts,
Divine Songs,
Song xvii

“Are we fuckin’ there yet?”
—Milly Graham

The forty-five year old pickup rolled slowly down a waste covered,
crackfilled, bumpy, debris-strewn highway. The vehicle’s velocity was not only lower for this reason, however.

It was also packed far beyond the ability for any passenger to see what was behind, nearly beyond the ability to stop lest the cargo on top shift and fall onto the three-row, six-doored cab, onto the hood, and roll or topple onto the road in front of the vehicle. In fact, that very event had occurred five times thus far on the trip.

Then there were plenty of passengers. A family of five, the Grahams: Hollis, Sr., his wife Honey, and their three children, Hollis, Jr., Milly and Penter. The senior Grahams sat in the front while the junior three in the very back.

Sandwiched between members of the Graham clan were a couple, Paul and eedee Dandee. The Dandees were old friends of the Grahams. Tom and Hollis, Sr. frequently hunted and fished together.

Finally, there was Hamilton, the Graham’s dog. He was so named after neither the actor nor the former president, but rather Hamilton was a family name on Honey’s side. The irony of giving the family dog the name of a great, great uncle—and not her own children—was not lost on her.

Hamilton did not sit, but rather stood nearest whichever of the six open windows afforded the best smells at any given moment. For now, that was nearest Milly.

Smoke rolled out of all six windows as well. Each one of the two-legged mammals on board was addicted to tobacco. They rolled their own when they couldn’t find cartons left behind by those who fled the Expocalypse for some other place.

“Can we roll up the windows for a few and try the AC again?”

Milly asked the question loud enough that a racoon fifteen meters away heard it. The creature had no idea what it meant, but kept a low profile and avoided the slow-moving truck.

“It’s broke! ‘Sides, we gotta conserve fuel. You guys eat a lot but don’t leave enough to keep this thing going. Need more garbage.”

Hollis and Hollis had modified the truck to run on alcohol, garbage, oil, or gas. Even when you can’t find a gas station, you still gotta keep going, was the dad’s thought.

After a pause, Paul spoke up, “Hollis, you sure this place even exists?”

“My cousin’s brother-in-law’s nephew was in Special Forces. He told his aunt, who told her brother, who told—well, you get the idea.”

“Yeah, but wudn’t he the one told the lie about drivin’ that car inna ditch?”

“No, that was my brother-in-law’s cousin’s nephew, not the other way around.”

“No, it wasn’t, Hollis,” Honey interjected, “Remember? That was the one got caught spankin’ the monkey in the boathouse at the family reunion.”

“Whatever.”

Silence descended on the vehicle again. Everyone was keenly aware (with the possible exception of Hamilton) that they had only travelled a fraction of a kilometer during the entire verbal exchange.

They were also aware, however, that moving along, even at this pace, was preferable to waiting around for the zombie horde they had left behind in a hurry, figuratively speaking. They had packed as much as they possibly could to take with them. No sense in leaving it for those who couldn’t appreciate the finer things in life.

Chapter 24: Slithering Horde

“Master, I marvel at how the fishes live in the sea.”
—Third Fisherman
“Why, as men do a-land; the great ones eat up the little one .”
—First Fisherman,
Pericles,
Act II, scene i

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer.”
—William Butler Yeats,
The Second Coming

“They’re on their way…”
—Mr. Stone

From the air, it would have appeared to be a swarm of insects. Tiny lumps, moving along the ground, slowly and monotonously.

When one stopped moving altogether, those nearby, in an uncharacteristic display of speed, pounced upon the inanimate one. They bit into its flesh, the neck if there was still space to do so, and drank its putrid blood, ate its now dying flesh. Other latecomers were relegated to eating whatever parts they could reach; legs, torso, back, etc. At the same time, each diner went through the motions of copulation, spewing infertile seed upon that which could no longer conceive in any sense of the word. Once the fallen offender was satisfactorily eaten and ritualistically mounted, the still animate ones rejoined the march of death and decay.

Mr. Stone watched via satellite from his hideaway and felt something. He felt deeply. The feeling was overwhelming him.

Mr. Stone, possessing the self-discipline of a monk, the will—prior to this present moment—to slide aside human emotions as easily as food on a full stomach, the psyche and stamina to endure unspeakable psychological and physical torments, felt fear. This was not something he planned for. This had no contingency. This was, to his logical mind, simply The End.

This realization came and something inside him snapped.

He began giving the AI instructions to seal off his home. He told it to take control of the other AIs (lest they be used against him to figure a way inside his quarters).

He put on some soft music and began planning for The End. It would at the very least be entertaining, he decided.

Chapter 25: Bad Company

“I had rather have a fool to make me
merry than experience to make
me sad—and to travel for it too!.”
—Rosalind,
As You Like It,
Act IV, scene i

“Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Which way to the little girl’s room?”
—Deedee Dandee

“…Aaaand that’s the tour! What do you think?”

Gregory stood outside the General’s suite, hands apart like a good showman, having just finished showing Aron and Ken around the base. The cave system Ken used to get up to the raven and subsequently attempted to use to get he and Aron back down served as the base’s air exhaust and return duct systems as well as cooling for its power plant. The tunnels could be opened and closed, diverted and rerouted, from the command center. It was easy enough for Gregory to herd them inside the base once they entered the caves.

Aron spoke up, “Explain what else the PSXL7 can do, please.”

Aron was more interested in the cutting edge game system the military had acquired before its release than the rest of the base. In fact, Gregory had to peel him away from it so they could wind up where he actually wanted them: here.

Ding-dong!

A tone not unlike a house doorbell rang through the halls.

“Palana, would you get that, my love?”

“Get what?”

“Someone is at last attemtping to knock us up, my dear.”

“Greg, it’s not your fucking birthd—”

“HA! Ha, no. I mean there’s someone at the main entrance. Visitors! I’m sure they’d appreciate being shown in by their very beautiful, ohsosexy, charming, intelli—”

“Fine! Lazy fuck…”

Gregory watched her leave.

“Okay. So. Where were we? Ah, yes, the General’s suite. You should check it out. I have some chores to attend to. Go ahead. There’s a fun machine or two in there as well.”

Aron sliently dragged Ken in by the arm. Gregory shut the door and punched some codes into the keypad. A locked door and the large bed inside should keep them occupied for a few hours.

Gregory really wanted to get back to playing with the raven. It was quite addictive really and there was an entire town who had yet to meet the little fellow. He could not suppress a giggle as he headed back to control HQ.

Chapter 26: AI Mighty Insane

“We are not ourselves
When nature, being oppress’d, commends the mind
To suffer with the body.”
—Lear,
King Lear,
Act II, scene iv

“The alleged power to charm down insanity, or ferocity in beasts, is a power behind the eye.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

Please let me hammer his testicles!”
—Spider

Nearly every citizen of the Enclave was now on the street staring in disbelief. The projections all over town from Stone’s AI showed tiny pricks of light moving across a topo-map, marching ever onward toward a larger blue dot: the Enclave itself. Stone’s voice echoed throughout, cast from hundreds of speakers throughout the town.

…and so it is with a heavy heart that I wish you all a glorious death as I’m sure you would me if you could.

“Spider! See if you can get inside,” the Doc suggested through gritted teeth.

“Sure thing, Doc,” Spider returned grimly before scampering away toward Stone’s house.

Please note I have sealed the armory. It would be cruel to offer you such false hope at this…heh…hee…time!

Stone’s strange laughter turned to a crying wail and back to laughter again.

Sorry… Just haven’t been myself. I need to relax. We all need to relax!
Minerva did her best to ignore the man behind the loudspeakers.

“Mel? Anyone! Where are Aporon and the others?”

“Aporon and squad are on their way. Should be here any time. Ken and Aron, too. Geez, I hope they don’t run into that.”

Mel glanced again at the approaching zombie army represented by little yellow lights. To him they looked like torches on their way to burn anything in their path. He wondered if they carried pitchforks as well.

“We need to get into the armory before—” Minerva started to suggest.

Mel took off while shouting, “On it!”

Down the street and around the corner, Dona was attempting to aid Minister King in preventing fullblown panic. It was not going well.

“What now?”

“Dona, we can only do so much. Somehow, someone needs to shut Stone up and we need the squad to get inside the Armory if we want to prevent people running off into the Badlands and smack into that!”

The Doc approached the pair and was about to ask how he could best help.

I hope you will find this comforting in this, your final hour. Ladies and gentlemen. I will sing.
When the eagle soars…

Doc shouted into his communicator, “Spider!”

“I hear it, Doc. Whole damn town hears it.”

The Doc wasn’t the only one rubbing his temples. To be eaten alive by zombies was one thing, but to have a maladjusted paranoiac’s singing be the last thing one hears while that happens? That would just be unbearable.

Chapter 27: Boys with Toys

“Let us condole the knight for,
lambkins, we will live.”
—Pistol,
The Life of King Henry the Fifth,
Act II, scene i

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.”
—George W. Bush

“Ho-lee shiiiit, this is fun!”
—Paul Dandee

“Y’missed, Paul.”

“Nah, think I just didn’t hit a vital organ.”

“Same diff.”

Hollis, Sr. took aim and squeezed the trigger. Paul erupted and patted him on the back vigorously.

“Ha! Blew its head clean off!”

Hollis smiled, “Don’t think it was on there too good to begin with.”

The two men had been shooting zombies for nearly an hour and a half now, with no sign of tiring of the sport. Being sixty-seven meters above the ground meant they not only had an excellent view of the surrounding area as long as it was daylight, but that they were safe from the throng of undead at the foot of the mountain. All else they needed was ammo and weapons, which the base had plenty of.

“Good thing they can’t fly, ‘s’all I’m sayin’, Hollis!”

“That would suck, Paul.”

The ladies sipped iced tea nearby, the tea mixed up by Palana from dry powder in a can.

“So, how old is Penta Gram?” inquired the hostess, her smile hidden behind a plastic cup of instant tea.

“Penter?” Honey took a sip as well, “He’ll be thirty-two in June.”

“And Milligram, here?”

“Real fuckin’ funny, lady,” Milly countered with an extended middle finger as she drank her sour tea, “Think I haven’t heard that one before?”

The conversation moved on to other topics. Bored, Milly took a stroll through the base’s halls (she called it “the Dungeon”) and was drawn to some old timey music playing. At its source, she discovered Gregory in a white room (looked like a lab or doctor’s office). The Brit was playing with syringes, lovingly labelling and storing them as they emerged from a machine nearby.

“Hullo, Milly Graham.”

“What’s this?”

She picked up one of the syringes. He didn’t seem to care.

“This the good stuff? You holdin’ out on me, Greggy?”

“Mm. Liquid love. Just remember: love hurts,” he said with a smile she found both sinister and comforting at the same time.

“No, what is it really?”

“An experiment. An attempt to see if the world can thrive again but in new ways. Hope in a hypo.”

She stared at him blankly.

“Cryochemically frozen, artificially created nucleii made from bihybridogenesis from DNA collected from a general’s bed via nanobots plus stem cells patches, inserted into an enucleated egg cell with a powerful rejection suppressant that does not cause immunosuppression, and more itty bitty nanobots that move the cell in place and protect it as it grows into whatever spawn of Hell it grows into.”

“Will it get me high?”

“Should.”

“Thanks,” Milly wasted no time in injecting herself.

Gregory wondered who the theoretical general in the scenario was supposed to be pairing with. Private Ben Dover! Uh, that’s redundant.

There was the first Aron-Ken baby on the way of this thingamabob actually worked. If so, and that didn’t put a bug up the arse of “Mr. Pebble”, what would?

Chapter 28: Charlie Foxtrot

“Defer no time! Delays have dangerous ends.”
—Reignier,
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth,
Act II, scene ii

“Lenny Bruce is not afraid.”
—Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe

“Really? Not even a tweet?”
—The Raven

Now, I am in control here…

Mercifully, Stone had ceased singing for the moment. There had been breaks in his public performance but they were few and typically brief.

“Well?”

Dona stood behind Mel at the Armory.

“Not a chance, not in the time we have. Gotta get into Stone’s place =20
to unlock this one. Our only hope.”

“Then let’s go help Spider.”

Feelings… whoa-oh-oh feelings…

———

I’m sorry… I just love the Enclave…

“Has anyone just tried talking to him?”

Minerva stood in front of Stone’s home surveying the attempts to get inside. The stucco on the exterior was ripped and chipped away in multiple places revealing metallic plating of unknown thickness and composition. A few seamless conduits also made of some unknown alloy, ran along under the overhanging roof. Spider found that this metal was extremely resistant to extreme temperatures and harder than any of the tools he had. He’d barely been able to scratch the stuff.

“Yeah. Tried bringing him food. Tried sweet-talkin’m. Didn’t work. Think he disabled the intercom. He ignores it now.

“No, I just wanna shoot him in the eye with a nailgun.”

“Doing a little home restoration, are we?”

The voice was indisputably English but finding the source of the tinny, electronic words was somewhat more difficult.

“Up here.”

Spider glanced up. There it was: a raven—no! the raven, the one that caused all that trouble with the plane—sitting near a part of the roof that was ripped open by Spider’s men seeking a way in.

“You! You little black son—”

“Now, now. No time for pots and kettles, have we? One mome as I pull up the schematics.

“Presto! There it is.”

The raven flew to an area of the conduit under the roof, slightly submerged behind two other overlapping conduits, but still reachable.

“Perhaps a little acid right here,” it pecked the spot, “and a resulting hole will allow a little fellow access to the door control, eh?”

Muskrat, muskrat, candle light…

———

Aporon and his squad members waited by the door to the Armory. Though the temperature was well into the nineties, the sweat that poured from the five brows was as much due to stress as the heat.

Each in turn watched the progress of the yellow dots swarming across the plains. Soon the larger blue dot would be covered with them.

Chapter 29: Lap of Lux

“A peace is of the nature of a conquest,
For then both parties nobly are subdu’d,
And neither party loser..”
—Archbishop of York,
The Second Part of King Henry the Fourth,
Act IV, scene ii

“Hatred is blind, as well as love..”
—Oscar Wilde

“Wouldn’t we get sand in our cracks?”
—Ken

“Greg! I’m getting tired of entertaining our guests by myself. Get your ass up here. Over.”

Palana always said ‘over’ at the end of her transmissions over the intercom for some reason Gregory never understood. He paused and philosophized for a moment before responding.

There comes a time in any man’s life where he has to do what’s right, regardless of the cost. Was he not a man? Was this not the world as they knew it at stake? What would Churchill have said? Yes, by George, once more unto the breach, and all that. It was time to put his foot down!

“Another twenty minutes, love?”

Gregory had watched the Doc work out what kind of acid might get through the conduit and Spider apply several with little effect other =than some pitting. At least that was something.

Worse, he had to endure more of Stone’s musical reportoire in order to also hear what was being said on the ground in the Enclave. This included songs from old children’s shows, classical arias (Stone’s strongest work thus far), and worst of all, pop-style country music. It had been Gregory’s hope and dream that if only one good thing came out of the Expocalypse, it would be the demise of the whiny pop country song. The classics he liked just fine. But Stone had brought them back from the dead like Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi” (another song Stone did some small justice to).

Spider didn’t seem to be taking the play list any better. This hyposthesis was proven fact when he went completely bizzacko-postal on the conduit with a chisel and hammer. A ludicrous but understandable gesture in futility as far as Gregory was concerned. That metal was apparently manufactured to withsta—

There was a loud crack followed by a tinkling metal sound. Gregory wondered if the shit had been made in China.

There was the hole. Now all he had to do was squeeze the raven in and the warriors could—

“Oh, shit.”

He clicked the intercom to the General’s suite. His ears were immediately assualted by heavy breathing, moaning and yet another song playing from inside the suite. He immediately recognized it as the same one that playing in the base’s elevators.

“Um. Hullo? Say, isn’t that ‘The Girl—

“Oh, that’s brilliant.

“So, we seem to have a situation. You see the Enclave is being invaded by zombies.

“Hello?”

The noises—and the song—continued unabated.

“Yes, well the combination to the General’s wine cooler is sixty-seven seventy-one. That’s six-seven-seven-one. Try not to get dehydrated.”

He clicked off.

“Now that was daft…‘dehydrated’?”

Foolish to interrupt lovemaking with the fucking Apocalypse, now isn’t it? Rude even.

“Time to put an end to the Stone variety show.”

Chapter 30: Unplugged

“The quality of mercy is not strain’d.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes!”
—Portia,
The Merchant of Venice,
Act IV, scene i

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
—Abraham Lincoln

“How will we even explain this?”
—Minister King

“No light in here, Mel. That means no color. Which one dammit?”

The tinny voice echoed out of the hole in the conduit that the raven had crawled into. Mel was looking over the diagram in his field notebook the raven had dictated to him.

“Um. The darker one?”

There was a brief pause and then an explosion out of the conduit as dust, debris and feathers flew out of it. The raven’s head was mostly intact on the ground by Mel’s feet. He looked down at it sadly.

“Must have been booby-trapped.”

The raven croaked its final words, “Well. That about fucks it doesn’t it?

The Doc, incensed by Stone’s slaughtering of “Aqualung” (a classic!) stormed in as the door to Stone’s home opened at last. The rest of the Council followed and then Mel and Spider.

Stone’s abode was dark save one old-fashioned floor lamp with the shade pulled off. The lamp was in the middle of the room.

Papers were strewn everywhere, especially on and around a paper shredder. Shredded and unshredded paper adorned it. A red flashing message, JAMMED, was one of the only sources of light in the room, a fire burning atop a mountain of papyrus.

When the eyes of the six visitors at last set upon Stone, it was nearly simultaneous. All six people were immediately speechless.

Stone’s raven-black hair was missing in action (or rather sitting on one of two white styrofoam heads on a side table). In its place, a balding scalp semi-encircled by a gray ring of hair. The second styrofoam head was balder than Stone.

In Stone’s left hand was a long blond wig. He right hand was on the floorlamp, which was apparently serving as his pretend microphone stand. Though he wore a very nice white buttondown dress shirt, his lower torso was covered with a grass skirt.

Stone was the first to speak, having had his home invaded.

“Do any of you have any idea what it’s like to have to make the big decisions? Those of life and death? The pressure that can put on a person? It’s a real damper on your social life, let me tell you!”

The Doc spoke next, “Mel!”

“On it,” but he was already pulling the chair away from the AI station.

Chapter 31: Condition: Grounded

“Let Hercules himself do what he may,
The cat will mew, and dog will have his day.”
—Hamlet,
Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,
Act V, scene i

“They come, they come,
To build a wall between us
We know they won’t win.”
—Neil Finn

“‘Lo, there do I see my mother.”
—Aporon

The unliving host crept along as before. The ground here was smoother, harder and hotter, allowing for easier going, but they hardly noticed.

When the metal object struck the pavement and skipped and banged three times, the first of them barely had time to creak and crunch their bone-fused necks to see what it was before the area erupted in shrapnel and flame. The resulting plume of smoke and ash could be seen from the Enclave, now a mere one hundred meters from the remaining throng.

A golden god stood at the top of the hill holding the still smoking grenade launcher that was attached to an automatic gauss assault rifle. As Aporon surveyed the damage he had just wrought, he blew a gray and brown feather away from his face. Many such objects floated down from the sky around him and the zombie horde below.

The first strike and casualties in the war against the vampiric, necrophilic zombie water fowl had been executed and tallied. Aporon had taken out at least two hundred geese, ducks (but only one male Mallard among them for some reason), and similar birds. With his friends’ help, this war might just be winnable.

Chapter 32: Zombie Food

“Sweet are the uses of adversity.”
—Duke Senior,
As You Like It,
Act II, scene i

“A scar is not an injury… A scar is a healing. After an injury, a scar is what makes you whole.”
—China Mieville,
The Scar

“Read the file: Aporon is sterile.”
—Mr. Stone

“…some sort of avian flu. Only has a three week shelf life. Price of being so damn debilitating, I assume.

“Still, the thing could have continued to spread until there were no ducks and so forth remaining. These brave souls are to be commended for that.”

Gregory handed the lab reports he generated back at the base to the Doc. The Doc immediately began poring over the details.

“So, you’re sayin’ the virus is harmless to humans?”

Honey seemed to be driving at something.

“Yes, I think that’s safe to say. Never had the chance to adapt to our bodies.”

“Alright! Grab some bags, people. Let’s go!”

Nobody present understood what she was talking about.

“You know how much good goose and duck jerky is wasting out there? Let’s go get it! Waste not, want not.”

The Graham and Dandee clans were the first to move, realizing the futility in resisting a direct order from their commanding officer. Aporon and his squad were next, excited to revisit the scene of their victory and now to loot the bodies of the vanquished. After an hour of fighting off the birds who refused to fly, the rest of the zombie army simply keeled over little by little until there were none left.

Aporon and his crew assumed it was from fright, from seeing the overwhelming firepower and combat skill they possessed. After hearing Gregory’s intelligent, logical, scientific explanation—they still thought so. Thinking was not their strong suit.

Dona looked around noticing something, “Where are Aron and Ken?”

Gregory answered, “Oh, undoubtedly playing with…um, the uh, PSXZ7, one imagines…”

“They’re fucking,” Palana countered.

“Now, sweetness, you don’t know that for a fa—”

“I know men.”

As they prepared to gather goosemeat, they silently watched an equally quiet Mr. Stone with rod and tackle box walk out of town and into the sun. He had apparently taken Dona’s advice and decided to go fish himself.

———

A wind blew up on the battlefield as three black helicopters came in and landed sending yet more feathers into the air. Out of each jumped several women. Each was dressed in identical white shirts with black suits and ties, sported sunglasses and was armed with laser-sighted automatic weapons and had a wire hanging from one ear.

The women in black formed a semicircle around the duck/goose collectors. Unease fell upon the group, who were for the most part unarmed. One woman shouted, “Clear!” into a small microphone on her lapel.

A honking sound came from the road. As the people from Bear Butte glanced toward the sound, a dust cloud appeared on the road. From the cloud emerged a strange sight: an old style automobile, the chassis of which appeared a hundred years old in make. However, the car had no wheels and instead floated over the road. Several panels extruded from its sides, suggesting it ran at least partially on sunlight.

The car’s driver, an asian man in his late fifties, stopped the car as several legs extended down to support it. He shut off the engine and stepped out, removing his goggles.

“It’s awkward having to introduce myself. Press secretary is still a vacant office, along with several others.

“John. John Hin. POTNAU. That’s President of the North American Union. Yes, we had an election. Not the best turnout, but, hey! First president since Monroe to win all fifty states!”

Though he appeared immensely proud of this fact, he was quite aware and yet neglected to mention that in several states (including especially Alaska, Tennessee and Texas) many were convinced that the Rapture was coming and so in a gesture of drunken dark apocalyptic humor, voted for the person they would least like to see win. President Hin was the Green Party candidate. He was also the first Chinese-American president. Finally, the first openly gay one as well.

Mexico and Canada, their infrastructure also falling apart, voted to merge with the US under similar circumstances. Details of how the government should operate were still being hammered out. So far, Canada and Mexico gained a mostly vacant House of Representatives and the US gained Freedom of Thought and Freedom of Expression from its northern neighbor and education free from bias from the one to the south. No one was sure who was getting the better deal, which only expedited things.

“In any case, as acting directors of both EPA and Fish and Wildlife, I’m afraid I’m going to have to fine you for over-hunting. There are still daily and seasonal limits, you know!”

Hollis, Sr. had heard enough, “Excuse me, sir. I am one-half Namrican and as such have no limits on my take. You sir, are technically on my front lawn.”

Hin looked crestfallen. Why had no one told him about these laws? Why hadn’t he been told that Namricans were not extinct? How was he going to make his car payments without those fines?

“Oh, well. In any case,” that was Hin’s catchphrase and would wind up being the title of his only biography (an autobiography), “if you decide you want to rejoin civilization, let us know. We’re rebuilding; inventing a better Internet. We’re even looking at powering entire seaboards utilizing volcanic activity on the ocean floor! But that’s years away. Ciao!”

After Hin got back in his car and drove away, the LiBs got back into their helicopters and flew off after the hovercar.

“Okay, back to work! We’re wasting daylight and fowl meat!”

Honey usually got what she wanted. As a natural leader and one who understood the issues people cared about, she eventually won a seat in the NAU House of Commons (as it would later come to be called) after starting a chain of surprisingly popular restaurants specializing in fowl jerky.

Chapter 33: HAI! I CAN HAZ HUGZ?

“…society wants the police to abrogate criminals’ rights and then lie about it. Because cops know they will be prosecuted if caught…”
Paraphrased from interview with writer David Milch,
Brian Lowry,
“Revelations in Blue”, Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1998
.
“Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn a living at it.”
—Albert Einstein
.
”I could give a flying crap about the political process … We’re an entertainment company.”
—Glenn Beck, Forbes interview; April, 2010
.
“Why does anyone simplify anything? To reduce the variable set. To manage the unmanageable.”
—Peter Watts
.
“She had one little promise she was gonna keep.” —Tom Petty
.
“You could say I lost my faith in science and progress
You could say I lost my belief in the holy church”
—Sting

.
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Aron was still trying to get the best bottle of the General’s champagne open. The cork just would not pop.

“So, what shall we name ‘our’ baby?”

Ken thought silently for a moment.

“I like Leay, Leah, Lei, or something like that.”

“Why those?”

The cork was at last beginning to move, though barely a few millimeters.

“Hm. Not sure. Kind of reminds me of a beach. Hawaii, maybe?”

“Yeah, kind of does.”

The cork popped. Champagne, it’s container having been handled for several minutes in the attempt to open it, sprayed all over the place. Aron just laughed. It was time for a drink.

“So, what do we drink to, Kenny?”

“I don’t even know what day it is… Aron-ee?”

“Me either,” he snickered.

He poured.

Ken held his up to do a toast.

“Happy New Year.”

“Happy New Year.”

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